Loading...
Larger font
Smaller font
Copy
Print
Contents
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "undefined".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font
    Copy
    Print
    Contents

    December 18, 1884

    “‘Axiomatic Theology’” The Signs of the Times 10, 48, p. 754.

    JOSEPH COOK has now been on the Pacific Coast about a month, on a lecturing tour; first in Portland, Oregon, later, and even now (Dec. 10), in San Francisco. He seems to pride himself on his being the exponent of what he calls “Axiomatic Theology.” “An axiom is a self-evident truth which is taken for granted as the basis of reasoning.”—Webster. Self-evident is “evident without proof or reasoning; producing certainty, or clear conviction, upon a bare presentation to the mind.”—Ib. Axiomatic theology is a good thing, therefore, provided what is taken as the basis of reasoning be really self-evident, provided it be really an axiom. But when that which is taken for granted is the very thing to be proved, it then becomes just anything but axiomatic. This is bad enough; but when the “basis of reasoning” is not only not “evident without proof,” but is incapable of proof; when it is not only not “a self-evident truth,” but is not truth at all, it is far worse; and when such passes, and is applauded, as “Axiomatic Theology,” methinks that were Shakespeare alive he would not ask so skeptically, “What’s in a name?”SITI December 18, 1884, page 754.1

    “Does Death End All?” is one of Mr. Cook’s “Axiomatic Theology” lectures; and the “axiom,” the “self-evident truth” which is taken as the basis of his reasoning, is the immortality of the soul. Theologically, “immortality is the perpetuity of existence after it has once begun.”—McClintock and Strong. Philologically, immortality is “unending existence.”—Webster. The immortality of the soul, therefore, is the perpetual, the unending existence of the soul. Now when this is stated as self-evident, and then laid as the basis of reasoning on the question, “Does death end all?” the conclusion must inevitably be in the negative. Then Mr. Cook says: “If we can satisfy ourselves in the negative on this point, then we may safely believe in the immortality of the soul.” Certainly. Lay down a proposition to which there is no possibility of an answer except in the negative, then satisfy yourself of that negative, and you can safely believe your proposition. Prove the negative by your proposition, then prove your proposition by the negative, and you can rest assured that you are right. Thus: The soul is immortal, therefore death cannot end all. Death does not end all, therefore the soul is immortal. And this is “Axiomatic Theology.”SITI December 18, 1884, page 754.2

    Mr. Cook says: “The germinal matter that weaves the sponge is, as far as science can determine, identical with the same that weaves the brain. There is a weaver somewhere. Life is the cause of form in matter. Cause goes before effect. Life goes before organization. If it goes before, why may it not survive?” Let us grant it all for a moment, and see what it proves. “Life is the cause of form in matter.” Life is the “weaver” in the sponge, as in man. “Life goes before organization.” “The weaver goes before his weft” in the sponge as in man. “If life goes before organization, why may it not survive?” “Why may not the weaver survive his weft?” “If it weaves this body, why may it not weave another after it leaves this?” (I heard him say it.) Now if that argument proves an immortal soul for man, it just as decidedly proves the same for the sponge, because he says “the germinal matter that weaves ... is identical” in both. And that is “Axiomatic Theology.”SITI December 18, 1884, page 754.3

    Next he said: “We have been all the evening in the moonlight and starlight. Now [holding up an open Bible] we stand in the sunlight.” “Christ brought life and immortality to light.” Christ did not bring life and immortality to light by demonstrating the immortality of the soul. It was by the resurrection of the dead. And this is as far from the immortality of the soul as is heathenism from Christianity; as far as is falsehood from the truth. And when Mr. Cook tries to train the fact of Christ bringing life and immortality to light, into the defense of the immortality of the soul, he involves himself in a difficulty which reminds us of Macaulay’s description of some of Gladstone’s arguments in favor of Church and State. “His artillery ... is composed of two sorts of pieces, pieces which will not go off at all, and pieces which go off with a vengeance and recoil with most crushing effect upon himself.” In Mr. Cook’s appeal to the Scriptures, what did he prove? This: “The fact of the resurrection of Christ is as well authenticated as is the fact that Napoleon lived. Christ taught of life, death, and the resurrection. He lived, died, and proved it.” This argument, instead of proving the positions already taken in his lecture, effectually destroyed them all, by showing plainly that future life can only be by the resurrection of the dead; that without a resurrection there is no Garfield, Lincoln, nor Washington; that without a resurrection there is, in his own words, “no more immortality for you and me than there is for a snuffed candle.” So instead of saying he had been “all the evening in the moonlight and starlight,” I should say he had been in the fog. And that instead of really coming out into “the sunlight” of the Bible, he dragged the Bible into the fog with him. But such is “Axiomatic Theology” on the subject of the immortality of the soul.SITI December 18, 1884, page 754.4

