Portsmouth April 1835
I received yours of Jany 15th last month.
You perceive that I am in Ports and may well suspect
that I have commenced my studies for this ministry---yea
I have delivered four discourses at Ports. lecture meeting,
one a month since at Rye Meeting House to a congregation
of about five hundred -and held one meeting on the
Sabbath at the center school house. Thus am I truly
engaged in the work of reconciliation of man to God
and to his government. You see that my assertion
was not all premature that you need not be surprised
of hearing of my preaching in less than two years.
I will answer yours in the order in which it was
written. You first mention of receiving a letter from
me while in college on the subject of religion. I was
then only ten years old.-The letter was in effect of
a revival when father was converted as it is called.
The folk countenanced my attending the meetings and
the terrifying preaching with their warnings made me
serious and alarmed for my eternal safety from an awful
hell of fire & brimstone - After I had been penitent for my sins
long enough I was brought out and spoke in inquiring mee-
tings -and once Mr. French and Father persuaded me to speak
before a large congregation & tell of my experience - Father
& Mother praised and flattered me all the while and thus
was my pride continually fed and nourished and a bigotted and
self righteous spirit began to reign - But I soon began to
see that the hottest of my companions were backsliders and
in six months I could not see one out of about sixty that
stuck to their text. This is the conclusion fair that there
is nothing in this unreasonable & incomprehensible birth,
that we passed through either salutary or lasting. It is an
excitement of the moment and as speedily vanishes-unless it
makes its subjects victims to despair or fanaticism. It has
even had a bad tendency. It makes a few favourites of heaven who say
virtually, if not literally "Stand by thyself for I am holier than thou". But
I need not say more on this subject to you as I think you disagree with
all such proceedings in religion. But do you blame me? Surely not for
you say that it was the result of little knowledge. Here we agree and will
let this pass -but you class my last letter in the same degree: This is
your assertion & it became you to show wherein I showed little knowledge.
Did I make any false assertion through ignorance? You would have
been eager to seize upon it - did I draw any unjust or unwar-
ranted conclusions? they would have been noticed - But nothing
it was shown to be wrong on the result of little knowledge. Surely
it was your duty instead of merely asserting the fact to show
of what I was ignorant, and to give me the necessary information.
We will therefore pass by "little knowledge." From your letter I perceive
that you are a Christian Nothingarian -so are thousands-so
was I before I discovered that my head and heart could
best agree with the principles of universalism-until I found
that this doctrine was the bible- that it had more reason
more argument and more scriptures in support of it than I
could find for any other. You say that you judge of the doctrine
and its professions by their fruits-Moral influence &c This I
think is a good test. And I have had lately a good opportunity
of applying it. I used to think that J. Locke & all such char-
acters were universalists. But it is not so. He is a professed
infidel as are all such characters-acknowledging no doc-
trine or rule except that of their own dispositions. The society
of universalists in Ports. is very unpredictable-Meddling class
neither very high or very low-we see not in it the drunkard
& the gambler--- the horse-jockey or the profane swearer -
but people of regular habits. Reveal character & influence -
There some bad in every society -but I mean that regularity
is the general characteristic. So if I did not think
that the doctrines believed by universalists best comforted
with the Christian religion in its primitive purity and natural
simplicity. I could testify to their moral tendency.
You say that I rehearse a little "cant" etc; and that you
think it was the result of pride and arrogance.
I attempted to give you some "reasons for the hope that is within
me"-and why I could not agree with the creeds of men. but
you instead of showing that those reasons were unfounded
in truth, or fallacious - dignified them with the title of "cant"
and charged me with pride and arrogance. Which being
grounded merely in your assertion and destitute of any force
of argument, we will also pass over without further notice.
You ask what I imagine to have been the last end
of Judas? What did God in his infinite benevolence create
him for? Common sense answers happiness-God knew what
would be the end of him before he was created. And if he
knew the end he must have created him for that end.
If God designed in his creation his endless misery he is miserable.
but if his happiness he is happy. This must be allowed even
if man is a free moral agent. You will say that God in
the creation of man only exercised his benevolence - that
is He created him for the purpose of communicating happiness.
He knoweth the end from the beginning and could have
made man with no other motive or purpose than the
real end to which he would come. Therefore unless we
deprive the Supreme Being of goodness Judas was
to enjoy more happiness than misery by his creation. He sincerely
repented more so than people in these days for they scarcely
ever refund money obtained unjustly, and even some
orthodox divines are willing to allow him a place in heaven.
If you can tell any better about his last end I would wish
to hear. His last end that was spoken of in the bible was
a ropes end-Love endeavor to send him to endless misery.
But the Bible is far from it -as all must be purified and
made holy that see the Lord - surely God is able to make
a righteous person of Judas as well as of you or any one else.
You say it is arrogance for a boy to declare that the
will of God is so &c. Leaving out the "arrogance" of the
boy" I will answer you in Biblical language God will of[?]
all men to be saved & come into the knowledge of [---?]
truth" - And this truth is - "for there is one God & one
mediator between God & man, the man Christ Jesus who
gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time"
(I Tim.11) In regard to the "arrogance of the boy" I will
remark that to save you from apologizing for thus addressing
a proposed minister of the Gospel in your next letter I will
excuse you on the ground of your "little knowledge" of human
nature and ignorance of the facts. You wish me to
study all the creeds of men ---But I have studied them enough
already and find them to be only clogs to the truth -The
only creed I have is the Bible-and the doctrines to
which I hold are plainly enough written therein. This
is the principle of Universalists - We proceed on the rule
of free inquiry and take the Bible as the only sure foundation
for any truth in regard to matters of religion. Your
family argument is nothing but a moonshine -or scare-
crow-Mother told Mr. Smith she was a universalist
and William is that if anything-Thomas nearly if not
quite and Father if popularity was out of sight so
I think at least. You know that Father and Thomas
both belong to the Church and would not express
their sentiments fully they profess to believe neither
pro nor contra. You need not say any more of family
matters. There has been some wrangling in the Church
respecting a resolution tending to censure dealers in
ardent Sprits which as it would of course censure
Thomas-Father has opposed-it has not as yet passed.
It is Mr. Smith's work. It has already caused some
unpleasant feeling--& may cause much move.
He talks some of leaving if they do not raise
his salary. The folks are all well at Rye-
I wish you to write some to me at Ports. and tell
me the state of morality - religious denominations at
the south their doctrines on anything interesting and
above all give me your views on immortality.-
Here after write a little more reverently to yours
in brotherly love.. John Parsons