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1: 5. the question is asked concerning the prophets, Do they live forever? If forever is asseried to mean endless duration, it is here strongly implied that the prophets do not live forever. But the question here simply means, do the prophets live to all generations. It is said of some, Psalm 81:15. that “their time should have endured forever.' And Solomon, Eccles. 2: 16. says—There is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool forever.' And David says Psal. 49: 8. the redemption of the soul, or the natural life from death, it ceaseth forever.' And in Prov. 27: 24. it is said of riches—they are not forever;' but the common explanation is added, And doth the crown endure to every generation.'
But I find olim, rendered forever, applied to God in a variety of ways. These texts demand the closest attention, for it is in consequence of this, that it is considered as expressing endless duration. Can it mean any thing less than this, say some, seeing it is applied to him who had no beginning and who shall have no end? This may be true, but it ought not to be admitted without sufficient evidence, seeing this same word is applied to so many things which all allow are not of endless duration. We shall therefore give this part of the subject all the care and attention we can command. Olim, then, is rendered forever and applied
To the existence of God. Thus in Deut. 32: 40. God says, I live forever.' And in Psalm 9: 7. The Lord shall endure forever.' And 102: 12. 6thou, O Lord, shalt endure forever,' but observe, it is added by way of explanation, and thy remembrance unto all generations. In Lam. v. 19. it is said, “thou, o Lord, remainest forever;' but the common explanation is again given, for it is added, and thy throne from generation to generation. And it is said, Eccles. 3: 14. That whatsoever God doeth it shall be
forever. It is also applied to his name or character in general. Thus it is said, Exod. 3: 15. This is my name forever, and explained thus, and this is my memorial unto all generations.'
This character, name or glory, are the same. Hence it is said, Psalm 104: 31. 'the glory of the Lord shall endure forever.' And Mic. 2: 9. God complains that his glory was taken away from some forever.” In 2 Sam. 7: 26. it is said, let thy name be magnified forever: and is repeated 1 Chron. 17: 24. In Psalm 135: 13. it is said, “thy name, O! Lord, endureth forever ;' but observe it is added again as an explanation, and thy memorial, O! Lord, throughout all generations.? In the margin to generation and generation. In all the following passages, which I need not transcribe, God is spoken of as putting his name in his house 'forever.' 1 Kings 9: 3. 2 Chron. 7:16. 2 Kings 21: 7. 2 Chron. 33: 7, 4.
But to proceed, we find forever applied to his truth. Thus it is said, Psalm 117: 2. The truth of the Lord endureth forever.' And 146: 6. that he keepeth truth forever.' And in Isai. 40: 8. the word of God shall stand forever.' It is also applied
To his faithfulness. Accordingly, it is said, Psalm 105: 8. He hath remembered his covenant forever.' What follows by way of explanation deserves particular notice; The word which he commanded to a thousand generations. A thousand generations is a long period of time, but it is not eternity. Again, it is said, Psalm 111:9. · He hath commanded his covenant forever.' And verse 5. He will ever be mindful of his covenant. It is also applied
To his reign and power. Thus it is said, Psalm 66 : 7. “He ruleth by his power forever.' And 29: 10. "The Lord sitteth king forever. In Mic. 4 : 7. it is said of Israel, The Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion from henceforth even forever.' And
Psalm 146: 10. "The Lord shall reign forever, even thy God, o Zion. But here again the common explanation is given unto all generations. Also
To his wisdom or counsel. In Psalm 33:11. "The counsel of the Lord standeth forever. But it is said by way of explanation, the thought of his heart to all generations. And
To his righteousness or salvation. Thus it is said, Isai. 51: 6. my salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished. Now compare with this verse 8. my righteousness shall be forever, and my salvation from generation to generation ;' does not from generation to generation' here express precisely what is meant by forever ?
