Last Judgment

The Day of Judgment

JUDAISM so largely supplied the circumstantial and doctrinal germs out of which dogmatic Christianity grew, that we cannot thoroughly understand the Christian belief in a final day of judgment, unless we first notice the historic and literary derivation of that belief from Judaism, and then trace its development in the new conditions through which it passed. The personal character, teachings, life, and death of Jesus Christ, together with his subsequent resurrection and career in the consciousness of ecclesiastical Christendom, constituted the crystalizing centre which, dipped in the inherited solution of ideal and social materials furnished by the Church, has gathered around it the accretion of faith and dogma composing the theoretic Christianity of the present day. To follow this process with reference to the particular tenet before us, analyze it, discriminate the appropriate in it from the inappropriate, the true from the false, maybe difficult; but it is necessary for a satisfactory conclusion. To this task let us therefore now address ourselves, putting away all bias and prejudice, invoking in equal degree candor, fearlessness and charity.

The Jews believed themselves to be a people chosen out of all the world as the exclusive favorites of God. By the covenant of Abraham, and the code of Moses, Jehovah had entered, as they thought, into a special contract with them to be their peculiar God, Guardian, and Ruler. In contrast with the depraved habits and idolatrous rites of the heathen nations, the Israelites were strictly to keep the moral law, and, at the same time, to pay a pure worship to Jehovah through the scrupulous observance of their ceremonial law. The bond of race and family descent from Abraham, the practice of circumcision, and the ceremonies of the Mosaic ritual, sealed them as accepted members of this divine covenant. So long as they were true to the duties involved in this relation, Jehovah would watch over them, defend them from their enemies, set them proudly above the alien Gentiles, and crown them with every spiritual and temporal blessing. The noblest representatives of the people believed this with unparalleled thoroughness and intensity. They looked down on the uncircumcised nations as wicked idolaters, destined to be their servants until they should be adopted into the same covenant by becoming proselytes to their faith. Jehovah was literally their direct, though invisible, King, Law giver, and Judge, palpably rewarding their fidelity by overt temporal blessings, punishing their dereliction by awful temporal calamities and sufferings.

Every signal instance of his providential intervention in their affairs they called a Day of the Lord, a Coming of Jehovah, a Judgment from heaven. Thus the prophet Joel foretells the vengeance which God would take on Tyre and Sidon and Philistia, because they had assailed and scattered his people. "Behold the day of Jehovah cometh, the great and terrible day. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood. Then whosoever calleth on the name of Jehovah shall be delivered: for upon Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance. I will contend with the Gentiles for my people, and will bring back the captives.

The multitudes, the multitudes in the valley of judgment: for the day of Jehovah is near in the valley of judgment." In a similar strain Isaiah prophesies against Edom: "Draw near, O ye nations, and hear! For the wrath of Jehovah is kindled against the nations, and he hath given up their armies to slaughter. The stench of their carcasses shall ascend, and the mountains shall melt with their blood. And all the hosts of heaven shall melt away; and all their host shall fall down, as the blighted fruit from the fig tree. For my sword shall rush drunk from heaven: behold, upon Edom shall it descend. For it is a day of vengeance from Jehovah. Her streams shall be turned into pitch, and her dust into brimstone, and her whole land shall become burning pitch. It shall lie waste forever, and none shall pass through it. The pelican and the hedgehog shall possess it; the heron and the raven shall dwell in it."

Tremendous and appalling as this imagery is, it is obvious that the whole meaning of it is earthly and temporal, a local judgment of Jehovah in vindication of his people against the heathen. And kindred judgments are threatened against his own people when they lapse into wickedness and idolatry. "Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down." "Jehovah appeareth as a hostile witness, the Lord from his holy place. Behold, Jehovah cometh forth from his dwelling place, and advanceth on the high places of the earth. The mountains melt under him, and the valleys cleave asunder like wax before the fire. For the sin of the house of Israel is all this."

Thus the earliest meaning of the phrase, Day of the Lord, or Day of Judgment, according to Biblical usage, was the occurrence of any severe calamity, either to the Jews, as a punishment for their apostasy; or to the Gentiles, as a punishment for their wickedness, or for their violent encroachment on the rights of the chosen people. These visitations of military disaster or political subjection, though purely local and temporal, are depicted in the most terrific images, such as flaming brimstone, falling stars, heaven and earth dissolving in darkness, blood, and fire. Ezekiel, alluding to the barbarous invasion headed by Prince Gog, represents Jehovah as declaring, "I will contend against him, and will rain fire and brimstone upon him and his hosts. Thus will I show myself in my greatness and glory before the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am Jehovah." The highly figurative character of this imagery must be apparent to every candid critic.

For example, in the following passage from Zechariah, no one will suppose for a moment that it is meant that Jehovah will appear visibly in person and reign in Jerusalem, but only that his promise shall be fulfilled, and his law shall prevail there in the triumphant establishment of his chosen people: "Behold the day of Jehovah cometh, when I will gather all nations to battle against Jerusalem; and the city shall be taken. Then shall Jehovah go forth, and fight against those nations. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives. And Jehovah shall be king over all the earth. And it shall be that whoso of all the families of the earth will not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, Jehovah of hosts, upon them shall be no rain."

