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rity of this verse; he declares it to be spurious. So did sir Isaac Newton; so did Mr. Emlyn. Griesbach has struck it out of his Testament. The present bishop of Lincoln declares it to be spurious; and I could mention many others of the same opinion.

My companion was not inclined to acquiesce in any of these authorities, and observed, that if the verse ought not to be there, the opinion contained in it was maintained in other parts of scripture, and was upheld by all the fathers of the church. To this I replied, that the Greek fathers certainly did believe in the trinity, though they did not quote this verse to support it, which was an additional proof that they had it not in their Testaments; and I added, that if he was not satisfied in his mind that the verse was originally written by John, he ought never to quote it; and I did not see how he could do his duty to God and to his congregation, if he used words as scripture which were not in scripture. It became him to examine the arguments on both sides, and to judge impartially upon a fair view of the subject.

My companion, I observed, was a little struck with what I said, for he had kept company with men only of his own profession, and had never been accustomed to have any of his notions called in question. He had been taught a certain routine. of opinions in his college, just as most ministers, particularly those of the Calvinistic persuasion, who do not study the bible to learn what God teaches, but to confirm by texts of scripture, from

all quarters, what has been laid down by preceding teachers. This is a lamentable thing for the christian world. The people are kept in ignorance, nearly as bad as that of popery, and the false arguments repeatedly used by their preachers they do not dare to call in question, for fear of being stigmatized as heretics. My companion brought me, among others, that text in which Jesus himself is by these teachers accused of blasphemy, which, if he had uttered it, would have deservedly brought him either to the fatal tree, or given sufficient grounds for confining him in a mad-house. "Before Abraham was, I am," said Jesus: that is, said my companion, Jesus says that he is God. How is that? asked I. Why, said he, the term "I am” is the Hebrew name for God. If it is, I replied, then Jesus said only, "before Abraham was God;" and this was so well known a truth, that it required no prophet from heaven to tell us it; but, I added, you know very well, that the Hebrew language has no terms to express the words "I am," for in that language there is no present tense.

The carriage coming up that was to take me on my journey, I was obliged to leave my companion, with whom I left matter to ruminate upon; and it struck me afterwards, that if you would give a place to this letter in your magazine, it might excite some of our unitarian missionaries to converse, wherever they have an opportunity, with the methodist teachers, and, hearing calmly all their denunciations, to set before them, gradually, those points which may lead them to investigate

the true meaning of the scriptures. The methodist has zeal, which only requires proper direction; and many methodist teachers have been eminently useful in bringing men from their false notions of religion, and to worship the only true God, the God and Father of Jesus Christ.

I remain, &c.

Reflections on Eternal Punishment.

THE great distinguishing doctrines of christianity are those of a general resurrection, and a future state of impartial retribution. These doctrines, while they are suited to produce a powerful effect on the human mind, approve themselves to the unbiassed reason of the inquirer after truth. But unfortunately the scripture doctrine of future punishment has been so misrepresented as to appear utterly incredible. It has been long and generally maintained, that offences committed by frail and ignorant creatures during the infancy of their existence, will be punished with sufferings dreadful beyond conception, and lasting as the ages of eternity.

That such a doctrine, in an age, like the present, of inquiry and investigation, should meet with opposition is by no means extraordinary. It would, indeed, be more surprizing, if thinking and intelligent men could be induced to embrace so irra

tional and barbarous a tenet, however ingenious and plausible the arguments adduced in its favour.

Perhaps a well-disposed but timorous believer might ask, "as the doctrine of eternal punishment has been generally received among christians, and must certainly be a much more powerful antidote to vice than the opposite persuasion, why should it not be permitted to retain undisturbed its place in the popular creed?" He might add, "wickedness is already sufficiently prevalent, and it is to be feared would be far more so, did vicious men believe that their punishment would not continue for ever." But it might be fairly replied, that the doctrine of an eternal, and not the doctrine of a temporary punishment, has a licentious tendency; and, however paradoxical this assertion may appear, a little consideration will make it sufficiently obvious.

That a being of infinite goodness, mercy, and compassion, as the Almighty is constantly represented, should condemn weak and imperfect creatures to eternal and exquisite misery, for yielding to temptations incident to the state in which he had placed them, is a position too shocking and incredible to be firmly believed. Hence men become secretly persuaded that they shall never be called to account for their actions. They cannot believe all that they are told concerning the penalty of sin, and therefore they reject the whole without discrimination. Both learned and unlearned have protested against a tenet which their natural good sense could not but perceive was so

derogatory to the moral character of God. Thus the doctrine of eternal punishment has promoted immorality, by means of latent infidelity.

But if men were informed that only a just and adequate punishment will be inflicted on the wicked, not that they will be eternally miserable, but that their sufferings will be exactly proportioned to their depravity and guilt, both in degree and duration, against such a proposition their minds would not revolt. To such a tenet they could not easily invent plausible objections. They must think it a probable doctrine in spite of themselves. surely they would be more likely to be deterred from sin by the expectation of certain and dreadful misery to be endured through a long and an indefinite period, than by preposterous threats of never-ending torments, which they cannot seriously believe.


If we reflect on the ignorance of the far greater part of mankind, the little pains that have been taken in their infancy to inure them to the practice of piety and virtue, the difficulty of conquering habits, of eradicating propensities which have

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grown with their growth, and strengthened with their strength;" if we likewise consider the numerous and powerful temptations to which they are afterwards exposed in the world, how can it be thought consistent with infinite goodness, to punish the offences of few and fleeting years with everlasting anguish and despair?

It might indeed be alleged, with some appear. ance of plausibility, that as nothing more is re


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