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these people it is said, that " the wrath is come upon them to the UTTERMOST.”
Having already seen that repeated prediction of of ruin and distress were appropriated to this people, and to the then existing generation, we will look at their correspondence of character. "Wherefore, behold, I send to you prophets and wise men, and some of them ye shall kill and crucify ; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and PERSEcute them from city to city.” This then is the character of those on whom the wrath was coming to the uttermost, and it applies to the Jews as a nation, and to them alone in all its length and breadth. Here then is the description of the worst people on the face of the whole earth, and of the wrath which should
on them to the uttermost. They were exalted to heaven, and for their transgressions were thrust down to hell. Their privileges were many; and the abuse of these privileges brought on them quick destruction. And, as they excelled all other nations in their iniquities, so was their punishment greater. (See Lam. 4: 6.) Nay, they stand alone in their sins and in their punishment. They were a sinful nation--a seed of evil doers---a people laden with iniquity, and they are yet without parallel in punishment. The time of trouble which came upon them exceeded all that had been inflicted on a nation, and Christ declares that it should exceed all in after time. But as Paul declares it was the infliction of wrath to the greatest degree, by the term uttermost, no room is left for a punishment in a future life beyond the superlative degree, which has already been experienced in this state of being.
You will observe that a number of texts still remain unnoticed. They are those which have already been examined in this publication, and need not, another investigation, until the views heretofore given of them
shall be called in question. The means are in your hand for the information which you ask respecting them. The rich man and. Lazarus will be the subject of the next, and on one account, may be the most interesting. Yours in truth,
The 12th and 13th Letters embrace much more matter than
was contained in the original, and are therefore considerably longer. As they are contained also in the Light of Truth, some little difference will be perceived in the diction.]
That Sheol, Shaal, Shaul, or Saul, which is the same word in a different dress, should signify a place of never-ending torment, requires proof. İnference, unless the grounds of inference are immutable, amounts to little. Where the importance of inference relates to the greatest possible consequence, analogy must be obvious, and the conclusion irresistible, ere we can give it credence. We hardly need repeat that Saul, the
very word in question, was a common name in Judea, where the import of the word Sheol was well understood. Let us then ask, if the word conveyed to the minds of the Jewish people, the same idea which is attached to it in modern days, would they have adopted it as an appellative ? Has any one professing the Christian name, and believing in the horrid doctrine of endless misery, ever brought his child to the altar, requesting it to be named Hell? You must answer instinctively, No. But do we learn by the scripture, that those to whom were committed the oracles of God, believed in a future, interminable punishment ? Not a word in scripture appears like
it. Nay, the use of the term in most, if not all instances, utterly forbids the idea. The meaning in nearly every instance, is fixed by the context, and the known usages of the people. None but a mad man, or an infuriated fanatic, would contend that the patriarch Jacob expected to go to his son Joseph in the hell of modern christendom ; nor would any man in his senses contend, that Job would request to be bidden in the Christian hell, from the wrath of Jehovah. For, if the wrath of God be exhibited in more dreadful terrors oul of hell, that in it, those who would drive sinners into heaven by the terrors of hell, have not given the most terrible description with which they are threatened in scripture.
But a previous question remains to be settled. Did the Jews believe in the immortality of the spirit ? The question is important. If we have no evidence that they did, the use of any words found in their scriptures cannot be a foundation for giving credit to the dogma of endless misery. Suffering may be commensurate with existence, but cannot exceed it. Ergo-those who did not believe in endless existence, could not believe in endless torment. Consciousness is necessary to suffering, or more philosophically speaking, to misery. But on what authority are we to pronounce that the Jews believed in a future, fixed state, of interminable duration? It is utterly opposed by their history, and even the Pharisees who are suppo. sed to have believed in such a state of being, are far from stating the fact. That they believed in the Pythagorean philosophy is pretty evident. That allusion is made to this philosophy in the ninth chapter of John, no less than twice, can easily be seen. " And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man that was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind ?" Is it possible to refer this simple ques
tion to any other source than the Pythagorean philosophy ? How could the disciples, or any others, suppose that nonentity could offend? The question suggests the answer. They supposed a previous state of existence, in which crimes were committed, which were to be punished in this state of existence. And the question most evidently includes the principle of the transmigration of spirits into different bodies.
True, indeed, the idea of identity is necessary to un• derstand the justice of punishing a spirit and body in
connexion, the latter of which had no previous exis. tence, and could not therefore stand connected in a relation to the spirit which ought to render it liable to misery, as a consequence of transgression. Some might indeed object, that to punish a spirit which had previously animated another body, but had lost its consciousness, is not according to our ideas of divine rectitude. And the argument is strengthened, when we reflect, that no human being, has the least recollection of any previous state of being. But, perhaps the fallacy of all this singular jargon is supposed to be justified by the doctrine of original sin, as holden by our doctors of divinity. We grant, indeed, that the moderns are not a whit behind their progenitors in certain points of mystery, but we are not therefore ready to justify the follies of one generation, by the fashionable frailties of another.
But the reply of the self-righteous Pharisees, to him who had received his sight by the instrumentality of Jesus, leaves no doubt that the metempsychosis, more properly than the resurrection, was the principle held by the Pharisees. “ Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us?” That this is a proof of the prevalence.of the Pythagorean philosophy, is gathered from the preceding question of Christ's disciples. If they gave credit to such fancies, no wonder those who were less conversant with the master of as
semblies, should support so unfounded a theorem. But the supposition is strengthened, when we perceive that the Scribes and Sadducees, who had equal opportunities with the Pharisees, believed in neither angel nor spirit. This is certainly strong circumstantial evidence, that neither the law nor the prophets reveal a future state of being. But the fact may easily be settled. If the law, or prophetical writings, intimated in undisguised language, a state of immortal being beyond the grave, how can we maintain the integrity of that scripture which declares that Jesus brought life and immortality to light through the gospel ? When others can settle this question to their own satisfaction, we shall be induced to hear with complacency, any arguments which they may use for our conversion. At present, we believe that a state of immortality was not known under the Mosaic dispensation. Our readers are in possession of the facts from which we thus judge. To their own good sense we leave the subject.
Hades, is most evidently the word used by the Seventy in translating the Hebrew word Sheol." By what means the sense of a
is altered in a fair translation, is not distinctly perceived. That translators miss the sense, and that the corresponding terms in the translation do not always convey the exact idea of the original, is very evident. But every man of sense must see that the errors of any version cannot sanctify palpable contradictions, nor can a wrested meaning, however long it may retain its empire, impair the sense of the original. Who for instance, will contend for the common version of Mat. 27: 45, 46 ? “ Sleep on now, and take your rest : behold the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, LET US BE GOING." Who does not see the utter inconsistency of this version with common sense, and the whole context ? If the