Intro

This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I began the project on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed it on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. I still do that every once in a while.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Agape

QUESTION: Does agape always mean divine love in the New Testament?

ANSWER: It denotes Christian love to God and men, a love unknown to writers outside the New Testament, a love which chooses its object with decision of will, so that it becomes self-denying or compassionate. It is the distinctive peculiarity of the Christian life.

— from Steele's Answers p. 53.

Friday, March 29, 2013

A "Babbler"?

QUESTION: A bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church insists that all the translators and lexicographers are mistaken when they represent that Paul was a "babbler" by the Athenians whom he met in the market place. He says they complimented Paul by calling him a spermologos, "a great conversationalist," full of seed-thoughts, and wise sayings, which he scattered broadcast in the agora to the delighted astonishment of the natives. Is this bishop correct?

ANSWER: The best scholars quote Homer, Plutarch, and Demosthenes in proof that σπερμολόγος (spermologos), seed-gatherer, is a term of contempt applied to loungers about the market-place picking up a subsistence by whatever may chance to fall from the loads of merchandise; hence a man beggarly and abject, living by flattery and buffoonery, an empty talker, an idle babbler.

— from Steele's Answers pp. 52, 53.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Can Anyone in the Flesh Please God?

QUESTION: Paul says in Rom. 8:9, "They that are in the flesh cannot please God." Since all who live on the earth are in the flesh, is it not impossible for any living man to please God?

ANSWER: The word flesh has both a good and a bad meaning. In this text flesh means the domination of evil inclinations. No man who is thus dominated can please God. But when the evil propensities are controlled by the regenerating Holy Spirit, God is pleased. Every man in the world may please God by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. The flesh may not only be controlled but be crucified.

— from Steele's Answers p. 52.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Natural Man

QUESTION: In 1 Cor. 4:12 Paul speaks of the natural man. What are his characteristics? Our preachers says he is regenerate.

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God:for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14 KJV.)

ANSWER: He is not spiritual but wholly animal. He has a sensuous nature with its subjection to appetite and passion. In Jude 19 he is "sensual," "earthly" and "devilish." If a man is known by the company he keeps, the natural man must be a bad fellow in great need of regeneration and entire sanctification. Except in 1 Cor. 15:44 "natural" Greek "physical" is in the New Testament always used in a bad sense. The preacher is a blind guide. We fear that both he and his hearers will fall into a ditch hard to get out of.

— from Steele's Answers pp. 51, 52.


Monday, March 25, 2013

The Dancing Choir

QUESTION: What is the duty of a Methodist Episcopal pastor towards a choir who dance, play cards, attend theaters, and some drink beer?

ANSWER: The book of Discipline places the choir under the control of the pastor, who may if he wishes have a committee of which he is chairman, or he may have the sole direction. Let him discreetly use his power to weed out improper persons.

— from Steele's Answers p. 51.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Error of Antinomianism

Theological errors move in cycles, some times of very long periods. They resemble those comets of unknown orbits which occasionally dash into our solar system; but they are not as harmless. Often they leave moral ruin in their track. Since all Christian truth is practical, and aims at the moral transformation of men, all negations of that truth are deleterious; they not only obscure the truth and obstruct its purifying effect, but they positively corrupt and destroy souls.

This is specially true of errors which release men from obligation to the law of God. After St. Paul had demonstrated the impossibility of justification by works compensative for sin, and had established the doctrine of justification through faith in Christ which works by love and purifies the heart, there started up a class of teachers who drew from Paul's teachings the fallacious inference that the law of God is abolished in the case of the believer, who is henceforth delivered from its authority as the rule of life.

Hence they became, what Luther first styled, Antinomians (Greek anti, against, and nomos, law). We infer from Rom. iii. 8, 31; vi.1; Eph. v. 6; 2 Peter ii. 18, 19, and James ii.17-26, in which warnings are given against perversion of the truth as an excuse for licentiousness, that Antinomianism, in its grosser form, found place in the primitive church. All along the history of the Church, a revival of the cardinal doctrine of justification, by faith only, has been followed by a resurrection of Antinomianism, which Wesley defines as "the doctrine which makes void the law through faith."

Those who aver that ultra-Calvinism is the invariable antecedent of Antinomianism, would be unwilling to accept the necessary inference that the apostle to the Gentiles was an ultra-Calvinist; yet it is true that the doctrines of Calvinism can be logically pushed to that conclusion. It is also true that other forms of doctrine which emphasize faith in Jesus Christ, as the sole ground of acceptance with God, are more or less liable to have the tares of Antinomianism spring up in their field.

