« AnteriorContinuar »
everlasting is applied to both, and can occasion no difficulty to any one, who has attended to the Old Testament usage of this word, as shown in the preceding Sections. Is it objected-"How could any believer enjoy everlasting life, or any one endure shame and everlasting contempt, if these are confined to this world? Must not both be carried into another world to be everlasting ?" We answer this by asking-Must not the children of Israel and the land of Canaan then, be carried into a future state, that they may enjoy this land for "an everlasting possession?" And must not the servant whose ear was pierced, go into another world if he would serve his master forever? And must not Aaron and his sons, with the whole Levitical service, go into another world, that they may enjoy the priesthood forever? In fact, instances without number may be adduced, to show the absurdity of such an objection, and of such a mode of reasoning on the word everlasting.
It is agreeable to fact, that on the day of Pentecost three thousand Jews awoke to the everlasting life imparted by the gospel, by believing in Jesus. Such also was the case with multitudes more of them, as the history of the acts of the Apostles shows. Though the spirit of slumber had seized the Jewish nation, though they had eyes, and saw not, and ears, but heard not, yet the apostle declares that there was a remnant according to the election of grace. See Rom. 11. This part awoke to everlasting life, or entered into the everlasting kingdom of Christ, and had peace and joy in believing. They heard the voice of the son of God and lived. Comp. Eph. 5: 14. The rest slept on till the wrath of God came upon them to the uttermost. They all at last awoke, but it was to shame and everlasting contempt, in being dispersed among all nations, and have become a by-word and an hissing even unto this day. Jeremiah, in chap. 23 :
39, 40. predicted this very punishment, and calls it an everlasting reproach, and a perpetual shame. That the life or happiness enjoyed by believers in the kingdom of Jesus Christ is called everlasting life in the New Testament, we shall afterwards show.
After what has been said, we shall only glance at verses 3, 4. "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever." is a sufficient illustration of this verse to quote our Lord's words, Matth. 13: 43. "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father." See on this whole context, Sect. 6. below. Comp. Matth. 24: 13. and Luke 21: 28. And is not Dan. 11:31-36. descriptive of this very time and events, of the Jews generally, and of our Lord's disciples when God's judgments came on that guilty nation? In the margin of the verse we are considering, it is rendered, "and they that be teachers shall shine as the brightness of the firmament." How applicable this was to the apostles and first teachers of Christianity, needs no comment, for the teachers of the seven churches of Asia are called stars, Rev. 1: 20. And who doubts that the apostles and first teachers, shall shine in giving light forever and ever, or as we have seen this phrase explained, "through out all generations?"
Let us now glance at verse 4. and dismiss this passage. "But thou O! Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall be increased." No man, we think, can doubt, that the time of the end, to which Daniel was to shut up the words and. seal the book, was the end of the Jewish age or dispensation. The preceding verses show that to this time he did refer, and it is frequently called the end, in the New Testament. See 1 Cor. 10: 11. Heb. 9:26.
and other passages. See particularly Matth. 24: 3. where the disciples ask our Lord-"What shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world or age." But notice what is said verse 14. to show that many should run to and fro and knowledge should be increased before this end came. "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." Before the end came, or the destruction of Jerusalem, the sound of the apostles' doctrine had gone out into all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. These things, and many others which I must omit, show, that Daniel here, and our Lord, Matth. 24. speak of the same people, the same time, and the same events. The whole of this passage is illustrated by our Lord's words, John 5: 28, 29. an explanation of which we have given in the Universalist Magazine, vol. vii. p. 103-7. To it we refer our readers, as our limits forbid its insertion.
Such are all the places in the Old Testament where olim is used, in whatever way rendered in the common version, and applied by the sacred writers. Reserving my principal remarks on the use of this word to the last Section, I would only observe here.
1st. That though this word is often used in the Old Testament, as my readers have seen, and expresses duration in a variety of ways, yea, is used to express the duration of punishment in a few instances, yet it is not once used to designate any punishment beyond this mortal existence. All the passages where it is applied to punishment have been distinct. ly noticed, and Dan. 12: 1-4. has been particularly considered, which is the only text in the Old Testament on which the doctrine of eternal punishment could possibly be built. Our orthodox friends may be ashamed for having made such a mighty noise about their doctrine of eternal misery, and ought to
make a public apology to the world for their conduct. The better informed among them have conceded that this doctrine is not taught in the Old Testament, nor could any of them continue to believe it, if they could only be induced to examine the subject. If any man will be ignorant, let him be ignorant.
2d. If olim is so often used in the Old Testament, and is sometimes used to express the duration of punishment, yet is never used to express the duration of punishment beyond this state of existence, when, and how came the doctrine of everlasting punishment after death to be known among men? In the First Part, we have shown its origin to be human. If our orthodox brethren still venture to assert, that its origin is divine, it is their work to show this. Its claims for our belief from the New Testament, I shall now proceed to examine.
GENERAL REMARKS ON AION, AND AIONIOS, AS USED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.
MOST Lexicon writers assert, that aion, and the adjective aionios, are used to express an endless duration of time, though all of them admit, that they are also used to express a limited period. From this very fact has arisen long and violent contentions, whether these words, when used to express the duration of punishment, are to be understood in a limited or unlimited sense. Lexicons are not infallible,
nor were they intended to determine, but only to assist us in ascertaining the true meaning of Scripture words. The words were used and understood long before Lexicons had any existence. Whilst we ought to avail ourselves of their assistance, yet every man ought to examine for himself, from their general usage, the context of the places, and other circumstances, if the senses of words given by them be correct. To receive implicitly what they say, is only to perpetuate their errors, if the writers have inadvertently or intentionally committed any.
It is universally allowed, by all competent judges, of whatever sect, that aion and aionios are frequently used to express a limited duration of time. Parkhurst says, aion "denotes duration or continuance of time, but with great variety." Ewing says it signifies "duration, finite, or infinite; a period of duration, past, or future; an age, duration of the world, Deut. 32: 7. Luke 1: 70. plural, ages of the world, 1 Cor. 2: 7. hence human life in this world, Luke 16: 8. or the next, Mark 10: 30. our manner of life in the world, Psalm 90: 8. Eph. 2: 2. an age of divine dispensation, the ages, generally reckoned three; that before the law, that under the law, and that under the Messiah, Matth. 24: 3. and 28: 20. 1 Cor. 10: 11. Heb. 11:
3. by faith we understand, κατηρτισθαι τους αιώνας PηuaTi Oes, that the ages were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are (now) seen, did not arise out of things which did (previously) appear, comp. verses 1. 7. 26. 27. an indefinitely long period of time; hence eternity; Exod. 14: 13. Luke 1: 55. John 4 14. Psalm 19: 9. Gal. 1: 5. Rev. 20: 10. from eternity to eternity, 1 Chron. 29: 10. Psalm 90: 2." On the word aionios, Ewing says, it signifies "eternal, Exod. 3: 14, 15. Matth. 25: 46. Rom. 16: 26. chronoi aionoi, ages of the world, periods of the dispensations since the world began, Rom. 16: