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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 prophèt 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 meanness. 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
souls for another world, nor were they advised to apply to the ministers of religion to assist them in this business. Religious people in those days, never flocked round such persons, all anxiety to help them to save their souls. God sometimes commanded such instantaneous executions, nor was a delay in any case deemed necessary, that the soul of the criminal might be prepared for eternity. The barbarous age will not account for all this, for I ask, did God live in a barbarous age? Was he influenced by its barbarity to command such instantaneous executions of the very wickedest of men? Either good people in those days, had no faith in the immortality of the soul, and its misery in a disembodied state, or they were devoid of all compassion for poor immortal souls. If the latter was the case, how could their own souls be fit for heaven?
But, passing these extraordinary cases, let us no tice persons dying in the ordinary course of provi dence. No notes were put up in meeting; no ministers were called in to pray for the salvation of the immortal souls of the dying; nor is a single fear expressed, either by the dying, or those around them, that the person's soul at death would go into a state of future punishment. What, say some, does not James, chap. 5: 14, command to call in the elders of the church to pray over the sick? Yes; but observe, he nor no other sacred writer, commands any persons to pray for the salvation of the immortal souls of the dying, from any punishment after death whatever. No; the context clearly shows, elders were to pray, that the sick might be healed of their diseases. But now, ministers are chiefly called on to pray for the salvation of the immortal souls of the sick. Their restoration to health is a secondary consideration. If the person dying has lived a wicked life, friends, neighbors, yea, all good people
around, are anxious and fearful the person's soul must go to hell. The person is visited, and prayed for, and talked to so much, that instead of restoring him to health, they hasten his death. The terrors of an endless hell, are the consolation such persons have to administer, not the hope of the resurrection. from the dead, which had the person known and believed, he would have lived a better life.
But in Scripture, we read just as little about people hoping their souls would go to heaven at death, as fearing their souls would go to hell. But now, those who express the most confident hope, are deemed the first rate saints. To die without this hope is called dying in the dark. But it seems all good people in ancient times died in the dark, for an instance is not on record, where any one expressed his hope of going to heaven at death. The death of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Simeon, Stephen, and others are recorded, but not one of them said a word about their immortal souls, or their going to heaven at death. Peter in his day said, that David then had not ascended into the heavens. Rachel's soul departed, but it is not said it went to heaven, for even Parkhurst allows soul here only means breath or life, Gen. 35: 18. That death is called in Scripture a departure, is evident. See Luke 2: 29. Phil. 1:23. comp. Acts 20: 29. 2 Tim. 4: 6. John 13: 1. 16: 17. The Saviour's soul at death did not go to heaven, for he did not ascend there, until forty days after he arose from the dead. All good men in ancient times died in hope, but it was the hope of the resurrection from the dead. But now, the chief hope in life, and at death, is about the immortal soul going to heaven. But a Catholic can as easily prove, that souls go to purgatory at death, as a Protestant can prove, that 'they go to heaven or hell
5th. Do we ever read in Scripture, of any souls