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out of hard hailstones; when He unlocks' the place CHAP. XVIII. where light now dwells' shut up, and reveals what Job xxxviii. 19, light is hid in darkness and hardness, as we see in coal and flint, those silent witnesses of the dark hard hearts which God can turn to floods of light; when we have taken darkness to the bound thereof,' and have seen not only how 'the earth is full of God's Ps. civ. 24. riches, but how He has ‘laid up the depths in store- Px. xxxiii. 7. houses '; in that day when the mystery of God is Rev. x. 7. finished, and He has destroyed all that which now Rev. xi, 18. corrupts the earth,'—then shall it be seen how truly God's judgments are love, and that 'in very faith- Ps. cxix. 75, fulness He hath afflicted us." (Pages 92 to 95.)
A FEW passages remain to be discussed, and some objections to be considered, which are frequently put forward in refutation of the views maintained
in these pages.
And the first to be noticed is that saying of our Matt. xxvi. 24. Lord concerning Judas, “ The Son of Man goeth as
it is written of Him, but woe unto that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It had been good for that man if he had not been born. Very triumphantly is this passage quoted by those who hold the eternity of punishment, as one in their judgment absolutely conclusive. “If,” say they, “there is to be an ultimate reconciliation of all souls to God, then of no man could it be said that it had been good for him that he had not been born. For let him be subjected to ages of suffering, nevertheless, if at the last he is to enter on eternal felicities, it would still be better for him that he had been born. But Christ said of Judas,' it had been good for that man if he had not been born.' Ultimate reconciliation in his case consequently is out of the question, and the eternity of punishment follows, therefore, as a necessary inference from this solemn utterance.”
I have tried to present the argument in opposi
tion, as founded on this passage, with as much point chap.
xix. and precision as I am able, but I do not hesitate to reject it as importing into our Lord's words a meaning which, not only they do not express, but of which, even inferentially, they are not susceptible. Before, however, submitting what I believe to be their true bearing, I would point out the danger and impropriety of so straining any utterance like this, as to squeeze from it, if I may be allowed this expression, either the proof or the disproof of a dogma. There are many sayings of our Lord, which, if subjected to such treatment, would lead to very inconvenient inferences, as for example, Matt. v. 39—42 and Luke xiv. 26. But passing by these, let me ask attention to one passage in particular, which, if dealt with as the one in question is dealt with, would, I submit, as conclusively forbid the idea of eternal punishment as the one about Judas is said to sanction it. “But whoso shall offend one Matt. xviii. 6. of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Now apply to this passage the same strained treatment as that which has been applied to Matt. xxvi. 24, and I contend that the noneternity of punishment, nay, the suggestion almost of no punishment at all after death, comes out of it as fairly as eternity of doom is alleged to come out of the other. For if, it might be argued, on dying, the sinner passes into a state of endless suffering, then in no possible way could it be better for a man, could it be to his advantage (ouupépei aŭrø), that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he
were drowned in the depth of the sea. But our Lord says of the man who shall offend one of the little ones which believe in Him, that it were better for him that a millstone, etc. The doom, therefore, of the sinner after death cannot be one of irremediable and endless suffering.
But while I claim for this deduction that it is as legitimate a one, and indeed a much less forced one than the other, yet would I not adduce this passage in aid of the argument against the eternity of punishment. To press utterances like these, of a proverbial or strongly antithetic character, into the service of this or that theory, seems to me neither wholesome nor scientific exegesis.
To suppose that our Lord's words concerning Judas point to the everlasting suffering he would have to undergo, is to deprive them of all special emphasis and significance in relation to Judas, for according to the theory which enlists this passage on its side, all impenitent sinners will have to undergo that, and so far, therefore, of all alike might it equally be said, that it were good for them if they had not been born. But surely, on the very face of them, our Lord's words bear a meaning peculiar to Judas, and indicate a something distinctive and signalizing. And is not this what those words import, even the intensity of shame and ignominy that the betrayer's act should bring upon him. Mark the Greek word rendered 'good;' it is not äryadov but kalóv, the distinctive meaning of which is ‘fair,' 'beautiful,' noble,''honourable,' as it is of the Latin equivalent 'pulcher. Looking, then, to the stupendous stigma, the intense infamy incurred by Judas, might it not
well be said of him that it were karóv for him if CHAP. XIX, he had not been born.
The next passage to be considered is the one in which our Lord speaks of the sin against the Holy Ghost. •Wherefore I say unto you, all manner of Matt. xii. 31, 32. sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.' Verily I say Mark iii. 28, 29. unto you, all sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation. These passages are thought by many to afford conclusive proof of the eternity of punishment, specially in reference to the expressions, 'it shall not be forgiven him neither in this world neither in the world to come,' hath never forgiveness,' 'is in danger of eternal damnation.' It is, however, to be noted that the word translated ' world' is in the Greek aiwvi, age or era, that the words 'hath never forgiveness' are oủk čxei apeot els tòy azôva, hath not forgiveness for the age, and that the words 'eternal damnation' are aláviov kploews age-long judgment. But in this last phrase the true reading, as admitted by all the best critics, is not κρίσεως but αμαρτήματος sin. And in this conjunction of αιώνιου with αμαρτήματος, in its being said that he who shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost is ένοχος guilty of αιωνίου αμαρτήματος, we