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modes of speaking? Yea, I ask every candid man if it is possible to select words, which could more clearly and emphatically deny that God's wrath endureth forever, than is done in the above passages? Granting then, for argument's sake, that olim, rendered forever, expresses endless duration, and that God's wrath or anger means punishment, no language could more definitely declare, that punishment is not of endless duration. Were I contending for a victory over the believers in endless punishment, it would be good policy in me to allow, that olim, rendered forever, expresses endless duration, for the above texts would be direct positive proof, that it is not of endless duration. Our orthodox friends in contending for this must perceive, that their doctrine of endless punishment is overturned from its base by the above passages. But I disclaim any contention for victory. My object is to examine what is truth, and embrace it whatever it may be, for this only can stand, or be of any real benefit to the human race.
4th. But granting, for the sake of argument, that God's wrath was as much celebrated in the Bible as his mercy, and that the endless duration of it was as often asserted, permit me to ask, what worse could be sung of an Eastern despot, or of the devil, allowing such a fallen angel to exist? We seriously urge our brethren who believe such a doctrine, to consider if such a God can appear to any person very lovely, or is likely to be loved. None can love bim, but those who can persuade themselves that they are his particular favorites. Even this may be doubted, for a being of this character may turn their enemy tomorrow, and display his endless wrath upon them. All the apparent love and obedience which they pretend to pay him, it is to be feared, arises more from terror of, than love to him; and if a song of endless
mercy and endless wrath are both alike orthodox, orthodoxy must be a very singular kind of thing.
To get rid of these, and other serious difficulties which might be urged, it may be said, “in all the above texts where it is denied that God's wrath endureth forever, the writers are not speaking of God's wrath in a future state of existence, but only in the present life.” Well, how does this relieve the difficulties, unless it is proved from some other texts, that God says his wrath shall endure forever in a future state of existence? But can this be proved ? No; this very attempt to escape from the difficulties, only shows the impossibility of making any escape, for if the above texts wholly refer to the present life, how happens it that they are the only texts where forever and the wrath of God are associated, and in them it is expressly denied that his wrath does endure forever? If denied in them, and found in no other, it settles the question, that God's wrath does not endure forever even in the present life, far less in a future state of existence. But is it not rather silly to make the inspired writers say, that God's wrath does not endure forever in the present life, yet contend for this in a future state without any Scripture authority? Who needed to be told that God's punishment of men in this world was not of endless duration ?
5th. We come now to those texts in which olim is repeated, and is rendered "forever and ever."
I find, then, that forever and ever is used and applied to the following things, and in the following ways. David says, Psalm 119: 44. “ I shall keep thy faw continually, forever and ever.” And in Mic. 4: 5. “ We will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever."
And Dan. 12: 3. “they that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars forever and ever." And David says of God's judgments, that
they stand fast forever and ever.' Ps. 111: 8. What is meant by this forever and ever, and whether it was intended to express endless duration may be learned from the following texts. In Jer. 7:7. if Israel amended their ways, then said God, "will I cause you to dwell in this place in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever.” It is very evident, that if forever and ever expresses endless duration of time, on the above consideration Israel were to dwell in Judea time without end. But who ever entertained such an idea ? Is not the meaning evidently from generation to generation, or throughout all generations, while they continued a nation ?
Again it is said, Isai. 30: S. “Now go write it in a book, that it may be for the time to come, forever and ever." The forever and ever here, is called the time to come, which time appears to be not endless duration, but simply the future generations of Israel. See the context. If time to come be a proper explanation of forever, it cannot refer to eternity, unless we think eternity time. But is not time always distinguished from eternity? But what is meant by forever and ever, seems plainly stated in Psalm 148: 5, 6. speaking of the host of heaven, it is said," he commanded, and they were created. He hath also established them forever and ever.” Now is the host of heaven, or the sun, moon, and stars, to continue to endless duration? This must be maintained, or we must give up the idea that forever and ever expresses a proper eternity. We have seen above, that forever is applied to the host of heaven, and from the very nature of the case, forever and ever here cannot express a longer period of time. Both seem to be lim. ited by the
duration of this world. Again, God speaking, Isai. 34 : 10. of his temporal judgments on all nations, particularly on Idumea, says, in highly figu. rative language, “the land thereof shall become burn.
ing pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up forever; from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it forever and ever.” Compare verse 17. Let it be noticed on this text, that forever, and forever and ever, mean the same duration of time, and both these are explained by the phrase "from generation to generation.
But I find olim repeated, and rendered forever and ever, and applied to God in the following places.
In ascriptions of praise to him. Thus it is said 66 Blessed be thou Lord God of Israel our father forever and ever,” i Chron. 29: 10. The same for substance is repeated in chap. 16:36. and Neh. 9:5. And in Psalm 145: 1. it is said, “I will bless thy name forever and ever;" and verse 2.“ I will praise thy name forever and ever;" and verse 21. “Let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.” It is also applied to
The existence of God. Thus in Dan. 12: 7. the man clothed in linen “sware by him that liveth forever and ever.” And David says, Psalm 48: 14. “ For this God is our God forever and ever." Also to
God's reign. Accordingly it is said, Exod. 15:18. “ The Lord shall reign forever and ever.” And in Psalm 10: 6. it is said, “ The Lord is king forever and ever.” And in Psalm 45. 6. “Thy throne O! God, is forever and ever.” Also to the mercy of God. Thus it is said, Psalm 52: 8.“ I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.” It seems also to be applied to the Messiah ; " He asked life of thee and thou gayest it him, even length of days forever and ever," Psalm 21: 4. And 45: 27. “I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee forever and ever." Now suffer me to ask here-Does not the phrase, all generations, in the first part of this verse, explain, or ex
press the very same thing as forever 'and ever in the last part, and is it not in unison with the common explanation so often given above, where olim is rendered forever?
In looking back on all the texts introduced in these two Sections, let the reader notice the following things. All the texts in the first, show that the word olim expresses limited duration, and was so understood by our translators, for they render it by English words, which do not convey the idea of endless duration. Again, the greater part of the passages in both Sections show, that the word olim, in whatever way rendered, was applied by the sacred writers to things of temporary duration. This we think is indisputable. Again, it has been seen that olim, whether applied to temporary things or to God, is explained by the inspired writers to mean " throughout all generations," or by some similar expression. Why give such explanations at all, if the word means endless duration ? And why was it given, when God is spoken of, as well as when it expresses the duration of any thing else, if it expresses his endless duration ? But again : in none of the above passages is the word olim used to express the duration of punishment to the wicked. All the texts where it is supposed to be used to express this, will be considered in the next Section. The long detail of texts in the two preceding Sections, perhaps, may appear dry and uninteresting to some readers; but it was absolutely necessary to pursue this course, to come at a full and fair understanding of the Scriptural meaning and general usage of the word olim, so variously rendered in the common version.