<< LECTURE V: Judgment, Individual and General >>
It is appointed unto men once to die,
but after this the judgment.—Heb. ix. 27.
Now is the judgment of this world;
now shall the prince of this world be cast out.–John xii. 31.
PRAYER BEFORE THE LECTURE.
O Lord, our adorable Savior and Judge, to whom our hearts and works are known, be present, inspire, and guide all our deliberations. Without Thee we can know nothing true, and do nothing good. Be within us, Gracious Lord, the hope of glory, the light of faith, and the strength of virtue. From Thy Divine love, create in us the love of Thy commandments. Make our affections flee from the love of self, and every evil motive; and as Thou Thyself wilt try the heart and reins of all Thy children, prepare us to stand in Thy sight, O Thou Most Holy, and hear Thy gracious words to each of us, Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.
These mercies we ask, Lord Jesus, in Thy own sacred name, and for Thy loving-kindness sake.
THE subject appointed for our consideration tonight is that of Judgment–first individual, and then general–including replies to the important questions, When is man judged? and, Where is man judged?
Before passing to our main topic, however, allow me just to make a remark or two in relation to another which has been introduced by a friend, who kindly offered his arguments on the Resurrection the other evening, and more at large on Sunday evening last, who has also presented us with them in a printed form. I wish just to say a word or two to one who has felt it his duty to stand up for what he believes to be the truth of God, and is on that account worthy of all respect. I shall not divert you from the argument of this evening any more than is necessary, not only because it would be unprofitable to do so, but also because I had the advantage of the arguments offered by our friend, in sufficient time to write out a short reply to them, without mentioning his name; for we are of those who believe that charity and love are greater than ideas, or even than truth. And sometimes a gentleman is hurt by the use of his name; particularly if attached to what turns out to be a very poor argument. The cause of truth obtains nothing from personalities. You will have our friends arguments presented in his sermon for a penny; you will have the way in which we regard those arguments in a sort of nut-shell condition, for half the sun. And perhaps you will have the goodness to compare them together and to prove all things, and hold fast that which is good. There is one additional remark which I deem it necessary to make, and that is in relation to what our friend, in the early part of his discourse, was tempted to name the sophistical manner in which the arguments we had offered were presented to the public.
Now, I wish to assure our friend that although the arguments may appear to him to be unsound, they are sincere. He has a perfect right to have his own opinion upon that subject–but every other person has the same right. The humblest man amongst us has a right as a Protestant, and especially all who think with my friend, as Dissenters,–must grant that others have a right to their opinion; to hold that which seems to them the true; to hold it firm and fast because it is the truth. And God speed all in the use of this right: long may they be enabled by its use to become free, thoughtful, rational Christians. But, as the same time, allow me to remind our friend and others, that we also claim the same right. (Applause.) We, too, are Protestants; we, too, claim the privilege of holding our opinions, of presenting our arguments, of delivering them to others, as we find we have opportunity. We also hold that we ought to use this privilege, not only as a right, but a right to be used charitably. We suppose that others in advocating their views also as sincere as we are; but we beg others to believe that WE ARE SINCERE AS THEY ARE (Applause). Our salvation is as dear to us as their salvation is to them. We believe our salvation will be obtained only by the truth; and if any one can point out to us that either arguments or statements which we rely upon are not true, we give them up immediately. But when a person, not satisfied with his success in argument, insinuates that we are not sincere–that we are sophistical; that we are trying to make a thing which we know to be false appeal to be true, we say, as our Lord says, Judge not, that ye be not judged. By his own master must every man stand or fall I hope the hint thus given will prevent my friend in future, however unsatisfactory he may contend our arguments are, from assuming the place of judge, for which no mortal is fitted, and pronouncing them sophistical.
Let us now advance to the consideration of the great theme before us; and, first of all, to the judgment of each individual, which takes place with every man, as we conceive, immediately after death.
Here allow me to observe upon the treatment which reason obtains from Old Church advocates which, although not exclusively connected with the subject before us, is very commonly manifested, and which I find in the sermon to which I have slightly adverted. When any one undertakes to show that one of the common doctrines is unreasonable–although we generally find that people are exceedingly glad to make use of reason whenever it can be got to be on their side yet, when a doctrine is found to be unreasonable, and the person who holds it cannot show that it is not so, it is a very common thing for him to begin to hold forth about mysteries which he declares are above mans comprehension, and to say that they are too high for reason–that they appear to us to be contradictory–but, in some mysterious way, they are, nevertheless, true, because they are great mysteries. Why, this argument is REASONING. They are reasoning when they tell us not to reason. For such arguments we have no respect. We venerate no mans nonsense because he calls it a mystery, and asserts that it is above our reason. Mysteries–true mysteries–God’s mysteries, are not things that are contradictory, or that can be shown to be contradictory. They are hidden wisdom; they are deeper truths than usual; they are things that you are invited to think about, not to shun; and when by meditation you understand them–when you behold their real nature and character, you will find that they are always grander wisdom than any other of God’s lessons. The mysteries of God are not contradictory, but are higher disclosures of holy wisdom. It is man-made mysteries that are contradictory. Mysteries in religion are what the apostle Paul speaks of when he says, Though I have the gift of prophecy, and UNDERSTAND all mysteries, and have not charity, I am nothing. Divine mysteries are such as can be understood, if a man will apply himself to them, and go on seeking the truth till the truth opens upon him in all its harmony and glory.
It is given to you to KNOW the mysteries or the kingdom of heaven, said the Lord Jesus. The apostle Paul says, Howbeit we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world.–1 Cor. ii. 7; thus teaching that the mystery of God is hidden wisdom. Again, he says, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ; which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, but is NOW REVEALED unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.–Eph. iii. 4, 5; thus informing us that what had formerly been a mystery, was now revealed. And once more, he says, And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ (the Word made flesh) to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.–Eph. iii. 9, 10. Here that which had been a mystery when hid, was, when discovered, the manifold wisdom of God. Such are all Divine mysteries. Contradictions are only human mysteries, and are, strictly speaking, only pious frauds.
And when a person tells me something that I see to be utterly irrational–which amounts to this, that a thing is and is NOT at the same time–when a person tells me that in a certain matter three times one make one–when a person tells me that a bit of bread, which he has got from a bakers shop, or made himself, is the great God who fills heaven and earth–when a person tells me that the same body which is buried will be raised, but it wont be the same, it will be spiritual–when it is said these and similar things must be believed, however contradictory, because they are mysteries above our reason, I say, excuse me, they are not above reason in the least; they are far below and contrary to reason.
