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Book Chap, 2 Chron. 12 2 Chron. 17 Ezra

6 Neh.

8 Job

38 Psalm 36 Psalm 72 Psalm 73 Psalm 73 Psalm 107 Psalm 137 Psalm 138 Prov. 16 Prov. 24 Prov. 26 Eccles. 3 Isaiah 18 Isaiah 25 Isaiah 28 Isaiah 56 Isaiah 64 Jer.

8 Jer.

23 Jer.

31 Hosea 14 Jonah 3 Zeph. Matt.

3 Matt.

5 Matt. 16 Matt. 16 Matt. 17 Matt. 17 Matt. 17 Matt. 18 Matt. 18 Matt. 18 Matt. 18 Matt. 19 Matt. 19 Matt. 19 Matt. 23 Matt. 27 Matt. 26 Mark

14 Luke

2 Luke

2 Luke 7 Luke 12 Luke 13 Luke 15 Luke 15

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Book Chap Luke 15 Luke 15 Luke 15 Luke 15 Luke 15 Luke 17 Luke 17 Luke

23 John

1 John

3 John

5 John

11 John

14 John 15 John 17 John 17 John 19 John 19 Acts

7 Acts 20 Acts 27 Rom.

5 Rom. Rom. Rom. 15

Cor. 7 1 Cor. 13

Cor. 15 2 Cor. 2 2 Cor. 3 2 Cor. 5 Gal. Phil. Col. 1 Tim. 1 1 Tim.

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3 2 Tim. 4 Heb.

1 Heb.

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6 Heb. 11 Heb.

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Heb. 12
James
James
1 Peter 5

John
Rev.
Rev.
Rev.

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O co er or co

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17

A H O MIL Y

ON

How to Escape Hell.

“How shall ye escape the damnation of hell ?”—Matt. xxiii. 33.

HE voice of OLD TIME, that in one of Sir

Walter Scott's pensive moods rang through his great nature, sends its stirring echoes through my poor soul, as I remember, that I am now commencing the Ninth VOLUME

“Homilistic” labors; and that too, just as one year, voluminous with the biographies of millions, retires to that God of ages who is the Righteous Arbiter of our destiny, and another appears charged with the missions and mysteries of eternity:

of my

“Before thy breath, like blazing flax,

Man and his marvels pass away ;
And changing empires wane and wax,

Are founded, flourish, and decay :
Redeem thine hours—thy space is brief,

While in my glass the sand-grains shiver,
And measureless thy joy or grief,

When time and thou shalt part for ever.".

What subject more suited to the solemnity of the hour could I select, than that which will enable us to indicate the method of reaching a happy eternity, and which is suggested by the startling appeal of Christ to the sinners of His age ? “ How shall ye escape the damnation of hell ?

The word “hell” a translation of the Greek word, Gehenna ; a term used to designate the valley of Hinnom.

Vol. IX.

А

This valley bounds Jerusalem on the north, and lies below Mount Zion,-a scene of sacred and imperishable associations. In this valley, Moloch, the national god of the Amorites, was worshipped with the horrid and inhuman rite of sacrificing children in the fire. When Josiah in his conquests overthrew this idolatry, he poured contempt upon the infernal practice by casting into the valley the bones of the departed. In the estimation of the old Hebrew, the bones of the dead caused the greatest of all pollutions. Whatever person, place, or things, they touched were forth with considered “unclean."

Hence this valley of Hinnom, this Gehenna, this "hell," having been the receptacle of the human remains which Josiah threw into it, was considered a place the most polluted and accursed. From this circumstance it became a common receptacle for all the refuse from the city of Jerusalem. Here large quantities of decomposing vegetable and animal matter were constantly thrown. This putrescent matter generated an abundance of worms :-the worm here never died. To prevent the noxious effluvia, springing from this mass of corruption, poisoning the atmosphere and breathing disease and death into the heart of the city, fires were kept burning day and night. This valley therefore was literally a place where “the worm never died, and where the fire was never quenched.”

