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him, and those in which it could be supposed to have such a sense have been particularly considered. Let him, then, judge if our Lord used, and the Jews could understand the expression, eternal damnation, in the sense we moderns put upon it. How could they understand him in this sense, seeing a punishment after death had not once been threatened in all their Scriptures? The proof, at any rate, lies with those who believe so, for no man can prove a negative. But we have in this case some proof, that our Lord neither meant, nor was he so understood by the Jews who heard him. First, no Jew believed that he was to suffer endless punishment either here or hereafter. See Whitby on Rom. 2. Again, no doctrine our Lord could have advanced, could have been more displeasing to the Jews. They to suffer endless punishment who were the children of Abraham ? No; this was far from their thoughts. But again, though our Lord and the Jews had many reasonings and contentions arising from his doctrines, do we ever find that any of them arose from his threatening them with endless punishment in a future state? No, nothing like this appears. Either then our Lord did not · threaten them with this, or if he did, they did not understand him; or, if they did understand him, they acted very differently about it from what they did on all other occasions. In this case, they submitted very tamely to a threatening, never before mentioned in their Scriptures, and directly in face of all their prejudices as a nation.
5th. We see nothing in the expression “eternal damnation," indicating endless punishment, any more than in others which we think we have shown refer to no such thing. Is this expression stronger in favor of the doctrine than “ damnation of hell, the fire that shall never be quenched,” with others which we think has been proved in the Inquiry into the words Sheol,
&c. to refer to temporal punishment ? Or, is it stronger in favor of this doctrine than the expressions “ everlasting fire, eternal punishment, everlasting destruction, with others, which we shall presently show have no such meaning? If these expressions refer to the temporal punishment of the Jews, why not also the expression “eternal damnation," before us? Jews who blasphemed against the Holy Spirit were addressed. The most convincing proofs had been offered them that Jesus was the Messiah. These they resisted, and blasphemed the power by which they were performed. They were soon to fill up the measure of their iniquity, and could not escape the damnation of hell. There remained for them no more sacrifice for their sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation to devour them as adversaries. Their sin was not to be forgiven, that their punishment might be averted. They were in danger of “eternal damnation,” or punishment, even the everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, which as a nation they have suffered, and are still suffering. It is called the damnation of hell, the fire that shall never be quenched, the greater damnation, and is set forth by the severest eastern punishment, "a furnace of fire.” In plain language it is described by our Lord, Matth. 23.
Matth. 19:27-29, “ Then answered Peter, and said unto him, behold, we have forsaken all and followed thee: what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, verily I say unto you,
ye that have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit ever
lasting life.” The parallel texts are Mark 10: 284 31. and Luke 18: 28–30. which I need not quote. Mark and Luke say, “and in the world to come life everlasting.” Wakefield's rendering is, “ and in the age that is coming everlasting life." It will not be questioned, that the phrases, “ this time,” and this present time” in these texts, express the same as is meant by the phrase "this world,” or age, in the preceding passages. They all refer to the Jewish age, which was to be superseded by the age of the Messiah, and repeatedly called the age or “world to
In fact, no other age could come, for no other was promised, or expected by the Jews, but the age of the Messiah. But the phrase, “world to come,” by most Christians is interpreted to mean, the state after death, and the phrase “ everlasting life,” the happiness to be enjoyed in that state. But, that hy " the world to come,
is meant the age
of the Messiah, is conclusively shown by orthodox writers above, who declare it is to end at Christ's second coming. See 1 Cor. 15: 24–28. My reasons for thinking, that the eternal life here spoken' of, refers to the life enjoyed in the kingdom of Christ during the age of the Messiah, I shall as briefly as possible state:
1st. This appears from the Old Testament usage of the phrase "everlasting life,” which occurs only in Dan. 12: 2. considered above. It is set in contrast with the shame and everlasting contempt which came on the Jewish nation at the end of the
If their shame and everlasting contempt, were to be endured in this state of existence, why not the eternal life with which it is contrasted, be enjoyed also in the same state? The contrast would be incongruous if it is understood otherwise.
2d. From the context of the passages under sideration. It is evident, that what our Lord said
was in answer to Peter's question, verse 27. It is equally evident, that Peter's question was suggested by the discourse immediately preceding it, verses 16-27. According to Daniel's use of the words eternal life, what else could this man mean, than, what good thing shall I do, that I may enjoy the blessings of Messiah's reign, or enter into his kingdom? That this view of everlasting life, is agreeable to the passage before us, is evident, for it was to be enjoyed in "the world to come,” or in the age
of the Messiah. The Jews were familiar with Daniel's writings, and if in this sense it was used there, how could the Jews in our Lord's day understand it in a different sense without some explanation? That this was the sense in which it was used, appears to me evident from the following statements, and the texts referred to. In the New Testament, “ kingdom of heaven,” and “ kingdom of God,” are phrases used to express the same thing: comp. Matth. 19: 23. with verse' 24. as an example. This is very obvious from comparing the four Gospels. It is also evident, that to “have eternal life,” and to “enter into eternal life,” also mean the same thing. Comp. Matth. 19: 16. with verse 17. But let it be particularly observed, that to “ enter into life,” and “to have eternal life,” is the same as “to enter into the kingdom of heaven,” or “ kingdom of God.” This appears from comparing Matth. 19: 16, 17. with verses 23, 24. Also from comparing Mark 9 : 43, 45. with verse 47. where entering into the kingdom of heaven and entering into life are used as equivalent expressions. If these statements are not correct, we should think it a hopeless case, to ascertain the sense of Scripture by comparing one part of it with another. I may add, that “to be saved,” verse 25. of Matth. 19: seems to be used as an equivalent expression for “having eternal life," verse 16. “to enter into life,”
verse 17. and “to enter into the kingdom of heaven and kingdom of God,” verses 23, 24. Let us now look at the context of the passage before us. 66 And behold, one came and said to him good master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life," verse 16. And comp. Mark 10: 17. Luke 18:18. Luke 10: 25. Permit me now to ask-When this person asked what good thing he should do to “ have eternal life," did he mean to ask, what he should do to obtain heaven and its happiness? We must doubt this, for we have seen that what he calls eternal life, verse 16. is to enter into life, verse 17. and to enter into the kingdom of heaven or kingdom of God, verses 23, 24. His meaning seems evidently to be, good master, what shall I do to enter into the kingdom of heaven or reign of the Messiah, whose kingdom or reign is about commencing. If this be correct, it is easily perceived how exactly this sense of the phrase agrees with the only place in the Old Testament where everlasting life is mentioned. Daniel told us that some should awake "to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” This person seemed to be awaking to everlasting life, but we see that his trusting in his riches, still kept him from entering into the kingdom of God. One seems to have been so much awakened, that our Lord said that he was not far from the kingdom of God, or obtaining eternal life. See Mark 12: 28—35.
3d. It appears from considering where or when this eternal life was to be enjoyed. Not a word is said in the passage,
that this was in a future state of existence.
It was to be when the Son of man sat on the throne of his glory, and the apostles, on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. But when was this? The following writers shall inform
Macknight, on this passage, observes—"According to the common interpretation of these words,