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then, to meet the just and sober expectations which (making due allowance for the poetic coloring employed in this enigmatical part of the sacred oracles) arise out of what is said by the revelator, about the thousand years' reign of Messiah on the earth ? Candor replies--nothing.
Reader, I am greatly averse to dogmatizing, and will not pretend, therefore, that I have infallibly unfolded the true significance of the parts of this mystical book which I have touched apon; but this I will affirm, that I have given you my own views with all candor, and that I have formed those views with the utmost care, and without implicitly following the steps of any
of the numerous expositors thereof, and consequently I shall not ask you implicitly to follow mine.
AN IMPORTANT QUESTION CONSIDERED.
I have several times anticipated the question, whether the Creator could not have accomplished all his proposed ends of benevolence, without subjecting us to those preliminary sufferings which form so considerable a part of our present allotment? “ Was it not,” we are frequently asked, “ equally possible for him to have made us perfectly happy at once ? and if so, must he not be wanting in goodness ot to have done so ?" It is not for us to say what the Almighty could or could not have done, in this case ; it seems probable, however, that with every degree of imperfeclion in being, there must necessarily be a corresponding degree of imperfection in happiness : himself alone is infinitely perfect in nature, and, consequently, himself alone is infinitely perfect in felicity. If he could have made us as perfect, he could also have made us as happy, as himself: but then we could have known no progression in happiness; we could not have passed from this state to a better, from that to a better still, and so on, ad infini. lum, as seems to be our destination under the present order of things. This is one view of the case which tolerably well solves the enigma of the existence of suffering, under the government of infinite love: but there is another.
We frequently hear the remark, that all our happiness is comparative, or that it arises from contrast—that we could not enjoy food if we never experienced hunger-nor drink, if we never knew thirst--nor rest, if we were strangers to fatigue, etc.
This is a mistake, however; all our pleasure is not relative, although much unquestionably is; but our senses are so contrived as to be media of positive enjoyment tous. It is not essential to our appreciating the fragrance of the rose or violet, that we previously respire the sulphuretted hydrogen arising from fæted house-drains : the infant, it may be presumed, without previous experience, enjoys the food with which nature has so kindly furnished the mother for its suslenance. No, all our happiness does not result from contrast; yet who can doubt that it is incalculably increased thereby? A man who is born to affluence-whose whole existence has been spent in all the enjoyments which wealth could supply--who has never known the fatigues of labor, nor the gnawings of want-has but small zest for the pleasures which offer themselves ready culled to his hand ; but he becomes sick of satiety, and a prey to that stagnation of soul proceeding from the want of an object to engage its energies. But conceive a poor man, accustomed from his birth to severe drudgery, and the coarsest fare: or conceive the pampered son of wealih first supposed---let hiin be cast by accident upon an in hospitable coast--he must needs traverse a savage desert ere he can reach the abodes of civilized life-days and nights of want and suffering elapse during his toilsome journey-hunger, and thirst, and weariness, and burning heat, and dangers innumerable ;-he reaches the goal at length, is kindly received, furnished with all the luxuries of tropical existence-delightful groves overshadow him-breezes laden with aromatic incense fan his framethe melody of birds regale kis ear-and all that appetite--all that fancy can crave, is subject to his wish. Is argument needed, reader, to convince you that our traveler enjoys these luxuries with a more intense delight than, before he tasted of adversity, he ever experienced ?
That our enjoyment is incalculably enhanced by contrast, then, s past denial, and we hence obtain an idea of the probable use of our present suffering; the bliss of eternity may be the more exquisite for the tears of time, and the happiness of each succeeding stage of our existence may be heightened by the deficiencies
of the stage preceding it; for I am far from thinking that we shall arrive at once, on our reaching heaver), at the acme of felicity, but we shall be progressing toward it, to eternity. From this reasoning, it seems probable that the bliss of an infant spirit (which has had little or no experience of suffering) is not so great on its first arrival in the abodes of bliss, as is that of the adult who has reached the haven after long struggling against the winds and tides of time.
