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we meet with everlasting fire, (tò xũp tò aiúviov, the fire which is everlasting,) we must consider here what has been suggested in diminution of the meaning of that phrase. Mr. W. here and every where renders it lasting fire: so an aivos, with him, is only lasting life; for, according to his scheme, neither the blessed nor the wicked are to exist really for ever, in the sense of a proper eternity. One argument therefore commonly insisted on by divines for the proper eternity of these torments, is, as to Mr. W. himself at least, precluded; I mean that taken from the same words being used to express the eternity of hell torments, which are used in scripture to express the eternity of the joys of heaven. However, this consideration ought still to have its proper weight with all those who do not adopt this part of Mr. Whiston's scheme. If the words in dispute express a proper eternity in one case, it will be hard to say, so far as the mere force and signification of these words is concerned, why they should not express a proper eternity in the other case. I hear the joys of heaven and the torments of hell both called everlasting, (and it is the same in the Greek or any other language,) though I may from other topics imagine there will be a difference in their duration, yet so far as I attend merely to this term, I can have no reason for such an imagination. For the term is the same, and, while I attend to it alone, I must think the meaning is the same likewise. But let us return to Mr. W. who seems to say, that the Hebrew and Greek words, translated everlasting, signify in scripture no such thing. Take here his own words:

If

"f The original words olam in Hebrew, and air " in Greek, with their plurals and derivatives; which "are the almost only ones made use of by the sacred "writers to determine the duration of the punish"ment of the wicked in the other world, and are "rendered eternal or everlasting, and supposed to "mean a duration properly endless or co-eternal "with God himself; do by no means so signify in "scripture: nor are they ever, when spoken of cre"ated beings, to be extended longer than the seve"ral grand ages or periods of this sublunary world; beginning with the Mosaic creation; hardly yet "6000 years ago; and ending after the glorious "millennium, at the general judgment, and consum

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f P. 20. See Mr. W.'s Discourse of the Restoration of the Jews, published in his Sermons and Essays, 1709. He there says, p. 226. that the genuine import of this phrase for ever, in the sacred dialect, is the entire duration of any long and famous period, about which the discourse is; or during the entire continuance of the existence of any thing which is spoken of, from its primary beginning till its final end. In this sense he takes. the laws of Moses to be for ever, as they were to continue, not only during the first or second temple, but all that aid, or those alves, which that preparatory dispensation was to be commensurate to; till it was to be swallowed up in a new and more noble alay, the glorious age and kingdom of the great Messias himself, in the end of the world. This law of Moses, he says, has never been properly and formally abolished; and is to be restored towards the end of the world: and this seems to be that which is so often hinted at in the Pentateuch, where the statutes and ordinances are so often said to be for ever, &c. N. B. This is a very different account of the duration of an aids from what he gives now, viz. 68, or 4 or 500 years. Q. Whether he does not take away the use of words, and make them signify at random what he pleases?

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"mation of all things. Nay, these words are very frequently of a great deal narrower extension, and "reach only to much shorter periods included there❝in."

We readily grant, that these words in the Old Testament, and especially as applied to the ordinances of the law of Moses, have this narrow extension which he speaks of. Yet the words are capable of signifying a proper eternity, and where the subject will bear it, really do so. Even air, which, according to this gentleman, signifies a shorter duration than its plural, or the reduplication of it, seems to me to signify a proper eternity, in the 136th Psalm, and other places. Will any one limit the mercy of God, and say it endures for an age only? yet what is it else that Mr. W. says p. 8. where he bids us note, "that as the punishments of the

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wicked are said to be εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, or αἰώνια for an

age, or for ever; so is the mercy of God to his "creatures celebrated as of the very same duration "also." If the mercy of God, and the punishments of the wicked, be of the very same duration, and that duration be really for ever; Mr. W. has here given up the point. But if he means that both of them are only for an age, he makes this Psalm such a celebration of the mercy of God, as I believe never entered into the heart or head of any sober man: 0 give thanks unto the Lord, for his mercy endureth for an age; that is, according to Mr. W.'s shortest calculation 1, 68 years, and according to his largest, 575. I am very certain the mercy of God will endure for ever, upon the proper objects of it; and for the rest-they are no objects of it at all. But to h Ibid.

& P. 39.

proceed: whatever the words in dispute may sometimes signify in the Old Testament, it will be harder to prove that they are used with so much latitude in the Newi. When applied to God, they confessedly denote a proper eternity; when applied to the happiness of the saints in heaven, they have hitherto universally been thought to denote the same: Mr. W. indeed at last is pleased to deny it; (whether in so doing he has not made God a liar, according to St. John's doctrine, 1 John v. 10, 11. I leave him to consider ;) what reason then is there why they should not denote the same, when applied to the punishments of the wicked? I mean so far as the import of these words merely is concerned, for of that only we are now speaking. Is there any intimation given, that they are here to be taken in a different or less extensive sense? nothing of that kind appears. It rather appears, comparing them with other expressions, and other declarations of our Lord in the gospel, that they are to be understood in the fullest sense of which they are capable. What could the common people think, when they heard our Saviour not only call this fire aivov, but declare plainly, and with most emphatic repetition, that it never shall be quenched? See Mark ix. 43, &c. where it is so declared five times over, in the compass of five or six verses. Did our Lord deceive the people? would he be guilty of any of those pious frauds, against which

i Haud æqua mihi videtur lex interpretandi, ut quæ nonnunquam a prophetis figurate usurpantur, ea semper et ubique in eodem sensu sint intelligenda. Stylus evangelii est castigatior, nec tam facile dissilit a sensu literali: a quo nunquam recedendum est ab interprete, nisi cum coëgerit materiæ subjectæ necessitas. Burnet, De Stat. Mort. p. 110.

Mr. W. is so warm k? A word from him, on the other side, would have cleared up this point. But, as the case now stands, he has not cured, but confirmed the prejudices of the people; as if he had approved the maxim, afterwards used by one of his pretended vicars, Si populus vult decipi, decipiatur. But I have not yet done with Mr. Whiston's criticisms upon this article; he tells us, the words under consideration, "when spoken of created beings, are never "to be extended longer than the several grand ages "or periods of this sublunary world; beginning with "the Mosaic creation, and ending after the millen"nium, at the general judgment and consummation " of all things." Now,

To what age or period of this sublunary world can the word alwvov be designed to extend in the 25th of St. Matthew, ver. 46? these ages or periods seem here to be accomplished. The great Judge has passed the decisive sentence, has made the final separation; and the consequence is, the wicked go into everlasting punishment, (εἰς κόλασιν αιώνιον,) and the righteous into life eternal, (eis (wǹv aiwvov.) By

* P. 139. It should here be remembered, that it was the common belief of the Jews, in our Saviour's time, that the punishments of the wicked will be eternal. This, I think, may be fairly collected from what Josephus says of the Pharisees, who were the popular instructors, the public leaders in religion. "They hold," says he, "the soul to be immortal; that only those of the good "pass into another body, but those of the wicked are to be pu"nished with everlasting punishment, (åïdí tiμwpíq)." De Bell. Jud. lib. 2. ed. Hudson. p. 1065. Compare Antiq. lib. 18. p. 793. As this then was the opinion of the popular and prevailing sect among the Jews, and consequently of the people, there was more occasion for our Saviour to confute it, had it been false, than confirm it, as he has done here, and in numerous passages of his gospel.

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