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Qured if there be no endless punishment for all the wicked. But if my views dishonour God's justice, holiness and truth, what comes of his mercy and goodness, if the opposite doctrine be true? We bave to be sure seen attempts made by some metaphysieal writers, to reconcile eternal misery with the mercy and goodness of God, but in vain. All they have said, is only enveloping the subject in a mist, or throwing dust in people's eyes to blind them on this subject. It is reported of the late Dr. Osgood, that when he was asked the question, s how be reconciled the doctrine of eternal misery with the character of God as a God of mercy and goodness;" he lified both his hands, and said, 5 if any an is able to do this I cannot do it."
Whether God is more glorified in men's damnation or in their salvation, I need not dis
One thing is certain; that those called oribodox writers in the present day are fully aware, that if God did not ultimately save tbe greatest part of mankind, God's character would be dishonoured. If this was not the case who could deny that the devil was more honoured than God ? Mr. Emerson, a ware of this, agrees with another celebrated divine, that those saved at last, will exceed those that are lost by a large majority. I am truly glad to see men of such good characters and intelligence so much concerned for God's honour and glory in this respect; and I hope the time is not very distant when they may think God most honoured and glorified by saving the whole human race. It is a very evident case, that those writers do not hesitate to dissent from ancient orthodoxy. Had they written so in some former ages, tliey would have suffered death, in some of its most terrific forms for their temerity. At any rale, I am not a greater heretic now, than they would have been then.
2d, How does the views advanced and their opposite affect the Scriptures of Truth? I think it will not be denied, that my views of all the passages in which Gehenna occurs, are explained consistently with themselves, and their respective contexts. That so far from the contexts being at variance with the texts they direct to the explanations given. When a man perverts the Scriptures, he does it in the face of facts, and shutting his eyes against the context and Scripture usage of words, indulges his own imagination. But here the reverse is the case. The context points out the sense l have given Gehenna; Scripture usage comes in aid; nor is any thing taken for granted, or imagination indulged. But that Gehenna is a place of future misery, is assumed, and asserted without proof, and when the context and Scripture usage are consulted for evidence, all they afford is on the opposite side.
3d, Let us see how the two doctrines affect the various religious sects in the world. Allowing that this doctrine was universally the faith of all parties, discord must cease, and Christians would embrace each other as children of the same father, and beirs of the same inheritance. It would lead all sects to treat cach other very differently from what they have done. But how does the opposite doctrine operate among them? Hell being a place of endless misery, Christians have been for ages consigning each other over to its punishment, and that often for conscientious differences of religious opinions.
4th, Let us now consider how my views and their opposite affect the diffusion of the gospel in the world. Say some, “if your views are correct, why trouble ourselves, or be at such an expense to send the gospel to the heathen ?" The principal object in sending missionaries to the heathen in our day, seems to
be to save them from hell. If this be the object of sending them, we think they may abide at home; certainly they are running on an errand to theti, on which the apostles were never sent. Those who wish to see what they proposed, yea, accomplished, by preaching to the heathen, may consult the Acts of the apostles, and all the epistles. Because there is no eternal torment from which to save them, shall we not impart to them the knowledge and hope of eterual life? Unless we can terrify them with preaching hell
, shall we let them live and die ignorant about heaven? In short, because we cannot save them from a place where they shall dishonour God and be punished by him forever, shall we not save them from dishonour. ing his name and from punishment in the present world? Unless we have the honour of saving the heathen from everlasting punishment in hell, it seems we do not think it worthy of our notice to do them any good. I pity the man who can think, and feel, and reason at such a rate. Supposing the happiness of heaven and the torment of hell out of the question, and that the heathen world were as ignorant of sci. ence, agriculture and the arts of life, as they are of spiritual things, how ought we to think, and feel, and reason on this subject? Deists and Atheists in this case would put Christians to the blush, if they would do them no service, because they had no bell torments to save them from. My views of hell so far from abating Christian zeal, only gives it a right direction. The zeal manifested in the present day in behalf of the heathen is highly to be commended, and nothing prevents its being more generally approved, but the object towards which it is directed. It is zeal, but we think it is not according to the knowledge of Scriplure. If an intelligent heathen were to ask a modern missionary, after hearing him preach bell torments, the following questions, what could he answer?-Do
you profess to take the apostles, the first missionaries to the heathen, as a pattern in your preaching and conduct? To this the missionary would without doubt reply in the affirmative. Give me leave, says he, then, to ask you, what heathen nation they ever went lo and preached as you do to us, that they came to save them from a place called hell? To what ser. mon of theirs can you refer us, in which they even so much as mentioned the word hell, which is so often upon your lips ?-Were I this missionary, such ques. tions would nonplus me. But to what could any missionary appeal, showing that those persons were all exposed to endless torments in hell? Not to his Bible, a book they know nothing about? Not to any thing he could point them to as an object of sight, feeling, or hearing. He could indeed refer them back to the old heathen fables about hell, from which source Dr. Campbell thinks the Jews derived this notion. But we are rather inclined to think, so far as our knowledge of present heathenism goes, that.. the heathen have forgotten the ancient fables about hell, and are obliged to Christians to revive this ancient ductrine of their fathers among them.
5th, Let us see which of the two doctrines accords best with the wishes, and feelings and prayers of every good man. What a good man wishes, and which is agreeable to his best feelings, for this he prays. Accordingly it is common with all Christians to pray for the salvation of all men ; and we believe that they do this often with holy and ardent desires for its accomplishment. But, is ihere not a contradiction between iheir wishes, feelings, and prayers, and their professed creed? If they are confident all will never be saved, but only a small number elected to everlasting happiness, why pray for the salvation of all naen? Their prayers ought to be restricted to the
elect. And we see not why they ought not to pray for the eternal misery of all the rest, seeing that it is the will, yea, the eternal decree of God that they should be forever miserable. All we request here, is, that every Christian would impartially and seriously examine, if my views may not be true, which are so much in unison with his wishes, his best feelings, and his prayers, when in the most solemn intercourse with his God. If I am in an error, it is strange that this error should have such a place in the desires, and feelings, and prayers of all Christians.
6th, How docs my views and the opposite affect the eternal condition of men ? According to my views, not one of the human race is to be punished forever in hell or Gehenna. This, if true, is certainly a pleasing thought, amidst all the guilt and wo in our world. But how does the contrary represent this ? That a certain number, no better than others, are to be received into heaven to enjoy its happiness forever. All the rest of the human race are to be banished to hell torments forever. The husband, the parent, the brother, the sister, shall look down from heaven on their relations in hell, and so far from having any pity at seeing them in such unspeakable and eternal torment, the very sight shall enhance and increase their happiness. Now give me leave to ask, and let conscience speak, which of these two views is likely to be the truth. Unless every thing like Christian feeling is banished from heaven, can such a doctrine be true? Yea, I ask, if Christian feelings are known in this place? Is it possible that the happiness of the place could be enjoyed, while it is known, that a single individual of God's creatures was to be eternally miserable ? If this be true, then, a believer does not better his situation, as to Christian feeling, by going to heaven. I once saw the idea highly extolled in an