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Further information from London confirms the fact that Mr. Spurgeon has withdrawn from the Baptist Union, and now stands free and independent, directly associated only with the congregation to which he ministers. But these advices prove also that though Mr. Spurgeon is with us in defence of the Bible doctrine of atonement only through the precious blood of Christ; and that with us he expects the kingdom of God at our Lord’s second advent, as the fifth and universal empire of earth and though he has made a long and good step into personal liberty, yet he is still bound by that dark and terrible error of Babylon, that everlasting torture is the provision which God premeditated and designed before the foundation of the world, as the everlasting state of all his human creatures except the small handful chosen in Christ and called out from the masses during this Gospel age.
We very much regret that one free in many respects is still bounden by this, the meanest, most God-dishonoring and blasphemous error to which the „dark ages” gave birth. He will search in vain for this doctrine in the writings of the apostles, and find that the passages supposed to favor it are among the parables and dark sayings of our Lord and the symbols of Revelation, and that the apostles never expounded any of these as they are commonly misinterpreted to-day.
Mr. Spurgeon’s view of the atonement is utterly inconsistent with his view of the everlasting torment of all except the church.
Mr. Spurgeon, we are happy to see, still acknowledges that our Lord was our substitute, and bore in our room and stead the penalty for sin, which was against us. Should he not then see that if the penalty against us had been everlasting torment, our Lord to have been our substitute, ransom or corresponding price, would of necessity have to suffer eternal torment for us? But we know that he did not, does not, and will not suffer this for us, hence we could thus know, if not otherwise, that everlasting torment is not the penalty to which we were condemned.
Again, if we find what penalty our substitute paid, we can surely know what the penalty was from which believers escape, and to which unbelievers are still condemned. Our Lord became a man, was „made flesh,” and „gave himself a ransom for all.” But he did not give himself to live in torment, he „died on our behalf”—he „died for our sins,” he „died for the ungodly,” etc., are Bible expressions.
As the gentleman well knows, we could multiply citations proving that our Lord died for us, but not one passage could be produced from Scriptures to prove that he either should or did go into everlasting torment for our sin. „He bore our sins in his own body on the tree,” but not to all eternity in a lake of fire. Though Episcopalians recite that our Lord „descended into hell,” it is surely well known to Mr. Spurgeon, and all men of education, that hades does not signify a lake of fire, but signifies the state of death, and is the Greek synonym for the Hebrew word sheol (grave) of the Old Testament.
This penalty which our Lord underwent as our substitute, ransom or corresponding price, was exactly what the Bible everywhere represents as the wages of man’s sin. See Rom. 5:12—”By one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and DEATH by [or, as the penalty of] sin.” If life in torment were the penalty, would the apostle be justified in making such a statement? In speaking of what was the result of sin he could do no less than mention the worst results. So everywhere the penalty of sin is described as destruction. „The soul that sinneth, it shall DIE”—not live at all. „The wages [or penalty] of sin is DEATH.” Thus saith the Scriptures, which alone are competent authority with us. We must not accept the twistings and turnings of these plain Scriptures by a self-constituted „clergy” of the dark ages, nor permit their vaporings about death meaning life, to influence us in any degree, but must take God’s Word in its reasonable and obvious sense. To do otherwise is not only to make the Word of God a lie, but to represent our gracious Creator as a most terrible fiend—worse than any human friend that ever lived, and more detestable and inexcusable because man fallen and depraved is to some extent excusable.
We hope that Mr. Spurgeon will use his liberty and search well the Scriptures on this subject and not permit previous inferences to hinder full investigation. We are in the „time of the end,” wherein it was promised that knowledge should be increased. The light is shining more and more clearly on all subjects than ever before and the Word of God is reflecting upon itself its own glorious light by means of Concordances, and thus, much of the gloom and error of the „dark ages” is being dispelled. When the issue is squarely met, all must see that either the doctrine of atonement for sins by the precious blood of Christ, or the doctrine of eternal torment—one or the other—must be false. Take your Concordance and by its aid search the Word, and you will find atonement by the blood everywhere,—as some one has said, It is upon every page of the Bible. It runs through the entire Bible as a stream, growing broader and deeper from Abel’s sacrifice down to „Worthy is the Lamb that was slain,” in Revelation. It is the basis of every argument by every apostle, and the foundation of every promise from the one to Abraham down to the last promises of the Lamb, who says, „I am he that liveth and was dead.” Note, too, that all these references to the blood and death of our Redeemer, in no sense refer to, or symbolize everlasting torment, but all fit perfectly when applied to his death—once for all.
