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Note C. On Hebrews , ORIGINAL PREFACE A thought conceived but not expressed is at best only an unborn child, not only without any influence on the world, but of whose very existence the world may be unconscious; but once brought forth it becomes part of the living working universe, to work there its appointed season, and possibly to leave its mark for good or evil on all successive time.
Hidden at first and unconfessed, during the last few years it has from time to time been brought forth in conversation with trusted Christian friends. But the time seems come to give it a wider circulation. Many are perplexed, hesitating to receive as perfect and divine a revelation, which, they are told, in the name of God consigns a large proportion of those who in some sense at least are His offspring to everlasting misery.
The following letter was the result. Truth is worth all this, and much more. If we will not buy it at all cost, we are not worthy of it. The writer has felt more the force of the consideration, how far, granting its truth, the doctrine of the Restitution of All Things is one to be proclaimed generally. Truth spoken before its time may be not hurtful only, but even most unlawful.
So even now there may be many eternal verities which are beyond what St. Is not His opening it to His servants an intimation to them that His will is that they should declare and publish it? But the end will justify all His ways; and some of His children can even now justify Him. The night is far spent, the day is at hand.
And as in early dawn the stars grow dim, because the day is coming, so now the lesser lights which have been guides in darker days are paling before the coming Sun of Righteousness. And though those who go up to the hill-tops and watch the east may see more of the light than those who are buried in the valleys or sleep with closed shutters, all who look out at the glowing firmament may see signs of coming day.
Men must be fast asleep indeed, if they do not perceive that a new age is even now upon us. The writer would only add that he will be thankful for any suggestions or corrections on the subject of the following pages.
Any letter addressed to him, to the care of the Publishers, will be duly forwarded and acknowledged. March 25, The boys in one of the classes were reading the chapter which records how David, as he walked on the roof of his house, saw Bathsheba.
Your difficulty is, how are we, as believers in Scripture, to reconcile its prophetic declarations as to the final restitution of all things, with those other statements of the same Scripture, which are so often quoted to prove eternal punishment.
Scripture, you say, affirms that God our Father is a Saviour, full of pity towards the lost, seeking their restoration; so loving that He has given for man His Only-Begotten Son, in and by whom the curse shall be overcome, and all the kindreds of the earth be blessed; and yet that some shall go away into everlasting punishment, where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.
How is it possible, you ask, to reconcile all this? Are not the statements directly inconsistent? And if so, must not the statements of the Bible, as of other books, be corrected by that light of reason and conscience, which is naturally or divinely implanted in every one of us?
Now I grant at once that there is a difficulty here, and further that the question how it is to be solved is one deserving our most attentive consideration. But agreeing with you in this, I cannot grant that the difficulty you urge is unanswerable, or that, even if it were, you would be wise for such a reason to reject the Scriptures.
Is there any revelation which God has given free from difficulties? Are there not even difficulties as to the present facts of life which are quite inexplicable? Is it not a fact that man comes into this world a fallen creature; and yet that God who made man is just, holy, and merciful?
But how do you reconcile the facts? You think that man is not a sinner only because he does evil. You rather believe that he does evil because he is a sinner, and that, guard and train him as you will, evil will come out of him because it is already in him; that in the best there is an inability to do the good they would; that in all there is a self-will and self-love, the pregnant root of sin of every kind.
And yet you say that God is good. That there is a difficulty here is evident from the many attempts which have been made to solve it. Yet you and I believe both sides of the mystery. Why then, seeing that life is such a mystery, and that there are contradictions in it which seem irreconcilable, and for the true answer to which we have often to wait, should you take the one difficulty you urge as a sufficient reason for hastily rejecting those Scriptures, which you have often found to be as a light in a dark place?
Rather look again and again more carefully into them. Then you will see, as I think I see, how these Scriptures, rightly divided, open out far more exalted and glorious hopes for man than his own unaided imagination or understanding has ever yet dared to guess or been able to argue out.
The Nature of Scripture But before I come to the testimony of Scripture, let me clear my way by a few words as to its nature and inspiration. The mystery of the Incarnate Word, I am assured, is the key, and the only sufficient one, to the mystery of the Written Word; the letter, that is the outward and human form, of which answers to the flesh of Christ, and is but a part of the mystery of the Incarnation of the Eternal Word.
The Incarnation, instead of being, as some have said, different in principle to the other revelations of Himself which God has given us, is exactly in accordance with, and indeed the key to, all of them, in one and all the unseen and invisible God being manifested in or through His creatures, or in some creature-form; and this because thus only could God be revealed to creatures like us.
The divine is revealed under a veil, and that veil a creature-form. The blessed fact, which we confess as Christians, is that the Word of God has been made flesh,—has come forth in human form from human nature. Jesus of Nazareth is Son of God; not partly man and partly God, but true man born of a woman, yet with all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
So exactly is Holy Scripture the Word of God; not half human and half divine, but thoroughly human, yet no less thoroughly divine, with all treasures of wisdom and knowledge revealed yet hidden in it. It is of course easy to say this is mere mysticism. God manifest in the flesh is a great mystery. And those who do not see how our nature like our race is both male and female, may here find some difficulty.
But the fact remains the same, that our nature is double, male and female, head and heart, intellect and affection. And it is out of the latter of these, that is the heart, that the letter of Scripture has been brought forth, the human form of the Divine Word, exactly as Christ was conceived and born of the Virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Ghost, without an earthly father.
In no other way could it come out of human nature. Now just as the fact that Jesus was man, and as such grew by degrees in wisdom and stature here, and lived our life, which is a process of corruption, and had our members of shame, and was made sin for us, by no means disproves that He was also Son of God, but is only a witness of the love which brought Him here in human form; so the fact that Holy Scripture is human proves nothing against its being divine also, exactly as Christ was.
