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That a punishment was threatened the Jews under the emblem of Gehenna, in their own Scriptures, we have seen from the last section. Of this ihey could not be ignorant. In the next section we shall show that to this punishment our Lord referred by the damnation of hell, and we think in this sense the Jews understood him. There is no evidence that the unbelieving Jews understood our Lord by Gehenna to mean one thing, and the disciples another. No: our Lord seems to use Gehenna, in speaking to both, in the same sense, and both appear to have understood his meaning. Neither of them ever asked him what he meant by the damnation of hell. There appears to have been no need for this, for both derived their information from the Old Testament Scriptures. If this was the common source of their information concerning the punishment of Gehenna, they never could understand our Lord by it to mean a place of eternal misery, for it contained no such information. Those who assert that they did understand our Lord so, are bound to inform us where they got this knowledge, seeing it was not derived from this source. They must also rationally and scripturally account for the above facts, before such a view of the punishment of hell can be established. We have no hope of ever seeing this accomplished.-We have a number of additional facts, to prove that Gehenna is not used to express a place of endless punishment; but these will be more appropriately introduced, after we have considered all the passages of the New Testament where this word occurs. These we shall now attempt candidly to con sider.
ALL THE PASSAGES IN WHICH GEHENNA OCCURS, cor
NotwitHSTANDING the facts which have been stated, and the observations made, in proof that Gehenna in the New Testament does not signify a place of endless misery, yet this must be determined by a consideration of all the places where it occurs. The texts, with their respective contexts, must decide in what sense the writers used the term Gehenna. It is not material in what order we bring forward the passages. But as all the things said about it, were either addressed to the unbelieving Jews, or to the disciples, I shall begin with the texts in which the former were addressed.
The first then is Matth. xxiii. 15.--"Wo unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; for ye compass sea and land 10 make one proselyte; and when he is made, ye make him two-fold more ihe child of hell, (Gehenna) than yourselves.” This is one of the places in which. Dr. Campbell thinks that the term Gehenna is used figuratively. It is observed by Parkhurst, on the word Tioz, that “son of Gehenna, or hell, is one deserving of, or liable to hell." He considers the expression an Hebraism. It is evident from the context, that the words were spoken to the unbelieving Jews. They plainly imply, that our Lord considered them children of hell.' This, according to Parkhurst, means, “ deserving of, or liable to, bell.”—Their making their proselyte two-fold more
AN INQUIRY INTO THE WORD GEHENNA.
the child of hell than themselves, must therefore mean, that they made him two-fold more deserving of, or liable to hell, than themselves. It is easily seen here, that the whole depends upon what sense we aflix to the word hell, or Gehenna. If we say that it ineans a place of eternal misery, the sense evidently is, that the Pharisees made their proselyte two-fold more deserving cf, or liable to, eternal misery, than them. selves. But how is this sense of the word Gehenna 10 be proved? This ought not to be taken for granted as its sense. This would be assuming as true the very question under discussion. As there is nothing in the verse itself which decides this, we must have recourse to other places, in which the sense of Ge-henna is decided from the text and context, considered in connexion with the other circumstances mention-ed. This we shall find in the next passage, which. occurs in the same chapter.
In verse 33. it is said, addressing the same persons as in the preceding text, “ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell ?". As much dependance is placed on this passage to. prove eternal punishment in hell, I shall give it a ticular consideration. Indeed, if this passage does. not teach this doctrine, how can it be proved from any other! For this is the only passage of the New Testament, in which wicked men are threatened with the damnation of hell. If this text fails to support the doctrine, it must be proved from some other texts than those in which Gehenna or hell is used. Let it be then remarked, that the word damnation which occurs in this passage, simply means judgment, or punishment. Dr.Campbell and others translate the word punishment. See his note on Matth. xii. 40. If it were necessary, it could be easily shown that the same original word is rendered punishment in some other places of our com-mon version. The sense tben is, “ how can ye escape
the punishment of hell or Gehenna ?” The word damnation determines nothing about the place, the nature, or the duration of the punishment. It expresses punishment to the persons addressed; but all these things must be determined from some other sources of evidence, than the word damination. As in the preceding passage, the whole depends here on the sense we affix to the word Gehenna or hell. If we say that it means the place of eternal misery for the wicked, our Lord's meaning evidently is, "how can ye escape the punishment of eternal misery?” But here again observe, that this sense of the word must not be taken for granted. How are we then to decide in what sense our Lord used the term Gehenna in this passage? There are two ways at least in which we inay form a decision respecting this ; namely, an examination of the context in which this passage stands, and Scripture usage of the word Gehenna. No person can object to these rules of interpretation. On the contrary, they are such as every man of any intelligence highly approves.
ist, Then, let us examine the context in which these words stand. It is evident from verse 1. of the chapter, that what is contained in it, was addressed to the multitude, and to the disciples. . From verse 2, to 13. our Lord spoke to his disciples concerning the Scribes and Pharisees, and warned them against several evils in those men. But notice, that at verse 13. he begins a direct address to the Scribes and Pharisees, which he continues to the end of the chapter. That some of those men were present, seems evident, for the dis.. course has every appearance of a very pointed address to them. All must have noticed how often our Lord says to them, “wo!" or "alas! unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.” No man, who reads from verse 13, to 32. can help seeing in what a plain, forcible, and pointed manner, our Lord exposed their:
yrickedness and hypocrisy. He says to them in verse 32. “ fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.” Then immediately follow the words under consideration : "ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" – Two questions here present themselves for consideration Hou were these men to fill up the measure of their fathers ? And what damnation of hell was it which they could not escape ?
ist, How were these men to fill up the measure of their fathers? If we consult the context for an answer to this question, we find the following very plainly given us in verse 34.-"Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men and Scribes; and some of them ye shall kill and crucify, and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and per.. secute them from city to city." That this is a just answer to the question, I presume will not be disputed. Their fathers, our Lord told them, in verses 30, and 31. had killed the prophets, and they gave but too good evidence that they were the children of such fathers. The measure of their fathers they were to fill up, by their crucifying him, and persecuting those whom he was to send them, as described, verse 34. Compare also John xvi. 1-3, and 1 Thess. ii. 16.
2d, Wbat damnation of hell was it which those men' could not escape? Let us again consult the context for an answerio this question. If verse 34."answered the first question, verse 35. must answer the second. * That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel, unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar." That this is the true answer to the second question, is not easily denied. Those who believe the expression “ damnation of hell," means eternal misery, will readily admit, that my interpretation of the words, “ Gill