Talks by the Way (Part 2)

R. If I who am a wanderer amid
These wildering, interminable wilds,
And to yourself a stranger all unknown,
May, without being counted meddlesome,
Presume to draw an inference, which seems
Both right and reasonable, and to give
Expression to it in your ear, I would,—
From the profound and steadfast interest
With which you study nature, unadorned
By man’s inventive, but irreverent hand,
As witnessed in the way your vision roves
Over those vast and awe-inspiring moors,
With almost bigot confidence conclude,—
That nature in its state primordial,
Roughcast, uncultivated, barbarous,
Untouched by man’s rude hand, unaltered by
His false conceptions of the beautiful,
Has over you attractiveness beyond
That which its rough and rugged aspect has
Over the many who have sometimes crossed
These winding valleys and those cloud-capt hills
C. Who could with soul enraptured raise his eyes
Amid these noiseless witnesses of power
And wisdom infinite? Who could behold
Those everlasting and colossal hills
That lift their heathery crowns toward the blue,
As tho’ their sloping sides were made to be
For mortal feet an easy gradient
To realms celestial, and forget the God
That made them, and to whom they are no more
Than the small dust upon the balance, or
The thistle-down upon the granite rock?
Or who those narrow labyrinthine vales
Could view, and trace their mystifying ways
Among the roots of the gigantic hills,
Where crystal streamlets sparkle, and which slake
The thirst of vagrant fox or flying fowl,
And yet remain unconscious of the voice,
That tho’ to outward ear inaudible
Discourses witching music to the soul,
Turning away the thought of feeble man,
And all his miserable littleness,
To the eternal wisdom and the work
Of Him whose puissance omnipotent
Hath these deep valleys digged, and heaved aloft
Those elevations, round whose distant crown
Dark clouds assemble, furious tempests rage,
Red lightenings flame, and wrathful thunders roar?
And yet whatever solid interest
Such spectacles have for our human souls,
I do not doubt a hidden danger lies
Even in contemplation of the works
Of the Creator, if not on our guard.
For if we should unduly occupy
Our minds with the enchanting scenery
Of His created glories, easily
We should have weakened in our inmost souls
The fact that we are residents within
A world perversely broken loose from God;
A fallen, sinful, ruined, death-doomed world.
The heavens above that on a darksome night
We love to contemplate, the earth we tread,
The moorland, meadows green, the endless plains,
The towering cliffs, the cultivated vales,
The forest glades, the restless sea, the tides
That rise and fall, the thunder of the waves
Breaking upon the rugged rock-bound coast:
These things have all their charm, but let us not
Forget that death is swift upon our track,
And that we steadily are drawing near
The time when we must say farewell to earth.
How infinitely good it is to know,
And feel it to the centre of our souls,
That He who planned and built the universe,
Who made the sun, the moon, the stars of light,
The hosts that people worlds to us unknown,
Who by His mighty word upholds them all,
Could in the greatness of His grace divine,
And in His love to rebels such as we,
Renounce the form of God, and take the form
Of bondman and the fashion of a man,
And enter as a man this sinful world,
Causing the light of God to shine before
The vision of the creature hitherto
Immured in darkness, under Satan’s lie,
Who had to us misrepresented God.
Not only this, but willing to lay down
His spotless life, and thus annul the power
Of death that lay upon us as the dread
Wages of sin, and break the might of him
Who over us that dreadful power did wield;
And all for our advantage, that we might
Be with Him as the Victor raised and gone
Back to the Father, having won for us
A place within the Father’s house on high.
R. I fear I cannot follow where you lead,
However indisposed to disagree.
It still has been a sorrow to my soul,
When meeting men of cultivated mind,
To find on matters of eternal truth
The lack of harmony one would desire;
And realize that discord must result
From every effort honourably made
To reach agreement in consistence with
The revelation made to us of God.
C. It surely is a lamentable thing
That those who truly love the Holy Word,
Should with such biased minds that Word approach,
And should their own vain notions to it bring;
Not seeking from the heavenly living fount
Refreshing for the spiritual man;
Nor with anxiety to have their souls
Built up on God’s life-giving verities,
But that their own foundationless concepts
Might some support in holy writings find.
Whoever will a course like this pursue
Shall live and die without the light of God.
Never was book more simple placed before
The poor unlettered followers of the Lord;
For He who gave the Book knew what we were,
And also knew the way in which to speak
To those who neither noble were, nor wise
According to the flesh, but who were His
By sovereign grace, that they the worldly wise
Might utterly confound, and bring to naught
Those that be something in their own esteem.
Therefore let us approach the holy Word
Distrusting utterly the carnal mind,
But with the utmost confidence in Him
Who can and will good understanding give
To those possessed of no ability
Conceptions infinite to entertain.
And let us take it in the very words
In which it has been given, adding not
A tittle of our own, nor tincturing
With His unerring Word our sophistries.
But tho’ this Word, that verities reveal
In words most simple to be understood,
Is placed before us, yet are we not thrown
Upon our own ability to grasp
The verities those simple words announce;
For those who have upon the Christ believed
Have been anointed with the Holy Ghost,
Who is our Teacher in whate’er relates
To our relationship with God, and those
Who truly call upon the Lord on earth.
If we submissive are, and grieve Him not,
He guides us deep into the thoughts of God,
Makes known to us eternal mysteries,
Directs our hearts into that endless love
That came thro’ Golgotha’s deep woes to light,
And gives us power to take the place of sons.
Well may we praise Him for His grace divine,
And pray that truth should rule within our hearts
While here on earth.
R. Most gladly I confess
That Jesus is Creator of all worlds,
But that He is the everlasting God,
This I must not an instant entertain.
I hold He owes existence to His God,
And unto Him alone. He is the first
And last, direct, and only work of God.
To this undoubtedly He reference made,
When He affirmed, I AM THE FIRST AND LAST.
OF GOD’S CREATION also He has said,
I THE BEGINNING AM. This surely were enough
To end upon this question all dispute.
C. But if we speak of Him as the first act
Of God’s creation, would not this imply
That God had a creation other than
That which the heavens and the earth reveal,
And which the Word of the eternal God
Attributes to the Son? Your statement seems —
Unless your notion be what I suggest—
To bear a contradiction to my mind.
If God has a creation, and if Christ
Be the result of the first move of
God in creatorial power, Jesus could not
The only work of the Almighty be.
A first, at least, a second must suppose.
But everything in heaven and on earth,
The visible, and the invisible,
Owes its existence to the Son, who came
In lowly grace into this world of men.
Surely in these most solemn mysteries
You do not let imagination loose,
Or to its frolics pay the least respect.
If God has graciously been pleased to place
His revelation freely in our hands,
Why should we in pursuit of mysteries
Fall back upon our own illusive dreams?
To not a human soul in this wide world
Are those vain fantasies which you indulge,
And which you seem to rate with Holy Writ,
Of any service only to deceive.
As for yourself, they do but blind your eyes,
To the true import of His holy Word.
By that unerring Word, as I have said,
We doubtless have been made to understand
That everything that being has received
By Jesus it received it. Everything
Owes its existence to the living Word.
That Word that did of flesh and blood partake
And bore the name of Jesus here below.
Now if a creature Jesus also be,
He must have been created. If He was
Created, and Himself Creator was
Of everything in heaven and on earth,
The things invisible and visible,
And this of Him the holy Word affirms,
Then by Himself Himself created was.
To this grotesque and rank absurdity
Your fancy has decoyed you, and because
You would permit it to engage itself
With subjects which without the help of God
And mind and heart submissive to His Word
You with the sacred Writings are at war.
Were you well satisfied with that which God
Has in His grace and loving-kindness given
For our enlightenment and joy of faith,
You would have preservation merciful
Found from the folly of the fleshly mind.
But not content with this you must explore,
Or venture to explore the secret things
That to the creature God hath not disclosed.
On such a deep unfathomable theme
As is the incarnation of the Son,
We must not throw the reign upon the neck
Of our imagination, and allow
Ourselves to be by its insanity
Dragged into regions of uncertainty,
In which destruction waits the trespasser.
R. Not now, nor ever, have I said, or thought,
Or hinted that I thought, or given you
A shadow of a reason to suppose
That I believed the Holy Saviour was
His own Creator. I have told you He
Owes His existence to the living God.
C. I understand. But you are but a man,
And not the living God, and therefore where
Your words the Scriptures plainly contradict,
And where I find you paradoxical,
I can but answer you according to
The way in which your words my mind impress.
That Christ is the Creator you admit
And that all things possessing being owe
That being to His creatorial power.
Has Jesus being?
R. Surely: but He is
The one exception that existence owes
To the direct almighty power of God.
C. But there is no exception. Scripture says,
That not one single thing apart from Him
Received existence. And, sir, unto this
Rightful conclusion I would be compelled
To come, if I adopted your belief,
That will have the Creator less than God:
If everything was made by Him, and He
A creature is, He must have made Himself.
But will you not be good enough to turn
With me to certain portions of the Word,
Which shall unquestionably give us light
Regarding this most vital theorem.
I read in Genesis that it was God
Created both the heavens, and the earth.
In chapter two we have the added name
Jehovah in relationship with man.
And there I read that He had fashioned man
Out of the dust of earth, and that He had
Into his nostrils breathed the breath of life.
And later on He says to Israel,
I am thy God Jehovah that hath brought
Thee from the land of Egypt, and out from
The house of bondage, therefore thou shalt not
Beside Myself have any other god.
Again, Before Me there was no God formed,
Nor after Me shall there be any God.
Is there a God beside Me? There is none:
I know not any. I Jehovah am.
I am Jehovah that hath all things made,
And BY MYSELF hath stretched the earth abroad.
I am Jehovah, and there is none else.
I am the first, I also am the last.
Here the Creator of the universe
Affirms that He is God, and that beside
There is no god, no other god exists,
And solemnly is Jacob’s ransomed race
Warned not to worship any other god;
For He who brought them out of durance vile
Is He who made the heavens and the earth.
This from the ancient Scriptures; when I come
To where the true light breaketh from the New,
I find that the Creator is the Son,
And that of Him the same thing is affirmed,
As is of God emphatic in the Old:
Jehovah of the Old is Jesus of the New,
And but Himself no other God exists.
R. We learn as we grow older! I had hoped
I might have found you generous enough
To have allowed the Father one small place
In your ideas of almighty God.
C. Not my ideas, feeble, incomplete,
Worthless, and waste of moments to discuss.
We have been looking at what Scripture says
And neither you nor any other man
Who is both sane and sober can deny
That in the writings of the prophets God
Asserts that He Himself Creator is,
And that there is no other than Himself.
Not from the first of Genesis, right through
Until the very end of Malachi,
Can God the Father and the Son be found.
