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“ He hath reserved them in everlasting chains of darkness, unto the judgment of the great day.” Let us here inquire, Ist, What Peter meant by Tartarus ? Mr. Stuart says, as “to the usus loquendi of the classics, in Greek, the word Tartarus is employed to designate a supposed subterranean region, as deep down below the upper part of Hades, as the earth is distant from heaven. It is the place where the distinguished objects of Jupiter's vengeance are represented as being confined and tormented. It is placed in opposition to, or in distinction from Elysium. I remark moreover, that the heathen had no apprehension of deliverance from Tartarus. Tantalus, Sisyphus, Ixion, and all others sent there, were doomed to endless punishment, in view of the Greeks and Romans.” Such are the views given us of Tartarus by Mr. Stuart ; and it is commonly supposed, that in this sense Peter used the word Tartarus in the passage before us. But, in the preceeding section it has been fully shown, that Tartarus and the punishment there, were heathen fictions, and were originally of Egyptian origin. The Egyptians furnished the first hints, and the Greeks and Romans manufactured a tremendous hell out of them.
But Mr. Stuart is obliged to confess, that the above is not the exclusive sense, in which classical writers use the term Tartarus. He says—“it is occasionally employed, in the later classic writers, for the underworld in general; but in such a connexion as to show, that it is only when writers mean to speak of the whole as a region of gloom, that they call it Tartarus." This concession of Mr. Stuart, is enough for our purpose, together with his explanations of Sheol and Hades. He concedes, that "the later classic writers,” use Tartarus for the under-world in general, “which is his general sense of Sheol and Hades, as seen above. And he also concedes, that they use it in this sense, when they “mean to speak of the whole as a region of
gloom.” With these concessions in view, I observe ist, Peter was a later scripture writer. This answers to “the later classic writers,” of whom Mr. Stuart speaks. And if they used the word Tartarus, " for the under-world in general,” and not for a place of punishment, why not allow Peter to use it in the same sense in this passage? But the reader may notice, he speaks of it, not as a place of fire and torment, which the heathen did concerning their Tartarus, but as the Hebrews spoke of Sheol.
2d, But we are told, when the “later classic writers," used Tartarus for the under-world, it was “ in such a connection as to show, that it is only when writers mean to speak of the whole as a region of gloom that they call it Tartarus." Well, all I ask, is, to allow Peter the same privilege taken by these classic writers. This cannot with any show of reason be denied him. The question then is, does Peter show from the connection, that he means to speak of Tartarus as a place of punishment, yea of endless punishment; or does he speak of it as the under-world, a region of gloom? In the latter sense, as I shall now attempt to show. Let it then be observed—Ist, Whoever may be meant by the Angels in the passage above, they are not said to be suffering any pain now in Tartarus. Nor is it even said, that they are reserved there to suffer pain or torment at the day of judgment mentioned. If it is maintained, the Angels mentioned are Angelic spirits, the passage has no reference to human beings at all.
3d, If Peter used the term Tartarus, in the sense of a place of misery, or “ endless punishment in view of the Greeks and Romans,” he did what no other scripture writer did before him. Not one of them ever uses this term, which shows they cared nothing about Tartarus. But, had they believed this doctrine of endless punishment, and that Tartarus was the most “ significant” word the Greek language afforded to express it,
why do they all avoid this word ? Mr. Stuart asks
- What term then, in order to express the horrors of future punishment, could Peter select from the whole Greek language, which was more significant than Tartarosas ?” This question implicates, not only the sacred writers, but even the holy spirit, as not knowing what word was most “ significant” to express the horrors of future punishment.'
3d, But if Peter used the term Tartarus, “ for the under-world in general,” 'as “it is occasionally employed in the later classic writers," he agrees with all the scripture writers in their usuage of Sheol and Hades, and even with those classic writers also.
What is more common, than to put a part for the whole, or the whole for a part in the language of scripture ? Tartarus was supposed to be a part of Hades, and here a part is used for the whole. In Luke xvi. 23, the whole, Hades, is put for a part, Tartarus ; for according to the representation given, the rich man was in Tartarus, yet he is said to be in Hades.
4th, But we are told, this word was used for the under-world, “ in such a connection as to show, that it is only when writers mean to speak of the whole as a region of gloom, that they call it Tartarus.” If Peter then used it in such a connection," as to show, he meant “ to speak of the whole as a region of gloom," the question is settled. Does he then say, either in the text or context, that Tartarus was a place of torment ? No. Does he intimate the angels were alive in Tartarus ? No. Does he then speak of it as a region of gloom? Certainly he did. Hear him; “for if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell (Tartarosas).' Well did he deliver them there into flames and torments ? No. He “ delivered them into chains of darkness.” Is not this “a region of gloom? Le us hear Jude—“ The angels which kept not their first estate but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in
everlasting chains of darkness.” Is not this again, et region of gloom? This is too palpable I think to be denied.
Let us now see, how this agrees to Korah and his company, as the angels who sinned and were cast down to Tartarus? In Num. xvi. 31–33, it is said, “The ground clave asunder that was under them; and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them; and they perished from among the congregation." See on this text under Sheol above, They went down alive into the pit, (Sheol). Well, is not Sheol often represented as a region of gloom? Yea, does not the very word Sheol, as Dr. Campbell has told us, mean, “obscure, hidden, invisible. The state is always represented under those figures which suggest something dreadful, dark and silent.”
To the views of this passage, which have now been stated, it may be objected—Does not Jude say, the angels that sinned, are“ reserved in everlasting chains of darkness, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day. I answer yes, but it has been shown, that the judgment of the great day, does not refer to a general judgment at the end of this world, but to the judgment of God on the Jews at the close of their dispensation. Now, though Korah and his company were punished on the spot for their rebellion, yet we are told, all the sins of the Jews as a nation, which had been committed during past ages, were at that time visited on the nation. On that generation came all the righteous blood which had been shed on the earth. Of course
the rebellion of Korah and his company is included. They were delivered into chains of darkness; to be reserved unto this judgment; when God's signal vengeance was poured out on the whole nation for all
their rebellion and wickedness. Chains of darkness, is a figure for the power of darkness, for who can burst the bands of death, who can return from Sheol to the land of the living ? The word everlasting connected with chains of darkness in Jude, can occasion no difficulty. Those who have attended to the scripture usage of this word must see, it is often used for a limited time, and sometimes even for a short period of time. From the time of Korah's rebellion to the destruction of Jerusalem, was a much longer everlasting, than some everlastings, mentioned in scripture.
Though enough has been said, showing that punishment in Hades is a heathen notion, it may be of some use to see what were the views entertained by the ancient heathen about Hades and Tartarus. 'M. Le. Clerc, in his Religion of the Ancient Greeks, p. 147– 154.-thus writes :—“In general, the doctrine of a future life has been adopted by all nations, at least by all those that deserve to be cited as examples. Legislators considered it as the most effectual curb for restraining the passions of men, and they have employed every argument to establish this salutary doctrine, as we may be convinced by attending to the descriptions which the ancients have left us of Hell.
“This word signified among them the residence of souls. Thither, after death, they repaired in crowds to receive remuneration for their deeds. Minos sat as judge, and as the names were drawn out of the fatal urn, he distributed to each his merited punishment or reward. Pluto, seated on a throne of ebony, presided over the infernal regions ; because, as we have already observed, in the symbolical religion of the ancients, part of which was dedicated to the worship of the stars, winter was the night of Nature, and because the sun at that time took the name of King of the Shades. For this reason Pluto, who represented the sun, makes so important a figure in mysteries destined to describe the