Page images

in a form so far new as to require the battle to be fought over again. And I see no way more obvious or promising of success than directly to point out and expose its deformities and opposition to God's truth.

Another reason why these books should be answered, is found in the rare opportunity which they afford, to expose in a short compass, an abundance of false and ridiculous reasonings, to which men must needs resort, to sustain such doctrines. The last improvements of Universalism will be found, when properly.canvassed, to be more absurd than any of the preceding, in proportion as they pretend to rely more exclusively upon legitimate interpretations of the Bible. The deformities of the system are now more numerous, and more capable of being made to glare on the public eye, than ever before. And we shall be recreant to the cause of truth if we suffer the advantage to pass unimproved.

Still another reason is found in the peculiar state of the public mind as it stands related to Universalism. The Universalism that has been concealed under the name of Unitarianism, is evidently beginning to throw off the disguise—which circumstance is giving strength to the Universalists as a sect. The Unitarians have sowed the seed, and the Universalists are reaping the harvest. This circumstance has imparted new courage and energy to the latter. And no sect is more untiring in its exertions, than they. So that as the occasion for controversy with the Unitarians, seems to be subsiding, the occasion to contend with the Universalists seems to be increasing. And something needs to be done to awaken interest in the minds of the Orthodox, both ministers and people, in relation to this subject. And if these efforts of mine, can contribute something to this end, they will not be altogether useless.

Another reason which has inclined me to this undertaking, is that great use is made by Universalists of the fact that little notice has been taken by the Orthodox, of these their standard writings. Balfour himself vauntingly says, “ if it is not unanswerable, we may say it remains unanswered.” “Let my blood be on the head of those who condemn me for my error, yet refuse to furnish me with scriptural evidence that I am wrong.” And this,

And this, by the way, is a kind of reasoning that is peculiarly taking with that class of mind, over which Universalist books have influence. It is not strange that those who regard those books as oracles, should consider the almost silence of the Orthodox in relation to them, as next to demonstration, that they are unanswerable. And probably this one circumstance has contributed more than any force of argument in the books, to give them an influence. Many who have never been enlightened by Mr. B.'s Greek and Hebrew criticisms, can comprehend the insinuation, that we did not, because we dared not, undertake the answer. Such are some of the considerations that induced me to enter upon this work. To engage in a controversy on such subjects and with such opponents,

is no pleasant undertaking. It is the drudgery of the ministerial work, or rather the business of a scavenger, and for that reason, probably others more competent, who ought to have undertaken it, have declined it. But the work of the scavenger is needful; what the cause of truth demands, we have no right to withhold.

With regard to the manner of performing the work before me, I shall make no large professions of candor not sustained ; no pretence of carrying my mind in an equal balance through the investigation; as if the question of the truth or error of Universalism, had never been decided in my own mind. I shall come to the discussion as one who is deeply convinced of the falsehood and pernicious tendency of the system, and who feels competent to make it appear, and in whom it would be 'hypocrisy to pretend the contrary. Yet I shall labor clearly to understand and fairly to state the views of my opponent, and to make use of no argument which is not in my own apprehension valid. Without touching upon every subordinate topic introduced by Mr. Balfou., I shall endeavor to leave nothing of importance unanswered. I intend to fix on the strong points, so as in the shortest compass to make out what shall, at least virtually, amount to an answer to the whole. And if any thing be found, in the books under examination, to which I have not given a direct or implied answer, it is such as I am willing should have all the weight it can with any mind. The books which will come under special examina

tion are, Balfour's first Inquiry, third edition, Balfour's second Inquiry, second edition, and Balfour's Essays. I shall also occasionally notice Balfour's reply to Stuart, and Whittemore's work on the Parables, first edition. These works abound in criticisms upon the Greek and Hebrew of the Bible. But I shall be under no necessity of leading the unlearned reader far beyond his depth, in my reply, and I have here no ambition to decorate my pages with such ornaments. I trust I shall be able to adapt the style to popular use, and yet leave no depths of Mr. B.'s learned criticism unfathomed.

The main questions on which we are at issue with the modern Universalist, and which will now come under discussion in review of Mr. Balfour's books, are–First, that of the immortality of the soul, or whether souls exist in a state of consciousness after death and before the resurrection. Second, whether those passages of the Bible which speak of judgement, condemnation, damnation, &c. teach the doctrine of a retribution after death. Third, whether those passages which speak of everlasting or eternal life, mean a life enjoyed in this, or in the future world. And next, we shall inquire respecting the meaning of the words everlasting, eternal, &c. when applied to punishment. In the next place, whether any passages speak of a place where punishment after death is inflicted. Next, examine Mr. Balfour's attempt to disprove the existence and agency of evil spirits. And then we shall dwell on some miscellaneous topics connected with the discussion.

And may the God of truth, by the Spirit of his grace, guide the understanding and the heart of the writer; that he may be kept from the exercise of all feelings and purposes inconsistent with the high ends of such a discussion; and be governed by the single desire to sustain the truth against the assaults of its enemies, and commend it to the consciences of men; and may his understanding be assisted properly to conceive, and present the subject, feeling himself the tremendous weight of the truth he inculcates. And may

the reader come to the examination of the question with a mind willing to see and know the truth, and carry through it the impression that if the doctrine of eternal punishment be true, it is tremendously true, and ought to take hold of the deepest principles of the mind and heart.

« PreviousContinue »