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usage of the expression gives no such evidence. It is well known that the worm here expressed was represented as in Gehenna; consequently, all depends upon the nature, durability and continuance, of that place. Now Gehenna, here rendered hell, is well known to be a word of Hebrew origin, and strictly signifies the literal valley of Hinnom; from HINNOM, the owner of the valley, which was on the south-east of the city of Jerusalem, and watered by the brook Kedron. See Aspin's History and Maps. In this valley had been planted the notable idol (worshipped by the Jews), called Moloch. After a lapse of time this place was desecrated, and became the receptacle of the filth and offal of the city; and, as this offal constantly produced worms, hence came the expression "where their worm dieth not ;" and as it became necessary to keep a perpetual fire for the consumption of said offal, came the expression "and the fire is not quenched." Such facts are too well authenticated to be disputed by any intelligent or well-informed mind. Both the worms and the fire existed so long as there was a cause to produce them; but it is well known that, for ages past, both have ceased to exist. This place was sometimes called Tophet, the valley of slaughter, &c. Jer. 7: 31, and 19: 6. With these facts in mind, how are we to interpret our Saviour's expression, or how could the Jews have understood him? They knew all about Gehenna, and its puros, or pur, fire. Christ knew all about this Gehenna, which he presented to the people; and if he prefigured pain and misery thereby, what time and place did he allude to? Had he, on any other occasion, or at any time, taught the Jews that there was a Gehenna of fire in eternity? or that there was any place there prefigured by Gehenna? No, reader, never adopt such conclusions until you are enabled, by good authority, to point us to such time and to such place.
Are you not aware that the only part of man which can exist in eternity is spiritual, immortal, closely connected with Christ, the object which he loved, and for which he died? And can you suppose that Christ meant to signify, by his expression, a direct comparison between the immortal part of man in eternity and the loathsome worms of the valley of Hinnom? If so, reflect for a moment, and examine both sides of your figure. If your conclusions be right, then, all who escape hell and go to heaven (in eternity), must certainly go there halt, maimed and decrepit, — perhaps some with
one eye, or one limb, and peradventure some without either. These are unavoidable conclusions; for he says, if thy hand offend thee, cut it off; or, if thy foot offend thee. cut it off; or, if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out; for it is better for thee to enter halt, maimed, &c., into life, than, having all these members, to be cast into Gehenna fire. Now, whosoever makes choice of the above figure of Gehenna, must also abide by their heaven of decrepitude; and there is no remedy; for if Gehenna means an eternal hell, then life means eternal heaven, vice versa.
We will now leave the above figure, and inquire after the probable meaning of the passage. When Christ made this expression to the Jews, he undoubtedly had his mind on the passage of the prophet. Isa. 66: 23, 24, "And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord. And they (all flesh) shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh." That the prophet used these words to express temporal judgments, will not be disputed. He speaks of a period in which there were new moons and Sabbath days; and of a place in which there were fleshly, or corporeal worshippers; and the worms and fire, they went forth to look upon, could not have been in eternity, for he says, "they shall look upon the carcasses of the men,” and adds, "they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh." Now there can be no such thing as carcasses in the eternal world; neither could those there "be an abhorring unto all flesh;" for there is neither new moons, Sabbath days, carcasses, flesh, nor worms, in the eternal and immortal worlds. Hence, Christ could not have used this language to convey any other than the same idea conveyed by the prophet, and understood by the people. When he said to them, it is better to enter halt into life, &c., he could have meant nothing more or less, than they had better forego all their pleasures, gains, unbelief, and whatever served as obstacles, and heed his advice, make their escape, and be saved from the distress and ruin suddenly coming upon that people and nation. Thus, all that can possibly be understood by the undying worm, and the Gehenna of fire, is confined to earth, and earthly existence. For further illustrations, see on the word Gehenna in this work.
ON THE FURNACE OF FIRE.
Those passages where the words FURNACE, FURNACE OF FIRE, etc., occur
Deut. 4: 20. But the Lord hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day.
