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though asær and arwyns-agree, in some respects, with the English words eternity and eternal, yet they will not always bear to be rendered by these.
I ought equally to thank you, po douit, for teaching me and that repeatedly, that " as for the word eternal, it is the same in the original which is translated everlasting*. Seriously, may not 4 person, without pretending to be qualified for Greek criticismes understand so much of the meaning of words as to stand in no need of the foregoing info tion? Nay more, Is it not possible for him, 'to know that the Greek words aww.and as www will not always bear to be rendered by the English words eternity, everlasting, or eternal, and yet perceive no evidence that the one are less expressive of endless duration, ihan the other??
This, if it must be so called, was my“ hypothesis." Ta overturn it you alledge that the Greek terins will “ adıņit of a plural," and of the pronouns this and that before them, which the English will not t. So far as this is the case, it may prove there is some difference between them; but not that this difference consists in the one being less expressive of endless duration than the other. Words in English that are properly expressive of endless duration may not ordinarily admit of a plural ; and if this were universally the case, it would not follow that it is the same in Greek. Nor is it so ; for the idea of endless duration is frequently conveyed by these very plural forns of expression. Thus in Ephes.i. 11. 1274 *p?@essy Twy awwwx; according to his .eternal purpose. So also in , Tim. i. 17.
Τω δε βασιλει των αιώνων, αφθαρτω, αορατω, μονω σοφω Θεω, Τιμη και δοξα εις τες αιωνας των αιώνων. .
Now unto the king eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever.
Render these passages how you will, you cannot do them justice unless you express the idea of unlimited duration. And though the English terms may not admit of what is termed a plural form, yet they admit of what is equal to it: for though we do riot say 'everlasting s 120r Eternities, yet we say for ever and ever; and you might as well contend that for ever cannot. properly mean unlimited duration, seeing another ever may be added to it, as that arwy must needs mean a limited duration on account of its admitting 7.plural form of expression. You inight also, with equal propriety, plead for a plurality of evers in futuriiy from the English phraseology, as for a plurality of ages from the Greek,
With respect to the admission of the pronouns this and that, we use the expressions this eternity of bliss ; or that eternity of bliss ; nor does such language, being 'applied to a state of existence;, express the idea of limitation. The very passage that you have quoted, (Luke XX. 35.) where one way is rendered world, and admits of the pronoun that before it, refers to a state which you yourself, I should suppose, would allow to be endless.
* No. I. p. 7. No. XXXV.pe238.
+P. 332, 333
For any thing you have hitherto alledged, the Greek words diw and Give Su are no less expressive of endless duration than the English words everlasting and eternal: the latter, when applied to temporary concerns, are used in a figurative or improper sense as frequently as the former, And if this be a truth, it must follow that the continual recurrence 10 them by your writers is no better than a sing-song ; a mere affe Etation of learning serving to mislead the ignorant.
- You make much of your rule of interpretation, that ". Where a word is used in relation to different things, the subject itself must determine the meaning of the word.” P. 333. You are so confident that this rule is unobjectionable as to intimate your belief that I “ shall not a second time have the teinerity to reprove you for the use of it." If you examine, you will perceive that I have not objecied to it a first time yei, but rather to your manner of applying it. I shall take the liberty, however, to object to it now, whatever “ temerity" it may imply. I know not who those “ best critics" are, from whom you profess to hare taken it, but to me it appears disrespectful to the Scriptures, and inadmissible. It supposes that all those words which are used in relation to different things, (which, by the way, almost all words are) have no proper meaning of their own, and that they are to stand for nothing in the decision of any question, but are to mean any thing that the subject to which they relate can be proved to mean without them. Had you said, that the subject, including the scope of the writer, must commonly determine whether a word should be taken in a literal, or in a figurative sense, that had been allowing it to have a proper ineaning of its own i and to this I should have no objection; but to allow no meaning to a term but what shall be imparted to it by the subject, is to reduce it to a cypher.
