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Messiah. According to this translation, which is perfectly literal, the apostle's meaning is, To him who hath governed the three dispensations under which mankind have lived, so as to make them cooperate to the same great end, the pardoning of sinners, and who is immortal, &c. be honor, and glory forever, ascribed by angels and men.". There is no cause for alarm with good people, that these views are attempting to do away the eternal duration of God, for surely his endless existence is independent of the meaning of a Greek word, whether you give it a limited or an unlimited signification. Besides, in this very passage he is called the "immortal (aftharto) God." In some copies it is the athanato, or undying God. No one can doubt that Macknight's rendering is a literal, correct one. The apostle is then rendering praise to God, who is king throughout all the ages, that before the law, under the law, and the age also of the Messiah. This king purposed an eternal purpose, Eph. 3: 11. which Macknight thus renders, "according to the disposition of the ages, which he made for Christ Jesus our Lord." See his whole note on Eph. 3: 11. part of which 1 shall only quote. "Awv, age, is a word of various signification. Here, in the plural, it denotes the dispensations of religion under which mankind have been placed; namely the Patriarchal, in which a Saviour was promised; the Mosaical, in which he was typified; and the Christian, in which he was manifested in the flesh, and preached to the world, as come. All these ages or dispensations, the apostle saith, God planned and brought to pass for the sake of Christ Jesus; that is, to prepare mankind for his reception.-Rom. 16: 25. Tit. 1: 2. (see the note on that verse,) xeovo avior, signifies the ages of the law, or Mosaic dispensation. And Eph. 3: 9. Col.
1: 26. aves, signifies the Jews, living under that dispensation."
There are a few more texts, in which the words everlasting and eternal occur, to which we shall now pay some attention, in connexion with these quota-~~ tions. When God is called the king of the ages, the question occurs-What ages? According to Ewing and others, the answer is, the age before the law, the Mosaic age, and the age of the Messiah. The king of the ages then, disposed, or appointed the ages, for Christ Jesus. Before the Mosaic age, a promise of life was given in Christ Jesus, Tit. 1: 2. This we shall see more fully afterwards. It was promised to our first parents; also to Abraham, that in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed. This was done during the patriarchal age. During the Mosaic age, the law was added to the promise until the seed should come. Many things connected with this dispensation, we have seen, were called everlasting, but which, having answered the purpose for which they were added to the promise, have vanished away. The age of the Messiah succeeded it, but it is to be succeeded by no other. When the end of it comes, Christ is to deliver up the kingdom to God the father, which appears to be at the resurrection of the dead, 1 Cor. 15: 24-29. Several things during the reign or kingdom of Messiah in this age, is called everlasting or forever. His kingdom is called "the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," 2 Peter 1: 11. And surely it may be called so, with more propriety than many things under the Mosaic age or dispensation, for this kingdom is not to be superseded by another taking its place, for when it closes it is said-" then cometh the end."
The gospel of the kingdom of the Messiah, is called "the everlasting gospel preached to the nations," Rev. 14; 6. And why is it called everlasting? Be
cause it shall be preached as long as the kingdom of the Messiah shall continue, which shall be to the period called the end. Hence it is said, the word of the Lord endureth forever, 1 Peter 23. And Christ promised that the spirit or comforter should abide with his disciples forever, and is called the eternal spirit, Heb. 9: 14. Some copies, however, only read holy spirit. Such as believe the everlasting gospel, and enter into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, receive "everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, 2 Thess. 2: 16. Or, as Macknight says" that is, the means of never failing consolation." To be so highly honored is thus expressed by Peter, 1st. Epistle 5: 10. "The God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus." Let it be observed, that eternal glory is not said to be a future thing, but that to which Peter says they were already called. They receive the promise of eternal inheritance, Heb. 9: 15. If the land of Canaan was given to Israel, and called an everlasting inheritance, as it often is in the Old Testament, how much more might the inheritance in the kingdom of Jesus Christ bestowed on Christians, be called an eternal inheritance? It should be recollected, that the apostle was writing to Hebrews, to whom such language was familiar. Besides, this, we shall afterwards see, is the same that our Lord calls enjoying eternal life in the world to come. And is it not the same that Paul calls inheriting the kingdom of God and of Christ, 1 Cor. 6: 9, 10. Gal. 5: 21?
The new covenant or dispensation, like the covenants under the Mosaic age, is called the everlasting covenant. And surely it may be called so, for it is not to vanish away, and give place to a new and better covenant, like that of the old. Christ's blood was that by which this new covenant was confirmed, and is called the blood of the everlasting covenant, Heb.
13:20. Having purged his people, not as under the law with the blood of goats and calves, "but by his own blood, he entered in once unto the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption," Heb. 9: 12. "And being made perfect through suffering, became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him," Heb. 5: 9. Christ's salvation is called a great salvation, Heb. 2: 3. probably in reference to other salvations which God wrought for ancient Israel. And here it is called eternal in the same comparative sense, for God wrought many salvations for them. This salvation was abiding. Comp. Luke 1: 74, 75. Is it asked-Salvation from what? I answer, not from hell and endless misery, for this is no where said in Scripture, but from sin and death, which Christ shall finally accomplish. See 1 Cor. 15.
In 2 Peter 3: 18. we have also the following ascription of praise. "To whom be glory both now and forever. The Greek here is "eis hemeran aionos." Macknight says this is "unto the day of eternity." But how can this be, for what has eternity to do with days? Besides, how does this agree to some quotations made from him respecting aionos, which he says means an age. We should say the text simply says "to him the glory both now and unto the day of the age." age." Some copies have it, "unto the age of ages," similar to passages noticed above. We should think the duration expressed is "during the age of the Messiah."
Luke 16: 9. "That when ye fail they may receive you into everlasting habitations." Dr. Campbell says, "the epithet unrighteous, here applied to mammon or riches, does not imply acquired by injustice or any undue means; but, in this application, it denotes false riches, that is, deceitful, not to be relied on." Well, does not the epithet everlasting, applied to habitations, mean stable and satisfactory? See
on Psalm 49: 11. and 2 Thess. 2: 16. and other texts above. But as it is applied, not to punishment, but to happiness, it requires no further attention.
2 Cor. 4: 17, 18. and 5: 1. I shall quote together. "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know, that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." In these verses, glory is contrasted with affliction, weight of glory with light affliction, and a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, with affliction which is but for a moment. Besides, things which are not seen, are contrasted with things which are seen, and the eternal duration of things not seen, with the temporary duration of things which are seen; and an house not made with hands, is contrasted with the house of this tabernacle, and the house not made with hands eternal in the heavens with the earthly house of this tabernacle. But notice, the duration of these things is said to be in the heavens, and we think could be shown from the context, to refer to that state of things after the resurrection, when mortality is swallowed up of life, verse 4. See the whole context, and a paper in volume vii. of the Universalist Magazine on verse 10. The idea conveyed by the word eternal in all these verses, seems to be the stability of the things of that state compared to those of the present. Though the idea of their endless duration is included, yet the apostle's object seems to be more their stability than their endless duration. But as these passages have no relation to punishment, it is unnecessary to enter into further remarks, except to say, that the same or sim