sent to hell or Gehenna and there heard or saw any thing? No: but why is it not as natural to expect, that some one should be sent to hear the unulterable misery of the one place, as the unutterable blessedness of the other? The one would only be a proper counterpart to the other. But again; we have some instances of persons mentioned in Scripture, who were taken up from this earth unto God and into heaven. Such were Enoch and Elijah. These persons, cminent for goodness, were distinguished from the rest of mankind, by this signal manifestation of the (livine favour.But do you ever find one individual, abandoned for wickedness, on whom God displayed his signal vengeance, by sending him bodily io hell or Gehenna? We indeed read of Korah and his company who went down quick into the pit; but we have shown previously, that this pit was not Gehen-. na or hell, but only the grave or state of the dead. But further: we read Rev. vii. 14-17. of sonie before the throne of God, who serve him day and night in his temple, and from whose eyes all tears are wiped away. But do we ever read of any in hell or Gehenna, tormented by the devil, and from whose eyes lears shall never be wiped away; but who must dwell there forever in unutterable angoish? No: these and other things of a similar kind which might be named, are never mentioned in Scripture. We have heard and read enough of this in sermons, but sermons are not the Bible. Again: Moses and Elias made their appearance on the mount at our Lord's transfiguration; but do we find any of the wicked characters inentioned in Scripture ever making their appearance from hell? We have heard idle stories of wicked persons coming from hell to warn others and describing the awful misery of that place. But is any thing like this stated in the Scriptures ? All know that such ridiculous fables are not found there,

121h, It is common with orthodox preachers to represent Hades or hell as the place of future torment for the wicked. They often avail themselves of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, in preaching on this subject. But observe that they also often speak of persons being there tormented by the devil and his angels. Indeed it is common to speak of devils and wicked men as being in the same place of punishment. But how they came by their information I know not. It is a fact that is indisputable, that whatever the Scriptures mean by the devil and his angels, they are not once represented as in Hades, or tormenting any persons there. Even Dr. Campbell, though he considers Hades as an intermediate place of punishment, says-“That Gehenna is employed in the New Testament to denote the place of future punishment, prepared for the devil and his angels, is indisputable." See the whole of this paragraph quoted p. 92. If the devil and his angels arein this place, which Dr. Campbell says was prepared for them, they are not then in Hades, the intermediate place of punishment for the wicked. We ask then how it can be said with truth, that the devil and his angels are the tormentors of the wicked in Hades? But we believe some have thought that though Gehenna is the place prepared for the devil and his angels, they are not yet sent there, nor will they be until the day of judgment, when they and all the wicked are to go there together, to suffer its punishment forever. If this be true, that the devil and his an. gels are not in Gehenna and are never said to be in Hades, it seems they, for the present, are not in either place of punishment, whilst wicked men are all sent io Hades to be punished from dealb until the resurrection. Besides, it is certain that such preachers who represent the devil and his angels as the tormentors of wicked men in Hades, greatly misrepresent them, a thing which ought pot to be done to real

devils. But how often has it been heard from the pulpit and published to the world, that wicked men at death go to hell to be the companions of devils and damned spirits forever? And has not books been put into the hands of children describing in words and representing to their eyes in cuts, the devil

tossing about the wicked there with pitcbforks? The truth is, į whether my views of Gehenna be right or wrong, it . is evident the common opinions entertained on the ! subject cannot all be true.

The evidence which has already been stated, proring that Gehenna does not signify a place of endless misery for the wicked, we deem sufficient. But there are yet some things, which ought not to be passed over, of a circumstantial nature, which very much confirm this evidence.

1st, Why did not John in his gospel mention Gehenna, and why did he omit all the discourses recorded by the other evangelists, in which our Lord spoke of Gehenna? It has been noticed already, that John wrote his gospel for the use of the Gentiles. This is generally admitted. This being the case, it may be thought ihere was no occasion to say any thing about Gebenna to the Gentiles. If our Lord as I have stated, meant by Gehenna the temporal punishment coming on the Jews, this is readily admitted; but if the

damnation of hell was an eternal punishment for all i the wicked, whether Jews or Gentiles, how could John

omit all mention of it! How can it ever be ration

ally accounted for, that he believed the damnation of :hell was an eternal punishment, yet say nothing about

it to them? Was it a maller of more importance to tbem, to be told, that Messias being interpreted, signifies the Christ, or, that there was at Jerusalem a pool in the Hebrew language called Bethesda having five porches ? Or that the water pots, chap. ii. contained two or three firkins apiece? Can any man

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

less misery, he would be silent about it, yet mention here 228 think, that if John believed Gehenna a place of end. In his to his Gentile readers these things, comparatively of small importance? But why did John omit all these word discourses in which our Lord spoke of Gehenna? A very good reason can be assigned for this, and it shows, in what light John viewed the discourses of our Lord, alluded to. It was after the destruction of Jerusalem he wrote his gospel. Whitby in his preface to the gospel of John'thus writes: “The fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries do all agree, that he wrote it either in that Isle (Patmos) or after his return from it; when he was ninety years old, saith Epiphanius; when he was an hundred, saith Chrysostom. So that according to the account of all these ecclesiastical writers, John must have writ this gospel a considerable time after the destruction of Jerusalem.” Supposing then, that by the damnation of hell our Lord referred to the temporal punishnient coming on the Jews, we see a very good reason, why John says nothing about Gehenna, yea, omits all our Lord's discourses in which it is mentioned. The event was past. To have related those discourses, would have been to deliver predictions after they were fulfilled, and the warning men of evils to be endured, after they had all been suffered. John's conduct is not only then excusable, but highly proper, in saying nothing about Gehenna or hell, and in omitting all these discourses. Does not this very omission strongly confirm the view which I have given of the passages, which speak of Gehenna ?-And is not this omission irreconcilable with the common ideas entertained on this subject?

2d, Why does not Luke mention Gehenna in bis history of the Acts of the apostles? This is the more surprising, as he mentions it in his gospel. On my view of Gebenna, this can be rationally accounted for, but on the common view, is altogether unaccount

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

able. In his gospel, he relates our Lord's discourses to the Jews, in which he spoke to them concerning Gebenna, in the punishment of which they were alone concerned. But in his history of the Acts of the apostles, he gives us an account of the preaching of the gospel, and its success among the Gentiles, who were not concerned in the punishment of Gehenna, and therefore had no need to have it mentioned to them. If my view of Gehenna be correct, we see that there was no occasion for him to say a word about it. But if he believed, and if the apostles believed, the history of whose preaching he relates, that hell was a place of endless misery, on what grounds are we to account for his entire silence on this subject ? If it was a punishment in common to both Jews and Gentiles, who died wicked, will it ever be satisfactorily accounted for, that the apostles did not preach it to the Gentile nations? If they ever preached this doctrine, it is certain, that Luke omits all mention of it in his history. To say they did preach it, is only a gratuitous assertion, and in fact impeaches Luke as a faithful historian. What historian would omit mentioning the doctrine of universal salvation as preached by the Universalists, if he undertook to write the history of their preaching for thirty years ?

But if it was right in the apostles, to say nothing in their preaching of Gehenna or hell, it must be right in us, for certainly they are the best models to copy after. Supposing then, that all the preachers among the Gentile nations, should, in imitation of the apostles, say nothing about bell to their hearers, who could blame ihem? They could urge the example of the apostles in their defence. Here they might take their stand, and bid defiance to the whole world to prove

the contrary

3d, Why did the apostles never mention any thing about hell in any of their epistles 'lo the churches ?

« VorigeDoorgaan »