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thodox writers with regard to a number of the texts. Thirdly, that this way of proof is that of mere assertion. Fourthly, that aion is oftener used in the sense of world, than in application to future punishment. Fifthly, that he knows of no critic or commentator who agrees with Mr. S., that "in three cases it is applied to designate age or dispensation." Sixthly, that the Talmudic and Rabbinic writers are called in to explain about one third of the ninety-five texts. Of the force, fairness, and relevancy of such suggestions, in this place, the reader will judge.
The meaning of Aionios. By the same method of classification, the steps of which I will not detail in this place, Mr. Stuart gets the result, that there are sixty-six cases in which the word is employed in the New Testament; of these fifty-one are used in relation to the happiness of the righteous-two in relation to God or his glory-six are of a miscellaneous natureand seven relate to the subject of future punishment. That in all instances in which it relates to future time, it is certain that they designate unlimited duration, (excepting, of course, those which relate to punishment.) That if they have not that meaning, the Scriptures do not decide that God is eternal, nor that the happiness of the righteous is without end, nor that the covenant of grace will always remain.
Here Mr. B. raises a hue and cry, about Talmudic and Rabbinic writers being mentioned. Though they were mentioned by Mr. S. only by way of explaining a fact, which fact was to be proved from other sources. Mr S. tells us that the ancient Hebrews had no adjective, derived from Olim; but that the Talmudic writers formed one, and that this was equivalent to the Greek aionios. But he makes no reliance on this assertion, as proving what is the meaning of aionios. He proves that meaning, by quoting the passages wherein it is used. But here Mr. B. suffers his indignation to kindle; calls for divine authority, which the Talmudic writers had to make such an adjective, as if lexicons were inspired books: and he intimates the sinfulness of the thought, that Christ and his apostles would use words in the same sense, that the Talmudic writers did.
And this is a fair specimen of his mode of argument through the whole book. In respect to the class of passages which Mr. S. makes to refer to the happiness of heaven, Mr. B. asks-The happiness of the righteous where? and says that they say nothing about their endless happiness in heaven. To this I answer, Mr. B. may choose his place where he will locate it; it is the happiness of the righteous, and on all grounds there is reason to believe that to be without end, let it be where it will. Through the other classes he keeps up his complaint, that the passages are quoted without note or comment, as if the laying out of a plain passage to speak for itself were an act of unfairMr. Balfour requires, that it shall not only be asserted that the punishment is eternal, but that it is to be in the future world. Prove, my dear Sir, that any text says the punishment is beyond the grave, and I give you no further trouble in opposing endless punishment." More than this can easily be done. It can be proved that it is beyond the resurrection. In Rev. 20: 15. after what Mr. B. admits to be a description of the resurrection, after the sea, death and hades delivered up their dead, it is added, and whosoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the lake of fire. But it is asking too much to require, that the assertions of eternal punishment shall be accompanied with the designation of the place where it will be executed. The assertions of God's eternity, are not accompanied always with the geography of the world, where he displays his peculiar presence. Mr. B. often insists that the passages which express the eternity of the happiness of the righteous, shall not be brought as evidence that that other class imply the eternity of punishment, because he pretends to have proved that the eternal life of which they speak is confined to this world. In relation to this, I have nothing further to say. I refer the reader to my remarks on that subject, in the last chapter. If any man is so far lost to common sense, as to believe Mr. B.'s positions in relation to that subject, I expect he will believe in no punishment beyond the grave, or in any thing else, however absurd. These will serve as a specimen of Mr. B.'s treatment of the subject.
The result, then, to which the subject was brought by Mr. Stuart, is, that while the words aion and aionios are never used to designate a period with definite limits, in a great majority of instances they denote an endless duration. In sixty instances, applied to the rewards of the future world, the reader will see that the duration is as endless as those rewards. What reason then is there for believing, that when applied twelve times to punishment, they import a limited duration? By what principles of interpreting language can we avoid the conclusion, that the meaning is the same in both cases? So of the cases where glory and praise are ascribed to God, forever, none will pretend that that is for a limited period; but what reason for a limit in case of everlasting punishment which does not here exist?