One God is there who ever speaks as one
But unrevealed until the Son appeared,
And then we learn that He who spoke as one
Was then a Trinity in Unity,
And is today, and shall for ever be.
Nay, do not let the smile of unbelief,
Or of conceit of a superior faith,
Crinkle your lip. In God’s most holy Book
I read of Father, and I read of Son,
And of the Holy Ghost I also read,
In many places—more than I could name—
The Son is certainly set forth as God,
Creator and upholder of all things,
He is the true God and eternal life.
As we have seen, in the Old Testament
God is Creator, Christ is in the new.
But when, in order that a righteous way
Might be prepared for the accomplishment
Of God’s eternal counsel, and for men
To hear of mercy and salvation free,
The eternal Son in grace unspeakable
Himself divested of the form of God,
And took upon Himself a servant’s form,
Come like ourselves, in fashion of a man.
Taking a place inferior to God,
And therefore things regarding Him could be
Affirmed, that could not have been said of Him
Before He entered upon man’s estate.
Viewed as a man, and of the virgin born,
He is saluted as the Son of God.
Thus the decree has been declared: Thou art
My Son, this day have I begotten Thee.
These words, we are informed, have never been
Addressed to angel, or to angel kind;
And revelation not a hint contains
Of any creature in the universe
Set in intelligent relationship with God
Other than men and angels; sons of God,
Powers, principalities, let them be good
Or evil, all appear before the throne,
In the Apocalypse of angel kind.
Therefore the Saviour ere He man became,
Not in this category can be classed.
Again, whatever creature God has made,
He made to serve Him, and in servant’s form
He from the hand of his Creator came,
But here we find One in the form of God,
Decked with the tokens of eternal might,
Unto whose fiat every creature bows,
But yet from whom no being that exists
Can claim subjection. This majestic form
He lays aside, and takes another form,
The form of servant, of a woman born,
And as a Man appearing amongst men.
Was this upon His part apostasy?
If He was creature, then without a doubt
It was to serve the purposes of God
He was created; therefore as a slave
He stood before the Despot who had brought
Him into being, hence He could not take
Upon Himself a servant’s form, for in
That form He stood from the first hour in which
His work was pointed out to Him by God.
But the assumption of a servant’s, form
Was a most true and veritable fact.
When He became a Man, a Man He was,
In bondman’s form, a Bondman without doubt.
Deception there was none; the place He took
Was one in which He could speak of Himself
As less than God. He could most truly say,
Greater than I My Father is. Again,
Not unto Thee My goodness doth extend.
And yet again, I did not come to do
My will, but His that sent Me. Yet altho’
This He could say by reason of the place
He had as Man assumed, He never was,
Nor could be, less than the eternal Son
Of the eternal Father.
R. This you must
Admit is paradoxical, for Son
Could not by any possibility
Eternal be; beginning He must have.
C. But so must Father.
R. As a Father, yes.
But yet the Person being must have had
Before the name of Father could be His.
But are your present thoughts and reasonings
In this not governed by what you observe
As true in human life?
R. Yes, certainly.
Do you know ought of these relationships
Other than what you learn in human life?
C. I know a little of the things that God
Has plainly put on record for our faith,
And there I find that the Creator is
The high and holy One inhabiting
Eternity; and He is also called
The everlasting God, Creator of
The heavens and the earth. God has made known
His very nature to His blood-redeemed,
But He has not revealed the mysteries
That lie in that light no one can approach,
And in the Godhead, whom no eye hath seen,
Nor can see even by the Spirit’s power,
Nor is it necessary we should know,
Nor good that we our dialectic powers
Should occupy with things that lie beyond
What God has given us strength to apprehend
R. Only-begotten He is said to be,
And also Firstborn, hence there is no need
For reason on the matter. Let us take
The Word as it is given, adding not
As much as an iota to the text;
Simply permitting the inerrant voice
Of Scripture to control our restless minds;
Nor seek to force our way thro’ mists and fogs.
Of error to the goal we have in view,
Whether the goal be one of gain or loss.
C. That sole-begotten Christ is said to be,
Is absolutely undeniable.
The only point to be debated is
The meaning of the appellation. Not
In every instance does it do to take
A word in Scripture text, and analyse
And separate its elements, and thus
Its meaning and its force determine, no
I have a strong suspicion that the word
Only-begotten has another sense
Than what is usually applied to it.
In Hebrews Abraham is said to have
Offered, by faith in power eternal, his
Only-begotten son, but yet he had
By Hagar Ishmael, and other sons
By yet another wife Keturah. I
Therefore conclude the import of the term
Is that of an affection measureless,
Centered in one in whom reposes all
The hopes and expectations of a sure
Fulfilment of all excellent desire.
We can be certain anyhow it does
Not mean an only son, for certainly
It is apparent that it means not that
In case of Abraham, to which I have
Made reference, nor am I confident
That it has any reference to Christ
Apart from what He is as come in flesh.
Only-begotten could most truthfully
Apply to Him as come in flesh and blood,
For tho’ believers are of God begot,
Yet not in the same manner as the Son.
Therefore to build a doctrine on a text
That has at all times been debatable
Is not a wise proceeding.
If I take
With reference to the “Firstborn,” I shall find
It is not always to be understood
Quite in the sense of seniority,
But more a status of pre-eminence.
Of Israel as a nation God has said:
He is my son, my firstborn, lifted up
As head among the nations of the earth.
Of David also He declared, I will
Make Him firstborn, higher than kings of earth.
He says by Jeremiah: Ephraim
Is my firstborn. Also His purposes
With reference to His saints is, to conform
Them to the image of His Son, that He
Might midst His many brethren be Firstborn.
Firstborn of all creation also, for
He is Creator. Firstborn from the dead.
Thus every passage where you find firstborn,
The thought conveyed is of pre-eminence,
And not at all priority of birth
Indeed the very reason given for His
Unique position as Firstborn, is that
In all things He must have pre-eminence.
R. Let me remind you that the Word of God,
In terms that cannot be misunderstood,
Declares that Jesus the beginning is
Of God’s creation. What may else be said
Cannot upset a statement such as this,
Or of God’s verity a figment make.
C. This statement does not in the least assist
Your aim to make a creature of the Christ.
This is the character that He assumes
To that corrupt assembly that had closed
Its door against Him, and had fallen down
To old creation level, tho’ by grace
They had been set to witness faithfully,
Amid the old creation, to the new.
To this the Church is called, and while on earth
To stand as those who have been given part
In that vast universe that shall appear,
Not as the work of the Creator’s hands,
But rather as the labour of His love.
Of this bright sphere, the centre and the Head
The risen Christ is set, and He shall give
To that creation life and character.
Founded upon the mighty work He wrought
When Golgotha beheld His woes, He is
Beginning, corner-stone, director, Head.
Therefore because this lukewarm church had sunk
Down to the old creation plain, He calls
Their hearts to that to which they should have borne
A faithful testimony. But this word
That speaks of Him as the beginning of
Creation that shall be for ever new,
Has only reference to Him as man,
And as the One from whom this glorious sphere
Shall have its never fading character.
Back to beginning let the reverent mind
The ages cross to the last stepping-stone,
Of things created, ere the voice went forth
The voice of the Creator causing things
At once to spring from utter nullity
Into existence; when that light alone,
That living light most unapproachable,
In which the Godhead have their blest abode,
Was there the eye to meet, had eye been there
To contemplate it; light above the sheen
Of the bright orb that rules the gladsome day,
When forth at noontide from the burnished blue
His brilliant beams the earth with glory bathes;
That light, a ray of which made blind the eyes
Of Saul of Tarsus, in his mad career
Of hate against the risen Son of God.
Light increate, serene, immaculate,
Eternal, veiling, not displaying Him
Who has His home within its precincts bright.
Impenetrable light the vision blinds
No “Morning Stars,” no “Sons of God,” no worlds,
The universe not yet has issued forth
At the command of the Almighty’s voice,
For you have reached the point preceding all
The grand results of creatorial might
In its activities, and to your eye
By light ineffable Godhead is veiled.
But there in the beginning was the Word,
The Word which was with God and which was God.
The One in the eternal Trinity
Who was to give effect to all that lay
In Godhead counsel. He who never had
Beginning was in the beginning there,
And ready to give utterance to the thought
Of love eternal. For this reason He,
And He alone, is called “The Word of God”;
That which expresses all that God would have
Expressed in His creation; all the light
By which He would our souls illuminate,
The light of the true knowledge of Himself.
Therefore when He was here in blood and flesh
The hitherto Unseen was manifest.
The revelation that we have received
From Him whose will was to enlighten us,
Not only with the history of His works
But also with the goodness of His heart,
Informs us that in the beginning He
Created both the heavens and the earth.
You tell me that in the beginning God
Created the Creator of the worlds.
Whatever else may therefore doubtful seem
One thing is certain and beyond dispute,
With Him you rashly are at variance.
You tell me that the primal work was Christ,
He tells me ’twas the heavens and the earth.
You cannot be surprised if I adhere
To His account of things, rejecting yours.
He was, as I have said, the One designed
To give effect to purposes of love,
And just as such a wondrous universe
Was needful, if effect was to be given
To those great thoughts of the eternal mind
The Son put forth His own intrinsic power
And into actual existence brought
This vast creation, filling it with souls
And beings spiritual, heavenly
And earthly, all by His almighty hand
In beauty and in virtue wisely framed,
Into whatever state some may have lapsed,
When their allegiance to their Maker good
Was to the test subjected.
Satan fell
And others fell with him, as from the crown
Of some of those huge hills is loosed a rock,
That falling from its lofty altitude
Brings in its rapid and headlong career
A shower of metal made to share its fall.
Thus fell the first transgressor from the height
In which he had been by His Maker placed.
And Adam fell, our representative
And federal head, from whom we all derive,
And therefore have we all been born in sin,
And sinners are by practice, under death,
And sorely dominated with its fear;
For Satan has the might of death, and wields
It over us as judgment of our sins
So that we naturally live in dread
Of having God to meet. This fact involved
His intervention in eternal love,
If we from ruin were to be redeemed
And set in right relationships with God.
Therefore the glorious One to whom we owed
Our being, and to whom in counsels deep
Was given the task of taking hold of those
Purposed for blessing ere the world began,
And of delivering them from Satan’s power
And giving them to know the Father’s love,
Came in the form of bondman, came in flesh,
That He might take upon Himself the curse,
The death, the doom that justly lay on us,
And expiate our sins, God honouring
And glorifying in the spot where we
Had Him dishonoured; also that He might
By His own death death utterly annul;
And from the dead arise victorious
And seat Himself upon the heavenly throne.
R. To say the body of the Christ was raised.
Is fatal error, for it vitiates
The ransom given for the souls of men.
C. But some of us, I fear, have yet to learn
Of resurrection that does not include
The body. On what Scripture do you base
Your bold assertion, that we who believe
In the resurgence of the body lie
Under the condemnation and the guilt
Of holding vital error?
