Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

same tine, too just to let obstinate offenders go unpunished, and what he hath threatened is punishment proportioned to every man's evil deeds; 'consequently right reason must acknowledge the propriety and strict justice approve the infliction thereof. Harbour not the thought that your state can be no worse than it already is ; that, being already exposed to the wrath to come, however you may add to your offences, you can only be exposed thereto; for as that wrath will be measured out to you according to the number and magnitude of your sins, few cr many stripes, as you are more or less criminal; so, by every addition you make to your already accumulated guilt, you are heaping up wrath against the day of wrath, and preparing for yourselves a longer duration: of torment and misery hereafter.

The more inveterate any disease is, the longer and the more painful must be the operations by which it is eradicated: sin, like a disease, will continue to take deeper root, and become more inveterate in you, so long as you continue in the love and practice thereof; consequently, the longer you continue in sin, and the more you become habituated thereto, the longer and the more dreadful must your sufferings hereafter bę.

Consider how dreadful the wrath to come will be. Under the weiglt; of your sins, your consciences penetrated with guilt, your souls filled with the wrath of God, to be banished from the Saviour, whom ye now despise, and the blessedness of the saints, because you have preferred the pleasures of sin ;-to be cast into the lake burning with fire and brimstone, there to remain in the deepest tribulation and anguish, without the least alleviation of your pains, for a period, the duration of which is concealed from man;-to terminate your mad career of vice and folly in devouring flames. Can you think of this, and not stand appalled!

If God was unjust, cruel, or selfish-if he required any thing of you which was not for your good.mif he did not love you, and desire your happiness, you might have some pretext for your enmity and rebellion; but when you consider that he is your Creator and Preserver--that he is daily loading you with blessings--that he has prohibited nothing butwhat would be injurious to you that every thing which he has required of

you is for your good that he continues to love you, notwithstanding all your provocations--that, viewing you in your state of sin and wretchedness, he gave his son to die for you, and offers you

salvation freely in the gospel-that every part of his conduct toward you

hath been the effect of pure benevolence, and hath had your happiness for its object--I say, when you consider all these things, how can you help feeling the baseness of your ingratitude, and beivg penetrated with contrition for your sins? Why will you still despise the riches of his goodness and eompassion, and dare his awful displeasure? Why will you, with salvation sounding in your ears, and the threatenings of damnation before your eyes, rush heedlessly on. until you find yourselves in the abyss of misery? Then you may call, and he will not answer, you may seek himn early, but he will not be found of you.

Then

you must inevitably reap the fruit of your doings. Therefore " Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is yet neare

let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, let hiin return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. I pray God that this may be the case with every one who reads this Address.

R. WRIGHT.

REPLY TO THE VINDICATION

OF THE

LETTERS FROM THE WORLD OF SPIRITS.

TO MR. S. WHITCHURCH, BATH,

rk, I was,

DEAR SIR, IN perusing your vindication of the Letters from the World of Spirits, in the last number of this valuable

1 ess, not a little astonished to find some trifling obje£tions substituted instead of sound argument : objections in reality more calculated to amuse the reader in his retired moments, than to inform his understanding in scriptural truth. However specious this mode of arguing may appear to a superficial observer, I am well convinced, reason, that peculiar and distinguishing characteristic of the human species, possesses that decomposing or analytical power of separating truth from error, however artfully or skilfully they may be interwoven together. When once this process of ratiocination commences, error inust inevitably vanish, like a pyramid of snow under the solar influence. Empty declamation may indeed arrest the attention of the weak and ignorant, while, on the other hand, the more intelligent are to be wrought upon by reason' and argument alone.

You inform us, in the first place, that you did not think your letters

so repugnant to the letter of Scripture, as to become the subject of critical animadversion,” for it was only a fanciful performance.” And yet it seems strange, tliat you should prostitute so much of your time in defending so fanciful a performance, by endeavouring to make it appear in a rational point of view.

And here I must own the justness of your charge, viz. that I had claimed the victory before my opponent had notice of the commencement of hostilities. I ask your forgiveness for so doing; at the same time hope the former part of my letter will prove I did not" do it out of osteniation; therefore you may rest assured, when you produce argument, if I cannot answer it, I will own its power.

In the second place, you acknowledge that your letters contain, sentiments somewhat similar to those which I have described, viz. “ That disembodied spirits are not altogether unmindful of their friends in the body." But the manner iri which I have worded your

sentiment seems not to please you. Let your own words deterinine, whether I have not done you justice. " Permitted as we (disembodied spirits)

are, to visit our old habitations, and to hover about our old friends*." But let me ask you what design the Deity could have in giving departed spirits a view of the frailties of their relatives in this world ? Certainly to be witness of their innumerable transgressions, their various trials and difficulties, could never have a tendency to encrease their happiness.On the other hand, if they are beings capable of being affected by the misconduct of their friends, their happiness must, in some degree, be decreased. To make your hypothesis appear plausible, you next give a very energetic account of the powers of the human mind in this world. This I very readily adınit. But when you assert that we are permitted, after we depart this life, to reconnoitre in this world, I doubt your argumentation.

