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expected day, the dying sinner has often been induced to "make a clean breast," by confession; and that ill-gotten hoards have been wrenched from the hands of avarice and extortion-but what then? Have the robbed and the oppressed been benefited by these fits of remorse? No such thing; they have served for the founding of churches, or of convents, or for the enriching of ecclesiastics, but rarely indeed have they brought reparation to the injured. On the other hand, what a fearful engine of mischief has this doctrine proved in the hands of wily priests! with what terrific phantoms has it peopled the dreaded future! And how dense a darkness has it shed upon man's dying hour! Often, and often, by its eans, has the ghostly counsellor at the bed of death, wrung the fears of the dying man the savings of a life of industry, ought to have gone to his widow and her orphan children. with such frequency has this case transpired, that it has and necessary by enlightened legislators, to make, by uests of this nature invalid. Wicked men averse to pipe of a judgment after death! Not they indeed; they ough to "put the evil day afar off:" the cheek of the s blanched with dismay, and the prayer of agony is lips, when his storm tossed vessel seems on the gulfed in the troubled element beneath him but sad, he laughs at his fears, and blasphemes the without compunction.
is to be no judgment after death, my friend may be dispensed with! its main business being, prepare men against that event! There is a marIween us, then, upon this point. I hold the main busine the bible to be the preparing us for this life-its duties, and Severin and to reconcile us to its sorrows by revealing the joys that us in another-it tells of God, and of ourselves— of our relations to him and to each other-and it shows us that a conformity to the obligations which these relations impose, presents the surest prospect of happiness. How many of mankind, I pray, are prepared by the bible against a future day of judgment?
3rd. He quotes us the poet, who in a strain of extravagance which prose would never countenance, calls the fancied era of the judgment, the
"Great day, for which all other days were made."
I must think that the Creator was poorly employed if he made all other days for the sake of such a season of ruin, confusion, madness and misery, as we are apt to imagine that day of judgment will prove! It is little short of blasphemy to charge him with so flagrant an outrage upon justice and benevolence. Truth is, that however this doctrine may serve to furnish images of terror and grandeur to the bard, it will illy endure the investigation of sober inquiry.
4th. The main argument from reason for a future judgment, is, that providence is not just in its present dispensations! Such is really the substance of the argument! It is pretended that a suitable distinction is not maintained betwixt the righteous and the wicked. This is a grave charge against the Governor of the universe; and, if true, I should doubt his disposition to administer its affairs at any future time more justly than he does at present. Convince me that my maker can do what is wrong, or omit to do what is right, at one time, and I shall at once despair of his doing otherwise at any time! Now the nature of the case would be materially altered, if it could be made to appear, that from these present irregularities some great and glorious result should ensue a result consistent with the eventual good of the entire mass of his creatures; but a mal-administration of affairs which shall issue so disastrously to millions of millions, cannot by any sophistry be vindicated; nor can we ever rationally expect the interests of the governed to be safer in the same hands.
But tell me now, ye who can look over the world with an eye of candid observation, are not the distinctions of condition betwixt the good and the bad, as broad as are the distinctions of character? You must, at least, acknowledge that the latter are not as wide as the difference between unending bliss and unending woeyou must even allow, that if it were attempt
classes from each other, it would be difficu
SAP measure which the common doctrine of a judgment after death contemplates!
We see not, as sees the all-seeing God: he saw Montezuma, for example, suffering under the cruelties of Cortez: perhaps also he had oft seen others suffering under the cruelties of Monteza, and in that case the sufferings of the latter were but a ju measure of retribution. "But Adoni-bezek fled and they pued
him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and es. And Adoni-bezek said, Threescore and ten kings, meir thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their my table: as I have done, so God hath requited And they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died." 7.) Yet we are told that men are not judged and shere; for if here, why again hereafter?
