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Another position taken by my friend is that if aionion when applied to punishment, does not mean strictly endless duration, then there was no Greek word by which the writers of the Bible could have expressed such a doctrine. This ground was first occupied by some rash defender of endless punishment, possessing more zeal than knowledge ; and since that day, every volunteer advocate of that beautiful sentiment, has blundered into the same pit of ignorance. Why cannot these gentlemen do themselves the justice to investigate this point a moment, before they expose a stupidity so consummate. If there is no word but aionion in in the Greek language to express duration that is endless, pray how did the early Greek writers denote unending time? We have seen they never used that word in any case. It is not to be found in their most ancient classics. Hence there must have been some other word or words, by which they conveyed that idea.
A brief examination will show us that the scripture writers used several Greek words beside aionion to signify endless time. The Elder has made a weak attempt to forestal the introduction of these words. Dreading to meet them in a fair field, he fired off his gun, coward like, before the enemy approached, and then ran away and hid himself. This is the second or third instance in which he has committed the folly so pointedly condemned by the wise man, (Prov. xviii. 13,) of answering a matter before he hears it. He was, however, undoubtedly satistied he could answer this matter much better before he heard it, than afterwards. Come back my friend, and enter upon this investigation like a man. A few examples will show the Greek language possesses other words than aion or its derivitives, to express duration without end. 1 Cor. xv. 42,-"So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in INCORRUPTION"—[aphtharsia-immortality-an undying existence.) 1 Cor. xv. 53. -" For this corruptible must put on incorruption, [aphtharsian] and this mortal must put on IMMORTALITY"-[athanasia-endless existence.] 2 Tim. i. 9, 10.-“Who hath saved us and called us with a holy calling, 'not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world (aionion] began : but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and brought life and IMMORTALITY [zoen kai aphtharsian-endless existence] to light, through the gospel.” Here aionion is used in a limited sense, and another word, uphtharsian, introduced to designate the endlessness of the life, which Christ brought to light.1 Pet. i. 3,4.-" Hath begotten us again into a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance, incorruptible, (aphtharton) undefiled, and that FADETH NOT AWAY." [amaranton-enduring, unending.”] Luke i. 33.-Speaking of Christ-"And of his kingdom there shall be NO END”-ouk estai telos--Literally, WITHOUT END.] Can any man find a passage in
the scriptures, where this phraseology is applied to punishment? If endless punishment was designed to be revealed in the Bible, why was not it proclaimed in the unmistakable words—and of this punishment there shall be no end.” Heb. vii. 16.-“Who is made not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an ENDLESS LIFE”-[zoes akatalutou-incapable of dissolution-unending.) Heb. x. 12.-" But this man, Christ) after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, FOREVER (dienekes-perpetually endlessly) sat down on the right hand of God." Heb. x. 14. — For by one offering he hath perfected FOREVER, (dienekes] them that are sanctified."
