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But granting that the declarations in the book before us are plain, and scarcely capable of being perverted or obscured, the question will no doubt be promptly asked : •To what purpose is an appeal to a book confessedly apocryphal, and therefore of no authority? Why should we believe in the doctrine of eternal punishment, because an unknown writer of an unknown period, who was (as nearly all agree) an uninspired man, has expressed his belief in such a repulsive dogma ?'

I have already anticipated, in part, an answer to this question, in what I have said in the introductory part of this communication. But to avoid all ambiguity as to my views and my object, on the present occasion, I would state in the most explicit manner, that I have not the most distant intention to refer to the book of Enoch, as a book of authority. I can never be brought to believe that the Ethiopians had any good right to place it in their Canon ; not so much ground, even, as the Council of Trent had to admit and sanction the books commonly named apocryphal among us. There is less of puerility and of superstition in most of the so named Apocrypha, than in the book of Enoch. I have therefore not the remotest design to urge on my readers the authority of this book. My full belief is, that our present Scriptures are the only and the sufficient rule of faith and practice.'

Still this detracts nothing from the importance or propriety of my design. I resort to the book of Enoch, in order to find the usus loquendi of the times, when the books of the New Testament were written, and also to find what were the prevailing opinions of the same times in respect to the great point under discussion. Whatever uncertainty may attend the question respecting the individual author of the book, or the exact year when it was composed, still I cannot concede, that there is any uncertainty worth computing, whether the author lived and wrote during the first century of the Christian era. That he was a Jew intimately acquainted with the ancient Scriptures, cannot be called in question by any reader of candour and intelligence. That he was a man of a serious, devout frame of mind, of high moral susceptibilities, and disposed to place the standard of moral actions high, is exhibited in every part of his work. That he speculates on demons, and on matters of astronomy

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and natural philosophy, in such a way that we are compelled to regard some of his views as even childish—is no good reason why we may not receive his testimony about plain matters of fact within his cognisance. If such things were to destroy the credit of a writer, then alas! for most of the Christian fathers; in whom we can find not a few things which are little, if any, less repugnant to sound reason and philosophy, than what is found in the book of Enoch. The testimony of this book, as to the common opinion of the times respecting the perpetuity of future punishment, may then be received, without transgressing the usual laws of a critical examination of testimony concerning any usage or opinion of ancient times.

But I shall be asked : «How does it appear from the con. tents of the book of Enoch, that the usual opinion of the Jews of his day, or of the Christians of his day in case the author were a Christian), was, that the future punishment of the wicked is endless? The author speaks for himself, and we can only gather from what he says, the opinions which he himself entertained.'

This, I answer, might be said in respect to some things in his book; e. g. the peculiar manner in which he accounts for the phenomena of nature, and the motions and phases of the heavenly bodies. But the subject of future retribution is a matter of common speculation and of deep concern to all sober men. It is one about which the common people, as well as the learned, have an opinion. And the manner in which a writer introduces this, will always satisfy any intelligent reader, whether it is a matter of dispute and singularity of opinion with the author, or whether he only alludes to it and states it as a thing which will be taken for granted, or at least allowed, by his readers.

It is on this ground that I place the appeal, in the present case, to the book of Enoch. Let any one read it attentively, I should rather say, study it, and he will easily perceive, that it is no part of the writer's plan to maintain a disputed doctrine. His threats against the wicked, which are very frequent, proceed upon the acknowledged ground, that there is a just God who governs the world, and who will make retribution to sinners. That retribution he holds up as endless, because this, and this only, sets forth the aggravated nature of their doom in its full extent. There are no marks in the book, at least I have found none, of a dispute, on the part of the writer, in favour of the doctrine that future punishment will be endless.

Such being the case, why are we not to suppose that he bears testimony, in this way, to a prevailing (1 do not say universal) sentiment of his time, in regard to the matter before us? I know of no laws for the examination and judging of testimony, which would lead us to reject his evidence in this case. On the contrary, the testimony which he gives, in this indirect way, is in its nature more convincing and satisfactory, than if we had found him to be disputing in order to maintain the doctrine of endless punishment.

Had I time and did the present circumstances permit, the same view which he takes of this subject might be greatly confirmed by appeal to other ancient documents, nearly cotemporaneous with the Book of Enoch. Such are the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, the fourth book of Ezra, a part of the so-called Sibylline Oracles, and (if we may num. ber this among the productions of the primitive age) the Shepherd of Hermas. This latter book, however, I cannot well doubt, must be placed some 70 or 80 years later than the other productions here named; and the testimony is at least doubtful.

