Conclusion

We have thus briefly explained all the passages in which Gehenna occurs. Is there any intimation that it denotes a place of punishment after death? Not any. If it mean such a place no one can escape believing that it is a place of literal fire, and all the modern talk of a Hell of conscience is most erroneous. But that it has no such meaning is corroborated by the tesitmony of Paul, who says he "shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God," and yet he never, in all his writings, employs the word once, nor does he use the word Hadees but once, and then he signifies its destruciton; "Oh Hadees, where is thy victory?" If Paul believed in a place of endless torment, would he have been utterly silent in reference to it, in his entire ministry? His reticence is a demonstration that he had no faith in it, though the Jews and heathen all around him preached it and believed it implicitly.

A careful reading of the Old Testament shows that the vale of Hinnom was a well known and repulsive valley near Jerusalem, and an equally careful reading of the New Testament teaches that Gehenna, or Hinnom's vale was explained as always in this world. (Jer. 7:29-34: 19:4-15: Matt. 10:28) and was to befall the sinners of that generation (Matt. 24) in this life (Matt. 10:30) that their bodies and souls were exposed to its calamities. It was only used in the New Testament on five occasions, either too few, or else modern ministers use it altogether too much. John, who wrote for

Gentiles, and Paul who was the great appostle to the Gentiles, never used it once, nor did Peter. If it had a local application and meaning we can understand this, but if it be the name of the receptacle of damned souls to all eternity, it would be impossible to explain such inconsistency.

The primary meaning then, of Gehenna is a well-known locality near Jerusalem; but it was sometimes used to denote the consequences of sin, in this life. It is to be understood in these two senses only, in all the twelve passages in the New Testament. In the second century after Christ it came to denote a place of torment after death, but it is never employed in that sense in the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Apocrypha nor was it used by any contemporary of Christ with that meaning, nor was it ever thus employed by any Christian until Justin and Clement thus used it (A.D. 150) and the latter was a Universalist, nor by anyJew until in the targum of Jonathan Ben Uzziel, about a century later. And even then it only denoted future, but did not denote endless punishment, until a still later period.

The English author, Charles Kingsley, writes ("Letters") to a friend:

"The doctrine occurs nowhere in the Old Testament, nor any hint of it. The expression, in the end of Isaiah, about the fire not quenched, and the worm not dying, is plainly of the dead corpses of men upon the physical earth, in the valley of Hinnom or Gehenna, where the offal of Jerusalem was burned perpetually. The doctrine of endless torment was, as a historical fact, brought back from Babylon by the Rabbis. It may be a very ancient primary doctrine of the Magi, an appendage of their fire-kingdom of Ahreman, and may be found in the old Zends, long prior to Christianity. St. Paul accepts nothing of it as far as we can tell, never making the least allusion to the doctrine. The Apocalypse simply repeats the imagery of Isaiah, and of our Lord; but asserts distinctly the non-endlessness of torture, declaring that in the consummation, not only death but Hell shall be cast into the lake of fire. The Christian church has never held it exclusively till now. It remained quite an open question till the age of Justinian, 530, and significantly enough, as soon as 200 years before that, endless torment for the heathen became a popular theory, purgatory sprang up synchronously by the side of it, as a relief for the conscience and reason of the church."

Canon Farrar truthfully says, in his "Eternal Hope": The word rendered Hell is in one place the Greek word "Tartarus", borrowed, as a word, for the prison of evil spirits, not after, but before the resurrection. It is in ten places 'Hadees', which simply means the world beyond the grave, and it is twleve places 'Gehenna', which means primarily, the Valley of Hinnom outside of Jeruslaem, in which, after it had been polluted by Moloch worship, corpses were flung and fires were lit; and, secondly, it is a metaphor, not of final and hopeless, but of purifying and corrective, punishment which, as we all believe, does await impenitent sin both here and beyond the grave. But, be it solemnly observed, the Jews to whom and in whose metaphorical sense, the word was used by our blessed Lord, never did, either then or at any other period, attach to that word 'Gehenna', which he used, that meaning of endless torment which we have been taught to apply to Hell. To them, and, therefore, on the lips of our blessed Savior who addressed it to them, it means not a material and everlasting fire, but an intermediate, a metaphorical, and a terminal retribution."

In Excursus II, "Eternal Hope," he says the "damnation of Hell," is the very different "judgment of Gehenna;" and Hell-fire is the "Gehenna of fire". "an expression which on Jewish lips was never applied in our Lord's days to endless torment". Origen tells us (c. Celsus vi:25) that finding the word Gehenna in the Gospels for the place of punishment, he made a special search into its meaning and history; and after mentioning (1) the Valley of Hinnom, and (2) a purifactory fire (eis teen meta basanon katharsin) he mysteriously adds that he thinks it unwise to speak without reserve about his discoveries. No one reading the passage can doubt that he means to imply the use of the word "Gehenna" among the Jews to indicate a terminable and not an endless punishment."

The English word Hell occurs in the Bible fifty-five times, thirty-two in the Old Testament and twenty-three in the New testament. The original terms translated Hell (Sheol-Hadees) occur in the Old Testament sixty times and in the New Testament twenty-four times; Hadees eleven times, Gehenna twelve times, and Tartarus once. In every instance the meaning is death, the grave, or the consequences of sin in this life.

Thus the word Hell in the Bible, whether translated from Sheol, Hadees, Gehenna, or Tartarus, yields no countenance to the doctrine of future, much less endless punishment.

It should not be concluded, however, from our expositions of the usage of the word Hell in the Bible that Universalists deny that the consequences of sin extend to the life beyond the grave. We deny that inspiration has named Hell as a place or condition of punishment in the spirit world. It seems a philosophical conclusion, and there are Scriptures that seem to many Universalists to teach that the future life is affected to a greater or lesser extent by human conduct here: but that Hell is a place or condition of suffering after death is not believed by any, and, as we trust we have shown, the Scriptures never so designate it. Sheol, Hadees and Tartarus denote literal death, or the consequences of sin here, and Gehenna was the name of a locality well known to al Jews, into which sometimes men were cast, and was made an emblem of great temproal calamities and of suffering resulting from sin. Hell in the Bible, in all the fifty-five instances in which the word occurs always refers to the present and never to the immortal world.

Thus we have shown that there is nothing in the Threatenings of the Bible that at all militates against the great truth of the restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouths of all his holy prophets since the world began.

To the reader

The purpose of this book will not be fully accomplished if the reader shall perceive only that God's punishments of sin are not endless. The fatal defect of the doctrine of endless torment is that it teaches that punishment can be avoided by repentance, and so that any sinner who chooses can escape all penalty. But the Bible teaches that "Wrath," "Judgment," "Fire," "Damnation," "Hell," and all the words by which the consequences of sin are designated, denote penalties that are limited in duration because they are means to a good end, but that those penalties are absolutely certain. Every sinner will infallibly receive the exact amount of punishment deserved: "Though hand join in hand the wicked shall not go unpunished." It is because God is good and holy that he has ordained,

1. That all sin and sorrow shall end; and,

2. That sin and sorrow shall be inseparable.

When the sinner shall repent and return to God here or herafter, God will be more willing to receive than the sinner can be anxious to return. God's threatenings are a portion of his methods of securing the final gathering of all the nations, families and kindreds of the earth into the one holy and happy family in heaven.

And it is because of this sublime purpose of restoring all to himself that he has made sorrow to continue in every human soul until sin is discarded.

The more profoundly learned any one was in Christian antiquity, so much more did he cherish and defend the hope that the suffering of the wicked would at some time come to an end."—Doederlein.

"Is the Law then against the Promises of God? God forbid!"—Paul

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