Imágenes de páginas

ceedings at the great day of

the wicked, which we

the great day of judgment, we find not doctrine of the separation or exclusion of red, which we have often met with before, iso their state and punishment subsequent to

Their sentence, ver. 41, is to depart into everinsting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels. And lest any one should say that this fire, originally prepared for the Devil and his angels, may itself be everlasting, though wicked men do not everlastingly exist in it, it is expressly said, in the last verse, that they shall go away into everlasting punishment. There is nothing therefore left for the adversary to do, but to criticise and quibble away, if he can, the extent and meaning of the word alórior, or everlastings. Now here let us recollect, that the

S “If God had intended to have told us that the punish“ment of wicked men shall have no end, the languages wherein “ the scriptures are written do hardly afford fuller and more cer“ tain words than those that are used in this case, whereby to “ express to us a duration without end: and likewise, which is “ almost a peremptory decision of the thing,—the duration of the “punishment of wicked men is in the very same sentence ex“pressed by the very same word which is used for the duration " of the happiness of the righteous." Archbp. Tillotson, Sermon on Hell Torments.

That alay and alários signify eternity and eternal, appears from the lexicographers: see Scapula and Leigh. Aiwy, say they, quasi dei dy, Arist. lib. i. de Cælo, et Phil. de Mundo.

Και γάρ ου χρόνος, αλλά το αρχέτυπον του χρόνου και παράδειγμα [αίων, Bios airūve] év alãnı dè, otte wapelýhuber ovdèy, otte Ménder, årld póvor übéotnkey. Philo. ed. Mangey, vol. ii. p. 609.

Platonici duas durationis species esse dicebant, quarum altera vocatur alò, æternitas, quæ ¿y ¿và mével, ut loquitur Plato in Timæo, hoc est, successione caret; altera proprie xpóros, tempus, quod est alterius eikey Kinti, inago mobilis, quia cum successione elabitur. J. Clerici Not, in Oracula Chaldaica, Opp. Phil. tom. ii. p. 363.

word is used in passing the most solemn sentence in the world; and afterwards, in a declaration of the consequence of that sentence: in both which, one would expect to meet with words in their plain and common sense, without ambiguity. It is also to be remembered, that the same word is used of the life or reward of the righteous, and of the punishment of the wicked. The generality of Christians, from our Saviour's time to this, have understood the word to denote duration without end, equally in both cases; so that the life of the righteous, and the punishment of the wicked, will be really for ever. On the other hand, some few, both in former and

Arrian. Epict. lib. ii. c. 5, co váp cips alwy, äna är@pwmos.

Deus Platoni est intelligibilis et æterna substantia, unde in Timæo dicitur cò đeà os, a quo tòy alwa, æternitatem, deduci declarat Plotinus Enn. 3. lib. vii, capp. 1. 3.

Vid. Prolegom. ad Platon. Parmen. ed. Thomson, p. xxix.

The words therefore are certainly capable of denoting eternity, and frequently do so in ihe scriptures. What criterion then have we, whereby we may know when they denote eternity, and when a temporal duration only? None other that I know of, but what arises from the context, the nature of the thing, or subject spoken of. Here is nothing in the sense or context that limits the meaning of these words, as applied to the punishments of the wicked in hell, but much to the contrary. It is agreeable to all the other representations of scripture, relating to this article, to understand them in their most extensive sense. They are equally applied to the case of the righteous and the wicked; which, as Dr. Tillotson observes above, is almost decisive of the point to those who own the happy eternity of the former. Wicked men are of the same nature with the righteous, and immortal as well as they. There is nothing therefore in the nature of the beings spoken of, which excludes the sense of eternity; por in the nature of the punishments, if they be justly deserved, what are best upon the whole, and consistent with every perfection of God, nay, the result of them; as I shall endeavour to shew hereafter.


