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We find a proof of this in the synopsis given in the June number of the Andover Review of an able work recently published by Prof. Harris, of Yale University, on the "Self-Revelation of God." His doctrine of the penalty of completed sin is that it must be death because the "sinner shuts out the very breath of life from his soul We could no more live entirely apart from God than a pipe could give out water without a reservoir to draw from."
Propessobf.l.patton's article in TheForum, on the Andover doctrine, assumes that the Calvinistic view of a sovereign election of a portion of the race to salvation, with the consequent reprobation of the rest, is more logical and scriptural than the view which supposes that all must have a chance under the gospel, if not in this life, then in the life to come. The Professor's view of election explains truly the method of the divine dealings under the economy of redemption up to a certain point. Salvation in this dispensation of His grace seems to be confined to a chosen few. And there is no other explanation but that it has thus seemed good in His sight. So far, then, as Prof. Patton sees into this mystery, he sees truly. But he is wrong in supposing that there are no summits of God's grace beyond the hills that bound his horizon. He mistakes in supposing that the purpose of God in ordaining some to eternal life terminates upon these favorites. Whereas He never chooses any person or class except as He makes them channels of blessings to a wider circle. If He selects a church of the first-born, it is because there is to be a later born. If we are "a kind of first fruits of His creatures, of His own will begotten," it is because there are later fruits to be harvested. If we are "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood," there must be those, to whom we are to fulfil these offices. It is because the strict Calvinist fails to see these wider stretches of God's great plan of grace that his system is so inadequate, and not because he errs in tracing everything back to the will of God. This age does not bound everything in redemption. There are ages upon ages to come. Most of mankind fail of salvation in this age. So far as the results of trial in this life are concerned, their failure is final. Only a little flock enter into life. The gateway into it is much more narrow that even the preachers of orthodoxy represent it. "(Few there be that find it." But these few are "baptized for the dead." If no resurrection has been provided for the unjust dead, there would be no hope for any but the elect. But "He gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." The mistake of the Andover school is in overlooking the fact that souls in sheol are not under a prolonged dispensation of grace, but under penalty—" in prison." The only door of hope for the dead is the hope of resurrection. Any trial for the prize of eternal life must come in after punishment has been visited, and the dead have been recovered to the life and opportunities of manhood.
Christian Character—It makes a great difference in Christian character, under what view of God, and of the final results of His working, it is developed. Some Christians worship a being who is half God and half fiend. Their religion must, therefore, be one of bondage to fear. It must be barren of gener.. us love to either God or man. And, therefore, it must be lacking in both virtue and self-sacrifice. These graces cannot thrive in an eclipse of the face of God. We must know Him to live. If the secret of most of the stunted and distorted Christian lives with which the church is full, and by which the world is repelled, were known, it would be found that they first tookjroot in, and have all along been nourished upon, false views of God.
Modern Phariseeism.—The old Pharisees rejected Jesus because He taught men that God's plans of grace were wider than they had believed them to be. The Gentiles, the outcasts, the whole world of humanity, was included in them. The Pharisees believed that the Jews, and especially their own sect, had a monopoly of the grace of God. It is strange how this old spirit of human nature comes out in our day. Many in the church seem to be just as averse to any view of the gospel which widens its scope beyond the narrow lines in which they have conceived of it. The idea that there can be any blessing in it for the countless masses of the dead who passed out of life before Christ came, or who have since died with no knowledge of Him, is something they cannot admit. Nor have they an ear for any interpretations of Scripture which do not pass current in their sect, or which bring within the scope of God's love and blessing those whom they have always regarded as outside of His covenant. Men love to think that they belong to that favored class who have a monopoly of both the truth and the grace of God.
Progress In Knowledge.—This is the law of the church's progress and growth. When a Christian, or a church, becomes convinced that it has nothing more to learn, there follows stagnation and decay. And yet what else than this is the prevalent assumption that all Bible truth is locked up in our Confession of Faith, and that it is a heresy and crime to think beyond it 1 No greater mistake was ever made by the Reformed churches than this quenching of the Spirit in the body of Christ, by the denial to its members of the liberty of prophesying beyond the limits of their creeds. Confessions are good for purposes of instruction, but not to bind the conscience. Enforced creeds should content themselves with stating only the great facts and primiry beliefs of Christianity, as they are given in the language of Scripture, such as "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." "I believe that He died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures." Human formulas, founded upon these facts, and explanatory of them, should always be held open to amendment, as God may bestow increasing light until we all come to the unity of the faith and of the perfect knowledge of the Son of God.
