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ABSTRACT

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THE CONTENTS.

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As far as it is God, as truth,

1. Truth, though imperfectly seen, must be good. perceived, it must be known by its effects. 2. known by His works and word. To know Him, we must be conformed to the truth. Our part to seek Him. One God, one way of approaching Him. The belief that He is of infinite goodness; this the only basis of true religion. When sought as such, (i. e. as the highest object of love,) sure to be 3. found. If Christianity be true, we must pass through it. No doubt can be raised on it, but as inconsistent with God's goodness, and that only on one point; in all others, the God of Nature and Christianity are the same. That point Eternal Misery in hell. An interesting question, Is it part of Christianity? 1st view, Does it pervade the system? 2d view, Or rest on insulated texts? This enquiry pursued through the 4. New Testament. The doctrine rests on two texts. Several texts, "hard to be understood" whilst the "scriptures are wrested," pointed out as intelligible on the removal of this doctrine. It next considered as practically useful, and shewn to be greatly injurious, as preventing the knowledge of the true God. The natural immortality of man not to be proved from 5. scripture; therefore assumed to maintain this doctrine. The words on which it rests. Doctrine not to be established thereon; Saint Matthew omits these words when relating others used on the same occasion. Grammatical difficulty. These and all others removed by employing as a paraphrase our Saviour's own words on a similar occasion. Christianity the one thing needful to bring man to the knowledge of God. It vindicates on all points the Divine Goodness, and realizes God's presence to all who seek Him,

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6. Truth and happiness-Error and misery. So with respect to our relation to our fellow creatures. How much more so with respect to God. The knowledge of God the perfection of our nature. Mistakes, then, so far as they prevail, obstacles to our perfection. To remove them, the most blessed employ. To impart knowledge, proof of our own riches. Although a bold attempt, if honest, justified by the glorious nature of the 7. prize. Is it expedient to attack the doctrine? If part of Christianity, not so. But that is the question. If it is, it must be consistent with the divine attributes. The only proof 8. of God's goodness is His diffusing happiness. To give eternal existence, knowing it would be miserable, cannot be reconciled to His goodness. We cannot hurt God, only ourselves. His goodness has forbid that. Can His goodness cause us to 9. do it eternally? Objection-Can the existence of misery at all be reconciled to infinite goodness? Answer---If good preponderate to each individual; not else. Existence always a blessing, as derived from God; when it ceases to be so, He resumes it. The power to disobey necessary to moral agency. 10. The more perfect, the less likely to disobey. God's goodness not infinite, if the happiness of mankind had been withheld, because not perfect. Existence a blessing in this life; not so in hell. We cannot be said to believe in His goodness, if we think he causes ninety-nine out of every hundred of His creatures to be eternally miserable. God's justice cannot be vindicated, unless punishment is proportioned to crime. This 11. impossible when the one is finite, the other infinite.

of infinite evil in sin," an absurdity in some writers. Can be no sorts of infinite. It is continuing in goodness only that can make our happiness infinite, that is, eternal. So continuing to do evil only can make our misery eternal. We have not power to do so without God's permission. What He permits he causes. Threats can operate no further than understood: 12. to be infinite, then, must be in vain. God does nothing in vain. Infinite means fail of their object. It being impossible to know the extent of eternal punishment, it cannot be man's duty to know it; it cannot be God's will with respect to him. No one will deny the necessity of proportion in human laws. Are they more perfect than divine? A law, to be a law to any individual, requires that he should be capable of understanding it. We cannot understand what the intellect cannot

Page 13. conceive. Practical illustration. The modern destroyer, whose every act was a crime, for every breath a year of torment, six hundred millions of years enough for him. How then can six hundred million times as much be due to every sinner, aye, and more? Is not ascribing this to God blasphemy? All God's attributes centre in wisdom, or that which is best. His acts must be that which is best for every individual. Can that be Eternal Misery? Being found inconsistent with the divine attributes, what marks of truth has it? 14. Several points proposed, and answered in the negative. The proof of these proceeded on. The love of God, the first and great commandment. In order to it, we must view Him as our benefactor. We cannot love one from whom we expect evil. As this doctrine prevails, love must fade. If their existence is infinitely evil to ninety-nine out of a hundred, how can we love its Author, and love our neighbour as ourselves? But 15. we practically know that God is love. Knowledge, then, exIcludes the doctrine. A. faint sketch of the evils it threatens. These evils only evitable by supposing it to be true in some sense we do not understand, which is giving up the common 16. construction. The same test applied to the punishment really threatened: it approves itself where the other fails. The one as certainly brings to, as the other alienates from, God. The fear of Eternal Torments can only prevent crimes: no action founded thereon will reach to Heaven. It does not minister 17. to salvation therefore. Excellent persons, who have held the

