An Essay on the Scriptural Doctrine of Immortality
by James Challis
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_Anagke gar moi epikeitai ouai gar moi estin, ean me euaggelzumai —1 Cor. ix. 16


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Considering that under the existing conditions of humanity, disease, and decay, and death abound on every side, it is surprising that the word "immortality" obtained a place in systems of philosophy, the authors of which must be supposed to have been unacquainted with divine revelation. It is not surprising that in the absence of such aid the belief of immortality should not have been firmly held, or that by some philosophers it should have been expressly disavowed. Even in the Canonical Scriptures, the words "immortal" and "immortality" occur only in the Epistles of the Apostle Paul, and consequently not till "life and immortality had been brought to light through the Gospel." It is a remarkable circumstance that these words are met with more frequently in the Apocryphal Books, 2 Esdras, Wisdom of Solomon, and Ecclesiasticus, than in the Canonical Scriptures. The {2} explanation of the apparent silence of the Scriptures, especially those of the Old Testament, on so essential a doctrine, will, I think, be found to be given by the course of argument adopted in this essay.

It may, further, be noticed that, according to philosophical dogma not derived from the teaching of Scripture, immortality is regarded as a principle, or innate quality, in virtue of which the human soul is exempt from the experience of death or annihilation. On this account Greek and Roman philosophers speak of "the immortality of the soul," and even in the present day the same terms are used, the soul being regarded as per se immortal. But neither in the Scriptures, nor in the Apocrypha, is "immortality" qualified by the adjunct "of the soul;" the reason for which may be that since death, as far as our senses inform us, is an objective reality, the writers judged that mortality and freedom from mortality could only be predicated of body. It must, however, be taken into account that according to the doctrine of Scripture there is "a spiritual body" as well as "a natural body," so that while the natural body is, as we know, subject to the law of death, it may be true that the spiritual body is capable of immortality. This point will be farther discussed in the course of the essay.

To account for the absence of any direct announcement of man's immortality in the Old Testament, and for its being sparingly mentioned in the New {3} Testament, the following argument seems legitimate and sufficient. These Scriptures, as already intimated, give no countenance to the idea that the soul of man possesses any innate principle of immortality; on the contrary, they reveal immortality by revealing the means by which the spirit of man is made immortal. As, according to natural science, the external world, both the animate part and the inanimate, has become such as we now perceive it to be by processes of generation and development, so there is reason from Scripture to say that a spiritual world is being created in an analogous manner, and that to this creation all other creations are subordinate and contributory. Moreover, we, the subjects of this creation, are so constituted that we are conscious of, and can ourselves take cognizance of, the means by which it is effected. These considerations may be applied to account for the mode in which immortality is treated of in the Bible. It concerns us, above all things, to discern and feel the operations whereby our spirits are formed both intellectually and morally for an immortal existence; and, accordingly, Scripture is full of instruction, addressed both to the understanding and the heart, concerning those means. Thus, although the final effect is not directly named till the scheme of the spiritual creation is completely unfolded, it is yet true that the whole of the Scriptures from beginning to end has relation to man's immortality.


Not only did the philosophy of Greece and Rome fail to substantiate the reality of an immortal existence; other philosophical systems, as well the mystical conceptions of Eastern nations, as the metaphysical speculations of modern Europe, have equally failed to arrive at certainty respecting this verity. Now, it will be found, I think, to be established by the argument of this essay, that in all these instances the cause of failure is the same. The doctrine cannot, in fact, be understood and believed without an understanding of the means by which the immortal spirit is formed, and the ascertainment of those means is beyond the power of unaided human intelligence. Although the evidences of an immortal destiny may be in us and around us, they cannot be discerned apart from enlightenment by a divine revelation as to the purpose and end of the whole creation.

The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments profess to be a revelation of the mind and will of the Creator of all things. If they are really such, they must be capable of giving the information which, as said above, is necessary for certifying the doctrine of man's immortality. I shall, therefore, with express reference to the title of the essay, first make the hypothesis that the Scriptures are indeed a revelation from God, written to reveal His will and His acts, and on this ground I shall proceed to inquire what information can be derived from them respecting the {5} creation of the spirit of man for an immortal destiny. The character of the information obtained may possibly suffice to establish both the truth of the hypothesis and the certainty of the doctrine of immortality.

Before commencing the argument, it will be well to state on what principles, and according to what rules, Scripture will be cited for conducting it. It will be supposed that the Holy Scriptures, as a whole, consist of words of God written for our sakes; and although they were written by human authors, under diverse circumstances, and in various ages, the several parts are still to be regarded as having virtually but one author, the Holy Spirit, and as constituting on that account a consistent whole. This view is almost necessitated by the noticeable circumstance that very little information is given in the Scriptures themselves respecting the authors of the writings, or the time and place of their composition. This is true, for instance, of such cardinal books as the four Gospels. Respecting these matters enough is said to show that human hands have been employed to write the books of Scripture, while so much has been left unsaid that we must infer that this kind of information is of little moment by reason of the internal evidence the Scriptures contain of their divine authorship. Such evidence, it seems to me, is especially given by the fact that the Scriptures present a faithful transcript of {6} the world as it has been and is, in respect to the calamities, wars, and revolutions that have befallen nations, and those weaknesses and wickednesses of individuals and peoples, the accounts of which are so great a stumbling-block to the "unstable and the unlearned." These very accounts, it is possible, may be intended to tell us, if rightly inquired into, why these things are so, why there is evil in the world, and what shall be the end of it. The world has existed, it is believed, nearly six thousand years, and at this day we see that many suffer from sorrow and pain, labour and poverty are the lot of a very large proportion of the populations, calamities by fire and water are frequent, plague and pestilence still visit the earth, cruelty and murders are rife, and so far from there being an end of wars, never before have men fabricated such potent implements for killing each other. Such facts as these constitute, after all, the difficulties which beset humanity, and it may be presumed that, with the intent of accounting for their existence, they are put on record in the word of God. On the broad principle that the Author of a world like this will have vouchsafed reasons for its being such as it is, I accept the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the word of God written for this very purpose, and instead of cavilling, as some do, at difficulties which probably have no other foundation than their own ignorance, it will be my {7} endeavour to make use of Scripture for explaining the perplexities and difficulties which actually surround the facts of human experience. The discussion of the particular question I have taken in hand will give occasion for employing the Scriptures in this manner, and in doing so I shall quote from all parts indiscriminately, regarding the whole as sufficiently authoritative and trustworthy for the purposes of the argument.

The above-mentioned general purpose the Scriptures may be supposed to be adequate to fulfil, whether as expressed in the Hebrew tongue, or in that of the Septuagint, or as translated in the English version, notwithstanding that, as must be admitted, faults of transcription, or translation, or interpretation have given rise to many verbal errors. But the difficulties produced by these imperfections are of slight importance in comparison with the great difficulty of discovering how and on what principles to interpret the Scriptures so as to derive from them the particular doctrines they are designed to teach. Amid the great diversity of views that exists relative to modes of interpretation, it may safely be maintained that the foremost and chief requisite for making true deductions from the Scriptures is to have confidence in them as being depositions of Divine wisdom. Men of science, in their endeavours to discover the secrets of Nature, are baffled again and again, and yet by little and {8} little they obtain accessions to knowledge just because they never doubt but that Nature, if rightly interrogated, will give them true answers. It seems, therefore, reasonable to expect that the words of God, handled on principles analogous to those which have been successfully applied in acquiring knowledge of His works, might be found capable of answering the hard questions which are now, more, perhaps, than in past times, agitating men's minds. This philosophy, having a surer basis than that of any mere human intellectual system, might be expected to succeed where these have failed. The bearing of these remarks on the main subject of the essay will be seen as we go on.

Commencing now, after the foregoing preliminaries, the general argument, I remark, in the first place, that since, as matter of fact, all men die, they cannot partake of immortality unless they are restored to life after death. We have, therefore, to inquire both as to what the Scriptures say concerning death, and what they reveal concerning resurrection. Again, it may be taken for granted that as in the natural world, so in the spiritual world, the Creator of all things effects His purposes by operating according to laws. On this principle St. Paul in Rom. viii. 2 speaks of "the law of sin and death," meaning that sin and death are invariably related to each other as antecedent and consequent. By an irrevocable law {9} death is ordained to be "the wages of sin" (Rom. vi. 23). Of ourselves we can judge that it does not consist with the power and wisdom of an omnipotent and omniscient Creator that the sinful should live for ever. But if this be so, it must evidently be true also that immortality, being exemption from death, is the consequence of freedom from sin, that is, of perfect righteousness. This is as necessary a law as the other.

Hence the inquiry respecting the means by which man is made immortal resolves itself into inquiring by what means he is made righteous; and, as the first step in this inquiry, we have to consider what Scripture says concerning the entrance of sin and death into the world. If sin be defined to be doing what is contrary to the will of God, as expressed by a command, righteousness, being its opposite, will consist in acting according to His will. Hence sin and righteousness both imply that a revelation of the will of God has been antecedently made, either directly by a command or law, or by the voice of conscience. It is on this principle that St. Paul says, "apart from law sin is dead" (Rom. vii. 8), and in another place speaks of "the righteousness of the law" being fulfilled (Rom. viii. 4). Accordingly, when Adam was placed in the garden of Eden, a command was expressly given him for trial of his obedience.


