Theories as to a Future State
"THE RESTITUTION OF ALL THINGS" - MR. JUKES
THIS Scriptural expression is the title Mr. Jukes has
adopted for his well-known book, which in its fourth edition lies before me. I
propose now to take up and pursue with Scripture the thread of its argument.
Much we have already looked at, and of course need not look at again; but there
is much needed yet to complete our survey.
We may pass over his preliminary observations upon the nature of Scripture and begin with his second section upon its "testimony." This, he tells us, "appears at first sight contradictory. Not only is there on the one hand law, condemning all, while on the other hand there is the gospel, with its good news for every one; but further, there are direct statements as to the results of these, which at first sight are apparently irreconcilable." He adduces first of all the texts, or some of these, which speak of eternal punishment and owns as to them "Words could not well be stronger, but he adds" -
"The difficulty is that all this is but one side of Scripture, which in other places seems to teach a very different doctrine. For instance, there are first the words of God Himself, repeated again and again by those same apostles whom I have just quoted, that 'in Abraham's seed all the kindreds of the earth shall be blessed;' words which St. Peter expounds to mean that there shall be a 'restitution of all things,' adding that 'God hath spoken of this by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.' "
Let us look a moment at these texts 'ere we pass on, and ask ourselves how far they conflict even seemingly with eternal punishment. Few would imagine perhaps that the blessing in Abraham's seed to all kindreds of the earth did that. And by the very fact that all the prophets have spoken of the "restitution of all things," it is plainly not what Mr. Jukes would imply. Moreover this "restitution" is of things, not persons, and (according to what we have seen to be the scope of that Old Testament to which, of course, the apostle refers), it is upon earth, - and nowhere else. "Restitution of all (the) things of which the prophets have spoken" is the true force of the word,* and not a restitution of the universe, as Mr. Jukes seems to imagine.
*apokatastaseos panton on elalesen o Theos (Acts iii. 21). Mr. Jukes, as will be seen, has actually broken the sentence in two, as if to get rid of this on, and interpreted as if it were es.
"St. Paul further declares," he goes on to say, "this wondrous mystery of God's will, that He hath purposed in Himself according to His good pleasure, to rehead and reconcile unto Himself, in and by Christ, all things, whether they be things in heaven, that is, the spirit world, where the conflict with Satan yet is, 'or things on earth,' that is, this outward world, where death now reigns, and where even God's elect are by nature children of 'wrath, even as other men."
But this goes no further than heaven and earth, and does not say one word about fallen angels or lost men; they will be outside the scene here spoken of. Heavenly things as well as earthly are said in Scripture to be "purchased," "reconciled," "redeemed," "purified," - sin having been in heaven as well as earth. A comparison of the passages will show that they cannot apply to those to whom Mr. Jukes would apply them. In Heb. ix. 21-24, the tabernacle and the vessels of the sanctuary sprinkled with the blood, and which the apostle interprets of the purifying of the heavenly things with better sacrifices, cannot possibly refer to these. In Eph. i. 14, it is "our inheritance" that is the purchased possession to be redeemed. And in Col. i. 19, 20, in the same way, things are spoken of, not persons, the persons reconciled being named apart in the following verse: "by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things on earth or things in heaven. And" - in addition to this - "you hath He reconciled." In none of these passages is hell named or by any possibility included.
"Further," he says, "St. Paul asserts that 'all creation, which now groans, shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.' "
But this we have seen to be the lower creatures, and not even man; and the deliverance takes place at the time of the redemption of the body," at the first resurrection, a thousand years before the judgment, which therefore could not take place at all if Mr. Jukes' view were the true one. It is a mere strain of the "all creation," impossible if we read it with the context. Again -
"In another place he declares that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself:"
True, but they refused and rejected it, and are now refusing the "ministry of reconciliation" by which Christ's mission, in His absence, has been perpetuated.
