Page images

men ever lost final holiness and happiness. He don't believe the advent of Christ necessary to the salvation of any man, or that a single individual is more sure of heaven than he would have been if Christ had never existed. How then is Christ to be disgraced by failing to accomplish the object of his mission? The truth is, according to Universalism, Christ is in no sense a Savior oi all men.

He is degraded, and robbed of his titles and work, and as effectually disgraced as the Infidelity of men can disgrace him. -[Time expired

[MR. AUSTIN'S ELEVENTH REPLY.] Gent. Moderators .—Near the close of his last speech, Mr. Holmes introduced his eighteenth Argument in the Affirmative. It rests, he tells us, on the meaning of the words everlasting and forever, when applied to future punishment. It must be acknow. Yedged by all who have witnessed this discussion, that Elder Holmes has been exceedingly unfortunate in his criticisms on the original words involved in our investigations. The same fatality he will find awaits his efforts in the present instance.

He acknowledges that aion, aionion, &c., are frequently used in an indefinite and limited sense. This concession he could not refrain from making, because I had already introduced a large number of passages where they indicate a limited time. But in this acknowledgement, he allows all I can ask, to give the whole of this philological argument into my hands. If aionion and aionios, were very commonly used by the scripture writers, to de. note a limited period of duration, as he admits, then the fact that these words are used to describe punishment, affords no proof that such punishment is endless. Let my brother and the pub. lic bear in mind, that he is in the affirmative on this question. Here are certain words, which, while they often signify strictly endless time, he admits they also frequently mean a limited period-time that comes to an end. Now when one of these indef. nite words is applied to punishment, Elder Holmes affirms it means strictly endless duration. I deny it. Does it not follow, on every principle of logic, that he must proceed to prove his affirmationtrue? In no way can this be done, but by showing that there is something in the nature and object of punishment, that make it necessarily endless. Until he does this satisfactorily, he accomplishes nothing. Let me illustrate by the word "large." We speak of a large TREE, and a large PIN. Does "large," mean the same size in both cases. Suppose my friend should assert, and attempt to maintain, that in a certain country they manufactured PINS as large as TREES. When called upon for proof, he introduces a letter from a friend in that country, who writes that in his neighborhood there is a manufactory of "large" pins; and he proceeds to maintain by an appeal to logic that as the word

"large,” when connected with tree, means a tree at least an hundred feet in length, therefore the same word “large," attached to pin, proves that pins are an hundred feet long. Who could but admire such an argument! Would he not be required to show from the structure of the pin, that it was of that enormous length, rather than to depend on the indefinite meaning of “large." Yet similar is the reasoning of my opponent, on the subject under consideration. Because aionion, a word of the most indefinite meaning, signifies time without end, when applied to God, or his attributes, he contends that it has the same signification in connection with punishment, which of itself, has not the slightest element of endlesness !! Such logic cannot produce conviction on any enlightened mind.

