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house “not made with hands, eternal in the heavens,” would they use terms which convey no just conception of those subjects, only by an unnatural and forced construction put upon them Finally, is it a fact, that we have no evidence by revelation, of the eternity of God, his attributes and government, and the endless state of felicity he has prepared for his people, except what is found in the improper, forced, and accommodated use of words? Such must be the case, if aion, and aionios do not primarily and Grammatically express the idea of endless being. If any one is silly enough to believe this, his case may be commiserated, but it is useless to ply him with arguments; and any system of religion whose existence depends upon maintaining such a view of divine revelation, and the foundation of christian faith, holds out to the christian world the infallible sign of its own spurious and infidel character.
I know how Mr. Austin will attempt to meet this argument; he will endeavor to find some other word or words that may answer as a substitute for aion, and aionios, such as amaranton, unfading, ametalheton, immutable, aphtharsia, incorruptible, athanasian, immortality,'athanatos, immortal, or akatalutou, indissoluble. (1 Pet. i. 4, Heb. vi. 18, 1 Cor. xv. 50, 1 Tim. vi. 16, 1 Cor. xv. 53, Heb. vii. 16.) But a single glance is sufficient to convince any discerning mind, that neither of these words are adapted to convey ideas of time or duration, and are not thus employed in the scrip. tures. They are all compounded with a negative, and their primary signification is directly contrary to the definitions given above. It would contradict the usage, and do violence to the genius of the language, lo employ them as substitutes for aion and aionios.The object of these words is to express another and entirely different class of ideas. This idea of having other words better adapted to express endless duration than aion, is a mere cavil, which no man who values his reputation as a scholar will allow himself to advocate. The paternity of this notion belongs, I think, to Mr. Viller, and was subsequently used by the famous Abner Kneeland, when in his glory as a Universalist preacher. Mr. Kneeland thought the Greek word akatalutou, indissoluble, expressed the idea of eternity more forcibly than aion, and if it were connected with misery or death in the scriptures, it would go far towards proving endless punishment. The Rev. gentleman shed great light on ihe subject in the estimation of all Universalist readers, and be. fore it went entirely out, he took advantage of it and ran off into open infidelity-where all others ought to go, who adopt his rules of interpretation. I will give Mr. Fuller's reply to the argumenton akatalutou, and it will apply with the same force to any or all the other words given above, should Mr. Austin attempt to press them into his service. “ It is true the term akatalutos is here applied 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 opposed to that of Aaron, wherein men were not suffered to continue by reason of death. The word signifies indissoluble; and 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 end. less happiness of good men, as opposed to the dissoluble, or transitory enjoyments of the present state ; but as to the punishment of the wicked, supposing it to be endless, I question whether it be at all applicable to it. I can form no idea how the term indissoluble, any more than incorruptible, can apply to punishment. The word kataluo, to unloose, or dissolve, it is true, is said to refer to travellers loosing their own burdens, or those of their beasts when they are resting by the way; but there are no examples of its having been used in 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 signifies to destroy, or demolish-and you will scarcely suppose the sacred writers to suggest the idea of destruction, which cannot be destroyed.”—(Rev. G. Peck on Universalism. Page 94.)
