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The Means of Salvation

from "The Universalist Herald - March 15, 1891

Universalists do not, as many imagine, ignore the means of salvation. While we hold to the final purity and happiness of the entire human race, we believe this grand result is to be accomplished only by and through the use of appointed means, chief among which, we may name faith, repentance, and conversion. We hold to the salvation of all, on the same principle that our Calvinistic brethren do to the salvation of a few. Though God has "declared the end from the beginning" (Isa. 46:10), it is no less true that this end is to be accomplished by the use of means. God has promised that while the earth remaineth, seed time and harvest shall continue, but this promise does not overlook the use of means. Just so it is with gospel salvation. No well instructed Universalist believes that men can be saved without repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The standing invitation of the Most High (not only for time, but eternity), is, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon" (Isa. 55:7). The Psalmist says, "All the ends of the earth shall remember and return unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before him" (Ps. 22:27).

The sooner men repent and return to the Lord, the sooner will they enjoy his salvation. The longer they delay, the longer will they be miserable. Self-interest, then, to say nothing of the melting love of God, should inspire us to duty.

"See, Jesus stands with open arms;
    He calls, he bids you come:
Guilt holds you back, and fear alarms,
    But see, there yet is room."

The editor of the Leader, speaking of some of the articles of faith held by Universalists, thus speaks:

"Of Conversion and Regeneration. - They believe in conversion and regeneration; that God in various ways manifests himself to the soul, and by the influences of his Holy Spirit quickens and renews the affections, and leads the wayward heart to himself. They believe that experimental religion, in its completeness, is not a sudden thing, the fruit of a momentary excitement, but that beginning with the call of the Spirit, and the new birth of the heart, it is a steady and perpetual growth in righteousness and true holiness.."

"Of Conversion and Repentance - They believe in the necessity of repentance, as the preparatory step to salvation, and in conviction as preparatory to repentance. The wicked man must be convinced of his sin, must be made to feel the guilt of his transgression, before he can be brought to true penitence, and turned from his evil ways. And when he sincerely and humbly repents of his sins, he is in the way to conversion, and a life of genuine piety and obedience."

"Of Punishment - They believe in the certain punishment of sin; but, at the same time, that it is beneficent in its aim as a warning, and remedial in its effect on the transgressor. The law is not for God, but for man; for his guidance and safety, and the penalty of the law, the punishment of disobedience, is not an expression of God's anger, but of his desire and purpose to restrain and correct the evil doer, and restore him to the security and joy of obedience. All pain, whether here or hereafter, has this for its object, and no child of God will suffer one moment longer than is necessary to separate him from his sins, and bring him into submission to the will and into harmony with the Spirit of God."