Page images

terpretations removed out of our way. Seeing that yáo binds verses 5 and 6 logically together, and that xai vezoois (vs. 6) distinctly takes up the vexpous before (vs. 5) in this logical connection, all interpretations must be false which do not give vezoois in verse 6 the same meaning as vexpoús in verse 5 ; i. e., that of dead men, literally and simply so-called, men who have died and are in their graves. This at once rids us of all the commentators who interpret thuis second vervois of the dead in trespasses and sins(in loc.).

All orthodox critics admit that in vs. 5 the living and the dead are literally such ; and that all the living and all the dead were to be judged. This is obviously the correct view, 1st, Because Christ's judgment is always represented as absolutely universal, including the entire human race. Hence, this judgment must include all the dead as well as all the living, literally so termed. Hence, also, the language o. St. Paul : “ Jesus Christ, who is about to judge (to ushaortos xoiveiv) the living and the dead ” (2 Tim. iv. 1). In one pas. sage we read, “who is ready to judge,” in the other, " who is about to judge.” The event was near at hand, and included the whole race of man, being contemporary with Christ's parousia, or mediatorial reign. The fifth rerse of our text, then, includes in its reference all the living and all the dead, literally so considered. The same is true of the sixth verse, on which Alford remarks again :

" A second principle which we may lay down is this : that Vexpois in verse 6 must be kept as wide in its reference as vexooús in verse 5, i. e., that it must not be interpreted as applying merely to the blasphemers of the Christians .. or merely to the spirits in prison of ch. iii. 19, but must be treated as a general assertion in the literal meaning of vexoois. The want of the article does not justify any limitation of this word : for the article is also wanting before vexooús in verse 5, which indisputably is universal in its reference” (Notes, in loc.).

Such conscientions freedom and independence, as well as strict integrity to truth, in an orthodox critic, as the foregoing extracts exhibit, cannot fail to excite the adıniration of every free, lionest, and earnest seeker after truth. But to continue

our researches upon the text before us, let us attempt to confirin the two positions assumed by Alford, rainely, that the term dead in verses 5 and 6 is to be taken in its literal sense, and as including all the dead in its reference. The sixth verse places the dead to whom the gospel was preached in direct contrast to men in the flesh, after the manner of whom the dead are to be judged. But for the purpose of exhibiting the absurdity to which it leads, let it be assumed, following the views of our writers usually heretofore, that the dead in verse 6 are the dead in trespasses and sins, being men living in the flesh. Then we paraphrase this verse in a manner consistently with the assumption, thus: For to this end was the gospel preached also to the dead in trespasses and sins, yet living in the flesh ; that they might be judged according to God in the spirit; in other words, That sinful men in the flesh might be judged according to men in the flesh. As will be seen, thus interpreted, no one can make sense out of the passage. To predicate an intelligent idea of it, we must admit the contrast intended, between men living in the flesh, or body, and the dead who, as spirits, live according to God. But the underlying idea of the entire passage, including the two verses, is this; the Apostle assumes that it would be injustice to judge by the gospel those inillions of the dead who never heard of Christ nor of the gospel. ff, then, the dead were to be judged, the gospel must first be preached to them. Again, since Clirist and his gospel are the only means of salvation, those millions of the dead who had never heard of either, must have both preached to them, or they could never be saved. This is the saine question as that concerning the heathen of the present age, and, indeed, of all past ages. Without Christ and the gospel, they can never be saved; yet they die without ever hearing of either. Thus, in order to their salvation, or that they may be judged and live the divine life in the spirit, it is necessary for the dead to have the yospel preached to them. That Universalist critics should refuse to accept this philosophy, so clearly embodied in St. Peter's language literally understood, seems to us passing strange. If they believe

Christ and the gospel necessary to salvation, how do they expect those to be saved who never heard of either while living, unless both are proclaimed to them after death?

Incident to Christ's work of universal salvation was the necessity of his universal judgment, both of the living and the dead. For this purpose, then, the gospel was preached to the dead, namely: 1st, That they might be justly judged, the same as men in the flesh who had heard the gospel ; 2d, That they might live the divine life in the spirit. The last clause in verse 6 has been usually interpreted by orthodox critics in a moral sense, that is to say, the words “ but live according to God in the spirit,” have been explained as “ conformably to the will of God in the spirit," etc.

