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The investigations in these Essays, were undertaken for the author's own personal satisfaction, without any view to immediate publication. When he wrote his two Inquiries, his investigations then led him to suspect, that limited punishment after death, could no more be defended from the Bible, than endless punishment. But, wishing to examine this subject more attentively, little or nothing was said, for or against this question. Besides, he knew that a diversity of opinion prevailed among Universalists, and hence avoided agitating this disputed point. Even now, he had no desire to intrude his opinions on the world. But Mr. Hudson has come forward in the defence of a future retribution, in a series of Letters addressed to Mr. Ballou, in which I and others receive a share of his attention. As Mr. Ballou declined replying to these Letters, this duty next devolved on me, from having the next greatest portion of his castigation. Let all then bear me witness, that I have neither provoked, nor sought a controversy with Mr. 'Hudson. He ought to be held responsible for its consequences. If he was so anxious to discuss the question of a future retribution, this could have been done, to better effect in ascertaining truth, than by the mode he has adopted. Some suspect that his object was, to have a hit at Mr. Ballou, rather than love for the truth at issue. I most sincerely wish for his own sake, that he had cut off all occasion for such a suspicion.
I am surprised that his prudence did not dictate to him a different course.
When Mr. Hudson's Letters appeared, the substance of my Three Essays was written. It so happened, that all the texts which he quotes in favor of his views, I had considered, with only one or two exceptions, and on these he does not place much dependance. To avoid as much as possible the appearance of a controversy, we have deemed it best, to let the Three Essays remain pretty much as we had written them.. All his texts are considered, and the pages in his Letters are referred to, that our readers may compare what we have respectfully written upon them, and judge for themselves. Mr. Hudson himself will allow, that if the doctrine in my First Essay is correct, his system falls at once to the ground. Should he prolong this controversy with me, he must defend it on different principles and prove several things which he altogether takes for granted in his present Letters. I am persuaded he will frankly admit, that unless my views can be proved radically wrong, his system is totally and forever annihilated. We have given a brief review of his Letters, in conclusion, and had our limits permitted, would have extended our remarks to greater length. But as it is, we hope Mr. Hudson will have no reason to complain.
If " expatiating on the condition of the departed with a wild particularity, is listened to with greediness," it might be expected, my book will be read at least with patience and candor
before it is condemned. It discusses the condition of the departed; but my investigations have ended in a very different result from the common opinions as to their existence in an intermediate state. No one can question, that all the wild and particular descriptions of the condition of the departed, take for granted that the common opinions about immortal souls, and their going to heaven or hell at death, are true. Take these topics of discourse from a ranting enthusiast and he would hardly know what to preach about. I do not expect any such persons to give my First Essay a patient perusal. But better things may be expected of sober minded men, who wish to see the Scriptures calmly examined respecting the state of the departed, and the 'hope revealed to man respecting his future existence.
Should Mr. Hudson, or any other person reply to the following pages, it is requested, that the radical principles of the book be shown unscriptural. To point out some mistakes or inaccuracies, is easily done almost in any human composition, and certainly the author does not plead exemption from these. He has studied to be correct and scriptural in his sentiments. Respecting the leading principles, he does not ask, nor has he any claim on the indulgence of his readers. That they are at variance with the common opinions of the religious community he has no desire to conceal. He has appealed to the Scriptures for the truth of what he has advanced, and by those Scriptures he wishes his readers to try his opinions. The subjects discussed, all will allow, are of no ordinary concern, and all are alike deeply interested in them. They are subjects too, of which we can know nothing except from divine revelation, and the simple question is, what does it teach concern
The author is deeply sensible, that his views of the intermediate state of the dead, have a host of religious prejudice to encounter from all sects, Universalists not excepted. But persuaded as he is, that the common opinions on this subject are unscriptural ; have their origin in heathenism; have proved a fertile source of superstition and imposition in the Christian church; and above all, divert the mind of man from the true hope of future life, revealed in the Bible, he trembles not to encounter them. If his views are shown to be false, he will correct his own
But, if the cry of heresy is raised, without refutation of his sentiments, he will only say with Paul, “ of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.
ON THE INTERMEDIATE STATE OF THE DEAD.
Job, chap. 14:10. puts this question-Man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?" But who shall answer Job's question? The Bible must answer it; from no other source can we derive certain information on this subject. It cannot surely be said, the Bible is silent on the state of man after death, for most Christians speak of this with great confidence, and appeal to it in proof of their opinions. We shall examine--What saith the Scriptures on this question; guarding, on the one hand, against being wise above what is written; and on the other, overlooking things revealed which belong to us and to our children.
The Scriptures examined with respect to man's body, soul,
and spirit, between death and the resurrection.
It is universally allowed, that the whole of man is expressed in Scripture by the terms body, soul, and spirit. That man's body, after death, returns to