hell are at agreement." This language, expresses iu a very strong manner, their fancied security, but which were only vain words, for it is added, “your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand.” Isai. xxviii. 15


The last text in which Sheol is translated hell, is Psalm ix. 17,-"the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations who forget God." There is no text in which the word Sheol occurs, which has been more frequently quoted than this, to prove that by hell, is meant a place of misery for the wicked. The wicked are the persons spoken of, and they are said to be, or shall be, turned into hell, with all the nations that forget God. Plausible as this appears to be, we have only to consult the context, to see that no such idea was intended by the inspired writer. The Psalm in which the words stand, is treating of God's temporal judgments upon the heathen nations. We think if verses 15—20. are consulted, this will sufficiently appear. What leads people to think that this passage refers to eternal misery, is, the false idea which they have attached to the word hell. They have associated a false idea with this word, and in this text they conclude that it is taught. But surely no one, who has attended to all the above texts, can continue to believe that Sheol here, has such a meaning. It is the same hell into which the wicked are turned, which Jacob said he would go down to Joseph mourning. It is the same hell in which the Saviour's soul was not left. It is the same hell David prayed the wicked might go down quick, or alive into. When once I can believe that David prayed the wicked might go down alive to a place of endless misery, and that Ko. rah and his company did go there alive, it is possible I may believe that the text before us contains the answer to David's prayer. But it will not be easy to

produce evidence of this. The fact is, it would prove too much for even those who take this view of it. It would prove that all the heathen nations must go to eternal misery, a thing which few are prepared to admit. Ask the question of the most zealous advocates of the doctrine,-are all the heathen nations turned into eternal misery? They hesitate, they faulter to say yes. But why do they so? for if Sheol means such a place, the passage is plain and explicit in declaring it.

It perhaps may be objected to this view of the text, -are not all good people turned into Sheol, or the state of the dead, as well as the wicked? why then is it said the wicked shall be turned into hell with all the nations that forget God ? The answer to this is easy. Though all good people in David's day, went to Sheol, as well as the wicked, yet not in the way he is here speaking of the wicked. David is speaking of God's public judgments on the heathen, and by those judgments they were to be cut off from the earth, or turned into Sheol. It is one thing to die, and quite another to be cut off by the judgments of God from the earth. That the Sheol or hell here mentioned, was not a place of endless misery for the wicked, see Ainsworth on this text, and on Gen. xxxvij. and Psalm xvi.- 1 shall only add, if all the wicked, yea, all the nations who forgot God in those days were turned into a place of endless misery, upon what principles are we to justify the character of God, or of good men, for their want of feeling towards them, or their exertions to save them from it? We are told that the times of this ignorance God winked at: that he suffered all nations to walk after their own ways. If all the heathen nations were turned into a place of eternal misery, neither God, nor good men felt, or spoke, or acted, as if this was true.

I have now finished, what Dr. Campbell ealls an endless labour, namely, to illustrate by an enumeration of all the passages in the Old Testament, that Sheol, rendered pit, grave, and hell in the common version, does not signify a place of endless misery. What he stated concerning ibis in the above extract, we think is strictly correct. Before closing my remarks on all these passages, there are a few facts and observations, which have occurred in the examination of them, which deserve some notice.

1st, The word translated everlasting, eternal, forever, is never connected with Sheol or hell by any of the Old Testament writers. If they believed that this was a place of punishment for the wicked, and that it was endless in its duration, it is somewhat surprising that this should be the case. Every one knows, that these words are very often used there, but not in a single instance do the inspired writers in any way use them, when speaking of Sheol, or hell. So far from this, in some of the texts. it is said, hell is to be destroyed. We may then make an appeal to every candid mind, and ask, if hell in the Old Testament refers to a place of eternal misery, how are we to account for this?

The fact is certain. To account for it, I leave to those who believe this doctrine. We read to be sure in ooks, and we have rd also in sermons, of an eternal hell, but such language, is not found in all the book of God, nor did it ever drop from the lips of any inspired writer.

2d, Another fact equally certain is, that not only are the words eternal, everlasting, or forever, omitted in speaking of Sheol or hell, but this place is not spoken about, as a place of misery, at all. Whether Sheol is translated pit, grave, or hell, in not one of hell the passages, is it described as a place of misery for the wicked, or for any one else. Before there need to be any dispute, whether the punisbment in this role

[ocr errors]

piace is to be of eternal duration, we have got first to prove, that it is a place of punishment. But as this place is Sheol and not Gehenna, I pass this over.

3d, But so far from its being a place of misery, or eternal in its duration, it is also a fact, that it is described as a place of insensibility and ignorance. We are told that there is,-“ no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, or Sheol, whith

er thou goest.” Eccles. ix. 10. Besides ; Hezeki1. ah, we have seen, said, Isai. xxxviii. 18,4"the grave

cannot praise thee; death cannot celebrate thee; they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth." I ask, could those persons have spoken in this manner, if they believed that hell was a place of punishment? Yea, 1 ask, could they in truth have spoken so, if their ideas about Sheol were the same as ours are about hell? We think this is impossible.

4th, It is a fact beyond dispute, that the Old Testament writers, and Christians generally in these days, are hardly agreed in a single idea about hell, if Sheol in the Old Testament signifies a place of eternal misery. It would be tedious to state this at length. 1 shall give a specimen of this disagreement.

Notice then, 1st, How the inspired writers in those days, and good men in these, speak about Sheol or hell, in regard to themselves. Jacob, Job, and others, speak of going to hell, and expecting it as a thing of course, which they could not avoid. Yea, Job, under his trials, prays to be hid in hell. I need not be more particular, for the texts abeve show, what were the views and feelings of the very best of men in those days about this. Now I ask, is there a Christian in the world, who, in the present day speaks, and prays about hell, as those Old Testament saints did ? But why not? The reason, I think is obvious. In those days Sheol or hell, did not as in these, signify a place of punishment, but the state of the dead. in

these days, when Christians speak about hell, they always mean the place of endless misery for the wicked. Now, the obvious reason of such difference between their mode of speaking and ours about hell is, that we have affixed a very different sense to this word from what they did. If we are to understand the Scriptures correctly, we must ascertain what sense the original writers attached to the words they used, without regarding the sense men may have given them, since the book of Revelation was completed. What right have we, or any one else, to alter the sense of the words used by the Holy Spirit ?

2d, How the inspired writers in those days, and pious people in these, speak about hell to the wicked. Not an instance, can I find where it is intimated, that any such went to hell as a place of eternal misery. Both good and bad went to Sheol, but not a word is said, that this was such a place as people now think hell to be. If the Old Testament saints entertained the same ideas about hell, as most Christians do in our day, I wish some person would rationally and Scripturally account to me for the following facts.

ist, If their belief was the same as in our day, why do we never find them express that belief about eter nal punishment, as is now done in books, and sermons, and conference meetings, and in common conversation. No man can possibly deny the vast difference between their language, and the common language now used upon this subject. If the language is so different, is it not a presumptive proof that this in der vention of new language arose from the unscriptural doctrine that hell was a place of endless misery? An unscriptural doctrine always gives rise to unscriptur al language; for the words of Scripture are the very best which could be chosen to express the will of God to men. That doctrine is not of God, or the man who contends for it, has a wrong view of it, who thinks,

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »