« ForrigeFortsett »
presumption is strong, that they did not. If they did arrive at a state of purity or holiness, necessary to the enjoyment of heaven; if they did receive according to their demerits in this world, it belongs to you, to make it apparent. Or if temporal death prepares the mind for the enjoyment of felicity, it is incumbent upon you to exhibit such proof. This, Sir, I think is a just statement of the case.
"Immortality immortalized," you consider a solecism. Did you suppose the writer on whom you remarked, was ignorant of this ? He knew it was an absurdity; but he considered it an absurdity, which grew out of the opinions of those le opposed.-Those who agree with you, relative to punishment after death, and rejecť your system of materialism, involve themselves in this solecism. They say that men cannot be punished after the resurrection, because they will then be immortal ; but as the soul is immortal here, on their own scheme, and does experience pain, then in order to support their own hypothesis, they must prove that men will be more than 'immortal beyoad the resurrection ! Hence the solecism, immortality immortalized !
These desultory observations are designed to open the way for a farther discussion of the subject, which will be attempted in my next letter. Respectfully yours,
TO THE EDITOR OF THE "CHRISTIAN MESSENGER.''
Rev. and Dear Sir, Having in my first letter made a few observations upon the notice you have taken of my communications in the Repository, I shall endeavor in this, to exhibit some proof of the doctrine of future punishment or misery. I will first premise, however, that the subject seeins to requíre, that the proof should lie on the other hand. As many are cut off in a state of sin, the conclusion appears to be forcible, that they must enter a state of chastisement; "for the ungodly shall not stand in the judgement." If such persons were changed at the moment of death, or if death itself has the power of saving the soul, it must be a deviation from the general course of nature with which we are acquainted. And if it be a fact, that men are thus instantaneously changed, and prepared for heaven by death, it properly belongs to you, Sir, to make it appear.
Should you be called upon, for instance, to prove that men in the eighteenth century will be punished for their crimes, what proof could you produce? You would probably reason thus: The Scriptures positively declare that every man shall be punished according to his deeds. This, being a fundamental principle in the Bible, has no relation to time or place; and, therefore, we have as much reason to believe that man will be punished in this, as in the past centuries. This, I think,
would consider a sufficient answer. But
yuu if your opponent insisted upon the opposite opinion, you would call upon him for proof. You would inform him, that as his doctrine was a deviation from the fundamental principles of scripture, he must prove it true, or the conclusion would justly follow, that it
Again; were you called upon to show that men could consistently be punished one day for crimes committed the day before, could you produce a single passage direct to the point? You would undoubtedly consider the following a sufficient answer : “The Scriptures teach us that sin shall be punished. But a crime cannot be punished before it is committed ; the punishment, therefore, must be subsequent to the crime. Men shall also be punished according to the demerits of their crimes. Now as many men are punished during the whole day for a crime, committed in the morning, it is evident that those crimes, committed late at night, must be punished on the day : following, or else punishment is not wanted on the
principle of justice and equity". Should your inquirer ask farther; Cannot God punish those as much in one moment, as he does others in a whole day? and can he not awake them on the following morning, free from the consequences of their crimes? You would reply; we do not dispute the power of God; but as this would be deviating from general principles, and his general dealings, we ought not to believe that he hath done, or will do thus, unless it can be proved from the scriptures. This reasoning, I presume, would be satisfactory to your
mind in this case.. Now, Sir, will not the same principle apply to the dispute between us? If the man, who is taken out of the world in an instant, in the very act of murder, is punished as much for that crime, as his accomplice, who is confined in prison for months, and at last hung upon a gibbet, it in justice belongs to you to make it appear. If you fail in this, we must either conclude that men are not punished according to their deeds, or that they will be punished after death. This, I am persuaded, is the just ground on which this controversy rests. But are you wiling to meet us on this ground? It appears not; and the reason is obvious. Can
you prove that all men are qualified for heaven on leaving titis world ? that they all receive the full desert of their crimes here in time ; or, in a word, can you prove that some men will not be unhappy after death? No. You say yourself, “It is not PRETENDED ( as we know of) that the scriptures prove that there will be No future punishment.” What! your favorite tenet, no support in the scripture ! Not any. not a solitary passage This is not pretended. But shall we build an important doctrine on the silence of the scripture?: Almost every ridiculous idea may be supported in that manner. Suppose I should assert: that-man in a future world, will be clad in garments manufactured in America, and alledge in support thereof, that the scriptures say nothing to the contrary!! How would such an argument be treated ? The decision is submitted to the reader.
Now, Sir, as your opinion has no proof from the volume of truth, on your own acknowledgement, it is not conceived that the opposite opinion will need much, in order to be established. If the Bible were totally silent upon this subject, were we as destitute of proof on our part, as you are on yours, our views might be inferred with much more propriety than yours ; as they would be more consistent with the fundamental principles of inspiration. But we are not willing to admit, that the sacred penmen are silent upon this subject. Tho it is believed that the nature of the subject demands, that the evidence should come on your part, that you
there can be no punishment after death ; yet as you refuse, and call upon us with fervency to commence the dispute, we will attempt to show that our system has support in the sacred testimony. As you have complained that my communications have referred you to no works, where those views are found, on which I have animadverted, you will not take it amiss, if you
are here re ferred to your own Lectures.
The first passage I shall adduce in support of my views, is found in the sixteenth chapter of Ezekiel. In this chapter we have a promise that Sodom shall be restored. It is evident that by Sodom, the prophet meant those ancient inhabitants, who were destroyed by fire ; for we find her crime and overthrow mentioned in the context, Much might be said to make it appear that by Sodom, we are to understand those wicked Sodomites, who were destroyed by fire from heaven. But as you acknowledge this,* we may dispense with such proof. Sodom was destroyed long before Ezekiel's day, and her restoration was then future. Consequently, the Sodomites must remain in a state of darkness or misery, till their restoration. But here I anticipate your objection. You attempt to maintain, that there is no conscious existence between death and the resurrection. We do not feel disposed
* Lectures, p. 83.
to enter largely into this abstruse and metaphysical question. Suffice it to say, however plausible it may appear, however consistent it may be with speculative philosophy, it cannot be reconciled with the language of scripture, without taking unwarranted latitude in explaining the sacred testimony. Our Savior exhorts his disciples and followers to "fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul ; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Explain the term, soul to mean life, or whaťever you please, and it is nothing to your purpose. For on your scheme it is killed in the samE SENSE that the body is, at temporal death. But Jesus speaks of those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Hence the soul can exist independent of the body. Will you say that the soul is not finally destroyed, because it will exist again at the resurrection ? "The same may be said of the body. At the resurrection God will “quicken our mortal bodies," as well as call our souls into consciousness.
This passage not only proves the separate existence of the soul, but is a good argument in favor of future punishment. Jesus warns us to fear him who hath power to cast into hell, after he hath killed the body. Will you say, because God has power, it does not follow that he will do it? I answer; if there were no danger, then Jesus used duplicity. He attempted to excite men to fear God, from a motive which did not exist! We must, therefore, admit that there is danger of punishment after death, or charge the Son of God with deception. The account of Christ's preaching to the "spirits in prison,” is a powerful argument in favor of a separate state and of future punishment. It is believed that this portion of scripture cannot be reconciled with your views, without expressly-contradicting the apostle. I should say more upon this passage, but as I trust the Editor of the Repository will discuss this text, I cheerfully submit the matter to him, believing that he will handle the subject in an abler manner than I am capable of doing. Many