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if they would but carry out their own benign principles concerning the divine character, especially as taught by Dr. Channing, need not hesitate to ascribe to God all that should happen to man, for all should be benevolent, and should redound to his glory. There was but little controversy among Universalists on the subject of human agency and divine sovereignty, in that day; but Mr. B. sought to show the Unitarians that their views were opposed to the divine foreknowledge; for how could God know an event to be certain, which it was not at all certain would ever take place?
“With this laudable candor, be so good, brethren, as to look at some particular cases. Agreeably to your acknowledged belief in the divine foreknowledge, you allow that it was always known to God that the persecuting Saul of Tarsus would, on his way to Damascus, be converted, and become a faithful disciple and minister of Jesus Christ; but the views which you maintain of human agency suppose that it was possible for Saul to have resisted the operations of divine favor designed to effect his conversion, and to have remained an obstinate opposer and an inveterate persecutor of the Christian faith, all the days of his life. Can you, brethren, candidly look at these propositions in your creed, without seeing a direct contradiction? But you will say that this agency must be maintained, or you must consent to the Calvinistic doctrine of irresistible grace. Well, but you should consider that it is not irresistible grace to which you are, agreeably to your other tenets, necessarily opposed, but only to the partiality of grace, which may be irresistibly exercised for the conversion of sinners. If you believe that God will finally reconcile all men to himself, by the efficient operations of his favor, the belief that this grace is irresistible, in room of opposing, necessarily harmonizes with such an exalted sentiment. If you, like the Calvinists, believed in the doctrine of endless sin and misery, you could not allow that divine
grace is irresistible in its operations, without believing also in its partiality; and it is this partiality alone which renders irresistible grace exceptionable even to Arminians. But what objection can you have to the doctrine of irresistible grace, now, since you have given up the belief of never-ending sin and misery?”
Mr. Ballou reasoned here on the ground that the Unitarians rejected the doctrine of endless sin and misery. But this they did not generally do. Some of them, less timid than the rest, would reject it with abhorrence, and intimate a hope that perhaps all men would be saved from sin at last; but none of them professed to approve his idea that the Bible teaches no state of sin and punishment beyond the grave. This they professed to regard as a dangerous doctrine.
SECTION XII. PULPIT EXCHANGES.
Mr. Ballou was in favor of a free system of pulpit exchanges between clergymen of different sects.
"Why should not ministers of different denominations and of various creeds condescend to exchange pulpit labors with each other? Will it be said that, by so doing, the Calvinist would show too much lenity to Arminians and Universalists; that Arminians, in so doing, would give too much countenance to Calvinism and Universalism, and that Universalists would thereby be too tolerant in regard to the partial creeds of the other two? It is confidently believed that many good reasons may be rendered against such objections. In what age of the world, and where was it ever known that an exclusive spirit ever dictated those means which were best calculated to promote truth and to suppress error?""
In the days of which we speak, it was a rare thing for a Unitarian clergyman to exchange with a Universalist, except the latter were one who believed in a limited future punishment, to whom a little more lenity, in this matter, was shown. On this state of things, Mr. Ballou remarked:
"As to our Arminian or Unitarian brethren, they profess to be liberal; they are willing to exchange with other denominations in all cases where they think the advantage is fairly on their side. They will exchange with the Congregational Orthodox, or the Calvinistic Baptists, because they are persuaded that they can expose their errors, and reconcile the people to their own peculiar doctrines. But, if a Universalist proposes an exchange, he is politely informed by the minister that he would be glad to exchange, but he fears it would give offence to his people. He is not afraid of offending his people with Orthodoxy, of which they believe nothing; but Universalism, which the minister himself believes, as well as nearly all his hearers, he is afraid will offend them!
"But, after all, on general principles, liberality is visibly on the increase; and the period is not far distant, as we hope, when different names will subside, and the true lovers of Christ and his religion become as united in their walk as they always are in spirit."
SECTION XIII. - DOCTRINE OF PROBATION.
The common doctrine of probation Mr. Ballou did not believe. In his sight it was unreasonable and unscriptural. The word probation occurs nowhere in the Bible; nor any word, or form of words, that signify what the divines mean by the doctrine of probation. The common doctrine of the Unitarian divines was, that men
are placed in this world to be trained for another; that the preparation is our great work here. Mr. Ballou did not believe this. He saw no such notion taught in the Scriptures. God had not suspended man's endless happiness on his mere human acts. We should think a parent excessively cruel who should determine the whole character of his child's existence, by its acts when it was in the cradle :
"O, Father of love! how long shall thy children be blind to thy goodness? When God created man and placed him in the garden, did he preach to him this doctrine of probation? Did he tell him that he was placed here to prepare for another world? No; God told man to be fruitful, and to multiply and replenish the earth.' And, if we had no other teacher than Adam had, we should never think that our future eternal state depended on anything but the wisdom and goodness of that Being who is the author of this."
EVENTS OF ONE YEAR.
FROM JUNE 1826 TO JUNE 1827.
SECTION I. - SOUTHERN ASSOCIATION AT DANA.
IN June, of this year, Mr. Ballou visited once more the place of his early residence, namely, Dana, Mass. His object was to attend the annual session of the Southern Association of Universalists. The delegates convened at the house of Apollos Johnson, Esq.,* one of the brightest and best men ever reared in Dana; amiable in character, enterprizing but just in business, who always believed, professed and honored Universalism, and whose sickness and death, some time after this date, shed as bright a lustre on the truth as had been reflected from his life. Rev. Joshua Flagg, who then resided in Dana, was elected moderator. We shall not describe very particularly this meeting. One item of business was the passing of a resolution declaring that Elias Smith was no longer a member of the Universalist denomination, for the reason that he had renounced the faith. Mr. Ballou's sermon, on the afternoon of the last day, was from these
The son of Aaron, mentioned in vol 1., p. 99, of this work.