1. L. C. Baker: The Fire of God's Anger.

Simple annihilationism has probably passed through all the forms of which it is capable. It varies but in proportion to the materialism on which it is engrafted, or from which it springs. Of these, too, the most materialistic are those that prevail most. They are the most self-consistent if the most removed from Christianity; and thus the tendency here is rapidly downward.

Restorationism, on the other hand, verges naturally to the opposite pole of a hyperspiritualism. Resurrection, upon which all is based for annihilationism, here tends to be slighted and displaced, if not, as in Swedenborgianism, denied altogether. Judgment upon sin, too, is here pared down to the minimum, and atonement loses all true significance. Quite true it is that Universalism began by insisting upon its efficacy for all, and that there are doubtless some who still occupy such a ground. But its untenableness soon makes itself felt, and Unitarianism is more rapidly reached by this road than by the former one.

It is no wonder, then, that a middle path should be sought between these two — a path which, in the nature of things, can only be found in affirming both of them with necessary limitations on either side. Mr. Henry Dunn was, as we have seen, in modern times, the leader in this direction. He has been since followed by others, who have perfected his scheme after their own fashion; and of these, the first and most respectable by far is Mr. L. C. Baker, till lately a presbyterian minister, but who, on account of his persistent advocacy of his views, has been disowned by his denomination, In defense of them, he publishes a monthly magazine, "Words of Reconciliation," and has embodied them in the book which we are now to examine.

The fundamental principles of his teaching are given in the preface, in which he insists upon "two fatal misconceptions" in the general faith of the Church.

"1. She has interpreted the Scripture-teaching concerning final judgment as relating chiefly to a remote assize to be held after a general resurrection of the dead. Whereas, Jesus was careful to teach His disciples that He would enter upon His office as Judge of the world before that generation passed away.

"2. She has therefore misconceived the place and meaning of resurrection in the divine economy, as a gracious provision for another life to those who must suffer the wages of sin under that judgment! That which was meant to be a boon, the purchase of a ransom given for all, has been perverted into an untold curse to all who have died unsaved in this life, — the prelude to an aggravated retribution and endless despair. . . .

"This mistake has largely arisen from the attempt to fix a meaning upon the words of Christ concerning the wicked without a previous study of the Old Testament conceptions out of which this teaching grew, and upon which it was based."

The exaction of penalty in the intermediate state, and a redemptive resurrection, are the two pillars, therefore, of Mr. Baker's position. We shall reserve our remarks until we come to his arguments, merely desiring, by this anticipative statement (as he himself does), that we should be able to see from the beginning whither these are tending.

In beginning, then, with the Old Testament-teaching, the "song of Moses" (Deut. 32) is that in which he finds the first intimation of these truths. I shall concentrate in one his scattered comments, omitting nothing that touch es the subject in hand, that we may have before us at once the whole argument.

The song "asserts the wickedness and ingratitude of the chosen people, and recounts their mercies and apostasies. Observe here (v. 17) that, behind the forms and forces of nature worshipped as gods, there were demoniac powers, the real recipients of this homage. ' They sacrificed unto devils.'

"It declares the Lord's abhorrence of their sins, their consequent rejection, and the calling out from the Gentiles of a new people (vv. 19-21). Their rejection, however, would not be final.

"It affirms that the Lord's anger, which must burn against them on account of their sins, must burn also to the final destruction of this world-system under which this depravity in His people had been developed. 'For a fire is kindled in Mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains' (v. 22). Here occurs the first mention in Scripture of the fire of hell. It is represented as burning down to the regions of the dead, and to the very foundations of this natural order, as if it were the source of that corruption which had come upon ills people.

"Here we meet with a principle of the divine judgments which cannot be overestimated: that which views the present cosmos, or natural system, as sharing in the responsibility for man's evil nature. As subject to vanity, and in bondage to corruption, it has put its yoke on its highest creature, and it is therefore bound over to the consuming fire of God's judgments. It may seem to us irrational that accountability should attach in any way to the material system. But if the whole system is pervaded by living forces, — if it is the visible representative of things invisible, which, according to Col. 1:14, are living powers, it will not appear so strange that the searching fire of God's anger should find evil entrenched at its very foundations, and that this present order and the powers that rule in it, with the devil, who is declared to be its prince (John 12:31), should be involved in a common judgment. . . .

"The term 'fire' stands for the concentrated energy of the dissolving forces of nature. It is a rapid consumer of created forms. But this devouring energy operates in slower ways. It is more or less resisted, and for a while baffled. And yet Scripture groups all the forms in which human lives are blighted and destroyed under this one head, and refers them to one agency. 'Our God is a consuming fire.' And so we read vers. 23-25. . . ."

In vers. 25-27, the song "brings to view an enemy and certain adversaries who have well-nigh brought God's people to ruin, and who would have made an utter end of them, but whom Jehovah, for the love He bears them, and for the honor of His name, shall baffle and defeat. . . .

"The mystery of God's people as thus enthralled is next referred to. And the 'times' during which this 'mystery of iniquity' should work, with the final issues of it, are declared to be in His own power (v. 34). . . . He will judge His people, and turn toward them after they have been brought low and have become convinced that the false gods can bring no help (vv. 36-38).

"And so the Lord proclaims Himself as their only Saviour, in that He alone is Lord of life and of death. His judgments must fall upon His people unto death. They must be handed over to the great Destroyer. And one generation after another must go down as captives unto His gloomy realms. In this, the triumph of their enemy over them seemed complete and irreversible. But nothing is too hard for a God who can heal as well as wound, who can make alive as well as kill, and out of whose hands none can fall (v. 39). Here we have an early intimation of that grand truth which runs through the Bible and underlies its whole redemptive system. Our redeeming God can make alive from death. He is the God of resurrection. So that not even death, which holds of right His people captive, can annul or defeat His gracious designs toward them.

"Hence this song passes on to declare His sworn purpose to defeat and destroy all their enemies. . . . And so we have in grand outline a series of revenges upon all their enemies, human and diabolic.

"The English version translates the last clause of this verse (v. 42) 'from the beginning of revenges on the enemy.' The Septuagint give the sense as above," — the "head or chief of the princes of the enemy." "And this is the meaning assigned to the word peraoth by Gesenius. . . .

"And so the song closes by calling upon the nations to join with Israel in their joy over this coming deliverance. That a triumph over other than mere human enemies of His people is referred to is manifest from the fact that the nations are summoned to rejoice with them."

I have quoted probably at superfluous length, emphasizing some portions which contain the stress of Mr. Baker's argument. After all, my readers may have difficulty in finding it. What is essential is simply supplied by himself. At least, he is like Mr. Dunn before him, listening for prophetic "whispers," which it is hard for other men to perceive.

It is plain that the gist of his argument is that the generations of Israel go down under God's judgment to death, are judged there, and delivered by the mercy of God in a resurrection from the dead, the nations sharing in their blessing. As to the latter, if they are to be partakers in resurrection, it is only indicated in their rejoicing with His people; and this will scarcely do, for it is His mercy to these simply that they are called to rejoice in (v. 43). But as to Israel also, where is the resurrection of their generations of the dead declared? Why, no where but in this, that God says of Himself, "I kill and I make alive"! and this where He is not speaking of mercy, but challenging any to deliver out of His hand! That the power of death and of life is in His hands, He declares, but where His purpose of bringing up in a resurrection of blessing the lost generations of the impenitent dead?

Look back to the chapters immediately preceding this: you will find the history of their rebellions and of their punishment predicted, and along with this God's mercy in their final deliverance; but it is a very different picture from that which Mr. Baker draws for us. "And it shall come to pass, when all these things shall come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind" — not among the dead, but — "among all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath driven thee, and shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and shalt obey His voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thy heart and with all thy soul; that then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee" (chap. 30:1-3).

Thus it is plain why the song, in which these prophecies culminate, says nothing of the impenitent dead, or of the dead at all. It is the nation as such that it is occupied with, and out of this the dead generations are dropped forever.

But is it not said that the fire of God's wrath shall burn to the lowest hell, and consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains? Yes, certainly; but it is His wrath that does this, and there is no hint of mercy in the passage. Nor is it in connection with the enemies that this is threatened, but in connection with Israel themselves. And, while the earth will in the end be thus burned up, this is in Scripture rather associated with the judgment of ungodly men (2 Peter 3:7) than of angels. Its subjection to vanity is on account of its subjection to man (Rom. 8:20), not of man to it, and thus it is delivered at the manifestation of the sons of God.

Moreover, "the enemy" throughout is a generic term, and there is not the least reason for applying it to Satan; and if the forty-second verse be translated, as many prefer, "the head of the princes of the enemy," it would still seem by the context that an earthly leader is spoken of, his fall showing the completeness of the deliverance.

In fact, there is not an atom of evidence for what Mr. Baker finds in this wondrous song. His proofs are read into it, not taken out of it. His wish is father to his thought. And this is the way in which Scripture is constantly perverted.

"It remains for us," he says, "now to see how these principles give tone to all subsequent psalm and prophecy." He then goes on to assure us that "death, bondage in sheol, is viewed in the Old Testament as a final vindication of Jehovah's righteousness, the supreme expression of His anger against sin." The idea of death, too, is "cessation of being." "But before resurrection, the dead, in the Hebrew conception, were not men who had passed into another form of being. They were dead; not absolutely extinct; otherwise they could not be resurrected. But their being was only 'the miserable consciousness of not being.' . . . It was not, therefore, judgment after death that men were taught to fear, but judgment in death."

Scripture, however, says, "It is appointed unto men once to die, and AFTER death the judgment" (Heb. 9:27).

He next, from the fact of God's judgments being disciplinary and restorative this side the grave, raises the inquiry whether this principle of divine dealing does not reach beyond this sphere of temporal suffering. He takes from Moses' song the idea of a deliverance from death. "And therefore the frequent promises of God to hear the cry of His imprisoned people, to loose their bonds, to plead their cause against the enemy (Micah 7:8, 9), and to bring the prisoners out of the pit wherein there is no water (Zech. 9:11) must reach over to and include their bondage in death."

In neither of these cases is there the least warrant for such a view. But he says, "The words of Moses (Deut 30:4) seem to imply precisely this, — 'If any of thine be driven out into the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will He fetch thee.'" These "outmost parts of heaven" "imply precisely" sheol, or hades, then, for Mr. Baker; but unfortunately for his view, the Medes who destroy the land of Babylon "come from a far country, from the end of heaven" (Isa. 13:5), exactly the same expression in the original. And in Deut. 4:32, the people are bidden to "ask of the days that are past, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side (or end) of heaven to the other, whether there has been any such thing as this great thing." Mr. Baker is himself, therefore, not precise enough here. In fact, he is very careless. Nor will the quotation of Isa. 57:16 avail him more, as undoubtedly the Lord is speaking of His dealings with men on earth.

