« AnteriorContinuar »
In concluding our remarks it ought to be noticed, that even admitting endless misery true, some of these passages have been perverted in attempting to prove it. How often has the furnace of fire afforded a theme of declamation to preachers, and cause of pain Iand distress to those who believed them. But is it saying too much, that they were only beating the air, and perverting Scripture to create fears where there really were none. My labour is not lost if I have rescued such passages of God's word from such a perversion. In my explanation of this phrase, I have shown its usage to be uniform throughout the New Testament, and the precision and consistency of the sacred writers in its use are manifest. Every candid mind will allow, that all the passages which speak of the end of the world or age, correspond to the preceding which made mention of the beginning of the world or age. In both classes of texts, we have seen that critics and commentators are agreed, both orthodox and heterodox, that aion, world, does not signify this material world, but age, state, or dispensation.
I shall now proceed to consider two other classes of texts in which aion occurs, corresponding to each other in the New Testament. Those which speak of "this world or age," and "the world or age to come." Let us first bring forward all those which speak of this world. Aion and kosmos both rendered world, are very different in signification, and we do not recollect an instance, where these words are used as synonimous. In the texts now to be introduced, the word for world is not kosmos but aion. The Greek phrase for this world" is touto to aioni. It occurs in the following places. 2 Cor. 4: 4. "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not." On this text Macknight says "some have it age." In Eph. 6:12. "for we wrestle against the
rulers of the darkness of this world." Wakefield here renders aion age. But again it is said, Gal. 1: 4. "Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world." Here again Wakefield has it age. On this text Macknight thus writes: "Evil age, aionos poneros. In Scripture, the age or world, is often put for the men of the world, and for their evil principles and practices. Thus Rom. 12. 2. be not conformed, aioni touto, to this age." And in Luke 16: 8. it is said, "for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light." In 2 Tim. 4: 10. it is said, "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world." It surely cannot be meant, that he loved this present everlasting or forever nor, that the children of this forever, were wiser than the children of light.
In Rom. 12: 2. it is said "and be not conformed to this world." In 1 Cor. 3: 18. "If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world." I may just notice, that aion is here rendered age, both by Wakefield and Macknight. Again, 1 Tim. 6: 17. it is said, "charge them that are rich in this world." And Tit. 2:12. Teaching that we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world." In the two last texts the Greek is, en to nun aioni, and ought to have been rendered in both the same way. It is obvious, aion could not have been rendered everlasting or forever in any of these texts, without making the inspired writers speak nonsense. Nor can we perceive, why the above critics rendered aion age, in 1 Cor. 3: 18. and not so in all the other places. But to proceed with the texts: in Matth. 13: 22. it is said, "and the cares of this world choke the word." See the same, Mark 4: 19. And 1 Cor. 1: 20. it is said, "Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made
foolish the wisdom of this world?" I may just notice here that the word for world in the last part of this verse and in verse 21. is not aion, but kosmos in the original. A marked distinction is made between them in the Greek, though this is concealed, by both being rendered world in our version. In 1 Cor. 2: 6—8. it is said, "howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect; yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to naught: but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory; which none of the princes of this world know: for had they known it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." The word aion here is rendered by Wakefield age, and Macknight's note on it shows us what is meant by the phrase rendered this world in all the above passages. He says, "Locke observes that in the writings of the New Testament, aion outes, this world, commonly signifies the state of mankind before the publication of the Gospel, as contradistinguished to the evangelical state or constitution, which is commonly called, aion mellon, the world to come." The following things are worthy of notice in this quotation. 1st. It is allowed that the phrase this world, does not mean this material world, but signifies the state of mankind before the publica tion of the Gospel. And 2d. That this state, is contradistinguished from another called the evangelical state or constitution, and called aion mellon, the world to come. If this be correct, it essentially alters the sense of all the passages where these expressions occur. Am I asked, How it does this? I answer; that in the passages where the expression this world occurs, people understand it to mean this material world or all the time we exist in it, and by the expression world to come is universally understood the future state of endless existence. The above quota
tion applies to all the texts where the phrases this world and the world to come occur.
The above are all the texts where the phrase this world occurs by itself. It is found in some others, and is joined with the phrase world to come. Before introducing these I would notice the following things from the texts already brought forward.
1st. Supposing that aion in the above texts had been rendered everlasting, forever, or by any word conveying the idea of endless duration, what would have followed? We should then have read of this forever, this present forever, and of this present evil forever. This would naturally lead to the inquiry, how many forevers are there? And how many of them are evil? We should also be exhorted, not to be conformed to this forever, and to become fools in this forever, and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this forever, and the rich that they should not be high minded in this forever. We should also be told, that the cares of this forever choke the word: and the question would be asked,-where is the disputer of this forever? Besides, the apostle would be made to say, that he spoke of the wisdom and princes of this forever, even the wisdom which God ordained before the forever, and which none of the princes of this forever knew. We should also read of the God of this forever, and the rulers of the darkness of this forever, and Christ gave himself that he might deliver us from this present evil forever.
2d. The word world, by which aion is rendered in the above texts conceals all these glaring improprieties, but it is obvious enough, that even world is not a very correct rendering. Who does not perceive this in the passages where it is said "this present world," and, "this present evil world?" The questions here naturally enough occur,-how many worlds are there, how many of them are evil, and is not this world al
ways present? Why then speak of it not only as evil but as present? And, according to the sense commonly affixed to the word world, how could the apostle with truth say, that none of the princes of this world had known Christ? Surely some princes of this world knew him, for Abraham was a mighty prince, and rejoiced to see his day afar off and was glad..
3d. It is easily seen, that if aion is rendered age in all the above texts, not only are such improprieties avoided, but a beauty and force is added to some of them, which is concealed by our present translation. Convinced of this, some of the most eminent orthodox critics and commentators, have rendered aion age, and the translators of our common version have done the same in several passages. Why it was not done in many more, deserves the reader's consideration. We believe it is now a generally conceded point, that age, in a great many instances at least, is a better rendering than the word world. I may add, if any one contends for aion to mean endless duration it may also be contended that there is more than one eternity, for this aion if it does mean forever, implies one or more of the same thing.
Let us now attend to the passages where the phrase "world to come" is used. The first is Heb. 6: 5. "And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come." The Greek for "world to come" is mellontos aionos. Let us then hear what good orthodox writers say is the sense of this expression. Whitby, on this text, says, "The world to come doth, in the language of the prophets, and Jewish doctors, signify the times of the Messiah, who, in the prophet Isaiah, is called the father of the world to come. See note on chap. 2: 5. The powers, therefore, of the world to come, according to the Scripture idiomism, must be the external operations of the