"And that Christ 'took our flesh and blood, through death to destroy* [or 'nullify'] him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;' "
*katargese, "nullify" (Heb. ii. 14).
But to what end; "and deliver those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." It is the first death Christ has "abolished" (or "nullified" - the same word as before) "and brought life and incorruption to light through the gospel" (2 Tim. 1. 10). For whom? For those who do not receive the gospel? And has Satan, or had he ever, the power of "the second death," which is his own doom? But again -
" 'That, if by the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, hath abounded unto many': that 'therefore as by the offence of one (or by one offence) judgment came on all to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one (or by one righteousness), the free gift should come on all unto the justification of life'; while 'they which receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ;' that 'as sin hath reigned unto death, so grace might reign unto eternal life,' yea, that 'where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.' "*
*Rom. v. 12-21.
Surely; but there are "those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness," and by implication, as certainly, those who do not. The mistake commonly made as to these connected passages is to make the "overabounding" of grace a matter of breadth, instead of height. But, from the nature of the case, if it were a question of the number reached, there could be no over-abounding of grace. Certainly, more could not be reached through Christ than fell with Adam, and that is how it must apply if in this way at all. But the real matter is one of depth and height, and not of breadth, as I have said. One offence brings condemnation; the free gift is of many offences to justification. By the one offence death reigned; by one righteousness not life reigns, but they reign in life. As to number, it is on each side "the one" and "the many": the first Adam and the many connected with him, the "last Adam" and the many connected with him, with a difference only in the 18th verse, where the tendency "towards all men" is in contrast with the actual issue in the 19th.
The 18th verse reads literally, Therefore as by one offence all men to condemnation, so by one righteousness towards all men so justification of life"
Mr. Jukes goes on: -
"To another church he states the same doctrine, that 'as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive'; and that 'the end' shall not come 'till all are subject to Him,' that 'God may be' not all in some but 'all in all; for He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet; the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.' "*
*1 Cor. xv. 22-28.
This, save the first passage, we have already had before us. Throughout the chapter the resurrection spoken of is the "resurrection of the just," and it is only that, or these, that are "in Christ." As all these die in Adam, they all are made alive in Christ: the "all" are defined by the connection with the previous verses to be all "those that sleep," and of whom Christ "is the first-fruits." They are the just only. It is defined by the connection with the verses following, to be all "those that are Christ's": "Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming." Nor does the apostle say one word about the wicked at all.
Again, Christ reigns till He puts all enemies under His feet. Changing them to friends is the very opposite to this. When this is accomplished He gives up the kingdom, and there are still enemies, though "under His feet." God cannot be all in all then, in the sense Mr. Jukes would assume. The connection in the text, moreover, does not give his thought at all. For if Christ's enemies had become friends before He gave up the kingdom, His giving it up would not make God all in their hearts any more than before. But it is the giving up of the kingdom that makes God "all in all." Evidently then the sense is that He will be in recognized and immediate supremacy everywhere.
But he goes on: -
So he says again, 'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ,. . . that in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in Him.' "*
* Eph. 1. 8-10.
This is a text Mr. Jukes has already once given, when he translates "gather together in one" as "rehead." He certainly puts it in a new connection, by dropping six verses of the original, to bring the third and tenth together. This he does not however justify or explain.
"To the same purpose he writes in another epistle, 'that at (or in) the name of Jesus (that is, Saviour) every knee shall bow of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father;' 'for to this end Christ both died and rose and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and living.' "
"Things "is not expressed here in the Greek. It reads "of heavenly, earthly, and infernal [beings]." In Col. i. 20 on the contrary is ta kanta Phil. ii. 10, 11; Rom. xiv. 3.
These texts have already received their meaning. For Christ's enemies being put under His feet implies that they own Him Lord; and that they find Him, or look to Him, as Saviour, is only said by Mr. Jukes.
