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Hell is a state of discipline or probation. 2. That means are there used for the purification of condemned and wicked spirits. 3. That the design of these means is to prepare the souls of the damned for heaven. 4. That, in every instance, the means will be effectual for this purpose.
Without wishing to prejudge the argument arising from these particulars, we must say, that if these constitute the doctrine of the Scriptures, it does to us appear very unaccountable, that nothing should have been heard of them from any of the Ancient Divines until the time of Origen, who flourished in the third century, and is said to have been the first ancient writer who maintained the opinion of the “ restitution of all things;" (?) that they made no progress until the German Baptists arose, some of whom, before the reformation, propagated them, as did also the Tunkers, their descendants, in America; (3) that these things have been “hidden" from the “wise and prudent,” the humble and the pious in all ages of the Christian church;-that the Bible has been a sealed book to those, who by profound erudition, philological acumen, laborious research, patient investigation, humility of heart, unbiassed judgment, candour of mind, religious enjoyments and love of truth, were most eminently qualified to ascertain the meaning of the sacred records on these momentous subjects;—that the light of Truth has been so long, so deeply, so universally obscured by clouds of error, that, in ages remote from the present age, it scarcely shone, as a solitary star amid the surrounding gloom,-and, in later periods has but dimly illuminated the darkened horizon of the religious world; and, that, at the present day, with all their sincerity--their amiability-their high-toned piety-heir noble and philanthropic Institutions their zeal and knowledge and usefulness--their aimings at the Divine Glory and amelioration of the saddening, miserable
(2) Vide PANTALOGIA, sub voce ORIGEN. (3) See EvAN's Sketch.
condition of suffering humanity-with their Souths, their Pearsons, their Barrows, their Henrys, their Watts, their Doddridges, their Wesleys, their Whitfields, their Adam Clarkes, their Richard Watsons, their Robert Halls, and other numerous Divines, who shine as stars of the first magnitude in the bright and glorious galaxy of Theology -The Religious Public are generally abandoned to the greatest errors on subjects, of all others, the most important in themselves, and the most intimately associated with their everlasting well-being ! To us, we are free to confess, the absurdities involved in the belief of such a state of things, as above supposed, are so palpable, so monstrous, so incredible, that we cannot but reject, with consummate aversion, the system by which they are generated; and earnestly request the Teachers and advocates of Universalism, seriously and impartially to read the following passage, taken from the Second Chapter of the Second Epistle of Peter~" But there were false teachers among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you : whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. For if God spared not the Angels that sinned, but cast them clown to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness to be reserved unto judgment ;-The Lord knoweth how to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.”
SCRIPTURES CANNOT CONTAIN CONTRADICTORY DOC
TRINES—THE FUTURE STATE OF PUNISHMENT,
The foregoing Chapter, among other things, required the Universalists to prove four points, essential to the maintenance of their doctrine :-on which points, we now intend to bring the Scriptures to bear, and, from them show how utterly upsupportable are the propositions in question.
Before entering upon the discussion of the subjects before us, let it be premised, that as our appeal in this controversy is to the Scriptures-for we have no arguinent with the person who denies the authenticity and inspired character of the Scriptures—the SCRIPTURES themselves cannot contain contRADICTORY DOCTRINES. “What is, is; and it is impossible for the same thing to be and not to be" at the same time, is an axiom not more true than that the Word of God cannot contain doctrines, which are plainly, positively and diametrically opposed to each other. If the contrary of this be maintained, where, we ask, is the rule of right-the standard of truth-the balance in which to weigh our opinions--or the authority to
which we may subject our faith and practice ? In fact, if the contrary of the above be maintained, we must yield up our Bibles into the hands of deriding Deists, or scoffing Infidels, as a book, full of inconsistencies, and unworthy the credit of any reasonable man. But other views, than these, have we of the Sacred Volume :-it is divinely inspired-perfect Truth without mixture of Error-and consistent and harmonious in all its parts. " All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine for reproof, for connection, for instruction in righteousness : That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." % Tim. jii. 16. 17.
Now the doctrines of future limited punishment and future eternal punishment, are in direct opposition to each other; both cannot be true, nor can the Bible contain them both ; and one or the other must of necessity be false and anti-scriptural. Hence, if, on examination, we find the doctrine, of a strictly ceaseless punishment inculcated in the Bible, then it follows as a natural consequence, that the doctrine of a limited punishment is both false and anti-scriptural.
With these observations, we now address ourselves to the examination of the four points previously stated. · First Point. Is the future state of punishment a state of Discipline or Trial ?
To this question we unhesitatingly append the most unequivocal negative. Our reason for so replying is briefly this
The Seriptures are not only silent as to this being the case but contain passages at utter variance with the doctrine of a future slate of trial :-the contrary doctrine, therefore, must be true.
The following propositions are self-evident and require no proof;— The present, christian dispensation cannot be the last merciful dispensation, if another, in which
mercy can be obtained, will succeed it:-Again. The fram ture state cannot be a state in which mercy can be obtained, if the Scriptures decide that the present Christian dispensation is the last in which mercy can be obtained : le the future state be one, in which mercy CANNOT be obtained, then it cannot be, to condemned spirits, a state of discipline or probation :- Our answer to the question at issue will be justified, if we can show from the Scriptures that the present, Christian dispensation is the last in which mercy can be obtained :-Finally-If this be our only state of probation, and, if mercy can alone be obtained in this life, then, is the doctrine of the Universalists in fearful hostility to THE TRUTH or God. · Without fear of contradiction from any student of the Bible, we assert that the Scriptures uniformly represent the present, christian dispensation, as the last dispensation in which mercy can be obtained. . This is evident from the following parable of our Lord. - There was a certain Householder which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: and when the time of the fruit drew nigh, he sent his servants to the husband. men, that they might receive the fruits thereof. And the husbandmen took his servants and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants more than the first; and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his Son, saying they will reverence my Son. But when the husbandmen saw the Son, they said among themselves, this is the HEIR; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance, and they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard and slew him.” Matt. xxi. 33-39. That by the “Son” here mentioned, our Lord meant Himself is evident from his application_" Did ye never read in the Scriptures, :be slone which the builders rejecled, the