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The reader must not be surprised to learn that the * Modern Universalists” boldly and roundly affirm that the words rendered Hell in no one place, either in the Old or New Testament, signify a place of punishment. The boldness with which they make the assertion is doubtless equalled only by the ignorance which gives it birth. The fact is, they go here on a principle of extreinely erroneous interpretation :--because the word or words, now in question, do not in every instance, mean a place of future misery, they at once conclude they have this meaning in no one instance. The folly of such a mode of interpretation need scarcely to be remarked upon. By the same method, we might prove that man has no soul, no immaterial, immortal, intelligent principle; for the word soul, in the Scriptures is sometimes used for animal life;
thus the Psalmist says, “ Let the enemies persecute my soul and take it”-let him take away my life; and it has been well observed, that, " by the same mode of reasoning, it might be proved, that there is no place of happi. ness for the righteous in the future world, for the term heaven is often used to denote only the regions of the atmosphere. Thus the Scriptures speak of the fouls of heaven; the rain of heaven; and of Mount Sinai burning in the midst of heaven." Nothing therefore can be more fallacious than this inode of interpretation; for by it a person may make words speak whatever he please, as almost all words have various meanings.
The words translated “hell" in the Scriptures are Sheol, Hebrew; Hades, also Gehenna, Greek.
The word Sheol is derived from the verb Shal, which signifies to ask, require, desire, and has different meanings.
Sometimes it signifies the grave. Thus Jacob says, “I will go down into the grave, unto my son, mourning;" Gen xxxvii. 35. And the Psalmist “ Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell," into the grave. Ps. 1. 15.
It is also used as a general name of the invisible world, the place of departed spirits, whether good or evil, happy or miserable. “With respect to the Hebrew terin Şheol, the learned Vitringa remarks on the celebrated passage in Isaiah, (xiv. 9:) which Lowth translates
"Hades [Sheol] from beneath is moved, because
Shades or Manes;]" that though the word is used, for the grave or sepulchre, it cannot be so taken in this passage, that it is here the place of the souls of men released from the body by death; and that this entire region was called by the Jews Sheol, by the Greeks Hades, and by the Latins Inferi.”
The word Sheol, likewise denotes a place of future punishment. If not, why should it be something predicated exclusively of the future state of the wicked ? Or why should it be something threatened only to those who live and die in a state of disobedience? When used to signify the grave, or the general abode of departed spirits, it may be applied to the righteous with the same propriety as to the wicked. But there are passages, in which it is applied to the wicked only, and thus also in the way of threatening, or emphatic declaration of their awful condition; and in such passages the word Sheol, must have a meaning beyond either of the two first assigned,-a meaning expressive of the future punishment and misery of the wicked, so repeatedly asserted in other portions of the word of God. Thus, the wicked shall be turned into hell, Sheol, and all the nations that forget God.” Ps. ix. 17. This verse we apprehend fully proves our point. Certain characters are here specified, the “wicked” and “the nations that forget God”—a certain threatening is denounced as bearing exclusively on their future state, they “shall be turned into Hell."
Now, if the word Sheol, hell, means here only the sepul. chre or the place of separate spirils, then there is nothing more said of the characters mentioned, than might be said of the most holy and obedient. The latler as well as the former go to the grave, the house appointed for all living, and their souls enter into the future, spiritual and invisible world. On this principle of interpretation, what object had the Psalmist in view in uttering this solemn declaration ? If he only referred to the common lot of men, whether good or evil, why fix his attention exclusively on the “wicked ?" Why single out “the nations that forget God?” Why use, in this case, the very strange expression, “shall be turned into hell,” evidently implying something more than the mere placing the body in the grave, or the entrance of the soul into the future world ? Was a similar form of expression ever employed in reference to the good ? Can a passage be found in the whole range of revealed truth to this effect. “ The righteous shall be turned into hell and all the nations that obediently remember God?" No: but we read, as marking an essential difference between them," The wicked is driven away in his wickedness : BOT the righteous hath hope in his death.” Prov. xiv. 32.—Psalm ix. 17, therefore, if it have any meaning at all, must refer to the future miserable locality of the characters de: scribed.
