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fear him." The obvious conclusion is, that gehenna denotes a punishment to be inflicted after the calamities of this life are passed. - Fear him, which after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell,” To God belongs the prerogative of punishing the dead. In this respect his power is peculiar. Human rage is an object of dread only in this life. Men can destroy the body, but they cannot destroy the soul. Human and divine power are here put in contrast, the whole force of which consists in the meaning of gehenna. If it is not a place of torment in the future state; man, who can take the life, is as much an object of dread, as God. This view is corroborated, by the manner in which gehenna is introduced in the ninth chapter of Mark, where it occurs in three successive passages, , 66 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones, that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off; it is better for thee to enter into life maimed than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched.” To go into hell, is here represented to be an evil greater than
death. In the third chapter of James, gehenna is used for the wicked confined in it, in the same manner that the names of countries are used for their inhabitants or rulers. " And 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;", that is, by Satan and his army of subordinate demons. The apostle, therefore, with great force and propriety, exhorts his readers to resist the devil. He assures them that the wisdom of wicked men, is not from above, that it is earthly, sensual, devilish. He makes no such remarks of the valley of Hinnom, for it would be folly, to attribute unlawful excitements and sinful actions to the influence of such a place. In describng the abominations which proceed from the tongue, it might be natural to draw an illustration from the most odious spot, with which the Jews were acquainted; but this was not the apostle's object. He was speaking of the ungovernable nature of the tongue and not aiming to define the exact enormity of its sins. It is set on fire by hell, not by the valley of Hinnom, but by the powers of evil. They alone possess both the ability and disposition to inflame and corrupt. Those
who deny the existence of such beings, must still admit, that the force of the figure depends on their supposed agency. That the tongue is inflamed and actuated by the principles of wicked beings, imaginary or real, whose abode is hell, is the only supposition, which affords the declaration of St. James a suitable and impressive sense. This is the tenth instance, in which gehenna has fallen under our examination, in nine of which, it can mean only a place of torment in the future state. In the other case, it admits this meaning, and when viewed in connexion with the context, requires it. In the two remaining passages where it occurs, both of which are in the twenty third chapter of St. Matthevy, it most probably has the same import. “Wo unto you,
Scribes and Pharisees, hypocr:ites ! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him two-fold more the child of hell (or two-fold more wicked) than yourselves.” He soon becomes doubly deserving of the punishment of 'nell. In the the same discourse it is added ;*_Ye ser
* Perhaps Christ borrows in this chapter, the language originally descriptive of his final coming and of the future demnation o'the wicked, and applies it metaphorically to the approaching destruction of Jerusalem.
pents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell ?" All this, it is said, was to come upon that generation. And no doubt it did. Sufficient proof is given in the interrogative affirmation; "How can ye escape the damnation of hell ?" It at least implies, that some powerful obstacle opposed
But from the destruction of Jerusalem, many were delivered. Some of them, it is to be presumed, did not live to witness that catastrophe, some were doubtless in distant parts of the world, and some probably escaped from the very flames of the city. These difficulties are removed by supposing, that Christ had reference to the condemnation consequent upon the destruction of Jerusalem-alluding to that event, only as a prelude to what the unbelieving Jews would suffer. This supposition is the more probable, because the Scribes and Pharisees are said to have incurred, by their peculiar injustice and hypocrisy a severer condemnation. 66 Wo unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye
devour widow's houses, and for a pretence make long prayers; therefore, ye shall receive the greater damnation.” But this is not true, if the damnation here mentioned. ,
and which the context shows is the same as the damnation of hell, means only the calamities which were about to happen to the Jewish nation. For in those events, the Pharisees suffered only in common with other citizens, not more severely, nor in exact proportion to their crimes. But it is not essential, that the sense of gehenna should be positively ascertained, in these two instances independently considered. It always may mean a place of suffering in the future state, and this in most cases, is demonstrably its sense.
It is originally the name of a valley near Jerusalem, the only sense occurring in the Old Testament. In the time of Christ, it had assumed a secondary import, being transferred from its primary application, to denote a place in which it was believed, the wicked are to be forever tormented. This is the only metaphorical sense, in which it appears to have been employed. By a careful examination, this seems to be its universal meaning in the New Testament. We may therefore assert, that the argument from this source in favor of future punishment, is complete and unanswerable. But my
wish to learn, what objections are raised against so plain a conclusion.