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The human race makes its way through the centuries, step by step, to its destiny. The evils we now see and feel will one day be removed. But new evils we know not of will doubtless spring up, new mountains arise whose highest peaks are not seen in the distant horizon. The lessons of the reformer will be ever repeated, and his trials, labors, sufferings, mar- : tyrdom, ever renewed. Well, be it so. The brave spirit will not shrink from the prospect. Life is a struggle. Who would that it should not be? It is from this struggle that Humanity derives her strength, obtains possession of her powers; in it she finds her life; in it she lives; by it she fulfils her destiny. Let us accept it as our heritage, and go forth with strong arms and stout hearts—and yet not with over sanguine expectations of wonders to be achieved—to the work that lieth nearest us in time and space, and leave the result to Him in whose hands we and all things are, and with whom it rests to grant or withhold success.
PAST AND FUTURE.
Swift as music-birds in air;
Blooming once so fair.
Life is all a cheerless doom,
O'er the spirit's gloom.
Joys that once were wholly mine,
Will no sunbeam shine ?
One brief glimpse of days long flown--
But this--but this alone.
In vain, in vain. Fond, fruitless guest!
Thy light is quenched--thy joys have fled.
As the voiceless dead !
Ask no more then--ask no more
Call not on the buried Past :
They will cheer at last.
Then call not back the hours that flew
Swift as music-bird's in air--
Be they e'er so fair.
Though its starry wings are furled,
In yon better world.
C, P. C.
NO. III. We propose to take a brief view in the present article of the doctrine of Ultra-Universalism, or no Future Punishment. Those who hold to this view contend, that all retribution takes place in this life—that the sinner is fully punished and the righteous adequately recompensed here, and that the joys of Heaven are for all indiscriminately, without reference to the deeds of life.
This doctrine appears to us to be opposed to observation, reason, human nature, conscience, and the scriptures.
We shall therefore contend against it strenously. We wish it to be remembered however, that it is against the opinion, and not the man who holds it, that we contend. Some of its advocates, of either sex, we have been familiarly acquainted with, and can testify that they appeared to us to be excellent Christians, full of faith, piety, charity, holiness. The doctrine however, we contend, does not produce these graces, and we oppose it.
Be it understood also, that it is specially this doctrine of NO Future Punishment which we oppose. The doctrine of a final restoration is a wholly different thing, to be decided upon afterward, upon its own grounds. We are glad to see that Restorationists are separating themselves from Universalists, and are strongly opposing the peculiar tenets of the latter. The Independent Messenger, published at Boston, is the organ of the Restorationists. It is a highly respectable paper, and strongly opposes the Ultra-Universalist dogma.
The doctrine of No Future Retribution is opposed 1. To observation.
It is a matter of daily observation that no equal retribution takes place in this world. The vast inequalities in human fortune have no reference to character. There are some persons who go through life surrounded by prosperous circum
stances. Every thing smiles upon them. Love, friendship, esteem, sympathy, attend their footsteps. No cloud of sorrow droops along their path. Their children are virtuous, healthy and happy. They never have to struggle against bitter fate. Their wheel rolls softly along a smooth road. They sink to death in a ripe old age, surrounded by all that life can offer of comfort and tender care.
On others, the storm bursts in childhood, and pursues them through their whole day. They are neglected and ill-treated as infants, they are outcasts from home, their earnest struggles after fortune are baffled by capricious chances, a blight falls on their home, and they are bereaved by death of their children, and stand alone in the world. Or worse than this, their sons disgrace and torture them by sin and wickedness.
These things we see every day. We see the honest man cheated by the knave—we see the hypocrite reverenced through life as a saint--we hear of integrity being blackened by slander, and never able to shake off the foul imputation. In fine, there is no sentiment so common in the history of all nations, and the literature of the world as this, that outward fortune does not correspond to worth and virtue. If the only retribution is here, the good man might say with David, " Then have I cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning."
To all this, however, it is answered, that the outward condition is no test of happiness—that conscience punishes and rewards every one in this life according to their deserts.
It is true, that outward condition is not a certain test of happiness, but it is also true that it does have some influence upon happiness. It is idle to say that the good man, unsuccessful, desolate, tormented, is just as happy as the good man who is surrounded with a happy home. The blessings of this life are not to be so underrated. The good man, persecuted and forlorn, has, God be blessed, a support within. He “is troubled, but not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair.” Yet, to say that he is just as happy as if he was not persecuted nor tormented, is taking away half his virtue, for what fortitude and faith is there in bearing trial, if it is no trial.
