James Orr.

The Christian view of God and the world as centering in the incarnation online

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enda Once allow a relation between the natural and the
moral in the government of God, and it is diflBcult to avoid
the conclusion that the course of outward events is directed
with a r^ard to the good and evil conduct of the subjects of
that government.

A deeper question, however, which lies behind this imme-
diate one, of the place of natural evils in the moral govern-
ment of Gk)d is. Is nature itself in a normal condition ? The
Bible, again, undeniably answers this question in the negative,
and it is important for us to ascertain in what sense pre-
cisely it does so. The most explicit passage in the New
Testament is perhaps that in Eom, viii. 19-23, where the
Apostle Paul expressly declares, " For the earnest expectation
of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of Grod.
For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will,
but by reason of Him who subjected it, in hope that the
creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of
corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of
God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and
travaileth in pain together until now." The plain implica-
tion of this passage is that nature is a sufferer with man on
account of sin ; that, as I expressed it above, there is a
solidarity between man and the outward world, both in his
Fall and his Bedemption. So far the passage is an echo of
the statement in Genesis that the earth lies under a curse
on account of human sin. Is this view scientifically tenable,
or is it not a baseless dream, directly contradicted by the facts
already conceded of physical disturbance, decay, and death
in the world, long ere man appeared in it ? I do not think
it is. This implication of creation in the effects of human sin,
though science certainly cannot prove it, is an idea by no
means inadmissible, or in contradiction with kngwn facts.

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1. The view has often been suggested — is maintained, e,g,y i. Theory that
by Dorner and Delitzsch^ — that the constitution of nature had *^'*^' ^^

from the first a

from the first a teleological relation to sin ; that sin did not teUobgUai
enter the world as an unforeseen accident, but, as foreseen, ^^^^f^<*^ ^^

.-_-., - _ , , , human sin,

was provided for m the arrangements of the world; that
creation, in other words, had from the beginning an anticipa-
tive reference to sin. This view would explain many things
that seem mysterious in the earlier stages of creation, and
falls in with other truths of Scripture, to which attention will
subsequently be directed.*

2. I do not feel, however, that I need to avail myself of 2. The
this hypothesis. All that is essential in the ApostleV state- ^^^f^f/^f^'
ment can be conserved without going back to pre-Adamic j«/^yVf//(7;i ^/
ages, or to vegetable decay, and animal suflFering and death. \^ ^^^f^^^^ ^^
We gain the best key to the passage if we keep to the mean-
ing of his own word " vanity " (jjMTatoTtjs:) — profitlessness —

as expressive of that to which creation was subjected. "It
is not said," remarks Bishop Ellicott, " that the creation was
subject to death or corruption, though both lie involved in
the expression, but to something more frightfully generic, to
something almost worse than non-existence, — to purposeless-
ness, to an inability to realise its natural tendencies, and
the ends for which it was called into being, to baflBed
endeavour and mocked expectations, to a blossoming and not
bearing fruit, a pursuing and not attaining, yea, and as the
analogies of the language of the original significantly imply,

* Dorner, System of Doctrine, il p. 67 (Eng. trans.) ; Delitzsch, New Com-
tnentary on OenesUt L p. 108 (Eng. trans.). "The whole of the six days*
creation," says the latter, "is, so to speak, supralapsarian, i.e. so constituted
that the consequences of this foreseen fall of man were taken into account."

* This theory is ingeniously argued out in an interesting chapter in Bush-
nell's -ya/Mr« and the Supernatural, chap, vii., "Anticipative Consequences."
Ct also Hagh Miller's Footprints of the Creator, pp. 268 ff.; *• Final Causes ;
their Bearing on Geologic History ; " and Hitchcock, Religion qf Geology,
Lecture III. I have not touched on another theory, beginning with Bohme,
which connects the present state of creation with yet earlier, i,e, dsmonic evil.
The meet striking statement of this theory is perhaps in Martensen, Jacob
BChme (Eng. trans.), pp. 217-222 — a passage already referred to. See the
theoiy criticised in Beusch's Naiwrt and the Bible, Book i. chap. xviL (Eng.

