Page images
PDF
EPUB

1

could be believed, yet all remain silent on the subject ? If no revelation was given about it, how could men avoid such a punishment ? If a revelation was given, how is it accounted for, that it is not mentioned by one of the Old Testament writers ? If it is mentioned by any of them under any other name than Sheol, I am ignorant of it; nor is this even pretended by those who believe the doctrine.

3d, Another fact deserving notice, is, that the living in speaking of their dead friends, never speak as if they were to be separated from them after death, but always as associated with them. This appears to have been the case, whether the persons were good or bad. An instance to the contrary, cannot be produced, where a person ever expressed himself, as if he expected after death to be separated, and separated from his friends forever. But it is well known, that persons in our

our day, not only expect to be separated from many of their friends forever, but say, they shall-give their hearty amen to their everlasting condemnation. Yea, it is even said, that the happiness of those in heaven, is to be greatly enhanced, by their looking down on those in eternal torments, in seeing the smoke of it ascend forever and ever. This was once current popular divinity, and though not yet altogether out of use, yet I am happy to say, sober-minded

men reject it. But, it may be asked, is it true, that persons under the Old Testament expected to be associated with their deceased friends after death? I do not recollect a single instance to the contrary, and shall here, in proof of the assertion, refer to Jahn's Biblical Archæology, p. 234. To this it may probably be objected, that association with their friends after death, only referred to their bodies mingling in the dust together, and had no reference to their spirits after death. Admitting this to be true, permit me to ask, can any proof be adduced, that their spirits were separated from each other after death? I

further ask, did their spirits exist in a state of either happiness or misery after death? I demand proof of this. As I am unable to adduce any proof, I request those who say so, to produce evidence of this from the Old Testament. I shall give it all due consideration. At any rate, if the Old Testament is silent on the subject, it ill becomes us to assert that such was the case. Its very silence, is to me an indication, that no such idea was entertained in those days. If it was, it is somewhat surprising that no person ventured to express it. And if it is not expressed by any of the Old Testament writers, how is it known that such an idea was entertained by them.

In concluding this investigation of the term Sheol, we shall briefly notice the following objections.

1st, Does not David intimate his child was alive somewhere after death, when he says—"I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

”. 2 Sam. xi. 23. To this we answer no. David no more says his child was alive, than Joseph was after death when his father said "I will go down into Sheol unto my son mouring: But let

me ask, where did those parents suppose their children were after death? In hell ? Surely not, for why were they in this case desirous to go to them? If there, well might Jacob say he would go down to Joseph mourning. Were they then in heaven? If so, Jacob ought to have said he would go down to Joseph rejoicing. But if in heaven, why did he speak of going down to him, for people always speak of going up to heaven. Where then did David and Jacob suppose their children had gone ? I answer to Sheol; the house appointed for all the living. Job xxx. 33; the place Solomon refers to, when he says, “ all go to one place.

.” Eccl. xii. 23. All, good or bad, went to Sheol. Psal. lxxxix. 48. This was the world of the dead; and the small and the great are there. There the wicked cease from troubling; there the weary be

at rest, Job 3d.

David knew his child had gone there; and impressed with his own mortality he says “I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. 2d, It may be objected-when Samuel said to Saul

to-morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me,' does he not intimate he was alive somewhere after death ; and, his conversing with Saul a proof of it. To this we answer no; for he that believes it, must take Saul and his sons to heaven, for no one believes Samuel went to hell. Moreover, he must believe, that a woman had power to bring a departed spirit out heaven. But we have shown in Essays, sect. 2d, that this woman was an imposter. The popular notion was, that Sheol was a deep region in the earth, where the ghosts of the dead all resided. This woman's trade was to consult with the dead, and for this purpose

Saul resorted to her. But all such superstitious practices God condemned, and expressly prohibited the Jews from giving any countenance to them. It is strange, Christians in the ninteenth century, should suppose there was any truth in them. We have seen above, Professor Stuart says a deep region beneath, peopled with ghosts, is what we do not believe in.”

3d, It may be objected—future existence was not known under the Old Testament; and if its silence on the subject of endless misery proves it false, it is also proved, there is no future existence. Answer. admit the force of this argument, if it can be proved the Old Testament is silent on the subject of futnre exist

But this, we are surprised, that any man should aver ; but it would be aside from our present design, to discuss this point. See Jahn's Bib. Arche. sect. 314. We doubt, if this would ever be denied, except for the purpose of getting rid of the stumbling argument, that the Old Testament does not teach the doctrine of endless punishment. Endless punishment it does not teach, and rather than abandon it, some are willing to allow, future existence is not taught there.

We

ence.

[ocr errors]

4th, It may be further objected—if men are at death reduced to dust, lose their powers and personal identity, , and for a time cease to be susceptible of either enjoyment or suffering, why may not this state continue for ever? What reason have we to hope, that their powers and personal identity will ever be restored ? To this I answer, God has promised man a future and an immortal life by a resurrection from the dead; and the example and pledge of it, is given in Christ's resurrection from the dead. No man will deny this, who regards the authority of the scriptures; or doubts its accomplishment, until he doubts the truth of divine revelation, and the power of God to affect it. But to doubt the competency of God's power to restore to man his powers and personal identity, is not doubting enough. The man who doubts this, ought also to doubt, the competency of his power to create man at first with such powers and personal identity. Creating at first, and a resurrection from the dead, are both ascribed to the power of God in scripture. If I am asked—“how are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come ?" I refer the reader to 1.Cor. xv; 36-50 for the answer.

To conclude. It is now generally conceded, by all critics and intelligent men, that endless punishment was not taught under the first covenant. But it is generally believed to be taught under the new and better covenant. If this is true, how can it be called a better cov. enant, and “established upon better promises ?? Is endless punishment a better promise ? And was it the fault in the first covenant, which required the second and better covenant, that it did not teach the doctrine of endless punishment? But if all this be true, how is Christ the mediator of a better covenant? If endless punishment, is not threatened in the law which came by Moses, how can it be threatened in the grace and truth which came by Jesus Christ? If it is not heard

[ocr errors]

in the thunders, fire, and tempest of mount Sinai, who can think it is to be heard from mount Zion ?

SECTION II.

ALL THE TEXTS, IN WHICH HADES OCCURS CONSIDERED.

curs.

All critics are agreed, that the Greek Hades in the New Testament, corresponds in meaning to the Hebrew Sheol in the old. In the septuagint version, the translators have rendered the term Sheol, 60 times by the word Hades, out of the 64 instances where it oc

Hades, also occurs 16 times in the apocryphal books, and is used in a simalar way, as the Hebrew Sheol is, in the canonical writings of the Old Testament. Besides, the New Testament writers in quoting from the Old, use Hades, as the rendering of Sheol, in the passages they cite, see Ps. xvi. 10. compared with Acts ii. 27, etc.

The term Hades, occurs eleven times in the Greek of the New Testament. In the common version, it is once rendered grave, and in the other ten places by the word hell. The following are all the passages.

Math. xi. 23. “And thou Capernaum which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell, (Hades).” Dr. Campbell, in the dissertation quoted above, says—" as the city of Capernaum was never literally raised to heaven, we have no reason to believe, that it was to be literally brought down to Hades. But as by the former expression we are given to understand, that it was to become a flourishing and splendid city, or as some think, that it had obtained great spiritual advantages; so by the latter, that it should be brought to the lowest degree of abasement and wretchedness.” See

« PreviousContinue »