« PreviousContinue »
are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.
| Forever and ever. - We life) to things which endure for a have largely considered this phrase in long time, for an indefinite period. our note on xiv. 11. See, also, xix. 3. So it is applied to the Jewish priestAs much stress is laid on these words, bood; to the Mosaic ordinances; to we offer the following additional ob- the possession of the land of Canaan; servations, which we are sensible to the hills and mountains; to the involve some of the facts before stated. earth; to the time of service to be The words, forever and ever, of them- rendered by a slave; and to some selves, furnish no proof of strictly other things of a like nature.”—(Exendless duration; they are, in the eget. Essays. Andover, 1830, p. 50.) Scriptures, applied again and again Professor Robinson, of the Andover to temporal things. We will adduce Institution, said, in his edition of Cal. a few passages.
“ Now go, write it met, on the words “ Eternal, Eternity : before them in a table, and note it in These words often signify a very long a book; that it may be for the time to time, and therefore must not always come, forever and ever;" Isa. xxx. 8. be understood literally; so we find The destruction of Idumea is thus eternal mountains,' to denote their described : “It is the day of the Lord's antiquity; Gen. xlix. 26; Deut. xxxiii. vengeance, and the year of recom- 15. God promises to David an eterpense for the controversy of Zion. nal kingdom and posterity; that is, And the streams thereof shall be his and his son's empire would be of turned into pitch, and the dust thereof long duration.”—(Robinson's Calmet. into brimstone, and the land thereof Boston, 1832: p. 397.) “ The words shall become burning pitch. It shall eternal, everlasting, forever, [says Crunot be quenched night nor day; the den,) are sometimes taken for a long smoke thereof shall go up forever ; time, and are not always to be underfrom generation to generation it shall stood strictly; for example, it is said, lie waste; none shall pass through it Gen. xvii. 8: I will give to thee, and forever and ever ;" Isa. xxxiv. 8—10. to thy seed, the land of Canaan for There can be no doubt that the pun- an everlasting possession. And in ishments here described were tempo- chap. xiii. 15: "I will give it to thee ral punishments; and yet they are and to thy seed forever ;' that is, for described in almost the precise terms a long space of time. And in Gen. that occur in the case before us. Let xlix. 36, we find everlasting hills, so the reader also consult Jer. vii. 1—7. called to denote their antiquity, staThe 7th verse is, “ Then will I cause bility and duration ; and this expresyou to dwell in this place, in the land sion is used to show the long con. that I gave to your fathers, forever tinuance and durableness of Joseph's and ever.” See, also, Jeremiah xxv. blessing. God promises a throne to 5: “ Turn ye again now every one David, an eternal kingdom, a posterfrom his evil way, and from the evil ity that will never be extinguished; of your doings, and dwell in the land that is, that his and his son's empire that the Lord hath given unto you, will be of very long duration ; 2 Sam. and to your fathers, forever and ever. ." vii. 16; 1 Chron. xvii. 14. Thus, This being the last time, in the course thou shalt be our guide from this time of our Commentary, that we shall be forth, even forever, that is, during our called on to notice these terms as whole life. And in many other applied to the duration of punishment, places of Scripture, and in particular we give, in conclusion, the following where the word forever is applied to authorities and facts. Prof. Stuart the Jewish rites and privileges, it says, “The word translated everlasting commonly signifies no more than is sometimes applied (as in common during the standing of that common. 11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it,
wealth, or until the coming of the We shall now bring forward several Messiah.” – (See his Concordance on passages of Scripture to prove what the word Eternal.) Hear the learned we allege, and what these critics have Whitby, also, on this point: “Nor is conceded, viz., that the words are used there anything more common and in a limited sense. And, 1. Ever. familiar in Scripture, than to represent Lev. vi. 13: “The fire shall ever be a thorough and irreparable destruc- burning on the altar.” John xviii. tion, whose effects and signs shall be 20: “I ever taught in the synagogue still remaining, by the word aionios, and temple." 2. FOREVER. Gen. which we render eternal ;
