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To where the Isthmus, lav'd by adverse tides,
Atlantic and Pacific seas divides."

Sometimes, beyond this diurnal sphere,

It wings its way to distant worlds of light,
Eeyond the farthest ken of Herschell's sight,
Alights where other peopled planets shine,
And contemplates some nobler race divine t."

Retreating to remote ages of antiquity, it presents past transactious to the view it dives into the teeming womb of futurity, sees the happy fulfilinent of promises yet unaccomplished, discovers a new order of things arise out of the present seeming chaotic confusion, views the entire subjection and counplete restoration of all lapsed intelligences, when Christ shall deliver up the kingdom to the Father, when he shall reign, whose right it is, and when God shall be all in all.

And shall one particular spot in the universe confine this aftive principle, this mind, this spirit, this soul, this image of Almig'aty God, after it regains its liberty? Impossible! But all this, you may exclaim, is fanciful sentiment, and the vagaries of a wild and bewildered imagination. Be it so. I will now venture with you on sacred ground;. I will now come to the law and to the testiinony.

You first quote Solomon, Eccles. ix. 5. as militating against my hypothesis. But give me leave to say, Sir, that liis account of the state of the dead, is a very gloomy and melancholy one indeed, and since “ life and immortality hath been brought to light through the gospel,'' such as no Christian ought to subscr be to. It favours the comfortless doctrine of annihilation more than that of any other system. In chap. iii. 18-21. inap is compared to a beast; and the only distinguishable difference between them is, that the soul of the one goeih upward, and that of the other goeth downwards; and from all that is written on the subject of departed souls in this celebrated book of Ecclesiastes, it

may not be unfair to conclude, that this royal proprietor of three hnndred svives and seven hundred concubines had much more knowledge of fleshe than of spirit. I therefore take the liberty to reject his evidence altogether.

You next introduce the consolatory promise of our Saviour to the dying thief. I reverence that testimony, and most chearfully acknowlege that" a greater than Soloinon is here;" but whilst I admit that the belief of a state of happiness and misery may be deducible therefrom, I do not allow with you that the passage militates against iny hypothesis, and that the departed souls of the righteous shall go into a place of confinement and slumberous inactivity.

I cannot altogether withhold my assent from the propriety of your remarks on Heb. i. 14. respecting the-mission of the angels, and the justness of your reasoning on Mark, xii. 25. and on Luke, XX. 3536. for it is possible that our Saviour, in the two last mentioned passages,

Falconer's Shipwreck.

t Universalist's Miscellany, vol.ii. p. 198,

principally intended to force upon the minds of the Sadducees not only the belief of a future state, but the spiritual nature of it. However, I cannot conclude that the subject will not admit of more extensive Latitude, or that our Saviour's observations thereon warrant you in pronouncing the sentiment 1 hold respecting the state of departed souls “ to be a fanciful notion, and by no means warranted by the authority of revelation."

I shall now take some notice of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, which you represent as militating against the subject of your animadversions ; and indeed, to a superficial observer, and one who places much reliance on hu.nan expositions and the comments of fallible men, the passage of Scripture 1 allude to might appear to rise in forundat de hostility against the sentiment I ayow : however, it inust first be determined whether this parable should be understood in a literal or in a figurative sense. If it be supposed to have a literal meaning, it certainly favours not only the locality of both heaven and hell, but the eternity of suffering. If you admit of its bearing a literal construction, through what mazes of difficulty will you have to penetrate, and what mountains of absurdity will you have either to cut through or 10 climb over? How could Father Abraham have heard the petition of his supplicant so far off? And what a keen and penetrating eye must the wretched sufferer have been provided with, to have seen Lazarus in the mansions of the blessed? For, according to the absurd notions of the Jews, who placed hell in the centre of the earth, and. believed it to have been situated under waters and mountains, and who acknowledged three heavens; first, the aerial heavens, where the birds fly, winds blow, and the showers are formed; secondly, the heaven or firmament, which they supposed to have been a solid and extended vault, where the stars are disposed; and thirdly, the third heaven, or heaven of heavens, the place of God's residence, the dwelling of angels and blessed spirits I say, according to these absurd notions, which should ever accompany the literal meaning of the parable, how was it possible for the poor condemned spirit, thus shut up in the prison of hell, to have witnessed the happiness, and beheld the occupiers of heaven?

But let us reject the literal meaning altogether, and consider the parable in a figurative point of view, all difficulties immediately vanishi, and do absurdities can possibly obstruct that instruciion which our Saviour meant to convey-He, divine instructor! did not come to improve men in the wisdom of this world—he did not come to give people juster notions of the universe, or to teach them astronomy or the use of the globeshe came, all coinpassionate as he was, to seek and to save such as were lost he came to instruct the ignorant, to relieve the miserable, and to heal the diseased he came to reprove the wicked and the proud, to commiserate the unfortunate, to publish the glad tidings of his ever blessed gospel to the poor, and to those who were ready to perish he came, like his owo good Samaritan, to administer relief to the

and wounded traveller of this world, while the overbearing and regular clergy of that day, deaf to the calls

weary

of humanity, and regardless of their proper duty, passed by on the other side. He did not enter into pice speculations he did not controvert false systeins and preconceived notions, however absurd they might have been, except when such systems and such notions happened to clash with that pure morality which he taught and practised, and those pure and simple ideas of the way of salvation, and of the nature of Deity which he inculcated, or unless they proved inimical to the spirituality of that worship which Jesus recommended, and which God requires. And in the parable under consideration, we find him, in compassion to their limited understandings, give way to the confined ideas which the Jews had of the invisible world, and thereby pointing out to them the certainty of a future state of rewards and punishments; and that the merciless rich man, who shutteth up his bowels of .compassion, and does not evince his love to God by loving his neighbour, and relieving the necessities, and administering to the wants of his indigent brethren in this life, shall, in the next, '

most assuredly meet with that just proportion of punishinent due to crimes of such magnitude: whilst, on the other hand, the virtuous and suffering poor man, who in vain solicited assistance from the proud and cruel of this world, shall, in the next; be as much exalted as the other is dehased; or, in the language of the parable, one shall be comforted while the other is tormented."

Thus, Sir, I have endeavoured to prove that the passages of Scripture you have quoted do neither establish your system nor discountenance any hypothesis; and more than that I am not solicitous to prove; how far I have succeeded let others determine.

I have now to apologize to our friend the Editor of this valuable mịscellany for the prolixity of my letter, and to assure you, that, notwithstanding our apparent hostility of sentiment, I remain, in the bonds of peace, and in the love of the truth,

Yours respectfully,

S. WHITCHURCH.

BATH.

LETTER VI.

TO MR. A. FULLER,

CONTAINING

SOME REMARKS ON HIS NEGLECT OF THE SUBJECT;

ALSO, AN ANSWER

TO THE FIRST PART OF HIS FOURTH LETTER.

SIR,

THE want of health, with a variety of other circumstapces, have

hitherto prevented my attention to your fourth and following letters.

: . In the close of my last lengaged to shew wherein you have, as yet, been ignorant of the subject in debate, or at least bave nat attended to it, in any thing you have yet written.

In my first and second letters to you, though I did not then draw out the heads of the controversy in a formal manner into propositions, yet I stated that the subject consisted of the following parts.

1. The words connected in Scripture with future punishment, as eternal, everlasting, ever and ever, &c. which I conceive do not convey the idea of endless duration. See U. M. No. I. p. s.

II. The declarations and promises in the Scripture, which I conceive. do convey the idea of an Universal Restitution.

U. M. No. I. p. 8. III. That the whole revealed oeconomy of God towards fallen men, is mediatorial, in Christ Jesus: and that it is contained within the ages of Christ's kingdom, which, itself, shall come to an end. , U. M. No. I. p. 10-11.

IV. That the Scripture character of God is expressly against the doctrine of endless misery. U.M. No. II. p. 44.

How you have, as yet, attended to any of these, a perasal of what you have written will shew.

