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Now man, as made in God's image, we believe to be essentially divine. His life also is from God. "In Him we live and move and have our being." But in the whole kingdom of nature and in all its realms of life, the principle prevails that life in its manifestations is progressive. It advances through lower stages and imperfect forms to final and complete expression. We have insisted that this law applies also to man, and that his future destiny is shaped in accordance with it. Perfect man is a being still in process of creation. The idea or the image of this perfect manhood lies at the root of every man's being. And this we have described as the true and inmost self of man, and as giving to him an individuality which survives all changes. In the " natural man" this true self is hidden; it remains sub-conscious. In the "spiritual man," the consciousness of this diviner self has been evoked, and the man discerns that he is something more than a sensual being, and that he has aspirations and affinities connecting him with God. In St. Paul's writings the distinction between the two spheres of man's being is most plainly recognized. He speaks of the "inward man" and the "outward man," the natural man and the spiritual. And to each of these he applies the term "I." Each one of these has self-consciousness. "I do the things which I would not." One " I" is subject to the law of sin in his members. The other " I" protests and seeks after God.
Now to this objective man, who is under the yoke of this present system of the world, and who moves and acts in its sphere, we attach the term personality? Our correspondent's objections (for such his inquiries really are) all resolve themselves into this—that we use "the term " man" in a double sense, that we sometimes speak of the essential man as the man himself, and as immortal, and at other times we apply the term " man " to the man known to our senses, and whose self-consciousness lies in the sphere of external things. To which we reply that for this Paul himself is our authority. Language is too meagre, and (as we freely admit), our knowledge of these mysteries is too partial to insure perfect accuracy in definition. But if man is the complex being we have described, then we have a right to say that on the divine side of his being he is " of an immortal essence" (our friend in quoting us omits the preposition "of"), and on the human side he is mortal. When, therefore, we say "Man is not immortal in his own nature," we have in mind the objective man who has been built up out of the elements of nature through the energy of the divine life within him, but the form and trend of whose being has been cramped and distorted by hostile influences, and who is therefore unfit to be a permanent dwelling-place for God.
Mr. Moffitt is right in assuming that perfect individuality requires perfect personality, but he fails to see that this goal may not be reached at once. The very idea of man is that he is to finally become an individualized image of God. When this expression becomes complete, the final personality is reached; the spiritualized body of man becomes the eternal dwelling-place of God. But through all this process the change in the essential man is only one of growth and manifestation. The change in the existent man may be radical and revolutionary. Qualities that entered into his personality which were evil must be exposed and eradicated. These may so predominate in a wicked man as to require the destruction of the whole objective existence—that is, of the person—insomuch that the man becomes lost to himself and is cast away. Therefore we have strenuously insisted that "personal continuity of being goes with character." So far as the objective region of our lives has been pervaded and controlled by the Spirit of Christ, so far they will furnish material for that enduring personality in which we shall stand before God forever. And in this principle we find scope for all the retributive teaching of Scripture, and also the highest motives to fight the good fight of faith and lay hold on eternal life.
It remains to say that when we speak of " these imperfect and perishable personalities" as the outward man, we do not mean to imply that there is no inward counterpart. Man is made up of body, soul, and spirit. It is only spirit that is essential and indestructible. Intermediate between spirit and body is the soul. This soul is not only part of the objective man of whom we have been speaking; it is the determining factor in the external being. The body expresses the soul. And therefore the wickedness of any man lies first in the region of thought and feeling. The destruction of personality is a destruction of both body and soul. This, as we have seen, may be complete in the case of the very depraved man, or it may be partial if the soul possess still some traits of virtue and goodness.
Mr. Mofiitt also reviews our remarks upon
8. "The atonement of Christ makes no provision for the remission of sin's penalties."
How many" penalties" of sin are there? Is the word " atonement" used here as the equivalent of the word " propitiation" in the New Testament? If so, what other "provision" has been made for the "remission " of sin's penalty?
9. "What is remitted are not penalties, but the sfns which make penalty necessary. No man escapes the consequences of his sins except as he is enabled, through the life of Christ, operative in him, to put his sins away."
Is there no difference between the " penalty" of sin and the "consequences'' of sin? How can "sin" be remitted without remitting the "penalty " of sin? How can a dead man be raised to life without remitting the penalty of sin—death? Or, how can the life of Christ be operative in any man while he is dead?
10. "Man's redemption consists in the fact that, in the energy of this Christ life, he is brought safely through this crisis of death into the life eternal which lies beyond it."
How can a "dead" man ever "live" again, if he has, himself, to exhaust the penalty of sin—death? Or how can he ever be " brought through " the crisis of death if he " never lives " again?
This series of questions is also so connected that the answer to one" involves the answer to another. Our reply to them is:
1. We do regard the terms atonement and propitiation as equivalents.
2. There is but one penalty of sin, which is death. But this is inclusive of minor penalties. Every act of wrongdoing has its penalty. The sorrows and humiliation brought upon David through Absalom were direct penalties for his sins in the matter of Uriah, and this in the face of the word of the prophet Nathan, "The Lord hath put away thy sin." God's forgiveness never violates the principle^—" He will by no means clear the guilty." We have, therefore, to say:
3. That there is no such thing possible in the divine government as the remission of sin's penalties, except so far as sin itself is put away and the necessity for penalty removed. , We started out in our remarks upon Atonement with this incontestable principle, that the government of God is absolutely righteous and loving. It is inconceivable that any penalties could be imposed under such a government but such as are absolutely just and good. There is no possible room, therefore, for their remission.
4. The penalty of death is no exception to this principle. It is neither set aside nor revoked. Man suffers death for sin, so far as man can die. We have asserted that there is a divine element in his being which cannot die. It lies at the root of his being, and because of it man is the offspring of God. This essential man, therefore, cannot sin, and needs no remission. "Whatsoever is begotten out of God sinneth not." It is the existent man who sins and dies.
Mr. Moffitt asks: "How can a dead man ever live again if he has himself to exhaust the penalty of sin and death?" We reply that if the death of a man be the complete thing he views it to be, then no man, once dead, could ever live again. What sins in man and what dies in man is that which is personal—not the divine essence which is the indestructible ground-work of his being. Take this away and there is nothing in man to be recalled out of the wreck of death.
5. The work of Christ Jesus in atonement was not to save the sinful personality into which man has been built up on the ground-work of his being, but to emphasize its need of death, to hand it over to judgment and death, and so to clear the ground for the ingrafting on to the divine