But exceptionable as your rule of interpretation is in itself, it is rendered much more so by your manner of applying it. If under the term “subject" you had included the scope and design of the writer, it had been so far good; but by this term you appear all along to mean the do&trine of future punishment abstraktedly considered from what the Scriptures teach concerning it; at least from what they teach by the terms which professedly denote its duration. You require that “ there be soinething in the nature of future punishinent' which necessarily leads us to receive the word asarau in an endless sense; in which case, as you very properly add, it is not the word but the subje&t which gives the idea of endless duration*.” What is this but saying, We are to make up our minds on the duration of future punishment from the nature and fitness of things: and having done this, we are to understand the Scripture terms which are designed to express that duration, accordingly? But if we can settle this business without the aid of those Scripture terms, why do we trouble them; and what is the ineaning of all your criticisms upon them? If they are so “weak, from their vague and indeterminate
* P. 329.
application in Scripture," that nothing certain can be gathered froin them, why not let thein alone? It should seem as though all your critical labour upon these terms was for the sake of imposing silence
I do not know that endless punishment can be proved from the pature of things; but neither can it be disproved. Our ideas of inoral governinent, and of the influence of sin upon it, are too contracted to form a judgment a firiori, upon the subject. It becomes us to-listen with humility and holy awe to what is revealed in the oracles of truth, and to form oar judgment by it." When I suggested, that in the nature of the subject determined that the term everlasting, when applied to future punishment, was to be taken in the endless sense,” I intended no more than that such is the sense in.which it is used when applied to a future state.
By your rule of interpretation, 1: have the“ teinerity" to say again, you might disprove almost any things you please. I observed before, that if one should attempt to prove the divinity of the son of God, or even of the Father, from his being called Jehovah, your mode of reasoning would render all such evidence of no account, because the same appellation is sometimes given to an altar, &c. You' reply by insisting tlaat' y'lu interpretiitlvis i term': by the subject. But if you interpret it as you do the term clavimu, it is not the name Jehovah that forins any part of the ground of your conclusion.
You do not, on this principle, believe God to be self-existent from his being called Jehovah; but that the name Jehovah means self-existent, because it is applied to God, whom, froin other iconsiderations, you know to be a self-existent being. If Christ were called Jehovah a thousand times, you could not, on this account, believe him to be the true God, according 10 your principle; because the saine word, being applied to other things, its meaning can only be determined by the subject, and in this case, as you say, it is not the word but the subject that gives the idea.' *;
The rule adopted in my last letter allows a proper meaning to every Scripture term, and does not attempt to set it aside in favour of one that is improper or figurative, unless the scope of the passage or the nature of the subject require it. This is a very different thing froin not admitting it unless the subje&t, from its own nature, render it basolutely necessary. The one is treating the proper meaning of a Scripture word with respect, not dispensing with it, but upon urgent necessity, the other is treating it with indignivy, refusing it admission, except where it cannot be denied.
You refer me to Hab. iii. 6. as a parallel passage with Mat. XXV. 45. in which the same word is used in the same text in a different sense *. But these passages are not parallel : for there is no such antithesis in the one as in the other. It has been thought, and I apprehend is capable of
being proved, that the everlasting ways or paths of God, denote those very goings forth by which he scattered the mountains, and caused the hills to bow; and that the term eyerlasting, in both instances, is expr.sive of merely limited duration. Bui adın tring that the everlasting hills are opposed to the everlasting ways of God, or that the one were only lasting, and the other properly ever’asting ; still the antithesis in this case naturally directs us so to expound them; whereas in Nat. xxv. 46. ir directs to the contrary. If there be an opposition of meaning in te one case, it lies in the very term everlasting; or between the duratii n of the hills and that of the divine ways; but the opposition in the other is between life and punishment, and the adjective everlasting is applied in common to both; which, instead of requiring a different sense to be. given to it, requires the contrary. The words recorded by Matthew are parallel to those in John, v. 29. Some shall come forth to the resurrection of life, and some to the resurrection of damnation; and we might as rationally contend for a different meaning to the termy « resurrection" in the one case, as to the term “
everlasting" in the other..
