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Challis, James / An Essay on the Scriptural Doctrine of Immortality
Produced by Al Haines










AN ESSAY

ON THE

SCRIPTURAL DOCTRINE

OF

IMMORTALITY



BY THE REV.

JAMES CHALLIS, M.A., F.R.S., F.R.A.S.




PLUMIAN PROFESSOR OF ASTRONOMY AND EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY IN THE
UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE, AND FELLOW OF TRINITY COLLEGE.




_Anagke gar moi epikeitai ouai gar moi estin, ean me euaggelzûmai
--1 Cor. ix. 16




RIVINGTONS

London, Oxford, and Cambridge

MDCCCLXXX




RIVINGTONS


London . . . . . . _Waterloo Place_

Oxford . . . . . . _Magdalen Street_

Cambridge . . . . _Trinity Street_

[_All rights reserved_]





{1}

AN ESSAY

ON THE

SCRIPTURAL DOCTRINE OF IMMORTALITY.


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.

{4}

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.

{10}

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
(_phronimôatos_) 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 phronêma_) 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
_paraptôma_, 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 (_pareisêlen_) _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
katastatêsontai 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 _parakoê_ may be taken in this
passage to signify "disobedience" abstractedly, and not a special act
of disobedience, because _upakoê_ 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, _à 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 (_katastathêsontai_) 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 (_dikaiosunê_) 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 aiônas_)] 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.

{27}

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.



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