"He further declares that 'for this sake he suffers reproach, because he hopes in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe'; that this God 'will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth'; that therefore, thanksgivings as well as prayers should be made for all, because there is a 'ransom for all, to be testified in due time'; and lastly, that 'God hath concluded all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all.' "§
§1 Tim. iv. 10; ii. 1-6; Rom. xi. 32.
These texts, except the last, we have also looked at. Mr. Jukes unites them together after his own fashion, omitting or supplementing as suits his argument. Thus in the first passage he omits, "For therefore we both labor" from before "and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God," etc., words which show us the connection with God as the Preserver. . . especially of those who believe, so that in the face of persecution, etc., he could labor. Again he quotes, " 'thanksgivings, as well as prayers should be made for all' because there is 'a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.' " Here he joins words five verses apart, and in a very different manner from the apostle, who writes, "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty; for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time." This is the whole passage. Mr. Jukes unfairly mutilates it, especially by representing the ransom for all as if to be testified of in a due time yet to come; whereas the apostle's words, which are literally "who gave Himself a ransom for all, the testimony for its own time,"* by no means convey this, but in the sentence that follows the very opposite: Whereunto I am ordained a preacher," etc.
*to marturion kaipois isious .
As for the last text quoted, it is an entirely different one in a different connection, and refers to Israel. It reads with the previous verse literally thus: "Even so have these also now not believed in your mercy" - in mercy to Gentiles - "that they also may be objects of mercy. For God hath concluded (or shut up together) all in unbelief that He might have mercy upon all." The Jews refusing a mercy which took up Gentiles, lost all claim upon God, and became as much as the Gentiles themselves objects of mere mercy. But thus God could show mercy to them, when it was demonstrated to be merely that. This mercy is to be shown in a fast coming day, and all Israel saved, i. e., the nation as such. The words have nothing to do with universal restoration.
outokai outo nun upeithusan to umeter o eleei kai autoi electros.
Mr. Jukes turns now from Paul's testimony to John's -
"The beloved apostle St. John, repeats the same doctrine, that 'the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world'; 'for God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the 'world through Him might be saved."'
But why not go on to the next verse, which assures us of how alone this could be realized: "he that believeth on Him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already because he hath not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God."*
*John iii. 17, 18.
"Further he teaches that the only begotten Son 'is the propitiation, not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world; that He 'is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,' and 'was revealed for this very purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil'; and that, as a result, there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor pain, because all things are made new, and the former things are passed away.' "
1 John ii. 2; John i. 29; John iii. 8; Rev. xxi, 4,5; and see Rev. v. 13.
Here again various and disconnected texts are brought together. No one, I should trust, that believes in Christ, doubts His being the world's Saviour, but what is more than doubted is His being the actual salvation of those who refuse Him. And if His being a 'propitiation for the whole world,' means that all will be saved by it, how is this to be reconciled with the fact that for some there "remaineth no more sacrifice for sins"? Again Christ's taking away the sin of the world will yet be displayed, as Mr. Jukes rightly foresees, when in the new earth it and all its consequences, death, sorrow and pain, are passed away forever. But that is strictly in the new heavens and earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, and Mr. Jukes cannot make that language apply to hell.
"The sins of," should be omitted, as is well known.
While as to the devil's works, as I have before said, they may be undone, and man even loosed from his bondage in this respect, and yet share through his own will the devil's portion. The lake of fire is not the devil's work: it is his punishment. Finally Mr. Jukes adduces: -
"For 'the Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand': and the Son Himself declares, 'All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which He hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.' And again He says, 'And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.' "*
*John iii. 35. vi 37-39; xii. 32.
Here again it should be no difficult matter to see that all things being given into Christ's hand is a different thing from people being given to Him as His own. And in that sixth chapter of John's gospel from which Mr. Jukes quotes, the limitation is so clear and precise, and so close to the very place he quotes, that it seems impossible it should have escaped him. The next verse to his last but one runs thus: "And this is the will of Him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day." Does that apply to all? Will they who do not believe have ever-lasting life alike? Is that what these texts point out?
