Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

truction of Jerusalem. Read his marvellous wisdom.--Now though Korah and his company were punished on the spot for their rebellion, yet we are told all the sins of the Jews as a nation, which had been committed during past ages were at that time visited on the nation. On that generation came all the righteous blood which had been shed on the earth.” But to make the destruction of Jerusalem a judgment to Korah, is inverting the rule of visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children. It is visiting the iniquities of children upon fathers forty generations back. It is carrying back the visitation instead of carrying it forward. I can understand how the blood of Abel can be required of that generation of the Jews, but not how the inflictions of God's wrath on Jerusalem can be called the judgment upon Cain.

As there is not in text or context an allusion to the history of Korah, it is incumbent on Mr. B. to prove that Korah and his company had at the time, when Peter wrote, currently passed under the name of angels, so that men in all parts of the world whither Peter's letter was directed, would recognize the meaning at once. This is not attempted. To prove that the angels are here meant, he tells us that Korah and his company were two hundred and fifty princes, who might with as much propriety be called angels as men might be so called, in case of the angels of the churches in Revelation. But then the connexion interprets the meaning plainly, and the reader is not left in doubt. But here it is said “the angels that sinned” as though every reader would know what angels, and yet we are invited to believe that Peter had his eye on an event to which there is no allusion, and nothing to lead us to suppose such an event was intended. Mr. B. says as the second reason, that Korah and his company sinned, and lost their station thereby. Granted. Thirdly, he says the connexion favors his view of the subject, Let the reader decide that. Under this head he says, “ Certainly all will allow it is not tho custom of the sacred writers to blend in this way examples of God's justice on men and angels together. If it is done here, another example of the kind cannot be produced from the Bible.” This assertion would amount to little if true. But is not here an example of the kind—Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels? (See also Jude 6.) Is not that God's judgment on men and angels together? Fourthly, he suggests that this judgment on the angels, is held up as a warning to ungodly men-which it could not be if it were a judgment on angelic spirits, since no man has seen the angels punished or had any means of knowing the fact if it were true. It rested entirely on Peter and Jude's statements. Are not Peter and Jude's statements so much in point worthy of credit ? If not, we have that of Christ more in point. I beheld satan as lightning fall from heaven. This evidentiy alludes to satan's original apostasy, as the context will show. John also saysThe devil sinneth from the beginning. Which is as much as to say, that sin began in the apostasy of the devil, and the next sentence shows his agency in the sins of this world. For this purpose the son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. And Jude's testimony is—And the angels which kept not their first estate but left their own habitation, hath he reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day.

How a man can have a face to write and print such glaring perversions of language so plain, is a mystery of no easy solution. Sure I am that the mind comes to this belief of such perversions of truth, if it ever does believe them, while entertaining little adequate sense of the solemn import of the question at issue. How differently men think and reason upon such a subject while in the midst of life and health, from what they would while standing on the brink of the eternal world! Now, the question can be agitated with as little sense of personal interest, as if it were a problem in mathematics. But the hour is coming to all, when this question will stand out in a light far different.

CHAPTER IX.

THE MEANING OF GEHENNA.

This like all other words, applied to the scenes of the future world, was originally applied to what existed in this world. In its primary sense, it was a name for a valley adjacent to Jerusalem. It is a compound word, signifying the valley of Hinnom. It was anciently a delightful valley, shaded with a delightful grove, and here the idolatrous Israelites established the worship of Moloch, and sacrificed their own children to the idol by burning them. The valley is also called Tophet from the Hebrew word Toph, signifying a drum, because drums were beaten to drown the cries of the victims. After the captivity, this spot was regarded with abhorrence on account of these abominations. And following the example of Josiah, the Jews threw into it every species of filth, the carcases of animals, and the dead bodies of malefactors. And to prevent a pestilence arising from such a mass of putrifaction, constant fires were maintained in the valley, in order to consume the whole. By an asy metaphor, the Jews who could imagine no severer torment than that of fire, transferred that name to the place of the infernal fire-to that part of hades which they supposed to be inhabited by demons and the souls of wicked men suffering punishment. So much I suppose is admitted by all. That the word is not used in the Old Testament in the sense of hell, I freely concede. That it is rarely if ever used in the literal sense of the valley of Hinnom in the New Testament, is granted by my opponents. That it is used in the New Testament in a transferred sense, Mr. B. fully concedes. What this transferred sense is, is the question now before us.

This we will attempt to settle by an examination of the particular passages where it occurs.

Matt. 5: 22. But whosoever shall say thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Here I agree with Mr. B. that the word is in no case to be understood of such a punishment as burning alive in the valley of Hinnom. This passage has its difficulties of interpretation, but to my mind none of the difficulty lies in determining that the destruction of Jerusalem is not the punishment here intended by hell fire. Something more than Schleusner's authority unsupported by the reasons on which it rests is needful to convince me that among the Jews “any severe punishment especially a shameful kind of death was denominated Gehenna.” Mr. Balfour finds but one meaning to the word, making it in all cases a name for the destruction of Jerusalem whenever it is used in the gospels. Where then is his evidence that it is used in that indeterminate sense ? And then there is no evidence external or internal, that Christ used the word or that his hearers would understand him of the destruction of Jerusalem. There is no allusion in the context, and nothing which would guide the mind of Christ's hearers to such a meaning, unless that meaning by use had become distinctly, and familiarly appropriated to the word. And that was impossible, for Jerusalem's destruction was not generally suspected, when the sermon on the mount was delivered, and of course such a meaning of the word could not come into gen

eral use.

But Mr. B. says no one supposes the two first, i. e. the judgand the council to refer to a future state, and asks, why should the third ? To this, it is enough to reply, that no one supposes that the two first refer to national calamities, and why should the third ? Suppose a public speaker, were to say of a certain course of wickedness, that it leads to the prison, to the gallows, and to hell. You might say with as much reason, the two first do not refer to a future state, why then should the third ?

Mr. B. asks-_“Is the crime of calling a brother a fool so much worse than the other two ?” I answer, the climax in the text, is something of this nature—The first punishment called judgment, was a punishment by death, adjudged by the lower court, the second was death, pronounced by the highest authority, and inflicted in the most appalling forms, and the third must be a punishment adjudged by the highest of all courts, the court of heaven. We are not to understand this passage as a statement of the comparative guilt of the three sins, but as a powerful representation of the fact, that sins of mere intention and words, are in the sight of God as offensive as more overt actions. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment, (death adjudged by the lower court.) But I say unto you, whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, is guilty of that which in God's esteem is the same as murder. And so of the rest—To say to his brother, Raca, that is to give expression to that causeless anger, is with more propriety counted as murder. And to call a brother a fool (a miscreant) in anger, is in God's esteem, a sín for which there is no adequate punishment this side of hell fire. In this understanding of the passage, it is not difficult to see why calling a brother a fool should be represented as such a crime. The design seems to be not so much to make a comparison between the three sirs, as to represent all the three, as guilty far beyond the common apprehensions of men. Having answered Mr. B.'s question, we might now retort it

Why should calling a brother a fool expose one to shame in Jerusalem's destruction, rather than the other two ? He shows wherein it was a great crime to call a brother a fool, but not what particular relation that crime had to the national judgments then impending, rather than the other two. That gehenna in this passage means anything else than hell, remains yet to be proved.

Matt. 10: 28. Fear not them which kill the body but are not able to kill the soul. But rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. I have already considered Mr. B.'s views of this passage, p. 23. The question whether gehenna here means hell, turns on the question whether a man has a soul to be destroyed in hell. I think I have shown the absurdity of the position, that though a man has no soul, he has

upon him.

« EdellinenJatka »