Page images
PDF
EPUB

Bible, is the term Gehenna. As Dr. Campbell conclusively proves, that Sheol, Hades, and Tartarus, do not mean this place, he as positively asserts, that this is always the sense of Gehenna in the New Testament. He thus writes in his 6th preliminary dissertation, part ii. sect. 1.-" That Gehenna is employed in the New Testament to denote the place of future punishment, prepared for the devil and his angels, is indisputable. In the Old Testament, we do not find this place in the same manner mentioned. 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. It is originally a compound of the two Hebrew words ge hinnom, the valley of Hinnom, a place near Jerusalem, of which we hear first in the book of Joshua, xv. 8. It was there that the cruel sacrifices of children were made by fire to Moloch, the Ammonitish idol, 2 Chron. xxxiii. 6. The place was

, also called tophet, 2 Kings xxiii. 10. and that, as is supposed, from the noise of drums, toph signifying a drum, a noise raised on purpose to drown the cries of the helpless infants. As this place was, in process of time, considered as an emblem of hell, or the place of torment reserved for the punishment of the wicked in a future state, the name tophet came gradually to be used in this sense, and at length to be confined to it. This is the sense, if I mistake not, in which Gehenna a synonymous term, is always to be understood in the New Testament, where it occurs just twelve times. In ten of these there can be no doubt; in the other two, the expression is figurative; but it scarcely will admit a question, that the figure is taken from that state of misery which awaits the impenitent.” Such is the statement given by Dr. Campbell

. It will be easily perceived, that the whole of it is assertion. Resolved, not to take this very important article on bare assertion, I have considered it as carefully as I could, and shall

He encourages

1

[ocr errors]

66

submit the result of my investigation for candid consid-
eration. It is with reluctance I dissent from such a
learned and sensible writer as Dr. Campbell. But he
has taught me to call no man master.
free inquiry, and inculcates on his readers, that no doc-
trine ought to be believed because it is asserted by the
learned, and professed by the multitude ; but on the
evidence whereby it is supported. As this quotation
contains, for substance, the views of all who believe
Gehenna to signify the place of eternal punishment, it
is necessary to make some remarks on it in the outset.
With all due respect for the memory of Dr. Campbell,
I solicit attention to the following remarks on the above
quotation.

1st, Let it be observed, how differently he speaks in the first and last part of it. In the first he says,—" that Gehenna is employed in the New Testament to denote the place of future punishment, prepared for the devil and his angels, is indisputable. But in the last, he only says,—this is the sense, if I mistake not, in which Gehenna, a synonymous term, is always to be understood in the New Testament." Whether, what he had written between the first and last of these sentences, led him to hesitate about the meaning of Gehenna, I cannot say ; but I

am,

that he was too shrewd a man not to perceive, and too candid not to own, the insufficiency of the evidence adduced to convince his readers. It is not his usual mode to assert things. He generally states evidence, and seldom fails to convince

But here he affords us none. In attempting to make out the proof of what he asserts, I have been led to alter my opinion about the meaning of Gehenna. 2d, Though Dr. Campbell asserts in the above

quotation, that this is always the sense of Gehenna in the New Testament, yet he denies that it has any support from the Old. He says,—“In the old Testament we do not find this place in the same manner mentioned.

sure

us.

Accordingly the word Gehenna does not occur in the Septuagint. It is not a Greek word, and consequent

* ly not to be found in the Grecian classics.” To me this is very strange.

What! are we to believe without evidence, that the word Gehenna is taken from the Old Testament, and the sense of endless misery affixed to it by the New Testament writers, yet no intimation given of such a change? This we think ought to be indisputably proved, before it be believed by any man. Unless they explained the word in this new sense, it was impossible, in the very nature of the case, that their hearers could understand them.