But I find the word olim rendered forever and applied to God's mercy. The expression for his mercy endureth forever is found once in each of the following texts. 2 Chron. 5:13. 20:21. Ezra 3:11. Psalm 106: 1. 107: 1. 138:8. Jer. 33:11. In each of the following places it occurs twice. 2 Chron. 7: 3,6. 1. Chron. 16: 34, 41. In Psalm 118: 1–4, 29. it is found five times. And in Psalm 136. it occurs no less than twenty-six times. The expression for his mercy endureth forever,' is found then forty-two times in the Old Testament. The reason for being so particular in thus numbering the places will appear presently. Although the following texts do not contain this precise expression, yet it is evident they have an affinity to the present topic. I shall therefore introduce them here, before I proceed to make any remarks on the above expression.
David says, Psalm 89: 1. I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever,' and explains it by adding, * with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations. And well he might, for he says, verse 2. • Mercy shall be built up forever.' And again explains his meaning by saying, “thy faithfulness
shalt thou establish in the very heavens. Observe, that in the first of these verses forever is explained in the margin to generation and generation. In the second by his faithfulness being established in the very heavens seems to be meant, that it should endure as the heavens or throughout all generations. Besides, David says, Psalm 100: 5. “For the Lord is good: his mercy is everlasting, and adds by way of explanation and his truth endureth to all generations. He adds, Psalm 103: 17. · But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him,' and it is again added, “and his righteousness unto children's children.'
On all these texts where it is said, 'for his miercy endureth forever, with others of a similar nature, I shall now make a few observations.-- 1st. It is very evident, that the mercy of God formed the burden of song to the Jews in their worship. The God of the Jews, was a merciful God, slow to anger and of great kindness. 2d. If it be true, as our orthodox friends assert, that God is as much glorified in the display of his endless wrath against the wicked, as in the display of his endless mercy towards the righteous, how do they account for it, that the phrase "for his wrath endureth forever does not occur forty-two times as the phrase 'for his mercy endureth forever? Why have we not a Psalm, in which it is twenty-six times said,
0! give thanks unto the Lord for he is good, for his wrath endureth forever.' Nor do we see what objection they could have to singing it, if God is as much glorified by the one as by the other. But supposing such a Psalm found in the Bible, and that they should sing both, would they not celebrate the endless mercy and wrath of the same God towards his own creatures ? But I ask, how all this could be reconciled with God's declarations, that mercy rejoiceth against judgment, and that his tender mercies are over his
other works. But 3d. we would candidly ask our orthodox brethren, how they account for the extraordinary fact, that it is not once said that the wrath of the Lord endureth forever ?! so far from this being once asserted, it is repeatedly and expressly denied that God's wrath endureth forever. Thus it is said, Psalm 103: 9. “He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger forever. Again, Isai. 57:16. For I will not contend forever, neither will I be always wroth : for the spirit should fail before me and the souls which I have made. No, say our orthodox friends, they shall not fail but shall endure the endless wrath of God. But it is again said, Jer. 3 : 5.
Will he reserve his anger forever? Will he keep it to the end ? Here it is supposed that forever is to end, and hence it is said, verse 12. ' for I am merciful saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger forever.' And in Lam.3: 31. it is expressly said, the Lord will not cast off, forever.' Further, David says, Psalm 85: 5. Wilt thou be angry with us forever? but he adds by way of explanation, wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations ?' And Psalm 77: 8. says, 'is his mercy clean gone forever? Doth his promise fail for evermore ? Notice here, that as forever and for evermore are expressions which convey to an English reader the same idea, so did the original word olim to the sacred writers. This appears also from other passages.
İt is beyond all debate, that it is never once said, that the anger or wrath of God endureth forever. We solemnly call on any man to produce a single instance where this is said by any Old Testament writér. Bywhat authority then do men in our day preach that God's wrath is to endure forever? Is it like men who reverence the sacred oracles, to speak of the everlasting anger and eternal wrath of God, yet can produce no example from them of such