The principle he is contending for is surely not to be established by such methods as these.

The next chapter is devoted to considering the "redemptive" character of the Lord's judgment of His people as to which we have little to object, and none at all to the principle. Nor need it be contested that resurrection has the same character for the saint. On the other hand, to make the deliverance from Egypt "a primal type of Jehovah's redemption from sheol" is only to show how far one's prepossessions may destroy one's sobriety. Is it so the apostle uses this grand type in Corinthians? or does the wilderness-journey follow resurrection?

The same prepossession is shown when Mr. Baker would substitute the marginal "sons of death" for "those appointed to die," in Ps. 79:11, Ps. 102:20, and would here also read in a bringing up of the dead. Such assertions should be rebuked, for they show gross carelessness, while misleading with an appearance of knowledge. If our author will use his concordance, he will find that "he shall surely die" (1 Sam. 20:31) is, in the margin, "he is the son of death;" that in 1 Sam. 26:16, "ye are worthy to die," is similarly "ye are sons of death," and similarly in 2 Sam. 12:5 and 1 Kings 2:26. The Hebrew expression never has the meaning Mr. Baker attaches to it.

This is not reassuring as to the trustworthiness of a guide who will have us "not accept any interpretation of such expressions in the Psalms and Prophets" — he has quoted some real passages speaking of resurrection, figurative or literal, as Isa. 25:8; Hosea 13:14; Ps. 49:15; Ps. 88:10-42 — which does not view them as looking forward (1) to the Messiah's victory over death, (2) to the rescue of His people from its bondage, and (3) to an ultimate recovery of the generations of mankind who have gone down as prisoners into its realm."

For the last of these applications, Mr. Baker has not given as yet one solitary proof. Assumption takes the place of argument all through. And here we are amidst those "Old Testament conceptions," which are to be the key to the words of the New hereafter. Here is (such as it is) his argument: —

"Bondage in Egypt, captivity in Babylon, and among all nations stands out, no doubt, on the foreground of such passages. There is also a hidden reference to the spiritual darkness and bondage into which the people had fallen by reason of their sins, and a promise of quickening from this spiritual death. BUT the deliverance promised would be no message of mercy to the men to whom it was spoken, it would not meet the case, it would not execute the judgment written against all God's enemies, (!) nor vindicate the honor of His name, did not these prophets look forward to the ransom from Sheol of these very generations of men whom the wrath of their enemies and the justice of God had consigned to its gloomy prison."

Were, then, the messages of the prophets to be messages of mercy unconditionally to all, and even to those upon whom they denounced judgment? That is a strange principle of interpretation surely. The judgment of God's enemies and the honor of His name, moreover, require this! In what way, then? and what imperious necessity compels us to stretch the prophecies beyond their plain meaning into predictions of that which is no where plainly announced?

And how would it affect Mr. Baker's principle of interpretation to put over against it the canon of the apostle of the circumcision, — "Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory" (rightly, "glories") "which should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven." (1 Peter 1:10-12).

Here certainly the apostle shows us (1) that the New Testament is clearer than the Old; (2) that the glories beyond were not clear even to the prophets that wrote of them. How much less, then, could the Israelites in general make these strange and recondite applications of them, of which we are only hearing now through Mr. Baker?

But let us look at the sample instances which he gives us: —

"The sixty-eighth psalm is a glorious anticipation of this deliverance by One who ascends on high, leading captivity captive, and obtaining 'gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them' (v. 18). 'He that is our God is the God of salvation, and unto God the Lord belong the issues of death.' (The outgoings of death, — Young.) This Lord over death shall 'wound the head of His enemies,' and bring again His people from Bashan, and from the depths of the sea (vv. 21, 22). Bashan was a region on the other side of Jordan — type of death. (!)"

So far, the direct proof, such as it is. But this evidently, if we allow it, does not touch the proper subject of Mr. Baker's book. But this must be accomplished: here is the argument, —

"That this deliverance is more than that of an elect remnant, or even of the nation of Israel, is manifest from the scope of the whole psalm, which celebrates a salvation for which all the kingdoms of the earth are invited to sing praises unto God (v. 32)."

That is, after prophesying the salvation and blessing of Israel, the Psalmist says, "Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth; O sing praises unto the Lord:" and that proves "an ultimate recovery of the generations of mankind who have gone down as prisoners into the realm of death." (!)

If this has not quite proved it for you, reader, Mr. Baker has another and yet another witness: —

"Ps. 142 is a resurrection-psalm, to be understood first of the Messiah, but also of those in whose behalf He went down to death. The writer expresses his confidence that while no man 'sought after his soul' (v 4, margin), the Lord would be his portion in the land of the living, and bring out his soul from prison."

That is the second witness; here is the third: —

"In Ps. 143 we hear the same complaint, — "For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath bruised my life to the earth; he caused me to dwell in dark places, as the dead of old (v. 3, — Young's translation). We have the cry for deliverance, — 'Hear me speedily, O Lord; my spirit faileth; hide not Thy face from me, for I am become like unto them that go down into the pit (v. 7, margin). Cause me to hear Thy loving-kindness in the morning (the time of awakening), for in Thee do I trust.' And then we have the confident expectation — "For Thy name's sake, O Lord, Thou wilt quicken me; in Thy righteousness Thou wilt bring my soul out of distress. In Thy loving-kindness Thou wilt cut off mine enemies, and wilt destroy all the adversaries of my soul; for I am Thy servant" (vv. 11, 12, see Young's and Conant's versions).

Now we have a fourth: —

"Ps. 116 records a similar experience: 'Compassed me have the cords of death, and the straits of sheol have found me; distress and sorrow I find, and in the name of the Lord I call; I pray Thee, O Lord, deliver my soul . . . for Thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, my feet from overthrowing. I walk habitually before the Lord in the land of the living' (vv. 3-9, — Young). Whatever application these words may have to release from spiritual death, ver. 15 makes it clear that the ultimate deliverance in view is from death in sheol. For this must be the 'death of His saints' which remains precious in the eyes of the Lord, and rescue from this the reason of the thanksgiving, "Thou hast loosed my bonds" (v. 16)."

This closes the testimony of the Psalms, as Mr. Baker presents it. I have given it in full, and leave it to make its due impression. I am persuaded that with any sober mind it will be more convincing than comments of my own would be. Had I simply put into my own words these arguments of his, it might have been reasonably doubted whether I could have represented them aright. But we have yet to see what he can produce from the prophets.

"Such a deliverance is proclaimed in Isa. 26:14-19, a passage which speaks plainly of resurrection from death, as even rationalistic interpreters admit. The prophet had just declared that the judgments by which Jehovah would restore His people and bless all nations would be carried on to this climax, — 'He will swallow up death in victory' (chap. 25:8). A careful reading of the whole of the magnificent prophecy (chaps. 25-27), shows that there is before the writer's mind the burden of woes under which not only Israel, but all the inhabitants of the earth, suffer. And the deliverance foreseen is as wide as the misery. And yet it comes 'in the way of judgments' (chap. 26:8). Only in this way will 'the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness' (v. 9). 'If favor be shown to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness ' (v. 10). Therefore Jehovah's hand must be lifted up against him in judgment. The fire of His enemies must devour them (v. 11). They must go down to death. Their condition is thus described: 'Dead, they shall not live; Rephaim (shades), they shall not rise: therefore Thou hast visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish' (v. 14)."

Certainly no destruction would seem more complete and final than this; it is the very text claimed as most decisive by those who deny the resurrection of the unjust. But the truth is, that the prophet is only speaking of the Gentile "lords," and as lords. "O Lord our God, other lords beside Thee have had dominion over us, but by Thee only will we make mention of Thy name" (v. 13). Indeed the question may well be raised whether they are not the idols of the heathen that are spoken of here, as Mr. Birks takes it. The last clause of the thirteenth verse — "by Thee only" — seems to require this, and it makes the non-resurrection spoken of in what follows easy.

However, taking the usual application, it is plainly only Israel's "lords" that pass away and come up no more, and this language shows that the prophet is by no means speaking of men at large who are to "learn righteousness" in death and come up in resurrection. The ninth verse is quite distinct that when God's "judgments are in the earth," (not in sheol, or the death-state,) the inhabitants of the world, — that is, the living, not the dead, will learn righteousness.

But Mr. Baker goes on:

This removal of all the ends of the earth (that is, of its inhabitants into sheol. The italics in the English version obscure the sense,) had enlarged the nation of Israel, — that is, it had given it wide scope for the accomplishment of its mission (v. 15). At the same time, it had compelled these banished ones to cry in their trouble unto the Lord for relief (v. 16)."

The rendering and application are certainly ingenious here. The omission of the preposition, not uncommon in Hebrew, and the change of person in the seventeenth from the sixteenth verse, again not at all uncommon in the prophets, unite to give plausibility to an interpretation otherwise extravagant enough. Yet Mr. Baker himself cannot show that we are in the least necessitated to adopt it. Why, on his own view of the matter, "the ends of the earth"? The expression could naturally apply to people beyond the countries in which were the nations previously named and addressed as hostile to them. Why, then, should judgment be specially leveled against these? And why their removal be connected with the enlargement of Israel? Of its "mission" nothing is yet said.

On the other hand, applying it in the usual way to Israel all through, there is simple consistency and truthfulness. It is notorious enough that they have been removed to the ends of the earth. It is natural enough to mention this when the prophet is just providing to predict their penitent confession. In this very dispersion of theirs they have grown to a multitude, and in that dispersion will their hearts be turned to God (Deut. 30:1-3). Certainly, then, Mr. Baker must give us some better reason than it appears he can do for such an application as he proposes.

He goes on to speak of Israel's mission, and of their failure in it.

"And then comes the announcement of redemption for Israel, whose mission had ended in failure, and for mankind through resurrection. 'Thy dead men shall live, my dead body they shall arise.' The Lord here asserts His property in them, foreshadowing His identification with them in Christ, who went down to death with and for them. The ransom from death of His people, the first-fruits, should be as dew upon the dust of the earth in which all the dead lie buried. 'Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs (Heb. 'lights,' i.e., vivifying dew). And the land of the Rephaim thou wilt cause to fall' (v. 19). The verb is the same as at the close of ver. 18. Hence Young gives it a similar rendering.