3d, But Dr. Campbell attempts to account for such a change in the meaning of Gehenna in the New Testament, from that of the Old, in the following manner. " As this place was, in process of time, considered as an emblem of hell, or the place of torment reserved for the punishment of the wicked in a future state, the name tophet came gradually to be used in this sense, and at length to be confined to it.” I am surprised at this statement, from such a writer as Dr. Campbell. Let it be noticed, he does not say that the New Testament writers explained Gehenna to their hearers in this new sense. Nor does he say, that any sacred writer either of the Old or New Testament, made tophet an emblem of this place of torment. How then, could tophet become an emblem of hell, the place of torment, until this place was first known by the persons who made it an emblem? But here is one place made the emblem of another, and yet it is confessed that no revelation was given about this place, of which the other place is made the emblem. Yea, it is even declared, that for this very place, the Hebrew, Greek, nor English language has no name. Is it asked how I make this appear? I answer, Dr. Campbell told us above that nei

a

* The word Gehenna does occur in the septuagint, as we may probably show afterwards.

[ocr errors]

ther Sheol, Hades, nor Tartarus, means this place of torment. In the very quotation on which we are remarking, he declares that Gehenna does not occur in this sense in the Old Testament, that it is not a Greek word, and is not found in the Grecian classics, nor in the Septuagint. He also told us, that our English word helĩ, did not originally signify the place of eternal punishment for the wicked, but expressed the same place as Sheol and Hades. Here then we have got a place, a place of eternal punishment for the wicked, but for which the Bible, in the original languages, has no name; a place, for which even the copious Grecian classics afford no name; a place, for which our Lord and his apostles could find no name, but were obliged to borrow a word from the Old Testament, affix this new sense to it, and did this without any explanation, or even intimation, to their hearers. They did this too, in addressing Jews who had the Old Testament in their hands; persons who were opposed to the doctrines they taught, and who were jealous of innovotion. Moreover, the change of sense put on this word taken from their Scriptures, is for the purpose of threatening them with endless torment in a future state. And to add no more,

such

persons receive all this without a murmuring word at the alteration, or the dreadful punishment with which they are threatened. All this may be true, but we must say, it is not very probable, nor ought it to be received until very conclusive evidence is produced. But it may be asked, from what source did Dr. Campbell learn, “that tophet or Gehenna came gradually to be used as an emblem of hell, and at length came to be confined to it?” From what he has said, it was not from the Old Testament. If it was used as an emblem of hell, and confined to it in the days of our Lord, it must have assumed this new sense, between the completion of the Old Testament writings, and the commencement of the gospel dispensation. If it began to assume this new sense before the Old Testament was completed, it had no authority from it; for he declares, that Gehenna does not occur in this manner in the Old Testament. This new sense, then affixed to the word Gehenna, is not of divine but of human origin : it rests on the authority of man, and not on the authority of God. I think this cannot be denied, unless it is proved, that our Lord informed those to whom he spake, that this was the sense in which it was now to be understood. But is any thing like this to be found in the New Testament? And is not this taking for granted the very thing which ought to be proved ?

But further ; it must be allowed, that the way Dr. Campbell says Gehenna came to assume this new sense, is extremely suspicious. Had it been of divine authority, it would not have come gradually to assume it. No; the sense would have been settled at once. But this new sense affixed to the word, was of slow

process. It came, he says, “gradually to be used as an emblem of hell, and at last to be confined to it.At what time it began to be used in this new sense, who had the honor of first using it, how long before it came to be confined to it, and who completed it, we are not informed. The thing is barely asserted by Dr. Campbell. If any evidence of this is to be found, we must find it, if we can ourselves. We have been at some pains to find evidence of this, but our labors have been entirely fruitless. We are left in the dark, as to when, or by whom, or on what authority such a meaning was first given to Gehenna. But it may be said, is it not evident that our Lord used Gehenna always, and indisputably in this new sense? It is certain, it is indisputable, that Dr. Campbell has asserted this, without so much as attempting to prove it. But surely this ought not to be received on the assertions of any man. Only let it be proved that our Lord used Gehenna in this new sense, and I am forever silent on the subject.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »