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except Abiather; and when Solomon came to the throne he thrust him out from being priest, "that he might fulfil the word of JEHOVAH, which he spake concerning the house of Eli, in Shiloh," 1 Kings, ii. 27. From this time the house of Ithamar had the priesthood.
It is so evident that the word which is translated everlasting, cannot in the nature of things, absolutely signify, without end, that I should not think it worth while to quote any more passages in proof of its intending age or ages, only, were it not constantly used as a great objection against the universal Restoration; I shall, therefore, instance two or three more in particular, in this place, and refer to a great number of others, of the same kind; all tending to prove the same thing. Heb. iii. 6, "The everlasting mountains were scattertered, the perpetual hills did bow." The gospel is called The everlasting gospel," Kev. xiv. 6, yet it must cease to be preached, when it shall be needed no longer. Jonah saith, The earth with her bars was about me forever; yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption; O JEHOVAH, my God." Jonah ii. 6. But it would be the highest absurdity upon the supposition that the word Legnolam, here rendered forever, properly signifies with out end, for him to say, that his life was brought up from corruption; and, therefore, we know that he could not use it in that sense, because, on the third day, he was delivered from his dreadful prison. There is no doubt but the time that he was there, seemed an age, and, while he was thus shut up, there was no intermission to the darkness, and distress that overwhelmed him; and, therefore he might say, with propriety, that earth, with her bars was about him, forever (i. e. perpetually with out cessation) during the period he remained in the fish's belly; which appeared to him, as a long age indeed. But, as it would be work of much time and labor to mention all the passages where the word translated forever, evidently intends only an age, or period, I shall just direct you to the following; which you may look over at your leisure.
misery of the wicked shall endure for ever and ever.
Gen. xiii. 15. xliii. 9. xliv. 32.-Exod. xii. 14, 17, 24. xxi. 6. xxvii. 21. xxviii. 43. xxix. 9, 28. xxx. 21. xxxi. 16, 17. xxxii. 13.-Lev. iii. 17. vi. 13, 18, 20, 22. vii. 34, 36. x. 9, 15, xvi. 29, 31. xxiii. 14, 21, 31, 41. xxiv. 3. xxv. 30, 46.-Numb. x. 8. xv. 15. xviii. 8, 19. xix. 10.-Deut. iv. 40. xv. 17. xviii. 5, 28, 46.—Josh. iv. 7. xiv. 9.—1 Sam. ii. 30. iii. 13. xxvii. 12. xxviii. 2.-1 Kings, xii. 7.-2 Kings, v. 27.-2 Chronicles, x. 7.
Here are more than fifty passages, where the word rendered for ever intends only age, or ages; to which many more might be added.
Now the rule for understanding words is this: What must be the meaning of the word, in many places, and what may be the meaning in all; is the true sense of the
Minister.-Indeed they are terrible threatnings; and no doubt will be fully executed. Friend. But, do you imagine that such passages as the following can intend less than endless misery? Rev. xiv. 11. "And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever; and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name." Rev. xix. 3. "And here smoke rose up for ever and ever." Rev. xx. 10. "And the devil, that deceiveth them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night, for ever and ever."
Minister. I confess you have proposed a difficulty that I should judge to be unanswerable, were it not for the following considerations:
1st. If forever and ever is a longer time than forever, which must be granted; then is there some proportion between them: thus, if forever intends an age, period, or sometimes ages; forever and ever, may intend ages, an age of ages, but any proportion at all between two periods supposes both to have an end, or there could be no proportion.
2dly. I find a time promised, when, "there shall be no more death; neither sorrow nor crying; neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are (or shall then be) passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me (John) write; for these words are true and faithful." Rev. xxi. 4. 5.