Your letter in the Evangelical Magazine for September, 1795, has not the smallest reference to either of them. This made me observe, in my first letter to you, that the inquiry is not whether endless punishment is in itself just or not; but whether God has, any where in his word, threatened any description of sinners with it. I invited you then to come to the proof of that point, which, as you, liave not done, your questions, though enforced and re-enforced, have nothing to do with the subject. I might therefore have justly been excused from any attention to them, as they left the grounds of the con iroversy untouched. For, how improper is it to talk abou: the justice of a punishinent, before we have enquired what that punishment is; 10 talk of the genius of a doctrine before we have enquired about its iruth;—and to represent a man as a coadjutor of Satan in. biz labours, while, for all that yet appears to the contrary, he may be doing the will of God!

In your first letter in U. M. No. XXXII. you just notice the word everlasting, but say little more than that no force of language can stand before my mode of criticising upon it., P. 232.

Your second leiter, No. XXXIll. exhibits hardly any thing but your own mistake about annihilation.

Your third, in No. XXXIX. is taken up with a re-enforcement of your former questions, or other trivial matter, equally distant from the subject. And then you conclude by saying I have not yet answered what you .

have written !!! You begin your fourth letter by saying, that you have not yet stated your grounds of belief for the doctrine of endless punishment. I have above proved that you have not yet opposed the grounds of the Universal Doctrine, and you now confess that you have not yet stated the grounds. of its oppesite. What then have you been doing, Sir, in all your formet letters? It appears that nothing has yet been done by you to any purpose.

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I am happy, however, at any rate to get you to a point. You now state the principal grounds of your own belief. Let these be examined. In doing which you reckon, All those passages of Scripture' which describe the future states of men in contrast. No. XXXIX. p. 99.

Here you bring forward a great number of Scriptures : you consider these

passages as designed to express THE FINAL STATES OF MEN" But why so? There is no one passage of all which you have quo:ed that expresses this: of which, indeed, you seem conscious; for instead of resting this conclusion upon any positive testimony of these Scriptures, you are forced to have recourse to inferential reasoning, and that also upon grounds that will by no means be granted; for, ist. You

say, the state of the righteous, which is all along opposed to that of the wicked, is allowed to be final: and if the other were not the såme, it would not have been, in such a variety of forms, contrasted with it; for it would not be a contrast. Here

you

have taken two things for granted which I think you ought to have proved, viz. that the state of the righteous, as expressed by these Scriptures, is final: and that if the state of the wicked be 'not final, it would not be contrasted with that of the righteous.

If the former of these assumptions be ever so true, yet you ought not to have thus reasoned upon it till you had proved its truth, because it is one of the disputable things between us. I long ago observed that there will arrive a period when the mediatorial reign of Christ will end, according to i Cor. xv. 24-28. If the mediation of Christ will end, it is reasonable to suppose that the rewards and punishments of men, to apportion which will be a part of his mediation, will end also.

You could not, therefore, but know that the final state of tlıe righteous was not, by me, allowed to be expressed in any of the passages which you have quotest, that stand opposed to the state of the wicked, as I consider that all rewards and punishments belong to Christ's kingdom. Therefore, you should not have brought forward this argument till you had shewn, or at least, had attempted to have shewn, that I was mistaken in my idea of the foundation and duration of future rewards and punishments. Again, how does it appear that “ li the state of the wicked were not final, it would not have been, in such a variety of forms contrasted with that of the righteous;" you say

66 because it would not be a contrast." I understand you as ineaning that there can be no contrast formed betwixt things which are not of equal duration; for this reason--because there cannot! I confess I am neither satisfied with the assertion, nor with the doughty reason by which it is supported; but it is no part of my business to dispute either of them, as my argument does not require it. For I contend that the state of the righueous, as expressed in contrast with that of the wicked, is not final: and it may appear, upon further examination, that the state of the wicked may not be final neither. Whether the final state of the righteous, may not be elsewere expressed, and taught on other grounds, I shall consider hereafter.

VOL. IV.:

3 H

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