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propagating an immortal one, is very like an absurdity. We may as well say a brute can propagate a rational being. That man was to produce his own likeness, the same as the beasts theirs, seems indisputable, for God blessed both for this purpose. When it is said God created man in his own image, it will not be contended, that this referred either to his immateriality or immortality. Some have held to the pre-existence of souls, and a repository for them, out of which a soul is taken and infused into every child born. And is this not as rational as to say heaven and hell are repositories for souls after death? The notion of an immortal soul, and its existence in a disembodied state, has given rise to many wild speculations; as to its nature, how it is united to, and acts upon, the body; in what part of the body it resides, with many others. But if man produces his own likeness, and soul means life, it puts an end to these speculations. Man comes into the world and dies similar to the brute creation. See Job 11: 12. Eccles. 3: 18-20. Job 34: 14. 22: 24. He comes to maturity much slower than most of them. His mental powers grow with the body and decay with it. God made man wiser than the beasts of the field or fowls of the air; and he has given him the promise of a resurrection from the dead, but to say he has given him an immortal soul, to be happy or miserable in a disembodied state, is travelling beyond the record.
3d. Has God during the past history of man ever informed him, that he has given him an immortal soul, which shall either suffer or enjoy in a future state? I answer no; for none of the Scripture writers say so, but many facts and circumstances prove that they believed no such doctrine. For example, they never proposed to save men from punishment in a disembodied state, nor do we read of a single
person anxious that their souls might be saved with such a salvation. But to save men's souls from an endless hell after death, is a foundation-principle in all orthodox preaching, and a common topic in most sermons. Preachers now make their hearers understand, that the object and end of their labors is to accomplish this. Again; the Scripture writers made no such exertions to get up religious excitements as is done in our day, the professed object of which is, to save from hell a greater number of immortal souls. Where do you find them holding days of fasting and prayer; church meetings; unionprayer meetings; inquiry meetings; and meetings without name or number; both by night and day, and all to awaken men to concern about the salvation of their immortal souls? When did they creep into houses, alarming women and children about the everlasting danger of their souls? I solemnly put it to every orthodox man's conscience, to name the prophet or apostle that ever came to any nation, city, or individual, telling the people they had immortal souls, or that they were in danger of such misery. They knew nothing about immortal souls, or the engine of an eternal hell, by which religious excitements are produced in our age of the world. Modern preachers could not get up one of these excitements if they died, without this engine. They tell people, in whining, doleful tones, they have immortal souls, under the wrath of an angry God, every moment ready to drop into a burning hell. Who would not be excited, yea, almost frightened to death that believes them? And who would not support men like gentlemen, so unwearied in their exertions to save souls from such a punishment? Again; the Scripture writers neither adopted, nor prescribed such a money-begging system, as is done in our day, to save men's souls. In what part of the Bible do
we read of mite societies, cent societies, potato-field societies, and others too numerous to be named, got up to procure money to print tracts, educate preachers, and send out missionaries to save immortal souls? Were public collections ever made, private donations requested, subscription papers handed about, male and female runners despatched to obtain money for such a purpose? Say, was it ever recommended by prophet or apostle, that children should save their cents, that families should make every possible saving in their diet, dress and furniture, that more money might be had to save precious immortal souls from perdition? But, is not this, and much more done in our day? A cent or two will be accepted from the poor widow, or the industrious girl who works hard for one dollar a week. A watch, a necklace, or any thing will be received, that the Lord's treasury may be filled, and souls saved. To stimulate people to all these wonderful doings, flaming descriptions of hell are given, and minute calculations are made, concerning the number of immortal souls yearly and hourly dropping into it. The number of preachers wanted to save the world is also stated, and even how many souls must perish, before one of these preachers can reach them is not omitted. The round sum in dollars, necessary to save the world is also calculated, and powerful appeals made to all classes, ages, and sexes in the community to come forward with their assistance, See Dr. Griffin's sermon, a.D. 1816. He must be a man of uncommon penetration who finds any thing in his Bible which bears any resemblance to all this.
But I must be allowed to doubt, if the inventors and chief promoters of this money begging system, believe their own doctrine, or practice what they thus warmly inculcate in others. Are they examples to the flock in this course of saving and self de
nial? Consider the immense fortunes some of them own; the yearly salaries some of them receive; view their dwellings, dress, table, and whole household establishment; and then ask-can these persons believe all they say about the danger of immortal souls? If report be true, some have made decent fortunes by this soul saving business, and most who engage in it, contrive to make a comfortable living by it. Do not some of them live more like eastern nabobs, than missionaries or conductors of the missions of him who had no where to lay his head? If they sincerely believed their own doctrine, they would live on bread and water, and instead of amassing wealth themselves, would spend their last dollar to save men from such misery, before they applied to the widow and others who had nothing to spare. But give, give, is the constant cry of missionary beggars. If they appeared in the humble garb of the ancient begging friars there would be some consistency in them; but you are assailed for money, by well dressed young gentlemen who have a five or ten dollar seal dangling at their front. Yes, and without a blush, will accept of money from the poorest classes in the community, yea, urge persons to give who neither do nor can pay their just debts. We speak thus plain, not because we wish to hurt the feelings of any one engaged in this business, but to lead them to consider if Christ and his apostles either adopted or recommended such a money begging system. They never thought of such a system, nor intimated, that it would be necessary in any after age of the world. Why not? I answer, because they did not believe men had immortal souls to be saved from endless misery. If they had, they would not have left such a contemptible money spunging system to be devised by the doctors of our day. Money was a thing the apostles and first mis
sionaries concerned themselves very little about. Collections were indeed made by the churches, but will any man have the boldness to affirm, that they were made to save the immortal souls of the heathen from hell? But now money, money, is the constant cry; and to save immortal souls from hell is as constantly urged to induce liberality. But the hour is come, when people begin to open their eyes to look at this system which is sinking already by its own We intreat all to examine the Scriptures, if men have either immortal souls to be saved, or that such a hell exists to be saved from as our orthodox brethren affirm. I will yield to no man, in desiring that the whole world might be blessed with the knowledge the Bible contains, and be turned from idols and wickedness to the love and service of the true God. But I cannot approve of teaching the heathen, a system of religion which appears to me to be of heathen origin. Nor can an honorable minded missionary feel pleasant in his work, if he reflects on the modes adopted to find him a support.
4th. Do we ever read in Scripture, of any persons in the time of sickness, or near prospect of death, expressing fears that their souls after death would go to hell to suffer endless misery? I answer no. This is neither done by persons dying, or by any persons for them. I challenge an instance to be produced from the Bible, showing either of these.Sometimes we read of thousands cut off in a day, by war, pestilence, and famine; but no friend or surviver ever expressed the slightest apprehension, that the souls of any of these persons had gone into a future state, to suffer either endless or limited punishPersons were also put to death, by the hands of the common executioner, and their sentence is pronounced and executed in the same short hour. Not a moment was allowed them, to prepare their