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the glory of his power. Let it be observed that the word aionios here rendered everlasting is the same which is used in 2 Thes. ii. 16. to express the duration of the consolation of the righteous. See. 2. Tim. ii. 10. Rom. vi. 23, where it is similarly used. And 2. Cor. iv. 18, where it denotes the duration of all invisible things. As the same Greek word is employed to express both the duration of the happiness of the righteous, and the punishment of the wicked, what reason have we to believe that the latter will terminate sooneh than the former? Will as many editors publish this answer as copied the question and so let it travel over the same space?
To this Mr. Skinner gave the following reply:
REPLY TO PHILADELPHIA-Dear sir: The question to which your communication is designed as a reply, has been repeatedly propounded to our partialist friends; but it has never yet received a satisfactory answer. If the popular doctaine of hell torments be true, it is at least right to infer, that it was a doctrine of the apostles; and it is your duty to produce from their preaching authority for the sentiment, or cease from preaching it. But how can this be done, when the leading apostle, the one who labored more than all the others, was silent on the subject?
I cannot but regard your answer as an entire failure. I am willing to admit that the apostle preached in the Hebrew and Greek languages; but how does this affect the case? The question is not, whether the apostle, when preaching in Greek, used the Saxon word hell, but whether he used any word expressive of the popular notion about hell? The Saxon word hell, is a translation of the Hebrew words sheol and gehenna, and of the Greek words hades and tartarus. Now as Paul did not use either Gehenna, Sheol, Hades or Tartarus, your answer does not meet the question; for Sir, your answer implies, that though Paul did not use our word hell, he used one of the same import. To justify the preaching of the present day, Paul should have been continually thundering about Sheol and Gehanna, Hades and Tartarus. His silence, therefore, on these, condemns in full, the popular preaching of the day; for if Paul, who shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God, was silent respecting the torments of hell, those who are eternally preaching them, declare more than the counsel of God.
The second point embraced in your answer, seems to us a strange conclusion. Why, we ask, if the doctrine of endless hell, is as important as partialists believe;
did Luke, who recorded the apostle's discourses, leave out what he had said respecting it? Suppose a person should give a faithful record of Methodist Sermons, think there would be an entire silence respecting hell?
But you say all of Paul's discourses were not recorded. True, but why infer that those left unrecorded, differ from those which have been preserved for our especial guidance and edification? Why should those, the most important, and which contained what you call a leading doctrine of Christ, a doctrine essential to salvation, be omitted, and those which accord with the doctrine that God will have mercy on all, be recorded? You can say, that Paul used a word equivalent to hell a thousand times; but Sir, this is only your ipsi-dixit, and will not be satisfactory to those who take the bible for their guide.
The third point in your answer, we consider entirely destitute of foundation. Paul has applied no word, unequivocal in its meaning, to the duration of sin or any of its consequences. In Methodist Sermons, we find endless hell, endless damnation, and endless torture; but no such language is found in the writings of Paul.
We are aware that Paul used the word aionion or everlasting, but this is applied to hills, mountains, covenants, priesthoods,
and a great variety of things, limited in their nature, so that the word is equivocal. Now as it is the strongest word used by the Apostle in connexion with misery, how can it be said, that he as unequivocally preached endless punishment, as any man living?
The text to which you have referred as proof is far from being to the point. If you will look at the connexion, you will see that the time of that destruction was when the Jews were destroyed by the the Romans. Who were to be destroyed. Ans. Those that persecuted the christians. When were they to be destroyed? Ans? when Christ came to take vengeance on his enemies. But when was Christ thus to come? Ans. Before the generation then living passed away. Hence the christians were besought by the coming of Christ, not to be troubled by letter or spirit, as that the day of Christ was at hand. The presence of the Lord from which they were punished was Jerusalem, where the Jews considered that God's presence could be alone enjoyed, and where they went up to worship. Sec. 2d. Kings 13. 23 See also 1st. Kings chap. 8.
But you say, this word aionion is the one employed to express the duration of the consolation of the righteous. Were this granted, the instance to which you re
fer is proof against you, for it says, "Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God,, even our Father, which hath saved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good word and work." In these words the Apostle had no reference to a future state: he was speaking of the happiness which they, as christians, then enjoyed. But could they not fall back and lose their faith and love? Did not the apostle exhort his brethren to continue faithful unto the end? Did not the love of many wax cold in his day as the consequence of persecution? Then their consolation was not endless, although styled everlasting.
If, however, 2d. Thess. ii. 16. referred to futurity, it would fail of sustaining your position. We admit that aion is often used in an unlimited sense; but as it is variously used, sometimes in a limited and sometimes. in an unlimited sense, it is for you to prove, that when applied to punishment, it signifies endless. The circumstance that things unseen are called aionion, proves nothing, because their nature is endless; and therefore, the word when applied to them has an endless signification, the same as when applied to God. As 2 Tim. ii. 10, and Rom. vi. 22, would not sustain your views, even admitting they refer to futurity, I