Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

hades] I will be thy destruction.”—(Hosea xiji. 14.). Here the same word sheol-hades-occurs, which in several of the passages the Elder quotes, is translated “hell." This declares emphatically, that hell shall be destroyed. “Death and hell were cast into the Jake of fire”-i.e., were destroyed.--(Rev. xx. 14.) How can hell be the “last stateof any class of men when it is to be destroyed ?

The word Hellis translated from Sheol, in the Hebrew, and Hades and Gehenna, in the Greek. The two first were used an. ciently to signify an invisible world, which was formerly supposed to exist in the centre of the earth, and whither it was thought in early ages, the souls of all men, both good and bad, went at death. These words were frequently used to signify simply the grave. Sometimes also they were used in a figurative sense--denoting a condition of darkness, anxiety and wretchedness, in this world. Gehenna, is compounded of two words--Gi Hinnom, or the valley of the son of Hinnom. It was situated near Jerusalem, and was desecrated to the vilest of purposes. It was the place of the execution of criminals by stoning and burning to death. Fires were also kept burning there perpetually, to consume the offal of the city. Professor Stuart says of this valley of Gehenna—"Perpetuai fires were kept up in order to consume the offal which was de posited there. And as the same offal would breed worms, hence came the expression," where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.This Gehenna was a place of great dread to the Jews. In some passages in the New Testament, where it is translated hell, it means punishment literally administered in that valley, In other instances, it is used in a figurative sense, as descriptive of the punishments inflicted on the Jews. I will notice a few passages the Elder has iniroduced under this head.

Ps. ix. 17.--" The wicked shall be turned into hell, (sheol,) and all the nations that forget God!!". Sheol here is used in a figurative sense, denoting pain and wretchedness. The meaning of the Psalmist evidently is, that the wicked, whether individuals or nations, shall most assuredly receive a just punishment for their sins. But not a word is said in regard to the length of time that punishment shall continue.

Matt. xxiii. 33.-" Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell ?"--Skriseos tes geennes--the con. demnation of Gehenna.] Ye wicked Jews, how can ye expect to escape the sore punishment which is impending over your devoted city and nation ?

Mark ix. 43.—“ If thy hand offend thee, cut it off. It is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, (geennan) into the fire that never shall be quenched ; where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” You had het. ter part with the most valuable possessions or enjoyments you have, and enter into the spiritual life imparted by the gospel, and be safe from the terrible commotion soon to transpire in Judea, than to cling

to them, and become involved in the Gehenna overthrow and punishment which is soon to come upon the doomed Jewish nation. This is the plain meaning of this greatly misunderstood passage. Dr. Clarke says, the words “fire that never shall be quenched," are not to be found in sixteen or seventeen of the ancient copies of the New Testament; and that some eminent critics believe these words to have been spuriously added by some copyist. As to the meaning of the words " where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched," I bave above given the explanation of Professor Stuart.

Matt. x. 28.—"Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul ; but rather fear him which is able to destroy (apolesai) both soul and body in hell.”—[Geenne.). The object of this language which Jesus addressed to his disciples, was to inspire them with courage and confidence, in the midst of the perils by which they would be surrounded in proclaiming his gospel. He would have them entertain no fear of any injury men could inflict upon them. The most they could do would be to kill the body. Farther than this they could not go. There was but one being who could inflict a permanent injury upon them and that was God. He could destroy (annihilate] both soul and body in the midst of the dreadful fires of the valley of Gehenna. But because God has the powar to annihilate man, it is no rational evidence that he will do so. John the Baptist said to the Pharisees, “God is ABLE of these stones to raise up children to Abraham.”

--(Matt. iii. 9.) But be did not express any belief that God would do a work of that description. Jehovah is able to sink all men, and the whole Universe, into utter annihilation at a single word, but who apprehends he will speak such a word!

The “fallen angels,” (Jude 6,) have been introduced by my opponent. I am surprised he should quote that passage for the use he has. Does he believe there was once actually a WAR in heaven ?—That the angels in the abodes of infinite beatitude, really had a fight, and that a part of them were defeated and thrust out into darkness. If there has been such a war in heaven heretofore, there may be again. And if those who dwelt there at one time, were cast out, who knows but my friend and others of his school, if they should ever be so fortunate as to arrive in heaven, may in some future age, engage in a war there and in like manner, lose the field and be thrown over the battlements into hell! Is it not remarkable that men possessing ordinary intelligence, should cling to these old heathen notions, amid the light of the present age!! The Elder declares these angels fell from heaven! I deny this We have no knowledge that they fell at all, from any place. The account simply declares they " left their habitation.” It says nothing of heaven, or of any war ever having been there. These angels were “reserved in everlasting (a diois] chains, unto the judgment of the great day." That this condition of captivity and darkness was not to be unending, is evident from the fact that they were reserved only until the judgment of the great day, when their chains would be taken off. The word "angel” (aggelous) signifies a messenger of any description, whether celestial or human. The angels who left their first estate, were unfaithful or apostate earthly messengers of God. The “great day” to which they were reserved for judgment, was the day, or time, when the Jewish nation was driven from their temple, city and country, and entered upon that aionion chastisement, which has continued to our own age.

Mr. Holmes has several times quoted in support of endless pun. ishment, the well known passage in Mark xvi. 16.-" He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” “This language when properly understood yields not the slightest support to that sentiment. 1. What is the fact, the belief of which brings salvation, and the rejection of which leads to damnation ? The answer to this enquiry can be found by quoting the preceding verse."Go ye into all the world, and preach the GOSPEL to every creature. He that believeth (what? Ans. the Gospel] shall be saved: but he that believeth not (the gospel] shall be damned"-[katakrithesetaicondemned.] 2. What is the Gospel, which is to be thus believed ? Let St. Paul answer.

