« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
word which fignifies their punishment ; is not con. slusive ; it is faulty reasoning. And yet Mr. S. hath affirmed that, “whatever duration of blessedness' the righteous bave, the same duration of misery is declared concerning the wicked." Mr. S. certainly knows how aioon and aioonios are used in the New Teftament ; how the inconclufiveness of his reason. ing escaped his notice, I cannot say. I hope it was an innocent escape. The fact is we can neither prove the perpetuity of the happiness of the right eous, nor of the misery of the wicked, merely from the use of the Greek word, rendered everlasting, or eternal. And, if we must recur to the things, their qualities, properties, and other circumstances, to determine the duration both of future happiness and mil. ery ; why is so much time lavished upon the gram: matical and critical use of thofe little words ? Can it be, that men with to show one another, and the world, that they know how to read and construe Greek?
Dr. Edwards, in his forecited book, p. 251, (peak. ing of the meaning of the disputed words, says, “In sixty-five infances, including fix instances in which it is applied to future punishment, it plainly fignifies endless duration.” The word does not of itself lignify an endless duration. For as the Dr, bad just observed, the same word, in tbirty-two places, means a limited duration. Can the same word, of itself, mean both a limited; and an unlimited, duration. Nothing can be plainer, than that the nature of the
fubje&t, to which the word aioon is applied, muft ever determine its meaning. So that Dr. Edwards had no right to determine the meaning of the word in those six places to which he refers to, before he had put the matter of the duration of future misery out of all dispute, by the moft direct and positive proof of its never ending duration. But as I intend a critical examination of Dr. Edwards's book, as soon as I Thall have finished the present examination; I will say no more of it now.
I wish Mr. S. had been a little more methodical : and, if he really had, as he seems to have, two objects in view ; one, to prove the eternity of future misery; the other, to prove that there would be future misery ; that he had kept these two objects diftinct. I have no concern with any proof of the being of future misery. The scriptures Mr. S. produces to prove the perpetuity of future misery, are all that I have any concern with. Mr. S. often infers the perpetuity from the existence of future misery; which obliges me to take notice of some of his texts, which I should, otherwise, have no concern with. As, from the parable of Dives and Lazarus, he makes the following observation, p. 23. “And if that gulph could not be passed, their misery must be without end." If there be a gulph now, between heaven and hell, the power and grace of God are fufficient to remove it. Mr. S. ought to have prov. ed that the gulph that will interpose itself between hcayen and hell, at the close of the general judg
ment, will never be removed. The plentiful poft. tive proof of the final salvation of all men, is not, in the least, affected by any such passages of scripture, as these Mr. S. produces. If there be any texts wvbich declare, in unequivocal language, that the future misery of the wicked will absolutely be end. less, why are they not brought forward ? One of Mr. S.'s texts I will recite, merely to fhow the read. er what a facility he has acquired, of introducing ideas into his inferences, which are not to be found in his premises. It is Johó viii. 21-24. 111 gomy way, and ye fhall seek me, and shall die in your sins; whithet I go ye cannot comei ; Then said the Jews. will he kill himself ? because he faith, whither. I go, ye cannot come. And he said unto them, ye are from beneath ; lam from above: ye are of this world ; tam not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die'in yaur lins: for if yè believe not that I am he, ye fhall die in your fins." Mr. S.'s inference follows; p. 33. "He' praysi' the Father that all those who-were given to him might be with him, where he is; and he bere fays there are some who never can be with bion; the conse. quence is plain.' Does the reader perceive that, in the passage of 'soripture above cited, Christ any where says, there are some who can never be witk bim? Christ prayed for the world, as we have feen; that the world might believe and know that the Father had sent him ; which knowledge and faith
he himself declares to be eternal life. What will prevent the world's finally going where he is ?
The next fcriptures Mr. S. produces, are those which speak of blasphemy against the holy Ghost. He cites Matt. xii. 31, 32.-Mark iii. 29.-And Luke xii. 10. "All manner of fin and blafphemy shall be forgiven unto men : but the blasphemy against the holy Ghoft shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world: neither in the world to come.”
" He that shall blafpheme against the holy Ghost, hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation. Unto him that blafphemeth against the holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven." .
The interpretation of these padlages given by the great and learned Grotius is, at least, very plausible, and agreeable to the analogy of the scriptures. Grotius supposes the words of our Saviour to have been spoken according to a manner of speaking which was very frequent and familiar with the Jews, by which they represented the extreme difficulty of some things, in comparison of others.
His reasoning on the subject, as Dr. Chauncy has it, is as follows, salvation of all men, p. 333, 334. “ It could not be the design of our Saviour, in the former part of these sentences, where he speaks of other fins and blafphemies, to affirm absolutely concerning them, that they mall be forgiven ; because this is not true in fact, as there are multitudes of these fins that are not forgiven : and therefore," says he," we ought, in all reason, to look upon these fen. tences as Hebrew forms of speech, like that in the 5th chap. of Matthew, where our Saviour declares, that heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. The meaning of which is explained by Luke, in the fixteenth chapter of his gose pel, where the words are, not that heaven and earth Mall pass away, but that it is easier for them to pass away, than that Christ's words should fail." It is a common way of speaking among the Jews, this thing soall be, and ibat shall not be, when it was not their inten. tion to affirm any thing absolutely of either, but one ly to express the greater difficulty of effecting the latter than the former,"~Upon which he concludes that the only meaning of our Saviour, in the words is, that it is easier to obtain the pardon of any sins, and therefore of the greateł blaspbemies, than the blasphemy against the holy Ghost. As if it was his design to be understood comparatively, fignifying the greater beinousness of the blafphemy against the bo. ly Ghost, and that the pardon of it would be more diffcullly obtained; not that it is Ariftly and absolutely anpardonable. He refers us, as the final confirmation of this sense of the words, to i Sam. ii. 25. where he supposes there is a like comparative mode of speech with this of our Saviour, if one man în against another, the judge shall judge him : but if a man sin against the Lord, who hallintreat for him?"