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important events. Considering the infancy of the world, and the lack of experimental knowledge at that time, it is highly probable that the Deity interposed frequently, and gave the first inhabitants many directions, which are not recorded. This supposition is rendered still more probable on your system, which supposes that Adam was created no more wise or perfect than other men.*
Without admitting that the Deity gave the first inhabitants of the world some instruction more than is mentioned in the scriptures, it is extremely difficult to account for the sacrifices offered by Cain and Abel, and for many other things which are mentioned in the scriptures, and which could not have been learned from nature, especially at that early age of the world. For instance, when Cain slew his brother, he felt condemnation as much as Adam did when he violated the express command of God. But we have no account in Genesis that God had prohibited murder at that time. Now, from whence arose Cain's condemnation for slaying his brother? It must have been that God
them a law before that time. Otherwise I do not see why he should have felt condemnation.
“ Where there is no law,” we are told on divine authority," there is no transgression.'' Since Cain felt condemnation for slaying his brother, we are led to conclude that murder had already been prohibited, though nothing of this is mentioned by Moses. Hence we are compelled to admit that God revealed to his new created offspring, many things which are not mentioned in the scriptures. Numerous cases might be mentioned, which lead us to the same conclusion. And it is worthy of remark, that the scriptures do not pretend that every event is recorded therein, but on the contrary they intiinate that this is not the case. Hence we conclude, that many things were made known to Adam and his descendants, which are not mentioned
* See Atonenient, pp. 32–35. See also Lectures, pp. 67-80.
in the scriptures. Now as the Jews, as far back as we can have knowledge of their opinions, believed in a future retribution, it is natural to conclude, that this opinion was borrowed from divine revelation. This hypothesis will also account for their belief in a future state ; for it is admitted, that we find but very little evidence of this doctrine in the Old Testament.
But, perhaps you will say, that the condemnation which Cain felt, arose from the common sentiment which God has implanted in man, that taking life is a crime. But this is no more to your purpose than the other position. For if the common sentiment of mankind, that it is a crime to take life, establishes that principle, then the common sentiment that there will be a retribution beyond death, establishes that principle also. But from whenice arose the heathen opinion, that a future punishment awaited the ungodly? It is an acknowledged principle in moral as well as in natural philosophy, that every effect results from some adequate cause. And from whence arises this general belief? It is the opinion of most Christian writers, that the heathen borrowed' their opinions from early revelations. Now if this be the case, as I think appears pretty evident, the belief of the heathen furnishes us with a good argument in favor of punishment beyond death. We are willing to admit, as was before observed, that the heathen mixed much fable with their doctrines. But this is just what might naturally be expected, on supposition that a future retribution was first borrowed from divine revelation. Who
* See Dr. Shuckford's Connexions between Sacred and Profane History, a work worthy of a critical perusal. The doctor contends that the Lord made many revelations in the first ages of the world, which are noť recorded in the sacred' volume, and that the heathen borrowed their doctrines from the traditions of early reve lations. And before any person adopts the opposite hypothesis, he ought to be able to refute all the doctor's arguments.
See also Prideaux's Connexions.
ever is acquainted with the heathen doctrines and fables, and the origin of their mythology, will be sensible that the heathen built their fables upon doctrines, and not their doctrines
their fables. The doctrine was first believed, and then some fable was built upon it. Though these fables frequently corrupted their doctrines, still it will be found that in almost every instance, their fables were not invented, till after the doctrine on which they rested, was generally believed.* Now although their fables are numerous which relate to a future state of punishment, they are all founded upon a belief in that doctrine, which belief gave rise to these fables. Now from these brief hints, I think it will be apparent, that the heathen were indebted to early revelation for their belief in a future retribution.
But you will undoubtedly object to this. Then it devolves upon you to account for this belief. Was it borrowed from nature ? I know of nothing in the appear. ances of nature, which even teaches a future state of being; and it would be absurd to assert that nature taught the heathen a future state of suffering, when it did not so much as teach the existence of a future state. Is it the common sentiment implanted by God in our very natures ? Then this sentiment must be the truth, for we cannot suppose that God would impress a falsehood upon the whole world of mankind. You cannot consistently admit that the plain, unlettered sentiment of mankind is wrong, since you deny the doctrine of innate depravity. Does this belief arise from corrupt appetites and passions ? Sinful feelings instead of favoring, remonstrate against the doctrine.' When Paul reasoned of a judgment to come, the corrupt Felix trembled. To conclude, this general belief in a future retribution, must arise from divine revelation, be taught in nature, or be implanted in every breast by God himself.
. On this subject also, see Shuckford's Connexions.
It could not be learned from nature, for nature does not even teach a future state of being. It must therefore either arise from revelation, or be the common sentiment of mankind interwoven with their very nature. In either case it affords us a good argument in favor of the doctrine for which we plead.
Another consideration which induces a belief in a future retribution, and that the ancient heathen borrowed their views from revelation, is this : The early Christian fathers all believed in a future retribution. Yes ; Clemens, Origen and others, who believed in the “restitution of all things,” were all firm believers fin this doctrine. As these men lived in the first ages of Christianity, before the gospel became corrupted, they certainly had a better opportunity of knowing what was taught by Christ and his apostles, than men can have at the present day. Now as these early fathers agreed with the ancient heathen in opinion, it goes to show that the heathen originally received their doctrine from the same divine source. It also goes to show that Christ and his apostles taught a future retribution.
The Romish doctrine of Purgatory, which is frequently mentioned as a burlesque upon our sentiment, is actually an argument in its favor. The papal corruptions did not consist in inventing new doctrines, but in corrupting the genuine doctrines of the church. Their doctrine of indulgences was nothing more than an abuse of the scriptural doctrine of remission of sins. And so of their other abuses. They all consisted in the perversion of some scripture doctrine. The doctrine of Purgatory was only a corruption of the original doctrine of a future disciplinary punishment. The doctrine of Purgatory, therefore, goes directly to show that a future limited discipline was the original doctrine of the church. And it is no objection to our system to say that the Papists corrupted it. Who ever thought of re
jecting the Eucharist, because the Papists held to Transubstantiation ? Will you discourage good works, because the Catholics held to Supererogation? The fact is, every professed Christian holds some doctrines which the Church of Rome abused. But as many of your sentiment wish to ridicule our scheme by branding it with the name of Purgatory, we will for one moment inquire into the origin of the system in which you believe.
By perusing the pages of ecclesiastical history, we learn that the Gnostics, that ancient sect of heretics, who disturbed the peace of the church, agreed with you in your distinguishing doctrine. They held that the soul was an emanation from the Deity ; that there was no material resurrection ; that the body was a mere clog to the soul, which went to immediate happiness, when dislodged from the body. And this sect was founded by Simon Magus, that ancient enemy of the gospel.* Your system then can boast of considerable antiquity, but it cannot be regarded, even by yourself, as a great honor to any system to be founded by a magician, and nursed by the Gnostics.
But to return : All the writers of any reputation who have defended the doctrine of Universal Salvation, have believed in a future retribution. Yes, our writers in all ages, both in Europe and America, have been agreed on this point. I speak of those now off the stage. We do not intend to attach too much consequence to this circumstance, but still we think it is entitled to some weight. Antiquity, though of itself no evidence of a doctrine, ought in all cases to entitle a doctrine to respect, till it be fairly proved to be unfounded. Antiquity also does in some instances furnish us with good evidence, by carrying us back to the times in which the thing itself originated, giving those early believers an
* See Priestley's Church History, vol. i. pp. 46, 168, 195.