-- The scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the GOSPEL unto Abrabam, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

Now to Abraham, and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one. And to thy seed, which is Christ.”—(Gala. iii. 8-16.) This doctrine that in Christ, the seed of Abraham, all nations--all men -shall be blessed, constitutes the Gospel which is to be preached in all the world! Not that Christ will simply try to bless all menor oniy offer to bless allbut that he will succeed in his heavenly mission—in him all na. tions “SHALL be blessed!” 3. He that believeth this gospel of Universal blessedness through Christ, “shall be saved”-saved from unbelief, alination of heart, and the wretchedness which these things entail upon men. He that believeth not this gospel, “shall be condemned"—condemned to the darkness, the despair, the borrors, the dreadful uncertainties, which beset all who put the glo. rious light of this gospel from them, and continue to grope in the mists and shadows of the doctrines of men !

John iii. 36.-" He that believeth on the Son hath [in the pres. ent world) everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath, (punishment] of God abideth on him.” He that believes not, shall not see life while he continues in his unbelief. But whenever he repents and believes, whether

in this world or the next, his punishment ceases, and he will be allowed to see or enjoy life.*

In his eleventh argument, Elder Holmes has given us a long dissertation on traditions respecting the flood, etc. He reasons that because the traditions in regard to the flood grew out of an event that actually took place, therefore the traditions among the heathen that endless punishment was revealed by their gods, is a proof that such a revelation must have been made by the true God. This attempt to prove the truth of eternal woe by tradition, is exceedingly consistent. It exhibits about the degree of intelligence we should naturally expect from those who will volunteer to support such a sentiment before the public in this day. It must have great weight with an enlightened community, who of course will throw aside the dictates of their common sense, and the teachings of the scriptures, and the light and knowledge which now prevails, to receive sentiments which come so highly recommended. Especially is it an argument which will receive the unqualified admiration of certain elderly spinsters and venerable ladies, who of all things, most fear to doubt the teachings of tradition !! The Catholics 100, will yield it their unbounded admiration. Nothing is more implicitly depended upon for the upholding of their sentiments, than the high decisions of tradition! But unfortunately for these enlightened advocates of tradition, it happens to be precisely the kind of evidence of the truth of doctrines, which the Savior, and the Apostles condemn in the most pointed terms.“Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, this people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the TRADITION of men !!”—(Mark vii. 6-8.) 6. Beware, lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the TRADITION of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."-(Colos. ii. 8.)

The Elder, however, is mistaken in some of his facts in this traditionary argument. The heathen do not claim that the doctrine of infernal punishment was revealed even from their gods. They tell us very honestly, that they invented it, at an early age. Moreover they inform us why they invented it, viz: to keep the ignorant portion of their population in some restraint, through the sheer influence of fear! "This doctrine once having been invented and proclaimed by artful priests, whose influence at that era, was unlimited, we can easily perceive how readily it could be made a subject of general belief, and afterwards become a matter of tradition! Mr. Holmes says the Jews always believed in the doctrine of Endless Punishment. This is a bare-faced assumption, without one particle of truth. I deny it, most positively. I challenge my friend to produce the slightest evidence that the ancient Jews, in the days of their purity, when blessed with the instructions of patriarchs and prophets, ever believed that sentiment. He insists it was revealed to Enoch and Noah and ibe other patriarchs. What evidence does he offer! Simply the assertion of David Holmes-nothing more! The effort to force the language of Enoch (Jude 14, 15,) into the support of eternal agony, where he simply asseris that God will punish and “i convince” (reform) the wicked, would be laughable in the extreme, were it not a serious matter to see a professed preacher of the gospel, deliberately distort God's sacred word, to build up a theory so wicked and blas. phemous as endless woe. If the Creator revealed that doctrine to ihe patriarchs or prophets of old, why have we not some record of the fact in the Old Testament ? Not a word in favor of such a sentiment was ever uttered by the ancient servants of God; and yet a modern Methodist Elder guesses it must have been revealed to them, because the heathen generally, he asserts, believed it was revealed by their false gods. Does my friend imagine the public are so hood-winked by superstition, so blind and stupid, as to build their faith on his guess-work? The Elder has once declared that Universalism was found among the heathen, How did they obtain that doctrine? It must have been by trudition. All tradi. tion in regard to religion, he says, can be traced to some common origin-some revelation from God 10 man. Hence Universalism must have been originally revealed from God, on my friend's own theory! Come, Elder, it is a poor rule that will not work both ways. You must acknowledge that if the prevalence of endless punishment among the heathen, is evidence that it was originally revealed from God, then the fact which you asjert, that Universal Salvation was believed by heathen, is proof equally strong of its divine origin.

* The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, I have already noticed.--See

P.

626. Also “ Destruction without remedy.”—Prov. xxix. 1.-See p. 481. Also "if we sin wilfully after we have received the knooledge of the truth.—Heb. x. 26-7. See p. 567.

+ Seo p. 586.

Mr. Holmes in his ninth speech challenges me to show that any such system of doctrines as that which I advocate, was believed in the ancient christian church previous to the days of Luther. This is a tacit admittal that such a system did prevail at or near the time of Luther-some three hundred years ago. Yet he has not failed whenever the slightest opportunity offered, to reiterate Matthew Smith's senseless twaddle, that Universalism was the work of a man still living, (Rev. Hosea Ballou,) and deciares it is composed of the odds and ends of ancient Gnostic and other heresies, strung together by its modern author. Universalism contains not a single feature of ancient heresy, and incorporates none of the doctrines of the Gnostics, but those portions of their sentiments which they ob tained from the New Testament. Indeed, in the early ages of the

« PreviousContinue »