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guments on the silence of three Evangelists? We have only the authority of St. Luke that Christ ever said
And might we not, with as much propriety, ask why the widows and lepers in Israel were not helped and healed, as our writer asks why we have no account of Christ's preaching to the spirits of postdeluvians as well as antedeluvians ? It does not follow, because we have no particular account that Christ did not preach to the spirits of postdeluvians, that he did not ; for we are informed that Christ did and said many things that were not written.
We do not pretend to decide dogmatically, that our writer was correct, in his first explanation of the passage we are considering ; but we verily think he has lost much, by his second attempt. Until we find a better explanation, we are disposed to adopt the fruit of his first labors, and avoid the stigma of undertaking to learn the scriptures how to talk.
For the Repository. REPLY TO THE EDITOR OF THE “PHILADELPHIA UNIVER
SALIST MAGAZINE AND CHRISTIAN MESSENGER."*
The reader will recollect that in the 2d No. of this volume of the Repository, I addressed two letters to the Editor of the Christian Messenger; and as he has reviewed them in that publication, I feel bound to reply. My apology for this delay is, that the No. containing these remarks did not come to hand, till two months after its publication. After our reviewer (I say reviewer, for in this character he notices our communications) had repeatedly requested us to exhibit some arguments in support of our sentiments, we expected, and thought we had a right to expect, a particular and critical reply. But by perusing his number, we find he has attempted but little more than to make a few desultory remarks upon my letters. However, as he has in a few instances, attempted to invalidate our arguments, we will attempt a reply, lest he and the public should be led to conclude that we wish to shrink from the discussion.
* Since writing my letters the Messenger has received the: above title.
In my letters I suggested that the proof should lie on his part. In answer to this, he subjoins: "If so, we will give him, as proof, the total silence of the law of God on this subject.” Ans. "Now if bold assertions were good argument, this would do very well." But dves our opponent mean to come forward and humbly beg the question in dispute? If not, this amounts to nothing. Again, he says, “The moment it is out of the power of inan to commit crimes, that moment punishment is no longer useful to him, and of course, no longer just." Here again our reviewer assumes the point at issue, which is not considered manly reasoning. His declaration is founded upon the supposition that the only design or utility of punishment is to prevent the commission of crimes. But this is by no means granted ; and it ought not to be assumed by our opponent without proof. We believe that punishment is a means in the divine hand for preparing the mind for the enjoyment of happiness, as well as for the prevention of crime. A man confined in prison may have no power to commit sin, but still his disposition may be corrupt, and punishment may be necessary to qualify his mind for the enjoyment of happiness.
To disprove our opponent's views, relative to the state of the intermediate existence, we cited the saying of the Savior ; "Fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”' (See Matt. x. 28.) But our reviewer suggests that our views cannot be admitted, because they oppose the "learned Dr. Price and the equally learned Dr. Priestly !!" We were really surprised to find our author using arguments like these! Do not his views oppose some learned doctor as celebrated as Price or Priestly? nay, does he not oppose the same gentlemen by rejecting the doctrine of future punishment, in which they both believed ? Were I to express my views of such arguments as the above, I would use the language of our reviewer; “This argument is too puerile to be mentioned.” But our reviewer predicts that it would do Hyram no harm to read the controversy between Dr. Price and Dr. Priestly, upon this subject. This prediction has already been verified ; for Hyram has long since read that controversy, and received no harm at all. In support of our views relative to Matt. x. 28, we have nothing more to add, till our arguments have been fairly answered. It appears that our opponent understands' the term soul to mean life; consequently, the passage would read thus ; "Fear not those that kill the body, but cannot kill the life!!” Now on his scheme, as we have already observed, the life is killed in the same sense that the body is, at the dissolution of our frame. But he insinuates that man cannot destroy the soul finally and forever. The same is equally true of the body; therefore his argument defeats itself.
