« PreviousContinue »
1. We urge, in support of the doctrine of endless punishment, those terms which the scriptures employ to express the duration of punishment. Such as, everlasting, forever, forever and ever, eternal, dieth not, unquenchable, &c. Matt. xxv. 46. “ These shall go away into everlasting punishment »
Matt. xviii. 8. “ It is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.” 2 Thes. i. 9. “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction.”
These texts clearly prove that the punishment of the wicked will be everlasting. Everlasting punishment, everlasting fire, and everlasting destruction, are expressions too plain to need any comment. It will not be denied that everlasting literally signifies endless, and that when the word is used to signify any thing short of endless, it is not used in its proper
Dr. Johnson defines the word thus : everlasting ; perpetual, without end.” Dr. Webster : 1. "Lasting or enduring forever, eternal, continuing without end, immortal. 2. Perpetual, continuing indefinitely, or during the present state of things. 3. In popular language endless, continued, unintermitted.” But while there is no room for dispute about the English word everlasting, it is often contended by universalists that the original is not properly rendered by it, at least in those cases in which it is applied to the punishment of the wicked. The following ground is taken, on this point, by Mr. Morse in his reply to Mr. Parker. On page 14 the author
says: “ If he” (Mr. Parker) “ had looked into his Greek Testament, he would have seen that the phrase rendered eternal damnation' is aionion kriseos which does not necessarily signify endless suffering. The word, kriseos, damnation, is equivalent to condemnation or punishment. The word aionion is equivalent to long, lasting, or according to scriptural usage, everlasting." And what the meaning of everlasting is, he tells us on page 13, where he says: “The scriptural meaning of the word everlasting may be easily understood by observing that the land of Canaan was promised to the seed of Abraham for an everlasting possession. Gen. 17. 8. and they have long since ceased to possess it.” This, we believe, is the ground generally taken by universalists, the substance of which is, the words rendered ever
lasting, eternal, &c. are applied to some things which have an end, therefore the punishment of the wicked to which they are applied, to describe its duration, must have an end also. Before we enter upon the main argument, drawn from these words, a few remarks shall be devoted to the above quotation from Mr. Morse, which will apply equally well to what others have said and written on the same subject.
1. Mr. M. says, “The word aionios is equivalent to long, lasting, or everlasting.” Here the truth is told in the end
; we suppose the word aionios to be properly translated by the word everlasting. But why does Mr. M. cause his readers to blunder over two errors to come to this truth, by saying first, that the word in question is equivalent to long, or lasting ? The object, no doubt, is to give his readers to understand that the word is as properly rendered by long as by everlasting, which is not true. The word aionios is never rendered long, nor can it be so rendered without destroying the sense of the sacred text, as a few examples will show. If the word in question can be properly rendered long, as Mr. M. more than intimates, then where the word occurs in the original, and is rendered everlasting, and eternal, it will make good sense to read, long, in the place of these words. By this then we will test Mr. M's criticism. We read, John iii. 15. “Whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have eternal life; according to Mr. M. long life. This rendering makes the gospel promise long life to the believer, which is contradicted by matter of fact, for St. Stephen believed, and his faith, instead of procuring long life, was the occasion of his premature death. Chap. v. 39. “Search the scriptures, for in them
ye have eternal life;" that is, according to Mr. M. the Jews thought they had long life in the scriptures. But to sustain this rendering it must be shown that the Jews lived to a greater age than the surrounding nations, who were destitute of the scriptures. How otherwise could they think they had long life in the scriptures? Chap. vi. 29. “ Labour not for the meat that perisheth but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life ;" that is, long life. Verse 68. “Then Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, to whom shall we go, thou hast the words of eternal life;" that is, thou hast the words of long life. Chap. xvii. 3.
** This is life eternal that they might know thee;" that is, life long. Acts xiii. 48. “ Aš many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” According to Mr. M's criticism, this must mean that as many as were destined or determined (as some render the word tetagmenoi, ordain,) to live long believed the gospel. Rom. xvi. 36. “ The everlasting God;" that is, according to Mr. M. the lasting or long lived God. Verse 27. “to God only wise be glory through Jesus Christ forever;" that is, for a long time. These illustrations must show how utterly unfounded Mr. M's statement is that the word aionios is equivalent to long or lasting, unless lasting be understood in an unlimited sense. If universalism rests
upon ling criticism as he has given us in this instance, it has but a poor foundation.
