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In Matt. xxiv. 3 ; xiii. 39, 40, and other passages, in which the phrase "end of the world” occurs, the word for world is not xãouos, but alov. The very phrase cuvrédela tou aiāvos, end of the world, on which you so confidently rely for proof of your positions, pointedly contradicts your views. You must either allow that alwy does not signify eternity -in which case your entire argument would be lost-or attempt to define what you mean by the END of eternity.
4th. We read of the end and the ends of the alwves (aions,) plural. 1 Cor. x. 11, “ And they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the worlds twy alwvwy ARE come." Heb. ix. 26, “But now once in the end of the worlds συντέλεια των αιώνων, hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” In your comments on the latter passage, you say, that “ Christ came in the joint ending of the ages of past and future eternity.” But a past eternity is a contradiction. You also say, "an interminable past duration preceded his appearing, and an interminable duration is to succeed.” But an interminable duration is a duration without termination-yet according to your statement, there was a termination to the interminable duration that preceded the coming of Christ! The phrase "end of the worlds," you interpret to mean the ending together of two eternities-but besides the total absence of authority for such interpretation, allow me to suggest, that, according to your views, Christ offered himself on the cross between the ending of one eternity, and the beginning of another!
From the foregoing considerations the conclusion is obvious, that, of whatever words the noun aiwy may be formed, it does not signify eternity; and consequently its derivative adjective cannot, in itself, signify an endless duration.
In perfect agreement with these facts, we find, that the word everlasting is applied, in the Septuagint, to the priesthood of Aaron, which was abolished to make room for the priesthood of Christ; to the everlasting covenant of the law, which was superseded by the gospel covenant; to the everlasting possession of the land of Canaan, which
the Jews do not now possess—and to other everlasting things, which not only had no reference to a future existence, but were temporary in their characters, and limited in their duration. Allow me to say, that a Jew uses the very same argument to prove that Christ was an impostor and the gospel a fabrication, that you have adopted to prove the doctrine of endless punishment. Were I to allow the validity of your argument and conclusion, I should be compelled to admit the same in relation to the reasoning of the Jew.
Besides—you have yet to prove that Matt. xxv. 46, has any reference to the immortal state of existence. I am aware that ζωήν αιώνιον is placed in contrast with κωλασιν alõvior—but I deny that either of these phrases belongs to the incorruptible life. The faithful and obedient have everlasting life, in the present world, as I have abundantly shown in previous letters. To my arguments on this point you have failed to reply.
The duration signified by the adjective alwvlov must always be determined by the subject or thing to which it is applied. Adjectives are but relative terms. The adjectives tall, great, long, deep, &c, have no meaning in themselves. We say a long arm, a long pole, a long day
-a tall man, a tall tree, a tall steeple—and so of other adjectives. They are indefinite in themselves, and must always be considered in connexion with the things to which they are applied.
I grant that the word everlasting is applied to the Almighty, and in this case it signifies an endless duration, for God is “without beginning of days or ending of years." But it is not the application of the word everlasting to the name of the Supreme Being, that proves to us the infinite duration of his existence. He is “the incorruptible God," 890_otov Ocov, Rom. i. 23. 'I freely allow also, that in 2 Cor. v. 1, the word alüviov expresses an unlimited duration, not however in itself considered, but because of the subject to which it is applied. “We have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” But the terms used
in 1 Peter i. 4, are much stronger than the adjective alõviov. “An inheritance incorruptible, åpodprov undefiled, and that fadeth not away," apapavrov.
Jesus was made a high priest for ever els tov alwva after the order of Melchizedeck, Heb. vi. 20. But in Heb. vij. 16, there is a much stronger term than the one in question : “Who is made after the power of an endless life," (wns akaradutov.
You say, “ if any word in the Greek Septuagint or New Testament expresses, unequivocally, interminable dura tion, that word is frequently applied to the everlasting punishment of some sinners." I have shown that aiūvov is not unequivocal in its signification; and I will add, that your argument in proof of endless punishment will be essentially improved, if you can find the words apdaptos, ajapavtos, akataluros, or either of them, applied to punishment in the Bible. I wish you either to present an instance of this character, or acknowledge that such an instance cannot be produced.
