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All that Mr. B. attempts to prove in relation to this I admit. I admit that it is figurative ; that the city had never been literally exalted to heaven, nor would as a city be literally cast down to hell. But as the use of the word heaven is in the sense of the abode of the blessed; so the use of the word hell is in the sense of the opposite. As the existence of heaven is implied in such a use of the word, though it is not meant that the city had been literally exalted to it; so the existence of hell is implied, though it is not meant that the city as such would be cast down to it.
Matt. 16: 18. On this rock will I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. As courts were held and all public business transacted at the gates of cities, the gates became a name for the powers and polices of a city. So when it is said the gates of hades shall not prevail against the church, it is meant all the powers, polices and machinations of hell, shall not prevail. Hades here is set forth as the empire and head-quarters of wickedness, and opposition to the church-as the central origin of all the wicked counsels, and enterprizes undertaken against the church. But if it be the fountain head of wicked influence and of hostility to the church, what can it be other than that abode of everlasting punishment, occupied by the devil and his angels? The only plausible evasion of this which I can conceive of is, that hades may here be simply a name for the empire of death, and the text in that view represents death as the great enemy of the church. But that interpretation would greatly diminish the force of the passage. For death is far from being the only, or the greatest and most effectual enemy of the church. And does Christ intend to say less than that no enemy shall prevail ?
Luke 16:22, 23. The rich man also died, and was buried, and in hell he lifted up his eyes being in torment. This parable of the rich man and Lazarus, has occasioned much labor for both. Mr. B. and Mr. W. But whether they have created a decent apology for doubting whether hell be here intended, you will judge. Mr. B. opens his attack upon this passage, by filling out eight pages in proving, that tartarus in the heathen
hades was fictitious or the mere fancy of the poets. His language here is very ambiguous; but it must mcan either that the fancy of the poets was employed in giving the name of tartarus, and ascribing the attributes that were ascribed to the real place, or it must mean that the place which goes by that name, has no real existence. I of course suppose he means the latter. But, it so happens that all his proofs, so far as they prove anything, are confined to the former. He proves that the fancy of the heathen poets attached this and that fabulous idea to tartarus. But that there is in reality no place of punishment whiclı hades or tartarus arc fit words to describe, is a point which his arguments do not touch. There seems to be running through all the writings of Mr. B. an assumption of a principle, that if a doctrine or anything like it can be proved to have been held by heather, that itself is proof of the falsity of that doctrine. And this assumption is the main principle of the argument now before us. Egypt believed so and so about hades, therefore there is no hell. Virgil pictured out the infernal regions so and so, therefore hell is the offspring of imagination. It is really humiliating to notice such frivolous pratings. And I would not do it, were it not that my silence would be taken as constructive evidence of inability to answer, what may appear to the more ignorant of Mr. B.'s readers as beyond all the rest wise and learned.
Mr. B. admits that at the time when this parable was uttered, the “opinion prevailed among the Jews that there was torment in hades," and he will have it that Christ here speaks in accordance with popular opinions. But I ask, did our Lord suffer himself to assert positive error—to say that a man went to hell when there was no hell, and thus lend his authority to confirm his hearers in a statement which it is worth a life of Mr. B.'s learned labors to refute. But Mr. B says repeatedly, that this was no sanction to error, no more than when he spoke of demons, satans, ghosts, &c. Thus he assumes that demons and satan were only imaginary beings, as though it were a given point, and then builds a weighty conclusion upon it. And to save appearances, he tucks on that word ghosts, as
though Christ had somewhere spoken of ghosts by the same principle of accommodation to popular opinions as of real beings. I hope in his Third Inquiry he will inform us where. But look at it. Mr. B. tells us that Christ's hearers believed that there was torment in hades, and yet that when Christ told them there was torment in hades, he was not liable to be understood as confirming the opinion that there was. Pray tell us how Christ's hearers could decide, on such principles, when he intended to speak the truth and when he did not.
When Mr. B. comes to the question, what did our Lord mean to teach by so representing hades as a place of torment, he says—“ This question may be answered by what did he mean to teach when he spoke of demons and of satan as real beings?” Well, what did he mean to teach ? I see not that this answers the question. But it is all the answer which our author gives, and we must be content with it.
