"The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord." — Rom. 6:23.
"Evil things are not entities; but good things are entities, since they are of God, who truly is.'' — Athanasius.
"Here, at least, [i. e. respecting the view here offered,] let us hesitate, and suspend our judgment." — Witsius.
"Even now, after eighteen centuries of Christianity, we may be involved in some enormous error, of which the Christianity of the future will make us ashamed." — Tinet.
"Ye search the Scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me."
IT is hardly necessary to remind the reader that the question which we raise is not respecting the duration of future punishment, but respecting its nature. We are to show that exclusion from all life is a punishment, and that this is the revealed punishment of the lost. If it be so, then we may at once admit the words "eternal," "everlasting," and similar phrases, used to indicate the duration of the final doom, as denoting an absolute eternity; we shall waste no time in efforts to reduce their significance in the least.
Nor shall we offer any new principles of interpretation. We hold, indeed, that the obvious sense of words is prima facie their true sense; though the rule is worth little, since time and opinion may change even the obvious meaning of the plainest words. And we are far from being rigid literatists, as will appear in our reliance upon one or two rhetorical figures — tropes that may appear new to some readers because they are in fact so old and almost forgotten. The attempt to reinstate these methods of interpretation is part of the only system which we are willing to profess, — that of seeking the historical sense of the inspired words.
What is the "everlasting life" revealed to mankind in the Gospel? And what is the "death," from which that life is an eternal salvation? Here, at the threshold of this discussion, we are told that the soul's immortality is assumed in the Bible, and that all the language of Scripture must be understood accordingly. "The immortality of the soul," says one, "is rather supposed, or taken for granted, than expressly revealed in the Bible."1 The words in question are therefore referred to man's physical destiny, or they are taken to denote happiness or misery in an immortal destiny. The literal sense is commonly allowed in the Old Testament, and is supposed to be there exhausted in the account of temporal deliverances and destructions. The metaphorical sense is supposed to predominate in the New Testament. In either case the Word of Life is no message of eternal existence,—for man did not need that, — but simply of eternal wellbeing to those who believe in Christ.
The silence of the Scriptures respecting man's natural immortality is commonly admitted, and converted into an implicative argument. The fact is denied by one late writer, who thinks it is expressly asserted of all mankind, in at least one passage, that "they cannot die any more." But he must then allow that the lost—the children of the Wicked one—are in the same passage said to "be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead," to be "equal unto the angels," and to be "the children of God."2 This last resort to find a distinct statement of man's immortality in the Scriptures will only make their silence more obvious. For none, we think, but the Universal ist, will accept the writer's exposition.
To divest the argument of its appendages,we should here say, the question is not respecting the after existence of the unsaved soul until the second death; much less does it touch the immortality of the righteous. Nor has it to do with the passages supposed to intimate, or to imply, the immortality of all men in general, or of bad men in particular; but simply with the acknowledged fact, that such immortality is nowhere in the Bible stated, mentioned, spoken of, or alluded to, in proper terms. It never appears as a plastic element, in the language of the Scriptures. Neither such expressions as "to live for ever," "to exist for ever," "never to die," "to be immortal," nor any equivalent expressions, are ever applied to the nature of the soul, or to the destiny of the lost. They are only applied to the destiny of the righteous. Our business is with the common view, that the immortality in question is silently assumed and taken for granted in the volume of Revelation.
For argument's sake we will admit this; and we will compare the scriptural treatment of this supposed implicit doctrine, with the scriptural treatment of another doctrine — that of the divine existence — which is undoubtedly taken for granted in the Bible, and with which the doctrine in question is often associated as one of the main pillars of religious truth.
If, now, these two are the cardinal truths of religion, we should expect them to receive similar treatment, in the Revelation of the divine character and of human destiny. If one of these doctrines is stated explicitly and categorically, we should expect the same of the other. If one of them is not directly stated, but is explicitly assumed, with frequent mention or allusion, we should expect the same of the other. If one is assumed implicitly and silently,—taken for granted as a doctrine clear past all doubt and all need of mention, we should expect the same of the other.
What are the facts? The divine existence is, indeed, never asserted categorically, or stated as a proposition. It is assumed as too clear for argument, — a first truth of the religious consciousness, to prove which would be preposterous. The Bible never goes into debate with the atheist. His error is not to be treated with logic; he may be the fool, who says in his heart: There is no God.3 But so far from being tacitly assumed, the divine existence is named, and alluded to, and involved in various forms of speech, continually. It stands out, in bold relief, on almost every page of the Bible. It meets the reader at every turn. The silence of two short books respecting it has been deemed perplexing, impeaching their inspiration, unless it can be explained by special circumstances, and the exception prove the rule. One of these — the book of Esther — is a historical episode; the other—the Song of Solomon — is an allegory; as such, they hold their places in the sacred canon. In every other book, the doctrine of God's existence is the apple of gold in the picture of silver. It is the Koh-i-noor, — the Mountain of Light that illumines the volume. It is the central truth, that makes the Bible a Discourse of God — the Word of God. It is the Shekinah that imparts sacredness to the Book, so that even sceptics have approached it with awe, as standing on holy ground. And lest this one great truth should weary the devout reader with monotony, it appears in endlessly varying forms, in manifold names of the Divine Being and of His glorious attributes. And to arrest the attention and invite the study of reluctant men, the Bible yields a thousand expressions of the power, wisdom, and goodness, of GOD. If we strike out from the record all those passages which tell of His being and His works, we reduce the dimensions of the volume almost by half, we make it a book without sense or meaning, we exchange its radiant light for midnight darkness.
But if we expunge from the same book all those passages in which the immortality of the soul is mentioned or expressly assumed, we leave the volume unchanged; it remains as it was.
It might have been written just as we have it, and the Revelation would have been just as complete as it is, if the sacred writers had conspired, with uniform consent, to avoid all reference or allusion to that form of doctrine which is sometimes called one of the two cardinal truths of all religion.4
Whence this contrast in the scriptural treatment of these ideas? Will it be said that the immortality of the soul is sufficiently clear to man's unaided reason? But that important truth ought to be surpassingly clear to human reason, which need not be named in a Revelation. And if we suppose the more obvious truth to be named less frequently because more obvious, then the soul's immortality should be a thousand fold clearer than the existence of God, nay, clearer beyond all comparison, as any large number is incomparably greater than zero.
That the soul's immortality is so clear past all shadow or dream of doubt, will hardly be claimed. But granting, for argument's sake, that it is too clear to need explicit mention in the Bible, we only encounter a new difficulty. The Revelation which God should make to man, is of necessity given in man's language, — not only in the single words of human language, but also in the current phrases and forms of human speech, so far as these are not false, or such as should be corrected or modified by the Revelation. But if the soul's immortality were so marvelonsly clear a postulate of human reason, it must be a most cherished sentiment, and must give rise to many common expressions — household words of natural theology. In fact, whenever and wherever this doctrine has obtained, it has created various modes of expression that reveal the sentiment. Why, then, are these expressions altogether avoided or ignored in the Bible? Why should the Holy Spirit—so ready to catch the language of the mortals who were to be taught the way of life — have failed to conform to their style of thought in this most important item of their own immortal nature? Why, if God has told men that they must enjoy or suffer for ever, has he never urged his invitation or his warning in the name of the immortality he has given them? Such a gift, surely, would be preeminently worthy of mention, to those who think and say so much of their supposed possession of the boon. Did He not desire them to be grateful for that which would so liken them to Himself?
Such are our difficulties, on the supposition that the soul's immortality is too clear to need mention in a Revelation. We meet only a new difficulty when we turn to facts, and consider the anxious doubts of men for thousands of years on this very subject. Because man was made for immortality, we find in the ruins of his fallen nature, through all history, some sentiment of the birthright he had lost. He finds himself subject to death; but he also finds, or thinks he finds, some remnant within him of that which is too good to die. Hence that Question of Ages, "If a man die, shall he live again?" But when this question came to be answered, and life and immortality were brought to light by One who did gain a signal victory over death, there was not a word uttered of that immortal nature respecting which there had been so much talk. He who had "the words of eternal life," never said that all men were to live, or to exist, for ever. He never spoke of the life which he gave, as an attribute or quality of some other essential life which they already possessed.
The inferential argument for immortality divides itself into two parts, — general and special: 1st, That which deduces the immortality of all human souls, from two or three expressions of Scripture; 2d, That which infers the immortality of the wicked from the passages that speak of their eternal punishment. We now consider the first.
1. The creation of man in the divine image (Gen. 1:26, 27), which is afterwards made the solemn sanction of the law against murder (Gen. 9:6), is taken to denote his exalted nature, in an immortal destiny. So likewise the expression, "man became a living soul" (Gen. 2:7). This view is supported by a common translation of the passage in one of the Apocryphal Books (Wisdom, 2:23): "For God made man incorruptible, and to the image of his own eternity made he him;" also by the form of the Hebrew oath: "As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth" (1 Sam. 20:3).
To all this we reply (1.) The creation in the divine likeness no more proves man's absolute immortality, than it proves his eternal preexistence, his omniscience, or his possession of any other divine attribute. And as for the value of his existence, which makes murder the greatest of crimes, we think we have shown that is not enhanced by the contingency of eternal sorrow. The true sense of the passage in the book of Wisdom also favors this view: "God made man for immortality epj ujfqarsia),5 and to the image of his own nature (ijdiothtoz)6 made he him. But by the envy of the devil death came into the world." (2.) The phrase "a living soul" is put in express contrast with "a quickening [life-giving] spirit," in 1 Cor. 15:45. The same Hebrew phrase also in Gen. 1:20, 30, and a still stronger phrase in Gen. 7:22, is applied to brute animals. It manifestly denotes simply a "living creature." (3.) The asseveration, "As the Lord liveth and as my soul liveth," denotes rather man's capacity and hope of life, than his destiny thereto. It indeed ratifies a covenant; but from Genesis to Malachi, Life is the main subject of contract between God and man; forfeited by man in every engagement, and at length given as a gratuity, by Him who alone is to be trusted, or can render others trustworthy, in an act of Redemption.
2. From the fact that man did not die at once when he had incurred the threatened penalty: "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen. 2:17), it has been inferred that the term "death" is not to be taken in a literal sense, and does not forbid, but rather implies, an endless existence. For "nothing is deadlier than death;" and if that does not kill, what does? In support of this view it is thought that the expressions in Deuteronomy (30. 15, 19), where life and death are called "good and evil," "blessing and cursing," denote that death and pain are synonymous. It agrees with this view that physical death is now commonly regarded as a debt of nature; though this a plain departure from the language of nearly all the symbols of the Church.
This argument, though derived from the threatened penalty of sin, is of generic application, and deserves notice here; the more so as it involves the general tenor of scripture language on the subject.
The turning point of the argument is that man did not literally die on the very day of his transgression; and God's veracity must be saved. But the tri-partite division of death as temporal, spiritual, and eternal, will hardly save God's veracity. For neither temporal nor eternal death were inflicted on that day; and spiritual death cannot be strictly a penalty of sin. Man's insensibility respecting his fallen condition makes him even happier in his carnal enjoyments. His continuing to sin cannot be his punishment. And if spiritual death denote the loss of higher good, a loss not felt, or a lost capacity for good, what is that but the beginning of a real death?7
There are two interpretations of the phrase, "in the day," that require passing notice. (1.) It is compared with the expression in 2 Pet. 3:8, 9, and is thus extended to cover the thousand years within which man did actually die. The chief merit of this view is its recognition of God's long-suffering, whereby he delays without falsifying his judgments. (2.) "In the day" is supposed to mean "in the case;" q. d. "If thou eatest, thou shalt die."8 This sense is perhaps admissible; yet we think it not proven, nor required.
The most natural and best sustained interpretation is, we think, that which supposes Adam to have been judicially and virtually dead, in the day that he sinned. He was then under sentence of death,—a subject, an heir, a son of death. Life was forfeit. If he should live on for a day or even for an hour, it was a respite under condemnation, a delay of the execution. If he should live on for ever, that must be by a rescue, a redemption, an act of amnesty, a divine gratuity. Short of this, the debt incurred must be paid; he must, at some time, die; whether soul and body together, or by installments of a first and second death, it signified little. De minimis non curat lex. Death loves to take usury, as well as victims; why should he demand instant payment, now that he was secure of his prey?
This interpretation is no novelty. In rhetoric, it might be called a prolepsis, an anticipation of the future as already present. It is one of the commonest figures of speech. Thus, when one is falling from a precipice, or has taken deadly poison, or has provoked a mortal enemy, or has committed a capital crime, we say: "He is a dead man!" nor do we take back our words, though he should happen to live on yet many days. Just so said the affrighted Egyptians, when the angel of death had smitten their first-born: "We be all dead men;" and the trembling Israelites, when the troop of Korah was destroyed: "Behold, we die; we perish; we all perish." And God himself employs similar language in addressing the presumptuous Abimelech: "Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken."
