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about entering his kingdom at this period our Lord spoke in the passage before us, I notice the following things by way of proof and illustration. Thus in Luke xxi. 31, 32. "so likewise ye, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass away till all be fulfilled.” It is evident from this passage, that the kingdom of God, in some sense or other, was not to come until the end of the Jewish dispensation. It was at this period to come with power, Mark ix. 1. and comp. Matth. xvi. 28. See Whitby on these texts, who takes the same view of our Lord's kingdom which is here given. But in proof of this view of entering into Christ's kingdom, I shall here quote the following from Dr. Campbell's note on Matth. xix. 28. He says: “ We are accustomed to apply the term regeneration solely to the conversion of individuals; whereas its relation here is to the general state of things. As they were wont to denominate the creation yeveris, a remarkable restoration, or renovation of the face of things, was very suitably termed παλιγγενεσία. The return of the Israelites to their own land, after the Babylonish captivity, is so named by Josephus, the Jewish historian. What was said on verse 23. holds equally in regard to the promise we have here. The principal completion will be at the general resurrection, when there will be, in the most important sense, a renovation, or regeneration of heaven and earth, when all things shall become new; yet in a subordinate sense, it may be said to have been accomplished when God came to visit, in judgment, that guilty land; when the old dispensation was utterly abolished, and succeeded by the Christian dispensation, into which the Gentiles, from every quarter, as well as Jews, were called and admitted."
Let us now apply these remarks to the texts under consideration. To enter into life, or to enter into the kingdom of God, is in the passage before us contrasted with going into, or being cast into hell. As the former does not mean to enter into heaven, the place of the righteous, but into Christ's kingdom, or reign, in this world, so the latter cannot mean, to be cast into a place of endless misery, but to suffer the punishment of which we have seen Gehenna made an emblem. Understanding our Lord, "by entering into life," or "into the kingdom of God," in this way, what he says in this passage to his disciples, was pertinent, and peculiarly suited to their circumstances. It was "better," it was "profitable" for them thus to enter into his kingdom with the loss of every thing dear to them, rather than retaining these, to be cast into hell fire, or to suffer all the dreadful calamities foretold by Jeremiah in the predictions considered above, and described by our Lord, Matth. xxiv. At the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, the unbelieving Jews were to suffer the damnation of hell, and at this period all his disciples who endured to the end, were not only to be saved from this punishment, but were to enter into his kingdom, or reign, with him; and the apostles to sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. But such of his professed disciples as did not cut off a right hand and pluck out a right eye, or did not endure to the end, should share in the same calamities, or suffer the punishment of which we have seen Gehenna made an emblem by Jeremiah, and also by our Lord. Whitby, on Luke xxi. 3436. thus writes :-" Here our Saviour calls upon the believing Christians to take care, and use the greatest vigilance that they do not miscarry in this dreadful season, by reason of that excess and luxury which may render them unmindful of it, or those cares which may render them unwilling to part with their
temporal concerns, lest they should be involved in that ruin which would come on others, as a snare, suddenly and unexpectedly; and that they should add to this vigilance constant prayer to God, that they may be found worthy to escape these tremendous judgments, and might stand safely and boldly before the Son of man, when he comes to execute them on the unbelieving Jews."
It is easily seen that this passage not only agrees with the preceding texts, but also accounts for the fact why the Saviour should say so much to the disciples concerning hell or Gehenna, and so little to the unbelieving Jews. Besides, it also accounts for the fact which can never be accounted for on the common view of hell, namely, that not a word is said concerning it to the Gentiles. If the punishment of hell be as I have attempted to show, the temporal vengeance which came on the Jewish nation, all is plain, consistent, and rational. But how can it ever be accounted for on rational and Scriptural grounds, that no Gentile was ever threatened with such a punishment? We are sinners of the Gentiles, and are threatened with everlasting punishment in hell by preachers in our day. It becomes them to account for this, seeing they are without any authority either from Christ or his apostles for so doing. If they never said a word about hell in their preaching to the Gen tiles, from what source of information is it learned that preachers now are authorized to teach such a doctrine to them? Are we obliged to receive this implicitly on their ipse dixit?
But it perhaps may be said,-" plausible as all this appears, and however difficult it may be to account for those facts, how is your view of the punishment of hell to be reconciled with other things stated in this very passage?" To this I shall now pay attention; and permit me to say, that it is the perfect agreement
of these very things with the view I have given, which confirms me in the opinion that it is substantially correct. Observe, then, that Gehenna, or hell, is called in this passage twice, "the fire that never shall be quenched." See verses 43, 45. Indeed, properly speaking, this expression occurs no less than five times; for it is three times said, by way of addition, "where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." In my remarks on the last passage, I promised to consider here the phrase, "everlasting fire," in connexion with these expressions. This promise I shall now attempt to fulfil. I need hardly notice that the expressions, "everlasting fire," and the "fire that shall never be quenched," five times mentioned in this passage, express the very same idea. No man, I presume, will dispute this. Who would undertake to point out a difference between "everlasting fire," and the "fire that never shall be quenched?" It would be to make a distinction without a difference. I am fully aware that it may be said, this is rather increasing the difficulty than removing it. I notice these things for the very purpose, that the difficulty may be viewed in all its force and extent. Here then, we have in the course of a few verses, a solemn declaration made by the Saviour, no less than five times, that the fire of hell shall never be quenched, and no less than three times is it added, "where their worm dieth not." And as if this was not enough, in a parallel text it is said that the fire of hell is "everlasting fire." No man can now say but I have presented this description of Gehenna fully and fairly, and in its most formidable array. I allow that all this looks very terrible, and seems as if I must certainly be mistaken in saying that the punishment of hell refers to the temporal vengeance which came on the nation of the Jews. But truly I must say that few things I have yet stated, appear to me so powerful in support of my
views, as what is said in this passage. When these things are fairly examined, and the Scriptures are admitted as the interpreter of the language which is here used, few I think will be found to question this. The things we are about to state, at any period of our lives, would have staggered our faith, that such expressions had any reference to endless misery in a future state of existence. They are such, as on other subjects, would be deemed irresistible evidence. I may just notice in the outset, what I think will be readily admitted, that all the expressions in this passage about the worm that shall never die, and the fire that never shall be quenched, together with the expressions, everlasting fire, being cast into hell fire, and going into hell, in other texts, all refer to one and the same punishment. The same punishment is described, although somewhat different language is used in speaking of it. Keeping these things in view, with the remarks made on the preceding texts, I shall proceed to consider what is stated in the passage before us.
It is, then, said of hell or Gehenna,-" where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." Were these words understood strictly, and literally of a place of endless misery, it would prove that there is not only material fire there, but that there are also worms in hell. Some have maintained, and a few perhaps still maintain, that the fire of hell is a literal fire. It is evident that most orthodox preachers still continue to speak as if the fire of hell was real, literal fire. Why speak about it as such if they do not believe it to be so, unless they intend to practise deception on the people? But we presume no one ever believed that there were worms in the place called hell, or eternal misery. If such an opinion was ever held, we are ignorant of it. But why not believe that there are worms in hell as w as literal fire? for if Gehenna signifies a place of endless misery, it teaches literal