« PreviousContinue »
my friends who are now present, and out of the church, to consider that you are in a dangerous situation; and will be ghosts in hell as long as God lives. If you do not belong to Christ's visible church, you are out of Christ, and have not the least hope. For if you are out of Christ you are none of his; and if you are none of his, you will never be saved. Consider how plainly our Lord teaches this, here in the third chapter of John, the third verse; Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Therefore if you have not been born again, you will go to hell, and be a tormented ghost, as long as God exists. For if you get into hell there is no escape from that prison; but you will have to stay there till you have paid the last farthing, which you will never be able to do. See the proof of this, here in Proverbs, the twentyninth chapter and first verse: He that, being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. Now if there is no remedy, they never can come out of hell; which is the strongest proof, that wicked men and devils will be tormented in hell, as long as the righteous are happy in heaven. And our Lord has plainly declared this, by affixing to punishment, an adjective of time, expressive of endless duration. And the same word which declares the duration of misery in hell, declares also the existence of God; as you may see in Romans, the sixteenth chapter, and the twenty-sixth verse,* where we read of the everlasting God. And it is known and acknowledged by all learned men, that the eternity of the torments of hell, is as fully set
As Mr. Lathrop professes an acquaintance with the Greek language, he is requested to turn to his Greek Testament and examine the verse immediately preceding the one he has quoted. There he will find the same adjective connected with chronois, times, but he will search in vain for any word in the English that looks like endless duration. The answerable English is since the world began, instead of everlasting times.—EDITOR.
No. 2. Vol. 1.
forth in the Bible, as the eternal existence of God: none but ignorant and unlearned men deny this truth. And Peter, you know, here in his second Epistle, last chapter, and sixteenth verse, speaking of brother Paul's writings, says, there are some things hard to be understood, which, they that are unstable and unlearned, wrest,as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Observe as they do also the other scriptures. But it is the ignorant and unlearned, those who are but superficially acquainted with language, that do not understand these truths. And your Lord has said, they are blind leaders of the blind; and in another place you are told, not to receive them into your house, nor bid them God speed -and Peter, in another place, says, they speak evil of the things they understand not, and shall utterly perish in their own corruption. Now if you follow these men, you know your portion; you must sink down to hell, and remain there with devils and the blackest characters, as long as God lives. It is possible there is no one here, but what will agree to these things; but if there is any one, who disagrees with me, he is requested to signify his objection, either directly or indirectly."
Mr. Lathrop took his seat in a pew; a respectable physician, of talents and college education, made some liberal observations, approbating, however, the discourse we had heard. The preacher then read the 84th Psalm, 2d part, commenting on each stanza, in as learned, lucid, and oratorical a manner, as he had on the scriptures. It was sung; when the writer of this article went to Mr. Lathrop, and asked him, whether he was willing to have a request made, before that audience, in relation to his observations? His reply was, 'The meeting-house is not mine; go to those who own it.' I observed to him that I should not have asked that favor, if he had not publicly requested a direct or indirect reply, from any one who objected to his statements. It was proposed by
the owners of the house, to close the meeting, and then give me an opportunity to speak. The following is my request :
I have no disposition, respected friends, to enter apon a disputation with the gentleman, respecting sentiments, or any thing else, at this time. But as he has positively and repeatedly stated, that none but the ignorant and unlearned have denied the doctrine of endless misery, and, that if any one present has an objection,he wished him to state it: and,as I do deny his statement, and pledge myself, if required, to prove the reverse; therefore, I request the gentleman to enter upon a written discussion of the subject, with me, at some future day, and I will engage to lay our writings before this andience and the public. I will give him my name and place of abode, if he will agree to write.
Mr. Lathrop replied, I profess to take the Bible for my guide, as to my practice as well as sentiments; and that says, they are blind leaders of the blind; let them alone-and that is all I will have to do with them,' and walked nimbly out of the house.
