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the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."
A HELL FOR SINNERS.
We have been called upon in this magazine to denounce that view of God and of His dealings with sinful men which assumes that He has reserved for endless torment the countless masses of mankind who have died in their sins, and to expose its falsity in the light of the gospel of the resurrection. In doing this it has been a constant anxiety lest this relief from the blind terror of the old doctrine would lead men to abuse the grace of God. The doctrine of future punishment has been so associated in their minds with the creed-doctrine of an endless hell that we need not wonder if exposure of its untruth would lead them to think lightly of sin and its terrible consequences. And therefore we desire again to remind all our readers that we have not the least sympathy with trifling views of sin or of its evil and bitter fruits. We ask them to consider that its future punishment cannot be a trivial thing when it is described in such terms as the Bible constantly employs. Is there nothing alarming in its constant use of the terms "death" "destruction" "perishing" to set forth the perdition of ungodly men? Can it be a light thing to "depart into eternal fire, prepared for the devil and his angels "? to be "cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth "? Is it nothing to "lose the soul ", or to have both body and soul destroyed in hell? It is true, as we have frequently shown, that these tremendous perils do not await a distant judgment day; they lie this side of resurrection from the dead. But they are enormous dangers. They involve incalculable suffering and loss. Can a man expect to go into this "fire that cannot be quenched," and escape its torment, or experience its dissolving energy with no loss? Must not sinful men expect that this ordeal of death and hell will leave them stripped and naked, despoiled of their richest treasures, maimed in their being and personality, their barque of life ship-wrecked and its precious cargo lost, and themselves forced to begin the life restored to them at resurrection far down the scale? And is it nothing to be banished to an age-long destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power before they can again hear the voice of the Son of God and live? We have seen that this destruction precedes resurrection. But is an age-long bondage in the realms of death and hell nothing to be shunned? The voice of hope did at last reach the "spirits in prison which formerly were disobedient when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah". But was their captivity in this prisonhouse for more than two thousand years of no account? And is the " resurrection of judgment", which is all that sinful men are promised, a blessing to be compared with the " resurrection of life"? Those who receive Christ are said to be at once transferred from this category of judgment to life eternal. Is this no gain? And are there no disadvantages and hazards which those must incur to whom a long-delayed resurrection may at last open the prison-doors, in the fact that even this harvest of a new life must be according to the law of sowing and reaping and "To every seed his own body." Surely there is nothing in our doctrine, when understood, to lead any man to continue in sin that grace may abound, or to take the risks of the future, seeing that the future is even more charged than the present with penalty for sin, and that it never can open any other door to eternal life than the way of crucifixion and death to the old man which is now open. There is a veritable destruction, a loss of the soul, a torment in hell, a long captivity in its outer darkness, a loss of the heritage and crown of life, which can only be escaped here and now. And there is a present salvation in Christ, a union with Him in eternal life which is incapable of death, a fellowship in His triumph, a joint inheritance with Him of all things, and a share in His ever widening administrations of power and blessing which can only be won here and now. And we beg that no one of our readers will think lightly of the awful dangers to be now shunned or of the glory to be now gained, according as they shall receive or reject Him as their Saviour and Lord.
And we who are Christians need also to remember the many warning words which He has left on record for us. Are we aware that most of the passages which are relied upon as proofs of the endless torment of the wicked are warnings addressed to us? His words about hell-fire in St. Matthew xviii. 8, and St. Mark ix. 43-50 are instances of a class of words spoken in private to His disciples. They teach them that if they would save their lives whole and unimpaired for the service of God and the joys of His kingdom, they must now be willing to sacrifice whatever defiles them in heart and body, and whatever hinders the full and free surrender of themselves to the call of duty and the demands of conscience. We who are so apt to be fond of the approval of men, of peace and honor and ease in this present world, who dread so much to be scorned and repulsed are here told that if we would save our lives we must now be content to lose them, if we would be Christ's disciples we must now be willing to forsake all that we have, and to count not our lives, much less our reputations and emoluments dear unto us, if they hinder us in any way from full obedience to His commands. Surely it is no light matter that we stand in danger of being "saved so as by fire," and with the suffering of loss. No wood, hay and stubble service will be of any value to us in the day of trial. Recollect that St. Paul's words, "For our God is a consuming fire," are addressed to us. They do not read, "For God out of Christ is a consuming fire." It is God in Christ—Our God—who must thus consume out of our lives all that cannot stand the test of His approval. And, therefore, " We, receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve Him acceptably, with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire."
Faint as the possibility of it may now appear, yet it is within the range of the imagination to conceive some powerful motive whose working would hasten the process. A
great sentiment may take possession of Protestant Christendom which would imperatively demand that all artificial restrictions be dropped in the presence of some great danger. It may be that, beneath the present desire for unity, there is working some instinctive sense of impending evil, which will try men's souls as the barbarian invasions of which we read in history. Under such circumstances we should realize that our strength lay in union; we should get down from the pedestals on which we have been posing, we should abandon our stilts and stand upon our feet as men. We should then be convinced that the strongest bond which can unite us is our common humanity for which Christ died—the only basis for the fellowship of Christian love.
To a certain extent it is possible that on the missionary field, in the presence of a dominant heathenism, a similar motive may lead to some form of co-operation, some modus vivendi, which will diminish or neutralize the evils of division. It seems plain that we ought not to propagate in foreign lands the rivalries, the intrigues, the calumnies to which we have grown accustomed at home. Otherwise we must trust to the large mindedness of the heathen world to make allowance for our deficiencies in Christian fellowship.—The Independent.
CHARGES TO BE MET.
In the recent decision of the Presbytery in our case no charges were preferred and no action was taken affecting our ministerial standing. Practically, however, the action