« EelmineJätka »
have no reference to another world. And that construing and understanding them, as has been, and is commonly done, make the scriptures, as the deist and many others truly say of it a book of contradictions.
Before I proceed to trace the doctrine further I will stop awhile and go back from whence I began, and carefully examine whether everlasting punishment has ever been preached..
We are told in sermons that are preached in the present day, and in books that are published, that "God made a covenant with Adām, that if he obeyed God's law, and rendered perfect obedience thereto, he and his posterity should be blessed; but if he disobeyed, he and his posterity should suffer temporal, spiritual, and eternal death, or endless misery. But where they get this information from, they have not told us, in sermons nor books. I canot find in the Bible any law promulgated after Adam had sinned, which threatens any other penalty for transgression, than punishment in this life.
Now, reader, look at the subject impartially and candidly, as I shall state it; for I am sure it will not be to my interest or credit to do otherwise.
Our heavenly Father told Adam, that in the day he eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, he should surely die. We read that the serpent told the woman that they should not
surely die. In consequence of which, (or by yielding obedience to something that was evil, no matter whether a serpent, Satan, or what not, it was something opposite to good,) they both partook of that which was forbidden. Now what death was it that they died? Ans. In the words of the apostle, "To be carnally minded is death, to be spiritually minded is life and peace." This is that which they lost; or in other words, from a state of calmness, peace of mind, union and fellowship with their Creator, they came under, or experienced condemnation, guilt, shame and fear. This was the death they died, and which Satan told them they should not die. There was not a word said about eternal death, and the penalty for transgression contains nothing like it, nothing more than temporal punishment. Adam and Eve, feeling guilty and ashamed, (as every man feels to this day, it is just the same now as then, according to the enormity, or nature of the evil a man commits, so he experiences condemnation, guilt, and fear,) it is said that "they hid themselves from the presence of the Lord among the trees of the garden;" they were not afraidof God before, perfect love casteth out fear; but this love and confidence in God they had lost, and they now felt afraid of their Creator. We read that "the Lord called unto Adam, and said unto him, where art thou. He does not appear to be in the least angry at what they had done, though our divines keep telling us that he was so very wrathful and angry, that he would have condemned them, and all their posterity, to everlasting wo and misery, if the Son had not stayed. his wrath, "wrath stood silent by," (see p. 25,),
was just about to pass the sentence, &c. But there appears nothing like this, not the least appearance of any anger: but he speaks very mild, like a tender parent to his child, “Adam what hast thou done? Hast thou eaten of the tree. whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?" Adam throws the blame on the woman," and the Lord said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done?" Can any thing. be more kind and tender? Now let us see what the punishment was; after cursing the serpent, (mind, he did not curse the man nor woman,) he said unto the woman, "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow," &c. Her daughters, to this day, well know what the &c. means. And Adam had to go to work to till the ground to support himself. (this is no great punishment to an industrious man-I have heard some say it was a pleasure.) Though we read that the Lord cursed the ground for Adam's sake, yet it is still very good, and brings forth in abundance. Yes, he is worthy of praise for every thing he does; for in every thing he remembereth mercy. His curses are mercies, "blessings in disguise." Now in all the account we see not the least imaginable intimation of hell and damnation, wrath or anger, for disobedience. Afterwards he condescends to clothe them. All a pretty representation of fatherly tenderness and kindness. O how different from the manner that God has been represented. (See pp. 24 and 25.)
If the penalty for disobedience had been→ In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die, and thee and thy posterity shall become liable to eternal death or everlasting punishment,
then Adam would more fully have known the consequences of disobedience; but as he did not attach any such penalty for disobedience, there is not the least foundation for any to believe and assert as many do, that he and his posterity became subject to eternal death. Neither could they by their disobedience become liable to temporal death, for they must have been subject thereto if they had not sinned; or else they must have been differently constituted from what all mankind have been since. They could not have been the same race of human beings, they must have been a different kind of creatures from any we know of in creation. Fire could not have burnt them, nor water have drowned them, a fall could not have injured them, edge tools could not have cut them-they must have been liable to no kind of accidents. They must not only have been differently constituted, and a different kind of beings, but all nature must have been different from what it is.
And again-what kind of creatures must they have been, if they had never known evil? They could not have known good, without its contrast; no more than a man who is born blind has any idea of light; or one who has never felt any sickness or pain, nor has never seen any creature in distress, can have any idea of health. They must have been insensible to gratitude and thankfulness-they could not have praised God for salvation, for they could not have been saved from any thing contrary to good. If they had not known evil, they would not have known how to"! have prized good. In short, if they had never known evil, they would have known nothing
about good; they might have been perfectly holy and innocent creatures, but they could not have known that they were so; they could not have known happiness without the contrast, or at least they could not have estimated it, or have known how to prize it. All is right just as it is, God has done all things well, and I, for one, am perfectly satisfied, and feel confident that God never made a soul to be forever miserable, nor never made one that he foreknew would be so ; so I rest perfectly easy respecting any such fears.
It has been a query with many, why he did not make all his intelligent creatures wise and good, virtuous and holy, from the commencement of their existence, and exclude every kind of evil, and form them in that state of perfection to which they are capable of attaining? In answer to this-in short, it was not best for God to have created his creatures so as never to have known evil, for the reasons before stated: and if it had been best, WE MAY REST ASSURED HE WOULD HAVE
Every act of God is an act of infinite goodness. It was perfect goodness that created the world, and permitted the entrance of all the evil we deplore. "Now infinite goodness," says a writer, "can only be called infinite or perfect, because it makes the best choice, and produces the greatest good. We may therefore be assured that this world, formed as it is, is best adapted to the end, and most perfect and excellent, and that it was not possible to create us in the beginning, as holy and perfect as we may be, or shall be hereafter. Had it been possible, or which is the