Page images

mation, to their hearers. They did this too, in addressing those who had the Old Testament in their hands; persons who were opposed to the doctrines they taught, and who were jealous of innovation. Moreover, the change of sense put on this word taken from their Scriptures, is for the purpose of threatening them with torment in a future state. And to add no more, such persons receive all this without a murmuring word at this alteration, or the dreadful punishment with which they are threatened. All this may possibly be true, but we must say, it is not very probable, nor ought it to be received until very conclusive evidence is produced. But it may surely be asked, from what source did Dr. Campbell learn, "that tophet or Gehenna came gradually to be used as an emblem of hell, and at length came to be confined to it?" From what he has said, it is very evident that it was not from the Old Testament. If it was used as an emblem of hell, and confined to it in the days of our Lord, it must have assumed this new sense, between the completion of the Old Testament writings, and the commencement of the gospel dispensation. If it began to assume this new sense before the Old Testament was completed, it had no authority from it; for Dr. Campbell himself declares, that Gehenna does not occur in this manner in the Old Testament. If this be true, and we think it indisputable, this new sense affixed to the word Gehenna, is not of divine, but of human origin: it rests on the authority of man, and not on the authority of God. I think this cannot be denied, unless it is proved that our Lord did use Gehenna to express the place of future torment for the wicked, and informed those to whom he spake, that this was the sense in which it was now to be understood. But is any thing like this to be found in all the New Testament, and is not this taking for granted the very thing which ought to be proved?

But further; we think it must be allowed, that the way Dr. Campbell says Gehenna came to assume this new sense, is extremely suspicious. Had it been of divine authority, it would not have come gradually to assume it. No; the sense would have been settled at once. But it seems from Dr. Campbell, that this new sense affixed to the word, was of slow process. It came, he says, "gradually to be used as an emblem of hell, and at last to be confined to it." At what time it began to be used in this sense, who had the honour of first using it in this way, how long before it came to be confined to it, and who completed it, we are not informed. The thing is barely asserted by Dr. Campbell. If any evidence of this is to be found, we must find it, if we can ourselves. We have been at some pains to find evidence of this, but our labours have been entirely fruitless. We have, to be sure, found it asserted that the Targums and the Apocrypha use the term Gehenna for a place of endless misery. But we are left in the dark, as to when, or by whom, or on what authority such a meaning was first given to Gehenna. If the writers of the Targums and the Apocrypha used Gehenna in this sense on their own authority, is this a sufficient foundation for our faith in such a doctrine? But it may be said, is it not evident that our Lord used Gehenna always, and indisputably in this new sense? It is certain, it is indisputable, that Dr. Campbell has asserted this, without so much as attempting to prove it. But surely this ought not to be received on the assertions of any man. Only let it be proved that our Lord used Gehenna in this new sense, and I am forever silent on the subject.

But Dr. Campbell has said, that, "in the Old Testament we do not find this place in the same manner mentioned." May I then be allowed to ask, if this place of torment for the wicked is not mentioned in this manner in the Old Testament, in what other man

ner do we find it mentioned? If it is not mentioned under the name Gehenna, by what other name is it called? He denies that it is called by the names Sheol, Hades, or Tartarus. Yea, he denies that the Hebrew, Greek, or English language affords a name for this place of torment. In his Dissertation, already quoted, he thus writes in regard to the state of the dead. "It is plain that in the Old Testament the most profound silence is observed in regard to the state of the deceased, their joys or sorrows, happiness or misery. It is represented to us rather by negative qualities than by positive; by its silence, its darkness, its being inaccessible, unless by preternatural means, to the living, and their ignorance about it. Thus much in general seems always to have been presumed concerning it; that it is not a state of activity adapted for exertion, or indeed for the accomplishment of any important purpose, good or bad. In most respects, however, there was a resemblance in their notions on this subject, to those of the most ancient heathen." It is obvious from this, that he did not believe, that either the idea of a place of torment, or the name for it was known under the Old Testament. Besides, we have seen in a quotation of his, chap. i. sect. 3. that the Jews, from their intercourse with the heathen, learned the notion of punishment in a future state. He therefore not only denies that the Jews had any knowledge of this from the Old Testament, but he informs us of the source whence they derived their information. Either he must be greatly mistaken in his statements, or endless punishment in hell is a heathen notion, and ought to be rejected by all Christians. But I have to ask further, did our Lord speak to the Jews about Gehenna, in a sense it had not in all their sacred books, but in that given it by mere human authority? Did he indeed use a Scripure word in a sense which man's wisdom teacheth,

laying aside the sense which the Holy Spirit teacheth? Are we to believe, that he who said to the Jews, "full well ye reject the commandment of the Lord, that ye may keep your own traditions," thus give them countenance by his example? Admitting, for argument's sake, that Gehenna was made an emblem of future torment, I ask, by what name was it called before this new sense was affixed to the word Gehenna? Dr. Campbell says, that Gehenna came gradually to mean the place of future punishment, and at last came to be confined to it. He also says, that in this manner it is not used in the Old Testament. Before this term was then used to express a place of endless misery, was such a place known, and what word or phrase did men use to designate it; or, was it a nameless place before Gehenna was used as an emblem of it? If so, how could they speak about it? But it seems men came gradually, in process of time, to use Gehenna as an emblem of this place of torment, before they had any revelation or knowledge about such a place. We thought places and things were always first known, and then names for them followed; but here the matter seems to have been very different. In fact, there is something here which will not bear examination. I ask again, why were not men content to speak of it by the name God had given it, if indeed he had said any thing about it? Or did men first invent this place of torment, and then change the sense of the word Gehenna to suit it, or be an emblem of it? Unless it is proved that our Lord did use Gehenna in this new sense, will it not follow that such a place of torment is not mentioned in the Bible by the name Sheol, Hades, Tartarus, or Gehenna? If it is proved that he used Gehenna in this sense, does it not follow that he adopted an idea of men's own invention, and made it a doctrine to be believed under the gospel dispensation? It is certain, if Dr. Camp

bell be correct, that he incorporated a heathen notion with his religion, and has made it a principal article of belief to all his followers. It may just be added, how could Dr. Campbell with truth say, that tophet came gradually to be used as an emblem of hell, the place of future torment, "and at length to be confined to it?" It might indeed be made an emblem of this by the Jews, but could not be confined to it; for, in reading the Old Testament Scriptures, they could not but understand it in a very different manner. Let any one consult the places where it occurs, and see if it could be so understood by them. If they did, it was a great misunderstanding of the passages; for Dr. Campbell himself declares, that in this sense it does not occur in the Old Testament.

4th, Let it be noticed, that although Dr. Campbell declares in the above quotation, that Gehenna docs not occur in the Old Testament in the sense of a place of torment for the wicked, yet he gives us the following information about it.-He says, "it is originally a compound of the two Hebrew words, n ge hinnom, the valley of Hinnom, a place near Jerusalem, of which we hear first in the book of Joshua xv. 8. It was there that the cruel sacrifices of children were made by fire to Moloch, the Ammonitish idol, 2 Chron. xxiii. 10. and that, as is supposed, from the noise of drums, toph signifying a drum, a noise raised on purpose to drown the cries of the helpless infants."Here, then, is the origin of Gehenna in the New Testament, stated by Dr. Campbell himself. We see, though it does not occur in the sense of a place of torment for the wicked, yet it does occur in the Old Testament in some sense. What this sense is, and what it is there made an emblem of by divine authority, ought to be carefully considered, and not departed from, unless very substantial reasons are assigned, arising from its usage in the New Testament. We do

« PreviousContinue »