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but they never say any thing to them about Gehenna in any shape whatever, which shows, that “the damnation of Gehenna,” only concerned the Jews. This fact, is of great importance in the present investigation, and is beyond all dispute. Let us then attach what sense we please to the term Gehenna, it is certain, Jews are the only persons addressed about it, or concerned in its punishment. As proof of this, it may be observed that Matthew, Mark, and Luke, are thought to have written their Gospels for the use of the Jews, and in them Gehenna is used. It seems certain, John wrote his Gospel for the use of the Gentiles, for he explains Jewish places, names, and customs, altogether unnecessary, had he wrote it to Jews. But it deserves special notice, John never mentions Gehenna, and omits all the discourses of our Lord, in which he spoke of Gehenna. If the damnation of Gehenna, or hell, only concerned Jews, we see a good reason for such an omission ; but if it equally concerned the Gentiles, how shall any man account for the omission, on rational and scriptural principles. If Jews and Gentiles, were alike concerned in the punishment of Gehenna, why were not both alike admonished concerning it? How, I ask, could the Gentiles avoid the punishment of Gehenna, seeing no sacred writer said any thing to them about it? Does not this very omission prove, that the New Testament writers, did not mean by Gehenna a place of endless misery, but that it designated the temporal punishment which Jeremiah predicted to the Jewish nation.
To the above, it may possibly be objected—" were not all the scriptures written for the benefit of mankind ? Why then make this distinction between Jews and Gentiles?” Answer. Whatsoever was written aforetime was written for our instruction. But notwithstanding this, who does not make this very distinction? As Gentiles, we may derive much instruction from Math. Chaps. 23d and 24th, but who does not allow, these two Chap
ters had a particular reference to the Jews? In the first, some of the most important things occur, which our Lord ever delivered respecting Gehenna.
Who does not allow the words,—“Fill ye up then the measure of your Fathers,” had a special reference to the Jews as a nation ? But why not also the very next words—" ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape
the damnation of hell.” And as this is the only instance, where our Lord ever threatened the unbelieving Jews with the “ damnation of Gehenna,” and no sacred writer ever threatened the Gentiles with it, who can doubt this punishment only respected Jews ? I then appeal to every candid man, whether this fact, ought not to lead us all to suspect, that our Lord by Gehenna, meant the temporal punishment coming on the Jewish nation, and not a place of endless punishment for the wicked. The man who can avoid such a suspicion, must have some way of accounting, for this and other facts, of which I am ignorant.
7th, Another important fact is, nearly all that our Lord said about Gehenna, was spoken to his own disciples. In the twelve places where Gehenna occurs, only in two instances, is a word said about it to the unbelieving part of the Jewish nation. In nine of the other instances, our Lord was addressing his own disciples. They are the persons principally warned about the punishment of Gehenna. In the only other instance, James was addressing believing Jews of the twelve tribes scattered abroad. The texts referred to above, need only to be read, which will satisfy the reader as to the correctness of these statements. I then ask, if our Lord by Gehenna, meant a place of endless misery, why was he so solicitous, that his few disciples should escape this punishment; yet said so little concerning it to the unbelieving multitude? How is this to be rationally and scripturally accounted for? Besides, he always spoke about Gehenna to his disciples as a thing
they might escape; but to the unbelieving Jews, he said" how can ye escape the damnation of hell ?" Why warn those so often, who were in the least danger of Gehenna punishment, yet only threaten once those in the greatest danger of it, if the common opinions on the subject are correct ? Our Lord's conduct, and the conduct of preachers in the present day, are at perfect variance about this. What preacher now, shows more solicitude, that the few in his church, should be saved from Gehenna or hell, than the multitude he considers living in disobedience ? The very reverse of this, is the conduct of modern preachers. Why, they act so different from our Lord, I must leave for others to explain. I am satisfied, that this never can be rationally and scripturally accounted for, on the common opinions which are entertained respecting Gehenna punishment. I may add, either our Lord said a great deal too little about Gehenha, or hell to the wicked, or modern preachers say a great deal too much. Which of these is the truth, must be left for themselves to determine. This, with the other facts above, must create more than a doubt, that Gehenna, in the New Testament does not mean a place of endless punishment.
