Theories as to a Future State
THE ANDOVER THEOLOGY
THE Andover theology claims as its character to be
"Progressive Orthodoxy,"* and as compared with most of the systems we have been
reviewing, it may justify the claim. It is not annihilationism, neither is it
restorationism, although it would not be inconsistent with a modified form of
Mr. Dunns views. So far as it may concern us here, it is simply a
speculation or belief, which does not attempt to ground itself upon precise
passages of Scripture, but only upon general principles and the ethics of the
case, that those who have not in this life had the gospel-offer made to them
must yet receive it, - how, is not defined. And this view we might simply
decline to entertain as founded upon inference merely, always uncertain where
so many questions have to be considered as are involved in the present.
*"Progressive Orthodoxy: a contribution to the Christian interpretation of Christian doctrine." By the editors of the Andover Review.
But we do not propose either to decline the inquiry or to limit it to the eschatological question which it is easy to see is connected with the theology as a whole, and with nearly every thing in it. This is not, nor intended to be taken as any, discredit to it. It is the contrary. All truth is thus connected necessarily, although we may not always be able to trace the connection. Thus to affirm the unity of the "New Theology" is to give it commendation, and to ascribe to it at least one of the characteristics of truth.
But on this account we shall, if briefly, yet as we hope sufficiently, examine the main positions of the volume in which the editors of the Andover Review have embodied their thoughts; and we trust to do so with candour. In the governmental ways of God, with which we have in this matter largely to do, we have enough in the Scripture-assertion, fully borne out by the histories both of the world and of the Church, that "clouds and darkness are round about Him," to check the spirit of pride and dogmatism, and make us go no further than as the Word of God "leads us by the hand."
The first portion of the book (after the introduction) takes up the subject of -
And here the significance of what is said seems to be mainly this, that Christs humanity was not assumed simply for the purpose of accomplishing atonement, but that (with the atonement itself) it is the revelation of God to His creatures, the abiding link between Him and them. Thus Jesus is not only the Head of the Church, or the Head of man, but of all created beings also. And this is surely true.
The writer points out that "the uniqueness of Jesus humanity appears in its universality." Men differ by their respective limitations and preponderances, -
"The uniqueness of Christs humanity appears in this, that it was not thus circumscribed. He was an individual man, but His individuality is His universality. He was the Son of Man. That which distinguished Him from all other men is that He represents them all. His separation from any one of us is that which brings Him near to every one of us. His peculiarity is that no mans nature is so peculiar that He cannot comprehend it. He has kinship with us all by being our common Head."
This is very true and very blessed. In his thoughts on the "unity of Christs person" the writer, on the other hand, fails grievously and loses himself. He speaks plainly of the Word as the "second Person of the Trinity," and yet afterward as "a particular mode of the divine being, not itself a person, but the bearer of a personal principle, and capable of self-realization in a human life." Similarly, "the human [nature] is only potentially personal." "The act of incarnation is the union of these two." But is this as he represents it? The very word "incarnation" shows how opposite is the real thought, which Scripture expresses in "The Word was made flesh." Could you say equally "flesh was made the Word"? Two natures equally only "potentially personal," as he represents it, unite to form the One Person - Christ. On the contrary, it is, according to Scripture, the Person of the Son of God that assumes humanity.
Were it as he says, what he seeks escape from would be realized exactly: "a Person would be the object of supreme worship exterior and additional to the one only God." Or does he really not worship Christ? We may be sure he does; we may not doubt it. But the inconsistency upon this ground remains.
What is the seat of personality in man? Is not the body part of the human person? But changing as it is said to do every seven years, does the person change? No; it is the spirit which endues the body with personality; and if body and spirit alike form part of the living person, yet these are not co-equal in it but communicator and recipient. This may illustrate at least, if not actually typify, the way in which the divine and human are united in the one person of our Lord.
Upon what follows in the book before us, on the "self-consciousness" of the Lord, we do not propose to enter. It is well to remember that "no one knoweth the Son but the Father." If we ourselves are riddles to ourselves, how much more must a subject like this be a mystery before which we need to worship rather than to speculate.
But with the last section on the "significance of Christs person," we are again, as intimated at first, in very hearty agreement. We believe truly that "a theology which is not Christocentric is like a Ptolemaic astronomy, - it is out of true relation to the earth and the heavens, to God and His universe." And we believe that Christianity is the religion of the cross and of redemption; and it is more: it is the religion of nature and reason as well."
