By Quillen Hamilton Shinn
THE word Destiny distinguishes us from Christians of other churches. We believe in a good destiny for all. We believe God will make all his bad children good; he wants to, and he can. He has the disposition, the power, the means, and the time. If love is all conquering, there is no foe it will not subdue, not even the rebellious will of man. We believe more than our brethren of other churches, not less. No faith is so grand or complete as ours, and yet so misunderstood. All benevolent people want it to be true, but think it is too good to be true. The selfish man hopes for something better, and looks forward to it, for himself. The benevolent man--and every Christian is one--is looking forward to something better for all the other members of the great family; and he will never be satisfied and perfectly happy until there is something better for all. Questions asked every day betray the general ignorance prevailing as to the beliefs of Universalism. People ask if we believe in God, if we believe in Christ, if we believe in the Bible, if we believe in a hereafter, if we believe in prayer, and even if we believe in punishment,-- when I know of no Christian people who emphasize as strongly as we do the absolute certainty of punishment. It seems to be the opinion of most all Christian people that our church is founded upon negations, whereas our affirmations express stronger faith than that professed by any other church on earth. And now it is my purpose to call attention to some of these great affirmations.
The text will be found in Johns Gospel, 6:44,45: "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, and they shall be all taught of God. Every man, therefore, that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me."
According to this declaration of our Master, no man can come to him until moved upon by the divine spirit; he can do nothing of himself, nothing till drawn by the Father. This completely explodes the free-will doctrine we hear so much about. Then Jesus declares that all shall be taught of God--shall--and tells what the result will be: "Every man that hath heard," --all shall hear,-- "and hath learned of the Father," --all shall learn,--"cometh unto me." Do you observe that the doom of all sinful men is here pronounced? They are doomed to come unto him. When he said, "I will draw all men unto me," he pronounced the same doom. Speaking of those outside the fold, he said: "Them also! must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd." He dooms them to come in! Most all our preachers doom them to stay out. I know you may refer me to his words in Matthew 26, where he says, "These shall go away into everlasting punishment," and "Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels." As I understand these words, they are in perfect harmony with the text I have quoted. What is the significance of the word "everlasting" in the Bible? It is applied to things which have come to an end. and to things which must in their nature come to an end.
Therefore it does not signify endless duration. Besides, the word "everlasting," or "eternal," is from aion, which means age; and frequently our Saviour spoke of the end of the aion, or age. Surely he would not speak of the end of a period of time that has no end. This is the significance of these threats uttered against those who were so shriveled in selfishness that they refused bread to the hungry and water to the thirsty, refused to take the stranger in, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and go to those in prison. They must be cured! Punishment is administered to cure, and must last till it has accomplished its purpose. This is the full meaning of the everlasting punishment in the passage under consideration. And the everlasting fire has great significance. It means that the selfishness of those people was to be destroyed, burned out. "Devil and his angels" are figurative terms, to intensify the burning process, the fires of remorse that would continue until those guilty souls were cleansed, purged, purified. Remember, the fire symbol in the Bible means this. Fire is an agent of destruction and an emblem of purification. See First Corinthians 3:11 -15 and Hebrews 12:29. So, then, these threats, that seem so awful, mean what the promises mean, namely that all sinful souls shall be cured.
A few words more in connection with the text. The messenger to sinful souls, what truth must he interpret that will turn them from their evil ways? This great truth Christ revealed about God. While alienated by sin, a man feels the sense of loneliness, as did the Prodigal Son; and out of his sense of desertion he will say, "I have no friends, no one cares for me, no one loves me. I have no man in all the world who sympathizes with me." Then the messenger of Christs gospel will assure him that there is one being who cares for him, and loves him, and sympathizes with him; that being is his Heavenly Father. This truth must be interpreted to the sinful soul, he must understand it. And what will be the result? He will want to be a better child. Filial emotions will be awakened in his soul. He will turn his face toward the Fathers house. He will resolve to be a dutiful child of that Heavenly Father. Then he will come to Christ--gladly embrace the principles of his religion. This, friends, is the strong affirmation of our text. All shall be taught of God; all shall hear and understand; all shall learn of the Father; and then, as the Master said, "they will come to me."