When the prophets burst out in the lyric metaphors, "Jehovah will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem;" "Egypt shall be a waste and Edom a wilderness for their violence to the sons of Judah; but Jerusalem shall be inhabited forever, and Jehovah shall dwell upon Zion," the meaning is simply that "Jehovah will be a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the sons of Israel, and all people shall know that Jehovah is God." It would imply the grossest ignorance in any critic if he imagined that the Jews ever believed that Jehovah was visibly to come down and reign over them in person. They did however, believe that an awful token or the presence of Jehovah dwelt in the holy of holies of their temple. They also believed that every anointed ruler who governed them in justice and piety represented the authority of Jehovah. And as, in the long times of their natural captivity and oppression, their hopes sought refuge from the depressing present in bright visions of a glorious future, when some inspired deliverer should justify their faith by carrying the national power and happiness to the highest pitch, they naturally believed that the spirit and signet of the Lord would, in a special manner, rest on that Messianic hero.

By the assimilative action of faith and imagination, this idea of a divinely accredited Messiah developed, and grew ever richer and more complete. It began simply with the expectation of a holy leader and ruler who should subdue the heathen and establish the favored people of Jehovah in peerless purity, power, and happiness in the land of Judea. Little by little the rewards of the righteous and the punishments of the wicked were extended beyond those living on the earth, and took in the dead. The prophet Ezekiel depicted the promised restoration of the Jews from their captivity at Babylon to Jerusalem under the poetic image of a revivification of a heap of dead bones. This metaphor slowly assumed the form of a literal dogma, which grew from its beginning as an exceptional belief in the resurrection of a chosen few, stated in the book of Daniel and the second book of Maccabees, to the belief in the universal resurrection of the dead, avowed by Paul as the common Pharisaic belief. The belief, too, in regard to the scene of the Messianic triumph, the penalties to be inflicted on the enemies of Jehovah, and the kind and number of those enemies, underwent the same process of development and growth. The world was conceived as a sort of three story house connected with passage ways; heaven above the firmament, the earth between, and a penal region below. The imagery of fire and brimstone associated in the Hebrew mind with Sodom and Gomorrah, and the fearful imagery of idolatory, filth, and flames in the detested valley of Hinnom where the refuse of Jerusalem was carried to be burned, had been transferred by the popular imagination to the subterranean place of departed souls. The story in the book of Genesis about the sons of God forming an alliance with the daughters of men, and begetting a wicked brood of giants, had been wrought into the belief in a race of fallen angels, foes of God and men, whose dwelling place was the upper air. Above these wicked spirits in high places, but below the heaven of Jehovah, was the paradise whither Enoch and Elijah were supposed to have been translated, and whence they would come again in the last days. The Jewish apocryphal book of Enoch which was written probably about a century and a half before the birth of Christ, and is explicitly quoted in the Epistle of Jude contains a minute account of the final judgment, including in its scope this whole scenery and all these agents, and closely anticipating both the doctrinal and verbal details of the same subject as recorded in the New Testament itself. There is not, with one exception, a single essential feature of the now current Christian belief, in regard to the day of judgment at the end of the world, which is not distinctly brought out in the same form in the book of Enoch, written certainly more than a hundred years before a line of the Gospels was composed. The exception referred to relates to the person of the Messiah. In the book of Enoch he is indeed called the Son of man, but is wrapt in mysterious obscurity, undefined and unnamed: in the Christian documents and faith he is, of course, identified with Jesus of Nazareth, and, at a later period, identified also with God.

The growth of the Messianic personality in distinctness, prominence, importance, and completeness of associated grouping, is not only historically traceable, but was also perfectly natural. At first the prophecy of the triumphant re establishment of the Jews was conceived as the result of the favoring power of Jehovah, not in a personal manifestation, but providentially displayed. Thus Joel represents Jehovah as saying, in his promise to vindicate Jerusalem, "Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about." It cannot be denied that this was purely metaphorical. But in all imagery of a kingdom, of war, of judgment, the idea of the king, the leader, the judge, would naturally be the strongest point of imaginative action, the center of crystalizing association around which congruous particulars would be drawn until the picture was complete. So it actually happened. Perhaps the most striking example of this is seen in the growth of the notion of the great Adversary who precedes and fights against the Messiah. The book of Daniel, written just after Antiochus Epiphanes had oppressed the Jews with such frightful cruelties and profaned their temple with such abominable desecrations, impersonated in him the whole head and front of the impious hostility which the promised deliverer would have to subdue in vindicating the rights and hopes of the chosen people. "The figure of Antiochus Epiphanes," Martineau has happily said, "placed in immediate antecedence and antithesis to that of the Messiah, as the predicted crisis moved forward, was carried with it, and spread its portentous shadow over the expected close." The writer of the book of Daniel looked for the immediate arising of some inspired hero and servant of Jehovah to overthrow this wicked despot, this persecuting monster, and avenge the oppressed Jews on their Gentile tyrants. When subsequent events postponed this expected sequel, the opposed parties in it, the Antichrist and the Christ, were thrown forward together in ever dilating proportions of gloom and brightness: the fierce countenanced king in Daniel becomes the Man of Sin in Paul and the Beast drunk with the blood of saints in the Apocalypse. And in the Rabbinical books of the Jews the belief in Antichrist, under the name of Armillus, is developed into a mass of mythological details, afterwards adopted quite in the gross by the Mohammedans. Terrible signs will precede the appearance of the Messiah, such as a dew of blood, the darkening of the sun, the destruction of the holy city, with the slaughter and dispersion of the Israelites, and the suffering of awful woes. The Messiah shall gather his people and rebuild and occupy Jerusalem. Armillus shall collect an army and besiege that city. But God shall say to Messiah, "Sit thou on my right hand," and to the Israelites, "Stand still, and see what God will work for you to day." Then God will pour down sulphur and fire from heaven, and consume Armillus and his hosts. Then the trumpet will sound, the tombs be opened, the ten tribes be led to Paradise to celebrate the marriage supper of the Messiah, the aliens be consigned to Gehenna, and the earth be renovated.

