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COURSE OF LECTURES
DELIVERED AT THE
BY WILSON C. RIDER, A. M.
PUBLISHED BY REQUEST.
Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1836, by
WILSON C. RIDER, A. M.,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Maine,
If the opinion of a distinguished philosopher in England, be correct, that every Christian who can write, ought to leave something behind him against infidelity, I may be excused in presenting that following Lectures to the public; seeing the sentiments I have endeavored to expose, are so nearly allied to bare-faced Deism.
The design of this series of Lectures, was to diversify the ordinary course of ministerial instructions, and to bring together various facts and considerations, so that they might aid each other by their arrangement and union. They were prepared, and delivered, without the least intention of publication ;-but as soon as they were completed, the Church and Society, for whose benefit they were primarily intended, expressed an earnest wish that they might be given to the public.
With regard to the immediate effect of these Lectures, all the expectations of the author have been more than realized. In offering them to the public he can truly say, that he has yielded with a reluctance, which could be overcome only by an ascertained earnestness, expressed by members of his Church, and his brethren in the Ministry, whose opinion and desire would have weight on the minds of those who knew them. Indulging the hope that they might contribute to establish the wavering; to guide the unwary; and to aid in the dissemination of truth, and in the suppression of a baneful and spreading error, he is now glad that the importunity was expressed and has been complied with ; for it has often been remarked to him by those whose sentiments he has here exposed, that the Orthodox do not receive the doctrine of endless punishment as a Bible truth, of the highest practical importance, but as a mere speculative proposition, to be admitted for the purpose of completing a system of theology, and that were they in practice consistent with their professions they would not manifest so much indifference to the subject, but would endeavor to establish it from reason and revelation, and to impress it upon the public mind. I have felt the reproof. And I fear that in this matter we cannot say, that we “are pure from the blood of all men”; and especially that Ministers of the Gospel have not sounded the alarm as loudly, and as repeatedly as they ought to have done. True they have lamented the baneful
effects of those errors which they saw thousands in the community receiving as sacred truth, while they could keep up the appearance of being believers in Christianity, and yet deny all that the natural heart deemed offensive in its doctrines, and throw off all that it deemed uncomfortable in its restraints. But through fear, that noticing such errors, might give them a consequence to which they were not entitled, they have been induced to stand aloof from the contest, and to indulge the hope that doctrines so absurd and unscriptural would, if let alone, die of themselves. Thus did not the Apostles, and Martyrs, and Reformers in the first ages of Christianity, and in the sixteenth century. They attacked every prevailing error that threatened the subversion of Christianity, however weak and contemptible, or popular and powerful it might be. And this is the duty enjoined upon ministers of the Gospel by the Great Head of the Church. “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove
them.” 6 Contend, earnestly, for the faith, once delivered unto the saints."
From these, and other considerations, the author has devoted the first three Lectures of this Series to “ The Scripture Proofs of Endless Punishment.” He has felt that the exigencies of the times rendered it necessary to show, that the grounds, on which this doctrine rests, are not slender and fallacious, but permanent as the truth of God. Impressed with the full belief that the deductions of sound reason, and the principles of common sense, harmonize in every important point with the Sacred Scriptures, he has also argued the doctrine of endless punishment, "from facts and considerations that are independent of direct Scripture testimony." These arguments, which have been deduced from revelation and reason, might have been extended, but it is not necessary, since, those who are determined to reject the doctrine of endless punishment, and to rest their hope of Heaven on the presumption of its being false, will not be likely to be converted to the truth by the strongest, or most numerous arguments; for,
“ A man convinced against his will,
Is of the same opinion still.” Aware that there is much diversity of opinion among some portions of the Christian community, respecting the nature of future punishment; and that other portions have no definite idea upon the subject ; and impressed with the belief that a consistent and scriptural view of this subject will serve to illustrate the equity of the Divine procedure in punishing his rebellious subjects with endless