Fort Wayne News


Pastor C T Russell, of Allegheny, Pa., whose sermons appear each week in The Fort Wayne News, who visited this city Sunday and whose sermon of Sunday evening appeared in this paper yesterday, delivered the following sermon at the afternoon service at the Majestic theater.

The large house was crowded and many were turned away and this sermon is printed by request for the accommodation of those who were unable to hear it and those who heard and desire to keep it for reference.

Announcing his topic as above, Pastor Russell took as his text the words of the prophet: "The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple." (Psa. 19:7.) He explained, however, that he expected to use many scriptures in the elucidation of this subject. His discourse follows:

I rarely have so sensational a topic as the one announced for this occasion, but before we conclude our examination of it we hope to convince you all that whatever seems to be sensational in the topic is not of our origination that the cause of the sensation lies in certain erroneous views very generally entertained respecting the subject of hell. We assure you that we will treat our subject most literally and prove our propositions beyond peradventure from the Word of God.

Many will be inclined perhaps to say: "What does anyone know about hell? Surely no one has ever returned from there that we may know what it is like. Surely, therefore, the discussion of this subject must be purely fanciful." Our Answer – to such is that they are mistaken. We will prove to them that a great deal indeed is known about hell where it is, what it is, its conditions and who are there. Indeed, we will demonstrate that we know all about the subject that could be reasonably expected to be known. There is a very ancient book in existence; its writers were holy men, who claimed to have been guided in respect to what they wrote by the holy spirit of God. This book discusses the subject of hell most exhaustively, but it is written in two different languages that are not now in vogue; and hence many earnest people, who would dearly love to examine this subject from the standpoint of this book and to obtain its clear elucidation of the matter, are unable to do so. They are dependent upon translators, and the translators have been guilty of certain gross inconsistencies of translation which have tended to becloud the subject, so clearly presented in the original. Dear friends, the ancient book to which I refer you doubtless recognize as the Bible, and the inconsistencies of the translation of the Bible in respect to this subject of hell we invite you to consider carefully and prayerfully at this time.

The errors, the inconsistencies of translation in connection with this word, to which we call your attention, will necessarily reflect to some extent against the good men who, doubtless with good intentions, performed a great service for the world in the translation. We should therefore say to their credit that it is our belief that they did not err with full willfulness and intention, but that they were beclouded by the superstition and error prevalent throughout the Dark Ages and at the time when the translation was made. Their endeavor to conform the translation of the book to the false theories which beclouded their minds is doubtless responsible for the inaccuracies we shall point out.


In the Old Testament there is but one original Hebrew word which has been translated hell in our common version of the Bible that word is "sheol." It occurs from Genesis to Malachi, in all 65 times, and, of course, must have the same meaning in every instance. If it means a place of fire and smoke and torture and anguish, it must mean all these things in every instance in which it is used; but it means nothing of the kind. It means the grave the state of the dead. Out of the 65 occurrences of the word it is three times translated "pit," 31 times translated "grave" and 31 times translated "hell;" and in two instances where the word is translated hell in the text the marginal reading is "grave." Thus we have sheol translated pit and grave altogether, with the marginal readings, 36 times, the translated hell 29 times. The fact is, dear friends, that with the understood meaning of the word hell as it is used today, "sheol" should never be translated "hell" nothing could be farther from the meaning of the word than the ordinary idea attaching to the word "hell" today.

In defense of the honesty of the translators, however, let me explain a fact that is well known to all scholars, but a fact that they sedulously keep from those whom they designate the common people. It is this: In the old English the word hell has the meaning of pit or grave or covered place. Look into Webster's Unabridged Dictionary and you will find this as the primary meaning of the word hell the secret place, the pit. In the old English literature you can read of the farmer helling his potatoes that is to say, putting them in a pit; or you may read of his helling his house that is, covering it or thatching it. A false theology took hold upon this word and is today using it dishonestly to deceive the people and to misrepresent our Almighty [HGL58] Creator blaspheming His holy name by misrepresentations of His character and of His purposes toward men.

At first you may think it too strong a statement that this doctrine of eternal punishment is a "blasphemy" against the name and character of our God; but the more you consider the matter the more, I am sure, you will be convinced that the unscriptural proposition is thoroughly blasphemous. Should anyone tell that either you or your parents had done or purposed to do what it is freely declared the Almighty has done, has purposed to do, is doing and will continue for an eternity to do in the way of tormenting His creatures, you would feel yourself grossly insulted. You would feel indignant. You would say that your name, your character, had been misrepresented blasphemed. In this proper use of the word blaspheme, I charge that not only the heathen are blaspheming God's name, but that throughout Christendom, in thought and in word and in print, God's name has been continually blasphemed for centuries ever since the great apostasy, the great falling away, during "the dark ages" and since.


By the help of God, dear friends, we want to get this subject so clearly before our minds this afternoon that whoever may blaspheme the holy name henceforth, it shall not be us; neither will we have sympathy with such traduction and blasphemy. Let me prove to you the meaning of this Hebrew word "sheol," the only Hebrew word in the Bible ever rendered "hell." Let me call to your attention the instances in which the word is translated "grave," and you will perceive that the translators have rendered it "hell" whenever the context would seem to obscure the matter in any degree, so that the ordinary English reader might be deceived by it; and whenever the context was manifestly clear and explicit, there they properly rendered the word "grave." For instance take the first use of this word sheol in the scriptures, in Gen. 37:35. It is found in the remarks of the Patriarch Jacob to his sons and daughters, who were seeking to comfort him

respecting the supposed death of his favorite son, Joseph. We read: "He refused to be comforted and he said, For I shall go down into the grave (sheol) unto my son mourning."

The translators evidently concluded that it would not do to use the word hell in this place, for with the sentiment abroad that the word hell represented a place of torment, this passage would make it appear that Jacob thought that his best boy had gone to eternal torment, and that he proposed to go there, too. The matter from this standpoint was too absurd to be entertained, and hence a more properly understood English word was used to represent the state of death, namely, the word grave. We should have distinguished between the word quebar, which stands for a particular grave, and the word sheol, which represents the grave in a general way the death state. Jacob had no thought of being buried in the same tomb with his son, Joseph, for his supposition was that Joseph was not in a tomb at all, but had been devoured by wild beasts. What he did mean was that he would go down into the death state mourning, because he had lost his beloved son.

The second use of the word sheol occurs in Gen. 42:38. Jacob is here speaking about Benjamin, his youngest son, whom he loved next to Joseph. He says, "His brother is dead and he alone is left; if mischief shall befall him by the way in which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs in sorrow to the grave (sheol.)" Similar reasons prevailed with the translators and hindered them from using the word hell in this case. It would sound very peculiarly if "sheol" were translated "hell" in this verse; it would then read, "Ye shall bring down my gray hairs in sorrow in hell." The translators were averse to the thought that Jacob would go into eternal torment or have anything appear so to teach; they were averse also to the thought that "gray hairs" go to that place of torment. The unscriptural teaching is that, while the body and the gray hairs go into the grave, the real man somehow or other steps out and goes somewhere, nobody knows where, and nobody knows how, to some place called hell, there to be tormented eternally by fireproof devils with an unlimited stock of fuel prepared from all eternity to last for an eternity. Are not such ideas totally out of keeping with enlightened common sense, as well as out of harmony with the word of God?


Take another instance of the use of the word sheol. We quote the words of the Prophet Job. He was in trouble; God had permitted adversity to come to him; his wealth, flocks, herds, and children had all been destroyed; he was smitten with disease until his condition was not only loathsome to himself, but to his friends, and the wife of his bosom had joined with the enemies in denouncing him, saying, "Die, thou cursed of God," considering that his calamities meant divine disfavor. Under these circumstances Job longed for death and said, "O that Thou wouldst hide me in the grave (sheol), that Thou wouldst keep me secret, until Thy wrath be past, that Thou wouldst appoint me a set time, and remember me." (Job 14:13)

Does anyone in his sane mind suppose that Job meant that he would like to be hidden in a place of eternal torment until God's wrath would be past, until the "curse" which is upon the world shall be removed in the glorious times of restitution which God has promised shall come as the result of the redemption work, the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus? Surely not; and so the translators did not here risk placing such an absurdity before their readers; and, though the statement as it stands is very contrary to the teachings of all the creeds of Christendom, they were obliged to render it as it is to make it a declaration of Job's desire to be hidden in the solitude of death until after the millennial kingdom shall be established and the "curse" be rolled away, that then he might be remembered and participate in the glorious resurrection privileges which are to come to the world of mankind through Him who loved us and bought us with His own precious blood.

Take another illustration from the words of the prophet, David, (Psa. 6:4, 5) realizing himself to be under the chastening hand of the Lord, and fearing death, he prays, "O save me for Thy mercies' sake. For in death there is no remembrance of Thee; in the grave (sheol) who shall give Thee thanks?" Here again the sense of the prophet is too apparent for contradiction. He was urging before the Lord that if permitted to live, he could remember and praise Him, but if he died there would be no remembrance. If [HGL59] permitted to live he would give Him thanks, but if he went into the grave (sheol) he could give no thanks. How different is this teaching from the one which prevails in all the creeds of Christendom, and amongst all the heathen, which teaches that death brings an increase of knowledge, remembrance and opportunity for thanksgiving or for pain, suffering and blasphemy. If we stick to this old book, dear friends, we will be safe. It has already stood the test of ages and the calumnies and misrepresentations both of its enemies and its friends.


Take another illustration from David's Psa. (18:5). "The sorrows of hell (sheol) compassed me about." The prophet does not refer to any fear on his part of eternal torment. On the contrary, in the context he has just said, "I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength; the Lord is my rock, and my fortress and my deliverer." His thought is in respect to death, and in the fourth verse he expresses it thus, "The sorrows of death compassed me, the floods (hosts) of ungodly men made me afraid." Another similar illustration is found in Psa. 116:3. Here the prophet is narrating his narrow escape from death at the hands of his enemies and his rejoicing that the Lord has spared his life. He says, "The sorrows of death compassed me, the pangs of hell (sheol, the death state) got hold upon me; I found trouble and sorrow."

Take another illustration from Psa. 139:8, the prophet is speaking of the Lord's thorough knowledge of him, and we read, "If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there; if I make my bed in hell (sheol, the grave) behold Thou art there." David had no thought of a hell of devils' flames and torment he surely had no desire to make a bed there; it would be about the last place in which any one would think of making a bed or resting, and the last place in which any one would think of finding the Heavenly Father present. What he does mean most evidently is, that Divine power extends to every part of the universe. Could he go to heaven, he would there find God and His power manifest, and though he should go down into death God's power would still encompass him. He recognized the power of God respecting the recovery of the dead from the tomb; he believed as did Job, that the dead would ultimately be called forth from the tomb. Job expresses the matter thus, "Thou wilt call, and I will Answer – Thee; for Thou wilt have a desire to the work of Thine hands." (Job 14:15.) Our Lord in the same strain declares, "All that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of man and shall come forth."

Solomon, the wise, gave advice generally recognized as excellent saying, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave (sheol), whither thou goest." Eccl. 9:10 It should be noticed that Solomon, in company with the others quoted, refers to the death state as the prospect for all good or bad and specifically states that it is a place of unconsciousness, where there is neither wisdom nor knowledge nor work nor device.

Where, then, comes the thought that this word sheol indicates that the abode of the wicked is full of knowledge, wicked works, and blasphemy against God under torments of demons? This misconception was undoubtedly foisted upon humanity by the great adversary, Satan, who, so far from being confined in any place of fear or torment, "goeth about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour." As the apostle says, "We are not ignorant of his 'devices' and 'wiles.'" In these deceptions he is but following up his original misstatement to our first parents when, contradicting the Almighty, he said, "Ye shall not surely die." The difficulty with people in general seems to be that they like mother Eve, believe Satan believe that they do not die when they appear to die, but really become more alive than ever before. The scriptures, to the contrary, insist that there can be no further life except by a resurrection from the dead and that "the dead know not anything." Eccl. 9:5


Note the case of the godly king of Judah, Hezekiah, and his sentiments respecting "sheol." He was sick and expected to die, and prayed to the Lord for a prolongation of his life and was heard, his life being spared for fifteen years. In his account of the matter he says, "I said, in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave (sheol): I am deprived of the residue of my years. . . But Thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption, for Thou hast cast all my sins behind Thy back. For the grave (sheol) cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee." Isa. 38:10, 17, 18