The last I have before spoken of, and need not return to it.
Mr. Jukes finds therefore an "apparent contradiction" in these sayings of Scripture which the "approved teaching of Christendom" still leaves an unsolved mystery. Indeed it must be confessed his version of it does leave much unsolved, but having given my own, I need not follow it
The truth 'which solves the riddle, lies," he says, "in the mystery of the will of our ever blessed God as to the process and stages of redemption: -
"(1.) First, His will by some to bless and save others; by a first-born seed, 'the first-born from the dead,' to save and bless the later-born: -
"(2.) His will therefore to work out the redemption of the lost by successive ages or dispensations, or, to use the language of St. Paul, 'according to the purpose of the ages'; and -
"(3.) Lastly, His will (thus meeting the nature of our fall) to make death, judgment, and destruction, the means and way to life, acquittal, and salvation; in other words, through death to destroy him that has the power of death, that is, the devil, and to deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage."
The second and third of these statements we have pretty well considered. We have seen that the "purpose of the ages" has not in Scripture the meaning Mr. Jukes alleges. We have seen, too, that the death of the soul or its destruction is never the appointed way of its salvation: the terms are opposed. As when James says: "there is one lawgiver who is able to save and to destroy," who would suppose that these were convertible terms after all? And when the apostle speaks of Christ by death destroying him that had the power of death, - it is by His own death He does it, and not by the death of those whom He sets free.
It is mainly then his first proposition we have to consider now: "God's purpose by the first-fruits or first-born to save the later-born." And here at first sight two dissimilar ideas seem to be confused. What has the first-fruits to do with producing the harvest? It is the pledge and assurance of it; but that is quite a different thought. However, we will let Mr. Jukes state his argument.
"This," he says," which is in fact the substance of the gospel, like all God's secrets, comes out by degrees. Scarcely to be discerned, though contained, in the first promise of the Woman's Seed, it shines out brightly in the covenant made with Abraham: 'In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed'; for the Seed in whom all the kindreds of the earth are blessed, must be distinct from, and blessed prior to, those nations to whom according to God's purpose in due time it becomes a blessing."
It may be we are blind, but we confess we cannot see this. Is it the fact that Christ was born as Abraham's seed before any of those blest through Him as such, were born? Was not the blessing through Him reflected back as well as forward? It should seem so. And then Mr. Jukes' argument is void. Why does he apply the blessing of all kindreds of the earth only to what was future when Christ died? Moreover, the seed" in whom all kindreds of the earth are to be blessed, is expressly asserted by the apostle Gal. iii. 16) to be Christ alone, and not true of others: "he saith not, And to seeds, as of many, but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ" Argument, of course, is easy, if we may assume the basis of it at our will. But, we are told: -
"This purpose is then revealed with fuller detail in the law of the first-fruits and the first-born, though here the veil of type and shadow hides from most the face of Moses. But in Christ the purpose is unveiled forever, and the mystery by the first-born to save others is by the Holy Ghost made fully manifest. Christ, says the apostle, is the promised Seed, the First-born, and in and through Him endless blessing shall flow down on the later-born.
"Now Christ, as Paul shows, is first-born in a double sense. He is first-born from above, first out of life, for He is the only* begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; for by Him were all things created, which are in heaven, and which are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, all things were created by Him and for Him, and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.' But He is more than this, for He is also 'first -born from the dead,' first out of death, 'that in all things He might have the preeminence;' and it is in this relation, as First-born from the dead, that He is Head of the church, and first-fruits of the creature. All things are indeed of God; but it is no less true that all things are by man; as it is written, 'since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.' Therefore as by one first-born death came into the world, so by another first-born shall it be forever overthrown."
*Mr. Jukes sees no difference between "first" and " only." How can an "only begotten" be a first?
Where is this taught?
