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contrary. After reading the above quotation from Whitby, no one can doubt that the Jewish religion was very much corrupted. It was a corruption, however, as any one may see, which' flattered themselves, and sufficiently expressed their enmity against the Gentiles. After seeing this quotation, and considering the strange and ridiculous opinions held by the Jews, what credit can any man give, to any thing such persons could say about Gehenna, being a place of endless misery? One would certainly be disposed to think, that, so far from the doctrine being true, it was invented for the purpose of showing their deep-rooted aversion to Gentiles. If Gehenna, held by them to be a place of endless misery, be a truth, yet all the other things stated in the above quotation are considered corruptions of their religion, we honestly own, that we have seldom seen a truth held with so many absurd notions. To say the least of it, the testimony of such witnesses, is very suspicious.
3d, But we should like to know, how the writers of the Targums quoted above, came by the information, which they detail to us concerning Gehenna? By what means did they come to know, that it was a place of punishment for the wicked, that the punishment was to be literal fire, and endless in its duration ? I repeat the question,—Where did the above persons get all this information ? Did they derive it from the heathen, or did they invent it themselves ? If from neither of these sources, let it be shown from what source they did derive it. Until it is proved, that this information was derived from God's authority, no man ought to believe it.
But it may be objected to this, by saying, is it not said, in the above quotations, that our Lord speaks, Mark ix. 47. and Matth. v. 22. of the wicked being cast into the fire of hell, and of their being cast into a furnace of fire, Matth. xiii. 42 ?" The two first of these passages have been considered, being two of those in which
Gehenna occurs. It has been shown, that Gehenna in no instance, signifies a place of endless misery for the wicked. As to the last passage, we have shown in our second Inquiry, that it has nothing to do with a place of endless misery, but refers to the same temporal calamities which are spoken of under the emblem of Gehenna, by the prophet Jeremiah. It is there shown, our Lord did not derive his allusion to a “ furnace of fire” in the above passage, from the Targums, but from the Old Testament Scriptures. It is very certain, all professing Christians, not only in our day, but for many ages past, have believed, that Gehenna is the place
of eternal punishment for all the wicked. One should think, that it would not be difficult to show, from what source this information was derived. We might also expect, that instead of referring to the Targums, God's authority would be appealed to at once, and the Scripture evidence of its truth, would be full and explicit. A subject of such universal and deep interest to the human race, we think, would not be left as a matter of doubtful disputation, depending on the sense which the writers of the Targums give to the word Gehenna. Even when such writings are appealed to, they afford no proof of the doctrine, and give us but a poor opinion of either the piety of the writers, or the correctness of their religious opinions. If eternal punishment in Gehenna, be a part of the revealed will of God, at some time or other this revelation must have been given. Now, I am willing to believe it, and shall teach it with all the ability God has given me, if it can be shown such a revelation has been given, during any part of the four following periods of time: which includes all periods in which it could be revealed.
1st, I shall believe it, if it can be proved, that it was revealed at any time during the Old Testament dispensation. That such a doctrine, as the eternity of hell torments, was not revealed during this period, is now
generally admitted. It is confessed by Mr. Stuart and others, that it was not revealed under the name of Sheol, Hades, Tartarus, or even Gehenna, during that dispensation : and it is not pretended, that any other name is used to express this place of endless punishment. I therefore observe
2d, That I shall believe this doctrine, if it can be proved, that God revealed it in any time from the com•pletion of the Old Testament Scriptures, to the commencement of the gospel dispensation. The time which elapsed between these two events, was about four hundred years. Malachi, in closing his book, commanded attention to be given to the law of Moses, until the coming of John the Baptist, but gives no injunction to pay attention to the Apocrypha or the Targums. And we have 'no account, during the above period, that any inspired prophet arose, and revealed such a doctrine to the world. To quote any writer from Malachi to John the Baptist, in proof of this doctrine, is nothing to the purpose.
