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verse 29th to 41 inclusive, he makes several remarks upon the subject of the resurrection, and then at the 42d verse commences a particular description of the resurrection of the righteous.
But probably you will ask whether I do not believe that all men will enjoy immortality and glory? I answer, yes. I believe with the apostle that all men shall be made alive, but with him I believe also, that believers and unbelievers will be raised in their own order. And for the sake of the case, I will admit that the description given of the resurrection in the 42d and following verses, applies to all men ; (and in fact I believe it does in principle,) it does not hence follow that all will be brought to this enjoyment at the same time. The case would then stand thus, in the 42d and following verses, Paul speaks of the process of the resurrection, but he has guarded us against any mistake here, by telling us, verse 23d, that every man should be raised in his own order.
The view of the subject we have now given, makes this passage harmonize with other passages of scripture. But on your interpretation this harmony is destroyed. And granting your interpretation to be true, it yields you no assistance, as we have already seen.
Before we dismiss the subject of this objection, we will notice one passage more, which you frequently bring into view, when treating upon this subject. The passage is found in Luke xx. 34, 35, 36. “ And Jesus answering, said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage ; but they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; neither can they die any more ; for they are equal to the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” Two remarks upon this passage will show how little it is to your purpose.
1. There is no intimation in the passage that this resurrection takes place at death ; and so it does not answer your purpose, as men may suffer after death in an intermediate state. 2. Though you apply this passage to all men alike,* there is no intimation in the text or its connexion, that it is designed to apply to all men. Does this passage prove that all men will exist beyond death? You yourself will not pretend it. If this was the only passage which speaks of a future state, no one could prove that all will exist beyond the grave. Now it would be palpably absurd to say, that a passage which does not prove that all men will exist after death, proves that all men will enjoy equal happiness in that state. The passage itself plainly implies that a part only will enjoy that blessing.
When our Savior says, “ they which shall be accounted worthy" to obtain that world, he virtually says that all shall not be accounted worthy, and of course will not obtain it. If this favor was to be enjoyed equally by all, at the same time, there would be no propriety in making the distinction which we find in the passage. We cannot interpret this text agreeable to just rules, without admitting that it applies to the righteous only. We have now finished what we had to offer upon the subject embraced in this objection. If you think our remarks have been extended to an unnecessary length, we have our apology in the great stress you lay upon this point. Now, sir, interpret the 1st Cor. xv. as we have done, and it furnishes an argument in our favor. But if to oppose our views, you contend for a different interpretation, you do it at the expense of your own system. As you cannot prove that all men are to be raised at the moment of death, you cannot give a construction to this portion of scripture, which does not entirely overthrow your scheme.
* Lectures, p. 362.
We will now consider several objections which you make to a future retribution, not so much because we consider them of weight, as because they are so frequently made use of by the abettors of your system. As I regard these objections of but little consequence, I shall treat them with brevity.
You sometimes object to future punishment in these words: “If we reason correctly, when we argue that there must be a future state of retribution in order to cure the crimes committed in this state, why will it not be necessary that a state of retribution beyond the next, be instituted to cure the crimes committed in the next? And why do we not in this way, prove the doctrine of endless sin and misery P»* This objection briefly stated is this: If men are punished in a future state for crimes committed in this, they must be punished in a third state, for the crimes committed in the second, and so on to eternity. Now the whole strength of this objection rests upon this principle, viz. that punishment is not salutary, but vindictive ; a principle in which neither of ys believe. Hence you cannot urge this objection without rejecting your own favorite opinion. Besides, this objection weighs as much against your theory as against mine. You believe that men are punished in this world during a period of time, for crimes committed in a preceding period. Hence this objection can be urged against you, thus : If men are punished during one period for crimes committed in a preceding period, they must be punished a third period for crimes committed in the second, and a fourth, for crimes committed in the third, and so on to eternity. Now, sir, when you can reconcile this objection with your own system, you will then have exploded your own objection.
Again; you object to future punishment on the
* U. Magazine, vol. III. p. 133.
ground that civil government and human laws are ordained by God, and still the penalties of human laws are confined to this world. After stating that human laws are ordained by God, and the penalties are confined to this state, you say, "Now if all this, which is as plain as any thing in the scriptures, be granted, what room is there for the supposition that the penalty due to transgression, is punishment in the future eternal world po* Though this objection has, in principle, been answered in a preceding Letter, I will in addition offer the following. Human governments are either a perfect transcript of the divine government, or they are not. If they are not, then the circumstance that human penalties are confined to this world, is nothing to your purpose. For though human governments do not punish men after death, the divine government may. But if human governments are a perfect transcript of the divine, as they must be to answer your purpose, then some men under the divine government will assuredly escape all punishment, and others will be punished unjustly; for you will acknowledge that this is frequently the case under human governments. Besides, if human governments are a perfect transcript of the divine, then human governments supersede the necessity of the divine; then there is no government but human, so when aparchy prevails in any nation, there is no government at all to take cognizance of the actions of men !! Thus is your argument false in principle, and dangerous in its influence. But as weak and corrupt as it is, we find you frequently bringing it forward. Thus you say, “Let us look around us, and see if prisons, dungeons, and gallows, are not a sufficient argument to prove that the wicked are recompersed in the earth.”+ Accord ng to this statement, if men are not confined in prison, hung upon the gallows, or punished in any other way by civil Lectures, p. 9.
+ Lect. p. 304.
power, they are not punished at all, how guilty soever they may be.
Again ; you tell us that temporal rewards are sufficient to stimulate us to religion and virtue.* But how are they sufficient? Do they actually produce this effect? Are all men religious and virtuous ? No one will pretend this. And to say that any cause is sufficient to produce an effect, which it does not produce, looks a little like a contradiction.
Again ; You object to a future retribution by saying, “That Christ came into this world, to save us in another, is contrary to all the representations which are found in the scripture.”+ A few remarks will show, that this statement is hasty and unfounded. You will admit that Christ came into this world to save us from sin. But is this salvation effected in this world ? You will not even pretend it. You frequently assert, as we have already seen, that men are saved by the resurrection. But does the resurrection to immortality take place in this life? The absurdity of the supposition is manifest. So it is evident, that Christ saves sinners in a future state. Now if Christ does not save men in another state, some will not be saved at all. The heathen who never hear of Christ, cannot be saved by him in this world. They must therefore be saved by Christ in a future state, if they are saved at all. You must then give up your belief in Universal Salvation, or acknowledge that this objection has no weight.
Another objection to a future retribution is contained in these words—"If one sows grain in a field in NewEngland, it follows of natural consequence that the harvest will be gathered from the same field; but there appears to be no natural connexion, as between cause and effect, between sowing grain in this country, and gathering a harvest from it in Europe. St. Paul says, * Lect. p. 301.
4 Ibid. p. 14.