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5, 6.) And the Lord Jesus Christ, pronounced the chiefs of their hierarchy, the Pharisees, serpents, and a generation of vipers. (A prosopopœia of sin!) How true, to the life, is the parabola of the dying Patriarch, and the imagery of the Lord Jesus! ERROR is the same in all ages-CRUELTY has lost none of its venom, since the days of Jacob, and the times of the Saviour Jesus. The poi son is still in the fangs of "the generation of vipers." "Instruments of cruelty are in their habitations"—and their habitations, by an expressive metonymy, is the HELL OF PAGANISM!
There is another aphorism, "Facts are stubborn things." Look at this fact-Modern orthodoxy says, that the Jews' Gehenna, (yeévvns,*) signifies, and it is the true and correct import of the term, a future, and an endless Hell. They also contend, that the Rich man was in Hell! Now the sober, stubborn, incontrovertible fact, is, that Jesus located the Rich man in the HELL OF PAGANISM! which the idolatrous Jews, who had forsaken God, received the doctrines of men, were the subjects of strong delusion, believed a lie, and were made blind, believed!!!
I throw the gauntlet to the whole orthodox host in Christendom, clergy and laity, and challenge them," all and singular," to confute my premises. Also, to bring so much as one item of proof, or a fragment of testimony, or a speck of evidence, that they themselves will not be ashamed of, to prove that the ancient Hebrews either believed or taught, that Ge Hinnom, or yeevvns, (Gehenna,) actually meant, signified, or referred to, a future Hell, in another world beyond the grave; in which, sinners, in a disembodied state, would be punished for their sins committed in the flesh. Let them see to this matter, and no longer fill the world with their false dogmas, and wicked perversions of the Scriptures of truth.t
* Note-It should be remembered, that when Jesus asked the Pharisees, "How can ye escape the damnation of hell?" it is, in the original, Kрiσεws Tпs yεévvns; literally, the judgment of gehenna. (Matt. xxiii. 33.) They knew what that meant. Dr. Clarke passed by this!
+ The great mass of the people in Christendom, from their habits and pursuits, as well as their custom of taking for granted, that orthodox commentators are correct, etc., are completely at the mercy of zealots and bigots. The subject of a future, an eternal or endless and cruel Hell, is a momentous subject; as the fact, that hundreds have been driv. en to madness and suicide by a belief in the dogma, abundantly shows. It should therefore be known, that the Greek term Hades, according to its legitimate signification, aside from false glosses, and the ridiculous VOL. II.-35
There is no particular taught in the Scriptures more unequivocally clear, and plain, than the following; viz:That the Jews were blind to the truth-that they rejected the doctrine of God-that they had adopted, instead of the doctrine of God, the doctrine of men-that they had received the idols of pagan nations, and believed in pagan errors that it was the purpose of God to confirm them in their errors, by sending strong delusion, that they might believe a lie-that, in conformity to the purpose of God, for the time being, the Lord Jesus Christ so far countenanced their errors, as not to correct them by a positive, particular, and pointed correction-but, on the contrary, as in the instance of their accusation against him, (Matt. xii. 24; Mark ii. 22; Luke xi. 15,)" of cast
superstitions of heathen or pagan nations, incorporated with their ideas of it, is a perfect synonyme for the Hebrew term Sheol, in the Old Testament; and the Latin term Orcus; and that these terms simply signify the unseen state of the dead; necessarily inclusive of the grave. The heathen definitions of Hades, and Orcus, calling them the infernal regions, etc., as well as the whims of some ignorant christians, who suppose that Hades and Sheol signify a future hell, or place of torment, are altogether gratuitous.
Modern zealots, who are making an effort to incorporate the Jews' Gehenna with, and locate it IN, Hades, are guilty of a vile attempt at deception. They have finally become so hold, as to give this definition in their Lexicons! representing that the Hebrews (i. e. the ancient Jews,) believed that their Gehenna, a notorious valley, situated about a mile South of the city of Jerusalem, is actually IN Hades; and in that part of Hades, that pagan superstition designates as Tartarus!!! Hav ing been beaten "from pillar to post," on the subject of a place of future punishment, they finally, as their last, and desperate resort, fastened on the word Gehenna; but still a difficulty beset them; Gehenna is the name of a notorious Valley, in the land of Judea; and Judea is in this world! Therefore, they have now made the insane attempt, in open day, to persuade their dupes, and the rising generation, that the Jews of old, or Hebrews, believed that Gehenna is IN the heathen Hades, or infernal regions!
They know better-but, give them their pseudo-argument, what then? Why, simply, that they have been driven to the miserable shift, to make a plaster for their rotten creed, from the dogmas of a people that were denounced by God, his prophets, and the Lord Jesus Christ, for their infidelity, in rejecting the commandments and doctrine of God, and adopting in their stead, the doctrines of men! Pagan errors!