Immortality.—The Unitarian Begister of April 7, published a symposium of opinions by leading scientific men upon t e relation of science to the question of immortality. Among them we meet with this remark by Professor Joseph Leidy, M.D., L.L.D. "I can conceive of no adequate compensation for an eternity of consciousness." Evidently no man with the hope of a Christian could ever make such a remark. And yet even Christians have but little conception of the tremendous import of the phrase so often on their lips—"eternal life." "We have but little idea of what it means to live forever. And we may well be staggered at the thought of how a life can go on endlessly without losing its freshness and vigor, and with no weariness nor satiety. The merely scientific mind may well be appalled at the prospect. The spiritual mind, however, knows that a life whose springs are in God can never be exhausted. And Scripture gives us many hints of ever expanding spheres of activity aud enjoyment,—of service and priesthood and dominion, and of a heritage which shall include all things because we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. It speaks of ages to come, and of "the generations of the ages," showing that while the wheels of these great cycles may run down, other cycles are unfolded, and new chapters in the divine administrations are ever opening. It is not necessary to suppose that in the eternal life of the saint there are no pauses, no periods of repose, no rest after labors performed and conquests gained, Each "age" may mark off a period in that life which may present all the phases of a morning of growth and achievement, and an evening of garnered fruits, of repose and recuperation. There surely can be no monotony in the employments, nor dead level in the experiences, of a life for whose expansion God has marked off the ages, and whose youth must be renewed with the rising morning of each new day of the Lord.
The Consensus Op Faith.—It is commonly asserted tha there is a general consent in the church in maintaining the doctrine that death ends all hope for all of every class who are not in this life reached by the saving work of Christ. This was not a part of the catholic faith of early times. Among other Fathers who did not hold it, we may mention Jerome and Origen, Clement, of Alexandria, and Ambrose. An article in the May number of the Andover Review makes it plain that it does not now command the assent of many of the foremost commentators and theologians, at home or abroad. Among the trusted and able interpreters who deny that Scripture shuts up all men but Christian believers at death to a hopeless doom, he mentions Olshausen, Meyer, Van Oosterzee, Godet, Alford, Perowne, Julius Muller, Martensen, Dorner. A majority of the leading divines of the Church of England hold similar views. While in this country it is well known that a large proportion of the thoughtful and conscientious leaders of Christian thought in New England insist that Scripture contains larger views and hopes for mankind than the old narrow view drawn from the surface reading of a few passages. One need not be ashamed to be found in the company of such men as ex-Presidents Hopkins and Porter, Presidents Dwight, Seelye, Carter and Hyde, Professors Fisher and Ladd, and a long array of distinguished pastors and teachers whose Christian integrity and prudence and sanctified wisdom no one can dispute. Surely the argument from consensus is greatly weakened in face of these facts. And it is daily growing weaker.
Extracts Prom Letters.—A subscriber writes to us a friendly letter from Troy, N. Y., in which he expresses a general agreement with our views of Scripture, but dissents from the interpretation we have given from time to time of 1 Peter iii. 19 21. He can not believe that the spirits of dead men could be preached to. And so argues in favor of the view that the passage refers to the Spirit's preaching through Noah. The leading points of the argument urged in support of that view are forcibly brought out by him, but they do not avail to set aside the ancient and catholic interpretation that those preached to were spirits in prison at the time the preaching was done. And this is the plain meaning of the language. We refer our correspondent to our remarks upon this passage in Vol II., pages 307-309. He will there see where we differ from those who fix the time of this preaching in the interval between our Lord's death and resurrection. The word is "heralded." And it plainly refers to the announcement of His victory over death to these captives in the realms of death. If "spirits in prison" are not capable of receiving such an announcement, as our correspondent assumes, then how shall the dead ever be made to hear the voice of the Son of Q-od (Jno. v. 25). Is it not the high prerogative of his office that His voice can reach even the dead, and proclaim deliverance to the captives, and the opening of the prison doors to them that are bound?