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By this we are not to understand, they were not the descendants of Abraham, and by natural descent his children.

The prophet Malachi asks, "Have we not all one Father? hath not one God created us?" According to the following words he seems to take the questions for granted; büt his additional question implies that the children of this one Father are wicked. "Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother by profaning the covenant of our fathers?" It does not, therefore, appear that the image of our heavenly Father is lost, or rather annihilated by our dealing treacherously, or profaning the covenant of our progenitors, though the impropriety of such conduct is very visible and striking.

St. Paul's words on this subject are very express; "Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold or silver, or stone graven by art or man's device." Does not the force of this passage plainly rest on the natural idea, that there is anilarity of image between a father and his offspring? And as there is no gold, silver, or stone in the composition of man, is it absurd to worship these as God if man be his offspring? It would be. very absurd, if man in his earthly frame or capacity be considered the offspring of God; much more so, when we consider this off spring to be a nobler gift of our Maker. Moses was exceeding careful to caution the peo

ple against the idea of any similitude or image discernible by the mortal eye, when he enforces the worship of God. See Deut. iv, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, "Take ye, therefore, good heed unto yourselves (for ye saw no manner' of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire,) lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female; the likeness' of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness' of any winged fowl that flieth in the air; the likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth: And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars," even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which' the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven."

With this scripture we may now reason from cause to effect. When God appeared and spake to the ancient Israelites, they "saw no manner of similitude." Therefore man, as the offspring and image of God, exhibits no similitude that can be seen.

But St. Paul détermines the sense in which God is to be considered our Father, and we Iris offspring in Hebrews xii. 9, with great clearness of language."Furthermore," says he, "we have had fathers of our flesh, which corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall:

we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live?" Here we learn the distinction between our earthly fathers and the heavenly Parent. 'Those are fathers of our flesh, and this, the Father of our spirits. The fathers of our flesh are mortal, and so are their offspring. The Father of our spirits is immortal, and, what then are his offspring? Does immortality beget mortality, or can God be the Father of perishable nature ?

There is one passage that says of God, "Who only hath immortality." But if this be considered proof against the immortality. of the soul, it is equal proof against man's ever becoming immortal, and likewise of the immortality of all celestial beings.

God is independently immortal, possessing an underived existence, which cannot be true of any created being, in its highest state of perfection. When we read the whole text, we find it does not exclude immortality from others, but excludes the idea of that perfection in the most happy condition of creatures, that belongs to the Creator. "Who only hath immortality dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto." No man can reach the perfection of God or his independent immortality.

When it is said, "the soul that sinneth shall die ;" "destroy soul and body;" "save a soul from death," &c. we are not to understand this death or destruction to be a cessation of

existence; but a deprivation of spiritual life, which we, undoubtedly, are ever to look for as the wages of sin. Hence the soul or spirit of man may be perishable as it respects virtue and felicity, but not in relation to exist


We will next turn our attention to the account St. Peter gives of Christ's preaching to the spirits in prison.

If it be proper to understand this account according to the plain import of words, these ideas are evident:

1. That Christ who is just, suffered for the sins of the unjust, to bring them to God; and being put to death in the flesh, showed the power of the resurrection in the body that died, by the spirit.

2. By this quickening: spirit, the power of the resurrection, he went and preached unto the spirits in prison, being then able to prove the doctrine of the resurrection, in his own


3. This preaching was after he was quickened by the spirit, or arose from the dead.

4. Those spirits to which he preached, were the spirits of the antediluvians, who were disobedient in the days of Noah.

5. The design of this preaching was to give them the privilege, when judged accord. ing to men in the flesh, or as if they were present in the flesh, of living according to God in the spirit. Without this privilege, they must unavoidably be condemned..

These ideas appear as clearly expressed in this account of St. Peter's, as any thing we can gather from any scripture whatever. But some will not assent to them, because it proves an alteration after death, and the possibility of receiving divine mercy. Others do

not allow them, because they find in them a bar to the immediate felicity of all men when they enter another state of existence. One, strongly attached to the sentiment of an unal. terable state, fixed on all at death, will say, it is a dark saying. Another, who can find his sentiment in almost any language, will profess to see a beauty in it. according to his system, which few are able to discern.

But if St. Peter did not mean as he said, we have no reason to believe he intended to be understood, for no language is less ambiguous, than his in this particular account.

The common opinion is, that Noah, who in a certain place is called a preacher of right. eousness, performed this preaching, in his day, to the antediluvians, whose spirits are now in the prison of hell. The quickening spirit of Christ in Noah, dictated the preaching. But when we turn to the account, we find nothing said of Noah's preaching. All that is said of Noah, is, that the spirits were disobedient, when once the long suffer. ing of God waited in his days.

It is said ofHerod, he sent forth and slew all the children in Bethlehem, from two years old and under." We therefore conclude he

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