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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.
S. 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 meaus.
He could not, on your system, be reformed by punishment. Suppose a person should be sentenced to the State Prison a certain pumber 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, Edo 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
state. 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 perpe. tration 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
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 say. ing 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; es 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 & 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
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;
for you deny a future, general judgment. But this point is clearly decided by the scriptures. St. Peter says, that God reserves the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.* This passage plainly asserts that the unjust will be punished at the day of judgment. They are reserved to the judgment, for the express purpose of being punished. St. Paul speaks of the righteous judgment of God, who will render indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, to every man that doeth evil, in the day, when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.t This passage also makes it evident that when the judgment takes place, some will be subjected to suffering. Every passage therefore, which speaks of a future judg. ment, teaches a future punishment, even though punishment is not expressed in the passage. The idea of punishment is included in that of judgment; and whenever a judgment is mentioned, a punishment is implied. If a future judgment, therefore, can be established, a future punishment will follow as a matter of course.
3. Not only every passage which speaks of a judgment in a future state, but every passage which designates any particular period of judgment in this state, is an argument in favor of a future retribution. Your system does not admit of any special judgment; that is, of any judgment which takes place at any specified time. According to your views, men are punished at one period as much as at another. There is no period or time, when they are punished by God beyond their deserts. Even at the destruction of Jerusalem, to which period you apply almost every threatening in the New Testament, men, you contend, received no more than they justly merited; and on your system, this is exactly what they have received in all ages of the world. No one period, therefore, can be called a day of judgment any more than
* 2 Peter ii. 9.
+ Rom. ii. 5-16.