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either the learned or unlearned perceived them. So with our Lord's teaching about the mysteries of the kingdom. (Matt. xiiL) They were veiled in parables so that only a few spiritually enlightened and prepared souls could receive them. It is so now with the larger purposes of God's grace in the gospel of His Son. The narrow boundaries of human systems and our selfish short-sightedness have prevented us from seeing that these purposes in some way embrace all the kindreds of the earth, and that, in the execution of them, Jesus Christ will prove Himself to be Lord both of the dead and of the living. If death has forever put it out of His power to reach with any blessing the larger part of the human a ce who have thus far lived, then death is well nigh the victor in this universe of God. But Mr. Bowen and the class he represents seem to have no^ear for all that class of Scripture teaching which set forth the fact and the scope of the Messiah's victory. If we quote to him, for example, the oft-repeated promise that in Him "all the families of the earth shall be blessed," he will reply: "Yes, but that must refer to some distant period when all nations shall be converted." Or "the reference is to blessing which now flows over in some unknown way from the full vessel of God's mercy to the heathen." And yet he is a stout contender for a theory which consigns the bulk of these from the dawn of creation to an endless hell—made endless, too, by the very arrangement by which Christ bought back the forfeited life of the human race. And so it would be idle to quote to him the many passages which show that the very proof that this Messiah is able to do His work is, that He was to invade and make conquest of all the regions of the dead, making a feast of fat things for all people by swallowing up death in victory (Ish. xxv.), ransoming even a self-destroyed Israel from Sheol (Hos. xiii.), restoring from their captivity even Sodom and Samaria (Ezek. xvi.), Moab, and Ammon (Jer. xlvii.), and so proving that He was anointed to open the prison doors and to preach deliverance to them that were bound.
Mr. Bowen is so afraid of Universalism that he will not allow the inspired writers to use universal terms in the sense that everybody else uses them. And hence the provision that "in Christ all shall be made alive," becomes in his system an infinite disaster to the greater part of the all. But why must we become Universalists in admitting blessing to all through resurrection? If this grace comes to all, does not the great law of righteousness still reign over all? And must not men, blessed with another gift of life, be still judged by it? And must not they still be left free to choose between life and death? And will not the second death emphasize in the world to come the principle that must rule in all worlds, "The soul that sinneth it shall die," beyond which there is no promise of a second resurrection? But why, in order to hold what we all believe, that sin must in the end destroy all who perversely cleave to it, must we refuse their proper meaning to those scriptures which declare that by means of His triumph over death, and His ever-widening conquest of its domain, the Second Man shall bring blessing, through a second gift of life, to all upon whom death has passed by reason of the sin of the First Man? This life cannot be eternal life to any who do not receive Him. But it must still bring with it some blessing. Otherwise there is no glad tidings of great joy to all people in the announcement that He gave Himself a ransom for all.
Professor Briggs On Church Union.—In the following paragraphs from his article in the Presbyterian Review for July on this subject Professor Briggs admits the principles for which we have been contending in this magazine.
Another great barrier to the reunion of Christendom is Subscription to elaborate creeds. This is the great sin of the Lutheran and Reformed Churches. Every one of these churches has separated subscribers from non-subscribers and occasioned the organization of dissenting churches. Lutherans, Calvinists and Arminians, and sections of the same, have been separated into different ecclesiastical organizations. These doctrinal divisions have done more than anything else to weaken Protestantism and stay its progress in Europe . . . These differences cannot be solved by conquest, but only by some higher knowledge and better adjustment of the problems involved through an advance in theological conception and definition. The question now forces itself upon earnest men whether these differences justify ecclesiastical separation, and whether they may not be left to battle their own way to success or defeat without the help of ecclesiastical fences and traditional prejudices.
He further states that the creeds of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries do not solve the great questions, especially in eschatology, which now loom up before the church. He finds the chief reason of differences to be "imperfect knowledge and an indisposition to follow the truth sincerely and without regard to consequences."
Progress is possible only by research, discussion, conflict. The more conflict the better. Battle for the truth is infinitely better than stagnation in error. Every error should be slain as soon as possible. If it be our error we should be most anxious to get rid of it. Error is our greatest foe. Truth is the most precious possession. There can be no unity save in the truth, and no perfect unity save in the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Let us unite in the truth already gained, and agree to contend in Christian love and chivalry for the truth that has not yet been sufficiently determined, having faith that in due time the Divine Spirit will make all things clear to us.