3dly. I think there is sufficient reason, from the words of St. Peter, in his second epistle, 3d chapter, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12th verses, to conclude, that as the earth was once overflowaed with water, and became truly a lake of water, wherein the world of ungodly men perished; so, by the general conflagration, the same shall become literally the lake of fire and brimstone, in which the wicked shall be punished after the day of judgment: but I also think, that the 13th verse of the same chapter, compared with Rev. xxi. 1. Isaiah lxv. 17. Ixvi. 22, more than intimates, that the new heaven and earth shall be created out of the substance of the old, dissolved by the fire; that the new earth shall no more have a sea therein, seems to imply, that in its former state, it had a sea, or why this expression,
and there was no more sea."-Now, if this hypothesis is right, the following will be the true state of the case, viz.
The lake of fire is expressly declared to be "the second death," Rev. xx. 14. The earth, in its burnt, melted and dissolved state will be the general lake of fire and brimstone according to the verses above cited from St. Peter. There will be a new heaven and a new earth, created out of the substance of the old, in which there will be no more sea, either
Friend. Although the single word forever,
in these passages, seems evidently to intend of water, or of liquid fire; consequently the certain unknown limited periods; yet what lake of fire, or second death, (which are decan you do with those texts that say, theclared to be synonymous) must end; and, of
course, the punishment of the second death must then cease.
them. Try, for instance, to reconcile Psalm cii. 25, 26, with Psalm cxlviii. 6. Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed. He hath also established them for ever and ever; he hath made a decree which shall not pass."
Now, if the words forever and ever signify without end, then there is a contradiction that cannot be reconciled; but only understand them ages of ages, (as, indeed, they ought to be rendered) and the whole difficulty vanishes at once.
4thly. The smoke of their torments is to ascend up for ever and ever, and they are to be tormented day and night. But, as the smoke of their burning earth must cease, when its substance is entirely dissolved or melted, and all combustible bodies are consumed; and as it is intimated in Job xxvi. 10, that day and night shall come to an end; and in Rev. xxi. 25, it is said of the New Jerusalem, "And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day, for there shall be no night there." For all these reasons, I cannot be altogether persuaded, that their being tormented day and night, forever and ever, during which time the smoke of their torment shall constantly ascend, is quite equal to endless misery, especially as there shall come a time when death shall be nɔ more, pain shall be no more, sorrow shall be no more, smoke shall probably ascend no more, and peradventure, night shall be no
5thly. But the great reason of all, why I do not conceive that forever and ever, doth certainly intend endless duration, is because I find the words as often used for times and periods, that must have an end, as you find them used for the misery of the wicked. You bring three passages, which are all that are to be found in the whole Bible, where they are used in that sense; I shall now invalidate those evidences for endless damnation, by bringing an equal number of texts where you will allow the words are used in a limited sense.
Friend. Is it possible that you can find any such passages in the Bible? Pray shew
them to me.
Minister.-Isa. xxx. 8. "Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come, for ever and ever."
See Jer. vii. 1, 7. The 7th verse is, "Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever."
Jer. xxv. 5. “Turn ye again, now, every one from his evil way, and every one from the evil of your doing, and dwell in the land that JEHOVAH hath given unto you, and to your fathers, for ever und ever."
These passages are as many, and as strongly expressed, as those which you brought to prove endless misery; and yet nothing can be more evident than that they cannot intend endless duration. Here, these periods must be limited by the great conflagration; and thus (for ought that appears as yet) the misery of the wicked may be limited notwithstanding the use of those expressions, to set forth its dreadful continuance to unknown ages; at least, those words do not necessarily imply, that they shall never, as long as God lives, be delivered from their sins and consequent sufferings.
