Page images

they never can do! That we are saved by grace alone; and we are saved by works-that there is virtue enough in one drop of Christ's blood to save a world; yet the greatest part of the world will be lost, each man having to work out his own salvation. What are we to understand by all these inconsistencies? Who can analyze the heterogeneous particles of which this mass is composed ?" It is hardly possible to preach consistent sermon, on the limitarian plan. Inconsistency and contradiction have been long noticed by observing people, so that many do not go to hear preaching at all. And it has driven many people into deism. Contradiction is what the Methodists have long charged the Calvinists with; but there is very little difference between them. I have often heard them begin and go on pretty well for a while; but before they concluded, have contradicted or spoiled all they said before. And how contradictory their conduct is to their faith. They believe that none will be saved but those who become regenerated, sanctified, and made perfectly holy in this life; and if not thus prepared, after death it will be forever too late. Now look at the lives and conduct of those who profess thus to believe, for it is said conduct speaks louder than words.Besides, they always confess they are sinners. and are not prepared to die. As

As says an author, “Christians profess to believe, that if they die in their sins, they cannot go to heaven or happiness, but will go to a place which they call hell, where they will remain forever in a lake of fire. Yet they contend for living in sin, and meet two or three times each week, and confess that the

[ocr errors]

are miserable sinners; and withal say, that they hope to go to heaven.” It is very common to hear those who believe in eternal misery, say, · if I was prepared to die:” and men and women, of 70 or 30 years of age, say the same.

the same. I have often asked old people, when do you expect to be prepared ? You said the same 20 or 30 years ago! And you think yourselves no more prepared now than then! And the most of those who profess to believe in such intolerable torment, go on as indifferent about it, as if they had never heard a word of it; and it is certain those who profess to believe in it, are not, nor never have been, any better in their conduct and deportment, than those who do not believe it. And, as truly says Dr. Scott, in his Commentaries on the Bible, “men rush into crimes in the full belief of never ending misery as the consequence; and daily experience proves that the professors of that doctrine are like other menand a belief that God is love, does not surely lead to greater immorality.”

We must become holy in order to be saved; yet many say that we cannot live without committing sin, and that we shall sin as long as we are in the body; and as the tree falls, so it lies; and yet they expect to go to heaven! Yes, it is on universal salvation they expect to be saved, though they deny it: for they say, especially when they are about to leave the world, we depend altogether upon the mercy and goodness of God, or the merits of Christ, and expect to be saved by him. And they place not the least dependence on their works, or any thing that they have done. Thus they all come to the faith o! Universalism at last; the mercy, love and goodness of God is their last resort and only support. and all their dependence; except some poor creatures who die in despair.

If none can be saved but those who become sanctified and made perfectly holy before death: and as Wesley says, “ they must be holy, not in their own judgment, but in the judgment of God himself;" reader, how many do you think will be saved? I think you will be almost ready to answer, not one!

Again, as to being saved according to the limitarian faith, those of every sect think they are right and in the way to heaven; though in midnight darkness, they think they have the only light, and that all others are wrong. The learned Wollaston once asked a bigot, how many sects there might be? “Why,” said he, “I can make no judgment-I never considered the subject.” Do you think, said Wollaston, there may be a hundred? 4 yes, at least," cried the bigot. Why then, replied the philosopher, it is ninety-nine to a hundred that you are wrong!

And according to the limitarian faith, they all have, at times, their doubts and fears; much of which I have heard, particularly in Methodist

class meetings. It is only the brittle thread of į life, as I have often heard, that keeps them each

moment from falling into hell. What a most unhappy state of mind this must be to live in, and at the same time believ in a hell of everlasting misery.

The natural tendency of the doctrine, is to make all who seriously believe it, and consider of it, unhappy. Several I have known who pass

ed their days and nights in mourning with the idea that God would have no mercy on them. I had a brother who had imbibed this notion -for about a year he spent most of his days and nights in mourning, and who had to be most of the time watched, as he had attempted several times to take his own life. It is a dreadful and soul-paralyzing doctrine,and no wonder it makes many miserable; and the more strongly believed and realized, the more unhappy its consequences, as has been the case with great numbers who have been driven to desperation and suicide.

Notice what the celebrated Saurin has said of it in one of his sermons. After having preached a lengthy discourse to prove the doctrine of endless misery, he remarks thus: “I sink! I sink! under the awful weight of my subject; and I declare when I see my friends, my relations, the people of my charge, this whole congregation; when I think, that I, that you, that we are all threatened with these torments;" [not so, you think so, by falsely construing a few texts of scripture;] “ when I see in the lukewarmness of my devotion, in the languor of my love, in the levity of my resolutions and designs, the least evidence, though it be only presumptive, of my future misery; yet I find in the thought a mortal poison, which diffuseth itself into every period of my life, rendering society tiresome, nourishment insipid, pleasures disgustful, and life itself a cruel bitter; I cease to wonder that the fear of hell hath made some mad and others melancholy." This is well and truly said, and produces an effect according to the following:

“ Mixtures of joy and trouble I daily pass through,
Sometimes I'm in a valley, and sinking down with woe."

A right faith, religion and confidence in God would make the lives of all men even and happy, not doubting, and sometimes up, and at other times down, dark and blind, and feeling as if sinking into woe: all which is the effect of a false and anti-christian religion. And its having a mortal poison in it, is proof that it is so; and in proportion as a man believes in it, it destroys confidence in God, mars all comfort and peace of mind in this life, and as Saurin has truly observed, “diffuseth itself through every period of men's lives, rendering every thing that God in his unbounded goodness has made for the comfort of man, even life itself, a cruel bitter.” This would be enough, if people were not bound by tradition, and the prejudice of education, to convince them of the fallacy of the doctrine.

There are many opinions, which, though they are erroneous, yet are harmless, or not of injury to Society, or to any individual; but it is far from being so respecting the soul-sorrowing and dreadful doctrine of hell torments; “ only in the thought of which," as it is said by Saurin, there is a mortal poison;" and that we have had much evidence of its baneful effects, is a truth that cannot be denied; thousands have been made miserable by it; as I have said it has been the cause of most of the persecution in Christendom; and in this way millions have been destroyed by it.*

Now, supposing that all Christendom, for

* It is calculated that no less than 1,200,000 of those called Waldenses and Albigenses were most of them put to a cruel death in 30 years. And after the Protestants got power, the same intolerant and persecuting spirit also prevailed, principally in the Lutheran and Calvinistic churches, for many years, and is not yet entirely done away. Indeed it would be much the

« EelmineJätka »