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wild aborigines of this country, are people who implore the protection and amity of the evil principle alone, because, say they, the good is ever disposed to befriend us, and therefore prayer to him would be unnecessary. So congenial to barbarians, and those unassisted by divine revelation, appears this philosophy, that it even affected the mythology of Greece and Rome. In those countries religion was the complicated machinery of policy and priest-craft.
A catalogue has been made of 30,000 gods of ancient paganism; as many of whom, according to heathen writers, possessed dispositions unfriendly to human happiness as otherwise. If they had their celestial, they had their infernal deities; and it was extraordinary, that this notion of two principles should give rise to that famous heresy among christians called Manicheans.
Now let us examine the consequences of this Pagan doctrine. "If there be two independent principles, and it be admitted that an eternal principle of evil hath existed aparte ante, as the schools express it, then there must exist an eter nal evil aparte post. For whatever has existed from eternity, does exist from necessity; and must continue forever to exist." Now as the evil principle must operate to an equal extent with the good principle, mankind will be divided under them,some being made eternally happy,and others eternally miserable. Thus the belief of an endless hell, grounded upon the belief of an eternal principle of evil, is natural and easy. From these false principles, and these only can it be rationally proved.
The Pagan, from his first principles, may conclude with reason, that the pains of the wicked will be interminable, but the christian cannot, because he is taught by divine revelation, that "there is one God over all, by whom, through whom, and to whom are all things blessed forever more."
It is well known that the doctrine of endless punishment, was generally believed by the Pagans at the time of Jesus Christ; and their opinion infected at an early period, the doctrines of the church, particularly when the christian religion was established by Constantine, the Roman emperor. And among other false doctrines, there was more eternal misery introduced into the church; which had been strongly opposed by Origen and others. But I will first go further back, to show more fully, that it was a doctrine generally believed in the Pagan world. I will begin as far back as the time of Timeus, a philosopher, who lived nearly 500 years before Christ. He wrote a treateis concerning the soul; and speaking upon the remedies of moral evil, recommends philosophy to men of good minds; but for those of ungovernable and perverse dispositions, "civil law," he says, "was invented which keeps them in fear, and applauds the poets for recording all those torments and those endless punishments that are said to await the shades of wicked men. Plato, (a philosopher who died 348 B. C.) taught that the wicked would be punished after death. Also, Zeno, (who died 264 B. C.) taught the same, though neither believed what they taught, for they believed the soul died with the body.
Polybius, an ancient Greek historian, (born about 200 years B. C. and died 82 years of age,) says, "If, indeed, one were to frame a civil policy only for wise men, it is possible this kind of institution might not be necessary." i. e. of any punishment here or hereafter. "But since the multitude is ever fickle and capricious, full of exorbitant passions, and irrational and violent resentments, there is no way left, but by the terrors of future punishments, and the pompous circumstances that belong to such kind of fictions. On which account, the ancients acted, in my opinion, with great judgment and penetration, when they contrived to bring in these notions of the gods, and of a future state of punishment into popular belief." Yes, most of wise men in all ages have considered the doctrine of hell and eternal punishment, nothing but fiction; to scare ignorant people into obedience; but it has never had the effect to make them in reality any better.
Lucretius, an ancient Roman philosopher and poet, (who was born in the year 96, and died the year 54 B. C.) observes, "that if men could be persuaded of a certain termination, or end to misery, they would rid themselves of the terror of priest-craft; but that eternal punishments after death are truly terrible, and afford no such opportunity." So thought the Pagans, and so think professed Christians of the present day. But I cannot see that the doctrine of eternal punishment among the Pagans had any effect in restraining them from vice, for they were almost, if not quite as bad as they could be; and it is not likely they would have been more wicked if they
had never have heard of it; especially if the truth had been preached to them instead of lies. Truth is in every respect always best.
Strabo, a great geographer and historian, (who died at the beginning of the reign of Fiberius,) says, "the multitude in society are alured to virtue by enticing fables of the poets; so likewise they are restrained from vice by the terrors which certain dreadful words, and monstrous forms imprint upon their minds. For it is impossible to govern women and the common people, or to keep them virtuous by the precepts of philosophy. Superstition is necessary, which is raised: and supported by ancient fictions and modern prodigies. Therefore, fables of the thunder of Jupiter; and of the snakes and torches of the furies, with the other terrible apparatus of ancient theology, were the engines which the legislator employed as bug-bears, to strike a terror in the childish imaginations of the mnltitude." And speaking of the Indian Brahmins he says, "that they had invented fables after the manner of Plato."
Ovid, a celebrated poet, (who was forty-four years old at the birth of Christ, and lived sixteen years after,) declares, "that no last hour shall be to the pains to which the wicked shall be doomed."
In the writings of Seneca, (who was unjustly put to death by Nero, A. D. 65,) there is an inquiry, whether the common opinion is actually true, that the guilty are chained in hell to everlasting sufferings.
Antiquity had her scheptics, as in the present day, who did no believe the common opinion of
such punishment, and that God would be angry at any of his creatures; and were rather inclined to belive the annihilation of the soul at death. than that it should be so punished; as says Epectetus, (a celebrated philosopher who lived about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem,) speaking of the soul at death, he says, "Whither do you go? No where to your hurt; you return from whence you came, to a friendly conscociation with you kindred elements. What was of fire in your composition, returns to the element of fire; earth to earth, air to air, and water to water." There is neither hell or acheron, coeytus, nor any thing. But the learned in general. held it to be a substance, and that it was from God, and that it would return to him: after men had suffered in another world, according to their crimes in this.
Much more might be quoted from the ancient heathen philosophers, but I think this is sufficient to show that eternal punishment was a doctrine believed by the pagans, except by the learned and wise, who in their hearts considered it a mere fable, though they countenanced the doctrine to keep in awe the ignorant, as they thought, they could not be governed by the principles of philosophy and reason.
Dr. Campbell, a celebrated clergyman and historian says, that the Jews from their intercourse with the heathen, learned the doctrine of hell and eternal punishment. "From the time," says he, "of the captivity, more especially from the time of the subjection of the Jews, first to the Macedonian empire, and afterwards to the Romans; as they had a closer intercourse with