Hugh Johnston.

Beyond death online

. (page 1 of 21)
Online LibraryHugh JohnstonBeyond death → online text (page 1 of 21)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


NYPL RESEARCH LIBRARIES



3 3433 06825024 4



EATH




mi



III

I iiiiiiniiiiiiiiiiiiti



Ijtiiiiiiiiiiiiii^






ITTCWaOHNSTON



iSii ii



III! !|ii!l!'i!iniil!lillitllnlliil

111 ii iiuiiiiitiiiiiiiiiiiuii



^publishers' Weakly
6,Oct.08



Toiv-wM o-^-L



1 _ao



Beyond Death



By

HUGH JOHNSTON, D.D.




New York : EATON & MAINS
Cincinnati : JENNINGS & PVE



N\.S.



?842()5



Copyright by

EATON & MAINS

1903



TABLE OF CONTENTS



PREFACE



Popular interest in eschatology — The present work an exposition —
Newer teaching returning to the long-held Credetida. .Page 9

INTRODUCTION

The field of eschatology — Limits of the inquir}'^ — Divine revelation
the source of our knowledge — The gospels and the teaching of
Christ — Chiliasm — Paul's teaching — The Apocalypse and Pre-
nillennialism — Ethical aspects of resurrection, judgment, and
advent should not overshadow eschatological 15

I

Death

The nature of death — Teaching of science — Answer of revelation
— Synonyms of scripture — Death is universal, impartial, and
inevitable — Spiritual death — The second death — The origin of
death — Geology and its facts — Hebrew thought of death —
Heredity, sin, and death — The sting of death is sin 27

II

Life Beyond Death

Argument for immortality — Universal belief — Comparative religion
and belief — Argument from consciousness — Conservation of
matter and force— Errors of materialism — Relations of the
brain and the mind — Is man immortal or only immortable ? —
Man endowed for immortality— Argument from moral consid-



Contents

erations — Righting of wrongs and inequalities — Immortality
the grand discovery of Christianity — Immortality in the Old
Testament — A flood of light in the New 47



III

Intermediate State

Meaning of the term— Swedenborgian idea — Teaching of the New
Testament — The place of spirits— Sheol and Hades — Its char-
acter and nature — Annihilation and conditional immortality —
Is there a sleep of the soul ? Scripture and psychology against
it — The larger hope — Interpretation of i Pet. iii, 9 and iv, 6
— Purgatory and prayers for the dead — Education and develop-
ment in the intermediate state 77

IV

Messiah's Kingdom

Old Testament promises — Christ the Messiah — His titles and
claims — His preaching the kingdom — Nature and extent of
the kingdom — Its vivifying creed — Its rapid progress and
Chiliasm 105

V

The Millennium

Many " comings " of Christ not personal — Examination of Rev. xx,
1-6 — Exegesis against literal interpretation — Reign of Christ
not personal but spiritual — Judaizing of Christianity — Errors
of advent prophecy — Golden age of the future 119

VI

Consummation of the Kingdom

True millennium — Beginnings of the kingdom — Its success and
progress — Its relation to heathendom — Inner changes and the
state of the Church in the Middle Ages — True culmination of
the kingdom — A reign of prosperity, peace, progress, power.



Contents



purity, and righteousness — Its duration — Duty of the Church
in relation to present problems— The great missionary enter-
prise — The duty of the individual I47



VII

Second Advent

The great hope of the Church — A visible return of our Lord — The
New Testament teaching — The doctrine in the creeds of
Christendom— Manner and time of the advent — Millerite and
other phases of Chiliasm— Duty of the believer 173

VIII

General Resurrection

The paroiisia ushers in the resurrection— Innate faith in resurrec-
tion— The doctrine anticipated in the Old Testament — The
New Testament realizes it— Analogy of nature — Difficulties of
a bodily resurrection met— An instantaneous resurrection-
How are the dead raised ?— With what bodies ?— Raised in
glory a spiritual body I95

IX

The End of the World

What is the end of the world ?— Destruction by fire in science and
Scripture — Geology, astronomy, and Peter — The new heavens
and the new earth 229

