Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, London 1875Chapter XV
1. The hope of eternal life in the Old Testament.
WHEN the law promises life to perfect obedience, we have the authority of Christ for believing that that life is eternal. 'What good thing shall I do to inherit eternal life? Thou knowest the commandments. This do and thou shalt live.' But no law 'could be given to man by which he should gain' eternal life, because his nature was degenerate, and the rule of justification by law demands that perfect obedience which man cannot render. By the law comes only the 'know ledge of sin ' and its penalty.
But from the beginning of time sinful beings have been placed by divine mercy under a dispensation of reconciliation. Man, legally condemned to death, is 'brought nigh.' Before the world Redemption was prepared in Christ, and through Him there has been a ministration of the Spirit in all ages, by which sinful men, 'born again,' may be led to the hope of life eternal. The' gospel was preached to Abraham,' and to all the fathers who died in faith; not in full doctrinal form, but in power, so that everyone who repented and turned to God in 'every nation' was, for Christ's sake, 'accepted' of God; even though knowing little, or perhaps nothing at all, of the Savior. Christ Himself represents nothing greater than God. If, then, men believed in God, and by yielding to God's Holy Spirit turned to Him, they were saved, from the beginning of the world. Thus millions innumerable were 'prepared unto glory' in the ages before the advent of Christ. The Savior's influence was felt long before His person was revealed. There was a long dawn before the sunrise. Accordingly, we find in the Old Testament writings abundant evidence of a 'hope full of immortality.'
The writings of Moses comprise two revelations different as light and darkness. They comprise the elementary revelation of 'grace,' and they comprise that 'law' which entered in order to enforce and condemn the sin of man. In the same manner the remainder of the Old Testament scriptures of the prophets comprises a history of the working of the law, in stimulating. and bringing to the surface the 'sinfulness of sin,' in the chronic rebellion of the Hebrew nation; and they also comprise manifold indications of the working of grace in the hearts of men of good will.
It is also to be considered that the entrance of Redemption, with promises of pardon and eternal life; had indefinitely aggravated the sin of impenitence, as against God. Of those 'to whom much is given more will be justly demanded.' Hence there is not only that death which is the hereditary curse on the descendants of the first sinner, and the due reward of law-breaking in his descendants, but also the ' judgment' demanded by the rejection of mercy, on 'a hard and impenitent heart.' In the Old Testament writings we discover indications both of the hope of the righteous, and fear of the ungodly. These we now proceed briefly to collect and interpret.
The institution of Sacrifice by divine authority carries with it a promise of life to penitent men. What meaneth sacrifice, if not that God, the Judge who condemns man to death for sin, has found some ransom by which He can restore His 'banished ones'? The hope of restoration to Paradise and the Tree of Life dawned upon men from the hour of the exile. Our first parents were 'driven out' with a whisper of promise in their hearts, that 'the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head.' Adam called his wife's name Havvah, Life, because she was the Mother of all living; for 'being high priest that same year he prophesied,' without knowing it, that the woman's Son should 'abolish death, and bring life and incorruption to light by the gospel.'
At the gates of Eden were 'made to dwell the Cherubim, and a revolving flame to keep the way of the Tree of Life,' words which receive some explication when we perceive in these cherubs emblems of man's dominion as lord of the living creation. They are found in the tabernacle, upon the throne of grace, within the veil, even in that Holy of Holies which represented the lost Paradise; where were the' propitiatory,' and 'the pot of manna' which symbolised the bread of life eternal, and 'Aaron's rod' that blossomed with life out of death; mysteries setting forth the work and victory of that 'Man Christ Jesus' who should sit 'down on the throne of God;' because all things 'should be made subject unto Him;' who should 'give His flesh' as the bread of God, the celestial manna, 'for the life of the world;' discharging the priesthood of the everlasting covenant under which man, though dead, lives again, and forever.
When, then, the servants of God 'went into His sanctuary,' as Asaph confesses in Psalm 73., 'then understood they' the 'end,' or future destinies of men (acharith). They understood the eternal life of the saints; they meditated upon the sacrifices of blood, the holy candlestick, the golden altar of acceptable prayer, the hidden oracle of the Holiest, the type of the lost Paradise, into which 'once a year' Man already entered; — and they broke forth in songs of praise to the Living God.
'Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel
And afterwards receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but Thee?
And there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee.
My flesh and my heart faileth,
But God is the strength of my
Heart, and my portion forever'
If the heart of one devout man under the old dispensation can be distinctly proved to have burned with these immortal hopes, we may be assured that it was the common hope of them all. Such expectations cannot be the idiosyncrasies of a select few among the saints. The soul's love to the Eternal carried with it the prevision of Immortality: and everything around assured their hearts that if God would 'dwell with men upon earth,' it could not be that He might simply watch His servants dying like insects around Him from age to age. No: their faith in every generation led them to cry aloud to God, 'Thou wilt make me full of joy with Thy countenance.'
Of the Psalms, which express the familiar spiritual thoughts of saints and prophets during a thousand years, a large number give explicit utterance either to the hope of salvation from death, or to the expectation of the Coming of that Mighty King' in whom all nations should be blessed, and whose glory was connected with power over death.'1
But in no single instance do we discover in the book of Psalms, or in the poetical books, or in the book of collected Proverbs, or weighty sayings of the wise, or in the Prophets, the expression of the Socratic hope of eternal life, founded on man's essential nature as eternal. The hope of life is restricted to righteous men, to the true servants of God. There is not one ray of hope of an eternal future which shines on the head of a rebel in the Old Testament. The immortality of the nephesh was a speculation unknown to the saints and prophets. 'All the wicked will He destroy.' 'When the wicked spring as the grass, and all the workers of iniquity flourish, it is that they shall be destroyed forever.' That with them is the end of the ungodly. No man lives forever but in God. 'Evil shall slay the wicked.'
It cannot be insisted on too urgently that the hope of the Old Testament saints was a hope of Resurrection. They believed indeed more or less vividly in a survival of souls in Sheol or Hades, as we shall attempt to show in a future chapter; but that state was thought of as one of comparative torpor and incapacity. The main hope was that 'in the flesh' they should see God. We have .already adverted to a part of the evidence of this fact. A few points of interest now remain to be noted.
The sixteenth Psalm expresses, a thousand years before Christ, this hope of God's servants. 'Thou wilt not leave my soul in Sheol, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine holy one to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life, and make me full of joy with Thy countenance.' It is true that this promise made in a climate where corruption occurs before the 'fourth day' (John 11) applies primarily to the resurrection of One who must therefore rise soon after death. But His resurrection carries with it the hope of all God's servants.
The prophet Isaiah (we shall assume with Dr. E. Hawkins the homogeneous authorship of the whole book bearing that name) has two remarkable passages expressing in the most distinct manner the faith of the Resurrection.
In the celebrated 53rd chapter, which describes the sufferings of the 'Servant of God,' 'by whose stripes we are healed,' the following words occur :—
'When thou shalt make his soul (or nephesh) a sin-offering he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands.'
Here it is declared that after his life is poured out as a sin-offering, he shall nevertheless 'prolong it.' This can be only by a resurrection. Can it be that men who thus prophesy are destitute of faith in the resurrection? Do we not trace in these words the same hope •that dwelt in David when he says of the same Savior, 'My flesh shall rest in hope, because Thou wilt not leave my soul in Sheol, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of Life, and make me full of joy with Thy countenance.' Either the Messiah is here, or the Hebrew believer is here. In either case there is a solid confidence in the resurrection of glory.
The other passage of the Prophet Isaiah is in chapter 26:19: —
'Thy dead shall live ;
Mydead bodies shall arise:
Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust,
For thy dew is as the dew of herbs.'
Here the lot of the righteous is contrasted with that of their tyrants and oppressors, who are described as Repltaim, wicked ghosts: —
'They are dead men! They shall not live! They are Rephaim! They shall not arise! Thou shalt visit and destroy them, and make all their memory to perish.'