We pass on to consider with the Andover theologians the doctrine of -
The writer objects to the starting-point of the doctrine being found in the sin of man. But surely atonement could have no meaning apart from sin. Nor need the insignificance of the earth trouble us, or even the graver consideration that sin is thus made an absolute necessity in order to the revelation of God in Christ. Why should it be a difficulty that the wisdom of God should use the sin of man to bring out by it His holiness and His grace? Does this really make grace debtor to the evil which called it forth?
It is asserted that "the correct and scriptural starting-point is the mediation of Christ in its universal character." But this mediation could not take the form of atonement apart from sin. We may reason, if we will, that the incarnation might have been without this, and even "that the human race would have come earlier into the knowledge of God through Christ if there had been no sin." But there is no firm ground for argument in suppositions of this kind. Redemption implies unquestionably sin as prior and necessary to it; and while it is true that "the work of Christ has no meaning apart from His person," it seems unnecessary, to say the least, to remind us "that His work is not something set off by itself on which we can depend, as if the atonement were a thing, a quantity of suffering endured, an impersonal result." Who is there who would teach as saving a faith which rested in the work done without regard to the Person who did the work? But yet there is a work done upon which we can and must depend in its own place. If "His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree," then we can rest in the consciousness that (as believing in Him) our sins are removed, and forever.
As we go on with the writer, the meaning of this becomes clearer. His idea of substitution is given in this way: -
"The substitution is not of Christ standing on this side for the race standing on that side, but the race with Christ in it is substituted for the race without Christ in it. This Christ in with the race is regarded by God as one who has those powers of instruction, sympathy, purity, which can be imparted to His brethren. Likewise the individual in Christ takes the place of the individual without Christ, is looked on as one whom Christ can bring to repentance and obedience, and so is justified even before faith develops into character."
This seems to me the central statement of the whole paper; but we may supplement it by another found a few pages further on: -
"The sin of man prevents Gods love from flowing forth, so that the God of love is in reality hostile to man. In Christ, God can come to man in another relation, because Christ is a new divine power in the race to turn it away from sin unto God. God does not become propitious because man repents and amends, for that is beyond mans power. He becomes propitious because Christ, laying down His life, makes the race, to its worst individual, capable of repenting, obeying, trusting; and He does this in such a way that Gods abhorrence to sin is realized, the majesty of law honored, the sinner and the universe convinced of the righteousness of the divine judgment."
This is certainly a new language, and it will be hard to show that it is that of Scripture. Indeed, it is not, perhaps, presented as its statement, but as an underlying philosophy of atonement rather, by which its statement is to be explained and commended to reason. We must remember also that what is dressed in an unscriptural garb may be in itself not so unscriptural as at first sight we might naturally believe it. We have therefore to walk warily here, and look closely, seeking first of all to get hold of what is meant, and then to see if it is rightly presented.
Now the way which God has actually chosen to bring back man to Himself must of course be divinely suitable for its purpose, and chosen, we may say, for its suitability. And Christ is this way of God, in which we must not exclude His incarnation and personal preciousness any more than His sacrificial work. Nay, we must not exclude, either, the work of the Spirit of God upon man, by which alone all this is made effectual for his salvation. Yet no one would speak of all this as atonement; not even the theologians of Andover. Nor could we say that God was reconciled to man or man to God by virtue of the real suitability or potency of all this.
There is no such thought in Scripture as that of reconciling God: it is always, reconciliation to God of which it speaks. Nor is it ever said that the world is reconciled, but "you believers - "hath He reconciled" (Col. i. 21). "God was," indeed, "in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself" (2 Cor. v. 19), but that was in His ministry down here, and for the present, says the apostle, He "hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation." What is the consequence? "Now, then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech by us, we pray in Christs stead, be ye reconciled to God." Thus the reconciling of the world still goes on, Christ absent, and others acting in His stead; but it is not atonement, clearly: and just because the reconciliation is going on, it is not accomplished.
As for God, He is never said to be reconciled; nor can He need it. Nor is propitiation, though for the world (1 Jno. ii. 2), available except "through faith" (Rom. iii. 25).