"The idea is, that while the inhabitants of the world had not fallen before Israel and Israel's Lord, yet, as captives in sheol, they should be forced to confess His name. The resurrection grace and power which should some day reach Israel would finally subdue and rescue them. This deliverance, however. could only be in the way of judgment: and hence Jehovah invites His people to shelter themselves from the coming storm of His indignation, which should beat upon the earth's inhabitants, the issue of which shall be that the earth should disclose her blood, and no more cover her slain."

The error here is in the bringing in of others beside Israel, who are really seen as brought up from the dead upon their penitent return to God. Vers. 16-18 give their confession; ver. 19, the answer of God in their national resurrection. They do not repent or confess in sheol. That they do, or that any do, this is what Mr. Baker should have first proved. He adds in a note as to ver. 19: "The English version reads, 'And the earth shall cast out the dead.' The force of the Hebrew verb and the collocation of the words are such that either rendering is admissible." And this being so, it ought to be plain that the common translation is the right one. Taking his own, it could only speak of victory over the dead, which the connection with the previous verse, if real, would confirm. "Neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen" is not expressive of any spiritual change, and when in the twentieth verse the Lord summons Israel to enter into her chambers, and hide herself till His indignation be overpast, it is because He comes "to punish," not the dead, but "the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity."

Nothing is here said of restoration, except for Israel, and for her it is as from the dead, according to a simple but strong figure, frequently used. How much must Mr. Baker import into this to make it yield the meaning for which he contends!

So in the opening of the next chapter: while it is true that "Leviathan" represents the power of Satan, it is to Israel, and through them to the nations of the earth, that the deliverance is. There is no disciplinary judgment and deliverance of those gone down to the grave, save in the case of Israel, where the context always makes plain that the language is figurative. Mr. Baker on his side has, in order

to make good his meaning, and to see in the inhabitants of the world the tenants of hades, to make figurative whatever stands in his way. Thus the "perishing in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt," are alike "seen to be typical of the victims of a real and lasting captivity in the land of death. The people 'robbed and spoiled,' 'snared in holes,' 'hid in prison-houses,' 'a prey whom none delivereth,' 'a spoil, of whom none saith, restore ' (Isa. 42:22), are the people that are bound in the prison-house of death." And so a promise of restoration is easily found for them.

If we say that these promises apply to Israel, and their restoration from spiritual and national bondage, Mr. Baker is anxious to be understood not to deny this (p. 54). But, he contends, we must not limit them to this. "For the men to whom they were made are long since dead. They never realized the promised salvation. They 'died without the sight.'" Doubtless, if our author could show that the promise of salvation was made to all the nation irrespective of faith, the argument would be unassailable: the pledged mercy could not fail. But whither will he turn to prove this? The very opposite is plainly to be proved.

"Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect," says the apostle. "For they are not all Israel which are of Israel; neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children; but in Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed" (Rom. 9:6-8). How simply do these words refute Mr. Baker's whole argument! "For the promise that he should be the heir of the world," he says elsewhere, "was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith" (Rom. 4:13). And again, "Know ye, therefore, that they which be of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. . . . So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful" — or believing — "Abraham" (Gal. 3:7, 9). And once more, "Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved" (Rom. 9:27).

Mr. Baker does not seem able to accept this witness. Or shall we say that, so great are his prepossessions, he does not see it?

It is needless, then, to look at the other texts he brings forward, the nature of their testimony being precisely similar. Not a scripture that he quotes but may be otherwise interpreted; and he even himself admits this.*

{*The application by Matthew of Jer. 31:15 to Herod's murder of the children (Matt. 2:17) is shown by the formula of quotation to be only an application, and the promise which follows is not necessarily therefore applicable. Rachel manifestly did then weep for her children: it does not follow that in the prophecy the "land of the enemy" must be the land of death, as our author asserts. The context refuses this (comp. v. 8)}

He now takes up the subject of "unquenchable fire," as the Old Testament speaks of it. He quotes the usual passages, and remarks, "It is manifest that God's consuming anger against men and nations is every-where represented as an unquenchable fire, and its work as a work of destruction and death. These denunciations do not carry with them the idea of torment beyond death. They do not exclude it. But retribution beyond the grave is never in view in the Old Testament, only so far as captivity in sheol is such a retribution . . . But one thing is made clear. This destruction in death is not final extinction. The hope of resurrection, of ransom from this captivity, we have seen gleaming all along these Old Testament pages."

So far, then, as the Old Testament is concerned, saint and sinner beyond this present life are very equally treated. All descend unto death alike; and there is no torment for the sinner any more than for the saint. The "fire" that "goeth before Him and burneth up His enemies on every side," burns up, too, God's people no less certainly. "War, famine, pestilence, death." says Mr. Baker, "all destructive agencies are included in it." And if for the righteous there is a promise of deliverance, there is as real a hope for the wicked also. There is no "torment" revealed for the one in hades more than for the other! Whatever is distinctive, then, must be in the temporal calamities afflicting men on earth. Strange it is that the writer of Ecclesiastes had not discovered this (Ecc. 7:15; Ecc. 8:14; Ecc. 9:2, 3), while the verdict of Job's friends was exactly right. And yet it is not upon earth where God's strokes come on men, but in tormentless hades that the mass of men repent! And, moreover, the fire of God's anger is nevertheless denounced only on His 'enemies'!

However, this is only the view of the Old Testament; another thing may be in fact the truth; to discover which, we must now go on to consider with Mr. Baker the teaching of the New Testament.

The New Testament

We first come to the Baptist's words, in which, according to Mr. Baker, the ax is laid at the root of the tree of the old man in order for the "God of resurrection to come in and work out His salvation for man upon a new basis, and in the power of a new life." The baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire he takes, with the burning up of the chaff in unquenchable fire, as part of the same salvation-work. Can the endurance of God's wrath, then, do in hades (what it cannot here) the work of the Holy Ghost? Are men born again there, but not of the Spirit? Or does the work of the Spirit go on in hades? This is a dream of Mr. Baker's own, scarcely needing to be seriously discussed here. In the failure of more positive texts it could scarcely be convincing even to himself.

Starting from this, however, he goes on to identify this unquenchable fire with eternal fire and the fire of hell, or gehenna, and of course to locate this latter in hades also. As usual, he takes Isa. 66 as showing that Mark 9 cannot imply eternal torment, and especially closing as it does with vers. 49 and 50. "The most that could possibly be drawn from it," he says, "would be the destruction in the fire of those who will not submit to this sacrifice of self. But even this inference is made to be an uncertain one by a comparison of this fire, to which every one must be subjected, to salt, the effect of which is to preserve." We have already discussed the whole matter (pp. 310-319).

He then takes the punishment of the rich man in hades as identifying this with gehenna. It is clearly not the case. Yet in passing to the question, "What punishment do these terms describe?" he answers, "We have no doubt that the one idea in which they all unite is that of complete destruction"! "Eternal fire is the one term which comprehends all those devouring forces which destroy man from off this strange heritage of creation of which God made him the heir and lord, and quench in him the light of life; and gehenna is the maw of these whirling forces down into whose vortex man disappears at death."

This complete destruction, however, he decides, is not annihilation; the continuity of the being of the wicked is somehow preserved. "So constant is the use of these terms that we are obliged to regard them as involving either the extinction of man's existence, or his destruction qua homo, — that is, of his being as a man." He thinks that as death disembodies the soul, so in gehenna the destruction of the soul may leave the spirit entirely naked.

So that it would seem that in the case of the resurrection of the unjust there must be a resurrection of the soul as well as of the body! For them, also, judgment must be in death, and not "after" it, and as introduced to it by a "resurrection of judgment." On the other hand, Scripture is clear that the reckoning with men is not when they die. There is a fixed future "time of the dead to be judged" (Rev. 11:18); and Christ "shall judge the living and the dead" (2 Tim. 4:1), not have been and ever is judging them. So all the New Testament, from first to last. "As many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law . . . in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel" (Rom. 2:12, 16).

Again, "It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city" (Matt. 10:15); "It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you;" — "for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you" (Matt. 11:22, 24).

"The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day." (Jude 6). And "The Lord cometh to execute judgment upon all" (vv. 14, 15).

"The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him at the last day" (John 12:48).

"Who shall give account unto Him that is ready to judge the living and the dead" (1 Peter 4:5).

Some of these texts Mr. Baker seeks to explain elsewhere from his own point of view; others I cannot find that he has noticed. But they are all decisively against him. If Sodom and Gomorrha, Tyre and Sidon, and even the apostate angels, still await their judgment, — if the sinners that had crept into the professing church in Jude's day were to receive it at the coming of the Lord, — if Christ is Himself (and because He is Son of Man — John 5:27) the appointed Judge of all, how impossible to believe in this judgment as one entered upon by all at death: therefore by Sodom and all the sinners before the present dispensation when as yet there was no Son of Man; or by any before that coming of His to judgment, which is manifestly future yet. "The time of the dead to be judged" he himself admits to be future, but thinks it refers to the reward of the righteous simply; but this is never called their judgment, and "into judgment," the Lord positively assures us, he that heareth His words, and believeth on Him that sent Him, shall never come. (John 5:24, — R.V.)

What has Mr. Baker to bring forward against this general positive language of Scripture? This, that when the Lord bids us cut off foot or hand rather than go with two hands or two feet into hell-fire, He must speak of the present (not a future resurrection-) body! That gehenna as a present fact "is certified by James in his epistle (3:6), where he speaks of the tongue as now 'set on fire of hell (gehenna).' And that the casting into hell is not a remote but an immediate punishment, is made as plain as it can be, by the plainest of all passages that refer to it — the parable of the rich man and Lazarus"!

Now, the single fact that is made plain by it in this connection is, that there is retribution in the death-state; and that is at once and always has been admitted. It is no new discovery of Mr. Baker's. But hades (which is here the word for "hell") is not gehenna nevertheless, nor does it include it.

"Gehenna," says Mr. Baker, "is the maw of these whirling forces down into whose vortex man disappears at death." "Fear not them which kill the body," says the Lord, "but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell" (gehenna). I would ask Mr. Baker, Does the body of the righteous perish in a different way from that of the wicked? or in what sense does God destroy the body of the wicked in gehenna, and not that of the righteous? Or are the righteous dead partly in gehenna and partly not? It would certainly be a new discovery (as it would seem of necessity Mr. Baker's doctrine), that the righteous dead are half in hell. Happily for them, it is a half that does not feel!

But then, as to the body, this is the same with the wicked; and what becomes of our Saviour's words, "both body and soul?" What becomes of "who, after He hath killed, hath power to cast into hell," when the body is in hell by the mere fact of death?

On the other hand, by the very fact that God destroys both body and soul in hell, is it not plain that resurrection has taken place in order that they may be there together?