The narrative in Scripture of the circumstances under which sin was first committed is deserving of special consideration on account of the instruction it conveys. It states that Eve, knowing that God had commanded Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, yet, being deceived by the serpent and enticed by her own desires, "took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her, and he did eat" (Gen. iii. 6). Thus, as St. Paul writes, "Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression" (1 Tim. ii. 14). But both partook of the forbidden fruit, and by so doing both sinned alike against their Maker, the deed being sinful, not as considered by itself, but by reason of the antecedent command, which made it an act of disobedience.

If we assume that the account of Eve's temptation is to be taken as literally true, so that the tempter had actually the form of a serpent and addressed to her spoken words, these facts will have to be regarded as altogether miraculous. There are good reasons for admitting this view, when it is considered, first, that the information which this portion of Scripture gives equally concerns all of every age, and in order that it might be intelligible to all, it was necessary that in the infancy of the world it should be conveyed by objective representation; and, again, that various instances are met with in the Bible of analogous {11} teaching of essential doctrine by means of miracles. The translation of Enoch, the Deluge, the destruction of Sodom, the plagues of Egypt and deliverance of Israel, the giving of the law from Sinai, the passage of Jordan, the ascension of Elijah, and the resurrection of Christ, are all symbolic miracles, the interpretations of which have intimate relation to the doctrine of man's immortality. This being understood, I shall proceed to discuss particularly the meaning of the Scriptural account of the beginning of sin through temptation by the serpent, and on the supposition that the facts as recorded are real but symbolic, I shall endeavour to deduce from them their doctrinal signification.

The first question to consider is, Why is the tempting spirit called a serpent? The Scripture affirms that "the serpent was more subtil (phronimoatos) than any beast of the field" (Gen. iii. 1); and our Lord, addressing his apostles, said, "Lo, I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye, therefore, wise (phronimoi) as serpents, and harmless as doves." Yet, as we know, the serpent is not endowed in any special manner with sagacity or reason. The fact is, the epithet "subtil" is applied to the serpent with reference to its form and movements, which convey the abstract idea of subtlety on the same principle that the words "tortuous" and "twisting" have an abstract meaning when we speak of "tortuous policy," {12} or "twisting the meaning of a sentence." Now this subtle entity—this serpent—although presented to Eve in bodily form, was not the less that spirit of evil, the personal existence of which, on the hypothesis that the Scriptures are true, as well as its influence on human minds, must be admitted. Accordingly our first parents were tempted by what St. Paul calls "the wiles (tas methodeias) of the devil" (Eph. vi. 11).

Again, the statement in Gen. iii. 6, that "when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat," is in accordance with what St. John teaches as to "the lust of the flesh," "the lust of the eyes," and "the pride of life," being opposed to "doing the will of God" (1 John ii. 16, 17). Also, as we have seen, Adam was associated with a partner, who, having been overcome, in consequence of such desires, by the wiles of Satan, committed sin, and then induced her husband to do the same. Thus, since the world at that time consisted of these two individuals, it is an obvious inference, as well as one of great significance, that Adam was tempted just as all his offspring are—that is, by the world, the flesh, and the devil—and, as all his offspring do, yielded to the temptation.

Although Adam was created in the image of his Maker in respect to being endowed with powers of {13} understanding and reasoning, and although he was made capable of learning and doing righteousness, he was not originally made righteous, forasmuch as he sinned: but those whom God makes righteous sin no more, because all the works of God are perfect. "The first man Adam was made a living soul," the breath of life being breathed into his nostrils (Gen. ii. 7). He thus partook of natural life, but not of spiritual life. He was, as St. Paul says, "of the earth, earthy," and all we who are descended from him "bear the image of the earthy" (1 Cor. xv. 47, 49). The mind (to phronema) of this natural man is at "enmity with God," and "neither is, nor can be, subject to the law of God" (Rom. viii. 7). This accounts for our perceiving in children from their very infancy a spirit of disobedience, this spirit being derived through natural descent from that which our first parents exhibited in the infancy of the world. The author of the Apocryphal Book, 2 Esdras, writes: "The first man Adam, bearing a wicked heart, transgressed, and was overcome; and so be all they that are born of him" (iii. 21). In the Wisdom of Solomon this passage occurs: "Wisdom preserved the first formed father of the world, that was created alone, and brought him out of his fall" (x. 1). But it is to be remarked that the word here translated "fall" is paraptoma, the same word that St. Paul uses in Rom. iv. 25 and v. 16, to designate "our transgressions." {14} Cruden in his Concordance gives under the word "fall" an elaborate statement of received views respecting "the fall of man," although that word, as the Concordance shows, does not once occur in the Canonical Scriptures in any relation to the sin of Adam.

It is very noteworthy that after the account of Adam's sin in Genesis, no express mention is made of it in subsequent Canonical Books, till we come to the fifth chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, where the introduction of sin into the world by one man is prominently adduced in an argumentative passage which appears to me to have been much misunderstood.[1] The reason that a fact which is so essential an element in theological systems is so little adverted to in the Scriptures, I consider to be, that these systems have hitherto not recognized an analogy which may be presumed to exist between God's natural creation and His spiritual creation. From what is stated in Genesis i. and ii. there is reason to say that the natural creation was at its beginning without form, and dark, and unfurnished, and that by the power of the Creator, operating, we may presume, according to laws, it was brought into the state of order, light, and adornment (kosmos) which we now behold. Hence, arguing from analogy, we {15} might infer that the spiritual creation has its beginning in the reign of sin and death, and that by the power of the Spirit of God, operating according to law on our spirits, it has its consummation in the establishment of righteousness and life.

This analogical inference suffices, I think, to explain why, after the brief initial account of the entrance of sin and death into the world, the purport of the whole of Scripture is to record the subsequent prevalence of sin, and to reveal by what means grace abounded in the gift of righteousness, and how it abounded all the more because the law of sin and death "passed" from one man "upon all men" (Rom. v. 12). The apostle Paul argues that whereas "death reigned through one, much rather shall they who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through one Jesus Christ" (Rom. v. 17); and in accordance with this doctrine he adds (v. 20), "The law entered by the way (pareiselen) in order that the offence might abound, but where sin abounded grace did much more abound." It seems impossible to draw from such sentences as these any other inference than that, according to the scheme of the spiritual creation, the reign of sin and death is the necessary antecedent of the evolution of life from righteousness.

The apostle sums up his argument by saying (v. 19), "For as by the disobedience of one man the many were made sinners, so also by the obedience {16} of one shall the many be made righteous" (dikaioi katastatesontai oi polloi). It is evident that "the many" here includes all that are born in the world, in contradistinction to "the one," Adam, who was created, and from whom all have descended by natural generation. Now, considering that righteousness and life, as necessarily as their opposites sin and death, are related to each other by law as antecedent and consequent, the above revelation that "all will be made righteous" is as direct an assertion of the immortality of all men as could possibly be made. It is, therefore, of the greatest moment, as regards our argument, to ascertain on what grounds we are told that all will eventually be "made righteous" through the obedience of Jesus Christ, and what is the exact meaning of this doctrine. The purpose of this essay will be completely fulfilled if it should be shown that these questions admit of being satisfactorily answered. But before attempting to do this, it is necessary to have a precise understanding of the previous assertion that through Adam's disobedience "the many were made sinners." This preliminary inquiry I now proceed to enter upon.

If we adopt the view expressed in a passage already quoted (2 Esdras iii. 21), we shall, in effect, admit that the transgression of Adam was the consequence of his "bearing a wicked heart," and that all who are born of him sin because by natural generation they {17} have received from him the same wicked heart. According to this view it must be supposed that "the wicked heart" is in respect to goodness a tabula rasa, and that till goodness be formed in it, it is led by natural desires to do evil. Certainly the moral phenomena exhibited by very young children accord with this supposition; and it may reasonably be presumed that St. Paul, in giving to the Romans, to whom he had not personally preached, a synoptical statement of the doctrines he was accustomed to teach, did not set before them the Scriptural account of the introduction and prevalence of sin in any manner not intelligible to ordinary minds from common experience.

What then are we to understand by the assertion that "through the disobedience of one man the many were made sinners"? In answer to this question it is to be said that the word parakoe may be taken in this passage to signify "disobedience" abstractedly, and not a special act of disobedience, because upakoe in the next clause does not require to be taken in a specific sense, but rather as referring to that holy spirit which was in Jesus Christ, in virtue of which his will was always in subjection to the will of his heavenly Father, and he became "obedient unto death." According to this interpretation, "disobedience" is here put for that wickedness of heart the antecedent existence of which the sin of Adam gave {18} evidence of, and which, by being transmitted from father to son through natural generation, has made all men sinners, to the end that all may be eventually made righteous by spiritual generation.

