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ble is in the mouth of every preacher of hell torments in our day. It is the citadel of the doctrine of endless misery,
from which he thinks it impossible he can ever be dislodged. Does any man now think that he understands this parable better than the apostles did ? Every man who teaches the doctrine of torment, or punishment in Hades, virtually says that he has a more correct understanding of it. He alludes to it, quotes it, and considers this parable as an explicit and certain proof of the doctrine. The apostles, poor, ignorant and despised men, yet the accredited ambassadors of Jehovah, never alluded to it, nor quoted it, nor in any way inform us, that Hades or hell is a place of torment or punishment for any being whatever. From this parable, nor any other discourse of our Lord's, do they ever teach such a doctrine. There is only one text which can be thought an exception to this, and which forms the subject of the next section: but we shall see that it confirms the views I am advancing.
We think then, that this one fact, that the apostles never taught that Hades was a place of torment, ought to satisfy every candid mind that this parable was never designed by our Lord to teach such a doctrine. If men consider themselves authorized from it to teach it in our day, the apostles who heard our Lord utter the parable, were very differently minded; for it is evident that they never taught this doctrine. If we say that they did consider themselves from this parable authorized to teach it, yet never did it, what are we to think of their fidelity and zeal, compared with that of modern preachers? Why do not all preachers now imitate the apostles in this?
3d, If our Lord meant by this parable to teach a state of torment in Hades or hell, it was a new revelation to
the world; for God had not revealed it under the Old Testament dispensation to the Jews. Whatever notions the Jews and heathens had about Hades being a place of torment, it is certain that these could not be learned from the scriptures. The doctrine then was new, so far as God had made any communication of it to the world. We do not mention its being new, as an argument against its being true. No; but we do think, when the following things are taken into consideration, it could not be a new doctrine which our Lord meant to teach by this parable. Let it be observed then, that we have seen Sheol of the Old Testament, which is the corresponding word to Hades in the new, was never used to express a place of torment after death. If our Lord then used Hades in this parable to express such a place, it is contrary to the uniform usage of Sheol in the Old Testament writings. This we have seen from the preceding section. If this be true, and we do not think it can be proved false, there is one thing in the parable which seems to be at variance with it. The object of the rich man in sending one from the dead to his five brethren, was, that “ he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” To this Abraham is represented as replying, “they have Moses and the prophets ; let them hear them.” If the question is asked from this,—let them hear Moses and the prophets” about what? The answer is," let them hear Moses and the prophets tesify unto them, lest they should come into this place of torment." But how could this man's five brethren hear Moses and the prophets testify this; for neither Moses nor the prophets had ever testified that Hades or Sheol was a place of torment. From what part of their writings could they learn that Hades or Sheol was a place of torment immediately after death, or any time else, either for saint, or for sinner, for soul, or for body? All the places where Sheol occurs in the Old Testament, have been noticed in the preceding section. The critics and commentators we have there quoted, positively deny that Sheol of the Old Testament was a place of misery, or was even the receptacle of souls after death. If this be true, how could Abraham say,—"they have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them” testify that Hades or Sheol is a place of torment, when in fact they had testified no such thing. Every one may see, from the preceding section, that Moses and the prophets had testified that all the dead were in Sheol, and that there was no knowledge, nor device, nor wisdom, in this place. If Moses and the prophets had testified, that Sheol was a place of torment, there was indeed no necessity for one being sent from the dead to testify to men about this ; but if they had not, it was very necessary that such a messenger should be sent; for no divine revelation had been given about it. Either, then, it must be proved that Moses and the prophets had taught Hades or Sheol to be a place of torment after death, or the common interpretation of this parable must be abandoned.
Again : If this was indeed a new doctrine, which in this parable our Lord meant to teach to mankind, is there the least degree of probability that he would only mention it once in the course of his ministry, and that too in a parable? We think this to be very improbable. The very circumstance of its being new, required it to be frequently taught, delivered in plain language, and its truth well attested. But it ought to be particularly noticed, that though only mentioned once, and that once in a parable, yet it is not introduced as a novel doctrine, but something which was well known, and in accordance with current opinion. But from what part of the previ
ous revelations of God to men, can it be learned that Hades or Sheol was a place of torment? This, to be sure, was in perfect agreement with popular opinion, that Hades was a place of torment; but this popular opinion was not derived from the scriptures, but from the hea. thens. The opinion was current, but it wanted the stamp of divine authority.
Further: if this was a new doctrine our Lord meant to teach mankind, and taught it himself only once in a parable, is there not the greatest reason to conclude that this new doctrine would be often taught and enforced by his apostles, in their preaching to the world ? But is this done by them? No; nothing is said by any one of them, that Hades is a place of torment. The uniform usage of the word Hades in the New Testament, like the usage of Sheol in the Old, forbids the common interpretation. The use of this word in the parable before us, is the only exception. The truth of this assertion is seen from all the passages about Hades already considered ; and we shall see that it is not contradicted by any of them yet to be introduced.
Supposing it then a fact, that in this parable our Lord teaches for the first time, that Hades is a place of torment after death, and that his apostles so understood it, what is the course we ought to expect them, as preachers, to pursue ? I answer, just the very same course which preachers in our day take, who believe this parable to teach the doctrine of future misery ; that they should often preach the doctrine, and recur to this parable of our Lord's about it. But the apostles never did this. We must either conclude then that modern preachers misunderstand this parable, or that our Lord's apostles were not faithful to the souls of men.
4th, But how is this representation of Hades being a place of torment, to be accounted for, in opposition to the uniform usage of this word in the New Testament, and also of Sheol in the Old ? To this I answer, that Hades is a Greek word; and as the ancient Greeks looked on Hades as a place in which men after death would be punished or rewarded, there is nothing very strange that our Lord should, in this parable, introduce this notion of theirs when speaking of the dead in Hades. But for what we have to advance about this, we refer to the next section; and also for some additional remarks there made in regard to this parable.
5th, If our Lord alluded to the heathen notion, that Hades was a place of torment, as we think he did, yet it is evident that he did not recognise it as a fact, or teach it as a doctrine to be believed by his followers. This we think is evident, from a variety of considerations, one or two of which we shall merely mention. It is very improbable that he should transplant this doctrine from the Pagan religion, and make it a part of his. Was Jesus indebted to the heathens for inventing a part of the doctrines which he taught? As this will not be asserted, we notice further, that both Christ, and other sacred writers, allude to, and even speak according to the popular opinions of the day, without sanctioning those opinions. This has been shown above. But what we think conclusive about this, is, that had the apostles understood our Lord as recognising this heathen notion, and adopting it as a part of his religion, they would have taught it in their writings to the world. But this they have not done, which shows that our Lord did not teach such a doctrine here, nor was it so understood by his inspired apostles. If they had then, as many preachers do now, considered this parable as a strong proof of hell tor