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are said to ascend thither with him to dwell forever with the Lord. Not in Gehenna or hell; for according to your riezs, 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 their abode. If it is said, because they are not to go to heaven they must go to hell; we may reply, because they are not to go to hell they must go to heaven.
2d, The objection states that their abode is not to be in heaven, and the reasons assigned are—“ For God is represented in scripture as bringing with him from thence, at the resurrection of the dead, only those that
sleep in Jesus ;' and of all the dead, only the dead in Christ' are said to ascend thither with him to dwell forever with the Lord.” This refers to 1 Thess. iv. 13. &c. on the whole of which passage I shall make the following remarks.
1st, The grand distinction in this passage, is between the dead and those found alive on the earth at the period
referred to. The passage is alike silent how the wicked dead and those wicked found alive are to be disposed of; for not a word is said about the wicked. The persons said to be asleep or dead, verse 13. and those which sleep in Jesus, verse 14. and also as asleep, verse 15. and the dead in Christ who shall rise first, verse 16. all refer to the same persons. They refer to the dead, and we presume are exclusively confined by the objector to believers. On the other hand the we, who are said to be alive and remain, mentioned verses 15–17. must also be confined exclusively to believers, then found alive on the earth. These shall not prevent, anticipate, or go before them who are asleep. Before they shall ascend, the dead in Christ shall rise first, and both shall ascend together to meet the Lord in the air. These last, we must confine to all living believers found on the earth, for if we extend it to all living, indiscriminately, why not the first also to all the dead indiscriminately? But if we take into view the 15th chapter of 1st Corinthians and especially from verse 51-58. which seems to treat of the same sub. ject, all the dead seems to be included. Compare also verses 20—22, 31, 35, 42-45.
3d, It is evident, that the passage makes no distinction between two classes of people to be raised at this period. No distinction is made between good and bad, or righteous and wicked. Either, then, this passage does not teach us any thing concerning the wicked, or they are included with the others here mentioned. If they are not, and their resurrection is no where else spoken of, the inference would be that they are not raised at all. But in some other places their resurrection is asserted. See Acts xxiv. 15.
If Paul then in this passage, does not include all dead and alive, it is rather singular, that he should say nothing about the resurrection of the wicked, or how those left on the earth are to be disposed of, after all the others have left it to meet the Lord in the air. If he did not see meet to consign them over to hell forever, nor inform us how they are to be disposed of otherwise, the objector ought to prove, that hell is to be their everlasting abode. If I am mistaken in my views of Gehenna or hell, I wish to see my error pointed out. If it is to be their abode, I am in a great mistake.
But if this passage is allowed to speak only of believers, yet there are others, which do not accord with what the objector seems to draw from it. According to this objection, none but such as died believers in Christ are to be finally happy in heaven. This at once excludes all the heathen world, and a great part of what is called the Christian world. But how does all this agree with the promises of God, that in Christ all the families of the earth are to be blessed. That the heathen are given him for his inheritance, and the uttermost ends of the carth for his possession. That God hath reconciled all things to himself by Jesus Christ. That he is Lord of all, Lord both of the dead and of the living. That every knee shall bow to him and every tongue confess. But see among others the following passages which we think it will be difficult to reconcile with the objection urged from this passage.
1 Cor. xv. 24-29. Rom. v. 12-21. Rev. v. 13. Philip. ii. 9-12.
In short, how could it with any propriety be said, that the devil, the works of the devil, and death, the last encmy are all destroyed, if this objection is founded in truth?
But the whole force of this objection seems to rest on the expression that is here used concerning the persons who are to be raised, that they sleep in Jesus. The term sleep is used for death, and we think it can be proved that it is so used concerning good and bad. It is then the words in Jesus, on which the whole depends. Now we would ask, if even those who died in ignorance and unbelief concerning him, are such persons for whom he died; for whose sins he was a propitiation, and is not to give up the kingdom until all things are subdued ; yea, such persons are to be raised by him; may it not be said that they sleep in him ?
But there is one thing in this passage which I would notice, and with it conclude my remarks on this objection. In verse 13. the apostle, addressing the Thessalonians, says—“I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them who are asleep, that ye sorrow not even as others who have no hope.” Who were asleep, let me ask, and concerning whom the apostle wished them, “ not to sorrow as those who have no hope ?” According to the view taken in the objection they were only believers; or believing relatives who had died. But why should they sorrow so much for them and be told not to sorrow like the heathen, whose grief at the death of their relations was excessive? If we confine those who are represented as asleep, to believers only, it should seem that the Thessalonians had even little hope as to them, and went to excess in grief and needed to be cautioned against it. But if we consider the apostle as exhorting them against excessive grief at the death of their relations, who even died heathens, it not only obviates this difficulty, but their minds are consoled by the apostle in the passage concerning them. To understand it otherwise would represent the Thessalonians as being grieved only at the death of their believing relations, and no way concerned for the future condition of such of them as died heathens.
Such are all the objections, of any importance, which we have heard urged against the views which we have advanced concerning hell or Gehenna. Some of them, we frankly admit, are too trifling to have been noticed. After a consideration of them we must say, that not one of them, nor all of them taken together, have even led us to suspect, that what we have said concerning hell, is contrary to scripture. But let our readers consider them, and judge for themselves.