As the doctrine of the functions of the Messiah, in this finished form, is not stated in the Old Testament, but was familiar in the Christian Church, it is commonly supposed to be exclusively a later Christian development from the Jewish germ. It did, however, exist in the Jewish mind, before the birth of Christ, in the mature form already set forth. It is found clearly laid down and drawn out in Jewish apocryphal books dated earlier than the Christian era. It is likewise explicitly and minutely detailed in the Talmud, where its subsequent adoption from the Christians must have been impossible to the bigoted scorn and hate of the Jews for the Christians; while the historic affiliation of Christianity on Judaism made the Christians avowedly adopt all the vital doctrines of the older creed. The gradual growth of the Christian doctrine of the connection of the Messiah with the final judgment, out of the previous Jewish and Rabbinical notions, by the hardening of metaphors into dogmas and the universalizing of local peculiarities, is confessedly an obscure process, in many of its particulars extremely difficult to trace. But that it did thus grow up, no impartial scholar, who has mastered what is now known on the subject, can doubt. A world of new knowledge and light has been thrown on this whole field during the last thirty five years by Gfrorer, Baur, Ewald, Hoffmann, Hilgenfeld, Dilmann, Ceriani, Volkmar, and other students of kindred power and spirit. Researches and discussions in this department are still pushed with the greatest zeal; and it is confidently believed that in a few years the views adopted in the present writing will be established beyond all cavil from any fair minded critic. Then all the steps will have been clearly defined in the development of that doctrine of the great Day of the Lord, which, beginning with a poetic picture of a Jewish overthrow of the Gentiles, through the inspiring power of Jehovah, before the walls of Jerusalem, ended with a literal belief in the setting up, by the Messiah, of a tribunal in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, the assemblage there of all the living and the dead for judgment, the installation of the immortalized righteous in Paradise, and the submerging of the wicked under the Vale of Hinnom in a rainstorm of blazing brimstone.

And now what must we think in regard to the truth or falsehood of the outward, forensic, military, and ritual part of the doctrine of historic and literary development we have imperfectly followed. Is it not perfectly clear, that the growth of the doctrine in question has been but a natural action of the imagination on the materials furnished it; adding congruous particulars, one after another, until the view was complete, and therefore could extend no further? And is it not equally obvious, that it can lay no sort of claim to logical validity? The superstitious and arbitrary character of its intrinsic constituents, its irreconcilableness with science and philosophy, disprove, to all who dare honestly face the facts, every plea set up for it as an inspired revelation of truth. It is a mixture of poetry and speculation, credible enough in an early and uncritical age, but a hopeless stumbling block to the educated reason of the present day. Every one who brings a free intelligence to the subject will find it impossible not to recognize the same fanciful process of thought, the same poetic ingredients, here as in the schemes of those heathen religions whose principal portrayals we all regard as mythology. To argue that because earthly rulers, in their anger and power, send retributive armies against their rebellious subjects, to bring them to judgment, destroy their homes and cities, and lay waste their lands with fire and sword, therefore God, the supreme King, will do so by the whole world, is not to reason logically, but to poetize creatively. There can be no warrant for transferring the political and military relations between men and earthly sovereigns to the moral and spiritual relations between the human race and God, since the two sets of relations are wholly different. The relation of Creator and creature is immensely higher and wider than that of king and subject. He whose laws are everywhere incessantly self executing needs not to select and group and reserve his friends or foes for any climateric catastrophe. The common notion of a final judgment day the fanciful association of all the good together, on one side, to be saved; of all the bad together, on the other side, to be damned, applies to the divine government an imperfection belonging only to human governments. Surely every one must see, the moment the thought is stated, that this imaginative universalizing of the indignation of God, and carrying it to a climax, in the destruction of the world, is a mythological procedure utterly inapplicable to a Being who can know no anger, no caprice, no change, a Being whose will is universal truth, whose throne is immensity, whose robe is omnipresence.

