The New York World, January 25, 1915


Baltimore, Md., Jan. 24 Pastor Russell preached here today at the Academy of Music. His topic was seemingly a sensational one; but before he concluded the audience agreed that he was strictly unsensational. His Text was, "Thou wilt not leave My soul in Hell." Psa. 16:10; Acts 2:27

The Pastor declared that the Bible Hell is a very reasonable one, but that the theological Hell is most unreasonable, as all must agree. The theological Hell is a red-hot furnace, manned with fireproof devils, and containing practically all of the human family who ever lived, except the comparatively few saints. This Hell is the common property of Catholics and Protestants, but the speaker wants none of it. He pronounced it an absurdity, wholly contradictory to the Bible; and he seemed to prove his points well in the estimation of nearly all his audience. [HGL688] He remarked that it seemed that each preacher felt he had a right to make a Hell for non-church members according to his own conception. None seemed to think it necessary to go to the Bible. He declared that fire is used in the New Testament as a symbol of destruction, an illustration of how all the willfully wicked God will destroy eventually. People know something about fiery trials and about heaping coals of fire upon the heads of their enemies figuratively. But whenever the word fire occurs in any connection where it can be twisted into signifying eternal torment, those who love that kind of punishment for their enemies are swift to take advantage of it. Eternal torment is the just, the loving thing to give to all the heathen who never heard of Christ, to all the poor, ignorant and degraded who, born in sin, in weakness, find themselves discouraged and overwhelmed by the Adversary to all but church members. 2 Cor. 4:4

This kind of thing has gone on so long that everybody gradually came to believe it, and remarkably few have inquired as to its scripturalness. Many sensible people hold aloof from religion entirely, unwilling to confess themselves believer of such a doctrine or worshippers of such a God.


But now we have variations to suit our more refined feelings. Ministers, without denying their authority tell various tales about Hell. Some have it with a slower fire, not so red-hot; others have it merely a place of mental remorse. They do not call the place Purgatory, or admit that there will ever be any release from it. They say that there is nothing in the Bible about Purgatory, and forget that there is nothing in the Bible about their kind of Hell.

According to the Catholic doctrine, all Catholics go to Purgatory, to be purified and fitted for Heaven; and they rejoice in that this torture is less than eternal torture reserved for others. From their viewpoint, happy is the man, the woman, the child, that through baptism, holy water, holy candles, the mass, and Extreme Unction, gets into Purgatory, for he may be helped out of it by further masses, etc.

We think this far better than the Protestant theory, but we leave it, said the Pastor, for those who like it. We notice, however, that very few seem to like it for themselves, nearly all prefer these tortures for their opponents. If any one is happy in these beliefs the Pastor does not wish to disturb his serenity. He was merely addressing the growing multitude who are looking for a better God and a better future than is held out by any of the creeds of the Dark Ages. Others should not read his sermons, he said, or come to hear him.

When once the human mind has become settled upon certain convictions, no matter how foolish, it seems able to find support for its delusions, continued the speaker. Thus one of our Lord's parables has been seized upon to prove that Hell is a place of torture, parched tongues, etc. We cannot here discuss this parable; we must confine ourselves to our subject. But we offer free of charge a booklet which we have written with a view to making these figurative statements clear. Whoever will address me Pastor Russell, Brooklyn, N Y requesting a copy of a pamphlet about Hell will be promptly served. That pamphlet will settle all your questions on this subject. I take pleasure in giving it away free, because I know the joy, the blessing, the relief to many honest, earnest hearts. I know that many after reading are enabled to love worship and serve the great God of Love heartily, intelligently, as never before.


Our English word Hell comes to us from the German language hochle, signifying a hole. It is, therefore, a very good translation for the Hebrew word Sheol, which signifies a pit, a hole, a grave. The New Testament Greek gives us Hades as the exact equivalent of Sheol. Whenever Sheol is translated into the New Testament Greek. the word used is Hades. The Psalmist wrote, "Thou wilt not leave My soul in sheol" (hell the grave), and St. Peter translates it, "Thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades" hell the grave.

St. Peter tells us that these words were not true respecting the Prophet David, who used them, that he is still in Hell, Sheol, Hades. The Prophet David had not yet been resurrected out of the grave condition. St. Peter explains that the words were a prophecy relating to Christ's resurrection that God raised Jesus from the dead on the third day. There is not a shred of authority anywhere for the absurd statement sometimes made by cornered clergymen, that "Paradise is on one side of the creek, and Hades on the other." The Bible tells of a Paradise, but it is future. It tells of Hades, the state of the dead, but it is present, and is to be destroyed in the future. The destruction of Sheol, Hades, the grave; by resurrection, will progress during the thousand years of Christ's reign.