And a very similar phrase occurs in two parallel passages. Thus Pharaoh says to Moses: "Get thee from me; take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for in that day thou seest my face, thou shalt die "(Exod. 10:28). Yet no Egyptian would think the king faithless to his threatening, if Moses, incurring the penalty, had, under sentence, long waited for death. Still more in point is the passage in 1 Kings 2:36, 37, where Solomon gives charge to Shimei respecting the tenure of his once forfeited life: "It shall be that on the day thou goest out, and passest over the brook Kidron, thou shalt know for certain that thou shall surely die." Who supposes that Shimei, forfeiting his life anew in pursuit of two fugitive servants, flying from Jerusalem to Gath and from Gath to Achish, must be arrested, tried, and executed, all on the very day of his trespass, to make good the threat of Solomon? His last words tell his evident meaning: "Thy blood shall be upon thine own head." And the famous tautology, "dying thou shalt die," which so many take to mean "dying thou shalt not die," is here shown to signify the certainty of death and not its vitality.9
And the early versions of the Bible, and many comments upon it, also support this exegesis. The Greek of Symmachus renders the phrase: "Thou shalt be mortal."10 Likewise the Syriac, which is approved by Jerome and Grotius.11 The Arabic renders it: "Thou shalt deserve to die."12 The Targum of Jonathan: "Thou shalt be subject to death."13 Others understand it of immediate death, which was averted by repentance.14 And others still: "The phrase, Thou shalt die, does not signify the fact of dying, but its necessity and desert."15 Vatablus says:
"Thou shalt be subject to death, both of body and soul."16 And Fagius adds that the Hebrews deny not this two-fold death. Tirinus remarks: "Say rather that Adam then began to die; that is, by a lingering death of inward wasting and decay."17 And the sense we have given is sanctioned by Dr. Miiller, in his able work on the Christian Doctrine of Sin, II. 319, 320.
The figure of prolepsis is of too common occurrence in the Bible to be overlooked. It will be further considered when we have done with the passage in hand. There are two remaining reasons why this threat of death cannot imply man's immortality. 1. The advance of geological science has proved that animals had lived and died for thousands of years before the creation of man. Did Adam not know of their mortality, when he was told that he might die? And if he did, must he not understand by death just such an expiring and decay as he saw among the brutes around him? Or even if he had learned to distinguish between soul and body, how could he infer the immortality of the former, when the sentence came to be pronounced upon him: "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return?" Was he fairly treated, if that was only the prelude of death, and if, without a word of express warning, he was still liable to endless woe? May we not well say with John Locke: "It seems a strange way of understanding a law, which requires the plainest and directest words, that by 'death' should be meant eternal life in misery."18
2. The execution of the sentence indicates any thing rather than man's immortality. "And now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever" (Gen. 3:22). How can we think that this exclusion from life is exhausted in the death of the body, when the description of paradise regained, which forms the last chapter of Revelation, tells us once more of the "tree of life" whose leaves are "for the healing of the nations?"
We need not here enter into the controversy whether man would have had physical immortality if he had not sinned. It is all one to our argument whether the fruit of the tree of life had ambrosial virtue to sustain immortal life, or was only the sacrament of peace between God and man. We prefer to believe that the sinless man would have suffered no dissolution, but would have exchanged the psychical for the spiritual body by a developing process of his unimpaired nature.19
Equally good for our exegetical argument are the concessions adduced in our examination of the theodicies, that, if there had been no Redemption, Adam would have utterly perished. To the same purpose also will apply the frequent remark, that"God in compassion provided that he who was to be wretched should not be for ever wretched."20 This is commonly said with respect to the bodily death of Adam; but the argument is just as good a reason why the soul should not subsist in eternal misery.
Before we examine the special argument for the immortality of the wicked, we shall consider the meaning of that whole class of expressions which refers to the destiny of the righteous and the wicked respectively. Are "life" and "death," and other like terms, to be taken in a metaphorical sense whenever they look beyond the veil that divides time from eternity, or do they retain their common meaning?
It is not denied that these terms are sometimes used in a tropical sense; for what human words are not? Language would not be a buoyant, living vehicle of thought, if its words did not sometimes burst the bonds of their literal sense. Yet language would be mere cloudland, a baseless fabric of visions, if its commonest words did not commonly hold their literal sense. This is the very root from which words derive their life; sundered from it, they perish. Like the kite that soars heavenward because it is held earthward, they must confess their origin in matter, or return to the dust whence they were taken.
At the outset of this examination we notice the fact that ''life" and "death" are the terms most frequently used to represent the respective destinies of men. Life, as the condition of all blessing, is the greatest good; death, as the privation of all good, is the greatest evil. Hence in the Old Testament, and before immortality is brought to light, long life is oftenest named as the portion of the righteous. The fifth precept of the Decalogue, "the first commandment with promise," enjoins filial piety, "that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." The book of Proverbs speaks continually of life, as though "length of days" were a material part of it. "My son, forget not my law; but let thy heart keep my commandments; for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee." "Happy is the man that findeth wisdom. . . . Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honor." ". . . She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her." And in the most important passage of the Old Testament supposed to prove an after existence, the destiny of the righteous is simply called "everlasting life" (Dan. 12:2).
And in the New Testament, we find little said of eternal "happiness" or "blessedness." That whole class of phrases by which ancient philosophers and modern Christians have designated the destiny of the good, is almost unknown in the Gospel. It was enough for Christ and the Apostles to talk about LIFE. He who was the "Resurrection and the Life" was dangerously literal in his style of speech, if he simply meant that he came to give happiness to immortal beings. "I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die." "Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead; he that eateth of this bread, shall live for ever." And though Christ explained the "hard saying" so far as to say it was the spirit and not the flesh that quickened, and that his words were spirit and life, yet even this could hardly encourage the notion of immortality in those who "had no life in them." A slight obscurity in the argument here, disappears when we turn to the original Greek, which emphasizes, not "the words," but the name of him who uttered them. He who came to make known the way of life here says: "The words that I (elwem) speak unto you are spirit and life." And this explains what was said by Peter, when many were offended and followed no more with him: "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life."21
Now to say that "eternal life" is the peculiar gospel phrase for "endless felicity," is to beg the whole question. This would be an assumption precisely like that already examined, that the Bible "takes for granted" the immortality of the soul. But we are aware that argument is offered to sustain this view, in a few passages that seem to require a tropical sense of the words "life" and "death," and we proceed to examine them.
1. "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). Here the knowledge of God, or true piety, is commonly taken as meaning the same thing with eternal life; 1:e. the passage is made a definition of that in which life consists. But it is more natural to take the language as a statement of the way of life. This view is supported by frequent expressions in the book of Proverbs and by ancient and modern comment. It also accords with the general tenor of the Gospel as a revelation of life in Christ. "In him was life, as the life was the light of men." Christ speaks of himself as "the Resurrection and the Life;" as "the Way, the Truth, and the Life." "God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him." The knowledge of God through Christ is that which leads to everlasting life.
A similar passage, sometimes adduced as containing an ethical definition of eternal life, occurs in 1 John 5:20: "And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true; and we are in Him that is true, [even] in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life." But the pronoun "this" (outoz) evidently refers to God, as the author or giver of life. The meaning is: "HE is the true God, and eternal life." Hence "the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son, hath life; and he that hath not the Son, hath not life" (vv. 11, 12). With this compare the parable of the Good Shepherd, where Christ, after having spoken of life in an undeniably literal sense,— "the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep," "I lay down my life for the sheep,"—says: "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish; neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." And this safety of those who believe in Christ manifestly refers to the Resurrection as the consummation of their life: "This is the Father's will, that of all which He hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day."22
Another passage,—"To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace" (Rom. 8:6), will hardly be claimed as giving a definition of the terms "life" and "death," when it is compared with the parallel passage: "He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; hut he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life»everlasting" (Gal. 6:8).
2. The frequent allusion in the Scriptures to the Resurrection, as the completing fact of eternal life, explains one or two other expressions often supposed to define a moral or spiritual death, and also a whole class of passages respecting man's destiny. "And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1; comp. Col. 2:13). The context, we think, shows that, by the figure we have already named, the future life is anticipated, as already present. Without that life which is due to Christ's resurrection, and which is perfected in our own resurrection, we are under sentence of death, past all hope, dead, by reason of trespasses and sins. "But God, who is rich in mercy, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." This is certainly not accomplished yet, unless in a metaphorical sense no more natural than the prolepsis which we assume. We shall yet be raised up and shall sit together, in the heavenlies; and the inheritance which GOD gives us, is as surely ours as if we already possessed it. And in the passage in Colossians, the allusion to Christ's resurrection, and to the glorified estate which awaits the Christian, confirms the same view: "Ye also are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. Even you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with him [Christ being the first fruits, the interval of time making no difference] having forgiven you all trespasses. . . If then ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. . . For ye ARE DEAD [certainly not now in a moral sense, but subject to Death, in that he will yet have the body], but your life is hid with Christ in .God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory."23
Is it objected that the ungodly life of the unbeliever, and the godly life of the believer, are named in the context? Very true; but this by no means precludes the literal sense of the terms life and death. The connection of the two is perfectly natural. As if it were said: You are redeemed from death; you are, then, "dead with Christ" from the rudiments of the world; mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth. Or as it is said in Romans, chap, 6., where the same contrast is made between death and the resurrection, and between the old man and the new man: "Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. . . . For in that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
"Likewise alive unto God." This cannot denote mere life from a spiritual death; for Christ, the. example of it, never was spiritually dead. It is, rather, an anticipation of the completion of life in the resurrection, and hence an argument for the resurrection. Just as Christ silenced the Sadducees by reminding them that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was the God, not of the dead, but of the living; "for they all live unto Him." That is, they shall yet live, and therefore God may be called their God. Manifestly, if Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were then alive, the proof of the resurrection came to naught.24
But we are forgetting the passage we set out to explain. Is it insisted that the phrase "dead in trespasses and sins "denotes a moral deadness? If so, then Paul charges the Corinthian Christians with being impenitent men, when he says: "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are ye in your sins." But he evidently meant, that if there were no resurrection they were still subject to death, as the consequence of sin; there was no future life for them. In a similar way, if we mistake not, Christ would exclude the unbelieving Jews from the eternal life: "Ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins."25 And when he said to one who wished to bury his father, ere he became his disciple: "Let the dead bury their dead," he simply characterized those who had no part in him as the subjects of death. They were dead, because they had no future life. The rhetorical figure is the same which the Hebrew doctors have allowed in the original sentence of death, and which one of the most learned Kabbies has stated thus: "The wicked in their life time are called dead, and their soul is to be destroyed with the ignominy of the body, and will not have immortality or eternity."26 And if there should still remain a doubt in favor of the sense of spiritual death, it wholly disappears when we consider that the Greek word here rendered "dead" (nekrouz) always denotes literal death, and commonly signifies corpses. If spiritual death were intended, it would be more naturally expressed by another word davaroc?, since davaroc bears the more general sense of death.
But yielding for arguments sake, all the passages in which the sense of "spiritual death" is claimed, the immortal life of the wicked would not follow. The drunkard, we often say, has "destroyed" himself. Do we infer, because he is not dead yet, that he will live for ever? Just the opposite. So "spiritual death" might foreshadow a final death that leaves no trace of life nor gleam of hope.
We conclude that Isaac 'Watts is justified in saying: "There is not one place of Scripture that occurs to me, where the word death, as it was first threatened in the law of innocency, necessarily signifies a certain miserable immortality of the soul, either to Adam the actual sinner, or to his posterity."27
If now we have shown that the literal sense of the terms "life "and "death "is not wanting in the scriptural use of them, we are prepared to consider the various expressions commonly applied to the destiny of the lost. One of the most significant of these is
a. The Second Death.—This phrase occurs four times, in the Apocalypse, 2:11, 20:6, 14, 21:8. In all these instances the contrasted "crown of life," "resurrection," "book of life," and "water of life," indicate a literal sense of the term "death." But the phrase is most important historically. For it was current among the Jews, and shows (1.) that they made the distinction between judgment in this world, and in the world to come, which is not often made in the Old Testament; and (2.) that they understood by this death, exclusion from life.
