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We mention this fact because it is a fact, and the reader will bear in mind it is a fact for which we are not responsible. If the objector, therefore, is disposed to cavil, let him cavil at the Bible, not with us. We suppose the reason why the Bible does not speak of suicide as a crime, is because the scripture writers, all of them, took it for granted that it was an act which would not be very frequently committed, and very seldom indeed, if ever, by a person in the sober exercise of his reason and judgment.
11. But the objector may say, "Suppose a man to murder a fellow-being, and the next moment turn round and kill himself— how is he punished for this double crime, committed in the very last moment of his life?" We frankly confess that this is, to all appearance, one of the greatest difficulties, in the way of our theory, which can possibly be stated. We admit it to be a very plausible objection. But, supposing that no satisfactory reply can be made to it, what then? Let it be borne in mind that this objection is founded on an extreme case. How many of the human family are guilty of this crime? Not one to an hundred thousand. Must it not be a very strong theory against which only one difficulty out of many can be presented, which we, short-sighted mortals, cannot remove? Must not that theory be considered absolutely invulnerable against which only one objection out of many can be urged, which cannot be satisfactorily answered; especially when even that one objection is founded on an extreme case, -a case which rarely happens among men? But we are not afraid to meet this objection in the very face. To murder a human being, and then for the murderer to turn round and kill himself, is an unnatural crime. Charity would lead us to suppose that no man would be guilty of such an act without extraordinary provocation. The man who could commit such a deed must be under the influence of the most powerful animal excitement. His passions, for the time being, must have the complete ascendency over him, and be absolutely uncontrollable. Now, is it not a well-known fact that some men have not that government and control of their passions that others have? And should not these be mitigating circumstances in the case of persons guilty of killing a human being and themselves at the same time? We know that in the eye of those laws instituted by man they would not be. But, we ask, how will they be looked on in the eye of that great law of love which God has instituted for the government of his creatures? We do not ask, how will these
persons be looked on by the eyes of men; but we ask, how will they be looked on by the eye of that God who "sees not as man sees," who is acquainted with all the thoughts of his creatures, their motives and intentions? He also is acquainted with our frailty, our liability to err, the circumstances in which we may be placed, and all the influences with which we may be surrounded. He is our Lawgiver and our Judge; and his law, by its own operation, secures to the violator of it all the punishment he thinks him to be deserving of. We ask, again, how will persons guilty of the crime we are considering, under the mitigating circumstances we have named, be looked upon in the eye of that charity which “suffereth long, and is kind," and which requires of mankind that they look not too severely upon the faults and foibles of their fellow-men? That heart must be callous indeed, and insensible to the feelings of humanity, which will prompt its possessor to look on the agonies and sufferings of the suicide, which have been the cause of his raising the hand of destruction upon himself, or upon the miseries endured by that man whose passions are so violent and ungovernable as that he can commit such a crime as the one we are considering, and then say, "It is not enough!" If persons guilty of these crimes deserve our censure, they also deserve our pity and commiseration. If they are guilty, they are also unfortunate. But they deserve our pity no more than does that man who would add one single iota to the pangs and sufferings which they endure. The punishment of those guilty of the crime under consideration, consists in their suffering the natural consequences of sin. A course of sin and folly, after having destroyed the happiness of the unfortunate being, and after he has suffered the pangs and sorrows of the transgressor, has terminated in untimely death.
Such, reader, are the arguments in favor of the doctrine of present rewards and punishments. And such are the objections against it, We now appeal to your candor, and ask, which of the two theories we have had under consideration is most consistent with reason, with common sense, and the Bible? It is of the utmost importance that you should decide this question. If you decide in favor of the theory which we have advocated, you are safe. Sin will have for you no charms, and temptation no power. You will avoid sin as you would avoid the jaws of death, or the poisonous fangs of the serpent; and you will cling to virtue as your only, your chiefest, and your greatest good,
SCRIPTURE TERMS EXPRESSING
On the Scripture usage and meaning of the words ETERNITY, ENDLESS, ETERNAL, EVERLASTING, NEVER, FOREVER, and FOREVER AND EVER.
1. ETERNITY. - This word occurs but once in the Bible. Isa. 57: 15, "Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy," &c. Of course, it is nowhere in the Bible applied to punishment of any kind, either in this world or another. It is never said the wicked shall go into, or suffer, or endure, an eternity of punishment.
