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ber of Universalists with exactness. They state that they have six hundred and fifty-three societies, two hundred and forty-four meet. ing-houses, and three hundred and seventeen preachers. In this they are, doubtless, correct. They claim, in addition, that the number of persons connected with them amounts to five hundred thou. sand. This may be a fair estimate, and it may not. doubtless, many who attend worship among them who are not Universalists in sentiment; and we think it unfair for them to class all persons in their congregations with themselves, while all other sects claim only those who are within the pale of the church, and enjoy its privileges as actual members.
Having thus sketched the secular history of Universalism, we proceed to notice the several treatises on the subject which have appeared in this country. The first, as we have before said, was Seigvolk's Everlasting Gospel, which appeared in 1753, at Germantown, Pa.
The works, also, of Stonehouse have been read in this country somewhat extensively, though, it is believed, in an English edition.
The writings of Elhanan Winchester, particularly his “ Dialogues on Universal Restoration,” and his “ Lectures on the Prophecies," were, at one time, widely circulated, and assisted much toward establishing the sentiments he entertained in the United States; but they have long since ceased to be text-books, and the mantle of oblivion will soon cover them.
Of American productions in favor of this system, the work of Dr. Joseph Young, of New York, who, in 1793, published a treatise entitled " Calvinism and Universalism Contrasted," claims precedence in the order of time. This same author also wrote a treatise, in which he attempted to refute the physical system of Sir Isaac Newton. Probably one work was written with as much wisdom, and proved quite as successful, as the other. Indeed it would seem, from the statements of the Modern History of Universalism, (page 381,) that the warmth with which the first work was written was its principal recommendation.
The next book claiming our notice is a posthumous publication from the pen of the Rev. Dr. Joseph Huntington, of Coventry, Conn., which was issued from the press of Samuel Green in New-London, in 1796. It was entitled “ Calvinism Improved, or the Gospel Illustrated as a System of Real Grace, issuing in the Salvation of All Men.” The precise time when this work was written is not known. The author, as appears from the Introduction, intended to publish it soon after its composition, but finally, as the date of the publication shows, he concluded to defer it; and, in the latter part of his days, as those who knew him assure me, he preached the same Calvinistic doctrine which had marked his earlier ministration. He was not even suspected of holding the tenets of his book until after his death, when, in the examination of his papers, the manuscript was found. A Restorationist in the neighborhood earnestly besought the privilege of publishing the book. For a time he was refused, until Mrs. Huntington, overcome by his representations, at last consented; but such was her view of the dangerous tendency of the work, that, with the assistance of her friends, she afterward collected and burned all the copies she could possibly obtain. The design of
Dr. Huntington probably was, that the work should never appear; but his name, by the importunity of a misguided man, has been branded with the effects of his work. He attempts to show in his book simply this : that the decree of election embraces all men, and, consequently, all will be saved. The book probably never had a great influence, and will never be called from its resting-place into use. It is a dry work, wearying us by its prolixity, as well as by its uninteresting style.
The book of Dr. Huntington was reviewed, in a short time after its publication, by Rev. Nathan Strong, of Hartford, Conn., in a treatise entitled, “ The Doctrine of Eternal Misery reconcileable with the Benevolence of God, and a Truth plainly asserted in the Scriptures."
This was, in its turn, subjected to the ordeal of criticism by Rev. Dan Foster, A. M., of Charlestown, N. H. His book bore the name of " A Critical and Candid Examination of a late publication, entitled, The Doctrine of Eternal Misery reconcileable with the Infinite Benevolence of God.”
From what can be learned of the review and reply, they are neither of them of high merit. Both have long since gone out of notice.
Another author, more eminent than those above named, has also contributed his mite to the support of the system. Dr. Charles Chauncey, at the time pastor of the First Congregational Church in Boston, about the year 1757, wrote a work in defence of the doc. trine of Universal Restoration. ; He did not dare to publish it, how. ever, for some time. Like Murray before him, he felt the weight of the motive which a good salary, an easy situation, and a large circle of friends afforded ; and these he would not sacrifice for the truth. He published, however, in 1782, a pamphlet, the object of which was to sound the public on the subject, so as to ascertain whether it would be prudent to affix his name to his larger work.