The literal and proper sense of these words must be confessed to be that of everlasting or eternal. And we are always to understand words in their literal and proper sense, unless there be something in the manner in which they are used, to determine it to be a metaphorical use. Now if that which is called eternal in one place, is said in another place to come to an end, as where it is said the earth abideth forever, and in other places it is said it will have an end, or as when the ceremonial law was said to abide forever, and yet foretold by prophets to be coming to an end,--in such cases we are to understand the term in a metaphorical sense, unless the thing said to come to an end be spoken of in different senses. So when the sacred history assures us that that which was said to be forever, had come to an end; or when the thing spoken of is known to be in its nature incapable of eternal duration, as in case of the servant forever, we are to understand the forever to be figurative. These classes, I conceive, comprise all the cases, where the word signifying duration is to be understood metaphorically. But the Universalists will find it impossible to bring the assertions of eternal punishment, under either of these classes. It is nowhere said of that punishment, to which the wicked will go with the devil and his angels, Matt. 25: that it will have an end, nor that it has already come to an end, nor that the soul to be punished is incapable of living through eternity.
Again, if our English translation were the original Scriptures, and the words everlasting, forever, and eternal were used as they now are in it, no common sense reader could doubt, whether it expressed the doctrine of eternal punishment. And yet our words are used in the same metaphorical sense. We speak of a man's heirs forever, we speak of an everlasting vexation, of an eternal talker, while if the words have any literal and proper meaning, it is that of eternal duration. If everlasting is so properly and naturally applied to punishments limited with the present life, why is it not currently used in application to such punishments? If we should call imprisonment for life an everlasting imprisonment,and say that the court had sentenced such and such a felon to everlasting punishment, we should have at least the credit of originality.
But Mr. B.'s reasons must now be attended to, in an examination of the passages which speak of everlasting punishment. Isa. 33: 14. The sinners in Zion are afraid, fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites; Who among us shall dwell with devouring fire, who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings! Mr. B. makes this passage to be a prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. But it is only necessary to read this chapter with the preceding chapters, where the Assyrian is mentioned by name, to see that the subject is the destruction of the Assyrian army. But what are Mr. B.'s strong reasons for believing that Jerusalem's destruction, by the Romans, is here spoken of? First, that Israelites are referred to by the phrase, sinners in Zion. This we grant, and wait for proof that none but the Israelites in that age, can be meant by the phrase. Secondly, the very language seems to determine it. But I ask, how or where? Repeat it. The sinners in Zion, &c. what word or syllable goes to determine it? Thirdly, the 18th verse is quoted by the apostle, 1 Cor. 1: 20. But this quotation, "Where is the wise man, where is the scribe," how does this fix the application to destruction of Jerusalem? Neither the prophet, nor the apostle in quoting him, says anything about Jerusalem or the Romans. Fourthly, the Roman people seem to be spoken of, verse 19. Verse
19 reads as follows, Thou shalt not see a fierce people, a people of deeper speech than thou canst perceive, of stammering tongue that thou canst not understand. If that be the Roman people, then the passage amounts to a prophecy, that Jerusalem shall not see the Romans. Is that a prophecy of Jerusalem's destruction by the Romans? Here is the sum of his proofs that the passage refers to this event. His positions, that temporal calamities are sometimes expressed by a figure of fire and burnings, and that everlasting sometimes is applied to a limited period, we shall not here dispute. He having failed to show, that the passage refers to Jerusalem's destruction, we want some proof that the word everlasting, here, has a limit to its meaning. None of the three limitations above referred to, can apply. In any instance where the word everlasting is used metaphorically, it is easy to show it to be so used. And we demand the reasons in this case.
The true interpretation of the passage before us, I conceive to be something like this. When the ungodly Israelites saw the dreadful execution of God's wrath upon the Assyrian army,—the angel smiting in one night eighty-five thousand men, they are represented as being powerfully impressed with the fear of God, together with a consciousness of their own guilt, and giving expression to their feelings in-Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings! That is, If God's wrath be such a consuming fire, working such vast destruction in one night, who can endure its everlasting burnings! The context confirms this opinion. From the seventh to the ninth verse, we have the terror and distress of Israel, which preceded the deliverance from the Assyrian invasion. In this extremity, God, as in the tenth verse and onward, declares in a sublime manner, that he will arise and exalt himself, and make the invading army as chaff and stubble before devouring fire, as thorns cut up, and the burning of lime. And then he makes his proclamation-Hear, ye that are afar off, what I have done, and ye that are near acknowledge my might. The sinners in Zion are afraid, &c. His might, it seems, is exerted for deliverance, instead of destruction. And in the following verses, he