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from the Old Testament, where a prophet of the Lord, was ever sent to any people to warn them against eternal misery in a place called hell? Yea, I go further, and ask, if any man can produce a single instance where a false prophet ever endeavoured to make gain to himself, by the doctrine of eternal misery? I do not find that either true or false prophets did so under that dispensation, or that this doctrine was known and believed by a single individual. As men were not threatened with such a punishment, so none were ever congratulated as being saved from it. As it was never held up to deter men from sin while ignorant of God, so it was never urged on believers to stimulate them to gratitude and obedience. Is it possible then, that this doctrine could be believed, yet all remain silent on the subject? If no revelation was given about it, how could men avoid such a punishment? If a revelation was given, how is it accounted for, that it is not mentioned by one of the Old Testament writers? If it is mentioned by any of them under any other name than Sheol, I am ignorant of it; nor is this even pretended by those who believe the doctrine. I am fully aware, that there are two or three passages commonly quoted. For example, Dan. xii. 2. is perhaps the most plausible that can be adduced:-"and many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." All I shall say of this text here, is, that were I fully convinced that the doctrine of eternal misery was true, I never could quote this passage in support of it. To assign my reasons here, would be aside from the present investigation.
5th, Another fact deserving our notice, is, that the living in speaking of their dead friends, never speak as if they were to be separated from them after death, but always as associated with them. This appears
to have been the case, whether the persons were good or bad. An instance to the contrary, cannot be produced, where a person ever expressed himself, as if he expected after death to be separated, and separated from his friends forever. But it is well known, that persons in our day, not only expect to be separated from many of their friends forever, but even say, that they shall give their hearty amen to their everlasting condemnation. Yea, it is even said, that the happiness of those in heaven is to be greatly enhanced, by their looking down on those in eternal tor-ments, in seeing the smoke of it ascend forever and ever. This was once the current popular divinity, and though not yet altogether out of use, yet I am happy to say, the more thinking and sober-minded. reject it.
But, it may be asked, is it true, that persons under the Old Testament expected to be associated with their deceased friends after death? I do not recollect. a single instance to the contrary, and shall here, in proof of the assertion, refer to Jahn's Biblical Archæ-ology, p. 234.
To this it may probably be objected, that associa-tion with their friends after death, only referred to their bodies mingling in the dust together, and had no reference to their spirits after death. Admitting this to be true, permit me to ask, can any proof be adduced, that their spirits were separated from each other after death? As I am unable to adduce any proof, I request those who say that they were so separated, to produce evidence of this from the Old Tes-. tament. I shall give it all due consideration. At any rate, if the Old Testament is silent on the subject it ill becomes us to assert that such was the case. Its very silence is to me an indication that no such idea was entertained in those days. If it was, it is somewhat surprising that no person ventured to express it.
And if it is not expressed by any of the Old Testament writers, how is it known that such an idea was entertained by them.
One thing we think must be admitted by all who have read the Old Testament with attention. It is this good people in those days, do not appear to have had the fears and anxieties of mind which haunt men's minds now, about their children, their relations, their neighbours, and a great part of mankind, as all going to a place of endless misery. You may read the Old Testament, until your eyes grow dim with age, before you find any thing like this there. How is this silence to be accounted for, if the doctrine of endless misery was known and believed? If by Sheol they understood the same as men do now by the word hell, is it possible, that good people in those days could feel so easy on such a subject? Whatever ideas they attached to this word we think it is certain, they did not mean by it a place of endless misery.
The question is likely then to be asked, seeing that Sheol or hell does not mean a place of eternal misery, what does it mean? What is the idea the Old Testament writers affixed to this word? From the remarks already made, we think something has been said in answer to this question.-By Sheol, seems evidently to be meant, what Job calls, chap. xxx. 33,"The house appointed for all the living." And it is the same to which Solomon alludes, when he says, Eccles. ii. 20.-"all go to one place." The question still returns, What place is this? What place it is, may be learned further from the following passages. In 2 Sam. xii. 23. where David is speaking of his dead child, he says, "I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." This, it may be said, only provokes the question-where was his child? In heaven, most people would answer, and some have quoted this text to prove the salvation of all infants. Nothing more, I
conceive, is meant, nor could be rationally inferred from this text than this,-that his child was in the state of the dead or in Sheol, and David, impressed with a sense of his own mortality intimates, that he would soon follow him to the same place. So Jacob speaks of himself in a similar way in reference to his son Joseph. But further, we find in 1 Sam. xxviii. 19. Samuel thus speaks to Saul, "tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me." Where was this? It may be asked,-When Saul desired the woman to bring up Samuel, was it from heaven he expected him to come? Surely not; for in this case Samuel would have been brought down, not up. Was it then from hell, the place of eternal misery, he expected him to come? This cannot be admitted, for neither Saul, nor any one else, ever thought that Samuel was there. From what place then did Saul wish the woman to bring Samuel? I answer, from Sheol, the same place to which Jacob said he would go down mourning to Joseph. The same place in which the Saviour's soul was not left. If Saul and his sons went to hell, a place of endless misery, it is certain Samuel was there before him. And it is equally certain, that if Samuel was in heaven, Saul and his sons were there soon after with him. But what appears simply to be meant is this,-Samuel was in Sheol, or the state of the dead, and the issue of the battle proved, that Saul and his sons were with Samuel, and with all the dead who had gone before them. As to the woman's having power to bring Samuel from Sheol, we do not believe any such thing. We believe that she was an impostor, but this is not the place for assigning our reasons, or entering further into this part of the history of Saul. We have merely referred to it as show. ing what were the popular opinions in those days on the subject before us.
AN INQUIRY INTO THE WORD SHEOL.
We are aware, that it may be objected to the above investigation, that future existence was as little known under the Old Testament, as the doctrine of endless misery; and therefore we might just as well deny future existence, as endless misery, from the mere silence of the Old Testament writers. To this I would answer that we do not believe that future existence was altogether unknown under the Old Testament. We cannot, here, however, give our reasons for thinking so. But admitting it true, the objector has then to prove that endless misery in hell was brought to light by the Gospel. But is this any where declared in the New Testament? That the ancient Jews had some knowledge of a future state of existence we refer to Jahn's Biblical Archæology, Section 314.