X

General Judgment

The coming of Christ to judge the worid— Retribution in Scripture
— "The Day of Wrath" — Individual judgment — The inter-
mediate state— The day of the Lord— Its signs and wonders—
The Judge — Deeds, words, and every secret thing — The wit-
nesses, memory, conscience, the Book of the Lamb, the book
of the material universe — The issues of judgment 249



6 Contents

XI

Hell

The destiny of the wicked — The measure of doubt — What has be-
come of hell? — The nature of future punishment — Valley of
Hinnom — " Weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth " — " And
the fire is not quenched " — Is punishment everlasting ? — The
meaning of Aionios — Dr. Beet's exegesis — The moral force of
hell — Universalism, conditional immortality, and kindred
theories 275



XII

Final Heaven

The inheritance of the righteous — Conditions of the heavenly life —
The veil not laid aside — Guesses at the location of heaven —
Sorrow and care, death and loss are banished — The occupa-
tions and blessings of heaven — The vision of God — We shall
see him as he is 309



PREFACE



PREFACE



The topics discussed in this volume, intimately asso-
ciated with our most sacred thoughts and feelings, are
practical, and of wide and deep interest, and by no
means speculative. Though in the whirl and dust of a
transition-period our age is entering with earnestness
and intensity into the study of eschatology, and some of
the views presented are startling and disconcerting.
The only clear, comforting light we have is that which
shines upon us from the word of God; but it is not
within the purpose of research, as it is not within the
power of reason, to outline the future in such clearly
defined terms that diverse views cannot be taken by
Bible students equally competent and devout. It be-
comes the wise and cautious investigator to speak in
guarded tones, with charity and tolerance. The writer
has held largely to the traditional view in the doctrine
of Last Things, and his conclusions have been reached
after many years of careful and prayerful study.

The present work, while theological and expository,
is not a critical or formal treatise. It is designed to
strengthen the faith of Christian men and women, to
stimulate their piety and help them in their daily lives.
The author has not attempted to dogmatize where the



10 Preface

Scriptures do not speak with unmistakable plainness,
and he has been compelled to take a position antago-
nistic to some of the popular teachings of the present day.
He has touched upon a few of the numerous questions
which speculation suggests because the interest in these
themes has been largely religious and practical. True,
books on these obscure and difficult subjects have been
given to the public by men of far greater learning and
ability than the author can think of claiming, yet a
number of them are all at sea as to the eschatological
teaching of our Lord and the general tendency is
toward extreme latitudinarianism ; a new theology is
growing into form, and some are predicting an entire re-
construction of the present teaching on ''Last Things."
The writer believes that these long-held Credenda of
our holy faith can be reverently and coiiservatlvely
maintained amid the fiercest light of critical and schol-
arly research. Authorities are quoted in the body of
the book, and acknowledgment of indebtedness made
where recognized, yet all such acknowledgment must
of necessity be very partial. These chapters embody
the results of years of preaching and discussion, so that
many passages which seem to the author to be original
may contain very little that is really new. So indebted
to others are we, in these days of wide reading, that the
very appearance of a tabula rasa is illusive. The cita-
tions of biblical passages are from the Revised Version
throughout. Gratitude is expressed to Rev. William
Sheers and Rev. W. L. McDowell, D.D., Professor
Charles W. Hodell, Ph.D., of the Woman's College, of
Baltimore, and Richard H. Johnston, B.A., of the
Library of Congress, Washington, for valuable sugges-



Preface 11

tions and help given in many ways. With much hesi-
tancy, yet with the prayer and the hope that his effort
may prove of some service to the cause of the Master,
the author gives to the pubHc this humble contribution
to the religious thought of the times.

Baltimore, Md. H. J.



INTRODUCTION



"It is not yet made manifest what we shall be." — i John iii, 2.

"For now we see in a mirror, darkly ; but then face to face :
now I know in part ; but then shall I know even as also I have
been known." — i Cor. xiii, 12.

"It is human nature in its essential elements that is to inherit
eternity; not an ethereal rudiment just saved from the wreck of
the former fabric and just serving to connect as by a film of
identity the earthly with the heavenly state. It is this 'mortal
that must put on immortality;' the very nature now subject to
dissolution is to escape from the power of death and to clothe
itself in imperishable vigor. Do we want at once confirmation
and exemplification of this doctrine? We have both in the resur-
rection of the Lord." — Taylor, Saturday Evening, p. 316.

