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is not prepared to follow them. He states the case for the old view in this forcible way:
I am not prepared to follow you clear to the edge of your deductions in regard to the future estate of those who die in open rebellion against God, for that edge appears to be a precipice from which one might easily leap into Universalism. My study of the Scriptures thus far, on the contrary, has served to strengthen my adherence to the general Church belief in the permanent character of punishment beyond the grave, although I think that the Bible unmistakably teaches the fact of a gradation of woe, just as it surely sets forth the opposite truth, that in the glorified world there will be degrees of blessedness. That there will be any abatement of the sentence passed at the judgment upon the lost I am unable to conceive. Right in the way of such a conception, like an insurmountable wall, without even a vine upon it by which to attempt to scale the height, stands the descriptive word, aldvw-, which bears upon it the stamp of perpetuity. Even Young's translation of it into "aee-lasting" does not, to my mind, weaken its significance. For if the u- Mamv alavtov of Matt, xxv, 46, can be pared away so as to mean something less than continuity of duration under the wrath of God, why not also abbreviate in the same verse the'antithetic phrase, ol i5e dinaioi eif C,utjv muvtovt Must not " age-lasting" in either case carry with it the idea of an age which lasts forever?
Excuse me if I seem to write in a dogmatic spirit. This is far from my intention in the matter. But up the present time I have found no escape from the conviction that the suffering of the damned is unending. This, I admit, is an appalling thought, wrapped about in a horror of great darkness, and one that often intensely exercises my feelings; but athwart it, like the first gleam of day upon the horizon, promising in a little while the radiant reign of the sun, is my triumph of faith in the justice of God, for I firmly believe that He will do right, and that in the unfolding glories of the state to come there will be acknowledgment of the wisdom of His ways.
The argument of our friend reduces itself to this: There can be no betterment of the condition of those sent away into everlasting punishment, because the terms of the sentence as pronounced by Christ preclude the idea of any abatement.
Our reply is that our case does not rest upon a possible " abatement of the sentence passed at the judgment upon the lost:" nor does it depend upon the diminished value sought to be placed upon the word ai&vwc. It rests upon the nature of the sentence and upon the proper answer to the question, ''Upon whom is it visited?"
As to the nature of the sentence, the uniform teaching of Scripture is that it is to eternal destruction. In almost every passage in which the sinner's punishment is referred to some term of death is used. The word K.6Xaow in this passage is properly no exception. Its primary meaning is "cutting off" as in the process of pruning. Where branches are cut off for this purpose, their end is to be burned. Nor is the "soul" exempt from such destruction. The loss of the soul is the very thing the sinner is urged to escape. He is warned to "Fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell."
But, secondly, as to the inquiry, "Upon whom is this sentence visited?"
Here we premise that man is made up of more than body and soul. In the essence of his being, he is spirit. It is because of this that he bears the image of God. God is spirit: so Jesus taught the woman of Samaria. This essential element in man's being is therefore divine. If divine, it is indestructible, and because of it there is in man the potency of resurrection. The relation which body and soul bear to it is that of expression. They constitute the form of personal manhood which the spirit uses as its vehicle. They are the existent man. This extrinsic man develops a personal self-consciousness of his own. The deepest, truest self of the man resides in the essential spirit. But in many men this true self is sub-conscious. They know themselves only in the outer personality. And in this very region they must "lose themselves and be cast away," except so far as they yield themselves in body and soul to the Spirit of God to bring forth in them the fruits of righteousness.
Here, then, is the explanation of the sentence to eternal fire, from which there is no abatement. The evil personality in man must go into everlasting destruction. So far as bis self-consciousness is bound up in it, he must lose it. His individuality as a spiritual child of God can never be lost, but the personality in which that image was marred and thwarted may, yea, must be destroyed. Personal continuity therefore depends upon "deeds done."
