Page images

lieved, the place of eternal punishment for the wick ed. From the concessions made in the foregoing quotations, most people would deem it proper for me to decline the labour which Dr. Campbell calls endless, to illustrate by an enumeration of all the passages in both Testatments, that those words do not signify this place of punishment for the wicked. Unwilling, however, to take this matter on trust, I have submitted to this endless labour, and shall proceed to bring forward all those passages.

The word Sheol in the Hebrew of the Old Testament, occurs, sixty-four times. It is rendered by our translators, three times pit, twenty-nine times grave, and thirty-two times hell."

We cannot forbear the gratification of noticing, in this place, the high desert of Mr. Balfour, in submitting to the astonishing labour, which the celebrated Dr. Campbell termed endless. Few men have either the ability or the means; and fewer still the courage, and the persevering diligence, which this Inquiry exhibits. It is a specimen of fair and logical reasoning, of which the greatest man who ever breathed our atmosphere need not be ashamed. It is a chain of facts and corresponding deductions, from which is no ap-. peal. The premises are undoubted, and the conclusion irresistible. After requesting the reader to examine carefully the remarks which precede this paragraph, we would call his attention to the following, from the same author.


[ocr errors]


"Let us attend to the texts in which it is translated pit. In Numb. 7: 30, 33, it occurs twice. Speaking of Korah and his company, they are said to go down, quick into the pit." What is said in these two verses, is explained by the earth opening her mouth and swallowing them up. Had Sheol been translated hell here, as in other places, according to the common acceptation of this word, Korah' and his company went


down alive, soul and body, to the place of eternal misery. But this would be contrary to common belief, for it is allowed, that men's bodies do not go there until the resurrection. All that seems to be meant in this account is, that they were swallowed up alive, as whole cities have been by an earthquake, and that without any reference to their eternal condition. This, I presume, is the view most people take of this judgment of God upon those men. Job 17: 16, is the only other text in which Sheol is rendered pit. It is said, speaking of men,-" they shall go down to the bars of the pit. What is meant, is explained in the very next words," when our rest together is in the dust." As it would be a mere waste of time to make any further remarks to show that Sheol, translated pit in these texts, does not refer to a place of eternal misery, let us bring to view all the texts in which this word is translated grave. The first three places then, in which it occurs, are, Gen. 35: 35.; 43: 38, and 45: 29. noticed already by Dr. Campbell in the above quotation. Had Sheol been translated hell in these texts, as it is in many others, Joseph would be represented as in hell, and that his father Jacob expected soon to follow him to the same place. In. like manner, it would make Hezekiah say, "I shall go to the gates of hell." And to declare,-" hell cannot praise thee." See Isai. 38: 10, 18. I may just notice here, that, if those good men did not go to hell, it would be difficult to prove from the Old Testament, that Sheol, or hell, was understood to mean a place of eternal misery for the wicked. But further, let Sheol be translated hell, instead of grave in the following texts, and we think all will allow, that the idea of a place. of future misery, was not attached to this word by the Old Testament writers. Thus translated, it would make Job say, chap. 17: 13,-"if I wait, hell is

mine house." And to pray, chap. 14: 13,-" O that

that thou wouldst hide me in hell." It would also make David say, Psalm 83: 3.-" My life draweth nigh unto hell.” And to complain, Ps. 6: 5,-" in hell who shall give thee thanks."

After a critical discussion, Mr. B. proceeds


"David says, Psalm 31: 17,-" let the wicked be ashamed and let them be silent in hell.” In some of the preceding texts we read of persons being brought from it. Thus, 1 Sam. 3: 6,-" the Lord killeth and maketh alive he bringeth down to hell and bringeth up." And again, Psalm 30: 3,-" O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from hell." But what this means is explained in the next words,-“ thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit." In these passages the language is evidently figurative. It is evident, that by hell could not be meant a place of endless misery, nor could these passages be understood literally; for surely David, nor no one else, was ever brought down to such a place, and afterwards brought up from it. We find Job says, ch. 7:9," he that goeth down to hell shall come up no more," which contradicts what was said in these passages about persons being brought up from hell. But what Job means, is plain from the next words, he shall no more return to his house." But further, if Sheol was translated hell instead of grave in the following texts, it would make the sacred writers represent all men as going to hell. Thus it is said, Psalm 69: 48,-" what man is he that liveth and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of hell?" Notwithstanding this, David says, Psalm 49: 15,-" But God will redeem my soul from the power of hell." By comparing these two last texts, it is evident that "hand of hell," and "power of hell," mean the same thing. We have also a proof, that Sheol did not mean a place of eternal misery, but the state of the dead; for death and Sheol are words used



to express the same idea. Besides, we know for cer tainty, that no man can deliver himself from the power of death, or hand of the grave; but surely all men do not go to hell, or a place of eternal misery? Again: if Sheol is translated hell instead of grave, it makes Solomon say, Eccles. 9: 10,-" there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in hell whither thou goest." But are there none of these things in the place of eternal misery? To answer this in the negative, would be to contradict common opinion on the subject. But this can be affirmed concerning the state of the dead, and shows that Solomon, by Sheol, did not understand a place of endless misery, but this state, or as Job calls it, "the house appointed for all the living." Here"there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom."

"But further; if Sheol indeed means hell, in the common sense of the word, very strange statements are given in the following passages. It is said, Prov. 1: 12,-"Let us swallow them up alive as hell." And in Job 24; 19, it is added,-" drouth and heat consume the snow waters, so doth hell those who have sinned." Again, Psalm 49: 14,-" like sheep they are laid in hell; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in hell from their dwelling." And, Psalm 141: 7,-our bones are scattered at hell's mouth as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood." Now, I ask every candid man, whether all these statements do not perfectly agree with understanding Sheol to mean the grave, but are contrary to truth, to understand them of hell, or a place of eternal misery. Such an idea does not appear to have entered the minds of the Old Testament writers. Does any man believe that people's bones are scattered at the mouth of the place of eternal misery?

and does this place consume persons in it as drought and heat consume the snow waters?


It is not generally noticed by most readers of the Bible, that our translators have rendered Sheol both grave and hell in the same passage, and speaking of the sons. An example of this occurs in Ezek. 31: 15, 18. In the 15th verse it is rendered grave, and in verses 16th and 17th it is twice rendered hell. Besides, observe, that what is called grave and hell in verses 15th, 16th and 17th verses, is called in verse 18th," the nether parts of the earth."-Another example we have of this in Isai. 14: 3-24. In this passage, too long for quotation, is given a description of the fall of the king of Babylon. Any one who reads it, may see that things are stated which forbid us thinking, that by Sheol, translated both hell and grave, a place of eternal misery was intended. But it is well known that detached parts of this passage have been so applied. The persons represented as in hell, are said to be moved at the coming of some other sinners to the same place of misery; and as saying to them-" Art thou also become weak as we ? Art thou become like unto us ?" But the passage needs only be read by any man of ordinary sense to convince him of the absurdity of such an interpretation. But further in Prov. 30: 16. Sheol, or hell, is represented as never satisfied. And in Cant. 8: 6. jealousy is said to be "cruel as Sheol, or hell.” All this may be said of the grave, but how it could be said of a place of eternal misery, I cannot perceive. Had our translators rendered Sheol hell in the following passage, it would have given such a plausible aspect to it, as meaning a place of misery, that it would not have been easy to convince many people to the contrary. Thus it is said, Job 21: 13. speaking of the wicked," they spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to hell." Had this been done, people would have quoted it as decisive in proof of the

« PreviousContinue »