Page images
PDF
EPUB

in the Jewish writers." Thus Dr. Clarke supports the position I have taken on this subject, and flatly contradicts Elder Holmes, and all others who insist that “the world to come,” refers to another state of existence. Has the Elder, has any Methodist clermen, ever given the people who look to them for instruction, the views of their own Dr. Clarke on this subject? Why do they withhold such information from them!

But Mark says, he that "shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness." Dr. Clarke assures us this word "never" is omitted in many of the oldest copies of the New Testament. He mentions ton different ancient copies where it is not found. Among others he says it is not in Bezae's New Testainent, supposed to be written in the third century, or only about one hundred and fifty years after the death of the Apostles. It is also omitted in a copy by Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, who lived about two hundred years after St. John. But allowing the word “never," to be genuine, it is not a true rendering of the original Greek. The more proper translation of " eis ton aicna,” is, hath not forgiveness to the age. The word "never" is frequently used in the scriptures in a limited sense. " The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar. It shall never go out.”—(Lev. vi. 13.) Yet the tire on the Jewish altar of sacrifice, expired ages since. To David it was said_Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from thy house."-(2 Sam. xii. 10.) The sword departed from the house of David thousands of years ago. The word "never"-aiona--in these and many other instances signifies an indefinite, but not an endless, period of time.

In Mark, the passage under consideration, concludess by adding—“But is in danger of eternal damnation”—[aioniou kriscos -age-lasting condemnation.] Dr. Clarke renders it, "everlasting judgment.” He says that several ancient manuscript copies of the New Testament, have it," shall be in danger of everlasting [age-lasting] sin or trespass.

The meaning of the whole passage is evidently this: That the sin of attributing Christ's miracles to the power of Beelzebub, is one in which the Jewish people would be involved for a long period of time-that from generation to generation, they would cling to the falsehood with the utmost pertinacity--that during the remainder of the Jewish age, its blindness would be upon them; and that in the Christian dispensation, as a nation they would still insist that Jesus was an impostor, and God was not with him in any of his great and marvellous works. While in volved in this sin and clinging to it, they could not be forgive either under the Jewish or Christian era, but must suffer the pu... ishment due their unbelief. But this is no evidence that Jekwill not, in process of time, be brought to see their stubborn folly --repent of their sins, turn to Christ, and embrace his gospel. When that time comes--either in this world or the next--when punishment has accomplished its work on that mysterious people, and due repentance has brought them to the foot of the cross

-then their blindness will be forgiven them, and they will be received by Christ into his kingdom, and become heirs of all its promises. That such a blessed era will yet dawn on the descendants of Abraham, is clearly foretold by St. PaulI wouid, brethren, that ye should not be ignorant of this mystery, [an ignorance in which my opponent and his school seem still involved,] lest ye should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part, is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved, as it is written: There shall come out of Zion a Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. For this is my covenant unto them when I shall take away their sins.”—(Rom. xi. 25..27.) We will now advance to the consideration of other passages of scripture, which my opponent has introduced in support of the affirmative.

Heb. vi. 4.-6-“ It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." In insisting this passage teaches that those who fall into sin, after once having been converted to God, can never be renewed again, the Elder denies one of the distin. guishing traits of the religion of the Methodists. Their system icaches that men who “fall from grace," can be renewed again. And surely they have had experience enough in this matter, to test it thoroughly. Their Consession of Faith, lays down the rol. lowing rule :-"Wherefore, the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after justification. After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin, and by the grace of God, rise again and amend our lives.” The class referred to by the passage under consideration, affords a case precisely in point to the words of the Methodist Discipline. They were not sceptics, infidels, scoffers of religion, and rejecters of Christianity ; but were those who professed the Christian religion, but had in an evil moment, given way to temptation, and fallen into sin. In insisting that they cannot be renewed, the Elder violates his Confession of Faith, and lays hiin. self open to the charge of heresy! The Confession of Faith is correct on this paint. St Paul evidently did not design to convey the idea of the literal impossibility of renewing those who had fallen away from the paih of christian rectitude. The Greek word rendered “ impossible,” is adunaton, which signifies weakness, infirmity, and sometimes impossibility. But in the latter case, it is evidently not understood in a strictly literal sense. Christ said to his disciples—“ Nothing shall be impossible (aduna tesei] unto you."-(Matt. xvii. 20.) The Savior could not have intended to use this word in its full and literal import. So

in the passage before us. To construe “ impossible,in its rigid and extreme sense, would do violence to reason, analogy, and the entire current of the Bible. That the most wicked can be reformed that it is an event within the reach of God's grace and power, cannot admit of a rational doubt. The Savior declares, in reference to a similar case, the supposed impossibility of a rich man being saved : “With God all things are POSSIBLE ! !"(Matt, xix. 26.) At most we should understand the language of St. Paul as asserting that it is much more difficult to renew one who has fallen away from light and knowledge, than to bring those to repentance who had never made any profession of religion,

2 Thess. i. 6-10.-—“Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you. And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” My friend applies this passage wholly to the scenes of another world. But there could not well be a more marked perversion of scripture.

