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God to recompense tribulation to them, that trouble you; and to you who are tronbled, &c. This language shows, that he was speaking, not of a general judgment, but a particular judgment, to come on the Jews for troubling the Christians.
3d. How will you reconcile the uncertainty of the day, with the idea, that it refers to a future judgment? "For that day, shall not come, except there come a falling away first" v. 3. chap. ii.
4th. Are not those who troubled the christians, the same, as the man of sin-the son of perdition? See v. 7. chap. 2d, where Paul says, the mystery of iniquity doth already work. See also v. 8. which teaches, that when this wicked one was revealed, he would be consumed by the brightness of the Lord's coming. And if so, must not his coming, have been in that age?
You express great astonishment at my saying aionion or everlasting is applied to hills; but why this astonishment, since aion is synonamous with olam? You ask, if I wrote this to deceive the unlearned? But before you threw out such an insinuation, you should have proven that the learned are wrong in saying, that aion expresses the meaning of olam. I am, &c. OTIS A. SKINNER.
LETTER NO. II.
BALTIMORE, Oct. 27, 1834.
To Rev. Otis A. Skinner:
Dear Sir-I promised in my last communication to send you something concerning the words aion and aionios. I now proceed to fulfil my promise. As the discussion of these two words would occupy too much space for one number of your paper I shall now confine myself to the noun aion. A proper understanding of the derivation and true signification of this word will cast much light on the present controversy. I find that the Universalists generally wish to keep the etymology of this word in the dark, because every well informed man among them must be aware that a proper development of it would overthrow their whole system. This disposition is manifest in your sermon on a paragraph of Matthew's Gospel, which you erroneously call "the parable of the sheep and the goats," where you say, you "will not stop to enquire into the etymological meaning of the (original) word." Now, sir, I think all good critics will agree with me when I say that a proper knowledge of the etymology of a word is indispensably necessary in order to have a right understanding of its true signification. Believing this to be the fact I shall proceed to shew its derivation and signification according to some of the best critics that ever wrote on the subject.
Aristotle, of whom Dr. A. Clarke says, "a higher authority need not be sought," says the
word aion is compounded of aei, always, and on, being, and properly signifies always being, or eternity. De Coel lib. 1. chap. 9.
Philo, and Phavorinus, derive aion from aei, ever, and on, existing, everlasting. Ruffner's serm. on future punishment, page 24.
Bass, in his Greek and English Lexicon derives the word from aei, ever, and on, being, unlimited duration. London Edit. 1820.
Grove, in his Greek and English Dictionary derives the word aion from aei, ever, and on, being, eternity. Boston Edit. 1833.
Parkhurst, says aion is derived from aei and on, always being, eternity. Greek and English Lexicon, London Edit. 1822.
Dr. Clarke says aion comes from aei always, and on, being, or existence, and affirms that, "there is no word in any language which more forcibly points out the grand characteristic of eternity-that which always exists. **** It is the gramatical and proper sense of it, that must be resorted to in any controversy concerning the word." Notes on Matt. vii. 13. Again, "aion, aei, on, continual being; and no words can more forcibly point out eternity than these." Notes on Matt. xxiv. 3. Again, "aion from aei always, and on being, or existence. And indeed no words can more forcibly convey the idea of eternity than these." Notes on John xvii. 3. Again, "aion signifies complete, or everlasting existence, or eternity.' Notes on Acts iii 21. And again, "those who bring any of these terms, (olam and aion) in an accommodated sense, to favour a particular doctrine, &c., must depend on the good graces of their opponents, for permission to use them in
this way. For as the real gramatical meaning of both words is eternal, and all other meanings accommodated ones, sound criticism, in all matters of dispute concerning the import of a word or term, must have recourse to the gramatical meaning, and its use among the earliest and most correct writers in the language; and will determine all accommodated meanings by this alone. Now, the first and best writers in both these languages apply olam and aion to express eternal in the proper meaning of that word; and this is their proper meaning in the Old and New Testaments when applied to God, his attributes, his operations taken in connexion with the ends for which he performs them, for whatsoever he doth it shall be forever.Eccl. iii. 14. **** The word is with the same strict propriety, applied to the rewards and punishments in a future state. And the argument that pretends to prove, and it is only pretension, that in the future punismhent of the wicked "the worm shall die" and "the fire shall be quenched" will apply as forcibly to the state of happy spirits, and as fully prove, that a point in eternity shall arrive when the repose of the righteous shall be interrupted, and the glorification of the children of God have an eternal end. The absurdity of such tenets prevents them from becoming very dangerous.' Thus far Dr. Clarke. See Notes on Gen. xxi. 33. Now, sir, having clearly shewn from the above cited authorities that the proper, etymological, and gramatical signification of the Greek noun aion is unlimited duration, eternity in the proper sense of the word, I shall now proceed to consider it as found in the New Tes
tament. The word aion occurs 63 times in the singular number, 18 times in the plural, and 23 times in a double, or reduplicate form. If each reduplication be considered as a single instance the whole number will be 104 times in the New Testament. But, to be more particular. The word aion is sometimes used in a metaphorical sense and by way of accommodation applied, in some instances, to things that are not in themselves eternal in the proper sense of the word. In all cases where this occurs there is sufficient intimation of it given in the sentence; but, if no such intimation be given the proper and grammatical meaning must always be taken unless it involve a palpable absurdity or contradiction. This rule is tenaciously adhered to by all good critics in all theological disputations.
This noun in the singular number is used 27 times in a metaphorical sense, and signifies a temporary duration. It is 20 times translated "this world," 6 times "the world," and 1 time "that world." The following are the places where it is employed in this accommodated sense-Matt. xii. 32; xiii. 22; 39, 40, 49; xxiv. 3; xxviii. 20; Mark iv. 19; Luke i. 70; xvi. 8; xx. 34, 35; Acts iii. 21; Rom. xii. 2; 1 Cor. i. 20; ii. 6 twice, 8; iii. 18; 2 Cor. iv. 4; Gal. i. 4; Eph. i. 21; ii. 2; vi. 12; 1 Tim. vi. 17; 2 Tim. iv. 10; Tit. ii. 12.
This word is used 36 times in the singular to signify endless duration, and is 20 times rendered, "for ever," 7 times "never," 3 times "the world to come," twice " ever," 1 time "since the world began," 1 time "from the beginning of the world," 1 time, "while the world