Take another illustration in Hosea's prophecy. The Lord speaks of the great blessing he purposes to bring in due time to the world the blessing that was secured by our dear Redeemer's sacrifice the blessing of the millennial age, which our Lord referred to, saying, "All that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and shall come forth" to trial, to judgment, to testing, as to worthiness or unworthiness of life according to their obedience or disobedience to the divine regulations of that millennial kingdom. Speaking of this prophetically the Lord says, "I will ransom them from the power of the grave (sheol)." Then repeating the matter poetically, and personifying death as an enemy, he says, "I will redeem them from Death!" "O, Death, I will be thy plagues (subduing) O, grave (sheol), I will be thy destruction!" Hos. 13:14

From this text, dear friends, we have the assurance that whatever is meant by this word "sheol," whether it mean that death state (as we claim), or whether it mean a place of eternal torment (as others claim), the Lord's assurance is that mankind has been ransomed from it, redeemed by the precious blood. His assurance further is that sheol shall be utterly destroyed. "O sheol, I will be thy destruction." This thoroughly offsets every thought to the effect that "sheol" is an eternal condition of any kind, and all the scriptures agree with those we have already cited in testifying that the death condition, the sheol condition to which all mankind, good and bad alike, go, is to be utterly destroyed destroyed by resurrection processes, by the lifting of mankind out of the death condition.

We cannot do better than to follow this last quotation from Hosea to the New Testament, where we find it quoted by the Apostle Paul in his celebrated discourse on the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:54-56). After explaining in the chapter that "As all die in Adam, even so in Christ [HGL60] all shall be made alive" after explaining that there will be different orders in the resurrection, "every man in his own order" after explaining the first of these orders, the Lord's resurrection of which our Lord was the first fruits and which shall be shared in by all those who are His, all the overcomers, all the joint heirs in the kingdom the apostle proceeds to explain what is to be expected after the church shall have thus experienced her resurrection change. His words are:


"When this corruption shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality (when the entire church of the first born shall have been completed), then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, 'Death is swallowed up in victory.' O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" The word "grave" in this last quotation (1 Cor. 15:55) is "hades," the Greek equivalent to the Hebrew word "sheol." The apostle here translated the word "sheol" into Greek, in which the New Testament is written. Do we need any further evidences, dear friends, as to what the scriptures mean when they use the word "sheol" in the Old Testament in the Hebrew and "hades" in the New Testament in the Greek? And when these are translated in our English language in both texts by the word "grave," no one needs to be in doubt on the subject. The only persons who will question the matter are those who are prejudiced, and prejudiced, too, in favor of that which they will admit is the most God-dishonoring and doubt-inspiring theory of Christendom, brought down from the dark ages and only supported in the Old and New Testaments by mistranslations such as we have called attention to.

Note another use of the word "sheol" in the Old Testament that is quoted in the New. The prophet, speaking under inspiration of Christ, personifies Him, saying, "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (sheol, the death state), neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption." (Psa. 16:10.) The Apostle Paul quotes this expression (Acts 2:27), translating the Hebrew word "sheol" into the Greek word "hades," and then explaining its meaning that it referred to our Lord Jesus, that He was not left in death, but was raised from the dead on the third day. The apostle's words are: "Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day (he is not alive anywhere he is both dead and buried). Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on His throne; he foreseeing this, spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell (hades, the death state), neither did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up (from death), whereof we all are witnesses. . . . For David is not ascended into the heavens (he is both dead and buried)." (Acts 2:27)

In almost every instance the word "hades" of the New Testament is translated hell in our English common version Bible. The one exception we have already referred to is 1 Cor. 15:55 , "O grave, where is thy victory?" But its signification in every case is the death state. This may not appear to the ordinary reader until he learns to read critically. As for instance, the Lord pronounces woe or tribulation upon the city of Capernaum, saying, "Thou hast been exalted up to heaven, thou shalt be cast down to hell." In what sense had the city of Capernaum been exalted to heaven? Assuredly in the figurative sense, that it had been favored by the Lord's presence and teachings. In what sense would it be brought down to hell, to hades, to the death state? Assuredly in the sense that it would be utterly deprived of these favors and destroyed from the earth. And so it is today. The very site of Capernaum is difficult to locate; it has been brought down to the grave to destruction.

