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rounded on every side but that of the walled path with its formidable gates. Though the immediate locality suggested only desolation, the distant view from the grand height was magnificent, comprising that of the broad expanse of the Dead Sea, the winding Jordan, the cities of the plain, the mountains of Judah, the Holy City, and the proud heights of Gilboa. Here Jolin was condemned to darkness in one of the dungeons cut into the solid rock beneath the frowning walls of the citadel.
There are intimations that at times Herod brought John forth to discourse before him ; but the stern prophet had nothing to recant. He would not swerve from his stinging rebuke, “ It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife." The end drew near.
It was now the thirtieth anniversary of Herod's reign. He celebrated it by a banquet, to which he invited his lords, high captains and chief dignitaries of Galilee. He chose to observe this within the palace which he had erected inside the enclo sure of the fortress. Women were not admitted to such ban quets, but could appear as performers on the private stage at the end of the banqueting hall, at the conclusion of the feast. The crafty design of Herodias is now seen. Salome, her daughter by her first husband Philip, appears and dances the customary pantomime before the king. Elated with wine and pleased by the performance he exclaims, “Ask of me what thou wilt, and I will give it thee to the half of my kingdom.” Hastily consulting her mother (who perceives her opportunity for revenge), she requests the head of John the Baptist. The king is exceedingly sorry, yet his pride will not allow him to retract the pledge. An executioner repairs to the dungeon. The victim belolds his entrance, the instrument of blood the signal of death. The noble and unflinching prophet bows calmly to his fate, and the head of the man who had appalled the throne with the terror of truth, is brought to the accomplished dancer on a salver, and borne by her in triumpha 2 See Life of Christ," vol. i. p. 18: “I
Antipas had a magnificent view of the Dead Sea, the whole course of the Jordan, Jerusalem." etc.
to her mother. John's disciples learn of his tragic death, and ask Herod for his mutilated body; the request is granted, and they bear it away to solemn burial.
Rev. R. T. Sawyer.
New Orthodoxy; or, The Tendency of Sin to Permanence,
PROOFS OF THE DOCTRINE EXAMINED.
In a former article we considered “ New Orthodoxy," or the doctrine of the tendency in moral character to permanence, “ good as well as bad, and bad as well as good.” Our effort in that article was to so state this doctrine as to make it clear to the apprehension of all, and to show its effects if accepted opon Old Orthodoxy, or what has long been held by the Church as sound doctrine.
In this article we are to examine the proofs of this doctrine, and see upon what grounds it is sought to be established. That we may have the matter entirely clear before us, let us see just what it is that is to be proven, or that we aim to prove.
It is fundamental to this doctrine that endless punishinent is based on endless sinning. The thing to be proven, there fore, is the endlessness of sinning. To sustain the doctrine of endless punishment it must be shown that some souls will sin to all eternity. For if at any time in the long future, all souls cease to sin, then the bottom of this doctrine would tall out, because there would be nobody to punish. To sustain the doctrine of endless punishment on this ground it is in dispensable that somebody should sin to all eternity. Hence it is this doctrine of the endlessness of sinning, the doctrine that it is certain that some souls will sın to all eternity, which it is attempted to prove.
In order to prove this doctrine the position is taken that there is a tendency in character to "final permanence,” good as well as bad and bad as well as good, that the good man by following good rises to permanence in goodness, to a stato in which he cannot choose anything but goodness; and the bad man by following badness falls into permanence in badness, into a state so bad that he cannot choose anything but bad
It will be observed that one half of this position is not in controversy. For reasons which will appear further on, the tendency upward is not denied. Nobody, so far as we know, questions the tendency in good character to become permanently good. But the question is, Is there such a tendency in bad character ? Can we go down as well as up until we reach a point beyond which a moral change is absolutely impossible? Is there in this universe, and under the government of God, a tendency in sin to final permanence? Has God so ordered affairs that a soul may go on in sin until he can do nothing but sin ? Is it in the nature of things that bad character tends to a badness that is irremediable, from which there is no recovery? The question is not whether there may be such a tendency to a limited degree; but it is whether there is such a tendency to an unlimited degree, to a degree that is hopeless, to a degree which if once reached assures the final sinfulness of all who reach it?