Now, the rich man is not body and soul in hell; resurrection confessedly has not taken place; the day of judgment is not come, and he has brethren upon earth who may yet be reached and saved. Hades and gehenna are not the same.

But, says Mr. Baker, —

"There is not the slightest warrant for the assumption that, when Jesus urges men to cut off a hand or a foot, if need be, rather than having two hands or two feet, the whole body should be cast into hell, He means, not the present body, but a resurrection-body of the far-distant future. His words evidently refer to a now-impending loss of this present embodied life in a present gehenna."

Wonderful reasoning, certainly! So, then, when the Lord speaks in this self-same passage of entering into life maimed or halt or with one eye, He must with equal certainty be speaking of this "present embodied life," and not at all of resurrection! And this is quite indubitable, for how could a resurrection-body be maimed or halt, or with one eye!

And yet there are difficulties; for if we enter life at death, when the body drops, how can we speak of entering it even with one eye?

It is hard to speak seriously of Mr. Baker's argument: all the more, perhaps, that it is so satisfactory to himself. Surely he ought to see that if gehenna be just the maw of the natural destructive forces, the body at least disappears into it at death; and that when the Lord says (Matt. 5:29), "It is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell," He is not speaking of something which happens at any rate at death, and which no one could escape by any plucking out of the eye, or cutting off of a limb at all.

As for the final argument that gehenna is certified as a present fact by James' expression as to the tongue as "set on fire of hell," it would seem scarcely serious, and yet we must suppose it is. But does he take this for a literal truth, or an energetic figure of speech? I should have thought the latter. The "of," of course, is "by," as the R.V. translates, and "hell" stands by metonymy for the incorrigible evil which necessitates it. The tongue is an unruly evil, he says: no one can tame it. Just for such unruly evil is hell designed. Setting on fire the course of nature, this fire in the tongue seems communicated to it from that which is worst in kind — the evil for which nothing but hell suffices.

Thus Mr. Baker's argument collapses: indeed, it might seem scarcely worth while replying to it did we not know that gossamer-webs like these hold captive many minds with chains like adamant. The thinner a bubble is, the brighter it shines; and blown with our own breath, the light fabric floats to admiration. But let us go on still with our author.

The next chapter, in which he labors to show that "eternal fire" — which means for him fire that is distinctly not eternal — is "a fact of science, as well as of Scripture." This is to be proved with the help of Herbert Spencer and the doctrine of the "survival of the fittest." "'Fire' stands in Scripture," he says, "as the representative of all the death-dealing forces of nature." And the forces of nature he conceives to be "closely identified, if not identical, with" angelic powers. "It is in their agency that we find the proper explanation of the angels which attend the administration of the Son of Man. They 'gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and cast them into a furnace of fire,'" etc., etc.

There is no need, surely, to follow out all this. But it needs to be said that, according to Mr. Baker, the destructive forces are the devil and his angels, that the whole world has been rescued from their grasp, though to fall back into it again, save where the power of eternal life prevails, and that "the 'eternal fire,' which is the concrete expression of all these devouring agencies of nature, must finally consume them all in its own bosom. For we read that it is 'prepared for the devil and his angels.'"

We should have thought this a difficulty rather, but difficulties only display the resources of great minds. Still, we confess that Mr. Baker has not solved them for us. He is very anxious to tell us, on the one hand, that in these same destructive forces "God is seen as a 'consuming fire'" (p. 107), and yet they are "evil powers," — nay, the devil and his angels. God and the devil are made to be in complete accord, although in the end the destructive forces are, it seems, to destroy, and were "prepared" for the destruction of, the destructive forces; Satan is to commit suicide, I suppose.

Our author now goes on to the judgment of the "goats" in Matt. 25. Much of his argument here does not at all affect us, and much of it has been already fully answered (chap. 36, pp. 355-368). We believe, as he does, that it is not a judgment of risen men, but of men yet alive upon the earth. We believe, moreover, that it is not a judgment of all that have ever lived, but of those of a certain class and time only, viz., the nations, or Gentiles, at the appearing of the Lord. Here, indeed, we are in decided opposition to Mr. Baker's views, who takes it to be a judgment going on secretly all through the present period, though it become in the end manifest. For the proof of this, he would refer us to the old argument from our Lord's words, that "this generation shall not pass until all these things be fulfilled." He is aware of "the efforts made to evade the force of this declaration," but does not vouchsafe any serious examination. So we are to believe that the Son of Man is come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, and has sat down on the throne of His glory, and before Him all the nations have been gathered, and the rest of the scene is being enacted all the time! Certainly no book whatever is treated as men treat Scripture. By the same rule the sign of the Son of Man has appeared in heaven, all the tribes of the earth mourning and seeing the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven in power and great glory (Matt. 24:30)! By this marvelous method of interpretation we are only perplexed to know why, if men say Christ is here or He is there, we may not as well believe it. Certainly in the secret chambers He would seem to be. Nor do we know how it could be said that "as the lightning cometh out of the east and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matt. 24:23-27).

However, it is all plain to Mr. Baker, and the angels cause him no difficulty, though how they have gathered (?) or are gathering (?) the elect with a great sound of a trumpet, he has never explained. Perhaps it is all the scientific trumpeting about natural forces that has been going on so vigorously of late; or, at least, we would commend this to Mr. Baker as a possible explanation, though the gathering of the elect by this means does not yet look probable.

He will complain, perhaps, that we are answering him rather with sarcasm than argument. We answer, that just to carry out his own principles of interpretation is indeed the bitterest sarcasm upon them. He must not blame us for this. There are certainly systems farther from orthodoxy than is his own upon this subject, but it may be questioned if there are any that more completely set aside Scripture as to it.

But we pass on, and may take the next three chapters together, as the "resurrection of judgment" is really the subject of all. Mr. Baker contends that this phrase "expresses a characteristic quality by which this resurrection is distinguished from the resurrection of life," implying a "lower order of being in which the wicked dead come forth." "They are invested again with human bodies; and as these cannot be of the heavenly order, they MUST BE of the earthy. The bodies, therefore, MUST BE mortal and corruptible."

Mr. Baker speaks with decision; but decision does not always decide. Winer, who has written a pretty large volume of New Testament grammar, gives in his eighth edition, with reference to these expressions, "resurrection of life," "resurrection of judgment," "resurrection to life," "to judgment," as equivalent terms; and calls the genitive here "the genitive of destination." He brings forward many examples of this use. Certainly, Scripture, in a passage very familiar to our author, speaks of the righteous going away into life eternal" (Matt. 25:46). And although this is not resurrection, it is equivalent. There are many similar texts which speak of entering into life.

Then our author allows that the resurrection of Rev. 20:12-15 is the "resurrection of judgment;" yet we find there no thought of judgment as expressed in the resurrection, but rather of its following it: "And death and hell (hades) delivered up the dead which were in them; and they were judged every man according to his works."

I know well that Mr. Baker believes this judgment following to be of works done after resurrection, in a possibly long dispensation of trial, which, in defiance of the plain sense of the passage, he would insert into it. He can find no where that the resurrection of the wicked embodies the discriminative judgment of the last day.

But he thinks that as to the righteous, he has found the announcement of the principle in 2 Cor. 5:10. He reads it, "For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things through the body, according to what he hath done, whether good or bad;" and remarks that "here it is implied that the future bodies of saints will gather up and perpetuate the fruits of previous character."

But I venture to say Mr. Baker's translation will find no advocacy among the critics. "The things through the body" — to use his language — are connected together, as every Greek scholar must know, and mean the things done by its instrumentality; not that we "receive through the body the things done," — a very different thing indeed. The R.V. gives accordingly, "That each one may receive the things done in the body."

The congruity of thought is as much against our author as is the plain rendering of the Greek. For we are to appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, to receive the things in question. But how do we appear there? Disembodied? to receive embodiment according to the issue of the trial? No, "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (1 Cor. 15:52). We which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (or precede) them which are asleep, for the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first; than we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:15-17).

Every way, Mr. Baker's view is disowned by Scripture. His own witnesses testify against him.

He allows, indeed, that the "resurrection of the unjust introduces them to judgment," but insists "that no where do the views of Christians need broadening more than in their notions of judgment. Our theology has but little use for this word save in its narrow, legal, and technical sense. But in Scripture, this represents but a small part of the divine work of judgment which is a benevolent as well as a judicial administration, and one for which the nations were to be glad." "So the unjust, in resurrection, continue under judgment. But as this brings to men now corrective discipline, we may infer that this will be its character and issue in the life to come."

A large inference indeed! We may as suitably "infer" that when the apostle says, "Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor. 6:2), he means that it always will be that! True, we have not supposed so hitherto, but Mr. Baker would have us re-read such passages under the interpretation of his new theory. Yet he allows that at some time there is to be a "second death," for which he discerns, moreover, no resurrection. Here it would not be safe to infer the hereafter from the now, and we must plainly, therefore, limit the "always" accordingly. But now, if you begin to limit, you will perhaps find it hard to know where the limit is to be put. Perhaps, then, the "now" is strictly what it appears, and the "now is the day of salvation" means, after all, that there is no future day.

In fact, inference, theory, conjecture, reign and revel in Mr. Baker's pages; no where more so than in those we are reviewing now. He skims over Scripture, reads between the lines, forces the words apart to make room for his conjectures, strangely mixes authoritative speech with confessed uncertainties; the premises are not sure, but the result conclusive. And by dint of thoroughly mixing up the living and the dead, the nations of the millennial earth with the past and present generations of unsaved men, the judgment of the world in the age to come with the judgment of the wicked dead, he confuses first of all himself, and then possibly some of his readers. But they have only to examine the arguments by the adduced proof-texts, to find a plain road out of the maze.

For instance, take those of his chapter on "The Judge of quick and dead." His object is, to show the merciful side of judgment on which he dwells, and that it extends to the dead after their resurrection in the world to come. What are the texts by which this is to be made good? They are here: —
"And He charged us to preach unto the people, and to testify that this is He which is ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead" (Acts 10:42).
"For to this end Christ both died and rose and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living" (Rom. 14:9).
A reference again to Matt. 25:31-46 and John 5:29.
Far more of promise than threat in the announcement that He shall judge the world in righteousness (Ps. 96, 98; Isa. 11; Jer. 23)!
The reason for judgment being in the hands of the Son, "that all men may honor the Son even as they honor the Father" (John 5:23).
Christ about to judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:31).
About to judge the quick and dead (2 Tim. 4:1).
Ready to judge the quick and dead (1 Peter 4:5).
"The time is come for judgment to begin at the house of God" (4:17).
Reference to 1 Peter 3:19, 20, and 4:6 (spirits in prison, and preaching to the dead).

