Meaning Of The Word

The real meaning of the word Stuart concedes to be the under-world, the religion of the dead, the grave, the sepulcher, the region of ghosts or departed spirits. (Ex. Ess.): "It was considered as a vast and wide dominion or region, of which the grave seems to have been as it were only a part or a kind of entrance-way. It appears to have been regarded as extending deep down into the earth, even to its lowest abysses In this boundless region lived and moved at times, the names of departed friends."

But these five passages teach no such doctrine as he thinks they may teach. The unrighteous possessor of wealth goes down to death; the nations that forget God are destroyed as nations; lewd women's steps lead downward to death; their guests are on the downward road; the rod that wisely corrects the unruly child, saves him from the destruction of sin. There is no hint of an endless hell, nor of a post-mortem hell in these passages, and if not in these five then it is conceded it is in no passage containing the word.

That the Hebrew Sheol never designates a place of punishment in a future state of existence, we have the testimony of the most learned of scholars, even among the so-called orthodox. We quote the testimony of a few:

Rev. Dr. Whitby: "Sheol throughout the Old Testament, signifies not a place of punishment for the souls of bad men only, but the grave, or place of death." Dr Chapman: "Sheol, in itself considered has no connection with future punishment." Dr. Allen: "The term Sheol itself, does not seem to mean anything more than the state of the dead in their dark abode." Dr. Firbairn, of the College of Glasgow: "Beyond doubt, Sheol, like Hades, was regarded as the abode after death, alike of the good and the bad." Edward Leigh, who says Horne's, "Introduction," was "one of the most learned understanding of the original languages of the Scriptures," observes that "all learned Hebrew scholars know the Hebrews have no proper word for hell, as we take hell."

Prof. Stuart: "There can be no reasonable doubt that Sheol does most generally mean the underworld, the grave or sepulchre, the world of the dead. It is very clear that there are many passages where no other meaning can reasonably be assigned to it. Accordingly, our English translators have rendered the word Sheol grave in thirty instances out of the whole sixty-four instances in which it occurs."

Dr. Thayer in his Theology of Universalism quotes as follows: Dr. Whitby says that Hell "throughout the Old Testament signifies the grave only or the place of death." Archbishop Whately: "As for a future state of retribution in another world, Moses said nothing to the Israelites about that." Milman says that Moses "maintains a profound silence on the rewards and punishments of another life." Bishop Warburton testifies that, "In the Jewish Republic, both the rewards and punishments promised by Heaven were temporal only-such as health, long life, peace, plenty and dominion, etc., diseases, premature death, war, famine, want, subjections, captivity, etc. And in no one place of the Mosaic Institutes is there the least mention, or any intelligible hint, of the rewards and punishments of another life." Paley declares that the Mosaic dispensation "dealt in temporal rewards and punishments. The blessings consisted altogether of worldly benefits, and the curses of worldly punishments. Prof. Mayer says, that "the rewards promised the righteous, and the punishments threatened the wicked, are such only as are awarded in the present state of being." Jahn, whose work is the textbook of the Andover Theological Seminary, says, "We have no authority, therefore, decidedly to say, that any other motives were held out to the ancient Hebrews to pursue good and avoid evil, than those which were derived from the rewards and punishments of this life." To the same important fact testify Prof. Wines, Bush, Arnauld, and other distinguished theologians and scholars. "All learned Hebrew scholars know that the Hebrews have no word proper for hell, as we take hell."

[Footnote: Encyc. Britan., vol. 1. Dis. 3 Whateley's "Peculiarities of the Christian Religion," p.44, 2d edition, and his "Scripture Revelations of a Future State," pp. 18, 19, American edition. MILMAN'S "Hist. of Jews," vol. 1, 117. "Divine Legation," vol. 3, pp. 1, 2 & c. 10th London edition.

PALEY"S works, vol. 5. p. 110, Sermon 13. Jahn"s "Archaeology," 324. Lee, in his "Eschatology," says: "It should be remembered that the rewards and punishments of the Mosaic Institutes were exclusively temporal. Not an allusion is found, in the case of either individuals or communities, in which reference is made to the good or evil of a future state as motive to obedience."]

Dr. Muenscher, author of a Dogmatic History in German, says: "The souls or shades of the dead wander in Sheol, the realm or kingdom of death, an abode deep under the earth. Thither go all men, without distinction, and hope for no return. There ceases all pain and anguish; there reigns an unbroken silence; there all is powerless and still; and even the praise of God is heard no more." Von Coelln: "Sheol itself is described as the house appointed for all living, which receives into its bosom all mankind, without distinction of rank, wealth or moral character. It is only in the mode of death, and not in the condition after death, that the good are distinguished above the evil. The just, for instance, die in peace, and are gently borne away before the evil comes; while a bitter death breaks the wicked like as a tree."

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