Original Christianity, internally regarded in its divine truth, was the pure moral law exemplified in the personal traits of Jesus Christ, and universalized by his ascent out of the flesh into that kingdom of heaven which knows not nationalities or ceremonies. But original Christianity, externally and historically regarded, in the belief of its first disciples, was simply Judaism, with the addition of the faith that the Messiah had actually come in the person of Jesus Christ. The first disciples vividly cherished the prevalent Pharisaic doctrine that the Messiah would glorify his people, vanquish the heathen, raise and judge the dead, change the face of the earth, and inaugurate a holy reign of Israel in joy and splendor. This the Messiah was to do. But they believed Jesus to be the Messiah. Yet, before doing these things, he had been put to death. Therefore, they argued, he must come again, to finish his uncompleted mission. Such was the derivation of the apostolic and ecclesiastical doctrine of the speedy second advent of Christ to judge the dead and the living, and to wind up the present scheme of things. The belief was inevitable under the circumstances. To have believed otherwise, they must have reconstructed the current idea of the Messiah, and have seen in him no political monarch with an outward realm, but purely a king of truth.

For this they were not ready; though it seems as if, after the experience of eighteen hundred years, we ought by this time to be prepared to see that such was really the intention of Providence.

It is a question of primary interest, whether Jesus himself, in assuming the Messiahship, regarded it personally as an exclusively spiritual office, or as a literally including these royal and judicial functions in a visible form.

Jesus foretold, in the same imaginary used by the previous prophets, and familiar to the minds of his contemporaries, the speedy approach of frightful calamities, wars, rumor of wars, famine and slaughter, Jerusalem compassed with armies and destroyed. Then, he adds, the Son of man shall come in the clouds of heaven, with all his holy angels, and take possession of the scene, apportioning the destinies of the righteous and the wicked. The question is, whether this pictured reappearance, in such transcendent pomp and power, was meant by him as a literal prophecy, to be physically fulfilled in his own person; or as a moral horoscope of the destined fortunes of his religion, a figurative representation of the establishment and reign of his spiritual truth. The latter view seems to us to be the correct one.

In the first place, this is what has actually taken place. In the growing recognition of his spirit and power, in the spread of his teachings and name, in the revolutionizing advancement of his kingdom among men, Jesus has come again and again. Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, as he foretold, amidst unspeakable tribulations, and the disciples of the new faith installed in domination over the world. He said the time was then at hand, even at the doors, that some of those standing by should not taste death until all these things came to pass. If his prophecy bore a moral sense, the sequel justified it; if it bore a physical sense, the sequel refuted and falsified it. For that generation passed away, fifty generations since have passed away, and yet there has been no literal second advent of Jesus in person to judge the dead and the living, and to destroy the world. The event proves that we must either give the words of Jesus a metaphorical interpretation or hold that he was in error.

But, secondly, such an error would be incompatible with soundness of mind. For any man, even for him called by an apostle "the man Christ Jesus," to believe that after his death he should reappear, swooping down from heaven, convoyed by squadrons of angels, to collect all men from their graves, and replace the old creation with a new one, would imply a profound disturbance of reason, a monomaniacal fanaticism if not an actual insanity. It is such a pure piece of theatrics that no one deeply in unison with that spirit of truth which expresses the mind of God through the order of nature and providence could possibly believe it. Such a nature was preeminently that of Jesus. All his most characteristic utterances, such as: "blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God;" "who loves much shall be forgiven much;" reveal unsurpassed saneness and truth of perception. It is by much the most probable supposition, that Jesus employed in the deepest and purest moral sense alone those Messianic images and catastrophic prophecies which were indeed originally used as moral metaphors, but had been afterwards degraded into material dogmas.

Still further, the literal belief commonly attributed to Jesus, in his own physical reappearance and reign, is not only incompatible with his supreme soundness of mind, it is also irreconcilable with his other explicit teachings. "My kingdom is not of this world." "Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice." He warns his disciples against the many false Christs who will appear, and says that "the kingdom of heaven cometh not with observation." "Say not, lo here! or lo there! for the kingdom of heaven is within you." "I am the truth, the way, and the life." "He that rejecteth me, I judge him not; the word that I have spoken, that shall judge him." "Whoever doeth the will of my Father in heaven, the same is my brother." In view of these and kindred utterances of the profoundest insight, irreconcilable with any gross mythological beliefs, we must hold to the purely spiritual character of the doctrine of Jesus concerning his personal offices, and think that all the speeches, if any such there be, which cannot be fairly explained in accordance with this view, have been refracted in their transmission through incompetent reporters, or even perhaps fictitiously ascribed to him from the faith of a later age. There is a grateful satisfaction in thus discharging, as we feel we are fairly entitled to do, from the authority of Jesus a burden too great even for his peerless name any longer to support. For, say what its advocates may, this gigantic melo drama of the second advent, this world wide mixture and display of martial and forensic elements before an audience of all mankind and amidst a convulsed and closing universe, is inherently incredible by any mind not grossly ignorant and undisciplined or drilled to the most slavish servility of traditional thought. Every one really educated in science and philosophy, and familiar with the physiological conditions and literary history of mythology in the other nations of the world, will plainly perceive the intrinsic fancifulness and falsity of the belief, at the same time that he easily accounts for its rise and prevalence.