2. ENDLESS. This word does not occur in the Old Testament, and is found but twice in the New. 1 Tim. 1: 4, "Neither give heed to fables, and endless genealogies," &c. Heb. 7: 16, "Who (Christ) is made after the power of an endless life." When applied to genealogies it is used in a limited sense; when applied to the immortal life of Christ, which he obtained by being raised from the dead, it is used in an unlimited sense. It is connected with life in the Scriptures, but it is not connected with punishment. We nowhere in the Bible read of an "endless hell," of "endless death," of "endless misery," of "endless punishment," nor of "endless pain."
3. EVERLASTING.- The word everlasting occurs in the Old
Testament sixty-one times. Eight times in Genesis, once in Exodus, twice in Leviticus, once in Numbers, once in Deuteronomy, once in 2 Samuel, once in 1 Chronicles, nine times in Psalms, twice in Proverbs, eighteen times in Isaiah, five times in Jeremiah, twice in Ezekiel, seven times in Daniel, once in Micah, and twice in Habakkuk. In the following books it is not found: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, and Job.
The same word occurs in the New Testament twenty-six times. Four times in Matthew, twice in Luke, eight times in John, once in Acts, twice in Romans, once in Galatians, twice in 2 Thessalonians, twice in 1 Timothy, once in Hebrews, once in 2 Peter, once in Jude, and once in Revelation. It does not occur in Mark, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, James, 1 Peter, nor in 1, 2, and 3 John.
4. ETERNAL. - This word is found but twice in the Old Testament. Isaiah 60: 15, "Whereas thou (the Jews) hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations." Deut. 33: 27. Every one can see it is used here in a limited sense. The same word occurs in the New Testament forty-one times, Twice in Matthew, three times in Mark, twice in Luke, nine times in John, once in Acts, three times in Romans, three times in 2 Corinthians, twice in 1 Timothy, once in 2 Timothy, twice in Titus, five times in Hebrews, once in 1 Peter, six times in 1 John, and once in Jude.
The word is not found in 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Philemon, James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, nor in Revelation.
5. FOREVER. This word occurs in the Old Testament very nearly, if not just, three hundred and four times. Four times in Genesis, thirteen times in Exodus, fifteen times in Leviticus, eight times in Numbers, eleven times in Deuteronomy, four times in Joshua, twelve times in 1 Samuel, ten times in 2 Samuel, ten times in 1 Kings, twice in 2 Kings, nineteen times in 1 Chronicles, fifteen times in 2 Chronicles, three times in Ezra, twice in Nehemiah, seven
times in Job, one hundred and twelve times in Psalms, twice in Proverbs, four times in Ecclesiastes, thirteen times in Isaiah, twelve times in Jeremiah, three times in Lamentations, four times in Ezekiel, nine times in Daniel, once in Hosea, once in Joel, once in Obadiah, once in Jonah, three times in Micah, once in Zechariah. once in Amos, and once in Malachi. In the following books it is not found: Judges, Ruth, Esther, Song of Solomon, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai.
The same word occurs in the New Testament twenty-nine times. Twice in Matthew, once in Mark, twice in Luke, five times in John, four times in Romans, once in 2 Corinthians, five times in Hebrews, twice in 1 Peter, twice in 2 Peter, once in 1 John, once in 2 John, twice in Jude, and once in Philemon. It is not found in Acts, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, James, 3 John, nor in Revelation.
6. NEVER. — In the Old Testament this word occurs just forty-nine times. In the New Testament it occurs thirty-seven times. It is not much relied on to prove the doctrine of endless punishment, and therefore we shall not be so particular in considering it. In the course of this chapter we shall give some quotations from the Scriptures, showing that it is sometimes, at least, used in a limited sense.
7. FOREVER AND EVER. This phrase occurs in the OldTestament twenty-six times. Once in Exodus, twice in 1 Chronicles, three times in Daniel, once in Nehemiah, thirteen times in Psalms, twice in Isaiah, twice in Jeremiah, and twice in Micah. It does not occur in Genesis, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Esther, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, nor in Malachi.
The same phrase occurs in the New Testament eighteen times. Once in Galatians, once in Philippians, once in 1 Timothy, once in 2 Timothy, twice in Hebrews, and twelve times in Revelation. It is not found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Titus, Philemon, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2 and 3 John, nor in Jude.