    So must it ever be. The immortality of the soul cannot be proved. Without the Bible, life after death cannot be proved. And with the Bible it can only be proved by a resurrection of the dead. By the resurrection of the dead, and by that alone, the Bible sets before us the hope of a future life; and without the resurrection there is no life after death. Macaulay indeed stated the truth when he said, “In truth, all the philosophers, ancient and modern, who have attempted, without the help of revelation, to prove the immortality of man, from Plato down to Franklin (or Joseph Cook we would add), appear to us to have failed deplorably.”—Essay, Von Ranke.SITI December 18, 1884, page 754.5

    It is confessed by all, that the immortality of the soul is not taught in the Old Testament; it is only claimed from the New Testament, because there it is said that Christ brought immortality to light. But how did he bring it to light? Read 2 Timothy 1:10, “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” What is the gospel? Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-4: “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you ... by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you.... For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is the summary, the substance of the gospel. By this therefore Christ brought life and immortality to light. It could not be by his death, for that was the common fate of all men. It could not be by his burial, for that was familiar to all living. Therefore it could have been only by his resurrection. By that he brought into the light, he demonstrated, “life and immortality.” Now men are to “seek for it” (Romans 2:7) through Christ (Romans 6:23), and obtain it by the resurrection, at the coming of the Saviour. 1 Corinthians 15:51-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:15, 16.SITI December 18, 1884, page 754.6

    The “immortality” which Christ brought to light, and the “immortality of the soul,” are two widely distinct things. This is proved by Acts 17:18. When Paul was at Athens, the very headquarters of the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, the philosophers encountered him, and some said, “He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods, because he preached unto them Jesus and the resurrection.” And again when he preached the same thing to the highest court of that intensely intellectual city, “When they heard of the resurrection of the dead some mocked.” If Paul had preached to them Jesus and the immortality of the soul, they never would have “mocked” nor called him a “setter forth of strange gods.” To them that would have been nothing “strange;” with that they were thoroughly acquainted. This text, therefore, is proof positive that the immortality which Christ brought to light is not the immortality of the soul. We may, and do, therefore, deny in toto, the immortality of the soul; but we believe, and trust implicitly in the “life and immortality,” which Christ brought to light; and we expect to obtain it in the way in which he brought it to light.SITI December 18, 1884, page 754.7

    If the immortality of the soul be the truth, we wish some one who believes it would tell how Christ brought it to light. Without fear of successful contradiction, we state, and emphasize it, as a fact that there is not a single element of the doctrine of the immortality of the soul held by Christians, which was not held and taught more than three hundred and fifty years before Christ came into the world. This being the fact, we ask in all reason, how much or what part of that doctrine did Christ bring to light? The doctrine of the immortality of the soul nullifies the mission of Christ.SITI December 18, 1884, page 754.8

    ALONZO T. JONES.

    “Notes on the International Lesson. Acts 20:17-27” The Signs of the Times 10, 48, pp. 758, 759.
    JANUARY 4—Acts 20:17-27

    GOLDEN TEXT: “Repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” In all the preaching of the gospel by John the Baptist, by Christ, and by all the apostles, “repentance” was the first great requisite upon which they insisted. “Repent ye,” cried John the Baptist. Matthew 3:2. Said Jesus, “Repent ye.” Mark 1:15. “I am ... come to call ... sinners to repentance.” Matthew 9:13. “I say unto you there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” Luke 15:10. “Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein the most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not.” Matthew 11:20. “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it; because they repented at the preaching of Jonas.” Matthew 12:41. And in reference to the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices, and the eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, he said: “I tell you ... except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” When the twelve were sent forth, “they went out, and preached that men should repent.” Mark 6:12. After his resurrection Jesus said to the twelve that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Luke 24:47. On Pentecost, when men asked the apostle, “What shall we do?” Peter answered, “Repent;” and again in Solomon’s porch after telling them that they had “killed the Prince of life,” Peter said, “Repent ye therefore.” Paul at Athens declared to them that God “now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” Acts 17:30. And to Agrippa, he said that he had showed “throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent.” Acts 26:20. To the Ephesus state of the church, Christ said: “Remember from whence thou art fallen and repent.” To the Pergamos state of the church he said, “Repent.” To Sardis he said, “Repent.” And to the Laodiceans, the last of the church, he says, “Be zealous therefore, and repent.” Revelation 2:5, 16; 3:3, 19. From the first book of the New Testament to the last, the voice of the Lord to sinners is, REPENT.SITI December 18, 1884, page 758.1

