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Christian era, eminent believers in Universal Salvation, were sent out by the orthodox party, to preach against the Gnostics, and other hereiics. History attests that the doctrine of the final salvation of the entire race of man, was believed for ages, by many of the most eminent of the early Christian Fathers. The attempt to dis. tort and conceal this fact
, on the part of Filder Holmes, shows him to be either profoundly ignorant of ecclesiastical history, or deliberately attempting to deceive the public.
My opponent asserts that the Sibylline Oracles were not written by professing Christians, but that they existed long before the days of Christ. He says there is no evidence that ancient Christians either wrote, believed, or in any way became responsible for the theological tenets inculcated in these books.* I am astonished at these declarations. They show a want of information which I was not prepared to find even in my friend. That there were Sibylline Oracles extant among the heathen, previous to the advent of Christ, is a well known fact, which I have not thought of denying. But that that particular collection of “Sibylline Oracles,” which foretold the advent of Christ, etc,. was written before the christian era, is a declaration made in the face of all history. These were forged oracles, written by some fanatical and weak minded christians, under the pretence that they were found among the ancient
• Sibylline Oracles.” The authors of these forgeries supposed they could in this manner convert the heathen to christianity. That they were written since the christian era, is a well established fact. Cave thinks some of them were written A. D. 130, and the remainder about A. D. 190. Du Pın dates them about the year 160. LARDNER believes they were written A. D, 169, or 190. That these forged Oracles" were composed by professing christians, is a fact equally well established. Dr. Jortin says they were written by Christia and as proof shows that they abound with quotations of words, passages and facts taken from the New Testament. How could they contain quotations from the Ne v Testament, if they were not written after the days of Christ? Mosheim gives his testimony that these "Oracles” were written by professing christians. Mr. Holmes says they were never believed hy christians. This is a great mistake They were believed and quote l as genuine, by Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Theophilus of Antioch, and other eminent Christian Fathers. Although these “ Sibylline Oracles” were forged for a foolish purpose, yet we can obtain from them a good idea of the doctrines which prevailed in the christian church at that early day.
I onit reference to miny points in Mr. Holmes' last speech, to which I was anxious to call attention, and proceed to introduce my cighteenth Negative Argument. Endless Punishment destroys the peace of those who believe it, and who strive to realize it. Foriu
* See p. 649.
AUSTIN'S TÉNTH REPLY
nately for their happiness, there are some professed believers in that doctrine, so constituted that they can keep it at a distance, and will not look it fairly in the face. But it is not so with all. Every sincere and real believer in eternal wretchedness, who is a candid man, will acknowledge that when he reflects upon it, his peace of mind is destroyed. How can it be otherwise? Putting aside entirely the peril in which he must ever feel that he is involved, when he view the condition of others, how can he find peace ? When parents book upon their children, and children upon their parents, and reflect on the danger that threatens them, and the separation that may soon and forever take place between them, how can they be happy! How can any man possessing a heart of flesh, who believes this doctrine, enjoy life at any time? When he meets his neighbors, his associates, his friends, and thinks they may all sink to endless darkness and woe, what horror musi thrill his fram. Yet I have frequently seen believers, yea PREACHERS of this doctrine, really smile-yea, even LAUGH oughtright and heartily, in the presence of those who, according to their belief, were going straight down to an endless hell !!! Where were their hearts?
Some of the most able preachers of endless woe, have acknowledged that it destroyed their happiness. Hear what the eloquent French Hugenot preacher Saurin says on this subject: “ I sink! I sink! under the awful weight of my subject! I declare, when I see my friends, my relations, the people of my charge, this whole congregation : when I think that I, that you, that we are all threatened with these torments, when I see in the lukewarmness of my devotions, in the languor of my love, in the levity of my resolutions and designs, the least evidence, though it be only presumptive, of my future misery, yet I find in the thought, a mortal poison, which diffuseth itself into every period of my life-rendering society tire. some, nourishment insipid, pleasure disgustful, and life itself a cruel BITTER. I cease to wonder that the fear of hell hath made some mad, [insane,) and others melancholly."
