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V. it contains only one, namely, duration; and, according to Mr. S., it contains none at all, or, which is the same, its meaning cannot be known. Amidst all this confusion amongst pretended critics, what are the illiterate to do! It is most probable they will shut up
their Bibles as containing unintelligible jargon.
Let us suppose a poor afflicted woman reading in Mr. Scarlett's Testament, “ Our light affliction, which is bat “ for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding “aionion weight of glory.” She is visited by Mr. Vidler, a Christian minister, and the following conversation takes place.
Wom. Pray, Sir, what is the meaning of the word dionion?
Min. “ Leigh, Kircher, Parkhurst, Schrevelius, and “ others, reoder aion, by eternity, and aionios, say they, "is eternal, everlasting. But I appeal from these great “ authorities to the common sense of mankind, and affirm, " that aion does not mean eternity, por aionios, eternal “or everlasting."*
W. Indeed, Sir, you must be a very great scholar : do be kind enough to tell me what aionios means.
M. “ The proper idea of aionios seems to be "age-lasting.”
W. Age-lasting! That is surely a fine Dictionary word, which is spoken only by great folks, since I never heard it before. What must I understand by age-lasting?
M. “ As aionios is derived from aion, and has “ relation to it as an adjective to its substantive, it
can only describe something relating to that parti“ cular aion or age spoken of, and with which it is " connected."
* Dialogues, po 26, note.
+ Ibid. p. 27.
Ibid. p. 27, Note.
W. And pray, Sir, how long does an age last ? M. “ Aion (or age) is taken for an hundred years, --for the duration of a man's life, which is about seventy years,—for any measurement of time, if its termina“tion be hidden,-yea, even for a year.
W. What! cannot I be sure that aionion glory means more than one year's glory? and does my fifty years of affliction and trouble deserve to be called light and momentary in comparison of this?
It is easy to see that the righteous bave exactly as much reason to fear that the duration of their happiness will be limited, as the wicked have to hope that their misery will end. And surely when a minister is employed in administering hope to the hypocrite, and in making the hearts of the righteous sad, he is employed in a work very unsuitable to his character.
I must here inform my readers that I do not pretend to be a critic in the Greek tongue; and I should not have dared to follow Mr. V., the scourge of Lexicographers, through his critical labours, had he not appealed from these great authorities to the common sense of mankind. I hope I possess a small share of common sense ; I will, therefore, venture to examine his criticisms, and will bring them to this test.
“ I affirm,” says Mr. V., “ that (alev) aion does not “mean eternity, nor aionios eternal or everlasting, for “ which I assign the following reasons :
“1. The above Lexicographers allow that aion is taken “ for a hundred years,- for the duration of a man's life, “ which is about seventy years,- for any measurement of time, especially if it be of long duration, or if its “ termination be hidden,-yea, for a year."
2. - That the writers of the New Testament do not use “the word aion to convey the idea of eternity is evident, “because there are different aions spoken of, and one aion
" is represented as succeeding another. Luke xvi. 8." XX. 34, 35. Ephes. i. 20. Now we cannot possibly "understand these Scriptures as meaning this eternity, " and that eternity.
“ 3. We read of the aionion covenant of circumcision, " Gen. xvii. 13.—The aiopion covenant of priesthood, “ Numb. xxv. 13—The aionion statute of the day of “ atonement, Levit. xvi. 34, &c. It would be an affront “ to Scripture and common sense both, to ascribe eternity " to these things merely because they are said to be of “ aionion duration.
