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must be determined by its use. But you say, there is not an instance where it is limited or applied to things temporal. This, dear sir, was an unguarded remark, and shows a determination to bend every passage where it occurs to your use. The position however, shall be fully tested before we close.
You say "aionios is forty-four times used to express the duration of the life of the righteous.' Now I can hardly believe you serious in this; for it seems that you cannot have read the New Testament without discovering, that the phrase, (zoen aionion) eternal life, is a general term, used to denote the happiness enjoyed in this world, through faith in Christ, and often the happiness of the christians after the close of the old dispensation. I will not assert that this is the case with all your forty-four instances, but I will say, these are the general senses of the phrase. That I am right is evident from the following considerations:
1. Believers are represented as having eter nal life. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, John 3. 36. He that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life, John 5. 24. Verily I say un. to you, he that believeth on me, hath everlasting life, John 6. 47. See also verse 54, chap. x, 28; xii, 50; xvii. 3. Aionios is the adjective in all these cases; and as you admit that believers can fall from grace, the word can be no roof ofthe endless duration of the life.
2. Having eternal life and entering into eternal life are synonamous with seeing and entering the kingdom of Christ. Compare Matt. xix. 16, with verses 23 and 24, where having
eternal life is used as synonamous with entering Christ's kingdom. Now all admit that to enter this kingdom, is to become a disciple of Jesus, to believe his doctrine and imitate his example. See Matt. iii. 2.; iv. 17; xii. 28; xxi, 43. Luke ix. 27; xxi. 16. where kingdom of God signifies the Church or reign of Christ.— Hence the Savior said in reference to the young man, who asked what he should do to inherit eternal life, "how hardly shall a rich man enter the kingdom of heaven;" meaning, how difficult it is for the rich to become christians.
3. The phrase everlasting life, occurs but once in the Old Testament; and there (Dan, 12. 2.) it is set in contrast with the shame and contempt which the Jews were to experience for their rejection of Christ. Now as the shame was to be experienced on earth, why might not the life be here enjoyed? The contrast would be wrong, if such were not the case.
4. Eternal life is a life to which some were ordained. "And as many as were ordained to eternal life, believed" Acts. xiii. 48. Now if eternal life, here signifies endless blessedness, you must admit the old doctrine of election. Armenians have uniformly explained such texts as refering to a temporary election in this life, for a specific purpose. Are you prepared to deny their views, and to reconcile with goodness and wisdom, an arbitrary partial election to endless life?
5. If everlasting life, means endless happiness, why did Jesus, after saying, "he gave his sheep eternal life," add, “and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand?" These additional remarks, show, that
eternal life was used simply to express the life of faith; for it would be useless and absurd to say of a soul after it was perfected in glory, it shall never perish, and none shall pluck it from the hand of Christ.
For the five foregoing reasons, I must dis-sent entirely, from your position, that aionios "is forty-four times used to express the endless duration of the life of the redeemed." It is an assumption sustained by no proof, but popular prejudice. You must therefore reckon again to make out your forty-four instances, where aionios is admitted by all to be endless. Universalists admit nothing of the kind.
You say that aronion is three times applied to God's purpose. But such is not the fact. The literal meaning of 2 Tim. 1. 9. is "according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus, before the aionion times." Now if aionion here means eternity, this purpose was formed before eternity; and as this cannot be, aionion is here used in a limited sense to denote what God purposed before the commencement of time. Besides, nothing is said of an aionion purpose. The other two instances are the same. Here then are three more cases to be deducted from your calculations. What an absurdity to say before eternity!
On the three instances in which you say aionios refers to the endless glory of the saints, I will make no remarks; for I can see no bearing they can have on this discussion. That aionios is sometimes used in an unlimited sense we admit. But conceding these, your fifty instances are cut down to a small number. In
what light now does your remark appear, that aionios is never used in a limited sense?
There remain of the seventy-one places where aionios occurs, but twenty-one to be considered. As fourteen of these have no reference to punishment, I will pass them by simply asking 1. If any thing more can be intended by the phrase, everlasting Gospel, than that the Gospel should be preached to the end of time, and that it should never be succeeded by another? 2. Can people in this world, be said to have endless consolation? And does not the absurdity of this idea, show, that everlasting consolation sim ply means, the great and permanent consolation of christians? Remember-they had this everlasting consolation, and that christians can fall from grace. 3. How can Christ's kingdom be called endless,when he says, he shall deliver it up to the Father? See 1 Cor. xv. 4. By what authority do you refer the phrase everlasting habitations to the future world? Have men the control of the kingdom of endless blessedness? Can they admit and refuse whom they please? 5. Onesimus was a fellow laborer with Philemon, and the son of Paul in the faith. For a time, he departed from Philemon, but returned by the advice of, Paul. Hence it is said; "he departed for a season, that Philemon should receive him forever." But can any thing more be intended, than that they should continue without interruption fellow laborers? Surely in this instance aionios, at most, can only mean the life of man. Thus we have five cases to take from your fourteen.
We will now examine your seven texts, where aumios is applied to punishment. Your
remark that the best informed Universalists generally refer these to future punishment, is another proof of your imperfect knowledge of our faith.
1. On Matt. xviii. 8. I will only ask 1. What can Christ mean by entering life maimed? 2. What can he mean by being cast into fire with two hands and two eyes? 3. Should you say he speaks figuratively, and means by being maimed separated from his friends, I would ask, how entering heaven, without friends, could be called entering maimed? According to this every christian goes to heaven maimed. But here is a difficulty; for this would make sinners go to hell maimed, inasmuch as they would leave friends behind. 4. When Jesus says it were better to be drowned in the depth of the sea, than to offend one of these little ones (v. 6.) does he not refer to the same punishment as that in v. 8? These questions show that Jesus was merely speaking of the opposition to his cause, of the importance of believing in him, even if it displeased connexions, and of the judgment that would come on the offenders. They had better enter his kingdom without friends, and against their will, than to be destroyed with them. Fire is a common figure to express the temporal punishments to come on the Jews. See Matt. 3. 10; xiii. 42; xxv. 41; vii. 9. Eis to pur to aionion or everlasting fire then, can he no proof of endless misery; for it is seen to refer to a particular judgment upon the Jews.
What Dr. Chauncy's notions have to do with this or any other text, as it respects our discussion I am unable to conceive. I hope therefore