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Life: A Meditation
46, 91, 183, 414, 504
Original Apostles' Creed .
Our Part in the Procession of Events
18, 41, 86, 109, 214, 308, 364, 391, 433, 488, 515
Raising of Lazarus
Sons of Light
Things which must Shortly Come to Pass
11, 60, 110, 156, 199, 249
Tradition versus the Bible
“ The Sons of God” of Genesis vi. ?
Zion versus Greece
1 Magazine of Christian Literature, with Special Reference to the
Rebealed Future of tge Church and týe World.
UNITED EFFORT IN A HOLY CAUSE. CI YIRCUMSTANCES, which need not be explained, have prevented
us from referring sooner to an event which took place in the ancient city of Lincoln during the last week of last September. There, almost under the shadow of its magnificent cathedral, and certainly within hearing of its famous bell, a few earnest Christian men formed the nucleus of an association which, we fondly hope, will in due time attract adherents from every part of the United Kingdom. If popularity were always in proportion to the importance of the object sought to be obtained by the union of numbers, we should unhesitatingly predict for this latest formed of our religious societies a very large constituency, and ample financial resources with which to carry on its exceedingly important work. Excellent reader! do not charge us with exaggeration. If you saw the matter as we do, you would not. That which involves the confidence of men in the government of God must take the first place in any estimate of the relative importance of societies, must be supreme in the judgment of the loyal and the wise, and must secure the earnest, ay, the passionate sympathy of those who lovingly call God “Father!”
Lincoln-the Lindum Colonia of the Romans-was for a long time a place of much ecclesiastical influence. It once had fifty churches, only eleven of which, not including the cathedral, remain; but we venture to say, and will hold to it until some authentic local history proves us wrong, that Lincoln never witnessed a more important conference than that which was held there, in a
upper room," on the 24th, 25th, and 26th of September, 1878. There was no noise, no trumpeter, no procession heralding this gathering of quiet earnest Christian men. They met simply as lovers and followers of the Saviour, leaving their denominationalisms out of doors that they might have fellowship in the pure truth of the Gospel, whilst prayerfully devising some mode of united action for the purpose of telling the people of these lands
that natural immortality and eternal suffering are not taught in the word of God; that evil men and evil angels, death and the devil that has the power of it, together with all sin and sorrow are doomed to destruction; and that immortality, or eternal life, which is spoken of with such blessed frequency in the Bible, is exclusively in union with the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
It will be conceded at once by every man of common understanding that if these positions are true, they are of the UTMOST IMPORTANCE in relation to Christian faith and practice, the teaching of the pulpit, and the entire domain of Biblical theology. If man, as such, be only mortal, everlasting suffering-even if God could allow it, which He cannot, because it is in violent opposition to His character and the very essence of His being—is an absurdity and an impossibility. And if union with the Lord Jesus secures immortality-secures, that is to say, to the creature participation in the life of God, “who only hath immortality," then, by the clearest logic, the Lord Jesus, in addition to His perfect humanity, is also & partaker of perfect divinity-"God over all, blessed for ever." (Rom. ix. 5.)
Is it strange that men who see these truths are anxious to make them known to others ? These truths very clearly point out man's nature and his place in creation, whilst they invest the redemption which is by Christ Jesus with a wondrous glory, a celestial brilliance upon which we cannot gaze without having the heart thrilled with adoring gratitude. And how transcendent is this love of God in Christ-a love which changes sinful mortals into holy immortals, and makes them heirs of His boundless wealth in conjunction with their adored Head and Life, the heir of all things!
It is just because we have had a somewhat vivid perception of these grand truths for many years that we have been constrained to teach them, whether under the cloud of frowns or the sunshine of smiles. One of the unexpected pleasures we experienced at the Lincoln meeting came from the spontaneous declaration of several brethren, whom we had never seen before, that they were under lasting obligation to the RAINBOW for the truth which had enlightened and gladdened them. When one and another of these brethren-themselves teachers-said this, and then came to grasp us lovingly by the hand, we felt that their testimony represented a blessed reality, whilst our gratitude to the Head of the Church was a holy luxury. We shall remember Lincoln as the locality of a pleasure not to be purchased with gold.
But it is now high time that the united effort-for which we have long hoped-to declare these truths by the living voice be earnestly and perseveringly made. The birth of the “ Association for the Dissemination of the Truth of Life and Immortality through Christ alone,” has given us pleasure. We shall watch its proceedings with deep interest, and speak of it freely according to its merits.
If the Association attracts many members, with their annual subscriptions, and the occasional donations of larger sums from well-to-do brethren, as we certainly believe it will, competent lecturers may be employed to visit our towns and cities; pastors, who know and love these truths, may occasionally leave their flocks for a short time to help the movement by their wisdom and experience; and the literature of the question may be so extensively diffused as to have thousands of readers where it has now only hundreds ;-the combined result of all being light upon the Holy Scriptures, the proclamation of a joyous Gospel, the rejection of disastrous error, and the ever brightening prospect that the Divine King of our distracted world, “the Anointed of Jehovah," will shortly come to settle all our controversies and bless our race !
Ed. [The rules and objects of the Association may be had on application to the Secretary, Mr. Cyrus E. Brooks, Cheltenham. Henry J. Ward, Esq., Liverpool, is President; Mr. George A. Brown, Lincoln, Vice-President; and Mr. William Bausor, Lincoln, Treasurer.]
WHAT BECOMES OF DEPARTED SPIRITS?
"Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall
return unto God who gave it.”—ECCLES. xii. 7. THE frequency and confidence in which the assertion is made that
Sheol and its Greek equivalent Hades denote, in Scripture, the dwelling-place of separate or disembodied spirits, suggests the necessity of once more calling attention to the matter in these pages.
We care not to inquire, at present, whether these terms have been so used in other writings ; what we are concerned with is the use made of them in the Holy Scriptures. And, notwithstanding all that the reader may have found to the contrary in books of the learned and unlearned, we affirm, without fear of successful contradiction, that not in its fifty-one occurrences in the Old Testament is sheol spoken of as the abode of " disembodied or separate spirits." The same is true of hades in the New Testament. So far are the sacred writings from speaking of sheol or hades as the place of the spirits of the dead, that, while the terms “spirit” and “spirits" occur about 350 times in the Bible, they are not once used regarding the dwellers in hades. These are rather startling facts, and they seem very unaccountable on the hypothesis that the spirits of the dead abide in hades till the resurrection. in Scripture is the spirit of man said to go to, or to be in, sheol or hades. In presence of these facts we are certainly warranted to deny the accuracy of statements to the contrary by whomsoever made. An undeniable fact speaks for itself.
Moreover, the Scripture does tell us what becomes of the spirit of man at death. This is what is said : “ Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return to God who
gave it.” (Eccles. xii. 7.) According to this testimony man's spirit, at death, returns to God—not sheol. It RETURNS to Godwhere it was before it was given, whatever man may say to the contrary. This result of death to man is in exact harmony with the account of his creation. • The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” (Gen. ii. 7.) The dust-formed man was without life, thought, or sensation before his Maker inspired him with the breath of life; and so, when that God-imparted breath is withdrawn, or returns to God, the dust returns to the earth as it was, and THE MAN is dead. To this fact Job referred when he said, “If He set His heart upon man, if He gather unto Himself his spirit and his breath, all flesh shall perish together, and Man shall turn again unto dust.” (Job xxxiv. 14, 15.)
See how the sacred writings distinguish between man and that spirit which at death leaves him, and returns to God. “Hence we gather,” says Mr. Constable," that that spirit of man which God takes from man, is in reality God's own spirit brought back to its original source.” “In death it only returned, went back where it was before God formed the dust of the earth into the figure and organisation of man. The spirit which went forth to animate that frame, was with God before it went forth." “ Man is not the spirit; but only has the spirit of God within him. God may withdraw the loan, and at once sinks into nothingness that life of man which only depended for its being upon the presence of the spirit. This was a truth which the old philosopher, Job, well knew; and therefore he only pledges himself not to speak wickedness ‘all the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils.'"* It was because the Apostle knew all this that he reasoned—“If the dead rise not, Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die." (1 Cor. xv. 32.) But, blessed be God—“ As by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead." God has made His Son Jesus “the resurrection and the life;" and those who have learned to trust Him can, in the hour of death, commit to Him the keeping of their lives as unto a faithful Creator.
So David, in prospect of death, confidingly exclaimed: “Into Thine hands I commit my spirit : Thou has redeemed me, O Lord God of truth!” (Psa. xxxi. 5.) Commenting on those words, Mr. Constable truly says : “ It was because he was redeemed that he was able to commend his spirit into the hands of God, and to call it his at all. God first gave man his spirit in the covenant of creation. Man by sin forfeited his right to this spirit, and in con
* Ha les; or The Intermediate State of Man. By Henry Constable, A.M. 1st edition, pp. 21, 22.