Here are five different Greek words found in the New Testament, which most emphatically express endless duration, and not one of them was ever applied to punishment by a divine writer. Let it never be said hereafter, by any who value their reputation as Biblical scholars, that no Greek word could be found to express endless punishment, but that uncertain and indefinite word aron, and its derivatives. Mr. Holmes, it is true, takes this position. But my poor friend is to be borne with on account of his great ignorance in relation to the matter, and his distressed situation.With pitiable fatuity he says neither of these words are adapted to convey ideas of time or duration. This is one of those hazardous expressions for which my friend has become noted. Who can he expect will believe so groundless an assertion? Do not " forever," [dienekes) "incorruption," (aphtharsia]— life and immortality," [zoen aphtharsian)—“fadeth not away,” (amaranton]—“no end," Couk estai telos)— endless life,” [zoes akatalutou]-convey ideas of time and duration? If not, what ideas do they convey? My friend says “ the idea of having other words better adapted to express endless duration than aion is mere cavil, which no man who values his reputation as a scholar will allow himself to advocaie." I reply, no man who is a gentleman, will wilfully mis-state an opponent's position. The point I labored to establish was not that there were other words better adapted to express endless duration, than aion, although I could well have taken that ground. But I aimed to answer the assertion so frequently made, ihat there were no Greek words which the scripture writers could use to express endless punishment, except aion and aionios. To show there were words which might have been thus used, if the inspired penmen had thought proper, I introduced the criticism in relation to aphthar. sia, akatalutou, etc. These words are always used in the New Testament to signify endless life, endless duration—they have no disputed meaning. But they are never applied to describe the dxration of punishment. The quotation Elder H. introduces from some writer in regard to akatalutou, does not effect in the least degree, the use I made of the word. And it has not the slightest bearing on the other four words I introduced, for the same purpose. Against these four words he urges nothing directly. Har
ing hunted up a few lines from some obscure author, who foolishly attempts to show that akatalulou does not mean endless duration, the Elder's resources are exhausted, he gasps for further utterance, but nothing will come forth! He abandons the other words I introduced, and virtually acknowledges they contain the meaning of endless duration. As to Abner Kneeland running into infidelity, I would inquire what it is that causes thousands to run from orthodox congregations and churches, into the lowest depths of skepticism? Where one man has gone from Universalism to infidelity, an hundred have been driven by modern evangelism into the same dark pool. His extraordinary pains to charge infidelity on Universalists, at every possible opportunity, where he can lug the word in, is but a wretched device of a guilty heart trying to cover up the fact, that infidelity is festering every where at the Very vitals of the orthodox sects!
I have had frequent occasions to call the attention of those interested in this debate, to the fatality which attends all Elder Holmes' attempts at criticism in the Greek language. I can account for this, in no way but that he takes the assertions of some superficial dabbler in the original, whom he blindly follows without having any means of knowing whether the declarations he copies are sound or unsound-thus exemplifying the Savior's declaration, " when the blind lead the blind, they both fall into the ditch.” He has made a marvelous discovery in support of endless punishment in the Greek word " eis.” He insists this word when used in connection with aionios, Adds to its duration. But what necessity is there of adding any thing to aionios, if that word already, grammatically and primarily signifies endless duration ? This great anxiety to give strength to that word, indicates clearly that he has no confidence himself in his attempts to make its original meaning to be endless time.
He says that wherever the sense of the passage requires an endless signification, aionios is construed with eis; and that in those cases in which aionios is clearly limited, the word eis is not found. Were we to allow the correctness of this position, it would prove fatal to my opponent in a variety of ways. 1. It takes from his hand several passages of scripture which he and others of his school frequently quote in defence of endless punishment. For instance, in 2 Thess. i. 9—“Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction, (olethron aionion,) from the presence of the Lord,” etc. Jude 7-“Even as Sodom and Gomorrah,
are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire, (puros aionion.) Mark iji. 29-In reference to the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost,
" but is in danger of eternal damnation”—[aionion kriseos.] In these passages “eie” is wholly omitted ; and hence according to Elder Holmes' own rule, the word aionion is “ clearly LIMITED” in its meaning. Yet this astute scholar is in the con. stant habit of quoting these passages to prove endless punishment.
Let no adventurous defender of the sweet doctrine of interminable burnings, ever quote them again in its defence. The Elder bas decided that “cis” being absent, they mean a limited punishment. 2. His construction of “eis" destroys the eternity of the salvation effected by Christ, and of a future existence. Heb. v. 9—" And being made perfect he became the author of eternal salvation (soterias aionion) unto all them that obey them.”—Heb. ix. 12-**
He entered in once into the holy place having obtained eternal redemption (aionian lutrosin) for us." We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands eternal in the heavens.” [aionion en tois ouranois.] “Eis” is not connected with aronion in These instances. The rule established by Elder H. proves that salvation, and redemption, and the house not made with hands, are to endure but for a limited time. He destroys, so far as any conti-, dence can be placed in his criticism, all hope of endless salvation, and of endless being. 3. According to his enlightened criticism, God's honor and power, are to endure only for a limited time.-1 Tim. vi. 164"Whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting,” [tima kai kratos aionion.] ** Eis" does not occur here, of course my friend's rule limits the honor and power of Jehovah !