Take another illustration: Our Lord said to Peter respecting a great truth which He had confessed, "On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell (hades) shall not prevail against it." The thought here is that the Lord will gather His church out of the world on the basis of the truth which Peter declared; and although death would prevail against the Lord's people century after century, and one after another they would go down into the great prison house of death, and the strong bars of oblivion would close over them, nevertheless eventually, in the Lord's due time, there should be a resurrection of the dead and the gates of death should open, the bars of oblivion should be broken, divine power should bring forth the church glorious in the first resurrection the gates of the grave should not prevail against it forever. They have prevailed for a time, but, as the apostle intimates, eventually the glad song of triumph shall go forth, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, (hades) where is thy victory?" Hades shall not prevail against the Lord's people. The Lord Himself declared, "I am the resurrection and the life."


The same thought is enunciated by our Lord in His last message to His people (Rev. 1:18). He says, "I am He that was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and have the keys of death and of hell (hades, the grave, the death state)." What a grand thought is contained in these words. Our Lord and the prophets have likened death to a great prison house, into which the whole human family has gone under the original penalty pronounced against Father Adam. The prison is crowded with thousands of millions and they are all helpless, but the Lord has laid help upon one who is mighty to save. That one is our Lord Jesus Christ, who has bought us with His precious blood. He paid our death penalty for us and He, therefore, has a right to the keys a right to open the prison doors, a right to say to the prisoners, Come forth! He has the keys of hades, the tomb, the death state. It is by virtue of His merit and power and right that He is able to assure us that the "gates of hades" (the tomb) shall not prevail against any whom He has bought, for "all who are in their graves shall hear His voice and shall come forth" to trial, to judgment, to testing; that those found worthy of everlasting life may enter into it, and those found unworthy may be destroyed in the second death.

We cannot take time to go into every instance of the use of these words "sheol" and "hades," but we have a little pamphlet which does examine every text in any sense related to this subject, and we are pleased to supply it free [HGL61] to the interested. You may ask the ushers for the "Hell Pamphlet" as you pass out, or if you address me a postal card to Allegheny, Pa., a copy will be mailed to you from there. While dealing with the subject, however, I will add that in the New Testament two other words occur with a different meaning from "hades." The word tartarus is translated hell, but it occurs but once and is used in respect to the ostracized condition of the fallen angels and has no reference to mankind whatever. The other word is Gehenna. Outside the city of Jerusalem in olden times was a valley owned by the sons of Hinnom and therefore called the valley Gahinnom, and this name transferred to the Greek becomes the word Gehenna. Garbage furnaces are a modern institution, but they had in those times what served a similar purpose, for in this valley of Hinnom, Gehenna, it was customary to burn the rubbish of the city of Jerusalem, its offal, etc., and persons guilty of gross crimes were sometimes sentenced to be executed and then, as a mark of peculiar disrespect and of there being no resurrection hope for them, their corpses were burned with the city offal.

From our Lord's parables and discourses, as well as from the symbols of the book of Revelation, we learn that this Valley of Hinnom, "Gehenna," was typical of the second death typical of the utter destruction of any and every thing that shall ultimately be out of harmony with God and His righteous arrangements. This is in perfect accord with everything else that was there. The Jewish Temple was a symbol of the glorious Temple the glorified church; the city of Jerusalem, the millennial kingdom; and it was very appropriate, therefore, that the valley outside of the symbolical city should represent the destruction that shall eventually be visited upon all who will not avail themselves of the gracious opportunities which will ultimately come to all mankind in full measure, purchased by the precious blood of Christ. All these matters and all these texts you will find amply treated in the little pamphlet which I have proffered you free. And if still there is any matter that is not clear to you, write me about it at Allegheny, Pa. We conduct a Bible study correspondence school, free for all who give evidence of hunger and thirst for the truth as it is revealed in the Bible.


Returning to our particular subject, "To Hell and Back," my hearers doubtless agree with me by this time that there is not one whit of sentimentalism in my topic. We have demonstrated that the word hell, as it occurs in the Scriptures, translations of sheol and hades, occurring 76 times, really signifies the grave, the death state. We have seen that all mankind go into this great prison house the good and the bad, the rich and the poor, go down to hell, to sheol, to hades, to the death condition. The majority are without divine revelation on the subject; the heathen speculate that when they die devils catch them, or they go through the River Styx or to more or less of tribulation and misery. Christians have absorbed much of the heathen doctrines and have engrafted them in their creeds, thereby confusing their minds and controverting the plain statements of the Bible, much to their injury and the shaking and unsettling of their faith. We have seen also that the Lord's people, both of Old Testament times and of New Testament times, had every faith in the resurrection, so that the Prophet Job could desire to be hidden in sheol until God's wrath, the curse of sin and death, should be rolled away and the time of blessing, the millennial kingdom, should be ushered in, when he was assured that the Lord would call for him call him forth by divine power from oblivion, from death.

