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will do something towards proving that aionios is here used in an endless sense.
7. Jude 7, is your last text. On this I will only ask 1. If endless misery be here intended, how could Jude say, "I will put you in remembrance though you once knew this?" How could they know it, for in Genesis and Zeph where the destruction of these cities is recorded, not a word is said respecting endless misery?2. These cities were set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance, &c; but if this vengeance is beyond this world, how could they be set forth? These cities were destroyed by fire from heaven, and this, Jude calls an eternal fire. Surely then, it cannot be in the spiritual world. 3. If the people of these cities were sent to an endless hell, why did God hide from Abraham what he was about to do? If you say he did not, I ask why the sacred historian has hidden it from us? The reason why the people are said to suffer is, because they, as well as their cities, perished by fire from hea
At the conclusion of your letter not a little uneasiness is discovered respecting 2. Thes. i. 9. And the argument by which you endeavor to redeem the text is singular as it is novel.—
Finding nothing in the connexion to favor your views, and being unable to answer my four questions, you first assert that aionios is the common word for endless. That it is often used in this sense is admitted; but according to its etymology and lexicographers, I am justified in asserting, that wherever it means endless, the connexion requires it, and that of itself it only means continued existence. Besides,
when the inspired writers would express the endless felicity of heaven, they use such words as endless, incorruptible, immortal, &c. words strictly unequivocal in their meaning; and when aionios is used, it is under circumstances which show it endless. This is the case with 2. Cor. iv. 17, 18, where temporal things are contrasted with spiritual, temporal afflictions with unfading glory. Now, the very contrast, together with the nature of things spiritual, shows them endless, so that these determine the sense of aionios. Show that the connexion of 2 Thes. i. 9, requires that aionios should be considered as endless, and you will gain your point. But this you cannot do; for if you could you would not have resorted to 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18, for proof. Therefore 'by every rule of sound criticism, we are bound' to say aionion destruction, is not an endless one.
As I have refuted all your positions respecting ainios, your quotation from Dwight, supposes a a case which does not exist.
I intended to bring forward some arguments from olam, its various renderings, and its translation by the lxx, and the use of aion and aionios by the christian fathers in the second, third and fourth centuries, but I must defer these for a future letter. I am sincerely,
OTIS A. SKINNER.
LETTER NO. IV.
BALTIMORE, Nov. 11, 1834.
To Rev. Otis A. Skinner:
Dear Sir-In consequence of a call to perform some ministerial duties at some distance from this city, I was deprived of a sight of the second and third numbers of the " Pioneer" till a late hour last night. I have just glanced over them, by which I perceive that you were too soon elated with the idea that I had given up some texts because I had not noticed your questions in my third letter. But I intend that your glorying in this respect shall not continue long. The fact is my third letter was written before I saw the first number of your paper; and this is the reason I have not reviewed your remarks. These shall be duly attended to, if spared, in my next communication. For the present, I would say, that I shall not attempt to answer all the trifling and unnecessary questions that you may ask, which can only darken and conceal the subject at issue from the public mind. I want truth brought out in as short and clear a manner as possible. I am ready to answer any interrogation that may be appropriate, or may cast light on the present controversy.This is precisely the course I wish you to pursue with me. I might ask you 500 questions concerning a subject, which, probably, could not be answered by any man living; but, would this be a proper reason why I should require you to relinquish the subject altogether? Cer
tainly not. In this paper, I shall attend to a question you ask me, in your first letter, respecting the use I have made of the word Gehenna. One would be ready to conclude, from reading your remarks, that I introduced this word into the present discussion; but, those who may read all the letters on both sides will see that you first used the word; however, as this is a matter of little, or no consequence, I shall say no more about it, but proceed to a consideration of the term, Gehenna.
The word Gehenna is taken from the two Hebrew words, Ghi, a valley, and Hinnom, the name of a person who once possessed it. This valley of Hinnom lay near Jerusalem, and had formerly been the place of those abominable sacrifices, wherein, the idolatrous Jews burned their children alive to Molech, Baal, or the Sun. See the accounts of those infernal impieties recorded in 2 Kings xxiii. 10; 2 Chron. xxviii. 3; Jer. vii. 31, 32; xix. 5, 6; xxxii. 35. A certain place in the valley was called Tophet from the Hebrew word tophet, a fire-stove, in which as some think, the Jews burned their children to Molech. Sometimes the valley itself is called the valley of Tophet. Cruden observes that it is thought "the name of Tophet is given to the valley of Hinnom, because of the sacrifices that were offered there to the god Molech, by beat of drum, which in Hebrew is called Toph. It was in this manner that these sacrifices were offered: The statue of Molech was of brass, hollow within, with its arms extended, and stooping a little forward. They lighted a great fire within the statue, and another before it. They put upon its arms the
child they intended to sacrifice, which soon fell into the fire at the foot of the statue, putting forth cries, as may easily be imagined. To stifle the noise of these cries and howlings, they made a great rattling of drums, and other instruments, that the spectators might not be moved with compassion at the clamours of these miserable victims. And this as they say, was the manner of sacrificing in Tophet." This valley was defiled by king Josiah, 2 King, xxiii. 10, and made a receptacle of the filth and the dead carcases of the city. Worms bred in the carcases, in great abundance, and fires were kept up continually to consume them. All these circumstances made it a place of the utmost horror and detestation to the imagination, so that it became a very appropriate emblem of hell. And the name of this place was afterwards frequently applied to the place of endless punishment, both by the Jews and our blessed Saviour. The term Gehenna occurs in the New Testament only twelve times, and is always rendered hell; however, for the convenience of the reader I shall cite all the words both in the Greek and the English. They are as follow-Matt. v. 22. eis ten gehennan tou puros, of hell-fire. Matt. v. 29. eis gehennan, into hell. Matt. v. 30. eis gehennan, into hell. Matt x. 28. en gehenne, in hell. Matt. xviii. 9. eis ten gehennan tou puros, into hell fire. Matt. xxiii. 15. gehennes, hell. Matt. xxiii. 33 tes. gehennes, hell. Mark ix. 43. eis ten gehennan, into hell. Mark ix. 45. eis ten gehennan, into hell. Mark ix. 47. eis ten gehennan, into hell. Luke xii. 5. eis ten gehennan, into hell. Jam. iii. 5. tes gehennes, of hell.