« AnteriorContinuar »
Holy Ghost, viz. the gifts of faith, of healing, of casting out devils, 1 Cor. 12: 8, 9. the working of miracles, or the operations of powers." Peirce says, "The world or age to come is a Hebrew phrase and signifies the times of the Messiah, oulm eba." Macknight gives us the same explanation as Whitby; and Dr. Owen, whose praise is in all orthodox churches, explains this phrase in the same manner. See also the new Theological Repository, vol. i. p. 51-53. for the same explanation, given at considerable length, all of which my limits forbid quoting.
We have introduced, on the phrase world to come, all these testimonies for several reasons. These authors are as one man agreed about the meaning of this expression. They are competent to judge in the case, and not one of them was ever suspected of unbelief in the doctrine of endless misery. What then is their united decision? They establish beyond all contradiction, that the phrase "world to come," does not mean the future eternal state of existence after death, but the age of the Messiah. But how do men understand this phrase in the present day? They usually understand it to mean, that state on which we enter at death, and is to continue forever.
Heb. 2: 5. "For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come whereof we speak." The Greek phrase, here rendered the "world to come," is oikoumene ton mellousan, which evidently means the same as in the last text. Parkhurst, on the word oikoumene, says, "The world to come, Heb. 2: 5. seems to denote the state of the world under the Messiah, or the kingdom of the Messiah, which began at his first advent, and shall be completed at his second glorious coming. The Jews in like manner call the kingdom of the Messiah, eba oulem, the world to come, probably from the prophesy of Isai. 65: 17. where it is represented by new heavens and a new earth. It is observa
ble that Paul uses this phrase only in this passage of his Epistle to the Hebrews or converted Jews, as being, I suppose, a manner of expression peculiar to them, but not so intelligible to the Gentile converts. See Whitby and Dodridge on the place, and comp. Heb. 6: 5." See also Peirce on this text, and on Heb. 1:14. All these, and other writers which might be named, give the same explanation of the phrase, world to come, which I forbear quoting. But in the following texts the phrase, "this world," and "the world to come,' are mentioned together.
Eph. 1: 21. Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that to come." The Greek here is, ou monon en to aioni touto alla kai en to mellonti, which Wakefield renders, "not only in this, but also in the future age."
Matth. 12: 31, 32. "Wherefore I say unto you, all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the son of man it shall be forgiven him, but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come." See the parallel texts, Mark 3: 28-30. and Luke 12: 10. which I need not quote. The common doctrine from these passages is that neither before nor after death can the sin against the Holy Ghost be forgiven. As this doctrine has driven some to madness, and others to suicide, common humanity would say, "examine if it be true." Those who contend for it, overlook that it is implied that some sins may be forgiven in the world to come, if their view of this phrase be correct. But do they allow that any sins are to be forgiven after death? Taking into view all the above passages, let us consider,
1st. Wherein the great guilt of the sin against the Holy Spirit consisted. From Mark 3: 28-30. and other places, it appears that the guilt of this sin consisted in seeing miracles wrought and imputing them to the power of an unclean spirit. It was resisting the highest degree of evidence which could be given of the mission of our Lord. But on this point it is unnecessary for us to dwell. Therefore, let us consider,
2d. When or where it could not be forgiven. It is said it shall not be forgiven in "this world." This means, as we have seen from orthodox writers, it should not be forgiven in the Jewish age, which was then nearly ended. Nor, could it be forgiven in the world or age to come, which we have seen from the same authors, means the age of the Messiah, which was to succeed the Jewish age or dispensation. Whitby renders the words, "neither in this age, nor the age to come." It seems then a very obvious case, that when it is said the sin against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven in this world nor in the world to come, there is no reference to a state after death. It simply means, it should not be forgiven while the Jewish age or dispensation continued, nor under the age of the Messiah, which was then about to commence. Or, in other words, during the ministry of our Lord or his apostles, who both wrought miracles, which were necessary to be seen wrought and blasphemed against, in order to any person's committing
Well, its being said, it "hath neither forgiveness," and, "it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come," is strong, explicit language, importing the non-forgiveness of this sin? It is, nor do we wish to lessen its force, but shall attempt to meet it fairly and fully. But let us first hear Macknight. He says-" or we may tran
scribe the clause differently, it shall not be forgiven him neither in this age, neither in the age to come, importing that no expiation was provided for the blasphemer of the spirit, either under the Jewish or Christian dispensations." What then was the unpardonable nature of the sin of blasphemy during the period called "this world," which we have seen means the Jewish age or dispensation? It is well known, that to the blasphemer under the law, no pardon was granted; no sacrifice could expiate his crime; he must suffer death. Permit me now to ask, was the punishment of such persons unpardonable in any other sense than that they suffered temporal death? Even the blasphemer of the God of Israel, his blasphemy is not mentioned as unpardonable, so as to affect his future endless happiness. No one surely will contend, that to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, was a greater crime; for allowing the Spirit to be the third person in the Godhead, he is not greater than the God of Israel. How then do we understand this blasphemy to be a sin, which, when committed, the person's case is past all remedy? But other sins besides blasphemy were unpardonable under the Mosaic dispensation. The sin of Moses and Aaron at Meribah was so, and was punished with death in the wilderness. The sin of Eli's house could not be purged with sac, rifice nor burnt offering forever. Murder was also unpardonable. They were to take the murderer from God's altar and put him to death. As "the world to come," then refers to the age of the Messiah, this sin is to be unpardonable, and unpardonable in the same sense as it was during the Jewish age called "this world." Its unpardonable nature we think must be understood in the same sense. If the sense in which it was unpardonable during the Jewish age, was, that the person must suffer temporal death for it, the same must be its sense under the age
of the Messiah. It is generally admitted, that temporal death was the punishment of crimes under the old dispensation, and that temporal death was inflicted for crimes under the new, no one will dispute; for Annanias and his wife, persons in the church at Corinth, are noted examples; and John speaks of a sin unto death, for which even Christians were not to pray, 1 John 5: 16, 17.
Stating then this sin at its utmost extent, persons were to suffer death for it, as was inflicted on the blasphemer of the God of Israel. What, some may say, do men suffer death for this sin in our day? I answer no, and for a very good reason, because it is impossible in the nature of the case to commit it in the present day. Is it asked why? I answer, because miracles must be seen performed by the person, and he must resist their evidence, and ascribe their performance to an unclean spirit, before he can commit this sin. It could only then be committed by persons under the ministry of our Lord and his disciples, who wrought miracles. Did men now see these miracles, as the persons did whom our Lord addressed, it could be committed, but unless the age of miracles return, it is impossible. The miracles wrought by our Lord and his apostles before the Jews, was the highest degree of evidence which could be given them that he was the true Messiah. Resisting and blaspheming them, rendered their case hopeless, for no further evidence could be given them to convince them. But it may be said, Did the unbelieving Jews suffer temporal death for this crime? They could not be put to death for it by the Mosaic law, for they did not believe they had in this case blasphemed. Besides, the execution of this law was in their own hands. But death was inflicted on that evil generation of Jews, for upon them came all the righteous blood shed upon the earth. Not believing in Jesus,