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ye up then the measure of your fathers," is correct. bila
This cannot well be disputed; for the context clearly decides this to be our Lord's meaning. Suffer me then to ask, why my interpretation of the words, “ damnau dieses tion of hell," should not also be correct? Surely the context as clearly points out the latter interpretation in to be our Lord's meaning, as it does the former. If the context decides the sense in the one case, it must be decide in both. Besides, is it not a strong confirmation that my interpretation is correct, that this expand pression, "ibe damnation of hell,” occurs in this discourse about the destruction of Jerusalem, and in no other discourse our Lord ever delivered. Had he used this expression when preaching the gospel, and enforcing the necessity of repentance on the Jews, it might be
supposed that he referred to eternal punish. tot ment. But as it occurs in this discourse, and is never used by him on any other occasion, it seems to put it beyond all doubt that I have justly interpreted the words damnation of hell. No man doubts that what is said verse 35. refers to the punishment inflicted on the Jews at the destruction of their city and temple, like and more fully described in chap. xxiv. The succeeding verses of the chapter in which the words stand, confirm the view I have given. At verse 36. our Lord says, “verily I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this generation," and surely the damnation of hell was a part of them. . See also the three remaining verses, which I need not transcribe.
It is now seen that the context of this passage leads us, not to interpret the words “damnation of hell," of punishment in a future state, but of the temporal calamities coming on the Jewish nation, during that generation. If ever the context of any passage decided in what sense the writer used a word or phrase, it is certainly decided in the one before us.
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clearly oppose my view of this passage, to call upon them to din generally given them. The only thing in support of
sidering; that when our Lord said, “how can ye eseternal punishment of the wicked. Prophecies, say the objectors, have often a double meaning, and though in the first instance, our Lord by the damnation of bell, referred 10 the vengeance coming on the Jewish nation, it may also include the endless punishment of the wicked. In answer to this, I would observe, that this double view of Matth. xxiv. is now given up by most critics and commentators, and that even by those
ought to be allowed the liberty, with those who may avail themselves of the context as I have done, and show, if they can, from it, that by the damnation of bell, our Lord meant a place of eternal misery. Let only the attempt be made, and nothing is so likely to convince them as this, that my interpretation is the
true one. It was in making such an attempt, that I nbrmde
was led to the views which have been stated. Not
I am aware, that from verse 3. of chap. xxiv.
he used and
tion of the Scriptures?
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who call themselves the orthodox. Mr. Stuart, in his letters to Dr. Channing, p. 126, gives it up. He says, “ of that day and hour knoweth no man; no, not the angels, which are in heaven, neither the son, but the father. The day and hour, according to some, is the day of judgment; but as I apprehend, (from comparing the context) the day of vengeance to the Jews is meant.”—Here Mr. Stuart sets aside this double view of Matth. xxiv. and precisely by the same rule of interpretation, that I have set aside the popular sense altached to the words “ damnation of hell,” in the passage before us. If the context shows him, that by " that day and hour,” is not meant the day of judgment, but the day of vengeance to the Jews, the context of the passage we are now considering as clearly shows, that, by the damnation of hell, is not meant a place of eternal misery, but that this very vengeance is meant. The fact is, this double view of Matth. xxiv. is not only abandoned by Mr. Stuart, but by Whitby, M'Knigbt, Gill, and other commentators.
But we are willing to notice this objection a little further it is said in the above objection, that the damnation of hell may refer to the endless misery of the wicked, as well as to the temporal calamities coming on the Jewish nation, because prophecies have often a double meaning. In answer to this, we would simply remark, that the words damnation of hell are not a prophesy, but a very plain declaration, put in the form of a question by our Lord, to the persons whom he addressed. But admitting that they had occurred in the 24th chapter, where our Lord predicts the destruction of Jerusalem, we think the objector ought not to rest such an important article as the one in question, on a may be, but a shall be, not on a peradventure, but an absolute certainty. If any evidence can be produced, that our Lord meant two such different ideas should be conveyed by the words damnation of
hell, we shall be happy to see it. But until the evi. dence of this is made apparent, the objection has no force. We cannot believe without evidence. The labour of proving this, belongs to the objector. What would he have said, had I assumed, without attempting to prove, that Gehenna, Matth. xxiii. only referred to the temporal punishment of the Jews ? When the evidence we have adduced is invalidated, it will be time enough to admit the validity of this objection. So long as an examination of the context, and the Scripture usage of words, are considered safe rules in determining the sense of any Scripture writer, we shall feel somewhat confident, that, by the damnation of hell, a place of endless misery was not intended by our Lord. But this double view of the expression damnation of hell, is not only assumed, but it is assumed in face of evidence to the contrary. Our Lord, with the same breath, uttered the words, “ damnation of hell," and declared, “all these things shall come upon this generation." But does he intimate in any part of the context, that this espression had another meaning, referring to eternal misery in a future state of existence? Ifihe damnation of hell was to come on that generation, is it not in effect saying our Lord was mistaken to affirm that it also means endless punishment ? If he intimates no such thing, ought we to put such a construction on bis language? And are we at liberty to do this, in opposition to the scope of the context, and Scripture usage of the term Gehenna? But furtber; why assume this double sense of the term Gehenna in Matth. xxiii. and not give a double sense to almost every discourse eur Lord delivered! If we take the liberty to do so here, are we not at the same liberty to do it in any
other of his discourses ? But such as do take this double view of Matth. xxiv. we leave them to settle the account with Stuart, Whitby, M'Knight, Gill, and other commentators. Let them answer what these persons
have said, showing that it refers only to the destruction of Jerusalem and its attendant calamities. We are persuaded, that, if a favourite doctrine was not in danger of losing its support from the passage we are considering, such an objection would never be urged. The very circumstance of urging it in this case, is calculated to bring the doctrine into suspicion.
But it perhaps may be also objected against the interpretation we have given, “why should our Lord speak of the temporal vengeance coming on the Jews, as a damnation, or punishment of hell, or Gehenna ? Is there any other part of Scripture, which authorizes such an interpretation of our Lord's words?” answer to this objection I would observe; supposing there is not, still it remains a fact, that the context of this passage plainly authorizes the interpretation we have given them. Besides, the context gives no coun tenance to the opposite interpretation. Will it not then be granted, that if I can show this view given, is supported by other parts of Scripture, that my interpretation must be admitted as correct? Moreover, if I can show that our Lord could not be understood in any other sense, allowing the Scriptures to be the best commentary on his meaning, is not my view placed beyond all fair debate-1 have contended that the Jews could not understand our Lord, by the “damnation of hell,” to mean a place of elernal misery, because Gehenna had no such meaning in the Old Testament. I now as fully contend, that if Gehenna is not used in the Old Testament in the sense I have given it, neitheir could the Jews understand him in this sense. Candour requires this. Well, on the other hand, ought not candour to allow, that if it is used in the Old Testament as an emblem of the temporal miseries coming on the Jewish nation, that in this sense it was used by our Lord, and understood by his hear. ers? I frankly admit, that if Gehenna was used in