Mr. Holmes maintains that the etymology of the word aionits primary grammatical meaning-is endless duration ; that such is its general usage in the scriptures; that those places where it is used in a limited sense, are only cścceptions to the general rule of its usage, and that it devolves on me to prove that its application to punishment, is included within these exceplions. Allowing all his premises in this statement to be correct, it would give no weight to his argument. I have already proved that there are none of the elements of endless duration in the nature of pun. ishment—that it is corrective, reformatory--and hence must necessarily cease. Moreover, I have shown that God has positively declared he WILL NOT cast off, nor contend [punish] forever !! This establishes the fact, that punishment is legitimately within the exceptions which my opponent allows exist to his general rule. But I dissent wholly from his rule, both in regard to general usage, and etymology. The general usage of aion and its derivatives, in the scriptures, I insist, is not endless duration, but indefinite duration, longer or shorter, in accordance with the object they qualify. In proof of this position to show that the nature of the subject with which these words are connected, must determine the duration they express—I could introduce the testimony of many of the most eminent scholars and commentators.-Donnegan gives the following detinition of aion-"Time; a space of time; life time and life; the ordinary period of man's life; the age of man; man's estate; a long period of time; eternity.” While he gives one sense of endless duration to aon, he furnishes seven different instances, where it has the meaning of indefinite duration . Schleusner gives the following as the definition of aion :-“ Any space of time, whether longer or shorter, past, present, or future, to be determined by the persons or things spoken of, and the scope of the subjects; the life or age of man; any space in which we measure human life, from birth to death. Mucknight, says in regard to aion and aionios—" These words, being ambigous, are always to be understood according to the nature and circumstances of the things to which they are applied.” Professor Stuart says—"The New Testament usage differs from the classical one, in that aion in the New Testament most usually means an INDEFINITE, unlimited period of time ; whereas, in the classics, the sense ævum, seculum, age, generation, in respect to time, appears to be its most usual meaning." Maclaine, in his Mosheim, says--"The word aion, or æon, is commonly used among Greek writers, but in different senses. Its signification in the Gnostic system, is not very evident, and several learned men have despaired of finding out its true signification. Aion, or con, among the ancients, was used to signify the age of man, or the duration of human life. In after times, it was employed by philosophers to express the duration of spiritual and invisible beings."

These citations might be greatly multiplied. They prove that a limited meaning to aion and derivatives, is not an exception to the general rule of its scripture usage, but clearly within that rule; and they establish the fact that indefinite duration, and not endless, is the primary meaning of these words.

Mr. Holmes attaches great importance to the etymology of Aion, as supporting his position, that endless time is its primary meaning. He asserts that it is compounded of aei, ever, or always, and on, being-ever-being. It is not an established fact that these are the roots of aion. Some !exicographers insist that uion comes from the verb aio. Others contend that it is composed of aia, a poetical word, signifying the world, and on, to exist. Be this, however, as it may, acknowledging that aion comes from aci and on, it will be allowed that all its meaning of duration, is derived from aei. Now I maintain that this word is never used in the scriptures, to signify endless duration ; but its scriptural usage or meaning is continuous, uninterrupted. It is found eight times in the New Testament, as follows:-"And the multitude, crying aloud, began to desire him [Pilate) to do as he had EVER (aeialways] done unto them.'-(Mark xv, 8.) “Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do ALWAYS [aei—continually) resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do you."-(Acts vii. 51.) * For we which live are always delivered [aei-continually exposed) unto death."--(2 Cor. iv, 11.) " The Cretans are ALWAYS (aei---habitually, uniformly) liars."--(Titus i. 12.) " They do ALWAYS [aei-continually) err in their hearts."--(Heb. iii. 10.) “Be ready ALWAYS (aei-constantly) to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you."--11 Peter iii. 18.) “Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always [aei--constantly) in remembrance of these things."--(2 Peter i. 12.) These, if I do not err, are all the instances where aei occurs in the New Testament. It will be seen that it has not, in a single case, the signification of endless duration. In every instance, it has the meaning of “constantly," “ uninterruptedly."

The classical usage of æi seems to be similar to the scriptural.

The ancient poet Cleanthus, in a hymn to Jove, uses the following language :--" For thus hast thou connected the good with the evil in one system, that one continually existing [aien eonta] principle of reason is in all; from which, whoever of mortals are wicked, ill-starred, are endeavoring to escape, because, indeed, continuALLY [æi-constantly] coveting the possessions of the good,” etc. In the same poem, he exclaims—“O Jupiter, EVER Caiei) conquering all."--"I will sing your power continuALLY (aien.] And again--" There is nothing more incumbent on mortals, nor on the gods, than justly to celebrate the universal law coNTINUALLY"--[æi.)

These quotations establish the fact that æi signiñes constant, continuous, an indefinite period of time, and not strictly endless. Now as æi does not of itself, contain the sense of endless duration, how can it impart that meaning when compounded into aion or aionion.