The same picture of the siege of Jerusalem by a league of idolatrous armies, and of the mighty coming of the Messiah, found in the New Testament, is drawn in the third book of the Sibylline Oracles, which was composed by a Jew two hundred years before one word of Matthew or Luke was written. Jesus took up this current and fitting imagery wherein to express the conflict of his religion with the world, and to predict its ultimate triumph. He identifies himself with the truths he has brought, with the regenerating energies he has inaugurated to combat and overcome the wickedness and despotism of the nations of men. Every advent of his universal principles to a wider conflict or a higher seat of authority, is a true coming of the Son of Man. The vices and crimes of men, the selfishness and tyranny of governments, accumulate impediments in the way of the free working of the will of God in human society. Therefore from period to period convulsive crises occur, shocks of progressive truth and liberty against the obstacles gathered in their way. Thus, not only the destruction of Jerusalem, but the destruction of Rome, the French Revolution, and all the terrible social crises in the advancing affairs of the world, write on the earth and the sky, in huge characters of blood, smoke and fire, the true meaning of the repeated coming of Christ. This is the only kind of judicial second advent he will ever make, and this will occur over and over in calamitous but helpful revolutions, until all removable evils are done away, all the laws of men made just and all the hearts of men pure. Then the spirit once manifested by Jesus in his lonely mission will be a universal presence on earth, and the genuine millennium prevail without end.

It is necessary now, as preliminary to a clear exposition of the true Christian doctrine of judgment, to explain the cause and process of the dark perversion which the teachings of Christ himself have so unfortunately undergone in the Church. For this purpose we must again, for a moment, refer to the original connection of Christianity with Judaism.

Judaism was composed of two parts: one an accidental form; the other, essential truth. The first was the ceremonial peculiarities of the Jewish race and history; the second was the absolute and eternal principles of morality and religion. These two parts the ritual law and moral law were closely joined in all the best representatives of the nation at all the best periods of its history. Yet there was a constant tendency to separate these. One party exalted the ritual element, another party the spiritual element; the priestly class and the vulgar populace the former; the prophets the men of poetic, fiery heart and genius the latter.

Such men as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, always insisted on personal and national righteousness, purity, and devotion, as the one essential thing. But the natural tendency of the common multitude, and of every professional class, to an external routine of mechanised forms, manifested itself more and more in a party which made an overt covenant and ritualistic conformity the all important thing. This party reached its head in the sect of the Pharisees, who, at the time of Jesus, possessed the offices, and represented the dominant spirit and authority of the Jewish nation. The character of this sect of bigoted formalists, as indignantly described and denounced by Jesus, is too well known to need illustration. They subordinated and trivialized the weightier matters of justice, mercy, humility, and peace, but enthroned and glorified the regime of mint, anise, and cummin.

What was the Jewish idea of salvation, or citizenship in the kingdom of God? What was the condition of acceptance in the Pharisaic church? It was heirship in the Jewish race, either by descent or adoption, with ceremonial blamelessness in belief and act. Do you belong to the chosen family of Abraham, and are you undefiled in relation to all the requirements of our code? Then you are one of the elect. Are you a Gentile, an idolatrous member of the uncircumcision, or a scorner of the Levitic and Rabbinical customs? Then you are unfit to enter beyond the outer precincts of the Temple; you are a hopeless alien from the kingdom of heaven. Thus the Jewish test of acceptance with God was national, external, formal, a local and temporal peculiarity.

When Jesus arose and began to teach, his transcendent genius, working under the unparalleled inspiration of God, an unprecedented sensibility to divine truth in its utmost purity and freedom, expanded beyond all these shallow material accidents and bonds; and he propounded a perfectly moral and spiritual test of acceptance before God; namely, the possession of an intrinsically good character. He made nothing of the distinction between Jew and Gentile, declaring, "My father is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." He affirmed the condition of admittance into the kingdom of God to be simply the doing of the will of God. When he saw the young lawyer who had kept the two commandments, loving God with all his soul, and his neighbor as himself, his heart yearned towards him in benediction. And, finally, in his sublime picture of the last judgment, he, in the most explicit and unmistakable manner, makes the one essential condition of rejection to be inhumanity of life, cruel selfishness of character; the one essential condition of acceptance, the spirit of love, the practical doing of good. He utters not a solitary syllable about immaculateness of ceremonial propriety or soundness of dogmatic belief. He only says, Inasmuch as ye have or have not visited the sick and the imprisoned, fed the hungry, and clothed the naked, ye shall be justified or condemned at the divine tribunal. This test of personal goodness or wickedness, benevolent or malignant conduct, proclaimed by Jesus, is the true standard, free from everything local and temporary, fitted for application to all nations and all ages.

But no sooner had Christianity obtained a foothold on earth, multiplied its converts, and gained some outward sway, than its Judaizing disciples and promulgators, fastening on that which was easiest to comprehend and practise, that which was most impressive to the imagination, that which seemed most sharply to distinguish them from the unbelieving and unconforming world around, thrust far into the background this universal and eternal test of judgment set up by Jesus himself, and in place of it installed an exclusive test fashioned after a more developed and aggravated pattern of the very narrowest and worst elements in the Phariasaism which he expressly came to supersede. The Pharisaic condition of salvation was inheritance, by blood or adoption, in the Jewish race and Abrahamic covenant, together with exactitude of ceremonial observance. Everybody else was an unclean alien, an uncircumcised dog, an uncovenanted leper. In place of this test, the orthodox ecclesiastical party made their test dogmatic belief in the supernatural Messiahship of Jesus Christ, formal profession of allegiance to the official person of Jesus Christ. It is summed up in the formula, "Whoso believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is of God; whoso denieth this, is of the Devil."

