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CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTION-THE SUBJECT STATED.

Why are not all men, at least in Christian lands, earnestly engaged in preparing for the

Three Last Things,”-the Resurrection, the Judgment, and Final Retribution? Doubtless, the love of this world, and the occupation of men's minds with worldly cares and pleasures, do much to make them forget what the Scriptures teach concerning futurity. The Judgment, Heaven and Hell make little impression, because men seldom. think of them. “ The cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.” But could this be the case, if what the scriptures say of the Day of Judgment and the Retribution that is to

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follow it, were apprehended as realities? It is not merely because these things are future, that they do not seize every mind with irresistible force. The affairs of tomorrow, of next week, and of next year, are future; and yet they occupy the minds of men and influence their conduct, even more than things that are present. Nor is it because the Judgment and its consequences are at a greater distance from us than worldly things. It is not true, that, among future things, those that are nearest, necessarily affect us most strongly. The young man subjects himself to study, and labor, and privation, during many of the first years of his life, that he may prepare for the years that shall follow.

He deliberately consecrates the years that are nearest, to the work of preparing for those that are more remote. It is not, then, because the Judgment is future, or because it is more distant than some other events, that men neglect to prepare for it. It is rather because Judgment, Heaven and Hell are not indeed apprehended by them as realities. That their conduct

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will have an influence on their condition in this life, they see and feel, and act accordingly. Its influence on their condition in another life does not appear so real to them, and they disregard it.

Some have even gone a step farther, and openly assert that this life is the only state of retribution; that we suffer here, all that we shall ever suffer for our sins, and that death will introduce us all into a state of unmingled felicity. Of course, they believe all solicitude and all preparation for judgment after death and retribution after judgment to be entirely useless. From those who live and die in this belief, nothing but neglect of spiritual things and consequent perdition can reasonably be expected. And of those who have not adopted this doctrine as their own, many are encouraged in neglect by their example, and many, by the thought that perhaps it may be

true.

How shall this error be met? How shall men be convinced that they cannot safely neglect the salvation of their souls ? A closer inspection of their belief may show us.

Those who hold that there will be no Retribution after death, very naturally hold that there will be no Day of Judgment after death ; for of what use is judgment, if none are to be condemned ; or condemnation, if none are to be punished ? Judgment naturally precedes retribution. Of course, those who hold that this life is the only state of retribution, hold that every day is a day of judgment; or at least, that there are many days of judgmentdays when God inflicts special chastisementin this life. And if there is to be no general judgment, what need is there of a general resurrection ? And when one arrives at this state of mind, it is very natural to think that the doctrine of the Resurrection of the Body cannot be literally true ; that the body, when once dead, is dead forever, and that only the soul survives.

Thus, the system that justifies the neglect of the soul, denies the Resurrection of the Body, the Day of Judgment, and Retribution after the Day of Judgment; and those who fully believe it, will tell how absurd it is, to

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believe that there is a local and material hell, for the punishment of immaterial spirits. But probably, those who distinctly receive the entire system are but few.

A far greater number deny that there will be any retribution after death, but whether there will be a general resurrection and a general judgment, they have not considered, or have considered slightly without deciding.

Such, it is believed, is the most prevalent form of the doctrine which encourages men to neglect preparation for another world. It does not deny that God will punish sinners; and therefore texts and arguments which merely prove that God will punish sinners, do not confute it. Its error is an error in respect to time; asserting that retribution is in this life, and not after a general resurrection and general judgment. It must be met, therefore, by an argument concerning the time of retribution. We must show that retribution will follow the Day of Judgment. But this will be insufficient ; for we shall be told that God judges us every day that we live. We must,

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