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THE simple object of the author, in this Inquiry,
is a doctrine, taught in scripture. If the views I have advanced be false, it still leaves the question between Universalists
and their opponents undisturbed. If they are found upon examination to be truen all dispute about endless misery in hell must of course cease, for if no such place èxists, why dispute aboutthe endless duration of its punishment?
The author is aware; that the subject he has undertaken to discuss, is both solemn and important, and that his sentiments, are not in unison with the prineiples and prejudices of the religious comunity. He is deeply sensible that, learning, and piety, and popular opinion, are against him. The doctrine he opposes is a fundamental article of almost every religious creed, is taught weekly from almost every pulpit, and writings from the press are numerous in its support.
There are some, we hope many, who would rejoice to find it fairly and scripturally proved that hell is not a place of future punishment. Their benevolence of disposition, and their inability to reconcile the doctrine of endless punishment with the character of God, and with many parts of his word, all concur in leading them to wish that clear and decided evidence of this might appear. The following pages are an humble attempt at showing this. From such, the author expects a candid and patient hearing of the evidence he has to produce. All he wishes, is, that his arguments and explanations of scripture may be impartially examined, and his views received or rejected accordingly. The importance of the subject itself demands that it be candidly and impartially examined. But there are other considerations, which ought to excite universal attention to it. In the present day, various opinions are entertained as to the future punishment of the wicked, and that by men eminent for both learning and piety. Some hold to the doctrine of eter
nal punishment, some to its being of limited duration. Others think they are to be annihilated, and some bang in doubt, not having any fixed belief on the subject. If the Bible does teach us any thing certain on this subject all ought to know it, and we think in no other way can this be ascertained, but by mutually communicating our researches for candid consideration to the public, and let all men, through a free press, read and judge for themselves. To deter men from investigation, on a subject which involves their eternal condition, is of all inquisitions the worst.
As to the sentiments advanced, the author makes no apology for them, nor does he claim any indulgence from his readers.
He has appealed to the scriptures, and to this test he desires his views to be brought for examination. If they are found to be false, no one can wish more sincerely than himself to see their falsity detected. If true, they are of too much importance, and God's character is too much concerned, to be treated with indifference by judicious men. If God never threatened men with endless misery in hell, it places his character in a very different light from that in which it is generally viewed.
The attempt has been made to conduct this investigation in a cool, rational, and scriptural manner; and to express with plainness and candor the sentiments advanced, for the candid consideration of others. We have endeavored to state what we consider the truth, on this subject, and to state it in the spirit of the truth. Should any thing contrary to this be discerned, 'we hope the reader will impute it to inadvertence and not to design.
In the course of the work a number of quotations have been made from different authors. None of these have been taken from Universalist writers. We have purposely avoided this, and have availed ourselves of quotations from those, who, while op:
posed to the views advanced, have conceded many
The path in which the author has trod, in this In-
Should any trifling inaccuracies be pointed out by one who dislikes the views which I have advanced, my time and habits of thinking forbid my promising him any reply. Any answer, meeting the body of the evidence produced, shall be attended to, either by acknowledging my error, or by defending what I have written. That the truth of God on this, and every other subject, may be made manifest and prevail, is the desire of the author, whatever may become of his sentiments.
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