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of education, I have rejected it, for reasons,
appear to me to be good and substantial'; and it is my purpose to lay some of these reasons before you. I cannot hope, that all who hear me will view them in precisely the same light with myself; and though I fail to convince, yet I trust I shall, in the end, have the satisfaction of knowing that my duty has been plainly, candidly, and affectionately done.Without further preliminary remarks, I proceed directly to the work proposed.
1. My first objection to the doctrine is, that it is plainly and most clearly, anti-Christian in its spirit.
You will bear in mind, that we are directed in our text, to try the spirits, whether they be of God," and will therefore, I trust, have no hesitation about the propriety of the work in which we are engaged.
There is one great principle of truth, applicable alike to the physical and moral world, in view of which we should conduct this examination. It is laid down by the Savior thus : “ The tree is known by its fruit, and the fountain by the waters that it sends forth.” Grapes do not grow on thorns, nor figs on thistles ; neither doth the same fountain send forth waters both bitter and sweet."
Now, all systems of doctrine have some great leading features, which mark them as distinct from all others; and one of these features, is, the spirit which pervades them. Thus, for instance, the Mahometan religion is essentially contentious and war
like, in its spirit. Its author was a “man of war," and his religion was established by the sword and the javelin. He taught his followers to fight for the faith, and promised the highest seat in heaven to those who bled and died in the battle for his defence. Its spirit, therefore, is the spirit of war.
Should you tell the Mahometan that he ought to submit even to insult and injury, with patience, and “resist not evil,” he would tell
teachings were anti-Mahometan in spirit. The prophet himself fought, and your doctrine is opposed to the spirit of his whole life, and all his teachings; and by this he would decide, with as much certainty, as by the clearest testimony of the Koran.
So the Christian religion is essentially a system of "peace and good will." Its spirit is the spirit of love and kindness. Its author breathed this spirit in all his works and ways. Love is the very essence, the life and soul of the gospel ; and I am prepared to reject any, and every doctrine and practice, as anti-Christian, that is opposed to this all pervading principle of love. I care not who preaches it, or by what ingenuity men may endeavor to extort it from the sacred writings; if it breathe the spirit of revenge or hatred, it is no more certain that Mahometanism and Christianity are not identical, than it is that such a doctrine or precept is no part of the gospel; for, "the same fountain doth not send forth waters both bitter and sweet." Thus, then, without resort to “ doubtful interpretations, or disputations
about words,” but by a test as infallible as the trial of gold by fire, you may distinguish between the metal and the alloy, and separate the gold from the dross. Let us, then, try the spirit of the doctrine of endless misery, by the spirit of the gospel, as exhibited
1. In the teachings of the blessed Savior.
Take the parable of the “Prodigal Son,” as an illustration. This is its substance: “A certain man had two sons; and the younger said unto his father: give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. So he divided to him his living. And soon he departed, and took his journey into a far country. Away from the counsels of a father, and free from the restraints of parental authority, he indulged his lusts, and spent his substance in riotous living. There arose a mighty famine in the land, and he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and as if to complete his degradation was sent into the field to feed swine. So sore was his want, that he would have filled himself with the husks which the swine did eat, and no man gave unto him.Then he came to himself. He thought of his father and his home, and remembered that there, even the hired servants had enough and to spare. He said therefore, “ I will arise and go to my father and I will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. Make me, therefore, as one of thy hired servants."
We turn now to the father. He had
for the loss of his son. He had remembered him and cared for him, even when he cared not for himself. He had mused of him, and prayed for him, in the silence of the night and in the waking hours of the day, and had waited with anxious solicitude for his return. And, behold, now he comes ! Far in the distance appears the form of a weary traveller. The eye that was dim with age could see him “ while yet he was a great way off,” and detect the well remembered image of a long lost son. His limbs were just now tottering and trembling upon his staff; but he forgets that he is old. The aged frame assumes the vigor of youth. He needs no staff to support his steps; but he runs to meet him. He forgot the rags, and filth, and folly of his son. He forgot his guilt and iniquity; aye, he forgot every thing, but that it was his son, and in a transport of joy he clasped the poor wanderer in his arms, and kissed him! The first word uttered was, “ Bring forth the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring upon his finger and shoes upon his feet, and let the fatted calf be slain, and let us rejoice ; for my son has returned, and I have received him safe and sound.”
Here is a true delineation of the spirit of the gospel ; for this parable is but an illustration of the ways of God to man. As this father felt towards his son, so God feels towards his children. I ask you to try the spirit of the doctrine of endless mis
ery by this standard. Do you see any thing in the doctrine that resembles the spirit of this father ? When earth's wandering prodigals shall be gathered before him, will he treat them as this father treated the son ? Or, will he cast them out to wander hopeless and forlorn, world without end ? I pray you, try the spirit whether it be of God. To me it looks not like the gospel spirit.
But there is another character introduced in the parable. The elder brother was in the field, and when he drew near the house, and heard the sound of music and dancing, he called one of the servants and asked what it meant. The answer was, “ Thy brother hath come, and thy father hath killed for him the fatted calf.” 66 And he was angry,
and would not go in.
Therefore went his father out and entreated him, saying, It was meet that we should make merry and be glad, for this, my son, was lost, and is found; he was dead, and is alive again. But he said, “ Lo! these many years do I serve thee, and yet thou never gavest me so much as a kid to make merry with my friends. sooner does this thy son, who has devoured thy living with harlots, return, than thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.” “ He was angry, and would not go in.” Here you see a spirit very different from that of the father. It is a spirit that would crush the sinner and drive him from his home. It is the spirit of revenge, of wrath and unforgiving cruelty. And now I pray you, try the spirit of the