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righteous into life eternal." It is twice used in this verse, once in reference to the happiness of heaven, and once in reference to the miseries of hell. The two states are directly contrasted. These shall go away into punishment eternal, but the righteous into life eternal. What can be the plea for rendering aionios in one case in the endless sense, and for restricting it in the other to finite duration? There can be none. The principles of interpretation, on the contrary, require the same signification in both parts of the antithesis. So obvious is this, that if it most commonly denotes a temporal duration, it demands the the endless sense in this place. It cannot express in the first clause any thing less than eternal punishment, if it expresses eternal happiness in the second. The passage in the epistle to the Thessalonians, is an equally explicit proof of endless punishment. "When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power."
Nothing requires us to limit the signification of aionios in this case, rather than in others where the happiness of the righteous is the subject of discourse. In the epistle of Jude occurs the last of these passages. "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." The writer speaks in the preceding verse of the confinement of the fallen angels in everlasting chains, and immediately adds:"even as Sodom and Gomorrah **** are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." This shows that the fire, which is declared to be eternal, or according to the usual sense of aionios endless, is the fire of hell. As no reason can be given for understanding it differently, this sense must be admitted; whence the argument from the use of aionios appears complete and unanswerable. It can neither be said, that its common meaning, or the particular manner in which it is applied to future punishment allow, much less require it to be understood in a temporary sense. The conclusion is much more irresistible in this case,
than when it is drawn from the signification of aion, where a contrary use may be pleaded. But it has been shown, that even in that case the argument is very satisfactory in favor of eternal punishment. Nor can the evidence be diminished, by referring to the prevailing notions of the Pharisees and Essenes on the subject. They believed in eternal punishment, but Christ did not surely teach it in compliance with their prejudices. Had they been in an error, instead of affording the sanction of his authority, he would have warned them against it. Nor is it satisfactory to say, that the language is parabolic and must not be too much pressed; that Christ only means that men shall be judged and rewarded according to their works. The language is not pressed, when it is literally interpreted, especially when the connexion defines the meaning. Whoever then is disposed to admit the declaration of God as certain evidence, will confess that the doctrine of eternal punishment is true.
IV. That lost men will never be restored to the divine favor appears from many other explicit assertions. In proof of this, I subjoin the following.
1. "That which beareth thorns and briers
is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing: whose end is to be burned." "For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ; whose end is destruction." "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing, if his ministers also be transformed, as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works," which are surely evil. By such declarations the final condemnation of the wicked, is as clearly taught as it can be. Their end is to be burned, their end is destruction, their end is according to their works. How then can their end be salvation? To say that the end here spoken of, is not their last end is an assertion without proof.
2. "The preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us, who are saved, it is the power of God.'." And shall utterly perish in their own corruption." "For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world and lose himself, or be cast away." "On whomsoever it shall fall, it will
Hebrews, vi. 8. Phillippians iii. 18. 2 Corinthians, xi. 14, 15. 1 Corinthians, i. 18. 2 Peter, ii. 12. Luke, ix. 25.
grind him to powder." "For wide is the gate and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction." "If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost." Every reader of the bible knows how inconsistent such language is with the doctrine of restoration. To be cast away, lost, destroyed, rejected, is in scripture always put in opposition to salvation. But where is the opposition, if those who perish are to be saved?
3. "Wo unto you that are rich; for ye have received your consolation." "Son, remember, that thou in thy life time received thy good things." "For I say unto you, that none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper." "He that believeth not the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still." How can it be said that the rich receive their consolation in this life, if they are to receive abundantly more in the next? How can it be said of Dives, that he received his good things on earth, if he is destined to a far richer inheritance in heaven? How can
Matthew, xxi. 44. 24. xvi. 25. xiv. 24.
vii. 13. 2. Corinthians, iv. 3. Luke, vi. John iii. 36. Rev. xxii. 11.