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AS RELATED TO
THE DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE.
BY C. F. HUDSON.
"THE wages of sin is death ; but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ
* Eril things are not entities; but good things are entities, since they are of God,
** Here, at least, (i. e. respecting the view here offered,] let us hesitate, and suspend
* Even now, after eighteen centuries of Christianity, we may be involved in some
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1857, by
C. F. HUDSON, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
LITI O TYPED BY COWLES AND COMPANY,
PHENIX BUILDING, BOSTON.
THREE opinions respecting the ultimate destiny of bad men, differing from each other by one or two alleged measures of infinitude, yet each held by confessedly good men, must be held with a common modesty and command a degree of common respect. So wide a divergence of honest belief reminds all that they belong to an erring race.
In the minds of some the fact encourages a general scepticism respecting the future destiny of man; and the same persons tell us that the Scrip-. tures, whence so opposite views are supposed to be derived, must give little information and be of little value. Of those who prize the Scriptures as a Revelation, some doubt whether clear light on the perplexed subject was designed for inan; it is better for us, they say, not to know precisely that with which duty does not concern us; others are solicitous that the import of the Revelation here should be better understood; and all, that it should be more deeply felt, and also that the occasion for scepticism should be somehow done away.
In a question of so transcendent importance, neither of the contested opinions can by a sober mind be easily exchanged for another. Such change can rarely be the result of a merely logical process; it will generally be attended with change or development of the moral feelings, and will meet friendly gratulations or fears. Yet because such changes often do not
involve new states of feeling, it is a fair question whether the opinions themselves do not differ more as forms of thought than as expressions of sentiment; and whether beneath the apparent diversity there may not often be a substantial harmony. A discussion of the subject should elicit whatever truth lies in this direction.
In the inquiry for the true one of the three opinions, that which lies intermediate between the others, - which asserts neither the eternal happiness nor the eternal misery of those who
may be worthy of neither,— claims its share of consideration. Can it be a júst mean between two extremes? Is it apparently supported by manifold passages of Scripture? Can it reconcile apparently conflicting texts; or can it vindicate the peculiar doctrines of Christianity against opposite objections? Has it a respectable place in the history of Christian doctrine? Can it have been both held and lost by the Church? And if Bo, how is the grand error involved in its loss to be accounted for without impairing all confidence not only in man but in Providence itself?
It is easy to suggest such considerations respecting the view offered in the following pages. Whether such as make in itse favor have had undue influence with the writer, he leaves for others to decide. Ile will only plead in behalf of certain features of his book, that his experience persuades him a treatise on the subject should be — even more than it is argumentative
one of suggestions and helps to the reader's own thinking and investigation.
To various friends he is under many obligations for the suggestion of facts and thoughts, for aid in the prosecution of his inquiries, in securing a favorable publication of the book, and in revising the sheets for the press. He is sure that any resulting development of Christian truth will be to them, as it should be to himself, the best reward.