Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

incapable of refutation, and of course will need no new fashioning. But no valid argument can be brought to defend an error, and, therefore, one after another as they are brought they will be exploded; and unless the principle be given up, others must be created to supply the vacancy.

So it has been with Universalism. Its own friends were not satisfied with either the system of Murray or of Winchester. The arguments did not convince them, or, evidently, they would still be urged; and, in fine, there seemed, after years of examination, but a small portion of either theory which was worthy the name of truth. The principle that all will finally be holy and happy was not given up. This, to those who believed it, seemed a doctrine too glorious and heart-cheering to renounce; and it was still retained as a cherished idol.

What might have been anticipated took place. One by one the doctrines taught by the fathers of Universalism were consigned to the record of exploded propositions, and new hypotheses took their place.

The doctrines of the Trinity, the Atonement, Depravity, and Regeneration, as they are generally understood, ceased to be taught, and soon to be believed ; and the whole body of Universalists became Unitarians. All this, however, was not the work of a moment. Years were spent in bringing about the change; but the work, though slowly, was effectually performed, and the old systems silently sunk into general disrepute, from which, among Universalists, they were never to rise again.

Here, then, we find the third system. It differs from the theories of Murray and Winchester by denying the doctrines of the Trinity, the Atonement, Regeneration, and others depending on these, and by maintaining the Unitarian notions upon these several points. It agrees with the old theories in asserting the doctrine of a general judgment and limited future punishment.

Of this last class are the modern Restorationists, in connection with the Massachusetts Universal Restorationist Association. There are also, it is believed, a considerable number of this faith in the fellowship of the General Convention of Universalists; and it is probable that the larger part of the Unitarian body in New-England are likewise strongly tinctured by the doctrine, if not entirely satisfied with it.

But the most considerable departure from ancient opinions remains to be noticed.

About the year 1818, Hosea Ballou, of Boston, and Edward Turner, of Charlestown, published, by agreement, a series of letters in the “Gospel Visitant," on the subject of future punishment. Turner defended the doctrine of the Restorationists; and Ballou, in opposition to him, maintained that there would be no suffering of any

kind for any man after death.

This was a new sentiment, which the world never heard soberly defended until then, and its novelty excited attention. It was just the thing desired; and before it could be known if the doctrine was defensible, multitudes had staked their every eternal hope upon it.

There were some singular features about this controversy which deserve notice. Mr. Ballou declares, that when he sat down to

defend his proposition he was not satisfied that it was true.

He had some thought that it might be, but he was not sure. He claims, that when he wrote his “ Notes on the Parables” and the “ Treatise on the Atonement," he had left entirely the doctrine of penal suffering; and was convinced that if suffering should take place in the future world it would be because men would be sinful there.

This he gave up during the discussion, and " became entirely satisfied that the Scriptures begin and end the history of sin in flesh and blood, and that, beyond this mortal existence, the Bible teaches no other sentient state but that which is called by the blessed name of life and immortality.” (Mod. Hist. Univers., p. 337.)

How long this system had been in preparation we are unable to say. Probably, however, not long, as Mr. Ballou (who, doubtless, was the first man in the world who ever thought of it) tells us that he himself was not confirmed in the sentiment until this controversy took place. But whatever was the date of its origin, it is certain that in a few years after the discussion the great majority of the Universalists had become Ultra. So congenial was it with the feelings of unsanctified nature, that hundreds readily embraced it who before had believed in future punishment; and very many who had professed to be infidels, as well as those who neither professed nor believed any thing, also ranged themselves under its banners and became its defenders.

The system of Ultra-Universalism differs very materially from Universal Restorationism, and it may be proper to mark out more definitely the points of disagreement.

Ultra-Universalists teach that the first moment of consciousness after death will be one of supreme holiness and happiness, which will be without end.

Restorationists, on the contrary, hold that, in the case of millions, the first moment of consciousness will be one of suffering, and that this will continue for an unknown limited period.

Ultraists claim that the resurrection is but the putting on of immortality and blessedness upon the souls of all men. Restorationists that it is the bestowment of unsexual, indestructible, and immortal bodies, perfectly adapted to that state of existence, which bodies are to be the instruments of souls, as our bodies are here, and that these bodies will be given alike to the just and the unjust.