All truth will be found to come out right when tried in a threefold manner. Three classes of truth all come from God. All truths will he found right if tried by Scripture; they will be found right if tried by reason; they will be right if tried by science. Reason, Scripture, and science all come from God, and in Him harmonize; and they must harmonize if we get them right from Him. Therefore, if a man tells me that he has something that is very spiritual and sublime, but is unreasonable and unscientific, I know he is mistaken: it does not stand the threefold test. But a man will say, perhaps, the Scripture says so and so although no man can truly say the Scripture teaches that dead bodies shall rise. We may draw inferences from the letter of the sacred Scriptures because there is what is called the letter that killeth, as well as the spirit that giveth life. And if a man take some portion of the sacred Scriptures, and use it without reference to their spirit and life, he may prove many things most absurd. The question is not what the Scripture says only, but what it means. That is the question to be settled. When God gives us Scripture, He not only tells us to read, but He says, Understandest thou what thou readest? And if we do not understand, and understand each new truth in harmony with all other truths which we know, we are reading without profit. Hear, again, what He says–When any one heareth the word of the kingdom and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. Those things that are brought forth under the pretense of being great mysteries, but which persons cannot understand, depend upon it are not from God; they are something man-made. God says, Come and let us reason together.–Isa. i. 18; and when you have got God’s idea, you will find that it is reasonable, it is scientific, and it is scriptural. Thus it comes out with the threefold test by which all doctrine should be tried. Take this idea with you, and you will find you have a light opening upon you as to the mode in which you should treat the sacred Scriptures. You will never have to tell people that a view is scriptural but not rational. If it is really found out to be not rational, or not scientific, it is not because the Scriptures are wrong, but because mans interpretation of them has been mistaken.
Well, thus prove all things; and how can a person prove all things when he does not use his reason, and hold fast that which is good?
We come now, then, to the immediate subject of tonight–individual judgment. This is the first idea to which this evening we wish to call your attention. What we have already said about sound reason and rational science being in harmony with true religion and with the Word of God, when it is lightly understood, belongs to this subject as well as to every other. I have no doubt but that all my respected hearers have oftentimes been told that there is to be a day at some future distant time, when all persons are to be judged; when the Savior of the world is to come for judgment in the outward clouds of the air. It used to be said that it was to be in the valley of Jehoshaphat, a small valley near to Jerusalem, and that the myriads of human beings who had lived from the beginning of the world up to that period were to be collected in that place, and were there all to be judged. When the judgment was over, the world in which we live was to be burnt up, and all the starry bodies were to partake in the annihilation. But what was to follow after was never very clearly stated. Some thought there was to be another earth and another sky in which the redeemed were to live. Now, notwithstanding you lave been told this, and it has been the constant doctrine, very likely preached to most of you for a long time and from which you would conclude that there was to be no going to heaven or going to hell before the judgment was over, because people were not to he tried until that time. If any went to heaven before, it must be that either they would go on speculation, or else there was somehow to be a trial before; yet it has quite as much been generally preached and supposed that people go to heaven or to hell when they died also. But this is just the sort of thing which we have pointed out in relation to other doctrines.
There is to be a grand trial when the world comes to its end but nevertheless people are to go to heaven and hell when they die besides. If they are judged as soon as they die, and go to heaven directly, what then is the use of that judgment some thousands of years to come? What is the necessity for it? They are judged already, according as we teach and you admit; and why, then, after they have been thousands of years in heaven, and others thousands of years in hell, are they to be brought up, and a form of trial to be gone through? The two things are inconsistent. Can it be to ascertain whether they ought to have been there or not? It is irreverent to think so. Every person surely goes to heaven who ought to go there, and every person goes to hell that ought to go there, and that soon after death. Does it not, then, seem unreasonable to bring them from their everlasting abodes some thousands of years after, and try them over again? Put these two things together, and does the idea, look reasonable? Is it a rational doctrine? Are we to be told that this is a great mystery too, and quite above our reason? Are we again to be told we must not inquire into it because it is a great mystery? But this is precisely in the same category with every other of those dark doctrines which were really hatched in times of ignorance and darkness. Let us then inquire, not only what the Scriptures say, but whether the Scriptures mean what persons who have got their doctrine through the dark ages saw. Are there really no higher, no brighter views than those which have been handed to us through the dark ages of a dark and fallen church, in which, for superstitions sake, all mysteries were cherished? We believe that better may be had at the present time. We have no reverence for anything because it was professed five hundred or a thousand years ago. If age is the only claim it has, except that persons with great names, in those days of pride and selfishness, held such doctrines. We have not the slightest reverence for them on these accounts. If they had good reasons for holding their doctrines, we ask, What were their reasons? Give us the reasons; never mind the names.
If the thing is right, we hold to it for that reason; if the thing is wrong and pernicious–if it tends to make us such-like Christians only as those men, called Christians, were, a thousand or even three hundred years ago, we shall be content to go without their doctrines and their light. The church of those times was a stupid, absurd, dark, persecuting, vicious church, and the less we go back to it the better. We must go on. Churches never go back. God never goes back in nature or in spirit. We are not to go back to Judaism, nor to the dark ages of Christianity. God has promised that there will come a time in which a new city–a city of heavenly gold, and clear as crystal–will come down from Him, in which principles will be revealed that will make religion clear. The time cometh when I shall show you plainly of the Father–John xvi. 25. There will be a time in which religion will be found to be such that men shall know the Lord all over the earth. The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. And we say to men, go on; dont go back, neither to the old mummery of three hundred, or seven hundred, or fifteen hundred years ago; but look up to the living God of this age. Look to Him as your Divine teacher; let His word harmoniously teach you, and then you will find that sound religion, sound rationality, and sound science all go hand in hand together. They all come from the same God, and all alike tend to make us noble-minded men.
Well, we have named the inconsistency which comes out in this notion of having two judgments–two general judgments; first of all letting persons go some to heaven and others to hell, and then trying them thousands of years after, to ascertain whether they ought to have gone to their several places or not. We must surely see this as a subject which requires a little more light. Then we come to the notion about there being a last day for this outward universe, in which the stars are to fall from heaven, and then come down to the earth–although there are millions of suns and worlds, as it is now known: and even one of our planets, Jupiter, is as large as nine hundred earths, if they were all rolled into one. I say, although persons have had this notion, whatever becomes of it; we are certain that the doctrine of the sacred Scriptures is that each persons probation is finished when he has worked out his salvation, or refused his salvation, at the end of his life in the world. That is his last day–the individual last day; and Christ raises him up at his last day, to enter, if he be prepared for heaven, into the abodes of the blessed. Jesus says, I am the resurrection and the life; not I shall be thousands of years hence, but I am. And every person who puts off his earthly covering is drawn by the spirit of Jesus into the eternal world, and there associated with his own heaven, if he is prepared for heaven, if not, not. And I, He says, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.
This is the doctrine of the sacred Scriptures throughout. Any one who reads our Lord’s words in relation to death at any time, will find that mans final state is then realized. Behold! He says, I COME QUICKLY, and my reward is with me: not, behold, you are to wait for thousands of years: Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give every many as his work shall be.–Rev. xxii. 12. Again, says the same Divine Teacher, when He is likening men to the laborers in a vineyard, When even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith onto his steward, Call the laborers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first—Matt. xxi. 8. He does not say that the day was closed then; but there was an immense gap yet to be passed, for no purpose–a sort of half-existence, in which, unless they have what my friend calls in his sermon that indefinable body, the spiritual body, we know not what they are. Our friend has not given much attention to spiritual bodies and spiritual things, evidently; and therefore he regards the spiritual body as an indefinable body. There is nothing more indefinable about it, however, than about the natural body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
A body is an external, fitted to the world in which it lives. The body which is fitted to this natural world, is a natural body; the body that is fitted to the other world is a spiritual body. It is quite as easy to understand one as it is to understand the other; and when the spiritual body which we have now is regenerated, the Apostle says, God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body,when this spiritual body has been wrought out, has been made beautiful by the reception of angelic principles, it stands forth in angelic loveliness. This is taught in the sacred Scriptures. The Psalmist says, I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness; not satisfied when he awakes, having no shape, or awakes at some enormously distant period, in his old body, in the Lord’s likeness; but when he awakes, having gone asleep in time, when he awakes in eternity, with the beauty of the Lord his God upon him, he will be satisfied, he will have every wish fulfilled, a fullness of joy. We cannot suppose that those saints that have gone before us are unsatisfied because they have not got that earthly shell they have left behind them that they are lingering and hoping and wishing that these shall be brought up. I have looked through the mummies of three or four thousand years ago, which are to be seen in the Egyptian Galleries of the British Museum–those miserable masses of filth and corruption and thought of a glorious angel like the one which spoke to St. John who was so magnificent that the Apostle was about to adore him, but was told he must not do it, for he was one of his brethren and I have asked myself, Can it take anything from the glory of such a blessed one to be without this mass that is here? Let those miserable men who love their bodies so well as to have every care for them, and very little for their souls, look there, and see what they become, notwithstanding all that can be done to preserve them. Can a blessed one can one who in angelic beauty has been living for thousands of years can he want this miserable stuff? O, no! oh, no! The spirit wen to god who gave it; but the dust to dust.
Dust thou art, is said of the body, and unto dust shalt thou return. We shall be satisfied when we awake in God’s likeness. God’s likeness is being wrought in us now. The Apostle says, He that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God. We are being wrought now. From the first moment that the glorious seeds of truth and goodness from the Lord Jesus Christ enter into our souls, there comes a tinge of spiritual beauty upon them. If we saw man in his natural state, such as God sees him, we should know that he is really as he is described in the Scriptures: From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but mounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores.–Isaiah i. 6. We must be born again. It is not a thing of which there is no necessity. It is not enough if at the last moment we believe in Christian doctrine–believe that our Lord Jesus Christ has died for us, and has done everything for us. We must believe that; but believe in time to let him do the same thing for us that He has done for the world. Your little world has to have new light poured into it; you have to be redeemed from your sins, as He redeemed the world from the power of hell. It is this confusing of two grand truths, and putting them in antagonism one to another, that has led to religion being emasculated of its strength–to its being almost a nullity a faith alone, instead of a faith in Christ, as our real Savior, who saves from the sins of passion, of lust, and of selfishness. These are the things that make men unhappy. These are what the world needs saving from. Christ has done His part. Thou shalt call his name Jesus, says the angel, for He shall save His people from their sins; not from the guilt of sin only not from the punishment of sin only, but He saves from sin itself; and when that is obliterated from a man, he need not concern himself about punishment; it is all over. He is not the man to be punished; he is a new man; he has been born again; and being a new man, and born again by the great Savior’s operation, let him go on rising from the dead and being perfected in heavenly life.
This is the real and important resurrection, brethren. We are dead in trespasses and sins to begin with, in our religious life; and the grand business for us is to awake, to rouse ourselves; not as my friend has made it out, in part of his sermon–awake out of the earthly dust; but, as the apostle Paul says, awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. It is the dust the serpent feeds on we are to awake out of; the dust of ignorance and sensuality. The other dust will do us little harm. You will be quite right if you get the holiness of Jesus Christ formed in you by being born again. The apostle Paul, in the Epistle to the Philippians, says, For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. He had no notion that death for him was any curse; it was a gain. It is only a curse to wicked men, it is a gain to good men. The caterpillar enters upon a better life when it puts off its old case; and when the angel within a man puts off his case, he turns out in the beauty of an angel. For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Paul says, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead I not as though I had already attained; but he was thinking of a very different resurrection from the resurrection of dead bodies. Not as though I had already attained; but if by any means might attain to the resurrection of the dead, and be conformable to the image of His death.–iii. 10, 11. This is the great resurrection. Let a man go on being thus conformed, and he will be conformed by the spirit of Jesus Christ in proportion as he obeys Him in putting down everything that is opposite to love to God and charity to man–in obeying God’s commandments. If ye love me, the Lord Jesus says, keep my commandments. If a man love me, he will keep my words. If we do this, Christ in us, the hope of glory, will every day make us more like Himself, and this likeness to Himself will begin to shed its holy influence; will make it shine even through the body.
It will be seen in your face–it will be such in your works–it will be seen in the sphere round about you–it will be seen in your temper–it will be seen in the heavenly justice that governs you in every transaction–it will be seen that you are Christs, and taking His image and likeness upon you, become truly a Christs-man. That is the meaning of the word Christian, Christs-man. He only is a true Christian who is Christs-man; he only who has Christ in him, the hope of glory, being worked out every day, will when he comes to the termination of his days work–the end of his regenerate life, when his work is finished he will not have to wait for his crown. Having been the soldier of Christ, fighting against sin, wrestling against spiritual wickedness in high places having taken the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God, and used it against his evils of temper, and of every other kind, against everything he finds not in harmony with the spirit of Christ having fought as a good soldier of Christ, day after day, when he comes to the end of his lifes campaign he will find the crown of righteousness there. It has not to be waited for during thousands of years. Be thou faithful unto death, says the Lord Jesus, and I will give thee a crown of life; not thou shalt wait an immense period and then shalt possess it. The beggar who lay at the rich mans gate, subject to contumely and scorn, was, nevertheless, Christs man in his degree. The beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. No waiting no long interval was carried instantly. Why, what would he have to wait for? The grave efforts nothing.
People in the dark ages used to think in this way: God was something like themselves; and as they had great imperfections of memory, God also, they thought, would forget if He did not keep a great book, and so he employed the angels as book-keepers; and when any person committed a fault, it had to be written down in this book; and angels wore employed in this strange business. Everybody, it was believed, would have to be judged out of this great book. But what a narrow idea of God was this!
