this is the case, can it be proved that Gehenna, and the phrase wrath to come, are used in Scripture to express either to Jews or Gentiles endless punishment in a futore state? We have shown that Gehenna is not so used in Scripture, and we think can show that the expression wrath to come, does not refer to a future state of existence. Wrath, yea, even the wrath of God, may be wrath to come, and yet be wholly confined to the present world. We think it will be difficult to prove that the wrath to come, mentioned in Scripture, had any reference to a state of existence after death. 2d, Upon examination, we think it will be found, that the phrase, wrath to come, refers to punishment, and is spoken of to Jews as well as Gentiles; but as the damnation or punishment of hell or Gehenna, had a particular reference to the temporal miseries of the Jews at the destruction of their city and temple, we never find it spoken of to the Gentiles.

It has also been objectedthat if my views of Gehenna be correct, my interpretation of the passages where our Lord spoke to his disciples concerning it, goes to show, that he was more concerned for their temporal safety than their eternal welfare. This objection, to some, will appear more plausible than many others which we have stated. But in answer to it, we remark 1st, That this objection assumes the question in debate, the whole of the present Inquiry being to prove s that the eternal welfare of the disciples was not in danger.” This objection goes on the presumption, that the disciples were in danger of eternal misery, and that according to my interpretation of the passages in which our Lord spoke of Gehenna, he was more concerned about their temporal safety, than he was about their deliverance from eternal misery. The objector has

got to disprove the evidence I have adduced, showing that Gehenna does not refer to a place of endless miscry, and to establish his own views by ev


idence drawn from the New Testament that this is its meaning. 20, That our Lord should be more concerned for the temporal safety of his disciples, than for that of the unbelieving Jews, many reasons might be assigned. They were his disciples, and their temporal safety could not be a matter of indifference to him. Their temporal safety also made manifest his character, in noi destroying the righteous with the wicked. And was not this very sparing them, as a father spareth his only son thai serveth him, a fulfilment of what God had spoken? See Mal. ii. 17, 18. and comp. chap. iv. But above all, was it not a matter of importance that our Lord should show concern for the temporal safety of his disciples, as they were to be witnesses of his resurrection, and the heralds of his salvation to the ends of the earth! All these and other things which could be mentioned, account for our Lord's solicitude about the temporal safety of his disciples, without supposing that their souls were in danger of endless punishment in Gehenna.

1. It is further objected—if there be no such thing as hell or place of misery in a future state, yet seeing it was commonly believed both among Jews and Gentiles, that there was such a place, why is it that neither Christ nor his apostles ever took occasion to contradict this false notion, but on the contrary expressed themselves in appearance, at {east, so much in favour of this opinion that a great part of mankind from that time to this have supposed it fully taught in the New Testament. Some remarks are made in chap. i. sect. 3. which in part meet this objection. We offer a few additional remarks here in reply to it. 1st, Then, we ask, how came they by such a belief? It was not from the Old Testament, for it is allowed that it does not teach such a doctrine. In chap. i. sect. 3. it has been shown, that the Jews learned this doctrine from their intercourse with the heathen. This made such a belief common to both Jews and

Gentiles, and not that it was common to both, from divine revelation. 2d, But the point of this objection lies in the following things. It is asked, “why is it that neither Christ nor his apostles ever took occasion to contradict this false notion that hell was a place of misery?” In answer to this we ask in our turn—" If Christ and his apostles believed this doctrine common to both Jews and Gentiles, why did they not avail themselves of this universally received notion to inculcate and enforce this doctrine?" To have taught it, could have given no offence to either of them ; yet we find them silent on the subject, that Gehenna or even Hades is such a place. The only exception to this, is the parable of the rich man, which has been shown not even to teach an intermediate state of pun. ishment. If this popular belief then, was true, and believed to be so by the Saviour and his apostles, why did they not avail themselves of it, and enforce it on both Jews and Gentiles ? 3d, If we are to conclude, that because Christ and his apostles never expressly contradicted this false notion, common to both Jews and Gentiles, and that they by their silence sanctioned it as true, it follows, that all the false notions entertained by Jews and Gentiles not expressly contradicted by them are true. But we presume few would admit this, though it is a natural consequence from this objection. When any man will fairly make out, that their not contradicting expressly all the false, Jewish and heathen notions, is proof that those about which they are silent are true, we shall admit the one in question to be of the number. But another part of the point of this objection is, that's on the contrary they expressed themselves, in appearance at least, so much in favour of this opinion, that a great part of mankind from that time to this have supposed it fully taught in the New Testament." _In reply, we would ask in what parts of the New Testament do.

we find this ? Not surely from those parts which speak either of Hades or Gehenna. The places where our Lord used those words, have been considered, and we think it has been shown, that in none of them did he teach such a doctrine. His apostles never once name Gehenna, nor even intimaie that either Hades or Gehenna referred to a place of endless misery. If our Lord and his apostles, did in appearance, speak of such a place of misery, some other texts must be referred to than those in which the words Hades and Gehenna are found. But it is sup : posed that Jesus Christ and his apostles expressed ihemselves in appearance, at least, so much in favour of this opinion, “that a great part of mankind from that time to this have supposed it fully taught in the New Testament.” It will not be denied, that men from that time to this have supposed Christ and his apostles to teach doctrines, which they are now coming to be convinced are not taught in the Bible. That the one we have been considering is not of that num. ber, 'ought not to be taken for granted. It is admit. ted by all, that a great many Jewish and heathen notions, were very early incorporated with the doctrine of Christ and his apostles. Past ages have furnished but too much evidence, that the Scriptures have been used to countenance almost every opinion. Closer attention to ihe oracles of God has exploded many of them, and increased attention, may expose the falsehood of many more. That hell, a place of endless misery for the wicked, is an opinion which originated with the heathen we have shown above; and have also attempted to show, that those texts on which this doctrine has been founded have been greatly misunderstood. If we have erred in interpreting them let this be pointed out. Until this is done, and it is shown that the doctrine of hell torments did not originate in

heathenism but on the authority of God, our views stand unshaken by this objection.

We find it also objected--if there be no place of punishment in a future state prepared for such as die in unbelief, how is this part of mankind to be disposed of after death, in what part of the universe is their abode to be assigned them? Not in heaven ; for God is represented in Scripture as bringing with him from thence, at ihe resurrection of the dead, only those that sleep in Jesus,and of all the dead only " the dead in Christare said to asCend thither with him to dwell forever with the Lord. Not in Gehenna or hell; for according to your views, there is no such place in the world to come.

On this objection let it be remarked-1st, Whatever abode we assign such persons in a future state, we think we have shown, that God does not assign to them as their abode, Sheol, Hades, Tartarus, or even Gehenna. If God has not assigned to them such a place, it is rash in us to assert this without his authority. If he should leave them without any abode either as to happiness or misery, there we ought to leave them. Dr. Campbell as we have seen, declares, that Hades is at last to be destroyed, and accordingly he assigns them an everlasting abode in Gehenna, but we think without any warrant from Scripture. If we then have proved, that hell or Gehenna is not the everlasting abode which God has assigned them, and seeing the objector thinks that heaven is not to be their abode, we ask him in turn how they are to be disposed of? If he denies that heaven is to be their abode, we think it has been shown that hell is not said to be ibeir abode. If it is said, because they are not to go to heaven they must go to hell; we inay reply, because they are not to go to hell they must go to heaven. 20, The objection states that their abode is not to be in hear. en, and the reasons assigned are—“For God is represented in Scripture as bringing with him from

« VorigeDoorgaan »