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But over all this sad wreck of the human race and this great gulf of despair the light of a resurrection hope began to dawn. Even to Adam the promise came, "The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head." And the later Scriptures expand this promise until even the Gentiles are blessed with the brightness of its rising. The Jews, indeed, believed that this resurrection out of death was their own peculiar blessing. But the prophets plainly intimated that, as they had proven themselves unworthy and as wicked as their heathen neighbors, so this mercy of God would reach them also. Egypt and Assyria would be blessed with Israel in the latter days (Is. xix., 23-25). Moab and Ammon would be restored from their captivity (Jer. xlviii., 47-xlvix., 6). Israel, when restored to her former estate, should receive also Sodom and Samaria as her former sisters in iniquity, and as now sharing in her redemption (Ezek. xvi., 53-63). All generations were to share in the blessings of Messiah's deliverance. All they that go down to the dust were to bow before Him ;—even he that cannot keep his soul alive (Ps. xxii., 27-31, R.V.). What do all these promises imply, except they convey the promise of a resurrection of these "kindreds of the earth " from the dead? How otherwise could they be fulfilled? In what other way could the great germinal promise that in Abraham's seed all the families of the earth should be1 blessed, be verified?
With this key in hand, that it was the purpose of God from the first to bring salvation to all mankind from the pit of death and hell, into which it was cast by the sin of Adam, the whole of Scripture is made plain. To this end a Saviour was provided who should taste death for every man, giving Himself a ransom for all. To this extent Universalism is true. All were to be rescued by the obedience of one man from the abyss of death into which they fell through the disobedience of one (Rom. v., 12-20). This subsequent gift of life must be of the same order as that which was at first conferred and forfeited. It cannot be eternal life. For such dignity is bestowed only upon those who are created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works. But it is another standing and estate in life conferred through Christ upon all who died in Adam, and to reach every man in his own time and order.
Premising that this was the promise made unto the fathers which Jesus came to confirm, it is easy to see that all His words about retribution must be read in reference to it, and that they all acquire a different meaning from that which tradition has fixed to them. And we at once see why the apostles never attached to them this traditional meaning. These wotds relate to the destruction that overhangs men, and which must be visited upon the wicked before resurrection. When He speaks, for exam pie, about the sacrifice, if need be, of one or more of our members, rather than that the whole body be cast into hell, the danger referred to is loss of this present embodied life. And as this includes also the "soul," He warns men that it may also be destroyed with the body in hell. This yawning pit of torment and destruction was something near and impending. What awaits man beyond the resurrection is not here in view. And so with the judgment of Matt. xxv. These gathered na
tions were not men risen from the dead; nor was the casting into eternal fire for an eternal punishment to to take place after the resurrection. This idea has all to be first read into the passage before it can be read out of it. The judgment was to begin before that generation passed away. All the nations of mankind were to pass in review before the judgment-seat of the Son of Man. Those living on the earth at the time of the open manifestation of His glory shall in a special way be the subjects of it. But the whole scene, like that described by St. Paul in I. Thess. v, lies this side of resurrection. When men of the earth are crying "peace and safety" then this sudden destruction cometh upon them, and they shall not escape; but if this be a pre-resurrection judgment, the punishment must be also pre-resurrection. The eternal fire must consume men before that event, as it did the men of Sodom (Jude 7). The eternal kolasis— cutting-off—into which the wicked depart, must precede their resurrection and be bounded by it. And this accords with all we know of the prevailing ideas of the Jews at that time. They never looked upon resurrection in any other light than as a deliverance,—never as an introduction to deeper despair. For this reason they generally believed that the wicked never would be raised. And their idea of "eternal " punishment was never that of a punishment that would transcend the bounds of resurrection. For this was essentially deliverance from sheol, or as the later Rabbis conceived it, gehenna, the place and state of punishment. All Jesus' words, therefore, about man's future punishment are necessarily limited by, and to be explained in the light of, His purpose to raise all men from the dead. Only once in His teaching does He clearly announce it to be His purpose to raise even " them that have done evil " (John v.. 29). Theirs, indeed, was to be a "resurrection of judgment." They must remain still under connemnation, and exposed to the hazards of a second death. But He expressly declares in this connection that the reason the Father had put all judgment into His hands, and given Him power to raise the dead, was that all men might honor the Son even as they honor the Father (vs 22-23). He was to bring even the dead under His judicial administration as the Son of Man. We are to recognize, however, that the full results of His triumph over death and spoliation of its realms were only thus alluded to in our Lord's teaching. They were not fully unfolded because even his disciples were not prepared to understand them until after His own resurrection from the dead. Hence the severe words of Jesus about retribution stand in His teaching unrelieved by this modification, because the time for it had not yet come. And this explains why the apostles, enlightened by the Holy Ghost to perceive the meaning of His death and resurrection, nowhere repeat in their nakedness these words of Jesus about the fire of hell. They were now illumined from the other side of His triumph over death and hell. Their views of the scope of that triumph grew larger, the more they realized its magnitude, and its relation to the whole human race, and to God's great plan of the ages. And yet they by no means speak lightly of the present peril overhanging sinful men. Like their Master, they warned them of the destruction awaiting them in death and beyond it. "Whose end is destruction" was their constant testimony concerning all evil-doers. But they never conceived of this destruction as visited upon them after, and by means of, a resurrection from the dead. It was the wreck of manhood, and the loss of its hold and heritage of life before that rescue.
The doctrine then of an universal redemption of mankind from death through a resurrection to reach all, each in his own time and order, furnishes the true solution of this mystery, because it makes room for both sides of Scripture teaching, the retributive and redemptive. It shows how God's word is made good that blessing is secured to all mankind through a Messiah, who was raised from the dead to be the Lord of both the dead and the living. It shows how neither sin nor death have been able to defeat God's purpose or annul His promise. And on the other hand it makes room for the verification of all His righteous judgments, and for the display of His fierce wrath against sin. For while His grace has provided to save the righteous from death and to preserve his soul alive, the sinner must sink into this pit of destruction, and go into outer darkness, a naked spirit, with the loss of both body and soul. This loss and destruction of his embodied life must be accompanied with whatever remorse and anguish his sins deserve. And the depth and duration of h«s captivity in hell must be meted out by the same law. And his resurrection is not "of life." Life, purified, freed from all thraldom and eternal, is the possession only of the sons of God. All lower forms of manhood are still under judgment and liable to corruption and death. And the law of all