Your singular mode of rejecting the evidence of Solomon on account of his being a libidinous character, cannot fail of attracting the attention of every individual who has the least respect for oriental literature, as. the saine objection might be stated against the book of Psalms. David did not only commit adultery, but murder also ; and yet every Christian admits thein to be of divine authority. This book of Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon purposely to shew the vapity, of all earthly enjoyments, and to direct our pursuits to future objects; which appears clear by his conclusion of this book, where he says,

“ Fear God and keep his commandinents, for this is the whole duty of man; for God shall bring every work in to jucigment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.” Is this the language of a man in the flesh? Impossible! Again, our Saviour calls him great, when he says,

A greater than Solomon is here;" which evidently implies he was great, or otherwise the degree of comparison could not be formed: and yet a frail mortal dares step forward to dispute his greatness. Dear Sir, let me recommend you to read your Bible with more attention.

You assert also that Solomon's account of the state of the dead is exceedingly gloomy and melancholy, and the reason which you give is truly excentric.. Solomon, you inform me, makes scarce any difference between the human species and the brute creation, except that the spirit of the one goeth upward, and the spirit of the other downward. What other distinction is wanting? This is sufficient to satisfy any rational man that Solomon believed in a future state.

The promise of our Saviour to the thief on the cross you reverence, and adınit a state of happiness and misery may be deducible therefrom; if this be your opinion, let me ask you what idea you can form of a state without a place ? For my part, I can form none.

With respect to a place of slunberous inactivity, it entirely originates with yourself.

Again, you own the propriety of my remarks on Heb. i. 14. together with the justness of my reasoning on Mark, xii. 25. and on Luke, xx. 35, 36. but these must admit of mcre latitude-And for what reason? Because if they do not, your fanciful notion will be

* See Page 347

overthrown? I fear this is the case; for you have produced no argument to prove your assertions. And pray, on what foundation does your hypothesis stand ? on the Scriptures? Not a single passage have you produced to defend it; but should you be disposed to write again, I shall thank you to produce some.

You now notice the parable of Dives and Lazarus, and observe, “ If it be supposed to have a literal meaning, it certainly not only favours the locality both of heaven and hell, but the eternity of suffering.The parable says not a word about heaven; but Christ simply represents a case which took place in hell-hades, or the invisible world the receptacle for both good and bad spirits till the day of judgment. But before we proceed, let us enquire into the nature and design of a parable: an eminent author defines it to be thus, viz. “ To compare things together, to form a parallel or similitude of them with oiher things*." Let us take this idea to the parable in question. Our Saviour says, There was a certain rich man, and there was a certain

poor man; and, we are informed, these both died: he then gives us an account of what took place in the other world. This parable Christ uses to illustrate the following grand end, viz. That there was a sufficiency in divine revelation for the salvation of men—that no other means would be afforded them in this life and that those who neglected it would immediately after they left this world, go into a state of conscious misery, while those who obeyed it, would go into a state of conscious happiness. And in thus understanding it I can see no absurdities.

And now, Sir, to conclude, let me entreat you, should you answer this, to come to the subject, and prove, by fair arguments, that the passages I have produced neither favour my system nor discountenance your hypothesis. And for the present I leave the above to your and the reader's consideration, and hope you will pardon the freeness of my remarks, as I can assure you I still remain,

Yours in tne bonds of peace,

W. STEVENS.

[merged small][graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors]

REMARKS

ON

MR. FULLER'S ARGUMENTS.

SIR,

WILL you permit a correspondent, who trusts he is neither actuated

by a spirit of controversy, nor a desire of offering the incense of fiattery upon the altar of adulation to yourself, nor yet to " set down ought in malice" against Mr. Fuller, to offer a few miscellaneous'reinarks upon the controversy between you? Iam equally' acquainted with Mr. F. as with yourself, and know nothing of either, but what I have learnt from your respective writings: from them I understand that Mr. F. is a dissenting minister, and, from iny ignorance of his general conduct, "I have a right to believe, (and sincerely hope I am right in that belief,) that he is eminent for piety'and viriue, and most earnesily do I pray that thework of the Lord may prosper in his hands, and that he may hereafter ineet multitudes in the regions of bliss, who had been led to the consideration and practice of virtue, by his ministry-Brat in the controversy respecting limited or unliinised punishment in a future state it cannot have escaped the observation of impartial readers that; instead of following that example of candour and humility, of moderation and Christian charity, which your tetters exhibity he has been betraged, {perhaps from natural warmth of temper) into illiberal expressions, úncharitable censures, and ungentlemanlike behaviour. lostead of endeavoaring to reconcile contradictory passages of Scripture, by shewing how the whole 'may be anderstood consistenily and in unison with the known attributes of God, he has had recourse to the usual method of inválidating one part of the Scripture, by opposing another part to it, and seems more desirous of contending for what God has a. right to do, than what he has declared is this intention of doing.

It will not be disputed that God had an uncontrolable right to have left all mankind to suffer the consequences of Adam's transgression, that he was under no obligation to provide a remedy for the recovery of his fallen and rebellious creatures; but having done sd from the goodiess and benignicy of his nature, I apprehend that we are much inore concerned to enquire what he has graciously been pleased to dec'are is his intention of doing, than what he had an absolute right to have done, previous to, or independant of, those precious promises made in our favour 'The Calvinist believes that those promises were made only to the'élect, i. e. to a determinate number of persons, and. the rest left to perish; but how they can reconcile, this doctrine with those many absolute promises of universal redemption, I know not. Witli respect to future punishment, they agree indeed, that the same erms are used in Scripture to express the duration bath of happiness and anisery; and if the latter be not properly'eternal, the believer has no -VOL. IV,*** tising out ws: 11913 Iz Nino

« AnteriorContinuar »