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affording the least occasion for complaint. And if Hyram had written as many volumes as he did pages in support of his own views, or in trying to show that ours are incorrect, no complaint would have been made. Our complaint was of an entire different nature ; but having once stated it, we are not disposed to repeat it. (See Christian Messenger, Vol. ii. page 52.) If Hyram had quoted any thing from either of the “volumes of Lectures issued from Boston and Philadelphia,” of which he speaks, or from any other book written by either of the authors of those Lectures, and had shown it to be incorrect, so far from finding fault, it would have been esteemed as a favor.
In the second letter Hyram has endeavored "to exhibit some proof of the doctrine of future punishment or misery." Hyram, however, seems to think the proof should lie the other hand." If so, we will give him, as proof, the total silence of the law of God on this subject. Unless, therefore Hyram thinks that the sinner will be tried and condemned by a law which has not been revealed to man, he must find a law which requires such punishment, or else it is in vain to pretend that God will inflict it. If the scriptures prove the restitution of all things, then, altho they do not say that no one shall be endlessly miserable, yet this must be inferred from the restitution of all things; even so, if the scriptures say that, in the resurrection "they neither marry nor are given in marriage, neither can they die any more, for they are equal to angels, and are children of God, being children of the resurrection;" (Luke XY. 36.) then whatever punishment or misery may be inflicted after death, must be previ. ous to the resurrection. And if the dead know nothing, as the scriptures assert, (Ecel
. ix. 5.) where there is no knowledge, there can be neither happiness nor misery. It is not pretended that death will produce any change in man for the better ; but the resurrection may efect that which cannot be effected by death,
Hyram seems to calculate on punishment as some. thing due to a crime, whether any desired object is to
be effected by it or not. The moment it is out of the power of a man to commit crimes, that moment punishment is no longer useful to him, and of course no longer just. Physical or natural death is no punishment to any man, neither was it ever designed as punishment, whatever it may be termed, it only puts it out of the power of man to commit crimes ; and it as much puts him beyond the possibility of receiving punishment, as it prevents him from committing crimes : we speak now in relation only to the laws of man; and if crimes can be committed, or punishment inflicted after death, this is the point at issue, and remains for our opponents to prove.
The punishment due to sin, as we conceive, is not dealt out by weight or measure, that is, by the weight of affliction, or by the measure of its duration, but is dealt out as long as it is necessary to answer any, valuable purpose, and no longer ; that is, until the sinner is saved from a disposition to commitsin, or else placed beyond the power of committing it. But Hyram asks whether we shall build an important doctrine on the silence of scripture.” We answer, No! What we believe the scripture makes plain and evident; the si. lence of scripture only relates to what we disbelieve, and
this, to us, is good reason for not believing it.
“But,' says Hyram, "we are not willing to admit, that the sacred penmen are silent upon this subject." Well, then, let us have the law and the testimony; for it will be recollected, that, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. Isa. viii. 20.
The first passage that Hyram adduces in support of his views, is found in the sixteenth chapter of Ezekiel. “In this chapter,” he says, “we have a promise that Sodom shall be restored.” Now, what of all this? Is this a matter of dispute ; whether Sodom shall be restored or not? (Not with Hyrain, whatever it may be with others.)--But, since the scriptures declare that "the dead know nothing, how does the fact that Sodom shall be restored to her former estate, prove that the
Sodomites were punished after they were dead? Ülyram anticipates this objection, and says, “We do not feel disposed to enter largely into this abstruse and metaphysical question. Suffice it to say, however plausible it may appear, however consistent it may be with speculative philosophy, it cannot be reconciled with the language of scripture, without taking unwarranted latitude in explaining the sacred testimony." Was Hyram aware, that in this, he accuses the learned Dr. Price, (who believed the soul to be immaterial, as well as the equally learned Dr. Priestly, (who held to its materiality) "of taking unwarranted latitude in explaining the sacred testimony ?” For Dr. Price, who differed from Dr. Priestly in one respect, agreed with him in this, viz. that the soul, whatever it be, would remain in an unconscious state till the resurrection. Perhaps it would do Hyram no harm to read the controversy between Dr. Price and Dr. Priestly on this subject. It is admitted, however that man, thio dead, is alive to God, “for all live unto him,” but it no more follows that the soul is in a conscious state in death, because he is capable of being raised from the dead, then it follows that the soul is in a conscious state in a swoon, in a sound sleep, or when a person is apparently drowned, in all of which cases we have not the least evidence of any consciousness of the soul. Man, who is only able to kill the body, has no power to prevent a future life, and therefore he cannot kill the soul any otherwise than this is done by killing the body; but God, who created man, is able to destroy both soul and body ; that is, he is able to destroy man in every sense in which man exists. But all this does not prove any punishment after death; for if God should destroy "both soul and body in Gehenna,” what 'reason have we to believe that he would not destroy the soul at the same time he destroyed the body ? How then is the soul to be punished after death, when it is destroyed with the body? (See No. 1. p. 25.) But Hyram says, "At the resurrection God will quicken our mortal bodies, as well as call our souls into consciousness.” Very good. Christ did not say that God would destroy either soul or body, but only that he is able to do it; and let any one examine the subject, and it will be perceived that this was said to inspire his disciples with the utmost confidence in the goodness of God. (See Mat. x. 16-31.)