If we were always to read for ever and ever, endless, we should set the scriptures at variahee; and no criticism could ever reconcile
Suppose a person should read Rev. xx. 11. and xxi. 1. "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat upon it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea:" and should then say, these visions cannot be true, because Solomon hath said, “One generation passeth away, and another cometh, but the earth abideth for ever." Eccl. i. 4. "And God laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed, for ever." ." Psalm civ. 4. "The world also is established that it cannot be moved." Psalm xciii. 1. See also Psalm lxxviii. 69, and xcvi. 10. What would you think of such reasoning? Just so weak, must all the reasoning against the universal Restoration be, from the words for erer and for ever and ever, being applied to states of future misery, if God had promised to put an end to them all, by reconciling all things to himself, destroying sin, and introducing a new creation, and a state of universal and permanent happiness: for if such promises really exist, and their existence can be demonstrated, all reasoning against them must be vain and futile.
Friend. It is certain that when the word forever is applied to things of this life and the world, it intends a period; but when applied to spiritual matters, and things of another world, it must be endless, according to my judgment; and I am apt to think, you will find it so too.
Minister.—I am certain that you will soon be convinced to the contrary. The apostle, speaking of Christ, says, But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool." Heb. x. 12, 13. You will please to notice, that Christ's sitting down in the heavens, or the right hand of God, is not a circumstance belonging to this world or the things of time; and he is to set there forever; and yet that period, which according to your hypothesis must be endless is expressly limited by the sacred writings. The heavens have received him, "until the times (seasons or ages) of restitution of all things," (that is till the beginning, and not the ending of those
times) which God hath spoken of by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." Acts iii. 21. And the whole New Testament teacheth us to wait for the coming of Jesus from heaven; (1 Thess. i. 10.) which would be highly absurd upon the supposition, that he is always to abide there: which yet he must, if the word for ever, as applied to things of another state, intends endless duration.
Friend.-I confess, I never observed this before. But, do you know of any passages in the New Testament, where the words, forever and ever, certainly intend limited duration? For I observed, that all the instances you brought were from the Old Testament.
upon as good ground as you reject the Universal Restoration, and perhaps better; for you have nothing to plead against the Restoration, but some threatenings of punishments, which are called everlasting or eternal, in our translation, but they plead express promises of the everlasting continuance of their church state and worship, in opposition to Christianity. But if it be true that both the Hebrew and Greek words, which our translators have rendered by the English word everlasting, do not intend endless duration but a hidden period, or periods; then the ground is changed at once, and the Jews have no right to object against Christianity, because God promised a continuance of their temple worship, for a certain age, or hidden period; nor the Christians to reject the universal Restoration, because God hath threatened the rebellious with such dreadful punishments, which shall endure through periods, expressed in the same terms. It is indeed confessed by some of the most learned Jews, that they have no word in their language, which absolutely signifies endless duration; therefore they can only argue the endless continuance of any thing from its nature, and not merely from the words rendered forever or everlasting. And if this is the truth of the case (as who can deny it?) then, neither did Jehovah speak to deceive the children of Israel, when he promised them blessings of such long continuance which have ended long ago, and which are never to be restored by virtue of that covenant which he made with their fathers, when he brought them out of Egypt; but by the new covenant which he will make with them when he shall return them to their own land; nor did the Son of God speak to deceive, when he threatened the wicked with those punishments, which shall not end till they have answered the purposes for which it seems reasonable to believe they shall be inflicted, viz.: to bring them down and humble their proud and stubborn hearts; which shall be done, during the periods of his kingdom, before he shall have delivered it up to the Father, that God may be ALL in ALL.
Minister. Yes: Heb. i. 8. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, (in distinction from the throne of the Father) O God, is forever and ever;" yet we read, (1 Cor. xv. 34, 38.) of the end, when he shall have "delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power; and then shall the Son also himself, be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all." Friend. But when Christ threatened sinners, with everlasting fire, everlasting punishment, and eternal damnation; did not his expressions naturally convey the idea of endless misery? And may not the Son of God be accused of duplicity and deceit, if he did not mean to denounce punishment without end? And, therefore, if we believe his words to be true, as most certainly they are, we must reject the doctrine of the restoration, which puts an end to a state, which is called everlasting, by the mouth of truth itself.-Are you able to answer this fairly?