God's prophet Ezekiel, (xxxvii.) prefigured the moral condition of the Jews, rejected by God for their infidelity, and their running after heathen gods, pagan devils, and the superstitions of men, by a valley filled with dry bones, etc. Therefore, the authority of these infidel Jews, in proot of Gehenna being IN Tartarus, if it could be obtained, would stand in the same relation to God's truth as dry bones to living men. But this is near enough for modern orthodoxy! Drowning men will catch at straws, says the proverb. 7 See Sermon XI. note, p. 345
ing out devils by Beelzebub the prince of devils," and in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, He countenanced their errors, so far, as to adopt them for imagery, and use them for a justifiable purpose, viz: As metaphors, to portray the moral condition of those who believed them. These premises will stand as firm as a mountain of adamant; and for ever resist all efforts to overthrow them.*
Now, I ask, in the face of these FACTS, and of the abundant testimony I have adduced, in the foregoing exposition and illustration of the Parables of the Unjust Steward, and the Rich Man and the beggar Lazarus, What are we to understand by the imagery of the Pagan or Heathen Hell? I answer, It is introduced to signify, by its very expressive parabola, the moral condition of those who reject the doctrine of God, and substitute, in its stead, the doctrine and dogmas of men! In the parabola of the prophets it is written-" They have no rest, day nor night, who worship the beast and his image." (Rev. xiv. 11.) The beast and his image are now worshipped-the instru ments of cruelty are yet in the habitations of the priesthood-the generation of vipers possess their sting-the poison of Pagan error is yet in their fangs and the victims of the strong delusion, who believe the lie, still cry from Hades, (darkness,) "Father Abraham, have mercy on me!" And they that worship the beast, and his image, in their delusion, say, "Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him ?"
"And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." (Rev. xviii. 4.)
The English reader should know, that, in all cases, where we read of Christ's casting out devils, in the original Greek, it is dapória (daimonia) the Jews' devil. But when Jesus says to the Jews, (John viii. 44,) "Ye are of your father the devil," it is diaß6λov, (diabolou,) sin personified. The Jews' devil came from Pagans-The devil Jesus spoke of, originated in the human heart!!!
THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
"Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." MATT. xix. 14.
I WILL commence my sermon by asking the reader a very simple question-Would the Lord Jesus Christ, in addressing the multitudes, a great and a promiscuous assemblage of people, teach them to pray, saying, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name-thy kingdom come; thy will be done in earth, as in heaven;" (See Matt. v.; vi.) if the kingdom of God shall never come to men in earth, in the flesh; and His will shall never be done in earth, in the flesh, as in heaven? In a word, would the Lord Jesus Christ teach men to pray for the happening of impossible events? The answer must be, No. What, then, are we to understand, by the phrase, "Kingdom of heaven ?"
Ans. It must be obvious even to a superficial reader of the Scriptures, on a moment's reflection, if "the kingdom of heaven" is God's kingdom, that it must follow of an inevitable necessity, that the kingdom of God is the kingdom of heaven; and that these two phrases, or sentences, or modes of expression, wherever they occur in the Scriptures, are perfectly synonymous. And this is the plain, simple truth. It would be a waste of time to quote authorities, adduce testimony, or multiply arguments, to prove a truth that is self-evident.
Christ's apostle Paul, has answered the question, both negatively and affirmatively-What is the kingdom of God? saying "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." (Pneuma Spirit. Rom. xiv. 17.) It therefore follows, that "righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit," constitute the characteristics of, or more properly are, the essentials of the kingdom of heaven. It is therefore pertinent to inquire,
First-What is righteousness?
Second-What is peace?
Third-What is joy in the Holy Spirit?
First-What is righteousness? However simple the affirmation may appear, at first sight, it is correct to say, that righteousness consists in every thing that is right, as opposed to every thing that is wrong. For wisdom sanctions every thing that is not wrong, and opposes every thing that is wrong. And the test, by which we may at all times decide correctly of every thing that can possibly affect the weal or wo of man in the flesh, has been furnished by the Lord Jesus Christ, who never erred in his moral decisions; viz:-"All things whatsoever [no exceptions,] ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets." (Matt. vii. 12.)* Reader, I cannot imagine that a volume of testimony would add to our information on the subject of righteousness, considered in antithesis to unrighteousness. We may speculate on the advantages of righteousness to the righteous man, and the disadvantage and injury of unrighteousness to the wrongdoer.
Second-What is peace? Peace, in its legitimate signification, is the complete antithesis of war, in all the possible acceptations of this term. Therefore, every thing that can be imagined of a nature or kind, to disturb the mind of man; cause uneasiness, disquietude, apprehension of evil in any possible shape or manner, so as to diminish happiness; or exist as an obstacle to enjoyment, and quietness of mind, is opposed to peace. And affirmatively, peace consists in every thing that can be imagined of a nature or kind, to quiet the mind of man; produce confidence, harmony and hope, in every possible acceptation of these terms, so as to cause happiness, or promote enjoyment, and quietness of mind.
Third-What is joy in the Holy Spirit? Reader, life and death, both physically and morally, are antipodes;
* This declaration of the Lord Jesus Christ, is an epitome of the Great Principle of his Gospel. It is the essence of the doctrine affirmed in John ix. 41, and Rom. ii. 11-16. The law written in the hearts of the Gentiles as men, the law of their nature, enabled them to decide according to this perfect principle of the Gospel of Christ. Infidels, in their ignorance of the relation of things as established by God, have been so weak or puerile in their judgment, as to urge as an objection to Christ's declaration, Matt. vii. 12, that Confucius, a Chinese moral philosopher, promul gated the same sentiment, centuries before the Christian era! Confucius was born 550 B. c. in the kingdom of Lu, which is now the province of Shangtung, and died in his seventy-third year.