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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. Therefore only
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 period 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
of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ."Therefore, this promise to the seed of Abraham having relation to our redemption by Jesus Christ, must be understood in the endless sense in order to avoid the absurdity of supposing that all the benefits of the gospel of Christ will come to an end so far as they relate to mankind. Three texts, John iv. 14; vi. 51, 58, relate to the effects of drinking "the water of life" and eating "the bread of life" which Christ gives to his people. Now the phrases "water of life" and "bread of life" are metaphorical expressions employed to signify the benefits conferred on mankind resulting from the atonement of Christ.How a Universalist should say the effects of the mercy and goodness of God on the human heart are limited in their duration, I an at a loss to understand. Perhaps we are to understand that, the effects of the water and bread of life will cease, as you would have us understand of eternal life, and the soul be either annihilated or cast into endless punishment. The Saviour says those who drink of the water he shall give, shall never thirst; but you would say they shall thirst again. The bare mentioning of such an absurdity is an ample refutation of it. In one text, John x. 28, my sheep shall never perish, you say the word has a limited signification.— You might as well use plain language, and say openly, they shall perish. Who could believe that our Saviour meant that his sheep should not perish for a time, a dispensation, or an age, and after that leave them exposed to destruction? The absurdity of this also carries with it its own refutation. In John xiii. 8, Peter taid, "Thou
shalt never wash my feet." To a superficial reader this might appear somewhat plausible; but when it is considered that Peter on receiving better information changed his mind, and submitted to have his feet washed, the difficulty vanishes away. When Peter declared that Christ should never wash his feet, he did not intend that the prohibition should ever cease at any future period. Hence this text, as all the others, ought to be understood in the unlimited sense. Another text on your list of limited ones is John xiv. 16, where the Saviour said the comforter should abide with his people forever. Who informed you that the spiritual gifts of heaven are limited in their duration? I cannot see for the life of me that this is anything short of giving up the doctrine of Universalism altogether. The Holy Spirit is the gift of the Deity to the redeemed, and, such only as have this gift, belong to Christ; for it is said, "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." But you say, the Spirit shall not always continue with the redeemed, but only a certain period, and then depart from them. If the Spirit depart from the righteous, they then cease to be Christ's; and, if they cease to be Christ's, they must be given to the devil, or annihilated. Such is the absurdity into which you run, by forcing a limited meaning where the scope of the passage requires an endless sig nification. Panl said he would not eat flesh while the world standeth if it would cause his weak brother to offend, 1 Cor. viii. 13. That is, if eating flesh would injure the conscience of a weak brother, Paul would not eat flesh at
all, or at any future time to the utmost limits of eternity. The word aion in the phrase, "powers of the world to come" Heb. vi. 5, you suppose to be limited in signification. I cannot see how this comes to pass. The world to come must mean the future state, and not the gospel dispensation, as the gospel period in the same epistle, is called "these last days," Heb. i. 2. "A kingdom that cannot be moved," Heb. xii. 28. And as the apostle lived and wrote the epistle in the gospel period, he could not speak of it as future; therefore the world to come means the kingdom of glory. This is further manifest from the effects mentioned in the context. Consequently, the word here has an endless signification. In four texts, Heb. v. 6; vi. 20; vii. 17. 21, you say the word has a limited signification where it is used to express the duration of the priesthood of Christ.-This is still more extraordinary than the former. The priesthood of Christ limited in du ration! Good Heaven! Where will a man stop when he once embraces a false system?That the priesthood of Christ is endless I prove by the following particulars:-1. His priesthood in scripture is represented as being of equal duration with his life; for it is said he ever liveth to make intercessions for us," Heb. vil. 25; therefore, we have as much reason to believe he will die, as to believe he will cease to be a priest, intercession being an essential part of the priestly office. 2. The priesthood of Christ is said to be unchangable, or that which passeth not from one person to another, Heb. vii. 24. Therefore he must always con