All means universal, Universalism means all. It is from the word universe. There is nothing good in the universe which it does not include. As a system of belief it includes all that is good and true in all religious ancient and modern, in all systems, in all philosophies, in all churches, in all worlds, and in all the universe. I accept the Christian religion as the infallible, the authoritative religion, because it takes up into itself and embodies all that is good and true; excludes only that which is false. There are but few Christians today who will not agree with us in the universality of the Christian religion in respect to its provisions. Its provisions, they say, are universal, but not its results. We affirm that it will be universal in its results. If not so, the provisions are inadequate, therefore not universal. And until all Christians shall come to believe that the religion of Christ will be universal in its results, the denominational name we bear must be retained, distinguishing us from Christians of other sects. Only in this sense, therefore, are we under obligation to remain sectarian. Loyalty to truth demands it of us.
There is truth in all churches, and error too. If any church assumes infallibility, that it is right and all others are wrong, that church is guilty of colossal egotism. There is no infallible church. If a man assumes he knows all there is worth knowing, and shuts himself against all the open avenues of truth and knowledge, he is guilty of monumental conceit! How superficial such a man! Great thinkers, the ripest scholars, are humble men because they know so little. They are men who know enough to know how little they know. I believe the Methodists have some truth, and the Baptists and the Presbyterians and the Episcopalians, and possibly the Catholics. I believe the Universalists have a little, not much. But Universalism, this system of faith, includes all the truth that all churches have. Do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that we have all the truth. We know but little. Universalism includes the little we have learned and all there is to be learned. It includes all that all men know and all that they dont know. Now, if a partialist ever suffers himself to say a word against Universalism, he says that word against all the truth he has; for it is part of the whole. I am sure that I cannot be misunderstood when I say we believe more than any other Christians. We do if the whole is greater than a part. We stand for the whole. Our system of faith must include all truth that has been discovered, and all that is yet to be discovered. Hence it is a progressive faith.
I trust the way is now prepared for a more specific statement of our affirmations.
1. We believe in this world, in the book of nature. All the laws of nature are Gods laws, and are working out his purposes. They point to fulfillment, to victory, and not to defeat. This glorious prophecy is in every movement and evolution witnessed by the eye of science. The divine writing is on every page of this great volume; earth and cloud and sky all teaching the ways of God. Everywhere is the impress of benevolence and the radiance of eternal beauty. What ajoy to live in Gods beautiful world, with its teaming fields and waving forests and fruitful valleys and towering mountains and flowing streams! How thankful must we be for the thronging delights in this lower mansion of our Fathers House. Let us cultivate a love for this world, and try to live here and enjoy it as long as we can. Its victories will fit us for higher victories, and there will be compensations for its defeats. Restorative and compensating laws are ever active, making good the losses. Science, penetrating to the heart of nature and unsealing its hidden laws, teaches man that there is but one force, with different manifestations. It manifests itself in magnetism, in electricity, in heat and motion, in chemical affirmity, etc.; but there is but one great central force, and that is good. Way back in the benighted past, man, lacking foresight to see how the discords and conflicts of nature would result in harmony, came to ascribe things he called evil to evil beings; hence the worlds belief in devils, ghosts, hobgoblins, and witches. All these are perishing; the light of science is killing them.
Should one atom get beyond the reach of this one force, there would be endless discord in the universe. Should one soul get beyond the reach of this one force--and what shall we call it now? The force behind all forces and all worlds is love; if God is love, should one soul get beyond the reach of this Almighty force of love so that it is unable to draw it back, win it back, then there would be two forces in the universe, eternal discord. We believe no such catastrophe can happen. Nature means victory. Therefore we read Universalism from this book. Every law operative here, and all the laws relating our world to other worlds, are prophetic of victory. Nowhere in this universe do we read a prophecy of defeat.