But besides all this, by your manner of quoting the passage, you would induce one to suppose that you had taken it merely from the English translation, which, in: a man of your prewnsions, would be hardly, excuseable;- for though the same word be twice used in the passage, yet it is 'not in those places which you have marked as being 80: the instances which you have pointed out as being the same word, are not the same, except in the English translation.
It was asked; Whether stronger terms could have been used concerning the duration of future punishment than those which are used? You answer, “ The question oughınot to be what language God could have used, but what is the meaning of that which he has used*?".. I should have thought it had been one way of ascertaining the strength of the terms, which are used, to enquire whether they be equally strong with any which the language affords? Should this be the case, it must follow, that if they do not convey the idea of endless duration, it is not in the power of language, or, at least, of that language, to convey it.
You suggest a few examples, however, which in your apprehension .would have been stronger, and which, if it had been the design of the Holy Spirit to teach the doctrine of endless punishment, might have been used for the purpose. “ I refer you, say you, to Heb. vii. 36. axatakur@, endless, say our translators. The word, you add, is neve connected in Scripture with punishment, and but this once only with life; which however shëws that the sacred witers speak of future life in a different way than they do of punishment." P. 334. It is true the term draraduto. As here appplied to life, but not, as you insinuate, to that life of future happiness which is opposed to punishment. The life here spoken of is that which pertains to our Lord's priesthood, which is
* P. 334.
opp "sed to that of Aaton, wherein meni zvere-not suffered to continue by reson of death. The word signifies indissoluble ; fand' being applied to the nature of a priesthood which death could not dissolve; is very properly rendered endless. It possibly might be applied to the endless happiness of. good men, as opposed to the dissoluble or, transitory enjoyments of the present state ; but as to the punishmentof the wicked, supposing it to be endless, I question whether it be at all applicable to it. I can form no idea how the terin indissoluble any more than incorruptible, can apply to punishment. The word na taduw, to unloose or dissolve, it is true, is said to refer to travellers loosing their own burdens, or those of their beasts, when they rested by the way : But there are no examples of is being used with reference to the termination of punishment; nor does it appear to be applicable to it. In its most common acceptation in the New Testament, it siguifies to destroy or demolish; and you will scarcely suppose the sacred writers to suggest the idea of a destruction which cannot be desiroyed!
You offer' a second example, referring me' to Isai. xlv. 17. Israel shall not be confounded world without end*: but this is "farttier off still. - In the first place, the phrase is merely English, and therfore affords 110 example of “Greek,” for which it is professedly introduced. --Secondly, It is not a translation from the Greek, but from the Hebrew. To have done any thing to purpose, you should have found a Greek word which might have been applied to punishment; stronger than aravos: or if you must needs go to another language, you should have proved that the Hebrew words in Isai xlv. 17. which are applied to future happiness, are stronger than the Greek word comin, which is applied to future punishment; but if you had attempted this, your eriticisms might not Have perfe&tly atcorded, as they are the same words which you else where tell us, would, if " literaily rendered, be age, and ages, t;" and therefore are properly expressive of only a limited duration. : And why did you refer us to the Old Testament? It could not be for the want of an example to be found in the New. You know, I dare say, that the English phrase, world without end occurs in Ephés. iii. 21.' And are the Greek words there used stronger than cowy, and its derivatives. On the contrary, they are the very words made use of, and in a plural forin too ; *ς πασας τας γενεας του αιων των αιωνών, throughout all ages, world without end. Had these very terms been applied to future punishment, you would have pleaded for a different translation, and denied that they were expressive of endless duration.
Without pretending to any thing like a critical knowledge of either the Greek or Hebrew language, I can perceive, Sir, that all your argumentshave hitherto been merely founded upon English phraseology and from your translating and by age and ages f, as though one weré the singular, and the other the plural, and sic as wvüç as a you to the age of ages, as though one here also were the singular, and the other the plural, as well as from your reference to exatadurog, as a proper term to be
FP. 364, P. 364.