* xiii. 15 : 2 For all the land which thou and this specially is threatened where seest, to thee will I give it, and to the destruction of a nation or people thy seed forever.”. Exod. xii. 14: is likened to the overthrow of Sodom" You shall keep it (the passover) a and Gomorrah.”— (Com. on Jude 7.) feast by an ordinance forever.” Lev. Observe, that there is nothing more xxv. 46: “They shall be your bondcommon than to find the word eternal, men forever ;" spoken of the Jewish and the concomitant expressions, used slaves. Jonah declares, when swalin a limited sense; and this is true lowed by the fish, “I went down to particularly where the punishment is the bottoms of the mountains; the likened to the overthrow of Sodom and earth, with her bars, was about me Gomorrah. We close with the follow- forever ; yet hast thou brought up my ing quotations, which we find in a life from corruption, o Lord my note on the passage before us, in the God;”. Jonah ii. 6. Here forever sig. Improved Version : “ Forever and ever; nified the time of Jonah's remaining Greek, ages of ages. This text has in the fish's belly. Philemon 15 : also been alleged, but with little rea- “ That thou shouldst receive him son, in favor of what has justly been (Onesimus) forever.” 3. EVERLASTcalled, the heart-withering doctrine of Ing. - -Gen. xvii. 8 ; xlviii. 4:“I will eternal torments. See ch. xiv. 11, give thee the land of Canaan for an and the note there. The persons who everlasting possession." Gen. xlix. are here said to be tormented forever 26 : “ The utmost bound of the everand ever, are not real, but figurative lasting hills.” Exod. xl. 15; Num. and symbolical persons, the devil, the xxv. 13:“An everlasting priesthood.” beast, and the false prophet. The Lev. xvi. 34: “An everlasting statplace, therefore, the kind, and the ute.” Hab. iii. 6: “The everlasting duration of their torment, must also mountains were scattered.” Now, as be figurative. The meaning seems it regards these words, it makes no to be, that all the corruptions of the difference how often they are used in Christian religion, as well as all hea- an unlimited sense, though they are then idolatry, and the spirit of perse- used much less frequently in that cution, shall be totally and forever sense than is generally supposed. exterminated; and pure and unde- If they are sometimes used in a limited filed Christianity, in its spirit and in sense, it is enough for our argument; its power, shall everywhere prevail, it shows that the mere force of the and produce universal peace, and word cannot be depended upon to harmony, and happiness. This is the prove the endless duration of punishtrue advent of Christ; and to the ment. We have now closed up all promise of his speedy appearance for that is to be said of the dragon, that these glorious purposes, what benevo- old serpent, which is the Devil and lent heart can refuse to adopt the Satan,” the metaphor of the heathen response of the prophet, Amen, persecuting power, of whom we shall Come, Lord Jesus!" (Ch. xxii. 20.) Thear no more in the Apocalypse.
from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there
These four terms signify the same white throne.” The gospel shall power, in the third section of that / triumph ; Jesus was appointed to book, whether used separately or con- reign over the nations. By this jointly. If, after all, any persons “great white throne" is unquestion. think that the fallen angelic diabolos ably intended the mediatorial throne. is intended, let them remember that It is not a real, but an ideal throne, he is cast into the lake of fire, and is like the thrones" mentioned in the as utterly destroyed as were Sodlom 4th verse, and like the “holy city and Gomorrah, or the power of hea- New Jerusalem” coming down from thenism in that part of the world for- God out of heaven. This city had merly embraced in the Roman empire. “a wall great and high,” and “twelve FOURTH DIVISION OF THE APOCALYPSE. and the length and the breadth of it
gates,” and at the gates twelve angels; Preliminary Observations. We have were equal, each twelve thousand now come to what we call the fourth furlongs; xxi. 12—16. Does any one great division of the Apocalypse. suppose that this is to be understood These divisions are made with refer- in the literal sense? Does any one ence to what we regard as the true suppose that such a city actually de. sense of the book.
scended from God out of heaven? 1. The first division, extending to It was not a real, but an imaginary the end of the third chapter, embraces city. The ancient Jerusalem being the revelator's introduction, and his very beautiful in the eyes of the Jews, epistles to the seven churches of Asia. and being associated with all that was
2. The second, extending from the holy in the Jewish religion, the Jewcommencement of the fourth chapter ish Christians represented the descent to the end of the eleventh, describes of the Gospel as the descent of another the tumults and trials of the Jews, Jerusalem, a new Jerusalem, more and the downfall of Judaism.
