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What then is the ultimate appeal, in a case of this nature ? It will be allowed, I suppose, by all reasonable men, that the scriptural writers employed language according to its usual meaning at the period when they wrote. A dispute, however, exists between those who affirm and those who deny the future and endless punishment of the wicked, whether the usus loquendi of the Scriptures is of such a nature as to confirm the doctrine maintained by the former. No texts that can be brought will satisfy the latter, so long as they believe that the usages of ancient times, as to the language in question, were contrary to what the former class allege. In this state of things, then, it would seem desirable to consult other books besides the Bible-books written about the same period as the scriptural ones, and presenting us with the usual views of those times in regard to the great subject before us.
Should we find now, after such consultation, that the common belief of the Jews to whom the Scriptures were primarily addressed, was such as now generally prevails, i. e. that endless punishment was a matter of common belief among them; then we must come to the conclusion, either that the New Testament writers meant to teach the same doctrine, or else that they have, in an inexplicable manner, left their writings in such a state, that the great mass of men have misunderstood and must naturally misunderstand them. Why did not the sacred writers explicitly, plainly, purposely, and avowedly, correct the common opinion among the Jews in respect to this subject ? Honesty and fidelity would seem to have demanded this of them, if this opinion had been such as some allege it to have been.
The book of Enoch, as we have seen in a preceding number of this Miscellany, was composed by a Jew, unusually familiar with the Old Testament Scriptures, and probably having some acquaintance with those of the New. It was composed in all probability during the latter half of the first century of the Christian era. It was written by a serious man, and for serious purposes. The reward of the righteous and the punishment of the wicked are the great theme of the author's work. It may therefore be of some importance to discover what are the views of this writer respecting the future punishment of the wicked. It will help us to know what were the usual sentiments of his time, cherished by persons who reflected on the subject of religion.
I may remark also, that the manner of the writer is such, when he speaks of this subject, as to shew that in his view it is not a controverted one-at least, that only mockers at all religion controverted it. Ile evidently expects, that his readers will not call in question what he says about the nature or duration of the punishment to be inflicted upon the wicked. Such a position of course indicates, that he utters only a common sentiment on this topic; and if so, then we can get some light from what he says, concerning the religious opinions of his time.
It is not my design to repeat all which the writer says, on the subject before us. To do so, would be to make larger cxtracts from his book than is necessary; and I should, moreover, be in danger of wearying the patience of the reader. I shall therefore omit the mere declarations, almost without number, that God will punish the wicked and reward the righteous; for these, although they have a general and even important bearing on our subject at large, still do not determine the point how much or how long the wicked are to be punished. Let us confine our attention, then, to those passages which cast some light on the subject last named,
I begin with the author's denunciation of the wicked in chap. 6: 5 seq. “Ye wicked in heart, no peace shall be to you! Therefore your days shall you curse, and the years of your lives shall perish ; perpetual execration shall be multiplied, and you shall not obtain mercy.”
The leader of the sinning angels is thus sentenced by the Most High: "Bind Azazyel hand and foot ; cast him into darkness there shall he remain for ever ; cover his face that he may not see the light; and in the great day of judgment let him be cast into the fire ;" chap. 10 : 6 seq.
In respect to the giants, the supposed progeny of sinning angels and the daughters of men, Michael is ordered to “bind them for seventy generations underneath the earth, even to the day of judgment and of consummation, until the judgment, which will last for ever, be completed ; then shall they be taken away into the lowest depths of the fire in torments, and in confinement shall they be shut up for ever;" chap. 10 : 15 seq.
Again, in another place, the sinning angels are told by Enoch, acting by special commission from God (so the book represents him) : “ Judgment has been passed upon you; your request [for pardon) will not be granted to you ; from this time forward never shall you ascend into heaven;" chap 14: 3 seq. Again : “ Never shall you obtain peace;" chap. 16: 5.
Afterwards Enoch is represented as taken by his conducting angel to see the place where the souls of the wicked are kept. Of them it is said : “Abundant is their suffering until the time of the great judgment, the castigation, and the torment of those who continually execrate, whose souls are punished and bound there for ever;" 22:12. Soin in 22 : 14, “ Their souls shall not be annihilated in the day of judgment, neither shall they arise out of this place."
In chap 38: 2 seq. it is said of the wicked : “ Better for them would it be, had they never been born. . . . Impious inen shall be afflicted in presence of the righteous and the elect . .. Nor thenceforward shall any obtain commiseration from the Lord of spirits."
Chap. 39 : 2,“ Never shall they (the wicked] obtain mercy, saith the Lord of spirits.” Chap. 40: 4, " Darkness shall be their habitation, and worms shall be their bed ; nor from their bed shall they hope to be again raised, because they exalted not the name of the Lord of spirits.” And again in 48:11, " In his presence shall they (the wicked] fall, and not be raised up again; nor shall there be any one to take them out of his hands to lift them up; for they have denied the name of the Lord of spirits, and of his Messiah." In 49: 11 is the like declaration : “ He who repents not before hiin shall perish. Henceforth I will not have mercy upon them, saith the Lord of spirits."
