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Greek, which in our English version is rendered
Such, then, being its simple etymological meaning, such, too, being its only allowable acceptation in a multitude of passages, I refuse to understand it in any other sense in the following passage, which I submit might fairly and accurately be thus rendered, 'And these shall go away into punishment æonial,' that is, of the age, but the righteous into life æonial,' or of the age. In my view, therefore, this passage, so far from lending any countenance to the dogma of endless perdition, looks rather the other way, and denotes that the punishment, whatever it be, into which those on the left hand go away, is coincident in duration with that millennial era which, as we have seen, these judgments usher in.
And if the Greek word rendered 'everlasting' in the English version does not support the notion
of endless suffering, much less does the word which is translated 'punishment.' The distinctive meaning of this word, kóλaσis, is corrective punishment, being derived from a verb which means to prune. I say its distinctive meaning is this, in relation to another word, Tiμopía, which signifies vindictive punishment. In Tuwρía the vindictive character of the punishment is the predominant thought; it is the Latin ultio, vengeance, punishment as satisfying the inflictor's sense of outraged justice, as defending his own honour and that of violated law. In Kóλaσis, on the other hand, is more the notion of punishment as it has reference to the correction and bettering of him that endures it; it is castigatio, chastisement, and has naturally for the most part a milder use than Tμopía. Thus, we find Plato joining κολάσεις (corrective chastisements) and νουθετήσεις (warnings) together. Clement of Alexandria defines κολάσεις as μερικαὶ παιδείαι (particular corrections) and τιμωρία as κακοῦ ἀνταπόδοσις (recompense or retribution of evil). And this is Aristotle's distinction, who in his Rhetoric defines Kóλaois as the correction of the offender, and Tμwpía as the satisfaction of the offended.
The distinction thus drawn between Tiμwpía and Kóλaσis is derived from Archbishop Trench's Synonyms of the New Testament. In giving, however, this distinction, he considers that it would be a very serious error to attempt to transfer it in its entireness to the words as employed in the New Testament. And no doubt, if endless torment be indisputably revealed in Scripture, that distinction could not be pressed. But not believing myself
2 Pet. iii. 9.
that dogma to have any real foundation in Holy Writ, I claim to understand the word here in its true etymological signification; and when, therefore, it is said, 'These shall go away into kóλaσi aiviov, I take it to mean that those on the left hand shall go away into a punishment corrective rather than vindictive, a punishment not consisting of everlasting torment, as some tell us, nor to terminate in annihilation, as others think, but to have its gracious issue in the improvement and ultimate restoration of those subjected to it.
And is not this view, I would ask, both in accordance with the character of God, the love of Christ, and the design of his kingdom, as well as in analogy with divine punishments generally? Think what God is, as set before us in his Word. He is holy, He is just, He is good. God is love. It was this God made the souls of men; and when they had fallen He sent his Son to redeem them, 'not being willing that any should perish.' And Jesus came and died for the world, and because He did this all power in heaven and earth was given to Him, in order that He might accomplish the good pleasure of the divine will, to gather together in one all things in Christ. But this purpose is to be accomplished in successive eras. One era being completed, the Son of Man is coming with his saved ones of that era to introduce another epoch of his kingdom, by reigning visibly and personally on the earth. And yet, according to the view we are now combating, we are to believe that the first act, by which the Saviour King is to inaugurate his reign on the earth, will be the con
signing to hopeless and endless torment millions of CHAP. XII.
CHAP. XII. And seeing that the laws of nature, as we call them, are after all but the expressions of his will who is the Lord of nature, a sound divinity leads to the same conclusion as sound philosophy, that these visitations, awful as they are, cannot be otherwise, both in their design and issue, than outgoings of wisdom and love. That these visitations have also a moral aspect and bearing we of course admit; and herein again they are the products of divine goodness, as being morally instructive and corrective. They are voices from heaven, reminding the children of men of their own weakness and helplessness, rebuking their pride and haughty selfreliance, rousing them from their apathy, thoughtlessness, and selfishness, calling out sympathy and succour for the distressed, inspiring reverential awe, and causing many to bethink themselves of the Lord, and to turn to Him as a stronghold in the day of trouble. In various ways do these visitations exert a beneficial moral influence, and so warrant our regarding them, both physically and morally, as the corrective dispensations of a God of love. But the way in which a shallow divinity too often speaks of them seems more heathenish than Christian, representing them as the ebullitions of an angry, vengeful Being, pouring out the vials of his wrath upon the wicked, strangely forgetting that, as upon the one hand our Heavenly Father causes his sun to shine and his rain to fall upon the evil and the good, so on the other hand, in these visitations of distress and suffering, the saint and the sinner, the just and the unjust, are alike the subjects of them.
Nahum i. 7.