Jesus, as a teacher, always seized on such incidents and facts as were familiar to His hearers, in order to illustrate His meaning. He uses now this abominable, worm-generating, and perpetually burning, valley to symbolize the dark destiny which awaits the wicked.

With these explanatory remarks it will appear obvious that this startling question of Jesus in the text contains two important thoughts :

A

OF

I. THAT SOMEWHERE IN THE UNIVERSE OF GOD THERE IS SCENE FEARFUL RETRIBUTION FOR THE WICKED. The text is but one of numerous figurative passages which teach this solemn fact. The New Testament abounds in

imagery, no less startling and appalling. We read of "outer darkness,” of a “lake of fire,” of a “bottomless pit,” of a “place of torment,” of the “ blackness of darkness for ever.'' This language, though confessedly highly figurative, is fraught with a tremendous meaning, and well adapted to start in the mind the most terrific ideas of agonising torture.

It is far enough from my aim at present, and far enough from my judgment and taste at any time, to occupy your attention with any horrific description of the miseries of hell. Preaching hell is not preaching Christ; frightening men is not instructing them; the awakening of fear is not the exalting of conscience. Religion is “not the spirit of fear, but of love, and of power, and of a sound mind.” Nor is it my intention to speculate about the precise nature or scene of future punishment. My point at present is simply with the fact.

This fact stands supported by evidence independent of the Scriptures. Were there no Bible, there would still be considerations sufficiently potent to compel our faith in the doctrine. Future punishment is not one of the special doctrines of revelation ; it is a fact proclaimed by reason, and written in characters of fire on the conscience of all. The man who denies it as truly offers violence to the philosophy of his nature, as to the testimonies of this Book. The following considerations might be urged :

First : Moral government implies it. A moral administration is a fact, as palpable to our moral reason, as the sun is to the bodily eye. It is not an arbitrary institution ; it is founded in the highest reason; it is necessary to the good of the universe. The design of all rational and just government is the maintenance of general order and peace. But if the law be violated and the penalty not inflicted, this end would not be realized. The law which requires suffering for sin is not only just, but most benevolent. Disconnect suffering from wrong, and the moral universe would soon be a scene of anarchy and confusion. If there be sin in the universe, benevolence requires a hell in the universe. As the health

of Jerusalem demanded that fire should be kept burning in the valley of Hinnom, day and night, to prevent the air from becoming pestilential, and breathing death into the heart of the population; so the interests of the moral creation require, that there should be a hell flaming wherever there is sin, to prevent the contagion of depravity from spreading into the holy cities of the good, and blighting with a moral death the universe of God.

Secondly : The foreboding of conscience indicates it. Whatever may be the theories propounded in relation to the human mind, all admit, as a reality, the existence of a con science; an actual something—a moral nerve which feelingly connects man with law and God :-a nerve which hears and sees the spiritual, carries the voices of the decalogue and the visions of the judgment into our inmost nature. This conscience both in the savage and the sage foreshadows the scene of coming retribution. It has heard the trumpet blast, it has seen the judge enthroned, the prisoner arraigned, the books opened, the witnesses examined ; heard the sentence pronounced, and marked the final delivery of the culprit into the everlasting custody of justice !

Do not these universal apprehensions argue the doctrine of future retribution, or, have they no meaning? Do you say that these forebodings rise from the influence of priestcraft ? In lands where no priest has ever trod, and in times when priesthood was unknown, we find them. They are as universal as intuitions, and they are to the scenes of retribution what the grey beams of morning are to that noontide flood which reveals the world in brightness ; what the low moanings and howlings of the winds are to the approaching tempests that shall lash the ocean into fury and shake the globe ;-prophecies and precursors. The structure of the human eye does not more clearly imply the existence of light, than the forebodings of a guilty conscience the existence of a hell.

Thirdly: Moral causation involves it. The principle of causation, or the relation of cause and effect, is developed in

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