The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 31
Conclusion of Reply to Messrs Stobo and Co's Innate Immortal Soul Hobby
Conclusion of Reply to Messrs Stobo and Co's Innate Immortal Soul Hobby.
We are taxed by Messrs Stobo and Co. "that we endeavor to relax the bonds of eternal justice." Do you mean, sir, that you represent your god as dealing justly, in that ho cannot be even satisfied with the eternal agonies of the transgressor, and that irrespectively of whether a man has sinned a penny's worth, or a million of pounds worth, he has to suffer in each case alike eternal agonies? But such is not the God of the Bible, in whom we believe, because our God "will judge the world in righteousness," and every one shall have to bear the evil that he has done in his lifetime in his own body; and not in his soul or ghost man. And then when you see the righteous judgments of God, you who have preached the cruel traditional gods of a fool's theology, will, according to the prophet, "have to hide your cruel idols in the mole holes," and that for shame, when you shall see all your air castles of the creeds', swept for ever away. No, reader, we do not relax God's law of justice. No, we defend it, we uphold it, by allying it according to Holy Writ with equity, mercy, and justice. Do we imperil man's faith in our God and in his Christ? What attributes of his do we attack? We have shown that his justice is not attacked. Is it his love? Is it that part of love to inflict eternal pain, if his justice cause be satisfied otherwise? Or is it his mercy? Is that the mercy of God that can never be satisfied with the misery of others? Is it his holiness? Would that be holiness to keep evil, sin, and moral pollution for ever in existence by the innumerable millions cursing and blaspheming his holy name to all eternity? No, reader, such is not our God, the God of the Bible whom we worship, though Augustine's God, the Papal god, Calvin's god, and Messrs Stobo and Co's gods are such, all beings of boundless injustice, caprice, and cruelty. The reader will see by this, that I and others of the same faith are not "the raving infidels" that Mr. Stobo seems to brand us. No, we believe with all our hearts in the God and in the Christ of the Bible, and all t he doctrines contained in it concerning our salvation from death. But we do not believe in the gods (idols) of the traditional creeds, the cobwebs spun out by some hair-brained theologians. In regard to these, we confess we arc thorough infidels: so that in this respect Mr. Stobo has said the truth for the first time. Do we then propagate scepticism? No, but we en- page 37 deavor to turn men from the worship of the idols of these creeds which they mentally worship; and we propagate faith in the only true God and in his Christ of the Bible, who really died for man, (and not like the traditional Christ, whose little earth only died for them) and thereby is able to save men from a real death. Hundreds, who by the preaching of a traditional fool's theology were made sceptics, believe now the glad tidings of the gospel, i.e., salvation from death. And almost daily they come and confess, that they believe every word we have said and written; because it harmonizes with the dicta of the Bible, and is not contrary to reason.
The doctrine of an inherent immortality in man, is, as I have shown, not a doctrine of the Bible. Neither was it a doctrine contained in any creeds of the churches up to 1513. Yet from the fourth century upward, it was existing in a mere controversy of a speculative theology, or rather philosophy, as the question then was considered a metaphysical, rather than a religious one; but some centuries later it commenced to assume a religious character, and some of the Western Churches began to claim the immortality of the soul as an optional article of faith which the Church of Rome permitted on sufferance. And it was not till 1513 that Pope Leo X. cut short the dispute, as to whether these pagan eggs laid by Homer, and Plato, were fit food for a Christian stomach. These he placed under a council of Cardinals and Bishops in that great nest called the Vatican, and set them on the eggs to hatch out four chickens, christened immortal son], immediate heaven, hell, and purgatory, after men's death: and these were added as new articles to the confession of the Christian faith. What all the theologians could never have settled, and about which they had disputed for eight centuries, viz. whether these pagan eggs were fit food for a Christian stomach, these, the council under Pope Leo hatched out in one swoop, and brought forth four palatable chickens for the Church. Many voices loud and strong soon arose in the Church against this new heresy, which the dungeons of the Holy Inquisition as speedily silenced. W. Tyndall, well known as the translator of the Bible, protested strongly against this new one growth of articles of faith, which he calls "pagan philosophy." Luther was even more severe in his censure, calling them, "A parcel of monstrous opinions, proceeding from the Roman dunghill of decretals, the hatched out brood as suitable meat