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to a searching and never finding."^ Thus interpreted, the
apostle's words convey the idea that nature is in a state of
arrested development through sin, is frustrated of its true
end, and has a destiny before it which sin does not permit it to
attain. There is an arrest, delay, or back-putting through sin,
which begets in the creature a sense of bondage, and an earnest
longing for deliverance.* This certainly harmonises sufficiently
well with the general impression nature makes upon us, which
has found expression in the poetry and literature of all ages.
3. Tiu earth 3. The earth is under " bondage to corruption " in another
Torrupthn'^ Way, — in the very presence of man and his sin upon it;
throitohthe in being the abode of a sinful race; in being compelled,
^orni^^'^^Th' ^^^^^g^ ^^ ^^^ *^^ agencies, to subserve the purposes of
sin upon it, man's sin ; in being perverted from its true uses in the
service of his lusts and vices ; in the suflfering of the animal
creation through his cruelty; in the blight, famine, earth-
quake, etc., to which it is subjected in consequence of his sin,
and as the means of punishment of it For it by no means
follows that because these things were found in the world in
the making^ they were intended to be, or continue, in the
world as made, or would have been found had sin not
entered it. Science may affirm, it can certainly never prove,
that the world is in a normal state in these respects, or that
even under existing laws, a better balance of harmony could
not be maintained, had the Creator so willed it

///. Ctiimina^ III. This wholc discussion of the connection of natural

Trobkminthe ^^^ nioral cvil sums itsclf up in the consideration of one

question of the Special problem, in which the contending views may be said

( llTcat\ ^^^^^ ^ ^ brought to a distinct and decisive issue — I mean

the relation of sin to death. Is human death — that crown-

' Destiny o/the Creature^ p. 7.

'Thus also Dorner: ''So far, then, as sin retards this perfection, it may
certainly be said that Nature is detained by sin in a state of corruption against
its will, as well as that it has been placed in a long-enduring state of corrupt-
ibleness, which, apart from sin, was nnnecessary, if the assimilation of Natnre
by spirit could have been accomplished forthwith," — SyU. qf DocL, ii p. 66.

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ing evil, which carries so many other sorrows in its trtiin —
the result of sin, or is it not? Here, again, it is hardly
necessary for me to say, there is a direct contradiction
between the Biblical and the " modern " view, and it is for us
very carefully to inquire whether the Pauline statement,
"Through one man sin entered into the world, and death
through sin ; and so death passed unto all men, for that all
have sinned," ^ enters into the essence of the Christian view,
or whether, as some seem to think, it is an excrescence
which may be stripped ofit

Now, so far from regarding this relation of human death to This relation
sin as a mere accident of the Christian view, which may be ^cideru^of the
dropped without detriment to its substance, I am disposed to Christian
look on it as a truth most fundamental and vital— organically ^'^' ^?^ .,

° •' enters tnto its

connected with the entire Christian system. Its importance essence,
comes out most clearly when we. consider it in the light of
the Christian doctrine of Redemption. The Bible, as we
shall immediately see, knows nothing of an abstract immor-
tality of the soul, as the schools speak of it; nor is its
Eedemption a Redemption of the soul only, but of the body
A as welL It is a Redemption of man in his whole complex
personality — ^body and soul together. It was in the body
that Christ rose from the dead; in the body that He has
ascended to heaven ; in the body that He lives and reigns
there for evermore. It is His promise that, if He lives, we
shall live also ; * and this promise includes a pledge of the
resurrection of the body. The truth which underlies this is,
that death for man is an effect of sin. It did not lie in the
Creator's original design for man that he should die, — that
these two component parts of his nature, body and soul,
should ever be violently disrupted and severed, as death now
severs them. Death is an abnormal fact in the history of the
race ; and Eedemption is, among other things, the undoing of
this evil, and the restoration of man to his normal complete-
ness as a personal being.

» Eom. V. 12 (R.V.). * Jolin xiv. 19.

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The original That man was originally a mortal being neither follows
mortality of ^^^ ^^ j^^^. ^j ^^^^j^ as a law of the animal creation, nor

man proved

neither by the ffom its present Universality. It is, no doubt, an essential

law of death
in the animal
creation^ nor
its present

man from the 3^^ Qf ^j^u

part of the modem anti-Christian view, that man is a dying
creature, and always has been. This goes with the view that
man is simply an evolution from the animal, and falls under
the same law of death as the rest of the animal creation.
But I have shown some reasons for not admitting the
premiss,^ and therefore I cannot assent to the conclusion.
There is not a word in the Bible to indicate that in its
Distinction of vicw death entered the animal world as a consequence of the

But, with the advent of man upon the scene,
there was, as remarked in an earlier part of the Lecture, the
introduction of something new. There now appeared at the
head of creation a moral and spiritual being — a being made
in God's image — a rational and accountable being — a being
for the first time capable of moral life, and bearing within
him infinite possibilities of progress and happiness; and it
does not follow that because mere animals are subject to a
law of death, a being of this kind must be. More than this,
it is the distinction of man from the animals that he is
immortal, and they are not He bears in his nature the
various evidences that he has a destiny stretching out far
into the future-^into eternity; and many even, who hold
that death is not a consequence of sio, do not dispute that
his soul is immortal But here is the difficulty in which
such a view is involved. The soul is not the whole of the
man. It is a false view of the constitution of human
tng of essential nature to regard the body as a mere appendage to the soul,
being: there- ^^ ^ supposc that the humau being can be equally com-
fore abnormal piete whether he has his body, or is deprived of it This is
not the Biblical view, nor, I venture to say, is it the view
to which the facts of modem psychology and physiology
point If anything is evident, it is that soul and body are
made for each other, that the perfect life for man is a

^ Cfl last Lecture. ,

Created for

Death a con-
trad it t ion of
man's nature
— the sunder-

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corporeal one; tbat he is not fUre spirit, but incorporated
spirit The soul is capable of separation from the body ; but
in that state it is in an imperfect and mutilated condition.
Thus it is always represented in the Bible, and heathen
feeling coincides with this view in its representations of the
cheerless, sunless, joyless, ghost-like, state of Hades. If
then, it is held that man was naturally constituted for
immortality, how can it be maintained, with any show of
consistency, that he stood originally under a law of death ?
That the animal should die is natural But for the
rational, moral agent, death is something t^nnatural —
abnormal ; the violent rupture, or separation, or tearing
apart, so to speak, of two parts of his nature which,
in the Creator's design, were never intended to be
sundered. There is, therefore, profound truth in the
Biblical representation, " In the day tbat thou eatest
thereof thou shalt surely die " — " Dust thou art, and unto
dust thou shalt return." ^ Some other way of leaving
the world, no doubt, there would have been — some Enoch
or Elijah - like translation, or gradual transformation of
a lower ^rporeity into a higher, but not death as we
know it*

The true Biblical doctrine of immortality then, I think, The BibiUai
includes the following points :— t!mMy

1. It rests on the Biblical doctrine of human nature. ,. j^ests on
According to the Bible, and according to fact, man is q, Biblical

_ - . 1., ^ -I 1 1 1 . •. doctrine of Ihe

compound bemg — ^not, like God and the angels a pure ^V^"^^^* nature 0/ man (
but an embodied spirit, a being made up of body and oi ^^ a compoumi \
sottL The soul, it is true, is the higher part of human ^^^'
nature, the seat of personality, and of mental, moral, and
spiritual life. Yet it is intended and adapted for life in
the body, and body and soul together make the man — the
complete human being.

^ Gen. ii. 16, iii. 19.

' See further on this subject, Note H. — The Connection of Sin and

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2. No part of 2. It WES no part of the Creator's design for man in
the Creator's j^jg j^j^^j constitution that bodv and soul should ever be

design that , n,i . ,.

body and soul Separated. The immortahty man was to enjoy was an
should be immortality in which the body was to have its share. This
is the profound truth in the teaching of the Bible when it
says that, as respects man, death is the result of sin. Had
sin not entered we must suppose that man — the complete
man — would have enjoyed immortality; even his body, its
energies replenished from vital forces from within, being
exempt from decay, or at least not decaying till a new and
more spiritual tenement for the soul had been prepared.
With the entrance of sin, and departure of holiness from the
soul, this condition ceased, and the body sank, as part of
general nature, under the law of death.

3. The soul in 3. The soul in separation from the body is in a state of
separation imperfection and mutilation. When a human being loses

from the body • , . i. , , , . .i i , . -rrr

is in a state of one of his limbs, we regard him as a mutilated bemg. Were
imperfection \^ to lose all his limbs, we would regard him as worse
Hon: inters mutilated stilL So when the soul is entirely denuded of its
mediate state, body, though consciousness and memory yet remain, it must
still be regarded — and in the Bible is regarded — as subsist-
ing in an imperfect condition, a condition of enfeebled life,
diminished powers, restricted capacities of action — a state, in
short, of deprivation. The man whose life is hid with
Christ in God will no doubt with that life retain the blessed-
ness that? belongs to it even in the state of separation from
the body — he will be with Christ, which is far better ; ^ but
it is still true that so long as he remains in that disembodied
state, he wants part of himself, and cannot be perfectly
blessed, as he will be after his body, in renewed and glorified
form, is restored to him.

