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tient investigation, and manifests a good temper of mind. But it seems to have been written without
definite object. He tells us in the very first sentence of his book, that the simple object in view is, to examine the foundation on which endless misery is built. He then tells us on the very same page, that his object is, principally, to determine whether a future punishment is taught in the scriptures. And so he shifts from one to the other, as best answers his purpose. This indefinite object introduces confusion into a considerable part of his book. This circumstance leads us to conclude, that when he wrote his Inquiry, he had no settled plan in view ; otherwise we should be under the necessity of making the unfavorable remark, that he was artfully laboring to undermine what he durst not openly attack.
Another feature of his book is, that he seems more desirous of pulling down, than building up. To gratify this propensity, he has, in expounding some passages, involved himself in the grossest inconsistency. Some of these inconsistencies we may have occasion to notice in the course of these Letters. Mr. B.'s Inquiry was answered by Mr. Sabine in a “Series of Lectures,” to which Mr. B. replied. We have already said that the Inquiry was written with candor. But in his Reply to Sabine he seems to have forgotten the spirit manifested in the Inquiry. The Reply abounds with severity and personal reflections, hardly worthy of the Christian, or the gentleman. In his first book Mr. B. maintained a becoming degree of humility; but after his work was before the public, and several extravagant encomiums were lavished upon it, by Newspaper writers, his vanity was excited to that degree, that he came out in a weekly paper, and challenged a confutation of his work! This circumstance is not mentioned to wound Mr. B.'s feelings, but only to suggest to him the propriety of desisting from such a course. As a writer, Mr. B. is circui
tous and prolix. This will appear from the fact that he has written 445 pages octavo, to define four words. In point of scholarship, I will remark-though he makes a great display of Hebrew and Greek learning, whoever will take the trouble to examine his writings, will readi. ly see that a great part of his criticisms are quotations from other authors. As to his own criticisms, they are almost invariably criticisms upon a single term. And any novice who knows the Hebrew and Greek alphabets, can take Parkhurst's Hebrew and Greek Lexicons, and criticise in the same manner. However, we ought in justice to say, that his writings show more learning than judgment.*
Mr. B. in the introduction to his Inquiry, gives us to understand that all the principal authors, who have written in defence of Universal Salvation, have been ignorant of their subject, and have only been beating the air; for they proceeded on the ground that there was a punishment in a future state, for those who died impenitent. He flatters himself that he has discovered a new and more advantageous method of attacking the doctrine of endless misery-a method by which its foundation
be swept away in a moment. The plan of attack which Mr. B. has introduced is this ;-To show that the words translated hell in the scriptures, do not signify misery in a future state, whether temporary or endless. Now if Mr. B. has succeeded in his attempt, if he has proved to demonstration that neither Sheol, Hades, Tartarus nor Gehenna imply misery in a future state, how does this effect the point at issue ? All that he has said about the import of these words, may be true, and still future or even eternal misery remains untouched. Endless misery may be taught in other words, though Sheol, Hades, &c. may have no such signification.
The remainder of this P. S. was written by the author of these Letters, and published in the Christian Repository, 1824.
I will now attempt to show that Mr. B.'s plan of attack, instead of being superior to the course usually pursued, does not meet the point in dispute. He maintains, and justly, that Sheol and Hades are synonymous, and signify the grave, or rather the state of the dead in general. He asserts repeatedly, that they do not signify misery at all. Now if Sheol and Hades do not signify punishment at all, then they have no bearing in the .case; for certainly endless misery nor future misery cannot be proved false, by putting a limited signification upon words which do not in any case imply misery. The third word on which Mr. B. remarks is Tartarus; which he explains as he has Sheol and Hades, not to mean misery. Now in order to ascertain, whether Mr. B. has succeeded in confuting future or eternal punishment, it is proper to leave all he has said upon Sheol, Hades, and Tartarus, out of the question ; for surely if they do not mean misery at all, as Mr. B. contends, they can have not the least bearing in deciding the question, whether misery be endless. Mr. B. has said repeatedly that neither Sheol, Hades, nor Tartarus is used to signify misery. The only word he allows to signify misery, is Gehenna; and wherever it occurs in the New Testament, it is, he says, applied to the Jews, and expresses those judgments, and those only, which fell upon that nation at the destruction of Jerusalem. The punishment of Gehenna, says our author, was never threatened upon the Gentiles.
