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rests for its main support upon this brief extract from the esoteric teaching of our Lord.
And now what is the sum of evidence on thejother side which our correspondent counts but light, compared with this? What are these "faint glimpses " and remote allusions and inferences which furnish so slight a basis for any larger hope for the human race? This "positive teaching " stands confronted with,
1. All that Scripture, and especially Jesus, reveals of the fatherhood of God, of His far-reaching purposes, of His unfathomed love, of His forgiving grace, of the gift of the Son of His love, who was manifested to destroy the devil and all his works.
2. With the great germinal promises upon which the structure of revelation is built, which convey a title to at least some order of blessing to all the families of the earth, and with many hints and implied declarations that these promises cannot be annulled or defeated by death.
3. With specific promises to unregenerate peoples who have gone down to death, of subsequent blessing which could reach them only through recovery irom death. As, for example, to rebellious Israel (Hosea xiii. 9-14, Ezek. xxxvii), to Egypt and Assyria (Is, xix. 25), to Moab and Amnion (Jer. xlviii. 47, xlix. 6), to Sodom and Samaria (Ezek. xvi. 53-63). These passages imply that death cannot debar forever all opportunity of blessing to these classes of mankind. This also is the implied teaching of 1 Peter iii. 19, iv. 6.
4. With what Scripture teaches of the essential character of resurrection, as a recovery from the penal condition of death, which ia sin's wages, and as the fruit of Christ's redeeming work. Would He "make alive" these countless masses upon whom "death came by one man," merely for purposes of aggravated and unending torment? Is this the way that "grace mucli more abounds?" Is this like the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, "who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe," (1 Tim. iv. 10), and the propitiation for the sins of the whole world; who hath reconciled all things unto himself, and is gathering together in one all things in Christ, both which are in Heaven, and whii'h are on earth, and unto whom every created thing in Heaven, and on earth, and under the earth is to give exalted praise? We cannot now stop to explain what we believe all these passages mean, nor how they are to be adjusted in that full-rounded orb of truth which shows us our God to be both Love and a consuming fire. The past numbers of this magazine have been devoted to this. We only wish here to show that the mass of Scriptural evidence to be set alongside of the "positive teaching" to which our correspondent refers is not the vague and light thing which he supposes it to be. The strongest kind of evidence often is that which is circumstantial. And so the chosen method of Scripture concerning the deep things of God is that of suggestion. The hidden truths, like the veins of gold in the rock, are the most precious. They must be searched for. And we are sure that no man can study deeply and prayerfully the unfolding of God's mind toward lost men, beginning with the first great promises, and tracing it through the types and prophecies of the Old Testament, until the Lord Jesus comes to reveal His mind and heart in greater perfectness, without being convinced that the hints of larger blessing and wider hope are sufficient to cast at least a grave doubt over that long-accepted, positive interpretation which has darkened the face of our Father God, and shrouded the future of an immense portion of the human race in a lurid night of unending agony and despair. And if there be even a doubt, this is reason enough why the church should cease to be positive, as her Confession unhesitatingly is, upon a matter of such awful import, and why she should no longer compel her ministers to subscribe to that which may be a misunderstanding or a perversion, and why she should tolerate her servants in the further reverent investigation and discussion of a matter so vital in her testimony from God to men, and where a mistake so affects His honor and their highest welfare.
A Presbyterian Elder who has evidently missed some of our articles upon the subject writes:
As to the influence of the New or Andover Theology upon Missions, I believe with you that it does not hold fast to the Scriptural idea of future punishment. Right or wrong, your ideas come more into line with the teachings of God's Word. It seems to me that, if the Church could be brought to feel that her work is to push on the cause, and to gather out from all nations the elect, in order to prepare the way for that glorious restitution which is to be accomplished by His appearing, and would preach the doctrine of immediate suffering and of an immediate hell, instead of remote final judgment and punishment, I cannot see where the "nerve" would be cut. I may have missed your article if you have treated the subject specialty, but if you have not done so thoroughly, would it not be well to do so?
