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peared in 1830. Though he avoids naming me, or the Inquiry in them, it is obvious enough to all, they were written to counteract the effect, which the Inquiry had produced on the public mind; and also, what I had written in my second Inquiry, on the words rendered everlasting, and forever, in our common version. We replied to these essays, in a series of letters addressed to Mr. Stuart, which were published in 1831. He has not yet made any reply to them. Here the controversy for the present rests.
Before Mr. Stuart's essays appeared, we supposed he must have something new and powerful to produce: that the Inquiry. would receive a full and fair reply, and that I should see in what my error consisted. But we are entirely disappointed; for like all the preceding attempts to refute it, the principal facts and arguments are passed over without any notice. Indeed, many of Mr. Stuart's statements, confirin the views advanced in the Inquiry. We begin to suspect, no respectable reply can be made to it, which will prove, that Sheol, Hades, Tartarus, or Gehenna, designates a place of endless misery to the wicked. We have too high an opinion of Mr. Stuart's understanding, to think, that he considers his essays deserving the name of an answer to the Inquiry. We have never heard of a single intelligent man, orthodox or otherwise, who thinks his essays a reply to it. But we have heard several express a contrary opinion. If the book then is not unanswerable, we may say, it yet remains unanswered.
We have now a word or two to say, respecting this third edition of the Inquiry. In every material respect, it is the same as the first and second editions. The only alterations deserving notice, are the
following. All the texts under Sheol, Hades, Tartarus, and Gehenna, are arranged and considered, in the order they occur in the Bible. But the arguments and explanations are for substance the same as in the preceding editions. We have perhaps somewhat improved them from Mr. Stuart's essays. When we have dissented from him, we have quoted his words and remarked on them, or referred to our reply to his essays, where our remarks are to be found. Some slight alterations in the arrangement of the matter, in a few other places have been made; and some new matter has been introduced. But all the facts and arguments, and indeed the whole substance of the work, remains the same. We have seen nothing, nor have we been able to think of any thing, which alters the views we have expressed in the Inquiry. After all the attacks which have been made upon it, its foundation remains unshaken, and its pillars and posts unbroken. They have only tended to show, the solid foundation on which the views advocated in the Inquiry rest; and ought to excite my gratitude, to the men who
have made them. Without these attacks, I might have gone down to my grave doubting, whether I might not, after all, be mistaken in my views. It would be almost sinful in me now to doubt their correctness, considering the character, talents, and standing of the men, who have tried, but failed to point out my
No doubt, many will still think, I am greatly mistaken in my views. Well; perhaps I may be mistaken. But what would such people have me to do? Not surely to renounce my present views, until I am convinced by scripture facts and arguments, that they are wrong. If they believe me to be in error, why not make a further attempt to show this? My eyes are not closed, my ears are not dull of hearing, nor is my heart, I trust waxed so fat, but I shall attend to evidence drawn from scripture, to convince me of my error. Let my blood then, be on the head of those, who condemn me for my error, yet refuse to furnish me with scriptural evidence, that I am wrong and they are right in their opinions.
Because all past attempts to refute the inquiry, have been fruitless, I do not say, but it may yet be done. My earnest desire is, that it should be accomplished, if it can be done. What profit can it be to me to continue in error? I have attended with serious care, to all the attacks made on the inquiry, but so far from convincing me that my views are unscriptural, they have strongly confirmed me in their correctness. Whether this arises from obstinacy in error on my part, or weakness on the part of those who made these attacks, let others judge. My own opinion is, the views I have stated are the truth; for if they had been false, the talents and learning of the men, with whom I have had to contend, would long before now have exposed them. If my views have not been refuted, no one can say now, it was only because dwarfs attempted it. Who is a greater giant among orthodox people, than Professor Stuart ?
We have heard it repeatedly observed, allowing all the texts in the Bible were laid aside, which speak of Sheol, Hades, Tartarus and Gehenna, the doctrine of endless punishment can be established from other texts. Well; if people are sincere in making this observation, why not lay all such useless texts aside, and support the doctrine of endless punishment from these other texts ? But, does Mr. Stuart and others pursue this course ? No; he knows too much to adopt it. He well knows, that if the texts which speak of Sheol, Hades, Tartarus, and Gehenna or hell, are abandoned, the whole foundation of endless punishment is broken up, and no other foundation can be found for it in scripture. Mr. Stuart holds fast to this, as his last and only hope of safety, for the doctrine of endless punishment. Give up
the texts which speak of hell, and every man, woman, and child, would question the truth of this doctrine. Tell them, hell is not a place of endless punishment, or of any punishment in a future state, and their resentment would be roused to indignation, against their religious teachers, for so long imposing on the public.