2. Universalism affirms belief in human nature, another book whose writings point to victory. We stand for the worth of man. Fashioned in Gods image, man is of infinite value, worth more in the sight of God than all the stars of heaven. The divine Fatherhood means this. Though yet a child, incomplete, imperfect, wayward, man bears the image of God, which image God himself cannot destroy or lose; God cannot destroy a thing that is indestructible. Wrapped up in this divine embryo are capacities and powers that fit man for endless growth and progress; for, between man the Infinite, and God the infinite, there is scope for a progression that can never end. What joy in believing this; for man is truly happy only when he is growing, and here is assurance of endless growth. In this sense the spiritual perfection reached by Gods children will be relative, not absolute. There is but one absolute Being, and we may approximate his perfection forever.
Man is not made, he is making. Those who have made greatest progress are still in the Fathers primary school. There will be higher departments, one grade leading to another, on and up forever. The school of God will never let out.
What are all the attainments man has yet made, and marvelous they are, as compared with the attainments he is capable of making? As the ratio between a grain of sand and this globe! Think! The greatest and wisest have only made a little beginning in this world. Not one germ of power is unfolded to its utmost limit; and there will remain countless capacities yet latent, when we go from these scenes into the great world awaiting us. The best, the most advanced and ripened, will need more time; and what of the myriads who make no beginning in this life. How we should exult because God has plenty of time, because he has eternity to train his children in! We stand as a church vindicating man because of his power, and because of his worth and his incompleteness and the possibilities of his divine sonships.
We need only to know the meaning of Fatherhood to be assured of Gods regard for his children. In his Sermon on the Mount, our Saviour calls the Supreme Being Father or Heavenly Father sixteen times. Some take the position that God is not the Father of evil men, but in this sermon the Master says he is. If he is not, we are all spiritual orphans, and have no right to say the Lords Prayer; and how guilty of inconsistency when we go down among the wicked, teaching them to say this prayer if God is not their Heavenly Father.
Universalism affirms belief in inherent immortality. Without this divine inheritance what can man do to become immortal? No more than a tree. The trouble is, Christian people have failed to make a distinction between immortal life and eternal life. It was a part of Christs mission to reveal immortality, but no part of his mission to create it. Immortal life has reference to duration; eternal life to quality. Said Jesus, "This is life eternal, to know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." Then it is spiritual knowledge, or love in the soul. This it was Christs mission to create. Were this simple fact understood the doctrine of conditional immortality, that ills acquired through faith in Christ, would soon vanish from the minds of men.
Another way to understand the worth of man in the sight of God is to think of the value of our children to us. Go to that mother with her little one a month old; offer her all the gold and silver and diamonds ever taken from the earth. Closer to her bosom she will press her darling, and refuse the wealth you offer. We rise into the region of higher values. Charley Ross's father went over the world, crossing seas and continents, for twenty years and more in weary and fruitless search for his boy. He died without finding Charley. I believe he will take up the search on the other shore, and that there will be no true happiness for him in any world until he finds his lost child. This is the nature of love, true parental love. Every man is a child of God; and however sinful he may become, he can do nothing to diminish Gods love for him.
I know we meet with many things to stagger our faith. In many semblances of human beings we see no sign of the divine image. To our sight nothing good is visible. We look on the outward appearance; God sees within. The image is there, whether we see it or not. I visited a paper-mill in Maine, desiring to witness all the processes. I asked at a certain point why I could not see the water-mark. The workman answered, it must go through this process and that, explaining them all; then after it is finished and polished, said he, "you can see the water-mark." So it is with the soul disfigured or hidden by sin. It must pass through the different processes of divine grace, be washed and cleansed; then the divine image will appear.A lady showed me a dry and shriveled root she had received by mail; and she said if I would call in a few weeks I would see a beautiful tuberose filling the room with fragrance. It seemed impossible. I saw no sign of life or beauty or fragrance in the root so seemingly dead. But in a few weeks I saw and sensed the beautiful flower. Before plucking that water-lily, so exquisite in grace and sweetness, you follow down the long stem, and bring up a handful of dark, slimy mud. You must confess the lily came from that. Now, if the sun-rays could penetrate that water so impure, and the dark unsightly earth, and bring out a flower of such delicate beauty and fragrance, why can you not believe that the rays from the Sun of Righteousness will penetrate the darkened souls of men and finding the hidden germs of divinity, kindle them into bloom and fruit?
