« AnteriorContinuar »
nor a single argument from reason; then your system is only a negation, and your faith disbelief-a creed which would better become a sceptic than a professed Christian. Thus by pretending that your side of the question is only a negative, you in reality renounce all scripture evidence, and are compelled to say with Mr. Kneeland, "It is not pretended that the scriptures prove there will be no future punishment."-But are your views a positive? Then let us no longer be told, that future punishment must be proved true, or else it is not entitled to belief. If your scheme is a positive, then it is hoped that you will not refuse to meet us on this ground. You then have an affirmative as well as we, and you are under as great obligation to prove your affirmative, as we are to prove ours. Now if you refuse to meet us in this manner, you refuse to meet us on equal ground, and will give the public reason to make unfavorable remarks relative to your conduct, and the strength of your cause. I trust you will not attempt to support your side of the question by asserting that the scriptures are silent upon future punishment; for this is only preparing a weapon for yourself. This is the popular defence which is set up by the abetters of your system. But in fact, it is acknowledging that your system is only a negation of belief. But popular as this mode of defence is, it is far from favoring those into whose service it is constantly pressed. This argument, if it deserves the name, may be retorted upon you with all its force. Thus, if you ask proof of future punishment, I will give you the silence of the scriptures on the opposite doctrine.
Feeling disposed to treat the subject with all possible fairness, I will endeavour to state the case in a manner which I think must be satisfactory to all candid inquirers, and objectionable only to those who fear to meet the subject on its proper ground. Let the question be, Is
all misery confined to this life; or does it extend beyond death? In this two-fold question, your opinion and mine are both stated. You believe in the affirmative of the first question, as much as I do in the affirmative of the last. And it is as incumbent on you to prove your affirmative, as it is on me to prove mine. This statement is so fair and equitable, that I cannot believe that you will object to it. But should you attempt to evade this statement as some have done, and insist that the question should be,-Does the bible teach the doctrine of future punishment? I shall regard it as shrinking from the subject in debate; or, to use your own words, as "throwing all the labor on one side." And were I disposed, I could avail myself of the same art, and insist that the question should be-Does the bible teach the doctrine of the happiness of all men at the article of death? In this way we might dispute eternally without coming to the merits of the question.
But I am not desirous of throwing all the labor on either side. I wish you to defend your system both positively and negatively, and I am perfectly willing to do the same. I should show the weakness of my cause by refusing to advance evidence in favor of my side of the question, and you would betray the same weakness by refusing to do the same on your part. I hope therefore I shall not be told that the burden of proof ought to be with the plaintiff; for this again, is avoiding the question, as this plea can be made by us as well as by you. The doctrine for which I contend, is the doctrine as held by our order, from the third century down to the present day, with a very few exceptions. From this it would more naturally appear that you are the plaintiff, and we the defendant. We can call upon you, therefore, for proof, with more propriety than you can upon us. We are willing, however, to waive this right, and meet
you on equal grounds. The statement here made, is so fair and honorable, that I think it must meet your acceptance. I do not mean by any of these remarks to call your candor or sincerity in question, but only to suggest that you have been led to view the subject in an improper light. Neither are you to understand the above in the light of a challenge. My only design is to state the case in its proper light, to mark the course which ought to be pursued by all who controvert this question. The statement and examination of your system will be attempted in our next.
Statement and examination of Mr. Ballou's system.
REV. AND DEAR BROTHER,
Having stated the question in debate, and the ground of the controversy, I will now endeavor to state your system, compare its several parts together, and test them by the volume of divine truth.
Your system in brief, appears to be this ;-Man possesses two natures, or principles, soul and body; the one pure, the other impure. All sin originates in the flesh, and when the soul is dislodged from the body, it is necessarily pure, and consequently happy. That this is a just representation of your views, will appear from the following quotations from your writings.
"The opposition of the law of the heavenly man to that of the fleshly, is meant by the prohibition."* "Sin is the fruit of the flesh." "All sin originates in the earthly nature." "It is to the powers and appetites of the flesh that every sin we commit, may be traced."§ "The scriptures plainly indicate that the constitutional infirmities of flesh and blood are, in fact, the source from whence all sinful temptations arise." "Now it is plain from scripture that all sin, all wickedness, and all evil doings, are the works of the flesh."¶ "The mind, spirit, soul, or whatever the reader pleases to call the immortal part of man, that spirit being eternal and immortally pure, was opposed to the passions which would immediately rise from the fleshly nature."** "Another very
great inconsistency is to suppose that after people shall have ceased from all the sins enumerated in the text, and are in a constitution of existence where no such crimes can ever be committed, they are there to be tormented for what they did in this world."* "The hearer is cautioned against supposing that we allow that the next state will be subject to sin; we distinctly say that the evidence of this, is wanting both in scripture and reason." "As sin had its origin in the flesh and blood, and is the natural offspring of the lusts by which men are tempted, and as no intimation is given in the scriptures, that sin ever was, or ever will be committed out of flesh and blood, we venture to hope that sin will never exist after the present mortal state shall close."‡
Here then w have your system before us: that man consists of two natures, flesh and spirit; that the flesh is the source of all wickedness, and the spirit is "immortally pure, so that the destruction of the body frees the soul from guilt.
I will now state the grand basis on which you found your hypothesis. In your "Treatise on Atonement," you attempt to make a distinction between the creation and formation of man. His created character was spiritual and pure, but his formed character was earthly and sensual. You say, "I have argued that the formation of man was after his creation, as appears from the account given by Moses, in Genesis. It seems reasonable to conclude that man, in a spiritual sense, was created in Christ, the heavenly nature, as his body was formed in Adam, the earthly. And as all our bodies came from that one formation, so all our spirits came from that one creation.” "If Christ be the image of God, and
+ Lect. p. 409.
* Lect. p. 242.