Hyram says, “This passage not only proves the separate existence of the soul, but is a good argument in favor of future punishment.” How is it possible that a passage of scripture should prove that which it says nothing about? Does Christ speak of the separate existence of the soul? Certainly not. But they are mentioned together, and as being destroyed together. And in a parallel text (Luke xii. 5,) Christ says, "Fear him, who after he hath killed, hath power to cast into Gehenna ;” but does he speak of the soul, or the body, or both, that is to be cast into Gehenna ? Probably he means both soul and body, as in Matthew; but certainly he does not speak of the separate existence of the soul, neither does he speak of a punishment after death, unless the destruction of the soul with the body can be considered a punishment after death. Death takes away all consciousness of existence, and therefore the destruction of the soul after death, even were such a thing possible, would be no punishment. And it is evident, as has been observed, that Christ did not suggest the idea as a punishment.
As it respects the passage in Ezekiel, which we bave already named, we would refer Hyram to the writings of Damon, with the replies to bis writings, as published in the Boston Universalist Magazine, Vol. II. Nos. 34, 35 and 40; and republished in the Christian Messenger, Vol. II. pages 138, 139, 157. As most of our readers have the privilege of examining what is there written, and, to say the most, the passage gives no support to the idea of suffering or punishment after death, we sball not repeat them here.
“The account of Christ's preaching to the 'spirits in prison,' " says Hyram, "is a powerful argument in favor of a separate state and of future punishment."
But why does he not tell us in what the argument consists? Why, forsooth, as he says, “f trust the Editor of the Repository will discuss this text, I cheerfally submit the matter to him, believing that he will bandle the subject in an abler manner than I am capable of doing." So then, we must wait till we receive this able discussion. "Many other passages," he says, "might be cited, to show that men may be present with the Lord when absent from the body, or that their souls may exist in a separate state ; but it is considered unnecessary ." Now supposing all this should be admitted, does it necessarily follow that this is a state of consciousness ? Why may it not be as well supposed to be a state of unconscious sleep? There is nothing in the testimony but what can be reconeiled with this idea, as well as the other. Until, therefore, this intermediate state of consciousness is proved from scripture, (for to prove such a state from reason 19 impossible) any arguments predicated upon such a state are inadmissible. Yet, if there were such a state, why must the Sodomites be in a state of misery till their restoration ?" If there is any thing in the Bible that deelares this, where is it? But on our supposition, all that the Sodomites løst by being cut off as they were for their sins, is lost to them for ever; while on the other hand they have gained nothing. Does Hyram believe that the preservation of Lot was no favor to him, more than what it would have been to have been cut off with the Sodomites, admitting that neither the one nor the others would have experienced any thing more till the resurrection? 'If not, his argument respecting his being left in this state of trouble and sin,” when he might have been instantly and perfectly happy if taken away," is toe puerile to be mentioned; but it is left to have its full weight, as there is no occasion for an answer. Such arguments always refute themselves, as they carry ne conviction with them, excepting that there is something wanting in the person who uses them. "As it respects the day of judgement,when CX