Page images
PDF
EPUB

ly be known by divine revelation. It is a very obvious case, if man has an immortal soul, it does not prevent his mortality, nor protract his death for a single hour. On the contrary, we sicken, die, and return to dust the same as the brute creation. What Solomon says, Eccles. 3: 19, 20, is certainly true so far as our observation of men and beasts extends. All allow man's body is mortal, but I ask, is it ever intimated that man puts off his mortality at death? Never: but it is common to hear persons speak of putting off this mortal coil, or flesh, at death. Paul speaks, 2 Cor. 5: 1-10, of putting off this earthly house of his tabernacle, but we shall see in another place, that he did not expect to be present with the Lord until the resurrection. It is evident he says nothing about an immortal soul. I then ask every Christian man, where did you find the phrases immortal souls, never dying souls, imperishable spirits? It was not from your Bibles. If you deny it to be heathen language, show, if you can, that it has a better origin.

We have pursued this subject through all the stages of man's existence; his creation, his life-time, at death, after it, and his resurrection from the dead. The result of this investigation is--the Bible does not teach the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, or its existence in a disembodied state, but are relics of heathenism. That man's only hope for future life is his being raised again from the dead, we shall attempt to show in the next Essay.

SECTION V.

Objections considered. In considering objections, I shall confine myself to such, as are likely to be urged against the views

which have been advanced in this Essay. It may be objected

1st. That God's wisdom and goodness are impeached, if man's existence is suspended between death and the resurrection, for all this time might have been spent in a life of activity and enjoyment in his service. Answer: and why are not God's wisdom and goodness also impeached, in suffering an eternity to pass away before he created man? Could not this period have been spent in a life of activity and enjoyment in his service? Again ; why are not his wisdom and goodness impeached in so making man, that more than one third part of his whole life time is spent in infantile weakness and sleep? All this time might have been spent in a life of activity and enjoyment in his service. But why does not the objector rather sayIf my creed be true, God's wisdom and goodness are much more impeached in continuing the existence of unnumbered millions between death and the resurrection in unutterable anguish and wo. Let the objector himself

say,

would it not look more like wis. dom and goodness in God, to blot them forever out of existence, or rather, never to have given them an existence, seeing it proves such a curse to them? But the objector forgets that his objection lies equally against God's wisdom and goodness respecting men's bodies, for he admits their existence is suspended between death and the resurrection. Could not they have spent all this time in a life of activity and enjoyment in his service? Why might not the objector say, it was neither wise nor good in God to say-dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return ?" Man is a poor judge of what is wisest and best for God to do. Why not let us rather say—“ blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead ?>

2d. It is objected—“the common opinions cheer. the mind of man with the prospect of IMMEDIATE happiness after death, but your views hold up the dreary prospect of sleep, in the darkness, silence, and corruption of the grave. Away with this sleepy system.” Answer: the objector ought to have added, “ the common opinions also present to a great part of the human race the cheering prospect of immediate endless misery after death, and to which they were doomed before they were born,” according to ancient orthodoxy. This to be sure is a very cheering prospect to the mind of man in view of his death. But I find religious people take special care, that this kind of cheer shall be enjoyed by others, not themselves. Those who hold to a limited period of punishment after death, hold out better cheer to be enjoyed afterward, but on either of these schemes, where is their advantage over the views I have exbibited? But passing this, permit me to ask, of what real benefit can it be to man, to cheer him with the prospect of immediate happiness after death, if it is not taught in Scripture ? After examining this subject with all the care and attention I am able to give it, I must say it is only ideal cheer. The grounds on which I have come to such a conclusion are laid before the reader, let him judge for himself. The heathen had their elysian fields, and the Mahometans have their paradise, to cheer them in the prospect of death; and Christians would do well to consider, if their happiness and misery for souls after death, are not derived from the heathen.

But let us examine what this dreary prospect is. It is very evident, it cannot be a dreary prospect to any one after death, for on my views— the dead know not any thing." But even to the living, it cannot be more dreary to us, than to all who have gone be

Death in itself, always has, and always will

fore us.

be a dreary prospect to the living. Ps. 23. But let the objector explain to us if he can, why it is not a dreary prospect to him, that his body is to be consigned to the grave until the resurrection ? Is it because he knows that all this time his soul will be in heaven ? Admit this true, I then ask, why it will not be a very dreary thing for his soul there, that his body must remain in the darkness, silence, and corruption of the grave, until the resurrection? If this is such a dreary prospect to his soul before death, why not after it ? But further, the objector ought to consider, that it was not the prospect of immediate happiness after death, which cheered good men's minds in ancient times. No, it was the hope of being raised again from the dead. He that has this Scriptural hope needs no other cheer. He that wants it, will find the ideal prospect of immediate hapninoos for his sóüi a poor substitute for it.

3d. It is objected—“ if your views be true, there is no need for any person being concerned about the salvation of his immortal soul.Answer: this is strictly true, if the objector, by salvation, means, the salvation of the soul from punishment in an intermediate state. In my First Inquiry it has been shown, that no such hell or place of punishment exists, except in men's imaginations. And in the present Essay it has been shown, that men have no such souls to be saved. Unless my views are proved false, all concern of this nature is forever put to rest, and for a very good reason, because no such soul was ever committed to

All concern is entirely out of the ques. tion, for want of the thing about which to be concerned. The Bible teaches man to be concerned about salvation from sin, ignorance of God, and all things which are dishonorable to God, and injurious to himself and others. Man's daily happiness depends on his being concerned about all this. No inan can

their care.

live happy, or die in hope of future immortality, living in disobedience to the gospel of Christ.

4th. It is further objected—“ if your sentiments turn out to be true, an end is put to all missionary zeal and exertion, for the heathens according to your account, have no inmortal souls to be saved." Answer: so far as the object of missions is to save immortal souls from an endless hell, or any punishment whatever in a disembodied state, a final end is put to all missionary zeal and exertion. And if my sentiments turn out to be true, it is easily perceived, what immense sums have been expended in endeavoring to accomplish what never needed to be done.

The object proposed is entirely imaginary, and it is bigb time a stop should be put to this soul saving business, and the zeal and money expended turned into a better channel. The apostles and others were missionaries, but their object was not to save men from hell, but from ignorance, idolatry, and wickedness, and turn them to the love and service of the one living and true God. It was no object with them to preach, what is a constant theme in our day, that men had immortal souls exposed to an endless hell, and that their desire was to save them from it, that they might live happy in heaven in a disembodied state. their object was to preach through Jesus the resurrection from the dead, and to give men the hope of this, who were living without hope, and without God, atheists in the world. Here is a field for missionary exertion, and few men are to be found in the community, who would not aid in accomplishing such a salvation. It is easily seen by every man, that the world needs such a salvation; but it is not so easily perceived they need to be saved from endless misery in a future state.

5th. It will likely be objected, " if your views be true why did not some of the great and learned find them

No;

« PreviousContinue »