are also told that "that great city was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet,”- see chapter 18: 16,- and that men “cried, when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city?" Verse 18. Again: "Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy APOSTLES and PROPHETS, for God hath avenged you on her." Verse 20. Once more: “ And in her was found the blood of PROPHETS, and of SAINTS, and of all that were slain upon the earth." Verse 24. Then the 19th chapter commences thus: "And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are his judg ments; for he hath judged the great whore which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia, and her smoke rose up forever and ever." Now, whether this was pagan Rome, or Jerusalem, no further proof is needed that there is no allusion here to punishment in another world. We see that here, as in many other places in the Bible, the term fire is used as a figure of God's temporal judgments, and that the phrase forever and ever is evidently used in a limited sense.

20. Rev. 20: 10. 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.

We have seen what the beast here spoken. of was, and that he was to go into perdition—that is, be utterly destroyed by the judgments of God. This text shows that the same fate awaited the devil or impostor. The lake of fire and brimstone here signifies precisely the same as perdition, and, so far from being in another world, is expressly declared to be in this. See Rev. 19: 20, 21 "And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These BOTH were cast ALIVE into a LAKE OF FIRE burning with BRIMSTONE. And the REMNANT were SLAIN with the SWORD of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth; and all the FOWLS were filled with their FLESH.” In this passage, and in the text under consideration, “the persons who are said to be tormented forever and ever are not real, but figurative,

and symbolic persons--the impostor, the beast, and the false prophet. The place, therefore, the kind, and the duration of their torment must also be figurative." The meaning seems to be, that the enemies of Christianity, the advocates of error, and false prophets, together with the spirit of wickedness itself, should be overcome and utterly destroyed. The punishment spoken of in the text was to be inflicted, like that upon the " worshippers of the beast," in the place where time is measured by day and night. Of course it could not be in eternity.

Such are all the texts in the Bible, where the words eternal, everlasting, forever, and forever and ever, are applied to punishment. We have not omitted one to our knowledge. We have found these words applied to punishment twenty times; but in Isa. 33: 14; Jer. 17: 4; Matt. 18: 8, and 25: 41; Jude 1: 6, 7; and Rev. 14: 11, they are applied to the instrument of punishment; and in Rev. 19: 3, to the punishment of a place; so that in reality these words are applied to the punishment of persons only twelve times in the whole Bible five times in the Old Testament, and seven times in the New. In the Old they are thus applied, once in Job, once in Psalms, once in Jeremiah, once in Malachi, and once in Daniel. In the New, once in Matthew, once in Mark, once in 2 Thessalonians, once in Hebrews, once in 2 Peter, once in Jude, and once in Revelation. The word eternal is not applied to the punishment of persons in a single instance in the Old Testament, and but twice in the New - once in Mark and once in Hebrews.

The word everlasting is thus applied in the Bible four times; twice in the Old Testament, and twice in the New. In the Old it is thus applied, once in Jeremiah, and once in Daniel. In the New, once in Matthew, and once in 2 Thessalonians. The word forever is applied as above four times in the Bible; twice in the Old, and twice in the New Testament. In the Old, it is applied in this manner, once in Job, and once in Psalms. In the New, once in 2 Peter, and once in Jude. The phrase forever and ever is applied to the punishment of persons twice in the Bible; once in Psalms, and once in Revelation. Neither of these words is applied to the punishment of persons in either of the following books of the Old Testament: Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Ruth, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon

Isaiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, nor in Zechariah. Nor are they thus applied in any of the following books of the New Testament: Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, James, 1 Peter, nor in 1, 2, and 3 John. Whether the passages in which these words are applied to punishment give the least countenance or support to the doctrine of endless punishment, the reader can judge.

[ocr errors]


Statement of Facts, showing that the Fact of the Application of the Words Eternal, Everlasting, &c., to Punishment, is no Proof of the Doctrine of Endless Punishment.

1. We have seen that the words everlasting, forever, and forever and ever, in the Old Testament, are translated from the Hebrew olim. Taylor, Parkhurst, Stuart, and indeed all lexicon writers, admit that the word olim does not of itself signify an endless duration. In other words, that this is not the radical meaning of the word. Hence, they define it to signify "a duration which is concealed;" "time hidden from man, whether definite or indefinite, whether past or future."

