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I am fully aware that it may be objected to all this, though these writers do not mention Gehenna, yet they have spoken of the same punishment in another way. If they have, we are willing to consider what they have said, and, we think, have considered it. All we wish observed here, is, that they have surely not spoken of it by the name Gehenna or hell. This can not be disputed. Since this is a fact, an argument of some weight arises from it, that Gehenna was not used to express a place of endless misery. It is this. If our Lord taught this doctrine at all, it will be allowed that he taught it in those passages, in which he speaks of Gehenna or hell fire. Well, if the disciples did understand our Lord as teaching this doctrine in such passages, how came it to pass, that they never once afterwards spoke of it by this name as their master had taught them? Is it likely that they would lay aside his mode of speaking about it, and adopt a mode of their own?
4th, Another fuct deserving our attention, is, that all that is said about Gehenna, was spoken to Jews. Jews, and they only, were the persons addressed, when speaking of Gehenna. It is not once named to the Gentiles in all the New Testament, nor are any of them ever threatened with such a punishment. This fact is indisputable. The evidence of its truth does not depend on a tedious, intricate process of reasoning, which few persons could go through and decide about. All that any one has to do, is to read all the texts referred to, in which Gehenna occurs, in connexion with their contexts, and he must be satisfied of the correctness of my statement. It is not of the least consequence to decide to. whom the gospels were originally written. In all the eleven places in which Gehenna is used by our Lord, it is easily perceived that he was addressing Jews. In the only other passage in which it occurs, it is evident that James was addressing the twelve tribes
which were scattered abroad. See chap. i. and compare it with chap. iii. 6. Should it be objected to this, that our Lord's ministry was among the Jews, and that he did not minister among the Gentiles, and therefore could not speak to them of the damnation of hell;" to this I answer, that the objection would have force, if his apostles, in their ministrations to the Gentiles, had spoken of the damnation of hell. But this they never did, and their silence not only renders the objection of no weight, but shows that the damnation of hell peculiarly concerned the Jews, and that the apostles considered the Gentiles not concerned in this punishment. This fact, which I deem of great importance in this inquiry, is put beyond all fair debate. No man can doubt the fact, who takes the trouble to read the above passages. Its truth will appear when we come to consider them. Let us then attach what meaning we please to the word Gehenna; it is certain that the Jews are the only persons addressed about it.
It has been thought by some, that Matthew, Mark and Luke, wrote their gospels for the use of the Jews. In whatever way this may be decided, it seems certain that John wrote his gospel for the use of the Gentiles. Of this the book contains sufficient internal evidence. John explains Jewish places, names and customs, which was altogether unnecessary, had he been writing to Jews. Is it not then very worthy of our notice, that in his gospel he never mentions Gehenna? If the punishment of Gehenna or hell, was for Gentiles as well as Jews, how came it to pass, that he said nothing to them about it? Not only does he never name Gehenna, but he omits all the discourses in which our Lord used this word. If the damnation of hell only concerned Jews, we see a very good reason for this omission; but if it equally concerned Gentiles, how is it to be accounted for upon rational principles? If both were alike concern
ed in its punishment, why are not both throughout the New Testament admonished about it, and warned against it? How could the Gentiles fear and avoid a punishment not once mentioned to them by any one of the inspired writers? The only way in which these omissions can be accounted for, is, that they attached a very different idea to the punishment of hell from what we do, and did not consider the Gentiles concerned with it.
It may possibly be objected,-" were not all the Scriptures written for the benefit of mankind? Why then make such a distinction between what was addressed to the Jews and not to the Gentiles?" In reply to this objection, I frankly answer,-yes; whatsoever was written aforetime, was written for our learning. But notwithstanding this, who does not see, and does not admit, in other cases, the importance, yea, the necessity of this very distinction? We may derive as Gentiles, much instruction from Matth. xxiii. xxiv.; but who will deny that what is there written had a particular reference to the Jews? This is but one example out of many which might be adduced in illustration of this distinction. It should be recollected, that in the very first of these chapters referred to, some of the most important things said by our Lord of Gehenna occur. All will allow, that the words. fill ye up then the measure of your fathers," had a special reference to the Jews. If so, why not also the very next words, "ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" This is the only instance which can be produced, where our Lord ever threatened the unbelieving Jews with the damnation of hell; and the whole context goes to show, that the subject he was speaking on, had an especial reference to the Jews. Our Lord, nor any of his apostles after him, ever threatened the Gentiles with a punishment in
Gehenna. This fact not only confirms the suspicion, which the preceding facts were calculated to excite, but I think ought to lead every man strongly to doubt if by Gehenna our Lord meant a place of eternal misery for all the finally impenitent. The man who can avoid doubting this, must have some way whereby he accounts for these facts, of which I frankly confess my ignorance.
5th, Another very important fact to be noticed, is, that the chief part of all that our Lord said about Gehenna, was spoken to his disciples. Out of twelve times in which Gehenna or hell is mentioned in the New Testament, in only two instances is a word said about it to the unbelieving part of the Jewish nation. In nine of those places our Lord was evidently addressing his disciples, and in the other place where Gehenna is mentioned, James was addressing believing Jews of the twelve tribes, who were scattered abroad. This fact is also so notorious, that the texts where the word Gehenna occurs, need only to be consulted, to be perfectly satisfied of its truth. It is not more certain that this word occurs just twelve times in the New Testament, than it is certainly used ten times in speaking to the disciples, and only twice to the unbelieving Jews.May I not then be permitted to press home the ques`tion,-how is it to be rationally and scripturally accounted for, that so much should have been said about Gehenna or hell to the disciples, and comparatively so little to the unbelieving part of the Jewish nation? If Gehenna did mean, as is commonly believed, a place of future eternal misery, why did our Lord appear so solicitous that his few disciples should escape this punishment, yet say so very little about it to the unbelieving multitude? To his disciples he always spoke of it as a thing they might escape; but to the unbelieving Jews, he says, "how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" Pray, why did he
warn so much those in least danger of this punishment, yet say so little to those in the greatest danger of it? If he attached the same ideas to the word Gehenna, which we do to the word hell, bow can we account for this part of our Lord's conduct? It is self evident, and must strike every reflecting man with great force, that his conduct, and the conduct of preachers in our day, are at perfect variance. For example, what would people in our day think of a preacher who should preach most about hell to the church, and say but little about it to the unbelieving part of his audience? appearing much more solicitous that the few composing the church should be saved from its punishment, than the multitude he considered as living in disobedience and wickedness. All know that the very reverse of this is the uniform practice of modern preachers. How this difference between our Lord's practice and theirs, is to be accounted for, I leave others to determine. On the commonly received views of Gehenna or hell, I am satisfied it can never be rationally accounted for.I may add, how is it to be rationally accounted for, that our Lord only once during his whole ministry, should say to the unbelieving Jews, "how can ye escape the damnation of hell," if by this he meant future eternal punishment? That this could not be his meaning, we shall presently show from a variety of evidence. We only request that his conduct as it respects this, should be rationally accounted for. Either he said a great deal too little about hell to the wicked, or most preachers in our day say a great deal too much. Which of these two they will admit as the truth, must be left for themselves to determine. I need hardly notice that this fact is calculated to increase the doubts created by the other facts already stated, and ought to lead every man to a candid and careful examination of the New Testament, as to the sense of