R. I refer
To Paul’s first letter to Corinthian saints,
And chapter fifteen:—“That which thou dost sow,
Thou sowest not that body that shall be.”
That should be plain enough for any man
Not by his preconceived ideas blind.
C. Truly it is most plain and he were fool
That knew it not apart from being told.
No one expects the very grain he sows
To be what he shall reap when harvest comes.
R. Still that which the apostle has in view
Is resurrection, and to this known fact
He calls attention, lest it might be thought
The body that is sown would rise again.
C. But when he comes immediately to deal
With death and resurrection, he declares
That that which in corruption has been sown
Is raised in incorruptibility;
And that which has been in dishonour sown
Is raised in glory; that in weakness sown
Is raised in power; and the natural
Is brought forth spiritual. It is not
Another body than the one entombed,
That, when the voice of the eternal Son
Is heard in power omnipotent, comes forth
In incorruption, power, and glory great,
But still the body that was sown, though changed,
With such a change as o’er the living saints
Shall pass before we meet Him in the air.
Sowing and reaping, darksome night and morn,
Winter and springtime, all these things remind
Our spirits that the principle on which.
This fallen world we live in has been set
Is death and resurrection. To His foes
Our Saviour said, Destroy this temple, and
In three days I will raise it up again.
The Holy Spirit tells us that in this
He of the temple of His body spoke.
Again, He says, Thou wilt not leave my soul
To hades, nor allow Thy Holy One
To see corruption. And of this the chief
Apostle to the circumcision says
That this prophetic word has reference
Unto the resurrection of the Christ,
That not in hades God had left his soul,
Nor did His flesh corruption see. But you,
In mad conceit with your vain fantasies,
Have no respect for the unerring Word,
But turning from its strict averments, seize
On that which gives a shadow of the true,
And, in rejection of its tenets plain,
Out of the type will fabricate your creed.
The mighty angel’s rolling back the stone
To manifest the triumph of the Lord
Over the king of terrors, if we give
Your fleshly notions lodgment, was no more
Than a corrupt proceeding, farcical,
And utterly deceptive. And to think
(Tho’ surely blasphemous the thought must be)
Of Christ conniving at it all, and then
Exhibiting His wounds, inviting them
To handle Him and have their faith assured
That He had truly flesh and bones; and that
Not with a spirit had they got to do.
But with Himself victorious from the dead.
R. I think you should admit that patience great
Has on my part been truly manifest.
The way you seek to bolster up a myth,
And dress a figment up to make it look
Like an unquestionable verity
Is interesting; but no act of yours
Can make me fancy that the payment made,
As ransom for our death-deserving souls,
By Jesus on the cross has been recalled.
But if the Man Christ Jesus has been raised,
This very thing is what has taken place,
And we without redemption are today.
C. But ere I touch the question that you raise
Concerning the recall, or otherwise
Of that great ransom found thro’ Jesus’ death,
I would remind you that the Scriptures do
Most clearly testify the glorious fact
That Jesus Christ of David’s seed is raised;
And Paul to the Corinthians declares
That if He be not, they are in their sins,
And that the dead who put their trust in Him
Are every one of them for ever lost.
You say, if He is risen we are lost;
The Word says, we are lost if He is not.
Thus are you found at variance with God.
I care not what results you may suppose
Follow this fact, the fact is in the Book,
And if to this its testimony you
Reject, I place no value on the faith
You think you have in any other thing
Of which it testifies. It seems to me
You have a certain creed, your own, or that
Invented by some more ingenious mind.
And that you venture to the Word of God
To get this wretched creed of yours confirmed,
And from its evident and simple sense
It must be twisted that your creed may stand.
R. I say, the Scripture teaches Jesus passed
Out of existence to the purpose that
Adam and all his race might enter in.
C. But where does Scripture say that Jesus passed
Out of existence?
R. It declares He died,
And if He died He certainly did pass
Out of existence. Death is certainly
The end of human life. A man goes down
To sheol, where he knows not anything;
He is extinct.
C. And yet the Psalmist says,
When speaking to the living God: If I
Should make my bed in sheol, Thou art there.
Had also God out of existence passed?
And more than this, He says He is the God
Of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob.
And Jesus says He is not the God
Of dead, but living; for all live to Him.
R. He claims that He is able to destroy
Both soul and body in the fire of hell.
C. But your idea of destroy is just
As faulty as it is of everything
That in these solemn things you have advanced.
Destroy does never mean annihilate.
When Jesus says, The Son of Man is come
That He may seek and save that which was lost,
Had these lost souls out of existence gone?
Had Jesus to annihilation gone
That He might save them? He had come to earth
To save the lost, and when His followers
He sent to preach the Gospel, them He told
To go to the lost sheep of Israel.
Here “lost” and “perish” are the same in Greek.
Because that we were here in flesh and blood
The mighty Saviour in the same took part,
In order that He might a ransom be
For us, by bearing from the hand of God
The judgment just that heavy on us lay;
And having borne the hiding of the face
Of Him whose righteousness must sin condemn,
He yielded up that life of flesh and blood
To which in every other but Himself
Sin was attached; a life for sinners given,
Never to be resumed; therefore the blood
Is that which makes atonement for the soul.
But flesh and blood is not the whole of man,
As you, sir, seem to think; for not alone
The saint, but sinner also, lives when death
Has blood and flesh transported to the grave.
Paul tells us that for him to die was gain,
And better to depart and be with Christ
Than serve in His glad tidings to the world.
Was Paul distressed with imbecility?
Or facts disclosing, to himself well known?
He says that “Absent from the body” means
For the believer “Present with the Lord.”
But absent from the body finds no place
In your dark creed; the body is the whole
In your opinion.
R. Surely I believe
That when a man has died, dead that man is,
Not part of him, but he, the man himself
Is just as dead as tho’ he never had
The slightest interest in human life.
The prophet says, “Hear and your soul shall live.”
To what conclusion can I come than this,
That if you will not hear your soul shall die.
C. But in the dispensations that are past
The question raised was, Could a man retain
Life upon earth by his own righteousness?
When from the burning mount the law was given,
These words were spoken in the people’s ears,
The man that does these things shall live by them.
He did not say, The man that does these things
Shall go to heaven, or, The man who fails
Shall be consigned to everlasting fire.
Hence it is now no more a question which
Has long been answered, Can a man retain
Life upon earth by his obedience?
Or must he for transgression die accursed?
The Gospel puts before the sons of men
Two other, and more infinite, extremes,
God’s glory, or the endless lake of fire.
These two extremes are never to be found
In the old Scriptures, for they are not there.
Life upon earth, or death, are the two poles,
Tho’ resurrection and a judgment day
Can in their pages certainly be seen.
But now that the true light upon us shines
In Gospel story, the true poles are found,
God’s glory and the endless lake of fire.
By the intrusion of the living God
On our behalf thro’ His beloved Son,
The whole aspect of things has undergone
A sweeping transformation; everything
Regarding our eternal blessing lies
Connected with the risen Son of God.
The question of the life of flesh, and earth,
Is over, never to be taken up while lasts
This world and man as its inhabitant.
It never was, in one sense, otherwise,
For every blessing since the fall of man
Could only be secured by means of Christ,
And by true faith in Him as yet to come,
Or having come; but while the human race
Was under trial men were set to work,
As tho’ on their fulfilment of the task
Allotted to them their salvation lay.
But when the Lord of glory was disowned,
And to a gibbet by this world condemned,
Not only did He bear His people’s sins,
But sinful flesh, the nature that produced
The sins, was also judged and set aside.
His death has finally our history,
As of the first and fallen Adam, closed,
And a new history has been begun
For us in the last Adam glorified.
Our sins are gone, the Holy Ghost is given,
And in the life of our exalted Head
We live in new relationships with God.
His Father ours, His God our God, the love
That rests on Him, on us it ever rests,
And we are made the righteousness of God
In Him the risen and ascended Christ.
And this salvation is to every soul
Brought in the Gospel of the grace of God.
No longer on probation is our race;
No longer is a man’s attention turned
To contemplate his obligations, and
The fearful consequences that result
From non-fulfilment of the total sum.
But men are told that they are lost, that life
And righteousness are found for them in Christ;
And if by faith in Him they turn to God
The blessings of the Gospel shall be theirs.
Of this you nothing know, while you refuse
The Mediator between God and men.
Your creed declares you lost Him at the cross,
And you have no one who can lay his hand
On God and on yourself. No one but God
Could lay His hand on God, and none but man
Could lay his hand on man. You cannot do
Without a mediator, and the mediator must
Be God and man, and yet in person one.
The only Mediator that is ours,
Or could be ours, is the incarnate Son,
As truly Man as tho’ He were not God,
As truly God as tho’ He were not Man:
The God that made the worlds, the Man that hung
Upon a gibbet for our benefit
Between the awe-struck heavens and the earth,
The Man gone back to that exalted place
From which in grace He came to bear our woe:
The Man, the Son of Man, that Stephen saw
At God’s right hand, the risen Man, to whom
That Protomartyr did in confidence
Commit his spirit, in the hour in which
He sealed his testimony with his blood.
Jesus of Nazareth, a Man approved
Of God; this is the way the Scripture speaks;
A Man once truly of a virgin born.
A Man who, if I trust your Gospel, passed
By woes unfathomed, and by shameful death,
Into oblivion, became extinct,
Became as tho’ He had not been, became
Annihilated, so that since that death,
Exists in heaven or earth not such a Man.
Tho’ Saul of Tarsus, in his mad career,
As persecutor of the saints that called
Upon His blest imperishable name,
Thought that He saw Him in the heavenly light,
And heard His voice from the celestial sphere
Demanding wherefore in his wicked zeal
He persecuted those the name revered,
Declaring I AM JESUS, it was all
Hallucination; yea, tho’ Peter preached
That God had raised Him from among the dead,
And that at God’s right hand that Man was set,
Nothing it was but bounce and balderdash
R. That in existence there is no such man
Not in the least can prejudice the fact,
That now between us and the living God
Is found a Mediator competent
To lay one hand on God, and one on men.
C. It does most thoroughly the fact deny,
For as a ransom for this world of men
The Mediator gave Himself, and you
Affirm that that gift of Himself implied
Annihilation, Therefore I maintain
That if your statement be a vital truth,
There cannot be a Mediator now.
R. It seems to me extremely evident,
That not sufficiently you keep in mind
The fact, that all that Jesus was before
He took up manhood perfectly remains,
And shall remain throughout eternity.
The Man is gone as ransom for our souls,
Tho’ when referred to He must ever be
Known by the name of Jesus, and as Man
He still is spoken of, for as a Man
We came to know Him in His history here.