Here again is language which expressly indicates the awakening of the just; and in the former passage, the forgiveness and glorification of the saints is ascribed to the Resurrection of the Servant of God. Daniel but re-echoed the faith of his predecessors when he said, 'At that time many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, to life everlasting' (12. 2).
II. Old Testament doctrine on the Future Punishment of the Wicked.
It has been shown at the commencement of this chapter that Man, placed from the very epoch of the fall under two distinct systems of moral government, the law and the gospel, is subject to two distinct systems of penalty; the one, normal, congenital, and hereditary, as well as due for our own sins; the other incurred by persistent rebellion against the mercy of God. The death or destruction of earthly life is the curse of the Law; the Second Death in 'Gehenna' is the curse of rejected redemption. These conclusions we gather in their clearest form from the Christian revelation; but the question arises whether the second order of penalty in 'judgment to come' was known to the ancients, and if it were, in what measure of clearness.
Those who are of opinion that all men are immortal, reading the Hebrew Scriptures with a predisposition to find the corresponding doctrine of eternal misery in every part, have found, or thought they found, this threatening in several passages of the prophets. Compelled to discover it only in language which requires severe pressure to make it speak the sense of a 'death which never dies,' such critics have fastened with warmer zeal upon the few sentences which, especially in the English version, seemed to be capable of the desired interpretation. Of these the chief must be noticed, even although criticism has long abandoned them as defences of the article of eternal suffering. Dr. Horberry, one of the most strenuous and able asserters of this doctrine in the last century, admits (and it is a remarkable admission on the part of those who allow that men in ancient times stood in no less need of solemn warnings than to-day) that 'the Old Testament has nothing so clear and express upon this subject as the New;' intending doubtless nothing so clear as he thought he found in the New ; —but the following passage is cited in proof, even by many careful writers, and is used in popular discourse to this day without apparent suspicion of irrelevance.
(1) The words of the Prophet Isaiah (chap. 33:14) are adduced by Dr. Jonathan Edwards in his Reply to Chauncy, chap. 5., as Old Testament evidence of endless misery: '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 '?
A correct translation is the first step to a true interpretation. Sir Edward Strachey 2gives the passage thus: 'The sinners in Zion are afraid: fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us can abide the devouring fire? who among us can abide perpetual burnings?' A slight attention to the context shows (as may be seen in the accessible commentaries, of very different pretensions, of Barnes, Delitzsch, and Gesenius) that the chapter whence these words are quoted refers to the desolating invasion of Palestine by the Assyrians. On this these commentators are all agreed. The cited words have not the most remote reference to future punishment, but refer to present punishment on earth. They represent the outcries of terrified sinners in Jerusalem, who rightly feared that the perpetual conflagrations of war, the devastations of fire and sword caused by the invader, would end in their destruction; for who, said they, can dwell in these perpetual burnings? In ver. 10 the Lord thus addresses them: 'Now will I arise; now will I be exalted. Ye conceive chaff and bring forth stubble, and my Spirit like fire shall consume you. And the people shall be burned as lime (crumble to dust), as thorns cut up shall they be consumed in the fire.' Then follows this text, quoted with an indifference to the sense of Scripture which deserves severe reprobation, since such proceedings in hermeneutics are fatal to the honest study of theology. 'Who among us can abide•the devouring fire, who among us can abide perpetual burnings?' It is manifest that the fires of ver. 14 are the same with those of ver. 12, but they were the flames of war kindled in Palestine by the Assyrians, the effect of which could be withstood by the righteous, and by them alone; for they can dwell in these perpetual conflagrations. It is the wicked who cannot dwell in them.
(2) The second passage from the Old Testament cited in support of the doctrine of endless suffering is in chap. 66 of Isaiah's prophecy, ver. 24:—
'And they shall go forth and look upon the carcases of the men who have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die; neither shall their fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring to all flesh.'
