Universalist Quote of the Day #116

“‘Mr. Manson,’ I said one day, ‘does God send all unbelievers to hell, and are they tormented there in the flames forever?’

‘Certainly.  Haven’t you read that in the Bible?’

‘Yes.  Does not God love all men, and wish them to be happy?’

‘He surely does.  His tender mercies are over all His works.’

‘Yes; I know the Bible says that too.  Then I don’t understand about the unbelievers.  God need not have created them, unless he chose; and he must have known, before they were born, that they would sin and that they would soon have to be burned to all eternity.’

‘But you know that God puts it in our power to save ourselves; and if we neglect to do so, it is our fault, not His.’

‘But yet,’ persisted I, ‘God was not obliged to create a man who was sure to be an unbeliever.  Nobody said he must.  He might have prevented him from being born, and that would have prevented him from being wicked, and prevented him from going to hell.  Wouldn’t it have been much better for such men not to be born, than to live a few years here, and then be tormented forever and ever?’

I took my tutor’s silent hesitation for consent, and added, ‘Well, then, if it would have been better, why didn’t God do it?’

‘I cannot tell you,’ Mr. Manson said at last; ‘and I advise you not to think of such things as these.  It seems better to our human reason; but it cannot be better, or else God would have done so.’

As may be supposed, this putting aside of the question was unsatisfactory; and from that day I became a Universalist.”

–Robert Dale Owen, Threading My Way: Twenty-Seven Years of Autobiography.  New York: G. W. Carleton and Company, 1874: 64-65.

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