We stand for the worth of man. The child, however frail, is of infinite value in his Fathers sight. God has given to not one of his children power to sin himself out of existence or beyond the reach of love; and no human being has power to defeat the purpose of the Infinite One! Every soul is worth saving, and will be saved.
3. There is another book Universalists believe in. Most heartily we believe in the Bible, and we stand for the spiritual interpretation of the sacred volume. We go beneath figurative speech, metaphor, symbol, parable. Surface students, by literalizing these, have missed the deep meanings, and builtup doctrines contrary to the great principles disclosed in this book. When reasoning from these three great books, the book of nature, the book of human nature, and the book of revelation, we get our ideas of life and destiny, and proclaim them to the world, convinced that these three books agree. How often we meet with such words as these: "Oh, yes, your doctrines are grand, I would like to believe them; but how can I! for there is the Bible." Then the Bible, they think, contradicts the book of human nature. If this is correct, God writes one revelation in the hearts of his children and on the pages of natures volume, and another in a book; divided against himself. Friends. when interpreted by its general tone and spirit, the Bible supports Universalism most strongly. It is a book of hope, a book of victory. From beginning to end its Universalism shines forth. Temporary defeats are recognized as coming to men, but not final. And when God is recognized, when his guiding hand is seen. there is no such thing intimated as defeat or failure. The whole trend is toward victory. Notes of melody, strains of hope, songs of victory, rise and throb, and blend in anthems of rapture, and the glad refrain goes pulsing on. In the first pages we have a prophecy of victory. The truth, symboled by the seed of the woman, should crush the serpents head; symbol of all that is bad in man. In the very last chapter, in that book of visions, that same prophecy glows in more exultant strains. We see standing by the river, clear as crystal, the tree of life, called the tree of life because it will never die. "And its leaves are for the healing of the nations." That means final Universal cure.
Many Christians, no doubt, are sincere in believing that there are other scriptures which contradict all this. The misinterpretation and misapplication of metaphorical language, Oriental parables and symbolry, has been very misleading. For example:
The Garden of Eden has been literalized, and made to teach the fall of man, whereas it is an allegory, teaching the rise of man. It illustrates mans beginnings in moral education. Before the moral law began to act, man stood down on the animal plane. There was nothing alive but the animal part. The first motion or movement of the moral law found expression in the sense of modesty. They began to make clothes for themselves, using first the leaves of fig-trees, and soon they are making coats of skins. The awakening of the moral sense lifts them above the animal plane. Now they know the difference between right and wrong. Is not this a rise? Only moral beings know moral distinctions. So we stand for the rise and perfection of man, not his fall and ruin. Again, many Christians have been led to believe that this physical world is coming to an end. There are seven passages in which the end of the world is spoken of; but in each one the word world is translated from aion, which means age. There is not a passage in the Bible in which the end of the cosmos is spoken of. All religious teachers ought to know this. The Jewish age, or dispensation, was coming to an end. And it did come to an end when Jesus said it would, in that generation. And it should be remarked here that Christs coming was spoken of in connection with that event. His spiritual kingdom would have a new impetus when the great enemy, the Jewish nationality, would be overthrown. His truth would be signalized with greater power in the world. So Jesus, foreseeing this, spoke of his spiritual coming in connection with that event. The last two verses of the sixteenth chapter of Matthew should be the key of interpretation to all other passages in which the coming of Christ is spoken of: "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels, and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." What are we to think of the intelligence of a man who is looking for that coming? Are there people living now who were living then?
As superficial have been the interpretations of Christian people concerning the atonement and the trinity. The doctrine of vicarious atonement is not taught in the Bible, nor the doctrine of the trinity.
And I am sure that there is not a passage of Scripture that so much as hints the doctrine of endless punishment. As we have seen, everlasting does not mean endless duration in the Bible. There is not a word in the Scriptures, which means endless duration, applied to punishment, or to sin, or to death.
There is no time to say more on this point. My contention is this: The book of revelation, rightly interpreted, agrees with all other books of God, teaching,
"One God, one law, one element,
One far-off, divine event,
Toward which the whole Creation moves."
4. Universalism affirms a perfect God. He is good. He is perfectly good. He is love. He is perfect love. He is Father. He is a perfect Father. He is perfect in all his attributes. Calvinism limits his goodness. Simplified, it says: God can save all men, but he does not want to. Arminianism limits his power. It says: he wants to save all men, but cannot. And how glaring is the limitation of his wisdom according to the superficial free-will argument so often met with? We are told that God will not save a man against his will, that he cannot save an unwilling soul. What Universalist ever taught that God will save a man against his will? He does not save men that way, by arbitrary force; that is not his method. He saves men by their wills, through moral influence. Strange people cannot be made to understand that God has resources in his universe, the all conquering agencies of love, to make the unwilling soul willing! He has light enough to make the blind see, and love enough to melt the hardened heart. See now how the free-will argument limits the wisdom of God. He is omniscient, all-knowing. Then from the beginning he knew when he made man a free moral agent that he was giving him power to defeat the divine purpose, giving his child power to work out his own eternal ruin and shatter the throne of Heaven; knew that he was giving his child a power which he himself could not control. In other words, a power was bestowed on man mightierthan the Almighty. That is, God made man stronger than himself. What are we to think of his wisdom? Doesnt this limit the divine wisdom? Now, then, when we limit Gods goodness or power or wisdom, we make him an imperfect God. If God is not perfect, there is no God. So this is atheism. Make what else of it you can.
Universalists are not atheists, because they believe in a perfect God, a God who will not be defeated. What means the divine Fatherhood? He chastens his children as sons, punishes them for their good. If endless, how plainly it would defeat his purpose. Strange people cannot see this? Under the divine government punishment is spiritual medicine. What its purpose? Love punishes to cure. Remember three things right here. Love never changes; love never lets go; love punishes to cure. Remember six points in punishment. (a) Its nature: it is spiritual medicine. (b) Its object: it is administered as a remedy, to cure. (c) Its certainty: the medicine must be given. To withhold it would defeat the cure. The common scheme of salvation we hear so much about would defeat salvation. (d) Its duration: it will stop when it has accomplished its purpose. Love never measures by time nor by quantity, but by results, (e ) The time: now, when the sin is committed, unless the soul has reached a state of moral insensibility, in which case there would be a suspension until the soul came to itself. In this event, for sins repeated and persisted in, punishment would be cumulative. When the judgment day comes, more intense, more terrible, the remorse, the pain. But for the good of the sinning soul. All Gods judgments are good. They are not to hurt, but to bless, not to drive away, but to draw hack his wayward child. And always and everywhere the throne of judgment is the moral law in the bosom of man. (f) The place: wherever the guilty soul is. Place does not constitute heaven or hell. These are conditions. With heaven within, the immortal world will be heaven. It is so here. And these spiritual laws will never change. I low does God punish his sinful children? Through the action of the moral law. If his disobedient children do not receive medicine enough to cure them in this world, they will get it in the next. How? In the same way; through the action of the moral law. And that, being a part of our spiritual structure, we will take with us wherever we go. If it is left behind we cease to be moral beings. As well claim that God will change his method because we cross a State line as because we exchange this world for another.
I have considered the subject of punishment thus in detail, hoping to make its nature and object clear. A perfect Father, all loving and merciful, punishes his wayward children because he loves them, consequently for their profit.