Now we come to the inquiry: Has anyone gone to hell, (sheol, hades the death state) and returned? We answer, Yes, several have done so. We call to mind the son of the widow of Nain, whom our Lord awakened, and the daughter of Jairus and our Lord's friend and disciple, Lazarus. All of these came back from sheol, hades, hell, the death state. There is not a word from one of them respecting heaven and its glories; not a word from one of them respecting any place of horror and lurid flame and terrifying groans. We could not think that anyone who had ever been to such a place as hell is ordinarily understood to be could come back to life and not be a most interesting witness, talked about and talked to through the remainder of his lifetime concerning the things which he had seen and heard if he had seen and heard anything while dead.

Nor is it supposable that Lazarus or others of these, having attained to heavenly conditions, would be brought back to earthly conditions and to further association with pain, sorrow, trials, etc., and yet, this bringing back be considered by our Lord and the resuscitated ones and their friends to have been a great boon, a great blessing. On the other hand, what we know of these cases of return from sheol is exactly what we would have reason to expect that they would know nothing whatever to tell respecting the time they were dead, and that they would consider

it a great boon to be resuscitated. All this is in full agreement with the Scriptural declaration that there is "no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in sheol," whither all go. Eccl. 9:10


The same arguments apply exactly to our Lord's resurrection and to the awakening of Dorcas and of the young man who fell from the window while the Apostle Paul was preaching.

We are able to judge quite well of the experiences of these awakened ones. The first thought upon their awakening would be in connection with their last acts, words and thoughts in the moment of dying. It is because of this similarity between death and unconsciousness, which we call sleep, that death is so frequently in the Scriptures called sleep. As for instance, when our Lord said of Lazarus: "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep." Afterward, when His disciples did not understand him, he said plainly: "Lazarus is dead." So the kings and prophets of old were all said to fall asleep. Acts 7:60; 1 Cor. 15:6; 1 Thess. 4:14; 2 Pet. 3:4

We have doubtless all heard of soldiers who in battle received injury to the brain which threw them into a comatose condition, and how upon a successful operation of trepanning the man recovered consciousness and finished the sentence or exclamation which he was in process of making when he received the injury. Others [HGL62] dying in such an operation would never be conscious of anything until their awakening in the resurrection morning, when "all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of man and shall come forth." When they revive they will be totally unconscious of the length of time that has elapsed. It will seem to them but the next moment, but they will soon learn of the great changes which transpired soon learn that they were redeemed from the power of sheol by the precious blood of Christ, that they are awakened by divine favor through him; and that the object of this will be that they may come to a full knowledge of the truth that they may be saved everlastingly saved. (1 Tim. 2:4) In accord with these thoughts note the words of inspiration respecting the dead, proving that they are totally unconscious of the affairs of life, we read: "His sons come to honor and he knoweth it not, and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them." Why? Because there is neither work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave in sheol.

Our proposition is before you, dear friends. We have shown that some have gone to hell, sheol, hades, the death state, and have come back. We have shown who are there, the good and the bad, the rich and the poor, all mankind except Enoch and Elijah, and we who remain this side of the tomb. We have shown that Jesus Christ by the grace of God tasted death for every man that he has redeemed our souls from the power of sheol, from hades, from the grave, from the state of death. We have shown that as a result there is hope for many for all except those who have sinned the sin unto death unto the second death, extinction. If time permitted we could scripturally show that those who are totally without hope are comparatively few those mentioned by the apostle in Heb. 6:4-9; 10:26-31. The class referred to here and elsewhere in the scriptures as incurring the second death, are such as have experienced God's favor and grace in full. After having thus enjoyed so great privileges and mercies and blessings they sin willfully, deliberately, in the face of knowledge to the contrary for these there remaineth no hope.

