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As a writer observes, that "believers in endless misery might with as much propriety say, that the law of God, given from Sinai, threatens endless misery to every man who wears long hair, as to say it threatens endless misery to any of Adam's race." And as there was no such law given then, nor never before; it would be most unreasonable that there should be any such law for sin under the gospel, for reasons which I have before briefly stated. More might be stated, but it will be best for the reader to examine and consider for himself, whether I am not right in stating as I have done, that there has never been any law given, recorded in the scriptures, that threatened eternal punishment for sin, which, if he cannot find any such law, which I am sure he cannot, he must then give up the curel doctrine of eternal misery in toto.
The advocates of eternal misery, must acknowledge that it was preached but very little, if at all, for above 4000 years. Eternal, or everlasting punishment for sin, is not once mentiontioned; and it is a truth, that in the present day there is more said in a single sermon, than there is in the scripture fron the beginning to the end; or that there is more preached about hell and everlasting punishment, now on one sabbath, in one hour, than there was preached in 4090 years. And there is something farther that may be taken into consideration; that is, the more wicked people are, the more warnings they have had of the consequences of their sins and wickedness. And although they were much more wicked in the course of the 4000 years than they are now, at least in our part of the world, or in America.
yet there was not so much said, even as limitarians erroneously construe several texts about going to hell, and being damned forever, as there is often said now in half an hour or less. As says a late excellent writer, "This silence of the apostles respecting hell, could not be because the people in those days were all so very good, that they did not need to be saved from hell. No, the whole world lay in wickedness around them, yet not a word is said of the torments of hell to alarm their fears, and turn them from sin to God. No calculations were then made, as in our day, of the numbers who were daily and hourly going down to hell to suffer eternal misery.* No, nor was there such a variety of schemes adopted by the apostles to raise funds to save men from hell as we see resorted to in our day. As they expressed no alarm about the vast crowds going to hell, so we do not find them expressing their joy because they were saved from it. They deeply grieved to see men living in sin, and their spirit was stirred within them to see whole cities given to idolatry; but they never assert that all such were on the road to hell. They had great joy to see men walking in the truth, and often congratulated them on account of their being saved from their former course of life, but not a syllable escapes them, that such persons had been saved from hell or endless misery. You search the scriptures in vain to find a single instance where the apostles make any attempt to work on the fears and feelings of men by giving terrific discriptions
*See p. 137, 140.
of hell, or the horrors and howling of the damned. As they never held up the torment of hell to make men Christians, so we never find them using it as an argument to induce Christians to love and good works. The latter are often reminded that they formerly were idolaters, working all uncleanness with greediness to induce them to holiness, but where do we find a word said of their being saved from hell, as any inducement to it? In view of these things, how are we to account for them, if they believed hell to be a place of eternal torment for the wicked? Can it be possible that they did believe this, yet preserved such a dead silence on the subject? This silence is an indisputable fact. To account for it is above my comprehension."
From the past examination of the scriptures from beginning to end, and from all the observations that have been made, it is most certain. that no law has ever been given that threatened eternal death or punishment for sin; and no such punishment for upwards of 4000 years, was ever taught by Jews, Christians, prophets or apostles.
I will just mention another inconsistency and gross absurdity. The advocates of an eternal hell, do not pretend to quote from the old testament, to support, their favorite doctrine of eternal misery except only two or three sentences which have no reference to any thing but the grave or state of the dead; but from the laws of Moses, or any thing previous thereto they quote nothing; but it is almost altogether from a few passages in the New Testament on which they ground their doctrine of eternal misery. Now reader, consider how absurd it is to think to find
a law that threatens eternal punishment for sin in the Testament, and under the gospel, that was never known nor heard of before.-(I have mentioned this subject before, but it is of importance, and worth considering again.) Then, certainly all the wicked who lived before, could not be subjects of eternal punishment, or any punishment in another world; for how unjust would it be to punish people for the transgression of a law that had never been given them, or of which they had no knowledge; therefore, none could have gone to hell before Christ. We read that life, (eternal life,) and immortality, is brought to light by the gospel, and according to the foolish doctrine of our opponents, hell and eternal punishment, is also brought to light by it.
Christ came to inform mankind of that which they never heard of before, that eternal punishment would be the consequence of sin. Then all who lived before, were under an infinitely milder law, than those who have lived since. Thus, the gospel is so far from being good news to the world of mankind, that it is the most awful, and most terrible news that had ever been heard before!! My God! what inconsistencies and absurdities result from this abominable antichristian doctrine of a hell and eternal punishment. It would require a large volume to describe all the contention, the quarreling, in short all the evil and misery it has caused in the world. If it had not become a popular and fashionable doctrine, and had not been heard of in our day more than in the Old Testament times, and a person was to begin now and preach hell and eternal punishment, he would be considered a mon
ster, and his doctrine most horrible; and would; no doubt, be opposed by those who now oppose universal salvation. For mankind in general are not led by reason, but by education, fashion and custom; and believe, or profess to believe, that which is most popular, and most to their inter
Now, some readers may wish to know, that if the doctrine of a hell and eternal punishment for sin in another world was not taught by any of the prophets, Christ, nor his apostles, from whence did it originate, as it must have had a beginning, and been believed and taught by some people at some time? This is a very natural and reasonable enquiry.
In answer to which, I will briefly state, (as the limits of this work will not permit me to be lengthy, neither will it be necessary,)
The origin of the doctrine of eternal punishment.
It is well known, that the heathens or Gentiles at, and long before, the coming of Christ. believed in two eternal principles; that is, good and evil ever waring against each other, and neither fully prevailing, that man had liberty to be governed by which he pleased, and that those who chose virtue,should enjoy endless happiness; and those who chose and adhered to vice, should ever remain under the power of evil, therefore would be always miserable. On this doctrine of two eternal principles of good and evil, the absolute eternity of sin and misery, may be easily