It is manifest, in the light of these principles, that the Presbyterian Church must sooner or later abandon the position that the Westminster Confession is inviolable. Enforced subscription to such long and detailed statements of Christian doctrine, however excellent, must always be a barrier to Church Union. And the assumption that they present the final truth on all these great problems, must be an increasing offense before God and man. Professor Briggs rightly affirms there must be "advance in theological conception and definition" before the different views upon these great matters which prevail among Christians can be harmonized. The "Confessions" must therefore be held open to amendment. And the obligation of ministers, and especially of Theological Professors, to always maintain and defend them must be relaxed. A Confession of Faith may be an excellent manual of instruction in those things whereunto we have attained. But if it assumes that it is already perfect, or if we treat it as if it prescribed for us and for our brethren the limits of divine knowledge, and cast out of our fold all who are searching for that higher "unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God," in which all our existing differences must disappear, then we sin against both the Church and its Head. And is it not just this evil in the church that fosters the unfaithfulness to which Professor Briggs alludes when he says that a chief cause of existing divisions is "an indisposition to follow the truth sincerely and without regard to consequences "? "When any church puts under a ban those who would reverently pursue their investigations beyond her standards, she becomes responsible for any lack of honesty in those who, in the interest of their own spiritual life and her progress, ought-to speak out their convictions.
As this matter has a personal application to us we may be pardoned if we here repeat, that it was the sincere conviction that the welfare of our own church, the honesty of its ministry, and the ultimate unity of the church at large required such a movement, that led us to arraign our Standards for their wrong conception of the purpose of God in providing through Christ for a general resurrection of the dead, and for consequent defects in their eschatology. We have maintained that there are redemptive features in that provision which our Standards have wholly overlooked. For all but the elect, they make this gift of another life wholly retributive. That we may have made some mistakes in the detailed exposition of this principle is quite possible. But of the truth of the principle itself we are sure. The question now is, Is the church so far ready to accept Professor Briggs' principles as to tolerate us in this discussion? He admits, as do all thoughtful men in all branches of the church, that the great problems of human destiny under this divine scheme of creation and redemption have not yet been satis, factorily solved. He pleads for the right to "contend in Christian love and chivalry for the truth that has not yet been sufficiently determined, having faith that in due time the Divine Spirit will make all things clear to us." Is our church ready to admit this right, in her own interest, and in the interest of that larger unity about which so many Christian hearts and consciences are now burdened? That is the question we are now putting to the test. May God give the Presbyterian Church grace and wisdom to decide it aright.
The Point Op View.—It makes a vast difference in studying the Scriptures, as revealing the purposes of God toward mankind, what point of view one occupies; whether or not it is assumed that goodness is at the heart of things in this system of the world.
Was It A Mistake ?—One of our theological professors whom we met in our summer travels, and in whose friendly and liberal spirit we have great confidence, sought to convince us that we had made a serious mistake in arraigning the Standards at this point, and that our effort should have been to show that the things we have been contending for may be embraced within their limits. He claimed that all that is essential in their doctrine of eternal punishment may be included in our view of the harvest law of resurrection. It was argued that even though resurrection be redemptive, which he could not very well deny, yet if it gather up the fruits of evil character, the consequent degradation of being and loss of full blessedness would be a source of endless torment.
We have, indeed, strongly insisted upon these features of the "resurrection of judgment." At the same time we cannot conceal the fact that if resurrection be a result of the redeeming work of Him through whom the free gift of another life came upon all men, then it must bring with it some power of rescue from the unfavorable circumstances under which, according to this law of harvest, it is conferred. But our Standards rigidly exclude any kind of redemptive features from the work of God in raising the unjust. They are raised out of hell for a trial and judgment which has been virtually already rendered, and, for the sins of this life, are thrust back to hell to suffer ''most grievous and unspeakable torments, without intermission, with the devil and his angels in hell-fire forever." This representation obscures the character of resurrection as a recovery out of death to another life. It makes the re-embodiment of the unjust an added degradation and an unspeakable calamity. It is bestowed simply for confirmation and doubling o f torment, which survives the second death and never ends. We are compelled therefore to believe that God's provision to raise all men out of the pit of death into which it was cast by the sin of the first man is, to countless multitudes of the race, an infinite curse. To our minds it is worse than useless, it is dishonest crawling, to attempt to twist and enlarge these statements of the Standards to make room for anything redemptive in their resurrection. They make it wholly retributive. And therefore we should be false to our convictions, and to the best interests of the church we seek to serve, did we not urge upon her attention this incongruity.