Now the Jews have lost their eternal excellency; Aaron and his sons have ceased from their priesthood; the Mosaic system is superseded by Christianity; the Jews no longer possess Canaan; David and his house have lost the throne of Israel; the Jewish temple is destroyed, and Jerusalem is wiped out as the holy city; the servants who were to be bondmen forever are all free from their masters; Gehazi is cured of his leprosy; the stones are removed from Jordan, and the smoke of Idumea no longer rises; the righteous do not posses the land promised them forever; some of the hills and mountains have fallen, and the tooth of Time will one day gnaw the last of them into dust; the fire has expired from the Jewish altar; Jonah has escaped from his imprisonment; all these and numerous other eternal, everlasting things — things that were to last forever, and to which the various aionian words are applied — have now ended, and if these hundreds of instances must denote limited duration why should the few times in which punishments are spoken of have any other meaning? Even if endless duration were the intrinsic meaning of the word, all intelligent readers of the Bible would perceive that the word must be employed to denote limited duration in thepassages above cited. And surely in the very few times in which it is connected with punishment it must have a similar meaning.
For who administers this punishment? Not a monster, not an infinite devil, but a God of love and mercy, and the same common sense that would forbid us to give the word the meaning of endless duration, were that its literal meaning, when we see it applied to what we know has ended, would forbid us to give it that meaning when applied to the dealings of an Infinite Father with an erring and beloved child. But when we interpret it in the light of its lexicography, and general usage out of the Old Testament, and perceive that it only has the sense of endless when the subject compels it [emphasized by editor], as when referring to God, we see that it is a species of blasphemy to allow that it denotes endless duration when describing God's punishments.
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