3d, I will believe this doctrine, if it is proved, that God revealed it since the New Testament was completed. This is not supposed, for it is contended by all who hold it, that it was known long before this. To contend that it was revealed after the New Testament was completed, would be to give it up as a Scripture doctrine, and sanction all the wild pretentions to inspiration since that period. If we do not end our revelations with the New Testament, we shall have a host of inspired fanatics, and an inundation of enthusiastical reveries, for the faithful sayings of God.
4th, I will believe this doctrine if it can be proved, that it has been revealed by God to men, during the ministry of Christ or any of his apostles : or, in other words, if it can be proved from the New Testament. All the passages where Gehenna occurs we have considered, and we think have shown, that no such doctrine is
taught in them. Besides, we have adduced a number of facts, at variance with such a view of the subject. But we have a few remarks to make on the above
quotations, of a different nature from those already made.
1st, There is considerable similarity, in the opinions held by the Targumists, and Christians in the present day. I need not notice, that both are agreed, Gehenna means hell, world of woe, for this is obvious. But it deserves special notice, the similarity of their opinions, as to those who must go to hell. The Jews, considered all Gentiles fuel for hell fire, but exempted themselves from this punishment. No Jew could go to hell; or if he did hell fire hath no power over the sinners of Israel, because Abraham and Isaac descend thither to fetch them thence.” The “merit of circumcision,” and “ the odor of their foreskins," was sufficient to preserve them from hell. Such was the faith of the persons, on whose authority we are to believe, Gehenna to be a place of endless misery. i Christians now retaliate on the Jews, and consider them fit fuel for hell fire. Christians also believe, no Christian shall go to hell. Ask any one of them, do you
to hell? Oh, no, say they, God forbid we should go to hell. But why not? The reasons they assign, are very similar to those the Jews assigned. They are the children of Godly parents ; they have been baptized; they are members of the church. These, or similar things, have put all their fears to rest about going to hell. The fact is, I never met with a person in my lifetime, who believed hell was a place of punishment for himself. No, this is for the wicked Jews; the heathen;
wicked persons around them. We have even known some good people, who, while their children lived, considered them as on the broad road to hell, but when they died, without much evidence of a change, still hoped they were gone to heaven. This conduct of their's, has reminded us of the conduct of the ancient
shall go believe you
Romans with their Cæsars. While they lived, they counted them devils, but after death, deified them.
2d, But how came the Jews to believe in a place of endless misery, and at length came to use the term Gehenna to express it? There are several points fixed about this, which enable us to to form at least a rational conjecture respecting it. Let it then be observed, Mr. Stuart, Dr. Campbell, and others, seem to admit, that a place of endless punishment is not taught in the Old Testament. Here is one point fixed. Again, it is admitted by all, that the term Gehenna, nor no other term, is used in the Old Testament, to express a place of endless punishment. Indeed, it was impossible to use Gehenna in such a sense, if no such place was known, for a place must first be known, before we can give it a name of any kind. Here is another point fixed on the question before us. Again, it is stated by Dr. Campbell, and others, that during, and after the Babylonian captivity, the Jews came to learn from the heathen, the notion of endless punishment in a future state. This we have seen above. The introduction of this, and other heathen opinions among the Jews, was gradual, but in the days of our Lord had become general, with perhaps the exception of the sect of the Sadducees. But though they learned from the heathen, this notion of a place of endless punishment, they could not learn from them, to call it by the name Gehenna, for this was a Hebrew term. Another point which seems to be certain is—the Jews from a variety of causes, had imbibed a deep rooted hatred of the Gentile nations. They counted them dogs, and excluded them from all participation in the blessings of their Messiah's reign. It is also universally admitted, that no place known to a Jew, was more abominable than Gehenna, the valley of Hinnom. Jahn in his Archeology, p. 527, says in the later periods of the Jewish kingdom, this idol was erected in the valley