Page images

this purpose? Well, but where do you find your reasons for applying it at all to this subject, if not from the very frame and structure of the parable itself? But if that structure was originally adapted to something else, why not now? So by your own showing, your interpretation is not the most natural and obvious. The truth is, no man would have thought of putting such a construction upon such a parable, did not the occasions of a rotten system demand it—did he not feel himself driven to the desperate expedient of silencing testimony which he cannot face. When a man undertakes to force the language of the Bible into harmony with systems so abhorrent to the true scopeand spirit of the Bible, into what wretched absurdities is he unconsciously led! What a miserable business is this of wresting the Scriptures! To say nothing of the violence done to the supreme authority of the Bible and its author-of the violence done to conscience, a man embarked in this enterprise becomes in relation to these subjects, strangely abandoned of common sense. His invention will be fertile in expedients to throw an air of plausibility over false positions, and make the worse appear the better reason. But he will in the mean time. be guilty of such reasonings as in another man, and on other subjects, he himself would see to be supremely ridiculous.

I take it then that the testimony of this parable, to the truth that hades sometimes means a place of torment, is unimpaired. There are several instances of the use of the word in Revelation, in which to my mind the word seems indirectly to imply a place of punishment in hades. But they are such instances as I should not rely upon for proof of a doctrine.


2 Peter 2: 4. For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment. Here is not the word tartarus, but the verb derived from it, tartarosas, which amounts to the same thing as to the question before us. In this case the context is so decisive as to the meaning of the word, that if it had been left a blank we could not fill the blank with any

thing short of that which means a place of the future punishment of the wicked. I shall first adduce some considerations independent of the context, and then consider the evidence which comes from that. If the question were to be settled by the classical use of the word tartarus, there could not be a doubt. For rarely is it used in Greek authors in any other sense than that of a place of punishment, and it is only when the writers speak of the whole of the under world as a region of gloom, that they call it tartarus. This fact was stated by Mr. Stuart; and Mr. Balfour in his reply did not deny it. This kind of proof Mr. B. attempts to evade by saying that the tartarus of the Greeks was an imaginary place of punishment. This is an objection which Mr. Stuart has anticipated in the following terms-" We may allow the premises, without, in any measure, feeling ourselves moved to the conclusion. Did not the Greek Theos designate an imaginary God? Was not his ouranos and his elusion (elysium) imaginary? And yet when a Hebrew writer employs Theos and our anos does it designate nothing real, nothing different from the idea that a heathen Greek expressed by these words?-Peter when he wrote Greek, was obliged to use the Greek language as he found it already made. What term, then, in order to express the horrors of future punishment, could he select from the whole Greek language, which was more significant than tartaros as? Until this question be answered, I know not how to avoid the conclusion here that the apostle does refer to a future and endless punishment." To this Mr. B. replies that Theos and ouranos are used more frequently than tartarus, and therefore, the cases are not parallel. Not parallel in respect to what? The number of times in which they are used. But as to the manner and nature of the use, exactly parallel—as Mr. B. by not showing, leaves us to believe. But he goes on to say-"Had the Scripture writers only used Theos and our anos once, how could you be certain that they attached to them those peculiarities of meaning, which may be sought for in vain from the classic authors designate the true God or a true heav

en?" Surely you might be certain that they used them in a new and peculiar sense or in the old classical sense, and Mr. B. may choose which he will have it. If Theos had been used but once, say in the instance-"I am the God of Abraham," or in the phrase, "the Son of God"-would any one doubt whether the God of the heathen or the true God were meant No more reason is there to believe that tartarus was used for the heathen hell. So much for the meaning of the word tartarus.

