« FöregåendeFortsätt »
waters roar and are troubled, and the mountains shake with the swelling thereof, it has been always the refuge of God's people. All this I say, while I fully sympathize with the causes which incline
many fine and beautiful minds against the system.”
There is indeed great truth in this ; the pity is, that the spiritual truth in Calvinism could not be dissociated from its stern and arbitrary features, and seen more perfectly in connection with the good Lord's gentle influences, and the proper freedom of man. “No wonder,” says another writer, “ that predestinations, absolute decrees, and sovereignty, were so prominently thrown up in the petrified exhumations, revivified by the sternest of the Reformers, in those days of fiery trial. And nowo again will this great moving power be called into requisition, in deeper trials and more fiery ordeals than human souls have ever passed through upon earth. But it will be upon à plané of life that has been so long closed upon earth, that its very existence has been denied by the church generally; and is now practically denied by even those who acknowledge the scientific truths of the New Jerusalem. The truths of God's absolute Power over all the destinies of human beings, both in time and eternity, will now become so inwoven with all the heart experiences that belong to a spiritual plane of feeling and of thought, that no appearances will have power to divert the mind from the realities of eternal life.” *
Ah yes, the Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice. Men and devils are nothing before Him. Preposterous ! that man, the finite creature, should be endowed with a power which all confess is wholly derived, which will enable him finally and eternally to defeat that very Power from which all power is derived! Surely he can never do it. He cannot do it even for a single moment, looked at interiorly. Man may delay God's purposes, which is synonymous with protracting his own sinful state, but he cannot finally and utterly defeat them. God
* Conflict of Ages Ended, pp. 298, 299.
only lent him that power, thereby to accomplish his own purposes more fully and completely. And yet He will never violate man's free will - never force it, but by continually following man as a Father his own child, will ply him gently and wisely with a thousand myriad influences; and by throwing different motives around him, and changing and modifying those motives according as man can bear them; by causing him to feel the pains of punishment as well as the joys of goodness, He will eventually deliver him from the evil, and advance him to as high a state of goodness and happiness as he has any power or susceptibility to enjoy.
All this is spoken, not with the same meaning for those in the hells, for of them we fear another process, yet have faith in the end of evil. But before this end can be obtained, these resolutely wicked, lost and abandoned spirits, will have to pass through pains and horrors inconceivable and impossible to utter. Ages on ages will roll away, in the dim, dark regions of eternity, and yet to millions will there no deliverance come. “ Verily I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing." (Matt. 5: 26.) And when deliverance does come, is it the man the sinner, that can thus more properly be said to be delivered? I do not see how it can be. When once a man has really and persistently taken the downward life that leads to hell, and has passed through the World of Spirits, or intermediate state, and taken up his abode in hell, I see no process of deliverance for the conscious sinner. The law of destruction seems to hold here, as in all other departments of nature. It is just like an infected tree; when it has passed beyond a certain point in the progress of decay, there is no salvation for it. It must all run out. So, I believe, of the sinner in hell. He passes to destruction. Not annihilation of his entire being, for there is still a divine germ-perhaps a human germ, so transcendently high and pure within him, that it cannot be destroyed, though it may never come into consciousness with him as a
This may remain as the foundation of a new life and existence. Somehow or other, by a process which we cannot here elaborate, but which may form the subject of a future treatise, this inmost germ of undying good may find its ultimation again in natural life. It is no more unreasonable to think it can, than that it found a beginning at first in natural life. It may grow up into a new man into an angel. The general principle of this is what I believe. But the destiny of the sinner is thus horrible to think of. “ Destruction of soul and body in hell”—“second death”-“burnt up root and branch"-"utterly consumed”—"everlastingly damned.” May God deliver us from the awful destiny - set our feet here in this world heavenward, and spare us the penalty of the second death. For it is the word of his Truth which we cannot doubt - "He that is filthy let him be filthy still; he that is holy, let him be holy still." +
But before we speak any further of this grand and final result in the Divine Government, let us proceed to consider these intermediate evils through which the world is now passing, and in which it groans and travails in pain, waiting for deliverance. These evils, I say, all of them, have come into existence by a certain necessity which there is for them, not in the Divine Constitution, but in that peculiar freedom and imperfection which was all that could be bestowed upon the creature man, but which nevertheless were sufficient to keep him upright if he had chosen to remain so. Let there be no quibbling with this statement. Because God could do no more, that is no reason why it was not sufficient to maintain man in his integrity, if man had so chosen. If it is asked — could he
* See pages 364, 365.
† This conclusion is somewhat different from that expressed in a pamphlet previously published by the author, on the “ Eternity of Heaven and Hell,” but it is to him now the better conclusion and the higher theology, and more consistent with the inmost sense of the Divine Word throughout.
so have chosen? I answer yes, practically speaking; but if, from a chain of eternal causes, there was a certain necessity (not compulsory) in the very choice itself, what is that against the choice? Who feels it any thing now? Who does not feel both sides of a truth so double? We acknowledge the necessity, and we acknowledge the free-will. They are both true, and it is a truth of such delicacy, and of such demand upon our whole nature, that it must be felt and perceived equally, if possible, by the affections and the intellect. But we cannot go over this ground again. What we insist upon here is, that the Divine Providence is absolute, universal, thorough and complete, as much in the evil, or with regard to the evil, as in the good of the world. As to the evil, instead of saying providence, we should say previdence. God provides the good, and prevides for the evil. But to make this still clearer, one other division of the subject is necessary, which is fundamental and vital.
THE CONNECTION OF GOD WITH NATURE.
O Adam, One Almighty is, from whom
OUR ideas of the Divine Providence are densely and darkly obscured to many minds, by the confused speculations of philosophers and theologians concerning the mode of the Divine existence, or what, for clearness' sake, we may call the manner of God's connection with the spiritual and material universe. We have heard so much of matter and spirit as two distinct and separate entities, having no kind of appreciable relation or connection with each other, that the whole of theology rests in a fog from that consideration alone. Once make the distinction and separation that is made, - that spirit and matter have nothing in common, - that one is the perfect and complete negation of all the other, — that spirit is something without form, parts, divisibility, extension, color, or any of the properties that are usually recognized in a veritable, substantial entity, and that still it is something, - that it is best defined by what it is not, rather than what it is, -once set up this definition, and we have very nearly, as to all definite conception, either removed God from