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be age-long, can defeat His gracious purposes. That death is destructive and that resurrection is redemptive are both plain truths of His word. And that these two opposing lines of the divine administration blend in perfect harmony as they approach His high throne, and form a rainbow round it, we are sure. And whether these shall issue in the recovery of all, or whether the light from that throne shall so burn up all His enemies round about as to leave them neither root nor branch, we are sure that all generations shall hereafter join in the one song of praise before that throne when its judgments shall be made manifest.
THE SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST.
Every one who is at all familiar with the science of today knows how much it makes of this Darwinian principle in explaining the progress of life. There is a doctrine of election in science as well as in Scripture. By a certain principle of selection the fittest are continually coming to the front and asserting their right of inheritance and of life. All improvement in the individual and in the species is along this line. Revelation has to deal with those aspirations implanted in man which impel him to the attainment of that ideal form of manhood which is the ultimate thought of God in creation. He means to see in man the perfect image of Himself realized—the acknowledged owner and administrator of His vast estate. And, therefore, the progress of man is toward this goal of a manhood made perfect in eternal life. He must struggle out of this lower sphere of things temporal into that of things eternal. The fact that this requires a passage out of a region of things visible into that of things invisible makes no difference as to the reality of the transition. For even science recognizes that there is an invisible side of creation more truly real and permanent than is the side turned toward us, the phenomena of which are ever changing. The doctrine of the resurrection, as shown in our last number, is only the proper corollary of evolution. And the principle of the survival of the fittest finds its meaning and its justification in the fact that a portion of the human race are selected to survive the change of death and to emerge into that rank of glorious being which Scripture denominates "sons of God " (Rom. viii. 19-23). Such alone truly and properly survive. The crisis of death does not destroy—it only liberates—their true life. They have now eternal life and can never perish. They are the children of the resurrection.
Nothing is more plainly asserted of resurrection than the fact that it is eclectic and progressive. "Christ the first fruits, afterward they that are Christ's at His coming." And it is no less plainly declared of this class that they "never die." So that there must be a sense in which the parousia or coming of Christ is not to them an event of the distant future. Their resurrection is anticipated. Hence they are constantly spoken of in the New Testament as risen men, even while tabernacling here in the flesh (Col. i. 1; Ephes. ii. 6). Christ's word "I will come to you," (John. xiv. 18) is fulfilled to them even here.
But now we come upon a principle, undiscovered by science, and which it is the prerogative of Scripture to reveal, and which, while we do not know that it applies to the lower races of animals, does distinctly apply to man. It is the principle that the fittest are chosen to survive, not merely on their own account as the most worthy recipients of life, but that they may become channels of life and blessing to the less fit. The law of the survival of the fittest is an excellent thing for the fittest. But how about the less fit—the multitudes who are crowded back and trampled down in the struggle for existence. Science has been unable to discern that there is any benevolent design toward them in this law. She views them rather as the unhappy victims of it. Hence she is agnostic concerning God. Men see this law in tremendous operation, grinding down into mire and death the multitudes on whose prostrate forms the few rise to eminence and success. Hence pessimism like Schopenhauer's. But just here the Bible comes in to teach us that the fittest who survive are invested with a ministry of life and blessing toward the less fit. Even Calvinistic theology, with its proper insistence that election is taught in the Bible and required by any just view of the sovereignty of God, has not recognized this principle, that the elect become the chosen vessels of God's grace and bounty to their less favored brethren. The fittest are chosen to survive in order that they may raise up out of death and re-establish again in life the less fit. This principle puts an altogether different aspect upon the struggle of life in creation. It justifies and even glorifies what, without it, seems only a blind remorseless tendency. It furnishes the only relief and rescue to those who seem compelled to adopt either the epicurean or the pessimistic view. Surely life is hardly worth living if only a chosen few are to reach its summit and wear its crown. But Christianity, in both its cultus and its doctrine, speaks with no uncertain voice about this matter. While all nature, and even its highest creature, man, seem to be supremely selfish, it teaches that unselfishness is the highest and the eternal law of life. Men who would save their lives must be altruistic. Instead of leaving the poor, the sick, and the bound to perish in their misery, the Lord of all men declares that the highest type of life can be attained only by those who tenderly minister to these unfortunates, and that only such go into life eternal (Matt. xxv. 46). However men may regard the refuse and the outcast classes, it was the mission of Christ to declare that such were still under the care of the common Father, and that the beggar Lazarus in his sores and rags should find at last an even treatment and full compensation. It was only by a loving self-sacrificing care of their poorer brethren who had been trodden down in the turmoil and rush of life, that men were to grow into the likeness and become partakers of the divine nature. So Jesus came to heal the sick, to set free the oppressed, to save the lost, and to give His life a ransom for many.
But it would be but a poor result, indeed, if all this training in self-sacrifice, this cultivation in the love that seeketh not her own, had no reference to a life beyond, ; and no scope there for its exercise. Can it be that the very thing that marks the eternal life this side the grave shall be absent beyond it? Must not that life there be ..essentially altruistic? Must it not prove that its springs are in God, in that it shall shed forth blessing on all around, even upon the evil and the unthankful? And will there not be unthankful souls there to be won and evil souls to be rescued? That view of Christianity which bounds all its opportunities of seeking and saving the lost by death, denies its very essence. The saved here are such only as they become fitted to be saviours of others. Those who survive the crisis of death are the very ones who become fitted to go to the relief of their brethren who have been shipwrecked by it. Hence these fittest who survive are always spoken of as a first-born company. First-born imply later born. Under the Old Testament law the right and duty of redeeming their kinsmen was put upon the first-born. They were to raise up the name of the dead upon their lost inheritance. They were God's "kingdom of priests." And so God has still His elect and royal priesthood, chosen for that higher service and ministry of which the Mosaic law of the first-born was a shadow. These are "baptized for the dead." They first "attain unto the resurrection from the dead " -(Phil. iii. 2). Jesus, the head of this anointed race, when He arose as the Firstborn from the dead, set free a multitude of captives with Him (Eph. iv. 8). It was a hope cherished among the early fathers that this work of liberation was still carried on by those saints who triumphed over death. And Scripture abounds in intimations that such is the fact. For what can the whole creation, in bondage to corruption, be awaiting the manifestation of the sons of God, if they are not the ordained instruments of its deliverance? And surely the multitudes of the human race—the highest and most intelligent part of this creation—who have gone