As if He needed to be reminded by writing in a book what had happened at a certain time, or as if He needed witnesses; He who knows all things from the beginning: H would certainly never give the angels the employment of taking notes in this way. It was a puny, narrow, conceited, self-derived notion, as to what is meant by writing in books in the Scriptures. Daniel says he saw when the judgment was set, he had a vision; his spiritual sight was opened, and he saw into the eternal world; he beheld the representation of the judgment going on, as you will read in Daniel vii. 10, 11, And the Ancient of days did sit; thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and then thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the judgment was set, and the books were opened. But what books? Every mans mind is his book. Your sin, says Jeremiah in the seventeenth chapter and first verse, Your sin is written with a pen of iron and with the point of a diamond; it is graven upon the table of your heart, and upon the horns of your altars. That is where sin is written. God’s laws are always so perfect that they execute themselves. He is not like imperfect men. He has not to make a law, and then appoint some one to look after it to see that it is carried into effect. God’s laws are always self-vindicating. Let the wicked man try over so much, he cannot avoid being his own book-keeper. Let him try to conceal as much as he pleases, and yet the mark will be made upon his own soul. It is there; he knows it is. There is not one of us but who can turn over the pages of the book of the soul, and tell what is written there. And that which we try to conceal the most, will be written the plainest. The soul of each person is his book. Sin makes its impressions and workings upon the soul when we cherish it. The cunning man–the person who is continually scheming in order to get some selfish end, he forms his spirit in a fox-like manner, until you can see the fox peering out of his eyes; you may see the cunning in everything he does. The wolfish man is continually working out in himself the desire of trampling upon others.
But the violence of the passions which so awfully affect others affect himself still worse. We need to learn fully these truths, brethren–they are our life. We have overlooked these things too much, and leaned upon a sham religion that has had nothing in it. We want a true religion which goes hand in hand with knowing the principles that regenerate a man–knowing what heaven and hell are, and knowing that we are living every day for either the one or the other. There is no mistake about it. We can go and find incipient heavens and hells upon earth. We can go into our own neighborhoods, and see the hells of that neighborhood. Those that are infernally-minded are miserable in themselves, and they make others miserable around. They are demons already half, or three-quarters, or nearly full blown, until at length they will become so malignant, and so blind, and so stupid, as to be mad with their insanity–be indeed insane from the principles they have loved and cherished. That is what is meant in the Sacred Scriptures, where hell is described not only as a piece of fire, but also as a place of darkness. A person that thinks merely according to the letter of the Scriptures, if he thinks at all, would be pushed with this contrariety. A very large number of persons think very little, alas, about religion or anything else. Our efforts are sometimes useful in rousing people to think, but are most useful when we can draw them to spiritual truth. Spiritual truths speak to us by experience. They furnish their own evidence. When a person is in a passion, he is not only on fire with fury, but he becomes blind with foolishness. You will never interest a person when he is in a passion. He is sure to judge wrongly, because his mind is as dark and foolish as his heart is mad. The Scriptures, when understood in relation to mans interior state, always give us clear and important lessons. On the other hand, a person who loves the things of heaven–who loves goodness because it comes from God, who is supremely good; who loves the truth because it comes from God, and is a light in the soul; who shows his love to those by really obeying them in life,–each a person becomes heavenly-minded.
The kingdom of God, says our blessed Savior, is within you. You see he already possesses the spirit of heaven, in the gentleness, the kindness, the self-sacrifice, and the willingness to do whatever the will of God teaches should be done to promote the happiness of those around him. And such a man will be a little heaven–such a man knows he is going to heaven, because he has heaven in him. This is the real preparation, the real thing that is required to be effected by the power of religion in every soul. They go to heaven, who have received heaven into themselves. If a person has obtained the heaven of loving God and his neighbor, he will show it from the beginning of the day onwards, in whatever he has to do. Such a person is prepared for heaven, and heaven is prepared for him. Well, when he is thus prepared, is it not a welcome doctrine as well as the doctrine of the sacred Scriptures–that when his talents have thus been used, whether the two have made other two, or whether the five have made other five–our Lord will say immediately, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter then into the joy of thy Lord. He is prepared for heaven, and he goes. His character has been formed by his works, and is heavenly. The Christian is what his spirit is. If he is thus built up for heaven by a living obedience to the Lord Jesus, he feels the attraction to heaven, and heaven feels welcome to him. He dies like Lazarus, and is carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom.
The angels had doubtless been round him long before It is a matter we very often forget, that the spirit-world is not at an immense distance. Men have thought, since they got so immersed in the concerns of their bodies, that there was nothing else but body in the world. That was the idea which almost spread over mankind years ago, and many are laboring under it still. Sometimes, it is true, in words they confess something else, they talk about going to heaven and glory, and so on; and about, immediately when they die, getting to Canaan’s happy shore. But when you seek to understand them on the matter, you will find there is no very definite idea of what they mean. Do you ask if they really mean that persons are living in human form there? They talk about bodies there as indescribable bodies. Yet they sing:–
Come, let us join our cheerful son,
With angels round the throne;
Ten thousand thousand are their tongues.
But all their joys are one.
This is a sublime song, in which every heart joins. The Church rings with it, and feels delighted with the idea of joining this glorious throng. But when many do so, they forget what their doctrine states; there has been no judgment; they have no bodies; and they are not to go to heaven at all till many thousands of years to come! We do not say, as our brother says in his sermon, that after the resurrection the vaulted roofs shall echo back their shouts of triumph. I tell him they already echo with sounds of triumph. John heard them more than seventeen hundred years ago; when he saw the ten thousand times ten thousand that had come out of every nation and kindred and tongue. He says he heard them, and the glorious arches of eternity rang with: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might be unto our God for ever and ever. And when we can join that company, heaven will ring with our voices too, and we shall not have to wait for any long indefinite period for that time. Oh! no. Why the poet Pope gave us a far more beautiful account than this, and what every heart feels to be the true one, the Scriptural one, when describing the dying man, he says:–
The world recedes; it disappears!
Heaven opens on my eyes! My ears
With sounds seraphic ring!
O Grave! Where is thy victory?
O Death! Where is thy sting?
That is the resurrection. Then is the real judgment. That is the entrance into eternity. This is what, we preach, and what you believe, when you are under the influence of the love of the truth from the Scriptures, and not under the influence of the old announcements from the dark ages. Well, then, I say, do not think of this indefinite period, of a deferred entrance into life. The soul is the real man; let that be ill the image of Jesus, and you will find that the eternal world is a teal world–all below is shadow, all beyond is substance.
But we have said that there is not only a particular judgment which each person undergoes immediately after death on his entering into the eternal world, and which determines him to where he is suited for; but there is also, in the sacred Scriptures, not unfrequently mentioned a general judgment, and several such judgments. These likewise take place in the spirit-world, not in the world of nature. Here is the world of final preparation. The world of judgment is of the world into which we enter. It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment–Heb. ix. 27. This is a doctrine which requires a little consideration, for it is a comprehensive one; but, owing to men having very much neglected the spirit and spiritual things, they have overlooked it. They have overlooked the teaching respecting the spirit-world, even when reading it in the sacred Scriptures. They have thought only according to the letter, but not according to the spirit: since the sun had gone down over the prophets, they have almost forgotten everything about the real nature of the spirit and the spirit-world. The spirit-world was well known in the early days of Christianity. Churches go on, as it were, in cycles; they have their beginning in which all is love and zeal and light.
