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ing aron and eis; but being anxious to render our discussion as instructive as possible, I will explain these texts and reply to those which you assert are so hostile to Universalism.
1. Let us consider the eleven texts where aion is not governed by eis. Of these the following are limited: Mark x. 30; Luke xviii. 30; John ix. 32; Acts xv. 18; Eph. iii. 9; Col. i. 26.— "That the word in these" six "cases is limited I have no hesitation to assert, in the most positive manner." As these speak of a world, (aioni) to come, in contrast with a world (aion) that is past, of the beginning of the world (aionos,) and of worlds (aionon,) they show that aion is here limited. But this I have proved in letters No. 2 and 5, and to this proof you have given no reply. Besides, Dr. Clarke says, he is fully satis fied, that the phrase 'world to come' signifies the Christian dispensation. He is against you therefore on Mark x. 30, and Luke xviii. 30. He is also against you on John ix. 32, for he says 'since the world began,' means "from the commencement of time." From his comments on Acts xv. 18, Eph. iii. 9, and Col. i. 26 it is plain that he understood aion there in a limited sense.
Thus have I sustained my assertion respecting these six texts, by proof, and by your own com mentator. And this I suppose will be equal to your assertion.
2. I deny that aion in the singular, when governed by eis is endless in the following texts Matt. xxi. 19; Mark xi. 14; Heb. vi;. 5 Luke i. 55; John viii. 35; x. 28; 1 John ii. 17; 2 John 2, John iv. 14; vi. 51-58; xiii. 8; xiv. 16; 1 Cor. viii.
13; Heb. v. 6; vi. 20; vii, 17, 21, 24, 28; 1 Pet. i. 23, 28; Mark iii. 29; 2 Pet. ii. 17; Jude 13.— Here are 25 cases to be deducted from your 31.
In letter No. 5, I referred to fifteen texts, deeming these sufficient to refute your argument drawn from eis; but as you have again brought it up, it becomes necessary to go more fully into this subject, and show how sadly you have wrested Scripture to give your argument support. Before proceeding to this however, I must notice your shouts of triumph at the trifling error in setting down John ix. 32. as an instance where eis go verns aion. In the numerous references which are made in these letters, it would be strange if errors of this nature did not occur. Several have occurred in yours, which I have corrected, and there is one in your present letter. Your seizing therefore, with such avidity upon mine, shows how sadly you are pushed for argument, and is like a sinner, magnifying into mountains, the unintentional mistakes of the good. I will now consider the 25 texts where eis ton arona occurs in which aion is limited.
1. Matt. xxi. 19 and Mark xi. 14. These two relate to the fig tree cursed by our Lord. To be satisfied of the limitation of aion in them, it is only necessary to observe, that a fig tree has, at the longest, only the brief existence of a few years; it exists in no case to the "utmost bounds of eternity." Where then was the necessity of our Lord conveying the idea, that to the "utmost bounds of eternity," the fig tree should bear no fruit? Such a declaration would have been altogether gratuitous. His language, therefore, must be interpreted by the subject upon which he was
speaking, and if this be done, he can only be considered as saying, the figtree should wither, and bear fruit no more. Your question, whether I believe the figtree will bear fruit, at some future time, is entirely irrelevant, because it is in no way necessary to say this, to show, that aion is here limited; for the figtree was of short existence, and aion was used with reference to this. Can you or any reflecting man seriously believe our Saviour taught, that to the "utmost bounds of eternity," no fruit should grow upon the tree, which he cursed? Rather than advance an idea so supremely absurd, let us admit that he used aion as it often occurs in Scripture and in common conversation. Thus Micah says (chap. iv, 5) we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever, (eis ton aoina kai epekeina, Greek, olam va ad, Hebrew.) So we say of man, he is ruined forever, when we simply refer to temporal misfortunes.
2. Luke i. 55. As Clarke is against you on this, it will be sufficient to give his words. The verse preceeding, he says, relates to God's covemant, and v. 55 records the fact, that this was given in one form or other to all the fathers.And this is what he understands by speaking to Abraham and his seed forever. Observe, verse 55 does not say, he made an endless promise, but that he spoke to them forever. It is indusputably certain then, that aion is here limited.
3. John iv. 14; vi. 51, 58. These relate to the effects of drinking the water of life. Your attempt to make me deny the endless blessings of grace and goodness, because I said aion was here
limited, is another proof that you are conscious of the weakness of your cause; for if I were really in error, there would be no need of perverting my views. The grounds on which I prove endless bliss, are stated in letter No. 6. I trust therefore, you will not waste your time any longer, in repeating this hackneyed charge. My reason for saying aion is limited in these texts is, many who first drank of the water of life fell from grace, their love waxed cold. Consequently, the life which they had was limited. Of this there is no doubt. This fact has several times been mentioned, but you have not yet given it an answer.
4. John x. 28. Although you have said the absurdity of my position on this, carries with it its own refutation, it is precisely the opinion expressed by Clarke. Hence he says, they who continue to hear Christ's voice and follow him, shall never perish; thus showing, that if they ceased to have Christ "living and governing in their souls" they would cease to have eternal life, and of course, perish, thus making the promise conditional. As Christ was more powerful than all the united energies of men and demons, none could pluck his followers from him, but they could, as many did, fall away. And when this was done they ceased to be his sheep, and consequently forfeited his protecting care.
5. John xiii. 8. This contains Peter's declaration, that Christ should never wash his feet. Aion is here used as in Matt. xxi. 19 and Mark xi. 14. See our remarks on those, for a reply to yours on this. Peter could have meant only during his lifetime.
6. John xiv. 16. On this Clarke says: A
the death and atonement of Christ will be necessary to man till the conclusion of the world; so the office of the Holy Spirit must be continued among men till the end of time: therefore, says Christ, he shall continue with you forever. What you have said on this text, about "absurdity," "annihilation" and "giving up Universalism," is entirely foreign, as the reader will see from the above quotation.
7. Cor. viii. 13. This is Paul's declaration concerning eating meat. Clarke explains it thus: Rather than give offence, "I would not only abstain from all meats offered to idols, but I would eat no flesh, should I exist through the whole course of time." I need add nothing here.
8. Heb. v. 6; vi. 20; vii. 17, 21, 24, 28. These relate to Christ's priesthood. My position on this seems to have filled you with fright. I infer this from your wild exclamations, and your still more wild positions. But I would say to you as the angel did to the shepherds, "Fear not"-truth will do you no harm.
Your four positions, might deserve a reply, were it not that Paul has expressly said, (1 Cor. xv.) that Christ shall finally deliver up the kingdom to God, by which Clarke understands his mediatorial kingdom; and which, he says, comprehends all the displays of his grace in saving sinners, and all his spiritual influence in governing the Church. In the same chapter, Paul says, Christ shall become subject to God, and that God shall be all in all, by which Clarke understands that Christ will then cease to act in the capacity of a Messiah and Mediator. Of course he will cease to be a Priest. Therefore