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ural faculties, who has not possessed abundant capacity to improve, and who has not learned a vast amount lietvreen childhood and rid age. This shows ibat man is not totally depraved. It esablishes the fact, that he is improveoble -PROGRESSIVE-in his nature. And unless Deity interposes purjosely, an insurmountable har. he will ultimately, during his future existence, attain to all knowledge and truth, both Intellectually and morally.
Mr. Holmes, alarmed at the enormity of the doctrine he is advocating, and striving 10 conceal its hiteous features, reiterates the declaration he made some time since, that he is not here 10 show tha: parents will be separated from their children. The repetition of this disclaimer is a significant fact. It shows the gentleman, is sensible in his own soul, that the sentiment he is endeavoring to establish, violates the most tender sensibilities, and tramples upon the dearest and sweetest afections of the human heart. How exceedingly anxious he is to paliate, modify, and keep from view, the more abhorrent traits of eternal woe! But I ineist that he shall stand up 10 his darling tenet, and defend it as it is. He is here, he will jare don me for saying, precisely to show that millions of parents and children will be forever separated! All be is here for-all he is laboring to do--all he is spending the precious strengih God has given him for better purposes, 10 accomplish-is to prove a doctrine, which if true, will tear parenis and children assunder for. ever!! He is virtually telling many fa:hers and mothers in this audience, that if his sentimients are true, although they may enter upon eternal joys themselves, they will never meet those children there, who are dearer to them than their own hearts! If :hey believe his doctrine, they MUST believe in an endless separation from their beloved offspring!!
Brother Holmes ienews his attack on Reason, the highest and noblest faculty of man. To throw distrust on its exercise, he refers to the use which has been made of reason by the heathen and by infidels; and insists that it has led them into their absurdities, And the sage conclusion at which he arrives, is, that “human reason is an erring guide!” In this, he has stumbled, as once before, in making no distinction between pure reason, and the want of it. The heathen, and all unbelievers, not omiiting those who denoninate themselves “evangelical,” wander into their erroneous convictions, not by following the dictales of enlightened reason, but by going directly counter to them. Is it reason that makes the Atheist reject his God--or leads the orthodox 10 embrace the doc. trine of the Trinity-or tells the heathen to bow to his idols? Nay -it is through the abscnie of Reason, that they fall into these ab. surdities. li reason is “an erring guide,” will my friend inform me where man can find a true guide? Does he reply-in the Scriptures ? I ask again, how can we have any knowledge of the meaning of the Scriptures except we art assisted and guided by reason?
My friend asserts that “the idea of Endless Punishment, was not invented!" He has given us no other evidence of the truth of this position, thian bis simple declaration. But he is here equally unfortunate as with most of his assumptions. It is an assertion against well established fact. I have shown that the doctrine it. seli---the original idea, and all its infernal imagery, whether pagan or modern orthodox--was a sheer invention of the heathen. In proof of this, I intro luced the testimony of the most learned heathen orators and philosophers in their own words.
Mr. Holmes inquires, where the wicked man is, in the next world, and what is his condition? And in reply to his own question, he declares he becomes “an incarnate devil!” I ask for the proof of this assertion. Has my friend visited the future world, or have any returned from that existence and informed hiin that when the wicked man dies, he becomes an incarnate fiend !! This monstrous declaration has no other support than the nakel word of the Elder. The Bible does not say that men become incarnate fiends hereafter. Not a world can be found within its lids favoring the idea. St. Paul gives a very different discription of those who have passed through death.
He declares they become spiritual, incorruptible, glorious.—Cor. xvi. 42–44.) To prove however, that the wicked in this life, become incarnate fiends in the next, my friend quotes Rev. xxii. 11-“ He that is unjust, let him be unjust still ; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still.” My friend appeared sincere, when he quoted this passage. I could discover no indications of irony in his voice or countenance We are compelled, therefore, to believe, that he ac tually supposed the language of the Revelator, had a bearing on the point in defence of which it was quoted, and that it yielded it support. I would inquire of the audience, what we are to think of the intelligence and good sense of El ler Holmes, and other partialist divines, who make great pretentions to learning, 10 biblical knowledge, and sacred literature, in making such a quotation for such a purpose. The point he wishes to establish by the word of God, is, that when the wicked enter another state of existence, they continue there to be the same sinful creatures they were here -yea, that they become “incarnate devils !” Now the passage introduced from Revelations, has no more reference to any subject of that nature, than to the condition of the wicked before they were born. It has no allusion to death, or to the condition of the sinful after death. It was uttered solely in reference to affairs in this life. Every intelligent individual can become satisfied of the truth of these assertions, by consulting the chapter in which the passage is found. The Revelator was speaking of the coming of Christ during that generation, (see Matt. xxiv. 31,) to judge the wicked Jewish nation, and cast them aside from their high posi
tion and their exalted privileges, as the chosen people of God, into that state of condemnation where they still remain, throughout the world. All he was desirous of asserting, in the connection under consideration, was that the time of this great event, was then nearly arrived. The language fully sustains this assertion,—“ The Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show unto his servants, the things which must SHORTLY be done. Behold I come QUICKLY.
Blessed is he that keepeth the saying of the prophecy of this book.
And he saith unto me, seal not the sayings of this book, (why?) for the TIME IS AT HAND. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still : and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I come QUICKLY, and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his works shall be.”
The time when the important event of which the Revelator was speaking, was to transpire, eighteen hundred years ago, was near at hand !"-It was so soon to be, that there would be no room for general change of character among Jews, Samaritans, or Romans. Those who were "unjust,” when the prophecy was written, would be still unjust when the great transaction should transpire ; and those who were then “ holy,” would be holy still. These things are so plainly set forth that it would seem a child could not mistake them. Yet profound Doctors of Divinity, cooly wrest the Revelator's language from its evident intent, and quote it to prove that in the future world, men become "incarnate devils !!
I pass to my fourth Argument in the Negative. Endless Puuishmeni violates all natural sense of Justice. Every man has some right conception of the natural relation between merit and its equitable reward, and wickedness and its just punishment. Let those among men who had never heard the idea of endless punishment suggested, be asked whether the sins of this life can deserve, on any principles of equity, a punishment that shall be strictly endless, and there wouid not one answer in the affirmative. Such a punishment would be a violation of that sense of justice—that instinctive balancing of crime and penalty-which Deity has enstamped on every human soul. What comparison is there between the deeds of seventy years, allowing them all to be wicked, and an eternity of pain? To inflict bodily death instantly, is believed to be a great punishment. But suppose one of the most wicked wretches that ever polluted the earth, should be chained to a stake on a public square, in some great city, and should there be burned by “a slow fire of green wood,” as Calvin (who belonged to the evangelical school of my friend,) caused the great and good Servetus to be burned for denying the Trinity. Suppose, moreover, some fiendish process should be invented, w the life of the wretch could be prolonged in the midst of the flame, for an hun
drel years. And suppose all the people, were compelled to witness this suffering every day, to behold his writhings, and listen to his screams, his lamentations, his piteous begging for mercy. How long would they remain contented spectators? How long would they feel that it was right and just for the culprit thus to be in torment ? An hundred years ?-fifty ?-ten? I am convinced not five years would elapse before every man-even the most strenuous believers in endless woe-would cry out, “ It is ENOUGH!! He has been punished adequately and abundantly for his crimes ! ! Let him be released !!” What is an hundred years to a million ! What is a million to an eternity of such torture? And yet Elder Holmes insists that for the sins of the brief period of earthly existence, God will engulph his creatures in untold anguish, through ceaseless eternity!! Yea, he stands here, to contend in your very faces, as though you had been robbed of every sense of justice and propriety, that the youth, cut off in the morning of life, with a few sinful follies unrepented of, will be cast away by the Creator to welter forever and forever, in agony and despair!! And this he unblushingly calls a just punishment!! Almighty God! what a thought!! What a proceeding to be attributed to that being who has revealed himself to us as “ the God of Love !!!" O Father in heaven! Flash the light of thy Truth, I pray thee, on minds so darkened as to charge thee with thus dealing with thine own offspring!!