Exactly here is where Paul, the noble apostle to the Gentiles, broke with the Judaizing apostles, and taught a doctrine more fully developed in its historic sequence, but substantially in perfect unison with the free teachings and spirit of Jesus himself. With Paul the test of Christian salvation was the possession of the mind of Christ. "If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his;" "but as many as are led by the spirit of God are sons of God." "Neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but a new creature," begotten in the image of Christ, availeth everything before God. "God rewardeth every man, the Jew and the Gentile, according to his works." With Paul, descent from Abraham was nothing, observance of the legal code was nothing: a just and pure character, full of self sacrificing love, evoked by faith in Christ, was the all in all. Jesus Christ was the head of a new race, the second Adam; and all disciples, who, through moral faith in him, were regenerated into his likeness and unto newness of living, were thereby adopted as sons of God and joint heirs with him. The Pauline formula of salvation, freely open to all the world, was, spiritual assimilation and reproduction of Christ in the disciple.

But the Judaizing party bore a heavy preponderance in the early Church, and has succeeded unto this day in imposing on ecclesiastical Christendom its own test: namely, a sound dogmatic, belief in the supreme personal rank and office of Christ, as the only means of admission to the kingdom of heaven. The one peculiarity which most sharply and broadly contrasted the early Christians with the rest of the world was unquestionably their belief in the miraculous mission of Jesus, a belief growing deeper, higher, intenser, until it actually identified him with the omnipotent God. There was an inevitable tendency, it was a perfectly natural and necessary process, for them to make this point of contrast the central condition on which depended the possession of all the special privileges supposed to be promised to its disciples by the new religion. The result is well expressed by Polycarp in these words: "Whosoever confesses not that Christ is come in the flesh, is an Antichrist; and whosoever acknowledges not the martyrdom of the cross, is of the Devil; and whosoever says that there is no resurrection nor judgment, is the first born of Satan." This extract strikes the key note of the Orthodox Church all through Christendom from the second century to the present hour. In place of the true condition of salvation announced by Jesus, personal and practical goodness, it inaugurates the false ecclesiastic standard, soundness of dogmatic belief in relation to Jesus himself! Those who hold this are the elect, and shall stand in heaven with white robes and palms and a new song, while all the rest of the world apostate and detested enemies of God and his saints shall be trampled down in merciless slaughter, and flung into the pit whence the smoking signal of their torment shall ascend for ever and ever. It is a transformation of the bigoted scorn and hate of the covenanted Jew for his Gentile foes into the intensified horror of the Orthodox believer for the reprobate infidel. And it finally culminated in the following frightful picture which still lowers and blazes in the imagination of ecclesiastical Christendom as a veritable revelation of what is to take place at the end of the world:

While the stars are falling, the firmament dissolving, the dead swarming from their graves, and the nations assembling, Christ will come in the clouds of heaven with a host of angels and sit in judgment on collected mankind. All who submissively believed in his Divinity, and have the seal of his blood on their foreheads, he will approve and accept; all others he will condemn and reject. No matter for the natural goodness and integrity of the unbeliever: his unbelief dooms him. No matter for the natural depravity and iniquity of the believer: his faith in the atoning sacrifice saves him. The Judge will say to the orthodox, on his right, "You may have been impure and cruel, lied, cheated, hated your neighbor, rolled in vice and crime, but you have believed in me, in my divinity: therefore, come, ye blessed, inherit my kingdom." To the heretical, on his left, he will say, "You may have been pure and kind, sought the truth, self sacrificingly served your fellow men, fulfilled every moral duty in your power, but you have not believed in me, in my deity, and my blood: therefore, depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire." Such is a fit verdict to be pronounced by the avenging Warrior depicted in the Apocalypse, from whose mouth issues a two edged sword, to cut his enemies asunder; who sits on a white charger, in a vesture dipped in blood, with a bow and a crown, and goes forth conquering and to conquer; whose eyes are flames of fire; who treads his rejecters in the wine press of his wrath until their blood reaches to the horse bridles. It was the natural reflection of an age filled with the most murderous hatreds and persecutions, based on political and dogmatic distinctions. But how contradictory it is to the teachings of Jesus himself! How utterly irreconcilable it is with the image and spirit of that meek and lowly Son of Man who said that he "came not to destroy men's lives but to save them;" who declared, "of mine own self I can do nothing;" who modestly deprecated all personal homage, asking, "Why callest thou me good?" who sat with the publican, and forgave the harlot, and denounced bigotry in many an immortal breathing of charity; and who, even in his final agony, pardoned and prayed for his murderers! What reason is there for supposing that he who was so infinitely gentle, unselfish, forgiving, when on earth, will undergo such a fiendish metamorphosis in his exaltation and return? It is the most monstrous, the most atrocious travesty of the truth that ever was perpetrated by the superstitious ignorance and audacity of the human mind. It is a direct transference into the Godhead of the most egotistical and hateful feelings of a bad man. No good man who had been ever so grossly misconceived, vilified, and wronged, if he saw his enemies prostrate in submissive terror at his feet, perfectly powerless before his authority, could bear to trample on them and wreak vengeance on them. He would say, "Unhappy ones, fear not; you have misunderstood me; I will not injure you; if there be any favor which I can bestow on you, freely take it." And is it not an incredible blasphemy to deny to the deified Christ a magnanimity equal to that which any good man would exhibit?