And when it is said that the "race with Christ in it is substituted for the race without Christ in it," the juggle of words has surely deceived the writer. It is not sacrificial substitution that he means at all: the "race with Christ in it" does not lay down its life for the race without Christ! The real substitution in sacrifice could only be of Christ Himself for others.
But was substitution for the "race"? Actually it was for believers: "He taketh not hold of angels, but of the seed of Abraham He taketh hold" (Heb. ii. i6). All men being invited to faith, it is in this sense for the world, but only in this sense. And thus it is that when a man believes, he comes under the value of the sacrifice, and is "justified" at once "by blood" and "by faith," and we see, too, in how different ways. Not latent capacities justify him, but the work of Christ; and not as one of a race with Christ in it, but as one of the "seed of Abraham."
Nor is Christ the "last Adam" of the old creation, but of a new "If any man be in Christ, [it is] new creation" (2 Cor. v. 17, marg. R. V.) so much so, that "from henceforth know we no man after the flesh; yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more" (v. 16). As long as He was in the world, though incarnate, He abode alone, as the corn of wheat to which He compares Himself "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" (Jno. xii. 24) There was no "race with Christ in it" then. And having gone out of the world, He is not head of it, but of a new race, crucified with Christ to the world (Gal. vi. 14), - no more of it than He is of it (Jno. xvii. 14, 16). "Both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one, for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren" (Heb. ii. 11).
"Progressive Orthodoxy" is clearly wrong, then. It is not a question of words or modes of expression merely, but of things. Christs relation to the race is not what is claimed, nor therefore is atonement what it is made to be. The writer Says, -
"It must be confessed, however, that it is not clear how the sufferings and death of Christ can be substituted for the punishment of sin; how, because Christ made vivid the wickedness of sin and the righteousness of God, man was therefore any the less exposed to the consequences of sin."
It is simple enough, however, surely, that the penalty of sin being borne, and the holiness and righteousness of God being maintained, He can righteously justify the sinner who turns to Him, while Christ, having given Himself for such, righteousness requires it: "He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins" (1 Jno. i. 9).
We may leave, then, the question of atonement here, the last pages of the article we have been reviewing falling really to be discussed under the next head of -
And here there is no need for taking up the whole discussion. The point contended for, that in some way or other prior to the day of judgment all men of all generations will have heard the gospel of Christ, and will be judged according to the attitude taken with regard to it, is argued -
1. From the relationship of Christ as Son of Man to all men.
2. From the universality of the atonement.
3. From the announcement that the gospel must first be preached to all nations.
4. From judgment being in the hands of the Son of Man.
5. From the hopelessness of mans condition without the gospel, in view of the righteousness and love of God.
This, I believe, covers all the ground, and we shall not omit any point within this range of argument. The first argument, however, is by the writer distributed under the second and fourth heads, so that we may begin at once with the second - the universality of the atonement. He says, -
"It may be thought that the battle was long ago decided concerning the extent of atonement, that the atonement is generally believed to be universal in extent, not for the elect alone, but for the whole world, and that no one questions it (?!) But all that is involved in its universality has not been accepted. Can it be considered universal if a large portion of the race know nothing of the historical Christ and the redemption that is in Him? The extent of atonement resides not so much, it is to be considered, in the thing done, in the ample provision made, but rather in the personality of Christ. He is the universal Person, as we said at the outset. His religion, therefore, is the universal, absolute religion. There is no salvation in any other. He alone is able to bring God and man together. This would seem to lead us to the conclusion that the final word concerning destiny is not pronounced for any man till he knows Jesus Christ and Him crucified."
Here, as I have said, the argument from the person of Christ is identified with that from the extent of the atonement, the person of Christ being looked at in fact as part of the atonement, as already we have seen. This is not scriptural, for every where in Scripture atonement is by blood. The types kept this constantly before the Jewish people (Lev. xvii. 11). In the New Testament we read, "a propitiation, through faith, by His blood." (Rom. iii. 25, - R. V.) The universality of the atonement, as Scripture teaches it, consists in this, that there is in it a real and available sufficiency for every one that trusts in it. It is for all, upon condition of faith. Apart from faith, it saves none.
But this is plainly a condition for those to whom the condition would apply. Plainly, it would not exclude infants or idiots, nor therefore (so far as this goes) the unevangelized heathen. It is the condition announced to those who hear the gospel.
