網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

respect to these we find this remarkable principle, that like the antagonist muscles in the human frame, both are necessary to the right action of either. Destroy one class, and you make the other powerless.

Thus if you destroy a man's hopes, he becomes reckless and fears nothing—we call him a desperate man, indicating that despair, or absence of hope, takes away fear, which is the opposite of hope.

So too, destroy a man's fears, and he ceases to hope. Hope then becomes certainty, and it ceases to act as a spring of action. The man enters into quiet possession of his property, the lover has obtained his mistress's consent to his suit, and all anxious effort ceases. The great excitement of the gaming table lies in the fact, that it appeals at the same moment to both principles—fear and hope.

It is a common remark, that no one can enjoy health till he has experienced disease. Here pain gives a new relish by contrast to enjoyment. The sick man recovering goes forth to enjoy every thing.

6. The meanest floweret of the vale,
The simplest note which swells the gale,
The common sun, the air, the skies,

To him are opening Paradise." Now, Universalism dispenses wholly with the motive of fear as regards the future world. Therefore, it weakens the other spring by taking away its balance. It is unsuited to human nature. Who is there that does not feel that the motive of fear is necessary to him occasionally, to tighten the nerves of a languid purpose-necessary as the dark background in the picture to display its beauty.

4. Conscience teaches a different doctrine from Universalism.

A sense of guilt has in all ages prophesied to men of future punishment. On this fear all religions have been based, in a greater or less degree. The problem of all has been how God was to be appeased and reconciled. And perpetually, at this day, death-beds are testifying to the permanence of the same feeling. It is true, that the feelings of a dying man are no sure test of his character. Some villians die with composure, some saints shrink from death. Yet the general rule is, that as death draws near, and earthly things shrink away, the soul begins to tremble in view of a retribution. Ah! how it longs back toward life-how it shrinks from the brink! Now 'prayer bursts from lips unwont to pray. The irreligious man grows fervent in his supplication for pardon and mercy. The proud man

humbly confesses his sin. You will say that this is all the result of early prejudices, the remains of education, the device of priests. If you say this, you have a high notion of the credulity of man and the ingenuity of priests; higher than mine. Their must be something for the most artful to build on. The most cunning architect could not build his house on air, and neither can any priestcraft create feelings in man, not originally there. Priestcraft it is true, has used this strong sense of guilt for its own purposes, but it did not make it.

What can be more horrible than the death-bed of a wicked man !

Too horrible to dwell upon or analyze. Once again. Conscience demands a judgment.

Even if we grant that a perfect retribution takes place in this world, conscience demands a future judgment. It is not enough that a due measure of pain and joy is meted out to the guilty and the virtuous. Our sense of justice requires that the truth be made known-our feeling of right calls aloud that hypocrisy be unmasked—that villians be shown as such to themselves and the universe—that tyrants and their slaves be placed side by side—that the selfish seducer be confronted with his wronged victim—that the hard and cruel oppressor be shown as he is before an assembled universe—that calumniated innocence, which has gone to its grave amid misrepresentations, be vindicated and approved. Do not our hearts demand that God's truth and justice be thus made clear? A secret award of pain and pleasure is not what we want. science cries aloud for a judgment, in which all that is dark may be explained and uncovered.

5. We now pass to scripture.

And here the only embarrassment is, to select passages from the innumerable testimonies which scripture gives against the doctrine of no future retribution. We shall be very brief in our selections.

We believe it is generally admitted on all hands, that the Jews and Gentiles, in the time of Jesus Christ, believed in a future retribution. If so, we should expect that a religious teacher would correct this opinion, if it was a mistaken one. He certainly would not have said what might confirm the error in their minds. But where have Jesus and his Apostles taught the doctrine of no future retribution? Where have they explained away the Jewish notions of Gehenna, and the Gentile ideas of future punishment, and taught that there was no such thing? The passages

which prove a future reward are so numerous that very few can be quoted. Thus the Saviour (Matt. v. 2,)

Our con

says, Great shall be your reward in Heaven. (Matt. xix. 21,) Thou shalt have treasure in heaven. (Luke xiv. 14,) Thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. (Matt. vi. 19,) Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.

Of the passages which teach future punishment, these are among the most significant.

Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation. (John v. 28, 29.)

Fear not them which kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do, but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell: Yea, I say unto you, fear Him. (Luke xii. 4, 5.)

If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee; for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body be cast into hell. (Matt. v. 29, &c.)

For it is appointed unto all men once to die, and after this the judgment. (Heb. ix. 27.)

And have hope toward God, as they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. (Acts xxiv. 15.)

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father which is in Heaven. And whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in Heaven. (Matt. x. 32, 33.)

One of the strongest arguments however, to prove that the scriptures teach a future retribution, is to be found in the way by which the Universalists seek to explain the passages quoted against them. These explanations are so curious and original that it

may be safely averred, that no man from the Christian era down, in reading his Bible, ever imagined that such was the meaning of the passage, until it occurred to Mr. Ballou, or some others in our own day. These explanations are too ingenious, that is their fault. It supposes that Christ involved his meaning in such an allegory that no one has understood it for eighteen centuries, and that it is yet doubtful. For Universalists have very different explanations of the same passage.