But our exposition of the passages before us would be delective without the powerful support of Dr. Lange, who most ably and exhaustively maintains their literal sense, and concludes as follows:

Holy Scripture nowhere teaches the eternal damnation of those who died as heathens or non-Christians; it rather intimates in many passages that forgiveness may be possible beyond the grave, and refers the final decision not to death, but to the day of Christ. (Acts xvii. 32; 2 Tim. i. 12; iv. 8; 1 John iv. 17.) But in our passage (1 Peter iv. 6), as in ch. iii. 19, 20, Peter by divine illumination clearly affirms that the ways of Gcd's salvation do not terminate with the earthly life, and that the gospel is preached beyond the grave to those who have departed from this life without a knowledge of the same (Notes, in loc.).

The following extract is then given, as cited by Gerlach, relative to the doctrine of the primitive church :


“ Gerlach cites a passage from John of Damascus, in which the doctrine of the ancient church on the subject of Christ's descent into Hades, is summed up as follows: · His glorified soul descends into Hades, in order that like as the Sun of Righteousness did rise to men on earth, so in like manner he might shine on those who under the earth sit in darkness and

5 See Robinson Gr. Lex. N. T. sub. zatd. 11. 4. Cf. Wordsworth, in loc. Barnes. Notes in loc., etc.

in the shadow of death ; in order that as he did publish peace to men on earth, gave deliverance to the captives, and sight to the blind, and became the cause of eternal salvation to believers, while he convicted the disobedient of unbelief, so in like manner he might deal with the inhabitants of Hades, so that to him every knee should bow, of those in heaven, on earth and under the earth, and that having thus loosed the chains of those long-coufined prisoners, he might return from the dead and prepare to us the way of the resurrection.'(Id.)

We see here what was the doctrine of the primitive church, founded on the literal interpretation of the passages in ques. tion ; a doctrine equally opposed to that of no repentance nor salvation after death, and that of no sin nor punishment after death ; both utterly inconsistent with any rational and philosophical view of the future life of man, since they equally attribute to the article of physical death such a revolution in the moral constitution of man as no sound philosophy can ever explain. Indeed, only a miracle can so change man's spiritual and moral nature after his death, that he can neither repent, on one hand, nor, on the contrary, commit sin and receive punishment therefor. St. Peter never taught doctrines so incapable of all rational apprehension. Allowing him to mean what he says, and so plainly that no man can mistake it, we learn from him that man enters the future life with the same moral nature that he has in this life ; and that there the same rational means are to be employed for his salvation as are employed in his present state of being. Christ and the gospel are to be preached to those who never heard of them, the same as to the heathen and non-Christian nations of the present day.

Universalist critics must abandon the doctrine of the universality of Christ's judgment, and show, in the face of the statements of Peter and Paul already quoted, and other passages, that it is confined to men in the flesh ; or they must admit that the dead, as well as living, are judged ; especially those who were not judged according to the gospel while living. Again, such critics must abandon the doctrine that Christ and his gospel are necessary to salvation in all cases, NEH SEBIES.



or admit that Christ and his gospel are preached to those after death who died in perfect ignorance of them. St. Peter's language, literally understood, avoids these contradictions and teaches a doctrine in perfect harmony with the Universalist philosophy of the future life, as now held probably by the majority of our people and clergy.

The Universalism of the text, 1 Peter iv. 5, 6, is seen in the fact that the “ dead” of verse 6 includes all, the saine as in verse 5; and that all the dead live according to God in the spirit, that is, conformably to the will of God. The moral sense of this clause, as before stated, is generally adinitted by orthodox critics. The certainty that God's design in preaching the gospel to the dead, will be fully realized, is expressed by iva,“ in order that,” denoting a specific purpose on the part of the Deity. This Greek particle is very different from that of wote, “ that,” a mere connective, denoting simply the result of an act, whether designed or not.

We shall hope that the reader will do us the justice to believe that the foregoing expositions of important texts are put forth in no dogmatic, and much less dictatorial, spirit; but solely in the interest of God's revealed truth, and of a sound, scientific exegesis of the Scriptures. It will not be forgotten, we trust, that our exegesis consists wholly in defending the literal sense of the passages, eschewing all private speculation and attempts at allegorizing. 0. D. Miller, S. T. D.

[ocr errors]


George MacDonald and His Writings.

GEORGE MacDONALD was born at Huntley, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, in 1825. His father was the proprietor of the Huntley Mills, and his ancestors were of the famous MacDonald clan that suffered so cruelly in the Glencoe Massacre of 1692. In the early part of his educational training, MacDonald was

« PreviousContinue »