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With respect to infants dying in ignorance of sin and of the way of salvation you express the belief that « their salvation or perfecting is ethical and conscious." But you do not state the ground of that belief. You ask whether I “mean that their salvation is accomplished in the moment of death and by a miracle," whether I mean that "the transforming power of the Spirit and the power of the resurrection are applied by omnipotence while infants are dying, so that the instant after death they are radically changed in character, and appear in heaven as fully developed saints.” Perhaps I should demur to the expression “ fully developed," but to the rest of the statement I do not object. Most certainly I suppose that not only in the case of the infant, but also in that of the adult Christian, such a change is supernaturally wrought at death. This has been the faith of the church, and seems to accord with the Scriptural representations of the immediate passing of Lazarus, the dying thief, Stephen, and Paul into blessedness, which would be a psychological impossibility on any other supposition. It accords also in the case of infants with the declaration of our Lord that “ their angels” (meaning their spirits after death, — compare Acts xii. 15) “do always behold the face of his father which is in heaven” (Matt. xvii. 10). That some supernatural change, equivalent to a new birth, must be wrought in them at death is evident. The idea that infants will, without any such change, develop holy characters under heavenly influences is opposed to the whole teaching of the New Testament as to the necessity of regeneration, as well as to all our observation of human nature. But if some transformation must be supposed, why may we not as well suppose a complete one ? The idea that the redeemed will in the next world only slowly develop holy characters under heavenly influences is a very unsatisfactory and painful one. Unless there is positive proof of the contrary, permit me to cling to the ancient belief that “the souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory” (West. Sh. Catechism, Q. 37), and that “I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with his likeness” (Ps. xvii. 15). Your question seems to indicate that your whole conception of the method of salvation is fundamentally different from mine. You seem to hold that faith in Christ is an efficient cause, a natural means, which by a gradual process develops holy character. My idea is, that it is merely the condition on which the sovereign grace of God instantly regenerates, gradually sanctifies, and will at last instantly glorify.
Pardon me for saying that your remarks about my interpretation of Matt. XXV. 31-46 seem to me singularly infelicitous. Instead of saying that the interpretation is rejected by nearly all reputable scholars, would it not be a little more accurate to say that it is advocated by hardly any of them, the fact being that very few of them say anything about it, or seem ever to have thought of it? It is true that the word “nation" (čovos) is applied to the Jews (John xi. 50), as also to the Samaritans (Acts viii. 9), and to other individual races and countries (Acts ü. 5). It is not true, however, that the plural “ the nations" (rà torn), is thus applied. It is used in the Septuagint and in the New Testament as the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew 11977, of which Hebraists are united in saying that it is mostly used of heathen nations in distinction from the Jews. The expression “ the nations" (od čovn) occurs 132 times in the New Testament, and is translated “ the Gentiles" 93 times and “the heathen” five times. Even in most of the remaining 34 times it clearly means the Gentiles or heathen. In fact, there are only about a dozen places, most of them in the Apocalypse, in which the term seems to refer to races or to “nations " as political organizations. It is true that the expression “the righteous” (oi dikaloi) is applied in the New Testament to Christian believers, but it is by no means exclusively appropriated to them. It is applied to John the Baptist (Mark vi. 20) and to his parents (Luke i. 6), to Joseph the husband of Mary (Matt. i. 19), to Simeon (Luke ii. 25), to Cornelius (Acts x. 22), to Abel (Matt. xxiii. 25), to Lot (2 Pet. ii. 7). Christ speaks expressly of the prophets and righteous men (Pikaloi) who desired to see the kingdom of heaven, and were not permitted (Matt. xii. 17). And he divides all men into two classes, the just (Sinaiou) and the unjust' (Matt. v. 45). The term is the one commonly employed in the Septuagint to denote good men (Ps. i. 6, et passim). Paul expressly affirms that “the doers of the law shall be justified” (dikalwohoovtai) (Rom. ii. 13). John declares that “he that doeth righteousness (8 moiwv Thy SlkaloOÚvnv) is righteous " (Pikalos) (1 John iii. 7). And Peter strongly asserts, with special reference to a heathen officer, that “in every nation he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness (εργαζόμενος δικαιοσύνην) is accepted of Him” (Acts x. 35), a declaration which should go far toward dissipating the misconception, drawn from an obscure sentence in one of his epistles, that such heathen must have a future probation before they can be accepted. Since “moral heathen," as well as Christian believers, are saved, if at all, only by Christ, it is not apparent why the kingdom may not be said to have been “prepared for them from the foundation of the world." If they “have a place in it,” it was probably prepared for them. And the divine blessing is too often pronounced upon good men in the Old Testament to allow us to insist upon the exclusive appropriateness of the phrase "ye blessed of my Father" to Christian believers. So far from language being used, by both sides, such as “compels us to acknowledge their belief in the Judge before whom they stand," there is nothing to indicate that they ever heard of him before. The only word which could by any possibility suggest faith in him, “Lord," Sir (kúpie), was the common form of address between entire strangers in Christ's day. The express claim of the false disciples (Matt. vii. 22) to have done many wonderful works in the name of Christ is as different as possible from a disclaimer of all knowledge of ever having failed in duty to One never heard of. No doubt “every humble believer, although familiar with this description, will be surprised to find that many acts which he had forgotten were acceptable and precious to the Master," but this is a very different thing from being surprised to find that one has ever served or failed to serve the Master.
Wherever the gospel is preached, that will be utterly impossible. The general application of the word “ brethren" by One who taught that all men are brethren is not strange. Even if the word was used in the more restricted sense, so far from its being true that “deeds of kindness to Christ's faithful but obscure servants could not be exercised outside the Christian community," heathendom has been overrun by such Christian disciples from the days of the apostles until now. But it is impossible on any interpretation to give the word a restricted sense. Do you maintain that it is only by treatment of believers that Christian faith is proved ? It is true that “if the heathen are to be judged by the deeds done in the body, and under the tests of the final judgment, then they are to be judged by the highest and most searching tests possible," and if their salvation depends upon their standing these tests, then not only “the masses of heathendom," but all the heathen without exception are hopelessly lost ; “for by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified.” But what if the heathen are saved, so far as they are saved at all, wholly by grace, through the redeeming work of Christ, on condition of faith in Him, and, in the absence of knowledge of Him, Christ is graciously pleased to accept certain acts of love to man as evincing the true spirit of faith ?
In your closing paragraph you seem to me singularly to have misapprehended my position, and unintentionally to have done me much injustice. Of course Christ is more than the ideal man. He reveals God ; He is God. But the question is, whether it is not possible to be saved by Him without knowing Him or his revelation. I do not reduce Christianity to the level of natural religion. No man can be saved by benevolence, or by faith, or by any other form of goodness. There is no salvation except by Christ. And the terms of salvation are invariable, — repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But the question is, what faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is, and whether the spirit of it can be manifested without personal knowledge of Him. You seem to maintain that there can be no righteousness which has not a knowledge of and faith in the Redeemer for its root. But the Scriptures speak of a good many men as righteous who never heard of Christ. I do not believe that heathen, or Christians either, can ever attain to a goodness which will secure to them salvation as a right at the bar of infinite justice ; but
neither can I limit the grace and power of Christ by saying that He cannot or will not accept from those who have not rightly known Him, certain acts as being practical manifestations of the true “spirit of faith,” in recognition of which He can and will, in the exercise of pure grace, bestow upon the doers of these actions that salvation which is the gift of God. In this case I see no need of or room for a future probation. With renewed thanks for your courteous attention, I am very truly yours,
John É. Todd.
The assertion that nearly all reputable scholars reject the limited application of Matt. xxv. 32 was, perhaps, somewhat too emphatic, in view of the fact that Dean Plumptre and Dean Alford adopt that interpretation. Among those who distinctly reject it are Meyer, De Wette, and Lange. But it cannot be claimed that the majority of scholars have not considered the limited theory, and therefore have neither rejected nor accepted it, for it is discussed in detail, either in connection with millenarian theories or by itself, by all of the exegetes named above and by many others.
In respect to the term trávra tà čovn (all the nations), we find no reason to change our opinion that it “is not limited to the Gentiles so as to exclude the Jews or the kingdom of Christian believers.” In the Apocalypse, as Dr. Todd admits, which carries us on to the final consummation, the term is used comprehensively, as well as in other places where the revisers render the word “nations” rather than “Gentiles.” Moreover, the word távra (all) removes every limitation. Also, in the same discourse, Christ has said that the end would not come till the gospel had been preached to all the nations " (xxiv. 14), which is fatal to the opinion that this impressive account of final judgment had in view nations to whom the gospel had not been preached and who had never heard of Christ. Also, Christ's last command to his disciples implies the cxpectation that his gospel would be preached to all nations before the end of the world. Besides, those who at the last judgment had been saved by knowledge of Christ will have been gathered from all nations. So, according to the interpretation which excludes Christians from its account of judgment, there would be only fragments of the several nations from some remote period before the gospel was universally known. The account cannot be reduced out of its grand proportions to any of these restricted suppositions.
To argue other points of Dr. Todd's letter would be only to repeat considerations which have already been presented at sufficient length.
THEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS INTELLIGENCE.
CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE STATISTICS OF PROTESTANT MISSIONS.
BY DR. R. GRUNDEMANN.
(Condensed Translation by Rev. C. C. Starbuck. Continued from Vol. IV. p. 376.)
C. AMERICAN SOCIETIES.