Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/517

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a place, and hades is a place" and calls the modern idea of hell a "mystical, superspiritual view." Mr. Talmage, of Brooklyn (Presbyterian), asks: "What is the use of explaining away a furnace of fire, when God says there is one? . . . I am not opposed to saying it may be figurative; but I know very well that if it is not fire it is something as severe as fire. . . . God says it is fire, and a furnace of fire. Besides that, I do not know that it is figurative. It may be literal. The Bible sixteen times says it is fire." Dr. H. W. Thomas, pastor of the People's Church, Chicago, says that there is now a tacit admission on the part of even the orthodox churches that "the teachings of the past on this subject are not wholly true, and that, in some respects at least, they have to be modified or abandoned."

"The proprietor of a great foundry in Germany," says Alger, while he talked one day with a workman who was feeding a furnace, accidentally stepped back, and fell headlong into a vat of molten iron. The thought of what happened then horrifies the imagination. Yet it was all over in two or three seconds. Multiply the individual instance by unnumbered millions, stretch the agony to temporal infinity, and we confront the orthodox idea of hell."[1] Mr. Alger maintains that the doctrine of a local hell, a guarded and smoking dungeon of the damned, ought not to be regarded as a truth contained in a revelation from God, because it is plainly proved by historic evidence to be a part of the mythology of the world, a natural product of the poetic imagination of ignorant and superstitious men.[2]


SOME discoveries have very recently been made in the starry heavens which must be regarded, not only in what they are of themselves, but also on account of the way in which they were made, as among the most interesting of scientific events. It seems, in fact, like a contradiction to say that astronomers in Europe and America have been able to determine the velocity of motion, size, and weight of stars that are not visible in any telescope, and which no telescope to be made in the future, no matter how great its power may be, will be able to show. The new science also has the peculiar property that it recognizes mutual relations between objects apparently lying far from one another, connects with one another phenomena which appear to have no com-

  1. Future Life, preface to the tenth edition.
  2. Future Life, p. 699.