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would have but a very inadequate conception of the subject, and of the strength of the position which I have taken up. In particular, their conception of the importance of possessing eternal life here, and of the great and glorious salvation which is therewith connected, would be extremely vague and erroneous. I am under the necessity, therefore, in order to do justice to them and to myself, of treating the subject at considerable length. It is not lightly or thoughtlessly, but after much deliberation and in opposition to the whole current of early and strong religious prejudices, that my present views have been adopted: a circumstance which, in more than one respect, gives me an advantage over those who have taken up views of a similar kind in a traditional way. Perhaps the great advantage which I derive from this is, that in abandoning the horrid doctrine of future and never ending tornients, I do not find it necessary to run to the opposite extreme, of confounding the case of the righteous with that of the wicked. The point which I undertake to prove is, not that eternal life is IN EVERY RESPECT bestowed on all mankind alike; but that there is A SENSE in which everlasting life, meaning thereby everlasting happiness, is conferred on the whole family of man. This I intend to do by shewing, in the first place, that the doctrine of eternal life being ultimately enjoyed by all, so far from being merely an inference from the unconditionality of the privilege, is actually founded on and borne out by the general analogy and express statements of the sacred volume : and, in the second place, that the ultimate possession of
eternal life by all, does not militate against, but is, on the contrary, perfectly consistent with, the endurance of everlasting punishment by the wicked. The proof of the former of these positions, shall constitute the subject matter of this ; that of the latter, of the following chapter.
THE FIRST POINT, THEN, TO which I INVITE THE READER'S ATTENTION, IS THE MANNER IN WHICH IT IS PROVED, THAT THE WHOLE FAMILY OF MAN ARE
DESIGNED ULTIMATELY TO BE PARTAKERS OF EVER
I would here repeat, what has already been hinted at, that the circumstance of eternal life being unconditionally bestowed, is of itself sufficient to establish the doctrine of its being bestowed on all. If only a certain number of human beings hereafter shall possess eternal life to the exclusion of all others, it must be either without any reason at all, or on the ground of something peculiar to them. It cannot be without any reason at all, for if so, the Supreme Being would act unwisely : besides that, those passages of scripture which speak of eternal life as necessarily connected with faith would be deprived of all significancy. Nor can it be on the ground of something peculiar to those who inherit the blessing, for if so, that peculiarity constituting the con
which they became entitled to it, eternal life hereafter instead of being the gift of God, would be a privilege conditionally bestowed. Considerations like
these force the conviction, that, however conditional,however dependent on the possession of the principle of faith,—the enjoyment of eternal life may be upon earth, it is impossible from the conditionality of the blessing here, to infer its conditionality hereafter. Nay, as the scriptures expressly declare that eternal life is unconditionally bestowed, who that is duly enlightened can help perceiving, that its conditionality and limited enjoyment here, is a mere accommodation to the present state and circumstances of man; and that, although we are thus aided in our conceptions of it, yet viewed as conditional and limited it must be contrasted with its real nature, which is that of a blessing unconditionally and unlimitedly enjoyed ? Upon grounds like these I am satisfied, that the unconditionality of eternal life, at once and unambiguously points to the fact, of its being ultimately destined for the whole human race. But, as I have already stated, I waive for the present any advantage to be gained from this; and proceed to establish my position by other media of proof.
Such is necessarily the inconsistency of error with itself, that at this point I might, if so disposed, bring the whole controversy to a close, merely by having recourse to the argumentum ad hominem. The opinions generally held, and the admissions generally made by religionists with regard to the wicked hereafter, are, when sisted to the bottom, actually and absolutely fatal to their cause.
For instance; almost all of them allow, that the wicked shall have everlasting existence: and, a
great majority of them, that, at the period of the final judgment, there shall be such a display of the perfections of Deity, as shall constrain the wicked to acquiesce in, or at all events to apprehend the justice of their sentence.-Respectable, but superficially-minded men! have you never reflected on the legitimate consequences of these admissions of yours? Are you aware, that they constitute a lever, by means of which the whole of your theory of never-ending torments may with the utmost ease be overturned ? Perhaps not: and therefore you will excuse me if, for your information and guidance, I submit to you a few hints respecting the subject.
1. The greater part of religionists, constrained by the force of scripture evidence, admit, that all the human race shall rise from the grave and possess everlasting existence. As if aware, however, of the consequences to which such an admission naturally conducts them, they have attempted to evade these under shelter of a distinction between everlasting existence and everlasting life : representing the former as being consistent with everlasting torments; and the latter alone as implying everlasting happiness. The weakness and sophistry of this will become apparent, if the following things be considered :
1st: Those who make the distinction in question are unable to shew, that it has any foundation in the scriptures themselves. Upon a point of such importance as this, it is impossible for us to rest satisfied with any man's mere ipse dixit, or with metaphysical vagaries ;
and this, too, when the circumstances under which the distinction is brought forward, are calculated to beget a strong suspicion of its having been devised to serve a party purpose. The question to which, before acquiescing in the statements of the popular divines respecting this matter, we are fairly entitled to demand an answer, is, in what part of the sacred volume is everlasting existence expressly distinguished from everlasting life? Let the passage or passages be produced, and the controversy is at an end. Or, if no such passages are to be found and well do the popular divines know that to produce any is impossible, let them at least shew us one single passage in which, substituting the phrase everlasting existence for everlasting life, would be a mistranslation of the original words; or, in which, independently of the attempted distinction itself, it would affect the sense of the inspired writer ? Whenever the distinction between everlasting existence and everlasting life, shall have been substantiated by evidence derived from the scriptures themselves, then, but not till then, we shall be ready to listen to any conclusion or conclusions which the soi-disant orthodox may think meet to deduce from it. But
2dly: Even supposing it proved, —which it cannot be,—that the scriptures do actually recognise a distinction between everlasting existence and everlasting life, before answering their purpose, it will be requisite for those by whom this distinction has been devised to shew, that everlasting existence is capable of being separated from everlasting happiness. But how is this to be accom