Dr. Samuel Mather, of Boston, and Dr. Gordon, of Roxbury, both attacked the pamphlet, and the whole tide of public feeling turned against it. This settled the question in the mind of Chauncey, and he determined not to send out his work in his own name, nor from an American press. But still, the loss of so great a literary labor seemed too much, and, accordingly, the doctor sent his work to London, where it appeared anonymously in 1784. The younger President Edwards came out with a reply, entitled, “ The Salvation of All Men Strictly Examined,” &c. This is the ablest of all the early works against Universalism. It is unanswered and unanswerable, and forms a most valuable addition to the library of the theological student.
There seems to have been a period of some years, just subsequent to 1786, in which few if any authors favored the world with the result of their lucubrations upon this subject. In latter times, however, many books have been published on all sides of the question, and the doctrine is undergoing, with many, a most thorough investigation.
Hosea Ballou stands at the head of modern Universalist authors by general consent. He has written a " Treatise on the Atonement," several volumes of sermons, and, lately, “ An Examination of the
Vol. VIII.-October, 1837. 34
Doctrine of Future Retribution.” These, with many fugitive pieces and some smaller works, form the sum of his productions.
As a writer, Mr. Ballou cannot lay claim to even ordinary merit. There is a looseness and want of depth and chasteness about his style, an appearance of sophistry and evasion in his arguments, and a tedious and even disgusting repetition of the same illustrations, especially those of the family relation and the history of Joseph, which will secure for all his productions a place in oblivion almost as soon as his head is pillowed in death ; and it is a matter of astonishment that even now works of so little merit in any view can exert so great an influence.
Thomas Whittemore, principal editor of the Trumpet and Universalist Magazine, stands next on the list of Universalist writers. His principal works are, “ The Ancient and Modern Histories of Universalism,” and “ Notes on the Parables." Neither of these works ranks high. The first is doubtless the best; and even this does not attract a very general notice.
“ Balfour's Inquiries,” perhaps, claim attention next. These, as well as his answer to Hudson, seem, of late, to have gone into disrepute. They are, among books, what Wat Tyler and Jack Straw, heroes of the time of Richard II., were among generals : powerful without strength, influential without merit; and, in their illiteracy, the guiding spirits of a blinded host.
The before-named are Ultra-Universalist authors. The Universal Restorationist sentiment has found lately, in Charles Hudson, its principal defender. He wrote, a few years since, the treatise to which Mr. Balfour replied. Of the character of this work we are not able to speak definitely, having had no opportunity of perusing it.
Besides the books already named which have been published against this system, there are others of modern date. Rev. Bernard Whitman has given to the world a treatise, entitled, “ Letters to a Universalist,” which is well written; and presents the argument against Ultra-Universalism in such a form, and with such force, as to render it truly valuable. Mr. Whitman was probably a Restorationist, though a clergyman of the Unitarian Church; but he has, nevertheless, struck a blow at Ultraism from which it cannot soon recover. The principal treatises, however, against this error, as well as the strongest arguments in its favor, are to be found in the records of the public controversies which have taken place. Of these there have been several. One was carried on about ten years since, in the Trumpet and Universalist Magazine, between Rev. O. Scott, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and Thomas Whittemoré, editor of the Trumpet. This was kept up until the columns were unceremoniously closed against Mr. Scott, and it, of course, was broken off before the parties had finished their work. Mr. Whittemore afterward had an oral discussion with Rev. Mr. Braman, of Danvers. This took place in 1833. The report does no honor to either party. The speeches on both sides were full of the most contemptible nonsense and quibbling; and well was it for common sense, so beleaguered by these clerical wranglers, when the sun went down and the discussion ended.
In the autumn of 1827 a public disputation took place in the town of Springfield, Mass., between Rev. T. Merritt, of the Methodist
Episcopal Church, and Lucius R. Paige. Their discussion was carried on by lectures and rejoinders, which were read in the Me. thodist Episcopal Church. It was on all hands acknowledged that Universalism was worsted in this contest. Indeed, it has never since then been able to sustain itself, in that region until within a short time. Of late one weak society has been formed, a few miles from the place of dispute.
Between Rev. Luther Lee, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and Rev. Mr. Morse, a Universalist, another discussion took place in the state of New-York, a year or two since. The whole has since been published by Mr. Lee.
Rev. Ezra Styles Ely has engaged with Rev. Abel C. Thomas, and Rev. Mr. Breckenridge with the same person.