5. Universalists believe in a victorious Savior. We do not believe in the Deity of Christ, but in his divinity. If he were the "very God" how could he increase in wisdom? And we would have no example, no spiritual pattern. An absolute being cannot he an example for a finite being. Knowing we cannot reach the infinite, we have nothing to stimulate us to strive for perfection. The mission of Christ was to disclose the Heavenly Father to his children, and make his love a saving power. He did not create the Fathers love. He revealed it. It was his mission to make Christians. not to save them. To become a Christian is to be saved. It is not going somewhere; it is becoming something. To express it all in a sentence, the mission of Christ was to cure all men of sin. We are Universalists because we believe he will accomplish the work he came to do; he will succeed. We believe it for three reasons: (a) He has medicine enough to cure all. (b) He has sufficient skill to administer the medicine. (c) He has sufficient time to administer the medicine in. So we can sing consistently about the good physician. He will never save a good man. To become good is to he saved. He will never save a righteous man. To be saved is not going somewhere after one becomes righteous; it is becoming righteous. Christ has no more to do with getting men to heaven, in the sense of a place in another world, than he has to do with getting them across the Mississippi River. To believe, then, in a Universal Savior, a triumphant Savior, is to believe more in Christ than any other Christian people. And so we sing our glad song of victory. The lost, Christ came to seek and save; but these the very people he came to save, and needing salvation most, some Christians think he will lose. Universalism makes its strong affirmation that Jesus will save, redeem fom sin, all the lost!
6. Universalism affirms a good destiny for the entire human race. At the outset I dwelt upon this distinguishing feature of our faith. A few additional words I think are necessary for the reason that, however clear we make to ourselves our views touching destiny, we are still confronted, and how frequently, with the old question, "What will become of wicked people who die in their sins?" The idea seems fixed in the minds of people that God can do nothing for his sinful children after they leave this world. Now, the relationship existing between the spiritual Father and his children is spiritual. Death cannot change it. Death cannot separate us from the love of God, said the great apostle. Has redeeming love physical limitations? Will we get beyond its reach by going to another world? It would be as reasonable to confine its action to New York, or even to Rhode Island, as to confine it to this world.
What, then, is our answer to this question so perplexing to many anxious souls? This: Those who are not cured in this world, and none are completely cured here, will be cured in the next. Old Orthodoxy says they will be sent to an eternal penitentiary. New Orthodoxy says they will establish themselves in endless rebellion against God, become eternal anarchists. The doctrine of annihilation, another phase of New Orthodoxy, says they will be blotted out of existence. Which answer can you best harmonize with the will and purpose and character of an infinitely good God? Universalism answers, They will be cured.
The doctrine of endless brutality, politely called eternal punishment, must be utterly abhorrent to every thinking mind, revolting to every benevolent instinct. It is a hideous, ghastly, fiendish doctrine, heart-paralyzing, soul-stifling. It makes God infinitely worse than Nero, his malignancy transcending that of all the fiends of cruelty that ever lived. If true for only one soul, then that soul will receive more pain from the hands of God than the whole human family have received from all the monsters of brutality that have cursed our world; because there is no end to it. This doctrine is the great satanic blasphemy of the ages. Its ghastliness is monumental. It outpagans the blackest paganism! It ought to be a disgrace to preach the colossal infamy! It should cause the most brutal savage to blush with shame to listen to it! It has crushed more hearts, darkened more homes, caused more insanity and suffering and pain, it has made more infidels and atheists, than all other scourges that have ever desolated our fair world? Oh, friends! I cant do it justice. I only wish I could make all men see its hideousness as I see it, and hate the infamous thing as I hate it!
How sad to hear good, generous, kind-hearted people say they believe it! They would be insane if they did. They are phonograph-Christians. They simply talk out what has been talked into them. No benevolent man, no man who has a soul in him, can sit down and think of the doctrine five minutes without discarding it forever. How benumbing to the sensibilities of good people? When we ask them how they expect to be happy in heaven when their fellowmen, and possibly their own loved ones, are suffering in torment, and doomed to remain and suffer endless pain, they answer, "Oh, we will be so changed?" This is the saddest thing I ever heard. Think what it means! It means ossification of the heart. It means that they are to undergo a process of hardening, that they are to be robbed of love, robbed of all feeling and sympathy and tenderness and pity! What a change? Hearts tender here with Christ's compassion there will turn to stone. It means a world of eternal heartlessness. Whittier says, "If man goes to heaven without a heart, God knows he leaves behind his better part."
