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with the latter, and the wicked as well as the righteous were equally to enjoy everlasting life, would Christ thus set the endless happiness of the righteous and the temporary misery of the wicked in direct opposition to each other, and in the same sentence use the same word to express a duration infinitely different? This cannot be, for such a supposition makes him confound language as never any man did, and renders it perfectly unintelligible and insignificant. This represents Him, who is full of grace and truth, and came into the world to reveal the wonderful love and grace of God, and accomplish and display the great salvation of man, as using words and speaking in a manner which tends to deceive men, and make them believe that this salvation is far less extensive than it really is, and lead them to think he will punish the wicked infinitely more than he designs, — that the duration of this punishment will be equal to that of the happiness of the righteous, when, in truth, it is infinitely less, and not worthy to be mentioned in comparison with the latter. This be far from him. And if it be, there is as much reason to conclude, from his most express and pointed assertion, that the punishment of the wicked will be without end as that the happiness of the righteous will be so; yea, we may be as sure of it as we can be that he is a teacher come from God.
SECONDLY. The endless punishment of the wicked is expressed a number of times in Scripture in words yet more emphatical, if possible, when it is said to continue forever and ever. 66 And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth
forever and ever.” (Rev. xiv. 10, 11.) “And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up forever and ever.” (Rev. xix. 3.) “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Rev. xx. 10.) And all the wicked are said to be cast into this lake.
6 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Rev. xx. 15.) “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.” (Rev. xxi. 8.)
This expression, “ forever and ever," is found twenty-two times in the original in the New Testament. It is used eight times in the epistles of St. Paul and Peter, where they ascribe glory, honor, and praise and dominion to God, forever and ever. It is found fourteen times in this Book of the Revela
tion. It is used twice to express the duration of the kingdom and reign of Christ and the redeemed. “ The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever.” (Rev. xi. 15.) “ And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign forever and ever.” (Rev. xxii. 5.) Three times it is used to express the endless duration of the power, glory, and dominion of God. “ To him be glory and dominion forever and ever.” (Rev. i. 6.) “Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, forever and ever.” (Rev. v. 13.) « Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God forever and ever.” (Rev. vii. 12.) Six times it is used to express the endless existence and life of God. “ I am he that liveth and was dead; and behold, I am alive forevermore." (Rev. i. 18.) The words are the same in the original which are elsewhere translated “forever and ever.” “ And when those four beasts give glory, and honor, and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth forever and ever, the four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth forever and ever.” (Rev. iv. 9, 10.) “And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth forever and ever.” (Rev. v. 14.) “And sware by him that liveth forever and ever.” (Rev. x. 6.) “And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials, full of the wrath of God who liveth forever and ever.” (Rev. xv. 7.) The same words are used three times to express the duration of the punishment of the wicked, in the places which have been quoted above.
When we find the very same words used in the New Tesament near twenty times to express an endless duration, and above ten times in this Book of the Revelation, and six of them most emphatically, and in the strongest manner, to mark God's eternity, or the endless duration of his existence, - and at the same time find them used three times in the same book by the same writer to denote the duration of future punishment, is it possible to mistake the meaning, and think that in these three instances only these words are used for a finite duration? How can any one think they do not mean an endless duration in these places, but something infinitely short of it, without doing violence to the Scripture and his own reason?
If it were contrary to God's nature and perfections to punish sinners with endless misery, and very impious and most dishonorable to him, and of the worst tendency to man, for us to entertain such a thought, - which they who oppose this doctrine generally assert, — can it be thought that he would express himself so on this point as would naturally, and even necessarily, lead all to conclude he will thus punish them, even as long as he himself shall exist, and not say a word to guard against this conclusion? Is it possible he should do this in a revelation which is designed to give men right notions of the divine character, and of the future state of the wicked, and in the most plain and decisive manner declare what they are to expect, and to guard against all wrong and hurtful conceptions respecting this infinitely important subject? Most certainly He who liveth forever and ever, and whose kingdom, honor, and praise from the redeemed will continue forever and ever, will punish his impenitent enemies forever and ever, even as long as he liveth. To doubt of this is to call in question the divine authority of this Revelation.
It has been said by some that the words “everlasting," “ forever," and “ forever and ever,” do not mean an endless duration, and are often used for a limited time in Scripture; and that the words in the Hebrew and Greek languages translated into the above English words do not signify an endless duration; therefore, it does not follow that the punishment of the wicked will be without end, though such words are used to denote its duration.
Whether there be any weight in this objection, let every one judge when he has attended to the following observations:
1. It is certain that the words “eternal," "everlasting," “ forever," etc., are, in a great number of instances, used in the Old Testament to express the duration of the existence of (od, and of his kingdom and reign, - of his truth, mercy, praise, and honor, and of his counsels, and designs, and the happiness of his friends; and in all these instances an endless duration is intended. We are obliged to allix this meaning to these words here, and, therefore, without doubt this is the proper meaning of them, and they must be so understood wherever they are used, unless we are guarded against it by an express or necessary limitation.
