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chose to create them! How, sir, are you able to make it appear, that the Calvinistic God is any more a "monster of malevolence, and cruelty, and caprice," than is this God, in whom you believe? Look at this case, as you wish to have it viewed, on the scale of human conduct. You have two sons, lovely youth, the very image of yourself. You send them to a certain place, for certain purposes. You know, that on the left hand of the way, in a particular place, there is a precipice, and you further know, that one of your sons will, notwithstanding you warn them both to avoid it, walk on that side of the way, and be dashed to pieces. Yet you choose to send them! Do you believe that after you should tell your family and neighbors, that you knew all that would happen to your unfortunate son, before you sent him; that you could satisfy them that you were not a "monster of malevolence, and cruelty, and caprice"?
It is in vain to urge here, that God has given the poor wretches, who he knew would disobey his warnings, and fall into everlasting misery, a power or agency to heed his counsel and avoid this destruction; for even allowing he did give them such agency, he knew that it would be no benefit to them. There could, therefore, be no favor in such a gift. To illustrate this, suppose you had placed a certain indication near the precipice, and told your sons to look out for it, and when they should see the signal, to be careful to bear to the right hand, and avoid danger; yet you knew that this very signal would be the means of attracting your child to the place and to his destruction. Could you maintain your goodness in placing this fatal means in this situation?
Tho I no more believe in the calvinistic scheme, than in that which you vindicate, yet I must confess that it has far the best appearance. To talk about the offers of divine favor, made to those, who the Creator
knew before he created them, would reject all such offers, has the appearance of artifice and hypocrisy, which seem designed to hide the deformity of the divine character. I would not be understood, sir, to mean that you would knowingly use deceit; but as you have faithfully represented the calvinistic God, you have set me the example, in imitating which, the character of the unitarian God is brought to view. As you are engaged in contending against calvinism, your study is not directed to discover the weakness and unsoundness of your own system. But you never will be able to satisfy critical and candid ratiocination that the eternal state of man will be in any instance, different from the original and unalterable purposes of the Creator.
What is the reason that the Unitarians and Calvinists in their arguments against each other, do not endeavor to remove the real objections, which they urge against each other's system? If you could shew how it can be that our Creator knew, from all eternity, that some of mankind would reject the offers of grace, and be forever niserable, and yet that God was really good in bringing them into existence, you would be on such ground, as to this subject, as would be acceptable to calvinists; for, in fact, this is all the difficulty under which their doctrine labors. But while you labor to prove their doctrine cruel, they smile at the want of discernment in their opponents, for they know that the same objection lies against them.
The whole difficulty is found in the doctrine of endless misery and while you endeavor to defend this doctrine, you will be unable to defend the moral character of the Creator. Once discard this doctrine, which, defended as it may be, must, according to your own statement, represent God as a "monster of malevolence, and cruelty, and caprice," and all difficulty is at an end; and the church will lay off her robes of sorrow and mour
ning, and will appear "as a bride adorned for her husband."
I remain, Rev. Sir, your most humble servant,
AN ADDRESS DELIVERED AT THE LAYING OF THE CORNER STONE OF THE FIRST UNIVERSALIST CHURCH IN PLYM
OUTH, JULY 17, 1826, BY JAMES H. BUGBEE.
Under the auspicious smiles of Him who planted the lofty pillars of nature upon which we stand ;-gave bounds to yonder element whose liquid waves have for ages lashed the surrounding shores, and who spread over these monuments of his power the magnificent arch of heaven; we have congregated to witness the ceremony of laying this Foundation Stone. Of the propriety or usefulness of this service, we shall speak no farther than simply to observe, it is a custom prevalent among all denominations. The brief inscription which has been read in your hearing, has unfolded to your minds the consecrated character of the superstructure, which human skill and exertion, under the guidance and protection of Heaven, will cause to rise and rest upon these walls of stone.
It is to be a temple hallowed to Almighty God, to whose service and worship it is exclusively devoted. It is to be a home for the pious-a refuge for the wandering pilgrim, where the weary, and the oppressed, and the sorrowful, may find an asylum from the bustle of the world, and be refreshed by the soothing streams of free, unmerited grace, descending from on high, through a crucified, risen and exalted Redeemer!
Are we inquired of by a surrounding multitude, who feel a painful solicitation to know whether any "good thing can come out of Nazareth," a reason why we raise these walls? We cheerfully reply. The want of a
suitable and convenient place to present ourselves humbly before our Father in heaven, and solemnly, and publicly, and unitedly, to offer our songs of thanksgiving, and supplicate his blessing, furnishes a sufficient reason, and fully justifies this laudable and important undertaking. When the father bars his doors against his children, and withdraws from them his countenance and protection; and when those homeless children return and knock for admittance, but knock in vain, then must they seek for themselves a shelter from the storm. Behold those children-they are here!* They have long realized the want of a convenient house for public worship where they may enjoy in common with other denominations, the satisfaction of having those doctrines advanced, which they believe consistent with right reason and with divine revelation. Their local situation, the rapid growth of the society, the general interest and advancement of the truth demanded that something should be done; and they have said with one voice, let us build a house of prayer, let us consecrate a temple to the Lord of Hosts! and in the name of Jehovah we have laid the foundation, confident that "except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it." The foundation stone has already been made an altar, upon which we have offered the sacrifice of prayer and supplication; and when the temple which shall be reared upon this foundation shall be completed, it will resound with the voice of thanksgiving, and the united symphonies of a grateful multitude.
In raising this fabric, we are not governed with an
*Previous to the organization of this Society, in the year 1821, a petition signed by Daniel Jackson and others, was presented to the Committee of the First Parish, for liberty to hold an evening meeting in their house, but the petition was rejected. Application was also made for the new meeting house, for a school house, the old court house (now town house,) but rejected.
emulation to rival those who have gone before us, in splendor or magnificence. No costly decorations, no gilded carvings will dazzle upon these walls. Here will no gaudy trappings, calculated to feast the eye, or attract the attention of the distant beholder, be displayed. We trust that a motive more humble and more glorious, prompted the measures which have been adopted by these builders, and which you already behold in a successful train of accomplishment. Our motive is love to God, and to man, our fellow. We erect and dedicate this house to the Omnipotent Creator and "Savior of all men," for his honor and glory, and for our own, and the happiness of our children, and our children's children, down to the remotest posterity.
It is here we shall offer our public supplications--it is here we shall assemble with our families to pay our weekly devotions to the beneficent Author of our lives and the Father of our spirits. It is on this spot, and beneath a covering which shall soon intervene between us and the bright arch above, where we expect to hear the cheerful voice of devotion, the loud swelling anthems of praise, and the "words of eternal life, which God who cannot lie, promised us in Christ Jesus before the world began."
Our design is to furnish a home for the devout worshipper, a resting place and a shelter for the wandering exile, and a barrier to the prevalence of error and vice; and we feel that God will smile upon, and prosper our endeavors. Should our numbers be few, we confidently anticipate the fulfilment of our Savior's promise,"Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I will be in the midst and bless them." For this blessing, for the uninterrupted enjoyment of our religion, and for the promotion of consistent christianity, we have collected these materials, and are now about to convert them into a temple of praise, to commemorate the glory of the King immortal.