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aionios, rendered eternal, in the phrase eternal life, refers much more to the character of that life than to its duration. The only question is, whether the terms olim, aion, and aionios, have not in other parts of Scripture a corresponding meaning."
10. If we understand these terms to be expressive of endless duration, we put an unanswerable argument into the hands of the Jews. It is ar incontrovertible fact that these terms are applied to God's ancient covenant with the Jews, to the statutes of Moses, and to the priesthood of Aaron. With what propriety, then, may the Jews contend that all these were designed to be of perpetual continuance, and that Jesus must nave been an impostor, inasmuch as one ostensible object which he had in view was to abrogate the institutions of Moses, and bring the Legal covenant to a close!
11. But we also set the Bible at variance with itself. We have seen that these terms are applied to the ordinances of Moses, and yet, in Heb. 8:13, and 9: 10, we are expressly told that the old covenant and the Mosaic ordinances are done away. We have seen that these terms are applied to the Aaronic priesthood, and yet, in Hebrews, 7th chapter, we are told that that priesthood is abolished. These terms are also applied a number of times to the kingdom of Christ, and yet, in 1 Cor. 15: 24, we are told that this kingdom shall come to an end. 66 Then cometh the end, when he (Christ) shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority, and power; for he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet."
12. Although these terms are applied to the punishment of persons twelve times in the Bible, yet in not one single instance are they applied to punishment after death, or in a future state of existence. We have examined every passage particularly and carefully, and have not been able to find even one which has any reference to a future world. Now, this is an important fact. How can it be supposed now that the scripture writers believed in a future state of unending punishment, and understood these terms as expressive of endless duration, and yet should not, in a single instance, apply these terms to that punishment? This is an absurdity so glaring that it must not be overlooked. The Bible abounds with exhortations to, and warnings, and threats, and denuntiations against, the wicked, yet nowhere between its lids do we find
the terms olim, aion, and aionios, applied to any punishment what ever in another world. This fact, upon the minds of the candid, will have, and upon the minds of all ought to have, great weight.
13. It is also a fact that a great majority of the scripture writers have not applied these terms to punishment that is, the punishment of persons - at all. And of those who have, they have done so only in a very few instances. Job, David, Jeremiah, Daniel, and Malachi, are the only Old Testament writers who apply these terms to punishment; and they, each, only once. Jesus Christ applied the terms in question to punishment only twice; Paul, twice; Peter, once; Jude, once; and supposing John to have been the author of the book of Revelation, he once. Now, can it be believed that Moses, Joshua, Ruth, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Solomon, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, and Zechariah, could have believed in the doctrine of future endless punishment, and that these terms were expressive of endless duration, and yet that, in all their denunciations against the wicked, they should never apply these terms to punishment of any kind, either in this world or another? The man who can believe this must have a mind not regulated by evidence in making up his opinions. Such an one is prepared to believe almost anything.
We will now notice some objections. It is said that "these terms must express endless duration because they are applied to God." If the objector means by this that because a term expressive of duration is applied to God, therefore it expresses endless duration in all cases, we have shown this to be contrary to fact. For we have seen that the terms in question are applied to God, and yet are applied to things which have had, and to things which are to have, an end. If he means by it that because a term expressive of duration is applied to God, therefore that term is of itself expressive of endless duration, this also is contrary to fact. For we have shown that the term olim is applied to God, and yet that eternity is not the radical meaning of the word; and that if it expresses endless duration when applied to God, it is not from the natural force of the word, but because the Being to whom it is applied is endless in his nature. We say a great man, and the great God; but when we apply the word great to man, we do not mean that he is as great as God. We say a good man, and the good God; but
we do not mean that the man is as good as God. So, also, we say of a man, he is an everlasting talker, and of God, he is everlastingly good; but we do not mean that the man will continue to talk as long as God is good. We say, too, of a child, he is eternally in mischief, and of God, he is the eternal God; but we do not mean that the child will continue to do mischief as long as God exists.
2. It has been said that "aionios, when it stands alone, signifies endless duration." Aicnios is an adjective. It must, therefore, be connected with some noun, either expressed or understood, which it qualifies. Adjectives never make or add qualities to nouns, but simply express qualities which are inherent in the noun itself. Neither can an adjective express any more than the noun to which it is prefixed, or from which it is derived. Indeed, it is often the case that nouns express more than can be expressed by adjectives. For instance, we say of a man, he is lovely; by this we mean that he is possessed of some lovely qualities; but if we say the man is love, we express by this that love is the inherent principle of his very nature. When we say God is lovely, we do not express as much as when we say God is love. For God might be lovely, and yet love not be the essence of his nature; but when we say he is love, we express by it that love is the central sun of all his excellences; that it is the sum and substance, the all and in all, and the very essence of his nature. Now, as the adjective aionios is derived from the noun aion, hence it can express no more than aion.
