Page images
PDF
EPUB

mainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed ; but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.” That the literal heavens and earth are intended in this text, is evident from the plain reference to the Mosaic account of the creation which it contains. Gen. i. 1. “ In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Now, it is clear that the same beginning is referred to in the text above quoted. “Thou, Lord in the beginning hast laid the foundations of the earth and the heavens are the work of thy hands;" and if the same beginning is referred to in both texts, it must follow that the same heavens and earth are also intended. It is then clear that the literal heavens and earth, which God created in the beginning are to perish, wax old, as doth a garment, and as a vesture be folded up. Having shown that this world will have an end, we will produce some of those texts which connect the judgment and punishment of ungodly men with this solemn event. 2 Pet. iii. 7, 10, 12. “But the heavens and the earth that are now, are kept in store, reserved unto fire, against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also, and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Looking for, and hastening unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat." Rev. xx. 11, 12. “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat upon it, from whose face the earth and the heav

away and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great stand before God, and the dead were judged,” &c. These texts clearly connect the judgment of the world, and the punishment of the wicked, with the end of time, or the dissolution of this whole mundane system; and that punishment which is to be inflicted when time shall be gone, and when the world shall be no more, must be in a future state.

XVII. Men generally have a consciousness of future retribution, insomuch, that it is a common sentiment in the world that sin will be punished after death.

ens filed

That it is the prevailing opinion among Christians, Jews and Mahometans, cannot be denied. But let us inquire if it be a common sentiment in the heathen world also.

The Chinese are said to believe in punishment after death. Confucius who is said to have been born 550

years

before Christ, taught that it was the indipensable duty of every man to perform sacred rights to the memory of his ancestors, and that whosoever neglected this duty, would be punished after death, by the exclusion of his soul from the hall of his ancestors, &c. Another sect among this people are said to teach that there is a great distinction between good and evil, and that the good are rewarded and the wicked punished after death, in places suited to the spirits of each.

The Japanese also believe in punishment after death. The most prevalent religious sects in Japan, are those of Sinto and Budsdo. Of that of Sinto, which is the most ancient, it is said : “ They have some conception of the soul's immortality and believe that a happy abode immediately under heaven is assigned to the spirits that are virtuous; while those of the wicked shall be doomed to wander to and fro under the firmament.” Budsdo taught that “the souls of the wicked are condemned to undergo punishment and purification after death, by passing into the bodies of the lower ani

Of the Thibetians and Tartars it is said : “ They believe in one God and a trinity, but full of errors, and a paradise, hell and purgatory, but full of errors also.”

It is said, “all the Hindoo sects believe in the immortality of the soul, transmigration, and a future state of rewards and punishment."

Of the Aborigines of New-England it is said : “ The immortality of the soul was in some way universally believed among them. When good men die, they say their spirits go to Kitchtan, where they meet their friends and enjoy all manner of pleasures. When wicked men die they go to Kitchtan also, but are commanded to walk away and wander about in restless discontent and darkness forever.See Religious Ceremonies and Customs, by Charles A. Goodrich.

The following is from the last speech of Socrates, the Grecian Philosopher, who was put to death about four hun

mals."

[ocr errors]

dred years

before the christian era. The condemned orators after labouring to prove the immortality of the soul, improves upon this doctrine as follows: “My friends there is still one thing which is very just to believe; and this is, that if the soul be immortal, it requires to be cultivated with attention, not only for what we call the time of life, but for that which is to follow, I mean eternity; and the least neglect in this point may be attended with endless consequences. If death were the final dissolution of being, the wicked would be great gainers by it, as being delivered at once from their bodies, their souls, and their vices; but as the soul is immortal, it has no other means of being freed from its evils, nor any safety for itself but in becoming very good and very prudent; for it carries nothing away with it but its good or bad deeds, its virtues or vices, which are commonly the consequence of the education it has received, and the cause of eternal happiness or misery

- When the dead are arrived at the fatal rendezvous of departed souls, whither demons conduct them, they are all judged. Those who are judged to be incurable on account of the greatness of their crimes, the fatal destiny that passes judgment upon them, hurls them into Tartarus, from whence they shall never depart.