He died for all, and all shall come again
Back from oblivion, back from the sleep
Into which most have fallen, known as death;
For as a sleep our death is ever viewed,
By reason of their similarity.
C. That is “To be,” and “not to be” possess
Semblance so notable, that either term
Will equally and perfectly express
The fact one wishes to communicate,
This is what you desire me to believe.
And which with all my vigour I refuse.
I scarcely dare to think a person sane
Would say such things, and mean the things he says,
Unless he wished his hearer to perplex.
Death, in your view of it, has not the least
Analogy to sleep, as I know sleep;
But sleep has a distinct analogy
To death as spoken of in holy Writ.
At death the body to corruption goes,
The spirit, from the mortal coil released,
Passes to be with Christ, or to a place
Where an eternity of hopeless loss
Rises before the unforgiven soul,
And fills him with unspeakable despair.
This was but dimly, if at all, perceived
Before the advent of the Son of God.
And hence the ancient Scriptures speak of those
Departed from this world, as in their graves,
A land of gloom, of silence, whence no voice
Of praise ascends to God, dust gone to dust,
And where the worms upon the carcase feed.
All in that land as tho’ they had not been.
But now that the eternal Son of God
Has come, the true and heavenly light that made
All things in earth and heaven manifest,
Has thrown its glory into death’s domain,
Unveiling all the hidden mysteries
That long had lain in deep obscurity;
So that in all the ways and thoughts of God
With erring moral creatures, not one thing
That can be known is hidden from our eyes.
Thro’ a dim window it is true we see,
And that we know in part is also true,
But still we see and know, tho’ waiting till
Not thro’ a window we shall have to look,
And not in part we mysteries shall know,
But face to face we everything shall view;
And the vast edifice of truth divine
Shall shine in wondrous unity before
Our ransomed souls, and we shall know as known.
These vast eternal verities have come
To us by Spirit revelation, and
In faith of them is life, eternal life,
Life that despises the assaults of death.
R. You surely have not fallen yet so low
As to believe that any mortal man
Is the possessor of eternal life.
If from the moment when one first believes
Eternal life is his, how can he die?
And if he cannot die he cannot be
Raised up by power divine at the last day;
Yet that he shall be raised the Lord has said.
New birth and life eternal both belong
To that grand moment consequent upon
The travail of the human body in its death,
It is the final and complete release
Of new creation from the circling bands
Of our corruptible and mortal flesh.
This will take place when God puts forth His power
And brings the dead back into life again.
C. There are three ways in which eternal life
Is viewed in the most holy Word of God.
In Matthew’s Gospel, and in Mark’s, and Luke’s,
It is connected with the world to come.
These men inform us that the Saviour said
That those who had forsaken all for Him
Would more possess e’en in this present time,
And in the world to come eternal life.
Paul views it in its own eternal home
The glory yet to come, the Father’s house,
Its native sphere of which it is the life,
In promise having it and not in fact,
And consequently is in hope of it.
John brings the moral atmosphere of that
Bright home to earth, and views this heavenly life
As that which powerfully has vitalised
The family of God. With him it lies
For God’s dear children in the knowledge of
The Father and His Son, Jesus the Christ.
But not the slightest lack of harmony
Lies in the writings of these men of God.
Whether that life divine may be declared
As in the hope of the believer, or
As in possession at this present hour,
In both these ways it can be, and is, viewed.
We have it in the spiritual power
In which we live to God, while yet we are
In mortal bodies which have yet to come
Under the quickening influence of Christ.
Now He who is life-giver has Himself
Declared, that everyone receiving Him
Receives this everlasting life. Do you
Consider you know better than the Son
Who has this gracious gift, and who has not?
Have you got knowledge in advance of Him
Whom you admit is Maker of the worlds?
And must we come in our bewilderment
To you, that for our soul’s tranquility
This most momentous question may be solved?
Not one of us but has the consciousness
That not our bodies have yet quickened been.
This waits, as I have said, the glorious hour
When He who has created in our souls
The deathless love of God shall come again,
And touch our bodies with the primal wave
Of that almighty power by which He shall
All things subdue, and by which power thro’ grace
His dead and living people shall arise
In glory, and surround Him in the air,
And henceforth not a single element
Of that dead matter that to us belonged
Shall in our being be for ever found.
But now already are we born again,
Already have we got eternal life,
And you may argue, contradict, oppose,
Dash your frail intellect against the rock
Of God’s impeccable, impregnable,
Resistless revelation, but not it
You damage, but your own futurity
With reference to the hopes you entertain
Of everlasting bliss, nor can you change
Its voice, that sounds in the believer’s ear
Like golden bells from the eternal throne.
Or make it say other than what it has,
In simple words, unquestionably said:—
He that believeth on the Son of God
Hath life eternal, and He that believes
That Jesus is the Christ is born of God.
But you are utterly mistaken when
You think that when the body is deprived
Of life, the soul must also die, and you
Forget that Christ has told us not to fear
Those who the body kill, but have no power
To kill the soul, but that our fear should be
Of Him who can the body and the soul
Destroy in hell. And this destroy is not,
As I have evidenced from other texts,
Annihilation, but a wretched state
Of separation from the living God,
And therefore endless, hopeless misery.
And you will not admit that anything
Survives the stroke of the destroyer’s death,
Nor will you have it that the body shall
Be ever rescued from its powerful grasp.
This is, however, but another way
Of saying death has gained the victory,
And thro’ the creature God has known defeat.
R. No, I believe the individual
Shall from the shades mysterious return.
C. Return! There is no being to return.
R. The ego comes, the individual.
C. There is no individual; there is
No ego to return. Nothing exists
Of that which once existed. God could make—
Who dare deny it?—a facsimile
Of one who once existed and had passed
Out of existence, like in every way,
Provided he who thus had passed away
Was not a fallen sinner, but I do
Not hold, nor think, nor would the thought allow
To harbour for an instant in my mind,
That once a sinner base had ceased to be,
God would that sinner base bring back again.
Whatever God at any time did make,
He made the best that, of its special kind,
A God of goodness, power, and wisdom could
Create. I know Him well enough to hold,
That could a sinner be to nothing brought
That sinner He would never recreate.
R. The sinner, like the saint, existence has
Still in the mind of the eternal God,
And not alone shall he be brought again
Back from the region of forgetfulness
But as he left this world shall he return,
With all the thoughts that once had harbourage
Within his heart and mind, and all the words
That ever passed the portal of his lips,
The base brutality, the lechery,
The malice, envy, hatred, blasphemy,
That congregated in the mind corrupt,
All must be brought again along with him
Who had conceived them, bred them, nourished them,
And he shall once again be made appear
Before the throne of God just as he was
Laden with every evil he had done
During his life, and as he passed away.
C. But this time in his recreated state
He shall be visibly the work of God.
When in this wretched and corrupt estate
He shall be manifest before the throne,
As an entirely new creation, he
Must certainly be cited to appear.
All that he once was had been blotted out,
This being so, why then not let it be?
What purpose could be served—what justice met—
By recreating one once passed away,
By process of annihilation, out
Of an existence sinful and corrupt,
And bringing in the sinner as he was,
And this time, as I have already said,
A sinner of the type he was before,
But then himself as his own evil work,
And now the sinner as the work of God?
R. Your words do not my thought quite represent,
The person brought again from death can not
Be viewed as God’s creation. He is that
Which he had made himself in earthly life,
And comes from hades burdened with the guilt
Incurred by him in his career of sin.
C. But must I once again attention draw
To that which cannot rightly questioned be,
But unto which you have paid no respect,
That if I take the ground your theories
Would have me take, I certainly must say,
That there is nothing and no one to bring
From any quarter of the universe,
For there are no dead persons anywhere,
Either within, or yet without the graves.
Those that were persons can nowhere be found
For there is nothing now but heaps of dust,
Tho’ reverently they buried may have been,
And therefore there is no one to bring back.
Neither the person nor his acts exist,
Neither can he existent be again
But by direct creative work of God.
And as to hades, you have surely seen
That if it means annihilation, then
Annihilated God must also be,
For He is there. And you may designate
This bringing back by any name you please,
The fact you cannot change; a person is
From non-existence to existence brought,
And that is what most people understand,
When on their ears the term creation falls.
You talk of resurrection; this is just
The raising of the dead. But when I ask,
Where are the dead? You have to own that they
Are people who were once alive on earth,
But whose existence once came to an end;
That is, the dead if named bring to the mind
Persons as known on earth at various times,
But who once ceased to be and are no more.
Upon their present state you cannot fix,
For, as for them, no present state exists.
But if what you assert were possible,
And all those people who have passed away
Were into being brought again, with all
Their previous imperfections and their deeds,
Nor praise nor blame could unto them attach,
For by the work of God they now would be
Whatever they for good or ill were found,
And praise or censure must result to Him.
This is the pass to which your theories,
Dark as the deep abyss from which they spring,
Have led you, and to which they yet must lead
All those who with God’s Gospel discontent
Under your baseless postulations fall.
You wrest the Scriptures, and their simple sense,
Beyond all recognition you distort.
One wonders that the terror of the Lord
Should be so utterly impuissant
The restless human spirit to restrain
From such excesses as those you have reached,
In making the attempt to furnish souls
With fables such as men like you concoct
As substitutes for His life-giving Word.
R. I do not for a single moment think
Your dialectics can be justified.
I no more think that God, in bringing man
Back from destruction in the state in which
He into death descended, can be charged
With re-creating evil, than I think
That He the evil did originate.
Nor do I think your strictures warranted
By my attempt to represent the truth,
As I have learned it from the written Word.
That which in Christendom has been yclept
The Gospel is assuredly not that;
For if there yet is anything on earth
Worthy the name of Gospel, it is not
That which we have from your ordained divines,
Who to eternal condemnation send
The greater part of poor humanity;
And that in spite of God’s plain Word of truth
That says He would have all men to be saved.
Nice Gospel that! tho’ I am glad to see
That people are beginning to rebel
Against that which so much misrepresents
The true and gracious character in which
God still presents Himself to ruined souls.
It seems to me the love expressed to men
In the great gift of His beloved Son
Should have such thoughts in their inception slain.
I certainly with all my heart believe
In one complete probation for all men,
Whether in this life or in that to come.
And by probation I but indicate,
That every man from Adam to the last
That are of his unhappy fallen race
Shall tested be by having Christ to him
Presented; and that those who have not heard
Of Him on earth, and who have passed away.
Shall one time or another hear of Him,
And of His ransom for the souls of men,
That they may have an opportunity
Of coming into everlasting good.
The holy Scriptures testify that God
Would have all human beings to be saved,
And to the knowledge of the truth to come.
And therefore in a Mediator He
Has us approached, a Mediator who
On our behalf Himself a ransom gave
This testimony to be sent abroad
Gives me the hope that every soul of man
Shall have a presentation of the Christ,
Either today or in a time to come.