The root of this error lies in a false view of the mediatorial work of Christ, that He performs for men the obedience which they ought to perform, and that God can justly demand nothing further from the delinquents. It is claimed that Christ's perfect virtues are reckoned to the believer in such a way as to excuse him for their absence; His chastity compensating for the absence of that moral quality in the believer. Hence, adultery and murder in King David, being compensated by the purity and benevolence of Jesus imputed to him in the mind of God, did not mar David's standing as righteous before God.

It should be said that the Gnostic sects were Antinomian on other grounds. They held that their spiritual natures could not contract moral pollution, whatever their moral conduct might be, sin inhering only in matter. As a piece of gold retains its purity while encompassed by the filth of the swine-sty, so the soul keeps pure amid the grossest sins. This species of Antinomianism was not limited to those who professed faith in Christ. It was adopted by all who held that all evil inheres in uncreated matter.

Modern Universalism is only another form of Antinomianism. It is the expectation of salvation through Christ, without obedience to either the law or the Gospel.

Christianity was very early disfigured by antinomianism, a doctrinal and practical error which opposes itself to God's law even in the evangelical form in which it was defined by His adorable Son, "Thou shalt love God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself." This had been the burden of Christ's preaching, with the hint that His own life was to be given, as a ransom for many, and to secure grace to enable them to fulfil God's law. The apostles, by precept and example, powerfully enforced their Lord's doctrine and practice. Their lives are true copies of their exhortations. It is hard to say which excite men most to believe and obey, their seraphic sermons or their saintly lives. Success crowned their labors. Both Judaism and paganism heard the thunder of their words of faith and fell prostrate beneath the lightning of their works of love.

But before all is lost, Satan hastens to "transform himself into an angel of light." In this disguise he instills speculative faith, instead of a saving faith which works by love, purifies the heart, and overcomes the world; he pleads for loose living, puts the badge of contempt upon the daily cross, and gets multitudes of Laodiceans and Gnostics into his snare. Sad and sure is the result. Genuine works of faith are neglected; idle works of men's invention are substituted for those of God's commandments; and fallen churches, gliding downward through the smooth way of antinomianism, return to the covert way of Phariseeism, or to the broad way of infidelity.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Give Us a Spiritual Protestantism!

There are multitudes of nominal Christians who confidently assert that it is the highest presumption and folly to expect, in modern times, that full dispensation of the Spirit concerning which so many excellent things are spoken in the Scriptures. They brand as a fanatic the man who proclaims to a slumbering Church the presence of the Holy Ghost, ready to raise the spiritually dead, and to transfigure the spiritually living.

It is asserted that the era of miracles and the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit are past; not understanding that the Spirit himself is entirely distinct from his supernatural gifts. The Spirit descended upon Mary, the mother of our Lord, and upon several other believing women in the upper chamber; but there is no proof that they were endowed with the gift of tongues, or any other charisma. St. Paul himself was not always replenished with miraculous power. A man may be full of the Holy Spirit, and be a temple for his abode, and have no supernatural gift. Love supreme, love made perfect, is superior to all the miraculous endowments. Though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. Witness Balaam's supernatural prophecy, followed by his violent death among the enemies of God, and the miracles of Judas, quickly succeeded by treason to his Master and wretched suicide.

Another objection which men at ease in Zion raise against the universal outpouring of the Spirit in these days is the fanaticism which it is supposed to breed. This would exclude all spiritual life from the world; for life is liberty, and all liberty has its perils. The prisoners handcuffed in grated cells, and the dead in silent tombs, are the only two classes of people who are not in peril of the abuse of their physical powers and appetites. That more fanatics and eccentrics start up in a church filled and thrilled with spiritual life than in a Church in a Laodicean stupor, is no more wonderful than that a free country should give birth to more who abuse their freedom, than an autocratic iron despotism, where none dare to stir.

Give us a spiritual Protestantism, with all its perils of rationalism and fanaticism....

Though there may be occasionally a weak or unbalanced mind carried away into fantastic extravagances under the copious effusion of the Holy Spirit, as a mighty rushing wind, the average mind has skill to adjust its sails to the heavenly gale, and speed its way, with stable ballast, toward the port of eternal life.

 Come, O wind! O breath of God! upon myriads of becalmed souls, and sweep them joyfully onward to the haven of rest.

— edited from Love Enthroned, Chapter 9.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Punishment for Sin vs. Sin's Natural Consequences

QUESTION: (a) Explain the difference between the punishment of sin and it's natural consequences. (b) May not Matt. 25:46 and Rev. 22:11 be a statement of the same thing from different standpoints?


Matthew 25:46: "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment:but the righteous into life eternal." (KJV)

Revelation 22:11: "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still:and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still:and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still." (KJV)

ANSWER: (a) Punishment relates only to the guilt of sin. Forgiveness removes the liability to punishment. It does not remove regret for sin in time nor in eternity. In this sense sin casts a shadow into heaven itself. In other words you cannot forgive the sin which God has forgiven. Nor does God, who forgives a sinner in middle life, restore the blessings lost in his wasted youth, such as education, and intellectual power and possibly physical health lost by sins against his body. The prodigal son was received by his Father, but the money lost by riotous living was not restored in the form of a second division of the paternal estate. Then again others suffer in consequence of one man's sin whose forgiveness does not arrest these evil consequences, such as the poverty of the drunkard's wife and children. His reformation and conversion to Christ does not restore the farm which has gone down his throat and lodged in the till of the saloon. I speak with deliberation and reverence when I say that God cannot forgive the natural consequences of sin, because he cannot change the past. To do so would falsify history. He is a God of truth. He can no more change the past than he can change the multiplication table. (b) There is a sense in which sin is its own punishment, as virtue is its own reward. Yet as this reward differs from that which God will bestow in heaven, so this punishment must differ from that which he will inflict in hell. What this final reward is, and final punishment, has not yet been revealed. It awaits the Day of Judgement. Hence in preaching it may not be best to make this distinction between natural consequences and penalty. There is a poem relating to an impenitent sinner, the last verse of every stanza ending thus:

"To be left alone with memory
Is hell enough for me."

Yet I cannot believe that such expressions as "the wrath of God," "the Day of Judgment," and "eternal judgment" are rhetorical figures for the natural consequences of sin. In that case the final sentence of the Judge would be superfluous. The assertion that the moral law automatically inflicts penalty on transgressors is a doctrine which strongly leans toward the denial of the existence of a personal moral Governor. I lay no foundation for pantheism.

— from Steele's Answers pp. 49-51.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Operas and Sunday Pleasure Riding

QUESTION: What should be done with a Sunday school superintendent whose example it would not be safe to follow in the matter of operas and Sunday pleasure riding?

ANSWER: Kindly labor with him. If he will not reform, you may persuade him to resign.

— from Steele's Answers p. 49

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Damaged Reciever

QUESTION: How would you treat a truly converted and wholly consecrated man who has so long been seeking purity of heart as to become a painfully chronic seeker? It should be noted that he is not in a perfect physical condition.

ANSWER: The last fact noted may be the cause of this difficulty. In reference to chronic cases of lack of assurance, Wesley says: "I believe this is usually owing either to disorder of body, or ignorance of the gospel promises." I have seen a case of despair because of ill health. At Clifton Springs Sanitarium my attention was directed to a Christian woman in total spiritual darkness and great distress of mind because she had no communion with her Saviour [as] in former years. Said I to her: "Why are you here?" "Because," she replied, "the plastering fell from the ceiling of my schoolroom where I was teaching and struck my head."I then told her that her Savior was still speaking to her, but that her telephone receiver was damaged by the concussion and that restored health would bring back her lost communion with the skies. Years afterwards she assured me that this was her experience. Such cases are to be treated with great tenderness and sympathy. It is comforting to know that "God knoweth our frame."

— from Steele's Answers pp. 48, 49.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Do We Experience God?

The subtle suggestion is sometimes presented that this whole matter of Christian experience is all illusory — a phenomenon of our own minds under the influence of causes wholly within itself. The thoughtful believer is sometimes annoyed by the thought that God has nothing to do with inward religious emotions — that what seems to come from without, and to move so marvelously within the soul, assuring of pardon and cleansing from sin, really arises from the hidden depths of our mysterious nature while intently contemplating religious ideas, and that there is no manifestation of God at all as an objective existence.

To this we have two answers.

1. In the first place, if this illusion leaves permanent beneficial effects upon the character, gives victory over sin, fills the soul with love toward God and the purest philanthropy, destroys the fear of death, and adorns and beautifies the spirit with all excellences, it is infinitely better than any reality to be found on earth, and it should be earnestly coveted and diligently sought by every person.

2. But we may know that God manifests himself in Christian experience by the testimony of consciousness — the same testimony that assures us of the existence of the external world.

To demonstrate the existence of the material world, as we have shown, has been for ages "the puzzle of philosophers," as Tyndall styles it, many contending that the sphere of consciousness is limited to the operations of mind itself, and that it cannot directly cognize any thing external. The most that it can do it to infer that its sensations have an external, unknown, and forever unknowable cause. Those who deny the correctness of this inference deny the existence of matter, and resolve it into ideas. With idealists, the ego only exists; the mountain, river, and plain are only so many different modifications of the ego, or self.

At length Sir William Hamilton arose, and cut this metaphysical knot by boldly enlarging the sphere of consciousness to include the outer world.

So we reply that the soul illumined by the Holy Spirit is conscious, not only of its own subjective religious exercises, but of God, their external cause, impressing himself mysteriously upon the Spirit. In other words, we may have, when our perceptions are quickened by the Holy Spirit, the same knowledge of God as we have of the external world. Christians in advanced experience universally testify that they all know God.

— from Love Enthroned, Chapter 13.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

We Trust. God Works.


Guest blog by Hannah Whithall Smith (1832-1911):









There is a certain work to be accomplished. We are to be delivered from the power of sin, and are to be made perfect in every good work to do the will of God. ‘Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,’ we are to be actually ‘changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.’ We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, that we may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.


A real work is to be wrought in us and upon us. Besetting sins are to be conquered. Evil habits are to be overcome. Wrong dispositions and feelings are to be rooted out, and holy tempers and emotions are to be begotten. A positive transformation is to take place. So at least the Bible teaches.


Now somebody must do this. Either we must do it for ourselves, or another must do it for us. We have most of us tried to do it for ourselves at first, and have grievously failed; then we discover from the Scriptures and from our own experience that it is a work we are utterly unable to do for ourselves, but that the Lord Jesus Christ has come on purpose to do it, and that He will do it for all who put themselves wholly into His hand, and trust Him to do it.


Now under these circumstances, what is the part of the believer, and what is the part of the Lord? Plainly the believer can do nothing but trust; while the Lord, in whom he trusts, actually does the work intrusted to Him. Trusting and doing are certainly contrastive things, and often contradictory; but are they contradictory in this case? Manifestly not, because it is two different parties that are concerned.


Friday, March 15, 2013

"O Ye of Little Faith"

The most surprising fact which came to the knowledge of Jesus was the weakness of his disciples' faith. Descended from heaven, written all over with proofs of his divinity, and bearing the great seal of God in his right hand — the miracle-working power — he stood unrecognized in the world. A little band of a dozen or more attach themselves to his fortunes, and avow faith in him; but often their perception of the wonderful beauty of his character was so dim, and their glimpses of his divinity were so brief, that they relapsed into distressing doubt, and were on the point of abandoning him forever.

We often wonder at their skepticism and spiritual stupor, as if we, standing in their place, would have had eyes to pierce the clouds of doubt, and to behold and adore the full-orbed sun in its first rising upon the world's darkness; but we are by no means sure that if we had been the companions of Christ's earthly wanderings, listened to his words, and witnessed his works, we should have escaped the oft-repeated rebuke, "O ye of little faith! wherefore do ye doubt!"

Should Jesus today step into our Christian assemblies, and tell us his view of our spiritual condition, he would find a sentence in his gospels just adapted to the state of the modern Church, "O ye of little faith."

We have somewhere met with a quaint, but exhaustive classification of mankind in respect to Christ; namely, believers, half-believers, make-believers, and unbelievers. There is no fifth class. Nor can they be reduced to three. Some persons deny the existence of half-believers. They assert that there are no degrees of faith; that it is not possible that a soul should be in such an equivocal attitude toward Christian truth; that there is either full belief or unbelief. But half-believers have existed all along the history of the Church; and they throng our churches today, and they make up the majority of disciples now as they did in the days of the Son of man.

It is interesting to trace the boundary between half-believers, or doubters — we use the term synonymously — and unbelievers. Unbelief has no positive element of faith, and hence is always the ground of condemnation. It is always fatal to right practice. The unbeliever cannot perform Christian duties with any sincerity, for there is no motive power. Unbelief is spiritual paralysis, voluntarily induced and retained. Its inner essence and culpability lie in the obstinacy of the will against the truth.

The secret reason why the intellect does not assent to the truth is, that the will refuses to obey. Unbelief has always a moral and not an intellectual cause. It arises, not from a lack of evidence, but from an unwillingness to follow wherever the truth may lead. Hence, Jesus applies his antidote directly to the will when he would prescribe an infallible remedy.

"If any man wills to do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself."


— edited from Love Enthroned Chapter 13.




Thursday, March 14, 2013

Why I Am Not A Premillennialist



Introduction by Dr. Vic Reasoner

 

The American holiness movement revered Daniel Steele (1824-1914) more than any other theologian. Most of his works have been reprinted. Yet no one within the holiness movement opposed premillennialism more than Daniel Steele. It is an irony of history that the holiness movement canonized Daniel Steele, but embraced the very teaching he opposed. 

In [our] climate of doomsday eschatology, it is appropriate that we reprint a piece by Steele that has not been reprinted by the holiness movement. This was the last published work of Daniel Steele and appeared in The Methodist Review, Vol. 93 (May, 1911): 405-415.