Let us take as an example of Universalist criticism, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Christians never supposed there was any difficulty in understanding this passage of scripture. They all understood it in the same way, as teaching the doctrine of future retribution. But listen to the Universalist explanation as given by Mr. Whitman.

“ The exposition which some of your writers have given of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus openly violates these fundamental principles of interpretation, and consequently cannot stand the test of sound criticism. I will examine the one which your oldest and ablest divine has published. I will suppose for the sake of avoiding names, and making my remarks more direct, that you have adopted this explanation as your own, to all intents and purposes.

Now

you draw from this relation not a single lesson of doctrine and duty. On the contrary you find in it a full account of the gospel economy, of the whole Christian system, as you think it should exist. In order to make consistency you are obliged to give the most forced interpretations possible to every circumstance, and to magnify the most trivial incidents into matters of high and deep import. You call the rich man the high priest under the law. But these priests were never wealthy ; in fact poverty was entailed upon the whole fraternity. You give an allegorical interpretation to the man's property. You say that “his riches consisted in the righteousness of the law." You make the beggar represent the Gentiles. The beggar in the parable however desired to be fed with the crumbs from the rich man's table. And what do

you make of the high priest's table to which the Gentiles looked with such earnest longings? “ The tables of stone on which the oracles of God were written." A little knowledge of the Greek language would have shown that a table to eat on and the one written upon were never called by the same name. And what are the crumbs from these tables? Instructions. Now is this supposed fact verified by any historical evidence ? Were any portion of the Gentiles ever peculiarly anxious to derive instructions from the two tables of stone ? Suppose they were, according to your own statement they never received the desired information. Though the Jews compassed sea and land to make a single proselyte, yet the person you call the high priest is unwilling to bestow his instructions on these longing Gentiles. The dogs however were more merciful, for they came and licked the sores. And who were these dogs ? No less personages than Socrates, Plato and all such characters; the ancient heathen philosophers who endeavored to cure the moral infirmities of their disciples. But notwithstanding the care of these kind dogs, the Gentiles die. Die to what? To idolatry, and after death they are carried by angels, that is, by the apostles, to Abraham's bosom, that is, to his faith. Would it not be a better figure to represent the apostles as angels of death, since they were the agents in making the heathen die to idolatry? But you employ these same angelic apostles on a most eccentric mission. You send them to convert the Gentiles to Abraham's faith which most believers suppose the gospel was designed to supercede. And what do you understand by the death of the rich man? The close of the dispensation of which the high priest was minister. And what by his burial ? “His being closed up in the earthly character and nature." This is a little beyond my depth, but no

[ocr errors]

matter. Lifting up his eyes in hell represents the high priest feeling a conviction of the condemning power of the law. Is this according to history? And also the raging of the fire represented by that on Mount Sinai and by the flaming appearance of the first stone on his breastplate. Seeing Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom, indicates the fulfilment of these words of our Saviour,

Ye shall see them come from the east and from the west, the north and the south.” Lazarus being willing to go to the rich man, implies a missionary spirit in the converted Gentiles with regard to the Jews, and the great gulph an indisposition on the part of the Almighty to have that spirit gratified. Moses was this high priest's father, the dispensation of the law his father's house, and the five brethren that part of the house of Israel represented by the five foolish virgins. Which part this was we are not informed. Sending one risen from the dead means “one possessed of a knowledge of the gospel, being dead as before described.”

“ Now I suppose every sound critic will pronounce this exposition a miserable tissue of nonsense and absurdity and ignorance. For my own part I refrain from all remarks, for I dare not trust myself to give utterance to my honest opinions respecting many of the writings of your sect which I have been obliged to peruse in preparing for this discussion. I would merely ask, if this explanation looks any thing like the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus? Is not unity of design the prominent characteristic in the parables of our Saviour ? Must not this one be necessarily an exception? Remove a single component part of your structure and the whole fabric falls to the ground. Not only so. If you have given the true exposition, this parable was altogether impertinent to the occasion. Nothing had previously been said concerning the high priest or the Gentiles or Abraham; nothing that would lead to such a meaning as you suppose.

But this is not the worst of the case. manifest that those who heard the story could have no conception of its true import. We are very certain the inspired apostles never penetrated so deeply into its design. Nay, it is in the highest degree probable that none but the author of this exposition ever ascertained the whole meaning of the anointed Jesus. And if his book containing this specimen of originality should now be lost, there is not one chance in ten thousand that any other person would again discover so much hidden wisdom in the parable of the rich man and Lazurus."

These are a few reasons which lead me to the conclusion that the doctrine of no future punishment is unphilosophical, irrational and unscriptural. In the next number of the Messenger I shall examine another theory. On this subject as on all others, I would say with Thomas Burnet, in his work on the “ State of the Dead." " Fiat Lux. Cupio refelli, ubi aberrarim; nihil majus, nihil aliud, quam veritatem efflagito."

It is very

« 上一頁繼續 »