Heathen Ideas Of Hell

During all the time that generations following generations of Jews were entertaining the ideas taught in these sixty-four passages, the surrounding heathen believed in future, endless torment. The literature is full of it. Says Good in his "Book of Nature": "It was believed in most countries 'that this Hell, Hadees, or invisible world, is divided into two very distinct and opposite regions, by a broad and impassable gulf; that the one is a seat of happiness, a paradise or elysium, and the other a seat of misery, a Gehenna or Tartarus; and that there is a supreme magistrate and an impartial tribunal belonging to the infernal shades, before which the ghosts must appear, and by which they are sentenced to the one or the other, according to the deeds done in the body. Egypt is said to have been the inventress of this important and valuable part of the tradition; and undoubtedly it is to be found in the earliest records of Egyptian history.' [It should be observed that Gehenna was not used before Christ, or until 150 A. D. to denote a place of future punishment."]

Homer sings:

"Here in a lonely land, and gloomy cells, The dusky nation of Cimmeria dwells; The sun ne'er views the uncomfortable seats, When radiant he advances or retreats. Unhappy race! whom endless night invades, Clouds the dull air, and wraps them round in shades."

Virgil says:

"The gates of Hell are open night and day; Smooth the descent, and easy is the way." Just in the gate, and in the jaws of Hell, Revengeful Cares and sullen Sorrows dwell, And pale Diseases, and repining Age, Want, Fear, and Famine's unresisted rage; Here Toils, and Death, and Death's halfbrother Sleep Forms terrible to view, their sentry keep; With anxious pleasures of a guilty mind, Deep Frauds before, and open Force behind; The Furies' iron beds; and Strife, that shakes Her hissing tresses, and unfolds her snakes. Full in the midst of this infernal road, An elm displays her dusky arms abroad;— The god of sleep there bides his heavy head; And empty dreams on ev'ry leaf are spread. Of various forms unnumbered spectres more, Centaurs, and double shapes, besiege the door. Before the passage horrid Hydra stands, And Briarius with his hundred hands; Gorgons, Geryon with his tripe frame; And vain Chimera vomits empty flame."

Dr. Anthon says, "As regards the analogy between the term Hadees and our English word Hell, it may be remarked that the latter, in its primitive signification, perfectly corre-sponded to the former. For, at first, it denoted only what was secret or concealed; and it is found, moreover, with little variation of form and precisely with the same meaning in all the Teutonic dialects. The dead without distinction of good or evil, age or rank, wander there conversing about their former state on earth; they are unhappy and they feel their wretched state acutely. They have no strength or power of body or mind. . . Nothing can be more gloomy and comfortless than the whole aspect of the realm of Hadees, as pictured by Homer."

The heathen sages admit that they invented the doctrine. Says Polybius: "Since the multitude is ever fickle, full of lawless desires, irrational passions and violence, there is no other way to keep them in order but by the fear and terror of the invisible world; on which account our ancestors seem to me to have acted judiciously, when they contrived to bring into the popular belief these notions of the gods, and of the infernal regions." B. vi. 56.

Strabo says: "The multitude are restrained from vice by the punishments the gods are said to inflict upon offenders, and by those terrors and threatenings which certain dreadful words and monstrous forms imprint upon their minds. . . . For it is impossible to govern the crowd of women, and all the common rabble, by philosophical reasoning, and lead them to piety, holiness and virtue-but this must be done by superstition, or the fear of the gods, by means of fables and wonders; for the thunder, the aegis, the trident, the torches (Of the Furies), the dragons, etc., are all fables, as is also all the ancient theology." Geo. B. I. Seneca says: "Those things which make the infernal regions terrible, the darkness, the prison, the river of flaming fire, the judgment-seat, etc., are all a fable, with which the poets amuse themselves, and by them agitate us with vain terrors." How near these superstitious horrors—these heathen inventions—

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