The following examples of its use are found in the early Jewish books: "Every idolater, who says that there is another God besides me, I will slay with the second death, from which no man can come to life again."28 "In this place (Exod. 19:12) two deaths are spoken of, as also in Gen. 30:1, that is, the second death."29 "Every thief, or robber of his neighbor's goods, shall fall by his iniquities, that he may die the second death."30 "We learn from this place, (Num. 14:37,) that they died the second death."31 "Because he [Cain] was doubly guilty, he was slain with a two-fold death—the latter far more severe than the former."32 "Let Reuben live, and not die the second death, by which the ungodly die in the world to come."33 "This hath been decreed by the Lord, that this sin shall not be forgiven them, until they die the second death."34 "Behold, this is written before me, I will not give them long life, until I have taken vengeance for their sins; and I will give their glory [soul] to the second death."35 "They shall die the second death, and shall not live in the world to come, saith the Lord."36 "They shall die the second death, so as not to enter into the world to come."37
These examples plainly warrant the remark of Hammond on the phrase "second death," that "it seems to be taken from the Jews, who use it proverbially for final, utter, irreversible destruction. ...It seems to denote such a death from which there is no release. And according to this notion of it, as it reflects fitly on the first death, (which is a destruction, but such as is reparable by a reviving or resurrection, but this past hopes and exclusive of that,) so will all the several places wherein it is used be clearly interpreted. [The doctor goes on to give an ecclesiastical turn to this exposition: 'So ch. 21:8, the lake that burneth with fire, etc , is called the "second death," into which they are said to go that are never to appear in the church again;' but he adds:] And though in these different matters some difference there must needs be in the significations, yet in all of them the notion of utter destruction, final, irreparable excision, may very properly be retained, and applied to each of them,"
The similar phrase in Jude, ver. 12, "twice dead," if explained by the following words, "plucked up by the roots," clearly denotes an utter destruction. The tree that has been cut down, may grow again; the tree that has been uprooted, never.
b. Excision. The phrase "shall be cut off" is often used in the Old Testament to denote the end of the wicked. Many of the Hebrew doctors regard it as a punishment by the hand of God. And Maimonides interprets the expression: "That soul shall be cut off from his people" (Gen. 17:14), of the utter destruction of soul and body. It was the "greater excommunication," and that could be nothing less than death. Says Gesenius, "It is never the punishment of exile, as supposed by J. D. Michaelis." The familiarity of the Jews with the notion of the second death, indicates that the meaning of this phrase can hardly be restricted to the death of the body. The formula used in the ratifying of covenants may favor the extended sense of the phrase. The sacrifice of a victim was an imprecation: "May I thus die, if I be not faithful to this engagement." Hence the phrase "to make a covenant,"38 might imply the penalty of which the Jews often spoke, — the being "cut off from the life of the world to come." The only instance in which the extended sense of the phrase involves any difficulty, is in Dan. 9:26: "The Messiah shall be cut off." But the difficulty here is created by the mystery of the incarnation. The manifest exception cannot do away the rule.
This view is confirmed by the phrase in Ps. 37:38, "The end of the wicked shall be cut off," compared with Prov. 24:14, 20. The Hebrew word tdija here rendered "end" and "reward," is the same which commonly denotes "after time," "the future," "the last days," "latter state," "final lot." It might be not inaptly rendered hereafter, thus: "The hereafter of the wicked shall be cut off." "Then shall there be a hereafter [to thee], and thy expectation shall not be cut off." "There shall be no hereafter to the wicked man." But the sense is perhaps more aptly given by a Jewish Rabbi, speaking of a cessation of existence, thus: "There shall be no residuum to the wicked man; the light of the ungodly shall be extinguished."39
c. Anathema. This word occurs six times in the New Testament, viz: Acts 23:14; Rom. 9:3; 1 Cor. 12:3; 16:22; Gal. 1:8, 9. It also frequently occurs in the Septuagint, as the equivalent of the Hebrew CHEREM. A few examples will indicate its proper sense. "No devoted thing (ajnavqemaem) shall be redeemed, but shall surely be put to death" (Lev. 27:29; comp. Deut. 7:26, 13:17; Josh. 6:17, 18; 1 Chron. 2:7; Zech. 14:11). In Judg. 1:17, some copies give, instead of unjuqema, ejcolovqreusiz, "utter destruction." In Num. 21:2; Deut. 20:17; Jud. 21:11; and Kgs. 15:3, and other places, the verb40 is used to denote utter subversion and destruction.
These examples clearly sustain the following definitions of Schleusner, in his N. T. Lexicon: "1. Any thing set apart from common use; victim, sacrifice. 2. Whatever is destined to destruction; what is given to perish (perditur), is blotted out, cut off. 3. One devoted to a miserable fate, to be sacrificed in expiation; one who is an abomination, to be detested and removed from the sight of men; an abominable thing, to be removed from the sight of God and men." Compare Wahl, Bretschneider, and Robinson. Was the ajnavqema of the N. T. an immortal thing, or a thing to be conserved in eternal being?
In a single instance (1 Cor. 16:22) the word "maranatha" is added. If this means "the Lord cometh," as many think, the passage is parallel with that in 2 Thes. 1:8, 9; where we shall find that the proper destruction of the wicked is foretold.
d. Destruction, or Perdition. The latter of these terms is not used in our version of the Old Testament, though it is used in the New Testament instead of the term "destruction," and in rendering the same Greek word ajpwvleia. This and its cognate ojvleqroz, with the corresponding verbs, are used about ninety times in the New Testament. This number includes the cases in which ajpwvleia is translated by "waste" (Matt. 26:8; Mark 14:4), "damnation," or "damnable" (2 Pet. 2:1, 3), and the verb ajpovllum by "lose," or "lost" (Matt. 10:6, 39; 15:24; 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24, 25; 17:33; John 12:25), and excludes those in which other Greek words are employed.41
A glance at the passages thus reduced to a class, shows that the literal sense of the terms in question is manifestly the true one in most instances. Two or three of them seem to forbid any other sense. In Matt. 10:28, we read of "Him who is able to destroy (ujpolevsai) both soul and body in hell." If the body is not destroyed by a deathless torment, why the soul? In Acts 3:23, the prediction of Moses,—"every soul which will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed (ejcoloqreuqhvsetai) from among the people," is cited without the remotest hint of a destruction that does not kill. But the metaphorical sense is supposed to hold in two or three cases which should be examined.
1. It is thought the "loss of the soul" cannot denote its proper destruction, but is something far more terrible. But in Matt. 10:39, 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; 17:33; John 12:25, where the term ajpovllum is used in connexion with yuxhv, this noun is rendered, not "soul," but "life." In Matt. 16:26, and Mark 8:36, where yuxhv is rendered "soul," the verb is zhmiovw, which is rightly rendered "shall suffer loss" in 1 Cor. 3:15, where the loss of unapproved work, "hay, wood, and stubble," is spoken of. And in Luke 9:25, the phrase is "lose (ajpolevsaz) himself, or be cast away (zhmiwqeviz)."
2. In 2 Pet. 3:6, the world which was before the flood is said to have "perished" (ajpwvleto), though it was not annihilated. May not the soul perish likewise?
The question here raised is not one of geology. In that court we might prove that the "new heavens and the new earth" will be identical with those which now subsist; or that though they be changed as garments (Heb. 1:11, 12), they will perish never. But to the mind of the inspired writer, the earth, purged and changed by the deluge, was to all intents and purposes a new thing; and he might properly speak of "the world that then was," and "the heavens and the earth which are now," as two different things. Things are destroyed variously, by change of form, or by loss of being, according to their nature. Hence the early doctrine of the last things: "The day of the Lord cometh, in which every thing that is seen shall be dissolved, and the wicked shall be destroyed with it."42
3. In 1 Cor. 5:5, Paul directs the incestuous person to be given over to Satan "for the destruction (ojvleqron) of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." Could he mean that this person should suffer death?
Granting that Paul simply advised excommunication, his language may have been a Jewish formula for the "greater excommunication," requiring the principal witness or accuser43 to cast the first stone. If so, the phrase, and not the word, would be the metaphor.
But the literal sense of the passage is sanctioned by good authority. Thus Bloomfield: "That the Apostles had the power and were authorized to punish notorious offenders with disease and death in a supernatural manner, few will deny. See John 20:23; Acts 13:11, and 1 Cor. 11:29."44 "And Lightfoot, remarking that the offender "deserved death, two or three times over," says: "we are led to be of their opinion who interpret the place of a miraculous action, namely, of the real delivery of this person into the hands and power of Satan, to be scourged by him, and tormented by him with diseases, tortures and affrightments."45
e. Corruption. The Greek verb fqeivrw and its derivatives, often rendered "destroy" and "destruction," occur thirty-five times in the New Testament. In a few instances the word is used in its modern ethical sense; e. g. 1 Cor. 15:33; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 6:5; 2 Tim. 3:8. But a comparison of passages will show that this sense is the exception and not the rule. Thus "He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption," (fqoruvn, Gal. 6:8). With this compare the saying in Ecclesiasticus, 10:11: "When a man shall die, he shall inherit serpents, and beasts, and worms;" and ch. 19:3: "He that joineth himself to harlots, will be reckless. Rottenness and worms shall inherit him; and he shall be lifted up for a greater example; and his soul shall be taken away out of the number." The comparison made in 2 Pet. 2:12, indicates a literal destruction of lhe wicked: "But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed (eis fqoravn), shall utterly perish (katafqaphvson) in their own corruption" (fqoria; comp. 1 Cor. 3:17; Rev. 11:18). On the other hand "incorruption" (afqarsia), or an incorruptible portion, is made the inheritance of the righteous, in 1 Cor. 15:42, 50, 53, 54; 1 Pet. 1:23.
We shall meet the literal sense of the word in the writings of the early Christians. To assume its modern sense in the interpretation of Scripture, is to read history backward. And even granting the metaphorical sense were predominant, we should hardly infer the immortality of the vicious; for, in every analogy, corruption is a method of death and not of life.
I. Other expressions. The wicked are often spoken of as "consumed," "devoured," "burned." Fire is represented as going out from before the Lord to devour his enemies, in various passages of the O. T., Lev. 10:2; Num. 16:35, 26:10; 2 Kings 1:10, 12, 14; Ps. 21:9, comp. 2 Sam. 22:9; Ps. 18:8; and in Rev. 20:9 (comp. Heb. 10:26, 27). The divine anger is represented as "a consuming fire," Deut. 4:24; Heb. 12:29. And such passages as Ps. 73:27, 104:35; Mal. 4:1; Matt. 13:30, 40-43; John 15:6; Heb. 6:8, can hardly be referred to God's temporal judgments.
If now literal fire is the most natural emblem of destruction, we should expect that the fire of divine wrath will destroy the soul. The passages supposed to prove the contrary will be examined in their place.
The wicked are said to be "slain," in various passages that most naturally indicate their final doom; e. g. Ps. 34:21, 62:3, 139:19; Prov. 1:32; Isa. 11:4, 66:16; Luke 19:27. Compare the phrases "blot out," Ps. 69:28; "grind to powder," Matt. 21:44; Luke 20:18; "dash in pieces," Ps. 2:9; "tear in pieces," Ps. 1:22; "put away as dross," Ps. 119:119; "shall be as nothing," Isa. 41:11, 12; "shall not be," Ps. 37:10; Prov. 12:7.
We might here adduce the various forms of prayer and imprecation respecting the wicked, which would be meaningless, or horrible, if they must subsist for ever. That of Abigail is an example: "The soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with the Lord thy God; and the souls of thine enemies, them shall he sling out, as out of the middle of a sling" (1 Sam. 25:29). And that of Peter: "Thy money perish with thee" (Acts 8:20).
We now come to the second division of the inferential argument. The passages on which it is based may be classified, as follows:
I. Those in which the ruin of the lost, under various names, is spoken of as eternal. The expressions are: "everlasting contempt," Dan. 12:2; "everlasting destruction," 2 Thes. 1:9; "everlasting punishment," Matt. 25:46; eternal damnation," Mark 3:29; "eternal judgment," Heb. 6:2.
II. Those in which the term "everlasting" or its equivalent is applied to the cause of their supposed endless misery. The expressions are: "unquenchable fire," Matt. 3:12; Luke 3:17; Mark 9:43, 45; "their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched," Isa. 66:24; Mark 9:44, 46, 48; "everlasting" or "eternal fire," Matt, 18:8; 25:41; Jude, ver. 7; "everlasting burnings," Isa. 33:14; "the wrath of God abideth on him," John 3:36.
III. One expression supposed to denote eternal sinfulness, Rev. 22:11.
IV. Those in which the concomitants of the final ruin are supposed to indicate an eternal existence. See the phrases: "mist of darkness for ever," 2 Pet 2:17; "blackness of darkness for ever," Jude, ver. 13; "smoke," and "smoke of torment," rising for ever, Rev. 14:11, 19:3. Here belong the expressions, "wailing," and "gnashing of teeth," Matt. 8:12, 13:42, 50, 24:13, 24:51, 25:30; Luke 13:28; "to be without," Rev. 22:15; also the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Luke 16:19-31; and the phrase "everlasting chains," Jude, ver. 6.
V. The passage in which Satan, the beast and the false prophet are said to be "tormented, day and night, for ever and ever," Rev. 20:10.
We might remark upon the paucity and general obscurity of these expressions, if they alone, or as a class, must prove man's danger of incurring eternal woe. But it will be better to inquire respecting them, one by one, what they do mean.
I. 1. "Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." — Dan. 12:2.
It is thought by good critics that the prophet here speaks only of the resurrection of the righteous, called the "first resurrection" in Rev. 20:5; and that the passage should be read: "these [who awake] to everlasting life, and those [who do not awake] to shame and everlasting contempt." This would agree with the Syriac version: "some to death, and the eternal contempt of their companions."46
But we are willing to take the passage as making no distinction between the first and the second resurrection. We need then only to correct the frequent dislocation by which the "shame" as well as the "contempt" is made everlasting. Though even on this we need not insist; for the word "shame"can not refer to the feelings of the lost. The Hebrew (ioaw+w ) is used only here and in Isa. 64:24 (Eng. "an abhorring "), where, says Dr. Wintle, it denotes "a kind of spectacle, show, or nausea," and is translated "nausea" by Buxtorf in his Concordance. The allusion seems to be to the putrefaction of death. The "contempt," if it expresses a feeling of the righteous, is farther described in such passages as Mal. 4:3; Matt. 8:40-43; 2 Pet. 2:9-12; Ps. 92:7; on which last passage
Hengstenberg remarks, perhaps too carelessly: "The annihilation of the wicked comes into notice as the basis of the deliverance of the righteous, which is the proper theme of the Psalm."