But if it be so, this speaks differently from what we might anticipate. If "a propitiation, through faith, for the whole world," be the terms to be announced to those to whom we carry the gospel, then we have really no warrant to apply the universality of the atonement itself more widely than to those to whom the gospel comes. And may we not in so doing be intruding on what belongs to God alone? The apostle thus calls the truth that Christ "gave Himself a ransom for all, the testimony for its own times; unto which," says he, "I am ordained a preacher and an apostle, a teacher of the Gentiles" (1 Tim. ii. 6, 7). If, then, this be the "testimony for its own times," does this give us liberty to apply it to all times? Is it not one other instance of the way in which Scripture refuses to answer questions which are not practical ones for us, but must be left with Him who is perfect in knowledge as in holiness and love?
"Lord, are there few that be saved?" was an inquiry very like the present one. And how does the Lord answer it? Strive," He says, "to enter in at the strait gate."
The argument from the person of Christ does not carry us further. "He is the universal Person, as we said at the outset." Be it so what then? "His religion, therefore, is the universal, absolute religion." There is nothing else, surely, for us now; and in it are found in full development all the germs of truth that ever were. But does not the person of Christ belong to the full development, if it be meant by this, as I suppose, that the power of what He personally is must be an instrumentality in the conversion of every saved soul?
Christ is the full-orbed perfection of all beauty; and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ defines what is conversion for us now. There is no power such as He for the conversion of souls, and all that God has ever used in this was, I believe, some radiance of His glory, if obscure. But there are rays before the dawn; and it cannot be meant that souls were not converted before Christ came! And yet this seems to be the argument in what follows: "There is no salvation in any other. He alone is able to bring God and man together. This would seem to lead us to the conclusion that the final word concerning destiny is not pronounced for any man till he knows Jesus Christ and Him crucified."
This principle would carry us very far indeed. We should have to say that all that ever lived before Christianity had their destiny undecided. And those even who have lived since Christ, but when the glory of His face was obscured, as it has been, and His gospel buried under the rubbish of revived ceremonialism - these too, it would seem, must be waiting for the final word. How many even in Protestantism? Before or since the gospel, probation (as people speak) must have been more a failure than it is easy to believe; and the apostles words, "Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor. vi. 2) must apply to a comparatively few only. Just how far it applies in fact, who can tell, when such men as Sir Moses Montefiore (Pr. Or. p. 131), living in the midst of the full light of Christianity are supposed to be exempted from its application on the ground of "invincible ignorance"? If the power of education, race-prejudices, and similar influences could excuse one with exceptional opportunities for knowing the truth, for how many of the hearers of the apostle Paul could they be pleaded with equal truth?
No, we must in this case accept the fact that while "he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life" may be true still, yet it is not true, or does not apply to the present time, that "he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him" (Jno. iii. 36); it is not true that "if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins" (Jno. viii. 24); or rather, shall we say, that dying in ones sins has no such evil in it as the words seem to convey? Although, indeed, when He said, "ye shall die in your sins," He added, as if it were the consequence, "whither I go ye cannot come" (v. 2 t).
But let us go on now with the writer: -
"The view has been taken that justice condemns the sinner to death before or until atonement is made, and that Christ rescues the sinner from his just doom."
How could atonement by blood be otherwise true? If death were not the due apart from atonement, why need death be taken? And does it not say that "as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse"? and that because "it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them " (Gal. iii. 10)? Is the law harsh and arbitrary in saying this? And is it the misfortune of the one thus cursed, that he is under it? And did Christ accept an over-harsh sentence when He "redeemed us from the curse of the law being made a curse for us"? (v. 13.)
"It has been said, therefore, that God must be just and may be merciful, as if the exercise of mercy were not necessary to God in the sense in which justice is necessary. But we must now conclude that justice does not pronounce its final word till God has revealed Himself in all His intended manifestations of righteousness and love. Justice is concerned that every attribute of God should be displayed; is as jealous for the rights of love as for those of holiness. If it is Gods very nature to love, - if it is a desire of His to save men from sin, justice sees to it that love is not deprived of its rights, and is not hindered in any of its impulses. We may go so far as to say that it would not be just for God to condemn men hopelessly when they have not known Him as He really is - when they have not known Him in Jesus Christ."