It is true that the sin of Adam, being the first violation of a command received from God, first made disobedience an objective reality, and that thus sin entered into the world. But although actual transgression had this beginning, it does not follow that the proneness of the heart of man to transgress was contingent on Adam's sin, or thereby came into existence. On the other hand, it will probably be urged that to ascribe its existence to any other cause is "to make God the author of sin." In answer to this objection it may be said that if it were valid as regards God's moral essence, one might with as good reason urge that it was inconsistent with His power and intelligence that the natural creation should have its beginning in darkness and chaos. However, whether or not this view be accepted, I shall assume that the reality of the natural wickedness of the human heart is admitted, and consequently the remainder of the argument, inasmuch as it has reference to the means by which the wicked heart is subdued and made righteous, will in either case be the same.

The relation of "one" to "many," considered only as a natural fact, is so peculiar and essential an {19} element in the past history and progressive development of the human race, that it might well be supposed to be specially significant with respect to their future destiny; and, in fact, St. Paul has taught us to draw the reasonable inference that whereas through the first Adam the many, by a law from which they cannot rid themselves, have been made sinners, a fortiori through a "second Adam" the many will be made righteous. The course of our argument, consequently, now demands an inquiry as to the means by which the many will be made (katastathesontai) righteous through the obedience of Jesus Christ. The future tense is particularly to be noticed.

As soon as it was shown by the sin of Adam that the natural man is incapable of obedience to the will of God, a preordained dispensation was begun, whereby the natural man is converted into the spiritual man and made fit for immortality. This dispensation was introduced by a promise, the terms of which could be understood by Adam and Eve after they had learned that the spirit of evil (in whom is "the power of death") through their disobedience brought death into the world. The promise was given in the words "he (autos, Sept.) shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" (Gen. iii. 15). Hebrew commentators have, I think, rightly taken this passage in the sense—he ("the seed of the woman") shall bruise thee at thy ending, and thou shalt bruise him at his {20} beginning. The promise, accordingly, signifies that the power of Satan would prevail at first, and for a time, even to putting to death the Son of God (Luke xxii. 53), but that in the end that power would by the Son of God be overcome (Luke x. 18). And since with the victory over the spirit of evil an end is put to evil itself, the promise is, in effect, that Adam and his race shall eventually be exempt from death and evil, and partake of a happy immortality.

But in the very next sentence conditions are annexed (Gen. iii. 16-19). Because of the imperfection of the natural man, and his opposition, through the subtlety of Satan and the desires of the flesh, to the will of his Maker, labour and sorrow, pain and death, were ordained to be his lot, in order that he may thereby be made meet to partake of the promise. It is by reason of these conditions that the promise becomes, in effect, a covenant, in which of necessity two parties are concerned: God on His part promises happiness and immortality, but to be received only on the above-stated conditions; and man's part is to submit to the conditions, as being ordered by a "faithful Creator," and to look in faith for the fulfilment of the promise. Here, then, are all the essentials of a covenant, excepting surety for its fulfilment, which on acknowledged principles of justice might be asked for by man, seeing that he has to satisfy the conditions before he enjoys the benefit. Such security is amply {21} given by God, as will be shown in the sequel of the argument. In short, this covenant admits of being described in terms exactly suited to human covenants, because the providence of God has so ordered these, that, together with other purposes, they answer this, the principal one, of making intelligible the divine covenant. This same covenant might with more exactness be called a will, or testament, because from its very conditions the benefit it confers cannot be received till after death (see Heb. ix. 16, 17). Also, because this covenanted promise runs through the whole of the Scriptures, they have been appropriately named the Scriptures of the Old Testament and of the New Testament, not, however, as signifying that the Old Testament is superseded by the New, but that it reveals an earlier stage of development of the same covenant.

The character and purpose of this covenant began to be unfolded at the threshold of the world's history, on the occasion of offerings being brought to God by Cain and Abel. Abel's offering consisted of "the firstlings of his flock and the fat thereof," and was, therefore, proper for expressing, by visible tokens, the character of the covenant in three essential particulars: first, that it is a covenant of life, the animals chosen affording food, and that of the choicest kind, for supporting life; secondly, that the covenanted life is entered upon after death, the animals being slain {22} for food; thirdly, that pain and death, although, according to law, consequent upon sin, were ordained, not alone for the judicial punishment of sin, the animals that were slain being "harmless," but for rendering the spirit of man meet to partake of the future life. Abel was himself in his death the first witness (martus) to this truth, and by the same means many chosen servants of God have been "purified and made white" (Dan. xii. 10). The offering of Cain was also proper for food, but as consisting of "fruits of the ground," it was not, like Abel's, susceptible of any meaning relative to the covenant. Grace was given to Abel to select an offering which, as being significant of the covenant, was accepted by God; but the same grace was not given to Cain. "The Lord had respect to Abel and to his offering: but to Cain and to his offering He had not respect."

The narrative goes on to say that because the Lord had not the same respect to Cain's offering as to Abel's, Cain was "very wroth, and his countenance fell," and that on this account he was rebuked. It should be noticed that the terms of the rebuke have no reference to the choice of offering, but to "doing well," implying that Cain's conduct was not "righteous" like that of Abel. To quiet his troubled spirit, he is told that it is God's pleasure that he should stand towards his brother in the relation of protector and ruler. Cain repudiated this relation {23} and slew his brother, acting thus as the unrighteous world, of whom he may be regarded as the representative, have always acted towards God's elect, whom Abel typified. These remarks will afterwards be seen to bear on the general argument.

The distinction which God made between the offerings of Cain and Abel, and His express approval of Abel's offering, might serve to make known, at the time and in succeeding generations, the purport of the promise made originally to Adam, and the ordained conditions of its fulfilment. In fact, the special acceptance by God of Abel's offering may be looked upon as the primary institution of sacrifice. The researches of men of learning have abundantly shown that the sacrificing of animals was a very ancient and wide-spread religious practice, but have left altogether unexplained how it originated, and whence arose the custom of ratifying a covenant between man and man by killing animals; for what reason also the slaying of innocuous and helpless victims came to be the principal act of religious worship among the Jews, and why it was thought among the Gentiles that such sacrifices pleased the gods. These questions do not appear to admit of answers apart from information derived from Scripture. The answers will, I think, be found to be given by what, in reliance on such aid, has been already said, and by what remains to be said, {24} respecting the covenant of immortality. It is quite possible that, as has happened with respect to other practices, that of sacrificing animals was continued long after its original signification ceased to be understood. This may be affirmed of the ratifying of covenants by killing victims (which no sane person nowadays would think of doing), and generally of the sacrifices offered by Gentile nations in honour of their gods, which eventually became mere matters of custom, without any distinct appreciation of their intrinsic meaning. In such cases all clue from tradition or history fails, and the explanation of the sources of the practices can be looked for only in the records of Scripture.

It might, however, be questioned whether Abel himself, in making his offering, understood that it had the symbolic meanings ascribed to it above. The answer to this inquiry, given on the authority of what is said in Heb. xi. 4, would seem to be that he did so understand it, inasmuch as it is stated that he brought an acceptable offering by faith, and, according to Heb. xi. 1, faith may be defined to be an intelligent belief and hopeful expectation of the covenanted life. Also, as bearing on this question, it may be mentioned that in passages of Scripture where Abel is subsequently spoken of (as Matt. xxiii. 85, Heb. xi. 4, 1 John iii. 12), his righteousness is specially referred to. Now, since to do righteousness {25} is to do what is pleasing to God, and, as we are told in Heb. xi. 6, "without faith it is impossible to please God," it follows that Abel's righteousness was the consequence of his faith. In fact, according to St. Paul's teaching, faith and righteousness are by law related to each other as antecedent and consequent (Rom. iii. 27, 28). Consequently we may here draw an inference which forms an essential part of the general argument for immortality. For since we have admitted, as a necessary and self-evident principle, that righteousness is the foundation of immortality, and Scripture presents to us in Abel an instance of the attainment of righteousness by faith, it follows that faith is a means of partaking of immortality. This doctrine will be farther treated of in the sequel; but in the mean time it will be well to explain that I consider "righteousness" to consist in obedience by word and deed to the "royal law" according to which, in a perfect social state, every one would do to others as he would that they should do to him. This relation between man and man should, I think, rather be called righteousness than morality, because the latter word is derived from mores (manners), and does not etymologically denote "rectitude," whereas the Greek word for righteousness (dikaiosune) refers to the deciding of what is morally right by a judge, and the office of a judge, as respects social relations, is the {26} highest that men are appointed to discharge towards their fellow men. It should also be noticed that the "faith" I am speaking of does not consist in believing what is not understood, which seems to be a psychological contradiction, but in believing in consequence of understanding. "By faith we understand that the worlds [or ages (tous aionas)] were framed by the word of God" (Heb. xi. 3). In short, the faith spoken of in Scripture is the basis of all intellectual, as well as of all moral excellence, and is inclusive of what is usually called "talents," or "gifts."