The matter of these various disputations given to the world, forms the most valuble resource from which the oppugners or the defenders of Universalism can draw their arguments. They remain, too, and ever will remain, imperishable records of the weakness of error, and of the power of truth and the triumph of sound theology, over sophistry, bigotry, and delusion.
Of course Universalists do not, and will not, admit all this. Even as they fly from the field, they raise on the lance's point the armor of a fallen foe, whose dead body they stripped in their retreat, and triumphantly point to it as the most indubitable evidence that they have come off conquerors, and more than conquerors, from the field of strife. But let them, we say, substantiate their claim by remaining upon that field, and showing themselves able to keep it; not by shouting victory in the confusion of retreat.
Our next work is to look into the history of Universalism as a system of theology, and to ascertain what changes have taken place in it, if any; and how those changes stand related to Christian theology.
Four different theories have been advanced and defended since the introduction of Universalism into this country. These, in the hands of different persons, have been subjected to a thousand modifications and modes of defence, the history of which cannot be given in this short essay. We confine ourselves, therefore, to the principal features of the heresy.
Murray, the father of American Restorationism, held to the proper divinity of Christ, the doctrine of atonement, spiritual regenera. tion, a general judgment, and the existence of both happiness and misery after death. But, while Mr. Murray admitted these doctrines, he connected with them some most singular tenets. A follower of Relly, like him, he contended, not that Christ suffered instead of us, but that we were so united with Christ as actually to be punished for our sins in his sufferings—that we suffered in his sufferings, or that his sufferings were ours.
He claimed, that if we were so connected with the first Adam as to sin in him, so we were so united with the second Adam as to suffer in him the penal consequences of our guilt. In establishing the fact of this union, the following, among other passages of Scripture, relied on,
viz. : For we are members of his body, and of his flesh, and of his bones ;" Eph. v, 3. “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being
many, are one body, so also is Christ ;'' 1 Cor. xii, 12. “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another ;' Rom. xii, 5. “I am crucified with Christ," &c.; Gal. ii, 20. As he claimed that the penalty of the law for all sin had been inflicted on us in the person of Christ, so he maintained that there could be, henceforward, no penal suffering for sin, but that all the evils coming upon the sinner are the natural effects of his acts, and are not at all measured by the moral nature of those acts. The misery, therefore, which he believed the wicked would suffer in the next world would not be a punishment, but rather the natural effect of their blindness and unbelief; so that, as soon as they believed, they would be received into heaven. The other doctrines named as helping to compose Mr. Murray's system, it is believed, he held as they are generally taught and understood.
Mr. Winchester, who had learned his Universalism from Seigvolk and Stonehouse instead of Relly, did not receive this doctrine of union and its consequences, but in all other particulars he agreed with Murray. Winchester believed that sinners might receive the penal consequences of their sins even now; that they would thus be punished in the coming world; and that the duration and measure of their pain would be in exact proportion to the demerit of the transgression. This penalty he believed to be inflicted by the will of God on account of sins already committed, and he held, in con. sequence, that the suffering would terminate, not when the sinner repented or believed, but when he had been punished during the period claimed by justice.
The difference, then, between Murray and Winchester, was this: Murray held that we were so united with Christ as to be punished in him; Winchester denied such a union. Murray taught that sin procures no punishment, but only some natural evils following upon that kind of action; Winchester believed that sin has its proper punishment in this and the future world. Murray limited misery in the future state by the blindness of the sufferer, and claimed that the pain ceased when the creature willed; Winchester limited it by the desert of the sinner, and insisted that it ended when God willed. Such were the points of their disagreement.
It never caused, however, as we can learn, any disruption of feeling or effort, though it must be acknowledged that the systems differ very materially from each other.
These distinctions were the only ones known in the early days of Universalism in this country. But change, which sweeps over all, was to make its influence visible on these systems of doctrine; and Universalists, ceasing to be distinguished as followers of Winchester on the one hand, or of Murray on the other, were to assume new denominations and sentiments.
A heresy which has one principle fundamental to the system, may always be known by the constant changes which take place in the defence, the explanation, or the illustration of that principle. Truth is unchanging; and though there may be additions to the means of defence, and sometimes, perhaps, a slight difference in the arguments, in general all the reasons and facts which sustain the true assumption will remain the same-as changeless as the truth they establish. The argument once formed, and applied aright, is