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In the texts now to be introduced, they have rendered olim by the words perpetual, everlasting, eternal, forever, and forever and ever; but can such renderings alter the sense in which the sacred writers used it? No; for we shall see that the things to which it is applied, and the scope of the contexts, in a great many instances, at least, utterly forbids it. This is universally acknowledged, and will presently be seen from the passages. It will be perceived, that this word is used to express duration that is past. The reader has then to consider whether it refers to endless duration which is past. It also expresses duration to come, and it must be considered whether it is used to express a proper eternity to come. In short, we have got to examine, with attention, whether this word rendered perpetual, eternal, forever, and forever and ever, was designed to express the endless duration of the things to which the sacred writers apply it. The question is not, are the persons or things to which it is applied of endless duration in their natures, but was this term used to express it? Is it this word which shows they are of endless duration?
1st. I find olim, then, is rendered "perpetual," and applied in the following manner. The covenant God made with Noah was to be "for perpetual generations," Gen. ix. 12. The priest's office, was to be Aaron's and his sons, "for a perpetual statute," Exod. xxix. 9. The, suburbs of certain cities, were to be the inheritance of the Levites, "for a perpetual possession," Levit. xxv. 34. Certain portions were to be the provision of Aaron and his sons, by "a perpetual statute," Levit. xxiv. 9. It was to be, "a perpetual statute." that the person who sprinkled the water of separation, should be unclean until the even, Num. xix. 21. The Sabbath, was to be observed by the children of Israel throughout their generations,
"for a perpetual covenant," Exod. xxxi. 16. To them it was also to be "a perpetual statute," that they should neither eat fat nor blood, Levit. iii. 17. The meat-offering was to be a "perpetual ordinance unto the Lord," Ezek. xlvi. 14. And the children of Israel are spoken of as saying, come and let us join ourselves to the Lord in "a perpetual covenant," Jer. 1. 5.
In all these passages, the word perpetual is applied to things belonging to the Mosaic dispensation, which was never intended to be endless in its duration. Olim is rendered perpetual in these passages, and it is rendered everlasting in others, and applied to the same things. Indeed, had our translators consulted uniformity in their version, they would have always rendered it so. What then does perpetual or everlasting express, when applied to the things belonging to the Jewish dispensation? We think it is obvious that it simply signifies that those things were to be observed by the Jews while that dispensation continued. When it ended the everlasting or perpetual ended.
But further; we find olim rendered perpetual, and applied as follows. Speaking of Babylon and other places, it is said they shall be made "perpetual desolations," Jer. xxv. 9. 12. Ezek. xxxv. 9. Zeph. ii. 9. And of Bozrah and other cities, that they shall be "perpetual wastes," Jer. xlix. 13. And speaking of some persons, it is said, Psalm 1xxviii. 66. that God would put them to "a perpetual reproach." God also threatened Israel, Jer. xviii. 16. to make their land a "perpetual hissing ;" and bring on them "a perpetual shame," xxiii. 40. Concerning the people of Seir it is said, that they had against Israel "a perpetual hatred," Ezek. xxxv. 5. Of some persons it is said, they shall sleep" a perpetual sleep," Jer. li. 39.- and repeated, verse 57. Besides, we find it said Jer. v.
22. that the Lord placed "the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree that it cannot pass it." Moreover, we find it declared, Hab. iii. 6. that the hills are perpetual. "He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations: and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting." In this last text, olim is rendered both perpetual and everlasting, and without scruple is applied to the hills and mountains as well as to the ways of God. These are all the texts in which olim is rendered in our version perpetual. On the whole of them I shall now make a few brief remarks.
1st. It is evident from the last quoted text, that perpetual and everlasting are used to express the same idea. The "everlasting mountains," and "the perpetual hills," are synonimous expressions. We shall see this remark confirmed, when we come to consider the texts where olim is rendered everlasting. When it is therefore said, that the mountains and hills are perpetual or everlasting, no one ever inferred that they had existed from eternity, or would exist to endless duration. The everlasting nature of their existence as to time past, is limited to the time of their creation, and in regard to futurity, their existence is bounded by the dissolution of the present world. Here then is an everlasting, bounded by time, and does not extend to endless duration either as to past or future.
2d. In all the above texts where olim is rendered perpetual, in not one instance, is it used to express endless duration. The things to which it is applied clearly decide this. Unless this world is to continue to endless duration, how is the sand to be a perpetual or endless bound to the sea, and the hills and mountains never cease to exist? Moreover, how is Babylon and other places to be endless desolations? In
short, if perpetual expresses endless duration, some are to sleep to endless duration. The question perhaps may then be asked, How long does perpetual mean in the above texts? To this I answer, that in all of them it does not designate the same period of time. The longest period expressed by it, is not extended beyond the existence of this world. In the place where it is said some were to sleep a perpetual sleep, the Babylonians are referred to; they were asleep when their city was taken, and being killed while asleep, they no more awoke in this world, and hence their sleep is called perpetual. If perpetual is understood to mean endless, those persons are never to be raised from the dead. Such then as maintain a universal resurrection of all the dead, must give up the idea that olim, rendered perpetual, signifies a proper eternity.
3d. Let it be noticed, that in none of the above texts, is a reference made to the punishment of the wicked in a future state. But even admitting, that in a number of them it had been expressly declared, that the wicked, and the wicked in a future state of existence, should be punished with perpetual torments, this would prove nothing conclusive that these torments were to have no end. This must be obvious to every man who considers how often perpetual is applied to things which have ended, and to things also which we are sure are to end. From the common usage of this word, we ought to conclude that the torments of the wicked may come to an end also. This every fair reasoner will admit. But as nothing is said about future punishment in any of the above texts, we need not trouble ourselves with any further remarks concerning them. I may just add, what difference can it make as to the meaning of the word olim, whether we render it everlasting or perpetual? Can the rendering alter the true sense of the writer?
2d. We find also that olim is rendered everlasting. The covenant that God made with Noah and every living creature, is called, "the everlasting covenant," Gen. ix. 16. Also, that which he made with Abraham and his seed, is called "an everlasting covenant," Gen. xvii. 7, 13, 19. It is called the same when confirmed to Israel, 1 Chron. xvi.. 17. Psalm cv. 10. and also when made to David, 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. And it is said of Israel, Isai. xxiv. 5. that they had "broken the everlasting covenant." In the following places, an everlasting covenant is spoken of, and seems to refer to the new covenant, Isai. Iv. 3. and lxi. 8. Jer. xxxii. 40. Ezek. xvi. 60. and xxxvii. 28. But, however this may be decided, all will allow, that it must end when Christ delivers up the kingdom to God the father. The new dispensation, or age of the Messiah, is not called everlasting because it is endless in its duration, but because when it ends it is to be succeeded by no other. But further, we find the land of Canaan promised to Israel for "an everlasting possession," Gen. xvii. 8. and xlviii. 4. The priesthood given to Aaron and his sons, was to be "an everlasting priesthood." But as an explanation of what is meant, it is added, throughout your generations." See Exod. xl. 15. Numb. xxv. 13. Certain things under the Aaronical priesthood, and connected with that covenant, called everlasting, though temporary in its duration, were to be for an "everlasting statute," Levit. xxiv. 8, 16, 24. In Gen. xlix. 26. we read of the everlasting hills, and in Hab. iii. 6. of the everlasting mountains, and in Psalm xxiv. 7, 9. of the everlasting doors, probably referring to the doors of the temple.
Before adducing any more of the texts in which olim is rendered everlasting, I beg leave to make one or two remarks. It is easily perceived, by comparing these texts with those where olim is rendered