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where they are tormented in flames. This theory, with various modifications according to what might at different times be pictured by the vivid imaginations of priests and religious teachers, was not concocted by the doctors of divinity and clergy of our day, although it is accepted in all its main features, and believed and taught by them. No, it is a very ancient theory, and extends far back beyond the times of Christ and his apostles. Josephus describes it in language similar to what we have used above. The scribes and Pharisees of Christ's day held and taught it, the children of Israel imbibed it from the idolatrous nations that they came into contact with, whose errors they learned and whose gods they worshipped. The doctrine of the immortality of the soul was the core of heathen idolatry in ancient times, and it is still. They worshipped their gods to save their souls from the flames of hell, and they do so now. This delusion about the souls of men, and the many vain theories that different religious and superstitious bodies of men have devised in their ignorance and blindness concerning it, constitutes the strength of the darkness of this world, and is the chief feature of the veil which covers all nations, and is the curse of God sent upon the world. He has filled them with their own ways that they might believe a lie and perish, because, as Paul says, "they believed not the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness." And the foolish sects of our day follow hard after the errors of their progenitors and ancestors, and they have not the power to say, "Is there not a lie in my right hand?" For God has given them over to their own hearts' lust. They profess indeed that they know God, but in works they deny him. But in comparison, how beautiful and precious and wonderful are the truths of the Holy Scriptures! And as the heavens are higher than the earth, so far does the knowledge of God exceed such rubbish, which originates in the carnal minds of natural earthy men!

To-day "

As we have already shown that the doctrines and theories of the Protestant and Catholic sects with whom we come in contact, and have to withstand in our day, are false and destructive of the true faith, we will now show how they err in the understanding and application of the term "to-day " as employed by Jesus in answering the request of one of the malefactors. Jesus came in the way of righteousness, he is the one of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write. And the spirit which spake by the holy prophets spake also by Jesus Christ, and therefore Peter says, "The prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow" (I Pet. 1: 10-11). Paul also says (I Cor. 10: 3-4) that the children of Israel in the wilderness "did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock which followed them: and that Rock was Christ." Again he said in his speech in the synagogue at Antioch, "For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him " (Acts 13:27).

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If a man, therefore, is ignorant of the voices of the prophets, he cannot interpret Christ's words, because what he said and taught was in harmony with what had been said and taught before. These intimations are necessary for the benefit of those who presumptuously place constructions upon Christ's words which they will not bear, and which would set him at variance with Moses and the prophets. Jesus said, "The law and the prophets were until John." The coming of John the Baptist and Jesus marked a new era in Israel. The old covenant from Mount Sinai was represented, Paul says, in the allegory by Hagar, the bond-woman, and gendered to bondage. That is, all under the law fell under condemnation because they failed to keep all the terms and conditions contained therein, and therefore fell under the curse of the law, and it was not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins, nor could perfection come by the Levitical priesthood. Therefore the old covenant, having waxed old, was ready to vanish away, and the new covenant was now being ushered in, which was to be brought into force by the death of Christ, the testator; and Christ's blood was the blood of this covenant, and under this covenant sins and iniquities could be forgiven, as it is said, "I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more."

This new era which was thus being ushered in is called a new day. The prophet Isaiah, in speaking of the day of Christ, says in chapter 49, verse 8, "Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee ": Paul in interpreting this Scripture says in II Corinthians, chapter 6, verse 2, " For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee": Then he applies this Scripture and says, “Behold, now is the day of salvation."

Thus the day of salvation spoken of in the prophets that joyful day to Israel and the nations- was inaugurated by John the Baptist and Jesus, and was current in the days of the apostles, and still continues, and will continue until salvation is actually realized by the resurrection of the dead. This day, therefore, is a long day, and covers many days, and unless salvation is realized in this day, it could not be called a day of salvation.

Again the Lord says by the hand of David in the ninety-fifth Psalm to those who should live in the times of Christ, "To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways; unto whom I sware in my wrath, that they should not enter into my rest." Here the Psalmist speaks of two days of trial for the children of Israel. The first was under the mediator Moses and continued a period of forty years in the wilderness, called the day of temptation, a day of forty years' duration. But God purposed to subject his people to another trial under a new covenant, and under another mediator, who is Christ the Lord, and his people are here warned not to harden their heart in the day of Christ, as they did in the day of Moses when the Lord was angry with them, and sware in his wrath that they should not enter into his rest.

And we are not at a loss, nor need we stand in doubt as to the meaning

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of these words of David in this place, and their application. Paul, speaking by the same spirit which prompted these words to David, says in his letter to the Hebrews, chapter 3, beginning at verse 5, "Moses verily was faithful in all his house (God's house, Num. 12:7) as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; but Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. Wherefore as the holy Spirit saith" (in the ninety-fifth Psalm), “To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness; when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest." Paul then warns the Hebrews of his time, to whom these words of David especially applied, and says in verses 12 and 13, "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To-day." Observe that they were to exhort one another daily, while the period of time continues called "To-day," so that "To-day " is comprehensive of many days, and as to how far down the stream of time it continues is apparent from what he next says in verses 14 and 15, “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; while it is said, To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation." Now they were to be made partakers of Christ, if they held fast the beginning of their confidence stedfast unto the end of the period called To-day, Therefore that period extends down to, and covers the resurrection of the dead, and is called the day of salvation, for it does not lapse until salvation is realized.

Interpretation of Christ's Words

With these premises before us, a scriptural interpretation of the words of Christ to the thief upon the cross becomes easy and natural. Christ entered into paradise when he arose from the dead and ascended unto his Father, and although the malefactor tarries till Christ comes in his kingdom, and sleeps unconscious in the dust of the earth until that time- the time when he asked to be remembered -- and if he is even raised from the dead then, and enters at that time into paradise with Christ, the answer of Jesus, "To-day, shalt thou be with me in paradise," will be fulfilled. For, as we have just proved, the term "To-day," is called the "day of salvation," and therefore covers the resurrection of the dead. But we may say that the strength of the answer to the thief's request, "Verily I say unto thee, To-day, shalt thou be with me in paradise," appears to indicate that there was something in store for him even better than waiting until Christ comes into his kingdom at the resurrection, at the last day; and while we might naturally think that this person ought not to receive any especial consideration at the hands of his Lord and master, yet when we take into consideration the circumstances of the case, things present a different aspect.

Jesus was betrayed by Judas, one of the twelve, and when he was arrested and delivered into the hands of men, all his disciples, as Jesus said, were

offended, forsook him and fled, and Peter denied him with oaths and curses, and he was now hanging upon the cross and the soldiers mocked him, saying, “If thou be the king of Israel save thyself," and the rulers and the chief priests derided him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself, if he be the Christ, the chosen of God." And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him also, saying, "If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us." Under these terrible conditions which his apostles themselves could not endure, this poor thief not only rebuked the other, saying, "Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?" But confessing his own sin and the justice of their own punishment, he says of Jesus, "But this man hath done nothing amiss." And then, greater than all, in the last extremity he recognized Jesus as the Christ, the king of Israel, the saviour of the world who is to judge the quick and dead at his appearing and his kingdom, and turning to Jesus he said, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom."

Although this man had been tempted to steal and violate the laws of the land, yet he appears to have had a good understanding of spiritual and scriptural matters, and was no doubt fully cognizant of the mighty works that Jesus had done, and the doctrines which he taught, for his request showed that. Jesus had likened himself to a nobleman who went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return, when he would reckon with his servants and give them their rewards according to their works. Christ came to save sinners, and he said himself that all manner of sins and blasphemies should be forgiven unto men except the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit which hath not forgiveness. Stealing is only one of a long list of transgressions, and is not an unpardonable sin.. But this man repented and showed great faith in the darkest hour of Christ's sufferings, and the Lord's answer, as we have said, seems to point to some especial consideration in his favor.

It was testified of Jesus in the sixty-eighth Psalm, "Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive, thou hast received gifts for men." Paul interpreted this oracle in that part which refers to the gifts of the spirit that Christ received for men, after his ascension into heaven, saying, "But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive (or as the margin reads, he led a multitude of captives) and gave gifts unto men" (Eph. 4:7-8).

Now in reference to the multitude of captives which Christ led when he ascended into heaven after his resurrection from the dead, Matthew informs us and says in the twenty-seventh chapter, "Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up his life (or 'ghost' as it is improperly translated). And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain, from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." These saints were captives taken out of the prison-house of death. by resurrection from the dead to life eternal, and as the apostle says that many bodies of saints arose and came out of the graves, they would constitute a mul

titude of captives, who ascended into heaven with Christ, and the man to whom Jesus said, "Verily, I say unto thee, To-day, shalt thou be with me in paradise" may have been one of that favored multitude, and so have entered into paradise with Christ the Lord in the early part of the day of salvation, called "To-day " by the inspired writers.

Thus we have dwelt quite at length upon the saying of Christ to the malefactor upon the cross, and relative matters contained therein, and while at first to a person unenlightened in the Holy Scriptures, who has been taught the popular error of the world, this saying may appear to favor the doctrine, yet when we compare spiritual things with spiritual, or Scripture with Scripture, as Paul commands us to do, and as he himself did to prove his doctrines, we are not able to discern the slightest trace of evidence to support the doctrine that this Scripture is so often quoted to prove. Therefore people who rest their hopes of reaching paradise at death, undressed after laying their earthly and fleshly garments by, have here nothing to hang their hopes upon.


The next important argument employed to sustain the doctrine of man's natural immortality which we will consider is predicated upon Paul's words in his second letter to the Corinthians where he says in chapter 5, "Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord (for we walk by faith, and not by sight); we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." The error that the religious teachers commit in this place consists in assuming (for it is only an assumption) that Paul intended to be understood, that when we were absent from the body, we would be present with the Lord immediately without a body, whereas we will now prove from his own words that he intended no such thing, but on the contrary, we would not be present with the Lord until we were clothed upon with our house from heaven at his coming, for this is the very thing which he taught the Thessalonians when he said to them in his first letter (2:19), "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, at his coming? Here the proof is positive that Paul's hope and their hope was to be present with the Lord at his coming.

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Hearken to what Paul says when he was brought before the Emperor Nero the second time (II Tim. 4:6-8), “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."

How is it possible that men with ordinary common sense in other matters should be so blind in the Holy Scriptures as not to be able to see in a place like this that Paul had no expectation of entering upon his reward in any sense, or of getting his crown of righteousness, until the glorious appearing of the great God, and our saviour, Jesus Christ, and that all others who love this appearing would obtain theirs at the same time! Again he charges Timothy in his first letter saying, "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on

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