CHRISTADELPHIANS NOT CHRISTIANS.
ROBERT GOVETT, M.A.
THE CHRISTADELPHIAN ECCLESIA.
Christadelphian Ecclesia’* is the name of a new
sect which has arisen through the mission of John Thomas of
[*These words signify ‘The Church of Christ’s Brethren.’
** It has been strangely denied by a writer on the Christadelphian side, that they are Unitarians.]
"Unitarian. One who denies the doctrine of the Trinity, believing that God exists only in one person; who denies the divinity of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit." - Library Dictionary, and so Dr. Ogilvie’s.
Christadelphians deny the Godhead of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit.
The Record of the Christadelphian
"xvi. THE TRINITY."
"That God is not three, but ONE, out of whom are all things; even the Spirit and the Son:" I Cor. 8: 6; Eph. 4: 6.
xviii. THE ‘ETERNAL SONSHIP’ OF CHRIST.
"That Jesus was not co-eternal and co-equal with the Father, but was created of the Father, by operation of holy spirit upon Mary; a mortal man, partaker of flesh and blood, having no pre-existence."
xix. THE ‘THIRD PERSON IN THE GODHEAD.’
"That the Holy Spirit is not a person, but a vehicular effluence of the Father." The same statements are asserted in the First Principles of the Oracles, p. 17, 18. Their views concerning the future kingdom of God, are in very many points correct, so that they may attract some by this exhibition of truth; but "The Record"* goes on to require, that all those who join them give up as fables the great essentials of the faith concerning the Father, Son, and [Holy] Spirit.
[* A publication of theirs.]
"Jesus was not co-eternal and co-equal with the Father, but was created of the Father, by operation of holy spirit [not ‘the Holy Spirit’] upon Mary: a mortal man, partaker of flesh and blood, having no pre-existence, made in all respects like unto his brethren; yet through the moral and intellectual energy derived from his paternity, without sin." (Article xviii.) The texts appended in proof are very wide of doing so; they are given below.*
[*Luke 1: 35. Mat. 1: 20. Rom. 8: 3. Heb. 2: 14-17; 4: 15.]
"The Holy Spirit is not a person, but the vehicular effluence of the Father," if any one knows what that means. ‘There is no such thing as a devil, nor eternal punishment. The wicked will be annihilated.”
"Jesus was possessed of two natures; first, that of sinful or mortal flesh; secondly, his present one, which is holy or spiritual flesh!" "How to search the Scriptures," (Page 7.) "He rose and ascended, and was perfected and accepted by a spirit-birth in the fulness of the Godhead," if any one knows what that means. "The name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (is) the Doctrinal name of the Christ of God:" Acts 2: 38; 10: 44, 48. ‘There is no salvation without immersion.’
Now, one desires to recognize as believers and heirs of eternal life, all that we can; but these are not Christians, but Antichrists. They deny the Father and the Son in the sense affirmed by the Holy Ghost. They do not believe in Jesus’ pre-existence, and therefore cannot accept God’s testimony about His coming in the flesh. They are so aware of the fundamental difference between themselves and Christians, that they call on all to leave both Papal and Protestant sects; for "these drown men in destruction and perdition!" "How to search," etc., (pages 10, 11.) They are the only true Christians: all the rest are ‘the apostacy.’ We thank them for speaking out; the sooner Antichrists leave the fellowship of Christ, and prove themselves not to belong to Him, the better.
It may be well, in opposition to these destructive errors, to look at some Scriptures concerning - 1st, The Person of Jesus; 2nd ly The Personality of the Holy Spirit; 3rdly, The Personality of Satan.
1. Change our views of the Godhead, and you change our religion; as effectually as you change the circumference of a circle when you change its centre.
This system of false doctrine denies the pre-existence and Godhead of Jesus before He appeared on earth. Whether they believe that Jesus has been made a god since His resurrection, I cannot say with certainty. I suppose that to be the meaning of the strange expression quoted from Dr. Thomas’s work. But then the risen will be gods too; for we find (p. 13 of ‘How to Search’) that "the Righteous Seed will be raised to a spiritual nature by a spirit-birth in the fulness of the Christhead."
Let us now confront these falsehoods by some texts of Scripture, taken principally from the Gospel of John.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God." Here the Word existed co-eternally with the Father, and was of the same essence - God. He was the Creator: "All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made." He was possessed of life in Himself. And lest any should question who is meant by the Word, the Apostle adds - "And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us:" 1: 14. Jesus then existed from eternity as the Word; but the Father sent Him into the world, and He became flesh, or took on Him the nature of man. This is throughout the Scripture meaning of Jesus’ coming into the world. The Holy Spirit then cites the testimony of John the Baptist to the Saviour’s pre-existence: "He that cometh after me is preferred before me, for He was before me:" 15. Now as Jesus did not appear in the world till after John the Baptist, the nature in which He existed before John must be another than the human nature. Again, "No man hath seen God at any time; The only begotten Son,* who is in the bosom of the Father, He declared** Him:" 18. Therefore the words of Jesus are superior to those of any preceding messenger of God, because He was always in the bosom of the God. He asserted this of Himself even while on earth: 3: 13. ‘But may not the words of verse 18 above quoted signify only, that when Jesus wrote, Jesus was in the bosom of the Father, in virtue of His ascension?’ Nay, for the revelation of the Father by Jesus did not take place after His ascension, but before it. 14: 4-9. A Father’s bosom was previous to His declaring Him.
[* I would commend to by brethren’s notice here, what I deem the true reading: "The only begotten God." This is read by the best manuscripts, the Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic Versions, and many Greek and Latin fathers. Tregelles edits it.
The same truth comes out in the Saviour’s conversation with Nicodemus: "None hath ascended up into heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man who is in heaven:" 3: 13. If Jesus be rightly called the Son of Man, because of His possessing the nature of man, He is called the Son of God because He possesses the nature of God. To the same purpose is John the Baptist’s testimony. Of Jesus he says: "He that cometh from above is above all; he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth; He that cometh from Heaven is above all:" 3: 31. The superiority of Jesus over John the Baptist was His coming down from above, and witnessing to what He knew and had beheld on high: verse 32.
The true faith concerning the Father and the Son is a matter of eternal life or eternal death; it behoves us therefore to see that we are accepting God’s testimony; not making it void by the fancies of unbelief. For "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; but he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; BUT THE WRATH OF GOD ABIDETH ON HIM:"3: 36. We bear witness then, that theirs is not the true doctrine of God concerning the Son. And he who denies the true doctrine concerning the Son has not, and does not believe in, the Father. He worships another god, one of his own imagination. For so says the [Holy] Spirit: "He is the Antichrist that denieth the Father and the Son. Whoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father also:" 1 John 2: 22, 23. John then gives a note of warning most valuable in this case. These Antichrists say, that the belief of all hitherto has been false. Christendom believes only ‘fables’ on the subject of the Trinity. These are witnesses then that there is a new doctrine on this point, and so are self-condemned. As saith the Holy Ghost, - "Let that therefore abide in you which ye heard from the beginning. If that which ye heard from the beginning abide in you, ye shall continue in the Son and in the Father:" 24.
then having departed from God’s testimony about the Father and the Son, given from
the very first, are not in the Father or in the Son. For we are appealing to the
testimony given at the first.
When Jesus healed the impotent man of
In the next chapter we have the history of the Saviour’s feeding the five thousand, and of the discourse which followed it. The Lord’s opponents cite against Him the feeding of their fathers with manna in the desert. Jesus replies, that Moses’ gift was but a shadow of the real bread from heaven which was Himself, who came down out of the heaven to give life to the world: 6: 32. How awfully preposterous and blasphemous the words that follow, if supposed to be spoken by a man born with a sinful nature, and feeling then its motions within! "I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst:" 6: 35.* "I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent me." Here is His pre-existence again asserted. This stumbled the Jews. They could not reconcile such an assertion with Jesus being a mere man; nor can the Christadelphians. "They said, Is not this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?" 6: 42. None but Himself had ever been in heaven, or seen the Father: 46. Let those who deny the pre-existence of Jesus, tell us how they explain away these testimonies concerning Jesus’ descent out of heaven, and His superiority to all others in consequence: 46-51, 58. Men, even the disciples, murmured at the Saviour’s high testimonies concerning His deity. Jesus still asserts them. Doth this stumble you? "What if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?" 62.
[* So also John 7: 37-39.]
He declares of His origin, that it was wholly unlike that of those around Him. "Ye are from beneath; I am from above; ye are of this world: I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you that ye shall die in your sins, for if ye believe not that I am * ye shall die in your sins:" 8: 23, 24. None then who [continually] denies the deity of Christ can be forgiven. The Lord’s deity is brought out very strikingly at the close of this chapter. The Jews, when He spoke about Abraham’s seeing His day, replied, "Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?" This was something very far below Jesus’ testimony, which was, that it was Abraham’s desire to see Him. But He answers, outdoing all their low imaginations, "Before Abraham was born I am." [See Greek.] 56, 58. Here Jesus asserts of Himself simple, uncaused existence. But Abraham was a creature who began to be long after HE WAS. And the Jews understood it rightly to import, that He asserted Himself to be God - the Jehovah of the fathers, who revealed Himself as the "I am that I am." Accordingly they attempted to stone Him in the temple.
[* There is no "he" in the original.]
But the issues of this are momentous. Jesus, leaving his foes, cures a man born blind. The case is very strictly examined; the matter of fact is not to be disputed. But they wish to know of the beggar what opinion he entertained about his benefactor in consequence. He replied that He was a prophet. They refused the testimony. Jesus was a sinner; and they cast out one who would speak even so far in His favour. But Jesus is not content with such a belief concerning Himself; there was no [eternal] salvation in such a half-faith. Meeting the poor man He inquires, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" The beggar knew of no such person. Jesus said unto him, "Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe: AND HE WORSHIPPED HIM:" 9: 35-38. Here then there is no room for mistake. Jesus elevates the man’s thoughts about Himself till the healed one believes that He claims Godhead, and accordingly he gives Him worship due to God alone! The Saviour looks on this worship with approval; declares that the Pharisees who rejected His testimony concerning His Godhead were blind; while this beggar was really alone possessed of sight (39). Their vain conceit of superior wisdom kept them from saving truth; they would die in their sin (41). So will all who abide in Christadelphian unbelief! If Jesus be not God, here He was guilty of awful impiety. Paul and Peter and Barnabas were better men far than He (With reverence I would say it). When an angel had elevated Cornelius’ thoughts about the apostle Peter, the centurion offered him religious worship. Peter refuses; he was but a man: Acts 10. When Paul at Lystra had healed a lame man, the people prepared to adore him and Barnabas as gods. With garments rent in their horror at the impiety, they forbid with indignation any such attempt. "Sirs, why do ye such things? We also are MEN of like passions with you:" 14: 14, 15. Not so our Lord. When Jesus met the bereaved Martha, she professed her faith in Him as a prophet, who, if He would but plead with God, could receive from Him the power to raise from the dead her brother. Jesus was not content with so low thoughts concerning Himself. He therefore heightens them. "I am RESURRECTION and LIFE.* ... Believest thou this?" 11: 21-26. But this is too much for her faith; she does not worship as did the blind beggar. Jesus proceeds to the grave, and thanks the Father that in this and all other points, He heard Him. He would not even have made this appeal, if it had not been in order to prove to the lookers on that he was not independent of the Father, nor did anything without His full approval. Then He calls out, "Lazarus, come forth!" He says not, ‘In the name of the Father, come forth!’ No: all this was designed to glorify the Son of God: to prove His full possession of Deity, the power to awake the dead: verses 4, 25.
[* In the English idiom, we do not express the article used in the Greek.]
unbelief grows bolder in
Jesus then withdraws to the inner circle of the twelve; and after Judas has left them, discovers more fully His glory. He declares that He is Himself "The WAY, TRUTH, and LIFE:" 14: 6. This to be said of a mortal man, possessed of a sinful nature! They who had seen Him, had seen God. "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father?" verse 9. He gives another assertion of His abode in heaven ere He appeared on earth. "For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God." Those then are not beloved of God, who deny as a fable this first truth. "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father:" 16: 27, 28. The apostles reply, that that was so plain a speech that none could misunderstand it, and that they believed His word. Woe, then, to those who refuse this! They have left "the word which was from the beginning."
Jesus addresses Himself to worship the Father. He says, "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." His disciples had "known surely that I came out from thee, and have believed that thou didst send me:" 17: 5, 8.
Jesus suffers and rises again. The Apostles all believe, with the exception of Thomas. He would not believe, without ocular demonstration. Jesus marks his words, and returns them upon him when next he appears, bidding him take the evidence he sought. "Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, MY LORD AND MY GOD!" Now how shall we interpret these words? Were they a profane exclamation on Thomas’s part, as some now burst into like unruly speech when anything greatly surprises them? Nay, we do not hear of Jews being guilty of any such profaneness, much less the disciples of Jesus. But what says Jesus to it? He is Searcher of hearts: He knew the mind of Thomas. What says He to it? Does He rebuke the offending apostle? Does He remind him of the third commandment? Nay, He approves. He sees in this only that right faith concerning Himself which the gospel is designed to teach. "Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed:" 20: 26-29. And then John closes the general narrative by remarking, that the incidents given from Jesus’ life might have been greatly increased, "But these are written, that ye might believe that JESUS IS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD; and that believing ye might have life through His name:" 30, 31. Now, Christadelphians deny the Sonship of Jesus in the sense in which it is testified by the [Holy] Spirit in the Gospel of John. Refusing the [Holy] Spirit also, they do not believe; they have no spiritual life before God. Like this is John’s testimony in his first Epistle; "He that believeth ON THE SON OF GOD hath the witness [testimony] in himself: he that believeth not God, hath made Him a liar, because he believeth not the record [testimony] that God gave of His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life:" 1 John 5: 10-12. But Christadelphians believe not the testimony of God concerning His Son’s co-eternity and deity; they therefore have not life. Note also John’s concluding words: "We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we might know Him that is true; and we are in Him that is true in His Son Jesus Christ. This [He] is the true God, and eternal Life."
When they affirm that our Lord took an unclean nature, and felt the motions of sin within, though it never broke into open act; they speak blasphemy. They make the Holy One of God to be a sinner. For, the motions of sin within, are sin. "The thought of foolishness is sin," though it may never appear in word or deed. Prov. 26: 9. And if Jesus were Himself a sinner, He never could put away the sins of others. The sacrifice which God accepts must be "without blemish." Aye, and it must be more than a mere man! It was! The blood offered WAS THE BLOOD OF GOD. Acts 20: 28.
Denying the Son, they deny also THE SPIRIT OF GOD. It is, they say, a mere name for the "vehicular effluence of the Father!" But this part of the subject must be referred to in another chapter.
IS SATAN A REAL PERSON?
CHRISTADELPHIANS deny as an evil superstition, the doctrine of Scripture - that ‘Satan is a personal agent, or supernatural power of evil.’ The devil, according to them, is a "personification of sin in its several forms of manifestation." So says Mr. Roberts, in the fifth of his "Twelve Lectures."
that lecture he is obliged at times, by the course of his argument, to suppose
the devil and Satan to be a literal being. In his view, first: ‘The
individual serpent that was present at Adam’s creation, in the Garden of Eden,
but has long since perished, was the original devil and Satan’ (p.
168). Secoundly: Satan is also the world
(p. 158, 169.) Thirdly: It is
persecuting rulers (p. 158.) Fourthly:
Some great official of the
Thus Satan is both something external to man, and something internal; something literal, and something figurative; a special man, evil rulers, and men in general! And he imagines that we shall receive these various senses in place of the one clear adequate sense which runs throughout Scripture! How does he prove these various senses? Prove? He assumes them; they are necessary to the Christadelphian theory. We have only to deny them. He brings objections against our views; but he is very far from proving his own. He asserts that the doctrine concerning the devil is the "polytheism of paganism;" that it is "the hideous conception of a heathen mind, borrowed by the moderns from the mythologies of the ancients." (p. 146.) Do we grant this? Does he prove it? No! Can he prove it? He will, when he makes ropes out of sand.
We will now give the sufficient view of the Scripture testimony on the subject of Satan: which will be ample proof, that whatever we believe about him is sustained by clear passages of the Word of God; just premising, that Mr. Roberts is right, in asserting that Satan is not confined now in hell. The spirits confined in Tartarus (Jude 6.) are a class quite distinct from Satan and his angels, guilty of an offence wholly different from his, and destined for a different end. *
[* See "The Spirits in Prison."]
1. Scripture teaches us concerning Satan’s original standing, that he was once of the truth, but abode not in it; that he fell, because he was lifted up by pride. He fell about the time of the beginning of the world: John 8: 44; 1 Tim. 3: 6. Since that day he sins on habitually, and without check: 1 John 3: 8.
2. As to his present occupation, he is a ruler of many fallen angels; he possesses a kingdom now. This was not only the belief of the orthodox among the Jews; it is countersigned by our Lord and Paul: Matt. 12: 22-26; Eph. 6: 11, 12. He is [now] the ruler of earth, the prince and god of this world: Luke 4: 6; Rev. 12: 9; John 12: 31, 14: 30, 16: 11; 2Cor. 4: 4. He has a throne and abode on earth: Rev. 2: 13, 13: 2. He and his spirits enter into men [even into disobedient regenerate men] and dwell in them as a man dwells in a house: Matt. 12: 29; Luke 11: 21, 22, 22: 3; John 13: 37. He deceives the whole habitable earth: Rev. 12: 9, 20: 2. Men are his captives; in them he works all manner of evil: Eph. 2: 2; 2Tim. 2: 26. He asks permission of God to tempt His [redeemed] people, and at times obtains his permission: Job. 1: 2; Luke 22: 31. He is the Great Tempter: Matt. 4: 3; 1Cor. 7: 8; John 13: 2. He has many wiles; he takes many shapes: Eph. 6: 11; 2 Cor. 2: 11, 11: 14. He ranges about heaven and earth, free as a lion in search of prey: 1 Peter 5: 8. He prevails for a time even against some of God’s people: - witness Peter’s fall: 1 Tim. 5: 15. He hinders good: I Thess. 2: 18. He takes away from the heart of the careless, the truth they have heard; yea, he blinds their minds lest the truth should enter: Mark 4: 15; 2 Cor. 4: 4. He stirs up persecution: Rev. 2: 10. He raises up counterfeit Christians, (Matt. 13: 39,) in order to mar our Lord’s work before the world.
3. He is possessed of power physical. He is a ruler of the forces of air: Eph. 2: 2; Job 1. He inflicts disease, and oppresses, wherever permitted: Luke 13: 16; Acts 10: 38. He has the power of death: Heb. 2: 14. He has control over poisonous reptiles, as the serpent and scorpion: Luke 10: 18. Generally he is possessed of miraculous power: 2 Thess. 2: 9. It was a fearful punishment to be given into his hands: 1 Cor. 5: 5; 1 Tim. 1: 20.
4. His destiny is to be confined in the bottomless pit - [‘the Abyss,’ in the lower Hades] - during the thousand years: Rev. 20: 2. After his loosing hence, at the close of that period, he stirs up another rebellion; and then is cast into ‘the lake of fire,’ there to be tormented evermore: Rev. 20: 10; Matt. 25: 41.
But against some of these passages Mr. R. has objections to allege.
His main objection is derived from the original sense of two words ‘Devil’ and ‘Satan.’ ‘Devil’ is originally a Greek word, and means ‘False Accuser.’ ‘Satan’ is a Hebrew word, and means ‘Adversary;’ ‘therefore they only mean generally any false accuser, or adversary of the truth.’
By no means! Both in the Old Testament and in the New they are fastened to one definite slanderer, and to one adversary, by the article. "A lord" may mean a man; "the Lord" fixes the expression to Jehovah. "A saviour" may be a man; "the Saviour" is Jesus. So here. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word "Satan," without the article, signifies in some cases, "an adversary" indefinitely;* but in Job, and in Zechariah, it is "the adversary." The article then teaches us, that it is some well-known person; and as no distinction is made between the early and the latter times, it is one and the same adversary all through Scripture. In the New Testament, besides that the inspired writers regard ‘Satan’ as a proper name, they again and again use the article with it. They knew of one Satan only.
[* In some few instances in the Old Testament, Satan, without the article, means the Devil. Those cases omit this argument.]
Further, even if the terms "Satan" and "Devil" were in their origin comparatively indefinite; yet it is a law of language, that words often become appropriated to certain definite ideas. Thus "angel" in Greek originally signified any messenger: but in the Old Testament and New, it is appropriated to the beings we now call "angels." So "bishop," in its original Greek form, meant an "overseer" generally; but now it is appropriated, both in the New Testament, in theological language, and in common discourse, to a special officer of the Christian Church. Even so the terms "Devil" and "Satan" are appropriated in the Old and New Testament, and in our day, to a certain definite meaning, quite apart from their original indefiniteness.
As taught by Scripture, we see that but one being is intended by God wherever He speaks of ‘Satan’ or ‘the devil.’ The article bespeaks one person, and that a person well known. Herein then lies the refutation of the Christadelphian scheme, with its many unproved significations of these terms. The wisdom of God has given us certain statements of fact whereby to test any false theory, and to demolish it.
In the history of Job, Satan appears very prominently. Hereupon Mr. Roberts asks - "But who was the adversary, it may be asked, who proved such a terror to Job against whom he exerted such power?" "All the answer that can be made is, that there is no information as to who he was in particular. (m.i.) His title would show that he was inimical to the interests of Job, and probably the sons of God in general, - a wicked, overbearing lord, (m.i.) whose envy and malice were only equal to the dominion he seems to have exercised. It is impossible to be more specific than this in saying who he was." (m.i.) (p. 153.)
That is, Mr. R.’s theory fails! The article shows that he was a being well known to the writer, and to the readers of the Old Testament. And so he was, on our view. He was not, as Mr. R. supposes, a mere ruler of earth; for he leaves earth, and appears among the sons of God, before the presence of God in heaven! When God inquires of him whence he had come, he replies - ‘From earth.’ That by the "sons of God," in Job are meant angels, is proved by chap. 38: 7. The Lord demands of Job where he was when He created the earth? "When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" Besides, Satan exerts supernatural power against Job. He leads against him, by a marvellous providence, the Sabaeans and the Chaldeans; he draws down on his flocks the lighting, burning up both the sheep and the shepherds, and leaving in each case but one to bring the tidings. He raises a whirlwind, smites and overturns the house of Job’s eldest son, and buries the family in its ruins. What has Mr. R. to say now? Why, that these were God’s doings, and not Satan’s. "It was God who inflicted the calamities at the adversary’s instigation." I deny it. "The Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power: only upon himself put not forth thine hand." Here God gives up Job’s possessions into Satan’s hand, that Satan may smite them. Still more markedly on the second occasion, - "The Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to his crown," (2: 6, 7.)
‘But even if Satan did wield miracles against Job, that no more proves him a supernatural agent than it proves Moses to be so. God can delegate miraculous power even to mortal men.’
But there is no delegation of miraculous power here to Satan. To Moses God delegates the power of miracle; he possessed none before the day of the vision in the bush. Moses, in effect, asked for miracle as a proof of his mission, and God gave him the sign of it in the rod he held. But Satan does not confess powerlessness to effect his scheme: he has only to use power which he possessed before. He neither asks for, nor receives any. Mr. R. may not know who Satan is. We do! It is the same Satan who in our Lord’s day oppressed multitudes, and bound one of God’s people with disease for eighteen years, till Jesus loosed her. (Luke 13: 16; Acts 10: 38.) So then the Satan of Job is no mere mortal lord of earth; he has been living and oppressing from the creation till now.
With a glance or two at the temptation of our Lord, I conclude this article. Here the system of unbelief breaks to pieces. Jesus is led up by the Holy Spirit into the desert, "to be tempted by the devil." This proves him to be a person; nay, the well-known person called Satan, and translated Devil by the Septuagint, in the Old Testament. "And when THE Tempter came to Him, He said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." Here we have to do with a person who draws near to Christ, and after the temptation "leaves" Him. It is the same person who in previous ages tempted. It is his continual occupation; so that he is known as "THE Tempter." He tempted our first parents; he tempted Job, he tempted David. It is one person throughout.
‘But if Judas could be a devil and yet be a man, (John 6: 70,) why may not the tempter of Jesus have been a man?’
Judas is never called "the devil," or "the tempter:" Satan is. Other reasons will appear as we advance.
takes Jesus by his side (see Greek) into
devil quotes Scripture: Here again we have to deal with a person. The drift of his temptations too is the same
as that by which, in former ages, he had been so successful against Adam, and
next takes Jesus to the top of an exceeding high mountain, and in an instant
shows him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. Mr. R. assumes, that
the scene could only be the natural one of
proceeds - "It was not unnatural under the
Here is Mr. R.’s theory wrecked: his own hand has steered it on a rock, where it breaks to pieces by its weight of absurdity. The Galilean peasant - to the world’s eye the carpenter’s son - is addressed by the Roman Emperor, or the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and is privately offered the dominion of Syria, (the evangelist by mistake says ‘all the kingdoms of the world;’) if he will worship the Emperor! The devil, the tempter, Satan, is the Roman Emperor! Or some great official! We are confident that Englishmen of common sense will prefer the old "superstition" which Mr. R. so flippantly attempts to deride, to his new form of unbelief. Much more will God’s saints abide by His words.
Look again, reader! His lecture started with the assertion, that the devil was no personal agent of evil, but a personification of the principle of evil. In the history of Job, however, and in that of our Lord, he is driven from his moorings, and is swept into the very port which he denounces as a sand-bank. The Satan of Job’s day, the Satan of the Lord’s, are really persons, though Mr. R. cannot tell who they are. The wisdom of God would make an archangel a fool, if he attempted to reason against Him. No wonder that the cavils of men turn to their own confusion!
MAN’S ETERNAL EXISTENCE.
In the latter day kings and nations will assemble, saying of God and of His Christ, "Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us." The doctrine of eternity of the future punishment of the unbeliever is becoming increasingly hateful to the men of our time; and, accordingly, efforts are made to get rid of it. Out of this root springs the sect of the Christadelphians. Look at these passages:-
"No amount of theorizing can persuade him [a good man] that God is the merciful being of order and harmony brought before us in the Bible, if he is told, that with all His foreknowledge and omnipotence, He is to permit nine-tenths of the human race to be consigned to an eternal existence of blaspheming torture indescribable. RATHER THAN BELIEVE IT, HE WILL REJECT THE BIBLE ALTOGETHER, AND EVEN DISPENSE WITH GOD FROM HIS CREED, AND TAKE REFUGE IN THE CALM, IF CHEERLESS, DOCTRINE OF RATIONALICM." - Lectures by Roberts, page 68.
The same writer describes the doctrine of the Reformation in another publication, this:-
"A system which tells us that God is just, and yet that He is to punish countless millions of immortal souls for the sin of one man, in which they had no participation; and of which they had no knowledge: that God is gracious and merciful, and yet that the poor helpless wretches in the slums of great towns like Birmingham, who are born in squalor and filth, and surrounded by all the degrading influences of brutality, ignorance, and vice, are to be sent to writhe in eternal agony for what they could not help being, to pay an eternal penalty in objectless torture, for the MISFORTUNES of a brief span of life, OVER WHICH THEY HAD NO CONTROL; a system which, while compelled to use the Bible descriptions of Deity, presents to us a MONSTER OUTSTRIPPING IN BLUNDERING SELFISHNESS AND MALIGNITY ALL THE FABLED GODS OF GREECE AND ROME; a system with which one hand holds out the Bible as the Word of God, and with the other steals every spark of divinity from its pages, and enshrouds in it a darkness and confusion which stagger the sensible mind in its honest endeavours to receive it." - Two Nights’ Discussion, page 38.
[My italics and capitals. R.G.]
Blasphemy, I see, is begun already on this side of the pit! It is no wonder if those who so daringly refuse the doctrine of Holy Scripture on this point, treat its other teachings as fables. Has not Mr. R. sealed up his eyes? Is not he to be renounced as a guide, who tells us that sooner than receive a doctrine which stands clearly on the surface of Holy Writ, he would give up faith in the book and its God altogether?
From this root of unbelief springs the Christadelphians’ denial of the existence of Satan and his evil spirits. From this rises also the denial of the intermediate state of souls, the future eternal existence of men, and of heaven and hell.
The connection is not difficult to be traced. Dr. Thomas is denying the eternity of punishment as applied to men. ‘But Dr. T., (we may suppose his opponent to say,) you must admit the eternity of punishment as affecting the devil and his evil spirits’: for Jesus says, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:" (Matt. 25: 41.) He decides then to deny the existence of Satan and evil spirits. ‘But, Doctor, Jesus tells us of punishment already begun upon the souls of the wicked as soon as they die.’ "In hell [Hades] he lift up his eyes, being in torments:" (Luke 16: 23.) That is also a stumbling block in the way of the theory: so the existence of souls [in Hades] after death is to be denied.
The doctrine of man’s eternal existence is denounced as a heresy which is to be put down without mercy. It is the great obstacle to the progress of Christianity; it presents false views of the gospel; it is the basis of ecclesiastical tyranny, and of Romish superstition. It has taken away all vigour from the truth. - Lectures, pp. 43 and 44
Then comes forth the materialism of the new system, whose complexion seems rather too swarthy even to its parent; so that he deems an apology suitable. ‘Know, then, that man is merely a living body. He has no soul or spirit, distinct from his organization.’ "All the great systems of religion that overspread the world, are based upon the doctrine that man has within him a separable, immaterial, thinking entity, styled the immortal soul." - Two Nights, p. 6. This idea, the Christadelphians tell us, is false. "Thought is a power developed by brain-organization." - Lectures, p. 31. Their view regards "the mind as a property of living brain-substance." - p. 24. (m.i.)
Mr. Roberts argues pantheistically, that "different elements and substances are but different forms of the same eternal essence or First Cause (m.i.), described in the Bible as ‘spirit,’ which God is; and in scientific language as electricity." - Lectures, p. 31. There are not two substances - matter and spirit; there is but one. Out of electricity were all things made: electricity is God, and God is electricity!
Their philosophy is materialism. But now, of the two scepticisms, - that which doubts the existence of matter, and that which doubts the existence of mind, the former is far the more philosophic, and capable of proof. The doubt concerning the existence of matter is Aaron’s rod, which soon swallows up the other.
I know that I feel; I am sure I think. Sensations, ideas, and affections make up my life. I arrive also with great assurance at the belief, that there are spirits besides myself, displaying intelligence like my own. I may believe also that there is something outside of me which does not think, and which may perhaps occasion in me some of my feelings. But that is a deduction of my reason. Our opponents no doubt will say, that they are directly conscious of matter. If so, I reply, they must be beings very different from me. ‘Why, yonder is a tree, I see it.’ Pray, sir, is not sight a sensation? Is not sensation an affection of mind? ‘But I hear its boughs wave.’ Pray what is hearing? Is it not also an affection of mind? ‘But I touch and I feel it.’ Still, I imagine, that feeling belongs to the soul; whether it be the sensation of hardness, or of sweetness, or of the feeling of pleasure or pain. ‘But there must be something which is the cause of these feelings.’ Now you are reasoning, sir, I agree with you. But you arrive at your conclusion only through premises, and those are furnished by mind alone. Anyone who wishes to see the proof of this system drawn out to demonstration, should consult the writings of Bishop Berkeley.
With this view the Scripture agrees. It traces feeling to the soul. "His soul hath appetite." "Our soul loatheth this light bread." "If a soul touch any unclean thing." At anyone who shall attempt to teach me that reason and reasoning are but the quadrilling of certain particles of matter, I can but smile. If an opponent can see this minuet of atoms, and perceive that reason and the dance of particles of matter are the same thing, of course that must be satisfactory to himself. I must, however, assure him that I neither see nor am conscious of any such oscillation of atoms in thought. If he infer it only, then I should say his influence must be in fault. At any rate, in my own instance, no two ideas are more dissimilar than the vibration of motes, and the inferring of conclusions from premises. So much for their philosophy!
Let us now meet the theology of the wicked system of unbelief with the testimonies of the Word of God! Mr. Roberts quotes many passages of Scripture, and at times seems to argue with much force from them, in contradicting statements very commonly made by Christians. The reason of this is, that popular theology has, in several important points, wandered from the Word of God; and it will be well for Christians, if the barking and biting of this fierce mastiff drive the sheep into the walls of the fold.
He argues in more than one place, in the following fashion. ‘You tell us that man’s soul is naturally immortal. But Paul says that Jesus brought life and immortality to light by the gospel. How can these two statements be constantly held? If the immortality of the soul were a truth known to Egyptian and Grecian sages, how could Christ bring it to light? If it meant that Jesus made known the way to attain it, then it follows that we were not by nature possessed of it.’ - Two Nights, p. 7.
the fallacy of this argument is seen in a moment, when one looks at the Greek
of 2 Tim. 1: 10. Before Jesus arose, the separate and endless
existence of the soul was believed, and rightly. But Jesus brought to light the endless
existence of the body, and, above all, the glory and "incorruptibility" (that is the word used
in Timothy) of the bodies of the saved. So says Paul again in 1 Cor. 15: 42. The body of the dead believer is
"sown in corruption; it is raised in
incorruption ... it is sown an animal body (Greek); it is raised a spiritual body." "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the
I now proceed to establish, on Scripture statements, some propositions antagonistic to the Christadelphian.
1. MAN IS A BEING MADE UP OF THREE PARTS; BODY, SOUL, AND SPIRIT.
"I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord:" 1 Thess. 5: 23.
Our Lord was possessed of body, soul, and spirit.
"He went to Pilot and begged the body of Jesus:" Matt. 27: 58.
"My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death:" Matt. 26: 38.
"He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled:" John 11: 33.
Soul and spirit are most closely intertwined. It is made the proof of the searching force of God’s Word, that it "pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit:" Heb. 4: 12.
2. THE SOUL (AND SPIRIT) CONSTITUTE THE MAN.
1. The soul is the seat of the animal feelings. It is possessed in common by the brutes and man. "Our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all beside this manna:" Num. 11: 6. "His soul clave unto Dinah:" Gen. 34: 3. "Our soul loatheth this light bread:" Num. 21: 5. "Thou shalt eat in the gates whatsoever thy soul lusteth after:" Deut. 12: 21. "The Lord shall give thee then a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of soul." Hebrew - Deut. 28: 65. See also Judges 28: 25; Isa. 41: 10; Psa. 42: 2; Pro. 21: 10; 27: 7, etc.
The Lord again speaks thus: "If a soul sin;" "If a soul touch any unclean thing;" "If a soul swear:" Lev. 5: 1-15, for the soul is the man. "That soul shall be cut off:" Ex. 12: 15, Etc. "Tribulation and anguish [shall fall] on every soul of man that doeth evil:" Rom. 2: 9.
2. It dwells in the blood. "For the soul (Hebrew) of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul:" Lev. 17: 10-14.
3. The soul is not only different from the body; it is superior to it. "Take no thought for your soul (Greek), what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink, nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the soul more than the meat (food), and the body more than the raiment?" Matt. 5: 25. "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body [of all man] in hell," (Gehenna): Matt. 10: 28. On this Mr. R. has some smart observations, as though the last part of the verse undid for us the effect of the former. By no means! Observe, first, there are here two divisions of man at least: the soul - so distinct from the body, and so superior to it in its nature, that those who can kill the body, cannot kill the soul. ‘But what say you to God’s destroying both body and soul in hell? Does not that teach annihilation?’ By no means! Destruction means continually the undoing of the well-being of a person or thing; but not the annihilation of its being. ‘Yonder house was destroyed by fire.’ Do we mean that no trace of it can be found? No: its use as a house is gone; but the four walls stand. ‘James Stephens has quite destroyed his character.’ Do you mean that he has no character at all? Far from it. He has lost his good character; but he retains an evil one, as he finds to his cost. So shall God take away from the wicked the well-being of both body and soul, but not the being of either.
4. It is an entity distinct from the body. "The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul:" 1 Sam. 18: 1. "I wish, above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as they soul prospereth:" 3 John, 2. Paul says of the fall of Eutychus, "His soul is in him:" Acts 20: 10.
A further example of this truth is furnished by the parable of the Rich Glutton: "I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, be merry. But God said to him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee:" Luke 12: 19, 20. "And He said unto His disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought [be not anxious] for your soul, what ye shall eat: nor for your body, what ye shall put on. The soul is more than its meat, and the body than its raiment." (22: 23.)
According to Mr. R., ideas, the body is the man. Sometimes the body is alive, sometimes dead. When life goes out of the body, the man’s existence is extinct.
Not so the Scripture! It does not say, "If a body sin," but "If a soul sin." For the body is not the man, but the soul is. Life and soul differ. "Wherefore is life to the bitter in soul?" Job. 3: 20. "My soul is weary of life:" Psa. 66: 9. "Wisdom and discretion shall be life to thy soul:" Prov. 3: 22.
took the "souls that they had gotten in
Other words are used, both in Hebrew and Greek, where life simply is meant.
Similar expressions are used concerning the SPIRIT of man, "While Paul waited for them at
"Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation:" Num. 27: 16; 16: 22. The spirit of a man is the highest part of him. "The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?" Prov. 18: 14. It dwells in the body. "The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy:" James 4: 5. "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?" 1 Cor. 2: 11. "Deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved:" 1 Cor. 5: 5. "That she may be holy both in body and spirit:" (7: 34.) "The first Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening (life-giving) spirit:" 1 Cor. xv, 45.
The spirit is generally engaged in the services of religion. "God is my witness whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son:" Rom. 1: 9. "If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful." (1 Cor. 14: 14.) "What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also. I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the understanding also." (15.) "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit." (Gal. 6: 8; Philemon 25.)
The Holy Spirit also speaks of the body as the OUTER MAN; and the soul and spirit as the INNER MAN. Paul prays that the Ephesian Christians might be "strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man." (3: 16.) "Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." (2 Cor. 4: 16; Rom. 7: 22.) "If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness." (Rom. 8: 10, 16.) The Spirit of God describes man now as living in his body as in a tent; but about to live hereafter in an enduring edifice. "For we know that if our earthly house of this tent (Greek) were dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." (2 Cor. 5: 1.) Jesus "spake of the temple of His body." (John 2: 21.) "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." (Col. 2: 9. See also Isa. 26: 9; Zech. 12: 1.) In these examples the soul abiding in the body is compared to a person dwelling in a house.
"We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad." (2 Cor. 5: 10.) Each has acted "by means of the body."(Greek.) It was his tool; not himself.
3. WE ADVANCE NEXT TO CONSIDER - WHAT IS DEATH?
The Christadelphian view will be seen in the following extracts: "Death invades a man’s being and robs him of existence." Since human existence depends upon material organic function, non-existence must ensue upon the interruption of that function," (m.i.) "Death is a total eclipse of being - a complete obliteration of our conscious selves from God’s universe." - Lectures, 46, 47, 50. (m.i.)
Do we admit this? Far from it. Is this the meaning of the word in English? No! What says Jhonston in his dictionry? "Death; the extinction of life: the departure of the soul from the body." Similarly Dr. Ogilvie.
Now it is really granted, that at death the vital actions of the body cease. But, as Mr. R. admits that all religions believe in the existence of the soul after death, death does not mean to the men of those religions the destruction of conscious existence. We define death physically, when we say it is the departure of the soul from the body. We say of the very poor, "They have hardly enough to keep body and soul together." Death rends that bond of union, and the soul flies off. But that man has no soul, or that it has no consciousness after death, the word ‘death’ does not affirm. It is not its meaning.
Even the heathen believed in the existence of the soul after death. Not only had they the remnants of tradition on this point; but in every age and in every land, there were apparitions of the souls (or spirits) of the departed. A few of the records of these have descended to our day. The reality of apparitions of the departed is as certainly established as the descent of meteoric stones of earth. It will not do to pooh-pooh them as ‘superstitions’ in the face of such testimonies as have been collected by Baxter, Owen, Ottway, Wesley, Major Moor, Mrs. Crowe, Mary Howitt, and others. Stubborn sceptics have faltered before in history of what occurred in the house of Mr. Wesley. The well-known case of "Old Booty" was substantiated in court, on the oath of more than twelve persons. And if any inquirer will start the subject in any assembly of a dozen persons, he will find some who have seen an apparition in their own person, or have known of it in the case of others. They are really common: though few like to speak of them, lest they should be thought weak-minded and superstitious. But none who think themselves philosophers should reject evidence so copious and solid as sustains this matter: and it is evident, that this is beginning to be felt.
Moreover, relations of great weight and authority establish the appearance occasionally of apparitions in connection with the spirit-rapping movement, or spiritism.
In all ages and countries, too, there have been traces; when the body being apparently dead, the soul was conversant with visions of things beyond the natural sight. Such were the trances of Peter and Paul. (Acts 10: 10-17; 2 Cor. 12.) Also those noticed by Wesley and others.
However, we do not rest in this matter upon any natural evidences, but turn to what Scripture affirms.
Our Lord confirms the existence of apparitions. "When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a spirit;’ (apparition,) and they cried out for fear." (Matt. 14: 26; Mark 6: 49.) Now if there be no such thing as an apparition, that was the time for the Saviour to confront His disciples by assuring them that all apparitions are superstitions. But He goes further. After His resurrection He suddenly appears in the midst of His disciples; "But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they say a spirit," He addresses them, "Handle me and see: for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." (Luke 24: 37, 39.) Jesus then admits that a spirit might be seen; but it could not be felt to possess flesh and bones.
Mr. Roberts mis-states our views when he says, that we make death to "simply signify a change of habitation! ‘A man die? No, impossible! He may go out of the body, BUT HE CANNOT DIE.’ This is popular sentiment; the dictum of the world’s wisdom: the tenacious belief of the religious world." (p. 46.)
We do not mean by death, ‘destruction of conscious existence,’ which is the new sense he would thrust upon it. But none of his senses denies the reality of death, the ceasing of existence in connection with an animal body, and the total change of the manner and place of existence.
What then says the Scripture about death?
1. It describes death as the man’s putting off an old garment preparatory to putting on a new one.
"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of (from) God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven. If so be that being clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan being burthened; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life:" 2 Cor. 5: 1-4. The body is only the house, not the tenant.
2. It described death as the loosing of a ship from shore upon its voyage.
"Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death. For me to life is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour:* yet what I shall choose, I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better: nevertheless, to abide in the flesh is more needful for you:" Phil. I, 20-24.
[* Literally, "This is to me the fruit of labour."]
If this rendering be just, Christadelphian ideas are overturned. But Mr. R. has found a way, as he thinks, of evading this testimony. It turns upon the sense of the Greek word which we render "depart." Mr. R. would translate it "returned," and then supposes that Paul alludes to the first resurrection and personal appearing of Christ. But no! The Greek word is composed of two parts, which jointly signify to "undo," or "loose," as Liddell and Scott testify. It signifies "to loose for departure, to weigh anchor," and the like. It never has the signification of "return." Not even in Luke 12: 36, where it is rendered "return from the wedding" in our version; and although some lexicographers, as Parkhurst, may so give it. It means in the passage in Luke, to "break up from the marriage feast." It is true that under the circumstances it is implied, that that breaking up from the feast is preparatory to "return;" but that sense is inherent in the context, and forms no part of the word. The expression would be as justly used, if the person leaving the feast were at once going on a journey to a foreign land.
But we have plenty of other evidences in our favour. Though the verb occurs but twice in the New Testament, it is found in the Apocryphal books. "His servants made haste to depart:" Judith xiii, 1. "I went, and made a grave and buried him:" Tobit ii, 7. It occurs in Paul’s last epistle as a noun with the same sense as in Philippians. "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand:" 2 Tim. 4: 6.
It is evident that Paul in the passage from Philippians is computing the consequences of life or death to himself individually.
Christ would be magnified either by his life or death: ver. 20. He discusses the results of each of these alternatives.
1. What if he lived? "To him to live was Christ:" ver. 21. It was "to him fruit of labour:" ver. 22. His abiding in the flesh was needful for the Philippian Christians: ver. 24.
2. What if he died? To him "to die was gain:" or rather, "to have died." (Aorist.) As Alford says, "Life was to him Christ: but it was the state after death, and not this act of dying which is gain to him." He presents the results of the same alternative in verse 23. "Having a desire to depart and to be with Christ." This was to depart out of the flesh, as to live was to abide in the flesh. To depart out of the flesh was at once to be with Christ; as he had also said before, that "to be absent from the body was to be present with the Lord:" 2 Cor. 5.
Now on the Christadelphian theory, these statements are not true.
1. How was death gain to Paul? They reply, ‘Because thus he escaped the troubles incident to life, and especially to his apostleship.’ But there is no word about this. There is no statement that life is evil, and that he wished to be quit of it. He had said, that he regarded it as good from three points of view. 1. By it he magnified Christ. 2. He increased his own reward. 3. He was most useful to the Philippians and other Christians. But to die was better still: he was at once with Christ [i.e., in Sheol/Hades, Psa. 139:8 cf Luke 16: 23; Acts 2: 27, 31. cf. verse 34.]. Death was "far better," as compared with life, which was good. Paul was not comparing something good with something evil.
But death to the Christadelphian is a perfect blank. Now a perfect loss both of consciousness and of usefulness could not be truly stated as gain. Thus their theory is proved false.
2. Again, Paul cannot be treating of Jesus’ return and His first resurrection. Paul’s subject is death and life: his being in the flesh or out of it, with the consequences to himself and others. Mark, the body is not himself. His abiding in the flesh was useful to them; his departure out of it was loss to them. How? Only on the supposition, that the Church after Paul’s departure was abiding still on earth, still maintaining the fight with the world, the devil, and the flesh. So long as that was the case, Paul’s presence was most useful. But when the Lord shall have come, the battle is over, the victory is won; the Church has ceased to exist, or to be troubled, on earth. Paul’s counsels, teaching, prayers, example, are needed no longer.
3. Study a moment the balancing of the matter as stated by the apostle. It was better for himself to die, it was worse for other Christians that he should depart from the flesh. Death he desired, as it would be a great personal gain to himself; but his feelings of desire were checked when he felt how needful his presence was to others.
Now there would be no loss to the Philippian Christians, in Paul returning in resurrection, and being with Christ at His return. That return is the time of the hope spread before all Christ’s people, the hour of reward. Nor would it affect Paul individually alone: while Paul is here speaking of something which would affect himself individually. It is evident, then, that Paul is speaking of his death, which would affect himself individually; and not of the Lord’s coming, which would equally affect all His people.
Great is the difference between an individual’s going to his Lord, and the Lord’s coming for all His people. If then death be a mere putting off a garment, a departure from a house, an unmooring of a vessel from the coasts of time, it does not suppose the complete cessation of conscious existence. Nay, Paul assures us, that the departure of each individual Christian out of the flesh at death, is to him at once the being present with Christ - a great gain; a state very far superior to anything to be enjoyed on earth. That is, Christadelphian statements on the point are false.
There is a like passage in 2 Cor. 5: "We are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord, (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." On this passage Mr. R. asserts that Paul was herein expressing his desire for the body of resurrection. By no means! How could Paul, clothed on with his new body be said to be "absent from the body?" There are three conditions of the saint; of which, the Christadelephians refuse to recognize more than two. 1. There is the dwelling in the body and absence from the Lord. 2. Leaving the body, and going to the Lord. 3. The being clothed upon with a new body in resurrection. Have those who have fallen asleep in Christ perished? 1 Cor. 15: 18. Paul refuses the idea as incredible. But on the Christadelphian theory, they have, till the resurrection. That is false therefore. The sleepers in Christ rest, and are blessed: Rev. 14: 13. See Isa. 57: 2, for the saved of the Old Testament.
But it may be said, ‘Mr. Roberts gives passages of Scripture proving the non-existence of men after death; such as that place in James, "What is your life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away:" James 4: 14.’
Yes! This is said of life - not of the soul! The union of body and soul in this life is brief indeed. But Scripture never speaks thus of the soul. Quite another term is employed here.
4. WE ADVANCE ANOTHER STEP. THE
DEPARTURE OF THE SOUL FROM THE BODY IS TRACED FOR US IN SCRIPTURE, AND WE LEARN
THAT THERE IS A PLACE WHERE DISEMBODIED SOULS (OR SPIRITS) ARE KEPT TILL THE
RESURRECTION, AND ARE IN A STATE OF
It is the teaching of Scripture,
both of the Old Testament and the New, that the souls of all men at death go to a place called Hadees.
Jacob, when he sees the bloody coat of Joseph, says, "I will go down into Hadees [Heb. ‘sheol’] unto my
son mourning:" Gen. 37: 35. Now here it could not mean,
that he would be laid in the grave with his son: for he believed that Joseph [i.e.,
was devoured by a wild beast. He
expected, then, to meet his son’s spirit [soul] in Hadees. Jacob at death draws up his feet, "and was gathered unto his people:" Gen. 49: 33.
This took place not at his
burial, but at once upon his death. The burial [of his body] was a tardy matter, requiring Pharoah’s permission, and Joseph’s travelling out of
Hadees is a place of custody. God says to Job, "Have the gates of death been opened to thee? Or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?" Job. 38: 17; 17: 16. Hezekiah says, "I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go the the gates of Hadees:" Isa. 38: 10. "On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hadees shall not prevail against it:" Matt. 16: 18. That is, Jesus shall call the souls of His saints in resurrection forth from the place of the dead.
Hence Scripture divides intelligent beings into three classes. (1) The heavenly, (2) those on earth, and those (3) under the earth. "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, to those (not ‘things’) in heaven and those in earth, and those under the earth:" Phil. 2: 10. "And none in heaven, or in earth, neither under the earth was able to open the book." (Greek.) (Rev. 5: 3.) "And every creature which is in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea ... heard I." (13.) (Ez. 26: 20; 31: 14-16; 32: 18.)
Scripture, in speaking of death, describes it as the time of the separation of body and soul (and spirit). "It came to pass as her soul was departing, (for she died,) that she called his name Ben-oni:" Gen. 35: 18. Hence in the restoration of life, the soul (or soul and spirit) return again into their abode. The son of the woman of Sarepta dies. Elijah seeks to restore him again to life. He prays, "O Lord my God, let this child’s soul come into him again:" 1 Kings 17: 21. It had left the body: but God restored the lad to life. "The Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the soul of the child came into him again and he revived." (22.) "See, thy son liveth." Paul says of Eutychus, "His soul is in him:" Acts 20: 10. In the New Testament the departure and return are sometimes spoken of as being that of the spirit. "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit," is Stephen’s prayer: Acts 7: 59. When Jesus raises the daughter of Jairus, He says, "Maid arise!" "And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway:" Luke 8: 54-55.
But our Lord traces for us the flight of the souls of both good and evil to the place prepared for them: "The beggar (poor man) died, and was carried (away) by the angels into Abraham’s bosom." This refutes the assertion, that the soul is not the man. We call both the corpse and the soul, in common speech, ‘the man.’ So does God. This is seen in what follows. "The rich man also died, and was buried. And in Hadees (Greek) he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom." This was evidently designed to refute just such unbelief as that manifested by Christadelphians.*
[* And also be multitudes of regenerate believers today.]
What have they to say against it? 1. ‘The angels carried Lazarus’ dead body to Hadees.’ This needs no refutation. If Jesus were taking up the Pharisees’ theory, (as Mr. R. says,) they did not believe that corpses were carried into Hadees, but the souls of men, as Josephus tells us. 2. ‘Hadees (hell) means the grave.’ Never! 3. ‘If Dives and Lazarus were immaterial souls, they could cross the gulf which separates them.’ Prove it! 4. ‘How odd, that heaven and hell should be so close together!’ This is neither heaven nor hell [‘the lake of fire’], but Hadees - the intermediate place where souls are detained in custody till the resurrection. 5. ‘What do you make of the finger, tongue, eyes?’ The soul (or ghost) of a man perfectly resembles his body; only it is not capable of being held by a living man, while it may be seen by him. "I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain." "And they [were not unconscious, but] cried with a loud voice, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood?" Rev. 6: 9, 10. ‘This is no real occurrence; ‘tis a parable.’ Prove it! It is a real statement of facts. "I have five brethren," 7. ‘The rich man asks that Lazarus may be sent to his home to warn his brethren. If your ideas are true, there would be no need of one rising from the dead to convince them. A spirit disembodied would have been sufficient.’ So it would; and Abraham admits it. "Nay, father Abraham," says Dives, "but if one from the dead went unto them, they would repent. But he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, not even if one rose from the dead, would they be persuaded:" Luke 16. See Greek. The message of a disembodied spirit [soul] (and Eliphaz had seen one, Job. 4: 13-16,) was possible, and it would be an awful warning. But there was a means far less common which might be given, and yet would not prevail - the rising of one from the dead in his body. These words then imply the possibility of the return of the disembodied spirit [or soul] to earth, and its bearing a message to men. It had already taken place in Samuel’s case. 8. ‘Jesus is only speaking according to the Pharisees’ ideas.’ This is theory without proof; it is enough to deny it. Jesus’ words are in entire harmony with the previous teaching of the Old Testament about the state of the dead. They were designed to teach those who ridiculed our Lord a stern lesson from the torments of lost souls before the resurrection. Those who deny them will not therefore escape them. How solemn those words, "Lest they come into this PLACE OF TORMENT!" And all this took place before the resurrection; while his brothers are alive on earth; while Moses and the prophets are still in force; and therefore before Jesus had come.
Christadelphians have, however, Scripture on their side in refusing the common phrases about the righteous dead - "they are gone to heaven," "to glory," "to reward," "they are singing with the ransomed round the throne," etc. For what God teaches us is, that the [‘first’] resurrection of the man is the Christian’s ‘hope’; and that till the resurrection, souls are in a separate place. But Christadelphians [and most Christians] reject the theory of God concerning the intermediate abodes of the righteous and the wicked.
Hadees in the Greek, answers to Sheol in the Hebrew. Neither signifies the grave: other words are used for that in the Greek and Hebrew respectively. Hadees is the deepest point, as heaven is the highest. "It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? Deeper than Hadees; what canst thou know?" Job. 11: 8; 32: 22. "Thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest Hadees:" Psa. 139: 8; Matt. 11: 23, etc.
The vast expanse of Hadees is divided into two parts; one, that where the souls of the holy dead are confined; the other is a place of punishment, where the souls of the wicked are tormented. So says the Old Testament: so testifies the New.
The name of the especial place of the souls of the saved is ‘
2. There is a place for the souls of the wicked also. It is called by several names. Sometimes it is without distinction "Hadees." "The wicked shall be turned into Sheol," (Hadees): Psa. 9: 17. "Let them be silent in Hadees:" 31: 17. But it has two distinctive names, "DEATH" and "DESTRUCTION." Of the harlot, Solomon says, "Her feet go down to Death: her steps take hold on Hadees: Prov. 5: 5. "Her house is the way to Hadees, going down to the chambers of Death:" 7: 27. Our Lord asserts this in His words, "I have the keys of Hadees and of Death:" Rev. 1: 18. In this passage, as "Death," signifies the place of the wicked dead, "Hadees" signifies that of the righteous departed. Both are places; as is proved by ‘the keys.’ "DESTRUCTION" is another name for this place of woe. "Hadees is naked before him (God) and Destruction hath no covering:" Job. 26: 6. "Hades and Destruction are before the Lord: how much more then the hearts of the children of men!" Prov. 15: 11. "Hadees and Destruction are never full:" 37: 20; while any grave that man can dig, is soon filled.
The end of these two places of custody is shown to us in the twentieth of Revelation. At the close of the thousand years, the prisons of [the remaining] souls [detained in the underworld until the end of the millennial kingdom] give up their prisoners: there is no further need of them. Hence both are cast into the lake of fire - the eternal Gehenna. "Death and Hadees delivered up THE DEAD WHICH WERE IN THEM: and they were judged every man according to their works. And Death and Hadees were cast into the lake of fire. This is the Second Death* - the lake of fire." The First Death is the bottomless pit, the present place of the lost; the Second is Gehenna, - [‘lake of fire’.] - the everlasting place of woe, when, body and soul, the wicked are cast into it.**
[* Such is the true reading, given by nearly all the MSS. and editions.]
[** With the exception of those
whose names are found in the ‘Book of Life,’ the
remainder are cast into the ‘lake of fire’: but
the redeemed souls, who lost their inheritance in the
Both these places of souls are places of custody.
What man is there who shall "deliver his soul from the hand of Hadees?" Psa. 89: 48. Speaking of Jesus’ first and second advent to
Scripture in the Old Testament presents us with glimpses of the souls of the wicked in this pit of destruction. When the king of Babylon is cast down "into Hadees, into the sides of the pit," we read, "Hadees from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming; it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth: it hath raised from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All they that speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? Art thou also become like unto us?" Isa. 14: 9, 10, 15. Now Mr. R. may say, ‘That is poetry only!’ What! Shall God’s poetry teach us untruths? For untruth it teaches, if the dead exist not.
This evil place is a chamber of woe, as the Old Testament, no less that the New teaches. "The sorrows of Hadees compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me:" Psa. 18: 5. "The sorrows of Death compassed me, and the pains of Hadees got hold of me:" 115: 3.
But now let us examine closely the case of the Lord Jesus. Concerning His death and resurrection a good deal is said; and as He is "the forerunner," (Heb. 7: 20,) we shall learn from His corpse [and soul] what is the path tracked generally by His saints.
Jesus was crucified and died. Concerning His body we read, "And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb - [not ‘in hell,’ which Mr. R. says is equivalent; but he can never find an instance [in all of scripture] in which man is said to lay a corpse in hell] which he had hewn out in the rock, and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre [not ‘of the hell’] - and departed:" Matt. 27: 59, 60.
But, hours before this we read of Jesus commending His [animating or life-giving] spirit to His Father: Luke 23: 46. "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, ‘It is finished,’ and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost" - His spirit: John 29: 30. "Jesus when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielding up the ghost."*
[*"dismissed His spirit," would be better. See Greek.]
What became then of Jesus’ soul and spirit? [We have already seen that His spirit was ‘yielded up’ to His Father.] He - [i.e., as a disembodied soul] - went down among the souls of the dead in Hadees. "Now that he ascended, what is it but that he descended first into the lower parts of the earth:" Eph. 4: 9. "As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of man [as a disembodied soul] be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth:" Matt. 12: 40. "Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? That is, to bring Christ down from above. Or, who shall descend into the deep? [‘bottomless pit,’ Greek,] that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead:" Rom. 10: 7. He was then among the dead [in Hades], and the 88th Psalm is descriptive of his lot while there. "Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps."
When the soul of Jesus descended into Hadees, there was an earthquake; and when He ascended out of it, earth shook again: (Matt. 27: 51-52; 28: 2.) It was so foretold. "The sorrows of Hadees compassed me about; the snares of Death prevented me. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry came before Him, even into his ears. Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken:" Psa. 18: 5-7.
While there, as a disembodied spirit [soul] He preached to those who were also disembodied, to the angels who offended in Noah’s day by leaving their own government and habitation to dwell with men. * "For Christ also once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death indeed in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit. In which he went and preached even to the spirits** in prison, which once were disobedient when the long-suffering of God was waiting in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing." (Greek.) (1 Peter 3: 18-20.) What was the effect of this? "For this cause was the gospel preached even to persons dead, that they might be judged as men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit." (4: 6.) Here then are two testimonies to the conscious existence not of Jesus alone, but of other departed spirits. But we have other witness. "For if God spared not the angels *** that sinned, but cast them into Tartarus, and delivered them over to chains [Alford translates from the better reading, - "to dens of darkness."] of darkness, reserved unto judgment, and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person," etc. (2 Peter 2: 4, 5.) (Greek.) Again, "And the angels which kept not their own government, **** but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in perpetual chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day." (Jude 6.) (Greek.) Here is clear proof against the Christadelphians of the conscious existence of departed spirits, and of the punishment of offenders after death, and before resurrection.
[* See my tract, "The Spirits in Prison," In which I have, I think, refuted the usual gloss.
[** The ‘spirits in prison’ may have reference to the ‘Nephilim’ or ‘Giants’ (Gen. 6: 4). That is, the offspring from sexual intercourse between angels and the “the daughters of men”.]
*** No article. There is more than one company of sinning angels.
**** Never, "first estate." Principatum, Vulgate.]
From among the dead, not merely from death, Jesus rose. "The first-born from the dead:" Col. 1: 18; Rev. 1: 5. "The God of peace brought again (or up) from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the Sheep:" Heb. 13: 20. "For to this end Christ both died and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living:" Rom. 14: 9. Then the dead exist after death, as surely as did Christ.
But our proof attains its fulness in the argument of Peter at the descent of the Holy Ghost. On that memorable occasion, Peter brings before the assembled Jews their sin in putting to death Jesus, so marvellously accredited to them by signs and wonders. But says he, God for Him "hath loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be holden of it. For David speaketh concerning him ... My flesh shall rest in hope, because thou wilt not leave my soul in Hadees, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." (Greek.) He then proceeds to give the proof that these words belonged not to David, but to David’s Son, Jesus. ‘They cannot apply, he [Peter] says, to David; for David’s soul and body both followed the usual track. His body corrupted in the sepulchre; his soul descended into Hadees, and has been detained there ever since. But he of whom these things were spoken, was not to see corruption in His body, nor was His soul to be detained in the place of departed spirits [souls]. These two things both meet in Jesus. His body rose the third day, for His soul then ascended out of Hadees, and [His spirit returned and] reanimated it. Hence it is clear that He is the Holy One of God, the Christ, the fulfiller of the Psalm [at this present time, for the ‘First Resurrection’ has not yet come]. (Acts 2.) From this passage and from the argument, it is clear that souls exist after death, and that they go not to heaven, but to Hadees. "For David is not ascended into the heavens." (verse 34.) And if David has not, others have not. Thus the Christadelphian tenets [and multitudes of regenerate believers]* are shown to be contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture.
[* Hence the urgent need for regenerate believers “to attain (‘gain by effort’) the resurrection out from the dead” (Phil. 3: 11). If we fail in our efforts to be ‘counted worthy’ of rising out from amongst the dead in Hades at this time, we will have to remain there for another ‘age’. That is, for another 1,000 years. Luke 20: 35; Rev. 20: 4, 5.]
