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have its appropriate recompense in the world to come. So connected are the two ideas, that every proof that righteousness in this life is rewarded in heaven, lays the foundation for an inference that wickedness will be punished in hell.
Mr. Balfour's reasonings upon this subject are found in his comment upon Matt. 19: 27. These I will notice in numerical order. First, Old Testament usage shows that everlasting life” in this case (and he intends as we see in all others) means a happiness confined to the age of the christian dispensation in this world. And what is this usus loquendi of the Old Testament? In one case, and in one only, the phrase is there used. This one example does not create a strong current of usage. But strong as it is, it is all against him. The passage is this: And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. This Mr. B. quotes to show that everlasting life, according to the usage of the Old Testament, means something enjoyed on this side the grave, though it is expressly said, those that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake to this everlasting life. But this passage is noticed in another part of this work, to which the reader is referred for a more full refutation of Mr. B.'s comment upon it. (See Chap. 2.) Second, Mr. B. refers to the context of the passage in Matt. 19: 27. for his second proof that everlasting life does not mean severlasting life, where the enquirer asks what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life. And to prove that eternal life in the context does not mean eternal life, he refers us again to Daniel's use of it. So that his second argument is identical with the first and may have the same answer. His third reason is, that it is said to be a life in the world to come. But this is a strange reason for understanding it of any thing temporal. It is strange that a man can quote Greek and Hebrew so profusely, and not know that the phrase, world to come, and age to come, means an everlasting age. Suppose we interpret the phrase by a reference to the Jews' peculiar notions of the age to come, or Messiah's reign. There is one thought which Mr. B. has overlooked. This age to come, according to the current opinion of the Jews, was to commence by the resurrection of the dead, the conquest of all nations, and their subjugation to the reign of Christ, and by the judgment of the world, and from that opening it was to extend on without end. (See Wahl's Lexicon.) So if we admit his premises, the conclusion is against him. This fact reduces to waste paper sheets of his learned discussion about the age to come. They all assume that that age was, in the opinion of the Jews, a limited age. But this is the very point to be proved. His fourth reason is, that in the 30th verse it is added-But many that are first shall be last and the last shall be first. He asks, First about what? About entering into the kingdom of God. This was said in respect to the case of the young man, to show that publicans and harlots might go into the kingdom of God before him, notwithstanding his morality. And what then? Does that show, that the kingdom of God did not include the inheritance of eternal life beyond the grave ? In the fifth place he says, “ The view given of eternal life will be confirmed by attending to the general usage of this phrase in the New Testament.” So it seems the general usage of the phrase eternal and everlasting life, goes to prove that in a given instance it means a temporal good. We come now upon broad ground. We are now at issue with Mr. B. whether in all cases the phrase means a temporal good. For he asserts it of the general usage, quotes the particular passages and says, “I do not find it [eternal life] spoken of as an object expected after the resurrection of the dead, or once mentioned as equivalent to the happiness to be enjoyed in the resurrection state."
Let us then take up the broad question, whether there is one instance where eternal or everlasting life refers to a happiness to be enjoyed in a future world. For proof that there is none, Mr. B. first suggests, that if it does refer to happiness in a future state, it is unaccountable that eternal death is never spoken of as its counterpart to the wicked in a future state. But this is equally good to prove the opposite. We may as well say it does not mean any thing enjoyed in this life, because eternal death is never spoken of as the counterpart of everlasting life, but eternal death is not once named in the Bible. In the next place he says, “If eternal life refers to the happiness of heaven in a future state, how happens it that it is so often spoken about as a thing enjoyed in this life and dwelling in persons by believing in Jesus?” That is, if it be a happiness in heaven, why is it said to take its beginning here? Mr. Balfour knew or ought to have known, that his opponents insist upon it as essential that eternal life take its commencement in holiness of heart in this world; that if it do not here, it never will begin; and surely he will not advance as a difficulty that which we consider an indispensable part of the gospel. We doubt not but that eternal life begins in this world; but that it ends here, is the matter that wants proof. The essence of eternal life consists in knowing God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent; or in holiness of heart and life. This is the cause of all spiritual enjoyment here, and must in the nature of things be carried forward into the future world, if the believer is happy there. Further, Mr. B. says, eternal life was a matter of hope to the disciples. But pray why a matter of hope ? If it consisted in knowing Christ and was limited to this world, it could not be a matter of hope but of complete fruition. But if on the other hand they had it here only in its seminal principles, and were waiting for a more full development in the coming world, then it was a matter of hope.
