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aiwvios which every where else in the New Testament conveys the full idea of 'everlasting,' etc.," as if he did not know that this assertion has been contested and proved to be untrue over and over again; and further, p. 117, “There is in short, nothing anywhere in the language of the New Testament to suggest that aiwvios means anything less than everlasting. Those who would affix to it a more limited sense have brought this interpretation from elsewhere to the sacred text; they have not found it there.” And then, in support of this statement that alwvios never means in the New Testament "anything less than everlasting,” the essayist in a note refers to the authority of Schleusner, “Thus Schleusner (Lex. in N. T. p. 67) says aiwviov in the ‘N. T. 2, dicitur omne quod est finis expers, &c.:""— certainly, but this is interpretation “two." Why did not the essayist give us interpretations “one,” “three,” and
“ "four,” two of which are something “ less than everlasting,” and under the heads of which Schleusner gives references to passages in the Old and New Testament? Why did the essayist not only pass over the first interpretation, which Schleusner gives, as well as the third and fourth, but also the important explanatory words with which the lexicographer begins his article on aiwvios ? No doubt if the essayist had inserted these words into his foot-note it would have been quite impossible for him to have made his readers believe that Schleusner supports an assertion, which he was much too good a biblical scholar ever to have made, and which, in point of fact, he does expressly contradict. These are Schleusner's words: “aiwvios, as the substantive aiwv, is
αίωνιος, αίων, used to signify any space of time, so that we must judge what sort of space is meant in each particular passage from the context, and from the mind of the writer, and from the subjects and persons about whom he is writing.” “aiwvios ut substantivum a'wv de quocunque temporis spatio ita dicitur, ut, quale sit, judicari debeat in singulis locis ex orationis serie et mente scriptoris, rebus adeo et personis, de quibus sermo est.” It is quite true that Schleusner “judges” that in the “particular passages” relating to the punishment of the lost, aiwvios means a “space of time which is unending.” Such is his opinion, and it must be allowed its due weight; but to quote him as if he supported the assertion that alwvios always has in the New Testament the full meaning of everlasting is an “inaccuracy” which I scruple to characterise by the only suitable epithet. I should prolong this article beyond due bounds if I were to quote all the instances in which there appears to be the same reckless indifference to the actual facts of the case in the assertions which this essay unhappily contains
E.g. At p. 6, where the essayist asserts, by way of throwing discredit on universalism, that it is “the growth of yesterday:" whereas it is notoriously at least fifteen centuries old. Or when at pp. i and 75, with the same object in view, he says that disbelief in the endlessness of future punishment is part of a Pagan reaction ;” and then a little further on reproaches the Universalists on the ground that even the Pagans, with certain discreditable exceptions, believed what they (the universalists) deny.
Or again, where at p. 136, the essayist“wishes to insist” upon “the close and almost inseparable connection between a denial of eternal punishment, and a denial of the existence and agency of the fallen angels ;” whereas he does not give a single instance of any one Christian universalist, ancient or modern (I do not deny that there may have been such), who did deny “the existence and agency of fallen angels,” and it is sufficiently notorious that the most eminent Christian universalists, from Origen to the late Professor Maurice, have believed in the existence and agency of those angels just as much as the essayist does.
(E) I will point out but one more “inaccuracy,” which I regret to find the essayist has borrowed from Dr. Newman. “We can hardly,” says the essayist (p. 10), “pass over in silence what lies at the root of most of the angry declamation, from various quarters, against this most awful of revealed truths, and this is a failure to realize either the heinousness of sin or the spotless purity of God.” How it would help us to “realize the heinousness of sin,” if we believed that it would receive hereafter, not its "due reward" but a “reward” apparently altogether undue, and certainly perfectly useless—or how we should the better realize “the spotless purity of God,” if we believed that it was His intention to permit wickedness and misery to endure for ever, I am quite unable to understand. But I do not dwell on this. The essayist proceeds : “In the startling, but not therefore exaggerated language of the greatest preacher of our own day, sin is a traitor's act, who aims at the overthrow and death of his sovereign ;' it is that which, could the Divine Governor of the world cease to be, would be suffi
* Plato, as we have already seen, &c., p. 75.
cient to bring it about.” Now I do not know in what sense or connection Dr. Newman makes this statement, as, on turning to the reference that the essayist gives (Newman's Discourses to Mixed Congregations, p. 355), I do not find these words in my copy of that book; however, they are to be found no doubt somewhere. The essayist is, of course, perfectly justified in saying that language is not “ therefore exaggerated” because it is “startling ;” but I suppose most
agree that this language, here quoted, is both startling” and “exaggerated” to a very great degree: for will any one in his senses gravely maintain that whenever a man commits any sin he “aims at the overthrow and death of God ?" It might, perhaps, be admitted as a speculation in the region of the impossible, that if the principle of sin could reach its extremest fulfilment it would involve "the overthrow and death of God;” but to assert seriously that every one who commits a sin “aims” at that remote and impossible object, is about as true and reasonable as it would be to assert that a child playing with a forbidden box of matches "aims” at burning the house down.
