« PreviousContinue »
would Nero's garden have been lighted with their funeral piles. If it be said that religion yields a present comfort to the believer sufficient to support him under all these trials, we make our appeal to the christian world, and ask what christian there is who will say that he enjoys comfort enough in religion, aside from any hope or fear respecting a future state, to support him in the dungeon, loaded with chains, or to carry him to the stake? There is comfort in religion, and joy in believing, we admit; but take away that joy which springs from a hope that takes hold on a future reward, and remove that faith which connects present fidelity with future happiness, and what remains will be dissipated at the first motion of the wheel, or at the first touch of the fiery fagot.
2. The wicked have nothing to fear in consequence of their sins, only what befalls them in this life. This certainly leaves sinners with as little to fear, in view of their wickedness, as we have seen the righteous have to hope in consequence
of their piety. Some men who are notoriously wicked pass through life as smoothly as the devoted chrisitan, or the zealoụs minister, who, like Paul, warns all, night and day, with tears. If it be said that sinners suffer some unseen punishment, which is designed to operate as a restraint upon them to deter them from transgression, we answer, the absurdity of such a hypothesis has already been shown ; in addition to which we here make our appeal to the sinner himself, and ask him what he has suffered as a punishment for sin, calculated to restrain him in future? It must be seen then that to deny future punishment, is to remove all the terror from the divine law, by nullifying its threatened penalty, and leave the sinner to act without fear of punishment. Is it said that those who deny punishment after death, assert, that if men sin they must be punished for it in this life, and that there is no possibility of escaping it by repentance and faith? We reply, that sinners have no reason much to fear a mundane hell; for that sentiment which denies a future hell, teaches them that they have been in hell ever since they began to sin ; and having found it supportable, and in general quite comfortable, they can have but little to fear for the future.
VI. The descriptions given of the punishment of the wick
ed by the pen of inspiration, are such as to preclude the idea of any thing which sinners generally suffer in this life; and if so, such descriptions must refer to punishment in a future state. Rom. i. 18. “ The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” Rom. ii. 8, 9. “Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every soul that doeth evil.” 2. Thes. i. 7,8. * When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God.” Rev. xxi. 8. “But the fearful and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." Rev. xx. 15. " And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." Matt. xxii. 13. " Then said the king to the servants, bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness.” Matt. xxv. 30. “ And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness : there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Now who can suppose that these descriptions belong to punishment happening to sinners, generally, in this life? Indignation and wrath, wrath of God revealed from heaven, Christ revealed from heaven in flaming fire, taking vengeance, cast into a lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, cast into outer darkness where is weeping and gnashing of teeth, &c. such expressions are too high wrought to come from the pen of the most impassioned poet, if he were describing the suffering common to sinners in this life. Let it be remarked that some of the above texts speak of all sinners, as “every soul of man that doeth evil,” “all liars," &c. What would be thought of a writer who, in attempting to describe the punishment which all liars receive in this life, should assert that they have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone ? Would liars themselves believe such statements ? And can any one believe that the Holy Ghost ever dictated descriptions so far from sober fact? And yet we must admit it, or else admit that the Bible threatens sinners with a punishment which they do not receive in this world. If then the descriptions which are given in the Bible of the punishment of the wicked cannot be consistently applied to any thing
happening to sinners generally in this life, it must follow that these descriptions belong to punishment in a future state.
VII. The scriptures associate with the punishment of the wicked, the idea of a place or locality in a manner that forbids the supposition that it is endured in this life. Hell is referred to as a place of punishment, not in this world, but in a future state. Psa. ix. 17. “ The wicked shall be turned into hell and all the nations that forget God.” Luke xvi. 23. “ And in hell he lifted up his eyes being in torments.” Mark ix. 43. “It is better for thee to enter into life maimed than having two hands to go into hell.” 2 Pet. xi. 4. “ For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness to be reserved unto judgment.” Rev. xx. 10. " The devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beasts and the false prophets are.” The above quotations clearly imply a local hell. “ Shall be turned into hell, to go into hell, in hell he lifted up his eyes," &c. are expressions which involve the idea of a place; and if there is not a place of punishment such expressions are words without meaning. If the trials and sufferings of this life make up the sinner's punishment, it could not be said, “ the wicked shall be turned into hell,” for in such case the wicked are already in hell, and it would be strange indeed to threaten a man with being cast into a pit in which he had already fallen. If the worm that dieth not and the fire that is not quenched are nothing more than remorse of conscience here in this life, the wicked are not "turned into hell,” do not“ go into hell,” but hell is turned into the wicked, and the rich man instead of lifting
eyes in hell, must have lifted them up having hell within himself. The casting down of the angels that sinned into hell, in chains of darkness, and the casting of the devil into the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophets are, so clearly imply a place of punishment that farther remarks are unnecessary.
