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harvest? Let the experience of husbandmen answer the question.

Another method which you adopt to avoid a future punishment for a part of mankind, is to represent all men equally guilty. If you do not state this in express words, still you use language which naturally gives thi impression. At one time you represent all "whose labors have been in the ministry from the highest prelate down to the lay preacher," as equally guilty.* At another time you represent a "company of meek and humble believers in Jesus," and a "company of profane sailors," as being alike pious in the sight of God.† But does this description correspond with the scripture account? Do the sacred writers represent all men as possessing one and the same character? or rather do they not divide mankind into two classes, the righteous and the wicked? It is so evident that the scriptures speak of two classes, the righteous and the wicked, that you admit the distinction. But you attempt to do away its force by pretending that they are both found in the same individual at the same time! You say, "We find the righteous and the wicked in the same individual.— Yes in the same man and at the same time, we find the righteous and the wicked, him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not." We readily admit that the same individual may be wicked at one period of his life, and righteous at another. When the evil disposition predominates, he is, in scripture phraseology, denominated wicked; and when the good disposition predominates, he is denominated righteous. But to assert as you do, that the righteous and wicked are in the same man at the same time, is not interpreting, but destroying the scriptures. You make the righteous and the wicked not individuals, but simply abstract principles or charac

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*Notes on the Parables, pp. 18, 19, 20. † Lectures, p. 291. Lectures, p. 292.

ters. But what numerous absurdities does this principle involve! If the righteous and the wicked signify not persons, but abstract characters, as they must on your interpretation of these terms, then the individual experiences neither happiness nor misery; for when the sacred writers say that the righteous shall enjoy happiness, and the wicked experience misery, we must conclude that the individual has nothing to do with either; the one being enjoyed by the good principle, and the other endured by the bad!!

Besides, it is a palpable absurdity to say that a character abstractly considered, is capable of experiencing either happiness or misery. But let us look at some passage, where the terms righteous and wicked occur, and see if we can understand them consistently on your sense of these terms. Take the 25th of Matthew, for instance. In that scripture the righteous and the wicked are spoken of; they are said to be separated from each other; the one are rewarded, the other punished. When Christ sentenced the wicked to a state of punishment, he assigns the reasons for so doing. "For I was an hungered," says he to the wicked, "and ye gave me no meat; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; sick and in prison, and ye visited me not." Now if by the wicked, we are to understand, not persons, but an evil principle, then we must absurdly suppose that Christ sentenced an evil principle to a state of punishment, because it had not visited him!! This I trust will be sufficient to show the falsity of your statement, that the righteous and the wicked are in the same man at the same time. As to all men's being conceive that no considerate person will admit it. And you yourself will not admit that in point of moral excellence, you stand no higher than the convicts in the State Prison. In this manner you acknowledge, that there is a difference in the characters of men,

equally guilty, I

I have now attended to all the principal objections which you urge against a future retribution, so far at least as I have learned them. I have endeavored to state your objections in all their force. If you have any other objections more formidable than these I have considered, I am ignorant of them. And I think you will admit that the arguments and objections which I have considered, are those on which you mostly rely. The moral influence of the two systems will be considered in our next.

Yours, &c.

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Moral Influence, and Concluding Remarks.


In taking leave of this subject, I think it not improper to offer a few remarks upon the moral influence of the two systems. It will readily be conceded that truth has a more salutary influence than error. That system which has the best influence upon society, must have a higher claim to our faith than any other theory. The gospel is designed to save sinners. Christ visited the earth to "save his people from their sins." And this salvation is effected by rendering them virtuous and holy. Since virtue and happiness are inseparably connected, that system which is the most productive of virtue, best answers the purpose for which the gospel was given, and consequently is the most likely to be the truth. These remarks will strike your mind as self-evident truths. Before inquiring into the moral influence of the two systems, two things will be premised. 1. Doctrinal views do not have so great an influence upon the morals of society, as most people imagine. There may be many causes which counteract the natural tendency of a doctrine. The natural disposition of the person may, in a great measure, destroy the legitimate influence of a system. "The doctrine may dwell in the head more than in the heart. It may be believed in theory, but not reduced to practice." So that upon the whole, theoretical divinity does not produce so great an effect upon morals, as we might at first imagine.

* See a Sermon on the subject of this controversy, by Rev. Edward Turner,

2. Doetrines have different influences upon different persons. When a man by his own study and reflection, comes understandingly into any doctrine, however fatal its natural tendency may be, it will not be very likely to corrupt his morals. If any inquiring mind in search of truth, should at last settle down in Atheism, and embrace this sentiment, in an understanding manner, his morals might remain as they were when he was a believer in divine revelation. His knowledge of the nature of things would induce him to be honest and upright in his dealings with mankind. But let him proclaim this doctrine to the vulgar, who would take it on trust, and defend it with arguments which he had put into their mouths, and it would be likely to have a very different effect. Though they might believe it as firmly as their master, and even might have less doubts upon the subject than he, still it would naturally corrupt the one, more than the other. So a man who comes understandingly into a belief of your system, may continue to be exemplary in virtue. The refinement and elevation of mind, which he may have acquired in search of truth, may continue to influence his conduct, and preserve him from falling into sin. But let this doctrine be taught to the public at large, and it will have a different influence. Upon men of less study and reflection, it will be left to have its natural influence, and so will tend to weaken their sense of accountability to God. But upon men of more study and refinement, the deleterious effects of this doctrine are neutralized by the more exalted sentiments of their natures; and if their sense of accountability is weakened by this theory, still that reflection and study, which led to its embrace, will have refined the mind; and this mental refinement will exert an influence over the man in a considerable degree, and so keep the man moral. Though there may be exceptions to this, as all general rules, still I am per

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