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is applied is of immeasurable importance to those for whom he wrote. If such a man cannot be supposed thus to use language, nor vindicate it when used in this manner, can such conduct be attributed safely to the spirit of God?" I am yours, &c.
LETTER No. II.
To Rev. Joseph McKee:
Dear Sir-It is universally admitted that no adjective can signify more than the noun from which it is formed. All the arguments therefore which I have brought to prove the limitation of aion, may be applied with equal propi iety to aionios; for if the former is limited, the latter must be. Hence Donnegan defines it; of long duration; eternal-lasting, permanent. Jones defines it-everlasting, ancient. Parkhurst defines it-eternal, having neither beginning nor end, duration of the world, ages of the world, the times since the beginning of existence. Cruden defines it the same as anon. Hincks says, it is eternal, the time since the beginning of the world. Here we again discover your partial quotations from Lexicographers. Why not give the whole truth? Do you fear the light?
Such being the meaning, of aionios, we can see no difficulty whatever in the word. As it is used in a variety of senses, its signification, like aion,
must be determined by its use. But you say, there is not an instance where it is limited or applied to things temporal. This, dear sir, was an unguarded remark, and shows a determination to bend every passage where it occurs to your use. The position however, shall be fully tested before we close.
You say "aionios is forty-four times used to express the duration of the life of the righteous.' Now I can hardly believe you serious in this; for it seems that you cannot have read the New Testament without discovering, that the phrase, (zoen aionion) eternal life, is a general term, used to denote the happiness enjoyed in this world, through faith in Christ, and often the happiness of the christians after the close of the old dispensation. I will not assert that this is the case with all your forty-four instances, but I will say, these are the general senses of the phrase. That I am right is evident from the following considerations:
1. Believers are represented as having eternal life. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, John 3. 36. He that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life, John 5. 24. Verily I say un to you, he that believeth on me, hath everlasting life, John 6. 47. See also verse 54, chap. x. 28; xii. 50; xvii. 3. Aionios is the adjective in all these cases; and as you admit that believers can fall from grace, the word can be no proof ofthe endless duration of the life.
2. Having eternal life and entering into eternal life are synonamous with seeing and entering the kingdom of Christ. Compare Matt. xix. 16, with verses 23 and 24, where having
eternal life is used as synonamous with entering Christ's kingdom. Now all admit that to enter this kingdom, is to become a disciple of Jesus, to believe his doctrine and imitate his example. See Matt. iii. 2.; iv. 17; xii. 28; xxi. 43. Luke ix. 27; xxi. 16. where kingdom of God signifies the Church or reign of Christ.— Hence the Savior said in reference to the young man, who asked what he should do to inherit eternal life, "how hardly shall a rich man enter the kingdom of heaven;" meaning, how difficult it is for the rich to become christians.
3. The phrase everlasting life, occurs but once in the Old Testament; and there (Dan. 12. 2.) it is set in contrast with the shame and contempt which the Jews were to experience for their rejection of Christ. Now as the shame was to be experienced on earth, why might not the life be here enjoyed? The contrast would be wrong, if such were not the case.
4. Eternal life is a life to which some were ordained. "And as many as were ordained to eternal life, believed" Acts. xiii. 48. Now if eternal life, here signifies endless blessedness, you must admit the old doctrine of election. Armenians have uniformly explained such texts as refering to a temporary election in this life, for a specific purpose. Are you prepared to deny their views, and to reconcile with goodness and wisdom, an arbitrary partial election to endless life?
5. If everlasting life, means endless happiness, why did Jesus, after saying, "he gave his sheep eternal life," add, "and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand?" These additional remarks, show, that
eternal life was used simply to express the life of faith; for it would be useless and absurd to say of a soul after it was perfected in glory, it shall never perish, and none shall pluck it from the hand of Christ.
For the five foregoing reasons, I must dissent entirely, from your position, that aionios "is forty-four times used to express the endless duration of the life of the redeemed." It is an assumption sustained by no proof, but popular prejudice. You must therefore reckon again to make out your forty-four instances, where aionios is admitted by all to be endless. Universalists admit nothing of the kind.
You say that aronion is three times applied to God's purpose. But such is not the fact. The literal meaning of 2 Tim. 1. 9. is "according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus, before the aionion times." Now if aionion here means eternity, this purpose was formed before eternity; and as this cannot be, aionion is here used in a limited sense to denote what God purposed before the commencement of time. Besides, nothing is said of an aionion purpose. The other two instances are the same. Here then are three more cases to be deducted from your calculations. What an absurdity to say before eternity!
On the three instances in which you say aionios refers to the endless glory of the saints, I will make no remarks; for I can see no bearing they can have on this discussion. That aionios is sometimes used in an unlimited sense we admit. But conceding these, your fifty instances are cut down to a small number. In
what light now does your remark appear, that .aionios is never used in a limited sense?
There remain of the seventy-one places where aionios occurs, but twenty-one to be considered. As fourteen of these have no reference to punishment, I will pass them by simply asking 1. If any thing more can be intended by the phrase, everlasting Gospel, than that the Gospel should be preached to the end of time, and that it should never be succeeded by another? 2. Can people in this world, be said to have endless consolation? And does not the absurdity of this idea, show, that everlasting consolation sim ply means, the great and permanent consolation of christians? Remember-they had this everlasting consolation, and that christians can fall from grace. 3. How can Christ's kingdom be called endless,when he says, he shall deliver it up to the Father? See 1 Cor. xv. 4. By what authority do you refer the phrase everlasting habilations to the future world? Have men the control of the kingdam of endless blessedness? Can they admit and refuse whom they please? 5. Onesimus was a fellow laborer with Philemon, and the son of Paul in the faith. For a time, he departed from Philemon, but returned by the advice of Paul. Hence it is said; "he departed for a season, that Philemon should receive him forever." But can any thing more be intended, than that they should continue without interruption fellow laborers? Surely in this instance aionios, at most, can only mean the life of man. Thus we have five cases to take from your fourteen.
We will now examine your seven texts, where aronios is applied to punishment.