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It has been suggested by several Ministerial Brethren and others, that the publication of these discourses, delivered at the late Universalist Convention, in a small neat volume, would be very acceptable to the Universalist public ; and might, among other laudable efforts, aid in extending a knowledge of gospel truth, as understood and inculcated in this denomination of Christians.
A copy of the several sermons having been obtained, they are now, in the hope of their extensive usefulness, respectfully presented to the public, by its
Charles Day & Co.......... Printers.
BY SYLVA NUS COBB.
DEUTERONOMY xxx : 15. See, I have set before theo this day life and good, and death and evil.
The love of happiness is common to all men, and is inseparable from a conscious existence. Man's very existence as a conscious and intellectual being, must be destroyed, in order to destroy his love of happiness. While he has power to exert himself, his exertions will be aimed, in general, at the promotion of his enjoyment.
I know that some learned divines denominate this self-love, and these exertions for the happiness of one's self, altogether vile and wicked. They say that men cannot conduct acceptably in the sight of God, but when they act upon disinterested principles, having no regard to self. However men may theorize on such
a principle, it cannot be reduced to practice. For, I repeat it, a love of happiness is inseparable from human existence. And it is on this principle in the constitution of human nature, that the scriptures
found all the promises of reward and threatena ings of punishment, designed to influence the moral conduct. And it is with reference to the same principle that the promises of the gospel are communicated unto us, to render us more happy bere through hope of greater good to come.
Consequently to urge upon man, under the name of holiness, an absolute indifference to his own allotment, is to urge upon him a principle which is not only contrary to the constitution of mind which God has given us, but which is also at war with every chapter of the Bible, and would render inapplicable and nugatory all the scripture instructions. Could a man be ehanged into such a state of indifference, it would be a matter of no consequence to him, whether the reward of vörtue were misery, and the reward of vice, happiness ; or whether it were the reverse. It would no otherwise affect his gratitude or his peace, to be taught that “God is love,” than it would to be taught that he is full of wrath and malevolence. It would be a matter of total indifference to him, whether Jesus Christ was ordained to be his Saviour, or his Destroyer. He would be incapable of hoping for future good ; because what a man hopes for, he both expects and desires,which implies a choice that is incompatible with a state of indifference.
Now we are fully persuaded that the scriptures do not mean to urge upon us any principle as tbo
requisite holiness, which would overthrow the whole scheme of Bible instruction, and which would disqualify us for enjoying the hopes and consolations, and for feeling the obligations which the scriptures are designed to inculcate. It is in commendatory recognition of this inextinguishable love of happiness in man, that the Lord said by Moses as in the text, “ See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil.”
The doctrine of the text is, that life and good, and death and evil, are placed before mankind, within their immediate reach. That by taking one course, they shall find, not a life given as an extraneous matter in some other world, after this course shall be ended, but, shall find life and good in that course. They shall find that way itself to be life and good. It is set before them as such.
And by taking the opposite course, they shall find, not death and evil put off beyond the last end of that course, to be suffered as an extraneous matter in some other world, but shall find death and evil in that course. They shall find that way itself to be death and evil. They are notified of it as such. " See, I have set before thee, this day, life and good, and death and evil.”
This text of scripture is almost always in the mouths of those preachers who assert ibat the eternal stales of men are determined by the choice