Page images




Many Christians of the highest reputation for wisdom and piety, in all ages of the church, have maintained that the wicked will neither be punished with Endless Misery, nor permitted to be happy at any period of their future being ; but that they will be raised from the dead, afflicted with severe and lasting suffering, and then undergo death a second time, from which they will never be restored to conscious existence. This hypothesis, as it supposes the infliction of a degree of pain, which is exactly proportioned in every case to the degree of guilt, and which is followed by the total and endless extinction of intelligence and life, is called the Doctrine of Limited Punishment, terminated by Destruction.

Many passages of Scripture are conceived not only strongly to favor, but expressly to assert this opinion. It is true, that it is countenanced



by the sound of several expressions which occur in the New Testament; but a careful examina. tion of these terms will, perhaps, show that their genuine meaning is widely different from that which a less thorough investigation might seem to indicate, and that there is no foundation in Scripture for this hypothesis.

1. The advocates of this opinion, like the defenders of the doctrine of Endless Misery, endeavour to establish it on the term alwvios, which they contend signifies endless duration, and some go so far as to maintain that it is invariably used in this sense, and that it never donotes a limited period :* but in opposition to those who plead for unending torment, they argue that punishment, not misery, is the substantive to which the adjective is applied ; that there may be everlast. ing punishment without everlasting misery, and that the former, not the latter, is invariably threatened in the sacred writings. They maintain, however, that the word which is translated everlasting, does signify duration without end.

It is not necessary to repeat here the observations which have been made upon this term. The evidence which has been adduced of its frequent acceptation in a limited sense, appears to be irresistible ; and though it must be admitted that it does sometimes denote endless duration yet it has been clearly shown that this is the case only when the nature of the subject to which it is applied necessarily implies unending existence, and that then it derives the meaning of endless from the subject.

* See the Universal Restoration of Mankind Examined, &c. By Mr. John Marsom. Vol. i. pp. 134, 135.

The word being in itself equivocal, and capable both of a limited and of an unlimited signification, the only question which can be agitated, is, whether, when applied to future punishment, it does or does not, denote duration without end. If the affirmative be maintained, it must be shown that there is something in this subject which necessarily imparts to it the sense of endless ; every argument founded upon it, unless this be premised, must be futile, and the advocate for the doctrine of destruction, in venturing to employ it, without first establishing this point, rests his hypothesis upon a term which makes as must against it, as for it. But, if instead of being able to perform this task, his opponent can show that the reverse is true, and prove, (as has been proved, pp. 309–313,) that the nature of punishment will not admit of this acceptation of the term, the controversy, as far as this word is concerned, must be considered as decided in the opinion of every one who understands the principles of fair and legitimate reasoning.

2. The advocates of the doctrine of destruc


tion, contend, that those passages which affirm that the wicked shall perish or be destroyed, and that they shall suffer death or destruction, decidedly prove that they will be punished with the utter extinction of being. This argument is founded on the presumption, that these expressions denote the endless loss of conscious exist

Few persons, perhaps, will rise from an investigation of this point without a conviction that there is no foundation whatever for this assumption.

Atoaaugs, the word commonly rendered to per

Απολλυμι ish or destroy, occurs about ninety times in the New Testament. It is used in several different senses : as, to lose, to lose life or any thing ; to kill or destroy temporally, and this is its most frequent signification ; but it often means also, to render miserable, and is used to denote the infliction of pain or punishment. Schleusner renders it miserum reddo, pænis afficio, molestiam ac indignationem creo alicui. Rom. ii. 12; xiv. 15; 1 Cor. xv. 18.

Απωλεια, generally translated death or destruction, occurs about twenty times in the New Testament. It sometimes signifies death or temporal destruction, at others injury, hurt, or calamity of any kind. Schleusner renders it unhappiness, any calamity or misery, and observes that it is especially used to denote the divine punishment of offences, both in this and in a fu

[ocr errors]

ture life. His words are, infelicitas, omnis calamitas, miseria, et speciatim de pænis divinis pece

ресcatorum et in hac et in futura vita usurpatur. Matt. vii. 13 ; Rom. ix. 22 ; Philipp. i, 28.

3. The word onságos, commonly rendered destruction, signifies also, pain, misery, punishment. Schleusner renders it pæna, dolor, vexatio, cruci. atus. 1 Cor. v. 5: “ Deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh ;" eis odságos Tas sagxos, ut corpus crucietur et doloribus afficiatur. “ Some bodily pain was inflicted, in order to produce repentance and reformation." Simpson. The application of alwuios to this word, in 2 Thess. i. 9, (* who shall be punished with everlasting destruction,') cannot prove, that this expression denotes the endless extinction of consciousness and life, because it has been shown that onze gas, when affixed to the punishment of the guilty, means pain and suffering; and that AlQYiOS, signifies not proper eternity, but lasting duration,

4. On the word Javatos, death, and the phrase dauregos Javatos, the second death, the advocates of the doctrine of destruction lay the greatest stress. They contend, that the strict and invariable meaning of death, is the total extinction of consciousness and life, that the doctrine of the resurrection affords us the only satisfactory evidence we enjoy that this extinction of being will not be endless, and that since the wicked are

« PreviousContinue »