2. "And to you who are troubled, rest with us; when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power," — 2 Thes. 1:7-9.
The common mistake in the interpretation of this passage is in taking the preposition "from" to denote separation, and not the origin or source of the destruction named. The parallel expression in Acts 3:19, "The times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord (apd proswpou ton Kuriou) and others describing the destruction of God's enemies (Lev. 10:2; Num. 16:35; 2 Kings 1:10, 12, 14; Rev. 20:9), suggest the true sense; which is thus given by Macknight: "These wicked men, being raised from the dead, shall suffer punishment, even everlasting destruction, by fire issuing from the presence of the Lord." And by Conybeare and Howson: "Then shall go forth against them, from the presence of the Lord, and from the brightness of his glorious majesty, their righteous doom, even an everlasting destruction." This view is supported by Grotius, Cocceius, Pellicanus, Castalio, Le Clere, Poole, Hammond, Benson, Henry, Bengel, Pelt, Baumgarten-Crusius, De Wette.
The sense of the adjective "everlasting" will be given in our discussion of Mark 3:29, and Heb. 6:2.
3. "These shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal." — Matt. 25:46.
This is the most important of all the passages supposed to affirm the eternal suffering, and to imply the immortality, of the lost. As we have before remarked, we waive all argument in behalf of a limited sense of the word "everlasting," though a very strong case could be made out for such a sense, if the doctrine of human destiny were made to turn on words expressive of duration. Not only are all the terms that denote eternity very often in the Bible used in a modified sense, but the very phrase here employed by our Savior to denote the doom of the lost, is used by Philo to express an insuperable resentment in this life. "It is better," he says, "not to promise at all, than not to give prompt assistance. For, in the former case, no blame follows; but in the latter, there is dissatisfaction from the weaker class, and a deep hatred and lasting punishment (kovlasiz aijwvnioz) from such as are powerful."47 He also speaks of an "eternal (aijwvnioz, perhaps meaning far reaching) and perfect wisdom."48 And the argument to show that aijwvnioz signifies, not the continuance, but the spiritual nature, of the future retributions, is supported by numerous examples that have been carefully collected by a late writer.49 But, happily, the whole doctrine of a future life was never designed, and has not been left, to depend on this class, nor on any single class, of words. Man's hope of immortality is, rather, inwrought into the very texture of the revealed Word, and is derived from the momentous facts of the gospel history.50
In discussing the passage in hand, we accept, at the outset, the translation of kovlasiz by the word "punishment," and inquire (1.) Does it necessarily denote conscious pain? (2.) Did the Jews of Christ's time regard eternal privation of being as an eternal punishment?
(1.) We are told that the word is peculiarly expressive, a stronger word than the timwriva commonly used to denote punishment; a verbal noun, denoting action, and not result; a noun of infliction.51 And from the Syriac we have in this place, "torment;" as also in the common version of 1 John 4:18.
The Syriac, however, cannot be relied on in this argument, as it does not render the word uniformly in the four places where the noun or the verb occurs. In Acts 4:21, it reads: "to punish;" in 2 Peter 2:9: "to be tormented;" as also in verse 4, where some manuscripts read kolazomevnouz threin; in 1 John 4:18: "existeth in peril." Moreover, the Syriac word used in the passage in hand admits a milder sense, and is rendered "supplicium" (punishment) by Walton and White.52
The translation of the word by "chastisement" is, we think, no better supported. That is indeed the classic sense of the word, which appears in the adjective ajkovlastoz (the scorner), in Prov. 21:11. But it is not favored by the other passages in the New Testament; and it is opposed by the distinction often made between kovlasiz and timwriva, as corrective or disciplinary, and judicial. The former was the punishment of children and slaves; the latter, of enemies or criminals. Thus Aristotle: "Kovlasiz is inflicted for the sake of him who suffers it, but timwriva, for the satisfaction of him who requires it."53 And Eustathius says: "Kovlasiz is properly a certain kind of punishment; that is, a certain chastising and restraining of the disposition, but not vindictive punishment."54
The translation by "restraint" is favored by the use of the present tense in 2 Pet. 2:9 (kolazomevnouz, comp. ver. 4; Jude ver. 6; and perhaps Acts 4:21), and by a remark of Schleusner.55 It is favored by the tenor of various passages which represent the wicked as the troublers of the righteous, to be effectually restrained by God's final judgments. See Ps. 37, 73, 92.; Isa. 66:24, Dan. 12:2, 3; Matt. 13:40-43; 2 Thes. 6-10; 2 Pet. 2:4-12; Jude vv. 5-7, 13. But this idea is not prominent in Matt, 25, and such a rendering would be hardly tenable.
One respectable writer accepts the translation by the word "abscission," or "excision."56 This seems to be supported by the cognate kolobovw (Matt. 24:22; Mark 13:20), and by the original sense of "pruning." But in pruning, the tree is not "cut off" — only the branches. And though, by the laws of language, the word might easily have acquired this sense, we find no proof that it has done so.
The general sense of "punishment" we think is sustained by the comparison of the twenty-eight instances in which the noun or verb occurs in the Septuagint and other Greek versions. Most of these are found, indeed, in the Apocryphal Books. But this volume of Hellenistic Greek is inferior to no other authority, to determine the usus loquendi of words in the New Testament. The following are the most important of the passages:
Ezek. 14:3, 4, 7; 43:11, 44:12 (marg.). Here kovlasiz occurs as the equivalent of "stumbling-block." Schleusncr explains the translation thus: "Whatever is the cause of misfortune or punishment, is called in Scripture a 'stumbling-block.' "For the nature of the punishment incurred, sec ch. 14:8-10.
Ezvk. 18:30, "So iniquity shall not be your ruin (kovlasiz)."
2 Sam. 8:1, "David smote the Philistines, and subdued them "(Aquila, evkovlasen; Sept. ejtropwvsato, routed or destroyed).
Prov. 22:23, "For the Lord will plead their cause, and spoil (Symmachus, koluvsetai,) the soul of those that spoiled them."57
Esdras 8:27, "And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the King, let judgment be executed speedily upon him (evrimelwz kolasqnvsontai, whether it be unto death, or to banishment (tmiwria, marg. rootinq out), or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment."
Wisd. 3:1-4, "But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and torment (bavsanoz) may not touch them. In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die, and their exit was reckoned a calamity, and their departure from us, utter destruction (suvutrimma); but they are in peace. For though in the sight of men they are punished (kolaoqwsin), their hope is full of immortality."
Wisd. 11:5, 6, "For by what things their enemies [the Egyptians] were punished (ejkolavoqhoan), by the same things they in their need were benefited." Comp. w. 19, 17,and c. 12. 14, 15, 27; 16:1, 2, 9, 24; 18:11, 22. Inc. c. 12:27, the Vulgate renders kolazovmenoi by "extcrminarentur"; Calmet and the Port-Royalists, by "tourmentez ct cxterminez."
Wisd. 14:8-10, "But the idol that is made by hands is cursed, and also he that made it; himself, because he made it, and the corruptible thing, because it was called a god. For to God both the wicked and his wickedness are alike hateful. And that which was made, together with him who made it, shall be punished (kolasqhvsetai)." Comp. ver. 13: "For neither were they from the beginning, neither shall they be for ever."58
Wisd. 14. 4, "For a fatuity of which they [the Egyptians] were worthy brought them to this end; and they lost the remembrance of those things which had happened, that they might fill up the punishment (kovlasin) which was wanting to their torments (basuvnoiz)."
2 Macc. 4:38, "He put to death the sacrilegious wretch, the Lord repaying him his deserved punishment (kovlasin).
2 Macc. 6:14, 15, "For, not as with other nations, (whom the Lord patiently expecteth until he shall punish [kovlasai] them in the fulness of their sins,) doth he also deal with us, so as to suffer our sins to come to their height, and then take vengeance on us."
The other passages are 1 Macc. 7:7, and 3 Macc. 1:3; 6:3, where the context shows that the punishment is death.
The ethical sense of "punishment," as distinct from calamity or mere excision, is apparent in all the passages. But the word by no means determines the kind of punishment. It may be torment, or it may put an end to torment (Wisd. 19:4 ). It may be banishment, confiscation of goods, or imprisonment (3 Esdras 7:27). In most of the passages, it is death. In one (Wisd. 3:1-4), it is the loss of immortality,59 or utter destruction, which seems also to be regarded as a "torment." And in another (Wisd. 14:8-10), the destruction of an idol made of wood, in token of God's displeasure, is called punishment . To say nothing of these remarkable instances, those in which the punishment designated is death, show that the word does not necessarily denote torment.
The argument 'from the phrase "everlasting punishment" is then reduced to this question: Can the adjective (aijwvnioz) qualify the noun in any specific sense, as well as in its generic sense? If in a given instance the kovlasiz is pain, is it as proper to speak of "eternal pain." as of "eternal punishment? "If in another instance the Kovlasiz is death, is it proper to speak of an "eternal death? "If the given punishment is one of loss, may that loss be called eternal? If so, then all argument for the specific sense of "torment" from the general sense of "punishment," is at an end. The proof of eternal suffering can not be made out from the phrase "everlasting punishment," but must be derived from other sources. And this leads us to our second inquiry:
(2.) Did the Jews of Christ's time regard eternal privation of being as eternal punishment? This question is already answered so far as the two passages just cited (Wisd. 3:1-4; 14:8-10) may be taken to show their opinion. But there are passages in the canonical scriptures equally in point . Thus Peter, speaking to the Jews of the resurrection of Jesus, says: "Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death (wjdinaz tou qanavtou) because it was not possible that he should be holden of it" (Acts 2:24). It was certainly not the pains of dying that Peter had in mind; for Jesus was not saved from them. Yet we do not suppose that he actually suffered pain in the interval between his death and resurrection. The phrase was proverbial, denoting the state of death as one of gloom and wretchedness, compared with life. This sense is supported by Lightfoot, who says: "By the pains of death we are not to understand so much the torments and pangs in the lost moments of death, as those bands which followed, viz.: the continued separation of soul and body, the putrefaction and corruption of the body in the grave." Thus David speaks of the "sorrows of death," the "sorrows of hell," the "snares of death," and "the pains of hell" (Ps. 18:4, 5, 116:3; 2 Sam. 22:6). And Job desires to "take comfort a little," before entering "the land of darkness and the shadow of death; a land of darkness, as darkness itself, and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness "(ch. 10:21, 22). And in Ezek. 32:24, 25, 30, the enemies of Israel are spoken of as "enduring shame," while they are described as "slain," "fallen by the sword," "gone down to Sheol," or to "the pit," and in their graves. The Seventy render "shame" by "torment" (bavsanoz), by which they evidently mean the torment of being dead; and in Isa. 14:9-20, we find the same dramatic representation of the state of death as a sore evil. "The worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee." Babylon is "gone down to the stones of the pit; as a carcass trodden under foot." This natural sentiment, that it is an evil thing to be dead, often transfers to the dead the thoughts of the living about them. This is quite apparent in the famous argument of Cicero, where he finds it so difficult to dispel the illusion that the body of one actually dead may suffer in being torn by dogs and birds of prey. And it was said by an ancient Rabbi: "The worm is as tormenting to a dead man, as a needle to living flesh."
We will conclude this discussion by observing—(1.) That the contrast of the punishment with "life eternal," naturally suggests that it consists in eternal death. Thus De Wette: "The conceptions—eternal punishment (Strafe) and eternal life—are not strictly contrasted. Zwhv is not merely blessedness, but life in the fullest (tiefsten) sense of the word; and that which properly corresponds to it is annihilation." And (2.) we may derive a moral argument from the full account here given of the solemn judgment of the great day.60 What is the sin and guilt for which the final sentence is here pronounced? For what crime are they condemned to their eternal punishment? The indictment, if we may so name the accusation, runs thus: "I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not." This charge involves the lack of all true goodness, and the basest ingratitude. But how different it is from the reasons commonly assigned for an eternal suffering. Yet it is God's own Theodicy. Sinful men have not loved nor regarded Him who came to save them; they have rejected and scorned Him who came that they might have life. Shall an immortality that is "not life "be their retribution?
4. "But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation." — Mark 3:29. "The doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment." — Heb. 6:2.
The words "damnation" (krivsiz) and "judgment" (krivma) are not essentially different. The former has indeed become a synonym of "eternal misery;" but this is owing to the history of doctrine; not at all to its etymology,61 nor to the original Greek. Thus Christ says: "As I hear, I judge; and my judgment (krivsiz) is just." And again: "The weightier matters of the law, judgment (krivsiz), mercy, and truth." "Judgment (krivsin) and the love of God; these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone."