"And if as toward the silent tomb we go

Through love, through hope and faith's transcendent power
We feel that we are greater than we know." — Wordsworth.



INTRODUCTION



This book is a work on eschatology which deals with
the final condition of men and of the world. There is
an eschatology which concerns the individual and one
which concerns the race as a whole.

The field is a wide and fascinating one, embracing
events that are yet to occur in the history of the world
and destinies that are yet to be unfolded. There is
a temptation to assume that we know more about these
subjects than we actually do; for we are utterly igno-
rant of the future. It lies beyond the grasp of our
present faculties and the range of human experience,
and we can only make shrewd guesses at what is to
come. Theologians have ventured far beyond the state-
ments of Scripture, seeking to satisfy and gratify curi-
ous inquiry. Philosophy, which has been defined as the
attainment of truth by the way of reason, has long pon-
dered the profound problems.

Possessing a nature that partakes of the infinite and
divine, we have thoughts, desires, and aspirations that
look beyond time. There are revelations that eye hath
not seen nor ear heard ; visions of realities that belong
to a higher world ; snatches of celestial harmony :
"The tides of music's golden sea
Setting toward eternity;"

ethereal hopes without which human life would be low
and trivial, if not entirely earthly and sensual.



16 Introduction

"It is not yet made manifest what we shall be." All
that we know is from the light of Christian revelation.
We have to depend upon the oracles of God for all our
knowledge concerning the future. The definite infor-
mation that we have concerning the events of the future
God alone has given. Prediction is the only means of
information open to us. We must accordingly approach
these subjects in full recognition of our limitations and
of our dependence upon the light from on high to illu-
minate these themes of undying interest. We can care-
fully study the Scriptures and consider these vital ques-
tions in the light of their teaching. Divine revelation
is the fountain head of all instruction in the doctrine of
Last Things, and the word of Jesus Christ is the final
authority.

In the gospels we have an authentic record of his life
and sayings. He did not commit his teachings to writ-
ing. The only hint of a word written by our Lord was
when he stooped down and wrote upon the sand while
they were accusing the w^oman taken in adultery. There
is no suggestion that he directed his disciples to make a
record of his words and deeds, but his sayings and his
acts were photographed upon the memories of his fol-
lowers and carefully preserved in oral tradition. The
words of him ''who spake as never man spake" were
written from the living and abiding voice upon the
fleshly tablets of the hearts of his hearers and faithfully
handed down.

The early Church in the first vigor of her life, when
the current of oral teaching was so strong, felt no need
of written memoranda. She had the full, living voice
of her first teachers, to whom she could appeal in case



Introduction 17

of doubt or uncertainty. But with the passing away of
those eye and ear witnesses came the necessity of writ-
ten records to preserve the Lord's words. These gospels
came from the earhest direct sources of accurate knowl-
edge of the Master's teaching and acts. The funda-
mental intention of these gospel narratives was to
record what were truly and assuredly the words of the
Lord Jesus. We take the four canonical gospels as
credible, historical witnesses, and we find in their agree-
ment that harmony and unity which is the best guaran-
tee of their essential truth. Accordingly, in our study
to get back as closely as possible to the actual words of
the historic Founder of Christianity, we go to the
Johannine testimony and to that of the synoptics. Here
we find the essence of his teaching and see the clear re-
flection of his most inner life and thought. Taking our
Lord's words as we find them in the New Testament
we make him our Guide as we enter the untrodden
regions of the future.

Jesus Christ did not come to introduce a wholly new
religion ; he built upon the Jewish system and took his
stand upon the Old Testament. The Messianic king-
dom was the goal of the hopes of ancient Israel; and
their souls found satisfaction less in a personal immor-
tality of blessedness than in the glory, the triumph, the
final victory, of the Leader and King of redeemed
humanity. He did not give any defined system or pro-
gram of the future; but out of his recorded words has
come a doctrine concerning Last Things — the parousia,
the resurrection, the judgment, the final award of
recompense and penalty — in affinity with the Hebrew
faith and in essential harmony with the teachings of the

2



18 Introduction

Old Testament, only more positive and more completely
developed.

