« PrécédentContinuer »
and although controversy was not only admissible, but desirable, yet, in order to secure its admission, "it must appear in the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit." Saturday was chosen as the day of publication, that the subscribers might have a paper profitable for Sabbath reading. It was to be principally devoted to doctrine, religion and morality. By doctrine, Mr. Ballou meant a system of divine truth founded on the nature and attributes of the Supreme Being. "No tenet, no opinion can be true, however generally it may be received, however long it may have passed for orthodoxy, unless it be in harmony with the divine attributes." "Religion is a most important concern, between a rational, moral being and his Maker. It recognizes the relation in which the reasonable soul stands to God, and predicates all its requirements on that relation. It directs the eye of the mind to observe with careful inspection the wisdom and goodness of the divine economy; and to acknowledge, with the full and entire acquiescence of the whole heart, the obligation which such goodness imposes." Morality, Mr. Ballou supposed, bore the same relation to religion that religion bore to doctrine. "As true and vital religion, or piety, is the natural offspring of a knowledge of the pure doctrine of divine truth, so morality is the necessary production of vital religion." Such were the principles on which he commenced the Universalist Magazine.*
* This paragraph calls to mind the manner in which the writer of this biography first became acquainted with the Universalist Magazine. At the time of the commencement of that paper, he was an apprentice to a boot-maker in State-street, Boston-at work in a back room of the third
SECTION II. SUBJECT OF FUTURE PUNISHMENT.
Mr. Ballou at this time believed in no future existence except that of life and immortality. He did not believe in the existence of sin and misery after death. But he did not press this subject unreasonably into his columns; in fact, he was more reserved than some desired him to be. But he was driven into controversy. The editor of a paper entitled The Kaleidoscope found fault because he was not sufficiently explicit on this subject:
"We also say that we cannot understand him. We have not yet been able to ascertain, from reading several of his publications, whether he believes in any future punishment, or none at all. We have thus far been under the impression that he totally denies the doctrine of future punishment. If this is not the case. if he merely believes the 'final restoration,' so called, he stands on very different ground from what we have supposed. Till this point is ascertained, we deem it useless, if not worse, to continue the controversy."- Magazine for Aug. 21, 1819.
story, with his awl and waxed ends. A stranger came in, holding a paper in his hand, and asked if any one was present who desired to subscribe for the Universalist Magazine, a paper to be edited by Mr. Ballou. At once our soul responded "Yes; "but there was a difficulty in the way, namely, we had not the means to pay a year's subscription in advance. Mr. Bowen (for he was the stranger) willingly recorded the name, "Thomas Whittemore," with the understanding that the young boot-maker would pay his subscription before the first half of the year expired, which was done. No other sheet I had ever read (excepting, of course, the Bible) had the effect upon me which this magazine exerted. I longed weekly for the day to come on which I was to receive it; and from that day, through the nine years it was published, I regularly received and read every number. In less than three years from that time I became an assistant editor with Mr. Ballou, at his own suggestion.
Mr. Ballou replied to this suggestion in the following strain:
"Our friend informs us that he is unable to ascertain whether the editor of the Magazine' believes in any future punishment, or none at all.' And he now very respectfully requests to be informed on this subject; for he thinks if we 'merely believe in final restoration, so called, we stand on very different ground from what he had supposed.' There seem to appear some strong intimations, in what he has here stated, that he has no objection to the doctrine of the salvation of all men finally, if a future punishment can be allowed for a time. He says, 'If he merely believes the final restoration.' This form of expression should indicate that he has no particular objections to make, if this be the doctrine. Well, we will receive him on this ground with all cordiality. If he will allow that all mankind shall finally be reconciled to God, love and enjoy him through the power of his grace revealed in him who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, we will not disagree about the times and seasons which God holds in his own power, nor will we disagree on the quantity or duration of that chastisement which our Heavenly Father may administer for the sinner's profit."— Magazine of same date as above.
The editor of the Kaleidoscope intimated, if Mr. B. believed in any future punishment at all, he stood on very different ground from what he [the said editor] had supposed. But Mr. B. held that, as it respects the design of punishment, there was really no great difference between the two doctrines. He said:
"We will endeavor to show him and our readers that the ground or principle is the same in both cases. That is, the Universalist who believes that this mortal state, in flesh and blood, is the only state of sin and misery, stands on the same principle as
does his brother who believes that there may be a future state of discipline which will eventuate in bringing all sinners to a state of holiness and happiness. Neither difference respecting the time when the creature is to be made happy, or the particular means by which this event is brought about, makes the least difference in principle. Two brothers, sons of the same father, may perfectly agree in their sentiments respecting their parent. They both believe that he will not fail to give them all the instruction they need, that his discipline over them is all designed for their benefit; and yet they may entertain different views respecting time and means. One may think that they are to be kept at school till they are eighteen, the other may be of the mind that they are to be continued under tutors and governors a year longer; yet both believe that their father knows best, and will order their concerns according to his own wisdom and goodness. He who believes that all sufferings end with this mortal state, and he who believes that they end at the expiration of any other period, differ only as it respects time, not as it respects principle; for both believe that all discipline is for the good of the punished, and therefore the sentiment is the same."
So far the two phases of doctrine were one in principle. The editor of the Kaleidoscope was a friend of the latelyembodied sect called Unitarians; but he was very careful not to incur any danger of being considered a Universalist.
"But the editor of the Kaleidoscope thinks it may be worse than useless' to continue the controversy,' until we decide the question whether we believe in future punishment or not. But why should this be the case? Our controversy is not concerning the question which he here states; we may say with propriety that this question has no immediate concern with the subject of our contro
versy. He had promised to explain and defend rational and liberal Christianity,' as distinguished from Universalism; and we have endeavored to keep him to his promise, but we do not succeed; and we think his sagacity has made the discovery that we were right in our opinion that he never would fulfil his promise. On a subject so vast, of such infinite importance, as the one embraced in his promise, to discover any desire to avoid coming directly to the main question, in the most direct manner for decision, is a defect of such a character as gives us very disagreeable sensations. What has he answered to the numerous arguments which we have brought to disprove his statements? Nothing. What has he even pretended to say against universal salvation, that we have not fully refuted? Nothing. What next? A new question is started. Do we believe in future punishment, or not? Why does not our friend act on the noble principle which would lead him to say, I cannot prove, neither by the Bible nor reason, that all men may not finally be saved, but I think that future limited punishment may be supported? Then, if we disagreed at all, it would not be on principle; it would only be concerning times, ways and means.
One of the first paragraphs in which Mr. Ballou sought to expose the timid, conservative policy of the Unitarians, who had just been driven to take open ground in respect to the doctrine of the Trinity, was the following:
"It is worthy of notice with how much caution our editor puts his question: If not inconsistent with his views and feelings, we respectfully request him to inform us and the public on this
* As to the question whether he believed in future punishment, Mr. Ballou saw fit to answer it as follows:
"But, after all, will it do to answer the question? There would be no danger, if we could say we believe in a state of future punishment,that is, if no one would call on us to prove it from the Scriptures. But there lies the difficulty. We are sensible we cannot prove that sin and misery will exist in a future state of being."