And not Charles XII. Cromwell, and Napoleon, have been mere scoues in the hands of providence? Many wise and good men have so regarded them, and with the evil they each did, much good was accomplished also. Governor Hastings may have been a tyrant or not: he has been differently, oppositely, represented. Supposing he was, and that God shall eternally damn him, agreeably to the Indian princess' requirement; will his damnation repair the wrongs he did in life? or will its only purpose be revenge? But then, another difficulty occurs; agreeably to the doctrine under review, the victims of the tyrant are as liable to unending woe as is the tyrant himself! Still another, after despatching his victims to hell the latter may have himself repented and gone to heaven! I see not, then, if even there shall be a judgment after death, how it is to repair the evils of life, or make amends for the mal-administrations of providence during time!
5th. It is commonly supposed that we go at death immediately to heaven or to hell: this being the case, where is the necessity for a general judgement? Is it to enable the Omniscient Being to review his former decisions? May he have committed mistakes which this rejudication will enable him to correct? Or is this first commitment to the prison of the universe upon a suspicion of guilt. merely, and the business of the judgment to refute or confirm that suspicion ? A more solemn mockery than this same fancied judgment was never conceived. A pageant, suitable enough as a subject of poetry, or of popular declamation,
but how absurd; yea ridiculous, (sublimely so, however,) when the infinite Jehovah is represented as collecting around him the people of a hundred centuries, that, either he may correct his mistakes, or convince them that he has made none! Really, for plain and honest prose this is most insufferable stuff!
6th. But let us to the scriptures and carefully attend to their testimony upon this head. It is not to be doubted that they speak of several days of judgment, and hours of judgment also. It was the day of judgment to the old world when its destruction came upon it. It was Sodom's day of judgment when it was destroyed by fire from heaven. Peter evidently speaks of the time of the latter visitation under this appellation, for he adduces the facts of Lot's deliverance, and the overthrow of the Sodomites, as an evidence," that the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished." (2 Pet. ii. 9.) And the same writer speaks of a day of judgment which was at hand when he sent his epistles to the churches: "for," he saith," the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God, and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God." (1 Pet. iv. 17.) Even Dr. Clarke admits this as referring to the retributions then impending over the Jewish people.
And now, my hearers, notice well the following passage, which identifies the time of the judgment with that of the introduction of christianity. "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him who made heaven and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." (Rev. xiv. 6, 7.)
My friend's indirect proofs of a general judgment require, I think, but a glance, in order to their turning out no proofs at all. The first of them is a threat against such cities as should refuse to receive the apostles of Christ." "It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah, in the day of judgment than for that city." Is it not too manifest for argument, that nothing more is here meant than that in the time of visitation, it should go harder with that city than it had with Sodom and Gomorrah? The
latter were destroyed at once; whereas the destruction of the former should be protracted and complicated: it should be besieged, its supplies of food and water cut off; famine and pestilence should stalk within its walls, and an unsparing foe should
direct against it the missiles of destruction from without. The next passage contains a denunciation against Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum; which places had been eminently the theatres of his teaching and miracles. They are threatened with a severer fate than had overtaken Tyre and Sidon: the period at which this fate should come upon them is termed "the day of judgment." It must be evident that this judgment was temporal, from the fact of its being compared with that which had befallen other cities; but the punishment of the places which had received, without accepting, the offers of the gospel, was to be greater than that of the others, because of their having sinned against greater light: but still we are not to suppose that Christ brought into comparison things between which there could be no proportion, and, therefore, as the lesser judgment was temporal, so also should the greater be.
The only indirect proof yet remaining is Jude, 6. I confess I am not clear as to its meaning, but still I am even with my opponent in this respect, for he can know no more about it than I do. It is usually assumed that the angels here mentioned are spiritual beings that the habitations they left were seats, or mansions, in heaven; and that "the judgment of the great day" means the event contended for in the affirmative of this argument. These airy assumptions have, in human creeds, assumed the form and substantiality of facts! Such occasional obscurities are fortunate God-sends for the popular theology, they serve it as retreating places from the rapidly spreading light of true biblical philosophy.
Before passing on to my opponent's direct proofs, I will briefly notice the argument founded on the definite prefix, the, (instead of the indefinite, a,) as connected with this subject. Unfortunately for this argument, it has no foundation in the original Greek there the article is en, indefinite; not ho, definite: "en hemera kriseos,” a day of judgment: this is almost uniformly the form of the phrase, and this materially alters the face of the argument. And even were the form of the phrase as my oppo