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duration of the blessedness of the Almighty God, Rom. i. 25; ix. 5; 2 Cor. xi. 31; and one time to express the eternity of Christ, Heb. xiii. 8.
This word, in this construction, is used twenty-two times in a reduplicate form, as, eis tous aionos ton aionon, translated 'forever and ever.' This phrase does not occur in the Septuagint version of the scriptures; consequently we need not appeal to that version for any information respecting its signification. We are to look to the several places in the New Testament where it occurs; and, by this means ascertain its true meaning. Now it is obvious to every attentive student of the New Testament that this phrase was never used by any of the inspired writerswith reference to temporal things, in any in. stance; but always in relation to eternal things, and to express their endless nature; so that in every instance it must be understood in the unlimited sense. To make this evident, I shal refer to all the places where it occurs, and ascertain the objects to which it is applied, They are as follow:-It is eight times employed to express the duration of the glory of the ever blessed God, Gal. i. 5; Phil. iv. 20; 1 Tim. i. 17; 2 Tim. iv. 18; Heb. xiii. 21; 1 Pet. v. 11; Rev. i. 6; vii. 12; once, to express the duration of the praise and dominion of God, 1 Pet. iv. 11, five times to express the duration of the existence of the Deity, Rev. iv. 9, 10; v. 14; x. 6; xv, 7; once to point out the endless duration of God's throne, Heb. i. 8; once to express the eternity of Christ, Rev. i. 18; once to express the duration of Christ's reign Rev. xi. 15; once
to express the duration of the honour, power and glory of Christ, Rev. v. 13, and once to express the duration of the saint's reign in the eternal world, Rev. xxii. 5; and this phrase is three times employed to express the endless duration of future punishment!!! Rev. xiv. 11; xix. 3; xx.
From the foregoing citations and remarks, it is manifest that the inspired writers of the New Testament used the word aion both in the singular and the plural form to express the utmost bounds of unlimited duration; and that much more frequently than to express limited duration. The word is three times used in the singular form governed by the preposition eis, to designatethe duration of future misery, in which construction it is never used in a limited sense. This, to say the least, is very alarming; and, certainly should create strong doubts in the breast of every considerate Universalist respecting the truth of his doctrine. But,
The reduplicate form of this word, I consider to be an incontestible evidence in proof of the doctrine of endless misery. The same phrase which is employed to express the eternity of God, Christ, God's throne, his glory, and power, and the glory of the saints in heaven, is employed by the same writer, under the same circumstances precisely, to express the duration of the punishment of the wicked!! The man that can fritter this away by sophistry and critical torture, can as readily explain away the existence, throne, power and glory of God and the future happiness of the saints; as we have no stronger language in all the holy scriptures to
express the one than we have to express the other. This argument never was answered by any Universalist, and never can be answered. The circumstance of this phrase being coupled with the phrase "day and night" when applied to the misery of the wicked, is nothing against the present application of it; as we find the phrase "day and night" coupled with the celestial exercises of the redeemed before the throne of God, Rev. iv. 18; vii. 15; therefore, this phrase is so far from limiting the duration, either of the misery of the wicked or the happiness of the righteous, that it signifies the perpetuity of the things to which it is applied.It is used in this sense in Josephus's discourse on Hades. But in order to get rid of this difficulty you were driven into the absurdity of representing the celestial glory and God's throne as being on the earth, contrary to our Lord's declaration (Matt. v. 34, 45,) where he affirms the divine throne to be in heaven, as distinct from the earth. Besides all this, in your second letter, you gravely tell me that in all the three places of punishment the phrase is coupled with the phrase "day and night;" whereas, if you examine Rev. xix. 3, you will find one of the three so far from being connected with it, that it does not occur in the same chapter at all. I suppose you made this blunder by taking the matter at second hand; for I cannot think you ever examined the texts yourself, as I dont believe you capable of asserting a palpable falsehood.
Your question "if aion in the singular means endless, how could it be used in the plural?" I consider altogether irrelevant. The question,
does it mean endless both in the singular and plural? and not how or why it does so, is the question we should understand. It is no matter to us how aion, in the singular and plural, means endless, if it does in reality, in both cases signify endless, and that it does in both conditions means endless, is undeniable. This evident both from its use in the New Testament and from Parkhurst. You might as well ask me why aion was spelled with only four letters; or why A was put before B in the English alphabet. But I will answer your question if you will answer one of the following questions. If the word loose, in the English, means to untie, how could a writer use the word unloose? If the word cease signifies to stop, how could a writer use the word surcease? If you will answer these questions I will answer your's. The fact is, the word aion, both in the singular and plural evidently means endless; the words loose and unloose both mean to untie, and the words cease and surcease mean to stop. When these meanings are fixed to all these words by Lexicographers, it is sufficient for us, without being able to give reasons for all the different changes through which they pass.
I shall now consider those texts which you say do not mean endless duration though governed by the preposition eis. They are sixteen in number. One of them (John ix. 32,) you say in your second letter, is not governed by this preposition, but in your fifth letter you say it is governed by it. The absurdity and impossibility of its being governed and not governed at the same time is a sufficient refutation of what
you have said concerning it. fifteen remain for consideration.
Two of these texts relate to the cursed figtree, Matt. xxi. 19; Mark. xi. 14. One affirms that no fruit shall ever grow on it, and the other that no man shall ever eat of its fruit. These you say are limited. Let me ask what are the limits of aion in these texts? How long is the pe riod intended here? Do you mean to say that this figtree will bring forth figs at some future time? The most superficial reader may see that our Saviour intended, by the expression, the utmost bounds of eternity. The sense is the same, precisely as if any other words had been used that expressed eternity in the most unequivocal manner. If the wicked never enter into the heavenly blessedness till the cursed figtree bear figs and men eat them, Mr. Skinner himself would despair of their ever entering it even to the utmost limits of eternity. That the text in Luke i. 55 where it is said that God made promise to Abraham and his seed forever, must be taken in the endless sense, will be evident to any one that will turn to Gen. xvii. 19, where God said I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. The everlasting covenant here was not confined to the Jewish priesthood, but related to the covenant or scheme of man's redemption by Jesus Christ. That this is the true interpretation, will be manifest by turning to Gal. iii. 16, where we have a comment given by an inspired apostle. His words are::-"Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as