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on all hands, to signify endless duration, and 6 relate to the endless punishment of the damned. The word aion is governed by the preposition eis sixty-one times in the New Testament. It is never used in this construction in any one of the 33 cases of temporary duration. In the six cases of endless punishment the word is used in this construction; and in the other fifty-five cases it is readily acknowledged to have an endless signification. What then, I ask, would any sensible, unprejudiced man conclude concerning the six cases of future punishment, but that they signified endless duration as well as the other fifty-five cases of the same construction. For the truth of these matters I appeal to the candid reader who understands the Greek Testament. I am well aware that the Universalists endeavor to raise as many quibbles as possible concerning the singular and the plural of this word, and its doubled form, and the particles connected with it in the Septuagint version of the Bible, evidently through ignorance, or design to deceive the unlearned. For I ne
ver saw any thing of this kind but what a scholar would despise. I assert, once for all, without fear of successful contradiction, that no profound scholar but an impostor would say that aion in the six places under consideration did not mean endless punishment.
You may expect to hear from me bye and bye respecting the adjective aionios.
As early an insertion of this article as possible will much oblige me as it is likely I will have to leave this city before long.
Believe me to be yours in the best of bonds,
LETTER NO. II.
BALTIMORE, Nov. 1, 1834.
To Rev. Joseph McKee:
Dear Sir:-Your letter embraces the substance of all the arguments, drawn from aion, against our faith; and I am pleased, that you have succeeded in presenting their whole strength, in so few words. As much depends upon a correct understanding of the word, it is important that it should be critically and carefully examined. I believe you right in your derivation of it, but wrong in your definition.
I object in toto to your manner of quoting authorities. They should be given in full, or not at all. Besides, Aristotle and Philo are second hand; and if what you have quoted is their whole definition, they differ from all other Lexicographers. But I have reason to believe your quotations imperfect; for Rev. E. S. Goodwin, after a minute and critical examina- · tion of Aristotle's writings-an examination aided by three sources of evidence, etymology, lexicography and the actual usage of aion, says, that he never uses it as signifying eternity, but as denoting being, life, existence, without denoting their duration. He says this also, of Homer, Hesiod, Eschylus, Pindar, Sophocles, Hippocrates, Euripides, and Plato.
Your quotation from Dr. Clarke will have but little weight, when it is considered, that what he wrote, was to defend his favorite theory, and not to inquire after the true meaning of
aion. His attempt to strain an argument from Eccl. iii. 14. is in perfect keeping with his monkey exposition. You might as well say, the earth is endless, because the work of God, as punishment, because inflicted by him. That olam and aion are endless, when applied to God, none deny; but does this prove them endless, when applied to things temporal? The Dr's position here is a perfect sophism. Prove that punishment is endless, or that Solomon was speaking of punishment in Eccl. iii. 14, and then, it will be time to say, that olam and aion are endless, when connected with it. His play upon the phrase unquenchable fire, is at the expense of truth; for if you will turn to Isa. xxxiv. 9--11; Isai. 66. 24; Jer. xvii. 27; Eze. xx. 45-48, you will find, that an unqnenchable fire is not endless, and an undying worm not immortal. These are expressive phrases; but they are fully explained, by the references which I have made.
You accuse me, in common with Universalists, of wishing to divert the public mind, from the etymology of aion. Such is not the fact. The admissions of our opposers, have rendered it unnecessary to investigate its etymology. Why need we do this, when they have unitedly said, we must determine its sense from its use? When we have met it therefore, our inquiry has been, does the scope of the subject require us to understand it as endless? And such I consider is the question which claims our attention in this discussion. Do not misunderstand me-I fear nothing from an inquiry into the etymology of aion.
You say, that the best critics, who have
written on the subject, teach that the etymological meaning of aion is endless. To test this remark, let us appeal to critics. Phavorinus says, it means, life, existence, eternity. Grove
defines it thus: eternity; an age, life; duration or continuance of time; a period; a revolution of ages; a dispensation of Providence; this world, or life; the world or life to come. Parkhurst defines it thus: duration or continuance of time, but with great variety. He then gives seven senses in which it is used, two signifying eternity and five a limited period. Jones is equally as favorable; he says, it means, everlasting age-eternity-eis ton aiona, forever--a period of time-age, life, the present world-the Jewish dispensation. Donnegan says: time; a space of time; life time, Odyss. 5. 152, and 160. life, Illiad. 22. 58. Hes. Seut. 331. the ordinary period of man's life, Homer and Pindar frequently the age of man, man's estate, Iliad. 24. 725., a long period of time-eternity. Schweighaeuser defines it thus: avum, vita, age, life. Valpey defines it, age, length of time. Hincks, defines it, a period of time, life, an age, the world, eternity; same as latin ævum, which was formed from it, by means of the digamma. Hedericus says, it means, ævum, æternitas, or age, eternity. Pickering gives the definition thus: an age, a long period of time, indefinite duration, time whether longer or shorter, past, present or future.Schrevilius gives the following: ævum, mun dus, sæculum, vita, or age, world, life.
Such is the testimony of Lexicographers ; and it should fill you with shame at your partial quotations. From your article one would
infer, that aion invariably signifies eternity, when in fact, this is only one among six or seven senses. Now why this shuffling? Why not give the whole truth? For one, I like the whole story, let it cut where it may-I crave nothing from your good graces in this matter.
If we go back to the derivation of aion, we shall find your position still less tenable. It is formed from aei, and on.
On signifies being, but does not fix its duration. It is from eimi, to be-aei is from a inensitive, and eo, to be-a serves to augment the signification of eo, and has the force of very.Aei then, signifies a very long period, and as on adds nothing to it, time indefinite, or a very long time, is the etymological meaning of aion. Rose, in his Parkhurst, says: aei signifies, 1. always; as in Acts vii. 51. "Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost;" 2 Cor. vi. 10. "As sorrowful yet always rejoicing." 2. Always, ever, in a restrained sense; as in Mark xv. 8. "And the multitude desired him to do as he had ever done unto them." 3. Very frequently, continually, as in 2 Cor. iv. 11. "For we which live are always delivered unto death;" 2 Pet. i. 12. "to put always in remembrance" &c. In all these instances aei is used in a limited sense. How then can aion mean endless, when it derives its signification from aei?
Thus, Dear Sir, we see, that according to the etymology of aion, its "grammatical mean ing" is time indefinite or time to be determined by the connexion in which it stands. It is pro per therefore to say, the everlasting God and the everlasting hills; for aion is one of those words, which according to its etymology, may