By those who suppose our first parents to have been placed in a condition of perfect happiness before their fall, their case may seem a refutation of this theory concerning the utility of suffering; but I do not admit the premises. If the first pair had been com pletely happy ere they sinned, they could not have been tempted as they were; the very manner of the temptation proves their felicity to have been incomplete; their appetite coveted the interdicted fruit; this implied want, which they were forbidden to gratify, and ungratified want (however unreasonable that want in itsell) is one of the ordinary elements of misery. They desired, too, to be as Gods, knowing good and evil, which clearly implied a discontent with the lot assigned them ; they aspired to a higher sphere, and this is the essence of ambition. They experienced also a hồnger of intellect, a desire 10 know good and evil, and this knowledge they supposed the tree would impart. It is therefore exceedingly clear that they were not absolutely happy, although more happy, undoubtedly, than subsequent to their fall.
" What can we reason, but from what we know ?" poet asks; and from all that we can know at present the probabilities seem decidedly against the supposition, that it is possible for Jehovah to create sentient creatures, who, from the commencement of their existence, shall be in possession of absolute and unmixed felicity; it seems a fair presumption, that, were it possible, his Infinite goodness would have so created and circumstanced them, that to all eternity, all creatures should be utter strangers to want, or pain, or to any thing which would render their happiness incomplete ; for benevolence cannot approve of misery for its own sake, although for the end's sake it may; and if misery be not absolutely indispensable to the end, it cannot approve it at all, for the plain reason that it must always prefer to effect the best ends by the best
Behold, then, fellow mortals, the use of the sufferings of which you at present complain! Let your souls be bowed in adoration and love before the throne of your Almighty Father, who permitteth no evil to come upon you but such as he sees will turn out for your greatest good in the end.
u God nothing does, nor suffers to be done,
The end of all events as well as he.” Give not place to impatience, then, nor to profitless repining under affliction. Call not his wisdom, nor his justice, nor his love, into question, as though the sorrows or disappointments you experience were supernumerary; not one of them is such—each hath its own assigned weight and bearing on the great and glorious issue.
“ His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
But sweet will be the flower.” And you, afflicted fellow pilgrim through a world of sin, who have been oft and deeply stricken with the shafts of sorrow, most welcome are you to a share in the comfort with which this doctrine is fraught; and if you find the remedy herein for which your heart is seeking, I give you joy of your discovery, and shall feel inost thankful if my instrumentality have led to it.
“ Peace to thee, mourner, coming years
Will give thee joy instead of tears.' For myself, if the reader will pardon the egotism, I will say, that the light of this theory is the most placid and cheering which can be brought to shine upon the pathway of my life; in it my heart can most cheerfully bask when the darkness of disappointment is settling upon all its earthly hopes. Courage ! courage, my soul! Thou art clad with a panoply which makes thee invulnerable to the shafts of despair—thou mayst sow in tears awhile, but anon thou shalt reap a plentiful harvest of joy.
Past my fleeting term of sorrow,
Then shall my life's sun decline,
And in cloudless regions shine.
DIFFERENT VIEWS AMONG UNIVERSALISTS.
Our opponents are apt to reproach us on account of the diversity of forms in which our doctrine has been held by different classes of universalists; but if this circumstance makes against its truth, what shall we say of christianity itself, which has existed under a thousand varient modifications ? True it is, that in nearly all ages of the church, men of eminent learning and piety have discovered, that the bible most clearly teaches the final salvation of all mankind, and having found this, they have employed their ingenuity in devising modes, by which they could harmonize it with their peculiar notions of the atonement. It is thus that hypothetical theories have been formed, in order to account for obvious bible facts.
Origen, so distinguished a luninary of the church in the third century, and many after him, whose minds were bewildered with the Platonic mysticism of a triplicated deity, and who supposed that as sin is directed against an infinite Being, it is therefore infinite, and being infinite, it must demerit an infinitude of punishment-these, I say, sought out a method by which the damned may be restored, consonantly with these (as they supposed them) fundamental principles; but this is not to take place until long ages of suffering have been endured, and that of the most terrible kind. This scheme, in our country, is usually termed Winches* terian, from an eminently amiable and gifted divine, (formerly of
the Calvinistic baptist communion,) who was indefatigable in its promulgation, both in England and America.
The learned and venerable Tillotson, a prelate of the English church, took a different view from the preceding; he supposed endless suffering to be actually threatened in the bible, but as universal salvation is also most clearly taught therein, he accounted for the paradox by supposing, that the former is not designed to be inflicted, but only to act as a means of terrifying and reforming wicked men : he cites the case of Jonah's denunciation against Ninevah as an illustration of his hypothesis. " Yet forty days, and Ninevah shall be overthrown." (iii. 4.) But the menaced calamity was averted by the repentance of the inhabitants, and as