3. But it is said that "these terms must express endless duration when applied to punishment, inasmuch as, in some texts where they are thus applied, the punishment spoken of is in the same text contrasted with eternal life." There are but two instances of this in the Bible, one in Dan. 12: 2, and one in Matt. 25: 46. It by no means follows that because everlasting punishment is contrasted with eternal life, therefore the punishment spoken of is equal in duration with the life spoken of, even allowing the life to be of endless duration. Before this can be admitted, it must first be proved that punishment is as enduring in its nature as life. But we have shown that the word rendered punishment, in Matt. 25: 46, signifies chastisement, or correction, for the benefit of the punished. Now, to speak of endless correction, is a contradiction in terms. Hence the fact of the application of the term aionios to punishment does not prove that punishment is endless, for twc
reasons. First, because aionios does not of itself express endless duration; and, second, because the punishment to which it is applied is limited in its nature. Again, these terms are applied to different things in the Bible, and in the same passages, when all must acknowledge that one is limited and the other endless. Hab. 3: 6, "And the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting." See, also, Rom. 16: 25, 26, "According to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the aionions began, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the aionion God." If the objection we are considering is of any force, it proves that the hills and mountains will endure as long as God exists, and that the ages of the world are as ancient and as enduring as God. Whereas Paul, in the text from Romans, speaks expressly of a time when these ages began. What has been said is sufficient to overthrow the objection under consideration; but there is one fact which of itself is sufficient to silence this objection forever. In our remarks on Dan. 12:2, and Matt. 25: 46, we have shown that the everlasting or eternal life there spoken of is not the life of the resurrection world, but is that life which is imparted to the believer in Jesus, and which may be enjoyed in this state of existence. We have shown that Christ himself defines this life to consist in the "knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ whom he hath sent;" and that he speaks of his followers as being already in the possession of eternal life. Now, in the face of this testimony, who dare assert that eternal life consists in endless beatitude in a future state of existence? Surely no one, who heeds the instructions and the testimony of the great Founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ. As, therefore, the eternal life spoken of in Matt. 25: 46, was confined to this world, so also the everlasting punishAs the one was limited, so also the other.
4. Again, it is said that, "in our exposition of those texts where these terms are applied to punishment, we have applied nearly all of them to the Jews; and it is unreasonable to suppose that nearly all that is said in the Bible about everlasting punishment was spoken in reference to that people." The objector must be careful how he brings his reason against facts. We know that Universalists have been accused of making a kind of scape-goat of the Jewish people, and of making them bear all the sins of mankind, and all the pun
ishment. But have we not appealed to the context, and the connection of these passages, to prove the correctness of our opinions? If it is a fact, then, that most of these texts relate to the awfu. doom which came on the Jewish nation, and which they are suffering to this day, it is a fact for which we are not responsible. And if any one is disposed to cavil on this ground, he must cavil with the Bible, not with us. If the objector thinks this opinion is erroneous, he had better be trying to prove it so than to be finding fault.
5. It is also said, that "if these terms do not express endless duration, then we have no proof of the endless existence of God." But do not the Scriptures teach that God is self-existent? And is not his endless existence a self-evident fact? Suppose that no word whatever expressive of duration was ever applied to him, would this make any difference in regard to his duration? Or suppose that all words, of every language under heaven, expressive of duration, were applied to him, and applied to him times without number, would this make his endless existence any more certain? Is God dependent on the meaning of a word for his endless existence? If so, then we may well fear that he will come to naught. But no rational man will pretend this. If, then, God is ever-enduring in his very nature, it is a matter of no consequence whether any word expressive of duration is ever applied to him or not; and if such words are applied to him, it is immaterial whether they express endless duration or not.
6. Once more. It is said that "if these words do not express endless duration, then we have no proof of the endless existence and happiness of mankind in a future world." If no other terms were used to express the duration of man's existence and happiness in the resurrection world, there might be some force in this; but such is not the fact. There are several words applied to life and happiness in the Scriptures which are never applied to punishment; and these words are unequivocal in expressing endless duration. These words are amianton, aphtharton, and akatalutos; rendered endless, undefiled, incorruptible, and immortal. In 2 Cor. 4: 7, we read, "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal (aionion) weight of glory." The word and in this passage was supplied by the translators, and weakens the force of the passage. Leaving