But our reviewer asks; "If God should destroy both soul and body in Gehenna, what evidence have we to believe that he would not destroy the soul at the same time that he destroyed the body 1" We answer ; Jesus says God hath power to cast into hell after he hath killed the body. It is evident, therefore, if God destroys or punishes the soul in the sense mentioned in this passage, it will be after temporal death. Again ; he says the soul and body “are mentioned together; as being destroyed together!” This is a mistake ; for Jesus tells us that man may kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Thus both are not destroyed together.
"As it respects the passage in Ezekiel,” says our author, “we would refer Hyram to the writings of Damon, with the replies to his writings, as published in the Boston Universalist Magazine." Hyram professes to be acquainted with the controversy alluded to, but is far from being convinced of the incorrectness of his own views. The principal objection al
ledged by the Editor of the Magazine to oppose the interpretation given by Damon was, that it rendered the passage unparallelled. And Damon informed him that a divine asseveration was entitled to our belief, tho it stood alone-but that his exposition did not make the passage unparalleled—and that if the argument of the Editor be valid, it would overthrow his own exposition ; for on his explanation it stood entirely alone. Neither is the Editor's philological criticism any more convincing. The question, "Why the singular number ?” merits no attention, while the rule in syntax, a noun of multitude may be in the sinmular, is in the mouth of almost every school-boy, But why does our reviewer refer us to writings in the Boston Magazine ? Are we to consider this as a concession on his part ? If he has not given up his own exposition of the text, why does he refer us to writings designed to disprove it? This is "something we do not understand."
Again; our reviewer seems to insinuate that he cannot discover that the account of Christ's preaching to the spirits in prison, opposes his system in the least! Charity prompts us to understand this ironically. In my second letter, I adduced a passage from St. Matthew's gospel, where it is declared that Sodom and Capernaum shall at some future period be arraigned in judgement. In relation to which our author remarks, “If Hyram will examine the original, he will perceive that it should read a day of judgement, not the day, &c.” Now if all this should be granted, it would not alter the argument in the least. What if it be any day of judgement, it was future in our Savior's day, which was long after the overthrow of Sodom; consequently, it must be in a future state of existence. And what if St. Peter alluded to a day of judgement, when he said that the Lord had reserved the unjust Sodomites to be punished ? This judgement was after their destruction, and of course, in a future world.
The Savior when speaking of the judgement of
In the passage
Sodom, represents it as future. But our opponent tells us, that the Scriptures often speak of things past, as yet present or future, and of things future, as already past! Altho our reviewer insinuates that Hyram is ignorant of scripture phraseology, still he will hazard a few rewarks upon this subject; hoping that his opponent's superior knowledge will be tempered with corresponding degrees of charity. We readily admit that the scriptures frequently speak of things yet future, in the present or past tense but this is to represent their certainty, or to show that they are already accomplished in the Divine Mind. But that they speak of things already past, as being future, remains for our opponent to prove. alluded to, Jesus says, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom than for Capernaum in the day of judgement, or a day, if our author pleases. Now the judgement of Sodom is declared to be future, as much as that of Capernaum. Of both it is said they shall be judged. Put our opponent tells us that the sacred writers, when they speak in the future tense, mean to convey only the present or past idea! We will therefore apply this rule to the passage in question. So when Jesus says that Sodom and Capernaum shall be condemned in judgement, he means that they have already experienced this condemnation! The crime of CaperDaum consisted in abusing the preaching of Christ and his disciples. Thus according to our author, Capernaum was condemned and punished for her crime, long before it was committed !! We will try to make our author consistent by understanding the passage in the present tense. According to this, Sodom was judged in the days of our Savior, tho this was nearly two thousand years after their destruction by fire. And as it relates to Capernaum, she was judged and "brought down to hell” and “exalted up to heaven” at the same instant of time!! (See Mat. xi. 23.) Does our reviewer mean to invert the Scriptures. Then Sodom's judgement is past, and her overthrow is future;