But instead of this milder sense, which gave to the Hebrew champion and deliverer the name of "judge," the word has in Mark 3:29, the severer meaning of "condemnation."62 The equivalent term in Heb. 6:2, denotes in general "sentence," whether favorable or unfavorable. The word yields no argument for the immortality of the lost. That must be sought in the qualifying adjective aijwvnioz, "eternal," and the argument is reduced to this: Can an irreversible sentence be properly called "eternal," though it be a sentence of utter destruction? Or, is this adjective used to denote the eternity of effect?
The examples are numerous. Thus we read of an "eternal salvation" (Heb. 5:9; comp. Isa. 45:17); of "eternal redemption" (Heb. 9:12); of "the everlasting gospel" (Rev. 14:6, see Barnes's note); of a "perpetual covenant" (Exod. 31:16; Jer. 1. 5); a "perpetual statute" (Lev. 3:17, 24:9); a "perpetual decree" (Jer. 5:22); a "perpetual ordinance" (Ezek. 46:14); a "perpetual end" (Ps. 9:6). And such instances might be multiplied, if we take the Hebrew snonu , "for ever," as equivalent to the word "eternal." See Num. 18:19; Job 4:20, 14:20, 20:7, 23:7, 36:7; Ps. 44:23, 50:8, 53:5, 77:7, 8; 83:17, 92:7; Obad. 10; Mic. 2:9.
Like examples abound in early Jewish writings. Thus in the Book of Enoch (Laurence's translation): "Even to the day of judgment, and of consummation, until the judgment [the effect of] which shall last for ever, be completed" (10:15). "For in the great day there shall be a judgment, with which they shall be judged until they are consumed "(19:2). "Until the period of the great judgment; when all shall be punished and consumed for ever "(24:9). "They shall be cast inlo a judgment of fire; they shall perish in wrath, and by a judgment overpowering them for ever" (90:11; comp. ver. 13: "And blasphemers shall be annihilated every where"). "An everlasting judgment shall be executed" (92:16; comp. 103:5; 104:3).
We add a few examples from the Talmud and the Rabbies, some of which explain the Jewish doctrine of a two-fold judgment, and thus meet the apparent argument in the phrase "hath never forgiveness." After having spoken of the power and judgments of an earthly king as temporary ("if he should slay me, that slaying would not be eternal") Jochanan ben Zaccai says: "If the King of kings shall be angry with me, his wrath is eternal; if he shall bind me, his bands are eternal; if he should slay me, his slaying is eternal."63 Again it is said those guilty of certain sins "shall descend into gehenna, and shall there be judged for ever." On which Abarbanel remarks: "Such are enormous sins and perverse deeds, which blind the eyes of the mind, and subvert the soul, so that he who commits them shall be cast out from the inheritance of the saints, which is the life of the world to come." "He that denies the resurrection of the dead, shall not have part in the resurrection of the dead; for God rewards him with the same measure."64 Again he says: "A sinner who is an Israelite shall be punished according to his sin, yet shall have part in the world to come; but if a man shall not believe all these articles [of the Faith], he is already excluded from the lot of Israel, as a heretic and an Epicurean [infidel]." And to the same purpose: "Now the greatest reward is the world to come; and the heaviest punishment is extermination."65 And Maimonides: "The sages say, For three transgressions punishment is inflicted upon a man in this world, and moreover he has no share in the world that is to come; viz: idolatry, adultery, and bloodshed; but a bad tongue is equivalent to all these."66 With which agrees the Talmud: "There are four things which are avenged of a man in this world, and yet the capital [of the sin] is reserved for the world that is to come."67 The distinction is that of interest and principal; the former might be exacted, and the latter remitted. So Maimonides again: "On all wicked [Israelites], though their sins be numerous, judgment is pronounced according to their sins, but yet they have a share in the world that is to come; for all Israel have a share in the world to come, although they have sinned; for it is said: 'Thy people also shall be all righteous; they shall inherit the laud for ever;' which means, the land of life, or the world that is to come. Also, the pious of the Gentiles shall have a share in the world that is to come. These, however [viz.: heretics, they who deny the law, etc.] have no share in the world that is to come, but they are cut off", destroyed, and condemned for ever and ever."68
Such were Jewish views of the "foundation of the faith" (Heb. 6:1, 2). Christ recognizes the distinction between forgiveness here and hereafter (Mark 3:29; comp. 1 Cor. 5:5, 11:30), and makes his own application of it. The doctrine is that of 1 John 5:16: "There is a sin unto death; I do not say that ye shall pray for it."
II. 5. "Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but ho will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." — Matt. 3:12; comp. Luke 3:17; Mark 9:43, 45; where the same phrase, puvr uvjsbeston, is used.
With these passages should be also compared Ps. 1:4; Matt, 3:10; and John 15:6. It is obvious that any mode of reasoning which would infer from them the immortality of the lost, must assume the indestructibility of chaff, of felled trees, and of the dry branches of a vine. We need hardly remark that the word "unquenchable" denotes the fierceness of a fire, which can not be quenched, but must burn on, consuming what it will. Thus Wetstein: "The puvr uvjsbeston denotes such a fire as can not be extinguished before it has consumed and destroyed all." So Kuinoel and Rosenmiiller. And Bloomfield, speaking of the oriental custom of burning straw and stubble, adds: "The puvr uvjsbeston completes the awful image of total destruction."
A similar phrase is found in Homer, where the scholiast explains: "that which burns down quickly, or is quenched with difficulty."69 And the same phrase occurs in various passages in the classics,70 in the same sense. Eusebius employs it in two instances in recounting the martyrdom of Christians. Cronion and Julian were scourged and afterwards "consumed in an unquenchable fire;" and "Epimachus and Alexander, who had continued for a long time in prison, enduring innumerable sufferings from the scourges and scrapers, were also destroyed in an unquenchable fire."71
6. "And they shall go forth and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh." — Isa. 66:24; comp. Mark 9:44, 46, 48.
Here again we observe the mode of reasoning which deduces the immortality of the lost, must assume the indestructibility of "carcases." But the parallel passages show that the "unquenched" fire is one which is not put out, but must consume and destroy. Thus in Jeremiah, foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem, we read: "Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched "(7:20). Compare 2 Kings 22:17; Ps. 118:12; Isa. 1:28, 31; Jer. 4:4, 17:27; Ezek. 20:47, 48; Amos 5:6.
But why is it said "their worm shall not die?" The reason is two-fold: (1.) The word translated "abhorring," used elsewhere only in Dan. 12:2, and signifying the nauseous spectacle of putrefying carcases, shows that the "worm" is not that of conscience, but either literal vermin, or something else of which that is a type. So the writer of Ecclesiasticus: "Humble thy spirit very much; for the vengeance on the flesh of the ungodly is fire and worms" (7:19). Compare 10:11; 19:3; cited above, p. 183; also the Targum of Jonathan on Isa. 65:6: "I will not grant them long life, but I will pay them vengeance for their sins, and deliver their carcases to the second death;" and Lightfoot: "To be devoured by worms was reckoned an accursed thing, and what befel none but men of the greatest impiety."72 And (2.) to the agency of the worm is added that of fire, to set forth, by iteration, the completeness of the destruction. What the worm does not devour, the fire shall consume. Thus the prophet Joel: "That which the palmer-worm hath left, hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left, hath the canker-worm eaten; and that which the canker-worm hath left, hath the caterpillar eaten" (Joel 1:4).
The phrase has a historical allusion, respecting which there are two opinions. One is that of Dr. Alexander, who, deriving the figure from the fires kept up in the valley of the son of Hinnom, or Tophet,73 makes it an allusion to the fate of the apostate Israel: "The central figure is Jerusalem, and its walls the dividing line between the two contrasted objects. Within is the true Israel, without the false." The latter is finally exhibited, no longer living, but committed to the flames of Tophet. "To render our conceptions more intense, the worm is added to the fire, and both are represented as undying. That the contrast hitherto maintained may not be forgotten even in this closing scene, the men within the walls are seen by the light of these funeral fires, coming forth and gazing at the ghastly scene, not with delight as some interpreters pretend, but as the text expressly says, with horror. In its primary meaning, this is a prophecy of ruin to the unbelieving Jews — apostate Israel."
The other opinion is that of Albert Barnes, who derives the figure "from a scene where a people whose lands have been desolated by mighty armies, are permitted to go forth after a decisive battle, and to walk over the field of the slain, and to see the dead and putrefying bodies of their once formidable enemies." Of this, the destruction of Sennacherib's host would be a notable example. Either derivation explains the language used. It is not the immortality of the individual soul, but the multitude of those who finally perish, that challenges the unquenched fire, and the unfailing worm. They are as the sand of the sea (Rev. 20:8). Their number suggests an immortal feast for worms, like the "supper of the great God "to which the fowls of heaven are invited, in Rev. 19:17, 18. Hence the expression in Isa. 66:15, 16: "Behold the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire; and the slain of the Lord shall be many."
Thus the words in Isa. 66:24, are in two ways explained by reference to the scenes of time; and in one or other of these explanations nearly all the commentators are agreed. It follows that to extend the allusion — as many of them do — to an eternal scene, explains nothing, and therefore proves nothing. It is an assumption of the thing to be proved. And although the words as quoted by our Savior can not refer so immediately to the valley of Hinnom, or to the destruction of an army, but are applied directly to God's final judgment, yet to suppose that they now indicate the soul's immortality is no less an assumption of the thing to be proved, and it is to deduce indestructibility from the images of utter destruction. But in the context the hypothesis of entering into life halt or maimed or with one eye, as strongly intimates the literal destruction of one's being, soul and body, as the mention of "carcases "in the original passage.
But the explanation of these passages will be incomplete without a consideration of that vexed passage in Mark 9:49: "For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt," in which a few commentators find the eternal conservation of the lost. All such argument, at least, is done away by the remarks of Hammond, who says: "The word salted (ajlisqhvsetai) is made answerable to the Hebrew tbm, and is set by Symmachus (Isa. 52:6) to signify consumed, in like manner as the whole burnt offering is consumed — burnt all of it with fire; which is answerable to the unquenchable fire (puvr uvjsbeston) going before; and so the meaning of this expression will be here, that that first sort of men, 'the apostates, or wicked, carnal Christians, . . . shall be used as the burnt offerings are, — they shall have fire instead of salt. But the pious minded Christian, like the minchah, shall have the salt, the grace of God and Christian doctrine; and by God's help make use of it, to eat up all his corruptions and degrees of putrefaction left in him, and also to be a principle of union and peaceable-mindedness in him; as among other uses of salt it is said to be unitive (evnwtikovz). . . But it is not unlikely that in this place, and in that of Isaiah, ajlisqhvsetai may be put for ajlisqhvsetai ( or ajnalwqhvsetai) which signifies first to be caught, then to be consumed; so ajlwsiz (2 Pet. 2:12) is preying upon, and, joined with fqora, destroying or consuming. So in Isa. 66., after the mention of God's pleading by fire (ver. 16) is added: "they shall be consumed' together (ajnalwqhvsontai, ver. 17)." This view is supported by the remarks of Whitby, which are the more significant because he has just expatiated on the notion of the perpetuity of the condemned. He says: "It is the property of salt to preserve things from corruption; hence a covenant of salt is put for an everlasting or inviolable covenant. So Num. 18:19: 'It is a covenant of salt for ever (ajldz aijwnivu) before the Lord;' and God gave David and his sons kings over Israel for ever by a covenant of salt (2 Chr. 13:5). Whence the Jews say, salt was to season all their sacrifices, to signify that they preserved their souls from corruption, as the salt did the sacrifice; Philo, that salt is a symbol of the perpetuity of all things, preserving that on which it is sprinkled.74 And on those words: 'With every oblation you shall offer salt,' —'By this,' saith Philo,' he signifies the perpetual duration of them; salt being the preservation of bodies next to the soul itself; for as the soul is the cause that our bodies are not corrupted, so is salt, preserving them for a long time, and rendering them in a manner incorruptible (ajnaqanativzontez, immortalizing them).'"75
7. "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." — Jude ver. 7. "Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off and cast them from thee; for 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." — Matt, 18:8. "Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." — Matt. 25:41.
The phrase pur aijwvnion, used in each of these passages, is manifestly equivalent to the pur ujvsbestoi of Matt. 3:12; Luke 3:17, and Mark 9:43, 45. In two of these passages (Matt, 18:18, and Mark 9:43, 45) the phrases are used interchangeably, in different accounts of the same discourse of our Savior. If one of them indicates a complete destruction, the other cannot indicate an immortality of the lost; and we might here rest the argument.
