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These passages certainly appear to prove, that the clause in question should be interpreted, the future state of mankind, or that succeeding the general resurrection. But the phrase to which it is antithetic, may perhaps influence us to take aiày d uello in the sense of, the Gospel age. Aiày ôutos is found in Matthew xiii. 40; Luke xx. 34; 1 Cor. iii. 18; Ephes. i. 21. In Titus ii. 12, we have év tū rûv aiôn. In these passages, the connexion evidently favours the interpretation, the present world or life, the present state of mankind. Thus the context of aiày ó péw wherever the formula occurs, and the sense of its opposite, combine to give it the meaning of, the state which will follow the resurrection. The usus loquendi of the New Testament does not sanction such an interpretation as corresponds to that of the rabbinical formula. It is supported by no clear unambiguous instance. Hence we are led to abandon it entirely; and to translate aiày ô uelwr by, the future world, or the future state of mankind.
But Hebrews ii. 5 has been collated with the present formula. I am inclined to take thv diyovuévny tnv mémovoay there, in the sense of, "the Gospel dispensation :” but, as the noun aiùy is not employed, I do not feel warranted to attach to it the signification of oixoupévnv, merely because the same epithet péklw is prefixed. Again, 1 Cor. x. 11 and Heb. ix. 26 have been thought to bear upon the phrase in question. In both passages, al@ves certainly denotes the Jewish economy, the plural being put for the singular.* But because alèves denotes kar' é toxto the Mosaic dispensation, I see no reason, why aiùy oúros, and aiùy o pedidos or épxóuevos, should be understood respectively to signify the Jewish and Christian dispensations. In like manner, the Septuagint rendering of nyo? in Isaiah ix. 6, viz. mathe toll uéllovtos alvos as it is in the Alexandrine codex, has been adduced to show that aiùy o uerdw signifies the Gospel age. But even if this translation be correct, it refers more to the state of happiness after death, than to the present dispensation. At all events, it should not be restricted to the one period. Gesenius renders it pater perpetuus, which gives the true sense.
If the interpretation of the phrase in question given above be correct, duvápels cannot be translated miracles. It would be absurd to speak of the miracles of the world to come-of heaven or hell ;--and it is contrary to the usage of the New Testament, to refer the whole clause to
* See Stuart's “Exegetical Essays on several words relating to Future Punishment," pp. 31. 68, where a similar interchange of the singular and plural in oáßBara and σάββατα, ουρανός and ουρανοί is adduced. See also his commentary on the Epistle to Hebrews.
+ See Koppe in Excursus I., at the end of his Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians; Schleusner's Lexicon, s. v., and the writers there quoted; Lightfoot's Horae Hebraicæ on Matth. xii. 35, Bretschneider's Lexicon, s. v., and his Handbuch der Dogmatik, i. p. 400. On the meaning of T '2x, see especially Hengstenberg's Christologie, (ersten Theiles, zweite Abtheilung,) pp. 119, 120.
the miracles performed at the establishment of the Gospel. The powers of the world to come mean the influences of a future state, i.e. the beneficial influences exerted on the mind by the representation of a state of retribution in which every one shall be rewarded or punished, according to the deeds done in the body. The case of Felix affords an illustration of this. When the great apostle of the Gentiles reasoned before him of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, the governor trembled. He felt the power exerted by the world to come. By this motive, many are restrained from the commission of sin, and powerfully impelled to the performance of religious duties. The clause, I conceive, principally refers to the operation of fear arising out of the doctrine of a future state. Not only had the persons described by the apostle been influenced by the consolations flowing from the promises of the Gospel ; but their fears had been awakened by a consideration of the solemn realities of futurity. Their hopes had been elevated by the one; their fears had been roused by the other. The precious promises of God's word had imparted some comfort and joy to their souls, transient though the feelings may have been : whilst futurity, by the truth and terror of its unwitnessed scenes, strongly influenced their emotions of fear.
