Theories as to a Future State
ANNIHILIST - RESTORATIONISM - MR.. DUNNS THEORY
IT is no wonder that - considering the moral arguments
that have been put forth to sustain it - annihilationism should have failed to
satisfy the minds of many of its advocates. It is well to note, in looking
briefly at the views now to come before us, that they are the product of a mind
influenced by speculative considerations, anxiously seeking a way of escape
from what in the first instance was believed to be the teaching of Scripture. I
mean, it was not Scripture itself that raised question in the mind, nor led him
who puts them forth away from what passes current as orthodoxy as to these
points, but certain feelings of his own which rose up against it, and under
which he sought and at last found, as he believes, a way of escape. It is
precisely in the same way that infidelity rejects Scripture altogether, and we
shall have to consider it more fully at another time. I am not by this
pronouncing upon the result at which he has arrived. I am only stating that
(true or false) this is how he got upon the path which led him to it.
Mr. Dunns theory is a compound of two apparently very dissimilar things, annihilationism and restorationism. It diminishes the former to the least possible degree, reserving it for some obstinate transgressors only. In this respect it resembles the doctrine (or one of the doctrines) of the Talmud already noticed, which in a similar way combines the theories. In other respects Mr. Dunns system is quite different, however, for those finally saved with him never come into Gehenna.
For convenience and brevity we may take Mr. Blains representation of the views, of which he has become the zealous advocate. He has incorporated in the book* with which he has replaced his former one, a letter by Mr. Dunn himself, so that we shall have the doctrine also in the words of its first teacher. The main points moreover are all that we have space to deal with.
*Hope for our Race (Buffalo, N. Y.. 2nd ed, 1878).
Mr. Blain first gives the chief points in Mr. Dunns "theory"- (as Mr. B. himself calls it), as follows. We shall look at them as they are stated
"1. God, in all the dispensations previous to the second personal coming of Christ, has been and is still calling out and preparing a select people, called in both Testaments the church, the elect, the bride, the Lambs wife, the first-fruits, firstborn, a chosen generation, and also kings and priests, to indicate that they are to be rulers and teachers in a dispensation yet to come. It was this elect people that Christ meant, when He said He prayed not for the world, and whom He called the little flock who should possess the kingdom, or to whom the Father would give the kingdom, meaning by the kingdom the government in the world to come. . . To be one of Christs bride we must find the narrow way, the strait gate which comparatively few find in these dispensations. Thus if this view be sustained, these texts and others like them, are no proof of only a few being finally saved. Others will be saved subjects"
The first part of this statement is in the main true, that those called out before the coming of the Lord are to reign with Him during the dispensation that follows His coming. This we have before considered. It is no "theory" but a Scripture statement, and received by many long before Mr. Dunn.
It is not true that this means that there will be salvation for those who die unsaved now; nor is "election" what Mr. Blain states. But that is not our subject here.
"2. The Jewish nation was called out to be the headship of nations (sic) or to be what is meant by the elect church, as the prophecies show plainly. See Exod. xix. 5: if ye will obey . . . ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine, and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, an holy nation. But this promise was conditional, and as they were not obedient, and finally rejected Christ as a nation, they became the broken off branches of Rom. xi. 17, and only the election named by Paul, or the really righteous among them, of every age, together with the called of the Gentiles, are finally to constitute this kingdom of priests and kings (?) - to be the bride of Christ. This is the people meant in Psa. xxii 30, 31. . . Micah v. 3 tells us how long they [the rest, Rom. xi. 7] to be blinded, and that they are to be restored: Therefore, will ye give them up, until the time that she which travaileth has brought forth; then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel Read from ver. 1-4 and comp. ver. 3 with Rom. xi. 25-27, and we see this given up remnant are to be saved. The church now travails and will, until the fulness of the Gentiles is brought in, then the broken off remnant is to be restored to those Paul says are of Israel, meaning the elect. "
Mr. Blain reads Scripture, I am compelled to say, very carelessly indeed. There is some truth here, but more error, as will be apparent in a moment. It is not true in the first place that to Israel as a nation were ever given, even conditionally, the promises which are now ours in Christ, nor that believers now inherit the promises which were once theirs. Rom. ix. 4 should keep any one from confounding these, as it shows that the "promises" given to 384 the nation still were theirs (although for a time in abeyance) after they had rejected Christ. The passage in Exod. xix. shows that these promises had to do with an earthly, as ours with a heavenly inheritance. It is quite true that the two correspond more or less in their different spheres, the earthly being the type of the heavenly, as the Jerusalem of the future corresponds (with some essential differences) to the New Jerusalem of the Apocalypse.* But the earthly and heavenly are easily recognizable and abundantly distinct. Scripture never confounds them, if interpreters have done so; and it is not responsible for their mistakes.
