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OF THE ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF ENDLESS MISERY,
FOUNDED ON THE CASE OF JUDAS.
The language of our Lord respecting the unhappy person who betrayed him, has been supposed to furnish a strong argument in support of the endless misery of the wicked. "The Son of Man goeth as it is written of him; but woe unto that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” Matt, xxvi. 24.
Should a period ever arrive when Judas will be restored to happiness, our Lord, it is argued, could not with truth have affirmed, that it would have been good for him if he had not been born; because, though the suffering inflicted on him be ever so severe and protracted, if it be the means of correcting his evil disposition, and preparing him for immortal felicity, his existence must upon the whole be an incalculable blessing.
To this it is common to reply, and the answer is abundantly sufficient, that the language of our Lord is proverbial, and that no sober mind will venture to rest such a tremendous doctrine upon
the solitary use of a Jewish proverb. The phrase is often used proverbially, both by sacred and profane authors. Simpson observes, that it is often found in the Talmudical writers. See Wolfus's and Lightfoot's Note on Matt. xxvi. 24; also Grotius in loco, et Alberti Observ. Philologicæ, &c., who produce several instances of similar modes of expression. To the truth of these observations Dr. Gill, who was certainly in no degree hostile to the doctrine of endless misery, or to any other orthodox opinion, bears his decided testimony. In his notes on this and the parallel passage in Mark, he says,
66 This is à rabbinical phrase frequently used in one form or other, and sometimes as our Lord spake it: it is applied to such as speak false and lying words, and regard not the glory of their Creator."*
That this kind of language was common among the Jews, we have abundant proof in several parts of Scripture. Job, in the anguish of his heart, exclaims, “ Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night wherein it was said, There is a man child conceived. Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it,
* The Improved Version gives as a conjectural meaning of this phrase, “ It would have been good for him (the traitor) if that man (the Son of Man) had never been born." See note m loc.
because it shut not up the doors of my mother's womb, nor hid sorrow from mine eyes. Why died I not from the womb ? Then should I have been still and quiet. I should have slept.” Job iii. 3.
Jeremiah uses, if possible, still more strong and bitter language. Jeremiah xiv. 14--18:* “ Cursed be the day wherein I was born. Let not the day wherein my motherbore me be blessed. Cursed be the man that brought tidings to my father, saying, A man child is born unto thee, making him very glad. Let that man be as the cities which Jehovah overthrew and repented not: and let him hear the cry in the morning and the shouting at noon-tide, because he slew me not from the womb, or that my mother might have been my grave.
Wherefore came I out from the womb to see labor and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame "
If then Job could use such language, while enduring suffering which was indeed very severe, but which was only of a temporal nature, and which cannot be supposed to have arisen in any degree from the apprehension of endless misery ; and if Jeremiah could adopt it for no other reason than because he suffered a little disgrace in a good cause; with how much greater justice,
* See Blayney's note on this passage,
and with what solemn and impressive energy might our Lord apply it to Judas, whose crime was of so deep a dye, and whose punishment must necessarily be so great! Being acquainted with the Jewish Scriptures, and accustomed to this kind of language, his hearers must often have heard similar expressions applied to persons whose sufferings were trifling compared with those of the traitor.
OF THE ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF ENDLESS MISERY, DE. RIVED FROM THE LANGUAGE WHICH IS USED CONCERNING THE SIN AGAINST THE HOLY GHOST.
“ WHEREFORE all manner of sin and þlasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, but the blas. phemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be for. given unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” Matt. xii. 31, 32.
This passage has been supposed to afford a decisive argument in support of the endless du. ration of the punishment of the wicked : but if this be the case, the proof must depend either upon the phrase, “ Whosoever speaketh a word against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven him ;" or upon that which immediately follows, "s neither in this world nor in the world to come.”
With regard to the first, it may be admitted that this dreadful threatening will be executed to the very letter, and yet the concession will