beautiful than the former. So, in the 3. The third, extending from the ideal which the ancient Jews had of commencement of the twelfth chap- the dwelling-place of God, they picter to the end of the tenth verse of tured the Holy One as sitting on a the twentieth chapter, sets forth the throne. In their first conceptions, opposition of heathenism to Chris- these views were indistinct and shadtianity, and its final overthrow. It is owy, like a vision. See the followunfortunate that a division of the ing passages : “And above the firmachapters was not made at this place. ment that was over their heads was
4. The fourth division treats of the likeness of a throne, as the apChrist ascending the mediatorial pearance of a sapphire-stone; and throne, and of the introduction and upon the likeness of the throne was final prevalence of the Gospel in the a likeness as the appearance of a man world. Of course, it is the latter sub-above upon it;" Ezk. i. 26. Again : ject we are now to take up.
“ Then I looked, and, behold, in the 11. I saw a great white throne. firmament that was above the head Having exhorted the churches to con- of the cherubims there appeared over stancy and faithfulness, by showing them as it were a sapphire-stone, as the downfall both of Judaism and the appearance of the likeness of a heathenism, the revelator comes now throne;" Ezk. x. 1. When, there. still further to confirm them, by fore, the Lord Jesus was appointed to showing the spread and triumph of reign as the spiritual ruler among the the Gospel. He goes back in his nations, nothing was more natural reflections to the establishment of the than to represent him as sitting on a mediatorial kingdom. “I saw a great throne. It is a very appropriate and was found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead,
beautiful metaphor. As in the an. Son of man coming in his kingdom ;" cient city of Jerusalem, “there were Matt. xvi. 27, 28. Here the Saviour set thrones of judgment, the thrones explicitly states, that there were some of the house of David ;" Psa. cxxii. 5; standing before him, and listening to so in the holy city New Jerusalem, his words, who should not die before there are also thrones of judgment.” his coming in his glory should take The principal one is the “great white place. The reader who wishes to be throne" of the Mediator. The throne very critical may also consult Matt. denotes the power of the Lord Jesus viii. 38; ix. 1; Luke ix. 26, 27. We to reign. It is said to be great because esteem it, then, to be fully settled, “all power in heaven and on earth that “the great white throne” was was given to him ;” Matt. xxviii. 18; set up at the time the kingdom of God and it is said to be white to show its came with power at the destruction spotless purity and justice. And of the Jewish state, and when Jesus him that sat on it. - This was the Son commenced to reign in the gospel. of man. See Matt. xxv. 31; Dan. vii. From nchose face the earth and the 13, 14. It is here very proper to in- heaven fled away. The objector may quire, when did the Son of man assume think this fatal to our views, because this throne ? We answer, it was the earth and heaven remain to our when he commenced to reign as King time, and have not fled away. But, in Zion, or as Mediator. His course in fact, the very circumstance that as Mediator and Saviour is compared heaven and earth were said to flee to a reign which is to continue until away at the commencement of the all enemies are subdued unto him; Messiah's reign is a confirmation of 1 Cor. xv. 25—28. But when did this our opinion, for the earth and heaven reign begin? We reply, it begun did flee away at the time of the dewhen the kingdom of God came with struction of the Jewish state, and of power at the destruction of the Jewish the permanent establishment of the state. Jesus refers to this in the fol- gospel, in the sense intended by the lowing words: “Verily, I say unto revelator. And this fact we now you, That ye which have followed me proceed to prove. Nothing is more in the regeneration, when the Son of certain than that it was the custom man shall sit in the throne of his glory, of the Jewish prophets to represent ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, political commotions, the rise and fall judging the twelve tribes of Israel ;” | of rulers, cities, and bodies politic and Matt. xix. 28. But we still press the sacred, under the figure of commoquestion, when did this reign begin? tions in the heavenly bodies. We Observe the following words of Christ: might give a multitude of learned " When the Son of man shall come in authorities in confirmation of this his