« AnteriorContinuar »
abominable place they had any idea of? They, in this the for henna in the Old Testament, was made by the propheter har 260 tivity, the Jews began to speak of heaven, or the place of happiness for the good, by the name of paradise
, era and Abraham's bosom, the happiest or most pleasant places they had any idea of. And is it not as nature al to think, that they should speak of a place of end- laicure less punishment by the name of Gehenna, the most distes case, did nothing more than men do every day, in expressing some new thing, by the name of some other thing, which they think most resembles it. 5th, How came the Jews, then, to exempt
themselves from the punishment of Gehenna, and declare all the Gentiles fit fuel for hell fire? This ought to be carefully examined. With a view to ascertain how this took place, let the following things be carefully considered. We have shown, chap. ij. sect. 1. that Ge et Jeremiah an emblem of future temporal punishment to the Jewish nation, and which came upon it as described by our Lord, Matth. xxiv. This we think is beyond all dispute. The Jews could not help seeing such a punishment predicted by their own prophets. From their intercourse with the heathen they bad learned the heathen notion that Hades was a place of punishment for the wicked. Observe, also, that a strong prejudice existed in the minds of the Jews against the Gentiles. They counted them dogs and excluded them from all participation of the blessings of Messiah's reign. . Every one may see from Acts, chaps. X. xi. how strong this prejudice was, even in the minds of the disciples. They refused to eat and drink with them. Yea, even the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans; and whilst they admitted that they ought to love their neighbours, they thought that they ought to hate their enemies. The whole New Testament shows to what extent self-love, self-righteousness, nalional pride, and vanity had
taken possession of their minds. This we have seen strongly confirmed from the previous quotation from Whitby on Rom. ii. Taking all these circumstances into view, we think the following at least a rational conjecture about this. The Jews haled the Gentiles, and to testify this hatred, they declared them to be fit fuel for bell fire. Further than this they could not carry their hatred of them. As they had learned the notion of eternal punishment in Hades from the heathen, and had applied the term Gehenna, as a name to it, by consigning over all the Gentiles to its punishment, and exempting themselves, their hatred of them and also their own self-love was gratified; yea, by this they blinded their own eyes, as to the punishment of Gehenna, threatened them by their own. prophets.
But there is one important question on this subject to wbich we ought to pay some attention. It is this. Is it certain that our Lord, in the New Testament, when he used the term Gehenna or hell, used it in the sense it has in the Targums, and not in the sense in which it is used in the Old Testament? To decide this question is to put the question at rest. It is very evident that Dr. Campbell, Parkhurst, and Whitby take it for granted that our Lord did use the term Gehenna as it is used by the writers of the Targums and Apocrypha, to signify a place of eternal punishment for the wicked. They seem to speak about this, as if it could not, and ought not to be questioned; yet all they advance in proof, is bare assertion. They proceed upon the presumption, that this is indisputable, and entirely overlook, what we have proved to be a fact, that the term Gehenna is used in the Old Testament as an emblem of
temporal punishment which God was to bring on the Jewish nation. Had those men turned their attention to this, they would have given us a very dif
ferent account of Gehenna, and not referred us to the Targums and the Apocrypha.
But, we have to ask, if our Lord used the term Gehenna to express a place of endless misery, how are the facts we have adduced to be got over on such a view of the subject? If the Targums can be appealed to, showing how such facts can be reconciled with this view of Gehenna, we hope it will be done. Let any one examine those facts, and then say, if it is possible for any rational being to believe this until those facts are removed out of the way. They form a pha-lanx of difficulties as lo any man's believing this doctrine, which is impenetrable. Upon no part of this Inquiry has more labour of thinking been beslowed, than in attempting to reconcile those facts with the idea of Gehenna or hell's being a place of endless misery for all the wicked. We have turned this point round, and viewed it on all sides, and with all the care and attention we could command, but have found the facts and the doctrine utterly irreconcileable. I can sincerely say that I have endeavoured to find something which could fairly controvert the facts, or reconcile them with this doctrine-but in vain. The more I have laboured in this way, the facts have increased. And I doubt not, that, if the labour was continued, they would still increase : for I am not convinced that the subject is yet exhausted.
If I am indeed in an error, in believing that Gehenna or hell in the New Testament has no reference to a place of endless punishment, the first step to be taken to convince me of my error, is to account for the facts. Until these are fairly and honourably removed out of the way, it is useless to endeavour to make me believe this doctrine. The next step to be taken to convince me of my error, if it be one, is to enter into an examination of the passages which speak of Gehenna, and show that I have misinterpreted
them. When these things are done, such persons may save themselves the trouble to quote the Targums, for I will believe the doctrine without any appeal to their authority.
The following is all that is to be found in the Targums, in the places to which Whitby and Parkhurst refer us.
“ Ruth ii. 12. The Lord shall abundantly recompense thee in this age, for thy good work, and shall be thy complete reward to the age that shall come, from the presence of the Lord God of Israel; because thou hast come to join thyself to his people and worship, and find protection under the shadow of the majesty of his glory, and for this righteous conduct thou shalt be delivered from the punishment of Gebenna, that thy portion may be with Sarah and Ribhah, and Rachel and Lea."
“Psalm cxl. 10, 11. Let coals of fire fall from heaven upon them; let him cast them into the fire of Gehenna; into miry pits ; from which let them not rise to eternal life. Let the angel of death hunt the violent man, and cast him into Gehenna."
"Isaiah xxvi. 15. Thou hast been revealed to us, 0! Lord! as about to assemble the dispersed of thy people; it shall also come to pass that thou wilt collect them from their wanderings; that thou mightest appear in thy power, to cast all the wicked into Geheppa."
" Isaiah xxvi. 19. And those who transgress thy word, thou wilt deliver into Gehenna."
" Isaiah xxxiii. 14. Who among us shall dwell in Zion, where the splendor of his majesty is as consuming fire? Who among us shall dwell in Jerusalem, where the wicked are to be judged, and cast into Gehenna, into everlasting burnings ?”
Our readers have now before them, all that we can find in the Targums, and we leave them to decide, if
such glosses, on such texts, arc a good foundation for the doctrine of eternal punishment in hell or Gehenna.
We have dwelt much longer on the argument drawn from the Apocrypha and Targums than we at first contemplated; and much longer than the importance of the argument merited. Before closing this Section, we must be indulged with a few observations, respecting the Greek version of the Seventy, in regard to the subject under consideration.
1st, At what period of time was this version made! Concerning this, Dr. Kennicott, pages 319, 320. thus writes: "After many voluminous controversies amongst learned writers upon the Greek version of the Old Testament, we seem to have three circumstances clearly ascertained that there was no Greek version before that called the SEVENTY—that the version so denominated, was made at the beginning of the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus, about 280 years before Christ, and that the version, then made, was only of the Pentateuch.
It is not necessary for me to spend a moment in discussing whether this version was made all at once, or at different times; nor even whether it was made at the precise time here specified. A few years, one way or another, does not affect the remarks 1 am about to make. One thing will be allowed by all, without a single word of controversy, that this version was made sometime between the days of Malachi and the coming of John the Baptist. Keeping this one fact in view I notice
2d, That Dr. Campbell declares the word Gehenna is not found in the Septuagint version. He says, as quoted before, page 93.-“ Accordingly the word Gehenna does not occur in the Septuagint. It is not a Greek word, and consequently not to be found in the Grecian classics.” That this word is not found in the