Minister.—If I am not able to answer this objection, which you have stated in the strongest manner, I assure you, I will confess myself in an error; and shall thank you, (as an instrument) for bringing me to know it. The same objection that you make against the Restoration, the Jews make against Christ and his religion; for they argue thus: God is an unchangeable Being, and he declared, in most solemn manner, that the ordinances of the Levitical dispensation should be everlasting, and the anointing of Aaron's sons should be an everlasting priesthood, throughout their generations; (See Exod. xl. 15, and Lev. xvi. 34.)-and, therefore, we must reject the Mes-righteous, and the misery of the wicked, one siah of the Christians, as an impostor; inas- against the other; and hath expressed the much as he pretends to abolish those statutes, continuance of both, by the same word, which God hath called everlasting, and to set aionion, in St. Matth. xxv. 46. Here, the himself up as a Priest, contrary to the express punishment of the wicked, and the life of the promise of the LORD, who cannot lie, nor re- righteous, are both declared to be aionion or pent, that Aaron and his sons should have an eternal, without distinction. Now can you everlasting priesthood; and, therefore, if this show me any passage of scripture, where the is the true Messiah, God meant to deceive us same word is applied to two different things, when he promised us these everlasting bless- whose existence is not the same, or the time ings, and privileges, which, we must suppose of their continuance not alike? were only for a time, if Christianity be true; therefore, we reject it, as being inconsistent with the promises of God.
Friend. But if I should grant that the word aionion doth not even in the New Testament always signify endless duration, yet what would you gain by it, since it is plain that Christ hath set the happiness of the
It is evident, from this view of the matter, that the Jews reject Christ and his religion,
Minister.-Fairly stated! And if it be not as fairly answered, it shall be looked upon as an insuperable difficulty. But, happily, there is a passage in Heb. iii. 6, where the same word is used for very different things;
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 our translation, the mountains, and the ways of God, are called everlasting, and the hills perpetual, but in the original, the word gnad is applied to the mountains, and the word gnolam to the hills, and the ways of God. But whether we argue from the original or from the translation, it makes no difference. The question is, are the mountains, or the hills, eternal in the same sense in which the ways of God are? If so, the earth must have existed coeval with the ways of Jehovah, and the hills and mountains must never be removed, while his ways endure; and, as his ways can never be destroyed, the absolute eternity not of the earth only, but of its present form, its mountains and hills, must be inferred; contrary to Isaiah xl. 4, xliv. 10—Ezek. xxxviii. 20 Pet. iii. 7, 10, 11, 12-Rev. xvi. 20, xx. 11. Nay, even in this very text, the ways of God are spoken of as being of a different nature from the mountains, which are scattered, and the hills, which did bow.
Thus, no solid argument can be drawn from the application of the same word to different things, to prove that they shall be equal in their continuance, unless their nature be the same.
Thus in the Greek New Testament, in Rom. xvi. 25, we read of the mystery which hath been kept secret, from Chronois aioniois, and in the 26th verse, we find, that it is now made known by the commandment Tou aionion Theou. But must it be argued, that because aioniois is applied to times, and aionion to God; therefore, times are as ancient as Jehovah, and must continue while he exists? The absurdity of this is too glaring. Our translators have rendered Chronois aioniois, "since the world began," instead "of eternal times;" and have thereby shown their judgment to be, that words cannot change the subjects to which they are applied, but the meaning of the words must be determined by the nature of the subject.
In Jer. xxviii. 8, the word hegnolam is used in the Hebrew; but the translators did not think themselves obliged to render it "from everlasting or, "from eternity," as it would have been highly absurd to have read, eternal prophets, or prophets which were from eternity; and have therefore rendered it " of old" though it is a stronger word than gnad, which they have translated "eternity." Isa. lvii. 15.