There are two theories of Christian eschatology. The first is that the present dispensation of the Holy Spirit will continue till all nations shall be evangelized, "the fullness of the Gentiles be come in," drowning out the unbelief of the Jews till "all Israel shall be saved." After this period of gospel triumph Christ will wind up the probationary history of the human race by the simultaneous resurrection of the good and the bad and the general judgment, assigning them to their eternal destinies. The second theory is that the purpose of Christ's second coming is to set up for the first time his kingdom on the earth, reigning in person on the throne of David in Jerusalem for a thousand years, attended by a bodyguard of angels and by the risen and glorified saints, the most eminent of whom Christ, the Imperator, will appoint as governors of the various countries of the globe, ruling over mortals who are eating and drinking, sowing and reaping, marrying and bearing children; meanwhile thousand are converted in a day, the Jews first, as suddenly as Saul of Tarsus, and all rushing to the Holy City, and thence into all the world, preaching the true Messiah. This theory is called premillennialism, which, for the sake of brevity, we may call chiliasm, a Greek term preferred by the Reformers. We propose to show that this scheme, having elements at once fascinating the carnal mind and attracting a certain class of truly spiritual people who "love his appearing" is at variance with the Holy Scriptures, proceeding upon crude, arbitrary, and false principles of interpretation, and dodging their absurd, yet legitimate, results; a system lacking coherence, making no provision for some of the most important future events in the history of our race, and painfully imperiling some of the most precious Christian doctrine.

1. The whole system is based on a foundation wholly insufficient — a single text of Scripture; a fact which justifies very grave suspicion, especially when that solitary text, Rev. 20:1-8, is in the book the most figurative, the most misunderstood, in the whole range of literature; so that it is an established maxim that "the Apocalypse either finds its interpreter mad or makes him so." There is no hint of the second advent of Christ till the general judgment in verse 11. The angel who imprisons Satan is not Christ, who is never thus called. The saints who reign with him are not said to reign with him on the earth. Every spiritual victory is through unification with Christ. He is not said to reign with the saints, but, rather, the saints with him, in heaven, by faith. Thus says Wesley (who is falsely claimed as a chiliast), copying Bengel, whom he styled "that great light of the Christian world." Both insist that the martyrs "live and reign, not on the earth, but with Christ." "Live" does not necessarily imply a bodily resurrection, as we will show further on.

2. Chiliasm is grounded on the erroneous assumption that the kingdom of Christ will not be established till the King visibly descends from heaven; that John was mistaken when in the wilderness he preached, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand"; and that when Jesus said to Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world," he was thinking of the throne of David in Jerusalem, on which, after nineteen hundred years, he would sit in visible regal splendor a thousand years, literally the Lord of the whole earth; and that the Jews were thus seemingly justified in rejecting the Messianic kingdom - which the chiliasts tell us was not a real kingdom but only a preparation for it, "as a means to an end," and that the prophecies relating to that kingdom are yet to be fulfilled. They forgot Peter's emphatic conclusion, "THEREFORE let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made this same Jesus whom ye crucified, both LORD and CHRIST." This obviously cuts up chiliasm by the roots. Nay, it places the premillennialist and the unbelieving Jews in the same class, both holding the same error, which they set themselves to overthrow; asserting that Christ's victory over death was not the beginning of his spiritual kingdom, as that grand old formula of worship indicates, the Te Deum Laudamus, called a hymn, a prayer, and a creed: "When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers."(1) This kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit is administered by Christ, enthroned above, through the Paraclete sent down from the Father through his intercession. He now has "the key of the house of David" - the key is the symbol of power. He is now on the throne of David "to order his kingdom in righteousness." The government is now upon his shoulder. "He is the Prince of life" now. We have not space to quote the many texts which express or imply the present Kingship of our adorable Saviour.

3. The general resurrection gives chiliasts much trouble in several particulars. They claim that the millennium will far exceed the present dispensation in the numbers of converts, who are to be multiplied in a wholesale kind of way. But what will be done with them? The Scriptures abundantly prove that the church will be complete at the second coming of its Head. The church is his bride, which he will present to himself as his own at his coming.(2) These texts demonstrate the completeness of the church at Christ's coming. Those who demur quote the highly figurative portions of the Old Testament prophecy and their cognate, the Apocalypse. But that is a vain recourse, since it is an old maxim in theology that "doctrines are not to be built upon prophetic or symbolic scripture." So embarrassed have been some modern chiliasts by this difficulty, arising from the absolute completeness of the church at the second advent precluding conversions thereafter, that they have invented two kinds of Christians: an A Number 1 brand, the Bride of Christ, and an A Number 2 sort, who sustain a less intimate and honorable relation. This is the absurdity to which our chiliastic friends are driven, rather than admit that there is not the shadow of a New Testament proof that one sinner will be converted after the second coming of Christ. To take this horn of the dilemma is to abandon their entire theory.

