« VorigeDoorgaan »
about, and other circumstances, that à place of eternal punishment could not be meant by this word. The Old Testament saints expected to go to Sheol, yea, prayed for it; but what would we think, to hear Christians now speaking about hell, as they did about Sheol? For example, would it not astonish us to hear a professed saint, pray, that thou wouldest hide me in bell, or in the place of endless misery?" But why should it astonish us, if they meant by Sheol, what we now do by the word hell? Take only a single example of this. If Jacob meant by Sheol what we now mean by the word hell, why ought the following statement to surprise us ?-A Christian loses a son, and refuses to be comforted by his family. He says, “I will go down to the place of endless misery unto my son mourning." Concerning another beloved child he says,—"if mischief befal him by the way in which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the place of endless misery." This would be strange language in the mouth of a Christian in our day. But it ought not, if we indeed contend, that Sheol or hell, in the Old Testament, had any reference to such a place of misery.
3d, Let us now turn our attention to all the texts in wbich Sheol is rendered by the word hell, in the common version. It ought to be observed generally, in the outset, that in several of the places where the word Sheol is rendered hell in the text, the translators put grave in the margin. The man who does not perceive that grave in many places, at least, is much more suitable to the text and context, must read his Bible very carelessly. Who, for example, does not perceive this in Psalm xvi. 10. " for thou wilt not leave my soul in hell.” This is quoted, Acts ii. and applied to the resurrection of our Lord. It may surely be asked,—was our Lord ever in hell, the place of eternal misery? When he said, “ father into thy
hands I commend my spirit,” did his father send him to hell? This, I presume, will not be pretended. Where, it may be said then, was our Lord's soul not left? He was not left in the state of the dead, or in Sheol or Hades, which are only two names for the same place. The Lord did not suffer his Holy One to see corruption, but raised him again from the dead.
But again: was Jonah in hell, when he said, chap. ji. 2,"out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou hearedst
my voice ?” I have always understood, that in hell prayers were unavailing. But if Jonah was in hell, this is not true, for he not only prayed there, but was heard and delivered out of it.' li deserves notice, that our translators, Gen. xxxvii. 35. awape that it would not do to send Jacob to hell, translate the word Sheol grave; and here, thinking it rather strange to represent Jonah as praying in hell, they put grave in the margin.-But again ; are we to conclude, when it is said, Psalm lv. 15,-“let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell," that David prayed that the persons of whom he spoke, might go down quick, or alive, into a place of endless misery? As this was not a prayer very suitable for the man after God's own heart, we find our translators again put grave in the margin.
Having seen from Psalm xvi. 10. that the Saviour is represented as having been in hell, we need not be much surprised at what is said in the following passages, which refer to him. Thus, Psalm xviii. 5. it is said, "the sorrows of hell compassed me about; the spares of death prevented me." See also 2 Sam. xxii. 6. and Psalm cxvi. 3. where the same language is used. In this text, “sorrows of hell," and "snares of death," are convertible expressions, and seem evidently to refer to the Saviour's sufferings. I am aware, that it hath been held as an opinion, that our Lord actually went to hell, and suffered its pains for
a season. This opinion was probably founded on these passages. In the present day, I presume the man is not to be found, who would risk his reputation in defending it.
That Sheol, translated hell, means the grave, or state of the dead, is, I think, obvious. Thus, Solomon, speaking of a lewd woman, says, Prov. vii. 27,
- her house is the way to hell;" which he immediately explains, by adding,“ going down to the chambers of death." This is, if possible, still more evident from chap. v. 5,—" her feet go down to death,” which is explained by the next words,-“her steps take hold on hell." The same remarks apply to Prov. xxii. 13, 14.-As the state of the dead was concealed from the eyes, or knowledge of all the living, its being known to God, is stated as a proof com his perfection in knowledge. Thus it is said, Job xxvi. 6,4"hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering.” And again, Prov. xv. 11. "hell and destruction are before the Lord, how much more then the hearts of the sons of men.”
Sheol, whether translated pit, grave, or hell, is repTesented as below, beneath, and as a great depth. Persons are always spoken of as going down to it. It is contrasted as to depth, with heaven for height, the extent of both being alike unknown. Thus it is said, Prov. xv. 24,4“the way of life is above to the wise, that they may depart from hell beneath." And,
- ie is nigh as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; wbat canst thou know?” Job xi. 8. See also, Amos ix. 2. And Psalm cxxxix. 8. where similar language occurs. See also Dr. Campbell's dissertation quoted above, on all these texts. But not only is Sheol, hell, represented as a great depth, but we read of the lowest hell. Thus in Deut. xxxii. 22. it is said.—“ for a fire is kindled in mine anger and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the
earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.” Here, as in other places, for hell in the text, our translators put grave in the margin. Should we understand hell, in this text to mean the place of eternal misery, it is implied, that there is a low, and lower, as well as lowest place of misery for the wicked.
Accordingly, it has been common to assign to notoriously wicked men the lowest hell. But whatever sense we put on the phrase, “the lowest hell,” it is the same place of which Da. vid thus speaks, Psalm lxxxvi. 13,—" for great is thy mercy towards me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.” Was David ever in the lowest place of eternal misery? But here again our translators for hell in the text put grave in the mar. gin. The fact is, the language in the above texts is used figuratively, and it would be absurd to interpret it literally. See the foregoing dissertation of 'Dr. Campbell in proof of this._When we read of the lowest hell, which implies a low, and a lower, is not this mode of speaking used as a contrast to the expression highest heavens, which implies a high and a higher heavens? We read also of the third heavens, which clearly implies two more. I would therefore suggest it for consideration, if the expression "lowest hell," did not originate, from the dead being sometimes cast into pits, the depth of which was as little known, as the height of the highest heavens. When the common honors were paid the dead, they were put in caves, or vaults, or decently interred under the earth. But when persons were deemed unworthy of funeral honors, were they not cast into pits, the depth of which, were sometimes unknown? Did not this unknown depth give rise to the expression depths of hell, just as the unknown height of the highest heavens, gave rise to this expression?
In Isai. v. 14. it is said," hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure; and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth shall descend into it.” This may be said with respect to the grave, but surely with no propriety could it be said of a place of eternal misery. Speaking of the proud ambitious man, it is also said, Hab. ii. 5,-"who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied.” In this text, death and hell are used as convertible words to express the same thing. In Prov. xxvii. 20. it is said " hell and destruction are never full.” Similar things are stated above in the texts where Sheol is translated grave, as in these passages, and show, that the same was intended by the inspired writers, although the original word is differently rendered. The context of all these texts sufficiently show, that the grave or state of the dead is meant, and not a place of eternal misery. Indeed, let any one read Ézek. xxxii. 17–32. and observe, that all the dead are represented as in hell, and as speaking out of the midst of hell. Their graves are represented as about them ; that the mighty are gone down to hell with their weapons of war, and that their swords are under their heads. All this description agrees very well with the ancient mode of placing the dead in their repositories, but it is contrary to common belief, that a place of eternal misery could be referred to. Does any one believe that the mighty of this earth have their swords under their heads in such a place?
As Sheol the grave, or hell, was the most debased state to which any person could be brought, hence I think God says, reproving Israel for their idolatries,
_" and didsi debase thyself even unto hell.” Isai. lvii. 9. And as death and the grave are of all things the most dreaded by men, it is said of some, that they," have made a covenant with death, and with