To show that alwviov signifies endless duration, you refer to Matt. xix. 29, and Luke xviii. 30. In the former passage, Jesus promised everlasting life to those who should forsake houses or lands for his sake. The defect in your argument arises from taking for granted, that "in the regeneration,” referred to the future state. In the latter passage, Jesus promised that those who faithfully followed him should "receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting." Your interpretation supposes “ this present time” to signify this earthly pilgrimage, and the world to come,” the incorruptible existence beyond the grave. But the phrases in question have no such reference. The Jews prominently spake of the age, or world, under the law, and the age under the Christ. Olam ha bo, the world to come, is a constant phrase among the Jewish writers for · the times of the Messiah. We should not overlook the fact that Jesus uttered the language in review previously to the close of the age under the law. At that time the age under the Messiah was prospective; it was to come. " This
present time” signifies the former ; "the world (or age) to come” the latter.
You again incidentally introduce 2 Thess. i. 6-10; and from this circumstance I feel impelled to invite you, for the third time, to enter fully into an examination of that passage. There certainly can be no propriety in repeatedly citing a text of this description, while an unwillingness exists to bring its claims and character fully into view.
I have a similar remark to offer in reference to your observations on the word gehenna. I informed you in a former letter, that I was prepared to meet you in discus. sion of all that the Bible says about this matter. I desired you to furnish your reasons for supposing that genenna is in the immortal state of existence. But all I have said has been wholly disregarded. You proceed to assume that gehenna is “a state and place of future punishment," &c, without offering a word of proof. You say that the gehenna of fire “is one of the most forcible descriptions of the state of future punishment found in the Bible”-yet you do not condescend to furnish any evidence that these statements are true.
You indeed certify me, that you will pursue the subject in your next letter, which may be published in The Philadelphian, without waiting for my reply-but I must be allowed to enter my protest against such procedure. It seems to intimate that you do not intend to notice what I have already written; and that your only duty, so far as this controversy is concerned, is to make your statements and draw your conclusions, without the slightest reference to the views and arguments by me presented. I respectfully request that some attention should be given to ihese remarks.
Another thing I desire to mention. Entire justice cannot be done to several important subjects in any one letter. I propose, therefore, that you select any topic you please-either the coming of Christ, the word alwv, (aion,) gehenna, or any other--and let that be the subject of discussion until we have fully examined it; then pass to ano
ther. In this way the minds of our readers would not become confused by a multiplicity of subjects; and some hope might be entertained that advantages of moment would be consequent of our labours. Nevertheless, be it as you judge expedient.
Earnestly desiring to convince you and all our readers who are not already convinced, that the doctrine of endless punishment is not taught in the Bible, and that "the living God is the Saviour of all men, especially of those who believe," I am respectfully yours, &c.
'ABEL C. THOMAS.
TO MR. ABEL C. THOMAS.
Philadelphia, May 9th, 1834. Dear Sir—The divinely inspired Paul informed the Athenians, that God who made the world, and all things therein, “now commandeth all men every where to repent; because he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness; by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance to all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead,” Acts xix. 30, 31. Paul did not affirm that God HAD judged the world, but that he hath appointed a day in which he WILL do it. You cannot say that the day of judgment thus appointed to take place at some time after Paul's speech in the midst of Mars-hill, was the time of Christ's coming in judgment on Jerusalem; for Paul was speaking to Greeks who had no special interest in that city; and he informed them that God required all men every where to repent, because God had appointed a day in which he will judge all mankind, whether Jews or Gentiles. He alleges, moreover, that Christ's resurrection from the dead was sufficient proof of the truth of his assertion concerning the future judgment of the world; thereby clearly implying that the world of mankind are to be raised from the dead as Jesus was, that they may be judged. In