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and the circumstances under which avonios occurs, that it sometimes means endless, when applied to life. Therefore, unless you can show either from the nature of punishment, or the circumstances under which aionios is used, when applied to misery, that it signifies endess, your criticism is unfounded.
3. Your criticism was first advanced by Augustine, an African Bishop, A. D. 414. Previous to that time, though much had been written against Universalism, no argument had been drawn, either from aion or aionios; and the Universalists of that period, threatened sinners with aionion punishment, without offering any such explanation, as the education of this age, would require of me, were I thus to threaten sinners. This proves, that Christ and the Apostles, could not have used aion and aionios in their present popular sense.
There being but little in your letter, which requires an answer, and as I am accused of shrinking from an investigation of the phrase, zoen aionion, I will give the different senses in which it occurs.
1. It signifies the life of faith-a life which lasts during the existence of faith. See John iii: 16, 36; vi: 40, 47, 54. In these, and numerous other instances, believers are said to have everlasting life. That endless life is not meant, is evident for several reasons, 1. Because the believer of to-day, may be the infidel of to-morrow. 2. Eternal life is synonymous with life, entering Christ's kingdom, having rest, peace, joy and love. See John vi. 33, 53; I. John v. 12; Heb. iv. 3; 1 John iii. 15; Rom. xiv. 17; xv. 13; John iii. 5. 3. In this world, we walk by faith, not
by sight. 4. Endless joy, will not be dependent on faith. In heaven, we shall see eye to eye and know as we are known. We shall have the bliss of actual possession and of perfect knowledge. The aionion life of faith, therefore, can never mean endless. How many, who once had life, peace and joy, are now dead in trespasses and sin! It will not answer to say, they had endless life, but have lost it through unbelief, as your illustration from the diamond supposes; for we walk by faith; faith is the evidence of things not seen. Instead of introducing us to its object, faith only enables us to enjoy it, by anticipation. Thus, in this world, where our journey lies through a vale of tears and we are overshadowed by clouds of aifflction, we are cheered and guided on our way, by the beamings of faith. 'Tis this which illumines our path and enables us to hope for a better world to come. But however strong our faith may be, we posses not the endless life which it reveals. That which is strictly endless can have no contingencies. In this world, therefore, saints cannot have endless life; for theirs' is contingent. Even those, in whom Christ, the hope of glory dwelt, did not have endless life; for many renounced their Savior. They drank, it is true, from an unfailing fountain of life; but the contingencies of faith and love show, that they had not endless life. In saying this, I cast not a shade of doubt over the eternity of bliss; because, in the immortal state, there can be no contingencies. My sentiments therefore, are far from leading to annihilation, except it be the annihilation of the arguments against impartial grace.
2. Zoen aionion (eternal life) is used to express the reward of the primitive christians, after the destruction of Jerusalem. See Matt. xix. 29; xxv. 46; Mark x. 30; Luke xviii. 30; John xii. 25. This world (aion) means, according to critics, the Jewish age; the world (aion) to come the christian. Those who left house, land and connexions, under the Jewish age, for the Gospel, would receive as a reward for their sacrifices, sufferings and faithfulness, eternal life in the christian age. By giving up all, and living as though they would lose their lives, (Matt, xvi. 25) they would save them. Hence (John xii. 25) it is said, those who hated their lives should keep them unto life eternal, while those who loved their lives should lose them. This could not mean endless life, for it was given us a reword, (Matt. xxv. 34-37) whereas endless life is a free gift; neither could it be the life of faith, for this the disciples enjoyed, when the promise was made relative to the coming age. Besides, it was a life to which their bodies would be preserved. It was therefore, that season of rest, granted to the primitive christians, after their enemies were overwhelmed in judgment. See Matt. xxiv. 13; xvi. 24-28; Heb. x. 3239, where similar promises are made. Let it be remembered here, that Daniel xii. 2, is applied by our Lord to this reward and punishment.
3. Zoen aionion signifies endless life. Thus the Saviour says: "Father the hour is come, glorify thy Son, that thy Son may also glorify thee, as thou hast given him power over all flesh that he might give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” John xvii. 1, 2. St Paul, contrasting the reign of sin with that of glory,
says: "As sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." Rom. v. 21. St. John says: "This is the record that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." 1 John v 11. From these quotations, we see. that zoen aionion often signifies the life, which exists in Christ, what was given in him, and what he will finally give all flesh. To give endless life to all, would be the highest glory of God, and cause grace to reign as universally, unto eternal life, as sin had reigned unto death. Those who deny this, make God a liar, for this is the record which God has given of his Son. If all had not endless life in him, disbelieving the record would not make God a liar for the record would be false. Hence St. John says, these things have I written, that ye may know ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. This life exists independently of faith, and is the end, the glory and vital element of the gospel. It was a gift, not an offer; a free gift, not granted as a reward. It is synonymous with the inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, which is reserved for us in heaven. It must therefore be endless.
Let us consider also, that Christ was made a minister of-infinite blessings and unsearchable riches. In him all fulness dwelt; he was the life of the world, the new and living way, the salvation of God to the ends of the earth. Add to all this, those words, strictly endless, which are used to express the result of his missionwords never applied to sin or misery, and the eternity of life is placed beyond dispute. Thus,
Christ is said to be made a high priest, after the power of an endless (akatalutou) life. He is the resurrection and the life, and as all died in Adam, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. In the resurrection state, we shall be incorruptible and immortal, for the dead, (1 Cor. xv. 52) not a part, but the dead shall be raised thus. All men then, will be raised incorruptible and immortal. Hence Christ says, in the resurrection state, they are equal unto the angels! How are angels? holy and happy. So then will mankind be. They will die no more, being the children of the resurrection. When the resurrection, therefore, takes place, all will be subjected to Christ, he will deliver up his kingdom to the Father, God will be all in all, death will be destroyed, this corruptible will put on incorruption and this mortal immortality. Then will be brought to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory. To understand the full import of this saying, turn to Isai. xxv. where this is written. There God declares, that he has prepared a feast for all people, that he will destroy the covering cast over all, that he will swallow up death in victory, wipe away tears from all faces, and take away the rebuke of his people from all the earth.At the resurrection then, ignorance, death, tears and rebuke will be unknown and all will be brought to a participation of grace. Then too will be heard the song, O death where is thy sting? O grave (hell) where is thy victory? Now as the sting of death is sin, we could not shout the victory over death, while suffering under its sting. Sin therefore, can have no existence in the resurrection state. What is here