Our effort is to reproduce the teachings of Scripture
on the Things of the End; the New Testament doc-
trine of Last Things. These teachings have not been
so clear and final as to prevent their being variously
expressed in the language of particular schools, al-
though there has been a remarkable consensus of
opinion down all the Christian centuries on these great
themes of faith and hope.

"Our little systems have their day,
They have their day and cease to be,"

but the great Christian system of revealed theology is
more durable. It abides through all change and can be
traced along the river of time as the ecumenical faith
of the Church.

In our day there is an earnest propaganda of Chili-
astic or premillenarian views. While Chiliasm has
never entered as an article into any of the creeds it has
been held by individual Christians and able writers of
the Church since apostolic times, and it concerns the
relation of Christ's second advent to the millennium. It
would seem from certain of the epistles that the early
Christians did expect an immediate return of Christ.
Some able expositors declare that our Lord did predict
his speedy, visible return to earth, but there is a strong
presumption against supposing that he definitely pre-
dicted what did not take place. He certainly used
apocalyptic language when he spoke of his coming, of
the triumphant manifestation of his power; and there
was a strong tendency in the minds of the early disci-



Introduction 19

pies to refer this language, symbolic of his spiritual
coming, to his personal and visible return in glory to
earth to consummate his kingdom. The Lord's second
coming is also one of the most prominent themes of
Paul's eschatology. Though the apostle did regard the
parousia as near at hand, and expressed the hope of sur-
\'iving the event, with the passing of time and the un-
folding of events he began to emphasize considerations
adapted to temper the expectation of an immediate per-
sonal advent. Many of his Thessalonian converts had
gone off into fanatical excitement on the subject, giving
up their daily employments, becoming idle and indift'er-
ent to the things of this present life, and he directs their
attention to certain intermediate events that must take
place before the "day of the Lord." These events are
described as the "apostasy," the revealing of ''the man
of sin," "the mystery of lawlessness;" and not until
these have occurred should the parousia be expected.
The doctrine of the second advent has ever since been
interpreted by two main theories, the premillennial and
the postmillennial. The Apocalypse and Chiliasm go
together.

In Rev. XX, i-6, we read of a period of triumph for
Christ on the earth, a thousand years, a golden age,
called the millennium ; and the questions of absorbing
interest are whether the reign of Christ is personal or
spiritual ; whether the resurrection of the martyrs is
literal or symbolical ; and whether the second advent is
to precede or follow this glorious event.

We have no sympathy with the premillennial hy-
pothesis. The discussion of these divergent views may
raise problems too imperious to be dismissed without



20 Introduction

an attempt to solve them, but we will only say here that
our Lord announced a dissolution of nature attending
his second coming. The twentieth chapter of the Reve-
lation tells of a dissolution of nature following the mil-
lennium. If, then, the coming qf our Lord precedes the
millennium there will be two dissolutions of nature
separated by an interval of a thousand years. The same
thing may be affirmed of resurrection and judgment :
two bodily resurrections and two judgments. Indeed
this theory furnishes four actual advents : one when the
Word was made flesh; one for his saints before the
great tribulation ; one with his saints at the rapture and
the opening of the millennial reign, and one after the
millennium, at the judgment of the ungodly. There are
many fanciful theories in connection with this doctrine
of premillennialism and a personal reign of Christ upon
the earth, but, as Pope has put it,

" 'Tis with our judgment as our watches: none
Go just alike, yet each believes his own."

We prefer to express our belief concerning the second
advent in the language of the Apostles' Creed: ''He
ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of
God the Father y\lmighty ; from thence he shall come to
judge the quick and the dead."

But more dangerous than this, and subversive of the
received eschatology of evangelical Christendom, is the
teaching of the New Theology that no visible return of
Christ to the earth is to be expected, nor a general resur-
rection, nor a final judgment. Professor George B.
Stevens, of Yale, in a recent number of the American
Journal of Theology, asks the question, 'Ts there a self-