Had it been possible for them to have dissected that Body,—I must say it when I see what men are doing now,—would they have found, with the eye of sense at least, anything there which was not purely human? The scourge, the nails, the spear, the bitter cry, and death at last, proved that that wounded form was indeed most truly human. The Bishop of Natal has dissected the letter of Scripture till it is to him as the flesh of Christ would have been to a mere anatomist.
It is not to him a living thing to teach him, but a dead thing to be dissected and criticized. Yet for this, too, mercy is in store, for they do it ignorantly in unbelief. The Bible then resembles, yet differs from, other books, just as the flesh of Christ resembles and yet differs from the flesh of other men. But the Incarnation and Manifestation of the Divine Word in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ was pre-eminent, and infinitely beyond what the indwelling of the Word is in other good men, though Christ took our flesh and infirmities, and we may be filled with all the fulness of God.
In like manner the Incarnation and Manifestation of the Word of God in the letter of Scripture is pre-eminent, and differs from other books exactly as the flesh of Christ differs from the flesh of other men. Instead of believing therefore, that, because Scripture is human, and has grown with men, and has marks of our weakness and shame and death upon it, therefore it must perish and see corruption, I believe it can never perish or see corruption.
I see it is human; I see that it has grown; I see it can be judged and wounded. And those who walk by it day and night know this, for they have seen, as all shall one day see, it transfigured. Are they not both veils as well as revelations, the first sense-readings of which are never to be relied on? Yet how does it reveal Him? Is it not also a veil, hiding quite as much as it reveals of Him? Is it not a fact that our sense-readings, even of the clearest physical phenomena, such as the rising and setting of the sun, are opposed to the truth, and need to be corrected by a higher faculty?
Is it not further a fact that Nature hides almost more than it reveals of God our Saviour? Does it not seem even to misrepresent Him? Does it not seem also to contradict itself, with force against force, heat against cold, darkness against light, death against life, its very elements in ceaseless strife everywhere?
On one side showing a preserver, on the other a destroyer: here boundless provision for the support of life; there death reigning. We know that this contradiction has been so strongly felt by some, that on the ground of it they have denied that the world is the work of one superintending mind, and have argued that it must be either the result of chance or the work of eternally opposing powers.
Are there not here exactly the same contradictions and the same difficulties which we find in Scripture? Either therefore we must say, Nature is an inconsistent and lying book, and therefore we will not believe the testimony either of its barren rocks or smiling cornfields; or else we must confess some veil or riddle here. It is precisely the same riddle which we find in every other revelation. Providence surely is a revelation of God; and yet is it not, like Nature, a veil quite as much as a revelation?
Is not this inconsistent? Where is the justice of it; and where, as judged by sense, is the love of sending souls into the world whose life throughout is one of suffering? There it stands, just as it stands in the book of Nature also. Shall we therefore say that the revelation of God in Providence is an inconsistent one?
Even so it is with those two other revelations, which, much as they have been gainsaid, the Church has received and yet believes in, I mean the flesh of Christ and Holy Scripture.
The flesh of Christ, the Incarnate Word, is beyond all question a veil Heb. How much did it hide, even while to some it revealed God. How few knew what He was: how many misunderstood Him. The apparent inconsistency may be gathered from the fact that those to whom He came stumbled at it.
And from that day to this that human form, that birth of a woman, that growth in years and stature, those tears, that sweat, that weariness, those bitter cries, those members of shame, that dying life, all this, or part of this, has to the eye of sense seemed so inconsistent with divinity, that thousands have denied that that Form was or could be a revelation of God, even while they allow that it has done what mere humanity never did. The fact is, it was, and was intended to be, a veil as well as a revelation: and as such there could not but be apparent contradiction.
Throughout it is a veil while it is a revelation; and therefore, like Nature, Providence, and the flesh of Christ, it is and must be open to the same reproach, not only of inconsistency, but of setting forth unworthy and even untrue statements of God. For indeed Scripture is a veil, which when taken in the letter, that is, as it appears to sense, makes out God to be just as far from what He really is as Nature and Providence seem to make Him; and yet all the while it reveals Him also, as nothing else has ever revealed Him.
For the law and the prophets tell us more of God and of His purposes, as to the restitution of all things and the promised times of rest and sabbath, than Nature yet declares to our present understanding; though indeed Nature may be, and probably is, saying far more to us than any mere human eye or ear has yet apprehended. God alone of all teachers has had two methods, law and gospel, flesh and spirit,—one working where we are, the other to bring us in rest where He is,—one to be done away, the other to abide 2 Cor.
The reason is that God is love, and that in no other way could He ever have reached us where we were, or brought us where He is.
Here is the reason for the human form of the Divine Word in Scripture. Had that Word come to us as it is in itself, we should no more have apprehended or seen it than we see God. Had it come to us even in angelic form, only a very few, the pure and thoughtful, ever could have received it. But it stooped to reveal itself to creatures through a creature, and to come to us out of the heart of man in truly human form, so that all men, Gentile or Jew, polished or savage, might through its perfect humanity be able to receive it.
Andrew Jukes-The Restitution of All Things
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The Second Death and the Restitution of All Things
Note C. On Hebrews , ORIGINAL PREFACE A thought conceived but not expressed is at best only an unborn child, not only without any influence on the world, but of whose very existence the world may be unconscious; but once brought forth it becomes part of the living working universe, to work there its appointed season, and possibly to leave its mark for good or evil on all successive time. Hidden at first and unconfessed, during the last few years it has from time to time been brought forth in conversation with trusted Christian friends.