6. That the words aion and aionios signify unlimited duration, and establish the eternity of that punishment to which the sinner is exposed has been admitted by some of the most intelligent Universalists. Murray believed the penalty of God's law was endless death, from which all men have been redeemed—that the security for their final salvation was in the vicarious atonement of Christ, a sentiment which Mr. Austin has ridiculed in a manner approaching to blasphemy. Murray admitted all those Bible promises in regard to eternal life (in which aionios occurs) expressed unlimited duration : and inasmuch as he made the vicarious atonement necessary to salvation, he must have admitted by inference if in no other way, that the punishment threatened and from which men were redeemed, was endless also. Hartly acknowledged the signification of these words as employed in the scripture3, to be that of unlimited duration ; but in various ways sought to avoid the force of them as they relate to the wicked. The late Rev. John Foster had too much sense to adopt any of the usual expedients resorted to, to explain away the meaning of aion, and aionios, and too much self-respect to deny what he could not explain away. “I acknowledge myself not convinced of the orthodox doctrine," but says he, "If asked why not, I should have little to say in the way of criticism, of implications found or sought in what may be called incidental expressions of scripture, or of the passages dubiously cited in favor of final universal restitution." -(vol. 2 p. 263) Winchester takes ground similar to that taken by Hartly-admits aionios means eternal when applied to the future condition of the righteous, but thinks when used in connection with punishment (though it means a very great while,) there are other passages which limit its signification. But still more em
phatic and decided is the language of Dr. Huntington, himself a Universalist. He remarks: “Does the Bible say that sinners of mankind shall be damned to interminable punishment? It certainly does, as plainly as language can express, or any man or God himself can speak. It is quite strange to me that some who believe that all mankind shall in the end be saved, will trifle with a few words, and most of all with the original word and its derivatives, translated forever. All the learned know that this word in Greek signifies interminable duration, an age, a long period, according as the connected sense requires. They, therefore, who would deny that the endless damnation of sinners is fully asserted in the word of Goil, are unfair in their reasoning, and criticism.” —(Calvinism Improved.)
Here we have all these Universalists, (and more might be named,) by plain avowal, or unavoidable consequence, on one side, and J. M. Austin on the other side. We have now proved the primary and grammatical sense of aion, and its derivatives, to be unending duration; by the philology of the word-by the authority of Lexicons-by the most ancient versions of the Bible—by the testimony of most learned and distinguished writers, philosophers and Christians—by the fact these are the only words em. ployed in the Bible to express endless duration-and by the admis. sion of Universalists, who have had too much sense or self-respect to assert the contrary. And now I dismiss this part of the subject with a single remark, viz: that I admit the words are sometimes used in an accommodated sense both in the old and New Testaments. I have never thought of denying this, and hence Mr. Austin might have spared himself the pains he has been at, in fortifying a point which no man of information ever thought of disputing. Bat recollect, the limited is always the accommodated sense
--the primary sense is endless. A word may originally signify more than it is used to express in a given case; but it cannot be properly used to express more than its original or primary siguification; hence all limited significations of aion are accommodated, and subordinate to its first and radical idea. My eighteenth argument is based on
THE SCRIPTURAL USE OF AION AND AIONIOS, In which I shall show that they are used in the endless sense, and also employed to express the unlimited duration of punishment. We have already admitted they are in some connections used in an accommodated sense, and express limited duration ; but in nearly every such case, the nature of the subject to which they are applied, clearly determines the sense in which they are to be taken. On this point, I have no motive for disputing with Mr. Austin. The question I now consider is, do the inspired writers use these terms to express duration without end, and do they use them in this sense in connection with future punishment ?
Aion, says Edwards, reckoning the reduplications of it to be but single instances, of its use, occurs in the New Testament in 104
places, in 32 of which it means a temporary duration, in 7 it may be taken in either the temporary or endless sense, in 65 it plainly signifies an endless duration.
The adjective aionios, is found in 71 places, and in all except two, to say the least, it may be understood in the endless sense.
Another writer gives 199 places in which these words are found, and he distributes their application in the following manner : To the Mosaic dispensation,
9 The world, with its various ages and revolutions passed, 34 To God, Christ, the Holy Ghost, and reign of Christ, 46 To eternal life and blessedness,
65 Ascriptions of praise to God and Christ,
24 Eternal death and punishment,
21 I have examined this classification, and the application, of these terms, sufficiently to satisfy myself of its general, not to say exact correctness. If Mr. Austin is prepared to dispute it, and will adduce proof in time, it shall be considered. I pronounce it correct, and by summing up the several instances in which the words signify unending duration, we find that out of 199, only 43 are to be taken in the limited sense.