2. These words in the New Testament are translated from the Greek word aion and aionios. The authorities referred to above admit that these words are frequently used to express a limited period of time, and that they correspond with the Hebrew olim; and, also, that in their scripture usage they are synonymous with

that term.

3. Although the authorities just referred to contend that aron and aionios are sometimes used to express endless duration, yet of this there is no proof; and although they assert that olim is sometimes used to signify endless duration, yet of this there is no proof; and, besides, even they themselves admit that it signifies this, "not from the proper force of the word, but when the sense of the place requires it, as God and his attributes." But, allowing they are correct in this, and in our opinion it is a point of but little very importance, then it will follow that the extent of duration expressed

[ocr errors]

by these terms must be determined by the nature of the thing to which they are applied; and, unless it can be shown that punishment is absolutely endless in its nature, the fact of the application of these terms to punishment does not prove the endless duration of that punishment.

4. It is beyond all dispute, that these words are frequently, and in a great variety of ways, used in the Scriptures, both of the Old and the New Testament, to signify limited duration. Out of six hundred and fifty-two occurrences of olim, and its corresponding words, in the Old Testament, it is susceptible of the clearest demonstration that in six hundred instances it expresses only limited duration.

5. Our translators have rendered olim, and its corresponding words, by nearly thirty different words and phrases, most of them signifying duration, but varying, as to its extent, from three days to endless duration.

6. It is an indisputable fact that the words olim and aion are used in the Scriptures in the plural number. Now, had the inspired writers understood these words to express endless duration, there would have been no necessity of their using them in the plural number, but, on the contrary, such use of them would be highly improper.

[ocr errors]

7. These words are not only used in the plural number, but words are added to extend their signification. The literal rendering of Exodus 15: 18, is, "The Lord shall reign from aion to aion and farther." Dan. 12: 3, "And they that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars through the aions and farther." Mic. 4: 5, “And we will walk in the name of Jehovah our God through the aion and beyond it." Now, if the word aion signifies eternity, then we should be under the necessity of reading these passages thus: "The Lord shall reign from eternity to eternity, and farther." "And they that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars through the eternity and farther." "And we will walk in the name of Jehovah our God through the eternity and beyond it." Now, to speak of a period of time beyond eternity, or to speak of one eternity succeeding another, is absurd. Hence, we conclude the scripture writers did not understand these words to signify endless duration.

8. If we understand aion to express endless duration, then we


shall read in the Bible of eternities, of the beginning of eternity of the end of eternity, and of this eternity, and the eternity te come. Eph. 2: 7, "That in the aions (eternities) to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace." Col. 1: 26, “Even the mystery which hath been hid from aions (eternities), and from generations." Eph. 3: "And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the aion (eternity) hath been hid in God." Titus 1: 2, In hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie promised before the aion (eternity) began." Acts 3: 21, "Which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the aion (eternity) began." Matt. 24: 3, "Tell us when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the aion (eternity)." Matt. 28: 20, " Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the aion (eternity)." Heb. 9: 26, "But now once in the end of the aion (eternity) hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." 1 Cor. 10: 11, "And they are written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the aions (eternities) have come." Matt. 12: 32, "But whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this aion (eternity), nor in the aion (eternity) to come." Eph. 1: 21, "Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this aion (eternity), but also in that to come."

9. It is a matter of some doubt whether these words do of themselves primarily signify duration at all, and whether, when they are used for this purpose, they are not used in an accommodated sense. Dr. Clowes says on this subject, "There has been at least one writer (Rev. Mr. Goodwin, in the Christian Examiner, published in Boston) who has with great learning and judgment examined these words, and who has come to the conclusion that olim, and its equivalent aion, mean spirit, and aionios means spiritual, and that these words never have necessarily the meaning of duration. Without admitting or rejecting the correctness of this sentiment, we must declare that our Saviour has so carefully defined eternal life as consisting in the knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ as sent by him,' and as being that which is here enjoyed before the resurrection, as something, in short, which is exclusive of that life which shall be enjoyed in the future world, — that we feel ourselves compelled to admit, that, in the teachings of our Saviour, the term


« VorigeDoorgaan »