8th, But another fact, deserving some notice is, wherever Gehenna is mentioned in the New Testament, the persons addressed are supposed to be perfectly acquainted with its meaning. No explanation is asked by the hearer, none is given by the speaker, nor is it supposed by either to be necessary. The Jews, were always the persons addressed about Gehenna. The first time our Lord addressed his disciples about it, Math. v. 22, they had no more occasion to ask him what he meant by Gehenna, than what he meant by the Judgment and council. And when he said to the unbelieving Jews" How can ye escape the damnation of Gehenna,” they understood him as well, what punishment he meant, as if he had spoken of stoning to death. If all
this be true, and we think it is indisputable, the question arises—did the Jews our Lord addressed, understand Gehenna to mean a place of endless misery? As this is generally asserted, I have a right to ask, from what source of information, did they learn this sense of the word Gehenna? I can think of no other sources, from which they could possibly derive it, but some one or other of the following.
1st, From immediate inspiration. But no evidence of this can be produced; nor is it even alleged, by those who contend Gehenna in the New Testament means a place of endless punishment. No man will assert this, who has considered the subject.
2d, The Preaching of John the Baptist. But this cannot be alleged, for John never said word about Gehenna in his preaching, if a correct account is given of it in the New Testament.
3d, The instructions or explanations of the Savior. This, no man will aver, who has read the four Gospels, for our Lord never explained Gehenna to mean a place of endless punishment.
4th, The Old Testament Scriptures. This the Jews, nor no other persons could do; for all admit, Gehenna is not used in the Old Testament to designate a place of endless misery. Dr. Campbell above declared, that Gehenna in this sense, is not to be found in the Old Testament.
5th, The assertions of fallible uninspired men. This is the source, from whence originated, the sense now given to Gehenna—a place of endless misery to the wicked. Indeed, no higher authority is quoted than this ; no one contends that God first gave it such a sense. Dr. Campbell said above—“Gehenna in process of time came to be used in this sense, and at length came to be confined to it.” And Professor Stuart refers us to Rabbinical writers as his authority, that Gehenna in the New Testament means a place of endless punishment,
In fact, he traces the origin of this sense given to Gehenna, to the silly superstition among the Jews, who thought demons dwelt in the valley of Hinnom. Such is the way, the believers in endless hell torments say, Gehenna came to have such a sense attached to it. We presume, no man can devise a better.
But let us suppose, the Jews understood our Lord, by Gehenna to mean a place of endless punishment. How were they likely to relish such a threatening ? Not very well, for we shall see afterwards from Dr. Whitby, that the Jews believed, no Jew, however wicked, would go to hell. I ask then, how it was possible for our Lord to say to the unbelieving Jews—“How can ye escape the damnation of hell, without exciting their wrath and indignation against him? But nothing is said in the four Gospels, that this threatening excited their indignation ; or that it was ever brought up as an accusation against him.
There is no evidence, that the unbelieving Jews, understood our Lord in one sense, and the disciples in another. No; nor have we ever seen or heard, that this has been alleged by any one. How then did both understand him? I answer this question, by asking, how ought they to have understood him according to the meaning of Gehenna in their own scriptures ? Certainly, either as meaning the literal valley of Hinnom, or symbolically, describing to them the punishment God had threatened their nation, as seen from Jeremiah above. In no other sense was Gehenna used in their Scriptures. In the last of these senses they must have understood him ; for when our Lord spoke to them of Gehenna, it was the punishment of Gehenna, and that such a punishment had been threatened by Jeremiah, no Jew could be ignorant, who was acquainted with the Scriptures. If the Scriptures, were the common source of information, both to believing and unbelieving Jews, none of them could understand our Lord by Gehenna