1. Who were those that were troubled? They were the Christian converts in the city of Thessalonica, to whom the two epistles to the Thessalonians were addressed. 2. Who were their troublers? They were the Jewish residents in that city. By consulting the 17th chapter of Acts, it will be seen that the attempts of St. Paul to establish the gospel at Thessalonica, were most bitterly opposed by the Jews. In fact, the chief opposition to the gospel every where in that age, originated with the Jews. 3. What was the punishment denounced by the Apostle, upon these persecuting Jews ?. They were to be “punished with everlasting destruction, Colethron aionion,) from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” It is only from an ignorance of the terms the Apostle used, that this language can be supposed to support the doctrine of endless woe. It has already been shown that aionion has the signification of indefinite time, more or less protracted in duration, in accordance with the nature of the subject with wbich it is connected. In this instance, there can be no better construction of aionion, than age-lasting. The word “olethron,” translated destruction, signifies pain, suffering, of any description. That the scripture writers did not denote by this word the endless forment of the soul, is evident from the manner they used it." To deliver such a one unto Satan, (the adversary,] for the destruction (olethron] of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.”—(1 Cor. v. 5.) In scripture phraseology “destruction” usually denotes a state of punishment, but not a condition from which there is no redemption, as my opposer would have you believe. The Bible speaks of restoring and saving those who are destroyed. A few exam. ples will clearly establish this fact: “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thy help.-(Hosea xiii. 9.) “ Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. He sent his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.”—(Ps. cvii. 19, 20.)

« Thou turnest man to destruction ; and sayest, Return ye children of men."-(Ps. xc. 3.)

4. From the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power."—One part of the punishment of these persecuting Jews, was to be removed from the presence of the Lord. Elder Holmes construes this declaration literally, and insists that “from the presence of the Lord,” signifies being banished literally from God's presence, to realms of everlasting darkness and woe. But surely those possessing the least discernment, must discover the absurdity of such a thought. God's presence fills all space. “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence ? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there. If I make my bed in HELL, (Heb. Sheol-Greek, Hades,] behold thou art there."-(Ps. cxxxix. 7, 8.) If my friend insists this punishment is from the pres. ence of the Lord, then it cannot be in the hell of which he preaches so much. For God's presence is there. As the punishment can. not be in hell, will he inform us where it is experienced ? It will be evident to all reflecting minds, that the phrase "the pres. ence of the Lord and the glory of his power," has a peculiar and local signification. An acquaintance with Jewish customs and scripture terms, will afford all needed light on this point. The Jews believed God was peculiarly present in his Temple at Jerusalem, and that he manifested his presence in the light of the holy shekina, which glowed above the mercy-seat between the wings of the cherubim. Here God promised to meet the High Priest and commune with him.-(See Ex. xxv. 22.) Going into the temple was considered entering the presence of the Lord. “Let us come before his PRESENCE with thanksgiving.”—(Ps. xcv. 2.) "Serve the Lord with gladness ; come before his PRESENCE with singing."-(Ps. c. 2.) Going from any particular locality where God had held special communion with men, denominated in scripture phraseology, departing from the presence of the Lord. After God had met Cain and pronounced his judgments upon him for the murder of his brother, it is said —"And Cain went out from the PRESENCE of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod.”—(Gen. iv. 16.) “But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the PRESENCE of the Lord.

The men (mariners] knew that he fled from the PRESINCE of the Lord, because he had told them."-(Jonah i. 3.-10.) The phrase "presence of the Lord,” as used in the passage under consideration, should evidently be understood in accordance with its usage in the examples I have cited. Those Jews who "troub

ܪ

led" and persecuted the Christian converts at that time, would be banished from Jerusalem, and from the holy temple where God's presence was believed to be manifested in a peculiar manner to his chosen people.

5. When was this aionion (age-lasting] punishment, this banish. ment from the presence of the Lord, to take place? The Apostle declared it was to be " when the Lord Jesus should be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,” etc. When was this to take place? Let the Savior hiinseli answer. “ The Son of man shall come in the glory of his father, with his angels; and then shall he reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”—Matt. xvi. 27, 28.) When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another. For verily I say unto you, ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come."-(Matt. x. 23.) In reference to his coming with his holy angels, the Savior exclaims“Verily I say unto you, this generation SHALL NOT PASS, till all these things be fulfilled."—(Matt. xxiv. 34.) If we can receive the express declarations of Christ, we are compelled to believe that his coming with his holy angels, (which was unquestionably a spirilual coming.] was in that generation, soon after the episiles to the Thessalonians were written. Drs. Gill, Adam Clarke, Pearce, Cappe, Hammond, Knatchbull, and a host of other commentators, all unite in asserting the spiritual coming of Christ during the Apostolic age, to abrogate the Levitical dispensation, destroy the Jewish worship, temple, city and nation, and establish Christianity on a firm basis. Then it was that those who "troubled” the followers of Christ, were banished from God's presence at the temple-and carried far away, and scattered among all nations, where they remain enduring their age-lasting punishment, to the present day.

It may be said that the Jews to whom the passage under consideration was addressed, were not residents of Jerusalem or Judea, but of Thessalonica. Very true--but let it be remembered the Jews ish residents in that city, and throughout the Roman empire, were involved in the same overihrow, and carried into the same captivity, and subjected to the same punishments, as their brethren in Jerusalem and Judea. The view I have taken of this passage is fully corroborated by Dr. Hammond and other commentators.

Elder Holmes introduces a class of passages where the w “hell" occurs. He says that the punishment of the wicked in h is their LAST state !! I must beg to differ from my friend on t point. Does either of the passages he has quoted, assert that t punishment of the wicked in bell is their last estate ? No. } cannot find a passage in the scriptures which declares that hell itself, is to endure forever. On the contrary, the Bible expressly says that hell shall be DESTROYED_"O grave [Heb. sheol-Gr.

« PreviousContinue »