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the Spirit of God striving in all, and that on the platform of this present world all have a fair chance for eternal life. But the facts do not bear out the assertion. How many of the vast and varied multitudes of iUSt race succeed in this conflict, and by patient continuance in well doing win life eternal? What sort of a chance is that in which almost everybody fails? And Scripture teaches that but few enter along this way into life. "There is none righteous, no, not one." Indeed, if eternal life consists, as Jesus declares (John xvii. 3), in the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ whom He has sent, then how can there be a trial for eternal life where Christ is not known? Therefore He gave Himself a ransom for all in order that, set free from the evil conditions of their life in this present world, men may have the opportunity to know Him in the world to come. This is not their second probation. They never had a first. They were born into this world under condemnation. Only those who are here tested under the gospel of Christ may be said to be now under probation for eternal life. The emancipation then of the human race from under the yoke of this system is to be through death and resurrection. And this deliverance is connected with that of the system itself (Rom. viii. 19-23). The enemies who have defiled this heritage of creation, and debased its appointed heir, must be dealt with and cast out. "Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the prince of this world be cast out" (Jno. xii. 31). We see thus why Jesus immediately adds, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."
The casting out of the prince of this world would be the deliverance of those held captive by him. The prison doors of death were to be opened for all. Their resurrection will be their emancipation not only from bondage in death, but from the yoke of Satan. On the platform of the life to come they will be free to serve God and to choose life. The freedom of the will, about which men now harp so much, will only then be fully realized. Most men are not now free to choose the right. They are born slaves—slaves to natural appetites and natural laws, which drag them all the other way. This reckoning of God with man's natural enemies would fall short of its object unless man himself were lifted on to this high vantage ground above them. An incomplete and unworthy result would be this redemption of creation from the bondage of creation, with the vast mass of men—God's highest creatures —left crushed in the mire of hell. Therefore He has provided to deliver them by raising them from the dead. Indeed, the redemption of the creature is in order to provide them a proper platform on which to work out their destiny. Their failure now, under these adverse conditions, has moved God's pity to redeem them to better conditions. If they fail under these, their failure must be final. But salvation attained now, when such a battle is required and such yielding up of self on God's altar, will be a far grander thing than salvation in the world to come. The Church of the first born whose names are written in heaven—these are to be God's kings and priests through all the ages. Courage, then, Christian, for this wrestling with principalities and powers! We are passing through the very forms of trial which shall fit us to reign with Christ. In some form we too must bear the burden of the world's evil and feel the stress of conflict with the power of darkness, in order that through victory over the world we may take part with Christ in the world's deliverance. This discipline of life through which we are daily passing has a wondrous meaning for us, if our eyes were only opened to perceive it. Under this our Father's training, we should learn to rejoice in the Lord always, and in everything to give thanks, casting all our care upon Him, for He careth for us.
NOTES ON CURRENT TOPICS.
Is This so? In Ingersoll's latest article in the North American Review upon the "Divided Household of Faith" occurs this sentence: "If the bible be true most of the children of men are to suffer external pain; every form of vice and immorality is to be perpetuated and made eternal." This, as every one knows, is the infidel's staple reason for rejecting the Bible. As Ingersoll reads it, this is the plain teaching of the Book. So the majority of professing Christians have understood it. But, is it so? Any one who penetrates beneath the surface of the Bible will see that it is not. For, in the first place, the uniform teaching of that book is that the soul that sinneth, it shall die. It does not affirm that the death of the body is the end of sinful man, but it nowhere predicates endless life or existence of any class of men except such as receive this gift through Christ. Somewhere, sometime, all created life that is discordant and irreclaimable must come to an end; for there is no eternal life but life in God. Why should Ingersoll, or any man, give to the Bible words, " death," "perish," " destruction," etc., any other meaning than the one which is common to all lexicons and languages? Granting that the death it speaks of in many places is spiritual, yet the very ground of this use of the term, and the very point of the teaching, is that spiritual death must work the destruction of the being in whom it abides.
2. It is manifest that Ingersoll knows nothing about the gospel of the resurrection which it is a prime purpose of the Bible to reveal. Nor is this to be wondered at, since the Christian atmosphere in which he had his early training and the atmosphere of the church at large is all clouded upon this subject. That grand provision of God to recover for mankind—beyond the death brought upon it by sin—another life with better opportunities to escape its bondage and penalty, is made no account of: or still worse, it is distorted into an arrangement by which the sinner's existence is to be renewed and perpetuated in torment forever. The Old Testament is replete with this promise of future blessings to the sinful generations of men— both Jew and Gentile—who, under the just judgment of God, went down to sheol for their sins. (Read from this point of view Ezekiel xxxvi-vii. xvi. 53-63; Jeremiah xxxiii, xlviii. 47, xlix. 6, 39; Hosea xiii. etc.)
The gospel of the resurrection teaches that, although a sinful life here must, in and after death, reap in full measure the wages of its sin, yet God's gracious purpose to seek and to save lost men, is not defeated by death. He has been ransomed to another life. Other stages and economies of redemption lie beyond this present world. Until the results of these have been summed up, what right has Ingersoll or any other man to say that "if the Bible be true, most of the children of men are to suffer eternal pain?" Let him drink deeper into the meaning of that blessed book, and he will see how vain and wicked are his false estimates of it.
Nor need we be surprised that such a man should be thus blind to its heavenly wisdom. There is a deep reason why God has so framed that Book as to conceal from the wise and prudent of this world that which He reveals unto babes. Only a little flock in any age has understood it. Even the twelve disciples, after Jesus had gone in and out among them for three years, needed to have their understanding opened. And of how many in the church is it still true that they "know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God?"
Probation After Death.—Dr. A. J. Lyman, in an article in the Bibliotheca Sacra, discusses the " only three " passages upon which those who hold the larger hope most rely. These he specifics as Matt. xii. 32, which hints at a possible forgiveness of all manner of sin, save one, in the world to come, and the two passages from St. Peter about preaching to the spirits in prison, and to the dead. He finds in these but a slender support for the hope.
This article is a fair sample of the ignorant handling of the word of God upon this grave subject. He who seeks a basis for this hope must go away back in the Old Testament and learn the meaning of its Gospel of hope for the dead. When he has learned this, he will be prepared to find not only these three passages in the New Testament; the whole volume will shine with the light of it. Such passages as Luke i. 67-69, in which the Holy Ghost in Zecharias sums up the promises of God spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began "to show mercy to our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant" (R. V.), become fraught with a new meaning. The mission of Jesus Christ is seen to be not only to bring glad tidings to the living, but deliverance to the dead. He who fails to see that the dead of the human race are embraced in His redemption " who gave Himself a ransom for all " (1 Tim. ii. 6), misses the key to all Scripture. This ransom, however, is not to eternal life and glory, but to restored life with its opportunities of eternal salvation.
The Service Of Science To Religion.—In the September number of the Forum the Rev. Dr. Hunger contributes a valuable essay on this subject. One of the benefits he speaks of as follows:
Science has rendered true service to religion in correcting its doctrine of penalty. The Gospel itself, by its own spirit of humanity, is mitigating and sweeping away the horrible doctrines of eternal torture, constructed out of metaphysical speculations upon the divine character and the significance of moral con