But besides, observation shows us, that these in ward agonies of conscience are not dealt out according to desert in this life. If there was no suffering, nor joy, except what flow from conscience, there would still be no equal retribution in this life.
For the conscience grows callous as one goes forward in sin. The great sinner is a hardened sinner; his conscience is stupi
fied, and does not trouble him at all. On the other hand, we find that the best people are apt to be tormented by a constant apprehension that they are doing wrong. Their conscience is always watching and rebuking their most trifling faults. And again, those who are immersed in worldly pursuits and pleasures, do not suffer at all from the rebukes of conscience. It sleeps in an undisturbed repose. Hence, observation plainly shows, that there is no equal retribution here, whether in outward or inward condition.
It is also remarkable, that it is the direct object and aim of the Book of Job to refute this idea, that the enjoyments and sufferings of this present life are any test of character. His friends argue that they are, Job contends that they are not, and God decides that the confutors did not speak the right thing concerning them, as his servant Job did. The whole argument of this book then, may be considered as a complete confutation of the theory of a full retribution in the present world.
2. Reason is opposed to the Doctrine of No Future Punishment.
Men are continually dying with their hearts full of iniquity and sin. Will the act of dying fit them for heaven? It is irrational to suppose it. The pirate is blown up with his ship, while full of fiendish purposes—the duellist is shot down while aiming at his neighbor's life—the tyrant is killed while marching an army to ravage and subjugate a neighboring kingdom. How are these men to be fitted for Heaven?
Will you say that there is some process unknown to us, which changes their characters in the dying hour, and purifies them ? This would show an entire ignorance of the nature of goodness. A man cannot be inade good as an instrument is put in tune, by an outward power. Virtue is something personal. It demands personal struggle, effort, resolve—the fervent prayer-the battle with oneself-the conquest over sin. How will the dissolution of the body cause all this?
Again, if this doctrine be true, life is not a scene of discipline. And if it is not a place of discipline, what is it? Why are all our present trials, sufferings, discipline, if at the end, all their results are to be obliterated, as we wipe a slate with a sponge, and all are to be made holy in a moment.
Once again. Our reason teaches us that in the case of others, a future retribution is demanded. The following case is stated by B. Whitman.
Do you doubt the soundness of this conclusion ? Let me give one example to render it more evident. You have read of Nero.
He was a monster in human form. He ordered his own mother to be murdered. He killed his own wife. He set fire to the city of Rome and thus made thousands wretched. He persecuted the early Christians in the most cruel and barbarous manner.
No language can describe, no words can recount the inhuman and wicked acts of his life. About the same period there lived one Paul. He went from place to place preaching the gospel. He converted thousands from idolatry and siofulness to the worship and service of the universal Father. He gave instruction to the ignorant, advice to the doubting, reproof to the erring, consolation to the afflicted. He filled many souls with gladness. And during all this time, he was calumniated and persecuted; he was exposed to sufferings the most intense; he experienced trials the most severe; he even laid down his life in the promotion of human happiness. Now would it be justice to place these two persons on an equality when they enter the next existence ? Let the honest feelings of your
heart answer. Nay, I appeal with confidence to the experience of every individual in every age and country in support of my position.” • In the city of Louisville, last winter, a tragedy occurred which filled every heart with horror. There were two men who were friends. The one was dissipated and idle, the other sober and industrious. The latter, out of his small means, by which he supported a family, assisted the other repeatedly in the want which his vice produced. One day the spendthrift took advantage of the confidence reposed in him by the other, cane behind him as he stood at his desk, and fractured his skull, to rob him. Being interrupted he attempted another murder, but failing, shot himself through the head. Now, shall both of these souls pass together from the gory floor, the murderer and the murdered, to equal and perfect happiness? What did common sense dictate to the crowd who stood around. They turned with disgust and loathing from the murderer, and gazed with pity and compassion on the murdered
Suppose a Universalist preacher had come by at that time, and said, “Friends! I have good news to communicate. God is love. He cannot punish us. Both the spirits which dwelt in those bodies have gone together to bliss and glory.” Would not the common reason of those who heard, have rejected the monstrous doctrine ?
3. The doctrine of no future retribution is not suited to the wants of human nature.
There are two great classes of emotion implanted in human nature by its Author, and for a wise purpose. There is on one side, Hope, Joy, Love, Pleasure on the other, Fear, Sorrow, Hatred, Pain. These are the two great springs of action, the two great motives which influence all our conduct. And with