Images de page
PDF
ePub

the occurrence of any new temptation." Mr. B. took the ground that the future condition of men might be very different from what it is in this world, without supposing the change to be wrought by death; for, if there can be no such change except what is wrought by death, then all who are any purer and holier in the next world than they had been on earth must attribute their change to death, and not to him who triumphed over it. If any shall be admitted to a holier condition in the future state than they had on earth, without considering death their Saviour, why may not others? St. Paul said, when on earth, “What I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I." Now, if it was merely death that admitted him into the state "free from sin," then death may prove as friendly to others. That men suffer on earth for what they had done a long time before they suffered, Mr. B. did not deny; but that the mental powers of man should remain for a considerable time without temptation, and without being led into sin, and without being liable to be led into sin, and yet man suffer for sins committed before this period, surely required some evidence, either from actual experience, or some known law of nature, or from the faithful testimony of divine revelation.

[ocr errors]

SECTION X.-MR. TURNER RELUCTANT TO LEAD.

Thus the discussion went on. Mr. Turner did not lead off with confidence. He was willing to waive his right in that respect; but Mr. Ballou held that he who maintained the negative should not indicate the course the discussion should take. Mr. T. said, in reply, he

never had much claim to the character of a close investigator, and still less to that of a deep controvertist; and he should be better satisfied to have Mr. B. aim to prove that there is no future punishment, than to open the investigation himself affirmatively.

In the next letter, Mr. Ballou complimented his Br. Turner on having managed the subject very well; and, notwithstanding Mr. T.'s disclaimer, Mr. B. considered him as possessing certain fine talents for controversial writing. Mr. B. submitted the following question for discussion, namely, "Whether the doctrine of future punishment be necessarily embraced in the faith of the gospel, leaving all other questions relative to the subject to be discussed when it shall be thought necessary.' ." If this question were acceded to by Mr. T., it would remain for him to prove that the doctrine of future punishment is embraced in the gospel; and Mr. B. suggested, as facts which would have to be considered, First, that there was no intimation of the doctrine of future punishment in the communications which God made to Abraham. "If it be necessary for the Christian to believe in the doctrine of future punishment, why was it not equally necessary for the father of the faithful to embrace this indispensable matter of faith?" On the ground that the doctrine had been communicated to Abraham, when the faith of that patriarch was referred to, in the days of Christ and his apostles, and in all after ages, that doctrine would have been seen to be an indispensable article of faith. Second,

in all the cloud of testimonies borne by the prophets concerning the Messiah and his religion, "there appears to be nothing plainly laid down respecting a future state of

punishment." Thirdly, if the belief of future punishment be required as a part of the gospel faith, why did not Jesus preach that doctrine? If it be said that Jesus did preach it, and that fact be proved, then the question in discussion would be settled; but Mr. B. thought that forced and far-fetched explanations of the parables of Jesus can never be admitted as proof. Fourthly, the preaching of Jesus was a commentary on the law and the prophets; and the preaching of the apostles was a commentary on the preaching of Jesus. If, then, the design of the law and the prophets, and that of Jesus, were to teach the doctrine of future punishment, why was no mention made of that doctrine by the apostles? "If (said Mr. B.) it be replied that the apostles have taught it, let the proof of the assertion be brought," and the question will be settled.

66

Fifthly (said Mr. B.), when the Creator laid down the prohibition of the forbidden tree to our first parents in the garden, and laid down the consequence of transgression for their admonition, how can his silence on the subject of future punishment be accounted for in any other way than by supposing that the Almighty Father saw no necessity of Adam's believing in it? And let it be further noticed, that after the transgression, when the Creator delineated the effects and consequences of sin to his unhappy children, he mentioned particular circumstances relative to their mortal existence in this world, but said not a word concerning this future punishment, which is the subject of our inquiry. How is this to be accounted for? Furthermore, when Cain had risen up against his brother and taken his life, God called him to an account for his wicked act, and announced his punishment, but intimated nothing concerning this punishment in a future state. Was neither the sin of Adam nor the sin of Cain a subject to justify the denunciation of this doctrine? Can we

reasonably conceive of a better time, or a more proper occasion, than one of these, to justify a declaration of it?

"If it were possible to give even a plausible reason why this doctrine was omitted on the foregoing occasions, could we assign a sufficient one for its total omission in all the dreadful threatenings denounced against the rebellious house of Israel, in all the writings of Moses?

66

Having noticed the first declarations found in the word of God, on the subject of the punishment of sin, and finding no intimations of a future state of misery, there seems to be a propriety in looking at the last plagues,' as described in the book of Revelations. But here again we find all confined to this mortal state.

"Notwithstanding you may discover many deficiencies in the foregoing reasoning, and be obliged to exercise uncommon patience with your brother, it is believed that you will find some particulars not altogether unworthy of consideration.

it

"You will, no doubt, view this subject as worthy of our deliberate researches, and feel no disposition to grant anything while may be opposed on scriptural ground; and, as you will carefully maintain this independence for yourself, so you will be pleased to see it carefully preserved by your opponent."

Thus the way was open for discussing this important question on strictly scriptural grounds.

SECTION XI.- - SCRIPTURAL PROOF.

Mr. Turner did not reply to this letter until some little time after its date. Passing by two or three paragraphs, somewhat metaphysical, we are met by Mr. Turner's notice of the intimations of Mr. B. in regard to the silence of the sacred writers on the subject of future punishment. Mr. Turner held that one reason why the doctrine of future punishment was not more plainly re

vealed in the word of God is this, namely, that the object of the promise to Abraham, of the prophets, and of Jesus and his apostles, was to prove a deliverance from sin and misery; and, this being admitted, it furnished a reason why a future limited punishment, and, in fact, any punishment of definite duration, should not be made a matter of special revelation. Mr. T. went on further to say:

[ocr errors]

"The gospel preached to Abraham, and by Christ and his apostles, as well as prophets, is mainly conversant with the final deliverance of mankind from the power of sin and death; but this deliverance has not, as I recollect, any specific period allotted it. The apostle uses this general language, the dispensation of the fulness of times.' And were it justifiable, on principles of reasoning, might I not employ your own mode of argument, and say, If the doctrine of a deliverance from sin and its consequences, in the article of death, be an evangelical truth, should we not expect to find it plainly expressed, in the before-mentioned departments of Scripture? And, if it be not there expressed, is not the conclusion logical, that such a doctrine is without competent authority?

"But I am not certain, however, that the prophetic and Christian Scriptures are SILENT on the subject of future punishment, though they are not so direct upon the point as upon some others (for reasons above mentioned), and though they do not notice it so often as other subjects. I will say, it is difficult for me to understand the text, 1st Pet. 3: 19, 20, and also Chap. 4, 5th and 6th verses, without admitting a future punishment as suffered by the persons mentioned by the apostle. It further appears that the apostle expected a second coming of the Saviour, and spake of the event as future, and as involving a judgment of the world, and contemplating a state of suffering. I am, however, willing to see any explanation of these texts which will show the contrary, if such a thing can be done with evangelic propriety. I seek only truth.

« PrécédentContinuer »