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symbol appropriated to that idea which we find inseparable from our minds! How then shall we prove the eternity of future happiness, or must this be restricted within the same limits in order to make a fair compromise? a sort of diplomatic arrangement by which the balance is equitably adjusted between our Maker and ourselves? But Adly. These unhappy words are placed also in situations where they become much more perplexing; for instance, St. Paul speaking of our Saviour says Θεος ευλοYNTOS EIS TPS abwas.” Rom. ix, 5.-SO 1 Tim. i. 17. τω βασιall TWv abWww (which our translators have ventured to render

Eternal”) Θεω τιμη, και δοξα εις τες αιώνας των αιώνων, can these expressions possibly be limited? can the existence of God be finite, or the glory we pay him not concurrent with it? I confess I am unable to see how the difficulty is to be met; yet one of the most direct texts on the present subject is conceived in the same words, where St. John, Rev. xx. 10. speaking of the Devil, the Beast, and the false prophet, says “ και βασανισθησούλας ημερας και κυκλος εις της αιωνας των αιώνων.” If to all this we add, that awr is generally agreed to be compounded of as wu* to express perpetuity, I think we shall see strong ground to adopt the construction, for which I am an unlearned advocate. But, if it were not thought too daring a concession, I could almost be willing to yield these arguments to our opponents, and rest the question on grounds to which si, milar objections cannot apply--ww it is allowed has several senses, and though I have no doubts as to the phrase under discussion, this circumstance affords some colour

* So liesiod “

μακαρων γενος αιεν τονίων.” From awwy ævum is also clearly derived. See Scapula on these words and a quotation given by him from Philo a Jew.

U

to those who maintain the contrary opinion; but though the substantive be thought questionable, I suppose there is not a shade of reason for extending the same objections to its adjective; aswisos I apprehend always means eternal; thus St. John speaking of our Saviour, 1 Epistle ii. calls him “ aswyboy Cwmv" where it can mean nothing else; yet we read also of

συς αιωνιον” and “ ολεθρος αιωνιος”. Many more texts might be cited, but I believe I may say that there is not one passage in the New Testament in which there is any ground for rendering it otherwise. But the evidence for this doctrine is not yet exhausted; it presents itself in various shapes, and rests not on the critical accuracy of expressions. The punishment which the wicked shall hereafter suffer, is continually spoken of under the title of Death, the most gloomy of all characters, which seems to point it out as dark and final,—a state from which there is no return, cut off from light, and hope, and consolation. John the Baptist closes his figurative account of our Saviour's ministration, by declaring, that he shall burn the chaff with "fire unquenchable, this requires no comment; it is direct, and, I think, conclusive. Or if confirmation be needed, our Blessed Lord himself compares the wicked to the tares which the lord commanded his servants to gather together at the harvest, and burn them in heaps, a direct emblem of utter destruction; and elsewhere describes the place of torments, by declaring that there “the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” Of the sinner against the Holy Ghost he expressly asserts, that he shall not be pardoned “either in this world or the world to come;" and, as if he would have answered the doubts of those whose opinions are in question, he affirms of Judas, that "it had been good for him had he never been born." This

last declaration indeed seems to me to render their case hopeless; for all their bold attempts to establish forced constructions, are grounded on a conviction, that it shall be well with all at the last: and that every passage must be misunderstood, which would falsify the opinion, that God's infinite benevolence shall finally produce good out of evil; that every paradox shall be reconciled, and universal happiness crown the consummation of all things. Alas! this single speech of our Saviour for ever annihilates this fair theory; it no longer trembles before the blast, but is stretched in ruins upon the dust. Such among many

others are the

passages on which our Church has established this disputed doctrine, and to me I must confess they are satisfactory: yet I am well aware that by many it is thought not only absurd, but cruel and intolerant--the child of priestcraft and terror of ignorance. Would to God I could esteem it such. The horrors of endless punishment have no charms to seduce the imagination, and the evidences of their truth must command our understandings, not win our favour. But the same observation is equally applicable to the tempests by which this world is agitated, of which the proofs are irresistible, and it is infinitely important that what is clearly established by the word of God, should not be rejected by the pride of man.

If my memory is correct, the first Christian Father of eminence who called in question the eternity of future torments, was the celebrated Origen; a man who seems to have been harshly treated both by his contemporaries and successors. His opinions on this subject (as on some others), he never patronized in public, but communicated them only in the confidence of private correspondence;---perhaps rather hazarding them as probable, than inaintaining them as certain; and it should be recorded to his honour, that what he thus privately supported, he publicly recanted before his death. But his disciples have greatly increased both in number and confidence, and the gloomy picture afforded us by our spiritual mother, is rejected alike by the proud subtlety of the philosopher, and the fastidious elegance of the Poet. Among the notes to a* work of just celebrity, I remember formerly to have met with a Sonnet ending thus:

“ And realize the hell which Priests and Beldams feign."

I know not how such an interpreter of the Scriptures could maintain the truth of a single doctrine therein contained. I am sure I can quote the authority of another poet, before whose splendid orb his little ray is swallowed up in darkness.

for ever sunk
Under yon boiling ocean wrapt in chains,
There to converse with everlasting groans,
Unrespited, unpitied, unreprieved,
Ages of hopeless end.

Milton, with all his errors, presumed not to flatter his imagination at the expense of his judgment, and those who can reach neither his learning nor sublimity, might at least copy his humility. But why, it is said, all this disturbance about a trifling deviation, where no moral evil can ensue? The terrors of hell are sufficient whether they be infinite or not. I answer: why any deviation at all where the matter is allowed to be unimportant? But is it indeed unimportant? Is it nothing to spread a veil over the effulgence of truth? Is it nothing to resist the evidence of Holy Writ? Is it nothing to retrench God's awful declarations of vengeance; by expunging a large part of the damnatory clauses? Is it nothing to desecrate our holy Church by holding up her doctrines to contempt?-Nor can I allow that no moral evil will ensue; to the majority of mankind dread of pain is a more powerful motive than anticipation of happiness, and the rather as our conception of the former is the most perfect. To say that this is a slavish motive, is not true, and would matter little if it were-Suffice it for us, that it is such a motive as God himself has sanctioned;—it would not have been supplied had it not been meant to operate. But by robbing future punishment of its Eternity, we deprive it of half its terrors, and leave it almost to the choice of the individual whether he will receive a given quantum of present good, for a proportionate ratio of future evil;—as if obedience were a matter of prudence only, and might be waived by those who will waive also its advantages. Judging only by my own feelings, I must consider the abridgment of this doctrine as highly dangerous to the general virtue of mankind. Even when cloathed in all its terrors, the present glitter of pleasure or ambition often can obscure it; and we have little reason to think its effects too powerful, either in restricting our vicious or animating our virtuous habits. Its effects must be greatly diminished by adopting the limitations proposed. If misery be considered as finite, hope cannot be extinguished; and while hope remains to cheer us, pain cannot be intolerable: but the mind shudders at the view of that vengeance which no ages shall exhaust, as the eye of the traveller amid the wilds of Arabia, shrinks from the prospect of unlimited desolation.

* The Pleasures of Memory.

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