doctrine, have been influenced by respect for the scriptures, and fear of removing a restraint on sin. The author admits the force of these motives, and professes to feel them. Strange fruit of Almighty love. If not believed, yet God's power is able to restrain sinners. Certainty of punishment more effec18. tual than severe enactments. Jurymen violate their oaths to modify excessive punishments. Will not sinners raise doubts where the disproportion is undeniable? To doubt of eternal punishments causes a doubt of Christianity, if the one be included in the other. To doubt of Christianity leaves man mortal. Believers only have eternal life. And not even those who knowing God as good, attempt to imitate Him, but 19. reject Christ. Considerations that account for the indifference to Christianity of the largest part of professing Christians. The belief that they are immortal, and God good, conceals

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their danger of destruction. "The whole need not a phy20. sician." Perfect love casteth out fear. Perfect fear casteth out love. The greater our danger the less our love, then, because the more fear. Proof that God is love to all His creatures; even in causing sinners to die. Who loveth most? He to whom thou forgave most; not he who had most reason to view God as dooming him to Misery Eternal. Hope, the milk of love, the infant's food. Fear poisonous, yet useful as 21. medicine. This doctrine may prevent sin. So may palsy in the limbs. Like that, it restrains the act and leaves the desire; "but he that looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery in his heart." This doctrine may restrain, but cannot excite the love of God. All knowledge of God does excite love of Him. The question involves God's relation to the greatest part of mankind for the greatest duration. The true opinion must be knowledge of God; if knowledge, it must excite love; if it does not, it cannot be true. If necessary to morality, it must be generally believed; else morality subsists without it: if generally believed, then 22. crimes would cease. Then it is not believed: then morality, such as it is, subsists without it. Although we may love one who we think chastises us for our good, we cannot the author of Eternal Misery. Man would not be worse, except so far as now religious, which the great bulk are not. Fear of offending God so far as to lose Him, is my principle. as cruel and inexorable, necessary to this doctrine. Those who wish to retain this doctrine, must consider it as desirable in itself on the whole; yet all its advantages in human life, even if it have any, would be too dearly obtained by devoting one human being to Eternal Misery. The state of a man's mind at death determines his future fate; then the insensibility that attends a course of sin, which is the quitting of the Holy Spirit, and gradual death, alleviates the punishment it ought 23. to aggravate. If eternal sufferings attend sin, the first step which is the least deviation from right, but performed with the utmost consciousness of sin, will cause more sufferings than a series of actions when brutalized by practice. This intelligible on one scheme, but not on the other. See our Lord's enumeration of that which defileth a man, Mark vii. 22. The end of all is foolishness, or the loss of that which distinguished him as man. View the sinner sinking deeper and

Fear of Him,

Page deeper in brutality, until the last glimmer of spiritual life is 24. extinguished. Of various senses, that must be chosen which harmonizes with the rest of scripture; especially if nature The laws of nacoalesces therewith and rejects the others. ture and Christianity prove their common origin by identity of result. Both lead to the knowledge of God. Our appetites, our faculties, and our moral relations, each subserve to the perfection of our nature, and prepare us for God's presence: it is the right employment of these, by virtue of the spiritual life Christ offers to us, that procures us immortality. 25. All the duties of life have an immortal tendency: well per

formed they make us more like God, and so fit us for His pre26. sence." Every idle word God will judge." This proved. Immortal life growing within us only when we act from a desire of pleasing God. A moral demonstration against the doctrine. It is man's duty to desire God's will to be done in all things. That which is his duty, he must be naturally capa'ble of performing. Man is incapable of desiring that the majority of his fellow creatures should be eternally miserable in hell. Then it cannot be his duty to desire it. Then it cannot be God's will. The same actions, performed on this principle, and any other, bring us to immortality, or remove 27. us from it. This shewn of alms-giving in various instances.

Intention to please God, the only certain rule of action: wanting that, our actions want the principle of life, and therefore are sin, (i.e. are contrary to the Divine will,) the end of 28. which is death, to which the multitude tend. Nothing is pre

served longer than it produces the effect for which it was created; therefore, when the knowledge of God is lost, de29. struction cannot be far off. Experience, then, confirms that 30. "strait is the gate," &c. No truth in scripture is more un

questionable than this-that the scheme of man's redemption proves the love of God to man. From the fall to the advent it is always spoken of as "good tidings of great joy, that shall 31. be to all people." The reverse of this is true to the great majority, if sinners are restored to their lost immortality as sinners. Satisfaction for the sins of mankind cannot have increased the penalty infinitely. Death the threatened penalty. 32. Various concurring proofs of this. Life to those only who by grace love God, from Adam till the end of the world. Zeal not according to knowledge when the whole is sacrificed

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