As I have said, the day passed over, and there was no word of Teague. In the evening, as it was usual with the gentlemen at the Indian Queen, to go to some place for the amusement of an hour or two, mention being made of a celebrated preacher, a Universalist, as he was called; that is, one who preaches the doctrine of universal salvation; it was proposed to go to hear him, as he was to hold forth that evening. The Captain readily consented, and it struck him as this was a new fangled doctrine, that, conscious of a good deal of fornication, it would naturally please Teague, it was not impossible but the Irishman might have become a disciple of this reformist, and be at his conventicle.
Coming in amongst the crowd, and obtaining seats, they saw the preacher ascend the pulpit, and, after the preliminary exercise of psalms and prayer, take a text and begin his sermon.
His text was taken from one of those passages of scripture, which speaks of the lion lying down with the kid, and the tyger with the lamb, which have been interpreted of the Millenium, but were applied by him to that period, when, as the sea shall give up her dead, so hell shall give up her damned, and the devil himself shall come to lick salt out of the hand of an angel.
Enlarging on this doctrine, and supporting it with a variety of proofs from scripture, and arguments from reason, he seemed to have brought the matter to a point, answering all objections, and closing in with the hearer. At this stage, using that figure of oratory which is usual in the pulpit, of asking questions, and pressing for an answer, but expecting none; he would say, is not this conclusive? Is it not evident? Is there any here can advance an argument against it? Will any of you speak--I pause for an answer.
Mr. MDonald, in the mean time, (the Scotch gentleman, who happened to be there,) thinking him really serious, and that he wanted an answer, or taking advantage of the pause, and the interrogation, to speak his mind, leaning over the front of a back seat, made reply:
Why, said he, I like the doctrine well enough, and ha na disposition to oerthrow it. I dinna muckle care if there were na hell ava. If ye could make that out, I wad rather hear it, than o being smoaked twa or three thousand years in the devils nuke, or singed wi his burnt brimstone, even if we should get out afterwards. --Ye need na put yourself in a passion, or be freed that youll get no proselytes, for I shall warrant you, as many every night as ye can weel stow awa i the conventicle.
The preacher giving thanks to God for the success of his ministry, in the remarkable conversion of the man who spoke, the Scotch gentleman said again, ye need na' ca it a conversion, for I ha been o the same opinion a my life, that it was a sare thing to bide the kiln of hell, and they wad deserve muckle thanks wha could establish that we should na stay long in it, and that there was na such place ava.
The preacher commenting upon this, observed that some were orthodox from their birth, like Jeremiah, who was sanctified in his mothers womb, but others were hardly brought to the truth with much teaching and instruction. That the present was a happy instance of one who was in the right way from his very early years.
The Captain in the mean time had been thinking of the doctrine, and thought it reasonable to suppose, that the Almighty might relieve, after some time, and let the devils go. Just as with himself at the present in the case of Teague: if he had got his hands on the bog trotter, he could not help being very angry, and would be disposed to punish him with great severity, but after some time he knew his passion would subside, and he would forget his delinquencies.
Teague in this manner running in his head, as the people, after some epilogue of prayer and benediction, being dismissed, were retiring, he got up, and raising his voice, begged the audience to detain a little--Good people, said he, if any of you should come across a young man, a servant of mine, of the name of Teague ORegan, I shall thank you to send me notice to the Indian Queen where I lodge. And, according to the advertisement in this days paper, I will give two dollars reward.
Thinking him deranged in his brain, they proceeded, and took no notice of the proclamation.
In the infancy of christianity it was thought a hard matter to get to heaven, and that when once in hell, there was no getting out. A certain father of the church, of the name of Origen, was the first to be more liberal in his sentiments, and thought that after a certain period, there would be a jail-delivery of the damned. I do not know that he went so far as to let the devils themselves out upon a furlough, but at the present time, we all know very well, that the time will come when they will be out all together, at least the universalists tell us this.
The doctrine was received in some part by the early councils, but in other parts rejected. The matter was compounded by establishing a purgatory; for not consenting to liberate from hell, in order to satisfy the advocates of a temporary punishment, they fixed up a middle place, where all the advantages of penal purgation could be enjoyed, without the necessity of contradicting the eternity of hell torments.
Indeed under the catholic church, the straight gate, and the narrow way, and the many called and few chosen, was a good deal laid aside, and the road made pretty plain by indulgencies and absolutions. But at the reformation, the matter was brought back to its old bed again, and the cry of there being but a remnant saved, was raised in every pulpit. There has been some relaxation of late years with almost every sect of protestants; and there is not just such a fury of tumbling great crowds into the tolbooth, as there was in the days of John Knox, and the framers of the Westminster confession of faith, and the catechisms. Dr. Bellamy, a New England divine, some years ago, stated in his pamphlet, that the damned would be to the saved, as the malefactors of a country that came to an untimely end by jail or jibbet to honest people. Some now preach boldly, not perhaps a total exemption from future punishment, but a final restoration from it; so that the matter is now brought nearly to what it was in the days of Origen. I do not know that I would be of opinion with the Scotch gentleman, and wish the matter carried farther, establishing that there is no hell at all; because if the thing should take a turn, it might go to the other extreme, and be all hell, so that none should be saved: and instead of universal salvation, we should then have the doctrine of the damnation of the whole, bodily.--