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A brother who was at one time pastor of the “Christian Church” in Boston, and whose attention had been directed to the doctrine of eternal torment, thus writes of the sympathetic view of that doctrine. We give you extracts:
“In pursuing the subject [eternal torment] I found no relief from the arguments or considerations advanced by the advocates of eternal woe respecting the sympathies of the righteous. Take for example the sentiments uttered by Jonathan Edwards:
“The woes of sinners in hell will not be a cause of grief to the saints in heaven—but of rejoicing. This rejoicing will be the fruit of an amiable disposition, and a perfect holiness, and a conformity to Christ. At the judgment you may be ready to fly to some godly friend, but you will see them unconcerned for you, with joy ascending to meet the Lord, and not less joyful for the horror in which they see you. When THEY HEAR YOU GROAN and SIGH and GNASH YOUR TEETH, these things will not MOVE them to pity you. After your godly parents shall have seen you lie in hell millions of years, or ages, in torment day and night, they will not begin to pity you then. They will praise God that his justice appears in the eternity of your misery. The torments in hell will be immeasurably greater than being in a GLOWING OVEN, A BRICK KILN, OR FIERY FURNACE.'”
“My soul sickened at such sentiments. It seemed to me that none but a monomaniac upon the subject could so write or believe. Scholastic theology may calmly reason of eternal woe; but when we examine the subject in the light of the fact that we, our families, friends, and fellow-men, as beings of sensitive natures, keenly alive to mental and physical suffering, are exposed to such a peril as the dogma of eternal misery asserts, one may indeed attempt to receive, or imagine it as true; but as Bp. Newton has well said, “Seriously believe it you cannot!” It would be a perversion of human nature to do so, to say nothing of the spirit of Christianity.
“Our Heavenly Father has taught us by both precept and example to be “kind to the unthankful and unholy” in this life, and our hearts are easily roused by the sufferings of our common humanity. But we are told, in the world to come we shall behold countless myriads of the lost in the torments of hell, as ‘in an unfathomable sea of liquid fire, where the wicked must drink in everlasting torture,’ and not feel one sympathetic emotion, or our happiness be for a moment marred by the terrible scene!”
— August, 1883 —