It is argued that, in Mark 9:50, our Lord Jesus Christ quotes the last two clauses in proof of the eternal sufferings of the wicked in hell, thus giving decisive evidence that such is the signification of the words in the original text. We deny both the premise and conclusion. Christ does not cite the words in proof of the 'doctrine of eternal suffering.' He utters not a syllable to that effect. He warns His disciple to enter into 'life' halt or maimed, rather than, 'having two hands or feet,' to be cast into the 'eternal fire;' for He says 'it is better that one of thy members should perrish, rather than that thy whole body should be cast into Gehenna.' But what remains true is this, that our Lord's citation of the passage from Isaiah in reference to future punishment sanctions the belief that the passage, as it stands in Isaiah, bears the same reference; to judgment, in fact, inflicted on God's (enemies during the kingdom of Christ. The nature of the punishment is a 'miserable destruction,' as appears from the following considerations : —
1. The condition of the victims of divine vengeance is expressed by the word carcasses. 'They shall go forth and look upon the (Heb. pegarim) dead corpses (so the same word is rendered in the account of the slaughter of the 175,000 Assyrians —2 Kings 19:35) —of the men who have transgressed against me.' 'In the morning they were all dead corpses,' pegarim. The persons referred to are dead. Their life is destroyed.
2. The attempted figurative sense given to the 'undying worm,' as an ever-gnawing Conscience, can be imposed on the clause only by taking the word die in the sense of literal death. 'Their worm shall not die,' signifies their worm shall not cease to be. The addition of a negative does not alter the signification of a verb. Thus the prevailing argument that death stands for eternal suffering can be made out from this passage only by taking the word die in the natural sense of ceasing to live, —that is to say, the sense which we suppose to be the general sense is taken here for the true meaning, because when so taken, with a negative, the passage can be made to speak of eternal suffering.
3. Our Savior has fixed the signification of living and perishing in the context of Mark 9 by drawing the contrast, 'It were good that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into Gehenna,' the effect of which is that it also would 'perish.' Now the 'perishing of one member,' by cutting it off, is for it to be deprived of life; not to expose it to endless misery. Therefore the perishing of the whole body results in similar destruction. And therefore, also, the persons whose' worm shall not die' are those who have been reduced to pegarim, dead corpses, as we read in the prophecy whence the citation is taken.
When, therefore, the fanciful post-Christian writer of the Book of Judith declares that 'the vengeance of the ungodly is fire and worms, and they shall feel them and weep forever,' he goes beyond the prophecy, and yields to the influence of a philosophical doctrine on immortality learned from Greece and Egypt, and not found in his national scriptures.
(3) The third and last passage in the Old Testament which is sometimes cited in support of the idea of eternal misery is in aniel 12:2: 'And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.'
'So it reads,' says the learned in our Mr. Maude, 'in our English version; Dr. Teegelles, however, who will not be suspected of any heretical bias, with many other Hebrew scholars, translates "And many from among the sleepers of the dust shall awake; these shall be unto everlasting life; but those (the rest of sleepers, those who do not awake at this time) shall be unto shame and everlasting contempt." And he adds, "The word which in our Authorised Version is twice rendered 'some,' is never repeated in any other passage in the Hebrew Bible, in the sense of taking up distributively any general class which had been mentioned; this is enough, I think, to warrant our applying its first occurrence here to the whole of the many who awake, and the second to the mass of the sleepers, those who do not awake at this time."3 And the correctness of this translation is confirmed, not only by the fact that it is the interpretation given by most eminent Jewish commentators,4 but also by internal evidence of the passage taken in its context. For the "time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation," spoken of in the preceding first verse of the chapter, must certainly be identified with the" great tribulation" spoken of in Matt. 24:21-30, which will be endured during the' reign and blasphemy of the last Antichrist—"the Man of Sin"—even him whom the Lord shall consume with the breath of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming (2 Thess. 2:8). Hence the resurrection here spoken of by Daniel synchronisus with the period of the Second Advent, and is plainly a prophecy of the First Resurrection, all the partakers in which are "blessed and holy.'"
It is added, however, that even if the wicked do not then rise, they are reserved 'for shame and everlasting contempt' and this indicates their conscious existence forever to endure the con¬tempt. That this is not so is proved by the Hebrew word here employed. It is deraon, —the very word employed in Isaiah 66:24 to represent the 'abhorring of all flesh,' which is the fate of the wicked men just before described as dead (corpses or pegarim. It follows that the everlasting contempt or abhorring may fall, for anything that is taught in Daniel 12:2, upon the dead.