Let the same Concordance then be consulted to see how many times everlasting torment is mentioned, and it will not once be found. The nearest approach to it is the term „everlasting punishment.” (Matt. 25:46.) This is in connection with a parable which relates to the next age, and shows the final outcome to willful sinners. It does not here say what the nature of the punishment will be. But it is elsewhere stated that „The wages [punishment] of sin is death.” These scriptures throw light upon each other, and do not contradict each other. God does not change the wages of sin, and though he provided through our Lord Jesus a recovery from the penalty pronounced against all in Adam, yet such as shall willfully reject the favor, will die again—the second DEATH. So far from premeditating and foreordaining his creatures to everlasting torture, our gracious Creator declares of those who will suffer the second death even, that he willeth not the death of him that dieth, but would [prefer] that all should turn unto him and live.—Ezek. 19:32.
Of course, for these truths to be firmly held and publicly proclaimed, requires great grace, and implies great humility, as well as great boldness. Mr. Spurgeon’s boldness and courage have been attested to a considerable extent by his general ministry, and now by his recent firm stand against error, and in defense of the doctrine of the ransom; by his withdrawal from the Baptist Union. His humility as a minister of Christ has shown itself by his refusal to apply to himself the title of Reverend, and his failure to seek and obtain the further title of Doctor of Divinity, both of which are so „highly esteemed among men,” but ill-fitted and disapproved in the sight of our truly Reverend Lord, who declares to all saints—”All ye are brethren,” and „One is your Master.” Grace „sufficient” is promised each of us for every step, as we walk in the path of the just which shines more and more UNTO THE PERFECT DAY; but we may be assured that those steps will lead us down from any pinnacle of earthly glory we may once have occupied. Thus it was with our Lord and with the apostles, and thus it must be with us—”Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, and he may exalt you in due time.”
Of course, being prominent, like Saul of Tarsus, a bold stand for this truth of the ransom in the face of the worldly-wise, who are now rapidly rejecting it, will forfeit their esteem, and bring their opposition and scorn—this Mr. Spurgeon has already experienced. The rejection of everlasting torture would cut off from him the sympathy and praise, and bring instead the denunciation and contempt, of that other large class of Christian people, who do not yet see the inconsistency of their position and are trying to believe that the wages of sin is everlasting torture and yet that the death of our Redeemer paid our corresponding price—that,
„Jesus died and paid it all
Yes, all the debt I owed.”
The cost from a human standpoint is great—to be scorned by both Pharisees and Sadducees. Yet like Paul, every truly earnest soul may have supplies of grace, whereby each can rejoice to count all such things but „as loss and dross for the EXCELLENCY OF THE KNOWLEDGE of Christ”—that we may suffer rejection, contempt, etc., with the Master, if by any [such] means we might be accounted worthy of a part in the First Resurrection—among the overcomers the joint-heirs in the Kingdom.
As the eyes of our understanding more clearly recognize the King in his beauty—the true greatness and grandeur of his character—as we become more and more intimate with his plans as revealed in His Word, we are prepared to see in many passages of the Bible a fulness of love and mercy which the smoke of Babylon’s errors has long obscured. „This is the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world”—can no longer be understood to mean, one in ten thousand, but as it says, „every man.” „He is the propitiation [satisfaction] for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2.)—This, too, is seen to mean just what it says, when no longer nullified by the
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theory of everlasting torture. „One mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all—TO BE TESTIFIED IN DUE TIME.” (1 Tim. 2:6.)—This passage, too, comes to have a full glorious meaning to all who see it: that the ransom covers all, and must be a benefit to ALL; and to benefit all, must be testified to ALL, and in such a time and manner that ALL can and shall „come to a knowledge of the truth.”
This general opening of blind eyes, and general testimony of the ransom belongs to the next age; the work of the age now closing is to select the Church, the Bride, the members of the Body of the Christ, who with their Head and Lord shall be exalted, glorified and empowered to bless (restore and teach) all the families of the earth, thus testifying and making available to all in God’s due time—the precious Blood of the Lamb which taketh away the sin of the world.
„A hope so much divine
May trials well endure.”
— April, 1888 —