*See ante, "Old Testament Shadows."
But the last statements of Mr. Blain are equally careless at the least. Where does Mic. v. speak of the restoration of the blinded Jews? It does speak of the rejection of Messiah, and that for that the nation would be given up until the time that she which travailed had brought forth. (I do not take that last expression as referring to the Christian church, but need not contest it here: the result is much the same.) Then "the remnant of his brethren" - the brethren of the "Judge of Israel" whom they had smitten on the cheek - "shall return unto the children of Israel" Mr. Blain makes "the remnant" the unbelievers - "the broken off remnant" he calls them, while the apostle shows us the remnant as the "election of grace" and not broken off. The remnant of His brethren (remembering the Lords words to the Jewish people, Matt. xii. 49, 50) are plainly this believing, remnant, "those who do the will of His Father in heaven" whom alone He accounts such; while "the children of Israel" should be quite evidently the nation at large. So that it is the believers who return to the nation of Israel, not the unbelievers who return to the believers.
Mr. Blain may have difficulty in understanding the sentence read in that way, but the reason is, not that it is really difficult, but that his views are exactly opposed to the true meaning. This is often the apparent obscurity of Scriptures that it does not fit with our "theories" of what it should say. Its meaning is very simply this: during the present unbelief of Israel, believers among them are necessarily by their very faith separated from the nation. In Christ there is "neither Jew nor Greek." But when the time shall have come for God to fulfil His ancient unforgotten promises to the nation as such, when Israel, in travail with her hopes of a progeny shall have brought forth,* then believers among them will, of course, find their place again in connection with the nation. This will not be, as we have seen, till "they look upon Him whom they have pierced" and mourn for having pierced Him, when "He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him" too.
*Comp. Isa. lxvi. 7-12, and many other places in the prophets.
See ante, ch. x., "The Purification and Blessing of the Earth."
That is, when Christ has taken up His people of the present and the past, and when He is preparing blessings (though through judgment) for the earth, then the time of His giving Israel up will be over, and with His return to them, His brethren henceforth (not the individuals gone to heaven before it) will become identified with the nation as of old,
This explains how according to Rom. xi., the "fulness of the Gentiles" will be come in, and so "all Israel" saved: i.e., not the former unbelievers but the nation as such at the time indicated. Mr. Blain confounds these in a manner not very creditable to his intelligence, and certainly entirely unauthorized by the texts he has produced.
3. When Christ comes personally, which he thinks will be soon - the church, the tried and purified, will be raised first. Christ the first-fruits, afterwards they that are Christs, at His coming. They will be raised immortal . . . . will be associated with Christ in judging the world: the saints shall judge the world."
As to this we have already looked at Scripture; nor do I question its truth. The next point brings out fully the distinct feature of the system, and its essential error: -
4. At Christs coming, and after the resurrection of the elect church (how soon not told), all who have died impenitent will be raised, and in due time Christ will be made known to them by the elect church; or by Christ appearing to them as He did to Saul; and the offer of life be made to all who have not blasphemed against the Holy Ghost or sinned wilfully after having a knowledge of the truth, in former dispensations. In this coming dispensation, and in due time, light being given, the mass will repent and accept Christ, and so be saved; but with what he calls the lesser salvation, - will not reign with Christ, or be of the bride, but be the nations outside of the New Jerusalem, as told of in Rev. xxi. 22-26. Like many others, Rev. xx. seems dark to him - says but little about it; but decides there will be a dispensation, called that of the fulness of times, before Christ gives up the kingdom. As to the time this dispensation is to last, he is indefinite, not being guided by the one thousand years of Rev. xx."
