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yet there was not so much said, even as limitarians erroneously construe several texts about
going to hell, and being damned forever, as there is often said now in half an hour or less. As says a late excellent writer, “ This silence of the apostles respecting hell, could not be because the people in those days were all so very good, that they did not need to be saved from hell. No, the whole world lay in wickedness around them, yet not a word is said of the torments of hell to alarm their fears, and turn them from sin to God. No calculations were then made, as in our day, of the numbers who were daily and hourly going down to hell to suffer eternal misery.* No, nor was there such a variety of schemes adopted by the apostles to raise funds to save men from hell as we see resorted to in our day. As they expressed no alarm about the vast crowds going to hell, so we do not find them expressing their
joy because they were saved from it. They deeply grieved to see men living in sin, and their spirit was stirred within them to see whole cities given to idolatry; but they never assert that all such were on the road to hell. They had great joy to see men walking in the truth, and often congratulated them on account of their being saved from their former course of life, but not a syllable escapes them, that such persons had been saved from hell or endless misery. You search the scriptures in vain to find a single instance where the apostles make any attempt to work on the fears and feelings of men by giving terrific discriptions of hell, or the horrors and howling of the damned. As they never held up the torment of hell to make men Christians, so we never find them using it as an argument to induce Christians to love and good works. The latter are often reminded that they formerly were idolaters, working all uncleanness with greediness to induce them to holiness, but where do we find a word said of their being saved from hell, as any inducement to it? In view of these things, how are we to account for them, if they believed hell to be a place of eternal torment for the wicked? Can it be possible that they did believe this, yet preserved such a dead silence on the subject? This silence is an indisputable fact. To account for it is above my comprehension.”
*See p. 137, 140
From the past examination of the scriptures from beginning to end, and from all the observations that have been made, it is most certain. that no law has ever been given that threatened eternal death or punishment for sin; and no such punishment for upwards of 4000 years, was ever taught by Jews, Christians, prophets or apostles.
I will just mention another inconsistency and gross absurdity. The advocates of an eternal hell, do not pretend to quote from the old testament, to support their favorite doctrine of eternal misery except only two or three sentences which have no reference to any thing but the grave or state of the dead; but from the laws of Moses, or any thing previous thereto they quote nothing; but it is almost altogether from a few passages in the New Testament on which they ground their doctrine of eternal misery. Now reader, consider how absurd it is to think to find a law that threatens eternal punishment for sin in the Testament, and under the gospel, that was never known nor heard of before. I have mentioned this subject before, but it is of importance, and worth considering again.) Then, certainly all the wicked who lived before, could not be subjects of eternal punishment, or any punishment in another world; for how unjust would it be to punish people for the transgression of a law that had never been given them, or of which they had no knowledge; therefore, none could have gone to hell before Christ. We read that life, (eternal life,) and immortality, is brought to light by the gospel, and according to the foolish doctrine of our opponents, hell and eternal punishment, is also brought to light by it.
Christ came to inform mankind of that which they never heard of before, that eternal punishment would be the consequence of sin. Then all who lived before, were under an infinitely milder law, than those who have lived since. Thus, the gospel is so far from being good news to the world of mankind, that it is the most awful, and most terrible news that had ever been heard before!! My God! what inconsistencies and absurdities result from this abominable antichristian doctrine of a hell and eternal punishment. It would require a large volume to de. seribe all the contention, the quarreling, in short all the evil and misery it has caused in the world. If it had not become a popular and fashionable doctrine, and had not been heard of in our day more than in the Old Testament times, and a person was to begin now and preach hell and eternal punishment, he would be considered a mon
ster, and his doctrine most horrible; and would: no doubt, be opposed by those who now oppose universal salvation. For mankind in general are not led by reason, but by education, fashion and custom; and believe, or profess to believe, that which is most popular, and most to their interest.
Now, some readers. may wish to know, that if the doctrine of a hell and eternal punishment for sin in another world was not taught by any
of the prophets, Christ, nor his apostles, from whence did it originate, as it must have had a beginning, and been believed and taught by some people at some time? This is a very natural and reasonable enquiry.
In answer to which, I will briefly state, (as the limits of this work will not permit me to be lengthy, neither will it be necessary,)
The origin of the doctrine of eternal punishment.
It is well known, that the heathens or Gentiles at, and long before, the coming of Christ, believed in two eternal principles; that is, good and evil ever waring against each other, and neither fully prevailing, that man had liberty to be governed by which he pleased, and that those who chose virtue,should enjoy endless happiness; and those who chose and adhered to vice, should ever remain under the power of evil, therefore would be always miserable. On this doctrine of two eternal principles of good and evil, the ab. solute eternity of sin and misery, may be easily inferred. This, in short, is the true foundation of eternal misery. And it came from the Pagan theology.
The infernal deities being judged by the ignorant pagans to be eternal as the good God, and as powerful. They sacrificed more to the evil principle than the good out of fear, and to appease the anger of these wrathful agents. Hence the origin and frequency of human sacrifices.
The same was also taught by the magicians at Babylon, who were the most learned of the Persian empire. They believed that there exists two eternal independent principles, good and evil. That all created things, with which we are acquainted, are the result of the combination of these two. That they are in continual struggle with each other, and continually counteracting each other's designs. That where light prevails, there is the most virtue and happiness; and where darkness prevails, there is the most evil and misery. is true enough, but their greatest error in believing, as many do in the present day, that the good would never overcome the evil.) The former they said conducted the affairs of heaven, and was called Orasmasdes, and the latter, presiding over hell, Arimanius. The grand outlines of this philosophy are found to lead the vulgar belief of many savage nations, especially those which are the most ignorant; and also those who are uninfluenced by priest-craft. They are found among the uncultivated tribes of Asia and Africa, between whom no communication of sentiment can be supposed to exist. Among the