    WHAT is repentance? Some say, Godly sorrow for sin is repentance. It is not. There can be no true repentance without godly sorrow, but godly sorrow is not repentance. Paul says, “Godly sorrow worketh repentance.” 2 Corinthians 7:10. To repent signifies “to change one’s mode of thinking, feeling, and acting,—reformation of life.”—Greenfield. Godly sorrow, i.e., a sorrow before God, and that takes him and his will into account, a sorrow because the evil of an ill-mannered life has been offensive to him,—this “worketh,” this leads to a reformation of life, a manner of life which is not conformed to this world, but is transformed by the renewing of the mind, by which is proved “what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2. This repentance, “reformation of life,” must be thorough, it cannot be confined alone to the mind, to our opinions of things; our change of mind must be shown in actions. This the Scripture shows: “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance,” margin, fruits “answerable to amendment of life.” Matthew 3:8. “That they should repent and turn to God and do works meet for repentance.” Acts 26:20.SITI December 18, 1884, page 758.2

    WHAT are “works meet for repentance”? What are “works answerable to amendment of life”? “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” “Put off ... the old man, which is corrupt, [and] put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth.... Let him that stole steal no more; but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good.... Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you; ... and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:22-32. Here, among other things, it is said, “Let him that stole steal no more.” But that is not all. He must give back that which he stole. “When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; if the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.” Ezekiel 33:14, 15. “Then it shall be because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found, or all that about which he hath sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it appertaineth in the day of his trespass offering.... And the priest shall make an atonement for him before the Lord, and it shall be forgiven him.” Leviticus 6:4-7. Such are works which show amendment of life. Such show that the heart has been touched, and wishes to stand right with God and man. Godly sorrow for the wrong, turning from the wrong, and then, as far as possible, making the wrong right,—that is repentance.SITI December 18, 1884, page 759.1

    REPENTANCE has to do with the principles of right. Therefore men must be shown their sins, else they never can repent. But “sin is the transgression of the law,” and “by the law is the knowledge of sin.” There can be no true repentance without reference and respect to the law of God. They who will preach to men to repent, must set before them the law of God, and by it show them their transgressions. This is the way the apostles preached; Peter said: “Him ... ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” And when they heard this, they cried, What shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent. “Repentance toward God” must be shown, because it is the law of God which we have transgressed, and because by that law is the knowledge of sin, of which we are to repent.SITI December 18, 1884, page 759.2

    “AND faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is not enough to be sorry for the sin. It is not enough to turn from the sin. It is not enough that the wrong is made right with our fellow-man. All these together are not enough. All these are essential, but they are not enough. The wrong must be made right with God. The guilt of sin must be removed; the sin itself must be taken away. Christ alone can remove the sin and the guilt of it. And it is alone by faith in him that we can receive the forgiveness of sin. It is alone by faith in his blood that our sins can be blotted out. It is alone by faith in his atonement that we can receive the remission of sins; faith in his life, because he lived as our example (1 Peter 2:21); faith in his death, because he died “for our offenses;” faith in his resurrection, because he “was raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25); faith in his life again, because “he ever liveth to make intercession for us” (Hebrews 7:25).SITI December 18, 1884, page 759.3

    “REPENTANCE toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ,” is the synopsis of the Christian story. And the deeper that repentance goes, the higher faith will reach. If there were more genuine repentance in the world, there would be more abiding faith in Christ in the world.SITI December 18, 1884, page 759.4

    ALONZO T. JONES.

    Larger font
    Smaller font
    Copy
    Print
    Contents