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have been understood: he himself had predicted it only in the hearing of a few, and never in plain and direct terms, till after this discourse was held. It is preposterous then to suppose, that his hearers would recognize that event, by that name introduced with such brevity of allusion. If gehenna had become such a current name for Jerusalem's expected destruction, it is strange that there are no instances in the discourses of Christ, where he plainly and indisputably uses it in that sense. If that were the fact, it might be expected that where the word is used so often, and reported in different forms by different Evangelists, there would be at least one instance, where it would be so eonfined in its meaning, to the destruction of Jerusalem, that every eye must so apprehend it. We have instances where it refers to a place of the destruction of the soul, when it is called an everlasting fire, but not an intimation that it is a name for Jerusalem about to be destroyed.
Matt. 23:33. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell! Mr. Balfour first undertakes to explain away the force of the word damnation. What he says on this subject, will find a sufficient refutation in chap. 2. He then asks us to go back to three sources of evidence as to the meaning of the word gehenna. First, the original meaning of the term. This he asserts, and we grant, was not that of a place of punishment in a future state. Neither was it that of the destruction of Jerusalem. So the original meaning of the word favors not one interpretation more than the other. He invites us, secondly, to look at the Old Testament usage of the word, and assures us that it is never used there in the sense of a place of future puuishment. Very true; and neither is it used as a name of Jerusalem's destruction. He thirdly invites us to look at the context-which we will do. The evidence from the context brought to prove that this passage refers to the destruction of Jerusalem, is the assertion in verse 36. All these things shall come upon this generation. It is pretended that these things include the damnation of gehenna above spoken of. This then is the question to be settled. We will give the whole passage. After pronouncing various woes upon the
Scribes and Pharisees, and bidding them fill up the measure of the fathers, he adds, Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? And then beginning a new paragraph, he says-Wherefore, behold I send unto you prophets and wise men, and scribes, and some of them ye shall kill, and crucify, and, some of them ye shall scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city; that upon you may come all the righteous blood that has been shed upon the earth, from the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this generation. The reader will perceive that there is an intermediate topic introduced between the damnation of gehenna, and the phrase "these things," a topic connected with the foregoing by a "wherefore," and introduced as a distinct consequence from that. The course of the remarks is this, Because ye are a generation of vipers, so deserving of the damnation of hell, and determined to fill up the measure of your fathers, I will give you further opportunity to act out your infernal dispositions towards the prophets, and to fill up the measure of your iniquity, and so prepare the way to bring upon you, as a nation, all the blood of all the prophets, shed upon the earth. The phrase these things, plainly has its antecedent in the things specified in the preceding verse, to wit: the righteous blood that has been shed, the blood of Abel, &c. The word “things” is supplied by the translators. It may as well read all these (tauta referring to aim a repeated in the verse preceding) shall come upon this generation. That this verse is only a summing up of the particulars mentioned in the preceding, is too clear to need proof. In one verse it is said, that upon you may come this that and the other, and here it is said all these shall come upon this generation. The merest school-boy in Greek, would not risk his credit, in placing the antecedent to these, back three verses, and in another paragraph. Even Mr. B. would not have done it, had he not been overcome by a strong temptation to violate the laws of grammar.
