Imágenes de páginas

free from sin. This not only removes the objection, but furnishes an additional argument in favor of my construction of verse 7th. We find by these quotations, that what is said in the last clause of the 7th verse, applies to men in this world, and this is a weighty argument in favor of the whole verse having such an application. At all events it destroys your argument. For it is clearly proved that the phrase, free from sin, in the 6th of Romans, does in two instances apply to men in this world, where you will admit that its meaning is only comparative; and if the expression, freed from sin, has only a comparative signification, even if you apply it to a future world, it will not exclude all iniquity. From what has been offered upon the subject, I think it will appear that the passage in question does not favor your system in the least; and that the passage simply means, "He that is dead to sin, is freed from its consequences."

I have now noticed the principal arguments which are alledged in support of your views, and how far I have removed their force, is submitted to the reader. Thus far I have confined myself to your system, and the arguments by which you support it. I have endeavored to show that your system is defective, and your arguments inconclusive; and if in any instance I have used expressions which are thought to border upon disrespect, I will offer this explanation; my remarks have been directed to the system, and not to its author; and while I express my disapprobation of the one, I do not intend any disrespect to the other. If what I have offered in opposition to your views, be valid, then the doctrine of the happiness of all men at the article of death, must be given up. For while I consider your system weak, I firmly believe at the same time, that you have defended it in the best possible manner. The defect lies not in the advocate, but in the system he has the misfortune to defend. Your defence being the best possible, if your arguments

can be fairly answered, the system must inevitably fall And if your system, which limits all punishment to this world, be unfounded, then the doctrine of future punish Iment will follow of course. In the subsequent Letters I shall adduce evidence in favor of my own views upo this subject, and endeavor to obviate the objections yo have offered against these views. I shall not however confine myself solely to your objections, but shall occa sionally notice arguments which have been offered by other writers on your side of the question, whenever find any thing advanced by them which is not containe in your arguments.

Yours, &c.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]


Statement of the doctrine of Future Punishment.


Having examined your system, and the principal argunents you alledge in its support, I will now state in a lefinite manner, the views which I shall attempt to defend. I shall endeavor to show that those who die impenitent will, after death, enter into a state of misery, consisting of anxiety, guilt, and remorse, which will continue until repentance or reformation is effected. We do not believe that this misery will arise from any external application, but from the internal state of the mind. It is not our belief that this punishment will be inflicted by the immediate hand of God, and as it were, out of the common course of his moral dealings, but that it will grow necessarily out of the moral natures God has given us; that it will be the legitimate fruit of that guilt of which the mind will be conscious, in consequence of past transgressions. We know by what we feel in ourselves, and see in others, that one overt act of wickedness leaves the mind in a state of condemnation and misery; and as many commit the most atrocious crimes the instant they leave this world, it is reasonable to suppose that they will enter into a state of remorse and inquietude after death. To me this has all the force of moral demonstration. Sin always leaves the mind in condemnation. This is an established principle; it grows necessarily out of the nature which we possess. Take men as they are, and it is impossible for it to be otherwise. Now a person taken away in the perpetration of a horrid crime, must be unhappy after death. His moral nature renders immediate happiness impossible. Unless his accountability is destroyed, his

consciousness done away, and his moral nature annihilated; in a word, unless man is changed into some other creature, it appears morally certain that those who depart this world in gross wickedness, will enter into a state of infelicity.

If men exist in a future state, they must retain their identities; that is, they must be conscious that they are the same beings who have existed in this world, and performed such and such actions. Without this consciousness, men cease to exist. If I fall asleep to night, and awake on the morning of to-morrow without my con sciousness, that is, without any knowledge or recollection of having existed before, it ceases to be myeslf, and becomes another being. Nothing which existed in me, and went to make up my personal identity, or individuality, is found in him; but he is as distinct and as separate from me, as Peter or Paul. The same will hold good in relation to a future state. In that state we must possess a consciousness of having existed here, or it is not we who exist, but it becomes a new creation. All then, that goes to make up an individual, must exist after death, or there is no future life to us. How do men in this world distinguish themselves from one another? It is solely because they possess an individual identity or consciousness; that is, they have a conscious knowledge that they have existed before that moment, and are the same beings who have thought, and felt, and acted thus and so. This consciousness is what constitutes an essential ingredient in an individual. Destroy this consciousness, and individuality ceases. Now if we exist in a future state, we must possess this individual consciousness, and all those principles and feelings which constitute personal identity. To talk of men's existing in a future state, without this consciousness, would be the height of extravagance and absurdity; it would be something similar to the notion that all men sinned in Adam,

a position you would by no means admit. But it is no more absurd to say that men sin, without a consciousness of sinning, than it is to say that they exist, without a consciousness of existing.

It appears clear from the nature of the case, that men in a future state must retain their consciousness, and this idea receives additional support from the scriptures. Jesus Christ, who is our pattern or example, retained his consciousness after death. He knew that he was the same person who had been baptized by John, betrayed by Judas, and crucified by the Jews. He knew that he had I existed before; he recognized his disciples, and commanded them to preach that gospel which he had died to establish. Hence it will be seen that Jesus Christ retained his consciousness after death. And this will be the state of all men in a future world. The apostle intimates to us, that in a future state, we we are seen, and know as we are known.* in passages which you apply to a future state, that the redeemed will ascribe glory and honor to Jesus Christ in consequence of his having suffered and died for men in =this world. These passages contain full proof that men retain their consciousness after death. The redeemed in a future state praise Christ for what he has done for them, and as the blessing was made known to many of them in this world, it is manifest that they had a realizing sense of the blessings they received while here; and = hence it is clear that they were conscious after death, of events which occurred here in time.

shall see as We are told

Thus it appears both from scripture and reason, that men will retain their consciousness after death; they will be the same individuals there they were here, and will have a realizing sense of their conduct in this world. We will admit for the sake of the case, that men

* 1 Cor. xiii. 12.

+ Rev. v. 12, 13.

« AnteriorContinuar »