Many other instances of the like nature might be brought; but these are fully sufficient to convince any unprejudiced mind, that nothing can be concluded in favour of endless punishment, from the word aionion being used to set forth the duration of it, as well as the duration of that life which our Saviour promises to the righteous.
But upon the supposition that our Saviour intends no more by the "life eternal," in the 46th verse of the 25th of St. Matthew's gospel than he doth in the 31th verse, by the
kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world," (which it would be hard to prove) then an answer might be given without all this labour, in this manner, viz., that as the Father hath appointed Christ a kingdom, so he hath also appointed his saints a kingdom; (see St. Luke xxii. 29, 30.-Rev. ii. 26, 27, iii. 21.) but as the kingdom which the Father hath given to Christ, as Mediator, and as Judge, shall end, when he shall have subdued all things, and put down all rule, and authority, and power; (See 1 Cor. xv. 24, 25, 26, 27, 28.) so, of consequence, that kingdom which is given to the saints or overcomers, to subdue the nations, shall also end, when they all shall be subdued, and brought to submit. But as the glory of Christ shall not be lessened but increased, when God shall be ALL in ALL; so the happiness of the saints shall be so far from ending or being diminished, at that period, that it shall then arrive at the summit of perfection; but shall never close nor decrease while JEHOVAH endures.
Some time ago, a woman came to hear me, and 1, happened to mention in my sermon, that Christ's mediatorial kingdom was called everlasting or aionion; but that it must come to an end, when the kingdom should be delivered up to the Father, when he should have put down all rule, and all authority and power. After sermon, she was asked how she liked? She answered, "Not at all: he says the everlasting kingdom of Christ shall end, and I never heard of such a thing before in all my life; and I am sure it must be contrary to Scripture." The person who asked her, told her, that there was such a text somewhere, she could not tell exactly where to find it. But the woman persisted in it, that there was no such text; and went away full of prejudice. Now, had this passage of Scripture been in the book of Revelations, it would not have been so much to be wondered at, that she had never heard of it; but when we consider, that this is expressed in that part of the 15th chapter of St. Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians, which is in the burial service-what shall we say?
Thus, if Christ's kingdom shall end, much more Satan's! If rewards, as such, shall cease, how much more punishments! If the everlasting kingdom of the saints, which they shall possess forever and ever (See Dan. vii. 18, 27.) shall end, or be swallowed up in that kingdom of boundless love, where God shall be ALL in ALL; how much more, shall all sin, pain, sorrow and death, cease, and have no more a name in God's creation!
Friend.-But supposing the doctrine of endless misery to be a truth, how would you expect to find it expressed in the Bible?
Minister. I should have a right to expect, in the first place, that there would be no promises in the Scripture to the contrary; no such passages as these: "For I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return; that unto me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear." Isaiah xlv. 23. Mind well, EVERY TONGUE SHALL SWEAR. Swearing
12 DIALOGUES ON THE UNIVERSAL RESTORATION.
allegiance, as every civilian will tell you, implies pardon, reception and protection, on the part of the king; and a hearty renouncing of rebellion, truc subjection, and willing obedience, on the part of the rebels. Kings of the earth may be deceived, but God cannot; he will never accept of any feigned subjection; and, therefore, all that swear, shall swear in truth and righteousness;-so shall rebellion cease, and disobedience be no more.