“ Her feet go down to death, her steps take hold on hell, Sheol.” Prov. v. 5. Now this also is spoken of a wicked character ;-is something which peculiarly and exclusively belongs to this character, and cannot, with the the least truth or propriety, apply to its opposite. But if Sheol means here only the grave, or place of departed spirits, it will apply with the same force to the most virtuous, as to the most abandoned character. Agreeably to this rendering, there is nothing here but might, with equal truth, be affirmed of every daughter of Eve, whe
ther pious or otherwise ; for each and every one of them is tending to the tomb and to the eternal world. If this were all the “ Wise Man" intended to say, why caution bis « Son” against the "strange woman" by the motives he has employed ?-On the Modern Universalist belief, that there is no hell, of misery, but all are happy the moment they enter futurity, there is no force, no propriety, in these motives; but Solomon, if possessed of the wisdom of our modern Universalist Divines, should have exhorted his “Son” directly the reverse ; for speedy death, would be speedy glory. Sheol, therefore, in this verse, has a further meaning than the two first assigned, and is expressive of a place of future torment.
The same reasoning will apply to Prov. ix. 18. “ But he (the simple) knoweth not that the dead (ghosts) are there, and that her guests are in the depths of hell, Sheol.”
Prov. xxiii. 14. is equally explicit, - Thou shalt beat him with a rod, and shalt deliver his soul from Sheol, hell.” Here “hell" cannot mean the grave or place of departed spirits. Not the grave ; for the “wise man” speaks not of the body, but of the soul, and none will contend that the soul is buried and remains in the tomb ; and tho' we acknowledge, that when, in the preceding verse, he says, “if thou beatest him with the rod he shall not die,” he means, that correction may be the means of turning the child from those courses which, if persisted in, might lead to speedy natural death, yet, in the verse in question, he is speaking of a different thing entirely. Correction, sanctified, may not only prevent immediate natural death, but may be also the means of saving the • soul” of the child from a “ hell” of punishment, a place of future suffering. This appears to be the meaning of Solomon.--The term Sheol, in this verse cannot mean the place of departed spirits. For in no proper seuse can it be said, that correction can deliver the soul from it. Whether bodily chastisement be sanctified or not, the soul must enter the spiritual world. There is no alternative; and if sheol here convey no idea of a place of punishment hereafter,--if, as it is so strenuously asserted by the Modern Universalists, immediate happiness await the wicked as well as the good, at the termination of their natural life, it is certainly somewhat marvellous that the “ wise man' should recommend present flagellation as a means, to keep back the soul from this future happiness.
“ Thus as STUART observes in his Essay on Future Punishment,' while the Old Testament employs Sheol, in most cases, to designate the grave, the region of the dead, the place of departed spirits, it employs it also, in some cases, to designate along with this idea of the adjunct one of the place of misery, place of punishment, region of woe.” (1)
The Greek word “Hades," from a negative and idein to see, in its primary sense signifies obscure, invisible, and is synonomous with the Hebrew Sheol.
Hades is sometimes used in the New Testament to designate the grave. Thus,~0 death where is thy sting? 0 grave, hadē, where is thy victory?” 1 Cor. xv. 55.
It is sometimes used to point out the invisible place or state of separate souls in general. “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and hell (hades) deliver up the dead which were in them.” Rev. xx. 13. (*)
Hades, like Sheol, also signifies a place of future lorment. Thus,-" The rich man also died, and in hell (hade) he lift up his eyes, being in torments.” Luke xvi. 23. Surely no person can be so obstinately perverse, or so immersed in prejudice, as to contend, that hades in this verse, means only the grave, or general place of departed spirits. If so, why is the exegetical phrase added, “being
(1) R. Watson's Theol. Dic. sub voce “ Hell." (2) See this verse explained at large Chapter vi.