« 上一頁繼續 »
ration of the happiness of all men? I deny that such language is ever used in scripture in relation to all men; unless you can show that it is employed to express the final salvation of the wicked, your labor goes for nothing, as no one denies the endless happiness of the righteous. I doubt very much that the word endless is ever used in scripture to express the duration of the happiness of the saints, or whether the words immortal and incorruptible are ever used to express either happiness or misery but merely perpetual existence. I now call upon you to prove what you have said, in relation to these words; that is, to show where they are employed to express the duration of the happiness of the redeemed, and also to produce the strongest adjective you can find in the New Testament to prove the endless happiness of the saints, and I will promise to show as strong language from the same authority to prove the endless punishment of the wicked.
Respecting the first question proposed in your first letter, concerning the revelation of Christ, 2 Thess. i. 7, if his coming was not to destroy Jerusalem, I would remark that there are, at least, five distinct and separate comings of Christ, noticed in the scriptures. The blending together of these various manifestations or comings of Christ, has caused great confusion in the study of the New Testament. In general any remarkable manifestation of the power of Christ, in the dispensations of his providence, either for the overthrow of his enemies or the establishment of his kingdom is called his coming. I have classed his various comings, mentioned in scripture, as follows:
1. His coming literally into the world.Mal. iii. 1. 2. His coming by his providence to destroy Jerusalem and establish his kingdom, which took place 40 years after his ascension to heaven. Dan. vii. 13 14; Matt. xxiv. 27-39. His coming by his providence to destroy the "man of sin" and establish more firmly his kingdom. 2 Thes. i., 8. The "man of sin" and "son of perdition," is said by Bishop Newton, to be the pope, or rather the power held by a succession of popes. According to this interpretation which is as likely as any, to be the true one, this manifestation of Christ has not taken place; but will according to some, in the year 1866. Consider this as an answer to the first and fourth question. 4. His coming by his providence to deliver his people from their miseries by death. Matt. xxv. 13; Luke xii. 40, 43; 1. Cor. i. 8. 5. His coming at the day of judgment, literally to judge the world. Matt. xxv. 31; 1 Thes. iv. 15; 2 Tim. iv. 1. Rev. i. 7. As to your second question, it is certain, the apostle was speaking of the deliverance of the saints and the destruction of their persecutors; but this is no proof that the destruction of Jerusalem was intended, but rather the final overthrow of the ungodly at the day of judgment; as this world is not the place of rewards or punishments, but the place of the probation of all. As to how I will reconcile the uncertainty of the day, spoken of by Paul, with the day of judgment, I see no difficulty at all. The time of the day of judgment was unknown, and still is unknown, but the fact that there is such a day, is revealed. And though the time is uncertain,
the apostles always exhorted the people to be constantly ready for that day.
Now as I have endeavoured to answer, at least, one half dozen questions, which by the way, had a very remote bearing on the subject in hand, I will take the liberty of asking you another half dozen that have a direct reference to the subject of the present discussion, which I hope you will answer in your next communication. They are as follows:
1. What length of time shall the wicked continue in misery in a future state of existence? if this cannot be answered,
2. How can you prove that their misery is not endless?
3. What influence has the atonement of Christ on the condition of the damned, in a future state? 4. Is ho diabolos, the devil, a personal spirit, or nothing but the depravity of human nature?
5. Whether is the devil and his companions to be annihilated, or admitted into the heavenly blessedness, when all misery shall come to an end?
6. Is Jesus Christ, as to his Divine nature, truly and really God?
Yours in the bonds of Christianity,
LETTER, No. VI.
To Rev. Joseph McKee: ·
Dear Sir-I regret that so much of your letter is wasted in charging me with sentiments to which I have not alluded, and in denouncing as quibbles what you have not attempted to answer. Because I deny that everlasting life, (zoei aionion's alway means endless happiness, I am accused of denying the immortality of the soul, and the eternity of bliss. But, I should much rather see you prove that the life of faith is endless, than deal out such groundless charges. Why did you pass unnoticed, the numerous quotations which I made, where believers are said to have eternal life? These are not even honored with the charge of quibbles. They stand therefore, in undisputed strength, against your views.
It is surprising, that you should again say, if we deny the eternity of misery, we must the eternity of happiness, because aionios is applied to both, when you have not replied to my arguments, showing that in every instance, where aionios is connected with misery, the scope of the subject, limits it to this world. Eternal life and punishment are only twice (how often in Methodist sermons ?) set in contrast in the whole Bible. The first instance (Dan. xii: 2.) is applied by our Lord to the destruction of Jeresalem. Is not this a strong argument in proof that the last (Matt. xxv: 46.) refers to the same time? It does refer to a coming of Christ; it is a
part of our Lord's answer to his disciples' question when he should come; and in this answer, he several times declares, that his coming would be in that age. You admit that olam in Daniel is the same as aionios in M tt. (though you denied this in Letter, No. 1, It is morally certain then, that both refer to the same eventthe destruction of Jerusalem.
The criticism to which you cling, as the main pillar of endless wo, has nothing but its antiquity for a recommendation. This will appear by considering,
1. The use of olam in the Old Testament.Like aionios of the New, it is the common word for eternity; and it is used to express the eternal existence of God, his attributes and his ways; and yet, it is applied to hills, mountains, covenants, and a very great variety of things, which have ceased to exist. It is used in one text (Habakkuk iii: 6.) in a limited and unlimited sense; and it signifies in one case (Jonah ii: 6.) three days and three nights. Now, according to your logic, if olam does not mean endless when applied to hills, &c. it does not when applied to God. That it is limited in these cases, we know. Your reasoning therefore, disproves the Divine existence.
2. The meaning of aionios must be determined by the noun to which it is applied, and the circumstances under which it is used. Thus, when we read of Onesimus being with Philemon forever, (aionion) of believers having eternal life, (zoen aionion) and of the eternal (aioniou) God, we learn the meaning of aionios by the noun with which it is connected. Now, we can prove, from the nature of happiness,