But if this be the New Testament doctrine of the firstborn, as he holds it, Mr. Jukes allows it does not prove his case. Very remarkable it is, after his having told us just before, that "in Christ the purpose is unveiled forever, and the mystery by the first-born to save others is by the Holy Ghost made fully manifest," he now tells us that nevertheless it is not in the clear revelations of the New Testament that we are to find the unveiling of this purpose, but we must go back to the law to find it! "The law of Moses is most instructive here; for while it is true that the letter of that law cannot be explained but by the gospel, it is no less true that the gospel in its breadth and depth cannot be set forth but by the figures of the law, each jot of which covers some blessed mystery"!
We have usually thought that the letter of the law was plain enough, and that the figures were what the New Testament explained. On the contrary, Mr. Jukes asserts the figures of the Old Testament alone fully set forth the gospel of the New!
He confesses then that his full gospel cannot be found in what we style, by way of eminence, the "gospel"! Let us still go on with him, however: -
"What then does the law teach us of the First-born from the dead?. . . According to the law, the first-born had the right. though it might be lost, of being priest and king, that is, of interceding for, and ruling over their younger brethren; on him devolved the duty of God or Redeemer, to redeem a brother who had waxen poor, and sold himself unto a stranger; to avenge his blood, to raise up seed to the dead, and to redeem the inheritance, if it were at any time lost or alienated. To sustain these duties God gave him a double portion. Need I point out how Christ fulfils these particulars; how, as first out of the grave that 'barren womb that cries, Give, give,' He is the First-born through whom the blessing reaches us? In this sense no Christian doubts that God's purpose is by the First-born from the dead to save and bless the later-born."
The first-born under the law were never priests. It is well known there was one special family. The nearest of kin redeemed the inheritance, etc., not necessarily the firstborn. And Christ's doing this does not yet present Mr. Jukes' gospel, but he must dig deeper down to find it.
"But the truth goes further still, for there are others beside the Lord who are both 'first-born' and 'Abraham's seed,' who must therefore in their measure 'share this same honour with and under Christ, and in whom, as 'joint-heirs with Him,' the promise must be fulfilled, that in them 'all the kindreds of the earth shall be blessed.' This glorious truth, though of the very essence of the gospel, which announces salvation to the world through the promised 'seed of Abraham,' is even yet so little seen by many of Abraham's seed, that not a few of the children of promise speak and act, as if Christ and His body only should be saved, instead of rejoicing that they are also the appointed means of saving others. Even of the elect, few see that they are elect to the birthright, not to be blessed only, but to be a blessing; as first-born with Christ to share the glory of kingship and priest-hood with Him, not only to rule and intercede for their younger and later-born brethren, but to avenge their blood, to raise up seed to the dead, and in and through Christ, their Life and Head, to redeem their lost inheritance."
This then is how the Old Testament figures set forth the gospel of the New! But the blessing of all nations is through the "one seed," Christ, alone, as we have seen. In what "measure" then can others share in it? And what has being "joint-heirs with Christ," to do with "saving others"? What does avenging the blood of those who have died for their sins and in them mean; and how are these the "later-born"? That the risen saints are priests and kings with Him who is Priest and King is of course true, and rule and intercession for others are implied in these terms. But over whom and for whom are these offices? "Their younger and later-born brethren," says Mr. Jukes. Then these should be, and will be, doubtless, millennial saints. They can hardly be the wicked, without we ASSUME the latter birth (new birth, of course) of these. Mr. Jukes at present has at least given us no evidence at all of this.
He now passes on to the "first-fruits," rightly referring the Passover first-fruits to Christ, the Pentecostal leavened cakes to the saints: " 'Christ, the First-fruits,' and 'we, a kind of first-fruits': Christ 'the First-born,' and we 'the church of the first-born'; words which carry with them," he says, "blessings unspeakable, 'for if the first-fruit be holy, the lump is also holy,' the offering of the first-fruits to God being accepted as the sanctification and consecration of the whole coming harvest."
