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common to assign to notoriously wicked men the low. est hell. But whatever sense we put on the phrase, " the lowest hell,” it is the same place of which David thus speaks, Psalm 86: 13,--" for great is thy mercy towards me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell." Was David ever in the lowest place of eternal misery? But here again our translators for hell in the text put grave in the mar. gin. The fact is, the language in the above texts is used figuratively, and it would be absurd to interpret it literally, See the foregoing dissertation of Dr. Campbell in proof of this. When we read of the lowest hell, which implies a low, and a lower, is not this mode of speaking used as a contrast to the expression highest heavens, which implies a high anda higher heavens? We read also of the third heavens, which clearly implies two more. I would therefore suggest it for consideration, if the expression "lowest hell," did not originate, from the dead being sometimes cast into pits, the depth of which was as little known, as the height of the highest heavens. When the common honours were paid the dead, they were put in caves, or vaults, or decently interred under the carth. But when persons were deemed unworthy of funeral honors, were they not cast into pits, the depth of which, was sometimes unknown? Did not this unknown depth give rise to the expression depths of hell, just as the unknown height of the highest heavens, gave rise to this expression ?
“In Isai. 5: 14. it is said,—"hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure ; and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth shall descend into it." This may be said with respect to the grave, but surely with no propriety could it be said of a place of eternal misery. Speaking of the proud ambitious man, it is also said, Hab. 2 : 5," who enlargeth his desire as
hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied.” In this text, death and hell are used as convertible words to express the same thing. In Prov. 27: 20. it is said "hell and destruction are never full.” Similar things are stated above in the texts where Sheol is translated grave, as in these passages, and show, that the same was intended by the inspired writers, although the original word is differently rendered. The context of all these texts sufficiently show, that the grave or state of the dead is meant, and not a place of eternal misery. Indeed, let any one read Ezek. 32: 17-32. and observe, that all the dead are represented as in hell, and as speaking out of the midst of hell. Their graves are represented as about them ; that the mighty are gone down to hell with their weapons of war, and that their swords are under their heads. All this description agrees very well with the ancient mode of placing the dead in their repositories, but it is contrary to common belief, that a place of eternal misery could be referred to. Does any one believe that the mighty of this earth have their swords under their heads in such a place?
“ As Sheol, the grave, or hell, was the most debased state to which any person could be brought, hence I think God says, reproving Israel for their idolatries,
.“ and didst debase thyself even unto hell.” Isai. 57: 9. And as death and the grave are of all things the most dreaded by men, it is said of some, that they,~"have made a covenant with death, and with hell are at agreement.'
This language, expresses in a very strong manner, their fancied security, but which were only vain words, for it is added,—your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand.” Isai. 28 : 15 -19.
The last text in which Sheol is translated hell, is Psalm 9 : 17,_" the wicked shall be turned into hell,
and all the nations who forget God.” [An old version thus gives this passage-" The wicked shall go into hell.”] There is no text in which the word Sheol occurs, which has been more frequently quoted than this, to prove that by hell, is meant a place of misery for the wicked. The wicked are the persons spoken of, and they are said to be, or shall be, turned into hell, with all the nations that forget God. Plausible as this appears to be, we have only to consult the context, to see that no such idea was intended by the inspired writer. The Psalm in which the words stand, is treating of God's temporal judgments upon the heathen nations. We think if verses 15–20. are consulted, this will sufficiently appear. What leads people to think that this passage refers to eternal misery, is, the false idea which they have attached to the word hell. They have associated a false idea with this word, and in this text they conclude that it is taught. But surely no one, who has attended to all the above texts, can continue to believe that Sheol here, has such a meaning. It is the same hell into which the wicked are turned, where Jacob said he would go down to Joseph mourning. It is the same hell in which the Saviour's soul was not left. It is the same hell David prayed the wicked might go down quick, or into alive. When once I can believe that David prayed the wicked might go down alive to a place of endless misery, and that Korah and his company did go there alive, it is possible I may believe that the text before us contains the answer to David's prayer. But it will not be easy to produce evidence of this. The fact is, it would prove too much for even those who take this view of it. It would prove that all the heathen nations must go to eternal misery, a thing which few are prepared to admit. Ask the question of the most zealous advocates of the doctrine,--are all the heathen nations turned into eternal misery? They hesitate, they faulter to
any, yes. But why do they so ? for if Shoel means such a place, the passage is plain and explicit in declaring it.
“It perhaps may be objected to this view of the text, are not all good people turned into Sheol, or the state of the dead, as well as the wicked ? why then is it said the wicked shall be turned into hell with all the nations that forget God? The answer to this is easy. Though all good people in David's day, went to Sheol, as well as the wicked, yet not in the way he is here speaking of the wicked. David is speaking of God's public judgments on the heathen, and by those judgments they were to be cut off from the earth, or turned into Sheol. It is one thing to die, and quite another to be cut off by the judgments of God from the earth. That the Sheol or hell here mentioned, was not a place of endless misery for the wicked, see Ainsworth on this text, and on Gen. 37: and Psalm 16.-I shall only add, if all the wicked, yea, all the nations who forgot God in those days were turned into a place of endless misery, upon what principles are we to justify the character of God, or of all good men, for their want of feeling towards them, or their exertions to save them from it ? We are told that the times of this ignorance God winked at : that he suffered all nations to walk after their own ways. If all the heathen nations were turned into a place of eternal misery, neither God, nor good men felt, or spoke, or acted, as if this was true.
“I have now finished what Dr. Campbell calls an endless labour, namely, to illustrate by an enumeration of all the passages in the Old Testament, that Sheol, rendered pit, grave, and hell in the common version, does not signify a place of endless misery. What he stated concerning this in the above extract, we think is strictly correct. Before closing my remarks on all these passages, there are a few facts and observations,
which have occurred in the examination of them, which deserve some notice.
“1st, The word translated everlasting, eternal, for ever, is never connected with Sheol or hell by any of the Old Testament writers. If they believed that this was a place of punishment for the wicked, and that it was endless in its duration, it is somewhat surprising that this should be the case. Every one knows, that these words are very often used there, but not in a single instance do the inspired writers in any way use them, when speaking of Sheol, or hell. So far from this, in some of the texts, it is said, hell is to be destroyed. We may then make an appeal to every candid mind, and ask, if hell in the Old Testament refers to a place of eternal misery, how are we to account for this? The fact is certain. To account for it, I leave to those who believe this doctrine. e read to be sure in books, and we have heard also in sermons, of an eternal hell, but such language, is not found in all the book of God, nor did it ever drop from the lips of any inspired writer.
"2d, Another fact equally certain is, that not only are the words eternal, everlasting, or for ever, omitted in speaking of Sheol or hell, but this place is not spoken about, as a place of misery, at all. Whether Sheol is translated pit, grave, or hell, in not one of the passages, is it described as a place of misery for the wicked, or for any one else. Before there need to be
dispute, whether the punishment in this place is to be of eternal duration, we have first to prove, that it is a place of punishment."
That it is not described as a place of punishment, either short or long, is very evident from scripture language. We are informed that it is a place of silence, darkness, and ignorance, where is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom."
The manner in which the inspired writers of ancient times,