4. But the simultaneous resurrection of all the dead at Christ's future coming affords no place for the subsequent millennium. To relieve this perplexity, two resurrection are invented - that of the righteous, when the judge descends, and that of the wicked, a thousand years afterward, for which the chiliasts quote Rev. 20:11-15, their only proof. That this refers to the wicked only, they cite the first clause of verse 5, "But the rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years should be finished." This is not in the Sinaitic, the oldest Greek MS., nor in the Syriac version. In the other MSS. And version this short sentence has eight variations. This interpolation is injected between "this" and the antecedent to which it refers, interrupting the current of the style. To prove that only the wicked are here raised it is said that the sea gives up only the wicked dead, and the book of life is a blank book, a very unusual register in a court of justice in need of positive testimony. That the dead - the good and the bad - arise together is proven by many scriptures. "And many [an Orientalism for "all"] that sleep in the dust shall awake; some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." This is paralleled in John 5:28, "The hour cometh when all who are in their graves shall hear his voice and come forth, they that have done good . . . and they that have done evil," etc. Here is unquestionable simultaneousness. If we hesitate to say that the expression, "I saw the dead, small and great standing before the throne," does not imply the entire human race raised from the death together, then what Augustine says of it is true: "If we deem this obscure, we ought not to seek or find anything clear in the Holy Scriptures." The contemporaneous resurrection of "both the just and unjust" is asserted by Paul in Acts 24:15, and in the Areopagus he declared that "God has appointed a day in which he will judge the world," οἰκουμένην, the inhabited earth. In order to find a place for the millennium after the second coming of Christ and the Judgment Day it is said that that event will occupy a thousand years, one day with the Lord, who will judge, or rule, the whole day and at its close will raise and judge the wicked. This implies two different meanings to this verb, as "governing" is a social term, while "judging" is individual; the two things cannot be included in one idea - the control of masses of men at the present time and a judicial inquiry into the past acts of an individual soul. If you take the former, you have no Judgment Day; if the latter, you have no blissful millennium. The only text which is quoted in proof of the resurrection of the saints before the thousand years is this figurative scripture in which "lived" is regarded as a literal resurrection, "I saw the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, . . . and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. This is the first resurrection." We cannot interpret this resurrection as other than metaphorical, for the following reasons: (1) Only souls were seen. "Lived" does not necessarily indicate physical life; it sometimes means blissful life, well-being, as when Christ says, "Because I live, ye shall live also." These souls were first under the altar crying, in distress, for vengeance, wholly unlike Jesus on the cross and Stephen when stoned praying, "Father, forgive them." The figurative view relieves this scene. They are praying for the downfall of persecuting paganism and the triumph of the cause for which they were slain during ten merciless imperial persecutions, from Nero to Diocletian. Then when Constantine declared Christianity the official religion of the empire, A. D. 325, the prayer of these martyred souls was answered and they were happy, indeed, they lived; they arose from underneath the altar and sat upon the throne. This is the first resurrection of these souls not yet enswathed in their glorified bodies. This exegesis alleviated the cry for vengeance which is not against persons, but against a cruel system of idolatry then banished forever. Moreover, it shows the difficulty of the chiliasts to account for the resurrection of the many myriads of millions who became saints during the millennium, since by their theory only the wicked would be raised at its close. When will these saints be raised? The chiliast has no answer. Yet a still greater perplexity is the question, How can the millennial saints escape the second death, seeing that they have no part in the first resurrection? If it is literal, they must be excluded from salvation. This is the only alternative. The phrase "second resurrection" is not found in God's Word, for the good reason that there is but one literal resurrection. Moreover, the chiliasts have no end to generation on the earth. Some say they will continue an eternal succession.

Difficulties thicken as we apply literalism to the study of the words "and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years." If this means that their happy souls with Christ will rejoice over the long period of prosperity enjoyed by the church on the earth before a period of spiritual decline, there is no difficulty. But to say that risen and glorified saints are to live and reign with Christ for a period of only a thousand years is totally unlike the language of Scripture in every other place, which assures us that we are to be forever with the Lord. This difficulty is relieved by that figure of speech which applies resurrection to a revived cause, as did Ezekiel in his vision, and Paul to the final conversion of the Jews as "life from the dead."

5. We are told by the chiliasts that the saving of souls is to go on upon the earth after the Redeemer's second appearing. If this be true, all the means of grace will continue. The scaffolding of a building is kept up till the edifice is completed; but if it is removed, we rightly infer that the work is finished. In awakening sinners what is the most effectual motive? The coming of Christ, "revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, ... who shall punish with everlasting destruction ... them that obey not the gospel." "The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night." "The Son of man cometh when ye think not." "As it was in the days of Noah, ... even thus shall it be when the Son of man shall be revealed." The futurity of the coming of Christ is everywhere urged as a motive to repent. This motive can be of no avail after this solemn and decisive event is past. In the training of disciples and the development of Christian character the same motive is urged: "Occupy till I come." "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord." "The Lord ... shall give the crown ... to all them that love his appearing." Such incentives to holiness abound. Faith rests upon the first coming of our Saviour and hope looks forward to the second, the crisis and consummation of the state of grace. He says, "My reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." No such motives to purity will exist after Christ's advent. Thus one half of the Bible will be as useless to sinners as a last year's almanac, and the other half be as worthless to saints. It is "a light shining in darkness until the day dawn," and not beyond.