Friends, I am more concerned about the destiny of saints, such as are to undergo this change, than the most wicked sinners that leave this world unsaved. In all reverence I ask, would you not ten thousand times rather be an asbestos sinner in the lowest hell with some feeling left than to be a petrified saint in heaven? According to this common answer, holiness in heaven will consist in being wholly selfish!
Finally, we believe in a good destiny for all; that God will cure all his sinful children, because He has the disposition, the power, the means, and the time. Four good reasons. A million more might be given; and no man can think of one single reason why he should not cure them.
So we sing the glad song of victory. All the resources of the universe are pledged to the great consummation, Gods character, and his infinite love. I love to think of the agencies we see now at work. Every exertion you put forth to make this world better is so much done to make our doctrine true. God works through instrumentalities. We are all to be agents. A Universalist who is idle, doing nothing to make his doctrine true, is a counterfeit.
Every deed of mercy that lessens pain; every charity that assuages sorrow and distress; every church that throws its arms of love around the wayfaring man; every institution of learning that kindles thoughts of a higher world; every new discovery disclosing larger visions of truth; every fresh avenue of commerce opening wider channels for the diffusion of Gods love; every object lesson in this great outer world teaching Gods bounty and care; every flower preaching its sermon of beauty by the wayside; every star that looks down from the upper deeps, kindling the sense of mystery and wonder in the human breast; every cloud sleeping in the azure heights, serene with suggestions of peace; every setting sun painting the sky, and turning to gold the retreating clouds; every breeze that wafts the incense of healing and of hope; every ray of light that breaks the films of sin, to let love into the hardened heart; every drop of water that revives the drooping plant; every fountain breaking from the mountain side; every brooklet singing its glad song; every sparkling lake catching in its dimples the colors of the sky; every river flowing down and mingling in the sea; every ocean that sends up its mists to fill the clouds-- all teaching the goodness and bounty of God; every experience that deepens human life; every sorrow that sweetens the spirit; every pain that chisels and refines; every new-born hope lifting the tendrils of a shattered faith; every anguish that plows the soul, cleansing the grosser man; every defeat that breaks the defiant will; every throb of sympathy pulsing from heart to heart; every pang of remorse that makes sin ghastly, and turns its victim into the path of life; every blaze of light revealing to groping souls the awful darkness that domes the sinners sky; every strain of music reviving sweet memories of the past; every sunny face that lights up the home of man; every voice of childhood prattling the song of trust; every angel God sends into this world to nurse back to life and health the lost of earth, and lead them up the celestial highway, the Kings highway, from glory unto glory, and at last into the resplendent light of the perfect day,-- all, all these are agents, messengers, instruments, to fulfill the sublime prophecy of our Universalist faith ,--final triumph, glorious victory! -- instruments breathed upon from higher worlds, and weaving their countless strains for the grand, triumphant, joyous, matchless symphony of God!
Oh! friends, stand on these heights, catch this vision, sing this song, this glad new song; voice it with the paeans of angelic choir; let your glad and joyous strains blend with the music of the stars. Come down and sing it with the prophets of a larger day; sing it with the poets of a sweeter tune; chant it in the strains of Tennyson:--
"Oh yet we trust that somehow good
Will be the final goal of ill,
To pangs of nature, sins of will,
Defects of doubt, and taints of blood;
That nothing walks with aimless feet;
That not one life shall be destroyed,
Or cast as rubbish to the void,
When God hath made the pile complete.
Behold, we know not anything;
I can but trust that good shall fall
At last--far off--at last, to all,
And every winter change to spring."