At a time when the Bible was not in the hands of the people, and not considered necessary, because they had the creeds, various errors spread. Both Catholics and Protestants helped to spread them, and no doubt many were deceived into believing all that they said. We are not charging them all with hypocrisy, but with error. The Bible does not tell about any going to Heaven at death, but it does tell that all, good and bad, go to Hell at death; that King David went to Hell, and is still there. Note the Apostle Peter's words, "David is not ascended into the Heaven." (Acts 2:29, 34) David was not one of the elect Church. He was never called to the Heavenly Calling. He was not a follower of Christ, for he lived centuries before. His resurrection will be to human, earthly nature; and his reward will be to share in that restored Paradise, which will eventually be world-wide.

We remind our hearers that the Bible history of four thousand years and more, has no reference to any other Hell than Sheol. We remind you that although our Bible was translated by people who believed in a fiery Hell, they were unable to translate quite half of the occurrences of the word Sheol by our English word hell. They were obliged to translate the majority as grave or pit. They should have made no exception; in every case the word should have been rendered grave, or pit, that is its meaning.

Jesus was raised up out of Sheol, Hades, the tomb. And there was another person brought back, Jonah, who the Lord declared was typical of Himself. Jonah's three days [HGL689] in the belly of the fish, corresponding to our Lord's three days in Hell, Hades, the grave. The resurrection of Jesus was represented also in Jonah's experiences; for on the third day the great fish vomited him forth on dry land. Jonah, describing his experiences, said "Out of the belly of Hell cried I and Thou heardest my voice." He was rescued from the belly of the fish, which was his Hell or grave.

The Bible is very explicit in declaring that all really die, not merely seem to die, and that there would be no future life whatever for mankind without a resurrection. God has provided for a resurrection in Christ, who died for our sins. St. Paul declares, if there be not a resurrection of the dead, all of our Christian faith and hope are perished; we have nothing to live for. But he assures us that Christ has died and risen. Therefore, ultimately, all will be delivered from the power of Sheol, Hades, the grave. Isa. 26:19; Hos. 13:14; Rev. 20:14

A few were awakened in olden times merely to relapse into death again. It was not possible that any could be fully recovered until Christ first had provided the Redemption-price for man. God tells us that in His Purpose He had provide Jesus as "the Lamb of God" before the foundation of the world.


Of both the good and the bad we read that they were gathered to their fathers. Their fathers were not in Heaven, for that is not a sleeping place. They were not in the fiery Hell of orthodoxy, and the creeds of the Dark Ages; for they were not imagined. They did not sleep in a Catholic Purgatory for the same reason. But they slept, and are sleeping still, and will continue to sleep until they are awakened.

This thought is given in the New Testament as well as the Old. Jesus said that Lazarus slept, and He awakened the daughter of Jairus from the sleep. St. Paul declared that all the Church would sleep, except those who would be alive at the time of Christ's Second Coming. It is from this viewpoint that the great work of Christ and His Millennial Kingdom is described specifically an awakening of the sleeping dead. 1 Cor. 15:20-23

In the Old Testament, Sheol is described as a great prison house into which the people have gone and out of which none could make his way to liberty from death. Our Lord also told that He will unlock Hades, Sheol, the tomb, and deliver the prisoners, He tells us that He "has the Keys of Death and of Hades." He got the Key, or authority, or power to open the grave, to give a resurrection to the whole world at the cost of His life, which He freely sacrificed, dying "the Just for the unjust," "tasting death for every man."


The Scriptures declare of the Church of Christ, "The gates of Hell shall not prevail against thee." Christ is stronger than the power of death and He has met the death penalty that was against us. He has redeemed His Church. He will deliver us early in the Morning of the New Dispensation.

And that is only part of the wonderful story. The Apostle declares that THE Christ will be the Firstfruits, Jesus the Head, and the Church His Body. Afterward will be those who become Christ's during His Presence. His Presence will last for the thousand years; as King over all the earth, and as the Priest to bless. He will be a Priest upon His Throne, to deliver from the power of sin and death, all who wish to return to harmony with God. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

The result of these Thousand years will be not merely for the awakening of the sleepers, but subsequently their raising up mentally, morally, physically, to full perfection of human nature, from which they fell in Father Adam's disobedience. When all the willfully wicked shall have been destroyed in the Second Death, from which there will be no recovery, no resurrection. Then shall it be brought to pass saying, "It is written, 'Death is swallowed up in victory. O, Death, where is thy sting? O, Hades (grave), where is thy victory?'"

The grave indeed has a victory now over all mankind; but ultimately the Redeemer will have the victory, during the thousand years of His Reign. He will deliver all from the power of the present death, and only the willfully wicked shall die the Second Death, from which there will be no recovery.

It fills our hearts with joy to think of the poor world's return from the prison-house of death and from their weaknesses and imperfections. With the eye of faith, looking through the telescope of God's Word, we see in the near future, thank God! the binding of Satan, the awakening of the sleepers, the blessing of the whole world, the uplifting of all the willing and obedient. We see them coming back to full physical power, to full mental vigor, to full moral tone the image and likeness of God, lost in Eden, redeemed for all at Calvary.

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