C. That all men should be saved is without doubt
The manifest and proved desire of God,
For He has at a cost most infinite
Salvation made available for all.
And now that the occasion opportune
Had come when man was proven to be lost
The Mediator, by the grace of God,
Appeared to make God manifest to men.
Previous to Christ on earth and to the cross,
This testimony, I need scarcely say,
Could not be rendered, for the thing to be
Thus testified had not yet taken place.
But when the trial, or probation, that
Had been by wisdom great accounted good
To place man under, to an end had come
The Mediator gave Himself for all.
God neither did, nor could, in public ways,
Take into His own hand deliverance.
Until man’s hopeless state had been disclosed.
But when it came to light that fallen man
Was utterly unable by his works
One thing to merit but the curse of God;
And when was added to this fearful fact
That foe he was, and that inveterate,
Of his Creator manifest in grace
(For with the thorny crown upon His head,
And with the filthy spittle in His face,
Nailed to a gibbet, the eternal Son
Was witness to this alienated state
In which the human race all helpless lay).
Then came the opportunity for God
To take into His own almighty hand
The matter of salvation for the race;
Approaching by the Mediator, who
In meekness and in mercy infinite,
As ransom for us, freely gave Himself;
Thus opening a good and perfect way
Of free salvation for the worst of men.
And later from His presence glorified
The Holy Spirit came with power, to fill
His servants, and enable them to spread
Abroad the testimony to the Jew,
In the first instance, to the Gentile next.
From man’s unhappy and terrific fall
Up to the advent of the Son of God,
And, I may say, up to His cross of shame,
Under probation was the human race;
And every test that wisdom infinite
Could possibly determine was applied
To win the wandering human heart to God;
But all in vain; the testing only served
To bring to light what in the creature lay.
And this was needful to have brought to light
If fallen men were purposed to become
The subjects of the gracious work of God.
This was not requisite that God might learn
Our ruined state, as tho’ He knew it not,
But that that state might be made manifest
To all intelligences in the heavens,
And to the creature under test himself,
That everyone might learn and understand
The hopeless plight to which the fall had brought
The race that in the fallen Adam fell;
And that in all the patient ways of God
With the rebellious race might be declared—
His grace; His goodness; His long-suffering;
His tenderness; His loving-kindness great;
His infinite compassions; righteousness;
Hatred of sin; consuming holiness;
His faithfulness to all His promises;
His chastisements, that oft upon them fell;
His pity for them; and His healing grace,
When there was any turning to Himself
Among them manifest, tho’ everything
To which He had recourse completely failed:
Yet not until they crucified His Son
Did He refuse and set aside the flesh,
So that in no relationship with God
It stands today, for only in the Christ
Is there salvation and acceptance found
Men are now plainly told that they are lost,
And that they must be of the Spirit born;
If not they cannot enter, no, nor see
God’s kingdom. What is born of flesh is flesh,
And that is in its very nature base,
And enmity against the living God.
A soul by second birth is born of God,
A child of God, and object of His love.
R. As to new birth and spiritual life,
Like many more in Christendom, you fail
To grasp the facts, as furnished in the Word.
And tho’ you certainly must give account
Regarding that which is the baneful root
Of all your errors, your most obstinate
And wayward will, you scarcely can be blamed
For faulty rendering of the sacred text,
Therefore in your case one must exercise
A certain modicum of clemency.
Where men are said to have been born of God,
The Greek word means “Begotten,” and not “Born.”
All saints have been begotten by the Word,
But the event of spiritual birth
Is not until the travail has been past
Of this our mortal body in its death.
C. This conversation interesting grows,
And I must certainly admit, that not
Often are Scripture tenets understood
Quite in the light in which you set them forth.
Therefore I must to the conclusion come
If I can safely take on trust your word,
That John the Baptist by Elizabeth,
And not by Zacharias, was begot.
For than the Baptist was no greater born
Of women—should I say begotten here?
I would be parting company with you
If I should say he was of woman born.
Paul tells the Chiliarch that he was born
In Tarsus. Do those words convey the thought
That he was there begotten? If they do,
How would this prove that he a Roman was?
He surely there must also have been born.
Was neither Esau nor his brother yet
Begotten, when it was foretold that he
Who was the elder would the younger serve?
For then they two were struggling in the womb,
Take my advice and leave the Greek to those
Who understand it.
I cannot express
Those notions, which from your productive brain
You at your will seem able to detach,
Like evil spirits human souls to kill,
By any other name than venomed spawn,
That have their origin in the abyss
Of evil, nor can I imagine how
You can your mind and conscience satisfy
With such a fusion of absurdities.
John the evangelist tells us of a man
Of whom his parents certify, that he
Was blind from he was born. Suppose we say
They certified he was begotten blind!
And this is just the word that you would have
Begotten rendered where the subject is
Of a divine and spiritual birth;
And just because translators have not seen
Their way to pander to your ignorance,
You rail against their inconsistency.
A thousand pities verily it was
Those men, so bigoted, so bigot-blind,
Have never heard of you, or if they had
Should have displayed so little confidence
In scattered rumours of your scholarship.
If you could only have conveyed to them
The few plain words you have to me addressed,
We might have had another sort of book,
Than that we cherish as the Word of God.
But now your criticisms come too late!
So we must be with what we have content.
But let us to the subject now revert
Of man’s probation. If attentively
We contemplate the righteous principle
On which the judgment of the world shall rest,
Perhaps in God’s unfathomable grace
On us a little light may be bestowed.
In Paul’s epistle to the Romans, and
In chapter two I read, that in the day
Of the unveiling of the righteous wrath
Of the almighty God, shall rendered be
To every soul of man, without respect
Of persons, who pursue an evil way
And are contentious, indignation, wrath,
Anguish and tribulation. He that wrought
Evil apart from law, without the law
Shall perish; while the soul that under law
Has sinned shall by that holy law be judged.
Whatever light has been on men bestowed,
By that light justly shall his judgment be.
The Jew which has refused to hear the law,
Which is the claim legitimate of God
Upon all those of Adam’s progeny,
That law shall him accuse before the throne,
And greater shall his judgment be than those
To whom no revelation had been made.
The Gentile also who apart from law,
But with the witness of created things
To things that are invisible, e’en His
Eternal power and divinity;
And more than this, the kindness of His heart
Unto rebellious, undeserving man,
Seen in the rain that from the clouds descends
The earth to water, sunshine, fruitful fields,
With food and gladness filling thankless hearts;
Spite of these witnesses to power divine,
And to His loving-kindnesses to men
In their remorseless alienation great
From God and all in which He took delight,
Him by their fell idolatries outraged,
And next themselves dishonoured by their deeds.
All such shall perish when the righteous Judge
Shall bring to light the deeds in darkness done,
Make manifest the counsels of the heart,
And those who had His testimonies scorned
Give soul and body to the fiery flame.
Be not so foolish as to think that men
Who close their ears against the voice of God,
When uttered by the things that He has made,
Will give attention to that self-same voice
When sounding in the Gospel of His grace.
Put the mere child of Adam in the best
And purest circumstances possible,
And though you may, to all appearances,
Make him more moral, you will never make
His heart responsive to the love of God.
Never was creature better circumstanced
For gaining heart-acquaintance with his God
Than was Iscariot, who for three whole years
Followed the footsteps of the Son divine;
But never for a moment seemed his thoughts
To rise above the money-bag he bore,
In which the free-will offerings were placed
By those who served their Master and their Lord.
R. He was but one. All men are not alike.
Why for one criminal condemn the race?
C. Who maketh thee to differ, if at all
A difference exist, that proudly stands
To your advantage, and conspicuous
Amongst your fellows, like a vein of gold
Found in material contemptible;
Your nature normal, in a crooked world
Pre-eminent! But what good thing hast thou
That thou hast not received? And if thou hast
Received it, wherefore dost thou boast, as tho’
It were thine own creation, underived
From any source external to thyself,
Thine innate genius, virtue self-begot.
These are God’s questions to the proud of heart,
Nor could you to Omniscience make reply.
As face in water answers unto face
So is the heart of fallen man to man.
There is none righteous, none that doeth god,
And none there is that seeketh after God.
This is the verdict of God’s holy law,
The covenant which at the burning mount
Was made with Jacob, and ordained to life,
But which because of trespasses became
Death to that people. Man must therefore be
Anew begotten, not on ancient lines,
Not once again of flesh, as tho’ he would
Be given another opportunity,
Himself to raise above the base estrade
Of his old fallen and debased estate,
Of hell-deceived, debased humanity,
But new-begotten by the Word of truth,
On spiritual, not on fleshly lines,
While in his mortal body, yet to be
Brought under the transforming might of God,
The natural to spiritual changed;
So that the saint in his estate complete
Shall to the likeness of his Saviour come.
But every whit of this, from first to last,
From the foundation to the glorious crown,
Shall in the day of Christ’s appearing be
Seen as the workmanship of love divine.
No puny efforts shall in this appear,
No print of creature handiwork shall mar
The beauty of the new creation, no,
Not one unholy blemish shall be found
To indicate that all was not of God
But that in it the man himself had hand.
The crown of gold, the symbol of the peak
Of creature exaltation must be cast,
And gladly shall be cast, before the throne,
And all the honour and the glory shall
Be given to Him who on that throne shall sit,
And unto Him who by His precious blood
Made expiation for our many sins.
Of Man there is no mending, but of him
An ending in the judgment of the cross
Has come to pass. We who believe can say
That our old man has to an end been brought.
Not only have our sins, but that from which
Our sins have sprung, has also come beneath
The wrath and judgment of a righteous God,
And we, partakers of the life of Christ,
Exhorted are to reckon ourselves dead
To sin, and unto God alive in Him.
That spotless life, the life of flesh and blood,
Of which our Lord partook, in order that
He might by His own death, death’s power destroy,
He freely gave, and never took again.
But that is not the same thing as to say,
The man that died for us no longer lives.
Not flesh and blood is all that is of man,
For Scripture shows that when the body dies,
The spirit still abides. I do not doubt
The thing has vanished from your memory,
For I am almost certain you have read
That without question there is such a state
As absent from the body, and to be
In this condition is for saints of God
To be with their beloved Lord at home.
R. The passage quoted I have not forgot,
Yourself it is who has the word misread.
When with the Lord the saint for ever is
He shall be absent from his mortal flesh,
And in another body than the one
Reduced to dust, and blown about the earth.
This is the hope of all who trust in Christ,
And this is all the Scripture says or means.
C. With reference to the body I had thought
You would have been submissive to the Word
Which tells us that the Christ distinctly says,
Destroy this body, and in three days I
Will raise it up again. The Spirit says,
That of the temple of His body this
Was spoken; and that when His followers
Beheld Him risen, then they understood
The Scriptures, and believed what He had said.
