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message have been concealed and overtopped by the emphasis put upon the truth that God is Love, the converts would hardly be worth reckoning. But God honors His truth, even in such distorted forms. We hold, therefore, that no more important service to the church and to mankind, especially the heathen, can possibly be rendered than to bring out from God's Word the true gospel of hope which it contains, and which gives the resurrection of Jesus Christ its true place as the morning-star of a day of hope which was to arise even upon the regions of the dead. The character of the God we summon men to worship—His plan of redemption, the purpose of love treasured in His heart toward all mankind, the place and calling of the church under it, the true glory of Him who is both Son of God and Son of man will never be understood, until the gospel of the resurrection shall be restored to its true place as the very gospel of the grace of God, in the faith of which men are to be saved, the church called out and sanctified, and His ways made known upon earth, His saving health among all nations.
A NEW PRESBYTERIAN CEEED.
A committee of the Presbyterian Church of England, of which Dr. Oswald Dykes of London is the convener, has been engaged for three years in drawing up a creed for that church. The object has been to provide a standard which should be more concise and also free from some of the harsh and objectionable features of the Westminster Confession. It is now prepared for final adoption. The only thing specially noteworthy in this new attempt to formulate the Christian faith is in the way it passes over some of the hard points. We give below the articles relating to Eschatology.
XX. —OP THE SECOND ADVENT.
We assuredly believe that on a day known only to God, the Lord Jesus Christ will suddenly come again from heaven with power and great glory; and we look for this second appearing of our Saviour as the blessed hope of His Church, for which we ought always to wait in sober watchfulness and diligence, that we may be found ready at His coming.
XXI. —OF THE RESURRECTION.
We believe that the souls of the righteous enter at death upon a state of rest and felicity at home with the Lord; and we look for the resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust, through the power of the Son of God, when the bodies of all who have fallen asleep in Christ, as well as of the faithful who are then alive, shall be fashioned anew and conformed to the body of His glory.
XXn.—OF THE LAST JUDGMENT.
We believe that God will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ, before Whom all men must appear, Who shall separate the righteous from the wicked, make manifest the secrets of the heart, and render to every man according to the deeds which he hath done in the body, whether good or evil, when the wicked shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
XXIII.—OF THE LIFE EVERLASTING.
Finally, we believe in and desire the life everlasting when the redeemed shall receive their inheritance of glory in the kingdom of their Father, and be made fully blessed in the presence and service of God, Whom they shall see and enjoy for ever and ever. Amen.
Article XX. decides nothing positively between the pre- and post-millenial theories.
Article XXI. does not state whether or not the resurrection of both classes is simultaneous, and is silent as to the effect of this change of condition upon the wicked. It omits also any reference to their condition before resurrection, confining itself to the statement that the righteous are in a state of rest and felicity. Room is thus made, as was the case in the creed recently framed by the Congregationalists in this country, for those who hold that before the final judgment multitudes of heathen, and others who die out of this life unsaved, may have an opportunity of knowing and believing on Christ.
Article XXII., however, seems to shut off this hope by declaring that the last judgment must be in all cases according to the deeds done in the body. It is strange how the traditional view of 2d Cor. v. 10 seems to dominate the minds of the most learned men when they come to the consideration of the last things. The text reads, "For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body according to what he hath done, whether good or bad." Concerning it, it may be said (1) that the "we" of the passage refers to Christians. The whole context relates specially to their future. (2) As the italic word "done" is not in the Greek, it is at least an open question whether, as able commentators allege, the reference is not to the fact that the resurrection body of the Christian will be graded in glory according to previous character. We shall all receive in body according to what we have done. By simply leaving out the italic words from the common English version, the force and aptness of this rendering of the passage will appear. And this view of it accords with the current thought of the chapter, and is in harmony with the universal law of life, that its embodiment must always be expressive of character.
While therefore this creed is vague enough as not to exclude those who cling to the larger hope, it is too inexplicit to afford any good ground for it, or to satisfy the earnest minds in the Presbyterian communion who are seeking for something definite in regard to these most momentous issues, and some sure ground upon which they can hold with firm grasp to the truth that the eternal God whom they worship as sovereign is unchanging love. Never will the Christian mind in that church, or in any orthodox church, find rest on this subject until it recognizes and builds its creed upon the now hidden principle that there is a redemptive power in resurrection which reaches, in the way of blessing, even the unjust, and secures to all men that opportunity for eternal life through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ His Son which is denied to so many here. The church at large seems blind to any true knowledge of the office of Jesus Christ as raised up of God to be Lord of the dead as well as of the living. And as to the relation which "the church of the first-born," now being gathered out from the world, holds to His great plan of grace, all we have to say is that the church of to-day needs to wake up to an entirely new interpretation of the oft-quoted phrase, "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it." She has been called out for the very purpose of taking part with Christ—the Liberator from this prisonhouse of death. And the gates of that dark realm at her approach must yield, and the captives in those dark dominions be set free, "every man in his own Order." It is not conflict with the powers of darkness in this world which that phrase brings to view. It relates to the future triumphant overthrow by Christ and His church of the barriers behind which death holds its myriad captives. These gates of hell must go down before us and death and hell must give up their dead. It is only when we learn to see that this deliverance is a blessing secured to all the families of the earth through the chosen seed, and not a curse, that we shall be prepared to construct a creed that shall rightly adjust the two sides of the divine dealing in judgment and redemption, and truly testify of God's ways to men.
THE TWO TREES.
An elder of a Presbyterian church in central New York has sent us a long article under the above title. As an argument for conditional immortality it has intrinsic merit, but it is too long for insertion on our limited pages. It is valuable also as showing how some thoughtful and conscientious men in that church have been exercised over the matters we have been urging upon its attention. It was written as the result of a careful examination of the Scriptures for light, and it is especially interesting to us because the writer's conclusions are in some respects similar to those we arrived at by the same process. He holds with us that, while man is possessed of an immortal spirit of life, his own personal being is not necessarily immortal, and that the death-penalty for his sin is a destruction more truly real and literal than is implied in endless existence in misery.