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1 st, That this objection assumes the question in debate, the whole of the present Inquiry being to prove the reverse of this assumption, that the eternal welfare of the disciples was not in danger.” This objection goes on the presumption, that the disciples were in danger of eternal misery, and that according to my interpretion of the passages in which our Lord spoke of Gehenna, he was more concerned about their temporal safety, than he was about their deliverance from eternal misery. But I deny that the disciples, or any other child of Adam, was ever threatened by God with endless misery in hell. The objector has then got to show, that they were, before his objection is of any force against my interpretation of these passages. He has got to disprove the evidence I have adduced, showing that Gehenna does not refer to a place of endless misery, and to establish his own views by evidence drawn from the New Testament that this is its meaning
2d, That our Lord should be concerned for the temporal safety of his disciples, and for their safety more than for that of the unbelieving Jews, many reasons might be assigned. They were his disciples, and their temporal safety could not be a matter of indifference to him. Their temporal safety would also make manifest his character, in not destroying the righteous with the wicked. And was not this very preservation of them, or his spar. ing them, as a father spareth his only son that serveth him, a fulfilment of what God had spoken ? See Mal. iii. 17, 18. and comp. chap. iv. But above all, was it not a matter of importance that our Lord should show concern for the temporal safety of his disciples, as they were to be witnesses of his resurrection, and the heralds of his salvation to the ends of the earth? All these and other things which could be mentioned, account for our Lord's solicitude about the temporal safety of bis disciples, without supposing that their souls were in danger of endless punishment in Gehenna.
It is further objected--if there be no such thing as hell or place of misery in a future state, yet seeing it was commonly believed both
Jews and Gentiles, that there was such a place, why is it that neither Christ nor his apostles ever took occasion to contradict this false notion, but on the contrary erpressed themselves in appearance, at least, so much in favor of this opinion that a great part of mankind from that time to this have supposed it fully taught in the New Testament. Some remarks are made in chap. i. sect. 3. which in part meets this objection. We offer a few additional remarks here in reply to it.
1st, Then, it is supposed that the belief of hell's being a place of misery, was the common belief of both Jews and Gentiles. But we ask, how came they by such a belief? It was not from the Old Testament, for it is allowed that it does not teach such a doctrine. In chap. i. sect. 3. it has been shown that the Jews learned this doctrine from their intercourse with the heathen. This made such a belief common to both Jews and Gentiles, and not that it was common to both, from divine revelation.
2d, But the point of this objection lies in the following things. It is asked," why is it that neither Christ nor his apostles ever took occasion to contradict this false notion that hell was a place of misery?” In answer to this we ought to be permitted to ask in our turn—“If Christ and his apostles believed this doctrine common to both Jews and Gentiles, why is it, that they never took occasion to teach it either to Jews or Gentiles? Why did they not avail themselves of this universally received notion to inculcate and enforce this doctrine? To have taught it, could have given no offence to either of them;
yet we find them silent on the subject, that Gehenna or hell was a place of endless misery. They do not even teach that Hades is such a place. The only place which could be supposed as an exception to this, is the parable of the rich man, which has been shown not even to teach an intermediate state of punishment. If this popular belief then, was true, and believed to be so by the Saviour and his apostles, why did they not avail themselves of it, and enforce it on both Jews and Gentiles?
3d, If we are to conclude, that because Christ nor his apostles never expressly contradicted this false notion, common to both Jews and Gentiles, that they by their silence sanctioned it as true, it follows, that all the false notions entertained by Jews and Gentiles not expressly contradicted by them are true. But we presume few would admit this, though it is a natural consequence from this objection. We do not find the New Testament writers spending their time and labor in contradicting and refuting all the false notions entertained by the Jews and Gentiles. No; they state the truth to them, and leave it to have its gradual influence in eradicating the false notions which they had imbibed. To have done otherwise, would have been contrary to what every ordinary wise and prudent man, even uninspired, would have done in like circumstances. When any man will fairly make out, that their not contradicting expressly all the false, Jewish and heathen notions, is proof that those about which they are silent are true, we shall admit the one in question to be of the number.
But another part of the point of this objection is that Jesus Christ and his apostles,"on the contrary expressed themselves, in appearance at least, so much in favor of this opinion, that a great part of mankind from that time to this have supposed it fully taught in the News Testament.” In reply to this part I would observethat taking this part in connexion with the other, it is intimated that so far from Christ and his apostles contra. dicting this notion common to both Jews and Gentiles, they rather expressed themselves in appearance, at least, in favor of it: so much so, that a great part of mankind from that time to this have supposed it fully taught in the New Testament. But we would ask in what parts of the New Testament do we find this ? Not surely from those parts which speak either of Hades or Gehenna. The places where our Lord used those words, have been all considered, and we think it has been shown, that in none of them did he teach such a doctrine. His apostles never once name Gehenna, nor even intimate that either Hades or Gehenna referred to a place of future misery. If our Lord and his apostles, did in appearance, at least, speak of such a place of misery, some other texts must be referred to than those in which either the words Hades or Gehenna are found. These we are willing to consider, but as we do not know what texts would be adduced in proof, and as a consideration of them would be a digression from the object of the present Inquiry, we are at present relieved from this labor.
But it is supposed that Jesus Christ and his apostles expressed themselves in appearance, at least, so much in favor of this opinion, “ that a great part of mankind from that time to this have supposed it fully taught in the New Testament.” In reply to this let it be noticed, that this very Inquiry is for the express purpose of exciting men to the consideration, if they have not been mistaken in supposing that Christ and his apostles did teach such a doctrine. It will not be denied, that men from that time to this have supposed Christ and his apostles to teach
doctrines, which they are now coming to be convinced are not taught in the Bible. That the one we have been considering is not of that number, ought not to be taken for granted.
It is admitted by all, that a great many Jewish and heathen notions, were very early incorporated with the doctrine of Christ and his apostles. The Jews and Gentiles composed the first churches, and no doubt entertained many of their heathen and Jewish opinions and prejudices, after they embraced the Christian religion. Past ages have furnished but too much evidence, that the scriptures have been used to countenance almost
every opinion. Sound in words, without any regard to the context or other parts of scripture, have been quoted in proof of them. Closer attention to the oracles of God has exploded many of them, and increased attention, may expose the falsehood of many more. That Gehenna or hell, is a place of endless misery for the wicked, is an opinion which originated with the heathen we have shown above; and have also attempted to show, that those texts which speak of Gehenna on which this doctrine has been founded have been greatly misunderstood. If we have erred in interpreting them let this be pointed
Until this is done, and it is shown that the doctrine of hell torments did not originate in heathenism but on the authority of God, our views stand unshaken by this objection.
We find it also objected--if there be no place of punishment in a future state prepared for such as die in unbelief, how is this part of mankind to be disposed of after death, in what part of the universe is their abode to be assigned them? Not in heaven ; 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":