The order of exposition now brings me to the sixth verse, of which the commencement is, kai tapategóvtas. One received version is not to be commended here. The translators appear to have followed those who explained it si prolabantur, that the text might not seem to contradict the doctrine of the saints' perseverance. So Erasmus, Pagninus, Beza, Piscator, and others understood it. Paræus in like manner affirms, that the participle tapategóvtas should be resolved into the conditional εάν παραπεσώσι. Τhus it became necessary to omit και. But the preceding participles are rightly rendered in the past time ; and Trapategóvras, being in the same tense, should be translated in the same manner. The words would be best expressed in English, and yet have fallen away, or apostatised. I cannot agree with Macknight when he states, that the verb mapanintu signifies literally to fall down. Any one intimately acquainted with the Greek prepositions, would not have made such an assertion.* It properly means to fall aside, implying a deviation or departure from the right path of doctrine and of duty. But what is the nature of the fall denoted by tapatintw? Does it mean an occasional lapse; or an entire renunciation of the Christian faith ? The fathers generally held the former : Grotius, Beza, Piscator, Gomar, Owen, Hammond, Estius, Calvin, Junius, Stuart and others advocate the latter opinion. The verb does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. It is found in the Septuagint, as a translation of syp to
ints' persend it. Paralls resolved into
* See Professor Dunbar's admirable account of the Greek prepositions, at the end of his Greek Syntax. N. S. VOL. v.
prevaricate, to act treacherously, in Ezekiel xiv. 13; xv. 8; xü. 24; xx. 27. The same verb is rendered by Smootasia, in 2 Chron. xxix. 19; and ambotaous, in 2 Chron xxvii.-19, and xxxiii. 19. In these passages, a forsaking of the true worship and apostatising into idolatry, is the chief idea presented. They favour the opinion, that mapaninto in the present instance denotes a total renunciation of the Gospel or defection from the Christian faith, rather than occasional transgression against the law of God. Some have maintained, that such a falling away is identical with the sin against the Holy Spirit, Matthew xii. 31 ; and the sin unto death, 1 John v. 16. So Capellus, Paræus, Junius, and others. But this cannot be admitted. The implied return to Judaism, and the blasphemy spoken of in the Gospels, are wholly different. The end, indeed, to which they lead is the same, the consequences are equally fatal; but these are common to all kinds and degrees of sin.
The renunciation of Christianity, thus attributed to the individuals described, involved a return to Judaism ; which, when the epistle was written, was another name for active and open hostility to the religion of Christ.
IIa.v åvakalvi(ELV els petávolay. This clause deserves special attention, because it is much relied on by some to establish the truth of a theological dogma. Arminians frequently say, in the language of Mr. Stuart, “how could the writer speak of being again renewed by repentance, if he did not address them as once having been renewed by it.” The inference is accordingly drawn, that those who have once repented of sin may afterwards lapse into such a state, as to need again to repent and be converted. Though truly turned from the error of their ways to the obedience of the living God, they may return to their original condition of wilful disobedience, and so lose the favour of God. In this case, they need repentance again ; being in the same condition, as that in which they were found, before they first repented. This reasoning is plausible. Doubtless, it has often confirmed Arminians in their own creed, or made others stumble. The popular declaimer dwells on this little clause, as though it were sufficient to demolish the fabric of Calvinism. And yet, an acquaintance with the original is sufficient to show the feebleness of the argument. I cannot be reckoned redundant, as Grotius and Kuinoel affirm. Such an assertion betrays ignorance of the philosophy of language. But with what is it here to be joined ? I answer, with the verb åvakavitev. Those who reason in the manner already stated, unite it to the noun petámow. This combination, however, is not tenable. The present position of πάλιν refuses a junction with μετάνοιαν. It belongs to the verb ανακαιvičelv, and not to the noun uetávolay. To perceive this, requires no extent of Greek lore. Had the adverb been designed to belong closely to metávolav, the arrangement would have been, avakalviselv els try sáu petávolav ; as tò metafù cáßbatov, Acts xiii, 42, and Tòv vûv alara, 2 Tim.
iv. 10. Or, the words might have stood thus, åvaravičelv éis tro petávolav Táłwv; as in Philippians i. 26, Dià rîs éuns mapovoias máliv. Similar is the order in ev to oupavo ávw, Acts ii. 19. Now it affects the meaning of the clause in no slight degree, as we take the adverb nálu to stand with ανακαινίζειν or μετάνοιαν. In the former case, the translation will be, again to renew unto repentance ; in the latter, to renew unto a second repentance. The inspired writer wishes by the words to convey the meaning, to renew again, so as to induce repentance, equivalent to, eis tò letavotiv avtoús, or bote petavocîv ávtoús. Examples of similar construction may be found in abundance. So Acts xi. 18, “Then hath God also to the gentiles granted thv petávolav eis (wńv, repentance unto life," that is, repentance so as to live, or so as to enter upon spiritual life. The construction resembles the infinitivein Hebrew with the prefix?, Deut. v. 1. Ye shall keep to do them, ņeys, that is, so as to perform them. The clause implies, that those whom the apostle addressed had been once renewed; but it does not specify, what the nature of their former renewal was. It is clearly suggested by their renovation again, that they had before experienced a certain change. When the writer speaks of renewing them again, he shows, that they had been renewed already. But although the particular renovation which had once passed upon the persons described be not stated in the present clause, we are not left in ignorance of it by the sacred writer. In the words already explained, it is fully delineated. When the apostates are characterised as having been once enlightened, as having tasted the heavenly gift, as partakers of the Holy Ghost, and as having tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, we see the change they had undergone. If it be affirmed by any, that these attainments imply or suppose true repentance; or if it be considered, that they are essentially and inseparably connected with it; such persons take for granted an important fact that ought first to be proved. It must be shown, that these endowments always accompany genuine repentance, before it be confidently alleged, that the first renewal presupposes so important a change.
But although the clause before us does not reveal the nature of that first renewal which the individuals had experienced, yet it speaks of the nature of the second renewal, to which it was impossible they could be brought. The latter renovation consists in repentance. It supposes genuine sorrow for sin, with sincere purpose of amendment. The literal meaning of the whole phrase is, to renew a second time those who have fallen away, so that they may be brought to repentance.
Who, then, is the agent in producing the renovation ? I have already shown, that it cannot refer to God the Father, or the Holy Ghost, because with him all things are possible. I am aware, indeed, that some have supposed Him to be agent intended ; but their mode of explaining the impossibility is somewhat absurd. He cannot, say they,
on account of his justice and truth; or by reason of the immutability of his nature. This mode of representation is inadmissible. The apostle Paul himself is the chief person pointed at, not excluding, however, the other apostles. These were unable to bring the individuals here characterised to a sense of their guilt. The warnings of the teachers of Christianity could not avail to effect the change. All the means that Christ's ambassadors could possibly employ, were inadequate to produce a permanent and saving impression on the minds of the apostates 80 minutely pourtrayed.
Having thus interpreted the clause, I shall now allude to a different rendering of the preposition eis. Some translate it, by repentance. So Chrysostom, Erasmus, and others. But the usage of eis with the accusative scarcely admits such a rendering. “Els with the accusative," says Professor Stuart, “sometimes signifies manner or means in whick, or by which, a thing is done? e. g. Mark v. 34. Acts vii. 53.” But these examples are not appropriate. In the former, imaye eis eipnm signifies, go into peace, or the enjoyment of peace, showing the state into which the person passes ; in the latter, els diarayàs áyyélwy means, “conforaably to the disposition of angels ;" or, as some prefer, “in consequence of the arrangements of angels.” Here eis does not signify, the means by which a thing is done. The reason sometimes assigned for such : mode of translation is—that renovation is not the way to repentance, but penitence to renovation. So Estius. But it is as absurd to speak of penitence being the way of renovation, as of renovation being the way to repentance. To say that we are first brought to repentance, and then renewed, is hardly correct. Repentance is renovation begun. It implies renewal. Both are contemporaneous, and in some measure identical. To affirm, therefore, that one goes before the other to prepare the way, betrays ignorance of Scripture, and inattention to the practical effects of the grace of God.
Avao Taoyotvias eaurous Top tóc roũ leoũ. The participle ipao Taipoiras is rendered in the authorized version, crucify afresh. This is conformable to the opinion of Chrysostom, and many modern interpreters. Others, however, take it in the sense of the simple verb oravpów, since they crucify. Schleusner contends that the preposition dvà in this verb has no force, like re in Latin. In support of his view, he quotes Fischer; and gives examples from Homer, Xenophon, Zosimus, Sallast, Horace, Polybius, Lucian, &c. &c. It may well be questioned, whether the compound verb be taken in the exact sense of the simple. A compound verb has some modification of the idea contained in the simple, either by increase or diminution. The preposition avà in composition, sometimes signifies again. Instances might be adduced where it denotes the repetition of the act implied by the word with which it is joined. so åvaßlétrw to see again, to recover sight, Matthew xi. 5, xx. 34; åvačáw to live again, Rom. xiv. 9 ; ávatálo to flourish again, Phil. iv. 10.