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Mr. Balfour's next edition of his Second Inquiry will inform us that it consisted in the immense wealth, which the pagan world carried away from the plundered cities of Judea.
Equally ridiculous is his disposal of the passage, which speaks of the devil and his angels. He makes the devil to mean the Jews. But who were they on the left hand on whom the curse was thundered? They also were Jews. If Jews and the devil are synonymous here, we may read it, Depart, ye cursed Jews, into the fire prepared for the Jews and his angels, or, Depart, you cursed devil, into the fire prepared for the devil and his angels. And then according to this who were the devil's angels? "The emissaries of the Jews," says Mr. W. Very well. But who were the Jews' emissaries? The Jews were too much reduced in power and influence in the world, long before this, to have under them a class of men by this name, a class of men for whom a fire was prepared with themselves.
But they have made their most shiftless evasion of the passage-These shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal. They deny that eternal life has any reference to anything enjoyed in the future world, but they make it the joy in the Holy Ghost, experienced by Christians in this world. But if it be nothing more, how can it be represented as a reward for righteous conduct? It is no more than what the righteous already had before these formalities of the judgment. The Universalist interpretation of this passage amounts to this These, that is the Jews, and all pagan enemies of the gospel, shall go into the punishment which was inflicted by the Roman army on Jerusalem, figuratively called everlasting punishment; and the righteous shall go away into that state of happiness, in which they always have been since their conversion, figuratively called eternal life. And then you will ask, what means that word everlasting? The punishment is held up as terrible because everlasting? And you are told it means the everlasting reproach, that rests upon that nation till this day. But you will still inquire, how that reproach now existing, could be a terror to individuals then living, and
how the wicked men of the all nations gathered there, could have their punishment, their everlasting punishment, in the infamy which came upon the Jews? But these questions will be asked in vain.
Once more. The language before us is that of a judicial sentence. The words-Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels, are taken from the mouth of a judge uttering sentence at the close of a trial— which circumstance of itself excludes the figurative interpretation put upon it. Judges are not wont to give sentence in poetry or hyperbole. The nature of the case requires that the sentence of the law be expressed with the greatest possible exactness and precision. That every word be so measured as, to express the thing intended, and no more. And the general practice of courts correspon with this rule. Whenever you read a solemn sentence of death pronounced by our courts you read language framed with the most studied precision, at the farthest remove from all metaphor or exaggeration. The judge is seen to speak as if from the consciousness that the condemnation which, as the organ of the law, he utters, has itself a weight which it is far from desirable to aggravate by the swell of turgid phraze. If there is any occasion when such rhetorical expedients are utterly inadmissible, not to say unnatural and ridiculous, it is that of a judicial sentence. A judge may use what style of language his feelings dictate, when laboring to produce an impression on the criminal, and on the spectators, by a statement of the grounds of the condemnation. But when he comes to the simple utterance of the last voice of the law, he of necessity falls into language the most naked and literal, that can be found. Statutes written in poetry, would not be a greater solecism, than hyperbole in a judicial sentence. But in the verse before us we have the judge of all nations, uttering sentence after trial, from his throne of glorya sentence touching the weal or woe of all nations—and surely if any conceivable occasion could require the language to be used according to its most obvious meaning, it must be this. And yet our authors will have us understand it all as the most
highly wrought hyperbole or unnatural metaphor. They make the word "depart” mean to remain, and be destroyed in Jerusalem, while christians depart by flight-and the phrase "come ye blessed," mean to flee to the mountains for your lives,— the word "everlasting" to mean only for a time, and the word "fire" to mean the reproach endured by the posterity of those accursed in Jerusalem's destruction-"the devil and his angels" to mean only the Jews and their imagined emissaries. Is it conceivable that the Judge of the world has wrapt his most solemn sentence in such hieroglyphic dress? Suppose a judge of one of our courts were to pronounce sentence of imprisonment for the limited time of ten years; and instead of giving the exact time, should say, everlasting imprisonment, because ten years is a very long period to endure imprisonment, what would you say of the justice, nay of the sanity of such a judge? You see at once what would be the effect of using such a figure, in such a sentence. Though the word, everlasting, may in some kinds of composition be used in a metaphorical sense-it cannot be, and it never is so used in a solemn sentence of the law.
But I cannot longer dwell on this topic. When a mind has become so sophisticated as to find satisfaction in such evasions of plain truth, there is little encouragement to offer reasons. But with every candid reader the appeal is lodged whether there is not incontrovertible proof that this chapter treats of the final judgment—whether the proof in the case can be evaded without a resort to methods of interpretation which go to unsettle all laws of language and all principles of reasoning. Who would be willing on such a shiftless plank to embark his eternal all and launch upon the shoreless ocean!
THE PLACE OF FUTURE PUNISHMENT, OR THE MEANING OF THE WORDS TRANSLATED HELL. THE MEANING OF SHEOL.
If it were impossible to show that the scriptures speak of a place, in which future punishment will be inflicted, the fact would not invalidate the proof exhibited in the previous chapters. The fact that the laws of the State do not designate the place where murderers shall be hung, does not make it less certain that they are to be hung in some place. But if we show that the bible does speak of a place where execution is done upon the wicked in the future world, that involves the proof of future punishment. This I trust will be satisfactorily shown. The words translated hell, are Sheol and Gehenna, from the Hebrew,and Hades and Tartarus, or rather the verb of which Tartarus is the root from the Greek. My first inquiry will be as to the meaning of the word Sheol. This word though often used in the Old Testament is seldom translated hell, and more seldom has that meaning. Its primary and most common signification, is that of grave, place of the dead, place of departed spirits. Nor is it strange that a word having such a primary meaning, should come to be used occasionally in such a different sense. For it is no more than what has befallen every other word, that is used as a name for spiritual and eternal things. Human language is originally formed by giving names ideas, gained by the senses, and by the mind's own consciousness while using and combining these ideas. But the senses have no cognizance of the objects of the spiritual and eternal world. And, therefore, language in its original formation has no names for these objects. The makers of language never saw the objects, and have given them no names. When therefore a de
scription of eternal things is undertaken, it is necessarily done by the use of borrowed language, i. e. words formed to designate ideas which arise from the intercourse of the senses with the objects of this world, are transferred to set forth spiritual ideas that are imagined to have some resemblance to the first. The mind seizes on some supposed analogy, between an object of sense and an object of revelation, and gives the name of the first to the latter. So all the names of the place of future punishment originated; so the names of the place of future happiness were made. Heaven originally meant the visible expanse, or firmament above. And for the want of a better name, came to be used for the unseen abode of the blessed. Nor can we speak about the perfections of God without using words in a like secondary sense. We ascribe to him bodily organs and modes of thought like to those of men, not because he really has them, but because such is the poverty of human language, and the contracted sphere of human ideas, that we cannot conduct our reasonings without the help of such supposed analogy. This is a settled principle of language which no one disputes in its general form. And the fact that hell as a place of punishment is not the primary meaning of sheol, no more weakens the proof that in some instances it has that meaning, than the fact that the place of future happiness was not primarily meant by heaven, proves that that word is never used in that sense. Yet Mr. B. ignorantly or willingly overlooking this principle, says, [Inquiry p. 17.] "It follows of course (from the admission of orthodox writers that sheol and hades did not originally signify a place of misery) that, wherever these words are used in Scripture, though translated by the word hell, we ought not to understand a place of misery to be meant by the inspired writers." This indeed is a mighty conclusion to draw from such premises. So you might say, because the word translated heaven, did not originally signify a place of happiness, wherever the word is used we ought not to understand that a place of happiness is meant. Such are the philological principles of the man who astonishes the natives by