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L ETTER VIII.
My Dear Sir,
Your attention is now invited to some incidental arguments in proof of a future retribution. By incidental arguments I mean those which naturally arise from the history of our religion. I mean those indisputable facts which were never designed as evidence in this controversy, but which settle the question beyond all dispute. To my mind they are clear and conclusive, and of themselves, sufficient to establish the truth of my position. I could extend the number almost indefinitely, but my limits will permit me to illustrate only five of the most important.
I. My first incidental argument in proof of a future retribution is drawn from the history and character of our Savior.
1. Suppose you should send a universalist missionary to a colony who believed in a future retribution. Suppose you should select your most talented, best educated, most respected preacher. Suppose you employ him for the express purpose of declaring to them what
you consider essential truth in relation to the condition of mankind beyond the grave. Suppose he should enter upon his ministerial labors with zeal and animation. Suppose however that during the first year and a half he should not allude to the doctrine of no future retribution, which he was expressly commissioned to proclaim. What should you think of the man? Should you not affirm that he was unfaithful to his employer, unfaithful to the cause of truth, unfaithful to his heavenly Father? You certainly would. Now apply this illustration to our Savior. You believe that he was sent by the universal Father to be the redeemer of mankind. You believe that he was divinely commissioned to proclaim the everlasting gospel. You believe that his preaching was almost wholly confined to the jewish nation. You believe that this people with the exception of one sect believed in future rewards and punishments. You believe that Jesus declared to them the gospel, the whole gospel and nothing but the gospel. Now did he ever teach them that their belief in a future retribution was erroneous? No. Did he ever teach them that a perfect retribution took place in this world? No. Did he ever teach them that there would be no rewards for the righteous and no punishments for the wicked in a future existence? No. Did he ever teach them that all would be happy when they entered the next conscious being?
No. I answer all these questions in the negative, and I speak with great positive
For if any such instructions could have been found in the scriptures they would have been printed in large letters on the title page of all your publications. I challenge you or any other person to mention one single text which contains either of the ideas described. Now you
admit that the divine Savior knew what would be the future condition of the sinful and holy. If then
your doctrine of no future retribution be true, must you not regard him as unfaithful, unfaithful to the Father who gave him his commission, unfaithful to the cause of truth, unfaithful to the souls of his hearers, since he made no mention of the fact during his whole ministry? You must if you would preserve consistency and judge him by the same rule you would apply to your missionary. Yes, you must admit, either that Jesus was unfaithful, or that
doctrine of no future retribution is erroneous, or that it was not considered of sufficient importance to be once mentioned. There is no other alternative. You may take which side of the dilemma you please. For my own part I have no hesitation in expressing my honest convictions on this question. And consequently I affirm, that if your doctrine of no future retribution be true, I must regard our Savior as unfaithful to his high office; my trust in him as an infallible teacher is destroyed. On the other hand, if the doctrine of future retribution be admitted, his course appears wise, consistent and faithful; and he becomes worthy of unlimited confidence.
2. Suppose your missionary should appear to his hearers to teach distinctly, future rewards for the righteous and future punishments for the wicked. Suppose he should use the same words and phrases which they employed to express their belief in these sentiments. Suppose they were perfectly satisfied with his teachings in relation to this subject, and regarded his views as sufficiently orthodox in this particular. What should you think of his conduct? Should you not affirm, that he was acting a deceitful part, in thus attempting to make his hearers believe that his opinions on this question were in union with their own; when in reality they were directly the opposite, and when he had been expressly commissioned to proclaim the doctrine of no
future retribution?. You surely would.
You surely would. Now apply this illustration to our Savior. His hearers believed in future rewards and punishments. They used certain words to express their belief on this subject. ' Jesus knew that these words were employed and understood in this particular sense. Still he freely used them. He plainly and unequivocally declared, that the righteous should be rewarded in ouranos or heaven, and that the wicked should be punished in gehenna or hell. The passages
in which these words occur have already been quoted; and it has been satisfactorily shown that his hearers understand the former to imply future happiness, and the latter future misery. He gave no intimation that in his mind a different meaning was attached to the words in question. They never expressed the least dissatisfaction with his instructions on this point. Now had he so much as intimated that there would be no future retribution, you may rest assured that they would have raised an outcry which must have been heard to this period. He left the distinct impression that the prevailing opinion of his nation on this topic was correct. Now if he did not agree with them in sentiment; if he knew there was to be no future retribution; did he not act the part of a deceiver? Was it not gross deception to make them believe that he held to the doctrine of future rewards and punishments when he did not? Certainly. If you are consistent you must admit, either that the divine Jesus was guilty of glaring deceit, or that your belief is erroneous. no other alternative. Take which horn of the dilemma you please. For my own part I have no hesitation in expressing my honest conviction on this point. I therefore affirm, that if the doctrine of no future retribution be true, I must consider the Savior to be guilty of deception, and consequently unworthy of trust. But if
the doctrine of future rewards and punishments be correct, then his course appears wise, consistent and instructive; and he becomes entitled to our warmest confidence. I suppose you
that the Jews believed in demons, and that our Savior used language in accommodation to their prevailing sentiments. In answer I would observe, that he taught great truths respecting God which were designed to root out all minor errors on this question. He assured them that our heavenly Father regulated the minutest events of this world, even the falling of a sparrow, and consequently there would be no work left for evil spirits. But all his instructions are specially adapted to confirm their belief in a future retribution as a fundamental truth of all true religion. So that an objection of this kind can have no force against my argument.
3. Suppose some of the hearers of your missionary should ask him the following question. Reverend sir, do you
think that the number of those is small who shall be saved?” Suppose he should answer in these words: *My friends, use your most persevering endeavors to secure your own salvation. Be assured, many will expect to enter the heavenly kingdom who must be greatly disappointed. Nor is this all. Ye yourselves shall see Luther, and Zuingle, and Socinus, and Arminius, and Wesley, and other worthy reformers in mansions of happiness, while some of you shall be cast into darkness and despair?” What should you think of such a declaration? What should you say of his conduct? Should you not charge him with falsehood? Should you not affirm that he had uttered what he knew would leave a false impression upon the minds of his visiters? You surely would. Now apply this illustration to our Savior. When he was on earth the following conversation occurred. w One asked him, master, are there few who shall