Page images

tiles never accusing the apostles of threatening them with endless punishment in Gehenna, is a confirmation that no such doctrine was taught to the heathen world. Had the apostles indeed taught to the heathen, the doctrine of endless punishment of the wicked in Hades, we need not be surprised that they never accuse them, or find fault throughout the New Testament, for this was only inculcating the doctrine which they had learned from their own fables. But all know that the apostles did not teach this heathen notion of future eternal punishment in Hades. If they then taught eternal punishment of the wicked in Gehenna, the heathen had ground of accusation against them in thus speaking of a place of punish: ment so different from what they had learned from their fables. Should it be said here by way of objection to all this-“ as the Jews learned from the heathen first, the notion of future eternal punishment in consequence of their intercourse with them, so the heathen no doubt learned, in consequence of this mutual intercourse, that the Jews called the place of this future punishment by the name of Gehenna, the most wretched place known to the Jews. This being the case, the heathen, to whom the apostles preached, had no occasion to bring any accusation on this subject against them.” I must be indulged in a few remarks in reply to this objection, as these remarks strongly corroborate the evidence I have advanced, that Gehenna of the New Testament, was not meant to express a place of future eternal misery. I shall be brief and shall not much regard the order in which they are brought forward.

1st, Is it then admitted that the Jews first learned the doctrine of eternal punishment from their intercourse with the heathen? The objection seems to proceed on the presumption that this is true. This is admitting a

great deal. If it is not admitted why make the objection? If the Jews did not learn this doctrine from the heathen, let the book, chapter, and verse be named in the Old Testament, from which they could learn it. Dr. Campbell declares that Gehenna does not occur in this sense in the Old Testament. If not mentioned by the name Gehenna, in what other way is it taught there? If not taught in the Old Testament nor learned from the heathen, to what other source shall we refer its origin?

2d, The objection seems also to admit that Hades and Gehenna are only the heathen and Jewish names for the same place of eternal punishment. If this can be proved true, there was no reason why the Gentiles should accuse the apostles of threatening them with eternal punishment in Gehenna. All the difference in their views about this was, in using a Hebrew and a Greek name for the same place, which would have been to make them offenders for a word. But how is this to be reconciled even with Dr. Campbell's statement, who, as we have seen, makes Hades and Gehenna two distinct places of future punishment; the first before, and the last after the resurrection of the dead? It never can be reconciled with the scripture account of these two places, which are so differently spoken of throughout the Bible. We think it would be difficult to select words to designate them more clearly as two very different places. This we think has becn sufficiently shown, nor is it likely to be denied by any man, who has given attention to the scripture usage of these two words.

3d, If there be any truth or force in this objection, then, the apostles might, and indeed ought to have preached Hades and Gehenna to Jews and Gentiles as one place of future eternal punishment. This they might have done without incurring the displeasure of either, and that with the utmost freedom, for they would only have been teaching a doctrine believed by both Jews and Gentiles. Why then, I ask, did they do neither? They are as silent concerning Hades, as a place of eternal punishment, as they are about Gehenna, and we have seen that this word is never used in any way by them. Why did they not use Hades and Gehenna as convertible words to express the same place of eternal punishment? Seeing Jews and Gentiles had learned from their mutual intercourse with each other, the name each gave to the place of eternal punishment, the apostles in preaching to Jews or Gentiles might have used both Hades and Gehenna, for both were alike understood by them. But as they neither to Jews nor Gentiles preached an eternal punishment in either of these places, what is the inference we ought to draw from their conduct ? As they did not preach it, we think it is fair to infer, that they did not believe this doctrine. If the Jews, in our Lord's day, then, believed that Gehenna was such a place of future punishment, the apostles paid as little regard to this notion of theirs, as they did to the Pagan notion of an eternal punishment in Hades.

4th, If the above objection is seriously urged and if it has any foundation in truth, it never after this can be urged as a reason why our Lord and his apostles said nothing concerning Gehenna to the Gentiles, because the Gentiles knew nothing about Gehenna. It is said that this was a word or figure they were unacquainted with, and that had it been used by them in speaking of future punishment, it could not have been understood by the Gentiles. The objection before us does away this, for it considers the Gentiles well acquainted with it. Yea, it will be impossible to prove that they were not. How could it be otherwise ? For it is surely impossible that

the Gentiles should not imbibe the Jewish notions of a punishment in Gehenna, as well as the Jews the heathen notion of a punishment in Hades, seeing their intercourse with each other was mutual; at any rate, if the Jews first imbibed the notion of eternal punishment from the heathen and afterwards applied the name Gehenna to it, the same intercourse of these people must have made the Gentiles familiar with the Jewish name for it. In short, whatever way we turn this subject round to look at it, we shall find it impossible to account for the apostles' silence on the subject of Gehenna or hell's being a place of endless tor. ment, but on the ground that they did not believe this doctrine. After viewing it on all sides, with all the care and attention we can, we have found it impossible to draw any other rational conclusion. If it can be accounted for otherwise, consistently with their belief in the doctrine, we shall be happy to see this done.

Another cirnumstance corroborative of the views I have advanced concerning Gehenna, is the following. On my views of Gehenna the conduct of our Lord and his apostles is just what might be expected, but if by Gehenna is understood a place of endless misery, it is strange and unaccountable. What I refer to will be best seen by,

1st, Considering our Lord's conduct. from a consideration of all the passages in which he speaks of Gehenna, that nine times out of twelve, all he says concerning it, was addressed to his disciples. In only one instance did he ever say to the unbelieving Jews—how can ye escape the damnation of hell ??? Matth. xxiii. 33. Now, notice, that at verses 38, 39. he adds, “behold your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth till ye shall say, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the

We have seen,

Lord.” After this he never said a word to them about the damnation of hell. Now let it be supposed, that by this expression our Lord meant endless misery in a future state,-1 ask, is it possible our Lord should only mention this once? I ask again, can it be believed, that he who said on the cross," Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” should have ceased, but with his dying breath, to warn these men, that such a place of endless misery awaited them? I ask once more, is it possible, that he, who, when he beheld the city, “wept over it," on account of temporal calamities in which it was soon to be involved, should shed no tears, in anticipating the endless misery of its wicked inhabitants ? On the supposition that Gehenna is such a place, it must, I think, be allowed that our Lord's conduct is strange and unac. countable. But on my views of the damnation or punishment of hell our Lord's conduct excites no surprise ; all is rational and what the circumstances of the case warrants us to expect. They had rejected their promised Messiah, the measure of their iniquity they were soon to fill

up, and they could not escape the damnation of hell. But let it be satisfactorily accounted for, why our Lord never afterwards said any thing to them of the damnation of hell, if thereby he meant endless misery in the world

to come.

2nd, The conduct of his apostles. It is easily seen that their conduct is in perfect agreement with that of their master before them. He never said a word about hell or Gehenna to the Gentiles. Neither do they. He never said a word more concerning Gehenna to the unbelieving Jews after saying—" how can ye escape the damnation of hell ?” Neither do they.

If it should be objected against my view of Gehennawhy did not the apostles continue to speak to the unbe

« EelmineJätka »