In all the remaining 156, there is not only nothing in the connection requiring the limited signification, but the sense actually demands that they be understood as expressing the proper idea of eternity. Now take out the 21 instances in which the words are applied to punishment, and the classification stands 43 with the limited, 135 with the unlimited signification. Hence, if we were to decide upon the sense in which the words are to be taken in those places where they are applied to punishment, by the sense in which they are generally used, the evidence in favor of the unlimited over the limited sense, would be as 135 is to 43, that is, about 3 1-2 to one: pretty strong proof, I should think. There is not a man here who would ask for better authority in relation to other subjects, where his action is required. And that it may be seen that I am not mistaken in saying the one hundred fifty six instances above named require the unlimited sense, by the construction of the sentence, I will give a few instances as specimens of the rest. 1 Tim. i. 17.- Now unto the king eternal (aionion) immortal, invisible.” Rom. i. 20.--"Even his eternal (aionion) power and god-head.” 2 Cor. vi. 5.-" We have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal (aionion) in the heavens.” Rom. vi. 23.-" The gift of God is eternal life.” The learned Tholuck on this passage makes the "zoen aionion” refer to the final consummation of a life of piety, in which holiness is to be rewarded. These references are enough to show the character of the 156 places in which aion and its derivatives must be understood in the endless sense. What, then, shall we think of a system of theology professing to give an impartial view of God's word, which, nevertheless, boldly asserts through its most distinguished advocates,
that these words are never used in the Bible in any other than the linited sense--that they express an indefinitely long, though always limited period? Does Mr. Austin take ihis ground
There is another point to which I call the attention of the gentleman and the audience. It is the fact, that wherever aion is construed with the proposition eis, it must be taken in the endless
When the sense of the passage requires the endless signification, aion is construed with eis. Take a few examples. Matt. vi. 13.-" Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, (eis aionas) forever.” Matt. xxi. 19.-"Let no fruit grow on thee (eis ton aiona) forever.” Phill. iv. 20.--" To God and our Father be glory (eis tous aionas) forever.” Heb. xii. 21.-" To whom be glory (eis tous aionas) forever.” Rom. v. 21.-"Grace reign therough righteousness (eis zoen aionion) unto eternal life." The use of the preposition eis in these connections, seems to be to strengthen the sentence, and render it more defiuite. Donnegan mentions its use particularly in definitions of time, in which case it marks the scope and extent of meaning, and he illustrates it by an example from Homer.
In the whole New Testament it is used with this construction, about 60 times, including the places which refer to future punishment. In these places, as is seen in the examples given above, the word aion must be taken in the endless sense ; but in those places in which the sense of aion is clearly limited, the preposition is not found : from which it is clear that this particular construction is intended to mark with emphasis the signification of qion as employed in the New Testament; and as it is construed in this way in its application to future punishment, it follows that this particular form is intended lo mark the unending duration of that punishment.
We will give a few examples of this construction in connection with future punishment. Matt. xxv. 46.-" These shall go away into (eis kolasin aionion) everlasting punishment.” Mark iii. 29.
_" Hath never forgiveness,” (eis ton aiona.) 2 Pet. ii. 17.-" To whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever,” (eis aionia.) Rev. xx. 10.—“ And they shall be tormented day and night (eis lous aionas ton aionon,) forever and ever.”
What we have said thus far on aion and its derivatives, may be summed up, thus : It is proved to signify primarily and grammatically, duration without end. 1. By its etymology. 2. By the teetimony of lexicons. 3. By the authority of the most learned writers, philosophers and theologians, ancient and molern. 4. By ancient versions of the scriptures. 5. By the fact that it is employed to translate those Hebrew terms which signify eternity. 6. From the fact that otherwise the Greek language would possess no word properly expressive of the idea of eternity. 7. From the fact that God has employed this language to set forth the eternity of his own existence and government. 8. The sense of those pas.