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the same individuals are said to be forgiven all trespassHow beautifully do the glorious attributes of our heavenly Father harmonize together in this view of the subject! Well might the inspired Psalmist exclaim, "Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: For thou renderest to every man according to his work." Ps. Ixii. 12.
My first argument in favor of the final salvation of the whole family of man, (viz. the destruction of sin and death,) you pass over in silence; and here I will take the liberty of applying to you, your own declaration, "that you have taken an easy way to dispose of an unanswerable argument, and the only possible way in which that argument could be disposed of.”
In reference to my second argument, founded on the will and power of God, you ask, "Do you believe all that your argument proves į" and then proceed to propose a string of questions relative to the present existence of sin and death, which I must tell you, are totally irrelevant to the subject. In order to make your argument parallel with mine, you must point to some clear and explicit passages of scripture, proving that God wills that sin and imperfection should not exist in the present state; and this, you will never be able to do. The same argument, which would prove the endless continuance of sin and misery, from its present existence, would prove the eternal duration of mortality and corruption; a sentiment, which is believed by no one professing faith in the Christian religion. That God, for wise ́and good purposes, permitted sin to enter into the world, and that,for the same purposes, he permits its continuance, is a principle admitted by Christians of every denomination. What these purposes are, we learn from Rom. v. 20, 21. "Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin hath reigned unto death,
even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord." Now as sin
has reigned over all men unto death, (and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,") I ask, how can grace more abound, and reign unto eternal life, unless all are finally delivered from the power of sin
You appear to think that "the restitution of all things," consists only in "the general prevalence of holiness on earth," &c. and refer me to a number of passages of scripture to prove it. That some of these passages refer to such an event, I readily admit. But that this is all that is included in the expression, "restitution of all things," or that this is the only restitution, spoken of by the prophets, I am not prepared to acknowledge. Were this the fact, we must believe that the countless millions who have lived and died in such situations, that it was impossible for them ever to hear of Christ or the gospel, are eternally lost. A principle, which carries an imputation of infinite cruelty and injustice to the very throne of God! I will now refer you to a few unequivocal declarations of the scriptures, which point to a restitution, very different from the one for which you contend. Eph. i. 9, 10. "Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself; that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him." Phil. ii. 9, 10, 11. "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, aud things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
- Col. i. 19, 20. "For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and having made peace = through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven." Rev. v. 13. "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying. Blessing, and honor, and glory and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.” I have confined my quotations to the predictions of the New Testament writers, as I conceive they have a more direct bearing on the doctrines of salvation and immortality than those of the Old. As most of your arguments on this part of the subject, appear to be founded on what I conceive to be a mistaken application of those passages of scripture which speak of the coming of Christ, (which I shall attempt clearly to show, in my remarks on the passage which you have quoted in proof of your sentiment,) I shall pass them by, without any further observations; and proceed to an examination of your strong argument in favor of endless punishment.
And here, Sir, I cannot but admire your adroitness in the management of your argument. After quoting your "one plain text," and making some remarks on the translation of it, with which I perfectly agree, you add, "Upon this text I have nothing to say by way of explanation. You will be sensible that I understand it as it is generally understood. If you understand it as I do, there is an end of the dispute. But if you think it must be explained in order to make its true sense appear, I desire every body to notice, that the explanation is needed on your side, and not on mine; that they may be able to judge whether your creed or mine requires the aid of teachers and commentators." Here,
safely entrenched behind the strong rampart of popular prejudice, you seem to bid defiance to all reasoning ; and to rely, not on the force of scripture, but on the power of common opinion, for the strength of your argument. But impregnable as your fortress may appear to you, armed with the panoply of divine truth, I do not hesitate to meet you, even in your strong hold. Error, however generally it may be embraced, and however much it may be sanctioned by exalted talents, learning or piety, is error still; and must eventually give way to all-conquering truth, which, however long it may be hidden or obscured, "is great, and will prevail."
That you rest the force of your argument on the sig nification of the Greek word, aláviov, rendered everlasting and eternal, in the passage you have cited, ("And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal,”) is evident from the questions you have put to me relative to its signification in the verse before us; and from your remarks following those questions, you appear determined not to be satisfied with any answer, which does not accord with your views. That this word is sometimes used in the scriptures to express limited duration, you will readily acknowledge; and that this is its most natural and legitimate signification, altho it is sometimes used in an unlimited sense, I think can be easily shown. The word is an adjective, and derived from the substantive, aiwr. It is a plain principle of language, that no adjective can be more extensive in its signification than the substantive from which it is derived; and it is equally plain, that no substantive, which admits of the plural number, can be unlimited in the extent of its signification. Now let us apply this obvious principle to the word under consideration. The substantive alov occurs 128 times in the Greek Testament; 66 times in the singular, and
62 times in the plural number. It is evident that the signification of this word, as it is used in the scriptures, is various; and on this point all lexicographers are agreed. Parkhurst says of this word, that it "denotes duration or continuance of time, but with great variety.” Ewing says it signifies “duration, finite or infinite; a period of duration, past or future; an age, duration of the world; ages of the world; human life in this world or the next; our manner of life in the world; an age of divine dispensation; the ages; an indefinitely long period of time.” Hence, you will discover that it is impossible for me to tell you precisely what length of time was intended by our Savior in the passage.
To your first question, "Does the word, here translated everlasting, signify endless duration, when applied to life in the verse before us ?" I answer, No. This, I think, will be apparent, when we come to consider the true application of the passage. Your remaining questions, being evidently framed on the supposition that the first would be answered in the affirmative, require no answer. Should you say that this view of the subjert is a denial of the doctrine of endless life, I reply, that this doctrine, resting as it does on a far different principle, is not in the least affected. It is evident that an individual may at one time be in the possession of what in scripture is termed eternal life, and at another time be destitute of it. John v. 24. "He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life." xvii. 3. "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." Gal. ii. 20. "And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God." None of these expressions have the least allusion to a state of immortality, subsequent to the resurrection.