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though Paul says Christ ever lives to make intercession, that his priesthood is unchangeable, and that Christ is a priest forever, he must not be understood, so as to clash with his testimony in 1 Cor. xv. He may live forever, but he will not make intercession after he gives up the kingdom; his priesthood was not transferrable, but he could give it up when he resigned his office as mediator, he might be made a priest forever after the power of an endless life, and still his priesthood be limited, for Clarke says this means he was immortal, and would not die, or cease through weakness, to be a priest. As to its effects, they can prove nothing with respect to the duration of the priesthood. Christ's priesthood, is not, as you have declared, said to be endless, but to be eis ton aiona. He was made a priest, not after the Aaronic priesthood, nor after the law of a carnal commandment, but after or according to the power of an endless life. But because this life was endless, it does by no means follow, that the life of Christ, as a priest, is also endless. Such, we have seen, is not the case; therefore Universalists believe that the Saviour's priesthood is limited, while the life and blessings which result from it are endless. And in this way they prove endless happiness from akatalutou. So your remark on this is a perversion of our views. Hence we may say with Paul that Christ will deliver up his kingdom to God, and God will be all in all.
The remaining instances, of eis ton aiona are so evidently limited that I need not illustrate them. My views on John viii. 35, you have perverted. I must therefore refer the reader to
letter No. 5 for a defence of this. Heb. vi. 5, Clarke refers to the Gospel dispensation. 2John 2; 1 John ii. 17; 1 Pet. i. 23, 25, require no explanation.
The plural and reduplicate forms of aion are admitted to be generally endless in the New Testament. Luke i. 33, is an exception, and also the three texts which speak of punishment. The former cannot be endless, because Christ is to deliver up his kingdom to God; and the latter we will now prove cannot be, according to the connexion and the opinion of critics. Before doing this, however, it may be well for us to sum up what we have proved respecting eis and aion. 1. We have proved that out of the 72 times in which you say aion is endless, 32 of them are limited, leaving, after deducting the 6 from the 72, which relate to punishment, only 34 cases where it is endless in the whole New Testament; and thus showing that it is limited 70 times and unlimited 34 in the New Testament. I must add there are other cases where I think it limited. 2. We have proved that instead of aion being endless in every instance when governed by eis, it is limited in 23 cases. After we shall have considered the 6 which relate to punishment, we think it will be admitted to be limited in 29 cases; thus making aion about as often limited, when governed by eis, as unlimited.
It now remains to consider the 6 texts where aion is connected with misery. On these you differ from Stuart in his work against Universalism. He sets down only five texts, leaving out Mark iii. 29.
1. Mark iii. 29. This is the sin against the Holy Ghost, which we have explained in letters No. 3 and 6 to which the reader is referred.We will only add: 1. That Matthew in recording this, does not use eis, but en. 2. Clarke, Wakefield and Pearce, translate aion, age, and refer it to this world. 3. St. Matthew says, neither in this age, neither in the age to come
that is, say the above commentators, the Jewish age and the Christian. 4. Mark says, hath not forgiveness unto the age (eis tons aiona) that is, unto the Christian age, but is in danger of the punishment which will be inflicted when Christ comes to destroy the Jews.
2. 2 Pet. ii. 17. "To whom is reserved the mists of darkness forever." To understand these words, let us consider, 1. That they were addressed to christians under great persecution. 2. That the apostle draws, from God's dealings with the angels that sinned, with the old world and Noah, with Sodom and Lot, an argument to encourage the christians under their sufferings. His language is, 'the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, (or trial) and to reserve the unjust unto the (or rather, according to the Greek a) day of judgment to be punished.' He had done thus in these cases. The day of judgment to them, was the day of their destruction. As God had done with those to whom the apostle alludes, so would he do with those he was addressing, and their enemies. Hence he says, 'the damnation of those wicked men slumbered not, and their judgment lingered not.' This agrees with his language in his first Epistle iv. 17,
"The time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God. And if it first begin at us (the christians) what shall be the end?" &c. He tells their end-they should be destroyed as brute beasts, they should perish iu their corruption. 4. The following chapter sustains this view of the subject. There it is said, it had been revealed, that in the last days scoffers should come, asking, where is the promise of Christ's coming?' To understand the full import of this, we must consider, that Christ had told the disciples he should come, and reward them for their faithfulness, and punish his enemies. To this the scoffers refer. 5. Under the figure of destroying the heavens and the earth, the apostle represents the judgment coming upon the Jews. This is a common figure for changes in church and state. See Isa. xiii. 9, 10; Eze. xxiii. 7, 8; Dan. viii. 10. That this is the apostle's meaning is evident, from his allusion to the destruction of the old world by the flood, which he thus expresses: "by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water, whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished." From this, it is plain, that by destroying the heavens and the earth, he means the great change which took place, at the close of the old dispensation. This is confirmed by the figure 'fire' being used, for this is a common figure, to represent the destruction of the Jews. 6. The time of this was at the coming of Christ, which was to be as a thief in the night. This is precisely the way it is represented in Matt. xxiv. which all refer to the
destruction of Jerusalem. 7. They were exhorted as in Matt. xxiv. to faithfulness with reference to this coming, because then the faithful would be rewarded, and the ungodly would fall in judgment.
From this brief review of the chapters, it is evident, that Peter was illustrating to the Christians, from the angels, the old world, Sodom, Noah, and Lot, how their enemies would be destrəy · ed in the coming judgment and they delivered out of their trials. If so, the phrase 'mists of darkness forever' only expressed the punishment then inflicted upon the Jews, who rejected our Lord and his sacred instructions.
3. Jude 13. This was explained in Letter No.
4. Rev. xiv. 11; xix. 3; xx. 10. That these texts all refer to the same time and punishment, is evident from the allusion in all three to Sodom and Gomorrah, from which are borrowed the figures "lake of fire and brimstone, and their smoke ascendeth up, &c." From their intimate connexion and agreement it is evident that the phrase "day and night" is alike applicable to all; which shows beyond dispute that they refer to a temporal punishment, a punishment where time is measured by days and nights. Hence before you again charge me with error,look well to the subject; and see that you are able to sustain your charge. Rosenmuller, Grotius, and Hammond explain these texts in accordance with Universalism.
Having already explained the texts where day and night is connected with the duration of the exercises before the throne of God, I will add nothing further. If, however, you wish for