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pretation. And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh. The prophet evidently alludes to the common custom of conquerors; who, having gained a decisive battle and driven the enemy out of the field, go forth to view the slain; whose dead bodies shall, according to the two different ways of disposing them, either be interred, and so eaten up with worms, which continue preying on them while there is any thing to devour; or burned in a fire, that ceases not till they are utterly consumed and reduced to ashes; and thereby become a lasting monument of Divine Justice, and a warning to the rest of the world." Now what did "his lordship," (as Mr. Faber politely calls all these pseudo-bishops, whether living or dead) intend to infer by all this? Why plainly that as the first death was a first "real dissolution and destruction," so the second death was a second "real dissolution and destruction." But had he the honesty to say so boldly? No-but I have. And I will undertake to say without any hesitation whatever, however strange it may appear, that the unscriptural views of eternal torments generally current, are the most pernicious heresies that ever were broached by a corrupt church. For the doctrine of eternal torments in their literal acceptation is so palpably absurd in the eyes of the generality of mankind, and so inconsistent with common notions of God's holiness, that men are driven to believe that there are actually no future punishments at all; or, that if literal eternal torments are these future punishments, they certainly believe, that if a man be too great a reprobate for earth, yet he may be somehow good enough for heaven, rather than be worthy of so great a punishment as hell is made to be. And hence we see at what a low ebb religion is in general. Hence we see how professors measure themselves by themselves," never exerting themselves beyond the decent routine of the common herd, thinking that they will pass into heaven among the crowd. Why, to bring the case home. Does not every man of common sense believe, that capital punishments for forgery are the very means not of preventing but increasing the crime; most men who are sufferers being unwilling to prosecute, from their conviction of the disproportion of the crime to the penalty? And is not every man willing to believe that his neighbour, somehow or other, he is not nice to examine how, slips into heaven while the angels are purposely instructed to look another way, because hell torments are too much? And does not this encourage immorality? I believe, few will be saved.
Mystery and Harlotry, i, e. superstition and secular establishments of religion, are the bane of Christianity. Prophecy teaches us to look forward to the removal of these as the sole means of diffusing its glory over all the earth. It cannot supersede Mahommedanism, which abhors Tritheism, so long as the intellectdegrading faith of Nice sits like an incubus upon the half-dosing bosom of the church, stifled by the fat of the temporalities of its chiefs. It cannot enter China, which TOLERATES her creeds and abhorring state-religions ESTABLISHES none to her internal peace and quiet, so long as kings and governments leave their place of nursing-fathers to take upon them the office of husbands, and make the chaste spouse of Christ their prostitute. Prophecy tells us that
we have been in error a thousand years or more; and directs our attention, I will not say, to something new, for Christianity abominates novelties, but to a correcter understanding of that which is ancient, of that which was from the beginning. The imagery of the sixth vision, which brings the prophetic drama to a close, is far from giving a sanction to established institutions and opinions. We see there, indeed, the Word of God openly enlisted against them, and meeting in decided conflict all the ecclesiastical powers that be." A new impulse seems to have seized the religious world; and this new impulse is not represented as prudently discountenanced by the Almighty, but as first agitated and promoted and directed by his controlling influence. Let us therefore look over our creeds, and our articles, and our catechisms, both long and short, and compare them with the Word of God again, for even after seventeen or eighteen centuries old, it is represented as having a peculiarity in it, "which no one knows but itself," and which of course cannot then be found in any human systems. Let us recollect that all religion which emanates from God is progressive, and adapted to the capacities of the age in which it is delivered, partaking also of its light and tone, and sometimes temporising with its, for a time, harmless yet useful superstitions; and yet by an ingenious method worthy of the divine Being who invented it, scattered with the springing and germinant seeds of its own improvement and perfection, in order that it may keep pace with the moral and intellectual advancement of the human race; dropping off, like deciduous evergreens, their leaves, one shackle of mental, moral, and physical slavery after another, till the whole creation at last bursts forth into all the glorious liberty of the children of God. Nothing appears to me a weaker argument for the reception of long-established error, than that it has been implicitly believed by the pious of many ages; for every day's experience shews us into what ridiculous opinions the most pious men continually are falling, and past ages have shewn us what monstrous absurdities pious credulity has swallowed; not to mention all those extravagancies into which, in many cases, those pious simpletons, the church fathers, were betrayed. And we know too that what some daring infidel has started in one age, and has then outrageously shocked the feelings of the intellectstunted religionist, has been quietly permitted to supersede his exploded superstition in the next. So that I take it, for a man to defend error by its antiquity, is to shew that he has not yet furnished his mind with the commonest observations. Equally weak too is that tendency of mind which teaches us to look for truth among doctors and professors of universities; they indeed are very useful for the preservation of long-established institutions and opinions, but as for treading out of the track of well-rewarded error, they have neither the courage nor the interest. Neither are they so wise as some people imagine; for though they agree in one thing, not to differ in any point which regards the established articles of their faith; yet they differ so much in other things which may be legitimately mooted, that, that man must be silly indeed who imagines, that they would not differ on those points which are commonly considered to be settled among them, if they might.
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old (marg. at any) time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 2 Pet. i. 19-21.
* St. Peter tells the Christians to pay diligent attention to prophecy, but with this caution, not to confound private interpretations or Targums upon it with prophecy itself-He might allude then to the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, which pretended to be a collection of traditions handed down from the prophets themselves, but which did not bear sufficient testimony to Jesus, the drift of all prophecy. For, says he, the holy men of God themselves were ignorant of the meaning of the prophecies they delivered, being mere organs of the Holy Ghost. Compare the above passage with I Pet. i. 10. 11.