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person, that he referred to the judgment impending over Jerusalem? He refers to these judgments again in Matt. xxiv. 21. "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." But here he is particular to say, "This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled." Ver. 34. From these quotations from the Scriptures the subject must, we think, be regarded as settled, that Gehenna was used by the prophets, and by Jesus Christ, as an emblem of the calamities which befel the Jews in the destruction of the city, and overthrow of the nation. Under this view of the
1 On the word Gehenna are staked the last hopes of those who defend the doctrine of punishment in the future state. Their zeal in contending that this word was used by Christ to favor that doctrine, is certainly proportioned to the desperateness of their cause. But can there possibly be any dispute, that Jesus meant by the "damnation of Gehenna," in Matt. xxiii. 33, the judgment with which God was then about to visit the Jews? Verily say unto you," said he, "all these things (this "damnation of Gehenna" being the most important he had mentioned) shall come upon this generation." Ver. 36. And to what did Jesus refer, Matt. v. 22, by the "fire of Gehenna," except to the fire of the valley of Hinnom, in the literal sense? The learned Parkhurst, an eminent orthodox critic, as we have already quoted, takes this view of the subject. Lex. sub. voc. · Gehen. Adam Clarke, another believer in endless misery, took the same view. Com. on New Test. in loco. We cannot perceive why the "judgment" and the "council," mentioned in this passage, may not be applied to the future state with as much propriety as the "Gehenna of fire."
Now in reference to the ten other passages in which Gehenna occurs, they should be explained by the help of these. In the Old Testament the valley of Hinnom is made a figure of the temporal punishment of the Jews. This is unquestionable. When Jesus spoke of Gehenna to his disciples, would they not understand him as using it in the same sense? When he threatened the unbelieving Jews with the "damnation of Gehenna," would not they understand him to use the word in the sense in which their own prophets had used it? Jesus never intimated, nor is there a single intimation thrown out by any New Testament writer, that this word is to have a widely
subject, the "hell fire" spoken of in the parable, forms a perfect contrast to the "Kingdom of God"the one was the happy portion of the believer in Jesus; the other was the sad lot of those who were regardless of his teachings and admonitions.
different signification in the New Testament from what it bore in the Old. To us it seems highly probable, that when Jesus threatened the Jews with the "damnation of Gehenna," he had in his mind the declaration of Jeremiah that God would make Jerusalem like Tophet.
To this it may be replied, that notwithstanding Gehenna never bears the sense of future punishment in the Old Testament, yet in the time of Christ it did have that signification, as used in common language among the Jews, and by their theological writers; and therefore, it is asked, would not the Jews have so understood Christ in his use of the word? We answer no, even if this had been the case; for did he not say concerning the "damnation of Gehenna,"
all these things shall come on this generation?" Whatever, therefore, their views of Gehenna were, they could not have misunderstood him in his view of it. But it is far from being a settled question, that the Jews in the time of Christ did understand by Gehenna a place of punishment in the invisible world. That the Pharisees believed in punishments after death we do not deny ; but Jesus explicitly admonished his disciples to "take heed and beware of the leaven' (i. e. doctrine) of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Compare Matt. xvi, 6 with 12. If Jesus regarded the doctrine of future punishment, in which the Pharisees believed, as of any importance, why did he not make an exception of that sentiment when he gave the above admonition? But that the Jews in the time of Christ used the word Gehenna to apply to future punishment, has never been proved. That word, as Mr. Balfour has shown, (Inquiry, 2nd Ed. pp. 239, 240) does not occur in the Apocrypha. The Targums have not been sufficiently examined by any author who doubted the common opinion. "Before we ought to be satisfied with regard to their bearing on this subject,' says a careful writer, "it appears to me that the following points should be clearly ascertained: 1st. Whether the oldest of them, those of Jonathan Ben Uzziel and Onkelos, do in fact use the word Gehenna to denote a place of future torment ; for all the others are of too late a date to be used as evidence. 2. Whether it is probable that even those Targums are as old as our Saviour's time; for I understand that this is a disputed question among critics, and that the celebrated Bauer and Jahn bring them down to the second or third century.'
On the whole, there is no evidence yet ascertained that the Jews ever used Gehenna in rcference to future punishment, as early as the time of Christ.
4. Consider the words, "where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched," vers. 44, 46, 48. There would be no necessity of giving these words a separate consideration, they are so evidently to be explained in a figurative sense, as we explain Gehenna itself, were it not that much use has been made of them by many people in proving the doctrine of endless misery, because it is said the worm shall not die, and the fire shall not be quenched. Let it be remarked then, that these are the same expressions which the prophets had applied to the temporal calamities of the Jews. Thus Isaiah says, "And it shall come to pass, that from one new-moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD. And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have trangressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh." lxvi. 23, 24. It will not be pretended that this passage refers to any troubles which are to befal the Jews in another state of existence, since it was to happen where time was measured by new-moons and sabbaths. The prophet Ezekiel describes the destruction of Israel in similar language. "Moreover, the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face toward the south, and drop thy word toward the south, and prophesy against the forest of the south field; And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree; the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein. And all flesh shall see that I the LORD have kindled
ieth it: it shall not be quenched." xx. 45-48. Now 4 no one will pretend that this language has reference ords to any other than temporal judgments; and yet, to y say the least, it is as expressly asserted that the bla fire shall not be quenched, as in the parable before bee us. More passages might be quoted in illustration de of this point, if necessary; but the above are a vor sample of the rest, and will suffice. To be "cast Le into hell fire," was to be made to suffer the damnation of Gehenna, which Jesus assured the Pharisees should come on that generation. The fire was called unquenchable because it was not quenched; it consumed all the chaff; it effected the complete th: destruction of the nations cast into it. This we are confident is the true application of the bold figure.
5. Illustrate the proposition, that it was better to part with the offending member, than to be cast into "hell fire." After the foregoing remarks on this It parable, it cannot be necessary that much be said under this head. The "damnation of Gehenna," which Jesus mentioned, Matt. xxiii. 33, he describes to be a "great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, Is nor ever shall be." Matt. xxiv. 21. Was it not better to part with friends, and all improper gratifications, and all apparent temporal advantages for the kingdom of Christ, than by losing that kingdom to suffer the judgment of Gehenna? Jesus said, "whosoever will save his life shall lose it.” Whosoever, to obtain temporal good, shall hesitate to become my disciple, shall lose the very object at which he aims: while "whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." He who shall exrpose himself to temporal loss for my kingdom, shall, in reality, be a great gainer thereby. The apostles
entered into life maimed. Peter said, to his master, "Lo, we have left all, and followed thee." Jesus replied, "Verily I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time;" i. e. the period under the law; "and in the world to come," the age to come, "life everlasting." This passage is a fair solution of the proposition under consideration. Those who cheerfully parted with all hindrances to entering the kingdom of the gospel, and entered that kingdom without them, enjoyed, in reality, more than others, before the proud neck of the persecuting Jews was broken; but when the judgments fell on that nation, and they were "ground to powder," there cannot be a question that it was far better to be a member of the kingdom of God. The advice of Christ, then, in the parable, was perfectly reasonable. It was better to enter into life maimed, than to be cast into hell fire.
Parable of the Strait Gate..
MATT. VII. 13, 14.
"Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in there at: Because, strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life,and few there be that find it.”
THIS parable has been frequently employed to prove the doctrine of endless misery. The strait and narrow way, it was thought, was the way of truth and righteousness. The broad road was the