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whereas it is but a blending of the parts which are, in the economy of grace, indivisible.
It is now, we trust, abundantly manifest that the writers of the New Testament employ the words death and life to denote a present spiritual condition of the soul; always, however, with a reference to the final destiny connected with this condition, which destiny is also itself expressed by the same terms. With respect to the sinner, it is now a living death, and therefore no argument can be drawn from the term itself to show why it should not be such a death hereafter. Analogy, on the contrary, points wholly to a death of sinfulness and misery, not of annihilation.
3. The second death. This expression, borrowed from the usage of the Jewish doctors, occurs four times in the Apocalypse. Since the inspired penman has given, as we shall see, an exact definition of the sense in which he uses it, we need not here pause to consider the various ideas attached to it by the Jewish writers.
II. Passages of Scripture examined.
The way is now fully prepared for the examination of some passages of Scripture. Here we need only to bear in mind the following simple rules:
First, the Scriptures employ the language of common life, and are to be interpreted accordingly. Philosophical definitions and metaphysical distinctions are not to be sought in them.
Secondly, the first and obvious meaning of Christ and his apostles, as it must have been understood by their hearers or readers, and as they must have known that it would be understood, is, of course, the true meaning; not some interpretation that is afterwards forced upon their language from dogmatic considerations. This true meaning may indeed cover some deep principle which is but feebly apprehended at the time. In other words, the language of inspired men may have a greater fulness of meaning than those to whom it is originally addressed are able to apprehend. Yet this meaning must be legitimately contained in it, needing only a true development that it may be brought to light.
Thirdly, in comparing different passages of Scripture which treat of the same doctrine, the obscure and ambiguous is always to be explained by that which is clear and certain.
Fourthly, it is always pertinent to inquire what were the received ideas of the persons addressed, or. at least, ideas with which they were familiar. Yet we cannot.suppose that our Saviour and his apostles accommodated their teaching to the false notions of the age. On the contrary, they separated the true from the false, shedding new light upon the former, while they rejected the latter.
With the aid of these few plain rules, which are not original with us, we shall be at no loss to determine what the New Testament teaches on the momentous question now under consideration.
The Rich man and Lazarus.1 It may be at once conceded that this is a parable, and not real history. Bat in the lips of our Lord the whole force of a parable consists in its illustrating a true principle. Whether the parable of the Pharisee and the publican was, or was not based, on a literal historic event, is of no consequence. In either case it teaches the same great doctrine. Just so in the parable now under consideration. And that doctrine is too obvious to be misapprehended. An ingenious fancy might invent fifty modes of explaining it away,3 but it would still remain perfectly plain that our Lord intended it to apply to the condition of men's souls after death.
It may be conceded, again, that the fire in which this rich man is tormented, with the other drapery of the parable, is symbolical. Since he is a disembodied spirit, it would seem that it must be so understood. But the thing symbolized cannot be less terrible than the symbol itself.
i Luke 16: 19—31.
3 Such, for example, as that the scope of the parable is to represent the calling into the church (Abraham's bosom) of the Gentiles, or of the " publicans and sinners" represented by Lazarus, and the rejection of the scribes and pharisees for whom the rich man stands.
It is conceded, once more, that this man is in Hades (ev To aSy), not in Gehenna (yeevva). The scene is laid before the final judgment, for his five brethren are yet living on earth. We are not certain, however, that our Lord meant to lay any stress upon this distinction. It is very possible that he intended simply to represent the awful reverse in the condition of wicked men after death, taken as a whole. But if the distinction between Hades and Gehenna be insisted on, this only makes the representation ten-fold more terrible. For the New Testament teaches, beyond the possibility of doubt, that the happiness of the righteous and the misery of the wicked are consummated, not in the intermediate state, but at the resurrection. It is when Christ comes to be glorified in his saints, that he also takes vengeance on them that know not God. If now this rich man, tormented in the flame of Hades and asking in vain for a drop of water to cool his tongue, is yet waiting with horror for the day of Christ's vengeance, what must be that vengeance! Can it be the everlasting cessation of all suffering by annihilation? To believe such a contradiction is impossible.
The reader is especially requested to notice the fact that in this parable fire is employed, in entire accordance with Jewish usage, as the symbol of torment, not of destruction: "I am tormented in this flame." No intimation is given that in this torment there is any approach towards annihilation. On the contrary his state of misery is represented as fixed: "Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to yon, cannot: neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence'"1 —and there he is left.
2. Parable of the tares in the field.1 The scene of this parable is expressly placed at the end of the world: "The harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels." Our Saviour proceeds to say:
As therefore the tares arc gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and
they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
The " furnace of fire " is here the same as the " Gehenna of fire," 1 and Gehenna whose "fire is not quenched." 2 In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus we have seen that fire symbolizes the infliction of suffering. Even without an express declaration of our Lord, we might reasonably infer that it must have the same significance here. Why the fact of the resurrection should change the nature of the symbol we cannot see. But the Saviour himself explains what he means. "There," he says, "shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." Where? Plainly in the furnace of fire, and as the effect of being cast into it. But wailing and gnashing of teeth represent misery, not annihilation. To argue from the effect of literal fire upon literal tares is wholly irrelevant. We can only take from the symbol the general idea of perdition, leaving its manner to be defined by the declarations of Scripture. The final doom of the wicked is quite as often represented by the figures of casting away, as bad fish ;8 casting out into the outer darkness;4 shutting out of a feast;5 and with this very addition: "there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth," or its equivalent: "there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth;" in all which passages the idea is manifestly that of rejection and banishment from GotPs presence, with the misery that accompanies such a condition, and this is perdition, in the most awful sense of the word.
3. Mark. 9: 43-^18. "If thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dicth not, and the fire is not quenched," etc. The passage in Isaiah8 from which the form of words: "where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched," is borrowed, has already been considered at large.
1 Matt. 5: 22. • Mark 9: 43—48. 3 Matt. 13: 47—50.
* Matt. 22: 13; 25: 30. 6 Luke 13: 25—28. 6 Isa. 66: 24.
The Jews understood it, as we have seen, of the final doom of the wicked in Gehenna; and whatever may have been the primary reference of the words (which can never have been meant to be taken literally of the carcasses of the wicked), our Lord here applies them to the final judgment. In this application their meaning is too plain to be mistaken. An unquenchable fire (irvp aafieoTov) is nothing else but a fire that cannot be quenched. But the phrase admits of manifold applications, which must be determined each from the nature of the subject. In a city an unquenchable fire is at once understood to be one that must burn fill the city is consumed. But this addition (which is also a limitation) does not belong to the phrase itself. We supply it from the known office of fire in a burning city. Suppose, now, that the rich man in Hades, instead of petitioning for a drop of water, had asked that some one might be sent to quench the flame in which he was tormented, and Abraham had answered, "It is an unquenchable fire;" this could mean nothing but a fire in which he must suffer without end, because there the office of fire is torment. The man who should argue from the use of the phrase, as applied to a bundle of fares or a burning city, that it must mean a fire which must burn till it had annihilated the rich man, would be thought to be out of his senses. Just so in the passage under consideration, the fire that never can be quenched is the fire that produces " wailing and gnashing of teeth." To be cast into such a fire is to suffer without end. And precisely because it is a symbolic, and not a literal fire, it is joined with the worm — " where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" — that is, where the worm and the fire, both symbols of divine vengeance, prey upon their victim without end. This truth is one of the deepest concern to every man, and well worthy of a solemn three-fold repetition from the lips of our Lord.
4. Account of the last judgment.1 Here we have first the sentence of the wicked: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels;" ' and