later ages, allowing the word to signify eternity, when applied to the rewards of the righteous, have denied it this extensive signification when used of the punishments of the wicked; which, according to them, will have an end. At last comes Mr. W. and, agreeably to his enterprising genius, advances a step beyond them all; assuring us, that the word does by “tno means denote a proper eternity of either “ punishment or reward, but only a long duration of “ them respectively.” Here then in effect are three interpretations; and without going any further, I dare leave it to the judgment of any sober and intelligent person, which seems to come nearest to the literal sense of the passage, stands clearest of difficulties, or will best account for them, and is most agreeable to the general style and tenour of the New Testament. The second interpretation, or hypothesis, (call it what you will,) is perfectly arbitrary; there being no foundation in the words themselves, text or context, on which to build such a difference of signification. No manner of intimation is given that they are to be taken in a different sense; or that the same word has not the same meaning in both cases. Nor could any man ever be led to doubt of this by any thing that he finds here; but when, for other reasons, (of which in their proper place,) they took it into their heads to deny the eternity of .these punishments, this expedient was called in to their assistance, in order to remove the weight of this and such other testimonies of scripture. Then, as to Mr. W.'s scheme, pursued through all its consequences, it leads one into such a train of thought as one cares not to describe. It is certain and un

doubted matter of fact, that the Christian world, induced by our Saviour's promises, have all along hoped for everlasting life. Shall I be allowed to ask, Has this great Teacher sent from God imposed upon his followers ? shall they who have trusted in him ever be ashamed ? as they must be, when their hopes and expectations, raised and cherished by him, are thus defeated, and end (properly and philosophically end) in nothing". Nay but, some one perhaps will say, they have deceived themselves; they have taken his words in a sense which he never intended. Now let any man read the New Testament, and judge for himself; taking at the same time this remark along with him, that according to the law of nature and nations, “ all offers “ of pardon are to be understood in the full extent of “ the words, without any secret reserves or limita“ tions; unless they are plainly expressed*.” Were there no words in the language which our Saviour spoke, none in the Greek in which the New Testament was written, that answer to our English words long and lasting? Why did not our Lord sometimes make use of these, on a subject which required him to speak with great exactness? Why did he always express himself in words of uncertain meaning: or rather, in words which are certainly known to denote, on other occasions, the most real and proper

u O ye blest scenes of permanent delight!
Full, above measure! lasting, beyond bound !
Could you, so rich in rapture, fear an end,
That ghastly thought would drink up all your joy,
And quite unparadise the realms of light.

The Complaint; or, Night Thoughts. Night the First. * Bishop Burnet's Exposition, Art. 22.

eternity; and this too without any caution against taking them in this extensive sense; without any intimation, that he desired to be understood cum grano salis ? I know but one reason of this conduct, that any consistent Christian can give; and that I need not mention. Well then;

If the word alóvrov, in the text before us, denote the same duration, as applied both to the punishment of the wicked, and the life of the righteous; and if that duration cannot be only long or lasting duration, but duration properly everlasting; then I have gained my point, that, according to all appearances upon the face of this remarkable passage, the wicked will neither be utterly destroyed in hell, nor delivered out of it; but exist for ever, subject to, and sensible of that everlasting punishment, into which they are sentenced to depart at the day of judgment.

Though I have been, perhaps, too prolix already upon this article, and led into some repetition by repeated objections; (see Num. XIV.) yet I shall not only hope for pardon, but also for a little more indulgence, while I attend Mr. W. a moment or two longer.

The moderns, he complains y, “ have weakly un“ derstood a single aiùy, or age, to be of equal dura“tion with aiūves, or even ałūves tõv ajávwy, with ages, or even ages of ages, themselves :" whereas he would have aiùy, rendered an age; and aiūves, ages; and ai@ves Tūv aibwv, ages of ages; “ as they properly sig

y P. 39. compared with p. 23. These phrases seem to me to be used promiscuously, as any equivalent phrases may be. Doxologies (which Mr. W. mentions p. 61.) generally run in a full and lofty style, as it is natural to expect they should do. But there is no invariable rule for them; as will appear by what follows :

« AnteriorContinuar »