Will our hearers, will the public, reflect on this question ? The Elder's position that the etymological or grammatical sense of aion or aionios is endless time, fails to the earth, to slumber with his other lame attempts at criticism.

Mr. Holmes says he has proved by the best commentators, that aion and aionios, signify eternal duration. He has only shown that sometimes these words have that meaning, and that at other times they have not. If any lexicographer declares they signify “endless time," when applied to punishment, he steps beyond the record, and asserts what cannot be sustained, as I have clearly proved already.

My opponent gives Edward's assertion that in sixty-five cases in the Bible, aion signifies endless time. That there are as many instances as this where aion is applied to things that are in themselves endless, and hence in these cases convey a meaning of endless duration, I have no doubt. But can Edwards, my friend Holmes, or any other man, show one instance where aion or aionios has a signification of time without end, when applied to punishment ? This is impossible. I know he borrows a pompously arranged table prepared by some wise-acre, who gravely asserts that aion and aionion occur 21 times in reference to endless punishment. And the Elder finally musters courage, after some little hesitation, and valiantly endorses it, without in fact, having the slightest glimpse of knowledge or apparantly the slightest care, whether the table is true or false. But what dependence can be placed on this man's assertion, or my friend's endorsement ? Not the least. Professor Stuart holds up to the world the blundering ignorance both of the framer and the endorser of this wonderful table. He claims but SEVEN instances in the New Testament, where aionios is ever applied to future punishment. But if aionios is applied in a single case to future pun. ishment, which I deny, it would not prove it to be endless. Recollect that is the only point before us. Instead of feeble and futile

assertions, let the gentleman buckle on the armour, and shor a single passage in the Bible, where it is evident from the nature of punishment, anlits designs, that aionios when connected with it, has the signification or endless time. This is the only true method to determine the duration expressed by a word so indefinite.

Mr. Holmes quotes several passages where aionion evidently means ceaseless time. But in all these cases it is connected with the being or attributes of God, or with things pertaining to an immortal state of existence.

The Elder introduces a few passages of scripture, in which he gives “age lasting," as the meaning of aionion, to show iis a'. surdity. Among others he read the following—"For we klow that is our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."'--12 Cor. v. 1.) He says I would read it "cie lasting in the heavens.'' I call the audience to witness that this is exceedingly unfar, and unworthy a high-minded controversialist. I have not taken the ground ihat aionion in all cases, sirnifies age-lasting, or an indefinite period of time. I have repeaiedly defined my position to be that, when a pied to punishinient, and other things which from their nature are temporary; then aionion signifies a limited duration. But ihai wien used in reference to the Deity; his attributes, or to any thing connecte:! with an immortal existence, it then conveys a meaning of strictly endless duration. Hence in the passage I have noticed, and oiher like places, aionion may properly be rendered---eiernal [unending] in the heavens." "Let iny opponent quote any passage where a onion is connected wiih punishnet, and read it "age-lasting." In all such cases, it will be seen the reading is perfectly consistent and grammatical. The Elder is either so blind that lie cannot, or so stubborn that he will not, see the ground I occupy on these orginal words. But this is of little moment. The audience and ihe public understand it, and that is sufficient to make me content.

MIr. Holmes gravely asserts that there is no evidence of the endless existence of God, if aionios does not sigaily duration without end!! Ilow the man talks! Why, dear friend, it does mean endless time when applied to God! Is not that sufficient? Or do you insist that unless aionios when applied to crery thing, however short--the Levitical priest-hool, the Jewish slaves, a man's life-time, or the three days in which Jonah was in the whale--ineans strictly endless time, there is no evidence of Gol's eternal being ? This idea thai the eternity of Jehorah's existence does not depend upon his own infinite nature, a pon the fact that he IS, from everlasting to everlasting, but upon the grammati al or theological construction of a single word, is so childish that it can need no serious notice at my hands.

« PreviousContinue »