• But for those who have passed through life with peculiar sanctity of manners, delivered from their base earthly abodes as from a prison, they are received on high, in a pure region which they inhabit, and live without their bodies through all eternity in a series of joys and delights which it is not easy to describe.” Rollin's History, Vol. iv. pages, 38, 39.

It appears then, that the doctrine of future retribution is a common sentiment in the world, common among all nations and tribes of men, and common to all religions.

The doctrine of future punishment is proclaimed in the language of heathen oracles ; it is taught at the temple of Juggernaut, and believed on the banks of the Ganges; it is read in the Koran, and believed by all true Mahomedans. Go to the Jews and they will teach you

the same sentiment; and inquire at the shrine of Christianity and you will see future retribution inscribed upon her sacred altars, with the exception of a few, erected by universalists. Now, we ask from

whence is this general conviction of future punishment derived? If it be said, as universalists have often said, that it is a heathen tradition, we ask from whence the heathen received it at first, and how does it happen that this is a general sentiment in the world, when, in other respects, each heathen nation, generally, has sentiments and rites peculiar to itself? If the doctrine of future punishment be an erroi, it is the most general one that ever entered the world, and must have been introduced in the most insidious manner.

Other errors may generally be traced to their sources, and their authors, and the time of their introduction be pointed out; but no account of the origin of the doctrine of future punishment can be given, on the supposition that it is false. If some errors cannot be traced back to their origin, they are not general in the world, but are peculiar to particular nations, tribes, or sects; while the sentiment in question is a general one, and prevails most where the scriptures are most known and read. The doctrine of future punishment must have had its origin; and as it prevails generally in the world, and as no account

given of its introduction, it follows that it must have sprung from some one of the following sources :- It must be instinct, the result of natural reason, the light of nature, the impression of God's spirit on the mind, or the principle of revelation contained in the Bible. Now, if it be instinct, it must be from the Creator; if it be the result of natural reason, it cannot be unreasonable ; if it be the light of nature, it is a revelation from God; if it be the impression of God's Spirit on the mind, it is no less a divine revelation ; and if it be the sentiment of the Bible, none but infidels will deny it. If universalists can prove that the doctrine in question had some other origin, or if some other sentiment can be named, manifestly false, and equally common in the world, of the origin of which no account can be given, we acknowledge that they will evade the force of this argument; but until this be done the argument must prove ruinous to their theory.

can be

CHAPTER VI. The Duration of Future Punishment. In the preceding chapter, we have confined our remarks to the simple fact of punishment in a future state, without any reference to its limited or endless duration, and having, as we believe, established the fact of punishment after death, we shall devote the present chapter to a consideration of its duration, in which we shall attempt to prove that it will be endless. And after what has been said in proof of future punishment, we think the reader will justify us in proceeding in the proof of endless punishment, on the supposition that punishment will exist in the future world; hence, this chapter and the preceding one will reciprocally support each other. So far as the fact of punishment in the future world appears unfavorable to the final reformation and salvation of all lost spirits, the preceding chapter comes in with its whole weight of argument to the support of this, while the present, so far as it contains arguments in favour of endless punishment, which are not dependent on the circumstance that the punishment is in the future world, must support the preceding; for just as far as arguments go towards proving endless punishment, they, at the same time, prove that such punishment must be in a future state. The question upon which we now enter, is one of awful moment, and in our theological war with universalists is the main post against which they of every class and opinion, equally direct their assaults with an unsparing effort. The Universalists, the Restorationers, and Destructionists, all direct their battering rams against this castle of endless punishment; and well they may, for it is a commanding position, which, if they do not succeed in silencing, its batteries will drive them from every position they may see fit to occupy, and beat down every bulwark of defence they can rear. Opposed to this stands the main sen. timent of universalism, which asserts the final holiness and happiness of all men, in defence of which all universalists unite. And having as we believe demolished their outposts, we propose assaulting the citadel itself, in the present chapter, by proving the fact of endless punishment,

« PreviousContinue »