Page images
PDF
EPUB

66

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. 26: 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 corresponding text, Mark 14: 41, 42, imports the same contradiction in terms, an account of the same scene by Luke, 22: 46, redeems the subject from reproach, by a fair exhibition of the sense, as connected with the subject, and the context. "And he said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation."

As the true sense of this subject is so obvious that few can miss it, we beseech those who believe in the infallibility of translators, who were under the influence of king-craft and priest-craft, to pause one moment, before they draw a conclusion on any important subject, based on the supposed meaning of any word or particular phrase; and more especially, when the frequent use of the term is such that a very different sense must often be given, or the connexion left in utter confusion.

We have already seen in a former section that though hades does not exactly correspond with Sheol, yet the difference is of little importance. That neither word is used to express the idea which long use has attached to the term hell, as used among Christians generally, is certainly obvious, by the examples

already given. The etymology of the words makes this not less apparent, than their use at and before the time when they were used in scripture. Added to this, the very singular facility with which the translators accommodated the version to their views, by a reudering of the words so variously as to hide the meaning of the original by dexterous management, and we have a clue to the means by which the doctrine of endless torments came into general use. But men of research have explored this mystery of iniquity-the orthodox are assisting to pull down their own babeland the Light of Truth shall yet shine into the dark corners of the earth, and liberate the minds which have long been chained in the thraldom of ignorance and superstition.

To all this, some may reply, that in at least one place in the New-Testament, the word hell is most evidently used to denote a place of interminable misery. The parable of the Rich man and Lazarus is that to which we have alluded, which shall be cautiously examined. That the parable indicates misery, or suffering, is granted; but that this is to be endless, or in a future state of being, is neither said, nor intimated. Let those who suppose this parable to uphold the tenet of never-ceasing misery, put their finger on the phrase which supports this idea. We have in vain looked for it in this passage, and we trust others will look,for it with no better success.

If we mistake not, the Catholics look upon this parable as a proof of purgatorial purification. But will Protestants admit this? But why not? It certainly comes as near the proof of purgatory, as of an endless hell. But it may be well for us to recollect that orthodox critics give up hades, as a place of punishment in a future state. The ignorant and the obstinate cling to hell with such pertinacity, that it really seems they are as unwilling to part with the idea of a state of end

Tess misery, as a state of bliss, from whatever word it may be rendered. Hence, the word hell, wherever it occurs, and in whatever connexions, to their imagination, always conveys the same idea. But let us reject all preconceived opinions, and carefully examine the chapter in which the doctrine of unmerciful punishment is supposed to be taught, for if not taught in this passage, it finds no resting place in the New-Testament. If the passage really inculcates the doctrine for which it is used, it is clearly a history of facts, and hell is thus determined to be a place of punishment in a future state of being. We shall now if you please, sit down to the task in good earnest, examine it as plain matter of history, and endeavour to canvass it fairly and amply as the opportunity will permit. That this may be done in the most acceptable manner, and enable every reader to judge for himself at the moment of reading, we shall cite the whole in connexion, commencing Luke 16 19.

"There was a certain Rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died and was buried. And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and seeing Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried, and said, Father Abraham have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy life time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And besides all this, be

tween us and you is a great gulf fixed; so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house; for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham; but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead."

Having by this time, carefully examined this as historical fact, what information have we obtained? We have read of a rich man, well fed and well clothed, a circumstance of frequent occurrence, even in our day. We also learn that a beggar, full of sores, was laid at his gate, who desired to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Both these men died. The one, even without the rite of sepulture, as we can perceive, was carried by angels, and deposited in the bosom of Abraham, the grand Patriarch of the Jewish nation. A very singular fact, if it be one, to say the least. The rich man was buried, and lifting up his eyes in torment, saw the polluted carcass of Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham. He recognized the venerable Patriarch as his Father, but not Lazarus as a brother, nor did he request an act of favour to be performed through him as such. His susceptibility of suffering through the medium of his bodily organs appears not to have experienced any change-it seems to be still as subject to the influence of material objects as at any former period. His complaint of suffering applies particularly to the tongue, by the use of which, however, he appears to converse with much freedom. The modesty of his request is most certain

ly as unobtrusive as was that of Lazarus on a former occasion; he merely solicits that the beggar might be sent to dip the tip of his finger in water, for the purpose of cooling his tongue. Astonishing that he should make this request! Why ask for a mere drop! and where was the water to be obtained! in hell?-But the Patriarch appears to be taking his ease within hailing distance, and on the same level too, for all the verbs used indicate motion in a horizontal direction. Not the least intimation is given that one is up, while the other is down.-But let us notice the reply. SoN, remember....remember what? that he had been "a sensualist, a hard hearted, unfeeling glutton!" No, not a word like this. What then? Son, remember, that thou in thy life time [he is dead now] receivedst thy good things. Very well, and were his good things illgotten gain? Had he extorted under false representations or under the convenient mask of long faces and long prayers, the last penny from the needy? Had he taken the last mite from "the widow weeping over her helpless orphans" to replenish the treasury of the LORD? No such abominations are laid to his charge, nor is a vestige of crime alleged against him. It is not even said of him,

"And for a mantle large and lang
He cloak'd him in religion."

His character and conduct, for any thing which appears to the contrary, were unexceptionable. He received his good things from the author of all good, and not one intimation is offered, that he had either. misimproved, or enjoyed them thanklessly. But one trait of character is discoverable in the whole affair, and that is kindness to others, even in the midst of his sufferings. This differs entirely from the orthodox representation of the damned in hell.

« PreviousContinue »