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Obj. 6. “But another striking fact it, that all that is said about gehenna in the New Testament, is said to Jews and Jews only.” Ans. Striking indeed, but where it strikes is not so evident. Was not the whole of Christ's preaching addressed to Jews, and through them to the world?
Obj. 7. “ Nearly all that our Lord said about gehenna was spoken to his own disciples.” Ans. Most that is recorded of his sayings on other subjects, is spoken to his own disciples,but spoken to them to be published to the world. What was spoken to them in the ear, they were commanded to proclaim upon the house-tops. Obj. 8.
“Wherever gehenna is mentioned, the persons addressed are supposed to be perfectly acquainted with its meaning." Ans. True—and every public speaker or writer, if he has common sense, will use words which his hearers understand. But what then? Mr. B. goes on to say, on the supposition that the Jews understood gehenna as a place of endless misery, I have a right to ask from what source of information did they learn it? He then informs us that they did not learn it from immediate inspiration, nor from the preaching of John the Baptist, nor from the instructions or explanations of the Saviour, nor from the Old Testament Scriptures, but from the assertions of fallible uninspired men. Marvellous philology!! Where should they learn the meaning of a word, but from their own mothers, whence all children learn to talk?-Yea from their own mothers, fallible and uninspired women. If he had asked how that word came to be used in that sense, the answer would have been different. But after usage had given it the meaning of hell, surely men needed no inspiration to understand a word according to its current use. Whence did Mr. Balfour learn the meaning of the English words which he employs in his writings,—not from immediate inspiration, not from the preaching of John the Baptist, not from the instructions or explanations of the Saviour, but from the mouths and writings of fallible men. One of two things is undeniably true our author is either himself ignorant of one of the plainest principles of language, or else he expects that all his readers will be thus ignorant, and is capable of building on such a presumption. But I desist from the notice of such frivolous arguments, and pass to his Section IV, in hopes to find something deserving of attention.
This also is a chapter of objections.
Obj. 1. “If gehenna means a place of endless misery, it is a fact that the apostles never preached it, either to Jews or Gentiles.” Ans. Preached what? That they preached the doctrine of endless misery, we have already shown, page 44 and in other places; and we shall bring still more evidence upon that point in the sequel. But that they used in their epistolary writings the word gehenna , in more than one instance is not pretended. The objection assumes that we know every word that the apostles used on all occasions of their preaching. Mr. B. asks, can any man suppose they believed this, yet in the course of thirty years' preaching, never mentioned it to their hearers. How does he know they never did ? Has he a full length report of all their sermons preached for thirty years? Besides, this kind of argument is equally good to prove the contrary. Can any man suppose that the apostles believed that all men will be saved, yet in the course of thirty years' preaching, never mentioned it to their hearers? Do Universalist preachers now, preach thirty years and never explicitly state this article of their creed? But suppose the apostles never did use the word gehenna in more than one instance, is not its use by Christ sufficient ?
Obj. 2. “The salvation revealed by the gospel is never spoken of as a salvation from hell, or endless misery."_“In all the texts where he (Christ) speaks of hell, he was not preaching the gospel, but addressing the Jews about temporal calamities coming on them as a people.” The assertion that the salvation of the gospel is not a salvation from hell, is no more nor less than assuming the main point in dispute, to prove a smaller point-and the supposition that Christ was not preaching the gospel, when according to Mr. B. he was speaking of temporal calamities, lorings us to the conclusion that he preached but very little gospel, as we shall see in the sequel. It seems then that Christ was not preaching the gospel in his
sermon on the mount -That he was not preaching the gospel when he told his disciples to proclaim on the house-tops, what he was speaking in the ear, and to fear not them which kill the body, while making the proclamation,—that he was not preaching the gospel, when urging his hearers to sacrifice a right eye or hand, in his service. A universalist gospel he was not preaching.
