« PreviousContinue »
Gehenna and Hades as two places of punishment for the wicked, and it is somewhat surprising that orthodox Christians have not, before now, denounced him as an heretic.
But the punishment of hell or Gehenna, says Dr. Campbell and others, comes after the judgment, for Hades is to be destroyed. But let the texts which speak of Gehenna, be again examined, and as little is said about its being a place of punishment after the resurrection, as before it. No; we never find it once mentioned, in connexion with the resurrection of the dead; but, as we have seen, always in connexion with the temporal miseries coming on the Jews. Without making myself liable to the charge of arrogance, I think I may challenge the whole world to produce a single text, which speaks of Gehenna or hell, either as an intermediate place of punishment for the spirit, or for both body and spirit after the resurrection of the dead. All the passages, we think, have been shown to have a totally different meaning. What has led people into such mistaken ideas, on this subject, is, their confounding Sheol, Hades and Gehenna together, as one place, and supposing that the word hell, by which all these words are translated, means the future place of punishment for the wicked. The endless duration of this punishment has been believed from Mark ix. 43, 44. considered above, and from a few more passages, in which the word everlasting is used and applied to punishment. It has been shown from a consideration of the passages which speak of Gehenna or hell, that it referred to the punishment of the Jews, and we think no man can dispute that we have proved that this punishment was called an everlasting punishment. But where do we ever read of an everlasting punishment in hell for soul and body, either in an intermediate state, or after the resurrection? Let
something like proof of this be produced. It is very true, that we read in books, and hear in sermons, of an eternal hell, and of the howlings of the damned, and of infants of a span long being in that place. But in the name of common humanity, and in vindication of the character of God, we demand in what part of the Bible such statements are to be found. Do the Scriptures ever give such statements as these? They certainly do not. Is it not, then, daring presumption in any man to speak thus? Shall we never have done in attempting to supply what we deem God's deficiences?
Dr. Campbell, and we presume all critics, object to the doctrine, that Hades is to be a place of punishment after the resurrection. It is evident from Scripture, that it is to be destroyed, and be no more. But why should this be objected to, and why should it be contended for, that Gehenna is to be a place of punishment after this period, and of eternal duration? Certainly as little is said about Gehenna, as about Hades, being a place of eternal punishment after the resection. From no text in which Gehenna is mentioned, could this be even inferred. Gehenna is never spoken of as a place of punishment after the resurrection of the dead; nor is it ever mentioned in connexion with this subject.
8th, Closely connected with the last fact, is another, that the learned seem to believe in two places of future punishment, and the common people only in one. Dr. Campbell, we have seen, declares that Gehenna is the place of eternal punishment for all the wicked. He also thinks that Hades is an intermediate place of punishment until the resurrection; but that this place is then to be destroyed. If it be true then, that Hades is one place of punishment, and Gehenna another, it is beyond all doubt that there are two places of future punishment, the one temporary, and the other to be
eternal in its duration; the one before, and the other after the resurrection of the dead. The first, a punishment for the soul, separate from the body, until the resurrection, and the other after, for both soul and body forever. This is indisputable, unless it can be proved, that Hades and Gehenna are only two names for the same place; or, which is much the same, that Hades is a part of Gehenna, or Gehenna a part of Hades. But no man who has paid the slightest attention to the passages in which these two words occur, can for a moment think so. So far from this, no two places could be more distinctly marked, as two separate places. The various modes of speaking about them clearly decide this, which we have noticed already. We think it has been shown that none of the passages which speak of Gehenna, support the idea, that this is a place of endless misery for the wicked. If such a place exists in the universe of God, and is revealed to us in the Bible, it must be under some other name than that of Gehenna or hell. Neither Sheol nor Hades can be this place; for admitting it to be a place of punishment in the intermediate state, it is agreed that it is to be destroyed, therefore can not be of endless duration. If such a place of misery is taught us under any other name in the Bible, I am willing to consider it. But this is not pretended, I believe, by the most zealous friends of the doctrine of endless misery.
The common opinion of the unlearned is, that there is but one place of future misery, and this place they call hell, whether this word be the translation of Shcol, Hades, Tartarus, or Gehenna. They always speak about it as one place of punishment, and consider this punishment as of endless duration. The same hell to which the spirits of the wicked are sent at death, is the hell to which they send all the wicked forever. If this be a mistaken notion of the vulgar,
it is certain most orthodox preachers do not attempt to correct it, for what they say about hell tends to confirm them in this opinion. They always speak about one hell as certainly as about one God; nor do they, in preaching, take any notice of the distinction: so clearly marked in Scripture, between Hades and Gehenna.
9th, Another fact is, that though we read of the sea, death and Hades, delivering up the dead which are in them, yet we never read of Gehenna delivering up any thing dead or alive. Now, Now, let us suppose, that at death the body goes to Hades, the grave, or state of the dead, and the spirit goes to Gehenna or hell, to suffer punishment until the resurrection of the body. If this commonly received doctrine be true, is it not as rational to think that we should read in Scripture of Gehenna or hell delivering up the spirits of the wick-ed at the resurrection, as that Hades or the grave should deliver up their bodies. In order to a reunion at this period, it is just as necessary that the spirits should come forth from the one place, as their bodies from the other. But nothing like this is to be found in the Bible. Does not this seem to intimate, that Gehenna or hell is not a place of misery for the wicked?
If heaven be, as is generally believed the place of happiness after death, for the spirits of the righteous, and Gehenna or hell be the place of punishment for the spirits of the wicked, must not the spirits of the last, in order to a reunion with their bodies, come forth from hell as certainly as the first from heaven? But I do not find that at this period a word is said about hell, or any spirits coming forth frotn it. But how is this accounted for, if the generally received doctrine be correct? The only possible way to account for this, is suggested by Dr. Campbell-that Gehenna is not the place of punishment for the wicked
until after the resurrection. But this, we think, will not bear examination. In all the texts which speak about Gehenna, nothing is said of the resurrection of the dead. No; nothing that has the least appearance of this. It will not be disputed, that when our Lord spoke to the unbelieving Jews, and to his disciples, of Gehenna, he was speaking on a very dif ferent subject, the temporal punishment coming on the Jewish nation. Why introduce Gehenna on a subject like this, if it be true that the punishment of Gehenna or hell, is that suffered by the wicked after the resurrection? If it is, let it be accounted for, why it is not once introduced by the inspired writers, when speaking of the resurrection. It is natural to think that it would be always spoken of in connexion with it. We find Hades follows death, and these two are spoken of as connected. But do we ever find it said that Gehenna follows the resurrection of the dead; or that there is any connexion between these two things? No; this is not, in the most distant way, hinted at. Let any one read all the passages where this subject is treated of, and he will find that not a word is said by the sacred writers concerning Gehenna or hell. In 1 Cor. xv. the fullest account is given of the resurrection, of any place in the Bible; but neither the punishment of hell, nor any other pun. ishment is spoken of in connexion with it. We should think it, then, a duty incumbent on those who believe that the punishment of hell succeeds the resurrection of the dead, to show, that the spirit of God speaks of it in such a connexion. If what is said about this be true, this ought to be its uniform connexion. But no man will assert that this is the case, who has paid any attention to the subject.
10th, Another important fact, deserving our notice, is, that none of the original words translated in the common version, eternal, everlasting, and forever, are once con