Ultraists teach that there will be no judgment after death. Restorationists that there will be a most strict and impartial judgment passed upon all men, in which the righteous will be justified and the wicked condemned.

The former class maintain that there is no connection between this and the future existence; that neither will vice, virtue, suffering, nor enjoyment in this state benefit or injure us in that; but that we shall be in that state in every respect as though this had not been.

The latter claim that there is a direct and sensible connection of the two states; that the virtue and suffering of this state procure their actual reward, and the vice its positive punishment, in the eternal world.

Ultraists hold that the benefits of Christ's mission are all confined to this present world. Restorationists believe that the effects of that mediation will be experienced in an incomprehensible importance in the world to come ; that, in the unknown ages of futurity, Christ shall be the great deliverer of perishing spirits.

The former teach, that sin is its own immediate adequate punishment. The latter avow that it is not, but that its heaviest punishment is often very remote, and forms no part of the sin.

All sin, say the first, proceeds from the body, or is caused by the animal propensities, which alone are depraved and unholy. All sin, say the latter, proceeds from the soul or heart, and is the product of the will, in which the depravity of our natures inheres.

Ultraists believe that man never sins, except when the animal overcomes the spiritual man; so that the sinner is more unfortunate than guilty. Restorationists claim, that under such conditions, man never sins, as it cannot be wrong to do what cannot be avoided ; but that he always sins voluntarily, knowing the act to be wrong, and being able to abstain from the specific wickedness of which he is guilty.

Ultraists believe, farther, that man can attain to perfect moral virtue only in the absence of temptation. Restorationists, that temptation may call forth and strengthen the moral virtues, so as to be made a means of attaining to holiness. The former class hold that faith, repentance, and moral discipline, appertain only to the present state. The latter, that they are extended to the next. Lastly, Ultra-Universalists believe that man, considered as a rational soul, is essentially divine, being the offspring of God by direct generative emanation. While Restorationists teach that man's nature, so far from being divine, is inferior to that of angels, and that instead of proceeding from God by generative emanation, it is a creation by the power of his word, in the same sense as is the human body.

Such, then, are the differences between these two classes of modern Universalists, and such are the doctrines they hold and teach.

This is not the place to discuss the merits of the theories which have passed before us, or to reason for or against them; but a few reflections in conclusion may be, perhaps, admissible.

The first difficulty which meets us is this : Universalism does not appear to have been received by the founder of Christianity. The earliest date which the Restorationism of the present time can show, is 1800. And under any form, it did not exist until the days of Origen, in the third century. If the present system of Restorationism, therefore, be the true doctrine of the Bible, we are under the necessity of believing that the world never had the truth until 37 years ago ; or if the oldest form of the doctrine be admitted as the proper one, not only must the moderns acknowledge that their present views are incorrect, but they must admit also, that for more than two hundred years after Christ, the whole world was wrapped in heathenish darkness and ignorance. But if these difficulties make against Restorationism, what will be said of Ultraism? There has been, indeed, an attempt made, to show that the doctrine of no future punishment was held by the Gnostics, who, the writer said, were * the immediate successors of the apostles,” and, as he probably supposed, were therefore possessed of the true doctrine, (Univer. Mag. of May 28, 1831.) But the idea that Ultra-Universalism is a Scripture doctrine, and yet that its first adherents were the Gnostics, is about as absurd as to talk of an episcopal succession through Pope Joan.

If the system cannot be suspended upon this peg of antiquity, it must fall into the year 1818, or thereabouts, and claim Hosea Ballou for its author ; and then how gracefully will it stand out to receive our homage as the doctrine of the apostles, and, more than all, of Jesus Christ; and with what strict propriety Mr. Ballou can claim more honor from us and from posterity than Martin Luther himself, since he only substituted one error for another, while Mr. Ballou has dug out of the ruins of eighteen centuries the lost truth, and restored it again to a deceived and suffering world, saving them thereby from their delusion and misery, and bringing to light before them life and immortality. The very modern style of this system is evidence against it; for though we are not disposed to plead prescription, it can hardly be supposed that God, ever good and watchful over the interests of his creatures, would have allowed them to remain in ignorance of the truth so universally and so long.

