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Any one who is familiar with Canon Farrar's books, or who has read his recent address at Manchester, knows that there is nothing further from his mind than that the long future contains no retribution for such evil-doers. He has never taught that the more hardened of them may not suffer endlessly. But he has expressed the hope that their punishment for sin in the long future may finally bring them to such repentance and renewal that their sufferings shall cease, because the sin that made them necessary shall be gone.
An Agnostic.—Ina recent sermon, at the Athenaeum in Brooklyn, the Rev. H. O. Pentecost is reported to have said:
"I do not say there is no God, but I do say that I am entirely ignorant on the subject of God. I am an agnostic in the spiritual world and do not affirm or deny the existence of a God. I will willingly give this platform to any one who will come here and prove that there is a personal God, that prayers are efficacious or that miracles are real. And if they can prove it, beyond the question of a doubt, I will take back all I have said and become as much of an enthusiast as any one."
It is sad to see a man drifting so far away from the faith he once preached. When once faith in the Divine Christ and in His resurrection from the dead is surrendered, nothing better is to be hoped for. It may be that the great fact on which the Church is built is rather one of testimony than of proof addressed to human reason. But it has proved stable enough to sustain the hopes of generation after generation of the best and noblest of mankind. There has been a testimony to the heart which those who have heard it have known to be the witness of the Spirit of God. The soul of man has always conceived for itself a destiny beyond the limits of this present order of the world, and Christianity is based upon the fact that one who was preeminently the Son of Man, through death and resurrection, achieved for it this destiny. The gospel is the good news that He won this victory for all His brother-men; and therefore the heart of humanity will still cling to this hope set before it, despite these agnostic demands for proof. May God give to us unto whom it hath been given to believe on His name grace, amid abounding defection, to confess that Jesus is the Christ, and to believe in our hearts that God hath raised Him from the dead.
The " Nerve Of Missions."—The third and final refusal of the American Board to commission the Kev. W. H. Noyes as a Foreign Missionary, and that, too, after his ordination to that work by a special council convened for that purpose, has revived public interest in the future probation question, and makes it probable that an ultimate split among the adherents of that Board is inevitable. Both parties in this controversy are in a most unfortunate position. On the one side the Board stands pledged to the theory that there is no Scriptural warrant for the view that any of the heathen who die out of this life unsaved can possibly be reached by the redeeming grace of God in the life to come, and that, to hold that they can cuts the nerve of missions. On the other side earnest young men who hold that there is a reasonable hope that before the final judgment the knowledge and grace of Christ may in some way reach such heathen, and who are anxious to carry now to them the story of salvation, are refused appointment by the Board, and the large number of their intelligent constituency who sympathize with these young men are denied the opportunity of helping them to go through this agency. Both sides are sadly in need of light on this subject. Both need to know that the view of "final judgment" to which they stand committed is a fiction. Jesus taught that His judgment of the world should begin at His exaltation to be both Lord and Christ—before that generation passed away. He further taught that men come into the world under judgment " condemned already," and that the only deliverance from this condemnation is through faith in Him as the anointed Deliverer. A certain class—a chosen seed—are now called to believe on His name, and so pass from death unto life. All others go down to death under the primal curse. They pass into the penal condition of death—captives in hell (sheol). But He also proclaimed Himself as Lord over the dead as well as the living, and that His power of judgment and deliverance should reach all these captives (John v. 29). He gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
When will these brethren come to see that the grace brought to all mankind by the world's Redeemer is redemption out of this death through resurrection—each in his own time and order, and that whatever opportunities the future may bring them must come in with this renewal of their life. It is after judgment is satisfied, not before, that grace comes in to take up their case. Hence the Gospel to be preached to all the world is not a salvation for a limited few, but a salvation from the racesentence to death for all the world. Whether this salvation shall issue in eternal life to any is now, and ever must be, made dependent upon the personal reception of Christ the Saviour. But the work of missions now is to preach these glad tidings of great joy of a Saviour risen to be Lord and Judge over all the dead as well as the living. And the nerve of missions is to be found in the offer of immediate escape from judgment, and the present gift of eternal life to all who believe, and in the priestly prerogatives to which these chosen and consecrated ones are called. They are the Church of the first-born, to be gathered out of all nations, through whom the blessings of this salvation are to reach the later born. Yielding themselves now to death with Christ unto sin and the world, they are to be saviours with Him of their brethren who have lost their heritage in life. The Chinaman who reveres his ancestors is to be urged to believe on and yield himself to this Christ in order that he may become the vehicle of this salvation to those of his kindred who have died without the knowledge of it. If the nature of the Church's calling and her priestly place in the plan of ages were understood, we should hear no more about this " hope of the dead" as cutting the nerve of missions. On the other hand it supplies the highest motive, and the very motive now needed, to give missionary work a worthy place in the eyes of the heathen, and a noble stimulus to the consecrated men and women who engage in and sustain it.