The hope of the church during this gospel age is that through faith and obedience we may make our calling and election sure to joint-heirship with our dear Redeemer in the kingdom which is to bless the world. For the remainder of mankind there is hope that they shall come to a knowledge of divine goodness and the terms of salvation during the millennial age, and that thus many of them may lay hold upon the opportunities, the blessings, the favors proffered them, and gain restitution to earthly blessings, earthly perfection and everlasting life, such as Adam had in the beginning, but under still more favorable conditions quite inferior, however, to the exceeding great and precious things God hath in reservation for the church the spiritual things of the divine nature.


Let no one misunderstand us; we speak no word of encouragement toward neglect of the Lord's grace in the present time. On the contrary, while not holding forth the unscriptural, blasphemous teachings of some respecting an eternity of torture, too horrible to think of without insanity and which has caused the insanity of thousands, we do hold forth the scriptural threat of "a just recompense of reward to every soul of man that doeth evil," as well as the promised reward in the proportion as each one shall seek to do well. While only the consecrated, the church class, are specifically on trial now for eternal life in the kingdom, nevertheless the world, in proportion as they have knowledge, are either making character or undermining character. To whatever extent they form character, they bless themselves for the present time and lay the better foundation for the opportunities that will come to them in the future, and in proportion as they neglect and do violence to their knowledge of right in the present life, they undermine character, produce unhappiness in themselves, make experiences of the future that much more difficult. "A just recompense of reward" will appeal to the judgment of every reasonable man and woman, while an unjust one does not and should not so appeal to us.

A word in conclusion: Some dear people of God have said to me, "Brother Russell, I fully concur with what you say respecting the teachings of the scripture, but should we not hold our peace on the subject less the truth should be taken advantage of by the wickedly disposed and they should thereby become more wicked? If the fear of hell torment does not control people, what might we have to fear if they knew of God's love and merciful provision as you show the scriptures to teach?" Our reply to such fearful souls is: Do not join in blaspheming God's character through fear; do not do evil that good may result; determine with the apostle that God should be shown to be true, though it make every man a liar and break down every sectarian creed.

For the encouragement of such fearful ones, let me contrast the influence of the truth and of error. For centuries the error has prevailed, and it prevails now throughout Christendom. What is the result? Has it produced holiness, sanctification, upon the part of all who heard or on the part of the majority? By no means; error never sanctifies; error always injures. Our dear Redeemer was right when He prayed the Father, "Sanctify them through Thy truth." Wherever we go we hear God's name taken in vain, and people damning each other to eternal torment. The horrible doctrine has not intimidated them, does not intimidate them. Look at all the prisons and reformatory institutions of Christendom. They far outnumber similar institutions even amongst the heathen; and yet these men and women, culprits found guilty of every crime in the calendar have been taught and have believed the doctrine of eternal torment. It has not reformed them. Why not try upon them the power of the truth? Why not tell them of the love of God? What is it that has constrained our hearts to the love and service of God and righteousness? The apostle tells us, "The love of Christ constraineth us." Why not try this love of God and the power of the truth for a while? It could not result worse than the influence of error has resulted.

Let me give you an instance. Some of our publications found their way into the Ohio penitentiary, and there found men who, as believers in eternal torment, had been guilty of various crimes, and the truth has transformed them into saints – "pure in heart." The truth has had a sanctifying power which has been recognized by the managers of the [HGL63] prison, so that several of these prisoners, though under life sentence, presumably for murder are now what is known as "trusties;" they are trusted to do the service of the prison without wearing the prisoner's garb, and are sent on errands outside the prison, on their honor. Prayer meetings and Bible study meetings have been established in the prison, hundreds of tracts are being read by the prisoners, and we now have 16 regular subscribers to

our Journal in that prison, and, so far as we have reason to know, these are as true and faithful Christians on the average as are to be found anywhere in the world.

How do you know that the truth would not have a power upon your son or your daughter, upon your friend, upon your neighbor, where the error has failed? But whatever the consequences, those who rightly understand the matter will feel that as children of God it is our duty to bear witness to the truth and to expose error especially all errors pertaining to the divine word. The Lord puts Himself and His word on a parity, saying "He that is ashamed of Me and of My word, of him will I be ashamed when I come in the glory of the Father with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38).

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