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ted. This word I noticed, in considering Matth. v.. 22. was used figuratively to express temporal punishment, and meant the same as the word damnation, which also signifies punishment. But this shall be more fully considered presently. Let it be further observed, that in the present passage, the very same idea which in verse 9. is expressed by the phrase,. "cast into hell fire," is expressed in verse 8. by the words, "everlasting fire." I think no one will dispute that these two phrases are used as convertible expressions for the very same thing. Should any one be inclined to contend, that the word everlasting in the one verse, expresses the additional idea of the duration of the punishment, I am not disposed to dispute this. It will soon be seen that my views do not require my engaging in such disputes. All I would say at present about this, is, that before any person contends for the everlasting duration of the puuishment of hell, he ought first to settle beyond dispute, that hell is a place of punishment for the wicked in a future state. The place should first be proved to exist, before the everlasting duration of its punishment be brought forward for discussion. If this cannot be done, all debate respecting its everlasting duration, is only beating the air. If it should be said, that "it is the word everlasting, applied to the punishment of hell or Gehenna, that proves that hell is a place of future misery; for surely no temporal punishment can be everlasting in its duration;" to this I answer,-that it is this very word everlasting, being applied to Gehenna or hell fire, that convinces me that hell has no reference to a place of eternal misery for the wicked. Evidence, and I hope satisfactory evidence of this, will appear in the sequel. But to return to the phrase,. "everlasting fire," in the passage before us. This expression, I find, occurs only in two other places in the New Testament, Matth. xxv. 41. and Jude 7.
These passages we do not profess to consider here. They are only noticed so far as is necessary for the illustration of the phrase everlasting fire in this passage. On this phrase. then, I remark,
1st, That those who have attended to Scripture figures and modes of speaking, know that the word fire is a very common figure of speech to express temporal punishment, or God's judgments upon any people. Lest this should be disputed by any one, I refer to the following, among many other texts which might be quoted in proof. See Deut. xxxii. 22—25. Isai. Ixvi. 15, 16. and v. 24, 25. and xxx. 27–33. and ix. 18, 19. Isai. x. 16-18. Ezek. xxii. 18-22, 41. See also the two first chapters of Amos. I shall only quote one or two texts to show the truth of this. Thus in Lam. ii. 3. Jeremiah, speaking of God's punishment on the Jews, says," he burned against Jacob like a flaming fire, which devoureth round about." And David says, Psalm lxxxix. 46. " shall thy wrath burn like fire ?" In further evidence of this, and evidence which will be allowed conclusive, let Matth. xxv. 41. be compared with verse 46. All will allow that what is called everlasting fire in the first, and expressed figuratively, is in the last verse expressed plainly without the figure, and called everlasting pun-ishment. Indeed, nothing is more evident, than that fire is a common figure in Scripture for temporal punishment. This, I think, will be admitted, whatever may be the meaning of the expression, everlasting fire, in any passage where it occurs.
2d, What then is the meaning of the expression, "everlasting fire," and which is equivalent to "hell fire?" To save time, and repetition of remark, I shall leave the answer to this question to be given in considering the next passage, where we have for the phrase everlasting fire here, the equivalent expression, "the fire that shall never be quenched."-Before
closing my remarks on this text, let it be noticed, that the phrase, "to enter into life," occurs twice. This is necessary to be observed, because in the next passage I shall have occasion to consider it in connexion with the equivalent expression, "to enter into the kingdom of God." Whoever examines the context of this passage, may see that it affords no evidence that our Lord, by Gehenna, meant a place of endless misery. This sense of Gehenna here, as in other places, is taken for granted. It is assumed with as much confidence, as if the context clearly decided that this and no other could be its meaning. We have settled the sense in which our Lord used this word, in considerng Matth. xxiii. 33. and also from its use in the Old Festament. Until it can be shown that he used it to ignify a place of endless misery in some other text, his ought to be allowed to be our Lord's general usage of this word. It is certain nothing in this text or its context leads to such a conclusion. It rather affords some evidence in confirmation of the sense we have given it, but we deem it unnecessary to notice it. Mark ix. 43-49. is the next passage. "And if thy band offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to ener into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched; where heir worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. and if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for hee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenchd; where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: t is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell ire; where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." This is the longest and most terrific decription given of Gehenna, or hell, in the Bible. No loubt is entertained by most Christians, that it is a
conclusive proof of the doctrine of eternal misery. I once thought so myself, and need not wonder that others should still be of this opinion. I now think, that so far from its teaching this doctrine, it in a very strong manner, confirms the views I have advanced on all the above passages. I must therefore be indulged in a pretty full examination of it, with a view to show this. Several things occur here, which have been considered in preceding passages. For exam ple, we have considered what is meant by cutting off a right hand, and plucking out a right eye. Also, the expression, "to be cast into hell or hell fire." In this passage we have the expression, "to go into hell," once, and "to be cast into hell," twice. All, howev. er, I think, will allow that this is only a slight variation of the words in expressing the same idea. The remarks, therefore, made already on these phrases, need not be here repeated.
Some things omitted on the last text, we shall now attempt to consider in connexion with the same or similar phraseology in this passage. It was noticed there, that the phrase, "to enter into life," occurred twice. I now desire it to be noticed, that the very same phrase occurs also twice in this passage. Observe, however, that as an equivalent expression we have the phrase, "to enter into the kingdom of God." It cannot be doubted that these two expressions convey the same meaning, whatever that meaning may be. This can be easily shown from other places, if it be disputed. It is of great importance to a right understanding of the texts in which these two expressions occur, "to enter into life," or "to enter into the kingdom of God," to ascertain what is their precise meaning. To arrive at this, let it be observed, that when we compare the four gospels, we find that where Mark, Luke and John, for the most part use the phrase, "kingdom of God," Matthew uses the expression, "kingdom of
heaven." See Dr. Campbell's fifth dissertation, where this is shown at length. Indeed, no one can doubt it, who reads the four gospels. To enter into the kingdom of heaven, or into the kingdom of God here, does not mean, as many suppose, to enter into the heavenly state, but to enter into the kingdom, or reign, of the Messiah in the present world. That this is the sense often of the phrases kingdom of God, and kingdom of heaven, few will question, who have ever read the New Testament. The dissertation just referred to, fully and clearly establishes this. That to enter into the kingdom of God or of heaven, signifies to enter into Christ's kingdom, or reign, in this world, I shall now attempt to show. In proof of this, 1 quote Matth. xviii. 3. where our Lord says, "verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Here entering into the kingdom of heaven, means entering into the reign or kingdom of Christ in this world. Should it be said," were not the disciples already in Christ's kingdom in this respect?" I answer no; for in this sense his kingdom was not then come. John, Jesus, and his disciples, only preached this kingdom as coming, or as at hand. Christ's kingdom or reign did not, properly speaking, begin until after his resurrection and exaltation to the right hand of God. Our Lord's words plainly imply that his disciples were not in his kingdom, nor could they afterwards enter it, unless they were converted. Dr. Campbell, on this text, says, "they must lay aside their ambition and worldly pursuits, before they be honoured to be the members, much more the ministers, of that new establishment or kingdom he was -about to erect." M'Knight, on this passage, takes the same view of it, which I need not quote. Besides, it is evident that in one sense his kingdom did not come until the destruction of Jerusalem. As I think it was