New Orthodoxy says there is. It contends that a soul may go down until it reaches depths of iniquity from which there can be no recovery ; that there is in the nature of things under the rule of the “ righteous Father" a tendency in sin and in sinful character to final perinanence." The thing to be proven therefore, is this tendency. The effort is to show that such a tendency undoubtedly exists, and therefore it is very certain that sin will exist to all eternity. The attempt is to unfold this law of descent into the regions of irremediable iniquity, and then to prove that some souls will obey this law to their own ruin ; to describe the process of moral retrogression, and then persuade us that some will inllow that process beyond the point of recovery; in fine, to prove that the old proverb,
“it is never too late to mend,” is a very great misreading of the nature of things. The arguments may be summed up under the following heads :
1. The law of " Judicial Blindness."
3. Scriptural Testimony. 1. The law of Judicial Blindness. This law is, according to Mr. Cook, that when we shut our eyes to the truth and refuse to obey it, we gradually lose the vision of truth and the power to obey.
If, for instance, we have rejected the Gospel and refused to obey its light all through life, even until we enter upon the other life and more light is given us in that life, it is quite certain that we shall not be able to see that light, or if we are, we shall not be able to follow it. By a lifelong rejection and disobedience of the gospel vision we shall have so blinded our spiritual eye and weakened our moral power, that we can neither see nor obey whatever new vision of celestial truth may be given us in the world to come. This law of judicial blindess Mr. Cook unfolds in the following manner:
“ Under irreversible natural law sin produces judicial blindness. When a man sins against light, there comes upon him an unwillingness to look into the accusing illumination, and the consequence is that he turns away from it. But that effect becomes a cause.
These six propositions are scientifically demonstrable."
“ (1) Truth possessed but not obeyed becomes unwelcome.
(2) It is therefore shut out of the voluntary activities of memory and reflection, as it gives pain.
(3) The passions it should check grow therefore stronger. (4) The moral emotions it should feed grow weaker.
(5) An ill-balanced state of the soul thus arises and tends to become habitual.
(6) That ill-balanced state renders the soul blind to the truth most needed to rectify its condition.” 1
In illustrating these propositions he has the following: "A man sins against light boldly.
The consequence instantly is that he ceases to be at peace with himself, and light instead of becoming a blessing is to him an accusation.
1 Transcendentalism, pp. 146-9.
The slant javenila luin with torture avay from i
The slant javelin of truth that was intended to penetrate him with rapture fills hun with torture. . . . But light baving become an accuser man turns away from it. Then the virtues which that light ought to quicken are allowed to languish The vices which that light ought to repress grow inore vigorous. Repeated acts of sin result in a continued dissimilarity of feeling with God. . . . This state continuing becomes a harit, then that liabit continuing long becomes chronic, and so the result is an ill-balanced growth of character." 2
Here we have the whole process before us. We shut our eyes to the truth and refuse to obey it, then the truth begins to torture us, and then we turn away from it, and then it tortures us more; then we turn further away, then our misery becomes still greater, and so we go on and on, turning away from the truth and experiencing its retribution until we reach a point where we can see nothing but the blackness of darkness, and our misery becomes as supreme as our blindness is complete.
The best of all his illustrations of this process Mr. Cook takes from Carlyle. “ Carlyle,” he says, “ quotes out of the Koran a story of the dwellers by the Dead Sea, to whom Moses was sent. They sniffed and sneered at Moses ; saw no comeliness in Moses and so he withdrew; but Nature and her rigorous veracities did not withdraw. When next we find the dwellers by the Dead Sea, they, according to the Koran, are all changed into apes. By not using their souls they lost them. · And now,' continues Carlyle,' their only employment is to sit there and look into the smokiest, dreariest, most undeci. pherable sort of a universe ; only once in seven days they do remember that they once had souls.' ”8
This evolution is not according to Darwin, since it works backward instead of forward, but it serves very well to illustrate this law of judicial blindness. It makes rers clear the process by which Mr. Cook contends we reach the condition of supreme darkness and supreme woe. By refusing to use our souls we lose them. By shutting our eyes to the light we be. The same, pp. 149–50.
8 Ibid. p. 166.