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fire and literal worms on the same authority? Besides, it is implied that the body is there, for worms to feed on, which they could not do on the spirit. I am fully aware that the worm that shall never die, has been long and universally interpreted to mean conscience, which is to torment the subject of it forever. But this is a private interpretation; for I do not know of a single text in the Bible, in which conscience is ever spoken of under the figure of a worm, either in this or a future state of existence. Unless then, something like proof of this is produced from the Bible, such an interpretation cannot be for a moment admitted. It may then be asked,-"what do these words mean?" Let us hear what Mr. Parkhurst says on the words,"where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." He thus writes on the word Gehenna ::
"Our Lord seems to allude to the worms which con-tinually preyed on the dead carcases that were cast out into the valley of Hinnom, year, and to the perpetual fire there kept up to consume them. Comp. Eccles. vii. 17. Judith xvi. 17. And see the learned. Joseph Mede's works, fol. p. 31." Here then is a = place where their worm dieth not, and the fire that shall never be quenched; not in a place of eternal misery in a future state, but in the valley of Hinnom, near Jerusalem. Let it now be recollected, that the valley of Hinnom was made an emblem of the terrible calamities which were to come on the Jewish nation. No place was so wretched and abominable as the valley of Hinnom, and no place known to a Jew, could be made so fit an emblem of such miseries.
But we have something more to produce, and something which we think ought to be admitted as conclusive, in determining in what sense our Lord's words ought to be understood in this passage. It is certain then, that our Lord here quotes Isai. Ixvi. 24. where it is said," and they shall go forth and look upon
the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh."-A remark is made by Mr. Stuart, in his letters to Dr. Channing, p. 69. which very well applies here. He says, "it will be remembered that the passage in question is a quotation from the Old Testament; and that to quote the language of the Old Testament, therefore, in order to explain it, is peculiarly appropriate and necessary." Let us see how peculiarly appropriate and necessary this passage from the Old Testament is, in explaining the words of our Lord before us. Suffer me then to ask, -did Isaiah mean a place of endless misery, when he said, "for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched?" Was Isaiah so understood when he uttered these words? I have to ask further, did the Jews so understand these words when they read them in the prophet? Yea, I ask still further, did our Lord's disciples so understand the prophet's words when they read them there? Can any or all of these questions, with truth, be answered in the affirmative? As this will not be so much as pretended, how comes it to pass that they are made to mean a place of endless misery when quoted by our Lord! By what rule of interpretation, do we make Isaiah, by these words, only to mean temporal calamities, but when our Lord quotes them, we make them to mean endless misery? I urge this; on what grounds, and by what authority do we make Isaiah and our Lord to have two such different meanings to the same words? Yea, I press it upon all who regard the words of the living God, to think how it was possible that our Lord's disciples could understand him in this sense, when those very words were understood by them in so very different a sense when they read them in the prophet? It is evident our Lord did
explain them in this new sense to the disciples, nor gave the slighest hint that he made any alteration in the meaning of the prophet's words by quoting them. Until it is therefore proved, that by these words Isaiah meant a place of future endless misery, I might : excuse myself from any further remarks on them. But as they very strongly confirm the views I have given of Gehenna or hell, in the preceding passages, I proceed.
On this passage in the prophet, let it be remarked, that the chapter in which it stands, evidently relates to events which were to take place under the gospel dispensation. The new heavens and new earth, mentioned verse 22. refer to this period, and the extension of the gospel to the Gentiles, is repeatedly spoken of in the course of the chapter. But let us attend to the passage, and go over what is said in it, and if possible ascertain the meaning of the prophet. It is said," and they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against. me." Let us ask here, who are the men referred to, and who are said to have transgressed against the Lord? I think the context shows them to be the unbelieving, disobedient Jews. Evidence of this will appear as we proceed. Again; let us ask, who shall go forth and look upsn the carcases of the Jews who had thus transgressed against the Lord? The preceding verses show that they are the persons who worship and obey the Lord. But again; let us ask, to what place they shall go forth and look upon the carcases of the men who have transgressed against the Lord! Not surely to a place of endless misery? The connexion of this with the next part of the passage shows that they shall go forth to the place where "their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." If it is said, by way of objection,-" is not this the place. of endless misery, and is not this sufficiently obvious
from the words, their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched?" I must answer it is not. We think this can be proved from a variety of evidence, which few, if any, will undertake to dispute. This we shall show presently is not the Scripture meaning of these expressions, but that they refer to temporal punishment and to the punishment of the Jews as a nation. Here I would only ask-do any persons go forth either from this world or from heaven to a place of endless misery, to look upon the carcases of men who have transgressed against the Lord? Besides, is it not a very strange mode of speaking, to speak of the carcases of persons in a place of endless misery? But if we understand this place to be tophet, or the valley of Hinnom, all this may be literally and affectingly true. We have seen from the predictions of Jeremiah, that the Lord was to make the city of Jerusalem as tophet, and the carcases of the Jews were to be meat for the beasts of the earth, and that they should bury in tophet until there should be no place to bury. Besides, we have seen from Josephus, the Jewish historian, that six hundred thousand of the carcases of the Jews were carried out of the city and left unburied. It is evident then, if those who worshipped and obeyed the Lord, did not go forth and look upon the carcases of the men who had transgressed against the Lord, it was not for want of opportunity. Suffer me, then, to ask, might not the worshippers of the Lord, or our Lord's disciples, literally go forth and look upon the carcases of the men who had transgressed against the Lord? Yea, could they avoid seeing them, and looking on them, when they left the city and were saved from the dreadful vengeance of God which came on the unbelieving part of the nation? But it is added, "and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh." This all will allow to be said to the same persons, who, in the former part of the passage,
are said to have transgressed against the Lord. It will be allowed that the Jews had transgressed against the Lord in a very great degree. They had crucified the Lord of glory, persecuted the apostles, they pleased not God, and were contrary to all men. In this respect we see that the passage fully applies to them. Let us see how the last part also applies to them. "And they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh." The phrase "all flesh," it could be easily shown, is used in Scripture to designate the Gentile nations. As one instance, among others which I might adduce to prove this, it is said,-"all flesh shall see the salvation of God." Now it is literally true that the Jews then were, and still are, in their descendants, an abhorring unto all the Gentile nations. They have been, and still are, a by-word, and a reproach, and an afflicted people, among all the nations of the earth. How long this is still to continue, God only knows. Sure we are, that the Lord is yet to have mercy upon Israel; they are still beloved for the father's sake. The deliverer is to come out of Zion, and turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
But let it be noticed, that it is three times said in the passage in Mark, where this passage from the prophet is quoted, "where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." Let the question be asked, "Whose worm shall not die?" We think the answer to this must be looked for in the prophet whose words our Lord quotes. The answer is, the men who have transgressed against the Lord; their worm shall not die, and their fire is not quenched. Should we recur to the context of the passage in Mark for an answer to this question, the only antecedent to the word their, is the persons who should offend Christ's little ones, verse 42. This agrees to the answer taken from the prophet; for the Jews were the greatest opposers and persecutors of Christ's disciples.