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phetic description of the day of Judgment.This is manifest from the following considerations. 1. We have no indication, directly or indirectly, in any part of the chapter, that this paragraph is a parable. 2. The true characte ristic of a parable, which is a continuation of metaphors, is wanting in this passage. 3. Several phrases in the paragraph cannot be applied to any thing but the day of judgment, without doing violence to the passage. To what circumstance but the last day could the following expressions relate? "The Son of man shall come in his glory,"-"All the holy angels with him, "Before him shall be gathered all nutions," "Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." If any one will have the goodness to tell me, what time, besides the day of judgment "all nations" shall be gathered before Christ on his throne, I am ready to give up the argument concerning this text, but if this is not done I must hold to the obvious meaning of the passage. 4. The best, and most learned commentators that I have consulted on this passage, refer it to the future judgment of the great day. Dr. Chauncy says the word in this passage relates to the punishment of sinners. From all these considerations I am induced to believe firmly that aionios, in this place, must be taken to express the endless punishment of the damned in a future state of existence.
All the above arguments will apply with equal force, to the use of the word in the 46 verse, so that nothing further need be added.
The passage in Mark iii. 29, needs no illustration. Nothing in all the world can be clear
er, or more definite, as it stands without note or comment. The endless punishment of the transgressor is expressed two ways, by two different forms of speech. 1. Negatively, "hath never forgiveness. 2. Positively, "eternal damnation." This I conceive to be amply sufficient to satisfy any reasonable man.
Concerning the passage in 2 Thes. i. 9, I must say that, I can see no propriety in applying it to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman army. When I consider the general design of the epistle, the phraseology contained in it, and various other circumstances connected with the people to whom it was written, I must say that, truth obliges me to apply the coming of Christ, therein mentioned, to the day of judgment, and not to any partial, or local execution of Divine justice whatever. Therefore I must consider aionios, in this place, as intended, by the Apostle, to signify the endless punishment of the ungodly. Dr. Chauncy admits that the word is so applied in this place.
The phrase "eternal judgment in Heb. vi. 2, cannot be applied, with any show of propriety, to any thing but the future punishment of the wicked. This is evident from two considerations. 1. The order in which the phrase is placed, i. e. after "the resurrection of the dead" is mentioned. There is a beautiful gradation observable in the enumeration of the several particulars mentioned in these verses. have them mentioned in the order, in which they are experienced by christians, as follows:repentence, faith, baptism, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and lastly, eternal judgment. 2. The original word krima, here
translated "judgment," is rendered "damnation, in Matt. xxiii. 14; Rom. iii. 8; xiii. 2; 1 Cor. xi. 29; 1. Tim. v. 12; 2 Pet: ii. 3. And "condemnation" in Luke. xxiii. 40; Rom. v. 16; 1 Tim. iii. 6. So that if we were to read it in Heb. vi. 2. as it is translated in several other places of scripture, it would be "eternal damnation," or "eternal condemnation." Consequently, no doubt can remain, for a moment, on the mind of any unprejudiced scholar, but that the word aionion, in this place, was intended to denote the endless punishment of the wicked.
In Jude 7, we have the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah described by a figure of speech (i. e. the cities put for their inhabitants) as giv ing themselves up to the most abominable crimes ever practised by man. And in the same verse, the punishment consequent on such conduct is said to be "the vengeance of eternal fire;" that is, the Sodomites are now suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. This was declared, or made manifest for the purpose of detering others from the commission of such crimes, that they might escape the interminable punishment due to such egregious transgressions.
The common scripture term used to express endless duration is aionios. This is as clear as language can make it, in 2 Corinthians iv. 17, 18, where the Apostle says, "For our light af fliction which is but for a moment, shall work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal (proskaira) or for a time; but the things which are not seen are eternal (aioniu).”
Here the Apostle twice uses the word aionios in express oppostion to other words that signify a limited duration. He contrasts the af fliction of the present life with the glory in the life to come; the one is light, the other has a weight beyond excess; the one is but for a moment compared with the eternal duration of the other. Then he draws a general contrast between the visible things of this world and the invisible things of the world to come; the former are for a time, that is, till the day of judgment; the latter are not for a time, but eternal.
Now, sir, as the Apostle used this word in its proper signification in the text just quoted, is it not likely, to say the least, that he used it in the same sense in 2 Tes. i. 9. especially when we take into account the incontrovertible rule that, words are always to be understood in their proper signification, unless restricted by some word in the sentence where they occur: no such restriction is to be found in the passage in question; therefore, by every rule of sound criticism we are bound to believe that, the Apostle meant the endless destruction of the wicked. Get over this conclusion the best way you can.
I shall conclude this paper with a quotation, almost verbatim from Dr. Dwight, used on a similar occasion. "Now let me ask, whether a man, even of moderate understanding, could be supposed to write with scrupulous integrity a system of theology, and employ this term sixty-four times to denote endless duration, and seven times to denote that which was infinitely different, without giving any notice of its restricted meaning, while the subject to which it
is applied is of immeasurable importance to those for whom he wrote. If such a man cannot be supposed thus to use language, nor vindıcate it when used in this manner, can such conduct be attributed safely to the spirit of God?" I am yours, &c.
LETTER No. III.
To Rev. Joseph McKee :
Dear Sir-It is universally admitted that no adjective can signify more than the noun from which it is formed. All the arguments therefore which I have brought to prove the limitation of aion, may be applied with equal propriety to aionios; for if the former is limited, the latter must be. Hence Donnegan defines it; of long duration; eternal-lasting; permanent. Jones defines it-everlasting, ancient. Parkhurst defines it-eternal, having neither beginning nor end, duration of the world, ages of the world, the times since the beginning of existence. Cruden defines it the same as aron. Hincks says, it is eternal, the time since the beginning of the world. Here we again discover your partial quotations from Lexicographers. Why not give the whole truth? Do you fear the light?
Such being the meaning, of aionios, we can see no difficulty whatever in the word. As it is used in a variety of senses, its signification, like aion,