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in most things as their brethren. But in order to obtain promotion to office and to retain their posts of honor and emolument, they are frequently guilty of artifices, maneuvres, subterfuges, changes in opinion and conduct, which are not tolerated in the christian code. The same proceedings in any other concerns of life they would condemn without a moment's hesitation. They manifest a want of political integrity, and in very many instances their course deserves no better name than moral obliquity. But for all this they do not seem to experience any great compunctions of conscience. They do not consider that there is a right and a wrong in every thing. Their knowledge of duty is limited. When convinced of this they are doubtless more or less troubled with remorse and anguish. Can you say then that they are rewarded according to their deeds? As the operations of conscience depend so much on a proper understanding of the laws of your nature, there can be no perfect retribution in this world.
What then is the testimony of conscience on the question in controversy? You have seen that conscience sometimes rewards for wickedness and sometimes punishes for righteouness. You have seen that she often becomes deadened through the influence of crime, and that her operations depend much on the moral sensibility and enlightened understanding of the individual. Consequently she cannot render unto every man according to bis deeds. Is not my sixth argument unanswerable?
But, my dear Sir, I must draw my long epistle to a close. The arguments I have imperfectly illustrated are but a mere specimen of what might be stated did my limits permit. If what I have said should convince you that even in one instance, either the sinner was not sufficiently punished, or the righteous not fully rewarded, or that the same deed had not received the same penalty or benefit in different individuals, my cause is gained. I trust however the facts I have advanced must convince every candid mind that the righteous are not always and equitably and fully rewarded on earth; and that the wicked are not always and equitably and fully punished in the present existence. If you are not satisfied with this conclusion on the first perusal of what I have written, I beseech you to read over again the separate arguments, and determine in your own mind as in the presence of an omniscient judge, whether
you can furnish any fair answer to the evidence in a single instance. If
pursue this truly honest and independent course I have no fear of the results; for I cannot see any way in which a person who is governed by preponderating proofs can resist this testimony of undisputed facts. And what is the legitimate inference from my conclusion? Simply this. If there is not a perfect retribution in this world, there must be rewards and punishments beyond the grave, or God is not a being of infinite justice. Can the justness of this inference be avoided?
My Dear SIR,
You believe there will be no retribution beyond the grave for the conduct of the present life. You believe that the righteous will not be rewarded hereafter by the righteousness which they have here acquired. You believe the wicked will not be punished hereafter by the wickedness which they have here committed. You believe the future condition of mankind will not be effected by the characters which they have here formed. Now I consider your belief on this question thoroughly erroneous. I contend that there will be a future righteous retribution. I believe the righteous will be made happy hereafter by the righteousness which they have here acquired. I believe the wicked will be rendered miserable hereafter by the wickedness which they have here committed. I believe a perfectly just and equitable distribution of rewards and punishments will take place hereafter according to the deeds done in the body. In proof of the truth of this belief I now appeal to your common sense. My limits will permit me to notice but a few of the most common arguments of reason,
I. My first argument for a future retribution is drawn from the common consent of mankind.
1. Suppose mankind had generally believed that there would be no future retribution. Suppose they had believed that all would be made happy at their entrance upon the next conscious existence. Suppose this had been the belief of the savage and the civilized, the ignorant and the learned, the heathen and the mahometan and the jew. Above all suppose that christians from the days of the apostles to the present hour had defended this faith? Would you not affirm that this common opinion of all ages and nations presented a very strong argument in favor of the doctrine of no future retribution? To this question you will surely return an affirmative answer. Not only so.
Suppose a new sect had arisen within the present century who denied the correctness of this common belief. Suppose they contended that a perfect retribution did not take place in the present world. Suppose they also believed that the consequences of our present conduct would extend to the next existence ; and that every individual would hereafter be treated precisely according to the character here acquired. Suppose they defended a just and equitable distribution of rewards and punishments. Suppose the members of this party were few in comparison with the whole body of christians, were principally. confined to this country, were no way superior to their neighbors either in sound learning, or theological attainments, or examination of the scriptures, or christian character.
Should you say that the belief of the new denomination presented any serious objection to the argument above stated? The honest convictions of your mind must return a negative answer to this question.
2. Now, my dear sir, make an application of this