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These formed “the cloud of witnesses," who saw with astonishment, and often with fury at what they considered the fanatical madness of their victims, their stedfast adherence to the God of their fathers. They refused to “accept deliverance" from horrible torture, though they knew it must end in death, because “they looked for a better resurrection.” Any one acquainted with Grecian or Roman theatres knew what a cloud of witnesses meant. The fact that suggested the eleventh chapter is found in the concluding paragraph of the tenth :

“ But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of affliction ; partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith : but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not one of them who draw back unto perdition ; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul."

The word rendered “gazingstock," beatpiso, means made a spectacle in a theatre, or in places set apart for wrestling, fighting, and so forth for the amusement of spectators. In these places criminals were sometimes exposed and punished. The following affecting passage, from the First Epistle to the Corinthians, brings these exhibitions vividly before us :

“For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death : for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling-place; and labour, working with our own hands; being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

The word rendered “spectacle” in this passage is Oeatpovtheatron-so that the Apostle felt that he and his fellow sufferers for Christ's sake were, like the Hebrew confessors in a previous age, gazed upon by a great cloud of witnesses. Hence the words in the verse under notice (Heb. xii. 1). “We also "-equal to : There are many spectators of our conduct now, as there were of theirs formerly. Mr. Conybeare * translates 1 Cor. iv. 9 thus :-"For

* Conybeare and Howson's, “Life and Epistles of St. Paul.”

I think, God has set forth us the apostles last of all, like criminals condemned to die, to be gazed at in a theatre by the whole world, both men and angels." And he gives the following illustrative note: Literally, because we have been made a theatrical spectacle. Compare Heb. x. 33. The spectacle to which St. Paul here alludes was common in those times. Criminals condemned to death were exhibited for the amusement of the populace on the arena of the amphitheatre, and forced to fight with wild beasts, or to slay one another or gladiators. These criminals were exhibited at the end of the spectacle as an exciting termination to the entertainment * (set forth last of all.') So Tertullian paraphrases the passage, Nos Deus Apostolos novissimos elegit velut bestiarios.'

If it were at all needful we might further strengthen the argument by quoting Phil. iii. 13, 14, and 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8, as well as several other passages in Paul's Epistles; but perhaps the reader will see from what has been said that the notion of souls in heaven witnessing the career of saints on earth must be given up as destitute of foundation either in fact or Scripture. But let us remember that the world is watching us, who profess that we are not of it; and let us live accordingly.



I. T the Conference of “ The Conditional Immortality Asso

ciation,” held in Maberly Chapel in 1879, I was startled at hearing a tenet asserted to the effect that the true period of Regeneration is at the Resurrection from the dead. I made no remark at the time, for I imagined the assertion to be merely a “ private interpretation" of some hitherto obscure Scripture, and confined to Mr. George Brown. To my surprise, however, at the Conference lately held at Liverpool, I found that the above tenet was believed in by several of the brethren there present; I deemed it therefore right to examine its claim for acceptance. Having searched in vain for the Scriptural authority on which it is supposed to rest, I sought from some of the brethren the reason for their belief; and learn (subject to correction) that it is necessary in order to uphold the doctrine of the unconscious state of the believers who die. They suppose, that if a man is “ born again ” during this age, he cannot die absolutely, but must exist continuously in a spirit form.

II. Now it is evident that the question turns on the nature of the “New Birth," its effect on the believer, and the object for which it is conferred. In the course of our investigation opportunity will be afforded for dispelling the illusion that the present state of a regenerated person concedes any ground for belief that

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he must, after death, necessarily remain in a spiritually conscious condition until the Resurrection.

III. I say “present state," for I cannot but think that the fol. lowing Scriptures assert beyond question the fact of the Divine bestowal of the new birth during this current age wherein the Gospel of salvation is preached, which began by the ocular proof of the conversion of three thousand souls by the power of the Pentecostal Spirit. This was followed by that of Saul, the Jew of Tarsus, and subsequently by that of the Gentile Centurion and others. What name can be given to the effect then produced on hearers of the Word, who are said to have received the Holy Spirit, to have repented, to have been conscious of the forgiveness of sins, and to have been baptized ? Is it not regeneration ? If not, what is it ?

Is it not written that“ Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God ? ” 1 John v. 1, in which verse we also perceive that being “born,” and being “ begotten" of God mean the same thing ;* moreover, that the Divine endowment has a present purpose, viz., for overcoming the world (ver. 4).

Those who believe, who were dead in trespasses and sins, God hath quickened into the consciousness of a newness of life,” (Eph. ii. 5); they are “freed from sin,” to which they have judicially died with Christ; nor, though still in sinful flesh, can they sin unto condemnation, because they are born of God (Rom. vi. 7, 11 ; viii. 1; with 1 John v. 18). Here again a present pur. pose is declared for this condition ; it is in order to the service of God (Rom. vi. 18, 22), and for a testimony to His grace and love. The Apostle Peter says that brotherly love should be engendered by the acknowledgment of the fact of all “ being born again” by the same incorruptible seed, the Word of God (1 Pet. i. 22, 23). The Evangelist John says that “as many as received' Jesus

' as the Son of God, to them gave He the right to become the sons of God; who were born, not of the flesh, or the will of man, but of God(John i. 12, 13).

The Apostle James asserts that God “ of His own will begat us with the Word of Truth ;" testimony being again the object during

* I make this assertion on other ground also, viz., that the Greek word yevvaw is ased to signify both being “born,” and being “ begotten.” Moreover, to show that the former word should govern the meaning of the latter, the word yevvaw is used in Matt. ii. 1, 4, Luke i. 35, John iii, 3, 4, 5, 6, ix. 2, 32, and other passages, in no one of which instances would "begotten" have been applicable. The word is also used in 1 Cor. iv. 15, and 1 Peter i. 3, 23, and in all the passages that follow the one to which this note refers, except James i. 18, where the word " begat" is obtained from anokvEw, the proper meaning of which is “to bring forth" (Parkburst). Closely allied to being“ born."

The word EWTÓTOKOS is used to denote both “first born” and “first begotten.” Thus in Parkhurst's Lex. is found 75WTOTÓKOS råons KTÍOEWS “firstborn or first begotten of the whole creation.” Also ACWTOTÓKOS ÉK TÙY Verçãy " the firstborn or first begotten from the dead."

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this present age, to the dawn of a new creation by the resurrection of Christ from the dead, of which those thus begotten are the “firstfruits" (James i. 18, with Eph. i. 11, 14).

The Lord Jesus, on the evening of His resurrection, when He became “ The Last Adam,” Head of a new Creation, breathed on His disciples the quickening power of that life that constituted them subjects of that new creation ; for the exercise of which He also bestowed on them the Holy Spirit as the fountain-head within them whence their testimony should flow forth (John xx. 21-23; 2 Cor. v. 17, 18). What was this but “the spirit of life in Christ Jesus conveying to their souls the consciousness of judicial freedom from “the principle of sin and death " expressed in that word“ Peacethat accompanied the action ? (Rom. viii. 2.) I ask again whether this be not Regeneration ?

Much more might be adduced to the same effect, viz., to demonstrate that regeneration and conversion are Divine acts of this present age in order to a newness of life.” Now are we the sons of God” (1 John iii. 2).

IV. Before passing to the next topic it may be well to state that the only instance recorded in Scripture of regeneration being coincident with resurrection, is that of the nation of Israel in the age to come, when the repentant members of that nation who are living at the period of the Second Advent of the Messiah, will be regenerated, and those true Israelites who have died in faith will be raised from the dead. The two events are recorded in full detail in Ezek. xx vi. 23-38, and xxxvii.

This period of “the regeneration" of Israel is the event to which the Lord Jesus referred, as stated in Matt. xix. 28.

V. I now proceed to show that the present participation in the “ new birth” or “spirit of life in Christ Jesus," does not involve "

” a conscious continuance of existence after death in any form whatever. Apart from the unquestionable fact that the faculties of mind, will, or affections have no spiritual subsistence dissociated from the material organs of which they are the obvious phenomena, so that when these organs perish all mental or intelligent action is at an end: apart too, at present, from the abundant evidence from Scripture that confirms the above, I will produce the experience of Paul the apostle, both as to the fact and effect of his regeneration and conversion, and to his expectations at death; written by himself under inspiration of God.

Regarding the former event he says, that having been “ before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious, serving divers lusts and pleasures"

After that the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, not by works of righteousness that he had done, but according to His mercy He saved him, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Spirit" (1 Tim. i. 13; Titus iii. 3-5).

This plain statement, taken together with the well-known scene


related in Acts ix., needs no comment to persuade men as to the fact of the apostle's regeneration. The effect having been the conversion of a persecutor and blasphemer into “ a chosen servant, to bear the name of Jesus before the Gentiles" in this dispensation.

Nor is this to be reckoned a peculiar case, for he says that Jesus Christ first showed forth all long-suffering in him, for a pattern to them who should hereafter believe."

VI. Let us now learn from this same apostle's own writing, what his expectations were when the earthly house of this tabernacle* should be dissolved. These are given in 2 Cor. v. 1-10, which passage is to be connected with the preceding chapter, wherein, after adverting to his own and Timothy's perplexities and persecutions, he says to the Corinthians that they are not in despair, “though always delivered unto death, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus, shall raise us up also by Jesus, and shall present us with you! (i.e., Corinthian saints) (iv. 14). He then proceeds to strengthen their faith with the assurance that “ If this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens ;” i.e., as in 1 Cor. xv. 38, 53, God will give them a body that pleaseth Him, a spiritual, immortal body that they may “bear the image of the heavenly' (ver. 48). Well he knew that the glorious body that is to clothe the spirits of the saved is the form and pattern of that of the glorified Firstborn, in which they will surely“ not be found naked” in the Father's eyes.

We have just learnt how Paul knew that as an objective personal individual he would not be presented to the Father by Jesus at his dissolution, but together with the members of the entire body“presented with you”-as he writes to the Corinthians (iv. 14). Here then is an assurance that regenerated believers do not, as they severally die, pass into the presence of the Lord in any disembodied form during any intermediate period, but remain in their graves till summoned by the voice of the Archangel, when the entire body—the living members being changed simultaneously into the resurrection state-rise together “ to meet the Lord in the firmament," not in heaven! (1 Thess. iv. 15-17). If there was such an event as either the passing of believers into glory, or remaining in & conscious state between death and resurrection, here surely was the opportunity for making the revelation. But the apostle is silent on the subject; he knows it not. His mind was occupied solely with the surety of transition from the mortal to the immortal body; his faith, as a substance of things hoped for," could bring the latter into immediate contact with the former.

The Bible knows nothing of a natural immortality, nor does it of the traditional idea of the continued existence of soul as a pure

* That the word “ tabernacle” means the human body, see its use in 2 Peter i. 14.

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