Hear Dr. Barnes, of Philadelphia, one of the most eminent Ev. angelical Clergymen in the United States. He says "That the immortal mind should be allowed to jeopard its infinite welfare, and that trifles should be allowed to draw it away from God, and virtue, and heaven—that any should suffer FOREVER!-lingering on in hopeless despair, and ro!ling amids: infinite torments without the possibility of alleviation and without end--that since God can save men, and will save a part, he has not purposed to save all[Elder Holmes admits he has purposed to save all, but declares he will be defeate:l]—that on the supposition that the atonement is ample, and that the blood of Christ can cleanse from all and every sin, it is not in fact applied to all-that, in a word, a God who claims to be worthy the confidence of the universe, and to be a Be.
full of sinners and sufferers_and that when an atonement had been made, he did not save all the race, and put an end to sin and woe forever.
I have read to some extent, what wise anil good men (of the orthodox school] have written. I have looked at their theories and explanations. I have endeavored to weigh their arguments—for my whole soul pants for LIGHT and RELIEF on these questions. But I get neither! And in the distress and anguish of my own spirit, I confess that I see no light whatever ! I see not one ray to disclose to me the reason why sin came into the world; why the earth is strewed with the dying and the dead, and why man must suffer to all eternity! I have never seen a particle of light thrown on these subjects that has given a moment's ease to my tortured mind!!. Nor have I an explanation to offer, or a thought to suggest, which would je of relief to you. I trust other men-as they profess to do--understand this, better than I do, and that they have not the anguish of spirit which I have. But I confess, when I look on a world of sinners and of sufferers; upon death-beds and grave-yards; upon the world of woe filled with hosts to suffer forever! when I see my friends, my parents, my family, my people, my fellow-citizens--when I look upon a whole race, all involved in this sin and danger, and when I see the great mass of them wholly unconcerned--and when I feel that Gou can only save them, and yet he does not do it--I am struck dumb. It is all dark-DARK-DARK, to my soul, and I cannot disguise it !” -(Barnes' Practical Sermons, pp. 123–125.)
This is the effect the doctrine of endless suffering has upon the mind of Dr. Barnes. Why is the poor man involved in all these doubts, and overwhelmed in this darkness? Because he has not yet got a glimpse of the light of truth in regard to the destiny of man ! Let him abandon his false theory-let him see and believe that God has not put in “ jeopardy” the final welfare of a soul of of men, but that through all the vicissitudes of this life-through the light and darkness--the enjoyment and suffering of earthly be. ing-he is leading all, to final deliverance, to holiness and heaven --and all his gloom would depart--his darkness would disappear, and he would be enabled to “ rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory !!”
I might read pages showing the unhappy effects a belief in cease. less agony exerts on the mind, but my time has expired. Think you the doctrine which produces so much wretchedness of heart in those who receive it, forms any part of that gospel which was de clared by the angels, to be “good tidings of great joy to all peo, ple ?"--[ Time expired.
[MR. HOLMES' ELEVENTH SPEECH.] Gent. Moderators, and respected Auditors:Having quoted ma. ny passages of scripture bearing on the subject of future punishment, in which the Greek word “aion" occurs in some one of its forms, it seems proper that I should bestow some attention upon the philology, signification and scriptural use of this term, and its adjective form “aionios."
The proposition I lay down and intend to support in this, my seventeenth argument, is, that the proper, or primary grammatical meaning of the Greek words translated eternal, everlasting, forever and ever, is duration without end.
