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it is understood, is inconsistent with the literal import of the descriptions of future punishment. Of the organization of the soul and of its spiritual body we know nothing, except that it depends not on animal attractions or is not subject to the laws of flesh and blood. This negative knowledge affords assurance, that the same modes of pleasure and of pain will not prevail in both states of existence. Bodies differently constructed and under the control of different laws, are not susceptible of the same sensations from the same causes. Fire occasions pain by its chemical action in varying or disorganizing the structure of the animal system, which process cannot be predicated of a spiritual body which is immortal and consequently indestructible.
4. The same forms of description are employed in reference to the dead before the resurrection while in an unembodied state. "The rich man also died, and was buried, and in hell he lifted up his eyes being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame."
Here almost every particular is enumerated, which enters into the descriptions of future punishment. The rich man in hell is represented as possessing the members, passions and sensibilities of a material body and as subjected to the action of a material element. But he was not in a body, either animal or spiritual, whence the representation is evidently figurative.
5. If the language of the sacred writers in reference to the sufferings of hell are literal, they are contradictory. This remarkable passage in St. Mark is inconsistent with itself;- And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." The points of discrepancy are the worm that Rever dies and the fire that is never quenched, circumstances which cannot co-exist. The description in the text is equally decisive. "Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." This gives a horrible picture of the lonely and dismal condition of lost men. But if it is literally true, if they are actually
in darkness, how can other phraseology applied to future punishment be explained? A world lighted up by everlasting flames cannot be a place of darkness. It is thus that we infer that descriptions of heaven are figurative. In one place God is represented as dwelling in light unapproachable and full of glory, and in another as making darkness his pavilion. These accounts are in the letter contradictory, but in their real import harmonious. They mean only that He cannot be seen and fully comprehended. Thus the various and apparently irreconcilable accounts which we have of hell, appear perfectly correct. They are only intended to teach that the place is extremely miserable and appalling.
III. Although a literal account of the nature of future punishment is not given, we partly know in what it consists from the properties of the human mind.
1. Lost men will be harassed with discontent. The love of happiness is inseparable from their nature. While beholding the blessedness of heaven and feeling a total deprivation of the means of enjoyment, they will be tormented with ungratified desire. Dissatisfac
tion with existing circumstances and fruitless wishes for a change which they cannot enjoy, will keep them in perpetual irritation. There can be nothing tranquil and serene where there is nothing to allay vexation, and where every thing to excite it abounds. To be where all bad principles, where all unholy feelings burn and rage without restraint, where they are all inflamed by a sense of want, and of ignominy, and by a view of the blessedness of heaven, in which spirits originally of a nature like its own are exulting in perfect holiness, will deprive the soul of tranquillity and contentment, and call every angry passion into exercise. Envy, hatred and revenge, which were once in their infancy and only excited at intervals, will gather strength from free indulgence, and exasperation from the poverty and despair of its circumstances. Its desires can never be satisfied, its malice never accomplished, its revenge never satiated. Such turbulence and dissatisfaction, the reality of which is fairly inferred from the nature of the mind, will undoubtedly contribute to the miseries of lost men.
2. Recollection will awaken the anguish of unmingled self-reproach, of the most bitter regret
and of biting remorse. remember its abused sabbaths, its stifled convictions, its broken vows, its vicious practices, its half formed resolutions of amendment, its neglected bible and slighted opportunities, with shame and dismay. Every moment, which recalls such acts of folly and guilt, will be replete with anguish. Then light will fall on each step of probationary existence. Sins before unsuspected or forgotten, will flash on the mind. The justice of God will be relieved from suspicion. The soul will not doubt that mortal life was short, its joys mean and its concerns trifling, in comparison with the interests of an endless existence. It will stand in amazement at the folly which for the honor, ease and pleasures of earth provoked the wrath of God and forfeited heaven. It will not recall one event or act of life on which to reflect with satisfaction. The past will only flash on the mind to keep open an eternal wound. Endeavor to picture in imagination a being cut off from friendship, from peace and pleasant occupation and confined in dismal abodes, with no employment but meditation on past existence, and that existence replete with events, at the remem
The wretched soul will