So the whole of Mr. B.'s labors comes precisely to this ;-If the destruction of Jerusalem does not mean endless misery, that doctrine is not taught in the scriptures ! He has written more than 400 pages to show that there can be no punishment in a future state, because Jerusalem · was captured in this !—It is not 'my design to misrepresent Mr. B.'s work ; but really I do not see why this is not the natural result of his reasoning. He has undertaken to examine the foundation on which future endless inisery rests. He confines himself to four words-Sheol, Hades, Tartarus, and Gehenna. Now these four words embrace the whole foundation of future eternal misery, or they do not. If they do not, then Mr. B. has failed in the very onset. His plan, though original, is defective ; and all his
arguments, resting on this base, fail of their object; for all he has written may be true, and still future, or even endless misery may be a verity.-But if these words do erbrace the whole foundation of future eternal misery, then future, eternal misery rests entirely upon the term Gehenna; for certainly it cannot rest upon Sheol, Hades, and Tartarus, words which, according to Mr. B. do not signify misery at all. Now if eternal misery rests sole. ly upon Gehenna, then this term embraces all the punishment ever threatened ; then the Gentiles were never threatened with any punishment; for Mr. B. says, the Gentiles were never threatened with the punishment of Gehenna. And as Mr. B. applies this term to the destruction of Jerusalem, and contends that it will bear no other application, the most that can be made of his reasoning is this ;-There can be no punishment after death for any individual, because the city of Jerusalem was destroyed in this world! Punishment cannot be endless, because that city did not stand an eternal siege ! This, I think, is the grand result of his whole Inquiry.
All that he has done (admitting what he has written to be conclusive) is, to show that future eternal misery is not taught in the words rendered hell, in our version. But this is very far from meeting the point in debate; for all he has written may be true, and still endless misery may remain unshaken. Hell is not a term on which we rely to support a future retribution. It is not a term on which the learned rely for the support of endless misery. They frequently call endless misery by
the name, hell; but they do not rely upon that term, when they attempt to prove that doctrine from scripture. If they quote texts where this word occurs, still the argument is drawn from some circumstance or phrase connected with the passage, and not from the word hell. I am far from being a believer in endless misery, but I am free to confess that I find nothing in the Inquiry, which convinces me of its falsity.
But the very definition which Mr. B. has given of Sheol and Hades, does not exclude misery. He says again and again, that Sheol and Hades signify the state of the dead in general. Now does this definition of Sheol and Hades oppose a future, or even endless misery ? Not in the least. We might as well contend that there will be no future happiness, because Sheol and Hades do not signify happiness, as to contend that there will be no future misery, because these words do not signify misery. To maintain that there will be no mis. ery beyond the grave, because Sheol and Hades do not mean misery, is entirely sophistical. In this manner any proposition can be proved. Misery, for instance, could be argued out of this world. Thus--the word earth does not signify misery, therefore there is no misery in the earth! What should we think of a person who
should undertake prove that there was no misery in the i city of Boston, from the consideration that the word,
Boston, did not mean misery?
But although Mr. B. has repeatedly said that Sheol and Hades did not mean misery, either temporary or endless, still he acknowledges that in several instances they do mean misery. Where our Savior is said to have been compassed about by the sorrows of hell, where David was delivered from the lowest hell, and where Capernaum is threatened with being cast down to hell, he confesses that hell signifies misery. Now if hell signifies misery in these passages, as Mr. B. asserts, how can