1. The first thing in this remarkable account, which demands particular attention, is, the applica tion Mr. Lathrop made of his text. Can any one persuade himself to believe, the preacher was sincere? Does he believe that the words of Christ, addressed to his Apostles and followers, while enjoying the gift of the Holy Ghost, are to be applied to the present church, without any limitation? If so, they can per form miracles as in apostolic times. Whatsoever the Apostles did, while under the direction of the Holy Spirit, was sanctioned in heaven. Those things which they bound men to perform, were required of them in heaven; and in giving forth the law of their Master, if they excused men from the observance of any sup posed duty, it was to be relied on as authentic, just, and right. But Mr. Lathrop teaches the church in Townsend, that even their errors are sanctioned in heaven. An innocent brother, if by them declared
guilty, is so recorded in heaven, and must suffer as such. But, will a God of infinite perfection, approbate a false sentence, and carry into execution the blunder of a corrupted church? So saith Mr. Lathrop. Unaccountable! Reader, look at this horrible picture. A really innocent brother be adjudged in heaven, as a criminal,because the baptist church made a mistake, and thought him guilty!! And what would one suffer who was really guilty, and, adjudged so by the church? Answer, he would be turned out of the church, and, consequently, out of heaven-for Mr. Lathrop says there is no salvation out of the church. And what else? Why, he says, that such an one would go to hell, and be tormented as long as God lives. Now, if the brother, who is really innocent, but adjudged guilty by his brethren, must suffer as though a criminal, then he must go to hell and be tormented forever! And for what? for a crime? No; but for this plain reason he joined a baptist church, and one of them accused him wrongfully, others testified against him, and the residue judged him unjustly, and God sanctioned their unjust sentence, and sent him to endless misery!!! Is this rewarding men according to their works? or, according to the mistaken judgment of an ignorant and superstitious church? But this is not all. If a real criminal comes before his brethren, under an allegation, and by craft and suborned witnesses, deceives them, and they acquit him, Mr. Lathrop says he is loosed in heaven, and none can alter it. Hence the real rogue will enjoy all the advantages of his brethren, by whom he is loosed from a just charge, and bid welcome to heaven. This is the doctrine of the Church of Rome, improved. The pardon of crimes, according to Mr. Lathrop's divinity, costs no money. The risque of undergoing an examination is all that is required. No is that very great, especially if the accused brother or sister, is possessed of considerable property, and is pretty influential in the church; as has been
evinced of late, even among those to whom Mr. Lathrop was preaching. Marvel not, my friends, at the conduct of Roman Catholic Priests! I challenge you to find one, this side the Atlantic, that will exceed the statements made by our Baptist priest. He inhales the spirit and doctrine of the Mother Church. Nor can she find fault with her son, if teaching, that a vote of a Protestant church, will send a good man to hell, and a villain to heaven, is agreeable to her creed!! If Mr. Lathrop has any explanation to give of his meaning, different from his positive and dogmatical assertions, we shall be ready to hear him, and reply with candor.
2. Was the preacher sincere in applying the part of his text, which spake of prayer, to that church without limitation? If any two of you shall agree, it shall be done for you, &c. His conduct appears singular, for a new-born creature. One of two things are evident; either no two of that church agree, in praying for peace and union, or their prayers are not heard. For, painful as it is to relate, a more contentious and disunited people can rarely be found. They have just had some before the bar, and especially one elect lady, their justification of whom, has offended many. Can no two agree long enough, to pour forth an ejaculation for harmony and good will? If they could, and Mr. Lathrop's word should prove true, and an answer be granted, the whole vicinity, yea, town and county, would be filled with rejoicing and gladness.
3. What does the reader think of Mr. Lathrop's assertion, that none but ignorant and unlearned men have denied the eternity of hell torments? Is there one who soberly believes the statement? I presume not. Does he believe it himself? To speak charitably, is he so ignorant? It is impossible. In the judgment of charity, he must have a higher rank. He is either to be pitied or blamed; pitied, if thus ignorant-blamed, if he knows better, and means to de