2. It does not yet appear that these words are ever used in the original, when they are translated "everlasting," “ forever," etc., where it would not be proper to make use of them, though they do, when considered in their proper, full meaning, signify an endless duration, - but the contrary is evident. This observation might be illustrated by producing all the instances in which these words are used in the Old Testa. ment, but this would be too tedious. It may suffice to mention one or two, and leave the reader to examine others, if he pleases. When it is said of a servant who refused his free. dom, and consequently had his ear bored through with an awl by his master, that he shall serve him forever, though the subject necessarily limits the meaning to this life, yet a word that means an endless duration is properly used here, to signify his perpetual servitude, in opposition to his being made free. When it is frequently said of many of the laws which were given to Israel by Moses, that they were to be everlasting statutes, etc., and should be so to that people, the meaning is plain, viz., that they should never disregard them and set them aside, and a word that signifies endless is the most proper to be used in this case; and, indeed, no other word could convey the idea designed to be expressed. Therefore, though these words are used in instances where the nature of the subject does in some respect limit them, yet this is no evidence that they do in themselves signify a limited time; because a word that signifies an unlimited duration is most proper, and even necessary, to convey the idea in the most plain and the strongest manner."
3. As to those words in the New Testament, the English reader, who knows nothing of the original Greek, may have full satisfaction about the meaning of them; and that they must intend an endless duration, even when they respect the punishment of the wicked, since they are used so often to express the endless existence of God and his kingdom, and the never-ending life and happiness of the redeemed; and never are used for a temporary duration, unless it be in this instance, which cannot be supposed, without confounding language and doing violence to words, as has been observed.
4. The Greek word which is used six times to express the duration of the punishment of the wicked, and translated eternal and everlasting, is to be found in above seventy places in the New Testament; and it every where is evidently used to express an endless duration, unless those six places which speak of the duration of future punisimment be excepted; and is not this sufficient to ascertain the meaning of the word, if we had no other way to determine what it is designed to
* In a deed of conveyance of land, it is given and granted to him to whom the conveyance is made, and his heirs, forever. This forerer is necessarily limited, and is not designed to extend beyond the end of the world; and yet a word which signifies an unlimited duration, or endless, is the most proper word to be used here, to signify that the grantor will never revoke the conveyance; and if any one, observing the use of this word forever, in those instruments of conveyance, should hence conclude that neither this word nor any one in the English language, did signify an endless duration in any case whatever, he would reason as well as they do who make the objection above.
express ?* If a consistent and judicious author should use a particular word above seventy times in one small volume, and in every instance evidently make use of it to express precisely the same thing, so that he could not possibly mean any thing else, or be misunderstood, except in five or six of them, should we not think ourselves warranted to fix the same meaning to it, in these instances, unless he had given sufficient intimation that he then used the word in a different sense?
There certainly could be no doubt about his meaning in such a case; and if any one should insist upon it, that in these six places he meant no such thing, as he certainly meant in the other, but something very different, and directly contrary, because the word from which this is derived does not necessarily mean any such thing, and is sometimes used in a different sense, would he be thought worthy of any regard ?
It is further to be observed, that this word is not only constantly used where the duration to be expressed is endless, which shows the force and meaning of it, as has been observed, but it is expressly opposed to a word which signifies a temporary duration, to express directly the contrary. “ For the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Cor. iv. 18.) If this word sig. nified a temporary duration, i.e., a duration which has an end,
* This word is Aionios, and is derived from Aion; which is used about a hundred times in the New Testament, and does not mean any certain, definite, but an indeterminate duration, unless it be limited by the words or subject with which it is connected; and when the preposition cis is put before it, whether it be used in the singular or plural number, it always signifies an endless duration, and is generally translated forever, and sometimes never; of which there are near forty instances, only two of which respect the duration of future punishment, viz., 2 Pet. ii. 17; Jude v. 13; and no reason can be given why it should not be understood here, as it must be in other places where it is used. When the words are doubled, they are more emphatical, and are translated forever and ever. There are twenty-two instances of this, nineteen of which express a duration which is certainly endless. In the remaining three, the dura. tion of future punishment is expresscd, agreeable to what has been observed above. From this state of the case, is it not easy to determine whether these words, which in all other instances are used to express a duration which is endless, do mean only a temporary, or an endless duration, when they are used with a design to let us know what is the duration of future punishment ?
It is said by some, that this word signifies only an age ; or ages, when it is plural. If it be granted that it is sometimes used for an indefinite age, yet, if the adjective aionios is always used to express endless duration, and the substantive is constantly used so, when it follows the preposition eis, — and, except two instances, these are the only words used to express the duration of future punishment, who can be at a loss whether it be endless or not: Besides, it would make no sense, but the contrary, to translate the word age instead of ever, or never. This may be illustrated by an instance or two. · This is that bread which came down from heaven; not as you fathers did cat manna, and are dead; he that cateth of this bread shall live to an age.” (John vi. 58.) “And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall not perish to an age.” (John X. 28.) “ Thou art a priest to an age, after the order of Melchisedek.” (Heb. v. 6.)