For my own part, I feel disposed to draw the mantle of charity over this imperfection, and ascribe it rather to ignorance and weakness, than innate depravity of the heart. As an instance of the truth of this remark, I can refer to none more to the point, than the ungenerous, unkind, and unwarrantable opposition, made by multitudes, against the Scriptural and soul cheering doctrine of the final happiness of all mankind.
To place theis subject in a more obvious point of view, I will delineate a few of the beautiful outlines of Universalism, that the prejudiced and those ignorant of its principles, may see and know, at what their unhallowed shafts are pointed.
In the first place, Universalism alone, is perfectly consistent with the attributes of Deity, as taught by nature, or revelation. From each of those sources we learn that God is omniscient, omnipotent, perfect in justice, infinite in mercy, unbounded in goodness, the only true God, the maker and supporter of the universe.
Universalism teaches, that God never had created man in his own image, and given him a rational, immortal soul, but to bless him, and that whatever his goodness conceived for his offspring, his omniscience has devised means to effect, and his omnipotence will cary into execution. There is no other doctrine, but what destroys one or more of these attributes, and makes Deity a mutable being. Such doctrines as do this, destroy all confidence and love to our Heavenly Father, and make all religion but a mere name (I mean as far as they exercise an influence over the mind). But Universalism, views God as unchangeable, the same yesterday, today, and forever. And amidst all the vicissitudes of life, with filial love and confidence teaches its votaries, to place their trust in him, "who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will," and believing, "that in the dispensation of the fulness of time," all the family of mankind, every individual of which is connected by many sympathies, shall be made as perfectly happy as "their nature and their state can bear," feeling to ejaculate "thy will be done."
Universlism alone, can insure the prayer of faith -- for we can have not faith in what we cannot confidently trust.
Universalism teaches that God is no respecter of persons, that every man shall be rewarded according to his works. It is hardly necessary to remark the salutary influence such a belief has on the mind.
It holds out to the wicked no such inducement to sin, as that a few minutes sorrow on the death bed, will atone for a long life of wickedness.
It teaches that virtue alone, is the true road to happiness in this life, and that virtue, inspired by love to God, and faith in Christ, is the only balm, that can buoy up the sinking soul, amid the wreck of dissolving natue.
Viewing all men as our brethren, and destined to immortality, there are no social virtues, which Universalism has not a tendency to strengthen, and no vice which it has not a tendency to weaken.
It is a religion, which interests all the faculties of the mind -- it interests the affections, as well as the reason. I cannot believe there is one being in the human race, so hardened, as from his heart to wish the never ending misery of his fellow man -- what, then must be the emotion of the feeling mind, who believes that his neighbor, his friend, his child, or his father, who, with inexpressible fondness and affection, has administered relief to his sorrows, and sympathized with him in distress, must spend an eternity in unutterable woe, far removed from his embrace? These sorrows, of the last feelings of the human heart, can only be wiped away, by Universalism.
It is in vain, to fly to the false subterfuge, and say, these are human feelings: when we get to heaven, the very torments of thse we loved on earth, will give a higher relish to our enjoyment!! Merciful heaven!! If these demons, which the imagination of the poets has led to call "Furies," were inhabitants of that place, I could believe such sentiments would be more congenial to their bosoms. Such sentiments would make a hell of heaven -- compassion for the miserable, and pity for the unfortunate, form an essential and prominent characteristic in the life of the blessed Savior, whose life Universalists endeavor to imitate.
Although Universalists share more of the reproach, and misrepresentation, of their doctrines, from the ignorant and thoughtless, yet their worst feeling towards such, is pity, and their most acrimonious wish is, that they may be brought to taste and know that the Lord is good, that they may renounce the paths of sin, and follow virtue, the only path to happiness -- and remaining firm in the faith, "wherein God has made us free," and looking beyond the bounds of time, to heaven as our goal, taking Christ for our leader and polar-star, and the Bible as our chart and compass, let us be transported by the soft breathings ot the Holy Spirit -- be guided by its influence, and wafted to that happy haven, where "pleasures never end, and troubles never come."