for the Pope and his Church." Now as soon as men found, that they had their immortality assured to them by the decree of the Church, they had no further need of a Saviour to save them from death. And thus we find the Church soon beginning to promulgate another new heresy, that Jesus had not come, suffered, died, and risen again from death, in order that the believer in him should be saved from death; (because man was already in possession of immortality;) but to save him from eternal hell fire. So that the Jesus of the New Testament was no longer required for that purpose, because he saves man from death by his suffering and dying in Adam's sin's flesh. So the Church had again to set to and manufacture also a Jesus of their own, such a one, as was a real God-man, who had not one particle of Adam's sin's flesh in his body; and in order to produce such a Jesus, the Pope had again somewhere about 18 years ago to assemble his Cardinals and Bishops, and to sot them again in page 38 the nest, the Vatican, to hatch out an immaculate conceived Virgin, who thereby became qualified to bring forth for the Church an immaculate Jesus, a real god-man without one particle of Adam's sin's flesh. And it is this Jesus which became not only the Saviour of the Church of Rome, but the Saviour of almost all Protestant Churches also. And it is about this traditional Jesus that our theologians are so much at loggerheads, in that some assert that this their god-man never died at all, but that it was only his little earth (the body) that did die; while at the same time their real Jesus was alive in heaven, or Paradise. But others again do positively assert that with their god-man (their Jesus) the very God himself died. For thus we find it stated in many hymns: for instance, "O! grosse Noth, Gott selbst ist todt, am Creutz ist er gestorben," i. e., O! great calamity, God himself has died, he died on the cross. And in some "Passion week meditations" we find it said more than a dozen times "that the very God himself had died." Such ideas no doubt appear very grand, solemn, and a we—imposing for silly women and little children: in my early school days I thought so too; at 15 I had some doubts as to its truth; at 20 I could no longer believe it; while at 24, it became utterly impossible to believe such a story, that without a God the universe with all its creatures should remain in existence: for had God him-self died with Jesus, would not the universe have fallen with a crash into one chaotic mass of I recoverable ruins, and no such fools would be left to say, "that God himself, the very God, has died." So that the very unmitigable nonsense "that the very God himself died" is the surest proof that he never died. But thanks to God, we find no such theological cobwebs in the Bible. For Paul informs us, that Jesus died without, or apart from God. And Esaias says of him, that, "he all alone had to tread the winepress." And Jesus, when lie exclaims on the cross, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me," in-forma us, bat he had to suffer and die without, or apart from God. Many years ago I discussed this subject with a Trinitarian D.D., who insisted upon it that Jesus died both as God and man. I asked him, how it could be possible to have died as God? seeing that God is immortal? To which he replied, That Jesus laid down his life himself. I told him, that upon his own showing, his; cans must have the no committed suicide. This he called blasphemy, and would listen to no further proof: but ran away angrily. Quite true that Jesus said, "No man takes it (my life) from me, but I lay it down myself!" But have we to understand this as in a direct sense? while all the contexts on this subject forbid us to do so. Peter says to the Jews in the temple "whom you slew." All the apostles use the like expressions concerning the death of Jesus. And Jesus always said, "that they sought to kill him, yet could they not do it as long as his immortal Father God dwelt in him, but Jesus consented, that his Father should withdraw from him, and thus he laid down his life, in that he became helpless and mortal like any other man of Adam's flesh. God having left him, be became exposed to the fury of the murderous Jews, his enemies, and they slew him. Forsaken of God, Jesus died. But his Father God, in whom he trusted, did not leave him in the power of death, but raised him up from the dead. It was not Jesus who as a page 39 dead man could raise himself from the dead. No, it required the immortal God to do it;—and not as our Platonians rant it from their pulpits on the Easter—Sundays, "That Jesus, the prince of life (while he was yet a dead man) burst asunder the bars of the grave, which were not able to hold him, coming forth triumphantly and victorious over death and the grave." Assertions like these require indeed an immense amount of childish faith before a man can believe that a dead man can burst asunder the bars of the grave, &c. Is it any wonder that people become sceptics when they have to listen to such ebullitions of a fool's theology: and are taught such absurd legerdemain by theological mountebanks?