It is with pain and regret that the writer has penned the foregoing sentences, which, he supposes, some persons will read with the feeling that they are inexcusable misrepresentations, others, with a shocked and resentful horror, relieving itself in the cry, Infidelity! Blasphemy! The reply of the writer is simply that, while reluctant to wound the sensibility of any, he feels bound in conscience to make this exposition, because he believes it to be a true statement; and loyalty to truth is the first duty of every man. Truth is the will of God, obedience to which alone is sound morality, reverential love of which alone is pure piety. Frightful as is the picture drawn above of Christ in the judgment, it is impossible to deny, without utter stultification, that every lineament of it is logically implied in the formula. "There is no salvation for the man who unbelievingly rejects, no damnation for the man who believingly accepts, the official Christ and his blood." And what teacher will have the presumption to deny that just this has been, and still is, the central dogma in the faith of ecclesiastical Christendom? The legitimate result of this view, unflinchingly carried out, and applied to the precise point we now have in hand, is seen in that horrible portrayal of the Last Judgment wherewith Michael Angelo has covered the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, in Rome. The great anatomical artist consistently depicts Christ as an almighty athlete, towering with vindictive wrath, flinging thunderbolts on the writhing and helpless wilderness of his victims. The popular conception of Christ in the judgment has been borrowed from the type of a king, who, hurling off the incognito in which he has been outraged, breaks out in his proper insignia, to sentence and trample his scorners. The true conception is to be fashioned after the type given in his own example during his life. So far as Christ is the representative of God, there must be no vanity or egotism in him. Every such quality ascribed to the Godhead is anthropomorphizing sophistry. However much more God may be, he is the General Mind of the Universe. He includes, while he transcends, all other beings. Now, the General Mind must represent the interests of all, the disinterested good of the whole, and not any particular and selfish exactions, or resentful caprices, fashioned on the pattern shown among human egotists by a kingly despot.

The Church, in developing Christianity out of Judaism through the person and life of Jesus, has given prominence and emphasis to the wrong elements, seeking to universalize and perpetuate, in a transformed guise, the local spirit and historic errors of that Pharisaic sect against which he had himself launched all his invective. That temper of bigotry and ceremonial technicality which hates all outside of its own pale as reprobate, and which ultimated itself in the virtual Pharisaic formula, "Keep the hands and platter washed, and it is no matter how full of uncleanness you are within," at a later period embodied itself through the leaders of ecclesiastical Orthodoxy in the central dogma, "Nothing but faith in Christ can avail man anything before God." Instead of this the true doctrine is, Nothing but obedience, surrender, and trust, personal penitence and aspiration, can avail man anything before God.

The Christians, as the Jews did before them, have made a wrong selection of the doctrine to be, on the one hand, particularized and left behind; on the other hand, carried forward and universalized. This immense error demands correction. Let us notice a few specimens in exemplication of it. Jehovah is not the only true God in distinction from odious idols; but Brahma, Ahura Mazda, Osiris, Zeus, Jupiter, and the rest, are names given by different nations to the Infinite Spirit whom each nation worships according to its own light. The Jews and the Christians are not the only chosen people of God; but all nations are his people, chosen in the degree of their harmony with his will. The providence of God is not an exceptional interference from without, exclusively for the Jews and Christians; but it is for all, a steady order of laws within, as much to be seen in the shining of the sun, or the regular harvest, as in any shocks of political calamity and glory. Not the Messiah alone reveals God; but, in his degree, every ruler, prophet, priest, every man who stands for wisdom, justice, purity, and devotion, represents him. It is not doctrinal belief in the Messiah, but vital adoption of his spirit and character, of the principles of real goodness, that constitutes the salvation of the disciple. We are to look not for the resurrection of the flesh from the grave, but for the resurrection of the soul from all forms of sin, ignorance, and misery. It is the universal prevalence of truth and virtue, knowledge, love, and peace, in the hearts of men, not the physical reign of the returning Messiah, which will make a millennium on earth. The kingdom of God which Judaism localized exclusively in Palestine, and the early church exclusively in heaven or on the millennial earth, should be recognized in every place, whether above the sky or on the globe, where duty is done, and pure affection, trust, and joy experienced; for God is not excluded from all other spaces by any enthronization in one. We ought not to cling, as to permanent fixtures of revealed truth, to the rigid outlines of that scheme of faith which was struck out when the three story house of the Hebrew cosmogony showed the limits of what men knew, before exact science was born, or criticism conceived, or the telescope invented, or America and Australia and the Germanic races heard of; but we should hold our speculative theological beliefs freely and provisionally, ready to reconstruct and read just them, from time to time, in accordance with the demands of the growing body of human knowledge.