Our mortal bodies at this present time
Are temples of the Spirit, and because
This Spirit is the Spirit of the God
That raised up Jesus from the dead,
Our mortal bodies shall be surely brought
Under the quickening power of Him who is
The God of resurrection, then shall this
Mortal be clothed with immortality.
But to return again to the unclothed
And separate condition of the saints
Departed from this scene; Paul tells us, that
For him to live was Christ. His object here
Was but to serve, to have his mind and heart
Engrossed most absolutely with the One
Who had for him all other things eclipsed.
And now when death seemed drawing near to him,
He views it but as gain unspeakable,
For then in Spirit he would be with Him
Whose moral excellencies had compelled
Him to despise the things he once held dear.
With you death is existence at an end.
You shall not find it so when death shall come.
For our enlightenment our Lord has drawn
Aside the veil that hides the unseen world,
And we behold two men for ever gone
From earth, from kith, from kin, and from all change
Of better circumstances; bliss and doom
For ever fixed by the almighty God.
R. That is a parable.
C. I do not now
Question its parabolic character.
But like all other parables by Him
Who could more lessons far than one present
From any single subject He might choose;
So in this case, if parable it be,
Tho’ oft the explanation teachers give
I look upon as so much gibberish.
I do not think that any one shall doubt
That when the bosom of the patriarch
The friend of God is mentioned, it refers
In Jewish thought to happiness supreme.
A parable it is by which the veil,
That hides a world concealed from human sight,
Is drawn aside that we may be informed,
By figurative language, what exists
Within that region, where the wicked cease
From troubling, and the weary are at rest.
Before our mental vision is portrayed
The state of those who from this world have passed,
Contrasted with their circumstances here;
And to the covetous addressed, who held
That to have riches in abundance was
A certain witness of divine regard.
The scene depicted, one need scarcely say,
Lies far outside the bounds in which our minds
Can travel without danger to our souls;
And therefore of necessity are we
For light regarding what therein obtains
Dependent on the certain word of Christ.
The place of rest and endless happiness
Is by the bosom of the patriarch
The father of the faithful symbolized;
And the unhappy state of those who grasped
After this world’s allurements, and forgot
The transitory character of all
In which men seek to find their happiness,
Is by the flame of torment vividly
And powerfully portrayed, by Him who knew
The end of everything in which poor man
Away from God is hopeful life to find.
As in the body still both men are viewed,
In order that we might be capable
Of realizing the unfortunate,
Or blissful, state of things for ever gone
From this unhappy world. Where greed of gain
So terribly controls the thoughts of men,
And blinds their minds to the eternal world,
To which so rapidly we onward move;
For human language is incapable
Of setting forth the circumstances, good
Or evil, in that shadowy land of ghosts.
Nothing could be more evident than that
This parable was uttered that our hearts
Might be from earth diverted, and transferred
To things eternal in another sphere,—
And for no other reason, let the minds
Of impious dreamers drivel as they will.
R. But may I ask you, sir, if you have read
The books in which these subjects are set forth,
And thoroughly supported from the Word?
C. Some of them.
R. Not them all?
C. No, sir, from this
Most mercifully have I been preserved.
Life is too short to have my precious time
Wasted on such unedifying work.
More profitably I my precious hours
Can to advantage put.
R. Then I must say,
I challenge your ability, or right,
To enter the arena of dispute,
Concerning spiritual principles
Held and confessed by the elect of God;
And placed by students of the sacred Text
Beyond the region of fair criticism.
C. Not yet have I the slightest reference made
To that which any man alive or dead
May have by printer’s ink, or verbally,
Adventure made to set those theories
Before the public mind. I have but made
Reply to things which you with obstinate
And consummate assurance have advanced,
As that which is in holy Writings taught;
But which, when tested by the Word, are found
To be the unsubstantial drivellings
Of one whose mind, loosed from divine control,
Wanders a wilderness bewildering,
Without a path, without the faintest clue,
Regarding whither his uncertain steps,
Taken at random, in the end may lead.
Where you your false and foolish thoughts have found,
To me is non-essential. I have met
You here among these hills, which lift their heads
Toward the heavens, where the God of truth
His everlasting habitation has,
And from the height of which He condescends
To take account of His poor creature here
In bellicose defiance of His will
Feeling compassion for the ignorant,
Whose leaders by their perfidy provoke
His righteous wrath, who, when the day shall come
For execution, shall receive their due.
Me you have met in contemplation deep
Of His all-wise and creatorial might
And I have found you coveting to make
My soul submissive to the principles
Which you with such assurance have advanced;
But which, when tested by the Word of God,
Are found to be the vapid reasonings,
In which the vain conceit of godless minds
Disport themselves where moral darkness reigns.
In all your dissertations I perceive
A total absence of the sweet restraint
Of God’s eternal Spirit, so benign
And needful for a virtuous pursuit
Of mysteries, that lie outside the range
Of mortal vision, and which only can
Be by God’s revelation known to us.
Attempt to grapple with the things unseen,
Without dependence on the Holy Ghost,
Spells endless damage to the human soul.
R. I cannot in the least degree admit
That my defence of everlasting truth
Has furnished you with reasonable ground
For your contention, that in this debate
I have been seeking to direct your steps
Into a region of uncertainty;
Or that I have a hairbreadth gone beyond
That which our God has unto faith revealed,
And which He has most graciously been pleased
To place on record. Yet I must aver,
I stubbornly refuse to be enticed
Into the notion that when one is dead,
He is not dead, but very much alive;
A contradiction so transpicuous
Cannot one moment find a domicile
Within my unimaginative mind,
And that in spite of all your sophistry.
C. When I a man discover, let him be
Christian or infidel, I care not which,
Contending that the dead are not yet dead,
I shall not then have need to be informed
That I have met a trickster or a fool.
But when this is admitted, there remains
The most important point in the debate
To be considered; that is, What is death?
This only can we learn from holy Writ
You call it non-existence: Is it that?
I think I have unquestionably proved,
And that from God’s inerrant oracles,
That on this most important question you
Have lost your way, and in the darksome night
Of your transgression, you mistake the sparks
Of your own kindling for the shining sun.
I do not for one moment overlook
The fact that you can quote from ancient Script,
Texts that appear your errors to endorse;
Such as, In sheol who shall give Thee thanks?
In death is no remembrance made of Thee.
But you forget, or yet have never learned,
That not in all the dispensations past,
Nor yet until the advent of the Son
Had brought the light, that with its brilliant beams
Illuminated death’s obscure domain,
Had anyone the power to penetrate
That region, from which even saints of God
Shrank as they trenched upon the dread unknown.
But now the light that everything reveals
Illuminates the dark domain of death,
And gives our feeble faith to apprehend
That while the body to corruption goes,
The spirit indestructible exists
In misery or bliss unspeakable.
That Pharisees, and all the orthodox
Among the Jews, had a sustaining hope
Of resurrection, to enjoy the reign
Of the Messiah, cannot be denied
By any one who trusts the written Word;
But that until that day, it would appear,
Their sole conception of their hallowed dead,
Was that in darkness and unconsciousness,
They in the meantime must perforce remain.
All that sustained the weeping Martha’s faith,
With reference to her brother Lazarus,
Was that when came the day to terminate
This present age, her brother would arise.
But of his status intermediate
She nothing knew, as far as we can learn.
The woeful lamentations for the dead
Heard thro’ the law, the prophets and the psalms,
Have only reference to the pit, to which
Sin has made liable the human race,
While yet no revelation had been made,
With reference to a spiritual world
That they with confidence could build upon,
Whose hearts had felt death’s sharp envenomed sting.
Impenetrable clouds of darkness veiled
That sphere from mortal vision. Unto them
The dead were in the sepulchre, and knew
Nothing, but were as tho’ they had not been.
What may have been made known to favoured men,
Who walked with God, we cannot tell. But that
To which the psalmist utterance has given,
And unto which I have already called
Your serious attention, seems to give
Some positive support to the belief,
That unto some at least had been revealed
Light bearing on the spirits of the dead.
The prophet says, that should he make his bed
In sheol, yet Jehovah would be there.
This certainly disposes of your thought
That death is non-existence. This could not
Be true of God.
R. The prophet simply speaks
Of the ubiquity of God, for He
Is everywhere.
C. But if I follow you,
Death not location is but state. We are
In death as tho’ we had not been.
R. You seem
Unable to receive the simple fact
That in the memory of God all live.
C. You mean that He remembers we had once
Existence. I remember many who
Have passed away from earth, but I am not
With them in hades.
R. But you are not God.
C. But what has that to do with it? You say
Hades is non-existence: God is there.
Here graphically is the holy seer
Describing the bewilderment of one
Who from Omniscience seeks a hiding-place.
Heaven is explored, and there he traces God.
Earth’s uttermost investigated is,
And there on him the hand of God has hold.
Shall he descend to sheol? God is there.
If non-existence sheol is, then God
Is non-existent. This false estimate
Of death is largely answerable for
The darkness that encompasses your soul.
Without the Word you settle for yourself
What you imagine death to be, and build
On that erroneous and deceptive base
A superstructure of absurdities,
By this means bringing your immortal soul
Under the curse pronounced upon the man
Who brings another gospel to our ears;
For certes yours another gospel is,
Tho’ not the Gospel of the grace of God,
But a corrupt and wretched counterfeit
Of His glad tidings, and invented by
The prince of darkness, to the jeopardy
Of all who turn aside from truth divine,
Preferring to that truth the devil’s lie.
R. Hard words!
C. Hard words! You much astonish me.
Should you discover in your wanderings
A miscreant who, underneath the mask
Of true philanthropy, the sick would tend,
But secretly injected in their blood,
And that with murderous intent, a germ
Whose virulence was death undoubtable
To all within whose veins it found its way;
Would you not deem that monster death deserved?
But what then of the man who feignedly
Presents an antidote for sin-sick souls,
Which not relief to heart or conscience brings,
But kills the soul that it pretends to save.
If he who kills men’s bodies should be killed,
What fate does he deserve who kills the soul?
My words are not more hard than those employed
By the eternal Spirit in the Word,
Concerning men less culpable than you,
Who by a great parade of Scripture texts,
All misapplied, and violently torn,
Out of their true connection, are set forth
To give to falsehood the support of truth.
R. This curse can have no reference to me,
Whose one desire is the recovery
Of every member of the human race,
And who believes that Jesus Christ has given
Himself a ransom for the life of all.
Had you the Scriptures studied carefully
You would have understood that Israel
And all the nations shall be brought again
From death, and from dispersion, and installed
In their own land, to serve and worship God.
The valley full of bones, lifeless and dry,
Seen by Ezekiel in his vision, might
Have taught you the complete recovery
Of all that nation; for the bones are said
To represent the house of Israel, and when
Jerusalem, the world’s metropolis,
And all her daughters are brought back,
Samaria and Sodom shall return,
With all their daughters, unto the estate
That they had formerly inhabited.