How did the idea of Eternal Punishment first enter the mind of man? Not by the exercise of cool judgment, in determining the amount of chastisement the guilty should receive by the heinousness of crime. But men in the midst of the deepest ignorance, and under the influence of violent passions, swayed by inveterate hatred, and by a raging spirit of revenge, have easily argued themselves into the belief that their detested enemies, their religious opposers, an I especially that slubborn heretics, ought to be punished forever. When the idea was once suggested, and incorporated into religious theories, we can easily perceive how it has been handed down, from age to age. Its prolonged perpetuity is readily accounted for in the single fact, that it has ever been a prevalent inculcation of the advocates of endless misery, that to disbelieve, or even doubt the truth of that sentiment, would plunge the doubter into the hottest flames of hell, provided the doctrine proves true ! Let my brother Holmes or any other partialist divine, tell his congregation plainly, that they may reject the doctrine of endles punishment, and yet be saved, even if it should finally prove true, and my word for it, nine-tenths of their people would instantly, openly and utterly spurn that sentiment !! It is a doctrine repugnant to the hearts of the holiest and best of men, and they will not sanction it a moment longer than they can be made to fear that their infinite happiness depends on their so doing:
My fifth Negative Argument is, that Endless Punishment vio.
lates that fundamental Rule in God's Government, which ordains that men shall be punished according to their deeils.
Thou renderest to every man according to his works. -( Ps. Isii. 12.) God “ will render to every man according 10 his deeds."—(Rom. ii. 6 ) " Then shall he reward every man according to bis works.”—(Matt. xvi. 27.) Now the doctrine of Endless l'unichment violates this rule, in that it consigns all the wicked of every age, of every grade, those guilty of every different degree of crime, to the same kind of Punishment—the same heli-the same eternity of woe!! It 10rments the man who commits but ten sins, as much as it does the one who commits ten thousan!! Together it plunges them into the same wretchedness-together it inflicts its agony upon them during the same ceaseless eternity! It punishes the young sinner of twenty years of age, who had but just fallen into the slightest transgressions, in the same place, and for the same length of time, as the hardened wretch of three score and ten, who has trampled on God's law through life!! We maintain that these proceedings destroy all degrees in punishment, and trample under fool every dictate of justice and equity!! What would be thought of the intelligence, the wisdom, the sense of justice, of an earthly government, which should enact a law inflicting ihe same punishment for every grade of crime—who should commit the youth who should steal a pin, to the same perpetual imprisonment with the man who has ended a long career of wickedness by dying his hands in the life-blood of a feilow being ? Should we not declare there was an absence of every particle of consistency and equity? Yet this is exactly the representation which Mr. Holmes makes of the proceedings of God's government. And he actually expects you will receive it as truth ! !
My sixth Negative Argument is, that Endless Misery destroys all certainty in the admin siration of Rewards and Punishmenis. The Scriptures assert that God “ WILL (not may sometiines,] render to every man according to his deeds."-(Rom. ii. 6.) Here is certainty. And it is certainty and not severity, thil gives plin ishment efficiency. The doctrine which my friend advocates throws the greatest uncertainty around both the rewards and punishments which men richly deserve. Here is an individual who has lived through a long life in the exercise of the strictest honesty, righteousness, and piety. But near its close, in an unexpected moment he is beset by sore temptation, falls into heinous sin, and soon dies. According to the Elder's doctrine, he sinks immediately 10 an endless heil! If this is true, then he receives no reward for all his good deeds, and for one or two sinful acts is tormented forever! Is this rendering 10 every man according as his deeds shall be? Where is the equity of such a transaction? Another man pursues a course of sin ihroughout life, but near its close, he repents and becomes a professor of partialist religion. He dies, and according to that doctrine, is rececieved into heaven. In this in