But it will be better to show how the adjectives ujvsbestoi and aijwvnion should denote the same thing. This is told in a word. The former describes the fierceness and all-consuming violence of the fire; the latter, its irreparable effect. The eternal fire is that which destroys utterly and for ever. This eternity of effect, which we noted in Mark 3:29 and Heb. 6:2, has been remarked by commentators on one of the passages in hand. Thus Witsius, after saying that the words in Jude, 5:7, are "not to be restricted to that fire wherewith those cities were burnt, but to be extended to the flames of hell, with which the lewd inhabitants of those cities are at this very day tormented," adds: "But it is true of both, that they were burnt with fire; which with respect to the towns may in some measure be said to be eternal, they being so consumed as that they never shall or can be restored."76 And Whitby: "I conceive that they (the inhabitants) are said to 'suffer the vengeance of eternal fire,' not because their souls are at present punished in hell-fire, but because they and their cities perished by that fire from heaven, which brought a perpetual and irreparable destruction on them and their cities." And Bloomfield: "On the pur aijwvnion commentators (I think) require too much. Benson explains it: a fire which burnt till it utterly consumed them. See Whitby. It is not necessary to press on the aijwvnion. We need only suppose that the Apostle's meaning is, 'they are publicly set forth (provkeintai, which is a forensic term), for an everlasting example (in their fiery destruction) of the punishment God sometimes inflicts for sin in this world, which is but a faint type of that which he hath reserved for the next."77
Very true; a fire that utterly consumes, is a "faint type" of a destruction ever going on and ever incomplete. Hammond speaks of" the utterly irreversible destruction, such as fell on Sodom, called aijwvnion pur, eternal fire, utterly consumptive."78 Episcopius takes the passage in the same sense.79 Adam Clarke takes it as applying either to the inhabitants or to the cities, and says: "In either case the word pur aijwvnion signifies an eternally destructive fire; it has no end in the punishment of the wicked Sodomites, . . . it has no end in the destruction of the cities; they were totally burnt up, and never were and never can be rebuilt. In either of these cases the word aijwvnion has its proper and grammatical meaning." And Rosenmuller: "We may understand pur aijwvnion of a destroying fire; that is, one which utterly wasted and reduced to nothing. But we may also understand a fire perpetually smoking."80
Here is a slight addition to the sense of aijwvnion which, however, does not all conflict with that just given. Those cities became an eternal monument of desolation. Thus Cajetan: They "were burned with fire from heaven, of which conflagration the traces still remain and ever will remain to the end of the world; to wit, a continual desolation, a Dead Sea, constantly smoking and exhaling pitch and sulphur wherewith it was burned; admitting neither fish nor any living thing; but speedily destroying them; producing apples of emptiness and ashes; so that Sodom has the appearance of a past fire, and is a vivid example of what will be in gehenna." Be it so; if the antitype is true to the type, what is the immortality of the lake of fire and brimstone — the Dead Sea of the world to come?
And these cities were an example (deilma) in fact, as well as intent. "Nothing was more known and celebrated among authors, sacred and profane, Jewish, Christian, and heathen writers, than 'the fire that fell down upon Pentapolis,' or the five cities of Sodom; they being mentioned still in Scripture as the cities which God overthrew with a perpetual desolation; in the Apocryphal writings,' the waste land that yet smoketh.'"81
It is here worthy of note that the adjective "suffering" (ujpevxousai) in Jude, ver. 7, refers to the cities rather than to the inhabitants. And it only remains for us to answer an objection derived from the nature of the human soul, which is supposed to preclude the proof of an utter destruction from some of the passages now considered. It is best stated and answered in the words of Whately: "Supposing the soul to be immaterial, it can not be destroyed by literal fire and worms. That is true; but no more can it suffer from these. We all know that no fire, literally so called, can give us any pain unless it reaches our bodies. The 'fire,' therefore, and the 'worm,' must at any rate, it would seem, be figuratively so called, — something that is to a soul what fire and worms are to a body. And as the effect of worms or fire is, not to preserve the body that they prey upon, but to consume, destroy, and put an end to it, it would follow, if the correspondence hold good, that the fire figuratively so called, which is prepared for the condemned, is something that is really to destroy and put an end to them; and is called 'everlasting' or 'unquenchable' fire, to denote that they are not to be saved from it, but that their destruction is to be final."82
8. "The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire! Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings'?" — Isa. 33:14.
These are doubtless the words of the unbelieving Jews, who had advised ungodly alliances with the surrounding nations, and are now terror-stricken at the dangers that impend. Some think the "devouring fire" refers to the presence of God, which affrights the wicked as if it were a "consuming fire" (Deut. 4:24). More precisely, this would be the Shekinah, threatening to devour them, as the adherents of Dathan and Abiram were consumed. By others it is referred to the fury of the Assyrians, raging as a fire (Prov. 30:16; Isa. 10:7; 14:6); or to their ancient and inveterate enmity (Ezek. 25:15); or to the actual invasion and devastation of the land by them. Hence the remark of Grotius, in the style of some of the passages adduced under Matt. 3:12: "The fire that is not quenched; such they thought to be the Assyrian power."
But we prefer the exegesis which refers the passage to the destruction of the Assyrians, in which the unbelieving Jews feared they might share. Hence the expression in verses 10-12, where the Assyrian army is represented as awaiting a sudden and utter destruction: "Now will I arise, saith the Lord; now will I be exalted; now will I lift up myself. Ye shall conceive chaff; ye shall bring forth stubble; your breath, as fire, shall devour you. And the people shall be as the burnings of lime; as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire." This had been already foretold in ch. 27:4: "Fury is not in me [i. e. I am no longer angry with my people]. Who will set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them; I would burn them together."83 The prophecy appears as history in ch. 37:36: "Then the angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred and four score and five thousand; and when they arose early in the morning, behold they were all dead corpses." According to the custom of the eastern nations, these bodies should be burned. And on the phrase "burnings of lime" it is remarked by Dr. Alexander, that the same word "burnings" is applied (Jer. 34:5) to the aromatic fumigations used at ancient burials [i. e. in the funeral pyre], to which there may be allusion here. The ideas expressed are those of quickness and intensity. The thorns are perhaps described as cut up, to suggest that they are dry, and therefore more combustible."
The effect of this display of divine power is to alarm those who have not trusted in God, and who can not know Him as their deliverer. "Who among us," they exclaim, "shall dwell with (this) devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with (these) perpetual burnings?" Thus Dr. Alexander renders the passage, with whom agree Luther, Vitringa, Le Clerc, Matthew Henry, and Lowth.
Here again, to extend the meaning of the passage to the future world explains nothing and proves nothing. And if we allow the extended sense, it would only prove the very doctrine we maintain. A parallel passage in Rev. 6:17, is significant of any thing but the eternal endurance of the wicked: "For the great day of His wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?" With which should be compared the expression "both soul and body," in Isa. 10:18, and Matt. 10:28, which, if strictly taken, would show that the first and second deaths were included, the latter named in anticipation, or both to be actually combined in one.
9. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not on the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." — John 3:86.
How, it is asked, can the wrath of God abide on those who do not exist? It is sufficient to reply that the state of death was deemed by the Jews an evil. Death past all hope of return to life was no less an evil. And by a natural dramatism, the subtlety of thoughts ever transcending the subtlety of words, such a destiny might be expressed in language which, grammatically taken, implies existence. The idea is, God's wrath shuts up the wicked in eternal non-existence. If they would escape they "shall be turned back84 into Sheol, and all the nations that forget God."
But there is a truer exegesis of the passage, which makes it retrospective. See ver. 18. The world is already under condemnation, and in case of unbelief, the sentence continues in force, awaiting until it be executed. This agrees with what Calvin says: "I am not dissatisfied with the view given by Augustine, that the word 'abideth' is used to inform us that from the womb we were appointed to death, because we were all born the children of wrath (Eph. 2:3). At least I willingly admit an allusion of this sort, provided we hold the true and simple meaning to be what I have stated, that death hangs over all unbelievers, and keeps them oppressed and overwhelmed in such a manner that they can never escape." So Erasmus, Lightfoot, Kuinoel, Doddridge, Alford. Comp. Num. 15:31.
III. 10. "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still." — Rev. 22:11.
Even the elder Edwards, who adduces this passage in support of the theodicy of eternal sinfulness, remarks upon it: "Thus Christ takes leave of his Church till his last coming, warning them to improve the means of grace they have, and informing them that they are never to have any other."85 This suggests the true sense, which is stated by the Venerable Bede: "Evil men are permitted to wax worse, or to reach the climax of wickedness, so they shall find God's judgment to be just." It is given more fully by Lowman: "The providence of God will indeed permit things to continue in this world, just as these things represent the state of them. Men of evil principles and corrupt hearts will continue in acts of injustice and oppression, and to promote false religion and wickedness, notwithstanding all the cautions of religion and judgments of Providence. Yet the cautions, directions, and encouragements of these prophecies, and the judgments of Providence foretold in them, will have a better effect on good minds, to their perseverance in truth, righteousness, and holiness." And the more critical examination of the principal words confines their significance to the scenes of time. Thus Daubuz: "'He that Wrongeth' (or the unjust) denotes, in a peculiar manner, throughout this prophecy, the persecution and murder of the saints. . . . 'He which is filthy,' seems principally to denote those who shall be guilty of idol worship. . . . These prophecies will be of great use, as they shall contribute to the constancy of the righteous and the holy, though they should not effect a general reformation in the world, though men of evil principles and wicked hearts shall still remain persecutors and idolaters." This view is supported by the Syriac and Arabic versions; by Rosenmuller, who cites similar expressions from the classic writers;86 by Cornelius A. Lapide, Eichhorn, Poole, Henry, Andrew Fuller, Bloomfield, Hengstenberg, Jenks, and Stuart.
IV. 11. "These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever." — 2 Pet. 2:17. "Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever."-Jude 5:13.
"We came into the world," says Clement of Rome "as it were out of a sepulchre, and from darkness."87 This expression suggests that the term "darkness" was with the Jews a synonym of chaos and non-existence. Blank nothingness, where no light is, appears as a blackness, and is more naturally conceived as a dread something than as a nothing. The concrete expression is more lively and vigorous than the abstract, which comes as an after thought. Hence such terms as "nothingness" and "annihilation" were rarely used by the ancients, though they are now common. The state of things before the world was, is described in the oldest of books as a Tohu vau Bohu — something empty and void; not unformed matter, but nothingness —
"Illimitable, without bound,
Without division, where length, breadth, and height,
And time, and place, are lost."88
And upon the face of this "deep "was Darkness. In Gentile speech, "Chaos and old Night" were the significant Nothing out of which all things were created. This was the outer limit, the utter darkness, upon which creative Light is ever encroaching, as the Spirit of God hovers over it to impart new being. And His wrath is the fire that remands thither all that has no place in His dominion.
Some have thought the phrase "outer darkness" is an allusion to some dark, dreary prison in Jerusalem, where malefactors were condemned to perish by hunger, want, and cold.89 More natural is the allusion to gehenna, as a gloomy abode of death. Thus the Targum on 1 Sam. 2:9: "The wicked shall be avenged in gehenna, in darkness." (Compare on Ps. 83:13.) The terror of this darkness, even aside from the notion of punishment, is finely depicted in the Septuagint and Vulgate translations of Job 10:21, 22: "Before I go and return no more, to a land that is dark and covered with the mist of death; a land of misery and darkness, where is the shadow of death, and no order, but eternal horror dwells."
The expression in the epistle of Jude is well illustrated by the Syriac version: "Shooting stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever." With this compare the passage in the book of Enoch: "Mercy shall be showed unto the righteous man; upon him shall be conferred integrity and power for ever. In goodness and righteousness shall he exist, and shall walk in everlasting light. But sin shall perish in eternal darkness, nor be seen from this time forward for evermore" (91. 3; comp. Dan. 12:3; Prov. 24:20).
The expressions, "wailing," and "gnashing of teeth," which are connected with the "outer darkness" (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30), and with the "furnace of fire" (Matt, 13; 42, 50), are here explained by reference to Ps. 112:10. They denote, not an ever-subsisting malignity and contention, but the rage of envy and shame, in disappointment of eternal life. "The wicked shall see it, and shall be grieved; he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away; the desire of the wicked shall perish." The "portion with the hypocrites" (Matt. 24:51) may be an allusion to Isa. 33:14. And the expression in Rev. 22:15, "without are dogs, etc.," should be compared with Luke, 13:28, and Ps. 112:10. The radical idea is that of exclusion, from the kingdom of light and life.