C. So non-existent Israel could talk,
And say, Our bones are dried, our hope is lost!
The speed with which your nimble-footed mind
Can change about gives me an impress strong,
That I have met among those verdant hills
A moral harlequin. You tell me that
The people who have died are now no more
But are as tho’ they had not been, and yet
They speak, bewail their woeful lot, and hear
Words calculated to awaken hope
Within their long annihilated hearts!
But may I ask, Do you contend that those
The total seed of Israel typify,
And that a resurrection from their graves
Is that which we must from this vision learn?
R. The passage says the bones have reference
To the whole house of Israel. I can
Do nothing but refer you to the text.
C. What terrible catastrophy shall then
This nation overtake, that shall destroy
And bring to Sheol every living soul
From Jacob sprung? If you are as correct
As you are confident, why then the race
Of Jacob, from the eldest of his sons
Down to the latest of his issue must
Into the grave descend, for here we read
That God their graves shall open, and that He
Shall bring them up, and place them in their land
But, sir, in Scripture neither does the house
Of Israel, nor the house of any man,
Include a solitary individual
Other than those who are alive on earth.
To Israel in God’s good time shall come
The Word with power to those who are submerged
Among the various nations of the earth,
Whence in the righteous government of God
For their transgressions they have been dispersed.
But He His promises has not forgot,
For yet He shall behold their moral death,
And by His life imparting Spirit move,
Among them in their wretched hopelessness,
And in the day that He shall visit them
Life from the dead shall be their bringing back.
R. But what of Sodom and Samaria
With all their daughters once again returned?
C. Who are their daughters?
R. Their inhabitants.
Who else were they?
C. But what about their sons
Why in oblivion should they be left?
Have you not come to be a little mixed?
R. Daughters personify the aggregate
Of the inhabitants long passed away,
When from captivity they are released.
C. You certes have a most convenient way
Of disentangling a perplexity.
If you will read the passage carefully
I think you shall not fail to understand,
That those three cities yet to be restored
Are simply cities, and their daughters those
Cities of less significance, which lie
Convenient to their various capitals;
Which from the positive prophetic word
Shall in the time of blessing be rebuilt.
But why you fancy they must be filled
With their original inhabitants,
From nothing, and from nowhere, back returned,
Is certainly a mystery to me.
No, sir, When men from earth have passed away
Rejecting testimony given of God,
Be that the witness of created things,
Or the Glad Tidings of abounding grace,
They come no more into the haunts of those
Whom they had left behind upon this earth.
To bring men back from the abode of death
That to their souls a witness might be brought
With which they never had before been faced,
Would only be to openly admit
That no sufficient testimony had
Been set before their God-rejecting minds.
R. But that is what the Lord Himself declares.
When on those cities that had seen His works
And yet repented not, He woes pronouuced:—
Woe to Chorasin and Bethsaida!
For had the mighty works been done in Tyre
And Sidon which in you were done, they had
In sackcloth and in ashes long ago
Repented. And Capernaum raised up
To heaven with privileges infinite,
Would down to Hades be in judgment brought;
For had the works done in that city been
Performed in Sodom, it would have escaped
The fearful judgment that upon it fell.
Hence I conclude that the inhabitants
Of Sodom and such cities yet shall hear
That which shall humble them for their bad ways,
And guide their feet in ways of righteousness.
C. Now Scripture speaks of men as all alike;
As face in water answers unto face,
So is the heart of every man to man.
We therefore have to ask the question, why
Capernaum was indifferent to that
Which would have humbled Sodom in the dust.
No human being underneath the sun
Is more susceptible to grace divine
Than is another. But a Sodomite
Into the light, relations, privilege,
In which the Jew was found; the light will blind;
The high relations, privileges great,
Will fill his foolish heart with vain conceit,
So that unless a sovereign work of grace
Is wrought within him, he will have become
More hardened gainst the living voice of God,
That would to penitence his heart recall,
Than would the creature who had never claim
To dispensational relationship,
Nor standing in proximity to Him.
Besides all this, in earthly government,
The true condition of the human heart
Is not so very much the thing that counts,
As are the overt actions, that set forth
The obstinacy or the penitence
Of any creature made perforce to stand
Before the threatened judgments of the Lord.
King Ahab and the wicked Ninevites
And many other men of whom we read,
Who, at the declaration of His wrath,
Fear manifested, and put sackcloth on,
Judgment averted, tho’ no sign appears
That any vital or long-lived effect
Was by the gracious clemency produced.
If men refuse to listen to the voice
Of one true, witness on behalf of God,
Not to another will their hearts attend.
And, as I have already pointed out,
No man before God’s throne shall be condemned
By an all-merciful and gracious God,
As a rejecter of a witness given,
Which never reached him. That which He has sent
In grace to men, and that which men have heard,
And unto which they have unfaithful been
By that shall they be judged, but not by that
Which they have not been privileged to hear.
And in no part of this unhappy world
Has God without a witness left Himself.
Raised from the dead, the men who have despised
The testimony given them of God,
Shall find that powerful testimony rise
And them accuse before the judgment throne,
And that, and only that, which they deserve
Shall be to them in justice meted out
Within the lake of everlasting fire;
Nor shall a single being thus condemned
Have on his own behalf one word to say.
R. The Gospel of the grace of God is that
By which alone the creature can be saved,
And therefore I believe that every soul
Who has not heard that Gospel, yet must have
At some time, soon or late, the privilege
Of hearing of salvation thro’ the Son.
The restoration of the human race
Is no vain dream of a disordered mind,
But the plain statement of immortal Truth.
For unto Abraham in Palestine
The promise came: In thee and in thy seed
Shall all the nations of the earth be blest.
And later unto him this covenant
Was by an oath confirmed.
C. But by the oath
The promise that was made to Abraham
Was of a progeny most numerous;
But as to others it was: In thy seed
Shall all the nations of the earth be blest.
And this was when the faithful patriarch
Had at divine dictation offered up
His only son, and had received him back
In figure from the dead, thus setting forth
The fact, that by our great Redeemer’s death,
And in the power of resurrection might,
Stablished and sure would every blessing be.
For whatsoever promise is of God,
In Christ are both the yea, and the Amen:
For to this SEED the oath of God refers.
This is the promise cited to the Jews
By Peter, when the Word was first announced.
For only in the Seed of Abraham,
Not in himself, the blessing is made sure.
Paul also tells us that if we are Christ’s
We are the sons of Abraham, and heirs
According to the promise. But as heirs
Of Abraham’s inheritance, no more
Can we inherit than to him was given;
And this included nothing but this world;
Whereas in Christ, and as co-heirs with Him,
All things in God’s vast universe are ours.
A fourfold right has He to everything;
For first of all He everything has made;
And second, He is Son and heir of all;
And in the third place, He is Son of Man,
And everything, by the prophetic word,
Is to the Son of Man subservient made;
Fourthly, He tasted death for everything.
Therefore His right to the whole universe
Is placed beyond the hazard of dispute.
But this in no way gives us to suppose
That every man eternal life shall gain;
For tho’ because of His one sacrifice
The life eternal is to all proclaimed,
It is rejected by the worldly-wise,
And by the madding crowd, who sin pursue.
Of this insane rejection of His Word.
The Lord’s apostles were by Him apprised
In words that could not be misunderstood.
He told them not to wonder if the world
Heaped on them its unreasonable hate,
For Him they hated, yea, their eyes had seen
In Him the Father in His boundless grace,
And both His Father and Himself had been
Hated by those who had experienced,
In multitudes of philanthropic ways,
The grace and mercy of a Saviour-God.
Plainly He gave them all to understand
That persecution, prisonment and death
Were all that they could look for from the world:
But told them also that a day would dawn,
In which with clouds Himself should be revealed,
Attended with the angels of His might
In flaming fire, vengeance to execute
On all that know not God, and who refuse
Obedience to the Gospel. These shall be
Cast from His presence in that dreadful day,
Into destruction that shall know no end.
Your restoration of the human race
Is but a figment of a heart that loves
Its own inventions, that have got their roots
In soil empoisoned by the fiend of hell.
And everything in Scripture must be turned,
And torn, from its connection, and compelled
To serve the enemy of God and men,
In his unwearied efforts to destroy
The souls of all.
R. Amid your hurricane
Of wild unguarded words I gather hope
That in eternal torment you have not
The slightest confidence, for you admit
That those who finally do grace refuse—
If any such shall be—their endless doom
Shall be destruction everlasting. I
Am glad you go this far with men who love
The revelation of the grace of God.
C. Not on this whole wide world does there exist
A man that truly loves and understands
The revelation of the grace of God,
Who for a single moment will indulge
The error, that annihilation is
For man’s destruction a true synonym.
The Jews are said to have destroyed themselves,
While still a living nation on the earth.
But we already have considered this,
And need not now.
R. However I would hope
You do not follow some of your compeers,
Into the barbarous and horrible
Belief, that God is such a pitiless
And cruel Autocrat, as would condemn
His erring creature for eternity
To outer darkness and the lake of fire.
C. A cruel autocrat and pitiless,
Would hardly have his well beloved son
Delivered unto death, our souls to save.
R. But of this gift the great majority
Of human beings have not been informed.
C. What gain, do you imagine, would result
To men who sin against the witness given
Throughout the world to His eternal power
And His divinity, by all the host
Of lumiriaties brilliant that adorn
The face of heaven, should he come to hear
The tidings of the grace and love of God?
If they the witness of creation scorn,
Not likely would they welcome words of grace.
How few their number even in these lands,
So favoured by the preaching of the Word,
Have any heart for the eternal Christ!
Yourself, among the vast majority,
Prefer your own conceptions to the plain
Unvarnished statements of the living God.
R. Who, I?
C. Yes, you.
R. I think the dreadful guilt
Of intermeddling with the sacred Text,
Must very much more criminally rest
On your unhappy spirit than on mine.
I hold as truth eternal every word,
As well as every single sentence, penned
By prophet or apostle of our God.
C. And yet reluctantly I must aver
I know no principle of holy Writ,
For which you have not found a substitute.
You, or your leaders who have you deceived,
Have, for the Gospel of the grace of God,
A miserable substitute matured.
And this to demonstrate I will proceed,
If you to mine indictment of your creed
A patient ear will lend; and with one thought
Within my heart of hearts, that you may be
Delivered from the darkness that has found
A domicile within your carnal mind,
And that you may come under the control
Of heavenly and life-imparting light.
Jesus the great Creator of the worlds
Is nothing but a creature, tho’ He be
Declared by Seer and prophet of our God
To be Jehovah everlasting, One
Once in the form of God, yet by His will,
And by His power omnipotent, could lay
Aside that form, and take upon Himself
A servant’s form, and be of woman born,
A Man among a race of fallen men,
In an estate inferior to God,
Tho’ whether in the manger or upon
The gibbet, never less than He to whom
A Servant He had willingly become;
A Servant to accomplish the divine
And holy counsels of eternal love.
