« PreviousContinue »
treatise to my brethren in the Methodist ministry. Many inquiries have in consequence been made for the book, both at home and in foreign parts. But as most of them have been unsuccessful, and as half a century has elapsed since it was last reprinted at the Clarendon Press, Oxford, the Book Committee of the Conference have determined on bringing it once more within reach of the public. I am heartily glad that they have come to this resolution; for among the many publications which have since appeared on the same subject, I have met with none in which the Scripture doctrine is more clearly and convincingly set forth. The writer is sensible and modest, and though calm and collected, is serious and earnest throughout, speaking the words of truth and sober
Some may perhaps wonder why a treatise written so long ago should be again reprinted; and it may therefore be needful to add that those who will take the pains to master this volume will find almost every phase of the controversy dealt with. Nothing deserving of serious consideration can be advanced except in favour of one or other of the three hypotheses which are here examined. And consequently, the very numerous publications of the last few years are all directed to the support of Restoration, Annihilation, or a kind of Purgatory. "That which is, is that which hath been." With more or less variation of form the old errors
continually reappear. Socinus and Crellius are followed after the lapse of two hundred years by
Mr. E. White and Mr. R. W. Dale, who advocate annihilation; and the echoes of Siegvolck and his disciple Winchester have hardly died away, before they are caught up by Mr. Andrew Jukes, and Mr. Cox, who believe in Universal Restoration, Canon Farrar, though disavowing the Romish doctrine, and rejecting the very name of Purgatory, yet believes in some kind of remedial and purifying suffering before the day of doom, and has an evident longing after prayers for the dead. But if it can be shown that the Scripture teaches that probation ends with life, both remedial suffering and restoration are necessarily condemned. Our author was well persuaded of this, and never loses sight of his point. He does not however shrink from encountering the advocates of error on their own ground; and disposes of all the arguments drawn from the varying significations of the two or three words upon which they bestow so much labour; so that if Canon Farrar's wish should be gratified, and neither "hell," "damnation," nor "everlasting" should be found in the Revised English New Testament, Dr. Horbery's argument will not be at all affected by their absence, he having wisely determined not "to build his doctrine merely upon the foundation of any verbal criticisms whatever," (see p. 34.)
There is however one point on which our author, had he lived in our day, might have found it needful to alter what he had written. No writer of our times could quote Mark iii. 29, or Mark ix. 43-48 without adverting to the changes in those texts which
modern critics have suggested. Not indeed that their value as proofs would be greatly diminished by allowing the proposed alterations; but Dr. Horbery would have noticed them (as he did a various reading in Rom. i. 32, on p. 84) to obviate objections. Nor should he be held responsible for not noticing what, while textual criticism was yet in its infancy, he can scarcely be said to have had the means of knowing.
It is at least curious and may not be unedifying to notice how many of the points on which Canon Farrar dwells were anticipated and disposed of by his brother Canon more than a century since. The perpetual harping on the number of the condemned, as though the orthodox were in the habit of speaking of them as a vast majority; the importing of the case of the heathen (which is not in question) into discussions on this subject, and the influence of Hades upon the temper of the rich man mentioned in Luke xvi., are instances which just now occur to me, and others might no doubt be found, of the manner in which by replying to Whiston, Horbery has in effect replied to his modern imitators also.
Our author also shows himself wise in discriminating between the doctrines of Eternal Punishment and Absolute Reprobation, which have been too often identified in argument, or treated as if they were inseparable. There is some excuse for this confusion, because many of the same persons who have held the one have also held the other. But they are not at all necessarily connected. Many who hold the former, deny the latter. What Canon
Farrar denounces with so much vehemence as "the common opinion" on the duration of future punishment, has been taught by divines like Dean Jackson and Dean Pierce, who no more believed in what Calvin truly calls "the horrible decree" than Canon Farrar himself. So it has been by prelates like Andrewes, Hall, and Pearson, and scholars such as Barrow, Waterland, and Bentley, whom we may consider at least as capable of dealing with questions of interpretation as most modern writers; and as not more liable to imputations of incompetency either in point of scholarship, or of temper, than those writers whom Dr. Farrar approves and quotes.
A wide field of remark is thus opened out, but our space will only permit a few words. It may be true that some Nonconformists who hold and teach the doctrine against which Canon Farrar protests, are inferior in scholarship to himself, and some other clergymen; and also (as he anticipates) that the view he holds in common with "so many educated and thoughtful divines" will, in another generation, become the professed and even the "treasured belief" of the English clergy. But no amount of apostasy can set aside the divine testimony. The True Witness may testify to those who disregard him, as he did of old, but his competency remains unaffected; and it was not without reason that he so formally declared both his authority and his competency before announcing this awful truth. Even were the names producible on the side of an effectual repentance in Hades, and a temporary hell, far more numerous and
more esteemed than they are, what could they avail