6. The ordinance of baptism, which, though not saving, is a channel of grace to the penitent believer, does not extend beyond the end of the world, or age. "Go ye and disciple all nations, baptizing them, teaching them, ... and, lo, I am with you always even tot he end of the world." This will leave no outward public sign of renouncing the devil and all his works and of allegiance to King Jesus. Baptism breaks the caste of the Hindu and levels the proud Brahmin down to the sweeper. The Scriptures give no hint of a substitute for this initiatory, sealing ordinance in the millennium after Christ shall come. Nor is there any substitute for "teaching" after that decisive event. This includes preaching as well as Bible classes and Sunday schools. The Lord's Supper, a very precious channel of grace, will share the fate of baptism, and disappear at the descent of its Founder, "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come." The word "till" does not necessarily exclude this ordinance beyond the coming, but it certainly indicates that Jesus had not idea of a church on the earth after his advent. He was not a chiliast. He did not derange the symmetry of his gospel and subvert the whole economy of evangelical motives and nullify his own ordinances a thousand years before they ceased to be effective in building up and beautifying human character as the premillennialists do by dislocating and eviscerating every text relating to the coming of our Lord. Afterward these ordinances will be out of date as well as the grace with which they are identified. Hence the millennium cannot be a Christian era, the institutes of the gospel having become obsolete. Says Mr. Brooks, whom I have heard, "The Holy Scriptures would, for the most part, be rendered inapplicable to the then existing circumstances of men in the flesh, and there would be need of some further revelation from God." Just so. This distinguished chiliast admits that the Bible would be a back number, or, to use his own words, "a dead letter, as much unsuited to the condition of mankind as they would be were they address to the angels of God"! Yet they will be valuable "as a memorial, like the pot of manna laid up in the ark." Hence our Bibles will still have some slight value. It is better to keep them than to sell them to the ragman for a penny a pound. Yet Dr. McNeile warns us that some parts of the New Testament may "become obsolete, not to say false," citing the strait gate and narrow way, "Be no conformed to this world," "Come out from among them and be ye separate," "The devil goeth about," etc., as erroneous in the millennium. He kindly informs us respecting the issue of this new New Testament, "This communication we expect at the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." It is to be hoped that some who are inclined to this millennial scheme may, in view of its legitimate inferences, discover that it is utterly void of any scriptural basis. This will be seen still more clearly in our treatment of the next difficulty.

7. The cessation of Christ's intercessions at his second coming will terminate all the offices of the Holy Spirit on the hearts of men. As the Paraclete was sent down to do the work of Christ when he returned to his Father, he will withdraw when Christ returns to the earth in his glorified humanity. How can sinners repent of their sins, be born again, have assurance of sonship, and be sanctified, after the divine Reprover of sin, the Author of the new birth, the Witness of adoption, and the Sanctifier, has withdrawn from the earth? Chiliasts admit this withdrawal. Dr. A. J. Gordon, of blessed memory, as a chapter entitled, "The Ascent of the Holy Spirit," of which the Scriptures say nothing, but they teach that his dispensation is the last on the earth. The connection between Christ's continued work of the Spirit and for saving purposes, the continual intercession of Christ is shown in John 7:38-39; 14:16, 26, 36, and 16:7, 14; Acts 2:33; Titus 3:5-6. As the church will be complete when Christ comes, as we have shown, so the means of grace and the agencies of salvation will then terminate.

8. We cannot adopt chiliasm because of the confusion and inconsistency respecting the kingdom of Christ manifest in the sayings of its advocates. Some of them teach it is not a growth, but a sudden miraculous creation; that the Christian Church has nothing to do with it; that Jesus will bring it from a far country; that, unlike the church, it will not be "a mixture of the good and the bad." But the parables of Christ teach that the kingdom is a growth like the mustard plant, as assimilating principle like leaven, a moral mixture, good and bad fish in the net, drawn to the shore, and tares growing with the wheat till the harvest at the end of the world, which is synonymous with the second advent. The pessimistic doctrine is also taught that the church will wax worse and worse till Christ comes, and the chiliasts prove it, as they think, by the assertion that leaven is a corruption principle, forbidden by the ceremonial law. But Christ distinctly declares that the kingdom of God is like leaven, like a field sown with both wheat and tares, like a dragnet with good and bad fish, and that this mixture ends when the world ends at the coming of Christ to separate the wicked from the just and to wind up the history of mankind on the earth. This same doctrine is implied in the great commission and in all the great creeds of the church: the Apostolic, so called; Athanasian, Nicene, and the creeds which grew out of the Reformation, a doctrine utterly inconsistent with this error which has plagued every era of the church. But it has always been rejected by the sober exegetes and theologians in the various Christian councils.