The whole view of the basis of missions must be changed by a new and more scriptural view of judgment, of the meaning of death as the wages of sin, of resurrection as rescue from death, and as a gracious provision for all, of the way of eternal life as being the same strait and narrow way in this world and in all worlds, and of the wide scope of God's great plan by which the first-born from the dead become a chosen seed of blessing to the later born.
EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS.
From an Episcopal clergyman:
I shall be extremely-sorry if you find yourself obliged to discontinue the publication, as you seem to have been providentially raised up to pursue a line of Biblical investigation hitherto strangely neglected, and which promises fruits of inestimable value to Christian truth.
From a minister in Maine:
Your Magazine received this morning is a revelation to me. I saw some time back, I think in the Congrepationalist, a notice of your book, but in such terms that I dismissed you as one of the meteors of the theological sky, not likely to do anyone much good or harm. But now I strongly incline to believe you have, as respects the question of retribution and final destiny got at the root of the matter. The conventional orthodoxy and the conventional heterodoxy, both alike, miss it. Andover has too much of seventeenth century theology, and too little of spiritual insight, to allow her to launch forth as a genuine explorer on the sea that confronts her. I want to know more of you. It looks as if God. and not the Doctors of Divinity, had couched your eye. Nothing but poverty, which is the most conspicuous accident of a preacher, prevents my sending at once for your magazine and book.
A Presbyterian elder writes from central New York:
For some time I have desired to write to you and again express my wish that you should continue your publication. I esteem it a privilege to contribute the enclosed ten dollars towards that object, as I feel that I have in a measure shared its benefits since I became a subscriber. I shall continue to help support it by my subscription and in other ways if possible, both on your own account and for the love of the truth. Allow me to say that the light you have shed has so illumined the Scriptures as to be of lasting benefit to my soul, for which I express to you my sincere gratitude. I take great delight in reading your books and magazine and pray and trust that they will accomplish great good. To me, since reading them, the Word of God takes on fresh beauty and becomes radiant with mercy and love. How wonderful are God's ways and past finding out! Peacefully may we rest in Him.
From a Presbyterian pastor:
You know my sentiments as to your work, for I have written you from time to time. I know not how to advise you as to the future of your publication, but I wish to send you my best wishes and full sympathy and the enclosed contribution toward the work if you are able to continue, or toward any deficiency in case you feel obliged to suspend. May God greatly bless and comfort you in all your undertakings.
From a friend in Brooklyn:
If the way is made plain for you to go on with your good work, I will take five numbers for the coming year, and will do all in my power to make it known, and the glad tidings of a redemptive resurrec'ion for all. The knowledge of this godlike truth gives the heart rest and blessed liberty. Thank God for increasing light in the knowledge of our God and of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. The Scriptures of truth are now harmonized as they were intended to be by the Divine Author. We can see and rejoice in the eternal purpose of our Father who hath called His church into joint heirship with His dear Son, our blessed Lord and Saviour, as a first fruits for the blessing of the whole human race and of the universe; for all things in the heavens and in the earth are to be headed up in Him. We now can pray understanding^, "Thy kingdom come."