5. WE HAVE ALSO EXAMPLES OF THE SPIRITS [SOULS] OF THE DEAD COMING FORTH FROM HADEES.
Let us take first the well-known interview between Saul and Samuel at Endor. (1
Sam. 28.) Samuel had died,
and been buried by all
The king inquires, "What form is he of?" And she said, "An old man cometh up, and he is covered with a mantle." This was a correct description, doubtless, of Samuel, as he appeared ere his death. But at this point, objection comes in. ‘The king, it appears, never saw the pretended apparition: it is the woman alone who professes to behold it, and the king believes the word of an impostor.’ Now this is not granted: It is indeed contrary to what follows. "AND SAUL PERCEIVED THAT IT WAS SAMUEL, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself." The original is stronger. "Saul knew that it was Samuel." Would he bow himself, save at the presence of one whom he saw?
It is true that the woman saw the spectre first: and this would be accounted for, if we suppose that the scene of the apparition was in a deep cave, or at the edge of a pit, to which the woman went apart, while the king and his companions were a few paces from it. Here may be introduced a note from Professor Porter’s "Giant Cities of Bashan,"
"In the ruddy morning twilight, I rode across the beautiful plain to Endor. It was a poor village of some twenty houses, perched on the bleak side of Moreh, about two hundred yards above the plain. The rocks around it are pierced with caves - some natural, some artificial, as if the old inhabitants had been troglodytes. Above the village is one larger that the rest, the entrance to which is between high rocks, and is partly covered by the branches of a fig tree. Within it is a fountain called Ain Dor, ‘the fountain of Dor,’ which doubtless gave its name to the ancient as well as the modern village. Entering this gloomy grotto, and looking round on its dark riven sides, I felt how suitable such a spot would be for the interview between Saul and the witch." - p. 247.
We proceed with the story.
"And Samuel said unto Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me to bring me up?" Here the Holy Spirit asserts that the speaker was Samuel. He informs us incidentally, that before this, Samuel was below in the earth, and at peace: but that his being called was to him an annoyance, and trouble. Samuel discerns who it is had procured him this disquiet, and at once taxes the king with it, passing by the witch as simply the king’s servant in the matter. Saul replies, that it was his sore distress which had driven him to this course; that in vain he attempted to obtain a reply from God; he wished therefore to learn from the prophet what was to be done? "Then said SAMUEL, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the Lord is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?"*
[* Why did the ‘Lord’ become Saul’s ‘enemy’? Because of his disobedience; because he feared man more than he feared disobeying God: and was Saul’s behaviour not typical of that by many of God’s redeemed people today? For there are some who know these truths, yet they refuse to disclose them to others for the fear of man: “For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought into the open,” (Mark 4: 22); for fear of the consequences which may arise from these truths; and for fear of losing acquaintances within their little denominational circle of believers. And what are the consequences of continual disobedience amongst the redeemed people of God? The Holy Spirit leaving them to their own devices; and their spiritual condition beginning to deteriorate. Only repentance and restoration can stop the backsliding from developing into open apostasy, and the loss of the inheritance in the millennial kingdom. And the opportunity for repentance and restoration may not always occur during this life! (Acts 5:1-11; 2 Tim. 4: 1, 3, 4; John 15: 6; Acts 5: 32; Rev. 3: 1-3.)]
"And the Lord hath done to thee* as he spake to me: for the Lord
hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour,
even to David: because thou obeyest not the
voice of the Lord, nor executedst His fierce
wrath upon Amelek, therefore hath the Lord done this thing
to thee this day. Moreover the Lord will also deliver
[* The reading "to him" is certainly the mistake of a transcriber. Five Hebrew MSS., the Greek, and the Vulgate read "to thee."]
is all in the strictest keeping with the view that it was really the spirit [soul] of the
prophet that spoke. Such a stern answer
would not be likely to proceed from a woman who knew she was addressing the
king, and might find her account in imposing on him. Who
but a true prophet could foretell clearly and so truly so many points? - the battle on the next day, and its disastrous issue, not
From those words, "Thou and thy sons shall be with me to-morrow." We learn that the spirit [soul] of man on leaving the body, at once goes down into Hadees, the great receptacle which encloses alike the souls of the righteous and of the wicked.* They are so near, that they can converse; so far off, that they cannot visit one another.
[* But who are the ‘wicked’? Are unregenerate people only described as such? or are there regenerate believers amongst them? Once again we must turn to the inspired Word to answer the questions:- “You wicked servant … I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you? In anger his master turned him over to the jailers until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat EACH OF YOU unless you forgive your brother from your heart:” (Matt. 18: 32-35). And again: “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: a man has his father’s wife” … “I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler.” … “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?” … “Expell the WICKED man from among you.” (1 Cor. 5: 1, 9-12).]
If we will hear what Scripture says, we shall soon be decided who made his appearance on this occasion. First, the inspired writer drops no hint of the appearing of any one but Samuel. Secondly, five times over he asserts that it was Samuel.
(1.) "The woman saw Samuel." verse 12.
(2.) "Saul knew that it was Samuel." verse 14.
(3.) "And Samuel said unto Saul." verse 15.
(4.) "Then said Samuel." verse 16.
(5.) "Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth ... because of the words of Samuel." verse 20.
Herein we have several confirmations of truths before stated. "Samuel was dead, and all
this only our modern interpretation of the story? Nothing of the kind.
1. Joesphus the Jew, and the writer of Ecclesiasticus, held the same view. (Joseph.
2. Moreover, the Book of Revelation tells us, that earth’s darkest day has yet to come, when to Satan shall be given the key of the bottomless pit, (9: 1, 3,) and out of it shall come forth as his king, [antichrist] one who was formerly an emperor of Rome, but is now in the bottomless pit, and thereafter is to be cast into the lake of fire eternal. (17: 7-11.) It describes to us the world’s wonder when this awful one reappears on earth. For a king is slain with a sword, and yet recovers from the wound of death; whereupon he blasphemes God, and all men but the elect worship him. (13: 3-8.) But after his brief reign of three years and a half he is seized, and for ever imprisoned in the lake of fire and brimstone. (19: 20; 20: 10.)
Deliverance of the soul from Hadees is the expectation of the Psalmist for God’s people; while the ungodly are left there during the first resurrection.
Of the wicked the Psalmist says, "Like sheep they are laid in Hadees: death shall feed on them, and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning." "But God will redeem my soul from the power of Hadees; for He shall receive me." The souls then, both of the good and evil, exist still in the place appointed. (Psa. 49: 14, 15; 86: 13.) "O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from Hadees: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down into the pit:" Psa. 30: 3, 4.
This conducts us to the last point to be observed.
6. THE SOULS OF THE RIGHTEOUS AND OF THE WICKED EXIST FOR EVER WHEN RESTORED TO THEIR BODIES, BEFORE OR AFTER THE APPEARING OF THE LORD JESUS.
"Depart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels." "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life everlasting." (Greek.) (Matt. 25: 41-46.) If you affirm that the punishment of the wicked is only for a time, I affirm that the joys of the saved are also only for a time. The same word describes both. What can it be but manifest prejudice of the heard swaying the scales, that would make the glory of the saved eternal, but the woe of the lost temporal?
Of the Sodomites Jude says, they are "suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." (7.) Of the holy, that they are to be "looking for the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." (21.) If these last words mean a proper eternity, must not the eternal fire of the previous verse mean a proper eternity likewise? The word in the Greek is the same in both places. It is used twice by the same author in the same epistle. "Our light affliction ... worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory:" 2 Cor. 4: 17. "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord:" 2 Thess. 1: 9. Can it be anything but unbelief to tell us, that proper eternity is intended in the first case, not so in the second? But in vain is evidence spread before the eyes of those who determine that they would rather disbelieve God than receive this truth.
That the glory of the saved is eternal, is proved in the strongest manner by comparing it with a passage which describes the temporary bliss of some [of the saved]. "They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years:" Rev. 20: 4. But after the thousand years had expired, we read of the risen generally. "They shall reign for ever and ever:" 22: 5. Here is eternal duration as strongly expressed as possible. But the same difference between temporary and eternal punishment is made in the same book. An angel casts Satan into the bottomless pit, and "binds him a thousand years:" 20: 2. After those are expired, he comes forth unchanged in wickedness, and again deceives millions to their destruction. He is henceforward not committed to his previous place of custody; but to a new and worse one, which he is to tenant for ever. "The devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the Beast and the False Prophet are, and SHALL BE TORMENTED DAY AND NIGHT FOR EVER AND EVER:" 20: 10. The False Christ and the False Prophet here named are two who have formerly lived on earth as men; but by God’s permission they come forth again out of the bottomless pit. Though they have experienced the terrors of God’s wrath below, yet on their being respited, they proceed on a course of greater wickedness than any before them; congregating men to fight against Christ at His return. Then they are seized, and "these both were cast alive into the lake of fire, burning with brimstone:" 19: 20. At the end of the thousand years, they are found still in that place of torment, and we are informed that they are to abide there "for ever and ever." The same is the lot of all those who shall receive the false Christ when he appears, and shall worship him as their God. "The third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God which is poured without mixture in the cup of His indignation: and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up FOR EVER AND EVER: and they have no rest day nor night who worship the Beast (Antichrist) and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name:" 14: 8-11.
But Nr. Roberts will remind me, that all this is taken from that book so full of symbols - the Apocalypse! "If apocalyptic torment for ever and ever is literal, then the Beast, the Woman with the golden cup, the Lamb with seven horns and eyes, are literal also. Is the orthodox believer prepared for this?" Lectures 73.
No he is not: and he smiles at the weakness of the argument presented. Will Mr. R. prove first, that the Apocalypse is a book of symbols? And secondly, that if in any book some parts are symbolic, the whole is so: and that if in any book some parts are literal, the whole is so? Till he does that, his argument is dead.
The Apocalypse is not a book of symbols, for God calls it "the taking off a veil."* Now if it were a book of symbols, it would be putting on a veil of mystery. That there are emblems in it is true, but most of them are explained: and it is on the explanatory parts that we rest our belief of these things.
[* ‘Apocalypse’ in Greek signifies that.]
But our proofs do not depend on this book alone. Jesus declares that the person who blasphemes the Holy Ghost shall never be forgiven. Matt. 12: 31. "He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: because they said he hath an unclean spirit:" Mark 3: 29, 30. Of the false teachers of the latter day, Peter says, "To whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever:" 2 Peter 2: 17. And Jude confirms it. "They are wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever:" 13. Of sinners whom Jesus shall find on earth at His return we read, "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord:" 2 Thess. 1: 9.
It is true that Mr. R. claims this passage as if it made for his views; for he assumes that destruction means annihilation. Deny that, and the force of the passage is on our side. As I have shown above, ‘to destroy’ means only to ruin the well-being of a thing, not its being. "The wine runneth out and the bottles [wineskins] perish:" Matt. 9: 17. Does that mean that the bottles [wineskins] are annihilated? Nay, only that their use ceases. Some of them tempted, "and were destroyed of serpents:" 1 Cor. 10: 9. Were their bodies annihilated?
name of the eternal place of woe for the lost - which is what is meant by
‘hell’ [‘the lake of fire’] - is called in Scriptures GEHENNA. Its title arose out of the valley of the sons
of Hinnom, near
The Gehenna of the gospels then, and the lake of fire of the Apocalypse, both speak of the same place. It is the second (or eternal) Death. With it God threatens sinners generally. "The fearfull, (cowardly) and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstoine; which is the Second Death." Rev. 21: 8.
Out of this testimony of God, there is no escape. Say that "everlasting destruction," means annihilation; still there is the warning of "everlasting punishment." Plead that annihilation, as lasting for ever, is everlasting punishment; still you are met by the threats of "everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels;" you are told of eternal fire already begun to be inflicted on the Sodomites. You read of all this outside ‘that symbolic book, the Aspocalypse.’ But the witness of that is awfully confirmatory. There we find temporary punishment inflicted unavailingly; and the scene closes with the everlasting lake of fire. "They shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever." This is the portion of those cast into "the Second Death - the lake of fire."
My argument is ended. If I mistake not, I have shown by many scripture proof, that the soul is the man; that the body is merely the house in which the spirit dwells; that the soul when it leaves the body is still conscious, and departs to a place prepared for souls till the resurrection, whether to be among the righteous in Paradise, or among the wicked in Death and destruction; that Jesus’ soul at death entered Hadees, and in resurrection came fourth thence; and that the souls and bodies of the risen righteous, and of the risen wicked, will exist after the resurrection for ever; the one in the city of God, the other in the lake of fire, or hell.
Solemn tidings! May sinners hear and fear! May the Lord awaken Christadelphians [and Christians] to listen to the testimony of God, that they may give up their unbelief [in the intermediate place and state of the soul after death and before resurrection]!
THE HOLY SPIRIT.
The denial of one truth of God’s Word leads to the denial of other truths with which it stands linked. As Christadelphians deny the personality of the Good Spirit of God, they deny also the personality of the Evil Spirit or Satan. The Old Testament teaches us concerning both; the New Testament gives clear light on both. With greater discoveries concerning God’s [Holy] Spirit, we obtain clearer testimony concerning Satan also. They are the great antagonists counter-working one another on the world’s battle-field. My present paper will treat of Christadelphian views concerning the Holy Spirit; and then refute them by Scripture. Very strange and awful are Christadelphian doctrines concerning the Godhead.
‘God is (according to them) a material being residing at an unknown but local centre.’ Lectures, p. 113. "Deity is a being of tangible existence," (115.) ‘In Him are assembled light, heat, electricity, colour, substance, not in disarray, but orderly, marshalled, and grouped under necessary law.’ (p. 116.) ‘The chief of these material agents is electricity, which is "omnipotent in its operations." (30.) When it is said the "God is a Spirit," And Spirit means electricity! Take Mr. Roberts’ own words, "Different elements and substances, are but different forms of the same eternal essence or first cause, described in the Bible as spirit, and in scientific language as electricity." (m.i., p. 31.)
We only wish to know how concentrated and stratified light, heat, colour, substance, electricity, make a person? And how they came to be eternal? And who gave them the laws by which they are arranged? When we have marshalled these elements, have we produced intellect? Have we MANUFACTURED God? "Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes. Now consider this ye that forget God, lest I tear you to pieces, and there be none to deliver:" Psa.50: 21, 22.
The question, too, arises, - How if God be in the centre of infinite space, can He be omnipresent? Or how can infinite space have a centre? Mr. Roberts replies, ‘As to His omnipresence, that only means that his spirit - which is electricity - flows from Him everywhere, and by this medium, God knows what is going on at the farthest distances; by it He carries out His will, and out of it were all things formed at first.’ (114, 117.)
The Spirit of God is matter, - as was proved, he thinks, at Pentecost, by the mighty rushing wind. (31.) Common spirit is possessed by animals: men, even the wicked, possess it. Common spirit differs from holy spirit, not in its essence, but in its employ. "Spirit, concentrated under the Almighty’s will, becomes holy spirit, as distinct from spirit in its free spontaneous form." (m.i., p. 120.)
If the reader would see Mr. Roberts’ Trinity - here it is. “Son has His origin in the creature fiat of the Almighty, as Adam had; the Holy Ghost is the focalization of His will-power by means of His ‘free spirit,’ which fills heaven and earth." (130.) "The Spirit is the universal power-principle of creation." (119.) “The Holy Spirit is not a person; but the vehicular effluence of the Father." ("The Record," p. 30.)
Thus God may be compared to the spider seated at the centre of its web. By the trembling of these long filaments, the spider knows when the fly touches it: so God, by the movements of the spirit (or electricity,) knows what is going on at the farthest star. And as the web came from the spider; but is not the spider itself; so holy spirit is created by the Father; but is not God.
Having now stated some of the blasphemy of their scheme, let me, with the sword of the Spirit, transpierce this deadly deceit of Satan: for Christianity it is not. I will announce a few propositions antagonistic to the Christadelphian views, supporting them by New Testament proofs.
1. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A PERSON.
What do we mean by a person? - A living intelligence, as opposed to things not possessed of life or reason. Then the Holy Spirit is possessed of intelligence, of will, and of affections. He can be tempted, blasphemed, sinned against. One of the books of the New Testament is filled with notices of His actings of power and wisdom. (The Acts.)
(1.) He is possessed of a will. "Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatis, and were forbidden of (by) the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not:" Acts 16: 6, 7. "All these (gifts) worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will:" 1 Cor. 12: 11.
(2.) He has affections. "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption: Eph. 4: 30. "How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord?" Acts 5: 9.
(3.) He is possessed of intelligence and power. "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spitit itself maketh intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind if the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God:" Rom. 8: 26, 27.
"God hath revealed them (our blessings) to us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knowth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man (none), but the Spirit of God:" 1 Cor. 2: 10,11. "The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet manifest:" Heb. 9: 8. To Him a number of personal titles are given: He is a Teacher, (Luke 12: 12; John 14: 8-11;) a Witness, (Acts 5: 32; Heb. 10: 15; 1 John 5: 6; Rev. 2: 7;) a Comforter as truly as Christ, (John 14: 16, 26; 15: 26; 16: 7;) a Guide (John 16: 13; Gal. 5: 18.)
3. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS GOD.
He is associated with the Father and the Son, in the solemn act of baptismal worship: Matt. 28: 18. He dwells in the believer’s body, and in the church, as the God of the temple dwelt of old in the temple: 1 Cor. 6: 19; 3: 16, 17.
"That which is born of the Spirit is spirit:" John 3: 6. "Whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the world." "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest:" Matt. 9: 38. "So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost:" Acts 13: 4.
"The temple of God is holy:" 1 Cor. 3: 16. "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the HOLY GHOST?" 1 Cor. 6: 19.
"Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God:" Matt. 4: 7. "How is it that ye have agreed to tempt the Spirit of the Lord?" Acts 5: 6.
Our Saviour departing from earth, assured His disciples that it was better for them that thus it should be, for if He departed He would send the Holy Spirit, as a Guide, Comforter, Teacher, Convincer of Sin. Did Jesus mean no more than that a fresh store of electricity should descend from heaven?
Holy Spirit comes down, as foretold, and the Acts of the Apostles is the record
of the marvellous results that followed.
We see His power in
giving life to the soul dead in sins. He gives being to the new body, the
Spirit of God is peculiar to [obedient] believers: the world refuses Him: 1 Cor. 2: 12;
Mr. Roberts says, that the Spirit is not now manifested as in apostolic times. But, as the lawyers say, ‘If not, why not?’ Is there less of light, heat, and electricity, than of old? Are not the laws of electricity better understood? Was the electrical machine known of old? If the Spirit of God be only electricity, the electrician ought to be a greater man than the prophet. He who stands on an insulting stool with glass legs, ought to be inspired. He who is full of spirit, that every touch draws out some in the form of sparks.
Alas! For such awful tampering with the glory of the Godhead!
Let none look on this subject as one of little moment. I would clearly entreat Christadelephians, or those in danger of being led astray by their publications, to pause here. The doctrine taught by the leaders of this sect, is, if not the unpardonable sin, something close upon the verge of it. The unpardonable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Ghost - a deliberate insult in works against that Divine Person. So says the Scripture: "All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; BUT THE BLASPHEMY AGAINST THE HOLY GHOST SHALL NOT BE FORGIVEN UNTO MEN. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world (age) nor in the world (age) to come:" Matt. 12: 31, 32. And again, "Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherein soever they shall blaspheme: but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation; because they said, He hath an unclean spirit:" Mark 3: 28-30.
It is true, that Christadelephians do not go so far as to say that the Holy Ghost is an unclean spirit. But they do speak against Him in denying Him personal intelligence, and making Him created matter.
Peter felt very doubtful, whether Simon the magician of
Was Simon’s insult, in supposing it possible to buy the power of bestowing the Holy Ghost, greater than the Christadelephians’, in asserting and printing the doctrine, that the Spirit is electricity?
As surely as the Father and the Son of God are persons, so surely is the [Holy] Spirit a person also. For provoking Him by their prevarications, Ananias and Sapphira were struck with instant death. And the Son of God guards with peculiar sacredness the glory of the [Holy] Spirit. Verbal insult against the Father and the Son may be forgiven; but once committed against the [Holy] Spirit of God, there is no repentance on man’s part; no forgiveness on God’s! Tremble, Christadelphians, I beseech you, at your close approach to this precipice! Turn back! It is a friendly voice that warns you!
"He that despised Moses’ law, died without mercy under two or three witnesses. Of how much sorer punishment suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified,* an unclean thing, and hath done despite unto (hath insulted) the Spirit of grace?" For such "there remains no more sacrifice for sins; but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and of fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries:" Heb. 10: 26-29.
[* Christians beware, if we sin wilfully, “after we have received the knowledge of the truth,” we must then face “a certain fearful looking for judgment”: for “the Lord will judge His people.”].