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Num. XCVI. Apoc. xix. 3. --And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.
[Mr. Whiston: Babylon's smoke rose up, eis tous aizras Tã aióvwv, for ages of ages, p. 48.]
The smoke of a city cannot be supposed to rise up for ever and ever. But that is not the thing intended : the thing intended is, that God had now judged the great whore, or the mystical Babylon, and destroyed her so totally and finally that she should never be restored : her destruction should be, not merely for ages of ages, but for ever and ever. The phrase, her smoke rose up, &c. is a strong prophetical manner of representing an everlasting destruction of the city or kingdom it is applied to. There is no reason therefore to limit the words as Mr. W. has done.
Num. XCVII. Apoc. xix. 20.- These both (viz. the beast and the false pro
phet) were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. See Num. XXVII. and that which here follows.
Num. XCVIII. Apoc. xx. 10. And the Devil that deceived them (viz. Gog
and Magog) was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and over.
“ These two additional texts,” Mr. W. says, “ are “ evidently of the same sort with the foregoing, and “ so stand in need of little additional observation." (P. 50.) If he means by “ the same sort,” that they relate to the same subject with the foregoing, (viz. Num. XCV. XCVI.) then, as he allows these to relate to the punishment of the wicked in gehenna, he must consequently allow the foregoing to do so too.
And how then can he say, as he does in this same page, “ that excepting this single place, the dura“ tion of the punishment of the wicked is never pro“perly said to be for more than tov aiova, or an age, “ a single age, in all the books of the Old and New “ Testament?” And if these additional texts do not relate to the same subject with the foregoing, they may possibly stand in need of some additional observation. But he wants to be rid of them; they lie heavy upon his hypothesis, and, like a millstone about his neck, will sink it. But let us attend to the additional observation he is pleased to make :“ Only,” continues he, “ since the place of gehenna, “ or hell itself, is said to be prepared for the Devil “ and his angels, Matt. xxv. 41. and the same « Devil is here said to be cast into this lake of fire, “ this makes it not a little probable,” (I wonder what would make it certain,) “ that whatever preludes to “ this dreadful punishment there may be upon this “ earth, at the coming on of this fire and brimstone “ at the great day; yet will the upshot of all be no “ other than the fire of gehenna, or hell, for ages of “ ages afterward.” But he has forgot to produce the passages in St. John's Revelation, where alớves tão aiúva signifies only ages of ages, or any thing less than for ever and ever. That phrase is used fourteen times in the Apocalypse; and never, as far as appears, in any other sense than that of eternity. In far the greatest number of the passages it evidently must have that meaning; and therefore in the other two or three places under debate, unless the subject plainly requires another sense, to give it a different meaning is to destroy the use of language, and render the meaning of words perfectly arbitrary. And that the subject does not require a different sense of the words in the controverted texts, will appear, I trust, in the course of these papers. If hell torments cannot, absolutely cannot, in the nature of things, be eternal, why then indeed this phrase, in these places, must denote only a temporary duration : but if this cannot be proved, if the contrary can, I would ask what reason any man has to limit the sense of the words in these few passages, contrary to their import in all the rest ? Let us not make a nose of wax of the scripture; let its uniform language have some determinate sense. Mr. W. goes on ; “ It deserves our remark, that it is “ not directly said here, that the beast and the false « prophet, but only the Devil, with Gog and Magog, “ shall be so long tormented there.” Now, not to take notice of the reading of this text in some versions, which is quite inconsistent with this remark, I would only ask why Basaviobńcortas (being in the plural) should not include the beast and the false prophet, as well as the Devil, and those he had deceived? and as to the reason of the thing, why should the beast and the false prophet come off better than Gog and Magog? The text says they were deceived; and therefore Mr. W. might, if he had been so disposed, have applied his apology to them, which he makes for other wicked men, p. 19. • They fell into their sins by the secret snares of the « Devil, and other violent temptations :" so that if this be any excuse, I don't see why Gog and Magog should not have the benefit of it. “But they “ are,” he says, “ a people utterly unknown to us, “ and not perhaps to be heard of till after the mil“ lennium is over.” And again, p. 104. “ an un
“ known wicked people after the millennium is “ over d.” Now what a beggarly refuge is this! what is it to the purpose, whether these people are known or unknown, whether they live before the millennium, or after it? still they are God's creátures, and will have as fair and impartial a trial, at the last great day, as we ourselves shall have. And therefore, if they may finally miscarry, and be tormented for ever and ever, the consequence is easy ;
Let him that standeth, take heed lest he fall. As to what Mr. W. asserts, “ that, excepting this
1 The gentlemen who with Mr. W. place this battle of Gog and Magog after the millennium, are reduced to great difficulties to account for the origin of this wicked people, and to tell us from whence they come. If they be any race of mortals that inhabit the present earth, the question is, how they happened to survive the conflagration? Dr. Burnet therefore, very philosopher-like, generates them anew “ from the slime of the ground, and the “ heat of the sun.” (Theory, book iv. chap. 10.) But this is too gross to pass. Others suppose that the Gentiles, to whom the gospel was not preached before, shall be raised from the dead during the millennium; and the gospel being then comniunicated to them by some preachers sent out of the new Jerusalem, they who reject it will at last compose this wicked army of Gog and Magog. It is not pretended that the scripture gives any countenance to this conjecture. On the contrary, some reasons are offered for the silence of scripture on this head. But the misfortune is, the scripture is not so silent in the case as is supposed; but has rather determined on the other side. St. Paul plainly teaches, Rom. chap. ii. that as the Gentiles had a law, though not a written one, so they shall be judged by that law at the great day. And when St. John has told us that the martyrs and saints shall live in the millennium, and reign with Christ a thousand years, Apoc. XX. 4. he adds expressly in the next verse, that the rest of the dead lived not aguin until the thousand years were finished. See the preface to Mr. Johnson's Select Discourses, Doctrinal and Practical, printed 1740.
“ single place,” the duration of future punishment is never said to be for more than “a single age,” (p.50, and 104,) some notice has been taken of it already; compare Num. XCV. It has not, he supposes, been observed by any commentator before him; and will not, I believe, in haste by any commentator after him.
Num. XCIX. Apoc. xx. 14, 15. And death and hell were cast into the
lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Chap. xxi. 8. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and briinstone : which is the second death.
I have already in several places obviated what Mr. W, suggests under these texts, p. 51, 52. about death, the second death, and the like. “The state “ of the worst sort of sinners,” he says, “ that are in“ corrigible, is never once styled life at all.” And it would be strange if it should ; since life in the gospel dialect denotes that happy immortality which is the reward of the righteous. In opposition to this San aiários, everlasting life, and owtopia aibvios, eternal salvation, the final state of the wicked, that are incorrigible, is styled death. And what sort of death that is, the very opposition shews. See Num. LXXII. Besides, the other descriptions of it in the New Testament explain the true notion of it; such as tup alávov, kólaois aicórros, kpíous aiớvros, spíua aiúvsov, éxdika Ols, tipwpía: which certainly point out a state, not of insensibility, but of sensation and punishment. As to our Saviour's words, referred to by Mr. W. see Num. X.; though he refers to them here as declar