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12th, It is common with orthodox preachers to represent Hades or hell as the place of future torment for the wicked. They often avail themselves of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, in preaching on this subject. But observe that they also often speak of persons being there tormented by the devil and his angels. Indeed it is common to speak of devils and wicked men as being in the same place of punishment. But how they came by their information I know not. It is a fact that is indisputable, that whatever the Scriptures mean by the devil and his angels, they are not once represented as in Hades, or tormenting any persons there. Even Dr. Campbell, though he considers Hades as an intermediate place of punishment, says "That Gehenna is employed in the New Testament to denote the place of future punishment, prepared for the devil and his angels, is indisputable." See the whole of this paragraph quoted p. 92. If the devil and his angels are in this place, which Dr. Campbell says was prepared for them, they are not then in Hades, the intermediate place of punishment for the wicked. We ask then how it can be said with truth, that the devil and his angels are the tormentors of the wicked in Hades? But we believe some have thought that though Gehenna is the place prepared for the devil and his angels, they are not yet sent there, nor will they be until the day of judgment, when they and all the wicked are to go there together, to suffer its punishment forever. If this be true, that the devil and his angels are not in Gehenna and are never said to be in Hades, it seems they, for the present, are not in either place of punishment, whilst wicked men are all sent to Hades to be punished from death until the resurrection. Besides, it is certain that such preachers who represent the devil and his angels as the tormentors of wicked men in Hades, greatly misrepresent them, a thing which ought not to be done to real
devils. But how often has it been heard from the pulpit and published to the world, that wicked men at death go to hell to be the companions of devils and damned spirits forever? And has not books been put into the hands of children describing in words and representing to their eyes in cuts, the devil tossing about the wicked there with pitchforks? The truth is, whether my views of Gehenna be right or wrong, it is evident the common opinions entertained on the subject cannot all be true.
The evidence which has already been stated, proving that Gehenna does not signify a place of endless misery for the wicked, we deem sufficient. But there are yet some things, which ought not to be passed over, of a circumstantial nature, which very much confirm this evidence.
1st, Why did not John in his gospel mention Gehenna, and why did he omit all the discourses recorded by the other evangelists, in which our Lord spoke of Gehenna? It has been noticed already, that John wrote his gospel for the use of the Gentiles. This is generally admitted. This being the case, it may be thought there was no occasion to say any thing about Gehenna to the Gentiles. If our Lord as I have stated, meant by Gehenna the temporal punishment coming on the Jews, this is readily admitted; but if the damnation of hell was an eternal punishment for all the wicked, whether Jews or Gentiles, how could John omit all mention of it? How can it ever be rationally accounted for, that he believed the damnation of hell was an eternal punishment, yet say nothing about it to them? Was it a matter of more importance to them, to be told, that Messias being interpreted, signifies the Christ, or, that there was at Jerusalem a pool in the Hebrew language called Bethesda having five porches? Or that the water pots, chap. ii. contained two or three firkins apiece? Can any man
think, that if John believed Gehenna a place of endless misery, he would be silent about it, yet mention to his Gentile readers these things, comparatively of small importance? But why did John omit all these discourses in which our Lord spoke of Gehenna? A very good reason can be assigned for this, and it shows, in what light John viewed the discourses of our Lord, alluded to. It was after the destruction of Jerusalem he wrote his gospel. Whitby in his preface to the gospel of John thus writes: "The fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries do all agree, that he wrote it either in that Isle (Patmos) or after his return from it; when he was ninety years old, saith Epiphanius; when he was an hundred, saith Chrysostom. So that according to the account of all these ecclesiastical writers, John must have writ this gospel a considerable time after the destruction of Jerusalem." Supposing then, that by the damnation of hell our Lord referred to the temporal punishment coming on the Jews, we see a very good reason, why John says nothing about Gehenna, yea, omits all our Lord's discourses in which it is mentioned. The event was past. To have related those discourses, would have been to deliver predictions after they were fulfilled, and warning men of evils to be endured, after they had been suffered. John's conduct is not only then excusable, but highly proper, in saying nothing about Gehenna or hell, and in omitting all these discourses. Does not this very omission strongly confirm the view which I have given of the passages, which speak of Gehenna-And is not this omission irreconcilable with the common ideas entertained on this subject?
2d, Why does not Luke mention Gehenna in his history of the Acts of the apostles? This is the more surprising, as he mentions it in his gospel. On my view of Gebenna, this can be rationally accounted for, but on the common view, is altogether unaccount
able. In his gospel, he relates our Lord's discourses to the Jews, in which he spoke to them concerning Gehenna, in the punishment of which they were alone concerned. But in his history of the Acts of the apostles, he gives us an account of the preaching of the gospel, and its success among the Gentiles, who were not concerned in the punishment of Gehenna, and therefore had no need to have it mentioned to them. If my view of Gehenna be correct, we see that there was no occasion for him to say a word about it. But if he believed, and if the apostles believed, the history of whose preaching he relates, that hell was a place of endless misery, on what grounds are we to account for his entire silence on this subject? If it was a punishment in common to both Jews and Gentiles, who died wicked, will it ever be satisfactorily accounted for, that the apostles did not preach it to the Gentile nations? If they ever preached this doctrine, it is certain, that Luke omits all mention of it in his history. To say they did preach it, is only a gratuitous assertion, and in fact impeaches Luke as a faithful historian. What historian would omit mentioning the doctrine of universal salvation as preached by the Universalists, if he undertook to write the history of their preaching for thirty years?
But if it was right in the apostles, to say nothing in their preaching of Gehenna or hell, it must be right in us, for certainly they are the best models to copy after. Supposing then, that all the preachers among the Gentile nations, should, in imitation of the apostles, say nothing about bell to their hearers, who could blame them? They could urge the example of the apostles in their defence. Here they might take their stand, and bid defiance to the whole world to prove the contrary.
3d, Why did the apostles never mention any thing about hell in any of their epistles to the churches?
Not one of them, James excepted, ever introduces it. The reason of this is equally obvious. The epistles, for the most part, were written to Gentile believers, who were not concerned in the punishment of hell or Gehenna. James wrote to believing Jews, and we have seen, that he once, in a figurative sense uses this word. Now can any one suppose, that if the Gentiles had been exposed to hell or endless punishment, that the apostles never would, in any of their epistles, have reminded those to whom they wrote, that they had been saved from it? They are often reminded that they were idolaters, and wicked, before they believed the gospel, and that they had been saved from such things: not a word is said, intimating that any of them had ever been saved from Gehenna or hell. From the consideration of their being saved, they are often exhorted to love and good works; but never from the consideration of their being saved from hell or endless misery. As it is never said that they were once exposed to such a punishment, so they are never reminded that they were now delivered from it. No selfcomplaisant remarks are ever made, that they were now safe from the torments of hell, nor any whining complaints, that their friends, and neighbours, yea, the whole unbelieving Gentile world were every moment exposed to this punishment. We find the apostles and primitive Christians, expressing the most heartfelt gratitude, that they had been saved from this present evil world; that they were translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear son; and using all proper means that their fellow men might believe the gospel, and enjoy like blessings. The New Testament abounds with evidence of this. But do we ever find them saying that they had been saved from hell or Gehenna? Or intimating that their exertions in diffusing the gospel, was for the purpose of saving the heathen from the everlasting torments