Does Mr. Jukes mean, of the "tares" as well as of the wheat, or of the wheat alone? If the latter, it will not be questioned; but neither will it serve his turn. He seeks to apply it thus: -
"First, the Jew is Abraham's seed, - the people that dwell alone, and are not reckoned among the nations, and although 'all are not Israel, who are of Israel,' Scripture will indeed be broken, if. Israel is not again grafted in; when, if the casting away of them has been the riches of the world, the receiving of them, as St. Paul says, shall be life from the dead. 'Israel is my son, my first-born, saith the Lord.' All nations therefore, shall yet be blessed in them."
Here again is the constant twist, the many seeds substituted for the one. And while Israel will be fruitful in the earth, this is not the fulfilment of the Pentecostal first-fruits. The other application more concerns us now.
"The church is also Abraham's seed; for, as St. Paul says, 'if ye be Christ's ye are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.' To the church, therefore, belongs the same promise, as first-fruits with Christ, not to be blessed only, but to be a blessing, in its own heavenly and spiritual sphere. For if the Jew on earth shall be a 'kingdom of priests,' what is our hope but to be also heavenly 'kings and priests'? As kings, for the Lord shall say, 'Be thou over five cities,' to rule and order in the coming age what requires order; not only with Christ to judge the world,' but to be 'equal unto the angels.' and to 'judge the angels';* as priests, for a priest is 'for those out of the way,' to minister to those who are yet out of the way. . . . Christ barely entered on His priestly work till He had passed through death and judgment; so with those who are Christ's, their death and resurrection shall only introduce them to fuller and wider service to lost ones, over whom the Lord shall set them as His priests and kings, until all things are restored and reconciled unto Him."
*Judgment is with Mr. Jukes a mode of salvation, and we are to save the fallen angels so!
He did not enter on it at all till then: "for if He were on earth He should not be a priest" (Heb. viii. 4).
Priesthood is not for "lost ones." Christ as a priest, in contrast with the Jewish priests, is "separate from sinners." Even they ministered only within the limits of the chosen people, and our priesthood must conform to this. Here Mr. Jukes' interpretation ends. The shadows of the law, that were to preach the perfect gospel unpreached by the gospel, are utterly silent as to the "wider hope." After this long argument the only result is a question, and an unanswered question, as far as Mr. Jukes is concerned.
"To whom, I ask, shall the church after death be priests? Shall it be to that great mass of our fellowmen, who have departed hence in ignorance? Shall it be to 'spirits in prison,' such as those to whom after His death Christ preached? Shall not His saints, made like Him, do the same works, still following Him, and with Him being priests to God? Will not their glory be to rule and feed and enlighten and clothe those who are committed to them, even as Christ has fed and clothed them?". . . .
And THAT is the argument. I have given it really at superfluous length, but it was well to see the whole, if only for the satisfaction of seeing how simply impossible it is to make Scripture contradict Scripture. Mr. Jukes calls it reconciling, of course; but there was nothing to reconcile. And reconciliation which can only be accomplished by sinking Great Babylon into the water of life, as he does a little further on, most people will after all think exemplifies one of his own principles in a rather startling way. But none who know what Scripture is will thank him for a salvation of it wrought by its destruction. As they do not believe in the process, so neither will they accept the result.
