your breath as fire shall devour you; and the people shall be as the burnings of lime; as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire. Hear, ye that are far off, what I have done; and ye that are near acknowledge my might." See verses 9-13. Then comes in the passage under consideration. Who then were to dwell with “everasting burnings?" "He that waketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppression, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil." See verse 15. These, then, were to dwell amid the devouring fire of God's iudgments, and dwell safely. They were not to be injured by those fires and judgments which made the "sinners in Zion afraid,” and which surprised the hypocrites with "fearfulness." There is a possibility, then, of a person's dwelling with devouring fire, yea, with "everlasting burnings," in the scripture sense of these phrases, and being entirely unharmed and uninjured. We pity the man who can see in this text the least proof of the doctrine of endless punishment.

4. Jer. 17: 4. For ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn forever.

The prophet is speaking of Judah, and the punishment of Judah. He does not say the anger of God should burn against them through the endless ages of eternity, nor in a future state of existence; on the contrary, the connection shows that this punishment was of a temporal nature. thine heritage that

[ocr errors]

And thou even thyself shalt discontinue from I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not; for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn forever."

5. Jer. 23: 40. And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten. Compare Jer 20: 11

Here, again, it is evident that the Jewish people are spoken of God does not say they should suffer this reproach and shame in a future world, nor that they should be made endlessly miserable; nor does any Christian believe that the entire Jewish people are to suffer endless punishment. Few will dispute that this text relates to the temporal punishment of the Jews. The connection makes this perfectly plain. God, after having spoken of the great wickedness of the Jews, says, "Therefore I, even I, will utterly fe get you

and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence; and I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten." For the meaning of the phrase, “Presence of God," see Chapter XIV.

6. Mal. 1:4. The people against whom the Lord hath indignation for



Here, again, it is evident from the context that God's temporal judgments are referred to. It is not said the Lord will be indignant against these people, but "the Lord hath indignation". is, they were a people against whom, as a people or nation, the Lord had always been indignant. The people spoken of are the Edomites, who had been the enemies and persecutors of the Jews, for which God had overthrown or destroyed them. "Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the Lord of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them The border of wickedness, and The people against whom the Lord hath indignation forever." Further comment on this text is unnecessary.

7. Dan. 12: 2. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

This text was once regarded by the great majority of Christians as proof, not only of punishment in a future world, but of the endless continuance of that punishment; but, by the great majority of intelligent Christians, this idea is now abandoned. We doubt whether any intelligent, respectable clergyman of any denomination would dare to hazard his reputation on the assertion that the text has any relation to the concerns of another world. If there is any such one, we are very certain he cannot be induced to manifest his sincerity by going before a public audience and defending such an opinion against the attacks of a respectable opponent. But there may be some who are honestly of the opinion just referred to; and for the benefit of such as may chance to read this book, we will give the text an examination.

The first question to be settled is, Is Daniel here speaking of an event which is yet future? If the view which has commonly been entertained of the text be correct, he certainly must be; for it has

been supposed that he is speaking of the literal resurrection from death, and certainly this has not yet taken place. But it must be allowed that Daniel knew as much concerning the time for the fulfilment of his predictions as any person living at the present day can be supposed to know. His own testimony concerning the time, then, will not be disputed. Well, when then does Daniel say his prediction should be fulfilled? The twelfth chapter commences thus: "And at that time." At what time? Evidently the time spoken of in the preceding chapter. Well, in the eleventh chapter, he speaks of the "abomination that maketh desolate." See verse 31. And Christ, in his discourse concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, contained in the 24th and 25th chapters of Matthew, fixes upon that event as the time for the fulfilment of what Daniel had spoken concerning the abomination of desolation. "When ye (the disciples), therefore, shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, then let them which be in Judea flee to the mountains." See Matt. 24. 15, 16. Compare Luke 21: 20, 21, "And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains." In these passages our Lord addresses his disciples as if he expected they would live to see this "abomination of desolation ;" and it is also plain that this "abomination of desolation was the Roman army which destroyed Jerusalem. Again, Daniel, in the 11th, and also in the 12th chapter, speaks of the "time of the end." What end was this? "" Evidently the end of the world," We reply Daniel says not a word in his whole book about the end of the world. The phrase "end of the world" does not occur in his writings. What end then was this, and when was it to take place? See Dan. 12: 4-7. "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. Then I Daniel looked, and behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river. And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth forever and

say some.

