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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 am 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 said, "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 coine 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 for-"" mer. 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. vi. 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
tinue to be a priest, even to endless ages. 3. He was made a priest after the power of an endless life (akatalutou.) Heb. vii. 16, Ifhis priesthood is endless, which is undeniable from this text, I cannot see how it shall come to an end: perhaps you can inform me. I am aware that the Universalists tell the world, in their publications that the term endless is applied to the happiness of the righteous. But there is no such thing in all the word of God. The term endless occurs only in the above cited text, and it is applied to the priesthood of Christ, which you say will come to an end! 4. His priesthood is endless as to its effects. In fact, all things connected with his priestly office are endless in their nature. His life is endless; his office is not transferable, no one shall succeed him in office; and the blessed effects of his priestly office shall be endless.
As I have shown that aion means endless duration in every instance of the fifteen cases where you supposed it to be limited, I take it for granted that the question is settled by the preposition eis at last.
Your remark on John viii. 35, is a singularity of such a nature as I have never met with before. You admit the sense to be of an endless nature; but, because you suppose the same word in the Old Testament has a limited signification it must be limited here where the sense necessarily requires an endless signification. Even in Exod. xxi. 6, the word has an endless negative signification; for, the slave refusing his freedom was to be a slave for life; that is, he was never to be free. When aion is used to express the utmost limits of time
that the object of its application will admit of, it may, with the utmost propriety, be called endless; as the thing spoken of shall never return to its original condition.
You insinuate that I have undergone a change of mind since writing my second letter, that I then intended to settle the question by the preposition eis, but that failing, I had to make rules whereby it must be settled. This is all perversion. I underwent no change on the subject whatever. I then intended the preposition eis to settle the question concerning aion in the New Testament, and I am very much mistaken if I have not settled it by this rule in this letter: I intended the rules to embrace both the old and New Testament, also, eternal, everlasting and forever, and I intend so still; and I find you cannot refute any one of the rules in question; for, if you could, you would have done so. To say you "reject it with contempt" is no argument for or against any principle. If this sort of stuff were argument, we could soon settle the question. I say I "reject with contempt" the whole system of Universalism. Would you take this for a satisfactory refutation of Universalism? I suppose not.Well. If you have refuted the rules in question, I have refuted the whole system of Universalism. Either your assertion is good for nothing, or it is good for something. If it is good for nothing, the rules I have laid down stand in full force. If it is good for something Universalism is refuted. I leave you in this dilemma to consider what side you prefer.