2. Mr. Morse says, “The scriptural meaning of the word everlasting, may be easily understood by observing that the land of Canaan was promised to the seed of Abraham for an everlasting possession, and that they have long since ceased to possess it. To this we reply, “The scriptural meaning of the word everlasting may be easily understood by observing" that God is said to be an everlasting God; that the kingdom of God is an everlasting kingdom, and that the gift of God through Jesus Christ is everlasting life. Rom. xvi. 26. Matt. vi. 13. Rom. v. 21. vi. 23. Now if Mr. M. has done any thing towards proving that the word everlasting does not express endless duration, we have done just as much towards proving that it does express endless duration. If the word everlasting cannot mean endless, because it is sometimes applied to things which are not endless, then, it cannot mean any thing less than endless because it is applied to the existence of God, the duration of his kingdom, and the happiness of the saints, which are absolutely endless.
3. The circumstance that the land of Canaan was promised to the seed of Abraham for an everlasting possession. and that they have ceased to possess it, does not prove that the word is used in a restricted sense even in this instance, It is perfectly plain that the seed of Abraham were not dispossessed of the land of Canaan by a dissolution of the covenant by limitation, which secured it to them, but by forfeitits privileges, by a non-compliance with its conditions
on their part. To argue as Mr. M. does, that the word everlasting means a limited period because the land of Canaan was promised to the Jews forever, and because they notwithstanding, have ceased to possess it, implies that it was promised to them for a limited period; and that such period has expired, in consequence of which, they are dispossessed of the promised land, like a man who is dispossessed of his farm by the expiration of his lease by which he holds it, it being given for a term of years, which is not the case. The Jews were dispossessed of the land of Canaan more like a man who holds what we call an everlasting lease of his farm, and is dispossessed of it by a forfeiture of its conditions. The covenant was conditional, as appears from Deut. xxxviii. 15, 63, 64. “But it shall came to pass that if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God to observe to do all his commandments that all these curses shall come upon thee, and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it, and the Lord shall scatter thee among all people.' The Jews then were plucked from the promised land in consequence of their sins, and not because the
word everlasting, in the use of which it was promised to them, • did not secure it to them for a longer period. Had they obey
ed the voice of the Lord their God, they would, no doubt, now have been in possession of the land of their fathers ; and it is now the general opinion of the church that the outcasts of the children of Israel shall yet be gathered under the gospel banner, and be put again into the possession of the land of their former inheritance. But it may be said that even in such case everlasting can mean no longer than natural life, or the whole period of time, at most, as the land of Canaan cannot be possessed in a future world. This is true, so far as the land of Canaan is literally concerned; but it should be remembered that the promise, which secured the land of Canaan, included other blessings of a spiritual and heavenly character, and that the promised land is to be regarded as an earnest and type of heaven, which is everlasting in the highest
But it is often said, that we read that the priesthood of Aaron was everlasting, and of the everlasting hills, &c. as well as the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession. These facts are uttered by universalists, with as much of an
air of triumph as though they were utterly irreconcilable with the belief that the same word, when applied to the punishment of the wicked, expressess endless duration. But we have already shown that the same word is applied to the existence of God, which is absolutely endless ; we have therefore just as good a right to conclude from thence that it must mean endless duration when it is applied to the punishment of the wicked. But all this proves no more than that the word is applied, sometimes to things which have an end, and sometimes to things which are absolutely endless, leaving us to determine from other considerations in which sense it is used in each case. Now it is generally agreed that the word must be construed according to the nature of the subject to which it is applied. Not however that the nature of the subject fixes the meaning of the word, but on the principle that the word is used in a proper, and in an accommodated sense, and that the nature of the subject determines in which of these senses it is used in that particular instance; the word being applied to some things which are everlasting only in an accommodated sense, and to others which are properly endless. Guided then by this rule, for which universalists themselves contend, let us test the strength of their defence against the argument drawn from this and kindred words, in favour of the doctrine of endless punishment.
The hills are said to be everlasting hills, and the punishment of the wicked is said to be everlasting punishment. In what sense then are the hills everlasting? They are everlasting in an accommodated sense, in two respects. They will endure as long as the earth, of which they form a part, and as long as time, in which they have their existence. The hills will never come to an end as hills abstractly considered, but will end only when the earth itself shall be burned up at the end of time, in which they exist. Now, let us apply the same principle of interpretation to the punishment of the wicked. The hill is everlasting because it is as lasting as the earth to which it is attached, and if so, to render punishment everlasting, must it not be as lasting as the soul on which it is inflicted; which will render it absolutely endless in the opinion of all who believe in the immortality of the soul? Again the bill is everlasting, because it will endure