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led me to doubt that Gehenna is a place of future eternal misery. If it is, we shall be happy to see it proved.
3d, Supposing that hell is a place of endless. misery for the wicked, it will not be an easy matter to vindicate either the character of our Lord or of his apostles. It will not be easy to vindicate their character for fidelity to God, or to the souls of men. It is certain our Lord was faithful to him who appointed him. The apostles were also faithful, in declaring the whole counsel of God. But can all this be true, if they knew that hell was a place of eternal misery, and that all the world stood exposed to it, yet said nothing to them about it? is true, the Saviour mentions hell nine times to his disciples, and twice to the unbelieving Jews. Neither he nor his apostles ever use the word in speaking to the Gentiles. Now I ask, is this like being faithful? Is this being half so faithful as most preachers are in our day? We think every candid man must say no; it is rather being very unfaithful, if they indeed believed this doctrine as it is commonly received among us. Let it then be accounted for, how preaching hell as a place of endless misery now is so much a duty, since it was not done by the apostles, nor even by our Lord himself. The fidelity of preachers in these days, both to God and the souls of men, in preaching the doctrine of endless misery in hell, far exceeds that of the apostles or of Christ, the Saviour. But how is their compassion to the souls of men to be vindicated, if by hell is meant a place of endless misery? The case stands thus. The Saviour, it is thought, knew hell to be a place of endless torment, but we have seen how he acted? He had compassion on the multitude, when they needed to be fed, and wrought a miracle to supply their wants. The compassion of his heart made him weep over Jerusalem, in anticipating the temporal calamities coming upon its inhabitants, and faith
fully to warn them of their danger. In reference to those temporal calamities, he once said to the unbelieving Jews,-"how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" In reference to the same calamities, he uses the word hell in addressing his disciples. But he sheds no tears, he gives no warnings, he works no miracles to save, when it is said he knew hell to be a place of endless misery to all the wicked. But can any man think so of the Son of God, the Saviour of the world? I ask; can any man believe, that he whose heart was wrung with anguish, at foreseeing temporal evils to be suffered by men, and who could shed tears at the grave of Lazarus, was so callous, so devoid of all compassion, as never to warn men of endless misery in hell? But supposing we should admit, that in all the places where our Lord mentions hell, such a place of misery is meant. In this case, our Lord indeed had a little compassion for the Jews. But neither he, nor his apostles, had any for the Gentiles. The apostles did shed tears, but not a sigh is heaved, nor a tear falls from their eyes, on account of men's being in danger of hell torments. On this subject their bowels of compassion were entirely shut up, for they say not a word about hell to any man.Either then we must allow these men to be devoid of compassion, or admit that they did not know that hell was a place of eternal torment for the wicked. It is a plain case, that preachers in our day far exceed the Lord and his apostles in compassion for the souls of men. How solemnly, and seriously, and frequently do we hear preachers warn men of hell torments? What deep compassion they pretend, at least, to feel for the multitudes of poor souls on the brink of hell, and going down to suffer its torments forever. In what loud and frightful tones do we hear them describe the horrors of this place? Their compassionate hearts they describe as bleeding, because men
will thus rush down to hell in crowds.
But where do we find such things in our Lord's, or in his apostles' preaching? Were they to return to the earth, and preach just as they did, every pulpit would be shut against them, and they represented as unfaithful and unfeeling men. But how is their zeal for the glory of God, and the salvation of men, to be vindicated, if they knew hell to be a place of endless misery? Our Lord said, "the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.” But surely, as we have seen, it was not spent in preaching, and warning men against endless misery in hell. The apostles had also zeal, great zeal, and zeal according to knowledge, but they never spent any of it in preaching such a doctrine. The topic of hell torments, on which so much zeal is spent in the present day, is one which they never introduced to their hearers. This topic, hardly forgotten in a single discourse, and so powerful in inducing all classes of society to contribute, seems to have been unknown in the days of the apostles. This theme, so effectual in rousing the sleeping energies of mankind, and of exhausting human ingenuity in devising means to save them from hell, was either unknown to them, or they did not know how to avail themselves of it. It was never used by them to procure themselves a morsel of bread, or in any way to do good to others. The most profound silence is maintained by the apostles on this subject.
I do not blame the zeal of any in the present day, in urging the doctrine of hell torments on all mankind. If the doctrine be true, I contend that their zeal is not ardent enough. Indeed, if true, no one can easily go to excess in his zeal. So far from condemning the greatest zeal which can be manifested, I have some doubts if a great many of such persons believe their own doctrine. If they did, how could they live in such wealth and splendour as they do, yet do so
little to save men from hell torments? I have serious doubts if even many of the preachers most ac tive and zealous in rousing the public to give money to save the heathen from hell, believe this doctrine. If they did, would they live at home in comparative ease and affluence, and send raw, inexperienced youths abroad to encounter the difficulties and dangers of such a work? No; they would rush into the hottest place of the battle, and suffer every privation in such a conflict. One thing is certain, that in saving others from hell, they seem determined to do it with as little self-denial and personal risk as possible. How often does it happen that all the zeal for the doctrine of hell torments evaporates in the pulpit, and nothing more is heard of it until the preacher returns to it again. In the common intercourse of life, he speaks and acts to the same people, as if all his threatenings from the pulpit, of eternal torment in hell, were not true. Yea, some of the very persons whom in the pulpit he threatens with the torments of hell, are his most intimate companions through the week. He visits in their families, he feasts at their tables, and his salary is chiefly paid by them; but not a word escapes him, perhaps the whole week, in warning them of their danger in being every moment exposed to endless misery. Can such a man be said truly to believe this doctrine? We must be allowed to doubt it, so long as such unfaithfulness is so apparent. I do not blame any for great zeal, if this doctrine be true. No; I only wish some one would açcount for it, if they can, why the apostles never mentioned hell as a place of torment, nor availed them. selves of this doctrine, to stimulate their own zeal, or rouse that of others, in attempting to save men from such a punishment. I wish it to be accounted for, why this topic was never urged on Christians to induce liberality, to assist in saving the heathen from
hell, or on the heathen to induce them to turn from their idols to the living God. I wish it to be accounted for, if the apostles knew of the doctrine of hell torments, why they forgot to mention it either to Jews or to Gentiles. Either they did not believe the doctrine, or, if they did, how is their fidelity, compassion, and zeal to be defended? Who would undertake to defend the fidelity, compassion and zeal of any preacher in our day, who, if this doctrine was believed by him, should never mention Gehenna as a place of endless misery for all who died in ignorance and unbelief concerning the Saviour? Instead of defending him, all sects, Herod and Pilate like, would be made friends for once, to put such a preacher down by every means in their power.
4th, The Old Testament is often quoted in the New, but it is an indisputable fact, that though quoted by our Lord when speaking about hell or Gehenna, it is not quoted to show that hell was a place of eternal misery, but in reference to temporal punishment. Indeed, it was impossible for our Lord or his apostles to quote the Old Testament to prove that hell was such a place of misery; for it is acknowledged by Dr. Campbell and others, that in this sense Gehenna or hell does not occur there. They could not make a quotation in proof of this from it, for it did not afford them any thing to quote. Well, permit me to ask, why our Lord did quote the Old Testament, and quoted it in the very texts in which hell or Gehenna is spoken of? In Mark ix. considered above, our Lord expressly quotes a passage from Isaiah, when speaking concerning hell to his disciples. In other places he seems to allude to others. Had our Lord then meant to use Gehenna or hell in a different sense from that in the Old Testament, was it not calculated to mislead his hearers thus to quote it? Is it rational and proper to suppose, that our Lord quoted texts from the Old Testa