Page images

with the devouring fire ? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings ?

Dan, xii. 2. • And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”.

St. Matt. xviii. 8. “Wherefore, if thine hand or thy foot offend thee (or cause thee to offend) cut them off, and cast them from thee ; it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than baving two bands, or two feet, to be cast into everlasta

ing fire.”

St. Matt. xxv. 41. 6 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Verse 46, “ These shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal or everlasting." The same word in the original being used for both, though varied by the trans lators.

St. Mark, iii. 29. “But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, hath never forgiveness; but is in danger of eternal damnation.”!

% Thes, i 7, 8, 9. 66 The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengence on them that know pot God, and that 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."

Jude, 6, 7." And the Angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness, unto the judge znent of the great day: Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over unto fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”

These texts, together, form such an objection to the doctrine of the Restoration, that I can by no means believe it, unless this can be fairly answered, and proofs brought from the Scriptures to shew, that the words everlasing and eternal, (which are translations of the same word and synonimous) being connected with the punishment of the wicked, and their future misery, do not necessarily imply the continuance of the same while God exists.

Minister. I am glad that you have so fairly and fully stated the matter; and I highly commend your resolution, not to believe the universal doctrine, unless this can be answered fully, without any torturing or twisting the Scriptures ; and if I am not able, with God's assistance, to remove this difficulty, I will publicly recant my sentiments.

But, before come to give a direct answer, I would beg leave to remark how very seldom this word is used to express the duration of punishment. We should think, by some sermons we hear, that everlasting is applied to misery in every book of the New Testament, if not in every chapter. A friend of mine told me, that he was once preaching in Maryland, and after sermon a man came and asked him, of what denomination he was ? To which he answered, Baptist. I think, says the man, that you do not preach up so much everlasting damnation, as the Baptist and Methodists, among us do. To which my friend replied, Everlasting damnation is found in the Scripture. True, apswered the man ; but some preachers give us more of it in one sermon than is to be found in the whole Bible. The truth of this remark will appear, if we consider that St. Luke, never uses the word aionion, or everlanting, as connected with the misery of the wicked, in his gospel ; nor St. Mark but ence, and then in particular case only : In the gospel of St. John, it is not to be found at all, in that connection, nor in any of his epistles : In the account of the preaching of the aposties through the world, in the first age of christianity, we do not find it mentioned, in that light,so much as once : No,not in all the sermons, and parts of sermons, which St, Luke has preserved in the Book of the Acts; though the doc.

trine of everlasting damnation is the substance of many modern discourses. St. Paul never mentions ever.' lusting destruction but once, though his writings form euch a considerable part of the New Testament.Neither are such words found in the epistle of St. James, or in those of St. Peter ; and but three times in the gospel of St. Matthew : And only twice in all the Old Testament. But was the word aionion applied to misery but once, in the whole Bible, it would deserve a serious consideration; and unless the force of it can be removed by the authority of Scripture, it must remain an unanswerable objection. But I shall proceed to answer it, by bringing w equal number of passages where the word everlasting is applied to things and times, that have had, or must have, an end. As in the following passages: Gen. xvii. 7, 8. “ And I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for at everlasting covenant; to be a God unto thee, and to : thy seed afier thee. And I will give unto thee, and to try seed aiter thee, thee land wherein thou art a stanger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession ; and I will be their God. Verse 13. that is born in ihy house, and bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised ; and my covenant shall. be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.

Here note that the land of Canaan is called an everlasting possession, and the covenant of circumcis. ion in the fiesh, an everlasting covenant, though it is certain that the land of Canaan, as weil as the other parts of the earth must be dissoived or melted, in the general conflagration; and circumcision is now declared null and void by the Holy Ghost; & the ceremo. ny cannot endure to endless ages.

Of the same kind are the following passages : Gen. xlviii. 3, 4. -.And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared to me at Luz, in ille luvil of Canaan, and blessed me: ani said unto ine, Behold, I will make thee fruitful and multiply thee and will nake of thee a multitude of people, and wil give this land to thy

66 He

seed after thee, for an everlasting possession." And in the blessing of Joseph, he says, “The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors, unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills." By which, I suppose, the hills of the land of Canaan were meant.

God saith to Moses, Exod. xl. 15. ." And thou shalt annoint them (Aaron's sons) as thou didst annoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office; for their annointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood, throughout their generations.” Ley. xvi, 34. And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Istgel, for all their sins, once a year; and he did as JEHOVAH commanded Moses."

The apostle declares, that these everlasting ordinances were oply till the time of Reforination, Heb. ix. 10. And this everlasting priesthood of Aaron's sop, had ceased long ago : "For the priesthood being changed, (by Christ) there is, of necessity a change also, of the law : For he of whom these things are spoken, pertaineth to another tribe, of which re man gave attendance at the altar : For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah ; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident : For that, aíter the similitude of Melchisedek, there ariseth another priest, who is made not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life : For he testifieth, Thou art a priest forever, after the order of Melchisedek : For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof." Heb. vii. 12-18. The whole sum of the apostle's argument, in this epistle, tends to prove that the everlasting ordinance is now no more; and the everlastıng priesthood of Aaron and his sors is now abolished. Another

passage where the word everlasting is evidently used in a limited sense, is, Numb. xxv. 11, 12, 13, where we read thus: “Phinebas, the son of Ele


azar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the Children of Israel while he was zealous for sake among them, that I consumed not the Children of Israel in my jealousy. Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace : And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the Children of Israel."

If the word everlasting intends endless duration, how shall we be able to reconcile this promise with the total cessation of the Levitical Priesthood ? As for the family of Phinehas, with whom this covenant of an eparlasting priesthood was made, it was entirely deprived of the benefit of the same, within the space of four hundred years : For when the sons of Eli transgressed the covenant, by profaning it, God sent him word, that as they had broken it on their parts, it was entirely, and to all intents and purposes, dissolved. Read 1.Sam. ii. from the beginning of the 12th verse to the end of the 17th, and from the 27th to the end of the chapter: And also, chap. iii, 11, 12, 13, 14.

I will transcribe verse 30, of the second chapter, in proof of my point. “Wherefore, JEHOVAH, God of Israel, saith, I said, indeed, that thy house, and the house of thy father should walk before me for ever:But How JEHOVAH saith, Be it far from me, for them that honor me, I will honor ; and they that despise me, shall be lightly esteemed " Hophni, and Phinehas, were soon after slaio in one day; and Saul the King of Israel, sent Doeg the Edomite, who fell upon the priests, and slew fourscore and five persons, who wore a linen ephod, in one day. "And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword; both men, and women, and children, and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword." 1 Sam. xxi. 19. The whole house of Phinehas seems to have been destroyed at this time, exept Abiathar; & when Solomon came to the thrope,

« PreviousContinue »