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that awful figure-Gehenna. The whole chapter therefore, shows that Christ was speaking of the judgment at the overthrow of Jerusalem; and that Gehenna was figurative. The judgment should come before they had gone over the cities of Israel.
It only remains to consider the difficulty arising from the translation. 1. The word kill (apokteino.) This must be translated to agree with the power of the Jews; and as they had not the power of taking life, it cannot properly be rendered kill. They could persecute, scourge and deliver up to the Romans, but they could not kill. See John xviii. 31. where it is said, they had not this power. Apokterno then, should be rendered to torture or afflict, which is nearly its sense in Romans vii. 11; 2 Cor. iii. 6. 2. The word soul (psuhe.) That this means simply the animal life, is evident from a verse following (v. 39) the one under consideration, where it is twice so rendered. See also Mark iii. 4; Matt xvi. 25, 26; Luke xvii. 28; John xii. 25. Giving psuhe this translation, avoids the absurdity of saying, God would destroy an immortal principle. Fear not them, who are only able to torture the body, but fear him, who is able to destroy the life and body in Gehenna; that is, destroy the whole man. This agrees with the expression, cast the whole body into Gehenna.
As Matt. xviii. 9 is a repetition of what has been considered, we need only remark, that it speaks of being cast with two eyes or the whole body into Gehenna. The same is true of Mark ix. 43, 45 and Luke xii. 5. They are repetitions of language which we have already explained.
If we turn to Matt. xxiii. 33. we shall find these views confirmed: "Ye serpents ye generation of vipers! how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" The word hell is Gehenna; and that it was applied to Jews is evident from the verses preceding: "Ye are the children of them that killed the Prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers." This is the only instance, where our Lord ever threatened the Jews with the damnation of Gehenna. What this damnation was, we learn from the verses following, where Christ declares "that upon the Jews should come all the righteous blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias; and affirms, that the whole should come upon that generation. Here then, is one instance where, without doubt, Gehenna signifies temporal punishment. All these hings-the damnation of Gehenna, and all the woes denounced in this chapter, should come on that generation. Is not this a successful contradiction of your position?
I will now call your attention to the instances, where Gehenna was addressed to the disciples. There are nine of these. To present them in their true light, it is necessary to observe, that the disciples were often encouraged to bear with patience their trials, by reference to the approaching calamities of the Jews, and the rewards which awaited believers in Christ. And nothing could be more natural,than such encouragements; for what were the afflictions of the Christians compared with the awful judgments that overwhelmed the Jews? As these judgments were called the damnation of hell, it is rational to suppose, that our Lord would
refer to this damnation, when addressing his disciples and exhorting them to faithfulness.
I shall first consider the texts which refer to this. They are Matt. v. 29, 30; x. 28; xviii. 9. Mark ix. 43, 45 and Luke xii. 5. There are certain phrases in these texts, which cannot be reconciled with the idea, that a future endless hell is intended. For instance-it is profitable that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell-destroy soul and body in hell—enter life maimed-having two hands to go into hellworm dieth not and fire is not quenched. These expressions cannot be literally understood; and they give to the texts a figurative signification. Now if the hand, foot, eye and body, together with the worm and fire, are to be understood figuratively, why should not Gehenna also? If it be not, it differs from all other places, where it occurs in the New Testament. Besides, the worm and fire are both borrowed from Gehenna in the old Testament; and as they are figures, Gehenna must be.
In Matt. v. 29, 30, the Savior speaks twice of casting the whole body into hell. Now as nothing is said of spirit, but as body is mentioned, it seems impossible to resist the conviction, that Gehenna has no reference to endless wo. Whole body! The body is not cast into a spiritual, future hell. This we know. We know therefore, that Gehenna cannot in this place mean endless suffering. Understand it then, as used by Jeremiah, and there is a propriety in its meaning, which none could mistake and a power which none could resist.
Having considered all the instances where Gehenna is used as a figure of judgment upon the Jews, I will briefly notice the three remaining cases, where it occurs. In Matt. v. 22, it is used in a manner which clearly teaches its meaning. Jesus speaks of three sins; and in describing their punishment refers to three kinds of punishment among the Jews-the Judgment, Council and Gehenna. The 1st was beheading; the 2d stoning; and the third burning alive in Gehenna. Now as he spoke of three sins of different magnitude, and employed three figures to represent their punishment, it is evident that he had no reference to endless misery. We might as well say, by Judgment and Council he intended to teach endless wo, as by Gehenna. But as none believe the former teach endless wo, why believe the latter does? Besides, the first sin, bore the same proportion to the second, that the second did to the third; and so it must be with the punishment. But where is the proportion between endless and limited misery?Gehenna then, cannot here signify endless punishment.
On Matt. xxiii. 15, I will only say, fold more the child of hell," must mean, doubly deserving the punishment of Gehenna. What this punishment was can be learnt from the woes denounced in the chapter-woes that were to come on the generation then living. See v. 36.
James iii. 6, is the last text. "The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body,and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell." The author of these words was a Jew, and wrote to believing Jews.
To these no figure could be employed to express greater wickedness and misery, than the valley of Hinnom. Therefore, when he would show the evils of the tongue, he borrows a figure from this place, as it was the most abominable of any known to the Jews.
Thus, dear sir, do we see, that not a single instance can be found, where Gehenna means endless punishment. By adopting this view of the word, we can rationally account for the fact, that it was only used by Christ and James, and that it is not to be found, in the Gospel of John. Christ and James addressed Jews, and hence they spoke of Gehenna. John wrote his Gospel for the Gentiles, and thefore says nothing of Gehenna. Paul was the Apostle of the Gentiles-hence the reason that he never preached Gehenna. If this be not proof, that the present use of the word was unknown in the Apostolic age, I know not the nature of proof.
You say, the Gentiles were unacquainted with the word. Unacquainted! When Paul preached among them twenty or thirty years, and wrote fourteen epistles!! Let a Methodist Minister go among a people ignorant of the word hell, and how long do you fancy, they would remain thus? If the Gentiles were ignorant of Gehenna, and Paul declared the whole counsel of God, he would have instructed them respecting it, had he believed it to be a place of undying wo. They were ignorant of Christ, repentance and salvation, and he taught them.
The word hell not once used to the Gentiles! And yet the Gospel spread among them as on wings of light. Say not then, that our silence respecting hell, has a licentious tendency. Fi