« السابقةمتابعة »
Wherever Universalists form a society, they are not bound by a multiplicity of articles, like other denominations, saying thus far thou shalt go and no farther. They, in general, have only the three following, which they consider as essential; leaving every man to believe, in other respects, as each may think proper. "And where the brethren cannot see alike, they may agree to differ, only exercising the spirit of meekness and charity one toward another."
Article 1. “We believe that the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament contain a revelation of the character of God, and of the duty, interest and final destination of mankind.
2. "We believe that there is one God, whose nature is love; revealed in one Lord Jesus Christ, by one holy spirit of grace; who will finally restore the whole family of mankind to holiness and happiness.
3. "We believe that holiness and true happiness are inseparably connected; and that believers ought to maintain order, and practise good works, for these things are good and profitable unto men."
It appears that Universalism is making as rapid progress in Europe as in America. A writer, (in the Gospel Herald, volume 4,) states, that There are in Scotland six or eight Unitarian churches, who zealously believe, and who proclaim it from the pulpit and the press; and if we take in the English Unitarians, among whom, I believe, there is not one advocate of endless misery, we will have 400 congregations of Univerşalists.
"In proof of the Universalism of the British Unitarians, take the following facts: all their leading writers have espoused it; Dr. Priestley in several of his works; Mr. Lindsey in his work on Divine Government, showing that every thing is from God, and for good to all; Dr. Estlin, Messrs. Grundy, Yates, Belsham and Wright, in their numerous works. Also Dr. Smith, minister of the Unitarian church in England, in his admirable work, entitled 'Illustration of the Divine Government,' tending to shew that every thing is under the direction of infinite wisdom and goodness, and will terminate in the production of universal purity and happiness. This work, which has passed through several editions, has received the decided approbation of the Unitarians, as a body.
"In the improved version, or translation of the New Testament,* published by the Unitarian Society for promoting christian knowledge and the practice of virtue,' their note on Matthew xxv. 46. reads thus: The word here rendered punishment, properly signifies correction inflicted for the benefit of the offender; and the word translated everlasting, is often used to express a long, indefinite duration. This text, therefore, so far from giving countenance to the harsh doctrine of endless misery, is rather favourable to the ultimate restitution of the wicked to virtue and happiness.'
"On 1 Cor. xv. 22, 23. they have the following note: Here the apostle evidently considers
"An improved version, translated from the original Greek, has also been lately published in Philadelphia by Abner Kneeland
Christ as a mere man,* as much as Adam was; death being introduced by one man, and eternal life by another. It is also to be observed, that all, without exception, who die in Adam, will participate in this glorious resurrection of Christ, when all his enemies shall be subdued unto him. That is, when all natural and moral evil shall be exterminated, and death shall be swallowed up in victory. This is that glorious issue of the Divine administration to which the gospel encourages us to look forward;' [not to look forward to behold the horrid sight of the eternal torment of millions;] and for which it is intended to qualify and prepare all who practically embrace it.
"The unitarian Universalists reject (as most of them do in America) the silly notion of the personal existence of the devil. They have three periodical publications; two in London. the Monthly Repository, and the Christian Reformer; and one at Liverpool, the Christian Reflector.
"There is another body of the unitarian Universalists, who publish a periodical word called the Free Thinking Christian Quarterly Review, designed to maintain the pure principles of Christianity against priestcraft, orthodoxy,t and infi
*That the Almighty, the creator of all worlds, should in particular come to our world, which is but one, and as a speck to the innumerable millions of worlds that float in unbounded space, and be born of a woman, work at the carpenter's trade, travel about the small spot of Judea, and suffer himself to be put to death by his poor, ignorant creatures, is to me of all things the most unaccountable.
+ Poor orthodoxy appears to have many enemies in the present day, in. Europe as well as in America. What can be the reason? Is it because mankind have become worse than ever before, or that there is more freedom allowed for people to think and examine for themselves, and more light to distinguish sense from nonsense?
delity. They resemble the Quakers, having no clergy, nor any particular form of worship. They consider that prayer should be of the heart, and wholly confined to the closet," &c.
To conclude, we have now seen the progress of this glorious doctrine-the first and most gracious promise ever made-the final salvation and happiness of the whole human family-the good tidings of great joy to the whole world of mankind, from the time it was first promised by our Omnipotent Parent to our father Adam in paradise, (what other particular doctrine is there that can be so traced from the beginning? What other doctrine, since the world began, has been so clearly preached by all God's prophets, as the doctrine of the restitution of all things?) and more fully and clearly renewed to the patriarchs, preached by the prophets, proclaimed by angels "good tidings of great joy to all people," "peace on earth and good will towards men," "glory to God in the highest," preached by Jesus Christ and his apostles, and by their successors: then we have seen how it became hid, like the sun behind a thick cloud, for several centuries, when damnation, instead of salvation, was preached; and that then it was, that "darkness covered the earth, and gross darkness the people." We have seen the time that light again began to break forth, when the doctrine was again preached, and gradually increased; and of late years it has had a great increase in Europe as well as in America. It is only 55 years since this doctrine of good tidings was first proclaimed in this western world, and that by a solitary individual, who came into this country to live a retired life: but
it appears that "God, who worketh all things after the council of his own will," had determined otherwise he passed along from one end of the continent to the other, proclaiming the glad tid ings of everlasting life, the same that the angels had proclaimed should be "good tidings of great joy to all people." I will stop to ask a simple question. Suppose he had joined with all other preachers, and proclaimed hell and eternal damnation to most people, would this have been good tidings of great joy to all people? It is surprising that people cannot, or will not, see the difference between preaching the gospel of Christ, and that of Antichrist.* And as says the proclaimer of good tidings, "When I first came to America there was not a single preacher, hardly a hearer, who had any idea of the true Christ, as the Saviour of the world." Then he tells how the doctrine had increased in his day; and says, "Yes, yes, the knowledge of the salvation of God will grow exceedingly"—a true prediction; it has grown exceedingly: and considering its increase, as we have seen in a little over half a century, and from so small a beginning, and against the combination of nearly all the clergy and the denominations of professed Christians to oppose it, what may we expect, from its present increase, will be its progress 50 years hence? I think it very probable that be
* It was some years before, or in the years 1741 and 42, that Whitfield passed through the country, with little or no opposition, because he was orthodox, preaching salvation to a small number, the elect, and eternal damnation to all others. And this is "good tidings of great joy to all people." Astonishing infatuation! Whitfield made a great stir among the dry bones, with much sorrow and crying; but all soon passed away: but truth liveth and abideth forever.