These mountebanks, when they describe their Platonic theory, use a jargon contrary to the plainest logic, contrary to reason, and in evident contradiction to the dicta of the Bible. They make of death a mere harlequin's jest. So that a dead Jesus can burst asunder the bars of the grave; dead God can govern and up hold the universe; and dead men are in a position to sleep in their graves, and at the same time be alive, and enjoy their bliss in heaven, or suffer torment in hell,—while death in Holy Writ is everywhere described as a penalty, a curse the sentence put in execution which God pronounced upon man's transgression—from which the believer hopes to be redeemed by means of his faith in Jesus. A fool's theology teaches "that death is their angel of redemption." As Calvin says, "Who—saviour believes in Christ ought to be so minded, that at the mention of death, he should lift up his bead rejoicing at the news of his redemption." Jesus on the contrary informs us "that it is at his coming we are to lift up our heads, because then our redemption from the power of death draws near. And Paul informs us that believers groan, waiting for their redemption at the day of the resurrection, while Calvin wants to persuade us, that we "have to regard the day of our death as our redemption." According to Holy Writ, death in our enemy; Calvin tells us, it is our best friend. In short to such men as Calvin J. Wesley and Co., there is no death; it is a mere transition from a bad country to a better one. Death to them is only birth to a perfected life. As the Wesleyans sing, "Mortals cry a man is dead! Angels sing a child is born," which, according to the Scriptures means just as much. When Scripture says, A man is dead, fools assert a child is born. These mountebanks have in fact turned the awful sentence of death which God pronounced upon men because of transgression into a mere burlesque, a joke, seeing that they have made of death a saviour and a blessing, the door to eternal life. Such is the language of our modern mocker; who by the study of Plato's Phcedo, have become wiser than the God of the Bible: by asserting that black is white, and white is black. Such is the language of our modern saints. But bow different is the language of the saints of the Bible! Of them we read how they shuddered at the terror of death, when they exclaim," Return, O Lord! deliver my soul (life); oh, save me for thy mercy's sake: for in death there is no remembrance of Thee. In hades who will give Thee thanks? Like sheep (they say), they are laid in hades." But animated by the assurance of the promise that "through faith they should live again," they exclaim hopefully," He has not given me over unto death, for thou page 40 wilt deliver my soul from death." "God will deliver my soul from the power of hades, for he shall receive me," &c. These did not consider God's threatenings of death as a joke: they believed that God's threatenings were real, and that without faith in his promises they would remain irrecoverable in the power of death. By these comparisons I hope the reader will be able to see that a traditional doctrine of an innate immortality, and the doctrine of the prospective immortality of the Bible, are two very different doctrines. The latter is compatible with logic and reason; while the former, innate immortality, as advocated by Messrs Stobo and Co., is only like some erratic meteor which may dazzle the eyes of a bewildered public for a few days, while it roams through the traditional heavens of an ecclesiastical creation, but which, alas! like so many brilliant phenomena of the Churches, explodes like all erratic meteors, as soon as a spark of the divine truth is applied to it: and a *devil-ridden gene ration see no more of it, though they may scan the ecclesiastical heavens from the horizon to its zenith in search of it. Yet the explosion thereof left such a nauseous smell behind, that it scared away a great number of a *devil-ridden generation from Mr. Stobo's church.
John A. Richter.Waikiwi, near Invercargill, New Zealand,
the 19th of October, 1876.
* Thus Mr. Stobo in public print designates those who, for a few Sundays, left his church in order to hear a popular preacher.