It is no wonder that "not being guided" by Gods express "revelation" upon the subject, Mr. Dunn should be in the dark. had he been so guided, he would have seen that the thousand years he can make nothing of, are the whole duration (or nearly so) of that reign of righteousness which precedes the eternal state, and that the resurrection does not take place till after this, when the heavens and earth flee away.
But the whole idea of a resurrection of the wicked, which is not to judgment, is the flat contradiction of Scripture, not interpretation at all. The Lord has expressly divided "all that are in the graves" into these two classes raised to opposite destinies: "they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of judgment." Mr. Blain tells us "the sorrow, shame, and self-reproach felt by Saul (of Tarsus) and the three thousand at the day of Pentecost" will be "the main, if not the only, wailing and bitterness which the impenitent risen dead will experience," and that "only as they will lose the crown, or birth-right blessing." A man that can make out that to be the resurrection of judgment, such as it is described in the passages we have at large considered, it seems really useless to argue with.
This whole idea of a resurrection of impenitent men at the Lords coming, and of Christ afterwards made known to them by the church, or by His appearing to them, not even one text is adduced for here. Nor is there one that has even the semblance of sustaining it. Mr. Dunns texts are evidently the ordinary ones pleaded by Universalism, from which he just saves himself; as Mr. Blain tells us, by taking "all," "every" and "the whole" as meaning often the mass, or great majority.
"The term the kingdom of God," Mr. B. also tells us, "becomes an important word in this theory. It frequently means in the New Testament the same as life or eternal life. " And with this idea, the saying of Christ, narrow is the way that leadeth unto life is easily explained."
No doubt it is. Few difficulties could be expected to survive such a process of manipulation. It would scarcely spare the lexicographers themselves.
Mr. Dunns letter is addressed to the Rev. Henry Constable, the writer of two books which we have been already examining, and details at length how he was led into the views he has adopted. We have only space however for what bears directly upon our present subject.
Mr. Dunn became first an annihilationist,, and gives some of the usual arguments, but he found annihilation fail to give him full satisfaction. His first trouble was that still the creation of man seemed to be a failure.
"Christ, in such a case, seems not to have destroyed the works of the devil, since that is accomplished, according to this view, by mere power, and by the fiat of the Eternal Father. Satan, instead of seeing his schemes baffled, his work undone, his malignity utterly defeated, becomes in a certain sense conqueror, inasmuch as he succeeds in preventing mans restoration to the image of his Maker, and drags with himself into eternal perdition, thousands or tens of thousands merely, but the whole human race, with the exception of the comparatively few who here receive the truth, and obey it to the saving of their souls."
Now the ruin of man is not merely the devils work - it is mans own. We have all heard how at a certain place the Lord cast out a legion of devils with a word, and how the people of the place, instead of welcoming the Deliverer, prayed Him to depart. So it is ever wherever a soul is finally lost. It will not do to say it is the devils triumph: if it were that, Mr. Dunns scheme would be no more satisfactory than what he gave up, for the question of how many times God has suffered defeat is a very minor thing compared with the question, how could He suffer defeat at all? If a hundred souls lost were Satans victory, in these God would be a hundred times defeated! If that be possible, a million or a billion such might be.
We do not believe in Satans triumph in even one single instance. He has been permitted to gain a temporary advantage, and by it a worse and utter defeat at last. Hell is not his "work," but his judgment, and he does not "overcome when he is judged."
But I agree with Mr. Dunn that the settlement of the question of the existence of evil by mere physical annihilation would be a mere riddance by power of what might be well thought could not be got rid of in any other way. But he continues: -
"Further - and this seems equally impossible - the scheme represents God as allowing hundreds of millions to come into existence every thirty years, under conditions that all but compel their utter misery and eternal ruin after a brief, painful, and apparently unmeaning earthly existence."
But neither can this be a true representation of the matter. We are as sure as Mr. Dunn is, that God would never punish for eternity what was the fruit more of ignorance and weakness amid the pressure of circumstances too great to be resisted by human strength. If that is the true state of the case, men, or a mass of them, would be more the objects of pity than of blame. And He who is infinite in pity, and is slow to judgment, because He delighteth in mercy, could not overlook the essential difference. God will not damn for ignorance, for weakness, for inability to resist when circumstances were too strong, but for wilfulness and obstinacy in wickedness alone. So Scripture represents it. It represents men perishing, not as destroyed of Satan, or of adverse overpowering force of any kind, but as self-destroyed; and whatever be the mystery of this, and no one can pretend a competence to explain the depths of Gods providential government of the world, we may safely leave it to Him, who will in the end vindicate the wisdom and goodness of His ways; and "overcome when He is judged," not by superior power but by truth and right.
