Imagens das páginas

lem, and it shall not be quenched," Jer. xvii. 27. Again: "Mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched,Jer. vii. 20. See also Ezek. XX. 47, 48.

I need not inform you, that the above passages treat. of things temporal and temporary nor need I mention the bearing of the argument thus furnished.

In closing this letter, I will direct your attention to the following important facts, not one of which will be by you disputed.

Ist. The word gehenna occurs twelve times in the New Testament seven times in Matthew, thrice in Mark, once in Luke, and once in James. Christ and James are the only persons who use the word.

2d. We have no evidence that the word gehenna was ever used in addressing the gentiles. John wrote his gospel for the use of the gentiles-he does not record a syllable about gehenna. Paul was emphatically the apostle to the gentiles-he preached thirty years and wrote fourteen epistles--yet the word in question does not occur in any of his writings. Why is this so, if the gentiles had any concern in the matter ?

3d. The word gehenna was twice used by our Saviour in addressing the unbelieving part of the Jewish nation. The remaining nine times it was used in addressing the disciples, and the disciples alone. Why is this so, if, according to your views, gehenna signifies a state or place of endless punishment? Why should that word have been but twice used in addressing the unbelieving part of the nation ?

I might add other facts, and propound other queries but the foregoing will be found sufficient, if they are ata tended to; and if they are neglected, such would also be the fate of as much more as I might write.

It is of course understood that I consider you grossly in error, so far as your belief in endless punishment is con cerned ; and hope I shall give no offence when I say, that, in my judgment, your error in this respect is intimately connected with the error of the "Sadducees. They supposed, as their conversation with our Saviour clearly shows, that if there was a resurrection, mankind would there possess the same passions they possess in the present life. “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God," were the corrective instructions of the great Teacher.

Your general argument, I perceive, assumes that no renovation is to be effected by the power of the resurrection-or as popular opinion expresses the sentiment, “as death leaves us, so judgment finds us; there is no change after death." Hence you argue concerning the eternal destiny of any individual, from the condition in which he was when he died. You inquire how he laid down in the grave, and with what feelings and in what estate he departed this life. But in the days of Paul the queries were, How are the dead RAISED UP ? and with what body do they COME ?" 1 Cor. xv. 35. The answer is given in the voice of inspiration : It is raised in incorruption, power, and glory; a spiritual body, in the image of the glorified Redeemer. * For as in Adam Ali. die; EVEN so in Christ shall all be made alive.And "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature," 2 Cor. V. 17. It is written, “The dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.It was in prospect oi this great and glorious change, that the apostle could HOPE for the resurrection even of THE UNJUST, Acts xxiv. 15. He surely could not have hoped for the resurrection of the unjust if he had believed they would be raised from the dead simply to suffer the unutterable pangs of endless torment! The doctrine of the Messiah was, " In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection," Matt. xxii. 29, 30. In prospect of a resurrection of this glorious and sublime character, we may truly “rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." And I feel confident, judging from your known benevolence and

philanthropic views, that a consummation of the description referred to, must be peculiarly congenial to the feelings of your heart, even supposing it to be contrary to the convictions of your understanding.

Sincerely desiring that such a revolution may yet be effected in your sentiments, as will direct your acknowledged talents and influence to the proclamation and defence of what I esteem “the faith once delivered to the saints," I am affectionately yours, &c.



Philadelphia, July 25th, 1834. Dear Sir-Several of the periodical papers of the Universalists have conjectured, very reasonably, that my deep concern in the ecclesiastical controversies now pending in the Presbyterian Church, has caused my delay in answering your two last letters, and in pursuing our amicable discussion. The newspapers published by your denomination of persons in the United States, seem to be almost exclusively devoted to one object,that of convincing all men, that however they may live and die, they shall all infallibly be holy and happy in an immortal future state of being. Your example, in most of these publications, of sending forth weekly some sermon with the proper name of the author attached to it, I deem worthy of imitation. Our newspapers take a more extensive scope, and treat of every thing, by turns, in which our fellow men may be supposed to be interested. The Philadelphian, you are aware, is of this general character ; while its peculiar hearing is on the ecclesiastical concerns of that church of which the editor is a minister. I cannot, therefore, pursue any one subject of discussion to the exclusion of twenty other objects of attention. And yet, could I suppose any considerable number of Universalists likely to be convinced, by the plainest assurances of the word of God, of the truth that some shall be lost for ever, and thereby induced to prepare to meet their God in peace, I should think myself happy in editing a paper for their sole benefit.

It has often occurred to me to ask, what profit can Mr. Thomas expect will be derived to any one from his doctrine, even if it is true ? Men may be saved, and certainly will be saved, if his theory is correct, whatever may be their opinions about Universalism. Belief in his doctrine is not at all connected with salvation. It is not, therefore, as a means of salvation that he would write and preach on the doctrine of universal salvation. His gospel, if it is a gospel at all, is not the power and wisdom of God unto salvation, for salvation would come to all men independently of any knowledge of this good news.

It has also occurred to me to inquire, if Mr. Thomas has ever known the preaching of the doctrine of universal salvation to be the means of reforming the moral conduct of any wicked man? I do not deny, that a Universalist may teach many of the truths of the Bible, and that they may be the means of amending the life ; but did the proclamation, that all men, live and die as they may, shall infallibly be happy in heaven, ever bring any sinner to repentance; ever make any drunkard become a sober man; ever render any polluted mortal chaste-or ever incline a prayerless and graceless man to pray, and serve God in a spiritual manner? I do not affirm that this never was the case, but I ask for the candid testimony of a Universalist on this subject. A gospel which does not make a transgressor cease from doing evil and learn to do well, is not profitable for the life which now is, even if it should show all to be safety in that which is to come.

I do not honestly apprehend, that Universalism is productive of any other benefit than that of quieting the consciences of the wicked, and filling them with hope of final safety, though they continue impenitent in the practice of the worst crimes to which they are inclined. While there are allowedly respectable and moral people in the

ranks of Universalists, I seriously ask you, sir, if the mass of any Universalist congregation of your acquaintance can be declared equal in point of sobriety, industry, and good general moral character, to the mass of any congregation of equal numbers in which the doctrine of future punishment is inculcated ?

But I am reminded, that the question is, What say the sacred Scriptures? Do they teach the future, everlasting punishment of some of the human family? or the future holiness and happiness of every individual? I affirmed the former; you the latter. We have been running on collaterally, each in the citation of Scripture to prove his own proposition, and to disprove that of his opponent. I confess, freely, that my object has been, and still will be, not so much to discuss passages critically, for the benefit of the learned, who may not thank us for our labour, as to present in a popular form such plain and scriptural arguments, citations and illustrations, as in my judgment ought to convince every unprejudiced reader of the Bible, that some sinners will be miserable for ever. If in some instances I have slid further into critical disquisition than I had originally intended, it has been with a desire to convince you, sir, of the truth. Mainly I have written for the generality of our readers; I presume you have done the same : but at times the aspiration arises, Oh that he were wise : that he understood these things, that he would consider his latter end!

My opinion that a part of Matt. xxiv refers to a future state, is founded on the fact that the disciples asked two questions : 1st. What shall be the sign of thy coming ? 2dly, What shall be the sign of the end of the world? and on the language of our Saviour's answer. Had they not proposed an inquiry concerning the end of the world, as distinct from the time of his coming at the destruction of Jerusalem, we might not have looked for an answer. He told them of his coming in the last verse of the preceding chapter; and in the 2d verse of this chapter he assured them concerning the buildings of the temple, “there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be

« AnteriorContinuar »