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ILLUSTRATION OF SCRIPTURE WORDS.
A.1, (aei) one of the roots of clan, (aion.)
We find that many are not yet disposed to allow that awr, as it is used in the Greek Testament, means any thing short of an endless duration, when applied to punishment or suffering. The meaning and use of the word, and its derivative cuvios, (aionios) was given from good authorities in the first volume of this work, page 143. But it is said, it means endless, by derivation, being from au, alway, and w. being, a present participle from the verb Elet, (eimi) to be. The definition of arm, therefore, by derivation, is always being. In reply we remark, the definition of words frequently
from the literal import of their roots ; but allowing the contrary to be true, we shall find by examination, that au must have sometimes a restrained signification, as well as aw. The following is its lexicographical definition ; and all the places are noted where it is used in the Greek Testament. As, (aei) semper, (always, continuallyu from time to time, for ever.)
SCHREVELIUS. It is translated Always, Acts vii. 51, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; 2 Cor. iv. 11, we which live are always delivered unto death ; Titus i. 12, the Cretians are always liars ; Heb. iii. 10, they do always err in their heart ; 1 Pet. iii. 15, be ready always to give an answer; 2 Pet. i. 12, to put you always in remembrance.
Alway, 2 Cor. vi. 10, yet alway rejoicing.
To understand aei, in all the above passages to mean an absolute endless duration, is more than the believer No. 4. Vol. II.
in endless punishment would wish to urge. Take for instance, 2 Cor. iv. 11, “For we which live are always delivered unto death, for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be manifest in our mortal flesh." Our opposers do not suppose, that those who have the life of Christ, will be delivered to death eternally. And if they wish to argue an endless duration, from the force of the Greek «wand alvos, because derived from all, and sw, let them show why the prophets and apostles so frequently used them in a restrained sense. Have they nothing better to maintain their doctrine than the force of ambiguous words I-Wards that may have one signification, or may have another? To urge their doctrine from the force of these words, do they not tacitly confess, their ground is disputable, and, of course, doubtful ?
SERMON, NO.VI. 1 Cor. xiü. 13. And now abideth faith, hope, chari ty, these three ; but the greatest of these is charity.
In this short sermon the discussion is proposed with reference to these three important articles ; faith, hope, and charity.
I. Faith, in its most common acceptation, is an assent of the mind to things communicated.
An evan: getica: faith embraces, besides the bare assent of the mim, the objects believed in, embraced in gospel prondises, with ardent desire and strong affection. T is is a faith that works by love, and purifies the heart. Those things which address or present themselves in:mediately to the senses, are not considered the proper subjects of faith, but those which we called upon to receive, by the testimony of such per-. sons as have, in this manner, received them. Hence, besides the natural operation of faith in the mind, it always must have two essential properties ; namely, evidence and object. This must be true of faith, whether it be spurious or genuine. But while true faith is founded on real evidence, a false one is sup
ported only by that which is imaginary. This imagipary evidence, so long as it appears real, will naturally strike the mind with the force of real evidence. Therefore, because a thing is believed, it is not an argument of its truth ; neither because it is disbelieved, is it a proof of its falsity. Where evidence appears with any considerable energy, it will force an assent of the mind, whether the things believed in, be desirable or undesirable. It is equally as true, on the other side of the question, that where evidence does not appear, or cannot be found, faith cannot exist. But it is not always the case, that when evidence forces an assent to a proposition, that the mind embraces that proposition with affection. In such case faith is dead, and without works, being alone.
Should a query arise, how unbelief could ever be accounted sin, on these principles, the answer appears from the consideration, that the sin of unbelief consists in the negligent or wilful ignorance of the evidence, presented to substantiate important and interesting facts. Those things we feel to oppose, we may, many times, continue to discredit or disbelieve by excluding the evidence from our' notice. And we may sometimes persuade ourselves of the truth of something desirable, by giving all possible weight to every species of evidence in favor, and totally excluding from our inquiries, every thing of an opposite nature. By such a' mode of procedure, where testi. mony appears to favor both sides of a question, we may frequently adopt and believe that side we please ; buť whether we hit' on the right or wrong, we always do it in violence to sound reasoning. This, in doubtful or disputable cases, gives full weight to the testimony on both sides, and decides according to the balance,
The strong biases of mind in favor of preconceived opinions, we have reason to believe, often mislead us in our conclusions in theology; and this is one princi
cause of the many errors in the Christian church. The object of faith can never be dependent on faith
for its existence. What the gospel preaches to us, therefore, must be as true without our faith, as with it. If Jesus never proclaimed “good tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people,” the strongest faith man could possess, would never make the proclamation of such tidings true. Some who hold the doctrine of particular election and reprobation, consider those who believe, elected, and those who disbelieve, reprobated. No idea could involve more confusion. The person that is an unbeliever is reprobated from all eternity ; but should he be converted he is elected from all eternity! If he believe to day, he is one of the elect; if he fall into sin and unbelief to morrow, he is a reprobate; and both of these are the eternal decrees of God! But we know it cannot be true of one man, that he is elected to eternal life, or reprobated to endless misery, according as he believes or disbelieves. If the doctrine be true, he either must be elected or reprobated, independent of his faith. If he were elected when a saint, he was elected when a sipner ; and if reprobated when a sinner, he never could be elected. A decree from all eternity could not take place after man's creation, nor be determined by his moral actions.
Similar arguments may be used relative to God's loving mankind. If he love or hate mankind according as they believe in his love or hatred, it introduces a proposition that carries in itself evident marks of absurdity. If he love the believer and hate the unbeliever, the first believing that God loves him, the second believing that God hates him, how can the unbeliever's view be any more false than the believer's ? and how can he be converted, seeing he holds the truth? And besides, how can a man be called an unbeliever when he believes the truth? But if God love the sinner, (as the scriptures expressly teach) and a man does not believe it, then he is an unbeliever, because he holds not the truth.
II. Hope, like faith, always presupposes evidence, and embraces objects. Tho we are obliged to believe, when sufficient evidence is visible, altho the object be undesirable, we can never hope contrary to desire. There may likewise be a difference between hope and desire. A hope must always embrace a desire ; but a desire does not always imply a hope. For the former must be founded on
some degree of evidence ; whereas the latter is only supported by the common energies of sensibility. The hope we have in Christ, being founded on the solemn promises of the living God, is “as an anchor of the soul,” and amounts, on such strong testimony, to full'assurance.
III. It is written, “the just shall live by faith,” and "we are saved by hope;" yet charity is greater than faith and hope. The inodern acceptation of charit" is the bestowment of alms ; but it is cominonly used in scripture to signify the principle, whence the fruits of benevolence proceed, rather than the fruits themselves. It has been noticed by many, that charity and love are synonymous terms, and are frequently made the translation of the same original. It was charity then in our heavenly Father, that dictated the benevolent design of man's salvation. Through charity he sent his beloved Son, “not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." Charity in man is that ennobling principle which renders his character amiable, and clothes him with christian graces.
The preeminence of charity, which the Apostle pronounces, over faith and hope, is seen in different ways. Charity is the more excellent in its nature ; because, without it, the voice of the most celebrated orator would be but sounding brass or a tinkling cyo:bal ; and the most splendid donations, mere ostentation and show. It is the greater, because it is an everlasting principle, whereas faith and hope are not. St. Paul calls Jesus “the author and finisher” of our faith. We see then his testimony, that faith had a beginning, and must have an end. Reason teaches us the same is true of hope. When we receive the things hoped for, hope is finished in fruition, and if our hope be false, it must end in disappointment. Then when terrestrial