Mr. Austin has anticipated me some somewhat in this, having already given you an extended essay on the same subject. In commencing his argument on this point, he remarked that he did not expect it to be understood or appreciated by the audience, but he placed it in the discussion, that the reader might refer to it in the printed form, and read and understand it at his leisure, or words to this effect. To this I reply, when the reader shall have finished Mr. Austin's essay on "aion," and "aionios," he will consult his own interest, as well as aid his mind in obtaining a proper view of the subject in all its bearings, by turning over a few pages to my argument on the same words, and giving it a deliberate and thorough perusal. I hope, however, to make myself pretty well understood by this audience. And to avoid confusion by embracing too many things in the same view, I will first direct attention to the
PHILOLOGY AND SIGNIFICATION OF THESE WORDS. 1. Aion and aionios, the first a noun, and the second the adjective form of the same word, are compounded of aei and on. The first of these signifies “always," or "ever;" the second " being:" in their compounded form we have aion, or aionois, “always being." The parts of which these words are composed, do, in their sepirate and individual state, convey the idea of duration without limitation. Thus, "aei" is from a and eo, "to be.” The primary meaning is always,” or “ever.” It has subordinate and accommodated meanings, but the true, essential, and first meaning; as given by Parkhurst, is “always;" by Donnegan “perpetually :" expressing in either case the idea of duration, without any prefix of limitation. So also, “on," which signifies "being," or existence, without any intimation of limitation or termination of existence. That this is the primary signification of “on," is confirmed by the fact that it is employed by the Septuagint in translating the Hebrew of Exodus iii. 14, where God says, "I am that I am.” Also, in Revelation iv. 8, “ Holy, holy, holy, Lord Gol Almighty, which was, and is, [on) and is to come." In both these places it is used to express the idea of absolute and underived existence. In regard to the passage in Exodus, Clarke
says, “it seems intended to point out the eternity and self-existence of God.” Now, as dei and on, the components of aion, do, in their uncompounded state, convey the proper idea of duration, and of existence in duration without restriction or limitation, it follows as an irresistible corollary, that the same ideas must be expressed, if possible, with increased emphasis and certitude, by the word aion, compounded of these two. This remark will be found to be justified in the course of this investigation, by the decisions of the best critics, and the established usage of the word. Aionios being the adjective form, the above remarks apply to it with the same force as to aion.
2. This view is supported by the authority of lexicons, Greek, Latin and English.
Donnegan makes aion and aionios signify, “a long period of time, eternity, long duration, eternal, lasting, perpetual," with some other accommodated and subordinate meanings.
Parkhurst defines aionios--1. “ Eternal, having neither beginning nor end,” and refers to Rom. xvi. 26, Heb. ix. 14, as examples. 2. “ Eternal, without end.” 3. “Duration equal with the world.” He makes aion to mean-1, eternity, whether past or to come, 2d, the duration of this world—3d, the ages of the world.
Pickering makes the sense, "indefinite duration, everlasting." He says the verb "aionizo" signifies, “to make lasting, perpetuate, to eternize."
Schluesner says, “aion answers to the Hebrew word olam, whose various meanings it takes. 1. Eternity, the whole duration, whether it be without beginning or end. Of duration without end, it is used in imitation of the Hebrew olam, in Matt. vi. 13, be glory forever. 2. Every thing which is without end, especially what will come to pass after this life, and the end of the world. In this sense the word is used in all those places in the New Testament where the words eternal fire, eternal judgment, eternal condemnation, eternal punishment, &c., occur, for, by such expressions, the perpetual punishment of crimes, which the wicked suffer after this life, their future uninterrupted miserable state, is pointed out; and so the phrases of an opposite kind, eternal habitations, eternal life, &c., the state and condition of the constant happiness of the pious, is pointed out.”
In translating the words “aion” and “aionios,” the Latin lexicographers and other standard anthors, employ ærum, æturnitas, æturnus, sempiturnus, perennis, and other words of like import. These Latin words signify duration without end, endless, perpetual, lasting, everlasting, never failing, uninterrupted, and so on. Besides this, it is well known that the English terms here named, which are employed to give the signification of both the Greek and Latin above referred to, have, as their established and primary signification, perpetual duration, or being without end. I'he first and radical idea of the Hebrew olam, and the Greek aion, as ex