« FöregåendeFortsätt »
lasting, as refering to future punishments, upon
which such vast stress is laid. I must needs say, * I expected, when I began to collect this part of
the evidence to set befere the reader's view, to have seen the word everlasting connected with
the misery of the next state, at least, in every book th
of the New Testement, if not several times in each 1 bonk: Whereas upon examination, it appears,
that by far the greater part of the inspired wrii ters have never used this word, nor any other
word allied to it insense and meaning, with reference to future torments; while those who have used it, have rarely done so. It is used but thrice by the evangelist Matthew, but once by the evangelist Mark, and this in a special case only; and but once likewise by the apostle Paul, though
his epistles make so considerable a part of the 7 New Testament. It is not met with in the gos
pels either of Luke or John; nor in either of
the three epistles of John. And, what is very h
remarkable, in the account we have of the preaching of the apostles from place to place, throughout the world, in the book of the Acts, there is a total silence as to their ever having used this word, or any other, importing that the misery of the wicked is endless and never ceasing. All
of which is very extraordinary, if this is a docu trine of Christianity. For, if it really be so, it s> is a most important one; and it cannot be easily
accounted for, that the inspired writers should have so strangely passed over it with such neglect. It might rather have been expected, that they should have perpetually insisted on it, and with great solemnity too, and in a great variety plain and indisputable terms. And their omis
sions upon this head, are a strong presumtive argument, that they knew nothing of this doctrine, which has been so vehemently pleaded for, in these latter days.” Chauncey.
And there is something also, very unaccountable, if it was believed under the Old and New Testament times, that we never read of any fears having been expressed of a child, or any relative, or friend, or any fellow creature, or any one, however wicked in this life, having gone to such a place of misery. As it is well observed, by another writer on this subject, who truly says, and it is undeniable, that, “If their belief was the same as in our day, why do we never find them express that belief about future eternal punishment, as is now done in books and sermons and in conference meetings, and in com mon conversation. No man can possibly deny the vast difference between their language, and the common language now used upon the subject. If the language is so different, is it not a presumptive proof that the invention of a new language arose from the unscriptural doctrine that hell was a place of endless misery.
We do not read that they, under the Old or New Testament times, expressed any fears about their children, their relations, their neighbours, or the world at large, going to eternal misery. As to their feelings, I do not find a sigh, nor a tear shed, a groan uttered, a prayer offered, nor any exertions made, as if they believed men were exposed to endless misery in a future state. We see parents, and others, deeply afflicted at the loss of their children and friends by death, We see pious people deeply grieve on account
of their disobedience of God's laws, but where e do we find any thing like the above expressions i of feeling, arising from the belief, that such perSons would lift up
in endless misery? I find nothing of the kind expressed, either in
the way of anticipation before death, or after 11 such persons
had ben removed from the world. Now, is it not strange, that all this should be the state of the fears and feelings of good peo
ple, if they did indeed believe, endless misery 1 was to be the portion of the wicked, or those
who die unprepared ? All who have read the
scriptures know, what vast multitudes were cut 1 off in a day, by war, and pestilence, and other - means, yet do you ever hear it deplored, by a | single individual, as it is often done in our day, 1
that so many were sent out of the world to eternal misery? If, in short, this doctrine was then believed, a dead silence, and the most stoical appathy were maintained even by good men, about it.” Thus this writer goes on clearly shewing, that this doctrine was not believed, nor preached, under the Old nor the New Testament.
And the reason is plain, because, as I have said before, there had never been any law given, with such a penalty for transgression.Therefore, if they had preached such punishment, they would have preached contrary to the law of God, as many now do.
People in general have believed there was į such a law given to Adam, as spiritual, tempor
al and eternal death, for transgression, because they have been long told so, not having sufficiently examied for themselves, or each one for
himself.* It will be seen hereafter, that eternal punishment was first preached to induce people to be obedient to a degenerate priesthood, who, as Simson says, as noticed page 54, “played into each other's hands, to erect a huge fabric of worldly dominion, honour and grandeur.” And the devil and hell, were the priest's great Boo, as silly parents tell their children, if you don't mind, the Boo will catch you; and thus, people like ignorant children, were scared into obedience to their priests, and every thing their priests said, they thought must be so. Thus millions were kept in ignorance for several conturies, until, like some children, when they begin to think and examine for themselves, they soon become convinced that there is no such thing as their parents called a Boo, and find, that they had been lying unto them all the time, or else conclude, that their parents were very ignorant.But with others when children, such foolish, ridiculous teaching and scaring, to make them obedient, bas had and left such an impression upon their tender minds, when young, that when they come to be men and women, they are not
* On this subject, it is so well observed, by a cotemporary writer, I can. not help noticing it. How many professed Christians,” says he, “ do we find contending with the greatest zeal, that hell is a place of endless punishment for a great part of the human race, who never spent an hour in serious, candid examination of their Bibles, on the subject, to see if their faith in it, was founded aright. Their parents, their catechisms, and their preachers, have all instructed them so, and this is enough for them. They would not hear nor read any thing which is contrary to this faith of theirs, if hired by the day, to do so. Such persons would be very much displeased, if a Pa gan,a Mahometan,or a Jew, would refuse to hear or read what they believe; yet they will listen to nothing which is contrary to their own faith, however well supported by evidence or scripture.”. “ They have," as says Dr. Watts, "contrived out to themselves a little heaven, in their intellectual world, and think all others are in darkness," when they are themselves, in general, the most ignorant beings in Christendom."
able to eradicate it, so always continue to believe the foolish nonsense they were taught in their childhood. But it is well known that wise parents govern their children and cause them to be obedient, without saying any thing to scare them; they teach them the truth, which is always best, and which is lasting: and what children, when they come to be of mature age, to think for themselves, will find to be truth. And this will cause them to respect their parents much more, than if they had told them lies to make them obedient.
I wish a little farther to observe, concerning the law of God; the prophet Isaiah says, “The Lord will magnify his law and make it honourable,” and in order to that, the time is coming, when it shall be written in every heart, and all shall know him from the least to the greatest.For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins, and their iniquities, will I remember no more.
In order for the law to be magfied and made honourable, it must be complied with or fufilled. A law can never be made honourable, if forever transgressed: this is another proof of the fallacy of the eternal continuance of sin and misery. How often, since I began, have I confounded and laid prostrate this uncomfortable, soul destroying, God dishonouring doctrine! And I need not be afraid to bid defiance to all the orthodox under heaven, to rationally, reasonably, and scripturally, controvert, the many statements. I have made, neither can they the following: It is well observed by another, “ How can you say, that the law would be magnified and made honourable, by the endless misery of man