We ask then, is there any such place as hell in which sinners are now punished in this life? It is presumed that no one will contend for the existence of a local hell in this world in which sinners are now punished. We say then there is a place called hell, in which sinners are or will be punished. There is no hell
in this world, in which sinners are punished, therefore hell must be in a future state, and consequently, the punishment of the wicked must be in a future state also.
This argument must prove conclusive to the entire overthrow of modern universalism, if the existence of a hell as a place of punishment be proved. Of this universalists themselves are aware ; hence, every possible effort has been made to annihilate this gulf of perdition, or to metamorphose it into the grave, or into a valley near Jerusalem, whither the filth of the city used to be conveyed and burned. This point has been considered of such great importance that Mr. Balfour has written an entire volume on the word hell, in which he labours to disprove the common notion that hell is a place of punishment in the future world. We cannot, within the compass of our intended limits, review Mr. B's laboured work on this subject, nor do we think it necessary, believing that the question can be settled in a few pages, at much less expense both to the writer and reader. To show the ground taken by universalists on the subject of hell, the reader is here presented with the following extract from Mr. Morse's reply to Rev. Joel Parker. On pages, 17, 18, 19 and 20, the author holds the following language : “He" (Mr. Parker) “ took it for granted that hell is in a future state of being-he has furnished no proof of it.-Christ never taught that hell is beyond the grave. -David
says, thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell." Was David in this world or the next when he used that language?
“ There are four different words in the original languages which are rendered hell in our English Bibles in common use, viz. sheol, hades, tartarus and gehenna. Critics now generally agree that neither sheol, hades nor tartarus was ever used by any sacred writer to communicate an idea of endless suffering—and therefore should not have been translated hell. Concerning the word gehenna Dr. Campbell says, “It is originally a compound of the two Hebrew words ge, Hinnom ; the valley of Hinnom a place near Jerusalem of which we hear first in the Book of Joshua 15, 8. It was there that the cruel sacrifices of children were made by fire to Moloch, the Ammonitish idol, 2 Chron. 23,5.' The Dr's opinion that gehenna is used in the New Testament to denote the place
of future punishment is entirely without evidence. Parkhurst speaking of gehenna says, it is 'a corruption of two Hebrew words ge a valley, and Hinnom the name of a person who was once the possessor of it. This valley of Hinnom lay near Jerusalem, and had been the place of those abominable sacrifices, in which the idolatrous Jews burned their children alive to. Moloch, Baal, or the Sun. A particular place in this valley was called tophet,' &c. He also says, 'a gehenna of fire, Matt. 5. 22. does I apprehend, in its outward and primary sense, relate to that dreadful doom of being burnt alive in the valley of Hinnom.' Cruden says, it is thought that tophet was the butchery, or place of slaughter at Jerusalem, lying to the south of the city, in the valley of the children of Hinnom; it is also said, that a constant fire used to be kept there for burning the carcases and other filthiness, that was brought thither from the city. It was in the same place that they cast away the ashes and remains of the images of false Gods, when they demolished their altars, and broke down their statues.' Isa. says 30. 33. “For tophet is ordained of old; yea for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large. The pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord like a stream of brimstone doth kindle it.' Cruden further says, others think the name of tophet is given to the valley of Hinnom, because of the sacrifices that were offered there to the god Moloch, by beat of drum, which in Hebrew is called toph. It was in this manner that those sacrifices were offered. The statue of Moloch was of brass, hollow within, and its arms extended, and stooping a little forward. They lighted a great fire within the statue, and another before it: they put upon its arms the child they intended to sacrifice, which soon fell into the fire at the foot of the statue, putting forth cries, as may easily be imagined. To stifle the noise of their cries, and howlings, they made a great rattling of drums and other instruments, that the spectators might not be moved with compassion at the clamours of these miserable victims.' Calmet gives a similar account of Tophet, the valley of Hinnom and the horrid cruelties practiced in the worship of the idol Moloch. We have positive proof that gehenna, or the valley of the son of Hinnom is in this world, in the book of Joshua