Page images

saved. See this quotation from Whitby in my first Inquiry. They believed that all the Gentiles were fuel for hell-fire. My opinion is, that this idea originated among the Jews, from their hatred of the Gentiles, and the high opinion which they entertained of themselves as the seed of Abraham. See Matth. ch. 3. No one we think will contend, that they learned such an opinion from their Scriptures. Christians in time past, have not only believed that few will be saved, but they express themselves pretty much in the language of the Apocryphal writers on the subject. Of late, Dr. Woods, Mr. Emerson, and some other orthodox writers aver, that the greater part of the human race will be saved. The number, who shall suffer eternal punishment, will not be more in proportion to the whole human race, than those who suffer capital punishment in any country, are to that of the whole community. We ought not to despise the day of small things. But this is a great thing, for not long ago, it was the orthodox faith, that but a very few of the human race would be saved.

4th. What were the opinions of the Apocryphal writers concerning immediate punishment after death? That they believed the wicked were punished after death is evident from 2 Esdras, vii. 47. And that it commenced immediately after death seems also evident from verse 56. Such persons were to "dwell in pain," verse 12. Compare also Eccles. xviii. 2225. This is precisely the doctrine of immediate punishment after death taught in our day. But I would ask, from what source did the Apocryphal writers learn this doctrine? Not from the Old Testament scriptures, for it is now conceded by intelligent orthodox men that the Old Testament does not teach this doctrine. It was impossible they could learn it from the New, for when they wrote, it was not in existence. Not from Zoroaster's creed, for I do not

find that his creed contained the doctrine of immediate punishment after death. Where could the Jews then learn such a doctrine? I answer, from the Greeks, from whom also they learned that Hades or Hell was the place where this punishment was to be suffered. See Inquiry into the words Sheol, Hades, &c. chap. i. sect. 3. The Old Testament writers, so far from teaching the doctrine of immediate punishment after death, describe this state, as a state of darkness, silence, insensibility, and that there the very best of men cannot praise God or give him thanks. Nor is a single individual, ever represented as in pain or misery in this state. But the Greeks, from whom they learned this doctrine, believed in immediate happiness as well as misery after death, and the Apocryphal writers believed both. See Eccles. i. 13. 2 Esdras, xiv. 34. and vii. 28, 35. 2 Mac. vii. 14. Wisdom of Sol, chap. 2. See Jahn's Arch. p. 398, quoted above.

5th. What were the opinions entertained by the writers of the Apocrypha concerning "the day of judgment ?" The phrase, "the day of judgment," only occurs once in the Old Testament, Prov. vi. 34. where no one ever supposed it referred to a day of general judgment at the end of this world. But in this sense, the phrase, "the day of judgment" is used by Zoroaster in his creed. And in this sense also it is used by the Apocryphal writers, 2 Esdras, xii. 34. Esther, i. 11. That they meant a day of judgment after the resurrection of the dead seems evident from the following passages. The torment of the wicked at this period they believed to be" fire and worms in their flesh; and they shall feel them, and weep forever." See Judith, xvi. 17. Eccles. vii. 17. Comp. 2 Esdras, ii. 34. and vi. 9, 25. Suffer me now to ask, where could the writers of the Apocrypha learn the doctrine of "the day of judgment" but from the creed

of Zoroaster, for this is both the sentiment and the very phrascology which he uses as has been seen above from Prideaux. It cannot be questioned, that the phrase "the day of judgment" does not once occur in the Old Testament in this sense. If it is denied, that they learned this sentiment and language from the creed of Zoroaster, let the denier show from what Divine source they could learn it? As Christians could not learn either this sentiment or the language in which it is expressed from the Old Testament, we ask how came they by such sentiments and language, unless they derived it from Zoroaster's creed or at second hand from the Apocrypha. It will not answer to say, Jesus Christ and his apostles used the phrase "the day of judgment," and Christians have borrowed the language and sentiment from them. No, this will never do, for first, we have shown in our answer to Mr. Sabine, that in no text where this language is used is such a sentiment conveyed by it. But second, if we were even to grant this, what would follow from it. It would follow, that Jesus Christ and his apostles adopted the sentiments and language of the Apocryphal writers, or to speak all the truth, that both were indebted to the great impostor Zoroaster, for inventing both the sentiment and language for them some hundred years before. Yea, that all of them, were indebted to the ancient creed of the Magians for this doctrine and the language in which it is expressed, for both are found there. Let our brethren then, who contend for this doctrine consider its origin; for to build their faith on the New Testament as its source, is worse than the Old; for it makes the writers not revealers of a new doctrine, nor teaching one before revealed in the Old Testament, but adopting a sentiment and language, which originated in the Magian creed, was transmitted by the great impostor Zoroaster, and

through the Apocryphal writers to Jesus Christ and his apostles, and from them to all Christians ever since.

6th. What are the opinions taught by the Apocryphal writers, respecting the duration of future punishment? Their opinion about this was, that it should never end. Thus in Judith, 16, 17. where, speaking of the wicked it is said "The Lord Almighty will take vengeance of them in the day of judgment, in putting fire and worms in their flesh; and they shall feel them and weep forever." Bad as the ancient Magian religion was, it does not appear to have taught the endless duration of punishment. Nor, if Jahn is to be believed, as quoted above, Zoroaster did not make such an addition to it. He taught that the wicked were to be purified by fire at the day of judgment, and made happy with the good. It is certain the ancient Greeks believed in endless punishment, and from this source the Apocryphal writers I think must have derived it. They could not learn such a doctrine from the Old Testament scriptures, for it is not taught there. Many contend that it is taught in the New Testament. Allowing it is, I ask how the writers of the Apocrypha came to believe it and teach it long before the New Testament was written? 'Did the New Testament writers adopt a doctrine, taught by Apocryphal writers, which they derived from the heathen Greeks? This to be sure would be doing great honor to them, but what comes of the honor, or credit of Christ and his apostles if this was admitted?

Such are the religious opinions found in the Apocrypha, all closely connected with our present inquiry. We would candidly ask our orthodox brethren, how those writers came to speak so clearly and explicitly on these topics, long before the New Testament was written? As their information could not be derived from the Old Testament, where did they

obtain it? Did Daniel reveal it to the Jews while they were in Babylon? If he did, why was it mixed up with such fables as are found in the Apocrypha, and transmitted to posterity by Apocryphal writers? And, if such opinions be true, why did the New Testament writers not avail themselves of such explicit information, and teach them to the world? No man, we think, will affirm that such opinions are taught so clearly and explicitly in the New Testament as they are in the Apocrypha. And Christians cannot well deny, that the sentiments and even the language of their creeds, bear a greater resemblance to what is found in the Apocrypha, than any thing taught either in the Old or New Testament. Many doubt the truth of such articles. But could any man have disputed their truth, had the Apocrypha been a part of divine revelation? To make sure of such articles being found in Scripture, we propose that further search be made for proof that the Apocryphal books are truly divine, and that they be bound up as formerly with the allowed canonical books. This will save such articles from oblivion, and in all coming time no Christian can be at a loss to prove them from the Bible.

7th. What were the religious opinions among the Jews not found in Scripture, during the days of Christ and his apostles? The New Testament itself affords evidence, that opinions prevailed not found in their Scriptures. For example, our Lord told the Jews in general terms, that they had made God's law void, through their traditions. See some of these opinions noticed in the quotations from L'Enfant, Jahn and others, above. Other opinions we shall have occasion to notice in succeeding Sections. See also Whitby on Rom. 2. referred to above. The opinions of Josephus concerning a state of future rewards and punishments are well known, and need not be quoted.

« PreviousContinue »