There is another fact which has already been alluded to, which ought not to be forgotten. It is the vast multiplicity of changes in the systems founded on this one proposition, All men will finally be holy and happy. Origen, the German Anabaptists, the Libertines of Holland, the English Unitarians, the Rellyan and the Winchesterian Restorationists, the Modern Restorationists, and the Ultra-Universalists, who have as bodies, or in part, embraced the doctrine, have all done so on different grounds, and defended themselves by different arguments.

We certainly may be allowed to ask, why is this? Does the truth require such change? or is this rather an error, which can never be successfully defended, and therefore constantly calls for new experiments? We certainly incline to the latter opinion, and see not how we can do otherwise. A difficulty growing out of these changes, turns much to the account of Universalism. One never knows what to refute. He may begin with a theory which has had volumes written to illustrate and defend it; but, hefore his refutation is completed, the system may undergo some new metamorphosis, and his labor is lost.

The time, however, we think is coming, when all possible changes will have been passed through, and when each having received a proper condemnation, the whole system of absurdity and error will go into merited oblivion.

But this will not take place as yet. For a little season this heresy will lift up itself on high. For a season its friends will rejoice in the midst of their triumph. Perhaps the flood of fire will roll over all the churches, withering and destroying every green thing. But other days shall follow those of trial. Humbled before God by the prevalence of error, hardened for the warfare by the miseries of persecution, having a piety purified from every corruption by the necessity of the times, and armed by Heaven for the holy work, the children of the Lord shall bestir themselves-shall put on strength and the truth shall be made glorious in the eyes of all men; while error, hurled from the throne of its power, shall sink into the pit from whence it came up, and men shall rejoice together, that the destroyer of the Lord's heritage has perished for ever.

Art. III. - The Elements of Political Economy. By FRANCIS Wav.

LAND, D. D. President of Brown University, and Professor of Moral Philosophy. New-York: Leavitt, Lord, and Co., 1837. 1 vol., 8vo., pp. 472.

By Professor HOLDICH, of the Wesleyan University. Our design in this article is to draw the attention of our readers to this important branch of science. Into mere matters of abstract science, it is not the intention of this work very extensively to enter. Its department is of rather a different character. But there are some sciences so intimately connected with the happiness and with the morals of mankind ; so closely allied to the interests of religion, and the advancement of the divine purposes on earth, that we should be justly chargeable with criminal neglect as public journalists, should we pass over them in silence. Such we conceive to be the case in regard to the science of Political Economy ; and if we can only succeed in conveying to our reader the impressions on our own mind in relation to it, he will admit that it is every way worthy of his attention. Let it be remembered, therefore, that our object is only to excite inquiry, and lead to investigation: we write for the uninitiated, not for the adept. If the latter find but little in this article to interest or entertain him, our expectations will not be disappointed.

But what is Political Economy? The' word economy is compounded of two Greek words, olkos, a house, and vouopa, law, and therefore signifies the law of the household, or domestic management. It is used altogether in reference to the production, consumption, and distribution of wealth. The epithet, political, extends the application of economy to the entire body politic—the whole community. Political economy, therefore, is the science of public wealth, and treats upon the production, consumption, and distribution of wealth, among the entire community.

But what is wealth? We answer, every thing material that has exchangeable value; every thing that contributes to the comfort, the happiness, the improvement, or convenience of human beings, and for which men are willing to give value in return. It has been the mistake of some, to consider wealth as consisting only of money. But money is only an item of wealth, and is valuable just in proportion to its utility. The

The farmer knows that his horses and ploughs are a part of his wealth, as much as the money in his bureau ; and the merchant knows that the cash in his till, and the goods upon his shelves, are alike parts of his wealth. This will prepare us in part to appreciate the assertion, that Political Economy is connected with human happiness; since, upon its being correctly understood, and followed out in practice, depend, in a great degree, the elements of our physical happiness, and the means of our intellectual and moral improvement. How it affects our religious interests, we shall see more clearly hereafter.

From what has been already said, we may see, to some extent, the immense importance of this science to the statesman. Statesmen are the guardians of the public prosperity, and they generally assume more or less the office of directing and encouraging public production. If, then, they do not understand the laws of production, if they be ignorant of the true sources and means of creating wealth,

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »