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so clear, had these recapitulations been omitted, that the argument is a cumulative one, and needs to be considered as a whole, as well as in its separate parts.
Of all branches of theology Eschatology is perhaps the least attractive to sober and thoughtful students of the Inspired Word, especially if they have discovered that the New Testament predictions of ages and things to come can only be safely approached through the long and winding avenue of Old Testament prophecy. But that section of it which relates to the conditions of men after death is one which so profoundly affects our whole conception both of the character of God and of the salvation wrought by Christ, that even those who most shrink from the interpretation of prophecy are compelled to study it. Indeed I cannot but think it a binding duty on all preachers of the Word that they should not only come to some well-considered conclusion on this point, but that they should also publish and enforce that conclusion, whatever it may be. Few of the more thoughtful and cultivated preachers of the Gospel now hold the dogma of everlasting torment; in a large circle of acquaintance I hardly know one: and yet how few seek to replace it, in the mind of the Church, with
any doctrine which they hold to be more in accordance with “the mind of the Spirit.” When they are compelled to speak on this point, many are content, not to interpret, but simply to repeat, the very words of Scripture. But, if it be an honest, it is surely an undignified and unteacherlike procedure, to use in one sense words which their hearers take, and which they know their hearers to take, in another and a very different sense. Many plead that they cannot speak out without giving a kind and degree of offence which would close the minds and hearts of most of those who listen to them against their influence, an influence which on the whole tells for good, and which therefore they are not at liberty to sacrifice. But do they not a little forget how much, and what grave, offence they are giving to their more intelligent and inquiring hearers, those who really give the spiritual tone to their Congregations, by their silence, or their equivocation, on a point of such grave importance ? Truth may be dangerous, both to him who utters it, and even to those who listen to it. But is it our function, as ministers of the Word, to avoid danger, or to proclaim the truth ? and are we so very much wiser and better than our hearers that the truths which are good for us may be highly injurious to them? If any man hold, or is convinced that he holds, any truth, in God's name let him utter his truth or conviction, and leave the consequences with the God who gave it him, and who is quite able both to rule and to save the world without our help, and is not in the least likely to be helped by any man's infidelity to his convictions. The Church is not dying, nor likely to die, of too much truth; but it is sure to languish if its teachers, even for the most amiable reasons, suppress the truth that is in them. And such a truth as this
-a truth which makes God a just God and a Saviour to us, and the Gospel veritable good news; how can any reasonable man think to serve God by hiding it !
Of those teachers and preachers who honestly retain the dogma which attaches an endless torment to the sins of time no man can ask more than that, while they preach it with sincerity, they also keep their minds open to any more light which may break out upon them from God's holy Word; but of those who have seen that light and yet will not suffer it to shine through their teaching, what can one say but that they are less worthy of their high calling than those who still walk in darkness ?
I have read most of the books on the theme discussed in this Volume which have appeared during the last half century; and no doubt am more indebted to some of them than I know. There are but three to which I consciously owe much : (1) A Volume published, I should think, nearly thirty years since, by my friend Mr Dobney of Maidstone, the very name of which I cannot now recall, though I read it eagerly at the time and learned much from it: (2) “ The Second Death and the Restitution of All Things,” by Andrew Jukes, a valuable and suggestive work which swept the last remnants of difficulty clean out of my mind : and (3) Dr Dewes's too brief remarks on one branch of the subject in his “ Plea for a New Translation of the Scriptures.” But, on the whole, I believe I may say quite simply and honestly that I have got my views from long study of the New Testament itself, and not from any comments on it.