The time has now arrived, when people will inquire into the truth of the doctrine of endless punishment. Pulpit declamation, against the doctrine of universal salvation, has lost its effect; and the terrors of an endless hell, frighten very few, except the weak and ill informed in the community. Seeing people are disposed to investigate this subject, let not the believers in endless punishment, now attempt to hush the subject to rest. We entreat them to bring forth all their strength, if they have not done it already. Truth can never lose anything, by free, amicable, and candid discussion.
Some good people, have a great aversion to all religious controversy. But how can this be avoided, so long as people differ about the true sense of Scripture. Shall we sit down contented, believing that endless punishment, and the opposite doctrine are both true ? Had the reformers deprecated all religious controversy, no reformation could have been effected. Yea, had the Scripture writers declined all controversy, the truth of God had long ago' been banished from the earth. The Bible is full of religious controversy, for God's truth, in all ages has been at war with error, in the various shapes it has assumed. It had to contend with Paganism, Judaism, and other systems of religion, ages ago. In modern times, the various Christian sects havé their religious controversies with each other; and even persons belonging to the same sect, have their religious discussions. Have not the Unitarians, and those called orthodox, had lately their religious controversies? Have not the Presbyterians, and the Congregationalists also had their controversies? And is not religious controversy, now going on among the orthodox people, in this very region. But what are the points discussed among them, compared with the one discussed in the following pages—is the doctrine of endless punishment true ? All other controversies compared to this, are like the small dust in the balance. Every other controversy ought to cease, until this question is settled. And if settled, that endless punishment is unscriptural, it would put an end to many other controversies which exist. It would at least produce better feelings, among many professed Christians towards each other.
Religious controversy to be sure, proves our imperfection in knowledge. But it only becomes a serious evil, when we indulge our own evil passions in conducting it. But let us study
to avoid this, and ever remember, that the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. We ought to contend earnestly, but not bitterly for the faith once delivered to the saints. It is pleasing to observe, that in our day, religious controversy is conducted in a much better spirit, than in former years. The spirit of the truth, seems to have more influence over the mind in contending for it, and we hope, is one of the signs of the times, that all sects are making a nearer approach to the unadulterated truth of God taught in the Scriptures.
To conclude. The Bible contains the whole of my religion. To this book I have appealed for the truth of my opinions. If any one should deem it proper, to make another attempt to refute the Inquiry, I beg of him to confine his attention to this book. An appeal made to the later Jewish writers, can never settle the questions at issue. To abridge the discussion as much as possible, I propose the following mode, of bringing it in the shortest way to a close. Let the text or texts be selected, which are supposed the strongest in the Bible, in proof of the doctrine of endless punishment, and let them be fully and fairly examined. If but one text teaches this doctrine,
I am made a convert to it. Whoever then thinks, the bible is full of the doctrine, let them make the best selection of texts they can, and come forward with them for discusion. If alive and in health, we shall attend to the evidence which may be produced, for what saith the scriptures is the grand question with us in all our investigations?
AN INQUIRY, &c.
Words are signs of Men's ideas, and were used as such by the inspired writers, as they must be by every man who speaks and writes to be understood. To understand their writings, it is necessary to ascertain what sense they affixed to their words, and this we can only learn, by consulting Scripture usage of them. That men have attached ideas to some Scripture words and phrases, which they never meant to convey by them, will not be denied. That this is not the case with the words Sheol, Hades, Tatarus, and Gehenna, which we propose to examine, ought not to be taken for granted.
ALL THE PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE CONSIDERED, IN
WHICH SHEOL OCCURS, TRANSLATED PIT, GRAVE, AND HELL, IN THE COMMON VERSION.
The idea which most Christians have attached to the word hell, is a place of eternal punishment for all the wicked. Wherever they meet with this word, it