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men, who lived before them? Before they open their lips against me, let them return to the doctrines of their forefathers, and confess how greatly they have departed from the good old way. But each of these sects thinks, that their departure from the doctrines of their fathers, is a nearer approach to the doctrine of the Bible. This is just what we think concerning the departure we have made, from their views of hell or Gehenna. In proportion as we have receded from them, we think we have approached the truth in the Bible concerning this subject.
If we are to believe just as learned and good men have taught in past ages, many things now most surely believed, must be renounced, for men have very greatly departed from their views of many Scripture doctrines. You hear men every day call themselves Calvinists: hut Calvinism now is a very different thing from what is found in the works of John Calvin. You also hear of orthodoxy, but orthodoxy is not the same now that it was twenty years ago, and what is true orthodoxy in America would not be orthodoxy in Scotland. The truth is, men are beginning to search the Scriptures for themselves, and are taking the liberty to dissent from their fathers, however learned, or good they may have been. The Reformation was the dawn of day, after the long night of ignorance and superstition. But were the reformers to rise from the tomb, who were chiefly engaged in it, they would be surprised to see some good, and wise, and learned men, contending that we must advance no further, but must sit down satisfied where they left us. Happy for us, that we live in an age and in a part of the world, where it would not be in the power of man to stop the tide of inquiry and javestigation.
Another popular objection against my views of Gehenna, is thus stated. --Supposing, that the evidence you have produced, showing that Gehenna is not a
safest side. They can lose nothing if your doctrine ni furthe be true, but you may lose both soul and body for this doctrine, and reject its opposite for want of evidence; the cou 386 place of endless misery for the wicked, to be almost, lihased the if not altogether, conclusive, yet allowing a bare pose ballo sibility, that the opposite doctrine may be true; those who believe it, though in an error, are still on the ever, if their doctrine is true.” I have stated this objection with all the force I could give it. It is predicated on a mere possibility, that the doctrine of hell torments may be true, and that in face of evidence, allowed to be almost, if not altogether, conclusive,
in proving the opposite doctrine true. We shall offer a few brief remarks in reply.
1st, If there be any force in this objection, it is certain that we ought not to be regulated in our belief or disbelief of any doctrines, by evidence or the degree of evidence, which may appear in their support. No; this has nothing to do in leading us to believe one
for though it is allowed, that the evidence adduced is nearly conclusive that Gehenna is not a place of endless misery, yet all this evidence is nothing, and we must still go on believing that it is, on the mere possibility of its being true, unsupported by evidence.
2d. Whether my views of Gehenna or hell, or the commonly received doctrine about it, be the truth, one thing is certain ; every Scriptural doctrine must have evidence to support it. Evidence is the criterion of truth; nor can a man be said to believe any doctrine, farther than he understands it, and perceives the evidence of iis truth. Where the evidence, for or against any doctrine is equally balanced, the mind is in doubt, and suspense prevails, until some additional evidence appears, which leads the mind to preponderate to the one side or the other. This is the natural course of every candid mind, in serious scarch after what is truth. But here, though the evidence,
adduced that Gehenna is not a place of endless misery, is allowed to be nearly conclusive, yet the mind. must preponderate to the opposite side. It is not even allowed to hang in doubt, and suspend judgment until further evidence shall appear, but must come to the conclusion, that eternal misery is true, on the mere ground that after all it may possibly be true. The mind must come to the very opposite conclusion of that to which the evidence before us leads. А mere possibility, thrown into the one scale, far outweighs all the evidence we have adduced, in the other. This is not the course a candid mind pursues in considering the comparative weight of evidence. If the importance of the subject, demands scrupulous care in coming to a decision, the evidence on both sides is subjected to a strict examination, and further evidence is eagerly sought after, to remove doubts and decide with certainty on the subject. But this is not the course we must pursue on this subject, if this objection is to be regarded. Should doubts remain, arising from lack of evidence, that my views of hell or Gehenna are true, or that the evidence which I have adduced is considerably weakened by the evidence on the other side, all I wish is, let the subject be more carefully examined. But I enter my protest, against shutting our eyes to thc evidence which has been produced, and still profess to go on believing an old popular doctrine, upon the mere possibility that it may be true, without producing evidence on the other side. Had such a course been pursued, or had such objections as this and others been allowed at the Reformation, we had to-day been in darkness, which might be felt.
3d, But the objector in this objection has reduced the subject of discussion to a mere profit and loss account, as to our different views of hell or Gehenna,
and that on the supposition that his views may possibly be true. Let us examine how this account stands.
1st, Then, let us attend to his side of this account. It stands thus : The doctrina of eternal torment in hell, may possibly, after all, be true, and if true, I may in consequence of embracing this error, lose my soul and body forever. Such is the loss with which I am charged in his account. It is a loss which cannot be exceeded, by saying any man has lost more than this. It is certainly of such a nature, as no man who was not determined on his own everlasting misery would on any consideration run' the least risk about. No language under heaven has a word to express my fol. ly and madness in avowing such sentiments if they are not true. I certainly most then have the credit of being a sincere believer of the sentiments I have advanced relative to this subject, whether true or false.
But, how is this account proved against me to be true ? I deny that the entry is true, or that the account of loss charged, can be proved. Is it the belies that hell is a place of endless misery, which sates any man? And is it unbelief in this doctrine which damns any man to this punishment ? Here seems to be one radical mistake of the objector. He seems to think that if his doctrine is true, all who have not believed it, must suffer this punishment for not believing it. But if this was true, he would send all the ancient prophets and saints to hell. He would also send all the apostles and first Christians to hell. Yea, he would not exempt the Saviour bimself, for he por any of those persons seem to have believed his doctrine. If their unbelief of it does not involve such an awful and solemn loss to them, how can it to me? Placing, me in his account, in such company, I shall not feel much alarmed; yea, he will be obliged to add to our company, all the Universalists, and all who
have doubled of the truth of his doctrine, and a multitude which no man can number, who have in their hearts disbelieved it, but who were not honest enough to avow their convictions. He perhaps may be obliged to add even himself, for a belief founded on a mere possibility that the thing believed, is true, is surely not far from unbelief concerning it.
But the objector labours under a mistaken notion as to what saves. According to him it is the belief of the doctrine, that hell is a place of endless misery. It is not the belief of this which saves men from hell or from any thing else. Jesus Christ is the Saviour, and it is the gospel or glad tidings of God's grace or favour through him, that saves men from every thing they need to be saved from. Nor would the objector undertake to defend, that a man who believed the gospel, and showed his faith by his works, would be damned if he did not also believe the doctrine of endless misery in hell. Would be not pause a moment, before he, with one indiscriminating sweep, sent all to hell who have not believed his doctrine ? This charge must then be cancelled from his side of this account against me. The objector may take his choice, either to do this, or with me to consign prophets, apostles, and innumerable others over lo eternal misery.
2d, Let us now examine my side of this account against the objector. My loss is the loss of both soul and body forever, if his doctrine is at last found true. But if my doctrine is true he loses nothing. It is freely granted, that if my doctrine is true, that neither the objector nor any other man, loses soul and body forever. But because these are not lost, does it follow, that he loses nothing? We think that this is another very considerable mistake of the objector, which requires to be corrected in his account. Is it then no loss to a man that he lives all his days, and at