1 Kings 8: 51. For they be thy people, and thine inheritance which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron.
Jer. 114. Which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Obey my voice, and do them, according to all which I command you so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God.
Isa. 31 9. And he shall pass over to his strong hold for fear, and his princes shall be afraid of the ensign, saith the Lord, whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem.
Isa. 48 10. Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.
Ezek. 22: 18-22. Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are even the dross of silver. Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Because ye are all become dross, behold, therefore, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. As they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt it, so will I gather you in mine anger and in my fury, and I will leave you there, and melt you. Yea, I will gather you and blow upon you in the fire of my wrath, and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof. As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof; and ye shall know that I the Lord have poured out my fury upon you.
Matt. 13: 41, 42. The Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which
do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Verse 50. And shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Remarks on the Furnace of Fire.
It is commonly thought that by the phrase furnace of fire is signified a place somewhere in the eternal world, in which a large share of the human family will be tortured without end.
The word furnace is, in several instances, used in the Jewish scriptures, to signify literal afflictions and trials of the people. Furnace of affliction is also used for the same purpose. But wherever those few instances occur, they stand immediately connected with the temporal concerns of men; they have no allusion, in any case, beyond the affairs of time. And this is made so plain by a careful perusal of the passages themselves, that none can well mistake their meaning. Isaiah makes use of the expression once, in chapter 48: 10, "Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." This language was addressed to the Jews in Babylon. He did not say that he had chosen them as the inmates of a furnace of affliction in eternity; but says, I have refined thee," "I have chosen thee," &c. It was already done; they were then in the furnace, by which was signified their bondage under the Chaldeans. Any place of affliction was represented by the prophets under the figures of "fire," "furnace,' ," "furnace of fire," "furnace of affliction," &c. Egypt was called an iron furnace to the Jews, while they were there in affliction. But he had brought them forth "out of the furnace;" see Deut. 4: 20, also 1 Kings 8: 51. Let it also be remembered that it was his people who were in the furnace, and not a race abandoned to a furnace of the devil in eternity. "For they be thy people, and thine inheritance which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron." The imperfect tense of the verb here shows that they had been in, and also brought out of, the furnace. But Matt. 13: 41,
informs us, that "the Son of Man shall send forth his angels (messengers), and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." Here, some future time is expressed, in which they were to be cast into a furnace of fire. The question is, first, what time is alluded to; and, second, what or where was this furnace? 1. To learn the time when they were to be cast into this furnace, we must observe, that this expression was made by Christ to his disciples, in explanation of the parable of the tares of the field. See verses 36-43. He firstly informs them that the Son of Man soweth the good seed, which are the children of the kingdom Secondly, "that the field is the world (kosmos); but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world (aionos, age); and the reapers are the angels" (angeloi, messengers). The world which was to have an end here is not kosmos, the field, but aionos, which shows that it was the end of the Jewish age, or dispensation, when the tares were to be separated and cast into the furnace of fire. Pearce says, verse 40, "End of this world: rather end of this age, viz., that of the Jewish dispensation." Verse 41, "Shall send forth his angels: this is spoken, not of what shall happen at the end of the world, but what was to happen at the end of the Jewish state." Hammond and Cappe give in substance the same comment on the passages.
The above shows that the time was the end or destruction of the Jewish age; and that the place or furnace was in Jerusalem. To make this still plainer, see Isa. 31: 9, "Whose fire is in Zion and his furnace in Jerusalem." This is plain, positive, and decisive language. "His furnace is in Jerusalem." It is nowhere said, that God has a furnace in eternity, or that he will ever prepare one there; but this furnace, which was future to the time of the expression, actually received those who were to be melted therein, about forty-one years after the ascension of our Saviour. See Ezek. 22: 18-22. There it is declared that the house of Israel, the Jews, had become dross, and that the Lord would gather them into the midst of Jerusalem, as they gather tin, brass, silver, &c., into the midst of the furnace to melt it. So would he, the Lord, gather into the furnace, Jerusalem, the Jews; leave