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pally for the purpose of investigating, if what has been taken for granted by the one party, and conceded by the other, 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 true, all dispute about endless misery in hell must of course cease, for if no such place exists, why dispute about the endJess 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 principles and prejudices of the religious community He is deeply sensible that much 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 fron 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 endless punishment. Their benevolence of disposition, and their inability to reconcile this doctrine 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 explana
tions of Scripture may be impartially examined, and his views received or rejected accordingly. The importance of the subject itself densands 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 eternal punishment, some to its being of limited duration. Others think they are to be annihilated, and some hang in doubt, not having any fixed belief on the subject. If the Bible does teach us any thing certain on tbis 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 njen 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 opposed to the views advanced, have conceded many things in favor of them. The testimony of an opponent is always reckoned valuable. Such testimonies inight have been much increased if it had been necessary. But we rest the truth of the views advanced, on evidence and facts which we have drawn from Scripture.
The path in which the author has trod, in this Inquiry, has been new to himself, and but little frequented by other writers, of which he has any knowledge. That we have not, in any instance, turned aside from the path of truth, in any of our statements, we do not affirm. It would be surprising if we had not, considering the disadvantageous circumstances, for accurate thinking and
writing, in which we have brought this subject forward. All we can say, is, that we have studjed to be accurate in our statements, and to be guided by the Scriptures in the explanations we have given.
Should any trifling inaccuracies be pointed out by any 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 defendiog 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.
NOTICE TO THE SECOND EDITION.
It has been suggested, by many who have read the “Inquiry," that it ought to be printed in a form, and sold at a price, suitable to a larger class of readers. A second edition being called for, the author has availed himself of this suggestion, and would state the following things in regard to both editions for the information of his readers.
1st, The present edition, printed in a different form, and reduced to one half the price, is for substance the very same as the first. All that part of the work, containing the arguments and facts, proving that Sheol, Hades, Tartarus and Gehenna, do not refer to a place of endless misery, is the same as in the first edition. The au
thor has seen no reason to change his opinion, and therefore has made no change in its matter. Any alterations made, are merely verbal, which require no particular notice, and are rather an improvement of the work. Being more deeply concerned than even his readers, that the evidence adduced should not be impaired, he has been scrupulously careful that nothing of this kind should be omitted, or even abridged, to the injury of the book.
2d, To reduce the size and price of the present edition, the following are all the principal alterations, which were found necessary.—The long quotation in regard to the Targums, and some others of a critical nature, which were deemed of little value to most readers, are here abridged, and the latter in one or two instances are entirely omitted. In every instance however, the books from whence such quotations were taken are referred to, so that any who are inclined may consult them. The two last sections, containing answers to objections and concluding remarks, in some places have also been abridged. These, with some reflections, and an occasional superfluous sentence or expression not essential to the argument being expunged, constitute the alterations in this from the first edition. The author would however assure his readers that nothing has been expunged or abridged of the evidence and argument which it contained.
It is known generally that during the last win. ter Mr. James Sabine announced in the Boston papers his intention to refute the “Inquiry,” if a