We do not learn that any passages excepting these three are cited from the Old Testament writings in support of the modern doctrines. Let us consider what is involved in this admission. During certainly five, and possibly six or eight, thousand years preceding the advent of Christ, there was an innumerable race of sinful creatures on earth abandoned for the most part to hereditary superstitions, for the most part also unable to read or think clearly and nearly at the mercy of their kings and priests. Now these seemingly mortal creatures were all according to this theory immortal, destined to endure as long as the Eternal God; they were all born in sin, they were all sinners, they were all liable to everlasting misery in hell. And yet the only recorded references made by their merciful God to this frightful doom in the way of warning are discovered in three disputed texts of two Jewish prophets, living in a late age in comparison with the length of the world's past history; and these three texts are declared by the most competent critics to have not the least relevancy to the supposed impending destiny. Is this the method of the Divine government? Is there not here rather the method of theologising handed down to us by men of the fourth century, who knew little of Scripture, little of history, and still less of God, the Righteous and the Merciful?
What, then, we must now inquire, were the beliefs of Old Testament times respecting future judgment? Are there no decisive indications that men were taught to look for future retribution, and if there be any, what were the evils they feared?
The safest method of investigating the beliefs of antiquity is to begin at this end of the history, and in this case to seize the clue offered to us by the statements of Christ and His apostles. They lived only 1,800 years ago, and were far more likely to know what their predecessors believed, and what the prophets taught, than modern men who look at the remote past through the medium of modern theories.
Let it be observed, then, that our Lord never even makes a question of it, but decisively takes it for granted that' Sodom and Gomorrah,' which were destroyed once by fire for their sins, have yet to undergo a second and more awful infliction in 'the day of judgment.' 'Tyre and Sidon' are spoken of as reserved for a similar retribution.
The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, expressing himself as if giving utterance to an acknowledged belief, says, 'As it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this judgment ' (9:27). The apostle Jude, citing perhaps the apocryphal book of Enoch, nevertheless only signifies what was the consenting voice of ages, that from the earliest times God has announced by His prophets 'retribution for the sins of time in a state still future.' 'Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints to execute judgment upon all' (ver. 14).
In the centuries immediately preceding the gospel this belief was unhesitatingly held. In the book of Ecclesiastes—a work 'Written during or after the captivity, more probably than by Solomon, if we trust the latest criticism—the closing verses reveal the faith of the writer. 'Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment and every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.'
That such expectations of judgment should prevail among the Israelites, as the punishment of rejecting God's offered mercy in time, is in accordance with the almost universal instinct of both ancient and modern times which leads men to 'the fear' of, what Shakespeare calls, 'something after death.' Whether the retribution would come upon the spiritual element of the dissolved nature in Sheol, or on the whole awakened man in a future judgment, might be doubtful—but of the fear itself there was general recognition as a divinely implanted instinct. The punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah was regarded not only as the due reward of their deeds, but as an example to them that should after live ungodly; which could not be unless they understood that judgment by fire from heaven was prepared for sinners. 'Upon the wicked He shall rain destruction, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest; this shall be the portion of their cup' (Psalm 11.). 'His hand shall find out all His enemies. He shall make them as a fiery oven in the day of His wrath, andHis anger shall devour them' (Psalm 21). Behold the day cometh that shall bum as an oven, and the proud and all that do wickedly shall be as stubble, and the day that cometh shall burn them up, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch' (Malachi 4.).