But should we admit that "these things" referred to the dam
nation of hell, and nothing else, Mr. B.'s conclusion would not follow. The word generation (gene a) does not necessarily nor primarily nor conmonly, mean the men of a certain age. Nor is it clear that it has this meaning in the passage before us. Its first meaning given in the lexicons is, "family, a race, a lineage." And this is the more common meaning when used by Christ. Our translators have used the word generation, in twenty-eight instances, and in only three these does the context require it to be understood of the men of the age, and in a great majority the sense is better sustained, if we understand it of lineage or nation, as any one may see who will take the trouble to examine. That it is to be so understood in this passage, is apparent from the fact that the sin which Christ charges upon that generation was the sin of a previous age, as well as of that, that he makes the charge of prophet-killing to sweep through all ages, and charges on the men whom he was addressing, the killing of a prophet who was killed centuries before they were born-from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zacharias, whom ye slew; yet who had been slain at least four hundred and fifty years before. Now how could Christ say to those whom he was addressing-whom ye slew, if he were not addressing them as of the same family with those who slew him? If the charge was built on such an idea, and he was holding them up as the murderers of Zacharias, because of the same race with them, how can the word, generation, be understood otherwise, than in the sense of a race? This mode of speaking is continued through the chapter. O Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them that are sent unto thee, &c. Behold your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you ye shall not see me henceforth till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Here he tells them as a nation that they are to be left desolate, until they as a nation should welcome him as the Messiah. So as in the previous verse he addressed through them, many ages back, here he speaks of what is to be done centuries hence, as done by them then living. There is to my mind strong reason for believing that generation is
used in the sense of a race or family. And when it is said, all these things shall come upon this generation, it is meant the guilt that stands charged against this nation for so many prophets killed, and the guilt yet to be accumulated in the same way, will bring a fearful reckoning upon the nation. The destruction of Jerusalem did not come in that generation, considered in the sense of age, or term of thirty years. It occurred forty years after the death of Christ, when most whom he then addressed must have been in their graves. But if generation does not mean what Mr. B. supposes, the main hinge of his interpretation has gone. I have dwelt longer on this point than is needful for the conviction of most, because the Universalists place so much reliance here.
Mark 9: 43. And 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 shall never be quenched, where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off, it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee pluck it out, it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire, where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched. This is essentially the same as Matt. 18: 9. introduced again because Mr. B. has further carried out his remarks in relation to it. Here he admits that if to enter into life means to enter into heaven, gehenna means the world of woe. But he asks, do they who go to hell carry with them the things with which others parted in order to get to heaven? and says, as this will not be pretended, something else than hell is meant. But this will be pretended. Those who go to hell, do carry with them their lusts and vicious propensities with which others part, in order to get to heaven-they utterly perish in their own corruption. Mr. B. attempts to prove that the phrase eternal life, and the phrase enter into the kingdom of God, here mean entering into the reign of the Messiah in this world. His proof
is good so far as to show that the phrase, kingdom of God, sometimes means the reign of Christ at his resurrection, but he stops short of proving that that is the meaning here, where it is made synonymous with eternal life. It were easy to show by ample quotations that, kingdom of God, often means heaven. But I shall adduce but one, and that one whose relevancy Mr. B. will not dispute, because it relates to the resurrection. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 1 Cor. 15: 50. But if the kingdom of God in any case means heaven, it was incumbent on Mr. B. to show why it does not here, especially since it is made synonymous with entering into life, a phrase appropriated to express the entering into heaven, and never used to express the escape from Jerusalem's destruction.
Another mistake into which Mr. Balfour has fallen with some orthodox writers respects the phraseology, where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched. He tells us this came from the burning of perpetual fires in the valley of Hinnom, to consume the offal there and prevent its breeding worms, and in the next paragraph, he tells us this passage he quoted from Isaiah. That this phraseology as used by Isaiah did not originate from the fires in the valley of Hinnom is certain, from the fact that the scenes in question, never had existence in the days of Isaiah. The desecration of the valley of Hinnom by Josiah, and of course the use of fires there for the purpose aforesaid, did not take place till more than sixty years after the death of Isaiah, Mr. Balfour assumes that the passage as used by Isaiah does not refer to hell, as the world of woe, and from that assumption infers that when used by Christ, it does not. Should we admit what is assumed, the conclusion would not follow. But we do not admit it. He ought to have known that the leading orthodox writers refer the passage in Isaiah to the world of woe. Bishop Lowth, whose acquaintance with this prophecy is second to that of few, says this passage refers to something yet future. Scott refers it to