But by these speculations Mr. Dunn was influenced in his pursuit of some fresh light that was to clear up the mystery. He says: -
"I felt that I had not yet reached the whole truth . . . I could not feel satisfied that I had so far rid myself of hereditary prejudice, and a sinful fear of consequences, as to have established anything in harmony with the revealed doctrine that Christ was the Saviour of the world, the Second Adam, and as such the Redeemer of the race that had fallen in the first."
Universalism had already, that is, got hold of him, but his difficulty was to make Scripture agree with it. He was already steering his course towards a definite point, bent upon finding what he had decided must be there before he found it, and already was so far under the delusion of it as to be confounding the potential and the actual, what the will of God is for every man, with the result in which mans contrary will meets His: "How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wing, and ye would not. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate I"
So Mr. Dunn went on "for many long years," struggling have things as he thought they ought to be.
"I now turned," says he, "to examine the words of the prophets, and began, for the first time, to listen with purged ear to the whisperings" - the emphasis upon the word is his own - "the whisperings, so to speak, of holy men of old who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and who so often unconsciously addressed themselves to those on whom the latter days of the world should come. I found in them much more than I had expected which seemed to bear on the ultimate purposes of God, in relation not to the Jew only, but also to the Gentile; much that spoke of restoration in connection with resurrection. The first passage I noticed as apparently throwing light upon repeated declarations that a period shall come when truth and righteousness will be universal, was that remarkable portion of Isaiah (xxv. 7, 8) in which the prophet declares that the removal of the veil which is spread over all nations will take place at the time when God shall swallow up death in victory, and when He shall wipe away tears from all faces - a passage which is distinctly applied by the apostle Paul to the resurrection, and partially by John to the happiness of the redeemed."
These are what Mr. Dunn calls "whispers," so that I suppose we are not to expect in them very distinct utterances of what he contends for. It is certain they are not very distinct. For on the face of what Paul says, he is speaking of the resurrection of "those that are Christs; at His coming," and of no others. If otherwise, then when he speaks of their being raised "in incorruption," "in power." "in glory" - the wicked too are raised in this way, and of course the question is eternally settled for all of them, apart from all question of Christ being offered to them afterwards.
We have always believed too that the "veil spread over all nations" had to do only with the nations alive on earth when Christ came, and had nothing to do with their resurrection; and that "God wiping away all tears from their eyes" might be applied to the happiness of the redeemed without showing that the wicked dead are among the redeemed. Mr. D. goes on -
"A second, found in the same prophecy, was expressed in these words: In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land; whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people and Assyria. the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance. "
A third appeared in Ezekiel, where the prophet speaks of Sodom and her daughters as returning to their former estate, and says to Israel, I will give them to thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant (Ezek. xvi. 55-61). A fourth was found in Jeremiah, I will bring again the captivity of Moab in the latter days, and further, I will bring again the captivity of the children of Ammon, saith the Lord (Jer. xlviii. 47; xlix. 6). There are many other kindred texts, but these, referring to the heathen nations of antiquity, steeped as they were in the grossest sin, will suffice for the present. No one pretends that they have yet found a fulfilment, or that they can do so under the present dispensation. Regarding apostate Israel similar declarations abound. Take only one by Hosea (xiii. 9-14): O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help. I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death; O death, I will be thy plagues, O grave, I will be thy destruction; repentance shall be hid from mine eyes, i.e., the promise shall be made good. To me it seemed utterly impossible to attach any rational meaning to predictions like these, whether, relating to Gentile or to Jew, which did not directly contradict the supposition that the persons spoken of were to be annihilated. The assertion made by Matthew Henry and others, that in such passages denunciations are applied to the natural Israel, and promises to the Spiritual Israel, appeared to me, and still appears, nothing less than a complete changing of the prophecy."
