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    EXAMINATION OF OBJECTIONS CONTINUED

    It is said, “the fathers believed in the endless torments of the wicked.” In reply, I remark, Our Lord and Master has prohibited my calling any man father. But, if the fathers, as they are called, did believe that doctrine, they learned it from the Bible, or they did not. If they learned it there, so can we. If they did not learn it from the Bible their testimony is of no weight. It may have been an error that early got into the Church, like many others.SSII 87.2

    Mosheim, in his Church History, tells us, as early as the third century, that the defenders of Christianity, in their controversies, “degenerated much from primitive simplicity,” and that the maxim which asserted the innocence of defending truth by artifice and falsehood, “contributed” to this degeneracy. And he adds: -SSII 88.1

    “This disingenuous and vicious method of surprising their adversaries by artifice, and striking them down, as it were, by lies and fictions, produced, among other disagreeable effects, a great number of books, which were falsely attributed to certain great men, in order to give these spurious productions more credit and weight; for, as the greatest part of mankind are less governed by reason than authority, and prefer in many cases, the decisions of fallible mortals to the unerring dictates of the divine word, the disputants, of whom we are speaking, thought they could not serve the truth more effectually than by opposing illustrious names, and respectable authorities to the attacks of its adversaries.”SSII 88.2

    This practice, spoken of by Mosheim, increased as the darker ages rolled on; and through those dark ages, what there are of the writings of the “fathers” have come down to us. It is a truth, also, that the practice of corrupting the simplicity of the apostolic doctrine was commenced much earlier than the third century. Enfield, in his philosophy, says: “The first witnesses of Christianity had scarcely left the world when” this work began. Some of the “fathers” seemed intent on uniting heathen philosophy with Christianity, and early commenced the practice of clothing the doctrines of religion in an allegorical dress.SSII 88.3

    You may judge, my hearers, what dependence can be placed upon the “fathers” in settling what is Bible truth.SSII 88.4

    Again it is said, - The Jews held the doctrine of eternal conscious being in torments. This is proved, not from their Scriptures, the place where it should be found, if true, but from the writings of Josephus.SSII 89.1

    The same may be urged against the infallibility of some things found in Josephus, as in the “fathers;” for it is certain, as I have before shown, that there was a large class among the Jews that did not believe it; viz. the Sadducees, who did not believe in the existence of spirits at all, and of course could not have held to their eternal conscious existence in sin and suffering.SSII 89.2

    But what if the Jews did believe it? They believed too “many other such like” foolish things. Are we to go to their ignorance and superstition to learn the knowledge of the Most High? The fact is, the Jewish Scriptures, the Old Testament, no where teach that doctrine.SSII 89.3

    My attention will be called to Isaiah 33:14. “Who among us shall dwell with devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” This looks the most like teaching that doctrine of any thing in the Old Testament. But the text itself refutes the theory it is brought to prove; for it tells us, expressly, the fire is a devouring fire. What is the meaning of the term “devour?” According to Walker, it signifies “To eat up” - “to consume” - “to annihilate.”SSII 89.4

    Surely then, my opponents gain nothing from this text, for it is wholly in my favor.SSII 89.5

    Besides, such questions often imply the impossibility of a thing; e.g. “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?” i.e. There is no escape. So - “Who shall dwell with devouring fire?” implies the impossibility of any person doing it, as it will utterly destroy, or consume him. I will give the objector one text from the old Testament, that he may weigh along with this. It is Psalm 92:7, “When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that shall be destroyed forever.” I have said, the Jewish Scriptures no where teach the common theory; so far from it, they wind up with the most solemn declaration, calling the attention of all men to the fact, “Behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven: and all the proud, yea, all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.”SSII 89.6

    But suppose I were to admit, that the Jews did hold the doctrine of endless suffering, as my opponents say: what then? Why, say they, that is strong evidence it must be true; because, if it had not been, the Saviour and his apostles would have taught the contrary.SSII 90.1

    I reply, first: Many of the Jews believed in the pre-existent state of souls; or, their existence in some other body prior to those they now inhabit. It was owing to this idea, that we find the disciples of our Lord in John 9:2, asking him, “Who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” This question shows, that even the apostles had imbibed the notion common among the Jews at that time. They supposed that in some previous state he might have sinned; and hence, as a judgment, was born blind. Does not the same reasoning which says, the Jews believed in the eternal sinning and suffering of the wicked, and therefore it must be true, because the Saviour did not refute it, prove that the doctrine of the transmigration of souls is true, because the Jews believed it, and our Saviour did not refute it?SSII 90.2

    But again, - I maintain, that Christ and his apostles did teach the contrary of endless sin and suffering: and that, as clear as language could make it; and I think I have already shown this. I have read the New Testament carefully through, and noted down every text that speaks of the final destiny of the wicked; or that can be construed as referring to it. Let us look at these texts, and see if any language could well express more clearly and forcibly, the utter extirpation of the wicked.SSII 91.1

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