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type of faith which precedes and is a condition of regeneration, and that type which follows, and which is inspired by the love which the Holy Spirit sheds abroad in the heart at the time and in the act of regeneration, the way to Jesus would be less difficult than it sometimes is made, and some who now fail of life might be saved.
Moreover, when this distinction is made, there is no more reason for theologians to fall into the absurd error of making regeneration the condition and antecedent of faith. No one denies that man has ability to do some things, to think, and to have some opinions and desires about salvation. He has moral sense, conscience and will-power. Now when man does the very best he can to seek reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ, using all the helps which God graciously gives him, is God offended with him, or pleased? Is this effort one which God would have him make, or desist from making? Is it a sinful or a righteous effort? Is such effort conducive to salvation or prejudicial to it? Does God give more grace to those who thus strive, or curse them for their efforts? Would any man dare to say to such a striving and seeking soul, “Desist; your efforts are all sinful; wait until God renews your heart?" There can be but one answer to these queries. If we seek the Lord, believe as best a sinner can, submit all to Jesus, he will accept us, and renew the soul, giving the spirit of adoption so that we henceforth shall have the faith which works by love.
ART. III.-DOES MORAL AGENCY CONTINUE AFTER
The question before us is one of more than ordinary interest, and must present to every reflecting mind a variety of phases, each of which is important as well as interesting. It opens up to us the whole broad field of the unexplored future, and suggests inquiries startling in their significance. It must embrace the question of human responsibility here, and grasp the problem of human destiny hereafter.
Like all questions relating to the unknown hereafter, we must depend for a solution, not upon formal statement and classified definition by the Author of existence, but, rather, on the processes of ordinary reasoning, joined to the suggestive declarations of divine revelation. Pursuing these modes of inquiry we believe a satisfactory solution of the problem may be reached without serious difficulty.
And, first, it is important to define what is understood by the term “moral agency” as here used. We understand it to mean, simply, the power of voluntary choice as between different objects presented to the mind.
We assume that man as at present developed is in the possession of this power, a voluntary actor in the field of morals, constantly exhibiting his entire freedom to choose on all questions relating to responsible existence here, and salvation hereafter. God most unequivocally recognized that freedom in the creation and first manifestation of himself to man. He declared to our first parents the wise rules which must govern their existence, pointed out clearly the paths of happiness and misery, the one entered by the gate of obedience, the other by that of disobedience. God simply communicated his will, plainly declared certain consequences as the result of certain acts, and then left to man the decision of the important questions affecting his destiny. God's manifest justice must certainly proclaim that man was punished because he chose to disobey, when he might just as freely have chosen an opposite course. So, each accountable individual in the universe is but another Adam, and forfeits his paradise, not necessarily because Adam sinned, but, “after the similitude of Adam's transgression,” because he himself chooses to disobey God's commandments.
Granting, then, that man in his sphere of earthly existence possesses the power of free choice, the simple question before us is, will that power continue after death, and when he becomes an inhabitant of eternity? As an important step in the investigation, it will be necessary to inquire into the nature of that occurrence which we call death, and ascertain, if possible, the effect thereby produced upon our relations to the future world. What is it, and how are we affected by it? We answer, that
death is essentially dissolution, and that it has the same signification both in the material and moral world. It is a disintegration, a separation of parts, whether applied to the animal man, or the spiritual life which is essential oneness with God. That course of conduct which is in harmony with the divine will, which best secures the end for which God created us, which ministers to our highest happiness, and secures the welfare of mankind, is denominated life in the Word of God, while its opposite course is denominated death. As harmony with God and holiness, a unity of thought and feeling, attested by the witness of God's Spirit with ours, is life in the highest sense, so the opposite course of those of whom it is said “God is not in all their thoughts,” is the way of separation from God, or death.
That the term as used in the Scriptures refers to separation from God and heaven is evident, plainly, from the fact that those upon whom the penalty of death is pronounced are uniformly spoken of as alive, and subject to the most vivid consciousness in the future world, where the mental anguish is likened to the “worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched.” That the term is intended to convey the idea of a condition furthest removed from holiness is evident from its frequent e aftuser, the manner of Paul, who refers to the wanton woman as being “dead, while she liveth.”
All nature teaches us that physical death is only a dissolution, or separation of parts—a change of elements. We view with satisfaction the fragrant flower by the way side, and prize it for its blooming life of beauty, but anon the frosts of autumn come, and its leaves fall withered upon the earth, and we call it dead; but we mean by this that the elements of its life, operated on by a hostile agency, have been separated, the combination before existing destroyed, the relation of parts changed, and the flower, as such, gone to decay. The elements of life are not destroyed, but still exist in other combinations. We may cut down the sturdiest oak, dig out its roots, gather its branches and tiniest leaflets, and make of the whole a huge bonfire, till roots and trunk and branches and leaves are all consumed, and yet we have only produced a separation of the fluids and gases and more ponderable substances. The fluids have simply evaporated and live in moist air, the gases have only changed their abode, the solids remain in ashes, and the various invisible elements have sought a place somewhere with their affinities. .
We believe we enunciate a true principle when we say that all life is caused by a union of elements, a combination of agencies; so its opposite, death, is simply the reverse, a resolution of those elements, a separation of those agencies. From the divine record of the creation, we learn that God made man of the dust of the earth, but it was only powerless dust, mere pulseless clay, until he breathed into the inanimate form, and existence sprung from the union, for the man “became a living soul.” At death this order is reversed, soul and body separate, and, in the language of inspired wisdom, “The dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit to God who gave it.” The man, who is of the earth, earthy, the “tabernacle of flesh” goes down to the grave in corruption, while the “inner man,” the immortal soul, created in the image of God, departs to the habitation of that “house not made with hands, eternal, and in the heavens."
Temporal death, then, being only a dissolution, a separation of soul and body, we next inquire, How are we affected thereby? In the separation of mind and matter, does any essential change of organization take place in either, or in both? That such change, essential and complete, does take place with the material man is certain, for each day repeats the sad lesson that “all flesh is as grass,' and that man cometh forth as a flower to-day to be cut down to-morrow. It is important to keep in view the fact that life in man is a result of the union of body with soul, of matter with mind, and that the body itself contains no principle of life, but that, in this aspect of death, “that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts: even one thing befalleth them.” But not so with the soul,—it sprang from the very Fountain of Life, claiming an infinite parentage, and finds in the divine existence the pledge of its own immortality. If it can be truly said that God created man in His own image, it must certainly follow that the image resembles the original in its essential and characteristic features. That could scarcely be called an image at all which possessed only the minor and unimportant features of the pattern, with few if any of the distinguishing attributes. If man is immortal in the characteristic image of God, we believe it logically follows that he is also unchangeable in his organization.
To change the essential structure of the human soul would be to destroy its identity, and a destruction of identity necessarily carries with it practical annihilation. A changed existence must be a different existence, in effect a new creation. The change which the spiritual realizes at death is not an essential one of existence itself, but only of the conditions of existence, becoming adapted to a different atmosphere, furnished with different surroundings, infinitely better, or infinitely worse. Eternity obviously finds us with the same mental organism, the same tastes, feelings and desires, the same individuality with which death leaves us. Henceforth, change is going on only in the sense of development, the character of which is doubtless affected by the surroundings.
If a savage gorilla fresh from the wilds of Africa, could be suddenly transplanted to civilized society we should expect no change from the animal to the human, though probably, as a gorilla, he could be improved by the surroundings. All the change of place, and hot-bed development in the universe can never change a being of one distinct species to a being of another species. No amount of culture has yet succeeded in making a man from a monkey, though it has frequently made a better monkey. Change of location and climate never made a camel a horse, or a horse an elephant. Development in the same species is possible, but a radical change of nature and organization in nature, is an utter impossibility. The sharp point of fact pricks the airy bubble of fancy, and proves the "mordern development theory” to be the very essence of nonsense. Reasoning from analogy, then, can we consistently suppose that, because at death the soul has met an entire change of outward condition, the soul itself is changed? Most assuredly not; but manifestly the mind exists as the same harmonious whole in eternity as in time. The memory, the reasoning powers, the perceptions, the conscience, and the will exist in the same re