We will turn our attention now to Mr. Whittemore's attempt to explain away this passage. His first position is, that “ allowing the passage to be a literal account and not a parable, it fails altogether of substantiating either the doctrine of the Calvinists concerning election and reprobation, or of the Arminian doctrine, concerning rewards and punishments in the future state, for the conduct of men in this life.” Very good. If any Calvinist ever came to this passage for proof of the doctrine of election, he certainly failed of finding it there. And if any Arminian frames any peculiar notions of his upon this passage,
let him answer it to Mr. Whittemore. He next says, "allowing the parable to be a literal account and not a parable, it does not prove that men are to be punished in the next life for their conduct in this, and that because the rich man tormented in hades was in some respects a good man.” Then he goes on to prove, that the rich man was very benevolent and holy, by alledging that he fed Lazarus from the crumbs of his table, and that Lazarus was so pinched with hunger, that he “delighted” to be fed even with crumbs. He informs us by the way, that the word means delighted instead of desired. So much for his benevolence. And then as to his holiness, that is proved by the fact, that he prayed to Abraham, that his brethren might be warned not to come to that place. He calls this the breathing of a holy feeling. But what holiness there is in praying to Father Abraham, and in dreading to have a man's torments aggravated by the presence of those who shared in his guilt, does not appear. Here are the proofs of the man's piety such as Mr. W. relies on to show that his torments were not on account of his wickedness. But one would think that his wish to have his brethren warned to shape their conduct so as not to come to that place of torment, is proof that he was convinced that his conduct brought him there—and the not hearing Moses being brought in as the ground of their danger, would settle the question. What is it to hear and obey Moses and the prophets ? Is not he a wicked man who refuses to hear ? And then if conduct had no influence in bringing those torments, why should his brethren be warned lest they also come ?
Mr. W. tells us there were some with Abraham, who would go to the rich man, but could not. But the parable tells us no such thing. It does not say that there are any who wish to pass, but chooses a simple way of saying that there is a complete non-intercourse, and none could pass if they would. Equal force will be found in the following suggestions, that “hell cannot be so hot a place, as it has been represented, or the rich man would have called for more than a drop of water,” and this, that the “devil could not be pleased to have so benevolent a prayer offered in his dark dominions.” These are the reasonings on which men are invited to risk their eternal all-by which new and great light is pretended to be poured upon the holy Scriptures.
Our author's argument, constructed to show that the passage is a parable is useless, for we are ready to admit it. We conceive the same truths are inculcated by it whether it be narrative of real fact, or a parable. Take the parable of the sower which Christ himself interprets. He does not bring out the meaning through the question whether it was narrative or literal fact—whether such a sower went out and sowed in such
and compassed such results or not. But when he comes to the interpretation, he uses the story to illustrate his general truths, as if it were narrative of real life. This then, Christ himself being judge, is the proper way to interpret parables. Whether such a rich man and such a Lazarus lived and died and came to such ends, is immaterial. But we are to understand that the results of human conduct in the life and the state of men in the future life, are as this narrative in its essential features represents.
I make the limitation in the last clause with regard to essential features, for this is made in all interpretations of rhetorical imagery. A parable is never to be made (to use a homely yet technical phrase) “to run on all fours.” When Lazarus is represented as in Abraham's bosom, we are not to understand a literal dwelling in a man's bosom. When the rich man is said to have lifted up his eyes and to put forth other bodily actions, these expressions argue no more against the fact, that the parable is descriptive of the condition of spirits in the spiritual world, than the use of bodily organs everywhere attributed to God, proves that God is not a spirit. These expressions are the proper results of the imperfections of human language and human conceptions, in relation to matters of the invisible world. But if this parable is interpreted according to the rules above stated, none can doubt of its bearings on the subject before us.
I now proceed to notice Mr. W.’s interpretation, in which he undertakes to tell us what the parable means. In order to give some air of plausibility to his statements, he pretends that the verse preceding the parable is related to it as its introduction. The verse is this—Whosoever putteth away his wife and marrieth another committeth adultery, and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery. Upon this our author thus remarks: “If the Jews had put away the law, and married another covenant before John came, they in a parabolic sense, would have committed adultery. For infinite wisdom ordained that the law should remain until John, and it ordained that it should remain no long