« AnteriorContinuar »
conscious nothingness, had a desire rather to die than live, and serve Christ and his church on earth. And that this state of annihilation was being with Christ and better than living in this .world in the full perfection of that enjoyment, which Mr. B. calls eternal life. Or in other words, that annihilation is better than eternal life. And in order to find the way to the conclusion, that the words translated hell means no such thing, I must believe that words have no meaning, but what were given by inspiration. And I must insist on admitting no meaning to any word until I find a- -Thus saith the Lord-this word means so and so.
Further, if you will be a true Balfourean, you must believe that Christ was not compassionate enough for the occasion, provided there be an eternal hell, and you must build strong conclusions on his want of zeal for a dying world—that the apostles were not zealous enough, to prove that they apprehended any future punishment, for the unbelief of men. That though the belief of the future punishment of the wicked, should have wrought up the apostles to ten-fold greater exertions than they put forth in missionary enterprises, the whole business of missions now, for those who believe the same doctrine, is a contemptible affair. You must furthermore believe that there is no devil, and that the langurge of the Bible which speaks of such a being, means anything and everything, but what it seems to mean-now lust or desire--now Sabean and Chaldean free-booters-now the anger of Jehovah—now hunger, now flesh and blood, now the glory and grandeur of the world, now rigidity of the back-bone, now a secret purpose to betray Jesus, now a determination to execute this purpose, and last, though not least, the persecuting Jews. You must furthermore believe, that Universalism is the fruit of more thorough acquaintance with the Scriptures, of more patient examination, more abundant and better plied means of biblical instruction than exists in sects that are superstitious enough to believe there is a devil--in short, that the Universalists are the people and wisdom will die with them,
This system lays a grievous tax on our credulity in another quarter, requiring us to admit new and strange principles of interpretation. It every where assumes that it is enough to show that a word or phraze may have in some connexions the desired meaning, in order to prove that it has it in the case considcred. It cuts short the labor of applying acknowledged principles of interpretation, and from them determining what the writer means, but searches out instances without regard to connexion, where the word is used in the desired sense. For instance-it wants to prove that everlasting punishment is a something limited to this life, and it overlooks the piultitudes of cases where the word everlasting is used in the literal obvious sense, and finds a few cases where it is used in a metaphorical and limited sense, and thence jumps to the conclusion that everlasting punishment means a temporal punishment. So when it is attempted to show that paradise means the grave, and not a place of happiness for departed spirits, it is not even pretendeù inat the word is used in any author, sacred or profane, in that sense, but that there is a word in some of the Shemitish languages, enough like it to be its root. And that this word means “to separate," and that therefore the word means an enclosure, and therefore the grave. And whenever it happens that even such a method is impracticable—and one would think the cases might be rare-then without any exposition of roots, or any instances of a like meaning—we have Mr. B.'s assertion, that the word means so and so. See his comments on John 12: 48, the word translated judge. When the whole of Mr. B.'s leading principle of interpretation seems to be, that if by any process of torturing plain language, the desired meaning can be extracted from it, it is lawful and safe to do it. But if the laws of the commonwealth were interpreted after this manner, they could not be put in force. If the blackest offender were allowed to use the same quibbles in his defence, he could easily enough show that there is no law against him. We are required then to believe that the enactments of heaven are to be subjected to principles of interpretation, that would reduce to wreck and nonsense the plainest laws of the land,
Again, the true Balfourean must believe, that any quotations brought from the writings of any believer in future punishment to sustain any of the parts of Mr. B.'s system, are good and sufficient reasons for believing in the soundness of those parts. If among all that has been said by such a diffuse and fanciful writer as Adam Clark, or among all the wild assertions of Parkhurst, a name of no authority, an interpretation of a passage can be found that favors his scheme, it is the practice of Mr. B. to bring it forward, as if we were bound to receive it as inspired because it came from a believer in future punishment. No small part of Mr. B.'s books consist of quotations real and perverted, from the writings of believers in future punishment, with a design to make out that we must believe this and that, because such a man has said this and that. Ir. W. has made still more reliance on this kind of proof. And recently I have seen a notice in his paper, commending a forth coming work, which consisted entirely of compilations of such a sort, from such a class of works. So that we are to understand that this is a favorite method of proof with them. So then I am called upon to believe that as soon as all the parts of Mr. B.'s system can be made out from collections of all the foolish and erroneous interpretations, yea, from the scrapings of the nails of the thousands of orthodox writers, I am bound to receive them as the revelation from God. How would Universalism be able to stand before such methods of argumentation ? Suppose every opinion that was ever uttered by a man bearing the name of Universalist adverse to the views of Mr. B. were brought forward as good and sufficient reasons for disbelieving his system, how much of that system would be left? And yet Mr. B. supposes that what the learned Adam Clark has said in his wildest moods, no believer in future punishment is at liberty to gainsay. The admission of such a principle is not the least of the exorbitant requirements of the system before us.
Again, before Í can subscribe to the assertions and comments of this author, I must discredit the testimony of my own eyes, with regard to authorities on many essential points. I must for instance believe that it is “ universally allowed,” that the new heavens and the new earth, spoken of 2 Peter 3: 13, refer to the kingdom of Christ, in this world, and not any thing after death, when every author that I read on the subject; such as Scott, Dwight, Chalmers, Rosenmeüller, Storr and Fuller, refer the passage to the new heavens and the new earth, which are to emerge from the ashes of the present system. So of the passages in the Apocalypse, that speak of the wicked being tormented forever and ever, I must believe that “no well informed man urges them as proof of eternal punishment,” when I find writers as well informed as Edwards, Saurin, Scott, Dwight, Rosenmüller and Stuart, involved in the alleged absurdity. I must furthermore believe that Mr. B. has examined in a given essay, all the passages which are supposed to teach a retribution after death, when he has passed in silence the very passage whose language is of all the most full and unequivocal, i. e. “I saw the dead small and great stand before God,&c." I must believe that the word daimon which occurs in scores of passages, “is well known to have no reference to that being which christians call the devil,” and that all these passages are so irrelevant to the question of the existence of the devil, that they need no consideration by him who labors at disproof, though many of them are much relied on for proof. I must also believe that when he offers to bring under examination all the passages which are supposed to teach the separate conscious existence of the soul after death, and then leaves two of the most material passages out of his discussion of that subject, and then introduces them in another place incidentally but briefly, noticing their bearing on the first question just to save appearances -I must believe that such a method of breaking the force of scripture testimony, comports with fair and ingenuous reasoning, and with a proper treatment of the word of God.
This list of indigestible matter, might be much more extended, but this will serve as a specimen. The faith that can receive all this has digestive organs more powerful, than those of the ostrich. The rational mind that can call these things reasonable, when distinctly set before it, or that can read with approbation works in which such things appear, and not discover any thing out of the way, must be subject to an alarming obliquity of moral vision. The fact that these books are read as oracles by men of some intelligence, goes to prove what a wreck can be made of the mind, of the habits of moral perception, and of the moral sentiments, by pursuing the dangerous enterprise of wresting the Scriptures into coincidence with depraved desire.