Mr. Jukes urges in another part of his book that -
"the precepts which God has given are in their way as strong a witness as His direct promises Hear the law respecting bondmen, and strangers, and debtors, and widows, and orphans, and the punishment of the wicked, which may not exceed forty stripes, 'lest, if it exceed, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee;' yea, even the law respecting asses fallen into a pit: hear the prophets exhorting to 'break every yoke,' to 'let the op pressed go free,' and to 'undo the heavy burdens': hear the still clearer witness of the gospel, not to 'let the sun go down upon our wrath,' to 'forgive not until seven times, but unto seventy times seven,' 'not to be overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good'; to 'walk in love as Christ has loved us,' and to 'be imitators of God as dear children': - see the judgment of those who neglect the poor, and the naked, and the hungry, and the stranger, and the prisoner; and then say, Shall God do that which He abhors? Shall He command that bondmen and debtors be freed, and yet Himself keep those who are in worse bondage and under a greater debt in endless imprisonment? Shall He care for widows and orphans, and Himself forget this widowed nature, which has lost its Head and Lord, and those poor orphan souls, which cannot cry, 'Abba, Father'? Shall He limit punishment to forty stripes, 'lest thy brother seem vile,' and Himself inflict far more upon those who though fallen are still His children? Is not Christ the faithful Israelite, who fulfils the law, and shall He break it in any one of these particulars? Shall He say, 'Forgive, till seventy times seven,' and Himself not forgive except in this short life? Shall He command us to overcome evil with good, and Himself, the Almighty, be overcome of evil? Shall He judge those who leave the captives unvisited, and Himself leave captives in a worse prison forever unvisited? Does He not again and again appeal to our own natural feelings of mercy, as witnessing 'how much more' we may expect a larger mercy from our Father which is in heaven? If it were otherwise, might not the adversary reproach, and say, Thou that teachest and judgest another, teachest thou not thyself? Not thus will God be justified. But, blessed be His Name, He shall in all be justified."*
*Pp. 93, 94.
In that assurance we shall all, I believe, unite. But Mr. Jukes can scarcely thus turn the questions that he puts into the affirmations that he fain would make of them. He confounds things widely different. He forgets or omits what is in the highest degree essential to the argument. Who would suppose that according to him the law had any heavier penalty than the "forty stripes" referred to? Dr. Farrar can make the execution of a criminal, and the casting forth of his unburied corpse amid the flames and worms of the valley of Hinnom the figure of corrective and remedial punishment. Mr. Jukes seems to forget that the penalty of death ever existed for malefactors under the law. For if it did exist, he could hardly say that God enjoined for all offenders either continual forgiveness, or temporary punishment merely. Is death the figure of either? If not, of what is it a figure? Surely, as I have before argued, a punishment inflicted by man which, as far as he is concerned, has no end and cannot be reversed, must be the figure of that which if divine has not forever end or reversion. I know Mr. Jukes says that death is the way to life, and destruction but a process of salvation; but no criminal executed by a government ever believed that these were one and the same thing to him, or intended as such by those who sentenced him.
Again, what would mercy to an unrepenting criminal involve? Mr. Jukes forgotten that of some even in this life it is said, "it is impossible to renew them unto repentance"? Does he not understand that the mercy which with us as individuals may be right and good, may be the reverse of both if practised wholesale by a government? He confounds these things as if he did not understand it. Nay, he speaks of God's remission of imperative judgment as "letting the oppressed go free"!
But I do not think it needful to argue further. We have it confessed by Mr. Jukes himself that "the gospel in its breadth and depth cannot be set forth but by the figures of the law." When these figures are appealed to, we find not the slenderest evidence to show that the "later-born brethren" to whom God's "first-born" sons are to be kings and priests are those in hell. The ages of torment, instead of being limited and temporary with an eternity of universal blessedness beyond, are limited only by the life of God Himself. And lastly, the destruction which he would have to be a method of salvation, is everywhere in Scripture defined as its opposite. These are the fundamental principles of his interpretation, and with these it necessarily falls; while in our examination of the Scriptures proof upon proof has been given of the contrary view. Mr. Jukes himself confesses that, from his stand-point of universal salvation, "taken in the letter, text clashes with text, on this subject."* But that gives up the whole question, except letter and figure are at issue. If they are, who shall decide between them? Nay, how shall the figure be interpreted if not by that letter, which it seems is discordant with it? I leave then Mr. Jukes in the self-contradiction in which he has involved himself. Our account with him is virtually closed, although statements of his may yet come up for examination. We must turn to other advocates of universal restoration.
Go To Chapter Forty
Home | Links | Literature