9. In order to wedge in the millennium between the coming of Christ and the end of probation, the Day of Judgment as well as the general resurrection must be broken into fragments and be strung along a thousand years. The Plymouth Brethren - of whom Dr. Carroll reports four sorts - deny that the persons of the saints will ever be judged, Christ having been judged and punished for them on the cross; but their works will be judged at the coming of Christ, to determine their rewards, in the form of offices which Christ will then distribute according to merit. Saint Paul may be king of England and emperor of India, and, to humble the Pope, Saint Peter may be king of Italy, the sham vanishing in confusion when faced by the genuine. The Greek word for "judgment" has two meanings: its proper signification of judgment and the condemnatory side of judgment, as in John 5:24 and 3:19, where the Revision is not so discriminating as the King James Version. But neither the denial of the judgment of a part of mankind nor the postponement of another part a thousand years can be harmonized with the Scriptures. See Matt 10:32-33, supplemented by Mark 8:38; thus proving that Christ's confessing of his confessors, denying of his deniers, will be "when he comes in the glory of the Father with the holy angels." In Rev 21:7-8, the overcomer and the coward are simultaneously judged. In Matt 16:24-27 the loser of his life for Christ's sake and the savior of it are thus judged when the Son of man shall come, and then he shall reward every man according to his works. In Matt 7:21-23 we have the admission and the exclusion both at once, "in that day." In 25:10 the virgins are judged in the same night, the foolish and the wise; verses 31-46, the most awful and solemn words in the whole range of literature, are too plain to be disfigured by any explanation. In 13:30, 38-43, the tares and the wheat; in Acts 17:31, an appointed day to judge the world; in Rom 2:5-16, "the day of wrath" to some, and of "glory" to others; 2 Cor 5:9-11, "all appear" and receive according to their deeds, "whether ... good or bad"; see also 1 Cor 4:5 and 3:12-15; Col 1:28; Heb 13:17; 1 Thess 2:19-20. In Rom 14:10, 12 all stand before the judgment seat; see also 2 Pet 3:7, 10, 12.

10. Finally, we raise the question, What would be the effect of preaching to sinners that the coming of Christ as a visible person, clothed with overwhelming majesty, not to judge and condemn the impenitent, but to set up a glorious earthly kingdom and to invite all men into it after having sentenced Satan to State prison for a term a thousand years long? Would it not furnish a motive to defer repentance because it would be easier when the world should be held in awe by the power and glory of the divine King who has suddenly set up his throne in Jerusalem, claiming universal dominion, and the devil's business of tempting men to sin is suspended, so that two of the three great enemies to the Christian life are out of the way, leaving only the flesh to be vanquished? We think it would have this effect. Probation would not be ended, but extended under circumstances apparently more favorable to commencing the spiritual life. No doctrine, Joseph Cook used to say, which weakens the motives to immediate repentance can be inspired by the Spirit of truth. This doctrine would be especially obstructive of the conversion of the Jews, some of whom from their contact with American Christians are beginning to lay aside their hostility to the Nazarene and to claim him as a noble son of Abraham. Our city missionaries find one, now and then, who from a study of the New Testament is convinced that Jesus is the true Messiah, but from "fear of the Jews," from dread of expulsion from the synagogue and of having his name erased by his father from his family register, shrinks from the public confession of Christ. Would not premillennialism be obstructive of this confession? Would he not think it best to wait till Christ shall be enthroned in Jerusalem and the Jews are hastening as fast as the crowded steamers will carry them to do him homage and hail him as their Messiah? We think he would take his chances of living till that event, when he can avoid persecution by going with the crowd into the kingdom. Such a conversion to Christi would not be a change of heart, but, rather, a change of politics. No man can exercise saving faith in a visible, glorified, triumphant, and world-ruling Messiah while retaining the spirit of hostility to the crucified Saviour. It would be the same as to say to him, "We believe in you because you have now come to our terms - making your advent as an all-conquering Deliverer, as you should have come at first." Says Mr. Brooks, "There will be the open vision of Christ; the saints will continually have access to him." Can faith and sight coexist? Are they not everywhere in the Scriptures contrasted?

Having spoken in negative terms throughout this article, let me use positive terms. I believe the millennium is the present state of grace developed more widely and fully than in the early stages of the gospel, that its beginning and end will follow the law of all other great periods of church history, being uncertain and gradual, so excluding slothfulness and security and keeping the church full of missionary activity, but yet in the fitting attitude of expectancy, while nation after nation, like Ethiopia, "shall stretch out their hands unto God."


1. See Acts 2:29-36  

2. See I Cor. 15:23; Eph. 5:25; I Thess. 1:10; 3:13.