Such expressions as these are frequently, but most unwar¬rantably, taken to refer only to temporal punishments. The plain indications of faith in a survival of souls in death, many of them in a state not blessed, nor leading to blessedness, adds force to the impression given by the fore-cited passages announcing Judgment. These we shall examine, together with the New Testament doctrine of Hades, in a separate chapter (21). That the Jews themselves had gathered from their own Scriptures and had received by tradition from their fathers the fixed anticipation of a 'resurrection both of just and unjust' is certified to us by S. Paul and S. Luke, who declare that they themselves 'allow this ' (Acts 26.). The 'Second Death' of the New Testament revelation is but the repetition of an old Testament doctrine. The souls of the wicked remain in Sheol, the under-world, and are termed, Rephaim, but they, like the souls of the righteous, await a judgment before the Lord, who comes to 'judge the world in righteousness.' Then, says the Prophet Isaiah, 'the earth shall cast out the Rephaim. The earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain' (Isaiah 26:19)'5
All human life is to reappear for judgment. And whatever may be the spiritual sufferings of some souls in Hades, judgment requires the whole humanity to appear. The departed spirit is not the Man, but only one element of his being. If the man is to be judged, he must rise from the dead to appear before God. The bodily resurrection of the wicked who had lived before the advent is doubted by some writers, on the ground that it is not distinctly taught in the ancient canonical books. I submit that it is taught in as many places as the resurrection of the righteous is there taught; neither of them are numerous, yet the whole moral structure of the Old Testament dispensation implies the reality of the judgment to come, as the readers of Christ's time justly judged. But the main noticeable fact is that the final destiny of the wicked is spoken of in the general terms of the curse of the law itself. There was no prospect of eternal suffering set before the sinners. Their end would be death, — extermination. 'When the wicked spring as the grass, and all the workers of iniquity flourish, it is that they shall be destroyed forever' (Psalm 92:7). Hence the faint distinction made in the perspective of prophecy between the death which was the legal curse, and the dtatn eternal. The one dark cloud is seen against the background of a blacker darkness-but the general impression left is that the wicked will ultimately perish, and miserably die.
The prophets, who could speak so eloquently of the woes of mortals in time, as we see by the Lamentations of Jeremiah, do Dot vary the form of their speech when speaking of a wicked man's final destiny. They only deepen their colours, and intro¬duce terms which declare that his ruin shall be irreparable and his destruction complete and eternal.
There is much doubt as to the date of the Book of Job. Recent criticism inclines to the opinion of a more recent original. Of whatever epoch, this sublime poem contains numerous examples of the contemporary beliefs respecting judgment to come.
A steadfast silence as to the endless duration of the lives of the ungodly characterises this book. It contains frequent and animated references to the punishment of the wicked; and being composed in the 'lofty style of the Asiatics,' we might anticipate amplification in the detail, and a copious vocabulary of curses to pervade those portions which describe their doom. For it is not the genius of oriental speech to compress infinite ideas into tame and inadequate expressions, with Spartan •sententiousness, but rather to magnify them. And, surely, if such a conception as that of everlasting existence in misery were intended to be conveyed in the style of Eastern poetry, it would find its natural and appropriate vehicle in the terrific language of the Koran, rather than in the brief declarations of this composition. The following are examples of the threatenings held out, in the book of Job, to the enemies of God: —
Chap. 18 —' The light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine. His strength shall be hunger-bitten, and destruction shall be ready at his side. It shall devour the strength of his skin: even the first-born of death shall devour his strength. His confidence shall be rooted out of his tabernacle, and it shall bring him to the king of terrors. It shall dwell in his tabernacle, because it is none of his : brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation. His roots shall be dried up beneath, and above shall his branch be cut off. His remembrance shall perish from the earth, and he shall have no name in the street. He shall be driven from light into darkness, and chased out of the world. '
Chap. 20 —' Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon the earth, that the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment? Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds ; yet shall he perish forever like his own dung : they which have seen him shall say, Where is he? He shall flyaway as a dream, and shall not be found: yea, he shall be chased away as a vision of the night. The eye also which saw him shall see him no more; neither shall his place any more behold him.'
Chap. 21 —' How oft is the candle of the wicked put out? and how oft cometh their destruction upon them? His eyes shall see his destruction, and he shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty.'
The Book of the Psalms may be supposed to represent the popular belief during the best instructed ages of the Jewish com¬monwealth. The menaces of vengeance to the ungodly found in this collection of sacred songs, in addition to those already cited, are as follows; —
Psalm 1 —'The ungodly are not so: they are like the chaff, which the wind driveth away. The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.'
