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'they stand fast forever and ever.' Ps. 111: 8. What is meant by this forever and ever, and whether it was intended to express endless duration may be learned from the following texts. In Jer. 7: 7. if Israel amended their ways, then said God, "will I cause you to dwell in this place in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever." It is very evident, that if forever and ever expresses endless duration of time, on the above consideration Israel were to dwell in Judea time without end. But who ever entertained such an idea? Is not the meaning evidently from generation to generation, or throughout all generations, while they continued a nation?
Again it is said, Isai. 30: 8. "Now go write it in a book, that it may be for the time to come, forever and ever." The forever and ever here, is called the time to come, which time appears to be not endless duration, but simply the future generations of Israel. See the context. If time to come be a proper explanation of forever, it cannot refer to eternity, unless we think eternity time. But is not time always distinguished from eternity? But what is meant by forever and ever, seems plainly stated in Psalm 148: 5, 6. speaking of the host of heaven, it is said, "he commanded, and they were created. He hath also established them forever and ever." Now is the host of heaven, or the sun, moon, and stars, to continue to endless duration? This must be maintained, or we must give up the idea that forever and ever expresses a proper eternity. We have seen above, that forever is applied to the host of heaven, and from the very nature of the case, forever and ever here cannot express a longer period of time. Both seem to be limited by the duration of this world. Again, God speaking, Isai. 34: 10. of his temporal judgments on all nations, particularly on Idumea, says, in highly figurative language, "the land thereof shall become burn
ing pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up forever; from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it forever and ever." Compare verse 17. Let it be noticed on this text, that forever, and forever and ever, mean the same duration of time, and both these are explained by the phrase "from generation to generation."
But I find olim repeated, and rendered forever and ever, and applied to God in the following places.
In ascriptions of praise to him. Thus it is said ; "Blessed be thou Lord God of Israel our father forever and ever," 1 Chron. 29: 10. The same for substance is repeated in chap. 16: 36. and Neh. 9:5. And in Psalm 145: 1. it is said, "I will bless thy name forever and ever;" and verse 2. "I will praise thy name forever and ever;" and verse 21. "Let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever." It is also applied to
The existence of God. Thus in Dan. 12: 7. the man clothed in linen "sware by him that liveth forever and ever." And David says, Psalm 48: 14. "For this God is our God forever and ever." Also to
God's reign. Accordingly it is said, Exod. 15: 18. "The Lord shall reign forever and ever." And in Psalm 10 6. it is said, "The Lord is king forever and ever." And in Psalm 45. 6. "Thy throne O! God, is forever and ever." Also to the mercy of God. Thus it is said, Psalm 52: 8. "I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever." It seems also to be applied to the Messiah; "He asked life of thee and thou gavest it him, even length of days forever and ever,” Psalm 21: 4. And 45: 27. "I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee forever and ever." Now suffer me to ask here-Does not the phrase, all generations, in the first part of this verse, explain, or ex
press the very same thing as forever and ever in the last part, and is it not in unison with the common explanation so often given above, where olim is rendered forever?
In looking back on all the texts introduced in these two Sections, let the reader notice the following things. All the texts in the first, show that the word olim expresses limited duration, and was so understood by our translators, for they render it by English words, which do not convey the idea of endless duration. Again, the greater part of the passages in both Sections show, that the word olim, in whatever way rendered, was applied by the sacred writers to things of temporary duration. This we think is indisputable. Again, it has been seen that olim, whether applied to temporary things or to God, is explained by the inspired writers to mean "throughout all generations," or by some similar expression. Why give such explanations at all, if the word means endless duration? And why was it given, when God is spoken of, as well as when it expresses the duration of any thing else, if it expresses his endless duration? But again in none of the above passages is the word olim used to express the duration of punishment to the wicked. All the texts where it is supposed to be used to express this, will be considered in the next Section. The long detail of texts in the two preceding Sections, perhaps, may appear dry and uninteresting to some readers; but it was absolutely necessary to pursue this course, to come at a full and fair understanding of the Scriptural meaning and general usage of the word olim, so variously rendered in the common version.
ALL THE TEXTS WHERE OLIM OCCURS, IS RENDERED BY WORDS WHICH CONVEY THE IDEA OF ENDLESS DURATION, AND APPLIED TO PUNISHMENT, PARTICULARLY
In the preceding Section, we have seen the term olim, rendered perpetual, everlasting, and forever, and used to express the duration of the punishment of certain places, Isai. 34: 9-17. and Jer. 49: 3. We are now to bring into view the texts where it is used to express the punishment of persons, in whatever way it is rendered in the common version. Jer. 23: 39, 40. is the first we shall notice. Therefore, I, even I, will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence: and will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.' comp. Jer. 20: 11. It has been shown, in the Inquiry into the words Sheol, Hades, &c. that this passage refers to the punishment of the Jewish nation, and deserves no further notice here. See on 2 Thess. 2: below, and on Matth. 24, 25. Indeed few will question this.
Jer. 17:4. For ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn forever." It is so evident from verses 1-4. that the prophet is speaking of Judah, the sin of Judah, and the punishment of Judah, and this punishment was of a temporal nature, that
it would be a waste of time to offer any remarks on this passage. This we think will not be disputed.
Isai. 33: 14. The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites: who among us shall dwell with devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?' Having considered this passage in my Inquiry into the words Sheol, Hades, &c. to it I refer the reader for an illustration.
Psalm 9: 5. Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name forever and ever.' It would be useless to spend time in showing, that this text has no reference to punishment in a future state. No sensible orthodox man would urge it, and no man who consults the context, can help seeing that it has no reference to such a subject.
Mal. 14. Whereas Edom saith, we are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the Lord of hosts, they shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, the border of wickedness, and the people against whom the Lord hath indignation forever.' The prophet is here speaking of Edom as a people or nation, and it is plain from the context, that the indignation mentioned, is not in a future state, but God's temporal vengeance on that people. The meaning of the passage evidently is, 'the people against whom the Lord hath indignation from generation to generation,' as explained frequently in the preceding Section.
Dan. 12: 2. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.' The principal question to be considered from this passage is-Did Daniel here speak of the everlasting punishment of the wicked? If he did, he delivered it in plainer language than any other sacred writer,