The same covenant, under different typical circumstances, was renewed, first with Noah (Gen. ix. 8-17), and afterwards with Abraham (Gen. xvii. 1-8). The faith of Noah was exhibited not only in building an ark in obedience to God's command, but also in sacrificing clean animals on coming out of the ark. These sacrifices, being offered immediately after the world had been destroyed by the baptism of the Flood, were peculiarly significant of an understanding and acceptance of the covenant of a life to come. After the mention made in the Epistle to the Hebrews of the faith and obedience of which Noah gave evidence by building the ark, it is said of him that "he thereby became heir [inheritor] of the righteousness which is according to faith" (Heb. xi. 7). Such righteousness, we have already argued, entitles the possessor of it to immortality.


So also Abraham, when God promised that the land of Canaan should be given to his seed, "builded an altar to the Lord" (Gen. xii. 7, 8), for the purpose, it may be presumed, of sacrificial worship, testifying thus not only belief of the fulfilment of the particular promise, but faith also in the covenanted future life. That Abraham's faith, while he sojourned in Canaan, was directed towards the experience of the world to come, is plainly declared in Heb. xi. 10, where it is asserted that "he looked for a city having foundations, whose builder and maker is God." It was in consequence of such faith that the gift of righteousness was reckoned to him as a favour, and "he was called the friend of God" (James ii. 28). Now, the above-mentioned renewal of the covenant was made with Abraham, not solely in respect to his being father of the Hebrew nation, but in respect also to his being typically father of all that believe of all times and nations (compare Gen. xvii. 1-8, with Rom. iv. 11, 16, 17). And all this elect seed receive, in common with their spiritual father, the gift of righteousness through faith—are saved by faith; so that the doctrine that faith is the means whereby the elect are made meet for immortality, which was inferred from the history of Abel, is exemplified in a more comprehensive manner by what is recorded of Abraham.

We have argued above that the patriarchs Noah {28} and Abraham testified their belief and acceptance of the covenant of life by sacrifice. But in the patriarchal times the only surety for the fulfilment of the promise was the direct word of God. With the exception of what is said of Melchisedek, who typified a High Priest to come, no mention is made of the mediation of priests till the priesthood of Aaron was regularly constituted. From that time the priest was mediator between God and the people, and in virtue of his office gave assurance of the fulfilment of the covenant to those who, by offering clean animals for sacrifice, signified their acceptance of its conditions. The priest gave such assurance by mediatorially receiving the offerings, and representing, by sprinkling the blood of the slain animals, the purifying effect of the suffering of death. After the ordinances of the law had been instituted, Moses said to the people, "I have set before you life and death: choose life" (Deut. xxx. 19). Seeing that no one can escape the death which is the termination of the present life, this choice between life and death necessarily refers to the covenanted life, the fulfilment of the conditions of which secures from death in the world to come. The author of the Apocryphal Book 2 Esdras, who was wiser, I think, than the author of "The Divine Legation of Moses," has shown that he so understood the passage; for after saying (vii. 48, 44), "The day of doom shall be the end of this time, and the {29} beginning of the immortality for to come, wherein corruption is past, intemperance is at an end, infidelity is cut off, righteousness is grown, and truth is sprung up," he adds (in v. 59) with reference to this description of the life to come, "This is the life whereof Moses spake unto the people while he lived, saying, Choose thee life, that thou mayest live."

Sacrifice remained the chief symbol of religious faith up to the time of that great sacrifice of the Son of God, the acceptance of which by the Father sealed the covenant of everlasting life, and made all other sureties sure. The ground of assurance lies in the fact that Jesus Christ in his life and death went through all the experience whereby our spirits are formed for immortality. "He learned obedience by the things that he suffered" (Heb. v. 8). He was made perfect "through sufferings" (Heb. ii. 10). "He made him to be sin (hamartian; compare Gal. iii. 13) for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. v. 21). Joining with these passages that remarkable one in which Christ is spoken of as "a priest who is made according to the power of an indissoluble (akatalytou) life" (Heb. vii. 16), it is evident that our community with him in suffering, in death, and, as we have reason to hope, in resurrection, is ample surety to us for the fulfilment of the covenant of immortality. For as death is the dissolution of life, indissoluble {30} life means exemption from death, and is, therefore, identical with immortality.

That suffering in the flesh is efficacious, as is argued in the foregoing doctrine, towards doing away with sin, may be maintained on the authority both of St. Paul and St. Peter, the former apostle having said, "He that is dead has been justified from sin" (Rom. vi. 7), and the other, "He that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin" (1 Peter iv. 1). But here it is particularly to be noted that this effect is not produced upon all who suffer in the flesh. These apostles are speaking of such as have faith; and it is only when suffering is accompanied by a faith which apprehends the covenant of life, and especially lays hold of the surety for its fulfilment given by the suffering and death of the Son of God, that it avails to free from sin. The elect, who through the grace of God have such faith, are drawn by the perfect love, and the sympathy in its strictest sense, which were manifested by the obedience unto death of Jesus Christ, to follow the example of his obedience, and thereby to attain to righteousness. By this reasoning it is shown, but only so far as regards the elect, that "the many are made righteous by the obedience of Christ." It will in the sequel be argued that the death of Christ has another aspect and a wider effect.

As there was no more occasion for signifying acceptance of the covenant by sacrifice after the sacrifice {31} of Jesus Christ, that form of religious worship came to an end. Thenceforth faith in the covenant was to be expressed by means of symbols which pointed to the sacrifice made once and for all time on the cross. The ordained symbols are bread and wine, taken in the Lord's Supper. The minister of the Gospel has succeeded to the Jewish priest in respect to giving surety officially for the fulfilment of the covenant, and on that account may with propriety be called a priest. There is no longer an altar, because the acceptance of the covenant is not, as in the Jewish worship, indicated by sacrifice, but by partaking of food in the forms of bread and wine at "the table of the Lord." The Christian minister, in delivering these symbols to the worshippers, gives, in virtue of his mediating office, sureties for the fulfilment of the covenant of eternal life; the worshipper who partakes of them in faith receives them as such sureties, and looks for the fulfilment of the covenant. No doubt this office should be discharged by a good and wise minister, who has been regularly appointed thereto; but for the efficacy of the ordinance the chief requisite is faith on the part of the recipient—an intelligent faith such as that which has just been mentioned.

The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is justly regarded as the central ordinance of the Christian religion, and, therefore, of necessity has relation to the means whereby immortality is secured. In fact, {32} in each of the four records of its institution given in Scripture, the word "testament" (diatheke) occurs: in St. Matthew and St. Mark we have, "This is my blood of the New Testament," and in St. Luke and 1 Cor. xi., "This cup is the New Testament in my blood." What is the meaning of "testament" in these passages, and how is the testament related to the "blood" of Jesus Christ? It is worthy of notice that these questions have received no special consideration in the recent controversies respecting the Lord's Supper, although in order to arrive at the full signification of that ordinance it is clearly necessary to be able to give answers to them. As far as regards the general meaning of the testament, or covenant, its relation to our immortality, and the surety for its fulfilment given by the blood (i.e. the death) of Jesus Christ, enough, I think, has been said in the foregoing arguments; it remains to inquire, for more complete understanding of the doctrine of the Sacrament, what relations the symbols bread and wine have to the Body and Blood of Christ.

"Bread strengthens man's heart," and "wine makes it glad" (Ps. civ. 15). To strengthen the heart is to produce confidence. Now, it may be asserted that confidence and joy, being incorporeal entities, are the same in essence under whatever external conditions they are generated. They are the same whether experienced in consequence of taking {33} bread and wine, or in consequence of understanding and accepting the covenant of life made sure by the body and blood of Christ. Although physical science is wholly incapable of informing us how the corporeal elements bread and wine produce in those who partake of them feelings of strength and gladness (the antecedents and consequents not being in the same category), we can yet understand that the Creator of all things might by His immediate will attach to those substances such effects, not alone for the sake of man's body, but for the higher purpose of thereby informing his spirit that there is cause for confidence and joy in the broken body of the Lord, and his poured-out blood. This view is justified by the language of St. Paul, where he says, speaking of the Son of God, that "all things were created through him and unto him" (eis auton, Col. i. 16); from which doctrine it may be inferred that our Lord, having regard to the cognizable effects of bread and wine spoken of by the Psalmist, said of bread, "This is my body," and of wine, "This is my blood," because his body and blood, when "spiritually discerned," have the very same effects.