This involves fully the thought that none before Christ came could possibly perish in their sins, and none since where the knowledge of Christ was defective or corrupted. "Moses and the prophets" were not enough, and the rich mans condition in hades is impossible, and inconceivable. "The Holy Scriptures," which Timothy had known from his childhood, and which, of course, were Old-Testament scriptures, were not "able to make wise unto salvation" except only where there was a receptivity not by any means always to be found. And when God asks, in Isaiah, as to His people, "what could have been done more to My vineyard that I have not done to it?" The Andover theology, with its developed ethics and new light on such questions, can answer this!
Would it not be well to be more cautious, possibly more humble, in these reasonings, and to accept the probability that here there may be more data needed than we are in possession of for so positive and sweeping a conclusion? The equalizing of Gods dealings with men is just one of those things in which it is positively asserted that "clouds and darkness are round about Him" May He not ask of those who undertake to do this for Him, "Who hath required this at your hands?"
But there is more than this to be considered. For after all, while it is by His Word that God works our salvation, are men in fact born again of their own will ever? or can any concentration of light upon the eyeballs of the dead bring them to life? Not so; if at least we are still to have faith in Scripture. Men must be born again; and that "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (Jno. 1. 13).
Why, then, plead for the concentration of light upon all alike? Why insist that even love must do this? Why not rather that that quickening of divine power needed by any for new birth should be put forth on all? Granted that men are responsible to receive the Word of God, - grant (as to the lost) that all that the most decided Arminianism could assert of them is true; yet if their refusal of grace were certain, who could demand as mercy to them that it should be offered? God asks of His vineyard, "What more could I do than I have done?" Yet He had not given them this full gospel which the new theology requires to be given to all. Can they assure us that there would have been more hope of success, so that the divine love itself could speak of it as "doing more"?
But Calvinism is not the theology of Andover, and this is Calvinism! No; it is not even that. Take away, if you will, all thought of absolute decrees; only leave man his free will to reject, and God His foreknowledge of that rejection, we may still argue as we have. If man has no free will or God no foreknowledge, then indeed the argument (and all argument) is absolutely hopeless.
We find now another: -
"And it is evidently the intent of God that all men should know Him through Christ. The judgment does not come till the gospel has been preached to all nations. The gospel is preached to a nation, not when within geographical boundaries it has been proclaimed at scattered points, but only when in reality all individuals of all the nations have known it."
This is quite a new interpretation. Is it correct? If it had been meant to say "preached to all individuals," why say "nations"? Would it be just the same to say "all persons" and to say "all classes" ? I cannot but think not.
But allow that all persons in the nations are to hear the gospel, would any one not prepossessed by a theory suppose that one could not preach to a whole nation without its involving the resurrection of all their dead?
But let us look at the Scripture-usage.
The passage referred to is, I suppose, Matt. xxiv. 14: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come." Turn back then to the ninth verse: "And ye shall be hated of all nations for My names sake:" does this mean, "hated by all persons of all nations" absolutely?
Again, in Rom. xvi. 26, the apostle speaks of the mystery which "now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith." Are we to believe, then, that every individual of all the nations had had it manifested to him, and even all the generations of the dead?
It is quite useless, I think, to argue this point further. Not the words, but the ethics of the case, have convinced our author of what is in this text.
Let us go on to consider with him now "the principle of judgment."
"The Son of Man is to be Judge of the world. . . . Now this means more than that, in addition to ills offices of Redeemer and Master, Christ is also appointed Judge. It means that all men are to be judged under the gospel - to be judged by their relation to Christ. . . . They are not to be judged under the light of reason and conscience alone, but under the light of the gospel of Christ."
The only scripture here appealed to is that "the Father hath committed all judgment unto the Son; . . . and hath given Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man" (Jno. v. 22, 27). Nothing is said, however, here about the "principle of judgment." That He who is Himself Man should be the Judge of men commends itself to us as every way suitable. That they will all be judged by their relation to Him in the gospel is not said, and we must be careful about saying it. We are told by the Lord Himself that "he that knew not [his Masters will], and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes" (Luke xii. 48). This does not indeed absolutely say "knew not his Master;" nor should we expect that Scripture, reserved as it always is, in dealing with questions that are not practical ones for those addressed by the Word, should deal at large with these.
