Слике страница
PDF
ePub

by you most surely. From this quotation I select the following extracts; being sufficient for my present purpose.

"As the word hades, [the same that is translated hell in the passage before us] which occurs in eleven places of the New Testament, and is rendered hell in all except one, where it is translated grave, it is quite common in classical authors, and frequently used by the Seventy in the translation of the Old Testament. In my judgement, it ought never in scripture to be rendered hell, at least in the sense wherein that word is now universallty understood by christians. In the Old Testament, the corresponding word is sheol, which signifies the state of the dead in general, without regard to the goodness or badness of the persons, their happiness or misery." "The state is always represented under those figures which suggest something dreadful, dark, and silent, about which the most prying eye, and listening ear, can acquire no information. The term hades, is well adapted to express this idea." "To this the word hell, in its primitive signification, perfectly corresponded. For, at first, it denoted only what was secret, or concealed.”

66

-It is very plain, that neither in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, nor in the New, does the word hades convey the meaning which the present English word hell, in the christian usage, always conveys to our minds.”

After stating that the illustration of this remark by an enumeration of all the passages in its support, would be an endless labour,* and that it is hardly pretended that this is the acceptation of the term by any critic, he thus proceeds;

* Mr. Balfour has submitted to this endless task, and produced a book, to answer which will require all the powers of all the clergy in Christendom. Universalists and all others should become acquainted with this most unanswerable performance.

"Who, for example, would render the words of the venerable patriarch Jacob, Gen. 38: 35, when he was deceived by his sons into the opinion that his favourite child, Joseph, had been destroyed by a wild beast, I will go down to HELL to my son mourning? or the words which he used, ch. 42: 38, when they expostulated with him about sending his youngest son Benjamin into Egypt along with them, Ye will bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to hell? Yet, in both places, the word in the original, is sheol, and in the version of the Seventy, hades."

Brief as these extracts are, they serve to show, that the passage under examination, whether used in a literal or figurative sense, has no reference to a future state, nor does the context warrant such an application. With what views you have quoted this passage, calculated to mislead those who seldom examine for

themselves, is for you to answer. It is not my province to decide whether you are a sciolist, or a willing instrument for the perpetuation of ignorance and superstition. Let any English reader examine the Bible for himself, and further remark on this subject will be needless. It is impossible for any one to examine the quotations that follow, of from two to four words in a place, without perceiving, that the only foundation for a belief that either of them applies to a future state, is the ignorance, or wilful blindness of the reader. What has the putting out of a man's name, or consuming away, or consuming like smoke, to do with a future state, and more particularly with a state of eternal misery? Where is the analogy? it is not discovered; not a single intimation is given in either of these quotations, respecting another state of being! The sound of several of the texts is much nearer annihilation, than never ending suffering. No man, who will carefully read the passage from Daniel, need be ignorant that the time to which the prophet

alludes, was the appearance of our Saviour, and I believe all commentators agree in this view of the text. The marginal references uniformly point to this event.

But, unjustifiable as is the practice of garbling the scriptures in this manner, interpolating them is still worse. That you have foisted a word into one of the texts for the perversion of its meaning, every reader of scripture may satisfy himself with very little trouble. The passage to which I refer is found in the first chapter of Proverbs. Every reader of this book ought to be sensible of the figurative style in which it is written. Agreeable to oriental custom, the virtues, and passions, and attributes of man are personified. Thus in Prov. 9: 1, we find that "Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars." Is it possible that a dullard can be found, capable of reading, who would admit that the change of the word wisdom to God, would not be a most palpable violation of the sense in this verse? I And is not the change made by you in the verse under consideration, an equal violation of propriety, as you have misquoted it? In verse 20 we read, "Wisdom crieth without," and the prosopopæia is continued to the 26th verse, now under consideration. But a circumstance which adds to the strength of the argument is noted in the 21st verse in particular. "SHE [not God] crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates." The feminine gender of the person alone, would settle the question; but further evidence is found in the same verse. The "gates" were the places for holding courts, and transacting much business, and by the most familiar figure, this language expressed the value of those lessons of wisdom which might be learned there, and which are very properly considered as the voice of wisdom. That God, the Father of the spir

trust not.

*

its of all flesh-who considereth our frames, and who has in so many ways expressed a deep regard even for the chief of sinners-I say, that he should mock at the calamities, and laugh at the fears and consequent distress of his erring children, is no less derogatory to his character, than it is contrary to the most express declaration of scripture. Notwithstanding the dreadful threatenings of the Lord against Ephraim, and the sufferings by which he was humbled, the voice of his father is thus heard-" Is Ephraim my dear son, is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still." See also Hosea, chap. 12 and 13. "Ephraim provoked him to anger most bitterly; therefore shall he leave his blood upon him, and his reproach shall his Lord return unto him.” "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself." But look on four verses, and you will perceive the 14th to read thus ; I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death; O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction; repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.' Should you recur to the original for the word grave, you will find it sheol in the Hebrew, and hades in the Greek; the very word translated hell in Ps. 9: 17. It is needless to comment. Every man who can and will see, must perceive, not only the destruction of hell, but the shocking absurdity of representing our Father in heaven, as millions of times worse than Alaric, or Robespierre. But the testimonies of God's

66

*To show how inconsistent such a course is, even with those who profess not the mild religion of Jesus, the following authentic anecdote is introduced. During the American Revolution, Mr. O. was a violent enemy to American liberty. He did much to render him obnoxious to the whig party. He was taken sick. An infuriated mob collected, intending to drag him to death at a horsess heels. They saw him in the utmost agony of mind and body-they relented, and left him, without mocking his miseries.

kindness to the erring children of men, are too abundant to enumerate, and every scriptuarian ought to be ashamed of that criminal negligence, or MORE CRIMINAL DESIGN, which is manifested by such unfair and deceitful quotations.

After exhibiting a total want of testimony for the support of your doctrine, in the strongest of your passages, I shall leave the examination of the remaining scraps to those whose attention is not directed to more important concerns. Every school boy of twelve ought to know, that two or three dislocated. words are less proof of an important doctrine, than of a disposition to wrest the scriptures for an unrighteous purpose.

That the quotation from the 9th Psalm is quite impertinent, is evident, first, from its proving too much, if it prove any thing to the purpose; secondly, by examples from the same writer, exhibiting its evident meaning; and, thirdly, by concessions of able sholars, that its literal meaning does not justify the application. If you object that the authority already quoted applies to the term hell as translated from sheol, or hades, it is readily granted, for it is all which this subject requires; and this must be acknowledged, or the authority of Dr. Campbell, and other eminent scholars, deemed entirely nugatory. To suppose you ignorant of the strong ground on which the subject is placed by the concessions of the orthodox, and the labours of the learned, is to place you among the illiterate herd of religious mountebanks, who exhibit no more compunction for uttering curses upon their fellow-men, than for murdering the King's English. You know, or ought to know, that no form of expression used in the Old Testament, is allowed by able critics to apply to the subject of future misery. At all events, you certainly have been unfortunate in the selection of testimony from this source, even if it exists. Not a

« ПретходнаНастави »