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embrace any one. To this idol they sacrificed their children. Having heated the image hot with a fire within, they put the little victims within its arms, and that their outcries might not be heard, they made a great noise with drums and other instruments about the idol. From this circumstance it was called Tophet, (Toph being the Hebrew word for drum.) Our prophets often testified against these wicked and horrid rites. Just before the captivity, Jeremiah was directed to go forth into the valley, and proclaim in the ears of the kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, • Thus saith the Lord ; behold I will bring evil upon this place, the which, whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle. Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents ; they have built also the high-places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt-offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind; therefore, behold the days come, saith
the Lord, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of Slaughter. And I will break this people, and this city, as one breaketh a potter's vessel, that cannot be made whole again ; and they shall bury them in Tophet, till there be no place to bury.'* Dreadfully was this fearful doom inflicted on the apostate people of Jerusalem. The invasion of a powerful conqueror, the horrors of a siege, the sacking of Jerusalem, and a seventy years exile at Babylon, were the consequences of their sin.
When this valley had thus been the scene of these atrocious abominations during several reigns, and the kings of Judah had even sacrificed their own sons to this horrid idol, at length the good Josiah, that young reformer,
, in the general destruction which he made of the groves' and high-places where the children of Israel had sacrificed and burnt incense to idols, • defiled also Tophet, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Moloch.'t He com* Jer. xix. 3
† 2 Kings xxüi. 10.
manded all manner of filth, and ordure, dead carcasses and bones to be thrown into it, that it might be loathsome and abominable in the sight of the people. The people obeyed his commandment, and succeeding ages followed the example, and Gehenna became the general sink of the city, and the receptacle of all its pollutions. “To prevent the contagion which would be occasioned by such a mass of corrupt matter, constant fires were maintained in order to consume it, and hence it came to be called Gehenna of fire.”
“Does not Gehenna sometimes mean the place of future punishment ?" inquired Simon. “I remember a verse in Matthew's gospel, which we had a short time ago in our lesson, · But whosoever shall say to his brother, thou fool! shall be in danger of the Gehenna of fire.'"*
“ Yes, my dear boy ; it does always mean as it is used now-a-days, and in the writings of the apostles, the place of future punish
* The English reader of the Bible will bear in mind that Simon had a Greek copy of the gospel, in which the expression hell-fire is literally the Gehenna of fire.
ment. And can you not see a peculiar force and propriety in such a use of the word? Look on that mass of burning pollution, and see the smoke of it ascending up continually, and then think of the pollution and misery of the lost spirits in the world of wo, then say whether Gehenna is not a striking emblem of that world. What image could more vividly depict the horrors of eternal death? Oh! my dear boys, let us fear the pollution of sin, and renounce every sinful habit, however dear to us, cutting off even the right hand, and plucking out the right eye that offend, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, that it is better to enter into life blind or maimed, rather than having two hands or two eyes, to be cast into the Gehenna of fire, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.' It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, for our God is a consuming fire."
Jonathan and Simon were silent. Thoughts too deep for utterance had possessed their minds. As they cast their eyes along the valley, and beheld the murky flames, raging and devouring the putrid mass with which it was filled, and remembered that through the abounding mercy of God they had escaped if not literally from such a doom, yet from a doom equally dreadful, and of which this awful scene was deemed by the benevolent Jesus a fit emblem, they could not express the emotions that swelled within their bosoms.*
* The following description of the volcano of Kirauea, in one of the Sandwich Islands, from the pen of the Rev. C. S. Stewart, has seemed to the writer of this little book to approach nearer to the Scripture representation of the “ lake which burneth with fire and brimstone" than any thing he has ever seen. May a merciful God save all the readers of this volume from the doom of which this awful scene is so fearful an emblem.
“ The power of my glass was such as to bring the scene, seemingly, within touching distance; and to make me involuntarily recoil from the apparent proximity to which I was brought by it. A lake of fire, a half mile or more in circumference, and probably but just unclosed, was raging in all the tumult of a tempest at sea. At first, the agitation was perpendicular, precisely that of a boiling cauldron, tossing up masses of the red-hot matter, in a bubbling action, fifteen and twenty feet, with a rapidity of motion, equal to that of the most heated boiler. Then came a long, regular motion from the south, heaving before it a fiery surf, whose billows rose, and crested, and broke, in sheets and spray of fire, like heavy billows sweeping over a reef to the shore. The effect was almost too fearful to be gazed on; and, for a moment, in forgetfulness of the distance and safety of my location, as billow after billow rose