Introduction 21

consistent New Testament eschatology ?" and reaches
the conckision that the making of a clear and self-con-
sistent eschatological program out of biblical materials
is impossible. Professor William M. Clarke, of Ham-
ilton Theological Seminary, says : 'Tf the coming of
Christ is conceived as spiritual, not visible, and as a
process, not an event, a change in one's idea of the
resurrection will necessarily follow. If no visible de-
scent of Christ is looked for no simultaneous resurrec-
tion of humanity on the earth will be expected. Each
human being's resurrection takes place at his death,
and consists in the rising of the man from death in
another realm of life. The spirit does not rise thither
alone, but whatever organism is needed for its uses in
that other life the spirit receives; so that the man, com-
plete in personality, stands up alive beyond that great
change that we call death, ha\ing in the same hour died
and risen again. According to this view resurrection
is not simultaneous for all, but continuous or succes-
sive; and for no human being is there any intervening
period of disembodiment. This is what we shall prob-
ably find to be the fact, when we have died, when first
we shall really know what lies beyond." (Otitline of
Christian Theology, p. 410.)

This singularly gifted theologian, of great spiritual
insight and resource of expression, in this the opus
magnum of his life, does not speak as the mouthpiece
of writers like Pfleiderer, or Matthew Arnold, but of a
great body of Christian believers who have drifted
away from the well-established eschatological beliefs
of the Church, finding them incompatible with their
new way of thinking. These views we conceive to be



22 Introduction

held in violation of the great principles and ideas of
both the Old and the New Testament Scriptures.

Undoubtedly the ethical character of these doctrines
has largely been overlooked. There is a spiritual quick-
ening, and the rising of the body at the last day may be
the narrower idea of resurrection ; but why call in ques-
tion the Church's belief in a simultaneous corporeal
resurrection as a future eschatological event for all
mankind? In the doctrine of judgment there is the
same twofold conception. Judgment is a process that
is going on perpetually. Men are being morally tested
day by day, the good being approved and the evil con-
demned; but why should this exclude the idea of a
future final judgment? Indeed, does not a present and
continuous process imply fulfillment, a consummation,
a final crisis? The future judgment is the culmination,
the end, of a process which is going forward constantly
in the life of every man. Accordingly we read of the
''resurrection of judgment" — of the ''judgment of the
last day." The general judgment at the end of the
present world-period is the climax and issue of that
principle or process of judgment which is continually
going on in every life.

In like manner, the advent is both ethical and escha-
tological. Jesus spoke symbolically of his coming in
the clouds with power and great glory, meaning his
spiritual triumph over all hostile powers; of the Son
of man coming in his kingdom ; but he also spake most
emphatically of his personal visible appearing at the
end of the present world-age. There are various "com-
ings" of Christ referred to in the New Testament, some
of which are to be regarded as the hour of death, when



Introduction 23

he comes to the behever, others as representing crises
in the progress of the kingdom, still others as referring
to the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost and his coming
in a spiritual power to the believer's heart; but how-
can men reduce this event, the paroiisia, a visible glori-
ous personal return of Christ to earth, to a mere pro-
cess or spiritual manifestation? Our Lord's whole
conception of the kingdom of God implies the idea of
its consummation when he is to come again. Even the
Lord's Supper is the pledge of his great return, to be
kept ''until he come." He went away from earth per-
sonally and visibly; "in like manner" shall he return.

How can we read that great eschatological discourse
found in the synoptics without believing that Jesus
himself referred to something more than the destruc-
tion of Jerusalem or the establishment of the Church,
even the crisis of the dissolution of nature and the con-
vulsions and catastrophes attendant upon his second
and glorious appearing to judge the world and to decide
the everlasting destinies of men? Every visitation of
the Spirit to the churches, every divine judgment, is a
spiritual advent of the Messiah, but these invisible com-
ings end in a final advent visible to all, a second and
glorious appearing. No doubt the ideas of Jesus Christ
respecting the Messiah and his kingdom were in sharp
contrast with the popular expectation of the Jews ; but
how could he have suffered the early Church to enter-
tain and propagate the views so prominent in the New
Testament as to resurrection, judgment, and his second
coming, without a warning of these errors, if errors
they were? A religion that can ignore or play with
such essential doctrines may borrow from the gospel.



24 Introduction

as it borrows from philosophy, but it can scarcely be
called Christianity.

We grant that much that has been taken for revela-
tion is only speculation. We are naturally ignorant of


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Online LibraryHugh JohnstonBeyond death → online text (page 1 of 21)