« AnteriorContinuar »
The only place
yet we find them silent on the subject, that Gehenna or hell was a place of endless misery. They do not even teach that Hades is such a place. which could be supposed as an exception to this, is the parable of the rich man, which has been shown not even to teach an intermediate state of punishment. If this popular belief then, was true, and believed to be so by the Saviour and his apostles, why did they not avail themselves of it, and enforce it on both Jews and Gentiles?
3d, If we are to conclude, that because Christ nor his apostles ever expressly contradicted this false notion, common to both Jews and Gentiles, that they by their silence sanctioned it as true, it follows, that all the false notions entertained by Jews and Gentiles not expressly contradicted by them are true. But we presume few would admit this, though it is a natural consequence from this objection. We do not find the New Testament writers spending their time and labor in contradicting and refuting all the false notions entertained by the Jews and Gentiles. No; they state the truth to them, and leave it to have its gradual influence in eradicating the false notions which they had imbibed. To have done otherwise, would have been contrary to what every ordinary wise and prudent man, even uninspired, would have done in like circumstances. When any man will fairly make out, that their not contradicting expressly all the false, Jewish and heathen notions, is proof that those about which they are silent are true, we shall admit the one in question to be of the number.
But another part of the point of this objection is that Jesus Christ and his apostles," on the contrary expressed themselves, in appearance at least, so much in favor of this opinion, that a great part of mankind from
that time to this have supposed it fully taught in the NewTestament." In reply to this part I would observe— that taking this part in connexion with the other, it is intimated that so far from Christ and his apostles contradicting this notion common to both Jews and Gentiles, they rather expressed themselves in appearance, at least, in favor of it: so much so, that a great part of mankind from that time to this have supposed it fully taught in the New Testament. But we would ask in what parts of the New Testament do we find this? Not surely from those parts which speak either of Hades or Gehenna. places where our Lord used those words, have been all considered, and we think it has been shown, that in none of them did he teach such a doctrine. His apostles never once name Gehenna, nor even intimate that either Hades or Gehenna referred to a place of future misery. If our Lord and his apostles, did in appearance, at least, speak of such a place of misery, some other texts must be referred to than those in which either the words Hades or Gehenna are found. These we are willing to consider, but as we do not know what texts would be adduced in proof, and as a consideration of them would be a digression from the object of the present Inquiry, we are at present relieved from this labor.
But it is supposed that Jesus Christ and his apostles expressed themselves in appearance, at least, so much in favor of this opinion, "that a great part of mankind from that time to this have supposed it fully taught in the New Testament." In reply to this let it be noticed, that this very Inquiry is for the express purpose of exciting men to the consideration, if they have not been mistaken in supposing that Christ and his apostles did teach such a doctrine. It will not be denied, that men from that time to this have supposed Christ and his apostles to teach
doctrines, which they are now coming to be convinced are not taught in the Bible. That the one we have been considering is not of that number, ought not to be taken for granted.
It is admitted by all, that a great many Jewish and heathen notions, were very early incorporated with the doctrine of Christ and his apostles. The Jews and Gentiles composed the first churches, and no doubt entertained many of their heathen and Jewish opinions and prejudices, after they embraced the Christian religion. Past ages have furnished but too much evidence, that the scriptures have been used to countenance almost every opinion. Sound in words, without any regard to the context or other parts of scripture, have been quoted in proof of them. Closer attention to the oracles of God has exploded many of them, and increased attention, may expose the falsehood of many more. That Gehenna or hell, is a place of endless misery for the wicked, is an opinion which originated with the heathen we have shown above; and have also attempted to show, that those texts which speak of Gehenna on which this doctrine has been founded have been greatly misunderstood. If we have erred in interpreting them let this be pointed Until this is done, and it is shown that the doctrine of hell torments did not originate in heathenism but on the authority of God, our views stand unshaken by this objection.
We find it also objected-if there be no place of punishment in a future state prepared for such as die in unbelief, how is this part of mankind to be disposed of after death, in what part of the universe is their abode to be assigned them? Not in heaven; for God is represented in scripture as bringing with him from thence, at the resurrection of the dead, only those that
sleep in Jesus," and of all the dead only" the dead in Christ"
are said to ascend thither with him to dwell forever with the Lord. Not in Gehenna or hell; for according to your views, there is no such place in the world to come. On this objection let it be remarked
1st, Whatever abode we assign such persons in a future state, we think we have shown, that God does not assign to them as their abode, Sheol, Hades, Tartarus, or even Gehenna. If God has not assigned to them such a place, it is rash in us to assert this without his authority. If he should leave them without any abode either as to happiness or misery, there we ought to leave them. Dr. Campbell as we have seen, declares, that Hades is at last to be destroyed, and accordingly he assigns them an everlasting abode in Gehenna, but we think without any warrant from scripture. If we then have proved, that hell or Gehenna is not the everlasting abode which God has assigned them, and seeing the objector thinks that heaven is not to be their abode, we ask him in turn how they are to be disposed of? If he denies that heaven is to be their abode, we think it has been shown that hell is not said to be their abode. If it is said, because they are not to go to heaven they must go to hell; we may reply, because they are not to go to hell they must go to heaven.
2d, The objection states that their abode is not to be in heaven, and the reasons assigned are-"For God is represented in scripture as bringing with him from thence, at the resurrection of the dead, only those that 'sleep in Jesus;' and of all the dead, only the dead in Christ' are said to ascend thither with him to dwell forever with the Lord." This refers to 1 Thess. iv. 13. &c. on the whole of which passage I shall make the fol lowing remarks.
1st, The grand distinction in this passage, is between the dead and those found alive on the earth at the period
referred to. The passage is alike silent how the wicked dead and those wicked found alive are to be disposed of; for not a word is said about the wicked. The persons said to be asleep or dead, verse 13. and those which sleep in Jesus, verse 14. and also as asleep, verse 15. and the dead in Christ who shall rise first, verse 16. all refer to the same persons. They refer to the dead, and we presume are exclusively confined by the objector to believers. On the other hand the we, who are said to be alive and remain, mentioned verses 15-17. must also be confined exclusively to believers, then found alive on the earth. These shall not prevent, anticipate, or go before them who are asleep. Before they shall ascend, the dead in Christ shall rise first, and both shall ascend together to meet the Lord in the air. These last, we must confine to all living believers found on the earth, for if we extend it to all living, indiscriminately, why not the first also to all the dead indiscriminately? But if we take into view the 15th chapter of 1st Corinthians and especially from verse 51-58. which seems to treat of the same subject, all the dead seems to be included. Compare also verses 20-22, 31, 35, 42-45.
2d, It is evident, that the passage makes no distinction between two classes of people to be raised at this period. No distinction is made between good and bad, or righteous and wicked. Either, then, this passage does not teach us any thing concerning the wicked, or they are included with the others here mentioned. If they are not, and their resurrection is no where else spoken of, the inference would be that they are not raised at all. But in some other places their resurrection is asserted. See Acts xxiv. 15.
If Paul then in this passage, does not include all dead and alive, it is rather singular, that he should say noth