But why did Christ say, "This is my body," "This is my blood"? The answer to this question may be given at once by pointing to a rule in Scriptural teaching, according to which the symbol and the thing symbolized are expressed in identical terms. {34} The Bible must have been read to little purpose by those who have not discovered that this characteristic pervades all parts both of the Old and the New Testament. On this principle, when speaking to the Jews, our Lord made no distinction between his own body and the visible temple at Jerusalem, just because his body was the proper habitation of the Holy Spirit antecedently to, and comprehensively of, the dwelling of the Spirit in any temple made with hands. St. Paul also employs like teaching where he says, "They are not all Israel that are of Israel" (Rom. ix. 6), the first "Israel" meaning God's elect of all nations and times, and the other the Jewish people, by whom the elect are typified. The rationale of this mode of teaching appears to be, that we could not speak, or even think, of abstract verities, such as that Jesus Christ is to us the author of life, and strength, and joy, without perceptions and feelings antecedently derived from external realities; and the more closely abstractions are viewed by the intervention of their necessary objective antecedents, the more exact and effective will be our knowledge. I venture here to express the opinion that all the contention and diversity of views that have arisen about Transubstantiation and the Real Presence are referable to the non-recognition of the above-mentioned principle of Scriptural teaching by symbols, and generally to an inability to understand and rightly interpret the {35} concrete and symbolic language of Scripture. Defect of knowledge in this respect has given occasion to many errors. With regard to the doctrine of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, I am of opinion that the above-mentioned dogmas, and the forms of worship connected with them, which appear to be rightly designated as superstitious, have had the effect of very much keeping out of view the relation of that ordinance to the covenant which, through the death of Jesus Christ, makes immortality sure. Perhaps it should rather be said that the superstitious practices give evidence that "the blood of the new covenant" is not understood.

From the preceding discussion I draw the conclusion that our Lord, in saying of the wine, "This is my blood of the New Testament," expressed the doctrine that his blood (signifying his death) is both the pledge and the means, through faith, of partaking of the joy (signified by the wine) of a new and ever-lasting life. The Testament is new because it contains the promise of a future inheritance under better sureties than those of the old covenant of the Law.

After having thus considered what the Scriptures say concerning death, we have next to inquire what they reveal concerning resurrection. As preliminary to this inquiry, it may be remarked that the foregoing arguments relative to Christ's partaking with us in death, are such as point directly to the conclusion that {36} we shall participate with him in resurrection. In St. Paul's teaching (1 Cor. xv. 12-19) Christ's resurrection and the resurrection of the dead are events so necessarily related that, "if the dead rise not, Christ was not raised up." But the fact of Christ's resurrection was substantiated by so many witnesses, who saw him alive after his death, that we may with certainty infer, according to this doctrine, that the dead will rise. It is, however, to be observed that the argument of the apostle in the passage just quoted is expressly addressed to those who have faith and knowledge, and cannot be adduced in proof of the doctrine of the resurrection of all men. For evidence as to the truth of this doctrine recourse must be had to other parts of Scripture.

For the present purpose it will suffice to cite two remarkable sayings of our Lord, recorded in St. John's Gospel. He first says, "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live" (John v. 25); and then (in vv. 28 and 29 of the same chapter) he says, "The hour is coming in which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment" (kriseos). The first passage refers to a partial resurrection, inasmuch as it makes mention of those only who shall hear the voice of the Son of {37} God, and hearing shall live; whereas the other passage asserts that all who are in sepulchres (mnemeiois) shall hear his voice, and divides these into two classes—those that have done good, who rise to live (the class just before mentioned), and those that have done evil, who rise to be judged. The assertion in vv. 28 and 29 is, accordingly, a revelation respecting the resurrection of all the dead, and is to be taken as comprehensive of the other; so that the class that will partake of "the resurrection of life" are the same as those of whom it is said in the first passage that they will hear the voice of the Son of God and will live. As far as regards the distinction into two classes, this doctrine agrees with that preached by St. Paul, where he affirms that his unbelieving countrymen "themselves allowed that there would be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust" (Acts xxiv. 15). It may here be remarked that it is not necessary to infer from its being said in John v. 28, 29, that "all that are in their graves shall hear his voice and come forth," that all will rise simultaneously. Rather the separate mention in v. 25 of those that hear and live, and especially the assertion that the hour in which these hear is not only coming, but "now is," would seem to apply exclusively to the resurrection of "the just," and to indicate that this resurrection is antecedent to that of "the unjust." However, to settle this question, {38} which is a very important one, recourse will now be had to other passages of Scripture.

On the principle of regarding, for application in this argument, the whole of the Canonical Scriptures as authoritative, it is legitimate to refer to the Book of Revelation for information respecting the resurrection of the dead. Now, in Rev. xx. 5 we have in express terms, "This is the first resurrection." And again, in the next verse, "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power." It is evident, therefore, that this is the resurrection of the just, and that those who are thus "blessed and holy" are thenceforth exempt from mortality. This conclusion has a very important bearing on our argument; for, on turning to v. 4 of the same chapter, we find that the partakers of this resurrection are described as martyrs "who were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God," and generally as those who "received not the mark of the beast on their forehead and on their hand," which may be interpreted as meaning that by intelligent faith and righteous deeds they overcame their spiritual adversaries. It seems, therefore, allowable to infer that this is the company of those who in Scripture are so often called "the elect," who by suffering, experience, and hope, are in this life "sealed" unto the day of redemption (Rev. vii. 2-8, and Eph. iv. 80).


It is, besides, said of these chosen ones that they "lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years," but that "the rest of the dead lived not till the thousand years were finished." It would thus appear that a definite interval of long duration is interposed between the resurrection of the just and the unjust. It is also to be particularly noticed that the seer, speaking of what pertains to that interval of a thousand years during which the spirit of evil is "bound," says that he "saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them" (Rev. xx. 4). This must refer to the judgment undergone by those who have part in the first resurrection, because the rest of the dead do not rise to be judged till the thousand years are ended. As to the elect being judged, the teaching of St. Paul is very explicit, where he says, identifying himself with the general company of the faithful, "We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done through the body, according to what he hath done, whether good or bad" (2 Cor. v. 10. So also Rom. xiv. 10). It is not expressly said in the passage above quoted who they are who sat on thrones and had judgment given to them; but the information is supplied in Matt. xix. 28, where we read, "Jesus said to them [that is, as the context shows, to Peter and the other apostles], Verily I say to you, that ye who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the {40} throne of his glory, ye also shall sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." A like revelation, addressed exclusively to the apostles, is given in Luke xxii. 28-80. "The twelve tribes of Israel" is the symbolic designation of the elect—those that are sealed (see Rev. vii. 3-8).

It must now be taken into account that the experience and the deeds of the present life alone determine whether any individual is or is not of the number of the elect. Those only who by the favour of God are justified in this life by works done through faith are reckoned among "the just" who partake of the first resurrection. But Scripture nowhere asserts that their spiritual state differs at their resurrection from what it was at the time of their death; rather, it negatives this assumption by describing their state in the interval as that of "sleep." Consequently, not being yet "made perfect," they have need to pass through the judgment just spoken of (compare 1 Cor. iii. 11-15), in order that by the completion of their spiritual creation they might be made meet for immortality. To them, although there is judgment, there is no "condemnation," and, therefore, no "second death." Such, it seems to me, is the Scriptural doctrine of immortality, as far as regards the elect.

Before proceeding to speak of the judgment of the whole world, it will be appropriate to consider here what judgment is abstractedly, and what are its {41} purpose and effect. These questions can only be answered by means of what is matter of human experience, and in terms derived therefrom. Now we all know that kings, judges, and magistrates administer justice and judgment for the purpose of making righteousness and truth prevail, and that for the same end they inflict punishment on the guilty. Whatever is this is judgment, and what is not this is not judgment. The portion of the Scriptures which speaks in plainest terms of the object and effect of judgment is, perhaps, that contained in Psalms xcvi., xcvii., xcviii., and xcix. If the words of these Psalms do not refer to the judgment that is to come upon the earth and the whole world in the future age, they will require to be taken in a non-natural sense. But such a sense is here inadmissible, because consistently with what may be inferred, as said above, from human experience respecting judgment, namely, that its purpose is to cause righteousness and truth to prevail, this Scripture declares in terms expressive of the highest joy and exultation that for this end the world is judged.

Let us, therefore, now inquire what Scripture reveals respecting the judgment and immortality of the rest of mankind—those who are not numbered among the elect. First, it is clearly implied in Rev. xx. 5, that they live again at the end of the thousand years. Next, as we have already inferred from the words of {42} Christ recorded in John v. 29, they rise to be judged. If, as we have argued, it is needful that even the elect should be judged, much rather must judgment overtake the unbelieving and the unrighteous? We are, moreover, expressly told who is to be the righteous Judge: "The Father hath committed all judgment to the Son" (John v. 22). The sinners who, acting "through ignorance" as agents of Satan, arraigned, condemned, and put to death the blameless Son of God, were not alone guilty, inasmuch as it was appointed that they should make manifest and consummate the wickedness that reigns in the heart of the collective world. For this reason Jesus Christ, in fulfilment of a just retribution, is ordained to be Judge of all the world, and of Satan also.

Respecting the outward means by which judgment is executed on the ungodly, many things seem to be said in the Book of Revelation; but from being expressed in symbolic language, they are generally "hard to be understood." I shall make no attempt to give explanations of the details of this symbolism, such an inquiry not being necessary for my present purpose; but a few remarks on the contents of the Apocalypse which have a general relation to the purpose and effect of judgment may here be appropriately introduced as bearing on the question of immortality. In the first place, it may be stated that its prophetic language and symbols resemble in so many {43} particulars what we meet with in various parts of the prophecies of the Old Testament, that it might almost be regarded as an epitome of these prophecies. This view is supported by the announcement made in Rev. x. 7, which affirms that, "in the days of the voice of the seventh trumpet, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God shall be finished, according to the gospel He declared (os eueggelise) unto His servants the prophets" (see also Rev. xxii. 6). It is here to be particularly remarked that after the sounding of six trumpets severally significant of judgment, it is proclaimed that the mystery of God would be finished at the sounding of the seventh and last, this consummation having been antecedently made known as a gospel to the Old Testament prophets. This text accordingly agrees with the tenor of the argument previously adduced respecting the final effect of judgment in establishing the reign, so much to be desired, of truth and righteousness. At the end of the judgment "the temple of God is opened in heaven, and there is seen in His temple the ark of His covenant" (Rev. xi. 19). This is the covenant of immortality, which, having been originally made (as has already been indicated) with Adam after his transgression, was afterwards renewed with Noah and with Abraham, was represented by symbols and proclaimed orally by Moses in the wilderness, and, finally, was confirmed by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.


Equally remarkable is another revelation, which tells us that the elect, the one hundred and forty-four thousand who have been made perfect by the experience they have gone through in the thousand years of the first resurrection, are joined with the Son of God in the execution of the general judgment. In Rev. xix. 14, it is said that "the armies in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean." This clothing proves that the attendant army consisted of the saints made perfect in righteousness, as will be evident by comparing vv. 7 and 8 of the same chapter. In v. 15 it is asserted respecting "The Word of God," that "he shall rule the nations with a rod of iron;" and he says himself, speaking of his faithful followers, "To him that overcometh and keepeth my works unto the end will I give power over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron" (Rev. ii. 26, 27). Also we have in Psalm cxlix. 6-9, "Let a two-edged sword be in their hand, to execute vengeance upon the nations, punishments upon the peoples; to bind their kings with chains, and their rulers with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all His saints." Moreover, St. Paul writes to the Corinthians: "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?" "Know ye not that we shall judge angels?" In short, the doctrine of Scripture on this prerogative of the saints is very explicit.


Again, it is uniformly affirmed in Scripture that every one will be judged "according to his works." Of course, "words" are included in "works;" for our Lord said expressly, "Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment; for by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned" (Matt. xii. 86, 87). It would seem that the judgment, as being conducted by external means, takes account of human thoughts only so far as their consequences are manifested by overt deeds and spoken words. It is not the less true, according to the doctrine of the Lord himself (in Mark iv. 22, and Luke viii. 17), that in the day of judgment all secret and hidden things will be revealed. The words in St. Mark, "neither was anything kept secret but in order that (hina) it should come abroad," seem expressly to indicate the relation in which things hidden in the present age stand to the revelations of that day. St. Paul also writes to the Romans, speaking of them who have not received the law by direct communication: "They show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing them witness, and their thoughts, one with another, accusing, or also excusing, in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel, through Jesus Christ" (Rom. ii. 15, 16). (This, I think, should be the translation of the passage.) It may be noticed that {46} here again "gospel" is mentioned in connection with "judgment."

Now, the very terms, "judgment according to works," imply that the works brought into judgment are not all equally bad, and that there may be both "good and bad;" which also may be inferred from the passage just quoted from the Epistle to the Romans. In fact, it is not too much to assume that all the deeds and experience of the present life are contributory in different ways to the final purpose of the judgment. We have already argued, in accordance with what is said in 2 Cor. v. 10, that the saints will be judged according to their works, and from 1 Cor. iii. 11-15, we learn that their works will be tried by fire, but they themselves will be saved, "yet so as by fire." We have now to enter upon the important inquiry as to whether Scripture reveals an analogous dispensation with respect to the rest of mankind.

Hard as it may be for us to conceive by what means the deeds and experience of all men, the living and the dead, will be brought under review in the day of judgment, that so it will be is undoubtedly the teaching of Scripture. Our understanding of this wonderful event may perhaps be assisted by taking into account what St. Paul said to the Athenians: "In Him we live, and move, and have our being;" whence it may be inferred that all our works and {47} words, and even feelings and thoughts, are known to God. With reference to this question, it would, I think, be legitimate to call to our aid the knowledge of the external creation, which has been so largely extended in the present day. After long attention given to the acquisition of such knowledge, I seem to see that it points to the conclusion that all the forces of nature are resident in a universal aetherial medium, extending through all space, and pervading all visible and tangible substances, by the intervention of which all power is exerted, whether it be by the immediate will of God, or mediately, by that of angels or of men. (I assume that there can be no exertion of power apart from the will and consciousness of an agent.) Consequently the Spirit of the Universe must be cognizant of every exertion of power and of its effects. To this consideration another of peculiar significance is to be added. The faculty which we possess to a limited extent, depending on bodily conditions and organization, of remembering the consequences of exerted power, whether as operating ourselves, or being operated upon, must be conceived of as pertaining, without any limitation, to the Creator of the aetherial substance and the Source of all power. In this manner it seems possible to understand how all actions and all events may be written down (speaking metaphorically) in the Book of God's remembrance, and so be brought into judgment.


The universality and the character of the future judgment are declared in Rev. xx. 11-13, with particular reference to the presence and majesty of "One who sat on a great white throne," who, doubtless, is God the Father, the Creator of heaven and earth. The seer says in this passage, "I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." The mention made of "the books" indicates that what is here said of the general judgment pertains exclusively to God the Father, by whose almighty power and omniscience, as I have endeavoured to show in the preceding paragraph, all the deeds and experience of the present life are held in remembrance to be brought under judgment. But it would be an error to suppose that this general judgment is different from that the process and results of which, as effected through the Son of man and his attendant armies, are symbolically described in previous parts of the Apocalypse. The judgment was ordained by decree of the Father, and prearranged by His wisdom, and in accordance therewith it is executed by the Son, who, apparently on this account, speaks thus of himself: "To him that overcometh will I give to sit with me in my throne, as I also overcame and sat with my Father in His throne" (Rev. iii. 21). This throne {49} which the Son shares with the Father may be presumed to be the seat of power exercised in judgment (compare Rev. ii. 26, 27). Why "the book of life" is mentioned in connection with the books from the contents of which the dead are judged, will be shown in the sequel of the argument.

There are other considerations relating to the future judgment which it is necessary to enter into in order to complete the argument for the immortality of all men. We live in a world in which sorrow and pain and death abound everywhere and at all times, and although these are actual consequences of sin, inasmuch as they would be non-existent if sin did not antecedently exist, it is not the less true that the law which in the present time of imperfection connects suffering with sin, tends in its operation towards bringing on eventually a state of perfection. Thus there is a final cause for that law. I have already (page 14) illustrated this doctrine by reference to the process whereby the actual condition and adornment of this earth were elaborated by the operation of physical laws out of a state of darkness and chaos. This view is corroborated by the noticeable fact that suffering in this life, whether caused by the three scourges, war, pestilence, and famine, or what we call accident, or by the injustice and cruelty of men, by no means in proportion to guilt, since even the innocent thereby sometimes suffer. Now, as all {50} human deeds and experience are taken cognizance of in the great day of judgment, it must be admitted that sufferings of the kind just mentioned will be included in the account. In what way, and with what effect, will, I think, be to some extent indicated by the following considerations.

Besides the principle of animal life (psyche) which man partakes of in common with the creatures of a lower order, there is within him a spirit (pneuma) which is being formed, educated, and built up, all the time that it is the tenant of a corporeal "vessel." On account of this law of progressiveness, the spirit of a child, as we can all see, differs in its feelings and its understanding from that of a man. In short, spirit perfected is the principle of immortal life. Now, during our waking hours our spirits are replete with consciousness and thought, which, however, at the moment of falling asleep depart from us. The spirit is then taken into the keeping of the angels of God, to be by them restored into its place in the body at the moment of waking up and of return to consciousness. In like manner at death the spirits of all men, good and wicked, pass into the custody of the Creator of spirits, to wait for the return to consciousness by being on the morning of their resurrection again united with body,—not, however, with the same natural body, but with a spiritual body (1 Cor. xv. 44). The union of spirit with bodily essence appears to be a {51} necessary condition of human consciousness, and to have been ordained for the special reasons that we are destined to live hereafter not only individually, but in social relations also, and that only through the medium of body is there communion between one man's spirit and that of another.

This being understood, it is next to be observed that in the forming and building up ("edification") of spirit, the human will is concerned, and that, according to a man's choice of action, his spirit may be educated for being good or for being wicked, may be sanctified or defiled. There is, in short, no act or experience in human life which in this respect is indifferent. But what the spirit is thus made during its passage through this life, such it is when it is taken into the hands of its Creator, and such, as we may conclude from the teaching of Scripture and from its having in the mean time existed apart from body, it will be, with all its imperfections, on the day of its resurrection. It has already been maintained that, because of imperfection, it is necessary that even the elect should be judged, to the end that by this means their spirits may be made perfect. But our concern now is with the effect of judgment on those who are not of the number of the elect. For the purpose of illustrating what I am about to say on this head, I shall begin with making an application of the argument in a particular instance.


I have recently seen it stated, among the news of the day, that it is the practice of a barbarous African king to cut off the heads of twelve or more of his subjects, merely to pay a compliment to a distinguished visitor. Are we to think that this transaction both begins and ends here? Although we have no ground for asserting that the victims in this case are to be counted among God's elect, inasmuch as they must be supposed to be devoid of the faith and righteousness which are necessary to constitute a title to that high privilege, we may yet believe that the bodily suffering they endured was contributory to the formation of their spirits for their future destiny. If even those who have "understanding"—elect saints—have undergone sufferings and been "beheaded" in order that thus they might be "purified and made white," (compare Dan. xi. 33-35, and xii. 10, with Rev. xx. 4), why should we not believe that the sufferings of those poor Africans, who are equally children of God, had like effect? That suffering is in this manner efficacious is proved by the sacrifice of the Son of God on the cross, who, after having proved by his miracles that he had all human ills under control, voluntarily submitted to be made perfect by enduring shame and pain, that thus he might both exemplify and justify the ways of God in the creation of immortal spirits. This sacrifice is a full and sufficient explanation of all the evil in the world. When, therefore, in the time of the {53} resurrection of the unjust the slayer and the slain, in this instance, appear before the judgment-seat of God, and are condemned, as not being among those who are saved in the first resurrection, to undergo the second death, is it not reasonable to conclude that the tribulation and pain of that event will fall much more heavily on the murderer than on those he slew, and that the punishment and sufferings that have still to be endured in order that the final purpose of the judgment may be accomplished, will be inflicted with far greater severity on him than on them? (See on this point what is said concerning the future judgment in the Wisdom of Solomon vi. 3-6.)

On this principle many apparent anomalies in the present age of the world admit of explanation. Why, for instance, is so large a proportion of mankind condemned, irrespective of their deserts, to be poor, and to labour with their hands in anxiety for the maintenance of themselves and their families? We have reason from Scripture to say that such conditions of life, if united with the faith that looks for better things to come, may be counted among means ordained by God for preparing the spirits of His elect for their destined inheritance ("Hate not laborious work, neither husbandry, which the Most High hath ordained" [Ecclesiasticus vii. 15]). And where such faith is absent, may we not still say that conditions of the present life to which the great mass of mankind are {54} subject must be contributory to forming their spirits for their future existence? Leaving out of consideration who are the elect, and who not, which God only knows, can we think that the patience of the labourer and artisan, the endurance of the seafaring man, and the devotedness of the soldier, who at the call of duty, and in spite of the promptings of self-preservation, exposes himself to almost certain death on the field of battle, have no relation to their future destiny? As regards, especially, the spirit of self-sacrifice of the soldier, so opposed to all the calculations of personal interest, it seems to me that the desire of glory, or the expectation of reward, will not wholly account for it, but rather that it is indicative of there being in the warrior's breast an undefined conviction that he better fulfils the purpose of life by braving a painful death than by living at home in ease. It is worthy of remark that although in Scripture war is spoken of as a calamity, the occupation of a soldier is nowhere condemned, but is rather commended on account of its disciplinary effect and abstractedness from the affairs of life (see 2 Tim. ii. 3, 4). It should be observed that the different kinds of human experience adverted to above are all supposed to stand apart from personal acts done in violation of the dictates of conscience. Such acts will doubtless be tried by the course of the general judgment, and will have effect in the condemnation of the offenders, and {55} in punishment awarded according to the guiltiness of their deeds.

The calamities of human life may be put generally under the two heads of "tribulation" and "slaughter"—different kinds of sorrow and trouble, and different kinds of death. These constitute the groaning and travailing of the whole creation unto the time being (a chri tou nun), spoken of by St. Paul in Rom. viii. 22 and called in St. Mark xiii. 8, the beginnings of sorrows (odinon). But in the time of the world to come, the same forms of suffering have their consummation and ending. In Rev. vii. 14, mention is made of "the great tribulation," and at the same time of "a countless multitude who come out of it." This can be no other than that "great tribulation" respecting which our Lord said, according to St. Matt. xxiv. 21, that it will be "such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, nor ever shall be," and according to St. Mark xiii. 19, that "those days shall be affliction such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be." The identity of the events spoken of in the Gospels and in the Apocalypse may also be inferred from the words cheimonos (tempest-time) and sabbato (on the sabbath) contained in Matt. xxiv. 20, the former referring to the storm of indignation and wrath which proceeds from "the Lamb" when he comes to execute Judgment, and the latter to the time in which the {56} judgment takes place, which is designated the sabbath, or seventh day, as following upon the termination of the present age of the world, and also as being that sabbath of which, as said in Luke vi. 5, "the Son of man is Lord."

Again, in proof of the doctrine that the process, or effect, of the general judgment is characterized in Scripture as "slaughter," Isa. xxxiv. 1-6 may be cited, it being said in that passage that "the indignation of the Lord is upon all nations," that "he hath delivered them to the slaughter," and in connection therewith that "all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heaven shall be rolled together as a scroll" (compare Rev. vi. 18-14). Of the same import is the prophecy in Rev. xiv. 14-20, at the end of which the treading of "the great winepress of the wrath of God" is described in terms closely agreeing with those in Isa. lxiii. 1-4. We have, besides, the remarkable passage, Rev. xix. 17-21, which represents the fowls of heaven as being called together to feast on the flesh of the slain, after great slaughter had been wrought by "the sharp sword" which proceeds out of the mouth of him who is called "The Word of God." This sword represents the cutting and destructive effect of the words of judgment and condemnation which the Son of God will pronounce on sinners when he comes to judge the whole world. It is not necessary for my purpose to interpret particularly the symbolism {57} contained in the passages just quoted; it suffices to draw from them the general inference that, as regards all men, trouble and pain and death in the present age of the world are the beginnings of an [oe]conomy for forming spirits for immortality, which is destined to be consummated in the age to come.

To complete the argument from Scripture it only remains now to take into consideration those passages which expressly reveal the effect of the general judgment, and to ascertain what relation the revelations have to the question of immortality. These passages are of two kinds, some being composed entirely of symbolic language requiring interpretation, while others are expressed in terms that may be readily understood. The former must be supposed to admit of being interpreted consistently with the plain meaning of the other kind. Accordingly, for the purpose above mentioned, I proceed now to offer an interpretation of Rev. xx. 11-15, this passage evidently giving a synoptical account, in symbolic terms, of the process and the effect of the general judgment.

I have already adverted (p. 48) to the contents of vv. 11 and 12, so far as they refer to the Person of the Judge, and to His judging the dead, according to their works, "out of the things written in the books." "The great white throne" (v. 11) is evidently the seat of righteous judgment. The inspired writer, in order {58} to account for his seeing in vision the dead, "small and great, standing before the throne," reveals, besides, that "the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them" (v. 13). Now, the context hardly allows of taking "the sea" here in its literal objective sense, requiring rather the interpretation that the natural sea symbolizes by its invisible depths the incognizable state of the dead before resurrection. In the "new heaven and earth," which is the end of all creation, "sea exists no longer" (Rev. xxi. 1). Hades, as apparently might be inferred from the proper sense of the word, signifies that invisible state of departed spirits which, as just said, is symbolized as being concealed in the depths of "the sea," and also, as I have already pointed out, has to death a necessary relation of sequence ("Hades followed with him" [Rev. vi. 8]). This explains why Death and Hades are represented as a conjoint power having possession of the dead. In Rev. i. 18, as well as in Rev. vi. 8, they are mentioned in close connection, and in the latter passage power is said to be given to them in common.

I take occasion to make some remarks here on 1 Peter iii. 19, as the sense of this passage might be thought to be contradictory to the meaning assigned above to Hades. It affirms that "in spirit Christ went and preached to the spirits in custody {59} (en phylake)." Now, the literal meaning of the concrete terms, "went and preached" (poreutheis ekeruxen), is excluded by "in spirit" going before, and they consequently require an abstract interpretation. It has already been argued (p. 50) that the word "custody" applies to departed spirits in the sense of their being in the keeping of the Creator of spirits; whence it follows that "spirits in custody" and "spirits in Hades" have the same meaning. But neither of these expressions signifies anything as to locality, for the simple reason that locality cannot be predicated of spirit apart from body. The abstract interpretation of the passage of St. Peter may, I think, be reached by the following argument. The word ekeruxen above cited is not that ordinarily used with respect to preaching the Gospel, and therefore it is the more to be noticed that where Noah is called "a preacher of righteousness" (2 Peter ii. 5), the Greek word is keruka. May we not hence infer that Noah, by "the spirit of Christ" which was in him (compare 1 Peter i. 11), preached to the unbelieving and "disobedient" of his day, and that their spirits, although the world in which they lived was so long since destroyed by the Flood, are, together with all other departed spirits, still in God's custody, to be hereafter raised up and judged? We are farther informed respecting Noah's preaching, which consisted apparently of deeds rather than of words, that "by preparing an ark for the {60} saving of his house, he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith" (Heb. xi. 7).

