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2d. But it is further supposed, that olim, aion, and aionios, rendered everlasting, must mean endless duration when it is applied to life; and the expression "everlasting life," is considered to be the never ending life, enjoyed beyond this mortal existence. It is evident however, that this everlasting life was to be enjoyed in "the world to come," which refers to the kingdom of the Messiah, and which is to end. The New Covenant is called everlasting. The kingdom, reign, and priesthood of Christ, are called everlasting. But does this mean endless duration? This kingdom Christ received, and he is again to deliver it up to God the father. Hence the Jews say, "that the kingdom of the Messiah shall return to its first author." And shall not his priesthood, called an everlasting priesthood, cease when he shall have none to intercede for, and his reign end, when all are subdued, and God be all in all? His priesthood shall not pass away like that of Aaron's, nor his kingdom like other kingdoms of this world, but shall continue while sun and moon endureth. The life enjoyed in this kingdom is called everlasting life, and the consolation in it everlasting consolation. In short, I conceive that all the everlastings of which the Scriptures speak, stand in some shape or other connected with God's dispensation of love and mercy to man through Jesus Christ. The ages or everlastings began with it, and shall terminate when Christ hath subdued all things, and the last enemy death is destroyed. Hence the state after this, does not appear to me to be described in Scripture by the expression "everlasting life," but by other words and phrases. For example-The dead are said to put on incorruption or immortality. Mortality is then to be swallowed up of life. They cannot die any more, but are equal unto the angels, being sons of the resurrection, their inheritance is incorrup
tible and fadeth not away, and they are to be (pantoté) forever with the Lord.
The phrase "everlasting life," we have seen occurs only once in the Old Testament, but is of frequent occurrence in the New. But why was this the case, and why is it spoken of as a thing enjoyed upon believing in Jesus, and as connected with his reign or kingdom which is to end, if it designated the life and enjoyment beyond the resurrection of the dead? Besides, it is set in contrast with the everlasting punishment, into which the Jews and others have gone for nearly eighteen hundred years, as shown above. It never can be proved, that it is ever contrasted with eternal death, or a punishment after the resurrection of all the dead. But this ought to have been its constant contrast, and contrasted as often as everlasting life is contrasted if the common doctrine be true. Were the inspired writers so perfectly indifferent about the eternal death of their fellow creatures, that they did not think it worth while once to mention it? They were surely not so much alarmed about this as many modern preachers are, for eternal life and eternal death are their constant themes, and no one can deny, that these expressions are used by them in contrast to describe the endless felicity and misery of men in a future state. But where did they learn this? Not from their Bibles, for it contains no such contrast. Such men must presume a great deal on the ignorance and credulity of their hearers, who think to make their sayings pass for the declarations of Jehovah.
3d. The term everlasting, is also applied to punishment; and it is confidently affirmed, that it expresses the endless duration of it. The places where it is so applied, are few in number, and can easily be counted by the reader, as they have all been laid before him. Such of them, on which most depender.ce
is placed, in proof of the doctrine of endless punishment, have been fully and particularly considered. For example, Matth. 25: 46. and 2 Thess. 1: 9. the strong holds of this doctrine, have been razed to the foundations. It has been proved, we think, that so far from those passages teaching the doctrine of endless punishment they do not even teach a punishment beyond this life. If these two texts fail in supporting this doctrine, it is useless to attempt its defence from any other part of Scripture.
To conclude. We have attempted to examine the common doctrines of the devil and eternal punishment with all the candor and fairness we could command. It has resulted in the fullest conviction, that these doctrines are not taught in Scripture, but are the production of the wisdom of this world, which is foolishness with God and which cometh to nought. Persuaded, the more the Scriptures are examined this will the more clearly appear, we have published our views on the subject; hoping, it will be pursued by others who have more time, and better talents to throw additional light on it. We can sincerely say, that we have sought after the truth, and from the love of truth, for this only can stand, when all human devices in religion shall fall. If we have not found the truth, but have embraced error, we hold ourselves in readiness to attend to whatever can be said on the other side. Truth can never suffer by calm, candid discussion, but error shuns the light, deprecates investigation, and is ever ready to cry heresy, and that the church is in danger.
TO TEXTS QUOTED AND ILLUSTRATED.
19, 21, 24, 26, 86,
49: 17, 26 31, 207, 213
3: 14, 15
21: 2,6 7, 21, 65, 259,
31: 16, 17
LEVIT. 3: 17
NUMB. 10: 8
21: 6- -9
24: 8, 9
DEUT. 5: 29