We will now direct our attention to the manner in which it is here used. That a place of punishment is meant, is evident, because the writer is speaking directly of punishment. In the verse preceding he says, whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not; and whose damnation slumbereth not. And he then proceeds-For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness to be reserved unto judgment; and he then goes on to enumerate other examples, as God's bringing the flood upon the world of the ungodly, and his overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrha. Mr. B. informs us that the "angels that sinned" here mean Korah and his company. But there are some small difficulties in the way. The writer in citing other examples follows the order of time, mentioning the flood first, and Sodom's destruction after; but this interpretation would put Korah's destruction before the flood. Then we have no reason to suppose that the churches to whom Peter wrote, had been accustomed to call Korah and his company a company of angels, and that they would know that he meant them by that name, Then the angels are said to be delivered into chains of confinement, as if in prison, which is no natural phraseology to express the matter of dying, or the particular death supposed, Then it is said they are reserved unto judgment—which is not true of Korah's company on Mr. B.'s hypothesis. According to his system, Korah's company remain in blank annihilation, till they shall, at the end of the world, awake to a heavenly existence. But such a difficulty as this, is nothing in the way of Mr. Balfour, He tells us that the judgment means the des

truction of Jerusalem.

Read his marvellous wisdom.-" Now though Korah and his company were punished on the spot for their rebellion, yet we are told all the sins of the Jews as a nation, which had been committed during past ages were at that time visited on the nation. On that generation came all the righteous blood which had been shed on the earth." But to make the destruction of Jerusalem a judgment to Koran, is inverting the rule of visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children. It is visiting the iniquities of children upon fathers forty generations back. It is carrying back the visitation instead of carrying it forward. I can understand how the blood of Abel can be required of that generation of the Jews, but not how the inflictions of God's wrath on Jerusalem can be called the judgment upon Cain.

As there is not in text or context an allusion to the history of Korah, it is incumbent on Mr. B. to prove that Korah and his company had at the time, when Peter wrote, currently passed under the name of angels, so that men in all parts of the world whither Peter's letter was directed, would recognize the meaning at once. This is not attempted. To prove that the angels are here meant, he tells us that Korah and his company were two hundred and fifty princes, who might with as much propriety be called angels as inen might be so called, in case of the angels of the churches in Revelation. But then the connexion interprets the meaning plainly, and the reader is not left in doubt. But here it is said "the angels that sinned" as though every reader would know what angels, and yet we are invited to believe that Peter had his eye on an event to which there is no allusion, and nothing to lead us to suppose such an event was intended. Mr. B. says as the second reason, that Korah and his company sinned, and lost their station thereby. Granted. Thirdly, he says the connexion favors his view of the subject. Let the reader decide that. Under this head he says, "Certainly all will allow it is not the custom of the sacred writers to blend in this way examples of God's justice on men and angels together. If it is done here, another example of the kind cannot be produced from the Bible." This

assertion would amount to little if true. But is not here an example of the kind-Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels? (See also Jude 6.) Is not that God's judgment on men and angels together? Fourthly, he suggests that this judgment on the angels, held up as a warning to ungodly men-which it could not be if it were a judgment on angelic spirits, since no man has seen the angels punished or had any means of knowing the fact if it were true. It rested entirely on Peter and Jude's statements. Are not Peter and Jude's statements so much in point worthy of credit? If not, we have that of Christ more in point. I beheld satan as lightning fall from heaven. This evidently alludes to satan's original apostasy, as the context will show. John also saysThe devil sinneth from the beginning. Which is as much as to say, that sin began in the apostasy of the devil, and the next sentence shows his agency in the sins of this world. For this purpose the son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. And Jude's testimony is—And the angels which kept not their first estate but left their own habitation, hath he reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day.

How a man can have a face to write and print such glaring perversions of language so plain, is a mystery of no easy solution. Sure I am that the mind comes to this belief of such perversions of truth, if it ever does believe them, while entertaining little adequate sense of the solemn import of the question at issue. How differently men think and reason upon such a subject while in the midst of life and health, from what they would while standing on the brink of the eternal world! Now, the question can be agitated with as little sense of personal interest, as if it were a problem in mathematics. But the hour is coming to all, when this question will stand out in a light far different.

« PreviousContinue »