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senses rather than the soul. The influence of such an appeal is to belittle the soul, neutralize the affections, dwarf manhood, stimulate selfishness, and generate pride in the heart. And if we examine the idea and appliances of retribution, we shall find them materialistic and selfish. As heaven is outward, so is hell. It is a deep pit of darkness, located in the future world, into which the sinner, in his terror and despair, is forced, and from which he cannot escape, where the body will be tormented with literal fire forever. Appeals are made to the sinner to “get religion,” as if this were a commodity, in order that he may escape hell and gain heaven.
Thus religion becomes materialized. It is something that we can put on or take off as we would put on or take off a hat or a coat. It is not affection, sentiment, lope, springing up in the soul. It is a foreign and hostile element, or a magical power, by which we are insured against hell, as a horse-shoe, over the door, keeps off the witches, and the cross defends us from the attacks of the devil.
This mode of regarding religion is the natural effect of the doctrine that earth is our final probation-sphere, where each person must prepare for his eternal destiny hereafter. And Jesus' plan of redemption partakes of the same characteristics. He came not as the manifestation of the Father's good pleasure to man, “ the propitiation ” (kindly disposition, ilaquos,) for our sins (1 John ii. 2), to melt the obdurate heart, and make it submissive to God, but to shed his blood, that by his blood, his tears, his agony in the garden, and bis sufferings on the cross, he might endure and pay the penalty which infinite justice, stern and unyielding, has decreed upon the sinner. They attribute great significance to the drops of blood which Jesus shed on the cross, and which the apostle John represents as cleansing from all sin, thus justifying the charge of advocating “ blood theology." They take this blood literally, and not as the symbol of that deep and yearning love which originated with the Father, and shone forth in its unselfish lustre amid the scenes of the crucifixion. Christ, in their theology, is not the martyr whose love for sinner prompted
him to die that they might be made to realize his exceeding love “ made bright through suffering," and turn unto God, but the expiation through which alone. Divine justice can be appeased, and a single sinner saved. It is a purely commercial transaction, whereby the satisfying of certain imperious claims secures the salvation of the believing sinner.
Salvation itself consists not in delivering the soul from the bondage and wretchedness of sin itself, but from hell considered as a place of torment. Preachers exhort men to keep out of hell, as a civil reformer might exhort the citizen to keep out of state's prison. Do this, and all will be well. Surely this is narrowing and degrading the office of Christianity to a fearful degree, and making it to minister to low and selfish aims. With such an idea of the scope of religion, we can have no broad, generous, lofty, noble aspirations. Worship becomes not a pleasure, but a task, and a necessity. We bow in submission to God to save our souls from His vengeance. We profess to love Him, because we want to secure His favor.
And this is the logical and practical influence of the doctrine of heaven as a material place, where saints are shut in and separated from friends who are not regarded as worthy to enter there, earth as man's only probation field, hell as a place where hope is excluded, and man in bis natural state totally depraved.
2. The Resurrection of the Body.
This was a favorite doctrine of a portion of the Church during the early and mediæval ages, though some of the more enlightened Christians, like Origen, and John Scotus Erigena, rejected it. It is not yet wholly eradicated from the creeds of to-day, and is doubtless held in its crude form by a large majority of professed Christians. It seems to be the result of the difficulty of our conceiving the soul as a separate entity. Some deny the possibility of any resurrection unless the body is to be raised. They are impelled to ask, as did some in Paul's time: “How are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come ?” We may answer in the decisive words
8 See Rev. Dr. H. Mattison's work on the Resurrection.
of the apostle: “ Thou fool! that which thou sowest, is not quickened, except it die.” The body returns to the earth whence it came, and enters into new forms, it may be some other body, while the spirit returns to its Father, God, in the spiritual realm. Such seems to be the doctrine of Paul and other sacred teachers (see Eccles. xii. 7; Luke xx. 34-38). But some contend that Paul teaches the doctrine of the resurrection of the body because the figure here used leads us to suppose that something material rises from the grave. Rev. Dr. E. Hitchcock held not that the whole body rises, but only the
germ or embryo, like that of the plant contained in the seed, and that this satisfies the condition implied in the illustration. But to assert that the figure of the plant necessitates the resuscitation of something material, though even the minutest germ, is carrying the figure too far. The point which the apostle wants to bring out is, not that something material must rise from the grave, but that so-called death is not the end of life, and the man still lives in another sphere. All enlightened readers of the Bible know that it will not do to make use of the figure in its minute details. According to this method of interpretation, some of the figures used by the sacred writers would be made ridiculous. For instance, it is said that the Son of man shall come as a thief in the night, but we must not assume that he came for the same object, that is, to steal. The only point designed to be made is the suddenness of his coming.
