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Him.” The 144,000 sealed in chap. vii. 4 are evidently preserved by this sealing from surrounding judgments while exposed to them, as in chap. ix. 4, and are now seen in chap. xiv. 1 on the Mount Sion with the Lamb, and said in verse 3 to be redeemed from among men and from the earth, being the first fruit unto God and to the Lamb (more literally, a first fruit). If these are first fruits there must be after fruit, or harvest; and how beautifully in keeping is the latter half of chap. vii. from verse 9, the harvest being “a great multitude, which no man can number,” coming out of the Great Tribulation, from whence the first fruit had also come, as indicated clearly by chap. ix. 4. Some writers affirm this great multitude to be the Church ; others (with whom Mr. Starkey evidently agrees) affirm the 144,000 to be the Church. But I hold that neither separately nor combined, symbolically nor otherwise, have they any part or place in the distinctive glory of the Church, but hold a place and partake of a glory peculiarly their own; and passing now to chap. xiv., we find it in perfect accord, for while in verse 4 we have the 144,000 first fruits, in verses 14, 15, 16, we have a reaping and harvest. Yes, a glorious barvest, which I look upon as the detailed gathering of the great multitude of chap. vii., and gathered chiefly, if not exclusively, from the dead. (See chap. xiii. 7-15; xiv. 12, 13.) Proofs for the foregoing affirmation I think are ample, and could easily be given.
T. J. HITCHCOCK. Glasgow.
THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD CONSIDERED AS AN
ARGUMENT FOR UNIVERSALISM.
though running in opposite directions, have the same fountain head ; and the contrary doctrines of eternal suffering, and universalism, in its various shades, have a common origin, and their existence depends on the same source, viz., the figment of the inherent immortality of mankind. Take that away, and they both crumble to pieces.
Nature and Revelation are silent on what is termed the immortality of the soul; and the Scriptures, in the plainest language, declare that immortality or deathlessness of being is only to be obtained through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. That, so far are the unsaved from being deathless, their ultimate destiny, after judgment, is to “perish,” to be consumed like chaff in the quenchless flame.
Very reasonably the question here presents itself: If such be the case, how is it that the belief of the deathless nature of all men has got so incorporated with the Christian religion, as it manifestly is ? The question is an interesting one ; and a very clear and able answer to it is to be found in the Rev. Henry Constable's work, “ The Nature and Duration of Future Punishment,” now in its fifth edition. To it the interested inquirer is referred; and, in the meantime, we would simply state that shortly after the death of the apostles their teaching began to be sadly corrupted by the incorporation of heathen philosophy, and in this way, by the end of the second century, the philosophy of Plato had become amalgamated with the doctrine of Christ.
The prevalence of the Platonic doctrine, thus introduced, is no doubt owing to the pleasing way in which it recommends itself to the pride of man; for is it not a grand thought to believe oneself to be inherently deathless as the eternal God Himself ? Its success, at first, was no doubt also, in no small degree, due to the nursing it got in the Church of Rome, to which it has furnished profitable articles in the doctrines of purgatory and prayers for the dead.
From this heathen source sprang the awful dogma of eternal suffering as the punishment of all the unsaved. It first made its appearance, Mr. Constable informs us, about the close of the second century, in the writings of a nameless forger of the spurious works of Clement. It was advocated also by Athenagoras, Tatian, and Tertullian, its great and powerful champion.
Universalism was introduced by Origen, who died A.D. 253. The preaching of the horrid doctrine of eternal evil, and eternal pain, doubtless went far to aid the genius of Origen in promulgating his fascinating doctrine; yet it soon was treated as a heresy, and the powerful influence of Augustine well-nigh extinguished it for 1,200 years and more. In modern times, however, it has had a revival, and never had so many adherents as at the present time. For, though Universalists, as a sect, are, in Britain, comparatively insignificant, yet the doctrine is widely spread, and its advocates are gaining strength and courage daily.
From first to last Universalism is a recoil from the idea of neverending woe. It is that doctrine, in combination with the idea of inherent immortality, which forms the stock argument of the Universal Restorationist. Very sparingly do these men draw their arguments from Scripture; and when they do, it is by explaining its terms in a secondary and metaphorical sense. They are, indeed, in the habit of treating with derision the quotation of what they term "strings of texts," and characterise the strict adherence to the grammatical and obvious sense of the words of the Bible, as "servile interpretation.”
For the most part their arguments consist of moral reasonings and abstract considerations, founded on the character of God, &c; and one of these, on which they seem to place great reliance, is that with which we now propose to deal, viz. :
THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD.
Universalists of every variety use this argument with the greatest confidence. All mon being children of God, it is held to be incredible that He will either destroy or eternally punish any of the human race, “ A father,” it is said, “ who is wise and good, cannot even be imagined as putting to death one of his own children : much more, therefore, ought such an act to be disbelieved regarding the Father of spirits."
This argument, however plausible and specious, considered by itself, is far from sound. It assumes that, because God is the Creator, He therefore, sustains the relation of a Father to all men, and that it would be crael in God to withdraw from man, for any reason, the life He has given.
But why confine this argument to mankind ? Man, notwithstanding the superiority of his powers, is no more truly a creature of God than is the meanest reptile that crawls on the ground; so that, were the argument sound, it stands as much against the final extinction of the life of any member of the animal tribes, as it does against the final destruction of wicked men.
“He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle,
And herb for the service of man.
Is God, therefore, cruel to the creatures of His care ? If not, then how can it be cruel or unjust in God to withdraw from man the life imparted to him, should He see fit to do so; more especially if man by his conduct has forfeited all claim on the Divine favour?