We have repeatedly discussed the points raised by our correspondent, and would refer him specially to the leading article in the November number of Vol. I., on "The Basis of Foreign Missions," and to the article in the November number of Vol. II., entitled "Andover on Trial." Our views on this whole subject have been frequently presented, and maybe summarized as follows:
The great salvation wrought out for mankind through the death and resurrection of Christ, is to be fulfilled through a chosen seed of which He is the Head, in which all the families of the earth are to be blessed, and which is now being gathered out of all nations. The Scriptures constantly speak of a supreme crisis in the world's history, under the terms the "manifestation " the "revelation " of Jesus Christ, and of the saints with Him, as the period when there shall be a new and marvellous opening out of that administration of judgment and of grace upon which He entered when God raised Him from the dead, but the fact of which is now hidden from the eyes of men. The church, however, has made a great mistake in supposing that the work of the individual judgment of mankind was to be postponed to that crisis, which most Christians believe to be post-millenial and far-distant. Hence the "New Theology" insists that room must be made beyond the bounds of death and before this final judgment, for such merciful dealings toward weak and ignorant souls, and especially the heathen, as are required by what the Scriptures teach of the merciful character of God, and the wide scope of His grace in the redemption of the world. This view is at once confronted with the serious objection, "Why then need we be so earnest in our efforts to carry the gospel to the heathen now!"
The solution of the difficulty is to be found
1. In the recognition of the fact, so plainly implied in the words of Jesus and of His apostles, that His judgment of the world in righteousness began when God raised Him up, and made Him to be both Lord and Christ.
2. In the location of the threatened punishment in hell where His words place it, as something awaiting sinful men after death, and before resurrection.
3. In the acknowledgment that, while resurrection, by the laws of life and the law of God,, must sort men according to character, and place all who are not heirs of eternal life again under trial and judgment and liability to "the second death," it yet belongs essentially on the side of God's redemptive working, and cannot be to any class an unmitigated curse.
4. The true key, therefore, to the mystery of the subject lies in this right view of resurrection. It reveals that there is an immediate, definite " damnation of hell " awaiting every class of sinful men, whether in Christian or heathen lands, from which they need immediate deliverance through the Only Name by which they can be saved. No "future probation " can make up the loss to those who now reject Christ, or even to those who die in their sins in ignorance of Him. Aud yet resurrection, which is essentially a second gift of life to those whose lives were forfeited by sin, while it cannot bring another opportunity to recover what has been lost forever, must yet bring with it the opportunities which inhere in reinstatement in life, and in that estate in manhood out of which the wicked are ejected. Christ, and His risen Saints, as the firstborn from the dead, are a chosen seed through whom the power of resurrection shall reach and recover, each in their own order, from death and Hades the generations of the dead. In these future administrations of His recovering power and grace, lies whatever hope the future may contain for any class of men who die unsaved.
EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS.
From a subscriber in Massachusetts:
I am very glad that your Magazine came under my notice. I rejoice that you are opening out these truths. The old theology has borne heavily on my mind until later years, and I never could reconcile it with the character of a God of Justice, Mercy, and Love.
From a clergyman and author in the same State:
The articles in the March number on "the Law of the Firstborn " and the "Battle of Life " are admirable. So is your uniform view of the redemptive place of resurrection. May you wax stronger and stronger.
In reference to our comments upon Dr. Halley's examination before the Presbytery of Troy, a gentleman of that city writes:
My pastor has just shown to me the February number of your magazine ... I was present at the examination and heard the question and the answer. I was not pleased with the answer, nor am I in sympathy with the spirit of those who have paraded it as a creditable and praiseworthy utterance. I am fully in sympathy with your comments on the matter. Please mail to me a copy of that number.
The answer of Dr. Halley, referred to, assumed that the only honorable course in any Presbyterian minister who found his views diverging at any important point from those of his church, was at once to leave it. Our criticism was that every minister of that church was bound by his ordination vows to seek to promote its purity: and therefore if he comes to see that it has gone wrong, or has mis-stated the truth at any point, he has no right to leave it without making an honest effort to set it right.
From a Presbyterian Pastor:
I have read with great interest and satisfaction your February number It does seem as if you are hewing out standing room in the Presbyterian Church which we may rightfully and conscientiously occupy. God speed you in your work. I need not assure you that I am yours for any assistance I can at any time render.
"W. L. M." writes to us from Chicago:
A month or two ago I saw a notice of Words Of ReconciliAtion, in the Chicago Tribune, and ordered it through McClurg and Co., of this city. Expecting a small volume or pamphlet. I was somewhat amazed to receive two good sized volumes, for 1886 and 1887, costing nearly four times as much as I expected to pay.
I began reading and scarcely left them until I had finished both volumes, and now I am reading them over again, and consider that I did'nt pay one fourth as much as they are worth to me. Are you still publishing the magazine? If so, I want to subscribe for it including the back numbers of this year. I cannot get them too loon.