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Some Opinions Briefly Considered

The doctrine of the immortality, the indestructibility, of the soul is responsible for the traditional view that the wicked are kept alive in unending misery through all eternity. How different this picture from that which Holy Scripture gives of the second death! Terrible and awful it is, but it results in the utter destruction of sin and sinners, leaving a clean universe. The doctrine of the immortality of the soul came in from pagan philosophy. Herodotus, "the father of history," said:

"The Egyptians . . were also the first to broach the opinion, that the soul of man is immortal."- Book 2, par. 123.

Evidently, they passed the doctrine on to the Greeks. Its origin was in the words of Satan in Eden, "Ye shall not surely die." The pagans had their nether world of spirits, or their transmigration of souls with its ceaseless round from body to body, and the Roman Catholics their purgatory with its purifying fires. From these sources and not from the Word of God, the traditional view has come into modern Christendom, representing the Lord as unable or unwilling to end sin, but keeping the sinner alive throughout eternity, to suffer torture that can bring no remedy. The Scripture teaching is far otherwise. However, there are certain Scripture phrases that emphasize the severity of the punishment of sin, which are often taken as supporting the doctrine of never-ending conscious torment.

1. "Forever and Ever."- In Rev. 20: 10 it is said that the devil and his chief agencies "shall be tormented day and night forever and ever." The phrase emphasizes the surety of their utter destruction.

"Forever" means age-lasting, or life-lasting-so long as a thing exists by its nature. Thus in Ex. 21: 6 the servant who loved his master and did not wish to leave his service was to have his ear pierced, "and he shall serve him forever," that is, without release as long as he lives. So the fiery judgment

of that last day holds the wicked until life ends; there is no release until life is consumed.

2. "Everlasting Punishment."-"These shall go away into everlasting punishment." Matt. 25:46. It is everlasting punishment, not everlasting punishing. The punishment is everlasting death —“who shall be punished with everlasting destruction." 2 Thess. 1:9.

The truth of the utter destruction of sinners is awful enough, but it commends itself to every thought of justice and mercy; for sin must be cleansed from a perfect universe. But the unscriptural view of everlasting conscious torment that never reaches the point of full punishment, is unthinkable. Yet it is urged as a doctrine, and contended for as vital to Christianity.

The following description is taken from a book written for children, entitled "The Sight of Hell." It is printed in Dublin - for children.

"Little child, if you go to hell, there will be a devil at your side to strike you. He will go on striking you every day, forever and ever, without ever stopping. The first stroke will make your body as bad as Job's, covered from head to foot with sores and ulcers. The second stroke will make your body twice as bad as the body of Job. . . . How then will your body be after the devil has been striking it every moment for a hundred million years without stopping?"- Quoted in the London Present Truth, April 30, 1914.

What a relief to turn from this to the Bible doctrine of the "everlasting destruction" of the second death, terrible though it be!

3. "Everlasting Fire," "Eternal Fire," "Unquenchable Fire." - All these expressions are used in describing the fiery judgment upon sin and sinners. The effect of the fire is everlasting and eternal, and by a common usage in language the adjective that describes the effect is applied to the agent by which the effect is wrought.

A specific example of everlasting fire in the punishment of evil is given in Scripture. Sodom and Gomorrah, those wicked

"cities of the plain," were destroyed by a rain of fire from heaven. These cities, Inspiration says, "are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." Jude 7. The fire was everlasting, eternal, in its effects. The cities of the plain were everlastingly consumed. But the fire went out when the destruction was complete. Unquenchable fire is fire that cannot be quenched. It consumes utterly, until nothing is left; then it goes out of its own accord.

4. "Where Their Worm Dieth Not."- Jesus warned of the certain destruction of sin and sinners in the fire of Gehenna; for this is the word translated "hell" in Mark 9:43.

Hades, which is often translated "hell," is the grave, not the place of punishment. Gehenna, here used of the place of punishment, was the name of the valley where the refuse of Jerusalem was cast for burning. The map of Jerusalem, in any ordinary Bible with maps, shows just outside the southern wall a gorge marked "Valley of Hinnom" (Gehenna). It was here that the people, in the olden times, had sacrificed their children to Moloch.

"In order to put an end to these abominations, Josiah polluted it with human bones and other corruptions. 2 Kings 23: 10, 13, 14."— Hastings's "Dictionary of the Bible."

Here the fires consumed the refuse, and the fire and worms utterly destroyed the carcasses of beasts flung into the place of destruction. It was regarded as a place accursed, and the smoldering fires became symbolical of the fires of the judgment.

The use of this illustration, instead of arguing that the wicked are never destroyed but always live, conveys the opposite idea. What went into the fires of Gehenna was utterly consumed, nothing being left. This was used by Christ as a figure illustrative of the utter destruction of the unrepentant sinner in the day of visitation.

This must suffice. The positive teaching of Holy Scripture is that sin and sinners will be blotted out of existence. There will be a clean universe again when the great controversy between Christ and Satan is ended.

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THE one verse of Scripture which, perhaps, most comprehensively sums up the ministry of the angels of God, is this:

"Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" Heb. 1: 14.

This scripture shows us how truly all heaven is engaged in working for the salvation of this poor world, which has wandered from the fold of God. It will surely be a time of rejoicing among all the angelic host when Christ, the Good Shepherd, brings back this lost world, cleansed from sin, once more to the fold of God's perfect creation.

The angels rejoiced when this world was created. The Lord said to Job:

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