Bat, confining the application of the argument to mankind, what becomes of its assumption in the light of facts and events constantly transpiring? What has it to say regarding those famines periodically occurring in the East, by which millions of men die of starvation ? What man that is a father would allow his children to perish for want of food if he had it to give them ? Yet the Almighty allows those famines and their consequences. What has the argument to say to the fact of those terrible earthquakes and volcanic eruptions by which thousands of the human race are sometimes destroyed in a few hours ? The same question may be put regarding storms on land and sea, which annually bring death to thousands.
Then, think of those legalised murders, called wars, continually transpiring, where men butcher each other in open day, and answer the question-If the Creator sustains the same relation to mankind at large as we do to our children, why does He allow them thus, in His presence, to slaughter each other? What man among you that is a father would permit his children to kill each other, if he could prevent them ? God does allow those things. Is He, therefore, cruel ? None will shrink from the conclusiou with greater horror than the Universalist. But what, then, becomes of his argument ? It falls to the ground, and is utterly worthless.
The terrible and appalling facts referred to manifestly show that the relation which the Creator sustains to mankind at large is more that of a Ruler than of a Father. He has made man, and endowed him with extraordinary capabilities, and surrounded him with a world fitted to sustain him in happy existence; but himself, and the world around him are subject to law-inexorable law. Conformity with that law, in its physical and moral relations, brings life and happiness, but its violation insures misery and death.
Leaving what we term the world of nature, let us pass on to revelation, and try the argument in question by what we find there. What has this argument to say to the fact of our primogenitor, in the very
dawn of his existence, being placed under law, and threatened with DEATH should he violate it ? What has it to say to the destruction of almost the entire population of the world by the flood; the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah; the destruction of Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea ? What has it to say to the fact of the entire destruction in the wilderness of all the grown-up persons that left Egypt under Moses, except two? Will it charge God with cruelty in these cases ? If not, where is its force against the idea that “ALL THE WICKED WILL HE DESTROY ?”
We will now appeal to the direct teaching of the Christ and His apostles. The beloved Son of God, who is in the bosom of the Father -to whom the Father had shown all things that He will do-came forth from the Father to make known His will and purposes toward man, and, in the most emphatic language, He gave the strongest denial to the idea that God, the Creator of all, sustains toward all men the relation of a Father; and that He will not destroy any of them because they are His children. Here is His language regarding certain men who claimed God for their Father—" If God were your Father ye would love Me. Ye are of your father, the devil, and the lusts of your
father ye will do.” What did he say was the ultimate doom of the children of the devil ? These are His words—“The good seed are the children of the kingdom, but the tares are the children of the wicked one; as, therefore, the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of this world (or age). The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. xiii. 38-42).
To the same effect is the doctrine of the holy apostles. “ Children of God,” sons of God," are terms occurring frequently in their epistles, yet never applied to mankind at large, but contrariwise to those who have been separated from the mass to be unto God a holy and peculiar people. Thus, Paul reminds the Christians in the churches of Galatia that “they are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus ” (Gal. iii. 26).
Previous to their having that faith they, like their brethren at Ephesus, were “the children of wrath even as others ; "-yea, “by nature the children of wrath ” (Eph. ii. 3). “Behold," says the apostle John, “what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the song of God. Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it know Him not.” “ In this are the children of God made manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God” (verse 10). 6. The Son of God was mani. fested to destroy the works of the devil” (verse 8). The devil himself, and those of the human race who die in unbelief and impenitence, shall share his doom.
The same apostle describing his Master's mission and its result says“ He came unto His own, and His own received Him not, but to as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sous of God, even to them that believe in His name ; who are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
These testimonies plainly contradict the idea that to be a man is to be a child of God. As the work of His hands, men are the “ offspring" of
God; but, as formerly remarked, that is true of "all in whose nostrils is the breath of life” (Gen. vii. 22). God, speaking by His Son, and the apostles and prophets, calls only those His children who are His by adoption—who have been born again by faith in His incorruptible word. Not every man, but “whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God” (1 John v. 1).
Here is the grand secret of the Divine sonship: a being born againborn from above. Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John iii. 5). Such is the Divine fiat. All born of woman, in order to becoming sons of God, must be born again-born from above.
Am I addressing one who has never reflected on the truth, that unless we are born twice we must die twice-that unless we are born of God we must die the second death ?
These are serious words. Some may think them hard sayings, yet they are the true sayings of God, who loves you more than tongue can tell
. He delights in mercy, waits to be gracious, entreats you to be His child; yet, as sure as He has spoken, " the day of salvation shall have an end; and “ there remaineth a certain fearful looking-for of judgment and fiery indignation that shall devour the adversaries." But why will you die, since God has sent His only begotten Son into into the world that you might live through Him ?
know not, unless it be the dogmatic DEAR SIR,-My friend “G. J. v assertion of my worthy friend), that S.,” whom I much respect and es- the resurrection of the Church of teem, thinks I have fallen into an the present dispensation takes place error in “overlooking the different some time before; and consequently, periods of the first resurrection." the resurrection of the Apocalypse He says also that the first resurrec- is not the first, but the second, or tion is manifestly “not a single probably the third of a series. event, carried out in one moment, Would “G. J. v S.” kindly oblige but a continuous one, terminating me with some scriptural authority at a set time." I confess all this for the following assumptions, or appears to me very extraordinary as he confesses dogmatic asserand very confusing. It may be my tions ? stupidity, but it seems to me that 1. That the second advent of our the expression, " First Resurrec- Lord “is not a single event, but
(Rev. xx. 5,6), and “Blessed includes several distinct manifesand holy is he that hath part in the tations.” That is to say, that there first resurrection," conveys the are two or three advents ? notion that the resurrection spoken 2. That the martyrs who rise the first.
Whereas it from the dead as described by John appears (upon what authority I (Rev. xx.),
(Rev. xx.), "are slain after the