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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 the 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
goes on to describe the prosperity of Jerusalem; a fact which utterly excludes Mr. B.'s interpretation. This passage, then, must be taken as a proof of everlasting punishment, notwithstanding anything which he has shown to the contrary. It is the language of sinners in Zion, inferring the terribleness of everlasting fire, from the terrors of God's anger exerted for one night.
Dan. 12: 2. And many of them, (or the multitude of them) that sleep in the dust of the earth, shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. All that Mr. B. has to say upon this passage has been replied to, except so far as respects the word everlasting, in the chapter on the judgment. We have shown the fallacy of his application of it to Jerusalem's destruction. And now this resurrection is said to be to shan and everlasting contempt, and we call for reasons why the everlasting is not to be understood in its proper sense. The burden of proof is now on Mr B. to show that there will be a limit to an everlasting, that commences after the resurrection, after all earthly, metaphorical everlastings have passed away.
Matt. 18: 8. Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off,-it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. The absurdity of Mr. B.'s reference of this passage, to the destruction of Jerusalem, has been shown in another part of this book, and we wait for other reasons for believing that everlasting fire means any limited punishment. It remains for Mr. B. to show cause why it not to be understood as it reads. And the same remark will apply to the other instances, where this passage occurs in the evangelists.
Matt. 25: 41. Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: in connexion with verse 46. These shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal. The consideration of this passage will form the subject of the next chapter, and it need not here be considered.
Mark 3: 29. But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy
Ghost, hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation. This has been considered in the chapter upon the judgment. But I cannot here omit to notice the unusual strength of the expression. The Greek is, Shall not have forgiveness to all eternity, but is obnoxious to eternal damnation.
2 Thes. 1:9. Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his power. Mr. B.'s objections in relation to this passage have been met, and his failure to show that everlasting applies to any thing in this life, has been made sufficiently manifest in the chapter upon the judgment.
Heb. 6: 2. Of the doctrine of baptisms, of the laying on of hands, of the resurrection, and of the eternal judgment. This is one of the cases where Mr. B. uses indecent violence to the plain language of scripture. Contrary to the express language of the passage, he says, the "principles of the doctrine” in the preceding verse does not mean anything in the gospel, but in the Old Testament institutions. But it is expressly said, the principles of the doctrine of Christ, With as much reason, he says the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, does not mean the christian doctrine of resurrection, but refers to some resurrections which took place under the Jewish economy. But how such resurrections made the doctrine of the resurrection, does not appear. And he says that eternal judgment refers to some temporal judgments which took place under the Jewish dispensation. But how could that make the doctrine of the eternal judgment? And generally, that these phrases thus put together, are to be understood, as covering so remote and incongruous particulars, is incredible. The whole phraseology of text and context, is the peculiar costume of gospel ideas, and bearing no reference to Jewish institutions. The reason for believing that the phrase, "the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead," refers to the general resurrection, and that eternal judgment means eternal judgment, is as good as that Jesus Christ refers to that person whom we call the Saviour, and not to one of the Old Testament prophets.
2 Peter 2: 17. To whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever. As I have not access to any comments of Mr. B. upon this passage, I shall not multiply remarks of my own. The persons spoken of in the context, are false teachers, who bring in damnable heresies, denying the Lord that bought them-who bring upon themselves swift destruction-whose judgment lingereth not, and whose damnation slumbereth notwhom the Lord knoweth how to reserve unto the day of judgment, to be punished-as he spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell. They are compared to Baalam, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; and after heaping harsh epithets upon them, it is added, for whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever. Surely, there is nothing in these epithets that would lead us to conclude, that their punishment was only some temporal calamity. The frequent use of the words, judgment and damnation, and the comparison with the destruction of the angels that sinned and were cast down to hell, are at least presumptive evidence that the damnation in hell is intended by the mist of darkness forever. And then our opponents are required to show, in what historical fact these false teachers were known to have experienced in this world the mist of darkness forever-wherein temporal calamities came upon them, like to the casting down to hell the angels that sinned.
Jude 13. Wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. This is similar to the last, and I cannot discover that its evidence has been gainsayed by Mr. B. and I shall offer no remarks upon it.
Jude 7. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them, in like manner, are set forth as examples, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Mr. B.'s reasons for believing that the fire of hell, or eternal fire, is not here meant are the following. First, Peter mentions the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, but says nothing about their going to hell. But the fact, that Peter has not said it, proves no more than that Paul has not said it, and neither proves that Jude has not. His second reason is, "that by comparing verses 5, 6 and 7, we find that Jude