Images de page
PDF
ePub

and is now, at its close, the staff on which you recline in peace. As you have been enabled to defend the truth by your life and conversation in the world, and also by several valuable publications, so it seems to be the will of God that you should add your dying testimony to all your past efforts to defend and support the truth. Thanks be to God for his goodness!

"Brother Dutton, should this reach you while living, be assured that I feel desirous of presenting you with my dying testimony in accordance and in unison with your own; for, though I may have years yet to live in this world, yet this communication is, no doubt, my last to you; and, in a sense, is the same as if it were my last to the world. We have travelled in mind in great harmony; we have seen wonders wrought in advancing our precious faith, and we have reason to rejoice with suitable triumph in the name of Him to whom every knee shall bow, and whom every tongue shall confess to be Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

"My health, which was much reduced in consequence of a greater pressure of business, and more incessant labor, after I came to this city, than even a good natural constitution was able to sustain without damage, has been, on the whole, improving for more than two years, and is now better than it has been for several years past. I have likewise the satisfaction of witnessing a truly wonderful increase of rational religion and liberal principles. Even Orthodoxy itself begins to borrow some features from liberal sentiments, not only to hide some of her native defects, but that she may attract attention by charms which are not her own. You, my venerable father in Israel, can, with the fullest confidence say, as did Simeon of old, when in his withered arms he held the blessed Saviour, Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.' So may it please God that your last moments may be as tranquil as the unruffled lake when the soft beams of the setting sun are reflected from its bosom, and leave a promise of a glorious morning to come. Yours, affectionately,

"HOSEA BALLOU."

Whether the venerable old man lived to read and understand Mr. B.'s answer, we cannot say; though it is probable he did. His death took place on the 7th of June, which it will be seen was just one month from the date of his letter. No inconsiderable number of the aged fathers of our faith, as they passed away from earth, left messages, either written or verbal, to Mr. Ballou, assuring him, with their latest breath, of the comfort they had received from their faith, both in living and dying.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

In June, 1824, the Southern Association of Universalists held its session at Attleboro, Mass., where the difficulties between certain brethren, whom we have before named, and the rest of the Universalists, came up again for a settlement. Mr. Ballou was present. The societies had begun to take a decided stand against this division. It must be confessed, in truth, that Mr. B's influence was in no way impaired. The people believed he had done right; that he had sought "after the things which make for peace"; and notwithstanding the efforts of others to impair his influence, he stood erect in the midst of the storm, like the gigantic oak, while other trees of the forest had fallen. Those who had signed the "Declaration" and "Appeal" were losing their hold upon the affections of the people. Such was the state of things when the association we Attleboro. Rev. Sebastian Streeter, then just settled in Boston, was made moderator. Rev. Messrs. Dean and

have named met at

Wood were both present, although the former had been dismissed from all fellowship with the order, at his own request, by the General Convention of 1823. The difficulties with Rev. Messrs. Turner, B. Streeter, and Hudson, had been settled, as we have shown, at the preceding session of the association in Milford; and Rev. Mr. Wood signified his assent to the same terms at Attleboro, and thus the cause of complaint against him was removed. Rev. Mr. Dean stood, as it were, alone, professedly a Trinitarian Universalist, and an ardent defender of future punishment. It was rumored among the clergy, early in the session, that he would ask to be received into the order again. The most of the brethren took ground in favor of admitting him, though a few were decidedly opposed to such a measure. Among the former was Mr. Ballou; among the latter was Mr. T. Whittemore. It was a rare thing then to see these gentlemen on opposite sides. The truth was, Mr. W. believed that, as the denomination had then no connection with Rev. Mr. D.,- as he had gone out from among us of his own accord, -as his connection with the order for the last eight or ten years had been the source of great disquiet, and as there was not sufficient ground of faith that his renewal of connection with us would not fan the flame anew, Mr. W. felt it his duty to oppose, and did oppose, the granting of Rev. Mr. D.'s application. Mr. Ballou's heart was so full of tenderness, that the moment Mr. D. looked towards him, and asked for fellowship again, expressing thereby in the most formal and sacred manner a desire to live in peace and harmony with the denomination, he was entirely overcome. He made not the slightest objection to grant

ing Mr. D.'s request; but, on the other hand, used his influence publicly and privately to have it granted. He took Mr. Whittemore aside, and said, "I believe Br. Dean is sorry for what has happened; I cannot vote not to receive him; if we err at all, let us err on the side of forgiveness. Withdraw your opposition, Br. W., for my sake; perhaps the joys of former days will return." Mr. Whittemore saw nothing but evil in the vote about to be taken; but, at the request of Mr. Ballou, he abated his efforts to prevent its passage, which probably he could not have done, had he made his fullest exertions to that end. Mr. Dean was received again into fellowship.

The sermon which Mr. Ballou preached on this occasion was a most singular and remarkable one, from the words, "Is anything too hard for the Lord ?"- Genesis 18: 14. We cannot give a description of it. It was purely extemporaneous, and was never published. The doctrines of men were never more faithfully exposed than they were at that time. Smiles and tears were visible, like alternate sunshine and rain. The people were so deeply moved that they kept in almost constant motion, quite unconsciously to themselves. Look up into that pulpit. Mr. Ballou had taken up with him Rev. Messrs. Dean and Wood. It was a spectacle we had not seen for a long time. Mr. Dean had offered the principal prayer, and Mr. Wood was to offer the concluding one. They left of Mr. B., as he delivered this masterly discourse. He was a happy man at that service. He believed he had regained a brother.

sat on the right and

SECTION XXIX.- MODIFIED OPINIONS OF HELL.

When Mr. Ballou began to preach, we may almost say the whole country was given up to the belief of the awful doctrine of Calvinism. It was thought that by far the greater part of mankind would sink down to deep and long despair; but, as early as 1808, or 1810, the effect of the labors of Universalists to remove the popular superstitions concerning this subject began clearly to be seen. How far we are to attribute this change to the labors of Mr. Ballou, it is, of course, difficult to tell; but that the change was wrought out by the Universalists cannot be gainsayed. It was caused by the silent working of their doctrine upon the public mind. Dr. Lyman Beecher was one of the first to come out on this subject. He said:

"It seems to be the imagination of some that the kingdom of darkness will be as vast as the kingdom of light, and that happiness and misery, of equal dimensions, will expand, side by side, to all eternity. But, blessed be God, it is a mere imagination, totally unsupported by reason or revelation. Who ever heard of a prison that occupied one-half of the territories of a kingdom? and who can believe that the universe, which was called into being, and is upheld and governed, to express the goodness of God, will exhibit, in fact, equal evidence of malevolence? How could the government of God be celebrated with such raptures in heaven, if it filled with dismay and ruin half the universe? How vast soever, therefore, the kingdom of darkness may be, in itself considered, it is certainly nothing but the prison of the universe, and small, indeed, compared to the realms of light and joy. The misery of that unholy community, when the eye is fixed upon that only, fills the soul with anguish; but when, from the dreadful exhibition of sin, and display of justice, we raise the adoring eye

« PrécédentContinuer »