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But let it be admitted, that thus far no certain conclusion in respect to its sig. nification has been obtained. Examine it in other connexions, where the meaning is more decisively fixed. Such an instance is found in the eighteenth chapter of the same gospel. “ Wherefore, if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire." A part of the language here used has already been explained; the remainder demands our attention. To enter into life is to enter into heaven. Life is often used in this sense.
6. These shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.” 66 And they that are in their graves, shall come forth, some to the resurrection of life.” “I am the way, the truth and the life," the author of eternal happiness. “ Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life," unto eternal happiness. In this place, it can have no other
import. It cannot mean the present life, for on that the persons who are addressed have already entered; it camot denote any of the enjoyments of this life, of which men will fail unless they sacrifice a right hand or a right eye : for it is said to be better for them to renounce these present objects of affection and desire, rather than to fail of entering into life; plainly implying, that they are not the same: nor does it mean, to enter into the kingdom of God, merely as respects its temporal benefits. It may, and doubtless does mean, to enter into the kingdom of God, when that kingdom is viewed as extending beyond the grave. In this sense, to enter into the kingdom of heaven, is to enter into eternal happi
But if it procures nothing but temporal blessings, and is not indissolubly connected with eternal happiness, to enter into life cannot be a synonymous expression. For, in addition to what has been said, professing the name of Christ did not secure the primitive disciples from losing their lives in as horrid forms as they did, who perished at the seige of Jerusalem. Most of the apostles suffered martyrdom Nor did all the unbelieving Jews perish in the overthrow of their capital. Yet
it seems that entering into life is mentioned as absolute security, and as the only adequate security against being cast into hell or everlasting fire, expressions here used interchangeably. Upon the phrase, “ everlasting fire,” sufficient will be said in a subsequent lecture on the duration of future punishment. To that I must refer for additional evidence, that Gehenna is the name of a place of torment in the next
If my hearers should then be satisfied that everlasting implies a proper eternity, the controversy is setiled. Endless fire cannot be the name of any temporal calamity. But the meaning is satisfactorily determined without such corroboration, if to enter into life denotes entering into heaven, or becoming an heir of glory. For the passage under review contains this sentiment;-If any objects of affection or desire lead you into sin, renounce them, for it is better for you to obtain eternal happiness, having surrendered the pleasures of this life, than to be cast into hell, after having possessed them. But the evidence on this subject is not yet exhausted.. Indeed, the following passage in the tenth chapter of Matthew, with the parallel one in Luke, more clearly fixes the meaning than
any I have yet cited. “And fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him, which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Universalists contend, that by the soul is here meant the vital principle. But if this is true, while hell denotes no more than some temporal punishment, we shall have the absurdest declaration ever made by man, inspired or uninspired. Fear not them that kill the body, that is, destroy life, but are not able to kill the soul, that is, to destroy the vital principle, but rather fear him which is able to destroy both the vital principle and the life, in the destruction of Jerusalem, or by some other great temporal calamity. Is this no absurdity ? Fear not them that destroy the life, but are not able to destroy the life, but rather fear him that is able to destroy the life and the life in the destruction of Jerusalem! But in palliation of such gross contradictions, it is said that the soul in the last clause of the verse is pleonastic, so that the body and the soul mean merely the vital principle, or the life. That is poor aid, however, which brings no relief.
If the soul means the vital principle or the life, the absurdity still remains, that the disciples are charged
not to fear those who destroy the life, but are not able to destroy the life, but rather to fear him, who is able to destroy the life in some great temporal calamity. All these difficulties are removed by supposing, what is true, that the soul means the immortal part of man, a sense which it often bears. We shall then have this consistent and impressive sense. Fear not them, which destroy the life but are not able to destroy the immortal spirit, but rather fear him who is able to destroy, or to make wretched, both the body and the immortal spirit, in hell. The destruction of the body with the soul, is implied in the doctrine of the resurrection. This interpretation being admitted, as it must be, it follows irresistibly, that gehenna is a place of punishment in a future state; for it denotes something that can be superadded to the loss of life, or death of the body. The passage in Luke, to which reference was just now made, is, if possible, still more decisive. “And I say unto you, my friends, be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do; but I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: fear him, which after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell: yea, I say unto you,