In chap. 54 : 8 it is said of the paramours of the apostate angels: “The days of their life shall be consumed, but the days of their error [i. e, in which they will suffer the consequences of their error] shall be innumerable.” In 66: 9, jo it is said of those who have denied the Lord of spirits : “They will perceive their condemnation, day by day and as the inflammation of their bodies shall be great, so shall their spirits undergo a change for ever."
In chap. 67: 2 seq., Michael and Raphael are represented as beholding the punishment of the apostate angels; then Michael exclaims : “ The severity of the judgment, of the secret judgment of the angels, the endurance of that severe jndgment which has taken place and been made permanent, who is capable of beholding, without being melted at the will bring upon
sight of it? . . . . The Lord of spirits them a secret judgment for ever and ever ... they alone shall receive their own judgment for ever and ever."
In the like manner sinners among men are denounced : “Wo unto them who build up iniquity and oppression, and who lay the foundation of fraud; for suddenly shall they be subverted, and never obtain peace:" 93: 6. And again in the sequel, v. 10: “ When you fall, he will not shew you mercy; your Creator will rejoice in your destruction.”
In chap. 94: 4 it is said of the wicked who have bound themselves by an oath to do evil: “The remedy is far removed from you on account of your sins.” In 96: 18 seq. it is said respecting sinners: “Know that you are destined to the day of destruction ; hope not that sinners shall live; in process
you shall die, for you are not marked for redemption ... To you there shall be no peace; you shall surely die suddenly.” Again : “Wo to you who build your houses by the labour of others ... with the stone of crime; I tell you that you shall not obtain peace ;” 97:13.
So in chap. 97: 7 seq. “Wo to you, ye sinners, ... in the flame of a blazing fire shall you be burned.” Chap. 102: 5, “But you, ye sinners, are for ever accursed ; to you there shall be no peace.” More at large in 103:5; “ Has it not been shown to them (to sinners], that their evil deeds shall become their greatest torment, when their souls shall be made to descend to the receptacle of the dead? Into darkness, into the snare, and into the flame which shall burn to the great judgment, shall their spirits enter; and the great judgment shall take effect for ever and ever. Wo to you, for to you shall be no peace."
Of the righteous it is said in 104: 3, " You shall not be found like sinners; and eternal condemnation shall be far from you, so long as the world exists." That is, the righteous shall not suffer eternal condemnation, as the wicked do ; this shall never be their lot, so long as the world endures.
Again, chap. 105: 21, “Wait . . . until evil doers be consumed, . . . until sin pass away; for their names (those of the wicked) shall be blotted out of the holy books, their seed shall be destroyed, and their spirits slain . . . . In the flame of fire there is the clamour of exclamation, of wo, and of great suffering.” Who will not here spontaneously call to mind, that “weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth,"
which the Saviour declares shall come upon those “ who are cast into outer darkness ?" Indeed, in a subsequent verse (v. 28) the writer says of the wicked : “ They shall be cast into darkness."
Such is the view which the author of the Book of Enoch has given of the future punishment of the wicked. Of the passages
which relate to this subject, I have, as I intimated at the commencement of these extracts, selected only a small part. Even of those which either directly or indirectly announce the endless doom of the wicked, I have not transcribed all. But so many have now been presented, that I cannot help thinking it would be irrational and exceedingly unfair, to deny that the writer of the book before us believed in the doctrine of eternal punishment. I do not see how it is in the power of human language to convey
this idea, if he has not most explicitly and undeniably conveyed it.
The intelligent and considerate reader will not fail to note, that the doctrine in question is not made here to depend merely on the use of the words for ever, or for ever and
It is expressed in a great variety of ways, so great, that no room seems to be left for any uncertainty as to the purpose of the author's mind.
“ No pardon shall be given them;" “ they shall not arise out of their place” [of punishment); " it would be better for them had they never been born;" “they shall not be lifted up from their bed of worms and distress ;" “ they shall perish;" “ the Lord will not have mercy upon them;" " the days of their error [i. e. of punishment for error] shall be innumerable;" “the remedy is removed far from them on account of their sins ;" "
they are not marked for redemption ;" “ they shall have no peace;”.“ the great judgment shall take effect upon them for ever and ever. More numerous still are the declarations, that their torment or punishment shall last “ for ever and ever," and that “they shall never have peace.”
Such is the fearful array of comminations against the wicked, in the book before us. If we add to these the often and every where repeated threars, in general terms, of judgment, condemnation, punishment, chastisement, and suffering, it will be evident beyond all doubt, certainly beyond all reasonable contradiction, how the writer of the book of Enoch thought and felt in regard to the subject under consideration.