In the Jewish Church, when it commenced under the leading of the Patriarchs and Moses, while the people were animated by gratitude to God who had effectually redeemed them from slavery, and chosen them to be His people, they took the commandments of God and loved and obeyed them; but after a while, a different spirit set in, and, ultimately, darkness, folly, and night. And so it has been in relation to every Church. There has been a cycle–a beginning, a noon, an evening, and a night. This is frequently shown in the Scriptures. Under the name of a new heaven and a new earth, a new Church is described. These terms mean a new dispensation, and when a former Church has gone on till men have corrupted it, made it of none effect by their tradition, it becomes like a broken-down, worn-out world. The old world, as it were, becomes ready to be destroyed–God, in some form, visits it–proclaims that its end is come–pauses judgment upon it, and begins a new one.
Now this was pre-eminently done when our Lord and Savior descended upon earth. Persons have been led–some by not thinking much about religion, and others by thinking only about one point in religion–a most important point, it is true, but one that has been magnified often to the exclusion of everything else,–I mean the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, a most important portion of the Gospel, but one which ought not to exclude His life– nor the other grand things that are unfolded in the Sacred Scriptures. When the Apostle Paul said he was determined not to know anything among men, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, he did not mean that Christians were not to think of anything else, but they were not to think of anything to the exclusion of that. There were men who came early into the church, and who denied God had appeared in the Church or come in the flesh at all. Some said He was not crucified at all, that Judas Iscariot was crucified in His stead. Some said His body was not a real body, but a phantasm team. When the apostle insisted that Christ crucified was to be believed, it was not to be believed to the exclusion of his welds and deeds, but to the exclusion of these fantastic dreams.
Unhappily too many Christians at the present day have revived the notion of thinking so much about Christs death, that they have not thought much about Christs life, and very little about their own. He died that we might live; not that we might suppose we had nothing to do. A good old lady told me after the second lecture which I delivered here, that I completely spoiled Christs atonement by saying that men had to do something. When the atonement was over, she said all was over. Man had nothing to do. She had thought only of God’s being in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, but not of the latter part–Be ye reconciled to God. We must always avoid this error; we must get life from Christ to live ourselves; we must get power from Christ to conquer our sins; we must not take one precept of the Gospel and make it so large as to exclude all the rest; we must endeavor to have the whole counsel of God–death and life–Christ and man–God operating and man co-operating; and in this way endeavor to make our life Christ-like, and when we are made Christ-like He will take us to Himself. Where I am, there shall also my servant be. But notwithstanding what the Lord Jesus has done, the man that does not, enter into the spirit of heaven cannot go there. If he were let into heaven he would not be happy. He would be like a fish out of water,–a wolf being lot into a fold of lambs he would be a vulture taken into a dove-cot. We must be angel-minded, or else we shall not be able to bear the very atmosphere of heaven. You will remember what Christ says about him who came in amongst the guests, and had not on a wedding garment: Friend, how camest then in hither, not having a wedding garment? and he was speechless.–Matt. xxii. 12. He had got truth and knowledge, but he had not married it to love or goodness; his garment was not a wedding garment, and he could not speak there–he was speechless; abet he had to utter could not be sounded in that holy region, and he had to go, bound band and foot, into outer darkness. Let us bear that well in mind.
Well, then, I was mentioning that Churches are spoken of as to their formation, under the name of new heavens and a now earth. Each has its beginning, its middle-period, and at length comes to its end. Now, after a Church has been corrupted, and then proceeds to corrupt the world and the ways of God for a considerable time, it becomes rather a school of error and mischief than of truth. Such the Church became in the days of Constantine. The Christian religion has been long supposed to have received a crown of glory then, because the Emperor had, after a certain fashion, embraced Christianity. A strange fashion it was, and a strange man he was; but still, because such a person had laid hold of Christianity, one who could make its ministers into Right reverend Fathers in God, and give very ostentatious names and great power, it was supposed that the Church was going on gloriously, although at that very time it was fast losing its first love. The ministers were becoming men of pelf instead of piety; men to care about the fleece and not the flock; men who not only bullied with hatred and revenge against each other, but absolutely contrived against the lives of each other. You will find, if you read the Church histories of that period, that under the influence of their discussions and divisions they contrived against each others lives. On one occasion, it is said that eighty ecclesiastics in returning from a council were sent to the bottom of the yea, by the vessel being purposely set on are by order, and the sailors leaving them to perish. This was the beginning of the persecution of each other, the quarrellings, the slaughterings, the councils, the creed-makings, the corruptions, which showed they had lost their love of Christianity for the love of themselves. Religion had perished, and now their chief objects ware their dignities–their pelf–their power; they continually endeavored to lord it over God’s heritage. And whenever a man gets into that lordly self-seeking spirit, he is on the high-road to twist religion to make it suit himself–not to regard religion as that which is to make him like the meek and lowly Jesus.
And from the men of these times came who corruption of Christianity. Just as from the Jewish Pharisees and Sadducees came the corruption of Judaism. Judaism came into such darkness, that prophet after prophet had in vain exhorted them to repent–to come to the light, to serve God in spirit and in truth, still they persevered and sunk lower into sin and darkness until at length the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to pass judgment upon them, and said, It is finished–God has done with you for a Church–It is finished–it is the end of your world–it is the last day of your Church–it is time for you altogether to be swept away from pretending to be a Church in the Divine sight. A new one must begin from new principles–those that I bring into the world–which make the spirit of heaven to appear once more–the spirit of humility, of love, of following the light, of doing good, of serving others.
This is the new spirit out of which to form a new heaven and a new earth–such as St. Paul spoke of–If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. Now, not only does God proclaim in the world that all things are become new, but He does judgment also in the spirit world. I have before said, when a Church begins to pervert its doctrines, to make everything dark and false, to suit everything to themselves–like priest, like people–darkness spreads over the mind–wicked principles spread over the life–men may call themselves Christians, but they are baptized infidels. They may talk about Christ in the spirit of that ruthless fiend of a man who, when heading an army of men called Christians, also in the war of the Albigenses in France, I mean the Abbot of Citeaux, at the town of Beziers, where there were fifty thousand people, men, women, and children; and when he had got possession of it, and was asked how were they to distinguish the faithful from the heretics–the early Protestants at that time, who gave their protests against priestly power and domination, his answer was, Kill them all! God will know His own!
