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tion. But if you decline this, you decline supporting your system by honorable means. I have been thus particular in stating this principle, because I conceive that it has frequently been overlooked. It is useless to argue, unless we have distinct views of the ground on which our arguments rest.
Our knowledge of a future state is derived from the scriptures. But although reason alone could never have taught a future state of being, yet a future state being revealed in the scriptures, reason comes in, and enables us to form consistent notions relative to the nature of that state. Now we have no argument from reason which casts so much light upon a future state, as that drawn from analogy. We know with a good degree of certainty that pious and virtuous affections will produce happiness in a future state, because this is analogous to what we experience in this world. You very frequently advert to analogy to disprove endless misery. You say, it is evident that God will be good to all his creatures in a future state, because he is good to them here.
Now let us introduce analogy in the case before us. You maintain that conversions in this state are of a gradual, progressive nature. This being true in this world, analogy teaches us that the same will hold good in a future state. Analogy in this case has more than ordinary strength; for the principle for which we contend, is analogous, not only in relation to the divine government, but also in relation to the faculties of the human mind, to what is experienced here. Unless the divine Being alters fundamentally the moral principles of his government, and men are converted into infinite beings by changing worlds, it follows that repentance will be a gradual work after death, as much as it is before; and that it will be attended with sorrow or pain there, as well as here. But perhaps you will be ready to say that this analogy will not hold good in all cases; for the scrip
tures plainly teach some doctrines relative to a future state, which are not analogous to what takes place here: This is readily admitted. But let it be shown that the case before us is of that description. We ask for one solitary text, which plainly says, that God, in a future state, alters the principles of his moral government, so as to take a murderer, whose heart is full of malice, and whose hands are reeking with blood, instantly to heaven, when similar characters, in this world, would have been punished for months and years. We are disposed to grant that there are some things pertaining to a future state, which are quite different from any thing we see in this world; but still we insist that the moral principles of the divine government are always the same. And if you deviate from these general principles, and alter fundamentally the government of God, you ought to be able to produce a thus saith the Lord, to prove your position.
3. It is an acknowledged principle with us both, that all punishment is salutary. But, sir, we frequently see men subjected to punishment in consequence of their sins, and this punishment continues to the day of their death, without producing any beneficial effect. Notwithstanding all the punishment which attends them here, they live in sin, increase in wickedness, and die at last in open rebellion. We know that this punishment was not salutary, that it did not reform the sinners in this state; for they died in the perpetration of some sinful act. Now if this punishment does not extend into a future state, it is evident that it does not reform them. The punishment then, was not salutary, and of course not merciful. Perhaps you will say that these men were reformed by death. But this is only begging the question; and if we should grant it, you would gain nothing thereby. For we have already seen that you do not admit temporal' death to be a punishment for sin.
Now with what propriety can you maintain that all - punishment is designed to reform the offender, and that it is certain of its object? In the case before us, we have seen that a person was punished for years, and during that time only grew hardened in sin, and was finally reformed by some other means. He could not, on your system, be reformed by punishment. Suppose a person should be sentenced to the State Prison a certain number of years for the crime of theft; and that immediately after his time had expired, and he was released, he should wilfully commit the crime of murder. Would = any person pretend to say that this confinement proved salutary to him? No man of sober sense would advance such an idea. Neither can it be said with any propriety, that the punishment which God inflicts upon men in this world, effects their reformation, when the punished close their lives with deeds of iniquity. Thus, sir, you must give up your favorite theory, relative to immediate happiness, or else confess that punishment is not salutary, but vindictive. And if you admit that punishment is not salutary, you must renounce the doctrine of the "Restitution of all things." But only admit that punishment is extended beyond death, and the whole difficulty is solved. Though punishment is salutary, our =daily experience teaches us, that for a season it may be productive of the opposite effect. A little punishment -) will frequently enrage a person, when a continuation of the same punishment will humble and subdue him. So on our scheme we can with propriety admit, that all the punishment men experience in this world, does in some cases fail of its object; but by continuing this punishment into a future state, till it produces reformation, we can consistently maintain that all punishments are salutary.
From the considerations adduced in this Letter, it appears that punishment must be extended into a future
We have shown that an individual consciousness is inseparable from a future state of existence, and that this consciousness must of necessity, make those unhappy after death, who leave this world in the very perpetration of crime. We have further seen that a full and equitable retribution does not take place in this world, and consequently it must in a future ;-that those who are taken away in the commission of crime cannot enter into immediate happiness, for repentance is necessary to salvation, and that is a progressive work, and is always attended with sensations of remorse ;—and that punishment must, in certain cases, be extended into a future state, otherwise we must give up the idea that punishment is salutary. Now these considerations, were there nothing else, in the scriptures, would naturally lead our minds to the thought of a future retribution. When the sacred writers had told us that men should be punished according to their deeds, or till they became penitent, they had plainly involved a future discipline. They knew the scenes we had witnessed; they knew that we had seen many depart this life in gross wickedness, and they inform us that such persons shall be punished, till they reform. There was no great necessity of their saying that such characters would be punished after death; they knew that this would follow from the nature of the case. They were very careful to lay down the premises, being, as would seem, sensible that we could not mistake the conclusion.
In my next I shall call your attention to more direct proof of a future retribution.
A Future Judgment.
REV. AND DEAR BROTHER,
Having stated several considerations which necessarily imply a future retribution, I will now, as was proposed, call your attention to more direct proof on this subject. The point which now claims our attention, is that of a future judgment. But before adducing any scriptures in proof of this, four things will be premised.
1. Though the scriptures teach a future state of existence, yet the passages applying to that subject, or even to a future state in any form, are much fewer in number than most people are apt to imagine. I speak of those passages which apply directly and necessarily to a future state. When I say that the passages of this description are not so numerous as is frequently thought, I advance a sentiment in which you will readily acquiesce. Now as the texts which apply to a future state are not very numerous, it cannot be expected that we shall be able to produce a large catalogue of passages in proof of a future judgment, or even of a future retribution. But a host of texts are not wanted. To use the language of the Bible itself, "by the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word shall be established.” Now if it can be proved by two or three passages that there will be a future judgment, this will be amply sufficient. And that person who will not yield to such evidence, would not be convinced by a larger number of texts.
2. A future judgment necessarily supposes a future punishment. The very idea of a judgment or trial supposes that some may be subjected to suffering. Of this, you and those of your sentiment appear to be sensible;