Psalm 2 —'Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish by the way.'6
Psalm 9 —' Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked; thou hast put Ollt their name forever and ever. The wicked shaH be turned into Sheol (the state of death), and all the nations that forget God.'
Psalm 34 —'The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut ofl' the remembrance of them from the earth. Evil sllall slay Ihe wicked: and they that hate the righteous shaH be desolate. '
Psalm 37 —'Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious at the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be Cut down like grass, and wither like the green herb. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. (See Matt. 5:5) For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently (considor his place, and it shall not be. The wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs—they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away. For such as be blessed of God shall inherit the earth; but they that be cursed of him shall be cut off. I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like the green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not; yea, I sought him, but he could not be found. Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace. Bill the transgressors shall be destroyed together.-the end of the wicked shall be cut off.'
Psalm 50 —'Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.'
Psalm 92 —'0 Lord, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep. A brutish man7 knoweth not ; neither doth a fool understand this. When the wicked spring as the grass, and all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they may be destroyed forever. (Lekishshamedam, the word used in Gen. 34:30; Levit. 26:30; Numb. 33:52; Deut. 1:27.) For, lo, thy enemies, O Lord, for, lo, thy enemies shall perish; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.'
Psalm 103:9 —'He will not contend forever, neither will he retain wrath to eternity (legnolam),'—words which never could have been written by a believer in the doctrine of endless torments.
Psalm 104 —' My meditation of Him shall be sweet; I will be glad in the Lord. Let the sinners be destroyed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more.' Could the Psalmist have really found a 'sweet' subject of meditation in the God of Augustine and Edwards, who would never cease throughout eternity to inflict suffering on the wicked?
Psalm 112 —' The horn of the righteous shall be exalted with honour. The wicked shall see it and be grieved; he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away.' (See Matt. 13:50, 'There shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.')
The wisdom of SOLOMON dictated to him expressions on this subject in conformity with the declarations of David : —
Prov. 10:24 —' The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted. As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more,' but the righteous hath an everlasting foundation. The fear of the Lord prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened. The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish. The way of the Lord is strength to the upright: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity. The righteous shall never be removed; but the wicked shall not inherit the earth.'
Provo 13:13 —'Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed,' but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded. The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.'
Prov. 14:12 —'There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.'
Prov. 15 —'The way of the life is above (an upward road) to the wise to depart from Sheol.'
Prov. 21:16 —' The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead' (Rephaim—Heb..
After the preceding citations, it is not necessary to enlarge on the general style in which the Prophets denounce God's judgments to the ungodly. Their words are uniformly to the effect, that the sinner shall be destroyed, shall be (consumed, shall die, perish, or be slain.8
The 18th chapter of Ezekiel's prophecies contains a fair example of the prophetical mode of address : —
'Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the fathcr, so the soul of the son is mine. The soul that sinneth it shall die. Have I any pleasure that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God, and not that he should return from his ways and live?' 'For when the wicked turneth away from his wickedness which he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive; because he considereth, he shall surely live, he shall not die. For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye!'
The following passage occurs in a critique in the British Quarterly Review, February, 1846:—' We know that the soul is immortal by intuition, the savage and the sage alike; aye, the savage often more surely than the sage; and God Himself assures us in revelation, as through intuition, that the souls which He has made shall never fail from before Him.' With respect to the former part of the learned writer's assertion, it suffices to allege that the Bechuanas• and Australians, and several tribes of Central Africa, have been found destitute of the notion of immortality. The Scripture referred to is Isaiah 58:16 : 'For I will not contend forever,—Neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls that I have made.' From these words it is evident, in the first place, that there is no such doctrine as 'everlasting wrath' in the Old Testament: and, secondly, that the holy prophet declares such an intention on God's part as an eternal infliction would necessarily be followed by the 'failure' or cessation of the souls which He has made. He declares that human souls are not made by God strong enough to endure an endless torment. The reference was, therefore, altogether misleading.