“ 4. That the word aion and its derivatives, even when applied to God, do not convey the idea of eternal dura“tion, may be still more clearly seen by observing that
we read of a time before the aions began, and also of " the end of the aions, 1 Cor. ij. 7. Heb. ix. 26. I ask, “ Can that word which admits of the existence of time
before the period which it describes began, be ex
pressive of eternity past ? Can that word which admits “ of an end to the duration of the period which it de"scribes, be expressive of eternity to come? If not, how “ do the opposers of the Universal doctrine maintain
the endless duration of future punishmeot, merely 66 because it is a few times said to be aionion in the “ Scriptures?"'*
I will suppose Mr. V. bas proved that the words alwv, and Olavsos, do not mean eternity and eternal, in the text to which he refers, though a critic would, perhaps, dispute it in some of the instances. But what follows ? why Mr. V. would have all men of common sense conclude, that the words under consideration never mean eternity and eternal. Against this conclusion, however, it may be objected, that Mr. V. allows the word aim is applied to different portions of duration : “ It is used,” says be, “ for a buodred years—for seventy years--for one year:" now he might as well say that, because the word is sometimes used for the duration of a man's life, therefore it is never applied to any other subject, as say that because it is sometimes applied to subjects whose duration is limited, therefore it is never used to denote endless duration.
* Dialogues, p. 25-28, Notes,
In our English dictionaries, the word all is explained to mean, the whole, every thing. But according to Mr. V.'s logic, we may " appeal from these great authorities " to the common sense of mankind, and affirm that it does “ pot mean so,” and prove it thus : “ The word all is “sometimes applied to men only, 1 Cor. xv. 22.-some** times to a single nation only, Matt. iii. 5.—and some* times to a single family only, Acts. xvi. 33, 34. The “ word all, therefore, cannot signify more than a part, " and sometimes a very small part too.” But is this conclusion just? Will it not be replied that the word all, in the above instances, is applied to subjects which do not take in its full meaning ? Does not almost every boy in a grammar-school know that this is the case with words in general ? Why then does Mr. V. insult our common sepse by iosinuating, that the words asw and alwnios NEVER mean eternity and eternal, when he can assign no better reason for so bold an assertion than that, in some texts, they are applied to subjects whose duration is limited ?
In Mr. V's way of proving, we may show that the word God does not denote the Supreme Being : Thus,-" That the word" God," when applied to" the Supreme Being, “ does not convey the idea of” a Divine Person,
may be clearly seen by observing that wbich we read of magistrates, I have said, Ye are gods, “I ask, Can that word which" is applied to men, “be expressive of" a Divine Being? “If not, how do the opposers of” atheism maintain there is such a Being, “merely because it is a few times said” of some sort of a being, that he is
God! But such a method of criticizing is so obviously absurd, that I will not spend more time in exposing it.
On turning over to Mr. V.'s God's Love to His Creatures, p. 32, I find the following remarkable passage. “think it evident, that the longest aion, or age, men“ tioned in the New Testament, is of limited duration, “ namely, that of the mediation of Christ, wbich is said “ to be eis ton aiona tou aionos, rendered, in our transla“ tion, for ever and ever. This age includes in it all
others, whether they are past ages-this present age -or the ages to come; and this great age of the age
(so literally) shall of itself run out, and be closed ; for " then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up “ the kingdom to God, &c. 1 Cor. xv. 24-28. Here
we are expressly informed of the end of Christ's kingdom.”
I suppose Mr. V. refers to Heb. i. 8. He has, however, taken for granted what cannot be proved, namely, that the aiw relates to the mediation of Christ. The apostle refers it to His throne as God, and not as Media
Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.” I believe the doctrine of the Divinity of Christ has no place in Mr. V.'s creed; yet it is established in this chapter beyond dispute. He is represented as the Brightness of His Father's glory-the Express Image of his Person-the Creator and Upholder of all things, being that Jehovah that in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, Psal. cii, as a proper object of worship to angels,-and immutable. Mr. V. believes that the work of mediation will be finished at the creation of the new heaven and new earth, and the descent of the New Jerusalem : yet in this glorious city, where “ there shall “ be no more curse,” we read, that “ The throne of God " and of the Lamb shall be in it," Rev. xxii. 3. here, that Jesus Christ will have a throne after the work of mediation is ended; and it is impossible to show that