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that makes no violent break in the principles of God's moral government, or in His discipline of human souls, and that is faithful to these essential principles: i. Death is the wages of sin, and the death-state, so long as it lasts is sin's penalty. 2. Resurrection is release from this captivity. 3. All God's "captivities" are corrective as well as penal. This bondage in death may therefore issue in benefit to "the spirits in prison." 4. Eternal life, however, can only be won under the opportunities of a restored life in manhood. The probation, therefore, of the multitudes who have had no trial for eternal life here, because they have had no opportunity of that knowledge of Christ in which it consists, is not in Hades, nor in any intermediate state, but after their resurrection from the dead. Surely the Independent can see the difference between this view, and the Roman doctrine of purgatory.
In the February number of the Popular Science' Monthly Dr. Andrew White gives an interesting resume of the past warfare of Theology against Science. It took at least a century for the church to accomodate itself to the Copernican system. Even Luther and Melancthon denounced the idea that the planets revolve around the sun. The dawning science of geology had also to fight its way, inch by inch, against such men as Burnet and John Wesley and Adam Clarke. It has taken at least a century for it to silence the theological clamor by which it was all along opposed.
The doctrine that resurrection is redemptive is just as necessary to a proper understanding of Scripture and of the divine plan of the world, as is the theory of gravitation to the explanation of the solar system. If the now acknowledged truths of Science had to make their way so slowly, and against such rancorous opposition, we need not be surprised that the old doctrinal systems refuse to make room for this new solvent principle: new, but yet as old as the gospel. And yet they will have to receive it as surely as the sun shines in the heavens. It is just what they need to pare down their monstrosities, to harmonize their diversities, and adjust the truth they hold to the whole circle of God's truth as made known in His word and in His works.
Internal vs. External BELIEF.—Man's life is the result of his internal, not his external, belief. There can be no life separate from internal belif, and the lives of men are imperfect because their belief is external. The right thing believed the right way, must inevitably produce the perfect life. Etther, then, the civilized world believes the wrong thing, or it believes the right thing the wrong way. In other words, faith and charity are inseparable, and when one is perfect the other is too. To know the doctrine, it is necessary to do the will. Christians of the present day adopt certain theological dogmas intellectually and call them their religious belief. This has a superficial and varying influence upon their lives, for it consists merely of opinions which are liable to change. The only kind of faith which is inseparable from life is a divine conviction of truth imparted to the intellect through the heart, and which becomes as absolute to the internal conscience as one's existence. It may be added to, but what has once been thus accepted can never be changed.
The most diabolical sophism that was ever invented to beguile a church, is the doctrine that men can be saved by opinion without practice; that a man's practice may be bad, and yet because his faith is good his salvation is sure—that he can by such a miserable philosophy as would disgrace the justice of the earth, escape the just sentence to be passed upon all his deeds. The result of so fatal a dogma must be a church that tends to atheism^ and that loves corruption. There is in every heart a something that speaks against this, and speaks with a burning language that sweeps the invisible chords of the inmost conscciousness, and awakens a torrent of indignant denial of the shallow sophistry that a man can be saved if his thoughts and life are bad. If he cherish self-love and the love of ruling others, though he intrench the intellect in the midst of all creeds, and span the reason with all faiths, making a sacred public profession before all men, he but adds to the heinousness of his crimes, and makes more terrible the fast-coming and final judgment.
VOL. IV. APRIL, 1888. NO. 4.
THE COMMON GROUND.
A pamphlet bearing the above title has been sent to us. In it an esteemed laymen of this city contributes his views toward the solution of the grave questions which now more than ever thrust themselves upon high-minded and humane persons respecting the future destiny of the great mass of human souls in heathen and in Christian lands who pass out of this life "not good enough for Heaven nor bad enough for Hell." It is written in an excellent spirit, and few Christian readers will fail to sympathize with its hopeful confidence that the great Father of all mankind will, by ways of discipline unknown to us, at last bring these ignorant and imperfect creatures of His hand to a knowledge of His saving grace in Jesus Christ.
We have been requested to review this pamphlet,—to show how far we are in accord with its aspirations, and to point out any defects in the ground upon which they are based. In doing this we regret that our limits will not admit of copious extracts from its pages. We shall endeavor, however, to give a fair analysis of its line of thought.
The author first quotes certain texts of Scripture which define for all men of every age and clime the "golden rule of life. This rule is simply right living,—right conduct toward God and toward our fellow-men. This he maintains to be the common ground upon which men in every sphere of life, of every creed and in every land, stand before God and upon which they may obtain His favor. And while he acknowledges that in their ignorance and imperfect moral condition few do thus perfectly keep the commandments, yet to all men there has been given something of that "light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world," and that those who honestly seek to follow that light, however imperfectly they may do so, their faith in that light and obedience to it is counted for righteousness. In this way the author brings the case of this large class of mankind within the sphere of Christ's atoning work, and so ascribes their salvation to Him. His words are—
There is certainly said to be a Light which lighteth everyone, and that light is said to be Christ,—none other than the One who died for all. Far rather, then, would I cling to the hope that those who love God according to their light, and who love their neighbor in a direct, practical, and sincere way, to the best of their abilities, and may be called away to meet him whom they serve, according to their light, may, in the mercy of God, attain to everlasting life for which they are deemed worthy, by the great atonement of their Lord, although, perchance, they may be ignorant of the doctrine. I could conceive it to be possible that the death of Christ might save men who love God. and walked humbly, and yet who might not yet know how precisely,
they were being saved
But it may be argued, men who are sinful in this world would not be prepared for the companionship of the blessed, and perhaps would be unhappy amongst uncongenial pursuits. Some sort of spiritual evolution and progress would be necessary. Alas! is not such a course requisite for the best of us? What finite man is fitted for the society of beings who are infinite and perfectly pure?
Such an aspiration in behalf of souls who have sought to follow the Light that was in them, and yet who have died without knowing Christ as the true Source of life and light, is one which every Christian will cherish. Every one must acknowledge also that the principle that right living cannot fail of its reward is taught on every page of the Bible, and is fundamental in the government of God. In the last number of this magazine we sought to show that this principle by which all men of every time and nation must be judged. There are certain objections, however, to our author's exposition of this principle which occur at once to the "orthodox" reader, and which must be met. Scripture presents but one standard of admission to God's presence, namely, a pure heart. The righteous life it requires must arise from this pure source; for of the heart are the issues of life.
According to St. Paul's description of the heathen world given
in Romans I a description which still holds good—the mass are
corrupt in morals and in life. So, that, by the conditions of this pamphlet, we are still left with only a vague hope in God's infinite mercy for a very large portion of those