V. I will add one further reason, which, even if it stood alone, might warn us not indistinctly against accepting the conclusions of this essay. The essayist urges very strongly that the theory, which he assails, does violence to the language of Scripture, and therefore ought to be condemned (see pp. 126 et sq.), and he appeals to his readers “at least” to “be honest” (p. 153). By all means! but let us see how far, after due enquiry, we can be “honest,” and escape doing violence to Scripture in company with the essayist, and adopting his conclusions. Now as to the honesty, which we might venture to claim, if we dealt with history and literature as the essayist does, I have said enough already on that point; but as to the language of Scripture, the essayist supports and recommends his doctrine that "the lost” will never be forgiven and restored, but that their punishment will be endless by two other doctrines, which he says are quite consonant with the Catholic Faith, and without the admission of which he seems to feel that any defence of his main thesis would be quite hopeless. (i) One is, that the number of the lost may, and the essayist thinks it probably will, be comparatively very small (p. 19). (ii) The other is, that the punishment of the lost may be "con
sistent with the highest enjoyment of natural beatitude, and with a natural knowledge and love of God” (p. 16).
Now these two theories are not new, and I am not now concerned to show that they are not true; but I would ask, “Can it be gravely maintained that either of these doctrines, and more especially the second, does not do violence to the language of Scripture,' and does not require 'subtilty,' 'special pleading,' &c. (of which the essayist freely accuses all persons who venture to differ from his view) to bring it into conformity with the plain words of not a few passages in Scripture, and with the apparently obvious meaning of a great many more ?” And first, as to the theory that "the great majority of mankind will be saved,”” in support of which the essayist states (p. 25) that “the late Father Lacordaire, the very model of priesthood in the modern Church, has devoted a volume of his conferences 'on the results of the Divine Government.”” As a matter of fact Lacordaire has devoted to this question, not "a volume,” but simply one single sermon in one of his sets of " ferences ;" but this is a trifling inaccuracy compared with some others in this essay. If any one wishes to see "the very model" of an elaborate and ingenious effort to explain away what the writer allows to be the plain and obvious meaning of Holy Scripture, I would advise him to read this sermon, founded on the text, “Many are called, but few chosen,” which Lacordaire quotes as the inspired reply to his question, “What will be the final results of the Divine Government?”
But to return to the essayist, he says (p. 20), “The opinion that the majority of mankind will be lost is no corollary of the dogma of eternal punishment, and has no further connection with it than that the two may be, and often are, held together!" If I were reading an unknown author I should be inclined to ask, “ Can the writer of this sentence be acquainted with the books of the Old and New Testament?”—the “connection" between these two “opinions,” as they are gathered from these books, being so very abundantly obvious ? Now I am not arguing that every doctrine must necessarily be untrue, because it appears to be inconsistent with the most obvious and natural interpretation of certain texts of Scripture; but since this argument is advanced by the essayist as fatal to the doctrine which he assails, it is well to point out that it is fatal also (and even more evidently) to the doctrines which he sunnorts.
The Scriptural "connection” between the doctrines of future punishment and of the “loss of the majority,” or it would be more correct to say, a vast mass of mankind, is, I apprehend, of this sort : (i) many of the same texts which speak of the punishment of the wicked speak of them, not as a few, but as a multitude, e.g. Daniel xii. 2; and signally our Lord's words in S. Matthew xxv. 31, &c., which are strangely chosen if He meant to speak of a multitude on His right, and only a very few on His left; and (ii) more than one text distinctly draws a numerical comparison, and assigns the majority to be among the lost, e.g. the text, so singularly used by Lacordaire (assuming that it has any such reference as that eminent preacher supposed), “ Many be called, but few chosen” (S. Matthew xx. 16). And more remarkably our Lord's saying as to the broad and the narrow way, “Wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat : because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life; and few there be that find it” (S. Matthew vii. 13, 14). Now I do not presume to say what may be the full significance of these very awful words, but I do presume to say that the theory of the lost being “comparatively very few" does violence to the apparently obvious meaning of these our Lord's words, and many other like words, as plainly and directly as it is possible for any theory of eschatology to do violence to any words of Scripture; (iii) and further, Scripture speaks with great plainness as to the lot of the evil hereafter: it says, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the people that forget God”* (Ps. ix. 17). “The wicked” simply, all that vast multitude who are “wicked," not just some of the very most wicked—“and all the people that forget God,” “all,” not merely just a few of the very worst.
There is not a word in Scripture restricting future punishment as the essayist does (p. 21) to a small number of persons "who die in a certain condition, of which Omniscience alone can take infallible cognisance.” Scrip
" ture throughout its entire extent speaks broadly of “the wicked,” “the ungodly,” “evil-doers,” who shall be hereafter punished according to their works. To assert or to suggest that in all these places Scripture only means to speak of just a very few out of all the millions of
* I am aware that the word here used is “sheol," but the Psalmist is obviously not thinking of the common lot of all men.