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which during life had obtained them the gratitude of their countrymen. The legislator contemplated the principles of that august and eternal law of which he had before but a glimpse; and the assembly of the just that surrounded him, were attentive to his instructions. The sight of arms, even in the bosom of peace and tranquillity, recalled to the remembrance of the hero those battles which he had fought in defence of his country; while the poet, who had consecrated his harp to the worship of the gods, celebrated anew, in celestial strains, the power and benignity of the immortals.
"We may conceive what impression these images would make on the mind, when unceasingly presented to the eyes from earliest infancy. It is not to be doubted, that if the hope of felicity unbounded leads to virtue, the idea of endless punishment must have a still stronger influence on the conduct. The religion of the ancients, which to us appears of so light a nature that we are apt to believe its only end was to flatter the senses, yet employed the most proper means for restraining the outrageous multitude. It alarmed them on all sides with the most frightful representations. A poet of antiquity* paints, in the strongest colours, that continual terror which takes possession of the human heart, which disturbs and poisons the pleasures of life, and which in every part of the earth has erected temples for the purpose of conciliating the gods. Plato, in the beginning of the first book of his Republic, represents an old man seized with fear at the approach of death, and full of inquietude with regard to objects that never occupy the season of health. Then it is, says he, that we reflect on our crimes, on the injustice we have committed, and that often, in our agitation, we start in our sleep, and are
Lucretius, lib. 5.
frightened like children. As soon as some were found among the ancients who had overcome these fears, it was pretended that such had never existed among them: we might as reasonably judge of the public belief at this day, by the opinions in which some modern writers have been pleased to indulge themselves. The testimony of those of antiquity who opposed the prejudices of their times, their very attempt to dissipate those fears, and to turn them into ridicule, rather proves how deeply they were rooted. Observe with what solicitude Lucretius every where endeavours to burst the bonds of religion, and to fortify his readers against the threatenings of eternal punishment. The observation of Juvenal, so often cited, that nobody in his day believed in the fables of hell, is that of an enlightened mind, which takes no part in the opinions of the vulgar. The same thing is to be said of what we read in Cicero, and in some other writers, on the same subject and when Virgil exclaims, 'happy the man that can tread under foot inexorable Destiny, and the noise of devouring Acheron,' he indicates, in a manner sufficiently precise, that it was the province of philosophy alone to shake off the yoke of custom, riveted by education.
"Those who were unable to conquer these vain terrors, found consolations of a different kind. Religion stretched forth her kind hand to encourage their hopes, and to relieve their despondency. When remorse had brought back, within her pale, an unfortunate wanderer from the paths of justice, she informed him that, by a true confession of his guilt, and sincere repentance, forgiveness was to be obtained. With this view expiatory sacrifices were instituted, by means of which the guilty expected to participate in the happiness of the just."
Such were the views of the ancient Greeks about Hades, or Tartarus, and its punishment. There is
considerable similarity in the above quotation to some descriptions given of hell torments by modern preachers. I shall leave all to their own reflection on it. One or two things I shall merely notice.
1st, The doctrine of punishment in Tartarus, seems to have originated with legislators, for the purpose of restraining the passions of the multitude, and to alarm "them on all sides with the most frightful representations." The Persians, Chaldeans, Egyptians and Greeks, all introduced punishment after death. The Jewish nation is an exception. Some deistical writers have even blamed Moses as a legislator for not introducing eternal punishment into his code of laws, as a curb on men against licentiousness. It is generally allowed that the punishments threatened in the Old Testament are of a temporal nature.
2d, From the above quotation it appears, that though punishment after death in Tartarus was believed by the heathen generally, yet the better informed among them did not believe in the fables of hell," but turned them into ridicule. Juvenal took no part in those opinions of the vulgar; and Virgil says it was the province of philosophy alone to shake off the yoke of custom, riveted by education." Is it not then strange, that a doctrine, which was invented by heathens, and treated with contempt by their own wisest men, should be a fundamental article in the faith of Christians? How is this to be accounted for?
3d, I may just add, that when the heathen were made converts to the Christian faith, all allow, that many of their previous notions were soon incorporated with it. This, together with the erroneous views held by the Jewish converts, laid a foundation for such a corruption of Christianity, which, if it were not attested by evidence indisputable, could not be believed. That punishment in Hades, or Tartarus, after death, is not a part of this corruption of Chris
tianity derived from the heathen, at least deserves to be seriously considered. The evidence we have adduced, proving that it is, we submit to the reader's judgment.
To conclude this chapter. We have shown, that neither Sheol, Hades, nor Tartarus, is ever used by the sacred writers to signify a place of endless misery for the wicked. This was all we were bound to do, in opposing the common opinion on this subject. But we have also shown, that this opinion originated with the heathen; and that the Jews learned it from them. To invalidate the evidence which has been produced, the very reverse must be proved. See note in the first edition, or the improved version on 2 Peter and Jude.
GEHENNA, UNIFORMLY TRANSLATED HELL, IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, CONSIDERED AS A PLACE OF ETERNAL PUNISHMENT.
WE have now arrived at a part of this Inquiry, which requires the utmost attention. The New Testament is considered as clearly and decidedly teaching the doctrine of endless misery to all the wicked, and Gehenna is the place in which they are said to suffer it. The truth, or falsehood of this doctrine, is then at issue upon the decision of the question,What is the Scripture meaning and usage of the word Gehenna?