We have now to inquire what interpretation may be given to the symbolic language (in Rev. xx. 14) which affirms that "Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire," and that "this is the second death, the lake of fire." The first mention of the lake of fire occurs in Rev. xix. 20, where it is described as "burning with brimstone," and both "the beast," and "the false prophet" associated with him (ho met autou), are said to be "cast alive" into this lake. But the rest (oi loipoi), namely, "the kings of the earth and their armies, gathered together to make war against him who sat on the horse and against his army," were slain by the sword that proceeds out of his mouth, that is, by the sharp and searching words of righteousness and truth, whereby he, "The Word of God," judges and pronounces condemnation in the last day (compare John xii. 48). In Rev. xx. 7-10, we are farther told that Satan, after being let loose from prison at the end of the thousand years when "the rest of the dead" live again (v. 5), and after collecting together all the risen nations of the earth, "the number of whom is as the sand of the sea" (v. 8), leads them to their destruction in battle against the God of heaven, and is himself "cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where are the beast {61} and the false prophet" (v. 10). Consequently, "Satan," who is opposed to God the Father, the God of heaven, "the beast," which, as signifying the spirit of the world, is opposed to the Holy Spirit, and "the false prophet," who is the symbolic representative of all anti-Christian power objectively opposed to the Son of God, are all three cast into a lake of fire "burning with brimstone." But of Death and Hades it is only said that they were cast into a lake of fire. Their being cast into the depths of "a lake" signifies that they become incognizable entities, and "lake of fire" indicates that they remain such by an irreversible law, fire being the symbol of force of law (see Deut. xxxiii. 2). For this reason "the lake of fire" is put in apposition (in v. 14) with "the second death," which is the extinction of death. Now, Satan, the beast, and the false prophet, being regarded as personal existences motived by will, and in that respect unlike Death and Hades, are cast not simply into a lake of fire, but into a lake burning with brimstone, which apparently signifies that from the time these "adversaries" cease to have cognizable existence, their antecedent power and influence will be regarded by those who were once subject to them with antipathy and abhorrence, so that any return to the same subjection will (as we say) be morally impossible. When in the end God has become "all in all," no antagonism remains; all {62} enemies have been subdued. Any one who is unwilling to accept the foregoing interpretation might reasonably be asked in what other way he can explain why, of all created things, brimstone is specially mentioned with reference to this "mystery" (see Rev. xvii. 5, 16).

In the last verse of the passage under consideration we have, "And if any one (ei tis) was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire" (v. 15). It is to be observed that the lake of fire is not here said to be burning with brimstone. This sentence must accordingly receive an interpretation analogous to that given above with respect to Death and Hades. When the final judgment has had complete effect, there will no longer be objective existence of any whose names are not in the book of life, because all will have been made meet for the inheritance of life. For this reason "the book of life" is mentioned (in v. 12) in immediate connection with the books containing the records according to which the judgment is transacted. I am well aware that the preceding interpretations do not accord with views entertained by many in the present day. I remember to have heard a sermon on the text, "This is the second death," in the course of which the preacher did not once advert to the word "This," but gave a description, the most terrible his imagination could supply, of what he judged to be the second {63} death. We find revealed in Scripture respecting "the terrors of the Lord"—the anguish and tribulation, the slaughter and destruction, proceeding from His wrath in the day of judgment—quite enough to deter sinners from going on in sin, without gratuitously adding the doctrine of the perpetuity of evil, the preaching of which seems to have the effect of hindering the belief and expectation of the impending realities of that great day. Besides, it may well be asked how such preaching can be reconciled with the Gospel revelations, stated in language devoid of symbol, which are contained in Rev. xxi.; to which I shall afterwards have occasion to call attention. But, first, it will be necessary to inquire what is the doctrine of Scripture respecting future "punishment" and "torment."

On proceeding to this part of the argument it will be proper to revert to a principle which has already been admitted as self-evident (p. 9), namely, that a state of perfect righteousness and a happy immortality are so essentially and necessarily related that one cannot subsist without the other. It is, however, to be said that this doctrine is nowhere expressed in such words in Scripture. In fact, the abstract terms, "essentially and necessarily related," are altogether unlike any Scriptural mode of expression. Yet it may be that the truth which we think we understand when we express it in such terms may admit of being {64} extracted in a more definite form from the concrete language of Scripture; and, in order that our argument for immortality may be shown to rest entirely on a Scriptural foundation, I shall now endeavour to show that this is the case with respect to the above-stated doctrine, by citing and discussing various passages of the Old and New Testament.

In the first place, I remark that righteousness and salvation, righteousness and peace, are so often and in such manner mentioned together in the word of God, that we may thence infer that, according to a law of the Divine (Economy, personal righteousness is a condition necessarily antecedent to salvation (safety) and peace (see Ps. xxiv. 5, and lxxxv. 7-18; Isa. xlv. 7, 8, xlvi. 18, li. 5, lxii. 1, and many like passages). For, on the other hand, it is twice expressly declared that God has said, "There is no peace to the wicked" (Isa. xlviii. 22, and lvii. 21). So in Rev. xiv. it is affirmed respecting sinners (who are comprehensively described as those who worship the beast and his image, and receive the mark of his name on the forehead or the hand—in their beliefs or their deeds) that "they have no rest day nor night" (vv. 9 and 11). Of the same sinners it is also declared that "they shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in {65} the presence of the Lamb" (v. 10). The fire of the torment is the operation of the holy law of righteousness which they have broken, and the brimstone by the offensiveness of its smoke represents the self-condemnation and reproach of conscience with which they are tormented when their sins are laid bare in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb, who by reason of their sins was slain. Lastly, we are told that "the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever." The general signification of "smoke," regarded as a symbol, appears to be, effect or consequence. Thus, in the remarkable symbol of "a smoking furnace" seen in vision by Abraham (Gen. xv. 17), the fire of the furnace may represent the operation of the law, and the smoke may symbolize "the abounding" of the sins of mankind consequent upon that operation (see Rom. v. 20; also compare 2 Esdras iv. 48). But in the passage before us we have "smoke of torment," of which smoke it is said that it "ascends up for ever and ever," signifying, it would seem, the perpetuity of the effect of the torment. This interpretation accordingly agrees with that previously given (p. 61) relative to "the lake of fire burning with brimstone." There is, however, this difference to be noted, that whereas the present passage relates especially to the effect of the pain and torment attendant upon the process of being judged, the other speaks of the effect of the second death to {66} which the wicked, after being tried by the judgment, are condemned.

The portion of Scripture contained in Matt. xxv. 31-46, gives, concerning the awards to be respectively adjudged to the righteous and unrighteous, and the final consequences of the judgment, certain revelations, symbolically expressed, which are made by the Lord himself, the future Judge. In order to complete the argument from Scripture respecting the effect of judgment, we must endeavour to interpret these revelations. "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, he will sit on the throne of his glory: and all nations will be gathered before him: and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and he will place the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on his left" (vv. 31-33). We are thus told that all of all nations will come into the presence of the Judge, and that he will separate them into two portions, as distinct the one from the other as sheep are from goats. From what is said farther on we gather that one portion are "the just" (oi dikaioi, v. 37), and the other the unjust; but no mention is made of a particular process of separation. Consequently there is nothing here which contradicts the conclusion before arrived at (p. 38), that the just are separated from the unjust by partaking of the first resurrection; rather, that conclusion is in {67} accordance with this revelation respecting the place of honour "on the right hand" being assigned to the just, and their being prepared to receive it when the whole assembly, just and unjust, are gathered together before the Judge. In v. 34, as also in v. 40, the Judge is called "the King" (ho Basileus), forasmuch as he is "the faithful and true" One, who "in righteousness judges and makes war," and to whom belongs in a special manner the title of "King of kings and Lord of lords" (see Rev. xix. 11, 16).

We have next to consider the statements of the grounds on which the awards are made, which are very remarkable. "Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came to me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say to them, Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" {68} (vv. 84-40). What is chiefly noteworthy in these words is, that the Judge identifies himself with suffering humanity, and accounts as "brethren" even "the least" of those that suffer, having, when he "dwelt among us," participated in the toils and afflictions to which sinful man is subject (although "in him was no sin)," and submitted in the end to the shame and pain of dying on the cross, although he had shown by his miracles that he had power over death and all the ills of humanity. As is written in Isaiah liii. 4, "He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." This the Son of God voluntarily took upon himself out of love and compassion towards us, knowing that, by ordinance of his Father, the Creator of spirits, "we must through many tribulations enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts xiv. 22), and be made heirs of immortality, and that consequently we had need of such assurance of obtaining the appointed inheritance as that which is given by his partaking with us of life, death, and resurrection (see what is said on this part of the subject in p. 29). Besides this, the sympathy of Jesus Christ with human suffering, which was also shown by his miracles of healing, is specially a reason for giving practical proof, by acts of benevolence and mercy towards our fellow men, that we partake of the same spirit. It is with reference to such outward evidence of faith and righteousness, that the decision of the Judge, given {69} in the passage above quoted, is pronounced. It seems, too, from the questions put to the Judge by the company of the righteous, and the answer they received, that their acts of kindness and mercy, done in humility and faith, were accepted by the Judge, out of his sympathy and community with the sufferers, as done to himself, although the doers had not had previous knowledge or expectation that their good deeds would be so accepted.

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