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OF THE OPINION THAT THERE WILL BE NO SUCCESSIVE
DURATION IN Ą FUTURE STATE.
It is not easy to account for the general prevalence of the opinion that time will end with the present state, and eternity commence with the next. The notion itself is very obscure. As far as it is intelligible, the common idea of eternity seems to be that of a vast gulph, in which dạy and night, time itself, and all successive dura, tion, are swallowed up. With this is generally connected the opinion, that after this state commences, every thing must continue as it is without the possibility of change, and that therefore the wickedness and misery of the impenitent must necessarily remain unalterable,
There is, however, no reason to believe that successive duration will terminate with the present life. Indeed, it is by no means easy to conceive, how there can be duration without succession; at all events, no one can form a clear conception of it, and to ground such a doctrine as that of endless misery on a notion so unintelligble, can be justified by nothing but the extreme exigency of the case.
The only passage of Scripture which seems to countenance this opinion, is Rev. x. 6 : “ The angel swore-that there should be time no longer :" but the context demonstrates that this language cannot signify, that eternity shall commence, if by this be meant endless duration without succession; for in the very next verse another angel is spoken of as succeeding the sixth, in terms which are incompatible with this idea. Ver. 7: “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished.”
The phrase in the received text is ex égout STI : the reading of the Alexandrian, Ephrem, and other approved MSS. adopted by Griesbach, is SXETI 65a.. The Improved Version renders the passage in the following manner.-Vers. 97: " And the angel whom I saw standing upon the sea and upon the land, lifted up his right hand to heaven, and sware by Him who liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven and the things which are therein, and the earth and the things which are therein, and the sea and the things which are therein, that the time would not be yet, but in the days of the blast of the seventh angel, when he shall sound his trumpet, and the mystery of God hath been finished, as he hath proclaimed the glad tidings to his servants the prophets."
Wakefield renders the passage, “ that there should be no longer delay," with whom Dr. Gill agrees, who gives the following exposition of the text:. “ The words will bear to be rendered, as some have observed, that there should be delay no longer ; that is, no delay of the coming and kingdom of Christ ; though the bridegroom has tarried, he will come, and will not tarry beyond the time the angel swears to: every seal of the sealed book, (chap. v. 1,) is a delay of and stop upon the open appearance of Christ's kingdom; and the opening of every seal is an advance to it: and when the sixth seal was opened and Paganism destroyed, and Christianity spread throughout the empire, the kingdom of Christ might have been expected to have appeared ; but there was a seventh seal to be opened, which was a stop upon it, and which, when opened, brought ruin and destruction upon the Christian empire, both western and eastern, under the six first trumpets; and till the seventh sounds there will be a delay of Christ's kingdom, but when that sounds there will be no more delay.”
The language of Scripture is directly hostile to the notion, that in a future state there will be no successive duration. The Greek phrases, by which the duration of a future state is expressed, necessarily imply it ; as, eis awva, for an age: EIS TOS Alwyas TWY diwywy, for ages of ages, &c.
Such are the passages which are commonly adduced from Scripture in proof of the endless misery of the wicked. Those which have been considered are all that are generally deemed conclusive or important. However frequently they may be repeated or confidently urged, they are totally insufficient to establish this gloomy and unscriptural opinion.
OF THE ARGUMENTS CONCEIVED TO FAVOR THE
DOCTRINE OF ENDLESS MISERY, WHICH ARE NOT FOUNDED ON THE EXPRESS DECLARATIONS OF SCRIPTURE.
OF THE 'INFINITE EVIL OF SIN.
One of the arguments urged in support of the doctrine of endless misery is so obviously fallacious, that it scarcely deserves a serious consideration ; namely, that sin is an infinite evil, and therefore deserves an infinite punishment.
That sin is not only an evil, but the greatest which can possibly attach to a moral and accountable being, is an undisputable truth ; but that the slightest transgression is an infinite offence and deserves an infinite punishment, are positions to which neither reason nor revelation afford the shadow of support.
The advocates of this extraordinary opinion endeavour to establish it by an argument no less singular than the doctrine itself. Sin, say they, is an infinite evil, because it is committed against an Infinite Person. The heinousness of an