To me also. Nevertheless Mr. Dunn has himself missed the meaning. The above passages are evidently the whole strength of his position, as apart from ordinary restorationism. His mistake is throughout identical, and it is one he would not surely have made, had he not been under the power of preconception, as he has already frankly owned to be. He confounds, as do a large number of so-called "Adventists," national with individual restoration, and national with individual resurrection.
Yet in that diligent examination of the prophets which he had for so long a time been carrying on, he must have come across passages which should have corrected mistake. Take for instance the well-known passage in Ezekiel, (ch. xxxvii.) where the resurrection of dry bones is expressly interpreted in this way. "Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, our bones are dried, and our hope is lost; we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live; and I shall place you in your own land."
If Mr. Dunn wanted a passage to express his views, he could scarcely find one more suitable every way than this. One might have imagined it the very one which had furnished him with his idea. Here is resurrection, and conversion after resurrection, quite according to his thought. Yet he has not ventured to produce this passage in evidence, and it is clearly inapplicable as evidence. It is a figure of national revival simply, such an one as the chosen people are yet to know. People literally dead as individuals would not be represented as saying, "Our bones are dried," etc., while they might well bewail their national death so. This way of speaking is not uncommon in the prophets, and I have no doubt that an example of it is found even in Dan. xii. 2, where literal resurrection is more generally believed to be in question, but where the contradiction to any view of literal resurrection is absolutely prohibitory to the thought. It is not a general resurrection (a thing moreover found nowhere else in Scripture), for it would not in that case be "Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth." However numerous the "many," they cannot be all the dead. Again, it is not the first resurrection, for some awake "to shame and everlasting contempt." Nor is it the resurrection of judgment, for the reason that others awake "to everlasting life." And the rendering some would propose, "these (who awake) to everlasting life; but those (who continue asleep) are for shame and everlasting contempt" is an inadmissible rendering to get over a suppositious difficulty. For "those who continue asleep" do not come into the text at all, as is evident. Interpreted in accordance with the passage in Ezekiel, there is no difficulty, for in the national revival of Israel there will be that double issue. It will not be blessing to all, but sifting and discernment between the righteous and the wicked, in many places asserted as to Israel in the strongest terms.
Again in Isa. xxvi. 15-19, we have a similar figure : "Thou hast increased the nation, O Lord, Thou hast increased the nation: Thou art glorified; Thou hadst removed it far unto all the ends of the earth. Lord, in trouble they have visited Thee, they poured out a prayer when Thy chastening was upon them. . . Thy dead shall live, my dead body, they shall arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out her dead." Here the misapplication to literal resurrection has led to a very unwarrantable translation. In our version it is put "together with my dead body, they shall arise," as if the prophet expected his own resurrection among these, whereas it is Jehovah answering the cry of the people, and claiming them, dead as they were, as His: "My dead body, they shall arise."
Again in Hos. vi. 1, 2, the prophet exhorts them to repentance in the assurance of mercy: "Come, and let us return unto the Lord; for He hath torn, and He will heal us: He hath smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; in the third day He will raise us up. and we shall live in His sight."
This is symbolism, very suitable, and by no means hard to understand, whereas if literally taken, as Mr. Dunn takes it, it clashes with many Scriptures. And the same remark applies to the restoration and revival of other nations, where the image of resurrection is not however used. Moab and Ammon, Assyria and Egypt, are undoubtedly to revive, whether by the recovery of the identical races or not. He knows who can and will accomplish it, just as He will bring forth in His own time the tribes of Ephraim, now so vainly being searched for. On the other hand, Edom and Babylon lie under irreversible doom. In all this there is no difficulty with God; and even as to Sodom, we have no proof of the race being utterly extinguished when judgment fell upon the guilty city. Thus there is no impossibility in restoration, without bringing up from the grave the people destroyed then. In supposing the latter, Mr. Dunn has been listening to the reasonings of his own mind, and not to the "whisperings" of the prophets.
His further texts are mainly those appealed to by Universalists of every class. Its being "more tolerable for Sodom in the day of judgment" than for Capernaum, he found it difficult to reconcile with the annihilation of either. He quotes the Lords words, "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me," which will be quite true of that future condition of the earth, when the "prince of this world shall" (according to what He says in immediate connection with this) "be cast out" (John xii. 31, 32), but has no reference to those dying in their sins. He refers to what Christ also says, when "He bids them be like their heavenly Father in forgiving their enemies, not for a time only, but from the heart, and therefore forever; not for certain offences only, but for all; not seven times merely, but seventy times seven": words which he misquotes and misapplies, as is plain, for according to such a principle there could be no "day of judgment" at all for any.
