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written on the subject, teach that the etymological meaning of aion is endless. To test this remark, let us appeal to critics. Phavorinus says, it means, life, existence, eternity. Grove defines it thus: eternity; an age, life; duration or continuance of time; a period; a revolution of ages; a dispensation of Providence; this world, or life; the world or life to come. Parkhurst defines it thus: duration or continuance of time, but with great variety. He then gives seven senses in which it is used, two signifying eternity and five a limited period. Jones is equally as favorable; he says, it means, everlasting age-eternity-eis ton aiona, forever--a period of time-age, life, the present world-the Jewish dispensation. Donnegan says: time; a space of time; life time, Odyss. 5. 152, and 160. life, Illiad. 22. 58. Hes. Seut. 331. the ordinary period of man's life, Homer and Pindar frequently the age of man, man's estate, Iliad. 24. 725., a long period of time-eternity. Schweighaeuser defines it thus: avum, vita, age, life. Valpey defines it, age, length of time. Hincks, defines it, a period of time, life, an age, the world, eternity; same as latin ævum, which was formed from it, by means of the digamma. Hedericus says, it means, ævum, æternitas, or age, eternity. Pickering gives the definition thus: an age, a long period of time, indefinite duration, time whether longer or shorter, past, present or future.— Schrevilius gives the following: avum, mundus, sæculum, vita, or age, world, life.
Such is the testimony of Lexicographers; and it should fill you with shame at your partial quotations. From your article one would
infer, that aion invariably signifies eternity, when in fact, this is only one among six or seven senses. Now why this shuffling? Why not give the whole truth? For one, I like the whole story, let it cut where it may-I crave nothing from your good graces in this matter.
If we go back to the derivation of aion, we shall find your position still less tenable. It is formed from aei, and on.
On signifies being, but does not fix its duration. It is from eimi, to be-aei is from a inensitive, and eo, to be—a serves to augment the signification of eo, and has the force of very.Aei then, signifies a very long period, and as on adds nothing to it, time indefinite, or a very long time, is the etymological meaning of aion. Rose, in his Parkhurst, says: aci signifies, 1. always; as in Acts vii. 51. "Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost;" 2 Cor. vi. 10. "As sorrowful yet always rejoicing. 2. Always, ever, in a restrained sense; as in Mark xv. 8. " And the multitude desired him to do as he had ever done unto them." 3. Very frequently, continually, as in 2 Cor. iv. 11. "For we which live are always delivered unto death;" 2 Pet. i. 12. "to put always in remembrance" &c. In all these instances aei is used in a limited sense. How then can aion mean endless, when it derives its signification from aei?
Thus, Dear Sir, we see, that according to the etymology of aion, its "grammatical meaning" is time indefinite or time to be determined by the connexion in which it stands. It is proper therefore to say, the everlasting God and the everlasting hills; for aion is one of those words, which according to its etymology, may
be used in a variety of senses. Dr. Clarke then never expressed a greater error, than when he said, "there is no word which more forcibly points out the grand characteristic of eternity," "that endless is its grammatical meaning,' "and that all others are accommodated." Its grammatical meaning is time indefinite or a very long time, as we have seen, not however, by quoting one word from Grove, and one from Parkhurst, but by giving their definitions in FULL, and by tracing its derivation. Hence the propriety of its various usage.
Your classification of the different senses and forms of aion, will enable me to present, what I wish to say on these, in a few words.
1. You say, it is 27 times rendered "this world," "the world," and "that world," and in all cases, is used in a limited sense. Now, as these passages speak of different aions, those past and those to come, I ask, if this usage is not proof against you? How could a word, strictly endless in its meaning, be thus various ly used? You say in these 27 times, it is used metaphorically; but this is an assertion without proof, and against fact.
2. You say aion occurs 36 times in the singular, where it is used, to signify endless; and is rendered forever, never, &c. Let us test this position. Take the phrases, since the world began; from the beginning of the world; while the world standeth. Can we speak of the beginning of eternity, and of a period before its beginning? And is it correct to say, while eternity standeth? Such language is absurd in the highest sense, and yet you think it divine. Many of the 36 times, in which you say the sig
nification is endless, are as evidently limited, as the instances noticed. How many cternities do you imagine there are? Perhaps we agree respecting the duration of misery; for if eternity began, it may end-so that punishment may last through eternity, and yet not be endless! It should be remembered, that under this head, you find three texts, which teach endless wo!
3. You say that aion is used 18 times in the plural and 6 of these are in a limited figurative sense. Figurative! It is easy to make assertions. But I deny that when Paul spoke of the ends of the aions, he spoke figuratively. I also deny that he spoke thus, when he said, "that in the ages to come, he might show the riches of his grace;" "but now once in the end of the world, hath he appeared," &c. But you must call these figurative, or admit that there are eternities, and that they will end, yea, have ended already.
4. Under this head, you say, that aion is use in the plural form, and in an endless sense, in 12 places. But what meaneth the following: From the beginning of the (aionon, eternites) world! Besides, why did Paul, to the Col. speak of a mystery which had been hid from ages (aionon, eternities) and from generations? Are there past eternities? And why does Paul connect with ages, generations? Does not this show, that he used aion, in a limited sense And I would ask too, if the word in the singular means endless, how it could be used in the plural?
5. Let us briefly consider the double form of aion. In this you say, it occurs 23 times, and invariably means endless. But the question arises, if you have rightly defined aion, how?
the inspired writers could properly say, forever and ever? According to your views, it is eter nity and eternity. Here then is an insurmountable objection to your definition of aion. The three instances under this head, which you say teach endless woe, carry with them a refutation of such an idea; for in all three, the phrase, day and night, is coupled with forever and ever. Will time be measured in eternity by days and nights? Besides, this is not the day, to adduce texts from Revelations to prove a disputed doctrine. If Dr. Clarke could not explain the book, will you attempt it?
Here I wish the reader to observe, that you have produced only six instances, in which you say aion is applied to punishment, and three of these, are in the book of Revelations! What a weight of proof!
I deny, that aion is oftener used in an unlimited, than a limited sense. Simpson, in his essay on future punishment, says, that in seventy cases out of the hundred, it is limited.
Your position respecting eis governing aion, is utterly groundless, according to your own classification of aion. I have not looked the Greek Testament through, but I have found the following instances, where eis does not govern aion, in which you say means endless. Mark x. 30; Luke xviii. 30; John ix. 32; Acts xv. 18; Eph. iii. 9-11–21; Col. i. 26.
If we turn to the Greek translation of the Old Testament, we find eis often governing aion, when used in a limited sense. In Exod. xxi. 6. speaking of a slave it says, he shall serve eis ton aiona, forever. Eccles. i. 4. One generation passeth away and another cometh;