These men called themselves Christians, and were supposed to be led by a great Christian–he was a great ecclesiastic of the time. Such Christianity is the wickedest infidelity, it is the most ruthless spirit of hell, dignifying itself with the name of heaven. There is no real Church–no real Christianity in men and centuries of this class; and yet, if you look over all Christendom, such as it was through the middle ages, and down even to a hundred years ago all over Europe, and in this country, you will find it blind, ignorant, and persecuting on both sides. Roman Catholics were crushing Protestants, where they could, and Protestants were crushing Roman Catholics where they could. Both were fierce, stupid, and cruel. And yet there are foolish men who wish us to go back to the Church of those times. They speak ignorantly of such a Christianity as venerable and beautiful. We are very much better now. The world is advancing now to greater light and love. We are thinking now of alliances, not of divisions. Some can ally themselves now with others far more than they could even ten years ago. They can yet, perhaps, only ally themselves in certain points, but that is better than the old state. But what has made the turning point and change of spirit? THE JUDGMENT. When a religion has begun its downward course, growing darker and darker through centuries, even those who follow out conscientiously what they are taught, and think they are right in their religion, acquire error and faults which they can only be delivered from with difficulty. They think that when they persecute others at the command, perhaps, of their leaders, they are doing God’s service. They die in these mistaken principles. Religion gets so mixed up in them, with dangerous errors inwoven into their souls by years of ardor, when they go into the other life, they cannot enter heaven. Nothing false can enter there. They were conscientious, and so are not at all fitted for the world of endless woe. I dare say there are many of my friends who are set against the idea of any intermediate place.
We do not believe there is any such place as purgatory, but we do think there is a world of mind, called the intermediate state, a world of spirits, in which judgment takes place, and into which we go immediately after death, and with which our minds are connected now. Those who are thoroughly heavenly go at once to heaven; those who are thoroughly infernal go at once to hell; but those whose characters are so mixed, although their real motive is good, that they have been led by error into bad habits of various kinds, which yet they thought were right–these, in this intermediate place, have their errors removed. We do not think that heaven and hell are next-door neighbors. God does not teach that they are, in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. You will remember it is said, Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, a great open place or state; heaven and hell are not just close together, so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot, neither can they pass to us that would come from thence. Luke xvi. 26. It is this intermediate state that is the place of judgment. During the many centuries in which a declining Church drags itself along, millions enter the world of spirits in a greatly imperfect state; some three thousand millions in a century. Upon a large portion of these multitudes, judgment takes place at the end of a Church. Now, my beloved friends, think whether you consider it rational that all persons, good and bad, should be taken to heaven to be judged; what shall the bad do there? or that the good and bad are taken to hell to be judged; it is not rational to think that the well-disposed go down there. If they are judged at all, there must be some place where they are judged. It is this intermediate world. Again, there are good people of every religion–good Roman Catholics–good Protestants–good Methodists–good Calvinists, and, no doubt, there are good Jews–good Mahommedans, and good Pagans, too: these persons have thought t heir views and sentiments right, and where are their errors to be corrected if them be not some middle region for instruction and judgment.
We are told that nothing which defileth neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie, can go to heaven. But you do not think that real, sincere, good persons who only were attached to their religion, though it be Mahommedan–because they believed it to be God’s religion–you do not think God will send them to hell? and they will not take Mahommedanism with them to heaven. Then what is to be done? There is this intermediate place where the angels instruct them in what is right, and remove these wrong notions from their minds. and that takes place which our Lord Jesus Christ speaks of, when He says, For unto every one that hath, shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. That is to say, a person who had the real spirit of heavenly goodness–loving the Lord, and desiring to obey His will–he has the root of the matter, but he has got a false creed; well, unto every one that hath shall be given, and he will have all his difficulties explained, all his views set right; and from him that hath not, who only seems to be good, all will be stripped off, so that he will have his naked soul, whatever it may be, exposed to men and angels, and he will go to his own: For from him that hath not shall be taken away, even that which he hath.
Well, now, this is the place of judgment, and when a Church has been in a corrupt state for a considerable time, vast numbers congregate in this intermediate place, until the time when God puts an end to the false Church and begins another. He descends into that world with myriads of angels-effects judgment upon all who are there–unfolds all their states, which is called the opening of the books–consigns each to the place where he has to go; and this is the judgment that takes place at the end of a Church, not at the end of the outer world. In our English translation, we; read of the and of the world; in the Greek, however, the New Testament phrase is the END OF THE AGE. Each dispensation is called an age.
At the end of the Jewish age the Lord Jesus Christ effected a judgment, first in that world, and then planted His Church in this–made way for a new dispensation–that light and love might how freely from Himself.
If you remember, you will find many instances in which this truth is taught in the Gospel. Jesus says, as you will read in John xii. 31, Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out. There was nothing outwardly going on of a very remarkable character, but lie says, Now shall the prince of this world be cast out; He was clearing the inner world, and making way for the glorious influence of Divine light and love to flow out to the outer world, and this is the inner soul of a Church on the earth. Again, He says, For judgment I am come this world. Again, He says, as you will read in the sixteenth chapter of the same Gospel, And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. To these in this inner world the apostle alludes when he says, in 1 Peter iii. 18, 19, Christ being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison. What were those spirits in prison, but the spirits that were in prison by false notions? Their souls were imprisoned by false ideas, until our Lord Jesus Christ went and set them free, and then took them to heaven with Him–leading captivity captive–the everlasting doors were opened to receive Him. How beautifully is this presented to us by St. Paul in Ephesians iv. 9, Now that Christ ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive–all spirits that remained in this intermediate region were freed from their captivity–all mistakes and wrongs taken away–the books were opened–the inward souls of men were brought out as to what they really were, and then the Lord ascended up far above all heavens–the everlasting doors were opened to receive Him, and He took all that were inwardly prepared with Him into their glorious homes, to form a new heaven, and from that a new earth among men.
At the end of every Church this sublime proceeding takes place, and this is a general judgment, as awful and wonderful as it has commonly been thought, only it takes place in the spirit-world, and not in the world of nature. It takes place unseen to men, but revealed to them by the Lord–either by His own mouth, or by some other mouth commissioned by Him.
This work is very grandly spoken of by John the Baptist when our Lord is about to enter upon it. He said, He it is, who coming after me, is preferred before me, whose shoes latchet I am not worthy to unloose, but who shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire; whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor.–Matt. iii. 11, 12. The floor is the barn-floor where the wheat is taken after it has been cut down in the fields. There it has to be threshed–there the chaff has to be stripped off and removed from the wheat–He will thoroughly purge His floor and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. When, therefore, you read of a grand judgment in the Scriptures, it is the judgment in the spirit-world, at the end of a Church, that is meant. By clearing this world, God provides that the souls of men on earth shall be free for better things. The dark weight of folly and falsehood that has been hanging about mens souls is removed; for men on earth are in hidden connection with spirits–with spirits in the inner world. When things are rectified there, new light and love, with new freedom, flow down here–a new Church is formed–all things on earth become new. This was to be done at the end of the first Christian Church; and we believe it has been done, and that because it has been done we are living now in whet every one feels to be a NEW AGE. There are new impulses in science, in reason, and religion. Everything is acquiring a new character. The great bulk of men are unable to tell how it is that everything now is progressing.