glory, and all the holy angels point, but we content ourselves with with him, then shall he sit upon the one only, viz., that celebrated Orthothrone of his glory;” Matt. xxv. 31. dox divine, and truly learned man in When did the Son of man come in all Biblical knowledge, Dr. Lightfoot. his glory? This is a question very He said: “The destruction of Jerueasily answered. Our Lord himself salem and the whole Jewish state is has answered it: “For the Son of described as if the whole frame of man shall come in the glory of his this world were to be dissolved. Nor Father, with his angels; and then is it strange, when God destroyed his shall he reward every man according habitation and city, places once so to his works. Verily I say unto you, dear to him, with so direful and sad There be some standing here, which an overthrow; his own people, whom shall not taste of death, till they see the lhe accounted' of as much or more small and great, stand before God;
and the books
than the whole world beside, by certain than that it was the custom so dreadful and amazing plagues. of the Jewish prophets to repre(Matt. xxiv. 29, 30,) · The sun shall sent political commotions and great be darkened,' &c. Then shall appear changes in rulers, states and systems, the sign of the Son of man,' &c.; by the metaphor of changes in the which yet are said to fall out within heavenly bodies. And we may add, that generation ; (ver. 34; 2 Peter iii. such was also the custom of the New 10.) The heavens shall pass away Testament writers, borrowed from the with a great noise, and the elements ancient prophets, as the passages shall melt with fervent heat,' &c. quoted above from that work clearly Compare with this, Deut. xxxii. 22 ; show. When, therefore, it is said Heb. xii. 26; and observe that by that the earth and heaven fled away elements are understood the Mosaic at the time of the establishment of elements, (Gal. iv. 9; Col. ii. 20,) “the great white throne,” the meanand you will not doubt that St. Peter ing is, that the nations were moved; speaks only of the conflagration of the Jewish people, as a body politic, Jerusalem, the destruction of the na- entirely passed away; the Mosaic tion, and the abolishing the dispen- religion was superseded, and fled into sation of Moses. Rev. vi. 12, 13: oblivion, before the coming of the The sun became black as sackcloth gospel. And we shall find, when we of hair,' &c., and the heavens de- come to the commencement of the parted as a scroll when it is rolled 21st chapter, that the introduction of together,' &c. Where, if we take the gospel is described as the appearnotice of the foregoing plagues, by ance of “a new heaven and new which, according to the most frequent earth.” If the new heaven and new threatenings, he destroyed that people, | earth represent the new gospel kingviz., the sword, (ver. 4,) — famine, dom, the passing away of the old (vers. 5, 6,) — and the plague, (ver. heaven and earth represented the 8;) — withal comparing those words, passing away of the former dispensa
They say to the mountains, Fall on tion. There was found no place for us, and cover us,' with Luke xxiii. them. · And why not? The language 30; – it will sufficiently appear that here has an allusion to the metaphor by those phrases is understood the of the prophet Daniel : “ Then was dreadful judgment and overthrow of the iron, the clay, the brass, the silthat nation and city. With these ver, and the gold, broken to pieces also agrees that of Jer. iv., from ver. together, and became like the chaff 22 to 28, and clearly enough explains of the summer threshing-floors; and this phrase. To this appertain those the wind carried them away, that no and other such expressions as we place was found for them: and the meet with ; (1 Cor. x. 11.) On us stone that smote the image became a the ends of the world are come ;' and great mountain, and filled the whole (1 Peter iv. 7) The end of all things is earth ;” ii. 35. That image repreat hand.'"
(See Lightfoot's Works, sented the Roman kingdom in the Pitman's Edition : London, 1825 : iii. time when (Dan. ii. 44) the kingdom 184, 314, 315, 320, 327; vi. 293; xi. of God was set up. The latter, or 303, 304, 404.)
heavenly kingdom, not formed by In addition, examine Isa. xjii. 13; human aid, was represented by the xxiv. 4; xxxiv. 4; Ezk. xxxii. 7, 8; stone cut out of the mountain without Joel ii. 30, 31; compare Acts ii. hands, (Dan. ii. 34,) which ultimately 16-21; Matt. xxiv. 29; Mark xiii. “ became a great mountain, and filled 24—26; Luke xxi. 25; 2 Peter iii. the whole earth.” If it filled the whole 10—12. We repeat, nothing is more earth, no place could possibly be