Having replied to Mr. B.'s proofs, I have a few considerations of my own to suggest. In the first place, if the passages in question do not prove a state of happiness beyond the grave, there is no proof of such a state. After taking away the direct assertions of happiness beyond the grave, it will be in vain to build the doctrine upon indirect proofs. Yet Universalists believe there is such a state of happiness. Mr. Whittemore, p. 262, gives us a fair specimen of their treatment of this subject, first excluding the proper proofs and then believing without proof. “Notwithstanding the everlasting life spoken of in the New Testament is applied in these pages to that state of rest, purity and joy into which the believers of the
gospel entered whenever they embraced the gospel, the author takes this opportunity to say, that he undoubtingly believes, that a future state of immortality is revealed in the New Testament.” Thus he takes away God's assertions, and substitutes his own undoubting belief in their room. If he had told us where to find the grounds of this undoubting belief, we should have been able to say whether one half the sophistry applied to them, which has been applied to those passages, might not set them also aside.
Again, both Mr. B. and Mr. W. make eternal life in these passages mean a state of belief in Christ, or introduction to the kingdom of Christ, a state of holiness or spiritual life. Now is not this holiness or belief, call it what you will, to be perpetuated in the eternal world, and to be connected with the happiness of heaven ? Are not the inhabitants of heaven to be holy, to be believers, to be in the kingdom of God? Whatever havoc our author may make of plain language, he surely will not pretend that death and the resurrection are to work any changes, by which a man is to be happy in the presence of God in heaven without holiness, or spiritual life. Of course then, those who attain to spiritual life here, enjoy it there. And this spiritual life is called eternal life here, and beginning here it extends on through eternity; and why may it not be eternal life there? If the thing is the same in both states of being, why does not the name apply to it in both, especially since that name of its own power expresses nothing short of both, that is, everlasting life?
But let us look at a few examples of the use of the phrase eternal life, to see how far they tally with Mr. B.'s notion. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so also shall the the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life. Не that soweth to the spirit shall of the spirit reap life everlasting. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life. And this is the promise which he hath promised, even eternal life. What good thing shall I do that I may inherit eternal life ? From these specimens, the reader may judge of the current use of the phrases. That they refer to anything which has its end in this life, cannot be shown from the context. And as they assert the life of which they speak to be eternal or everlasting, it is incumbent on the Universalist to show cause why the everlasting does not mean everlasting. It is not enough to say that the word is sometimes figuratively applied to limited existences. It must be shown, either that it is always so applied, or that that is its current and more general use, or that there are in the cases before us reasons in the context, for departing from the general use. Neither of these has been attempted. But Mr. B. says the gospel is called “the everlasting gospel. But surely none ever thought that the gospel is to be preached to the endless ages of eternity." Yet the gospel is with much reason called everlasting, because its elementary principles, the subject matter, and its efficacy on the hearts of the redeemed are lasting as the throne of God. It is not called the gospel everlastingly preached, but the “everlasting gospel.” The question returns-When everlasting life is made an attribute of a soul destined to unending existence, why are we not to understand the life as lasting as long as the soul? This life is put in contrast with perishing, spoken of as future. That whosoever believeth should not perish; but there would be no use for the mode of contingency, and the implied future, if in every sense of perishing it were already past in the moment of believing, and there were no escape from a death yet to come upon the unbelieving. And when Paul to Timotliy says, Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, he was guilty of an absurdity on Mr. B.'s hypothesis. For Timothy must have already got hold of eternal life, in such a sense that it could not be regarded as a thing yet to be taken hold of by him. For in the very verse next preceding, Paul calls him a man of God. If he were then a man of God, he had spiritual life, and could with no propriety be exhorted to lay hold of what he already had. He then proceeds to direct Timothy to charge them that are rich to do good, that they be rich in good