We say, Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights (James i. 17); it is because the old dispensation has come to its end and a new one has begun. A new and more generous spirit is permeating every sect–it is permeating every denomination–it is stirring the whole world. Protestants are not what they were some years ago: they are advancing. This man has got a new belief on one subject, that on another; one-half of every congregation does not believe much of what their creeds state. We do not believe in that old Athanasian Creed, they say, that is all non-sense. Not only is it so, but in Roman Catholic countries precisely the same advance is going on. In Roman Catholic lands I have met with men as liberal as the most liberal Protestants, quite a new thing in such latitudes. Everywhere you find these men advancing: getting more generous, more noble, more attractive, more Godlike, and more Christlike. The same spirit is pervading Mahommedan countries. The Sultan has proclaimed that every Christian shall be free–that the Bible shall be free in his land–that every man has a light to these blessings if he desire them. Nay, even that old stereotyped empire of China is being broken up too, so that God is making way for truth on every hand. He is teaching men everywhere to spread knowledge, to educate, to print, so as to turn out the materials of learning for every man, woman, and child, so that the knowledge of the Lord and the will of the Lord may be realized in this world of ours everywhere, not in one little sect, not in one small part of the earth, but all over the wide world. It may be that our country is to go first, and I believe that it is to lead the van in this glorious match. Ours is a land of freedom, the country of the Bible: I believe it is to be the leader in this, that it is to impress every land–it is to tell the whole families of the earth of the Divine impulse that is coming from on high–the impulse which fulfils the promise of Heaven and says, Behold, I make all things new. Prophecy has always said that this was to take place at some time.
A person may say, I believe in nothing new in religion–I do not admire anything new in the Church; I should never believe it, although God says I make all things new. Then you are a very foolish person for your pains. He declares that this time is to come, and now every one may see it is coming, and coming on in mighty strides. It is coming in science and arts, in kindness and benevolence, and who shall say it shall not come also in religion? Who is there that does not, in his own quiet thought, own that there are a thousand things he cannot understand, and does not long for a new light? Who is there that can look around and say, Here are Christians up to the perfect mark; they cannot be mended at all? Christians have been for some time improving, it is true, but they are very far from being what we all feel they ought to be. While God is making every other thing new, let us play that we also may be made new–less sectarian, more united–less selfish, more Christian–less peevish, more
angel-mindedless persecuting, more generous, kind, and good; realizing what the angels sung–I heard the seventh angel sound, and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and HE shall reign for ever and ever.–Rev. xi. 15.
Oh! let us help to hasten on this glorious kingdom, and your who have a higher and holier view of our Lord and His Christ, or of Him who is both Lord and Christ, pray that He may practically reign for ever. Let us pray that He may reign over out thoughts–reign over our hearts–reign over our works–reign over our politics–reign over our homes–reign over our lives–reign over our deaths. Come, Lord Jesus come quickly!
REV. J. WILKINS: In reference to the sermon just published, and to which some allusion has been made, I have only to state that I am responsible for all its faults; and as every person will have the opportunity of reading it for himself I am perfectly satisfied that the decision will be in favor of the Word of God, and in favor, I believe, of the commonly received opinion in reference to the resurrection. Leaving that point, and coming to the lecture this evening, I have no desire to enter into any discussion upon it here, but I will undertake to do as I did last week (God willing); I will thoroughly consider the subject, and bring it before the public on Sunday evening. For if we discuss a point in public, it is very often that much is forgotten on both sides which might have been advanced. It is much better to bring the matter before the public in a more convenient way. There is just one point, however, and that is in reference to that, intermediate state that we have been hearing of this evening. The Word of God tells us, If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins. Now, we have heard this evening, that if a man professes to love God–if the religion which he has received be false, and he is sincere in that religion, it is put right for him after he has departed from this life. Now, that is quite contrary to the Word of God, in my opinion. We will suppose the case of a Jew; he does not believe in Jesus Christ, and he dies in his sins,–As the tree falls, so it must lie, and then he comes to the judgment in his sins. I should like you to give us a little light upon the subject. Is he to enter into everlasting rest, when he rejects the only Savior, which is the Lord Jesus Christ?
DR. BAYLEY: A very interesting question it is; and our friend will see that matters of this kind may be discussed in the calmest spirit. While he addressed us on this occasion no one has felt the least unpleasantness from his remarks. I am equally pleased with the question and the manner in which he has put it. Our view of the subject is this, Jesus Christ is the only God of heaven and earth, in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
Every person that believes in a God of goodness and truth, although various men may call Him by various names, they really believe in Jesus Christ as the name above every name. Mahommedans call Him Allah, which is in fact only the Hebrew name for God, as rendered into Arabic. The Hebrew name is El, not God, as we have it. Inasmuch as Jesus Christ is really the God of heaven and earth, although the Mussulman does not know it; if he really believes in God he believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. Belief, of course, is meant as a living principle of action. When then a person believes, not simply as a speculation, but believes so as to carry out the will of God, he believes in the Lord, the only wise God, our Savior. St. Peter himself said long ago, To every nation he that feareth God, and worketh righteousness, is accepted of Him. The name of Jesus was not then known in every nation. There is not a quarter of the people of the earth now that knows the sound of the name of Jesus, or ever heard of the Gospel. Can we suppose that the God of love will send all these people to hell when they have never had a chance of hearing or leading the Gospel, or the word which we call the name of the Lord Jesus Christ? (Applause, and cries of No.) This same blessed Savior says, And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd. He, therefore, in our estimation, who really believes in God, and shows he believes the truth, by working it out as he understands it, will hear all the truth he could not learn here about Jesus, when he goes into the other life. He will be of that one fold, he will worship then that one shepherd. That is our view.
Q. Did not the Jew that rejected the Lord Jesus Christ, did he not professedly believe in the God of heaven?
DR. BAYLEY: The question, in our idea, is not what is professed believed. Those with full knowledge who rejected the Savior did not really believe. No man really believes in God, but he who works out God’s will, and comes gladly to the truth.
Our Lord Jesus Christ himself says that the Jew who really did the will of God according to the teaching of Moses, would come to Him. Many did not really believe, and therefore: their profession was worthless.
Q. If there is to be one fold, and one shepherd, how can those persons who never heard of Christ be saved?–how can Christ be a shepherd to them if they have never heard of Him? The Apostle in preaching, says, There is no other name under Heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved, but the name of Jesus Christ. If the name of Jesus Christ is not heard of, how can they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. There must be a hearing of the name of Jesus, or there can be no salvation at all.
DR. BAYLEY: Much more proper to ask, How can they be condemned for not believing in a name which they have never heard? In our estimation the word name does not simply signify a certain expression, it signifies the nature of a person. Jesus Christ says of Him that overcometh, will write upon him my new name. He does not mean that He will write the name Jesus on his forehead, but He will put His new nature–His new character upon him. By the name of Jesus is meant the nature of God manifest to men. That was His real character; we conceive that the real nature of God, as manifest to men, and impressing His will upon them, that is what is implied by the name of Jesus. You know that even in the Greek, the name is not the same as we have it in English. It does not mean that a certain word is to be heard; but that a nature should be felt which is to rule the hearts and minds of men: if that be lovingly carried out, we conceive it is then the name, of Jesus written upon man. And thus, whoever that nature constitutes the root of the matter in them, they will take in the rest of heavenly truth when they have the opportunity, like a sponge takes water.
