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lish word which conveys the idea of endless duration. Were it done, we should read of the beginning of the everlasting, or forever, and of things which were done before the everlasting or forever began; yea, of things which God ordained before the everlasting or forever. Let any one go over all those passages, and he cannot help being convinced, that the sacred writers attached no such idea to this word. Are not men very much to blame then, in being so very confident, that aion expresses the endless dura. tion of punishment? By the general consent of critics and commentators, yea, by the very scope of the above passages, aion signifies age. We ought not then very hastily to abandon this as its meaning in other places, unless it is certainly shown, that this cannot be its sense, but that it means endless duration.
Let us now pay attention to another class of texts, which speak of the end of the world or age, and corresponds to the above, which speak of the beginning of the world or age. This is nothing more than might be expected, unless the Jewish age or dispensation was to be of endless duration.
Matth. 24: 3. "Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" The Greek phrase here for "the end of the world," is sunteleia tou aionos. Dr. Campbell renders it "the conclusion of this state;" and Wakefield and Macknight, "the end of the age." Indeed, all the critics and commentators I have ever seen, allow, that this phrase means the end of the Jewish age or dispensation. The whole discourse in which it occurs shows that this is a correct view of the expression. In a case so obvious, it would be useless to spend time in a formal proof of it. I may just notice, to understand aion here to mean endless duration of time, would repre
sent the disciples as asking our Lord to tell them, what should be the sign of his coming, and of "the end of the everlasting or endless duration." But if it means age, it ought to be understood so in other places, unless good reasons can be offered why it ought to be differently understood. The next passage where it occurs is
Matth. 13: 36-42. "Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man: the field is the world: the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one: the enemy that sowed them is the devil: the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." Precisely the same Greek phrase as in the last, occurs twice in this passage, and is rendered in the common version in a similar manner. Wakefield and Dr. Campbell render it in the same way, "the conclusion of this age," and "the conclusion of this state." But instead of understanding it in the same. way, it is referred to the end of this material world, when all the wicked shall be cast into a furnace of fire, or into hell. But is this treating the language of the inspired writers with common respect? What man would put up with having his words so interpreted? But that the phrase, "the end of the world," has the same sense here as in the preceding passage,
I shall now briefly show. The things which demand particular attention are
1st. The field in which both these seeds are said to be sown. It is said expressly, "the field is the world." The word for world here is kosmos, and not aion, which is also rendered world, verses 39, 40. Now, let it be particularly observed, that in these two verses where it is said, "the harvest is the end of the world," and "in the end of the world," when the tares were to be gathered to be bound, it is not the end of the kosmos, world, or field, in which the seeds were sown, but the end of the aion, or age, as in Matth. 24: 3. Our Lord declared that the end of this world or age was to take place during that generation. But in order to make out the common opinion, our Lord should have said verses 39, 40. "the harvest is the end of the kosmos, or field, in which the two seeds were sown: and that in the end of this kosmos, world, the tares should be gathered and burned." But not a word is said about the end of the field, but only the end of the aion, or age, which many of that generation lived to see.
2d. Where this furnace of fire was and in what it consisted, into which the tares were cast at the end of the age. This furnace of fire is commonly believed to be in a future state of existence, and is just another expression for hell fire. But all this is taken for granted, which certainly ought to be proved. Where then was it? Let the Scriptures answer the question. In Isai. 31: 9. it is said "The Lord whose fire is in Zion and whose furnace is in Jerusalem." It should be remembered, that our Lord spoke to Jews who had the Old Testament in their hands, and without doubt knew that God had thus spoken by the prophet. But it may be asked, How was God's furnace in Jerusalem and in what did it consist? Ezek. 22: 17-23. will inform us of this-" And the word of the Lord
came unto me, saying, Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross; all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are even the dross of silver. Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Because ye are all become dross, behold therefore, I will gather you in the midst of Jerusalem. As they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt it; so will I gather you in my anger, and in my fury, and I will leave you there, and melt you. Yea, I will gather you, and blow upon you in the fire of my wrath, and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof. As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof; and ye shall know that I the Lord have poured out my fury upon you." Who can read this passage without perceiving where this furnace was, in what it consisted, and also who were cast into it? Permit me briefly to notice the following things from this passage in connexion with our Lord's explanation of the parable under consideration. The prophet and our Lord both spoke of the same persons, the Jews. the end of the age, as the prophet had declared, the whole Jewish nation had become "dross." With the exception of believers in Jesus, the nation of the Jews exactly corresponded to this description of them. This one fact is sufficient to show, that the prophet and our Lord, had respect to the same time, people, and punishment. Our Lord seems to borrow his very language, in regard to the furnace of fire, from the prophet. Further, it was at the end of the age, or Jewish dispensation, God brought such dreadful miseries on the Jewish nation, described under the figure of a furnace of fire. Ezekiel declared that God would gather the Jewish nation into Jerusalem as men "gather metals into the midst of a furnace." This was literally fulfilled. With the strictest pro
priety it might be said, that Cod gathered them. It was in obedience to the command of God the whole nation were assembled at the feast of the passover, when Titus surrounded the city, and from which they could not make their escape. They had indeed become dross, and into this furnace they were gathered to be melted as metals are gathered to be melted in the midst of a furnace. Well, how did God melt them? This is figurative language, and is thus explained verse 22. "And ye shall know that I the Lord have poured out my fury upon you." Upon that generation of the Jews came all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, Matth. 23: 35. Then was great "tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world unto this time, no, nor ever shall be," Matth. 24:21. See also 1 Thess. 2:16. If any one wishes to see how God melted them like metals in this furnace, or how the tares were cast into this furnace to be burnt, at the end of the age, let him consult Josephus' account of the destruction of Jerusalem. The above passage in Ezekiel, the 24th of Matthew, and the passage before us, all had their fulfilment in the unheard of calamities which came on that people. There was indeed, at this period, weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, as our Lord declared.
But the following words strongly confirm the above remarks. At verse 43. our Lord said, "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father." At the end of the age, when such miseries came on the unbelieving Jews, the righteous, or Christ's disciples, did shine forth in the kingdom of their father. Observing the signs of the approaching calamities, Matth. 24: they left the city and were preserved, as stated by Macknight on this chapter. Our Lord told them, Luke 21: 28. "When these things begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up