You take advantage of this place assumed
By Him in lowly grace on our behalf,
And boast His self-surrender as excuse
For your attack on His divinity.
You obstinately hold up to contempt,
What in the Gospel is most constantly
And definitely everywhere affirmed,
That Jesus the rejected Nazarene,
A Man approved of God, but crucified
By hands of lawless men, is from the dead—
Raised by the glory and the power of God,
And on the Father’s throne is seated, till
The hour when He shall sit upon His own.
You say the Christ is raised, but not the Man
Your stupid and most ignorant retort,
That this—His resurrection from the dead—
Would vitiate the ransom, manifests
That you, the true and glorious character
Of His atoning work, have never grasped;
Nor seen what Scripture makes most evident,
That in His life of flesh and blood He bore
The judgment due to us, and not again
That life of flesh and blood resumed, for in
The blood the life is, and the living God
Said early in the history of the world,
That on the altar blood was that which made
Atonement for the soul; and therefore Christ,
That He might make atonement for our souls,
Shed on the cross His most atoning blood.
That life is gone. Not now in flesh and blood
Is He as seated on the Father’s throne.
But flesh and bones He is, a real Man.
The protomartyr saw the SON OF MAN
At God’s right hand, and to His keeping gave
His spirit ere He sank into his sleep.
Parting with flesh and blood does not involve
Parting with manhood; this is where you err.
Not even saints when risen shall retain
The flesh and blood condition, but shall be
In spiritual bodies glorified.
Tho’ men to everlasting they shall be.
You tell us also that for man to die,
Is just to be as tho’ he had not been.
Nothing survives the article of death,
For death annihilation is for all.
But when I look into the Word of truth,
Other impressions I than this receive.
Peter puts off his tabernacle; Paul
Departs, and is with Christ; becomes unclothed;
Is absent from the body, and is then
Present with Jesus; and for him to die
Was gain. But was it gain to be extinct?
Gain to be non-existent! Gain! What gain?
Was the Apostle subject to attacks
Of madness? Either he or you show signs
Most incontestable of madness, or
Of a low order of mentality.
No “Absent from the body,” no “At home
In it have you; you cannot be “Unclothed.”
You have no “Tabernacle” to put off.
At home with Christ” while yet the body lies
Entombed, and in corruption wastes away,
No place can find in your theology,
Though in the revelation God has given
It has a very striking place indeed.
As to the subject of eternal life,
You to the Saviour boldly give the lie;
For He has said that every soul on earth
Who Him believes has everlasting life;
And this you most decidedly deny.
R. I say, If one has everlasting life,
It is impossible for him to die.
C. And is not this the very thing averred
By Christ in words most unmistakable
He that believes in Me shall never die.
He may be absent from the body, but
That moment he is present with the Lord,
And therefore death is to the faithful gain.
To this I have already made reply,
And nothing more is needful to be said.
Not even has the “Second Birth” escaped
The savage onslaught of your hand profane.
Begotten now, in resurrection born,
Is your fantastic substitute for that
Which God has made so certain in His Word;
And all your imbecile philosophy.
Based on your own translation of a word
That can as truly be translated “Born,”
As it can be “Begotten,” and indeed
In certain instances impossible
To otherwise translate it. In each case,
According to the usage of the term,
As far as Scripture is concerned, it speaks
Of parentage, or entrance to this world
Of animal or man; or God’s own work
Begetting a new nature in a soul,
By which the subject of this work of grace
Is ever spoken of as born of God,
For even now of God we-children are.
The word “Probation” truly is not found
Within the covers of the sacred Text,
But yet the subject-matter there is found.
Not in the way in which you set it forth;
But in the way in which we have it given,
By Him who to His creature cannot give
A false impression, any more than He
Can to the soul embarrassed lie direct.
His Word makes plain, that from the fall of man
Up to the cross of Christ, the sinner was
Under probation, and in every way
That wisdom everlasting could invent,
Tested he was; and tested found to be
Not only a transgressor under law,
But an incorrigible enemy
Of God, when in the person of the Son
By Him in grace confronted. You may say,
Only the Jews this presentation had,
But Scripture says that all men are alike,
And there is none that seeketh after God.
If there are some that on the Christ believe
Their evident submission to the Word
No super-excellence of nature proves,
But manifests the sovereign grace of God.
Now men are spoken of as lost and dead,
And Jesus said that none could come to Him
Without the Father’s drawing; and that all
He drew would come. Men must be born again,
And such a work as this no human soul
Could bring about. Two thousand years ago
Christ found rejection here on earth from man,
And now today, and where His Gospel shines,
Its light is hated, and with fables men
Regale their souls, scorning the Word of Life.
Under probation men are not today,
For were we to the proclamation left,
No human being would at all be saved.
The Gospel, while it carries grace to all,
And evident makes God’s desire to save,
So that the creature is without excuse,
It after all is God’s most gracious way
Of gathering His elect out of the world.
To tell a man he must be born again,
Ay, or begotten—for indifferent
I am regarding the distinctive term
You wish to use—is just, in other words,
To let him know that he is lost indeed;
For with his own begetting, or his birth,
No human being has got aught to do.
That every soul, who at this present time
Obtains salvation, has been saved by grace,
The grace that in the Gospel is declared,
And that it has been given him to believe,
Can plainly in the sacred Word be read.
If one is saved it is by sovereign grace.
He has been quickened out of moral death.
Without this primal operation, none
Would ever turn from darkness unto light.
Eternal torment also you reject,
For in the end you must have all restored;
All but the Christ, who has, in your account,
Become extinct, that we brought back may be.
R. I emphasise the MAN, who gave Himself,
That we thro’ Him might be brought back to God.
C. The Christ is the anointed Man; no other Christ
Does Scripture know; but let that pass, for we
Already have the subject well discussed.
You will have all the sinful race brought back,
And yet not all, for you misgivings have
Regarding every individual soul.
And well you may, for Scripture speaks of some
Who never have forgiveness, and of some
Who for themselves it had indeed been good
Never to have been born; and yet again,
The cursed at the judgment of the quick,
And those who stand before the great white throne,
Whose doom is in the quenchless lake of fire.
But now your vain and venturesome attempt
To wipe away by the unhallowed sponge
Of senseless reasoning the awful blot,
As you suppose, from off the name of God,
Does naught but daub the holy character
Of the Eternal with your ignorance;
For you would make Him One who rashly gives
A false impression to His creature poor.
For He declares the wicked shall he cast
Into the lake of fire, and that the smoke
Of their most righteous torment shall ascend
Throughout the long dark night of their distress,
And thro’ the radiant day of the redeemed,
Unto the ages of the ages. I
Accept His holy Word, and leave Himself
To reconcile this judgment with His love,
Which I am sure He very well can do.
R. Scripture contains, not only not one word,
But not a single hint, that any one
Shall suffer torment for eternity.
Unto the ages of the ages” you
Have taken as a perfect synonym
For everlasting or eternity,
Not knowing that the scholar Kuhner says,
The preposition “Eis” (which in the text
Has been translated “Unto”) certainly
Of time denotes a limit, and removes,
Yea, even absolutely contradicts
The notion of duration without end.
C. I think that you and Kuhner may be said,
And truly said, to be afflicted with
Myopia, at least in intellect.
For this translation of the Greek word “Eis
Putting a limit to eternal pain,
A limit places to the life of God;
For “Eis tous aionas ton aionon”
Is also the duration of His life,
And most of us have had the confidence,
Erroneous, if we can trust your Greek,
That God, who a beginning has not known,
Can never of existence known an end.
Thus have you found a wretched substitute
For every principle of Gospel truth;
And I am thoroughly convinced, that not
Unaided has the mind of fallen man
This daring parody of truth conceived.
Under a power of darkness you are held,
And have been held, while your unhallowed mind
Has been in fables all infernal shaped.
Deceived yourself, you others would deceive.
Turned from the fountain of eternal truth,
No other living soul must be allowed
To quench his thirst at that perennial spring.
Your Gospel, not the Gospel of the Christ,
Must rule within the souls of sinful men.
The Man who gave His life a sacrifice
For ruined creatures must in death be left.
For us He perished, and tho’ we have gained
An endless life, our Saviour we have lost;
And He has lost Himself, and us, and all!
And I am robbed of all that ever made
The heaven above a place to be desired.
He loved His own when they and He were here,
And to the death He loved them, and for them
Laid down His life, and lost them thro’ His love.
Was any man so utterly insane,
As to imagine one would pay a price,
So great a price, in order to secure
And make His own a treasure so desired,
Knowing that he would forfeit by the price,
Not only that on which he set his heart,
But non-existent make himself as well?
Thank God, your Gospel is a falsity,
A counterfeit of hell, a thing accursed,
As is its fell inventor. Woe betide
The base inventor, and the godless fool
Who gives it barbourage within his heart.
To say that I refuse it would be words
Too tame to truly indicate to you
The terrible abhorrence of my soul
To every principle of your belief.
Small wonder you so resolutely strive
To banish utterly from heart and mind
All notion of a judgment that shall be
Final for all that into judgment come;
And which shall truly, and for ever end
The faintest prospect of recovery.
Annihilation you esteem as bliss,
And well you may, compared with that which you
May find yourself compelled to undergo.
There is but one sure way of finding life,
And that is by the Gospel of the Christ,
And yours is not that Gospel. I would be
A mischievous and deadly enemy,
If I, to pose as an agreeable
And pleasant gossip, made the false pretence
Of acquiescing with your theories.
Without the shadow of a single doubt,
If you have got God’s Gospel, I have not.
If that which you believe will save your soul,
What I believe will me to judgment bring.
For certainly if that which you have brought
Before me in the circle of these hills
And verdant valleys, the Evangel be,
Then I have never known it, nor alone
Not known it, but as I have truly said,
I say again, within my inmost soul
A deadly hatred of its principles
Repells it as a poison virulent.
Therefore, I pray you, give more earnest heed
To God’s pronouncement with regard of those
Who preach another Gospel to the world,
Than that which the apostles of our Lord
Preached everywhere, and to the churches taught.
I know that where you propagate your views
Many will hearken to your baneful bruit,
Who to the Gospel of the grace of God
Will with rebellious mind and careless ear
Contemptuously go upon their ways,
And risk the upshot of their unbelief.
To men, however distant it might be,
Recovery of all were glorious news,
Therefore disciples should be numberless.
But in the judgment, when they wake, and find
How terribly deluded they have been,
Where shall you hide your terror-stricken soul,
When not alone the anger of the Lord
But from the lips of those to ruin led
Curses are heaped upon your guilty head?