Q. Where is the necessity of preaching the Gospel if it is not true that the Gospel should be the means of salvation?
DR. BAYLEY: The Gospel is a second truth, higher and nobler than aught else, and the first grand thing in that truth is, as the Apostle says, faith, for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. When a person has really this essential faith in God, and then comes to know that God is the Lord Jesus Christ, he has the Gospel. Those who have not the advantage of the Gospel in this world, but have the desire to live and follow out truth, will have the advantage of it in the eternal world. Unto him that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance. Shall we think of our God as unfeeling, instead of as a God whose tender mercies are over all His works, as a God who never gives people the opportunity of being saved, and then damns them for ignorance–who lets the heathen go on (even now there is not a quarter of the human race that have heard of the Gospel) without knowing Him, and then torments them for ever for not believing what they could not knowthis would be to us such a dreadful idea that we dare never attribute it to the God of love and mercy. (Loud cheers.)
Q. I think that the audience will feel with myself that one point Dr. Bayley has not answered, and I know he will be very pleased to make a reply. That is in reference to the Jew. You were talking about a man being sincere and going to heaven. Now, I believe that I can find hundreds of Jews who sincerely believe the Old Testament, but who sincerely believe that Jesus Christ was not the Messiah, and therefore they certainly reject Him; and believing not on Him, yet would they die innocent? You told us just now in your lecture, that however erroneous he may be, if he is sincere, all will be put right in the next world.
DR. BAYLEY: I do not see the difficulty that I should attend to. The Jew who sincerely rejects, who, for instance, from education–from a variety of circumstances, is taught to reject, is not to blame. Christians have looked upon the Jews as the complete scapegoats of the human race–have regarded them with hateful feelings–have persecuted them–have shown their religion–if that was the religion of Jesus Christ–have shown it to them under the most odious and hateful forms.
Now, is it to be wondered at that those who had been in the habit of seeing Christians ill treat them and their fathers, should not be very willing to hear what they had got to say about religion? It is the blame of Christians, rather than of Jews that so little way has been made with really good Jews. I have been on the Continent and seen places distinguished as the scenes where Jews used to be persecuted. The Jews, from the had treatment they have received, have been, as it, were, divided by thousands of miles from Christians. A genuine Jew, one who has believed in the God of his fathers, has believed in Jehovah–has obeyed the will of Jehovah. Now our doctrine is, that Jehovah came in the flesh; so that he has really been to the best of his knowledge loving the very same person that we call Jesus Christ; and hence he has been in connection with the source of salvation. Jesus Christ says, I am He who is, and who was–that very same Being–and who is to come,though He has been known before under another name, Jehovah, as the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior, He is still the one God.
Q. But if the Jew rejected the visible presence of Christ when on earth, did he not reject Christ?
A. My dear friend, that can have nothing to do with the Jew now. The person who saw Christ in His real character when He was on earth, as God manifest in the flesh, but who nevertheless rejected Him, certainly would be in a very different state from one who had never heard of His name or character. To reject Him then would be because he had a sinful hatred of all truth and goodness.
Q. But if the Jew altogether rejected Him?
A. Jesus Christ says, Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me; or else believe me for the very works sake. He did the works that none but God manifest in the flesh could do; and the Jew that saw these works and still from interior opposition denied them, must have been in hatred against all that was good and true–he was not the person that we suppose, with real good intents and hopes and purposes.
Q. Just look at what Paul says of himself: an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. Do we suppose that this was an isolated character?
A. Saul of Tarsus was saved as soon as he had knowledge of Christ. Christ removed the ignorance that he was laboring under, and he came really into the fold of Christ
Q. You would suppose that there were only very few that were sincere among all the Jews; they did not believe the things professed?
A. They had made the commandment of God of none effect by their own tradition. The Jews then were a church in ruins. At such times there is great profession, but little practice. Profession without practice is not faith. The vast majority of the Jews were faithless and dark, and loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. The Lord Jesus said, This is the CONDEMNATION, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.–John iii. 19. Men are not condemned for not receiving light which has never visited them. But when light comes, and from evil is rejected, then is SIN and then is CONDEMNATION. Only a few among the Jews received the Savior; the great majority were obstinate in wickedness, and from wickedness rejected Him who would have saved them. To them the Savior said, If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins. But this is a very different case from that of a person Now: who has taken his impressions of Christianity, and of its Divine Human Head, the Savior, not from Himself, but from teachers prejudiced by ill-treatment, or from the conduct of those who are Christians only in name. Such a Jew may reject Christianity, and yet may inwardly be the very person who would receive it when he understood its real character and worth. Such a person, inwardly good, will have an opportunity provided for him by that merciful Providence who notices and numbers the hairs of our heads and the fall of a sparrow.
And if there are those who, as Tennyson says,
Perhaps in faith, but pure in deeds.
At last who beat their music out.
There lives more faith in honest doubt
Believe me, than in half the creeds.
we cannot condemn such. We are sure Divine mercy will save all who are salvable. None will parish for want of knowledge and opportunity. And as many have not the opportunity, nor the true knowledge of right in this world, there must be another in which these will be given. The saying of Ecclesiastes is not opposed to this doctrine, when rightly understood. If the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth there it shall lie.–li. 3. For this only teaches that the direction and interior place of a person is filed at death; and this is fixed by the state of the heart, not by doctrine, profession, knowledge, or community. The Lord looketh upon the heart.–l Sam. xvi. 7. The height of a tree is determined when it falls, but it has much shaping to undergo before it becomes a towering mast, or an article of furniture. So the inner life of man is fixed at death, as to his ruling love being good or evil; but as to his state of knowledge, belief, association, or mistakes in conduct, arising from ignorance or false teaching, these will be often greatly changed. And let us adore the Divine goodness that it is so. In our Father’s house there are many mansions. And the good of all ages, of all nations, of all times, and of all creeds, will find unending peace in those celestial homes best adapted for them. Socrates, with his virtuous sagacity; Plato, with his profound philosophic insight; Cicero, with his burning eloquence, replete with justice and wisdom; Augustine, with his adoring gaze and sublime conceptions; Bernard, with the sacred unction of glowing earnest sanctity; Luther, with his heartfelt honest boldness for truth, and horror of superstitions and deceits; Fenalon, with his saintly sweetness and holy meekness; Wesley, with his untiring zeal; Taylor, Ken, Tillotson, Heber, models of hallowed piety and sacred wisdom; Swedenborg, with his pure, gigantic, systematic, God-given genius, wise and wonderful recognition of Divine love and wisdom and self-repudiation of heart,–these and myriads out of all nations, kindreds, and tongues, with their talents all sanctified and expanded, all who were sheep of the Divine pasture of truth here, so far as they knew it, who followed the voice of the Great Shepherd, when they heard it, these will all be arranged and harmonized in the communions of eternity, and be led by the adorable Lamb to the living waters of ever increasing wisdom to all eternity.
Author: Jonathan Bayley—Great Truths on Great Subjects (1899)