Matt. 18:8. "Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands, or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire." Matt. 25:41 uses the same phraseology. "The everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels." Also Jude 7. "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."
It is better to enter into the Christian life maimed, that is deprived of some social advantage comparable to an eye, foot, or hand, than to keep all worldly advantages, and suffer the penalty of rejecting Christ, typified by fire, is the meaning of Matt. 18:8; and Jude 7 teaches that Sodom and Gomorrah are an example of eternal fire. But that fire has expired. That the fire referred to is not endless is shown by the use of the term in the Bible. "God is a consuming fire," (Heb. 12:29,) but it is a "Refiner's fire." (Mal. 3:2-3.) It consumes the evil and refines away the dross of error and sin. This corroborates the meaning we have shown to belong to the word expressive of the fire's duration. But whatever may be the purpose of the fire, it is not endless, it is aionian. Benson(68) well says: "The fire which consumed Sodom, &c., might be called eternal, as it burned till it had utterly consumed them, beyond the possibility of their being inhabited or rebuilt.
But the word will have a yet more emphatical meaning, if (as several authors affirm) that fire continued to burn a long while."
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