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by Dr. John Thomas
This fiat has never been revoked; it is, therefore, as valid and exceptionless as when it fell from the lips of the Son of God.
Now, in view of this irrefutable truth, what shall we say of that system which holds out assurances of "heaven" to men of earthly, sensual, and devilish lives, when they find themselves prisoners of disease, and convicts in the clutches of the law?
When death stares them in the face, they are exhorted by their "spiritual guides" to "make their peace with God"; and even when preparing for the scaffold are taught by "gaol chaplains" to expect to meet in heaven the companions of their crimes; and that by partaking of the "sacrament" they are making their souls ready "to meet their God"!
And upon what is all this "consolation of religion" founded?
Upon a terrible apprehension of the molten and flaming sulphur in hell's cauldron, into which the "penitents" are taught their "immortal souls" will be plunged by God, and where they will be tormented by the Devil for all eternity.
A gaol-chaplain at Coventry actually burned a female convict's hand with the flame of a candle as a foretaste of her tortures after death if she did not repent!
This was his plan of proceeding in the "cure of her soul"!
But if disease, or crime, had not captured the "penitents," their career would have been still onward in iniquity.
Finding there is no escape from death, either by the rope, or in the ordinary way, their audacity and impiety are suspended.
They are imposed upon by the clerical assurance that the Lord is "waiting to be gracious"; they are directed to the thief upon the cross; and they are deceived by the falsehood that "while the lamp holds out to burn, the vilest sinner may return".
All is ready, the gospel feast is prepared, and nothing is wanting but for them to believe that Christ died for them, to be sorry for the past, profess themselves at peace with God and all mankind, and to pray for forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
Thus the "spiritual guides" of the people shrive them to perdition.
An act of the mind, prompted by terror and their persuasions, is proposed by them as a set off for a whole life of impiety and crime!
What base views must such men have of the God whose ministers they pretend to be!
Their "consolations" are unmitigated blasphemy, and false from first to last.
Need they be surprised at the little impression they make upon the public mind by their preaching; and that mankind are daily increasing in infidelity?
The million, though ignorant, are not fools.
"What necessity for us," say they, "to trouble ourselves about religion?
We can be shrived in half-an-hour for all the offences of a long life of sin".
It is the preachers that make men infidels by the preposterous absurdities they preach in the much-abused name of Christianity.
But the worst, and most repulsive, form of ministerial blasphemy is exhibited in gaol-chaplain consolations.
These are a striking manifestation of clerical ignorance of the letter and spirit of the truth.
The scripture saith, that "no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him"; and that even "he that hateth his brother is a murderer," and, consequently, beyond the pale of mercy.