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more light on this, read Clarke, and he will set you right. As it is customary to say of people engaged in worship, they are before the throne of God, I can see no force in your argument on this.
Thus, dear sir, we see, that aion is limited in 70 cases out of 104, and that it is about as often limited as endless, when governed by eis. Universalism, therefore, can never be opposed by this word. If it is to be put down, it must be by other arguments.
My question, if "aion means endless, in the singular, how it could be used in the plural?" is evaded by introducing words 'unloose and untie, cease and surcease,' and by saying I might as well ask, why aion is spelled with four letters, or why A was put before B in the English alphabet. Now when we consider, that aion is used in the singular and plural, in a single and reduplicate form, for times past and future, and in connxion with things temporal and eternal, when we consider that it is composed of aei which signifies continually, and of on which signifies being, or existence, it seems impossible to resist the conclusion, that its etymological sense is continued existence; and if it be not, I see no way in which it could properly be used in these various senses. Until this argument is answered, you can raise no objection from aion against universalism.
As it respects your four rules, I say now, as I have before said, I admit their correctness and am willing to meet you on the ground they pre scribe. All therefore, which you have said about my being unable to refute them, and my
dilemma, is fighting a man of straw. It was not your rules, but your absurd inferences which I rejected, because they took for granted the point in question. But admitting I had made the assertion you say, how would it follow, that if it was good for nothing, your rules stood in full force, but if it was good for some thing, Universalism was refuted. Really, this is a logic which I do not understand. Please explain.
From this examination, we discover that the doctrine of endless misery rests upon ambiguous words for support. Aion is regarded as its strongest proof, and this only signifies continued existence; and out of 104 times, only 34, at the most, are endless. It is only six times connected with punishment, and all these have been explained by orthodox commentators in a limited sense! Would the Allwise Creator, when his children are exposed to infinite dangers, give them no other warning of it than this?Why did he not speak in language which would show them the positive certainty of this endless woe? Why did he not thunder their tremendous doom continually in their ears? Aion only six times connected with misery!! O how unlike bible preaching is the popular preaching of this age! And how feeble the proofs of endless woe! The Lord is good to all, his tender mercies are over all the works of his hands.
I am, &c.
OTIS A. SKINNER.
LETTER No. X.
BELL AIR, Feb. 8, 1835.
To Rev. Otis A. Skinner:
Dear Sir-The sacred scriptures teach us that punishment shall be inflicted on the ungodly in exact proportion to the number and magnitude of their crimes. Agreeably to this sentiment we may justly conclude that the punishment of Gentiles, Jews and apostate Christians shall be variously diversified in proportion to the light and other means of improvement which they enjoyed. And not only so, but the Gentiles or Heathens themselves will be variously punished as to the degrees of punishment, as there is no doubt, as great a difference between the sin of one Heathen, and another, as there is between a Heathen and a Jew, and as great difference beween the sin of one Jew, and another Jew, as there is between a Jew and a Christian; or, in other words, there may be as great a difference between a good Heathen and a bad one, as there is between a bad Heathen and a good Jew, and as much difference between a good Jew and a bad one, as there is between a bad Jew and a common sinner under the gospel. Now, if this be admitted, which I think will not be denied, it will authorise us to believe that the degrees of punishment are not degrees of time, but of severity. All these punishments may be endless, as to their duration, but variously diversified, as to the degree of the pain inflicted. The
least sin will exclude the sinner from the kingdom of heaven if he will not comply with the offer of divine mercy; so that his sufferings may consist chiefly of privation, while egregious profligates shall suffer according to the greatness of their crimes. The point in dispute between us, is, whether these degrees of misery are equally intense and different in duration, or equal in duration and different in intensity. You contend for the former. I contend for the latter, which I expect to prove to be a doctrine of revelation, before this discussion shall be concluded.
The place of the future punishment of the wicked is called by a great number of names in the scriptures. The following twenty are submitted for your consideration:-"Wrath to come." Matt. iii. 7. "Unquenchable fire." Mark ix. 43, 44, 45. 46, 48. "Hell" Matt. v. 29. "Fire." Matt, vii. 19. "Outer darkness." Matt. viii. 12. “A furnace of fire." Matt. xv. 42, 50. "Everlasting fire." Matt. xviii. 8. "Hell fire." Matt. xviii. 9. "The greater damnation." Matt. xxiii. 14. "The damnation of hell.” Matt. xxiii. 33. "The deep." Luke viii. 31. "A place of torment." Luke xvi. 28. "A prison." 1 Pet. iii, 19. "The mist of darkness." 2 Pet. fi. 17. "The blackness of darkness." Jude 13. "Bottomless pit." Rev. ix. 1 and xx. 3. “Perdition." Rev. xvii. 11. "Lake of fire and brimstone." Rev. xx. 10. "The second death." Rev. xx. 14 "Lake of fire." Rev, xx. 15.
To these twenty names of the place of future wo, I shall add twenty-four objections to the final salvation of all men. And,
1. St. Paul, in writing to the Gentile converts at Corinth, said, "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ let him be Anathema, Maranatha." 1 Cor. xvi. 22. These two words, which signify excommunication by our Lord at his coming, are in the Greek and Syriac languages to shew that neither Jew nor Gentile, shall be accepted. From these words it is manifest that all the Jews and Gentiles who shall neglect to love Christ, shall be excluded from the church by him at his coming to judge the
2. Paul, in his second epistle to the Corinthians, (2 Cor. ii. 15, 16.) in speaking of the labour of ministers, says, 'For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ in them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.' In these words we have the final state of the righteous, and the wicked set forth in contrast; the former is saved, has life; the latter is lost, perished. These expressions cannot be legitimately understood so as to accord with the final salvation of the righteous and the wicked, but must stand in direct opposition to the doctrine of Universalism.
3. In speaking of the final state of the wicked, Paul says, 'Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is their shame, who mind earthly things.' Phil. iii. 19. If the end of a man is destruction, it certainly cannot be salvation. This is a clear case. To say this is the destruction of the body would confound the righteous with the wicked, and