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and at last came to be confined to it, and that this is always and indisputably its sense in the New Testament. For proof of this new sense of the word heaven, we are referred to the Apocrypha and Targums. But when the Apocrypha is examined, it is found that this word does not occur there in any sense. When we come to the Targums it is found that it is only used in this sense by such writers of them as are allowed to have mixed fables, and fancies, and glosses of their own with the text. Yea, when we consult the texts in which such glosses are given, no rational being would ever conclude that the spirit of God in them was speaking any thing about heaven or its happiness. In addition to all this, a Greek version of the Old Testament was made before any of these Targums had any existence; but in this version no intimation is given, in the way of gloss or otherwise, that heaven was ever used to express a place of eternal happiness. Allowing this to be the actual state of the case, we leave it for any man to say, if any scriptural ground is perceived for any one to hope for eternal blessedness in heaven.
THERE is not a truth revealed in the Bible, against which, one opposed to it, may not start objections. It would however be a mere waste of time, and a very trifling employment, to answer every silly objection which might be made by such persons. All will allow, that objections which are rational, and which affect the subject against which they are brought, demand an answer. Every objection which has occurred to myself, or has been suggested by others, of any weight against the views which have been advanced, I shall now attempt to consider. These objections divide themselves into two classes; plausible, popular objections but which do not bear against the argument which has been adduced, and such as are supposed to have some weight against the evidence in support of that argument. I shall begin with the first of these.
1st, One of the most popular objections, which I think can be stated, is, that my sentiments are of a licentious tendency. It is remarked, if you do away Gehenna or hell as a place of endless punishment for the wicked, what is left to deter men from the commission of every crime ? Indeed say some, if I believed there was no hell, I would indulge myself in all kinds of iniquity! Look, say they, at the loose principles, and still more loose morals, of the Universalists; and add, by way of triumph, who ever heard
of a revival of religion among them?" It will be allowed, that I have stated this objection fully and fairly. It shall now be my business, as fully and fairly to meet it.
1st, It is said, "if hell, a place of endless punishment is done away, what is left to deter men from the commission of crime?" In reply to this, I remark-1st, Under the Old Testament dispensation, it is allowed, that the doctrine of hell torments was not known. Suffer me to ask, what was left then to deter men from the commission of every crime before this doctrine had existence? When these persons have told us, what was left in those days to deter men from crime without it, we are prepared to inform them what can deter men in these days without it. And if this doctrine was not preached under the Old Testament to make men holy, how came any then to be holy without it? Did Adam preach the doctrine of hell torments to Cain to make him holy? Did Noah preach this doctrine to make the antediluvians holy? Did Lot preach this doctrine to make the Sodomites holy? Did Abraham even allude to this doctrine in his intercession with God, as an argument that they might be spared? Yea, was the belief of this doctrine the cause of the holiness of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Lot, &c. &c.? Did the belief of hell torments make them holy in distinction from those who were unholy? If this was the cause or reason of their being holy themselves, why did they not preach this doctrine to make their friends, neighbors, and indeed all mankind, holy? If this doctrine was believed in those days, and was so well fitted as is supposed, to prevent wickedness, why was it not preached? Surely Noah ought to have preached it to the people of the old world, when all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. He was a preacher and a preacher of righteousness, but I do not find a single hint given in his history, that he was
a preacher of hell torments, to deter men from their li centious courses. Besides; why did not Lot preach it to the Sodomites to make them holy? They were sinners before the Lord exceedingly, but I do not find that he believed this doctrine to keep himself holy, or preached it to others to deter them from licentiousness. Not a word is said, which would lead one to conclude that the antediluvians and Sodomites were all believers in the doctrine of universal salvation, and that this was the cause of their wickedness; nor is a word dropped that Noah, Lot and others, believed in the doctrine of hell torments and that this led them to holiness.
2d, If the doctrine of hell torments, is so well calculated to prevent sin, and promote holiness, why did not our Lord teach it to the Jews, who are allowed to have been a race of very wicked men? If it is said he did speak to them about the damnation of hell; we reply, that all the texts in which this word is used have been considered, and we think it has been satisfactorily established, that by hell, our Lord had no reference to a place of endless misery. The facts stated, and the other evidence produced, forbid such an interpretation of this word as used by our Lord. This, at any rate, must be proved, before any argument can be drawn from it. Can any man believe, that by the damnation of hell, our Lord meant a place of eternal misery, and that he thought it, like the objector, so well fitted to prevent licentiousness, yet only mentioned it once to the unbelieving Jews? Did he think there was nothing left to prevent men from committing all manner of iniquity, and yet but once, and that in a discourse relating to the destruction of Jerusalem, say to them-"how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" It is not the easiest thing in the world for us to believe this,
3d, It is an indisputable fact, which we have proved before, that the apostles of our Lord, never said a word about hell to the Gentiles. We ask then, what they had left to deter men from the commission of every crime? If they knew that hell was a place of endless misery for the wicked, and thought it such an excellent antidote against licentiousness, why did they never make use of it? They must have either been ignorant of such a doctrine, or very culpable in not preaching it, to deter men from crime; or they did not consider it so efficacious as the objector imagines. The Gentile nations in the apostles' days, were very licentious. And it appears from chap. i. sect. 3. that they were also believers in the doctrine of eternal misery in Hades or Tartarus. But we see that the belief of this doctrine did not turn them from their licentious courses. This was not its effect on . them. Nor did the apostles of our Lord think the preaching of eternal misery, either in Hades, or Gehenna, would effect this; for they do not say one word to them about punishment in either of those places. Let the objector then account for it, if the apostles were of his mind about this, why they did not preach this doctrine to prevent wickedness in their day. And let him account for it, why the Gentiles in believing it, should be so licentious.
If the prophets, Jesus Christ, or his apostles, did not teach eternal torments in hell to promote holiness, ought not their doctrine to be charged with a licentious tendency as well as mine? There is no way of evading this, but by proving, that they did teach this doctrine to mankind. This we think never can be done. If I am then to be condemned, how are they to be cleared? And if their doctrine did not lead to licentiousness, how, in justice, can the views I have advanced be charged with it?