« AnteriorContinua »
history of our Lord, and of his most private instructions, they did proclaim to the world, what they were taught in secret.” The objector overlooks this circumstance.
He seems to suppose, that the disciples never discharged the commission, to proclaim upon the house-tops, what they had heard in the ear, if future punishment is not taught in their epistles and in the very language of his discourses. But they did discharge it, by writing and circulating the gospels. Nor do we know, what was the ordinary style of apostolic preaching. We have only a few examples given in the acts of the apostles, and in them we find evident traces of the doctrine of future punishment. As in the reply of Peter to the interrogation of the vast multitude, assembled on the day of Pentecost,-- Men and brethren what shall we do?” He understands them to inquire, what they shall do for the remission of their sins, and directs them to repent. Their sense of guilt and exposure, could not certainly have resulted from an apprehension of temporal evils. Their crime had exposed them to none. The same may be inferred from Paul's address to Felix ;“ As he reasoned of righteousness, temperance and judgment to come, Felix trem
bled.” It was not the fear of any present danger, that made this hardened man tremble before a preacher of the cross. a
And probably, in all their oral instructions, the doctrine of future punishment held a sufficiently conspicuous place. But in the brief history, which we have of their first labors, and in their epistles, written for the sake of exposing certain errors, correcting certain abuses, and elucidating and enforcing the abstruser doctrines of religion, it was not to be expected, that the first and plainest truth of christianity, should be formal. ly stated and proved. It was every where taken for granted by them. Most of those, to whom they wrote, were in possession of one or more of the gospels. None of them doubted the doctrine of future punishment. There was no call, therefore, for an epistle, designed to refute the notion of universal salvation. Almost all the epistles, are written upon general questions, the decision of which does not necessarily require any allusion to the retributions of another world. Would it be strange, jf, in writing a letter to a friend on church government, you should say nothing of the resurrection of the body? If in such a letter, you should say nothing on the subject of future
punishment, would it be right for your friend to infer, that you are an universalist ? Yet this is the reasoning of those, who say, that Paul was an universalist, because, when writing on other subjects, he has not quoted St. Matthew on future punishment! But though the nature of the case did not require, that this subject should be designedly treated of, in portions of the New Testament devoted to other topics, yet it will hereafter be made to appear, that the apostles recognize future puuishment, as a doctrine of christianity. Should it again be asked, why they did not use the name gehenna, when speaking of future punishment, the answer is evident. If our Savior taught the doctrine at all, he did it almost constantly and in a great variety of forms, while he uses gehenna in only four or five of his discourses. When this is considered, the single instance in which it is used by James, seems to afford it a fair share of notice, especially since most of the first readers of the epistles, were not Jews but Gentiles, to whom other designations of the place of future punishment were more familiar. Thus it appears, that no objection exists to the conclusion, established in this discourse,
I have now closed this outline of the argument, in favor of future punishment, from the use of gehenna in the New Testament. The obvious inference is, that some men will be miserable after death. The existence of heaven, is sufficient proof of its being the residence of happy spirits. An analogous conclusion is drawn from the existence of a place of punishment. It is inhabited. Indeed, so long as it is acknowledged, that faith in Christ is the only security against destruction in hell, it cannot be questioned, that many are involved in it. It cannot be believed, that all the dead chose to serve God in their life time, at the hazard of losing the dearest earthly objects. This is not the case with all the living, even in this enlightened and religious age. How many, as far as the eye can follow them, even to the verge of eternity, bear the marks of the most decided impiety! But this point need not be argued. There is a hell, in which incorrigible sinners are punished.
THE CERTAINTY OF FUTURE PUNISHMENT FROM
THE USE OF HADES.
LUKE xvi. 23.
And in hell, he lifted up his eyes, being in torments.
THE Greek poets divide Hades into two apartments, one of which they call Tartarus, where the wicked dwell in great degradation and misery, the other Elysium, the delightful residence of the righteous. The latter Jews, many of whom were better acquainted with the Greek than with the Hebrew language, adopted the same meaning, with only slight modifications. They supposed hades to be a vast subterranean receptacle, in which the souls of men exist in a separate state, until the resurrection of their bodies. According to them, the region of the blessed, called paradise in allusion to their own scriptures, is in the upper part of this receptacle; while be