The expression in Jude, ver. 6, "reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day," obviously denotes an imprisonment from which there is no release for the better. A similar phrase is used by Josephus, in speaking of the tyrant John as condemned by the Romans to "eternal imprisonment (desmoiz aijwnvoiz);"90 and a passage still more similar occurs in Cicero, who says that Catiline "does not hesitate to commit Publius Lentulus to eternal darkness and chains (aeternis tenebris vinculisque)."91 It is properly illustrated by the following, taken from the book of Enoch: "Bind Azazyel hand and foot; cast him into darkness; and opening the desert which is in Dudael, cast him in there. Throw upon him hurled and pointed stones, covering him with darkness; there shall he remain for ever; cover his face, that he may not see the light. And in the great day of judgment let him be cast into the fire "(x. 6-9). "There shall they be taken into the lowest depths of the fire in torments, and in confinement shall they be shut up for ever. Immediately after this shall he (Samyaza), together with them, burn and perish "(x. 17, comp. ver. 15, above).92
The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, in like manner, simply denotes that there can be no improvement of the condition of those who die out of Christ. Aside from this, it proves nothing beyond the judgment. It belongs to the intermediate state; for the torment of the rich man here described is not that of Gehenna, but of Hades. In this view it will be considered in a subsequent discussion. We need here only remark that the distinction between Hades or Sheol, and Gehenna, is strictly observed in the Bible, and is often remarked by the commentators. The former is the Underworld, the place of disembodied souls, or the state of the dead. The latter is the "furnace of fire," the "lake of fire and brimstone," the unquenchable or eternal fire which consumes utterly and destroys for ever. The term (levenna) occurs in twelve instances in the New Testament, viz: Matt. 5:22, 29, 30, 10:28, 18:9, 23:15, 83; Mark 9:43, 45, 47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6. Wetstein, in his note on Matt. 5:22, remarks: "All the punishments of more atrocious crimes were inflicted, either by God or men; severe punishments, indeed, by the judgments of twenty-three men; those more severe by the Sanhedrim; but the severest of all by God, in the excision (hrb) either of body, or of soul or of both. Of this punishment Christ is speaking here, and in verses 29, 30, and ch. 10:28." And of the Jewish use of the term gehenna he cites among others the following examples. From the Jerusalem Targum on Gen. 3:24: "He made gehenna for the wicked, like a two-edged sword, cutting either way; and in the midst of it, sparks and coals, burning up (comburentes) the wicked." From the Targum on Ps. 37:20: "And they shall be consumed in the smoke of gehenna." On Eccl. 8:10: "They have gone to be consumed in gehenna." And on Isa. 31:9, gehenna is spoken of as "a fire which goes forth from the bodies of the wicked and sets them on fire; for it is said: Ye shall conceive chaff, and bring forth stubble; your breath, as fire, shall devour you." This may illustrate the peculiar use of the word in James 3:6.
12. "And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever; and they have no rest, day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name." — Rev. 14:11. "And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever." — Rev. 19:3.
The first of these passages refers properly to the scenes of time, and not to the final judgment. The chapter contains no allusion to the resurrection, or to the opening of the books. It opens with a dramatic representation of heaven as a witness of the tragic events of earth. In the mingling of mercy with judgment, the "everlasting gospel" is proclaimed (ver. 6). Because the time is one of unprecedented distress, those who die are happy in being saved from the evil to come. "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth, that they may rest from their labors "(ver. 13). The days of trouble will try "the patience of the saints" (ver. 12). The chapter closes with an account of "blood, even unto the horse-bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs." And the very expression: "who worship the beast and his image," seems to refer to the earthly conduct and condition of idolatrous people. The passage proves an earthly immortality, if it proves any; and the same may be said of the similar passage in ch. 9:6, sometimes adduced in this argument: "And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them."
But when we look to the context of the latter passage, we find that "Babylon," which is doubtless the same idolatrous polity under another name, is utterly destroyed. See ch. 18:8-10, 15, 18, 21. "She shall be utterly burned with fire." She "shall be found no more at all." Her desolation strikes terror into the hearts of those who were seduced by her; they "bewail her, and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning, standing afar off for fear of her torment." What is this but the torment of being utterly destroyed? The figure of "smoke ascending" is borrowed from the destruction of the cities of the plain (Gen. 19:28), and was already employed by Isaiah in describing the desolations of Edom: "The streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become pitch. It shall not be quenched, night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever and ever; from generation to generation shall it lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever "(Isa. 34:9, 10).
Daubuz, one of the ablest and most learned commentators on the Apocalyse, and who states very strongly the common view of the destiny of the lost, finds no proof of that doctrine in these passages. He illustrates the view we have given of them by citations from Homer (Iliad, xxi. 522), Virgil (AEneid, III. 2, 3), and Seneca (Consol. ad Polyb. c. 1), and says: "So then, the smoke ascending for ever and ever, is not to signify a continual burning; but by a metonymy of the efficient for the effect, to signify that it is burnt for ever, and never to be restored." This derivation of the language is sustained by Cocceius, Eichhorn, Newton, Fuller, Clarke, Hengstenberg. Stuart, and denied, perhaps, by none. That one of these (Hengstenberg) should take the language in either passage as "an image of the torments of hell," in the common view, is simply to assume the point in question; to explain no word and to prove no thing. It strangely deduces an immortal life from the imagery of desolation and death.
One passage yet remains, a frequent dernier ressort to prove the immortality of the lost:
V. 13. "And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city; and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and false prophet are; and [they] shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever." — Rev. 20:9, 10.
This passage cannot be claimed as proving directly any thing beyond the eternal existence of Satan, the Beast, and the False Prophet. The argument from it for the immortality of those who worship the Beast or the False Prophet, is inferential; and to infer simply an eternal succession of their worshippers, is quite as good reasoning. Moreover, the argument for the immortality of all the wicked must be deduced from what is here supposed to be intimated of only a part of them; for many generations of the heathen, and all the ancient world, are utter strangers to the Beast and the False Prophet; and such perhaps are "the nations in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog," who are here described as deceived by Satan, and devoured by fire from God out of heaven (vv. 8, 9). Katevfalei, says Stuart, is "intensive, to eat up, devour, so that it denotes utter excision." The argument from Matt. 25:41, must also assume, that if "the devil and his angels "are strictly immortal, and undestroyed by the "eternal fire," the same is true of wicked men.
The whole argument must begin, then, with proving that Satan, the Beast, and the False Prophet, are immortal. By parity of reasoning, Death and Hades, named in ver. 13, and appointed to the same "lake of fire," are also immortal. But this is not allowed. Thus Nitzsch, speaking of the second death, remarks: "The idea of annihilation becomes more prominent when we consider that even death and Hades (which shall absolutely be no more) are cast into the lake of fire."93 And Stuart: "Hades and its king, quvnatoz, as appears by ver. 14, are to be cast into the lake of fire, after the judgment-day; i.e. they are to be utterly destroyed." But he adds: "The place for disembodied spirits will be of no further use, after the resurrection of the body and its re-union with the soul. Death will then have completed his work, and will therefore be no more."
This is remarkable. Death and Hades, symbolical personages, are supposed to cease from being; while their subjects, "the dead,"—whose names, after their resurrection, are not found in the book of life, who are cast into the same lake of fire (ver. 15), in which gehenna both soul and body are destroyed (Matt. 10:28), and which is the "second death,"—are supposed to be immortal! Who does not see, rather, that Hades and Thanatos are only other names for the dead; or, at least, that the destruction of their kingdom includes that of all who were its proper subjects? The righteous, over whom "Death hath no dominion," live; but not those who loved Death. "They follow him that are of his side "(Wisd. 2:25).
But if Death and his own are destroyed, why not the Beast and the False Prophet in like manner? How are they immortal without their worshipers — either singly, or in endless succession? All are alike symbolical personages, and all must share the fate of those who constitute them. All argument from their nature shows that if Death and Hades cease to be, so likewise do the Beast and the False Prophet. Of the party of Satan, — the Gog and Magog destroyed by fire as the prelude of these final judgments, — it may be even doubted whether they appear at all in the resurrection; it is more natural to suppose that after their summary judgment, that of Satan, not a symbolical personage, along with that of the Beast and the False Prophet, remained yet to be described.
But why are they said to be "tormented, day and night, for ever and ever?" This might be said of the Beast and the False Prophet as impersonations, henceforth without power or worshipers. Compare what is said of Babylon, Rev. 18:7, 8, 19. But we think the language describes their utter and irrevocable destruction, in a dramatic form which is quite consistent with the general structure of the book, and of which dramatism we have already found so many examples. To those before cited,94 we will only add here the language of taunting and insult addressed by the dead to the fallen Babylon, in Isa. 14:9, 10, 12: "Hades from beneath is moved because of thee for to meet thee at thy coming; he rouseth for thee the mighty dead, all the great chiefs of the earth; he maketh to rise up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All of them shall accost thee, and shall say unto thee: Art thou, even thou too, become weak as we? Art thou made like unto us? . . . How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! Art cut down to the earth thou that didst subdue the nations!" (Lowth's translation.) And Ecclus. 21:10, 11: "The congregation of sinners is like tow heaped together; and the end of them is a flame of fire. The way of sinners is made plain with stones; and in their end is hell, and darkness, and pains."
But will Satan actually cease from being? Is he indeed mortal? The prophecies all look that way. Our translators have indeed dealt somewhat tenderly with the great Adversary, in Gen. 3:15, where the true sense is that the Seed of the woman shall crush95 the head of the Serpent. The words in Heb. 2:14, and 1 John 3:8, express indeed the dispossession of Satan, rather than his final destruction. But that doom, in common with the destruction of every power hostile to God, is told in Daniel: "I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake; I beheld even till the Beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. As concerning the rest of the Beasts, they had their dominion taken away; yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time "(Dan. 7:11, 12). See also Matt. 25:41, and pp.202,sq.
The now prevalent doctrine of immortality has been supported recently in an indirect scriptural argument. If it was a prevalent error of the Jews in Christ's time, why, it is asked, did he not expose it by direct and explicit asseveration? Was it not a culpable and enormous neglect, if the Great Teacher failed to point out and condemn so fearful a delusion? Could he for a moment allow his hearers to indulge the persuasion of an absolute immortality, or to feel the terror of an eternal misery, if either doctrine were totally false?96
Our reply is three-fold. I. The argument is convertible. Why did not Christ give an explicit sanction to the doctrine of man's immortality? Why did he never speak of man as an immortal being? Why did not he who brought life and immortality to light, and who had the words of eternal life, relieve the silence of the Scriptures by a single direct mention or assertion of man's immortal nature? Why did he say nothing of eternal woe?
II. We challenge the proof that the doctrines in question were prevalent among the Jews in Christ's time. Reserving the later history of Jewish opinion for a subsequent discussion, where we shall show that their Talmud has not recognized these doctrines, and that their symbols have never asserted them, we will here notice three arguments that have been offered to show that they did prevail when Christ was on earth.
1. From the book of Enoch. The following passages have been cited: "Moreover, abundant is their suffering until the time of the great judgment, the castigation, and the torment of those who eternally execrate, whose souls are punished and bound there for ever. A receptacle of this sort has been formed for the souls of unrighteous men and of sinners; of those who have committed crime, and associated with the impious whom they resemble. Their souls shall not be annihilated in the day of judgment, neither shall they arise from this place" (22:12, 14). "Never shall they obtain mercy, saith the Lord of spirits" (39:2). "The countenances likewise of the mighty shall He cast down, filling them with confusion. Darkness shall be their habitation, and worms their bed; nor from that bed shall they hope to be again raised, because they exalted not the name of the Lord of spirits "(46:4). "But has it not been shown to them, that, when to the receptacle of the dead their souls shall be made to descend, their evil deeds shall become their greatest torment? Into darkness, into the snare, and into flame which shall burn to the great judgment, shall their spirits enter; and the great judgment shall take effect for ever and ever" (103:5).97
Two questions are here to be settled: 1. Do these passages decide the doctrine of the book? 2. If so, do they determine the doctrine of the Jews? We think neither. For, in the first place, the book is as silent respecting immortality as the Scriptures themselves. The citations before made also show that some of the above expressions may denote the eternity of effect. Moreover the style of the book is highly dramatic. Thus in the last chapter the righteous and the wicked are set in contrast, and it is said "sinners shall cry out, beholding them" (105:27), though it was said in ver. 21: "You, who have labored, shall wait in those days, until the evil doers be consumed, and the power of the guilty be annihilated. Wait, until sin pass away; for their names shall be blotted out of the holy books; their seed shall be destroyed, and their spirits slain." And the expression: "their souls shall not be annihilated in the day of judgment," does not necessarily imply that they will never be annihilated. It should be compared with the following passages: "They shall be brought from every part of the earth, and be cast into a judgment of fire. They shall perish in wrath, and by a judgment overpowering them for ever. Then shall the roots of iniquity be cut off; sinners shall perish by the sword; and blasphemers be annihilated every where. All who walk in the path of iniquity shall perish for ever" (90:11, 13, 17). "And to this were brought the blind sheep; which being judged, and found guilty, were all thrust into that abyss of fire on the earth, and burnt "(89:35). "When all shall be punished and consumed for ever, this shall be bestowed on the righteous and humble" (24:9). "Our spirits have been consumed, lessened, and diminished" (103:7; comp. Isa. 14:9, sq.). On the other hand it is said of the righteous: "None shall perish in the presence of the Lord of spirits, nor shall any be capable of perishing" (60:7). "The saints shall exist in the light of the sun, and the elect in the light of everlasting life, the days of whose life shall never terminate; nor shall the days of the saints be numbered, who seek for light, and obtain righteousness with the Lord of spirits" (57:3). "These however die and perish. But you from the beginning were made spiritual, possessing a life which is eternal, and not subject to death for ever "(15:4, 6).