He quotes also Pauls words: "As by one mans disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall the many be made righteous," where he accurately enough puts "the many" instead of "many"; but inaccurately retains "one" instead of the one. It is plain that that indeed spoils the argument he would draw from this: for if "the many," in that definite way, must mean the same people in each case, then "the one," by the same rule, must mean the same particular one, which we know it does not.
He cites next: "The creature itself (all creation) shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God," which is "creation" as we ordinarily apply the word - the lower creatures. They could not be brought into the liberty of grace, but shall be into "the liberty of the glory" (which is the exact expression) when the sons of God are manifested in glory (Rom. viii. 19-23). In the same way and in the same passage, it is not "in relation to man generally" that the apostle tells us, "he is a captive not by any choice of his own" (for he is, alas, a willing captive): it is still the lower creatures who have fallen with man, not of their own will, but as connected with him who was ordained the head of creation, "not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope."
After telling us that he had studied also most carefully every text that appeared to have another bearing without finding reason to reverse the conclusion at which he had arrived, he goes on to say: "So again and yet again I went back to the only source of light and truth, asking with deep earnestness, What is written in the New Testament regarding the future lot of the masses of mankind? The passage that struck me as affording a kind of key-note to the inquiry was found in St. Pauls first epistle to Timothy, This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation. . . . We trust the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of them that believe. These things command and teach. Here was the missing link, and one certainly that could not be set aside by the pretence that Saviour meant temporal preserver In one clause of the sentence, and, spiritual Redeemer in the other."
I suppose few would affirm that, and that it is rather believed that soter is here in both clauses "preserver," and not "Saviour." Mr. Dunn can hardly dispute that it may mean that, and therefore that he has no proof here of his position, especially as everywhere in Scripture "the day of salvation" stated to be "now," in the present time, and not beyond the grave. Indeed if Christ be now "the Saviour of all men," as in a sense He is, it does not follow that He will be that finally for such as now reject Him, and it is often threatened that He will not be, But then Mr. Dunns proof is nowhere. He goes on to connect this with what he presently found as to the kingdom of God, and here (as we have noticed) he presents much that is really Scriptural. But even here he is, as natural, too much engrossed with one aspect of future blessedness in which every other is merged. I may not pause to point out where he fails, however. It is quite true on the other hand that the saints saved now are "to sit on thrones; to judge others; to reign on the earth; to be priests as well as kings; to rule some with a rod of iron. " No part of this is new to believers in the Lords premillennial advent. It seems to have been new to Mr. Dunn, and so to have encouraged him to believe that here he had found what he wanted for the perfecting of his idea. "May it not then," this kingdom, he asks himself "be the appointed agency for bringing about the final triumph of the Redeemer by placing the myriads who here live and die without light, without training, I might almost say without probation, under perfect government and infallible teaching?" He notices then that there are nations' represented as outside the New Jerusalem, "who are said to be in process of healing by the leaves of a "mystic tree, growing by the pure river of water of life that proceeds out of the throne of God and of the Lamb; " and these "nations" he assumes to include, of course, those of whom his thoughts are full, the unsaved dead of all ages and generations.
This closes the argument of his letter, in which it is interesting and sad to trace how the prepossession with one fixed thought led an intelligent man to find in Scripture just that thought which prepossessed him. It is touching too, and a matter of hope, to note how doubtfully he has yet to speak. "That much is not said regarding this possible, or rather probable, field of future usefulness," for the heirs of this kingdom, he says," need not excite our wonder." The things he speaks of are, at the most, "probable." What if they are not true? There is no "full assurance of faith," or "of understanding" here. With Mr. Blain, too, it is "Mr. Dunns theory." And thus after years and years of study, a hope that may make ashamed is the sole result.
The false principle of this interpretation of Scripture has I believe been sufficiently shown, and there is no need of following Mr. Blains book further. It is not hard to trace the workings of it all through the subsequent pages; but it would swell these pages to too great a number to follow them out. With its foundation the whole building falls.
Go To Chapter Thirty-Nine
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