Paul teaches directly the opposite doctrine in another pagsage of this chapter (1 Cor. xv. 50), “Flesh and blood car. not inherit the kingdom of God: neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” If flesh and blood could inherit the kingdom of God, and dwell there, it must be a material habi. tation, just as much as the house we live in here, or the bed we rest upon. Admit this, and we materialize all theology,
, and make the future world a sensuous paradise. Indeed, the whole system of Christianity must be modified, if not radically changed, and the moral element must play a subordinate part, in it.
The apostle speaks of a “spiritual body” in contrast with a“ natural body." The two must be radically different in their nature and constitution, and it can not be admitted that one individual has both at the same time. We may not know what are the elements of the spiritual body, but this we know, it can not be “flesh and blood,” or subject to “ corruption” and death like our earthly body. It cannot be dissolved like our present “ tent-habitation,” but is “ a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor. v. 1). This doctrine is in strict accordance with our view of the future world as a purely spiritual state, and with our highest ideas of immortal blessedness.
3. The Second Advent of Christ.
The notion of the personal coming of Christ is generally associated with that of the complete purification and renovation of the earth for the residence of the saints. The disciples of Christ seemed to think that he would return, soon after his ascension. When they stood upon the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, and witnessed the passage of Jesus into the invisible world, they remained steadfastly gazing up to the sky as if expecting to see him speedily come down in person to the earth again. But two angels rebuked theni, saying, “ Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye here gazing up into heaven?” (Acts i. 11.) The rebuke had the intended effect, for they soon returned to the city and entered at once upon the discharge of their duties there. The angels told them he would return again in like manner, not bodily, lowever, but in spirit and in power, to encourage his people. Yet multitudes, in that age and the centuries following, believed in his speedy, personal coming, and thus brought unspeakable mischief upon the church.
The early church partially accepted the doctrine of Millenarianism, but the more learned and thoughtful, like Origen, rejected it. Neander, in his Church History, denies that “ “Chiliasm had ever formed a part of the general creed of the Church.” The church in that age received it as Christians of the nineteenth century received Millerism, Second Advent
ism, and kindred errors. It is not the great body of the church, but the independents and stragglers that advocated it. Still the materialistic views entertained respecting the coming of Christ, even now in this enlightened age, prevail very extensively among the masses.
And recently they have excited fresh interest by reason of a Convention of Millenarians of different denominations, which was held in New York city, to discuss the subject, and give it a more practical direction. A distinguished Professor of the Yale Divinity School, who does not approve the movement, thus defines the doctrine as held by the leaders of that Convention, “By Millenarianism is meant the doctrine that Christ, at his second advent, will surround himself with his saints, those who have died being raised to life, and establish a visible reign on the earth,- it is commonly held at Jerusalem,- to continue for a limited period, generally thought to be a thousand years, after which will occur the resurrection of the wicked, and the final judgment. The capital feature of this doctrine is the visible presence and dominion of Christ on this earth, prior to the judgment and end of the world." 4 This is usually associated with the expectation that Christ is to appear very soon, probably within the present generation. Consequently sinners are exhorted to flee from the wrath imniediately impending over them, and the fire that threatens them. “The Second Adventists,” properly so called, and some others in the different churches, supplement this with the theory of limited immortality, or annihilation of the sinner. They thus attach a physical penalty to the violation of the moral law. Surely this is the baldest form of materialism. It is the early doctrine of the church, scarcely modified or improved. It is a reaction against the spiritual progress of the church. It uses materialistic agencies in place of moral.
This is not the doctrine of the Advent which was taught by Jesus. He teaches a spiritual rather than a literal coining, which was primarily to take place during the life-time of those whom he addressed (Matt. xvi. 27, 28; xxiv. 34), specially at
* The New Englander, New Series. Vol. II. pp. 47, 48.