4. The true 4. The last point, therefore, in the Biblical doctrine is
imnwrtMyis ^^^ ^j^^ Immortality is through Redemption, and that this

throus^H Re*

demption, and Redemption embraces the resurrection of the body.* It is a

embraces the

resurrection of '2 Cor. v. 8 ; Phil. L 28 ; Rev. xiv. 18, etc.

the body. ' Rom. y. 11, viii. 23.

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complete Bedemption, a Eedemption of man in his whole
personality, and not simply of a part of man. This is a
subject which will be considered afterwards. It is enough for
the present to have shown that the Biblical doctrines of man's
nature, of the connection of sin and death, of Eedemption, and
of the true immortality, cohere together and form a unity —
are of a piece.

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Bearing of The views advanced in the Lecture have an important bearing
/rm^^wj <//j- ^^ the much discussed question of the Old Testament

cussiOH 9n Old *

Testament doctrinc of immortality. The statement is often made that

tmm^'Jut ^^® ^^^ Testement, especially in the older books, has no

distinct doctrine of immortality. Many explanations have

been offered of this ditBculty, but I would humbly suggest

that the real explanation may be that we have been looking

This doctrine for cvidenco of that doctrine in a wrong direction. We have

has been j^^j^ looking for a doctrine of " the immortality of the soul "

sought fir tna ^ *'

wrong direct in the scnsc of the schools, whereas the real hope of
^'^'^ patriarchs and saints, so far as they had one, was, in accord-

ance with the Biblical doctrine already explained, that of
restored life in the body.^
The Hebrew The early Hebrews had no manner of doubt, any more
viewofSheol ^^^ ^^ have, that the soul, or spiritual part of man,
survived the body.* It would be strange if they had, for
every other ancient people is known to have had this belief.
Egyptians, The Egyptians, «.^., taught that the dead descended to
Babyhntans, ^^ under world, where they were judged in presence of Osiris
and his forty-two assessors.* The Babylonians and Assyrians

^ The view defended in this Appendix will be found indicated in Hofmann's
Schriftbeioeis, iiL pp. 461-477 ; and Dr. P. Fairbairu*8 Typology qf Scripttare,
8rd ed. i. pp. 343-359.

' Cf. Max Miiller, AnthropolofjictU Religion^ on " Belief on Immortality in
the Old Teetoment," pp. 367, 377.

* Cf. Renouf, Hibbert Lectures, pp. 195, 196 ; Badge, Dwdltra on the Kih
("Bye-Paths of Bible Knowledge" Series), chap, ix.; Vigouroux'tt La Biblt tt
les Dicouvtrtes modemes, iii. pp. 133-141.


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conceived of the abode of the dead as a great city having
seven encircling walls, and a river flowing round or through
it^ A name they gave to this city is believed by some
to have been " Sualu," * the same word as the Hebrew Sheol,
which is the name in the Old Testament for the place
of departed spirita It is one of the merits of the Sevised
Version that it has in many places (why not in all ?)
printed this word in the text, and tells the reader in the
preface that "Sheol," sometimes in the Old Version trans-
lated "grave," sometimes "pit," sometimes "hell," means
definitely " the abode of dep«irted spirits, and corresponds to
the Greek ' Hades,' or the under world," and does not signify
" the place of burial" But the thought of going to " Sheol "
was no comfort to the good man. The gloomy associations Gloomy
of death hung over this abode : it was figured as a land of ^[^^^^^^^ '"

^ > o Old Testa-

silence and forgetfulness ; the warm and rich light of the ment.
upper world was excluded from it ; ' no ray of gospel light
had as yet been given to chase away its gloom. The idea of
" Sheol " was thus not one which attracted, but one which
repelled, the mind. Men shrank from it as we do from the
breath and cold shades of the charnel-house. The saint,
strong in his hope in God, might believe that God would not
desert him even in "Sheol"; that His presence and fellow-
ship would be given him even there ; but it would only be in
moments of strong faith he could thus triumph, and in hours
of despondency the gloomiest thoughts were apt to come
back on him. His real trust, so far as he was able to
cherish one, was that God would not leave his soul in " Sheol,"

* Cf. the Descmt of Ishtar, in Sayce*8 Hibbert Lectures, Lecture IV. ; Budge's
Babylonian Life and History ("Bye- Paths of Bible Knowledge " Seriefl), pp.
140-142 ; Vigouroux, La Bible et les Dicouvertea modej-nes, iii. pp. 123-182.

^ Thus F. Delitzsch, and Boscawen in British Museum Lecture, on Sheol,
DeaJLh, the Orave, and Immortality, But the identification is held by others
to be conjectural (Schrader, KeUinsehriften^ ii p. 80 (Eng. trans.) ; Budge,
Babylonian Life and History, p. 140, etc. ; Vigouroux, iiL p. 125). The
Assyrian gives the name as Aralu.

•Thus also in the Babylonian and Greek conceptions. Cf. Sayce, Hibbert
Lectures, p. 864; Fairbaim, Studies, "The Belief in Immortality," pp.
190, 191. . .

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Passages in
illustration :
Genesis^ etc.


The Psalms.


Not in this
direction we
are to look for
doctrine of
immortality :
embraces idea
of relation to
Cod and

but would redeem him from that state, and restore him to
life in the body.^ His hope was for resurrection.

To illustrate this state of feeling and belief, in regard to
the state of the separate existence of the soul, it may be
well to cite one or two passages bearing on the subject. An
indication of a belief in a future state of the soul is found in
an expression several times met with in Genesis — ^" gathered
to his people " * — where, in every instance, the gathering to
the people (in " Sheol ") is definitely distinguished from the
act of burial. Other evidences are afforded by the belief in
necromancy, the narratives of resurrection, etc. What kind
of place "Sheol" was to the popular imagination is well
represented in the words of Job —

" I go whence I shaU not return,
Even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death,
A land of thick darkness, as darkness itself,
A land of the shadow of death, without any order,
And where light is as darkness. ** '

There was not much cheer in looking forward to an abode
like this, and it is therefore not surprising that even good
men, in moments of despondency, when it seemed as if
God's presence and favour were taken from them, should
moaujis David did —

" Return, Lord, deliver my soul ;
Save me for Thy loving kindness' sake,
For in death there is no remembrance of Thee,
In Sheol who shaU give Thee thanks t " ^

or with Hezekiah —

*' Sheol cannot praise Thee, death cannot celebrate Thee :
They that go down into the pit cannot hope for Thy trutL
The living, the living, he shaU praise Thee as I do this day." *

It is not, therefore, in this direction that we are to look
for the positive and cheering side of the Old Testament hope
of immortality, but in quite another. It is said we have no
doctrine of immortality in the Old Testament. But I reply,

* See passages discussed below. « Gen. xxv. 8, 9, xxxv. 29, xlix. 29, 83.

* Job X. 21, 22. Cf. description in Descent of Ishtar, Hibbert Lectures.

* Ps. vi 4, 6. • Isa. xxxviii. 18, 19.

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we have immortality at the very commencement — for man,

as he came from the hands of his Creator was made for

immortal life. Man in Eden was immortal. He was

intended to live, not to die. Then came sin, and with it

death. Adam called his son Seth, and Seth called his son immortality

Enoch, which means •* frail, mortal man." Seth himself died, ''' ^'^^'^'

his son died, his son's son died, and so the line of death goes

on. Then comes an interruption, the intervention, as it were,

of a higher law, a new inbreaking of immortality into a line New inbreak-

of death. "Enoch walked with God; and he was not; {Qx^^sofaiawof

^1 « « . >ti -r^. 1 -1. t .1. -r^ « ,.- . , immortality in

God took hmi. * Enoch did not die. Every other hfe m that Enoch.

record ends with the statement, " and he died " ; but Enoch's

is given as an exception. He did not die, but God " took "

him, i.€. without death. He simply " was not " on earth, but

he ** was " with God in another and invisible state of exist-

ence.2 His case is thus in some respects the true type of all Thh the type

immortality, for it is an immortality of the true personality, ^/^^^^^^^^

_._-,_- _- _ __ immortality:

Online LibraryJames OrrThe Christian view of God and the world as centering in the incarnation → online text (page 23 of 52)