But there is a passage which would seem to decide this matter. It is the apostles statement of the guilt and condemnation of the Gentiles which occupies the first half of the second chapter of the epistle to the Romans. It is thus referred to in the paper before us: -
"The only other passage which is claimed as explicit and decisive is in the second chapter of Romans, where Paul says that as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law. But even this statement, direct as it seems, is found in the midst of a discussion the aim of which is to show that all men have absolute need of the gospel; that for Gentile and Jew alike there is no hope apart from the gospel; that all men, by reason of their sins, are shut up to the gospel; that the nations left to themselves would perish; having not the law, they would perish notwithstanding, as the Jews having the law would perish notwithstanding. The apostle was describing the actual present condition of the Gentiles amid Jews, to show that there is universal need of the gospel. And at the end of the same sentence he affirms that all men at last are to be judged according to my gospel by Jesus Christ. "
The argument is apparently that "as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law" does not refer to what actually will be, but only to what would be if the gospel did not intervene. The actual judgment is according to the gospel, - that is, by the reception or rejection of it. Who can believe this? The apostles words are, "For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law . . . in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel." I have merely omitted the verses which are confessedly parenthetic, and brought the two parts of the interrupted sentence together. So connected it is impossible to read it as anything but positive assurance of what will be.
This is a day of judgment for men of which the gospel assures us. In that day, those that have sinned without law shall perish without, they that have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law. To add any thing to so plain a tale would be but to obscure it. It is as plain as can be.
It is true that this does not settle that every heathen perishes, any more than it does that every one under the law does, though judgment by the law would be necessary perdition. But it does speak of what will be the lot of many (if not all),- of an actual, not a hypothetical, doom.
Another text, which is of force to show that probation (as it is called) is ended with this life, is the passage in Hebrews (chap. ix. 27), which the writer of this paper spends but a few words over: "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." His comment is, -
"If it means that death, as we believe, is a great crisis, It seems to mean also that judgment is the other great crisis for every man. It is silent concerning the period between death and judgment."
True, it is silent; but silence may sometimes have a trumpet-tongue. Why after death the judgment, if it should be rather, after adequate testing with the gospel? Does not "after death" imply that judgment is for the life which death has closed? And does it not agree perfectly with that receiving of the "deeds done in the body" (2 Cor. v.10), which certainly no other scripture would limit, as the new theology suggests, to any special class? With these the words of the preacher make a threefold cord not quickly broken: "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil" (Eccles. xii. 13, 14).
The passages which seem positively to favor the evangelization of the dead, according to the Andover professors - 1 Pet. iii. 18-20; iv. 6; Matt. xii. 32; xxv. 31 seq. - have been all examined fully. I would point out again as to the second text what I have said before (p. 376), that it really confirms the thought of the fixed condition of the dead. But I must refer my readers to what has been already said. There would be no apparent profit in a repetition of it.
Nor need we follow the book we have been looking at further. We have examined the Scripture bearing on the subject, and for speculation we have no taste, even though it be in the interest of ethics. To "justify the ways of God to man" is not free from danger, as Jobs friends found who meant sincerely to show that His governmental dealings were always as plainly as they are really right. But look at the history of Christendom itself; see how they who were to preach the gospel to every creature lost it for themselves; see the world groaning under the rule of the church; the reformation in the sixteenth century splitting up into ever-multiplying and discordant sects. It is mans failure, you say, not Gods. Truly; and so is the lapse from the truth man once knew, and the resulting heathenism: "when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened." Let us not put this upon God either. And if He says and swears, "As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth," let us believe Him, and rest.
The day of manifestation is coming, and God is not in haste to justify Himself. The darkness is the discipline of faith, but in the face of Christ is glory without a vail. If the question put to Himself, "Lord, are there few that be saved" brought no direct reply, can we force an answer to a very similar question? "Secret things belong unto the Lord our God:" we may not rob the future of what is to be revealed by it, when at last every eye shall see what faith unseeing knows and rejoices in, that "the Lord is righteous in all His ways." Where agnosticism means, not unbelief, but faith, - where it is the confession of nothingness, and the refusal to be wise above what is written, is it a reproach to be thus far agnostics?
Go To Appendix Eight
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