But the Elder's flourish in regard to "eis” amounts to nothing. His construction is entirely erroneous, and will assuredly mislead all who are sufficiently ignorant to put the slightest confidence in it. Eis never gives an endless meaning to aionion. In regard to time, it signifies to, even to, until--and no more than this. He that endureth to the end, [eis telos-j.e. the end of that age,] shall be saved”-[Matt. x. 22.] Or in Matt. xxv. 46—" These shall go away, into everlasting punishment”-[eis kolusin aionion-even to age lasting chastisment.]
My friend is so generous as to allow that I have given a true definition of aionion, when I construe it as signifying continuous, uninterrupted: although he thinks I have stumbled into it. If the Elder would even slumble into the truth, a little oftener in his exposition of scripture, I think he would confer a great obligation on those who are so unfortunate as to be disposed to follow him. But he thinks he has annihilated me with my own rule. He says, whatever is uninterrupted must continue forever. The degree of intelligence and logic manifested in this position, is entitled to the highest admiration. According to this philosophical opinion, when an individual says—“My sleep last night was uninterrupted,” his meaning is, that it was endless !! Where is there a child who does not know that the words "continuous” and “uninterrupted," when spoken in reference to punishment, refer to its steady application, rather than its prolonged duration simple meaning is, that so long as it continues, it will be constantly inflicted, without in. terruption !
- He says with great refinement of manner, that my “Rule,” in regard 10 aionion, is both false and foolish. Its falsehood he declares, consists in its contradiction of my position that aionion sig... nities uninterrupted duration. This point I have already sufficiently explained. Its foolishness, the Elder maintains, is in giving no meaning to aionion. But I do give a meaning to aionion-viz: indetinite duration. Dr. Campbell declares its“ radical idea is inderinite duration.” When we say that large-small-high-loware words of indefinite signification--to be understood according to the nature of the subject with which they are connected, can we be charged with giving no meaning to them? It would be as proper to make such a charge, as for my opponent to insist that it dionion signifies indefinite duration, it has no meaning !
I desire the public to weigh the labors of Elder Holmes on these original worus. After wading through long and tedious paragraphs, whai fact has he established in regard to their connection with punishment, which can yield any support to the affirma. tive of this question ? He either has not seen the true point to which he should have aimed, or, seeing it, has cautiously avoided approaching it. Conscious of his inability to sustain himself in this critical argument, he has led the minds of our hearers on a long and tortuous journey towards every other quarter than that where they could arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. The whole subject can be brought to a single point. Even allowing all that Elder Holmes claims, that the primary, grammatical meaning of aion and aionios is endless time, (which is far from the fact,) still, inasmuch as he allows they are frequently used to denote limited duration, it results in the same conclusion, that their meaning in any given case, must be determined by the nature of the subject. Hence the only inquiry which can lead to any distinct result, bearing on this discussion, is the following-Is there any thing in the nature of punishment which gives to aion or aionios, the signification of endless duration, when describing it? This has been the sole question between us, during these long criticisms. All will bear me witness that my friend opposite, has not approached that point! He has studiously kept far off. And the reason is obvions-he dare not grapple with it! He is well aware there is nothing in the object or nature of punishment that can make it necessarily endless! This position I have heretofore established by the most convincing evidence. In avoiding this vital point, my friend has surrendered the argument into my hands! I claim he has not shown and cannot show a word in the Bible, which, when connected with punishment, has the meaning of endless duration,
Elder Holmes [p. 719,] kes the following declaration :-“ The renowned author of the Ancient History of Universalism, suy's Augustine (415) was the first writer who asserted that the Greek word aion, and its derivatives, meant endless duration,