He who peruses with attention all these works, can never doubt what was the common belief of the primitive age, on the subject of endless punishment. Even the common mythology of the heathen made a Tartarus, from which there is no escape. That they believed in a kind of purgatory, also, will not disprove the other position ; for only sinners in a mitigated degree were admissible to purgatory.

I may then, with such evidence before me, assume the fact, that a belief in endless punishment, in the primitive age of Christianity, was general and usual. Those who thought of retribution at all, and believed in it, seem to have adopted the belief, that it was to have no end.

I may be permitted then to ask once more: Why did not Jesus and his apostles, who must have known what the common belief

was, in case they deemed it to be erroneous why did they not correct it? As honest and upright and simple-hearted teachers, would they not have done so ? Should they not have done so? We are entitled to put this last question ; for no subject which can come before the human

mind is more agitating, or more deeply interesting, than that which respects the duration of future misery. If Jesus and his disciples actually knew that all men will finally be saved, how can we deem it probable that they should not have written this in characters of light, or spoken it with a voice that would echo around the earth? Of all possible messages this would have been one of the deepest concern to the hopes of our perishing race.

Why then have those holy teachers failed to make explicit declarations, which admit of no doubt and no misinterpretation, in regard to this matter? If I should be told, as I may be by some, that they have made such declarations ; my answer is, that after making the Scriptures the principal object of my study through most of my life, I have not been able to find them. I have sought for them with great solicitude; in one sense I can say truly, that I have hoped to find them. I know not how to account for it, then, if prejudice has so blinded my eyes that I cannot find them-cannot find them although they would afford unspeakable relief to my mind, when agonized with the thought that future misery is to be endless. Can it be, that the Bible does plainly and explicitly and often avow, what I have never been able to find, although sought for with so deep an interest ?

I will not deny that it can be. No man is infallible scarcely any one free from some prejudice. I have no feelings that would lead me to exempt myself from the common infirmities of my fellow beings ; and therefore I admit that it is quite possible, that I have entirely overlooked what some affirm to be one of the plainest doctrines in all the Scriptures. Still, my present convictions speak not the less to my own mind. I cannot find in the Scriptures a disavowal of the usual belief of the primitive age as to endless punishment; nor can I find where an opinion contrary to this is taught, or even suggested, in the Bible.

I have examined and re-examined, oftentimes, those texts which are alleged to teach the doctrine of universal salvation; but no principles of interpretation which I can adopt for the rest of the Scriptures, will permit me to explain them in such a way. I do not, and cannot, find the evidence, therefore, that Jesus and his disciples have contradicted the views of future punishment, as set forth in the book of Enoch ; I mean so far as the perpetuity and dreadful nature of this SECOND SERIES, VOL. IV. NO. I.



punishment is concerned. Of course I am unable to see how or why it could be, that neither Jesus nor his disciples have taken any pains to correct the common opinion in relation to this subject, provided it was inconsistent with the truth. A pious fraud in concealing such a truth we cannot admit. It does not comport with their character. Deficiency of sympathy and kind feeling we cannot admit ; for

here is no evidence of this, but of the contrary. I must conclude, therefore, that they saw nothing important to correct in the common belief respecting this matter. I fully bereve that what they have taught, all goes to confirm this belief.

I may in justice to my subject further say, that the efforts of those who deny the doctrine of endless misery, seem in the main to be directed merely toward assailing the texts brought forward by their antagonists in order to confirm the contrary opinion. What does this shew, but a consciousness that appearances at least in the Bible are very much against them, and that they have no good chance of maintaining their own standing, unless they can successfully assail the texts adduced by their antagonists?

Any one who is conversant with the tracts and books which are almost daily making their appearance in defence of universal salvation, must have been struck with the boisterous manner and overweening confidence with which arguments in favour of this doctrine are generally advanced. There is an air of positivity and a bold assumption of certainty, which is rarely found in any other class of theological disputants, that characterize most of the champions of this dogma. In what light are we to view all this? I have often remarked, that some men are positive, and obtrusive, and confident in their opinions, and noisy in the expression of them, either with a design to impose them by a kind of force upon others, or else to conceal from themselves and others the secret doubts which all the while are agitating their own breasts in regard to what they maintain. With most of the productions of Universalists that have met my eye, for these some years, I am disposed to think the latter is the case.

When a sober man, by studying a subject thoroughly, has become so far acquainted with it as to know what he should believe, and on what grounds he rests his belief; when, moreover, he is thoroughly satisfied that those grounds are stable, and will abide the test of attack or scru

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