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itude, that they had been saved from this present evil world ; that they were translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear son; and using all proper means that their fellow men might believe the gospel, and enjoy like blessings. The New Testament abounds with evidence of this. But do we ever find them saying that they had been saved from hell or Gehenna? Or intimating that their exertions in diffusing the gospel, was for the purpose of saving the heathen from the everlasting torments of this place? We leave it with every candid man to say, if the apostles and first Christians believed as people do now about hell, if they could have been thus silent on such a deeply interesting subject.
Further: no instance is left on record, where an unbeliever or a backslider was told, as now they frequently are, that they had sinned away their day of grace, and that everlasting torments in bell would be their unavoidable fate. No: nor is an instance or any thing like it recorded, of a person being driven to distraction, from anticipation of the horrors of hell, produced by apostolic preaching. No example is given in Scripture, of a person ending his days by suicide, to get rid of his present terrors of hell torments. Some instances of suicide are recorded : see the cases of Ahithopel, Judas, &c. But do we find a single hint dropped, that it was the terror of hell torments drove them to this ? Even of Judas, it is not said that he went to hell; which ought to teach some persons modesty and caution, who, in the heat of their zeal, affirm that he did go to this place of punishment. If such persons had the Bible to make, they would express many things otherwise than it has pleased God to do, in the revelation of his will to mankind.
It will be allowed, that from the gospel of John, the Acts of the apostles, and the epistles, we learn what were the doctrines taught to the Gentiles. But can we
learn from them, that the doctrine of eternal punishment in hell, was one of these doctrines ? Certainly we can not. Supposing, that such writings were published in our day, omiting all mention of hell or its endless punishment, would we not say that they did not teach the doctrine of hell torments? we have not stated this as an argument conclusive in itself. But we think, that if none of the other New Testament writers teach this doctrine, the argument is conclusive. We have seen, it is a conceded point, that Gehenna does not occur in the Old Testament in the sense of a place of eternal misery. If, then, none of the New Testament writers teach it, is not their silence proof, that no such doctrine was known or taught by them? It is well known, that the silence of Scripture about any doctrine, in other cases, is deemed a conclusive argument against it. And why not in the case before us? It would be dangerous to admit the contrary. If it was admitted, then no fault could be found with the doctrine of purgatory, and many other things about which the Bible is silent.
We often come to learn, what doctrines are held by persons, from the accusations of their enemies. Should we bring the doctrine before us to this test, we find some additional confirmation, that endless misery in hell was not taught by our Lord, or his apostles.
1st, Let us inquire what accusations the Jews brought against the Savior? The Jews accused him of many things; such as his being an enemy to Cæsar; as in league with Beelzebub; and as a blasphemer. On his trial, Pilate said to him, “behold how many things they witness against thee." The principal of these were, that he called himself the Son of God, and said he was able to destroy their temple. But I ask, did the Jews on any occasion, ever accuse him of having threatened them with endless misery in hell? No: bad as the Jews were, they never accused him of
such thing. If he ever had done it, would they have failed to bring
this forward against him ? None of the Jews, had any idea of going to hell. Would they, then, bave endured to be told so, without a murmur or complaint against him? Would this have formed no ground of accusation ? No man can believe this, who has read the four gospels, and has noticed the unwearied opposition of the Jews to the Savior.
2d, Let us see what accusations were brought against his followers. They also were accused of being enemies to Cæsar. But passing over other accusations, we shall fix on what Stephen was accused of, as a fair specimen of what they were all charged with.-" This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: for we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered
Enemies, as the Jews were to the disciples of our Lord, did they even so much as insinuate the charge against them, that they ever threatened Jews with endless torments in hell? They say, that Stephen said
-“ Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place," but did they ever say, that either Jesus, or Stephen said, that he would destroy them with everlasting misery in Gehema or hell? No: let me advocate for once the cause of the Jews, they never brought such a charge against Christ or any of his followers. On this occasion, let it be remembered, that the accusers of Stephen were false witnesses, procured for the very purpose of finding him guilty. Now, does any man think, or can he suppose, that these false witnesses after saying Stephen said, " This Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place,” would have forgotten to add, such an important charge, “And he also said, that he would destroy us and all the wicked in hell to endless duration ?” The man who can believe this to be a mere oversight in these witnesses, in not mentioning such a material charge against Stephen, is
a prepared to believe any thing. But they could not bring such an accusation against him, or any of the first preachers, for none of them ever used the word Gehenna or hell, in preaching either to Jews or Gentiles. All who had ever heard them preach, could have been called as witnesses to prove, that it was a false accusation. Such a false charge, would have been in face of public opinion to the contrary.
But let us see what were the accusations which the Gentiles brought against the followers of Christ. They accused them of turning the world upside down; of turning away much people, saying that “they were no gods which were made with hands.”
In consequence of this they were accounted Atheists, enemies to the gods, and deserving to be abhorred of men. Now, give me leave to ask, was the charge ever brought against them in any shape, by any person, that they threatened men with endless punishment in hell or Gehenna ? No: all the jesuitical ingenuity in the world, cannot find a word said, which has such an appearance. Had the apostles then ever threatened the Gentiles with endless punishment in hell, would they have failed to bring this as an accusation against them? Should it be objected here, “have you not shown above, that the heathen nations all believed in the doctrine of future punishment, and that the Jews learned this doctrine from their intercourse with them; how then could the heathen be offended with the apostles for teaching one of the tenets of their religion ?” To this I answer, that the heathen believed in a future punishment in Hades, but observe that the apostles neither taught such a punishment in Hades, nor in Gehenna. This is a fact we think beyond all fair discussion. Not a word was said by the apostles to the heathen, about punishment in either of these places. If they had preached future punishment in Gehenna to them, they might have said, we have heard of future punishment in Hades, but why preach this new doctrine, a
punishment in Gehenna? Their not preaching a punishment in Hades, shows that they did not believe this heathen notion; and the Gentiles never accusing the apostles of threatening them with endless punishment in Gehenna, is a confirmation that no such doctrine taught to the heathen world.
Another circumstance, corroborative of the views I have advanced concerning Gehenna, is the following. On my views of Gehenna, the conduct of our Lord and his apostles, is just what might be expected, but if by Gehenna is understood a place of endless misery, it is strange and unaccountable. What I refer to will be best seen by,
1st, Considering our Lord's conduct. We have seen from a consideration of all the passages in which he speaks of Gehenna, that nine times out of twelve, all he says concerning it, was addressed to his disciples. In only one instance did he ever say to the unbelieving Jews" how can ye escape the damnation of hell ?” Matth. xxiii. 33. Now, notice, that at verses 38, 39, he adds, “ behold your house is left unto you desolate. . For I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth till ye shall say,
blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." After this, he never said a word to them about the damnation of hell. Now, let it be supposed, that by this expression our Lord meant endless misery in a future state, I ask, is it possible our Lord should only mention this once? I ask again, can it be believed, that he who said on the cross, -"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” should have ceased, but with his dying breath, to warn these men, that such a place of endless misery awaited them? I ask once more; is it possible, that he, who, when he beheld the city, “wept over it,” on account of temporal calamities in which it was soon to be involved, should shed no tears, in anticipating the endless misery of its wicked inhabitants ? On the supposition, that Gehenna