These texts are mostly simple enough. The argument is mostly imported from elsewhere. The texts which speak of Christ as "about" to judge show that He has already assumed the office; and we are not "by any means sure that the judgment of the dead is wholly future" in view of the last texts in the list! The judgment is, of course, largely "benevolent," because His judgment of the world in Ps. 96, etc., is! And, beside, the dead are raised by Him that all — even the wicked — may honor the Son as they honor the Father!

But we too believe that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow; and so we have said elsewhere.

It would not be profitable, plainly, to follow further these fine-spun reasonings. Let us proceed to the examination of Rev. 20:5, to which Mr. Baker devotes the next chapter.

Now, we agree with him that the judgment of the dead here is not a general one of righteous and wicked all in one. We agree that the saints are raised in the first resurrection — a wholly distinct company — and a thousand years before the end as depicted here; and that this is the judgment of the "rest of the dead" who did not rise with them — the wicked only.

But Mr. Baker would leave out, with the Sinaitic MS. and the Syriac version, the fifth verse of this chapter, and demurs to the statement that "the rest of the dead lived not again till the thousand years were finished." Not an editor of the Greek text agrees with him, nor raises even a doubt with regard to it, not even Tischendorf, well known for his attachment to the Sinaitic MS., his own discovery. But Mr. Baker is not disconcerted by this. He has his own reasons: for, he says, —

"It certainly harmonizes better with all we have learned (?) from the study of the Old Testament concerning God's purpose to redeem mankind from death through the resurrection, to suppose that the 'times of the kingdom' here referred to as the reign of the saints with Christ, are, throughout, times of resurrection. The various orders of mankind would then be raised, not all at once, but as each class was fitted for it."

Precisely. The text as it stands is a felt difficulty; for if he who died yesterday is to be raised today, and along with him the one who has been millennia under judgment, it does seem strange that the purposes of this disciplinary process should be equally served by a day under it as by centuries. But if the text can be dismissed, the gloss, though without a text, may be substituted.

And there is need; for he allows that "no other passage in the Bible seems to militate against" his "view so strongly as the one now before us." But he does not despair. We have already indicated, however, the way by which it may be brought into harmony with this primary truth. We have simply to regard it as presenting in a pictorial way the final results of that age, or of those ages, of trial and judgment through which the nations are to be conducted by Christ and His risen saints, and to which they shall be introduced through a resurrection from the dead.

Certainly one would not, without help from Mr. Baker, think of a dispensation passing while the heavens and the earth were fleeing away from the face of Him that sits upon the throne! And that they are all "dead" who stand there adds considerably to the difficulty. It certainly looks as if all dispensations were at an end. But then we have only got to see it differently, as Mr. Baker tells us!

His real argument is that, take it for what it evidently seems to be, it manifestly contradicts his whole system. Not seeing the object of a discriminative "day of judgment," when all that is now hidden shall be brought to light, and award given strictly according to works, he naturally finds it in conflict with the general sentence of guilt which lies against all the unsaved already, and with death as the wages of sin, which as the "dead," these have already endured. We have long since looked at all this, though in other connections, and have seen that there is no contradiction at all in it, but completest harmony. The argument, therefore, falls to the ground. The view he combats does not "make this trial-scene to be the raising of an issue which was settled long before, the re-enactment of a sentence already passed and of a penalty already inflicted." The tenor of Scripture requires no protraction, then, of the period represented in the vision.

Our author refers to the analogy of Dan 7 as sustaining his view. There is really no analogy such as he supposes. In Daniel there is a crisis of judgment, but also a kingdom received, and the lapse of time, or rather its eternal duration, is plainly declared. The judgment is not continuous, but the reverse. Also as to John 5:28, which he adduces, all that there is really there is the word "hour" for a protracted period. There is no vision as in Revelation, and the stages of resurrection and of the putting down of Christ's enemies in 1 Cor. 15:22-27, by which he would strengthen the weakness of his position, are all against him. There is no concealment of the time in these, and we do not in the least confound Messiah's reign with a brief assize of judgment. This is but an incident of the reign, whatever its importance.

The Lord's reign had begun a thousand years before, according to the testimony of Revelation here, and is not confounded with the session of judgment at the end of that time. It is only Mr. Baker who confounds them.

In the thought of the final destruction of the persistently wicked, he is on common ground with all annihilationists. All this has been fully examined already. And Mr. Baker's own system need not detain us longer. We have given all his main arguments, and in their full strength. If these fail, as assuredly they have failed, it is utterly useless to protract the discussion.

2. C. T. Russell: "Overcomers"

I do not know that those of whom I have now to speak would claim the title of "Overcomers" as distinctively theirs. It is, however, a popular name for them, which has evidently its ground in some of their known doctrines. I use it thus for the body of people not long since arisen whose headquarters are in Alleghany, Pennsylvania, and whose monthly organ, edited by C. T. Russell, is "Zion's Watchtower."

Mr. Russell himself seems to be not merely the head but the whole inspiration of the movement; and the books which contain its principles are but reprints from the "Tower." These principles are fearlessly stated, and challenge universal acceptance, being pressed by diligent colportage and very active tract-distribution upon the attention of the masses. They are professed to be purely scriptural — indeed to give the full explanation of Scripture — to settle all difficulties and to solve all problems. "Be it known," says Mr. Russell, "that no other system of theology even claims, or has ever attempted, to harmonize in itself EVERY statement of the Bible; yet nothing short of this can we claim for these views." This is no slight assumption, and that many are examining it may be inferred from the fact that my copy of the volume which contains it purports to be one of the seventieth thousand, a number which it must by this time have far exceeded.

The views are evidently, as are Mr. Baker's, an evolution from Mr. Dunn's. Redemptive resurrection; full and equal trial for all by a gospel to be announced after resurrection to the unsaved; and the annihilation of the finally impenitent: these are the cardinal points. But Mr. Russell has in other respects, as we shall see, gone far beyond Mr. Dunn and the rest of his disciples, as he is far beyond them in assumption. What they more or less timidly advance, he asserts with the fullest assurance; and this is a well-known element of success. The Watchtower principles are gaining ground in many and unlooked-for places, if we may trust its frequent notices of accessions from the ranks of denominations accounted orthodox.

In our review of them, we shall have to go beyond our usual range, and take up points which may not seem to be within the scope of our present undertaking; but the system is a well-compacted one, and can only be considered properly when taken as a whole. As a whole, therefore, we shall consider it, although many points will need but brief discussion. We may divide what this system brings before us into three main topics: 1. The Saviour; 2. The present salvation 3. The final salvation of those here unsaved.

1. The Saviour

Mr. Russell's creed is a peculiar form of Arianism. His Christ is but "the chiefest of all God's creatures" ("Food," p. 139), or, as he quotes it for his purpose, "the beginning of the creation of God" ("Millennial Dawn," vol. 1, p. 226). He was "'in a form of God' — a spiritual form, a spirit being" (p. 174). For the angels are not the highest form of spiritual being, and Jesus was higher than the angels, yet not so high as He is now (p. 174).

The whole foundation of Christianity is thus taken away at once; but thus, thank God! the system is revealed at the start as antichristian, and its power is broken for those who know Christ. "The beginning of the creation of God" is not said of Him as what He was before He descended to the earth, but as what He is as man having gone up again. For so Colossians teaches (Col. 1:18) — "He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence." For God's good pleasure is, "in the dispensation of the fullness of times, to gather together" — literally, "head up," — "all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are in earth" (Eph. 1:10). And thus He is the "first-born* of every creature" in this wide sphere of eternal blessing.

{*"First-born" does not necessarily speak of priority in time, but in dignity sometimes, because of the privileges attaching to birthright. Thus God says to Pharaoh (Ex. 4:22), "Israel is My son, even My first-born;" and in Jeremiah (31:9), "I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is My first-born;" thus also of David, the type of Christ (Ps. 89:27), "I will make him My firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth," So also Christians are "the Church of the first-born ones, whose names are written in heaven" (Heb. 12:23), in contrast to Israel, God's first-born upon earth, and the "spirits of just men made perfect" — Old Testament saints.}

His primal distinction from all creatures is emphatically asserted in Scripture, and the same scripture as we have just quoted: "For by Him were all things created that are in heaven and that 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" (Col. 1:16). He is Creator, not created, and all created things are not only by but for Him. Did He, a creature, create all things for Himself? What is left then for God?

Nay, He is openly owned, and from eternity, as God. The babe in Bethlehem is He whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting (Micah 5:2). The Man smitten upon the cross is Jehovah's fellow (Zech. 13:7). The glory of Jehovah upon which Isaiah gazed (chap. 6) was the glory of Christ (John 12:41). The "form of God" which was His before He came in the flesh involved as truly His being God, as the "form of a servant" which He took involved His becoming one. And if He were one all through, how could He become one (Phil. 2:7)?

So He whom John sees (Rev. 1) as Son of Man, yet with the glory of the Ancient of Days (comp. Dan. 7), declares Himself "the First and the Last." Thomas worships Him unrebuked as "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28). Yea, "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1).

Mr. Russell's Christ is but a creature, not even possessing immortality before He came into the world, and only "guaranteed everlasting life as long as obedient" ("Food," p. 139). It is a creature, then, who created, and a creature who re-redeemed us. There is no movement on God's part; the unexampled self-humiliation we had dreamed of never took place. Our gratitude, our praise is due to another. It is not He who ordained the penalty who has stooped under the penalty. God merely planned what another executed; stayed up in heaven, and looked on only while another moved. God is shut out from the whole work of atonement!

What moved, then, this Christ of Mr. Russell (not mine, thank God!) to become man for man's redemption? Not simple, disinterested love, you may be sure. This is conspicuous as a motive, that "as a reward for his faith in God's promise and obedience to His will, he would be exalted to the right hand (chief place of power), and have inherent life ('life in himself,') the divine degree — immortality" ("Food," p. 142)!

No doubt beside this there are other motives given, "to ransom a race of beings from sin and death," and to "bring some of the human race to the higher plane of being — the spiritual." But the characteristic of love is not found  — "love seeketh not her own," — and the glory of God is consistently enough omitted.

Here, however, is creature-obedience; and it has power to set the one who fulfills it on the throne of God! He seeks his own glory, though the Lord contrasts that with His object (John 7:18). But now let us look at how this being becomes man.

We must not imagine any thing like what we call incarnation. We think of One who in becoming man did not cease to be God, — in whom, as incarnate, were two natures — a divine and human. Mr. Russell refuses this. His Christ, when down in the world, was a man, and nothing more; except that he brought with him, in a way Mr. Russell thinks he can account for, the memory of heavenly things! We do not propose to study this problem now. We propose rather to ask this man of "all mysteries and all knowledge," who can "harmonize every statement of the Bible," with an emphasis even on the "every," — how he would explain a few passages that strike us here.

What, for instance, of that statement of the apostle, as it really reads, "The Word was made flesh, and tabernacled among us, and we beheld His glory, — glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth"? Here the reference is very plainly to the tabernacle of old in which the divine glory dwelt. It was in flesh the Word tabernacled, and displayed its glory, was it not? Was it only perfect manhood that was seen then? or was it really divine glory that dwelt and could be seen?

Or WHO was the "child born," the "son given," whose name should be called "The Mighty God" (Isa. 9:6)?

Or how could He upon the cross be the Man that was Jehovah's "fellow," as Jehovah Himself declares?

Or who is it that says God is His Father, "making Himself equal with God" (John 5:18)?

Or of whom is it again that the apostle says, "Esaias beheld His glory," when he saw the vision of the Lord of Hosts" (John 12:41)?

Or who is it that says to Philip, "Have I been so long with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou, then, 'Show us the Father '"?

These texts apply to the Lord when He was in the flesh amongst us, and here is a mystery which no wisdom that Mr. Russell is master of can read for us, while the simplest believer in the Lord's twofold nature understands them without difficulty. The Jews, too, who charged Him with blasphemy for it, knew that being a man, He made Himself God. Was it all a mistake on their part? and did He let them go on in their self-deception?

But we must pass on to consider His work: what was it that He suffered for us? — what was the work of atonement? Mr. Russell says it was simply death, though elsewhere he mixes it up with His life-work. He gave up His life, he tells us, "His human existence. This giving up was at the time of His baptism, and His death was typified in that act. But after giving up or consecrating His life as a ransom, He was three and a half years in actually giving it up, — spending it in the service of others, and finally ending it on the cross" ("Food," p. 140). We shall find the meaning of this definition in a little while. Elsewhere the ransom-price is stated to be simply "death;" which is understood in the materialistic sense — "extinction." Thus, we are assured, Christ died, as man eternally, and in resurrection He is a man no longer — "no longer a human being in any sense" ("Food," p. 113; Mil. Dawn, p. 227). Concerning this, we shall inquire directly.

But we are particularly warned to remember "that not the pain and suffering in dying, but death — the extinction of life — in which it culminates, is the penalty of sin. The suffering is only incidental to it, and the penalty falls on many with little or no suffering" (Mil. Dawn, p. 149). Thus it should be death, and death only, apart from suffering, that was the penalty the Lord endured — the ransom-price.

This, however, is not what Scripture teaches. It teaches, indeed, that "Christ died for our sins." It does not teach that death alone, the simple giving up of life, was what the Lord endured, or had to endure, for us. Far otherwise.

Why, then, that death of shame and aggravated suffering — the death of the cross? Was this but incidental — a mere circumstance? Strange indeed would it be to imagine this!

Look at Gethsemane, and contemplate the Lord's agony there, — a sorrow so great that the ministry of an angel is needed to give Him physical strength to sustain it. Is all this overwhelming sorrow simply at passing through death, as all men meet it?

It is not, assuredly. The death of the cross is an infinitely greater depth than death alone would be, and the death of the CROSS is what is needed for our redemption. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a CURSE for us: for it is written, 'Cursed is every one that'" — dieth, merely? No; but "dieth ON A TREE"

Another mystery which Mr. Russell cannot explain to us. Why should redemption be the fruit of dying on a tree? and why should that be the curse of the law? Yet it is plainly taught: "For as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so also must the Son of Man be LIFTED UP, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:15). These are His own words; and again: "I, if I be LIFTED UP from the earth, will draw all men unto Me" (John 12:32).

The last chapter of Hebrews adds another particular: "For the bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high-priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered WITHOUT THE GATE." Here again is a point we never should have thought of. Why must it be, that if the people are to be sanctified by the blood of Jesus, He must suffer without the gate? Is not His blood any where the same precious blood? Is it not the blood of the spotless, peerless Lamb of God? Place, position, — outside the gate, lifted up from the earth, hanging on a tree, — how can this add any thing to, be any element in, atonement?

Certainly, in themselves, these things are nothing. Shall we, then, turn from them as meaningless? We dare not. Scripture insists too emphatically on them. If as mere outward things they are nothing, then we must look for something deeper in them. The apostle prepares us for this by linking the "outside the gate" with "outside the camp" in what we know had a typical, spiritual meaning. With hanging on the tree he associates also the "curse of the law." And now the meaning becomes apparent. The curse is wrath, separation from God, and all that He owns as His. See now the darkness that settles upon the cross! Is not God light? The light is withdrawn! Listen to the anguished cry of the Sufferer: does He not declare that God has forsaken Him? Yes, not death alone is the penalty upon the sinner: "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." And this appointed judgment — inconceivably more than death — is what the Lord bears for us when He bears our sins in His own body on the tree.

Mr. Russell is at fault, then, grievously. The atonement that he imagines, would not atone. So unitedly affirm the epistle to the Galatians and the epistle to the Hebrews. So affirm, in a somewhat different way, the gospel of John and the gospels of Mark and Matthew. Read the twenty-second psalm in the light of the Lord's forsaken cry, and the same thing will be traced throughout. "Be not far from Me" is the desolate wail: "Thou hearest not;" "but Thou art holy," if — solitary exception to all God's ways with men the righteous One is now forsaken.

The penalty is not death alone, and the penalty is not extinction. Christ was not extinct in death, and to say He was is to deny the glory of His person. "This day thou shalt be with Me in paradise" negatives the dreadful thought. But we have examined elsewhere what death is. Let us see now how the truth of atonement tells upon Mr. Russell's system.

For whom was this penalty paid? Christ, Mr. Russell affirms, was "Adam's substitute or representative before the broken law, and thus gave Himself a ransom for all" (Mil. Dawn, p. 151). This he supposes to be got from Rom. 5:18, 19, "As by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."

This is not just according to the original, as Mr. Russell ought to know; but yet, taken as it stands, his doctrine is not in it. There is a comparison as well as contrast between the effect of Adam's trespass and Christ's accomplished righteousness, but no statement that Christ was Adam's substitute or bore Adam's sin. Nor is such a statement any where to be found. He says, —

"The proposition is a plain one: As many as have been condemned to death because of Adam's sin shall have life-privileges restored because their penalty was paid by Jesus, who became Adam's substitute or representative before the broken law, and thus gave Himself a ransom for all."

Here is palpable confusion. Adam is "the figure of Him that was to come," says the apostle (v. 14); and that is the key to the present passage, in which he compares them. That Christ was Adam's substitute is Mr. Russell's invention only, and no where said.

And before what "broken law" was He a substitute? Had Adam's law any curse for him that hung upon a tree? This was what Christ bore, as we have seen; and we have seen its profound significance. Dying merely was not the curse, and simply to have died would not have been atonement.

Moreover, while the consequence would follow which Mr. Russell puts, supposing his view were true, that the whole world would get without fail all the blessing of atonement, Scripture declares that the propitiation is "through faith, by His blood" (Rom. 3:25, R.V.), therefore assures this to none except in this way. Whereas, according to Mr. Russell, it is not through faith at all, and no question of faith. Eternal salvation, he contends, may still be by faith, but not the fruit of atonement, which all alike must share.

Nor are the consequences of atonement "life-privileges restored," — i.e., a condition like Adam's, and a new trial; but eternal life, without possibility of perishing, along with justification and a standing in grace, of which Mr. Russell's scheme knows nothing. But at this we shall have to look again.

He asks, as others have asked before him, —

"If Jesus redeemed mankind, died in our stead, as our ransom, went into death that we might be set free from it, is it not evident that the death which He suffered for the unjust was of the same kind exactly that they were condemned to? Did He, then, suffer eternal torture for our sins? If not, then so surely as He died for our sins the punishment of our sins was death, and not life in any sense or condition" (p. 154).

Now "as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment," death and judgment were what our Lord took for us — the exact, full penalty of sin. Thus He glorified God's righteousness in bearing just what He had pronounced upon sin. To have borne any thing else would not have glorified Him in inflicting that.

But these two things He bore in the reverse order of that in which man would bear them. It was not for Him "after death, the judgment," but before death, so that with death close at hand, He could say, It is finished," and depart to paradise.

The wrath He bore could not be "eternal" — granted. He was saved out of death, heard for His piety (Heb. 5: 7, Gk.) God's holy One could not even as to the body see corruption (Acts 2:27). Doom is eternal for the sinner only because he is eternally a sinner. The wrath borne for the saved sinner could not be that.

But Mr. Russell is quite wrong in supposing that "God hath laid upon Him the iniquities of us all" applies to all the world. It is what faith says, and true for those who have faith, — "a propitiation through faith."

And what shall we say of the argument with which he supports his theory of Christ's being Adam's substitute, that one unforfeited life could redeem one forfeited life and no more"? "The one perfect one," he says, the Man Christ Jesus, who redeemed the fallen Adam (and our losses through him) could have been 'a ransom [corresponding price] for all,' under no other circumstances than those of the plan which God chose" (p. 130).

The shred of Scripture here is in "a ransom for all," which we are told means "corresponding price." Nor need there be any objection, so long as this is not supposed to necessitate just "one life for one life" — a supposition which is indeed the "commercial theory of atonement" pushed to its fullest extent. The glorifying of God in view of sin is not here the great point, but the simple giving Him so much for so much, — a dreadful estimate or blasphemy of the divine nature, and in which Christ's life is valued at just the worth of any other man's! So much so that as actual value it could not redeem two persons of the sons of Adam! Yet, by a bold stroke of jugglery this is actually made to redound to the credit of the system, and, atonement being made for Adam himself, what could not otherwise have availed for two, avails absolutely now for the whole human race! All their sins are heaped upon Adam; no one is guilty (or should be, at least,) but he; so that to atone for Adam covers all the rest! It is simply a clever plan for making a very large purchase with a very little money; and this trader's wit Mr. Russell credits to God as divine wisdom.

He does believe that "it is appointed unto men once to die," but not "after this the judgment." On the contrary, the wicked sleep awhile in nonentity, and then awake in happiness, restored in resurrection to the lost Adamic condition, from which indeed they may still slip and be lost; but "resurrection of judgment" there is not. The text should read, one would think, "They that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of life also!" There is an attempt to escape from this, however, which we shall consider later.

"Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" must have, therefore, no meaning, or refer to repentance in an afterlife, or to — Mr. Russell knows what. Perhaps, as he certainly must know, he will explain.

The passages commonly used by Universalists, it is natural, of course, that he should press for his own view, though it is not needful here to take them up again. He would have us remember, however, that "'the ransom for all,' given by the Man Christ Jesus, does not give or guarantee everlasting life and blessing to any man, but it does give and guarantee to every man another opportunity, or trial, for life everlasting" (p. 146). He gives no text for this, and does not explain some texts which we have been accustomed to think teach the opposite. As even our Sunday-school children have them in their memories, it would have been as well if he had taken some notice of them.

Such is atonement and such its object for Mr. Russell. Being the work of a creature, and for his own benefit largely, it would avail but little, as even he allows, but for an ingenious plan of making it stretch beyond its measure. Let us now trace the result for the creature-saviour, who, strangely as it would seem, made all things for himself, and has purchased Mr. Russell with his own blood. He has gained, it seems, as to himself, the prize he aimed at; he is become immortal, and possesses the divine nature, life in himself, and a source of life to others.

We have seen that originally Christ was, according to this conception, the highest of creatures, "in a form of God — that is, possessed of a spirit-nature." This He gave up to become a man, and was thus a mere man, although a perfect one: —

"When Jesus was in the flesh, he was a perfect human being; previous to that time, he was a perfect spiritual being; and since his resurrection, he is a perfect spiritual being of the highest or divine order. It was not until the time of his consecration even unto death, as typified in his baptism — at thirty years of age (manhood according to the law, and therefore the right time to consecrate himself as a man,) that he received the earnest of his inheritance of the divine nature (Matt. 3:16, 17). The human nature must be consecrated to death before he could receive even the pledge of the divine nature. And not until that consecration was actually carried out, and Jesus had actually sacrificed the human nature, even unto death, was he a full partaker of the divine nature. After becoming a man, he became obedient unto death: wherefore God hath highly exalted him to the divine nature (Phil. 2:8, 9). If this scripture be true, it follows that he was not exalted to the divine nature until the human nature was actually sacrificed — dead. Thus we see that in Jesus there was no mixture of natures, but that twice he experienced a change of nature" (Mil. Dawn, 175, 176).

It seems almost doing too much honor to this to refute it. Where is the descent of the Spirit upon our Lord said to be the earnest of His inheritance? and where is this inheritance said to be the divine nature? The first is an unwarranted application of what is said as to us (Eph. 1:13, 14). The second is never any where said at all. All this is human conjecture and invention merely. But the passage in Philippians is still more perverted: "Wherefore, God hath also highly exalted Him" is said indeed; "to the divine nature" is a fraudulent addition.

But the passage does say, "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of heavenly, earthly, and infernal beings, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Does this assert or imply the assuming of the divine nature then? Mr. Russell should show us how.

Instead of this, he goes on to discuss the nature of spirit-being, confounding this with the "spiritual body" of the resurrection, and from the example of angels (who, he decides, have spiritual bodies), affirms of these power of invisibility, a human appearance and a glorious, bright condition: all which makes plain to him that the spiritual and human natures are separate and distinct, and that there is "no evidence that the one shall evolve or develop into the other," though a few will be thus changed.

He then examines the terms "mortal" and "immortal," defining the first to be "liable to death" and the other "not liable," and then assures us that no where in Scripture is it stated that angels are immortal, nor that restored mankind will be immortal." In fact, Satan is to be destroyed! "Immortality pertains only to the divine nature" (Mil. Dawn, 177-183). Jesus is alone now immortal; and "at and after His resurrection was a spirit — a spiritual being, and no longer a human being in any sense" (p. 227).

Thus the "One Mediator between God and man — the MAN Christ Jesus," (1 Tim. 2:5) is taken from us. He does not comment upon this text, that I can find; nor upon the appearance in Luke after the resurrection, when the Lord expressly calms the fears of those who "supposed that they had seen a spirit" with the words, "a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have" (Luke 24:37, 39).

A spirit and a spiritual body are not, then, the same, clearly; and the passage in Corinthians equally assures us of this, for the word for "natural body" in the same place is "psychical," as we have seen elsewhere — "soulical," if we barbarize it into English: and you might as well say that the body that now is is a "soul," as that the resurrection-body is "spirit."

Nay, a man apart from the body is a "spirit," which decides also two things more against Mr. Russell: First, that death is not the complete extinction of man, as he believes; and secondly, that a spiritual nature is a normal part of humanity, instead of being, as he thinks, incompatible with it.

Now, if we add another thing, we may leave him to pick out of the ruins of his system any thing that is left of it. The angels, he tells us, are "mortal;" yet the Lord says of the "children of the resurrection" (Luke 20:36), "Neither CAN they die any more" — that is, as Mr. Russell would allow in their case, immortality; but read on — "for they are EQUAL UNTO THE ANGELS" Immortal, Mr. Russell, because they are equal to the mortal angels!

Yet all this is of the very foundation of his system. With its overthrow, the whole is gone. But we shall follow out now his theory of "the present salvation," and show how equally unscriptural it is throughout.

2. The Present Salvation

And first, briefly, as to the nature of man himself. He is, we learn, simply "a combination of life and body," and this is what "soul" means: it is his being or existence. This, too, it is that dies, or is dissolved: not the life, nor the body; but the life returns to God that gave it, the body to the dust, and so the being is dissolved, or gone ("Food," p. 126).

But not so says Scripture. It is the "earthly house of this tabernacle" which is "dissolved" (2 Cor. 5:1), and the Lord speaks of those that kill the body (which, if "Scripture cannot be broken," conclusively proves that the body does die), while He adds that those who can kill the body "are not able to kill the soul" (Matt. 10:28). An equally conclusive proof that (in ordinary death, at least,) the soul does not.

Of the "spirit of man," which alone knows the things of a man (1 Cor. 2:11), Mr. Russell says nothing. It is an awkward matter for his theory of spiritual being, as we have seen. For man in death — just when he ought to be extinct, according to Mr. Russell — becomes a "spirit;" and the death of the spirit is unknown to Scripture.

But if the "soul" stand for the being of man, what would our author make of "destroying being and body in hell"? Or of Elijah's prayer, with the marginal reading which is literally exact, "Let the being of this child come into his inward parts again" (1 Kings 17:22)? Or of much else fully as incomprehensible as this?

We come now to look at what salvation is, as reached by men at the present time. The first thing necessary for us is, to be justified. This is by faith, not works, Christ having died for us; and being justified by faith, we have peace with God, "and are no longer enemies, but justified human sons, on the same plane as Adam and Jesus, except that they were actually perfect, while we are reckoned so of God. . . . We stand in God's sight absolutely spotless, because Jesus' righteousness covers all our imperfections . . . and brings with it all the rights and blessings originally possessed before sin entered. It restores us to life and to fellowship with God. The fellowship we may use at once by the exercise of faith, and the life and fuller fellowship and joy are assured in God's due time'" (Mil. Dawn, pp. 228, 229).

However, we must not understand this word "assured" too strictly. Any one may enjoy "all the blessings due them on account of Christ's ransom," and fall from all, and die the second death ("Food," p. 53). Nay, it is actually only for Christians that there is any present liability to this. "None but the 'little flock' have as yet sufficient light to incur the final penalty, the second death" (Mil. Dawn, p. 142).

Then, though one who believes in Christ is justified by faith, yet this does not involve his being sanctified or begotten of God. This is a further step, and is by works, by consecration and self-sacrifice ("Food," pp. I 15, 116). The majority of the nominal church do not go on to this: "they are justified, but not sanctified, not entirely consecrated to God, not begotten, therefore, as spiritual beings." "This class receive the favor of God [justification] in vain' (2 Cor. 6:1); because failing to use it to go on and present themselves acceptable sacrifices, during this time in which sacrifices are acceptable to God. This class, though not 'saints,' not members of the consecrated 'body,' are called 'brethren' by the apostle (Rom. 12:1)"! (Mil. Dawn, pp. 232, 233). These, however, will attain to merely human perfection in the future state, in the image of God as was Adam.

Let us examine this before we pass on. Does Scripture speak of such a class of justified ones, who are neither sanctified nor begotten of God? Surely not; nor does Mr. Russell attempt any serious proof. Scripture assures us that "whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" (1 John 5:1); while Paul bids us "follow peace with all men, and sanctification, without which no man shall see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14); and Peter writes to Christians as "elect through sanctification of the Spirit unto the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:2). Thus there can be no justification without sanctification, or apart from being born of God.

According to Mr. Russell, the great use of justification now is simply to enable some to make the acceptable sacrifice and join the class which are members of the body of Christ. (Mil. Dawn, p. 233.)

"The gospel-age is the period during which the body of Christ is called out of the world, and shown by faith the crown of life, and the exceeding great and precious promises whereby (by obedience to the calling and its requirements) they may become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4)." (Mil. Dawn, p. 210.) "During the gospel-age [God] has been calling for the little flock of joint-heirs, saying, 'my son, give me thy heart;' that is, give yourself, all your earthly powers, will, talents, — your all to me, even as Jesus has set you an example, and I will make you a son on a higher plane than the human; I will make you a spiritual son, with a spiritual body, like the risen Jesus — 'the express image of the Father's person.' If you will give up all of the earthly, consecrate it entirely, and use it up in my service, I will give you a higher nature than the rest of your race — I will make you 'partakers of the divine nature' — make you heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ; if so be that ye suffer with him, that you may be also glorified together." (pp. 229, 230.)

Here, then, the principle of works comes in, and grace and the blood of Christ having lifted you to a lower level, you are to use it to take wing to this immensely higher one to the glory of your own performances! But where is the scripture for this offer and its conditions? There is reference implied to two texts — Rom. 8:17 and 2 Peter 1:4; but the first declares that if children of God, we are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, though it be true that suffering with Him is the way to the glory; and the second declares the effect of the exceeding great and precious promises in producing moral conformity to the divine nature. The latter is not the thing promised, but the thing produced, and produced by the promises, as received in faith, delivering us from the corruption that is in the world through lust. It is a present effect, not the prize of good conduct.

But here is the real bottom of these assertions (one can scarcely call them arguments), that Christ is not in resurrection a man any longer; that the human nature cannot be possessed along with the divine; that the divine nature implies immortality and a divine body (Mil. Dawn, p. 196); things which are all unscriptural inventions, and not truth at all. We have only to hold fast the truth that Christ is man — the Man Christ Jesus, — and yet God over all blessed forever, and all this system of error falls to the ground. Think of a man daring to say, in his blindness as to the glory of the Lord, that the prize held out to men now is, to be what He is — "the express image of the Father's person"! "Ye shall be as God" could not have been more plainly uttered since Satan destroyed man in the garden with it.

Will they sit, as Christ does, on the Father's throne?

As children of God we have, blessed be His name! the "divine nature;" not "divinity" (Food, p. 13), nor (as yet) immortality even; but eternal life in the Son of God (1 John 5:11). This has to be denied in the system before us, which teaches that for any to enjoy everlasting life is for them to possess the right and means of continuing their life (by eating, etc., — Ps. 78:25) as long as they continue obedient to God's laws" (Food, p. 1). Adam had everlasting life, we are told, but lost it when he fell; and he that believeth in Christ has not got it, spite of the Lord's words, emphasized as they are by the statement, "is passed out of death into life" (John 5:24; John 6:53, 54).

Thus the present possession is denied, in order to swell to blasphemous proportions the prize of the future. In the act of "consecration" (as they call it) to the pursuit of their own interests after the fashion already shown us, they hold, however, that a kind of spiritual life begins. They are then "begotten of God" — not "born," for new birth is only in resurrection.

"The Greek word gennao, and its derivations, sometimes translated begotten, and sometimes born," says Mr. Russell, "really contains both ideas, and should be translated by either one of these two English words. . . . When the active agent with which gennao is associated is a male, it should be translated begotten; when a female, born. Thus in 1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:9; 1 John 4:7; 1 John 5:1, 18; gennao should be begotten, because God (masculine) is the active agent. Sometimes, however, the translation is dependent on the nature of the act, whether masculine or feminine. Thus used in conjunction with ek, signifying from, or out of, it should be translated born. So in John 3:5, 6, gennao should be rendered born, as indicated by the word ek — 'out of water,' 'out of flesh,' 'out of spirit'" (Mil. Dawn, p. 276. n).

This looks like accuracy, has a measure of truth in it as to the use of the word, and yet, like all else here, is a deception. Would it be imagined, from what Mr. Russell says, that in every one of the passages in which we are told gennao must be rendered "begotten," the preposition ek is used, although the agent is masculine? Or that in John 1:13 it is "not out of blood, nor out of the will of the flesh, nor out of the will of man, but out of God"? Is it "begotten," or "born" here?

And in John 3:3, why should it be "begotten," when two verses further on it is "born"? Is not the Lord explaining the being "begotten from above" (as Mr. Russell renders the first passage, p. 276), as being "born of water and of the Spirit"? And here, where two elements combine, the (typical) water and the Spirit, is it not certain, if there were a difference, it would be "begotten," not "born"?

The truth is, it is the same expression all through, whether you say "begotten" or "born," and there is no ground for any difference.

Our author has some supplementary arguments as to the meaning of this new birth. He contends that to "enter into the kingdom of God" here means to share the ruling power, not to be "under" the kingdom as subjects! (p. 278, n.) A new and curious phraseology to cover an unscriptural thought; I cannot find at least the expression in Scripture, of people under the kingdom. The tares are gathered out of it (Matt. 13:41), not out from under it, as we are bidden to read, and the parables of the kingdom in general have nothing to say ordinarily of the ruling power.

But still more unfortunately for the argument, the Lord is undoubtedly referring to Israel's entrance into the kingdom of God as prophesied by Ezekiel (Ezek. 36:25-27), in which these expressions "water" and "spirit" are found. And thus He could express His surprise that a master (or teacher) in Israel should not know upon what the blessing of the nation depended. Only He puts it here as a necessity, not merely for Israel, but for all; while the indubitable reference to Israel shows clearly that what is said does not refer to any thing peculiar (as Mr. Russell puts it) to the saints of the present "gospel-age."

But the most notable argument is derived from the eighth verse — "So is every one that is born of the Spirit." This refers, our author tells us, to the risen saints, who "will all be as invisible as the wind; and men not born thus, of the Spirit, will neither know whence they come nor when nor where they go" (p. 278)! It is a physical fact that provokes Nicodemus' wonder, not the spiritual mystery, as we thought it, that whosoever is born again is born by the subtle operation of the unseen Spirit! Yet his question, which the Lord is answering, is plainly, "How can a man be born?"

That it is Israel to whom Ezekiel's words have reference is again sufficient, moreover, to show how groundless is this interpretation.

To return to the act of consecration, in which spiritual life is said to begin. Those thus consecrating themselves "present their justified humanity a living sacrifice, as Jesus presented His perfect humanity a sacrifice — laying down all right and claim to future human existence, as well as ignoring present human gratifications, privileges, rights, etc." "Those thus transformed, or in process of change, are reckoned new creatures." They have bartered earth for heaven, humanity for divinity, — shrewd merchantmen, with their eye on eternity, and gain to self. They run for the highest honors, "sacrifice" the present to the future, and this sacrifice is of such efficacy as not only to raise its offerers (supposing they fulfill their obligations,) to the heights of glory, but even to supplement and perfect Christ's atonement for the world!

"As the man Christ Jesus laid down or sacrificed his life for the world, so these become joint-sacrificers with him. Not that his sacrifice was insufficient and others needed, but while his is all-sufficient, these are permitted to become his bride and joint-heir if willing to serve and suffer with him" (Mil. Dawn, p. 208).

And yet though the sacrifice is "all-sufficient," the price is not yet fully paid: —

"But the price is not yet fully paid. . . . With her Lord the wife becomes a part of the Christ — the anointed body.' She now fills up the measure of the afflictions of Christ which are behind — Col. 1:24. With him she bears the cross here, and when every member of that body is made a living sacrifice, has crucified the fleshly human nature, then the ATONEMENT sacrifice will be finished, and the bride being complete will enter with her Lord into the glory which follows, and share with him in the joy that was set before him, and which he set before her — of blessing all the families of the earth, thus completing the AT-ONE-MENT between God and the redeemed race" ("Food," pp. 13,14).

The sacrifice of Christ is all-sufficient, and yet the price is not fully paid till the Church has made her sacrifice! There is to be an over-payment beyond what is all-sufficient, and the price is put correspondingly too high. This is very well for the Church, however, which thus by sufferings which are for her own benefit, can raise the sacrifice to more than "all-sufficient," and fully pay an over-payment for the world!

But the proof? Well, you heard the scripture, Col. 1:24, clipped at both ends a little, to be sure, to make it fit in Mr. Russell's system. For it is Paul who, according to the passage, was filling up that which was behind of the afflictions of Christ — not of His atonement — for His body's sake, which is the Church. How this can be the Church atoning for the world does not after all seem clear, and we should like a better explanation.

Our bodies a living sacrifice — is that atonement? Atonement was with a dead sacrifice, not a living one. And our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, is that too atoning, because a sacrifice?

The whole of this is as morally low as it is a perversion of Scripture, and mentally incongruous. The "love" which "seeketh not her own" is not in it as a principle; and though Mr. Russell claims to "understand all mysteries and all knowledge," yet without "love" this is nothing. Yea, and "though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing."

According to this scheme, the love that came out after us was not in God: God is not the Saviour. It is a creature who has brought salvation, and he as a means of reaching a place beyond his original one. While his work puts us only on our own feet, to pursue the same pathway of self-exaltation, and add our mite to the already self-sufficient ransom for the world! What wonder, then, that the apostle's words, the principle of his life — "the love of Christ constraineth me" — should not be found in this entire system? I may have overlooked something in some corner of a page, but I have not found it, and the omission is perfectly characteristic and decisive.

3. The Final Salvation

The eschatological views of Mr. Russell will not long detain us, as there is little that is peculiar to them except that raising of men to divinity — to be as God — which we have already looked at. How really this is so may be seen by such statements as the following: —

"Further, we learn that Jehovah, who alone possessed immortality originally, has highly exalted His Son, our Lord Jesus, to the same divine immortal nature; hence, he is now the express image of the Father's person (Heb. 1:3). So we read, 'As the Father hath LIFE IN HIMSELF [God's definition of immortality — life in himself, not drawn from other sources, or dependent on circumstances, but independent inherent life], so he hath given to the Son to have LIFE IN HIMSELF' (John 5:26). Since the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, then, two beings are immortal; and, amazing grace! the same offer is made to the bride of the Lamb, being selected during the gospel-age" (Mil. Dawn, p. 207).

"Thus we see that the new gift is that held out for the bride — immortality — divinity" ("Food," p. 13). "In a word, as already scripturally expressed, it is to have 'life in himself,' to be a fountain of life, a means of supplying life to others" (p. 139).

"The great work before this glorious anointed company — the Christ — necessitates their exaltation to the divine nature. No other than divine power could accomplish it" (Mil. Dawn. p. 287).

Here is the old lie in a more developed shape than ever presented, I believe, elsewhere. The glory of Christ is annulled that men may be exalted to His level. Where is it said that the saints are to have life in themselves? No where. "God hath given us eternal life, and this life is IN His SON" (1 John 5:11). If, as Mr. Russell claims, eternal life is only ours in resurrection, then it is only plainer, if need be, that eternal life is always "in the Son." Moreover, as these tracts, with the common version, read, that "to those who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory, honor, and immortality" God will give "eternal life" — eternal life in the Son is therefore at least the equivalent of "immortality."

And Christ was ever "that Eternal Life, which was with the Father; and was manifested unto us" (1 John 1:2). As man, He is "given" to have "life in Himself." No one who was mere man ever could.

But we have looked enough at this, and there is little beside to detain us. The Scripture view of national restoration we have looked at already with Mr. Dunn (Ante p. 391) and again with Mr. Baker (App. p. 556, seq.). The latter has also given us the arguments as to the sheep and goats and the judgment of the great white throne, which Mr. Russell somehow omits. He never fairly endeavors to meet these scriptures, although quite aware that they stand in the way of acceptance of any such views as he maintains.

There is but one point more which needs, perhaps, a passing notice. It is the doctrine that Christ is already come, although not manifested, but is making Himself known by intimations of His presence, such as faith alone can understand. We have only to put this along with 1 Thess. 4:13-18 to discern its falsity: for when the Lord comes, He descends from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God. Then the dead in Christ shall rise; and then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

In conclusion, it is very plain that this system is not Christianity. As with Unitarians, the true deity of the Son and the personality of the Spirit are denied. Christ was not God come down, nor is He man gone up. God is not the Saviour-God. A creature created and a creature redeems us; and salvation is putting us in a condition to save ourselves. We are not under grace, but law; and the con-training motive in life is not Christ, but personal aggrandizement. Satan's lie becomes God's truth, — "ye shall be as gods," have life in yourselves and be a source of life to others! Yea, ye shall be the saviours of the world, helping Christ to make an atonement "all-sufficient" without your help. With this are united the doctrines of annihilo-restorationism; and the whole comes to us certified to be the solution of every mystery in Scripture from end to end!