Obj. 3. “Supposing gehenna is a place of endless misery, who can vindicate the character of our Lord or his apostles for faithfulness, compassion or zeal ?" Ans. If gehenna be a place of endless misery, our Lord here stands accused of a want of faithfulness !! If gehenna be a place of endless misery, this objection is not far from blasphemy! Did then the Redeemer do too little for the salvation of men? Follow him from the time when he first disrobed himself of the glory which he had with his Father before the world was, down through all his debasement, labor, strenuousness, endurance, conflict, sacrifice, death, until he reassumed his throne of glory, and tell me if his compassion and zeal, were not proportionate to the undertaking of a salvation from hell. Ah
and if all this was undergone for no higher object than the prevention of what temporal sufferings he actually prevented, in the few that became his followers, where was the adequate object of all this endurance ? And so far as this objection touches the conduct of the apostles—what could men do more they did, if they had an actual hell ever blazing before their eyes? Knowing the terrors of the Lord they persuaded men. They compassed sea and land, at peril of life, penetrated every heathen nation, they braved the thunders of imperial Rome, in their attempts to spatch men as brands from the burning. Who could be in labors more abundant, in perils more multiform, if the salvation of a whole world from an eternal hell, pressed on his single shoulder ? But if salvation from temporal calamity was their object, how strangely misdirected and abortive were their labors ! For the converts which they made and their deliverance from temporal calamity, they suffered the loss of all things, and took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, thinking that they had in heaven a better and enduring substance. Their profession above all things, exposed them to temporal calamities, instead of screening them from it. In short the apostles did just what Mr. B. supposes ministers of the present day would do, if they believed in the exposure of the heathen world to hell." They rushed into the hottest place of the battle and suffered every privation in the conflict.”
Since Mr. B. in this connexion, plies some of the thread-bare sneers against the missionary enterprise, I must here remark that the apostles were in the complefest sense of the word, missionaries. They consecrated their lives to the conversion of the heathen. Now if their gospel was Universalism, and if the Universalists are the true successors of the apostles, why do we not now hear of universalist missions to the heathen ? If the universalist gospel be the same which Paul believed and preached, why does it not produce a similar spirit in its believers, and similar results on the world? Why does it not send abroad its evangelists to every heathen nation ? The temporal condition of the heathen is no better now, than it was in the days of Paul. The call for the gospel is every way.as great as it was then. And why do not Universalists copy the example of Paul and become missionaries to the heathen? I ask not, why they do not contribute to sustain orthodox missions, but why not plant those of their own? Why profess to hold the gospel as apostles held it, and to be their true and only successors in the world, and then both in theory and practice, denounce, yea, sneer at the very employment, by reason of which they were called apostles ? Are not universalist missions to the heathen in the nature of things impossible? And is not here proof enough that theirs is a system at war with the gospel ? Suppose the universalist congregations were called upon to aid in establishing and supporting missions. What effectual motive could be brought to bear upon them? Tell them of the immoralities and temporal wretchedness of the heathen, most of them would have sense enough to know within themselves, that Universalism would not greatly tend to improve their morals.
And over against any possible iinprovement of temporal condition, they would set the dangers and
sacrifices to be encountered in relieving them by the tardy process of gospel illumination. But suppose a Universalist undertakes the work with the zeal and self-denial of a Paul. On his first entrance upon his field of labor, he is met by the question—Why are you so much in earnest and enduring so inuch to induce us to embrace your religion? By your own showing we are safe enough as to the future world without it. You answer—My object is to make you so much the happier in this world. It is replied–The advantage which you offer us then, is the advantage of enduring persecutions. On this hypothesis, the early christians would have replied to Paul—If all the advantages which you offer us are included in what christians are here seen to enjoy, the advantage of being hunted like wild beasts, persecuted, afflicted, tormented as they are, to use your own phrase, and if the conduct in this life do not affect the life to come, we wish for no christianity. Such a reply would have been enough to silence every attempt to convert the world from paganism to Universalism. And so such a conversion is not in the nature of things possible. Shall we yield to the pretence that Universalism is primitive christianity ? the religion which induced the apostles to spill their blood in the cause of mission, while Universalism takes the lead in enmity to the work of missions to the heathen ?
His 4th objection, that though the Old Testament is often quoted in the New, it is never quoted to show that hell is a place of eternal misery, is harmless and shall not be harmed.
Obj. 5. "If there be a place of endless misery, another remarkable fact is, that the Hebrew, Greek and English, originally had no name for this place.” Remarkable fact indeed! There was a time when these languages had no name for any thing, but things existed then. The Hebrew language in the same sense may be said originally to have had no name for heaven. Is this too, a remarkable fact to prove that there is no place of happiness beyond the grave? Or was that word changed from its original meaning by divine or human author
Obj. 6." Another fact deserving our consideration is, that