And here is found the reconciliation between the two sides of Scripture teaching—the one teaching the eternal destruction of the wicked, the other that Christ is the Saviour of all men and that He will seek the lost until He' find them. There is a divine nature in every man, an indestructible self who must at last, by however long and perilous a path, find his way back to the Father. There is also the self of which we are mainly conscious with the investing body and soul which make up the personal man, and within the sphere of whose wants and impulses and ideas most men are confined. This existing man must pass through God's consuming fire and perish from the way so far as he is unfit to be His abiding temple.
It is manifest that with this view of the persons upon whom the sentence is pronounced, there is no place for an abatement, and no need of taking refuge behind a doubt as to the meaning of a Greek adjective.
It is plain also that the danger is avoided into which our orthodox friends are inevitably betrayed, of perverting the meaning of resurrection in the divine plan. They make an initial mistake in assuming that "the nations," spoken of in Matt, xxv, as gathered before the Son of Man, are the risen dead. Of this, the record gives no proof. They make the further and the criminal mistake of perverting the whole design of God, in providing through redemption by Christ to raise the dead. This great act of grace is turned into an infinite calamity and curse to the majority of men who have hitherto lived. Just think of it! Countless generations of the dead made alive through Christ to suffer endless torments in hell! What monstrous incongruity and perversion of the gospel of the grace of God! No wonder that our friend remarks that "the thought of the unending sufferings of the damned is appalling," and that he would gladly escape from it.
For ourselves, we confess that our chief interest in this subject lies in its bearing upon the true knowledge of God. All pure spiritual life must arise out of true thoughts of God. We are concerned for our brethren who have been under the long constraint of that view of God our Father, which this brother is here compelled to avow and defend.
Words Of Reconciliation.
Vol. VIII.] JULY, 1892. [No. 7.
ggp Correspondents may address us, during the summer months, more directly as follows: "L. C. Baker, Princeton, X. J."
PAGANISM IN NEW ENGLAND.
Under this title President Hyde of Bowdoin College in an article in the June Forum alleges that there is a decline of interest in church attendance, and in spiritual things prevalent in the New England towns and villages. This decay of interest he attributes to the divisions among those professing Christianity, resulting in rival feeble organizations and in the consequent loss of spiritual energy. And lying back of this division and weakness he finds a main cause in the type of theology and of preaching which has long prevailed in that region. He describes this as based upon " the transcendence rather than the immanence of God." Men have been taught to view God as a great Sovereign to be dealt with apart from themselves, rather than as One who is not far from any one of us, and within the sphere of whose being we live and move and have our being. Hence they have looked upon the incarnation of God in Christ rather as His drawing near in order to treat with men in the matter of their salvation than as a manifestation of the Father with whom man is in union at the root and ground of his being, and whose loving purpose it is to build up in man the perfect image of Himself.
This indictment of President Hyde is largely true. He might have gone on to state with truth that the underlying cause of this perversion of theology and this consequent decay of vital Christianity is a false doctrine of everlasting punishment. This has been a principal feature in the whole scheme of Christian thought and practice. It would be hard to overestimate its molding power.
But it may be objected "Why is it, now that this dogma has been partly at least given up and its power over the minds of men greatly weakened, that better results do not begin to appear?" According to President Hyde's showing, the Unitarians and Universalists, who have long been engaged in protesting against the hard features of orthodoxy and in preaching a more liberal faith, do not show any better results in church attendance and in spiritual influence than the orthodox. This is doubtless true, and it is to be attributed to the fact that the results of these revolts against the old faith have been rather negative than positive. Their success has been more in breaking down than in building up. The Unitarian in his efforts to give to men a human Christ has gone so far in dissociating the Son of Man from the Father as to leave us without a Saviour truly divine, and with power to lift the world out of its death in sin to God. And the Universalist, in his revolt against the idea of an avenging Deity, has so magnified the idea of His Fatherhood as to obscure the rational and scientific law of retribution which is