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the name, hell; but they do not rely upon that term, when they attempt to prove that doctrine from scripture. If they quote texts where this word occurs, still the argument is drawn from some circumstance or phrase connected with the passage, and not from the word hell. I am far from being a believer in endless misery, but I am free to confess that I find nothing in the Inquiry, which convinces me of its falsity.
But the very definition which Mr. B. has given of Sheol and Hades, does not exclude misery. He says again and again, that Sheol and Hades signify the state of the dead in general. Now does this definition of Sheol and Hades oppose a future, or even endless misery? Not in the least. We might as well contend that there will be no future happiness, because Sheol and Hades do not signify happiness, as to contend that there will be no future misery, because these words do not signify misery. To maintain that there will be no misery beyond the grave, because Sheol and Hades do not mean misery, is entirely sophistical. In this manner any proposition can be proved. Misery, for instance, could be argued out of this world. Thus-the word earth does not signify misery, therefore there is no misery in the earth! What should we think of a person who should undertake prove that there was no misery in the city of Boston, from the consideration that the word, Boston, did not mean misery?
But although Mr. B. has repeatedly said that Sheol and Hades did not mean misery, either temporary or endless, still he acknowledges that in several instances they do mean misery. Where our Savior is said to have been compassed about by the sorrows of hell, where David was delivered from the lowest hell, and where Capernaum is threatened with being cast down to hell, he confesses that hell signifies misery. Now if hell signifies misery in these passages, as Mr. B. asserts, how can
he maintain that it never means misery, either temporary or endless? And if it means misery in these passages, who knows but that it does in others? It is not my design to point out the instances in which hell means misery, but only to avail myself of the concessions he has made; and these are amply sufficient to weaken his reasoning. When treating upon Gehenna, Mr. B. contends that it would be extremely improper to borrow language from a temporal scene to represent an eternal one. A great part of his reasoning, when remarking upon Gehenna, is founded upon this principle. But what is the course he has pursued in relation to Sheo! and Hades? He contends that these terms signify the place of the dead, that is, they apply to a future world, But he makes use of them as figures to express suffering in this state. Now if Sheol and Hades, a place or state in a future world, can be used figuratively to express misery, it is much more natural to suppose that they express misery in a state to which they belong, than in a state to which they do not belong. But Mr. B. has pursued the opposite course, and so has contradicted what he has said elsewhere. It is perfectly proper borrow figure from time, to represent things in eternity. For human language was designed to express our ideas of things belonging to this world, and unless we are allowed to speak of events in a future world in language which originally applied to this, we cannot speak of them at all. But there is not the same necessity of borrowing language from a future state, to represent things in this. But as the sacred penmen have done this according to Mr. B.'s own confession, it gives us good reason to believe that they have done the other also. In his 2d chapter Mr. B. tells us on the authority of Dr. Campbell and others, that the term ved from the Hebrew words, Ge and
Gehenna is deri
the valley of Hinnom, near Jerusalem. He appears to
speak of Gehenna as a proper name, and because the valley of Hinnom does not signify misery in a future state, he argues that such misery cannot exist. But does not every person know that the proper name of a place does not express the state or condition of the inhabitants relative to happiness or misery? The word Salem, for instance, signifies peace, But who ever thought of inferring from hence, that there were never any broils or contentions in the town of Salem? What should we think of a person who should assert that there never had been, and never would be any misery in the State of Vermont, because Vermont signifies Green Mountain, and not a place of misery P Will Mr. B. assert that the inhabitants of Jerusalem never experienced any, of the horrors of war, because the word Jerusalem signifies, they shall see peace? His reasoning proves this as clearly as it proves that there will be no misery after death. But the fallacy of this reasoning must be obvious to the weakest capacity. I think Mr. B. cannot complain of this as misrepresenting his reasoning, for he acknowledges that he has spoken of hell as a place of misery, and constantly he speaks of hell or Gehenna as the name of that place. And I believe the representation I have given above, is the impression which is given to plain unlettered, readers, who in many respects are the most impartial judges,
Should any person feel disposed to disprove future: eternal happiness, he might adopt Mr. B.'s plan with advantage. By tracing the word heaven to its primitive root, he would find, that it did not signify future happiness, or even happiness in any state. He might pursue the course which Mr. B. has, with considerable plausibility. He might take the first of Genesis"In the be ginning God created the heaven and the earth," and show that heaven did not signify happiness, but simply the surrounding air, or the firmament. He might argue that
as this was the first time the word heaven occurred in the Bible, and as it did not mean happiness in this case it ought not to be understood as having that meaning in any other passage, unless the writer gave special notice that he used the term in a sense different from that in Genesis. He could also quote many texts, where hea ven has the same meaning as in Gen. i. 1. He might then turn to the New Testament, where he would find the word, heaven, for the first time in Matthew third"The kingdom of heaven is at hand," in which passage heaven doubtlessly signifies the gospel dispensation By examining the New Testament, he would find many passages to corroborate this signification. And if he found a few passages which did not appear to coincide with his views, the same labor which Mr. B. has bestowed upon the rich man and Lazarus would solve the difficulty. He might call it parabolic happiness, and not literal enjoyment. In this manner he could prove that there will be no future happiness, as clearly as Mr. B. has proved that there will be no future misery. Whoever will read the Inquiry with attention, will, I think, be convinced that the representation of the work given above, is substantially correct.
Mr. B. has also published an Inquiry concerning the Devil and Satan, and the duration of the terms, Olim, Aion, and Aionios. This work, like the former, exhibits a good temper of mind, and no small degree of patient investigation. It, however, contains nothing peculiarly original, except an exposition of the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, and a few other passages, which we regard as vague and inconsistent. Though this work contains much truth, we believe that in many respects, he carries his principles too far, and manifests a disposi tion to pull down rather than to build up. But this appears to be policy adopted by all the advocates for his views.
Scripture proof of a Future Retribution.
REV. AND DEAR BROTHER,
In this letter I propose to call your attention to some scriptures which, to my understanding, teach the doctrine of a future retribution. I shall, however, confine myself to a few passages, as I find that I am likely to exceed my contemplated limits. The first text I shall notice, is John v. 28, 29. "Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation." I have quoted this passage in this place in consequence of its affinity to the passages already considered, under the head of a future judgment. The passage before us teaches a future judgment, and informs us of its concomitant events, viz. a resurrection, and a state of punishment. The passage before us, I think, applies to a future state, and teaches a future retribution. I am sensible, however, that you confine the passage to this world, and apply it to the destruction of Jerusalem. But against your construction, and in favor of mine, there are many weighty considerations.*
You will readily acknowledge that the passage in question holds forth the idea of a retribution-a retribution which is to take place at a specified time or period. Now the fact, that this retribution is to take place at some particular, specified time, let that time be when it may, goes directly against the doctrine which limite
• The substance of our remarks upon this passage has been published by the writer of these Letters, in the Christian Repository for Oct. 1825.