[ocr errors]

ever, that it shall be for a time, times, and a half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, ALL THESE THINGS SHALL BE FINISHED." Our Lord, in the 24th chapter of Matthew, speaks of the same "end." "And ye shall hear of wars, and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet......... And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." Both Daniel and Christ are here speaking, not of the end of the material world, but of the end of the Mosaic or legal dispensation; and this was brought to a close or end, finally and effectually, when God 'accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people;" or, when the temple and holy city were demolished, and the Jews led captives among all nations. Once more. In the verse preceding the passage under consideration, Daniel says: "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as there never was since there was a nation even to that same time." Our Lord quotes these very words, and applies them to the destruction of Jerusalem. "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." See Matt. 24: 21. But Daniel adds, "And at that time thy people shall be delivered every one that shall be found within the book." Our Lord, when speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem, says, But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." Accordingly, not one Christian perished in that destruction. found written in the book " of life were saved, i. e., delivered in that awful and tremendous calamity which came upon the Jews. It is plain, therefore, that both Daniel and Jesus apply the prediction contained in the 12th chapter of Daniel to the destruction of Jerusalem; and both of them considered it fulfilled at the time of, and in, that event. Those who apply it to a literal resurrection, or to the concerns of another world, or to any event which is yet future, must admit that both Jesus and Daniel were mistaken.

[ocr errors]

All who were


If this text relates to the literal resurrection, and teaches the punishment of a portion of mankind in a future world, one thing is certain it is no proof of the doctrine of endless punishment. But," says the objector, "does it not say 'some shall awake to

shame and everlasting contempt?"" Yes; but have we not shown that the word everlasting is frequently employed in the Scriptures in a limited sense? And have we not shown that it is even applied to punishment, when it is perfectly obvious that only a limited punishment is intended? Besides, how can it be believed that Daniel intended to teach here the doctrine of never-ending woe, pain and misery, and yet applied to this misery the comparatively light terms "shame and contempt?" Why, if he intended to teach this doctrine, did he not say, as those who believe this doctrine in our day would say, under the same circumstances, "Some shall awake to appear before God in judgment, and to be consigned to the torments of a never-ending hell?" or "Some shall awake to experience endless misery and undying agony?" Again, if Daniel refers here to the literal resurrection, why does he limit that resurrection to a certain number? He does not say "all that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake," but "many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake." This certainly implies that all were not to awake, or that some would not awake. Upon the supposition that he refers to the literal resurrection, we see no way to account for this; but, if our view of it is correct, all this is perfectly plain. Once more. If Daniel here teaches the doctrine of endless punishment in a future state of existence, another thing is vcry certain he is the only Old Testament writer who does teach it. If this text teaches it, it is the only text in the Old Testament that does teach any such thing. Now, is it reasonable to suppose that the Old Testament Scriptures were designed to teach so important a doctrine as this, and yet that it should not be mentioned but in one single book, and in only one single passage even in that book, and that book the twenty-seventh one of a collection of thirtynine, and that passage in the very last chapter of that book? Can it be supposed that the Old Testament writers believed in such a doctrine, and yet that only one of them, and he the fourteenth in a list of twenty-eight, should say anything about it; and he only mention it once, and then in the very last chapter of his book? Certainly, these are absurdities so glaring that we greatly marvel that they should ever have been overlooked.

But it may be asked, "What, then, is meant by 'them which sleep in the dust of the earth?" We answer: the terms sleep, dust, death, &c., are frequently employed in the Scriptures to

« VorigeDoorgaan »