In the second place, respecting the value of the book as denoting prevalent opinions, it is clearly not the work of a Christian Jew, as has been supposed.98 It contains no allusion whatever to the redemptive work of Christ; and it has been well remarked: "The Christological portions do not possess sufficient distinctness to imply a knowledge of the New Testament. The name Jesus never occurs; though Son of Man, so often given to the Messiah in the Gospels, is very frequent. Neither are the appellations Lord, Lord Jesus, Jesus Christ, or even Christ employed. Is there not something unaccountable here on the supposition that the writer was instructed in Christianity?"99 It has, then, no Christian authority. And, though evidently written by a Jew, the time and place of its composition are matters of dispute. It is doubted whether it was written during the reign of Herod, or earlier; but though alluded to in the "Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs," about A. D. 100, and by several of the Fathers, it is not noticed by Philo or Josephus. It is doubted whether its author lived in the northern part of Palestine, in the northern districts of the Caspian and Euxine seas, in Chaldaea, in Egypt, or in Abyssinia; whether it was written by one person, or compiled from various tracts; whether it was quoted by Jude, or suggested by Jude's citation of a tradition from Enoch. And finally, if it were an index of Jewish opinions, it would indicate no less clearly the foreign origin of any opinion that could be of use in this discussion. One writer pronounces it the work of a Jew because "there is so much imitation of Daniel, such an exhibition of Jewish conceptions mixed with superstition, and occasionally with cabalistic theology or oriental theosophy." And, debating the place of its author, the same writer says: "It is true that there are allusions to the Oriental theosophy and the opinions of Zoroaster which would appear to recommend a Chaldaean origin, at least of the astronomical part; but the author's predilection for the images of fire, radiance, light, and other Oriental symbols, may be accounted for on some other supposition than that of his residence in Chaldaea. In what way he became acquainted with the Zend-Avesta, or the sentiments embodied in that book, we are not able to tell, although it is pretty obvious that various portions of his book are tinctured with the Oriental philosophy of Middle Asia."100
2. From the book of Judith, a single passage has been cited to prove Jewish opinions: "The Lord Almighty will take vengeance on them in the day of judgment, in putting fire and worms in their flesh; they shall feel them, and weep for ever."101 We welcome this argument as a last resort to show that conscious misery is described in any book pretending to keep canonical company, Assuredly, if such a passage is to sustain the momentous doctrine, the character of the book and the best versions of it should share the burden. But the book is, perhaps, of less value than any other in the Jewish Apocrypha. It is not named by Philo or Josephus. Good critics differ by two centuries respecting its date; one assigning it to B. C. 104, and another to about A. D. 100. It is not even a respectable fiction. "The difficulties, historical, chronological, and geographical, comprised in the narrative of Judith, are so numerous and serious as to be held by many divines altogether insuperable. Events, times, and manners are said to be confounded, and the chronology of the times before and those after the exile, of the Persian and Assyrian, and even of the Maccabaean period, confusedly and unaccountably blended."102
But why should we disparage the book? We wish, for the sake of our argument, that it were canonical; that is, the book itself, and not the modern version of it. The conjecture of Arnald in his commentary, that the original Greek—for Hebrew there is none — klauvsontai (shall weep) has been mistaken for kauvsontai, is supported by the Vulgate of Jerome which reads urantur (may be burned), by a still older Latin version103 which reads comburantur (may be burned up), and by the Syriac, which, it has been remarked, indicates the inferiority of the manuscripts now extant. The sense of the passage would then be: "that with pain (ejn aijsqhvsei) they may be consumed for ever."
3. The doctrines of the Pharisees are cited to show that the Jews commonly held an immortality which Christ did not explicitly deny.104 To this we reply:
(1.) The influence of the Pharisees on the opinions of the common people was more apparent than real. It was indeed powerful, but it was so connected with the arts of imposture and fraud, that they often overreached themselves, and lost the popular regard. The very conception of Pharisaism was such as must expose its professors to frequent contempt, as they did suffer the severest denunciations of Christ. It began in the ambition of name and influence, which is sure to grasp the shadow and lose the substance. "They bear their chief characteristics," says one, "in their name, which, from a word denoting 'to separate,' marks them out as the elite of Hebrew society, the men of note and distinction, whose motto, in the words of Horace, might have been:
' Odi profanum vulgus,
or, in the accurately descriptive terms of Jesus, 'they trusted in themselves, and despised others' (Luke 18:9); men of whose character notice is found in the Bible as early as the days of Isaiah (Isa. 65:5, 66:17). This, which was the fundamental quality of the Pharisees, and which, setting them forth as persons of extraordinary parts, superior intelligence, possessed of a higher knowledge, a lofty and satisfactory method of interpreting the sacred writing?, a transcendental philosophy which, despising common sense as a tame, vulgar thing, could solve all questions, and expound hitherto unknown truths, — made them 'the observed of all observers,' the oracles of the day, the only true interpreters of Judaism."105 "Like cunning priests and Jesuits," says another, "they prayed with forms and phrases, they seized a place in the hearts and consciences of men, corrupted them even by means of pious instruction, led them whither they would have them go, acquired many a fair prize, and became rulers of an earthly kingdom of darkness."106 Josephus, who was himself a Pharisee, says that they "were able to make great opposition to kings; a cunning sect they were, and soon elevated to a pitch of open fighting and doing mischief."107 And he gives instances of their frauds and pretended prophecies, practised to compass their designs. Now when we consider their oppressions and extortions, with the weak foundation of traditions on which they rested their authority, and their fanciful methods of interpretation, we may suspect that the common people yielded a deference often feigned, and more in fear than in faith. May we not infer as much from the language of Josephus: "The Sadducees are able to persuade none but the rich, and have not the populace obsequious to them; but the Pharisees have the multitude on their side"?—and of Mark, who says, in close connection with Christ's denunciation of the scribes: "The common people heard him gladly"? (Mark 12:37.)
But we are not left to conjecture in what estimation the Pharisees were held. The hatred of them was proverbial. They are thus censured by the Talmudists: "Among the plagues that come of the Pharisees, is this: A person conspires with orphans, to plunder the widow. When Rabbi Shabbatai had spoiled a certain widow of her goods, the orphans came to Rabbi Eleazer, who said to them: What business with us? you are foolish not to tell this to the scribe. So the Rabbi. But the scribe says: Pretend that you are going to sell your goods; when the widow sees it, she will ask a stipend, and lose her living. They did so. In the evening that poor woman went to R. Eleazer, who said of her: The plague of the Pharisees has come upon her."108 Another proverb occurs in the same Jewish book: "A Pharisee woman, and the scraping of the Pharisees on the stones, ruin the world." The "scraping of the Pharisees "is an allusion to one of the seven sects into which the Talmud divides the Pharisees, the names of which will show that they were no more hated than contemned. These were, 1, the Sichemite Pharisee — circumcised, but not in honor of God; 2, the Scraping or Truncated Pharisee — who, that he might appear in profound meditation, as if destitute of feet, scarcely lifted them from the ground; 3, the Striking Pharisee — dashing his head against the wall, closing his eyes to avoid the sight of a woman; 4, the Mortar Pharisee — burying his head in a deep bonnet, to avoid distraction; or, as some interpret, wearing a large and flowing robe; 5, the Boasting Pharisee, who says, What should I do that I have not done; 6, the Pharisee of Fear — obeying for the dread of punishment; 7, the Pharisee of Love — moved by the hope of reward.109 Lightfoot, remarking upon these sects, says that, granting the better sort of them came to John's baptism, the best of the Pharisees were the worst of men. And Calmet remarks that this account shows them to have been deeply immersed in the idlest and most ridiculous superstitions. But this condemnation of them was written only about two centuries after Christ's time, in a work that remains as the oracle of Jewish opinion.
We conclude that the influence of the Pharisees was the common influence of hierarchies. The reputation of expounders in orthodoxy was industriously kept up, and the empty name has continued. Those of the people who thought at all, thought for themselves.
(2.) Christ himself denounced not only the practices, but the doctrine of the Pharisees. And the whole account of them in the New Testament shows that though they may have been learned or subtle, they were in no sense wise. John the Baptist hails them with the language of surprise: "O generation of vipers ! who hath taught you to flee from the wrath to come?" And the scriptural catalogue of their vices has been fairly made out by a late writer110 in about fifteen charges, either of which might justify the exhortation of Christ to "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees." And when Christ enjoined respect for the scribes, as sitting in Moses' seat, the proof is wanting, either that the scribes were responsible for all the opinions of the Pharisees, or that if they were, the people were therefore to accept their theological opinions as correct. Nor do the instances in which Christ and Paul took sides with the Pharisees against the Sadducees show any farther sanction of their views than in these two points: the existence of spirits, and the resurrection of the dead. We need not be surprised, then, when we find that the reputation of the Pharisees among the Christians was no better than among their own people. By several of the Fathers they were reckoned as heretics; for an other error, indeed, viz: the denial of man's free will, in a Stoic doctrine of fate;111 yet the fact shows that the early Christians never regarded them as of standard orthodoxy.
(3.) The Pharisaic doctrine of immortality (which we here admit simply for argument's sake, resting as it does wholly on the testimony of Josephus, of whom hereafter) was evidently of foreign origin, of a philosophic cast, and, so to speak, un-Jewish. The account given by Josephus is in a nomenclature to which the Jews had been strangers, which is unknown to the Talmud, but with which the Greeks and Orientals were quite familiar. Something here may be allowed for the private opinions and trimming habits of Josephus; but it has been observed that his statement of Pharisaic doctrine might be mistaken for that of transmigration; and his dissuasive from suicide is quite Platonic: "The bodies of all men are corruptible, and are created out of corruptible matter; but the soul is ever immortal, and is a portion of the divinity that inhabits our bodies."112 And the writer already cited, speaking of the Pharisees, says: "It is evident that the popular faith of the Jews had to a certain point adopted the dualism of the Parsees, which was made subordinate to the Mosaic monotheism." And again: "It would appear that Rabbinism was but an unfolding of Pharisaism, the full and swelling stream of corrupt doctrines, views, and practices, of which the rivulets run up to the days of Christ, and stretch back to those of Ezra, till they are lost in the fountain-head — the religious philosophy of a corrupt Zoroasterism." And he concludes: "It is to unite the hawk and the dove, to bring into one darkness and light, to expect figs from thistles, if we will persist in maintaining that Jesus and the Pharisees had any essential and peculiar features in common — we say essential and peculiar features, because such only are of any value in the argument; since even the Pharisees, as men and monotheists, doubtless had some good traits, and possessed some scattered rays of truth."113
III. But for still another reason Christ did not sanction the doctrine in question by his silence respecting it. It was not his custom to oppose particular errors by explicit mention and condemnation. For the method of the Great Teacher was: 1. To inculcate general principles, rather than special precepts. Of this the Sermon on the Mount is an example, as also his teaching by parables which were sometimes explained, not to the public ear, but to the disciples alone. And there are abundant proofs of this, in the variant applications that have been made of the principles which Christ has laid down. 2. He taught by affirmation, rather than denial. The Gospel was not a negation, but a Revelation. He came "not to destroy, but to fulfil," in this sense also, — that he removed errors not by the special refutation and demolition of them, but by offering truth in their stead. And the children of wisdom have ever done this. The successful reformer has ever labored first and most to proclaim some great truth of which his heart was full. Thus have deep-seated evils been best removed. In this respect Christ and the Apostles were model reformers. Christ undermined the foundations of the kingdom of Might, which had imposed an oppressive tyranny upon the Jews, by asserting another principle, and a higher law. He told of a kingdom of Truth, and bade men "render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's — and to God the things that are God's." And Paul struck at the root of a prevalent system of slavery, by saying: "Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven." But the same argument now offered to show that Christ recognized man's proper immortality, might be offered, and is employed, to show that tyranny and oppression are right. And, 3. Christ dealt not with the theories of men, but with their conduct. He was a practical teacher. He rarely, if ever, spoke of what we should call doctrinal errors. And when he uttered his warning against the "doctrine" of the Pharisees and Sadducees, he did not mean their false systems of philosophy, but their bad instructions. The pernicious leaven was the making void the law of God by the traditions of men, and the thousand other corruptions and perversions by which they sought to do away the weighty duties of justice, mercy, and truth. The rational forms of doctrine are important in their place; but Christ never gave them the prominence they hold in that doctrinalism which is itself a perversion. The "sound doctrine "which he taught was the healthy instruction (didaskaliva ujlianousav, Tit. 1:9) of the Great Physician, come to recover men from death, and teach them in the ways of life.
Through the grave did Christ "show the path of life." The effect of his doctrine of life upon the early language of the Christians, before it was corrupted by the mixture of foreign views, will appear when we come to the history of their time. The immediate effect of his teaching is remarkably apparent in the earliest and most valued version of the Word of Life, — the Syriac, in which the very names of the Savior and of his saving work are the "Life-Giver," and the "giving of life." We may conclude this argument with a few examples, taken almost at random front Dr. Murdock's translation. "I did not come to judge the world, but to vivify the world" (John 12:47). "Believe on the name of our Lord Jesus Messiah, and thou wilt have life" (Acts 16:31). "It is for your consolation and for your life that we are afflicted" (2 Cor. 1:6). "Our concern is from heaven; and from thence we expect our Vivifier, our Lord Jesus Messiah" (Phil. 3:20). God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to the acquisition of life" (1 Thess. 5:9). "Jesus the Messiah came into the world to give life to sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15). "And he is able to vivify for ever them who come to God by him "(Heb. 7:25). "There is one Lawgiver and Judge, who can make alive, and can destroy" (James 4:12). "That ye may receive the recompense of your faith, the life of your souls" (1 Pet. 1:9). "Grace and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord Jesus the Messiah our Life-giver "(Tit. 1:4).