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with serpents, which she shook over the heads of the guilty. Their groans, the doleful cries, mixed with the sound of their stripes, cause the wide abyss to resound. There are for ever shut up the impious Titans, and those no less audacious mortals who dared to resist the divinity ; Tityus, Ixion, Pirithons, and the impious Salmoneous. Perjury, adultery, incest, and parricide, are likewise punished; and those whose life has been sullied with odious crimes ; those who have not respected the ties of blood, who have waged unjust wars, who have sold their country ; those who have dared to commit enormous wickedness, and enjoyed the fruit of their crimes, are all consigned to the most cruel torments.
“A less rigorous fate was reserved for him who had been guilty of smaller offences, or who, having committed crimes, had given signs of repentance. It was necessary that he should be punished till he had expiated them ; but when he had been in some sort regenerated and cleansed from the impurities contracted by guilt, he was admitted into the abodes of the blessed.
" That place of delights was admirably contrasted with the dismal regions of Tartarus. The ground sparkled with gold and precious stonés ; its fertile plains were watered with a multitude of never failing streams, which maintained a perpetual verdure. The flowers of spring were mixed with the rich fruits of autumn. A sky for ever serene and unclouded, a sun and stars from which incessantly flowed streams of living light ; and, in fine, all the objects which the most brilliant imagination could conceive, were collected to embellish those happy plains. They were inhabited by virtuous men, the friends of justice, who had served their country, and cultivated the useful arts ; they tasted a pleasure which nothing could embitter: and the remembrance of the virtues they had
practised on earth was for them a continual source of felicity. In the midst of the unmingled pleasures they enjoyed, they exercised themselves in the occupations which during life had obtained them the gratitude of their countrymen. The legislator contemplated the principles of that august and eternal law of which he had before but a glimpse ; and the assembly of the just that surrounded him, were attentive to his instructions. The sight of arms, even in the bosom of peace and tranquillity, recalled to the remembrance of the hero those battles which he had fought in defence of his country; while the poet, who had consecrated his harp to the worship of the gods, celebrated anew, in celestial strains, the power and benignity of the immortals.
“We may conceive what impression these images would make on the mind, when unceasingly presented to the eyes from earliest infancy. It is not to be doubted, that if the hope of felicity unclouded leads to virtue, the idea of endless punishment must have a still stronger influence on the conduct. The religion of the ancients, which to us appears of so light a nature that we are apt to believe its only end was to flatter the senses, yet employed the most proper means for restraining the outrageous multitude. It alarmed them on all sides with the most frightful repesentations. A poet of antiquity (Lucretius, lib. 5.] paints, in the strongest colours, that continual terror which takes possession of the human heart, which disturbs and poisons the pleasures of life, and which in every part of the earth has erected temples for the purpose of conciliating the gods. Plato, in the beginning of the first book of his Republic, represents an old man seized with fear at the approach of death, and full of inquietude with regard to objects that never occupy the season of health. Then it is, says he, that we reflect on our crimes, on the injustice we have committed, and that
often, in our agitation, we start in our sleep, and are frightened like children. As soon as some were found among the ancients who had overcome these fears, it was pretended that such had never existed among them : we might as reasonably judge of the public belief at this day, by the opinions in which some modern writers have been pleased to indulge themselves. The testiomy of those of antiquity who opposed the prejudices of their times, their very attempt to dissipate those fears, and to turn them into ridicule, rather proves how deeply they were rooted. Observe with what solicitude Lucretius every where endeavours to burst the bonds of religion, and to fortify his readers against the threatenings of eternal punishment. The observation of Juvenal, so often cited, that nobody in his day believed in the fables of hell, is that of an enlightened mind, which takes no part in the opinions of the vulgar. The same thing is to be said of what we read in Cicero, and in some other writers, on the same subject : and when Virgil exclaims, 'happy the man that can tread under foot inexorable Destiny, and the noise of devouring Acheron," he indicates, in a manner sufficiently precise, that it was the province of philosophy alone to shake off the yoke of custom, riveted by education.
" Those who were unable to conquer these vain terrors, found consolations of a different kind. Religion stretched forth her kind hand to encourage their hopes, and to relieve their despondency.. When remorse had brought back, within her pale, an unfortunate wanderer from the paths of justice, she informed him that, by a true confession of his guilt, and sincere repentance, forgiveness was to be obtained. With this view expiatory sacrifices were instituted, by means of which the guilty expected to participate in the happiness of
To rebut what has been said, by orthodox commentators, in the present section, proof of the reverse must be given, and all the researches of these able scholars must be given to the winds.
Further examination of the subject. Appeal to the Scriptures.
relative to the first transgression.
BY THE EDITOR.
We learn by the preceding section, that the use to which hades has been applied, is of heathen origin, to which the Catholic tenet of an intermediate state, suited to purgatorial discipline, also owes its parentage. Orthodox writers of much learning and diligence, are given as authority, whose testimony as to matters of fact will hardly be disputed. They give up every word, as expressive of future misery, save Gehenna. But do a majority of Christian readers, know the radical difference between the various words which are rendered hell in our common translation ? Most certainly not. The clergy, who ought, and many of whom do know better, seldom, if ever, attempt to set their hearers right respecting these things. The rea
very obvious. Once give them a clue to the truth, and they will be less ready to receive the dogma of endless misery, which needs all their ignorance and prejudice for its support. Exhibit the ignorance, or malversations of the translators, and implicit faith in the traditions of the fathers, will vanish. Hence, those who have done so much for the cause of truth, while it militates so apparently, against their own prejudices, deserve the greater praise...
But, if Sheol, or Hades, originally signified a place. of wretchedness in a future state of being, is it not most astonishing, that we never read of its creation ?
If it is in the universe of God, it was either designed from eternity, or was an accident, growing out of circumstances unseen by Jehovah when he brought the material earth on which we live from chaos into order. But we neither hear of its creation, nor of its existence, from the records of truth. No threatening of this sort is recorded in the Old Testament. 6. In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” contains no intimation of this sort. Nor does any word, or circumstance, relating to the first transgression, or its effects, produce any thing like it. No awful denunciation of implacable vengeance, and never-ending torment, are recorded as being fulminated by Almighty wrath :—No fear of such a consequence is recorded as the result of disobedience.--Adam is represented as being ashamed, and gave this as a reason for hiding himself. Shame was the consequence of guilt. But, were he in dread of ceaseless misery, could he so deliberately have made his excuse ? and had the threatening been ås our modern clergy represent it, is it within the scope of probabilities, that he was so littlé concerned as to the result? But suppose it should be objected that he did not fully understand the threat. ening, let us inquire, if the Father of our spirits could give a law to man, involving such awful consequences, while man was totally ignorant of the effects which must follow the breach of that law ? Impossible we can come to such a conclusion, without charging God with deliberate malice, and the most abominable deception. But the event shows that this was not the case. All, on the part of Jehovah, exhibits the utmost benignity. " Adam, where art thou ?" The answer proved him guilty, for shame was recognized as the legitimate result of transgression ? No: * Cursed is the ground for thy sake.” But was not the man cursed also ? No; and how was the ground Cursed ? It was to produce thorns and thistles. The