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to the want of that influence. The Universalist knows, that the sentiments he cherishes, have none other effect upon him than that which is good: The natural influence of them, is to promote love to God and love to man, comfort and hope in seasons of the deepest affliction, reconciliation to God at all times, and confidence in the hour of death. But to produce these consequences, the sentiments must not be merely assented to. "He is not a Jew which is one outwardly," saith the apostle; "neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter." So he is not a Universalist which is one outwardly; he must have the doctrine in his heart; and if there, like an ever-living fountain, it will continually send out streams of truth, and purity, and love. When Universalists do wrong, it is not because they obey the influences of the doctrine they profess, but it is because they do not obey them.
X. It was a sound remark of Dr. Franklin, the most eminent of our philosophers, that "no system in the Christian world was so well calculated to promote the interest of society, as the doctrine which showed a God reconciling a lapsed world unto himself." We have this on the authority of his daughter, Mrs. Bache, in whose house he died. It appeared first in England, in the "New Monthly Magazine," and was afterwards copied into the "Mirror," Vol. IX. p. 208. See "Modern History of Universalism," p. 413. Such was the sentiment of that great philosopher. A similar acknowledgment was made by the eminent philosopher and divine, Dr. Joseph Priestley. He said, in a sermon delivered in the Lombard Street church, in Philadelphia, "I express my concurrence with the minister, and the congregation worshipping here, in their opinion concerning the final happiness of all the human race, a doctrine eminently calculated to promote alike gratitude to God, and consequently every
other virtue; and, since this doctrine is perfectly consistent with the belief of the adequate punishment of sin, it is far from giving any encouragement to sinners. "Modern History of Universalism," p. 260. If the sentiment of these two eminent philosophers be true, (and Universalists surely will not dispute it,) how necessary is it, that all who profess the doctrine of universal love, should manifest the power of it in their actions. They should let their souls be each a mirror, in which the image of the doctrine shall be seen. We ask of them only, that they sedulously endeavour to understand the nature, and feel the power, and display the excellence, of their faith. Then will they honor and glorify God, in their bodies and spirits which are his, and live in constant good-will towards their fellow-men. They will hate sin, and flee from it, not on account of punishment merely, but because it is a violation of the commandments of God. In every event of life, they will recognise his overruling hand. They will part with all they hold dear on earth, if it be God's will; and with humble resignation they will kiss the rod with which they are smitten. And when, at last, they are summoned to depart, hope shall lift up its tearless eye to the throne of God, and the spirit shall return to Him who gave it.
XI. If there be any one thing which particularly concerns the substantial interests of the Universalist denomination, it is the formation of Vital Godliness. We do not mean that Universalists should become the encouragers and promoters of fanaticism, in any of its protean forms, for we have yet to learn, that any of these are identical with vital godliness. But is it demanded what we mean by the phrase which we have employed? Our answer is simply this: We mean those peculiar exercises of the mind and the affections, which the doctrines embraced by Universalists are so preeminently calculated to produce, if they be allowed to exert their legitimate influence. Universalists beeve that Jehovah is as wise, and as powerful, and as
good, as the best man on earth could desire him to be,
in short, that his perfections infinitely transcend the most enlarged conceptions of the human mind. Can we, as Universalists, contemplate such a being, especially in his relation to us as a Father, without feeling a holy reverence for his name, and a filial confidence in his goodness? Can we contemplate his impartial goodness to the children of men, as displayed in Providence and grace, without feeling that it is our duty to cherish a spirit of good-will towards all the human race ?
Vital godliness, as thus explained, signifies, therefore, love to God, and love to man. If we love God, we shall keep his commandments. We shall delight to worship him. We shall delight to speak of his loving kindness and his tender mercy. We shall delight to recommend, and to exhort our fellow-men to trust in the goodness of our heavenly Father, as manifested through his beloved Son. And, if we cherish the genuine spirit of philanthropy in our hearts, we shall assuredly strive to promote the good of our fellow-creatures by every practicable means within the compass of our ability.
Reader, behold the mark of the prize of thy high calling in Christ Jesus, and put forth all thy energies for its attainment, and depend on it, thou shalt know from experience the power of religion in the soul.
ON THE FORMATION OF UNIVERSALIST SOCIETIES.
I. ALL religious societies should be formed agreeably to the Constitution and laws of the State to which they belong. In Massachusetts, the rights and duties of religious societies, and the privileges of members, are set forth in the Eleventh Article of Amendments to the Constitution, and in the Twentieth Chapter of
the Revised Statutes. As Universalists should always be careful to pay the strictest deference to the laws, we shall here introduce the article from the Constitution, and give entire the chapter from the Statutes.
II. RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ESTABLISHED.
"Article 11 [of Amendments]. Instead of the third article of the Bill of Rights, the following modification and amendment thereof is substituted.
"As the public worship of God, and instructions in piety, religion, and morality, promote the happiness and prosperity of a people, and the security of a republican government, therefore, the several religious societies of this Commonwealth, whether corporate or unincorporate, at any meeting legally warned and holden for that purpose, shall ever have the right to elect their pastors or religious teachers, to contract with them for their support, to raise money for erecting and repairing houses for public worship, for the maintainance of religious instruction, and for the payment of necessary expenses: And all persons belonging to any religious society shall be taken and held to be members, until they shall file with the clerk of such society a written notice declaring the dissolution of their membership, and thenceforth shall not be liable for any grant or contract which may be thereafter made or entered into by such society: And all religious sects and denominations, demeaning themselves peaceably, and as good citizens of the Commonwealth, shall be equally under the protection of the law; and no subordination of any one sect or denomination to another shall ever be established by law."
III. REVISED STATUTES, CHAPTER 20.
"Section 1. Every parish or religious society heretofore established is declared to be a body corporate, with all the powers given to corporations by the forty-fourth chapter; and with the other powers, privileges, liabilities, and duties, expressed in this chapter.
"Sect. 2. All parishes or religious societies, whether corporate or unincorporate, shall continue to have and enjoy their existing rights, privileges, and immunities, except so far as the same may be limited or modified by the provisions of this chapter, and the eleventh article of the amendments of the constitution.
"Sect. 3. The respective churches, connected and associated in public worship, with such parishes and religious societies, shall continue to have, exercise, and enjoy all their accustomed privileges and liberties respecting divine worship, church order, and discipline, and shall be encouraged in the peaceable and regular enjoyment and practice thereof.
"Sect. 4. All persons belonging to any religious society, shall be taken and held to be members, until they shall file, with the clerk of such society, a written notice declaring the dissolution of their membership, and thenceforth shall not be liable for any grant or contract, which may be thereafter made or entered into by such society; and no person shall hereafter be made a member of any parish or relirious society, without his consent in writing.
"Sect. 5. Every parish and religious society may make by-laws, prescribing the manner in which persons may become members thereof; provided such by-laws be not repugnant to the laws of the Commonwealth.
"Sect. 6. No person shall have a right to vote in the affairs of any parish or religious society, unless he is a member thereof.
"Sect. 7. The qualified voters of every parish and incorporated religious society, and of every religious society organized according to the provisions of this chapter, shall meet in the month of March or April annually, at such time and place as shall be appointed by their assessors or standing committee, and shall choose a clerk, and two or more assessors, a treasurer, collector, who shall be sworn, and such other officers as they shall think necessary; all of whom shall continue in office for one year, and until others are chosen and qualified in their stead.
"Sect. 8. All meetings shall be warned in such manner, as the parish or society shall by any by-law or vote provide; and when they shall make no such order, the meetings shall be warned in such manner, as their assessors or standing committee shall, in their warrant for such meeting, direct.
"Sect. 9. At all such meetings, the clerk shall preside in the choice of a moderator; and, if there is no clerk, or if he is absent, the assessors or the standing committee, or any one of them, shall preside in the choice of a moderator; and a clerk may then be chosen, either pro tempore, or to fill the vacancy, as the case may require.
"Sect. 10. The moderator may administer the oath of office to the clerk; and the clerk may administer the oath to the assessors and collector; or the said oaths may be administered by any justice of the peace; and they shall all be substantially the same, as are required to be taken by the clerk, assessors, and collectors of towns.
"Sect. 11. The moderator shall have the same power, in governing the meeting, that is given to the moderator of a town meeting; and all persons guilty of disorderly behaviour at the meeting of any parish or religious society, shall be subjected to the same penalties and punishments, as are provided for the like offences in town meetings; all the pecuniary penalties to enure to the use of the parish or society, and to be recovered in the manner prescribed in the case of offences at town meetings.
"Sect. 12. The person chosen collector shall, if present, forthwith declare his acceptance or refusal of the office; and in case of non-acceptance, the parish or society shall proceed to a new choice, and so from time to time, until one shall accept and be sworn.
"Sect. 13. Any person so chosen, who shall be present and shall not declare his acceptance of the office of collector, or who shall, for the space of seven days, after being summoned by a constable or any other person, whom the clerk or assessors may appoint for that purpose, neglect to take the oath of office, shall be considered as refusing to accept the office.
Sect. 14. The prudential affairs of parishes and religious societies shall be managed by their assessors, or by a standing committee, to be specially appointed for that purpose; and the said assessors or committee shall have like authority, for calling meetings of the parish or society, as selectmen have for calling town meetings.