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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol IV:

Early Church Fathers  Index     



Stated in obscure terms, with advantage, p. 495.

Turn back to the Second Apology of Justin (cap. ix.), "Eternal punishment not a mere threat; "387 also to Clement (Stromata, iv. cap. xxiv.), "the reason and end of divine punishments."388 Now compare Gieseler389 (vol. i. p. 212) for what he so sweepingly asserts. And on the doctrine of Origen, let me quote a very learned and on such points a most capable judge, the late erudite and pious half-Gallican Dr. Pusey. He says:-

"Celsus and Origen are both witnesses that Christians believed in the eternity of punishment. Celsus, to weaken the force of the argument from the sufferings which the martyrs underwent sooner than abjure Christianity, tells Origen that heathen priests taught the same doctrine of eternal punishment as the Christians, and that the only question was, which was right.390

"Origen answers, `I should say that the truth lies with those who are able to induce their hearers to live as men convinced of the truth of what they have heard. Jews and Christians have been thus affected by the doctrines which they hold about the world to come, the rewards of the righteous, and the punishments of the wicked. Who have been moved in this way, in regard to eternal punishments, by the teaching of heathen priests and mystagogues? '

"Origen's answer acknowledges that the doctrine of eternal punishment had been taught to Christians, that One [Christ] had taught it, and that it had produced the effects He had [in view] in teaching it; viz., to set Christians to strive with all their might to conquer the sin which produced it."391

On this most painful subject my natural feelings are much with Canon Farrar; but, after lifelong application to the subject, I must think Dr. Pusey holds with his Master, Christ. I feel willing to leave it all with Him who died for sinners, and the cross shuts my mouth. "Herein is love; "and I cannot dictate to such love, from my limited mind, and capacity, and knowledge of His universe. Here let "every thought be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." Let us sacrifice "imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself," and leave our Master alike supreme in our affections and over our intellectual powers. He merits such subjection. Let us preach His words, and leave Him to explain them when He shall "condemn every tongue that shall rise against Him in judgment."

Let me also refer to Bledsoe's most solemn and searching reply to John Foster; also to his answer to Lord Kames's effort to help the Lord out of a supposed difficulty.392 I am sorry that Tillotson exposed himself to a witty retort by the same author, in these words: "If the Almighty really undertook to deceive the world for its own good, it is a pity He did not take the precaution to prevent the archbishop from detecting the cheat, ... not suffering his secret to get into the possession of one who has so indiscreetly published it." The awful importance of the subject, and the recently awakened interest in its discussion, have led me to enlarge this annotation.

Next: Book V.

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