The apostle St. Paul, seems to quote this passage of Scripture with some variation, in his epistle to the Phillippians, chap. ii. 9, 10, 11; where, speaking of the sufferings of Christ, and the consequences of the same, he says, "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at (or in) the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Now this confession appears
des damnation appears to me to be mises, I cannot hold it as an arfach; but were there no promises
But, above all, there is one objection that may be brought against this idea, which is hard to answer; and that is, God hath said. "For I have no pleasure in the death of him the contrary in Scripture, quire it to be threatened in an that dieth, saith the Lord God. Say unto them, as I live, saith the Lord God, I have no s than it is; I should believe pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that might not be able at pre the wicked turn from his way, and live; turn the propriety and equity thereo ye, turn ye, from your evil ways; for why willer my weak reason to gai ye die, O house of Israel?" Ezek. xviii. 23, Revelation: but my difficu xxxiii. 11. It is evident to me, that Gode express promises of G must take pleasure in what glorifies his name; pose so great a part of that b and as he hath sworn that he takes no pleas as a rule of faith and P sure in the death of the wicked, it must be set which promises expressly ass down for a truth, that punishment, without is beyond sin, sorrow, having the reformation and subjection of rekind; when all th bels for its end, is unworthy of the Being we de new; and death, the last e adore; and even now, it is called "his strange Cars and man, shall be dest work,” and “his strange act.” But to propin victory; and sin, w ceed: If endless misery were a truth, I should be no more in existenc not expect that the mystery of the will of God, wiped away from all which he hath made known unto his chosen, I have acknowledged according to his good pleasure, which he hath dispute the doctrine
authority of the Saviour, brought about by the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might promises to the contra
operation of the blessed Spirit; for the same gather together in one (or rehead) all things apostle saith, "Wherefore, I give you to un-in Christ, both which are in heaven, and derstand, that no man, speaking by the Spirit which are in earth," Ephes. i. 9, 10. Far less of God, calleth Jesus accursed; and no man should I expect to find, that "it pleased the very little attention can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; city of the righte and, having made peace by the blood of his stronger languag
wicked is threate
al dreadful threatening which the word aionio ed with the punishm
Holy Ghost." 1 Cor. xii. 3.
Then the argument thrown into a syllogistical form, will run thus:
cross, by him to reconcile all things to him-
If every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, earth, or things in heaven."—Čol. i. 19, 20. the first place, th and things in earth, and things under the And I am not able to imagine, how St. John'sed everlasting, c vision (Rev. v. 13.) could be just, if endless he in St. John's
bextinuance of th
earth; then shall all rebellion cease.
damnation is true, where he says, " And every
If every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ creature in heaven, and on earth, and undergeons, than it is Lord to the glory of God the Father; and the earth, and such as are in the sea, all that express the no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by are in them, heard I saying, blessing, and is remark is st the Holy Ghost; then shall the Holy Ghost | honour, and glory, and power, be unto him never once As the major that sitteth upon the throne, and unto thee, nor in his
work effectually in every man.
is proved by Phil. ii. 11, and the minor by 1 Lamb forever and ever!" In the nature of ton of punish Cor. xii. 3, the conclusion must be evident to things, it appears impossible to me to believe -1.636, iv. 14. these passages to be strictly and literally, xii. 25, 50,
the word a
Friend. I acknowledge, that in the pre- true, if endless misery be a truth: therefore I
sent state, no man can say that Jesus is the say, that I should not expect any intimation, Justinance of
Minister. I have, indeed, heard some assert the same. But as the glory of God is the ultimate end of all that he doth, we may properly ask, why he should take any pains to
Lord but by the Holy Ghost; but when they far less absolute promises, that God would
An) to set fut.
Ishall stand before his bar, they shall confess destroy death, the works of the devil, and assist on th him Lord, to the glory of God the Father by make all things new, with many others of the stronger e We find it promised, that every knee shall than any
sve misery o
bow; and lest some might say, that every
tion time or place, but represents the matter by the inspired apostle, to mean all things in an ere
impossible; beside every expression here used, heaven and in earth, and under the earth and implies a willing, and not a forced subjection; not only so, but every tongue shall swear, and
him to be Lord of all, to the glory of God the of God the Father; which could not be, ex-cano as bowing in the name of Jesus and confessing confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory-itseal cept all were reconciled to him, whether abs
things in heaven, or things in earth: where
Friend.-But we are sometimes told, that
nation of some, as by the eternal salvation of
God is as much glorified by the eternal dam-fore this is also promised; and, in conse