Reflecting, in the light of these general ideas of truth, on the whole subject of the current doctrine of the end of the world and the day of judgment, we shall see that that doctrine presents no valid claim for our belief, but is a mythological growth out of the historic and literary conditions amidst which Christianity arose on the basis of Judaism. The doctrine was formed by the unconscious transmutation of metaphors into dogmas. Poetic figures came, by dint of familiarizing repetition, by dint of imaginative collection and contemplation, to be taken as expressive of literal truths. To any reader of the Apocalypse, with competent historical and critical information for entering into the book from the point of view occupied by its author, it is just as evident that its imagery was meant to describe the immediate conflict of Hebrew Christianity with pagan Rome, and not the literal blotting out of the universe, as it is unquestionable that the book of Daniel depicts, not the impending destruction of the world, but the relations of the chosen nation with the hostile empires of Persia, Media, Babylon, and Macedonia, from which they had suffered so much, and which they then hoped speedily to put beneath their feet. The slain Lamb, standing amidst the throne of God, with seven eyes and seven horns; Death, on a pale horse, with Hell following him; the woman, clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet; the great red dragon, whose tail casts to the earth the third part of the stars of heaven; the worm wood star, that falls as a blazing lamp, and turns a third of the waters of the earth into bitterness; the seven thunders, seven seals, seven vials, seven spirits before the throne, seven candlesticks, seven angels, seven trumpets, seven epistles to the seven churches, seven horns, seven headed beast, all these things must, perforce, be taken as free poetic imagery; it would require a lunatic or an utterly unthinking verbalist to interpret them literally. Why, then, shall we select from the mass of metaphors a few of the most violent, and insist on rendering these as veritable statements of fact? If the rest is symbolism, so are the pictures of the avenging armies of angels, the reeking gulf of sulphur, and the golden streets of the city.

The entire scheme of thought, as it still stands in the mind of the Orthodox believer, is to be rejected as spurious, because it rests on a process of imaginative accumulation and transference which is absolutely illegitimate; namely, the association and universalizing of political and military images, which are then hardened from emblems into facts, and cast over upon the mutual relations of God and mankind. We ought to break open the metaphors, extract their significance, and throw the shells aside. But ignorant bibliolatary and ecclesiasticism insist on worshipping the shells, with no insight of their contents.

There is one all important fact which should convince of their error those who hold the current view of a general judgment at the end of the world as having been revealed from God through Christ. We refer to the fact that the system of ideas in which a final resurrection and judgment of the dead are logical parts, existed in the Zoroastrian theology five or six centuries before the birth of Christ. It was adopted thence by the Jews, and afterwards adopted from the Jews by the Christians. If, therefore, this doctrine be a revelation from God, it was revealed by him to the Persians in a dark and credulous antiquity. In that case it is Zoroaster and not Christ to whom we are indebted for the central dogmas of our religion! No, these things are imagery, not essence, the human element of imaginative error with which the divine element of truth has been overlaid, and from whose darkening and corrupt company this is to be extricated.

There are, in the New Testament, in addition to the relevant metaphors which we have already examined, several others of great impressiveness and importance. We must now explain these, separate the truths and errors popularly associated with them, and leave the subject with an exposition of the real method of the divine government and the true idea of the day of judgment, in contrast with the prevalent ecclesiastical perversions of them.

The part played in theological speculation and popular religious belief by imagery borrowed from the scenery and methods of judicial tribunals, the procedures and enforcement of penal law, has not been less prominent and profound than the influence exerted by natural, political, and military metaphors. The power, the pomp, the elaborate spectacle, the mysterious formalities, the frightful penalties, the intense personal hopes and fears, associated with the trial of culprits in courts or before the head of a nation, must always have sunk so deeply into the minds of men as to be vividly present in imagination to be affixed as typical stamps on their theories concerning the judgments of God and the future world. This process is perhaps nowhere more distinctly shown than in the belief of the ancient Egyptians. Before the sarcophagus containing the mummy was ferried over the holy lake to be deposited in the tomb, the friends and relatives of the departed, and his enemies and accusers, if he had any, together with forty two assessors, each of whom had the oversight of a particular sin, assembled on the shore and sat in judgment. The deceased was put on his trial before them: and, if justified, awarded an honorable burial; if condemned, disgraced by the withholding of the funeral rites. Now the papyrus rolls found with the mummies give a description of the judgment of the dead, a picture of the fate of the disembodied soul in the Egyptian Hades, minutely agreeing in many particulars with the foregoing ceremony. Ma, the Goddess of Justice, leads the soul into the judgment hall, before the throne of Osiris, where stands a great balance with a symbol of truth in one scale, the symbol of a human heart in the other. The accuser is heard, and the deceased defends himself before forty two divine judges who preside over the forty two sins from which he must be cleared. The gods Horus and Anubis attend to the balance, and Thoth writes down the verdict and the sentence. The soul then passes on through adventures of penance or bliss, the details of which are obviously copied, with fanciful changes and additions, from the connected scenery and experience known on the earth.

Taking it for all in all, there perhaps never was any other scene in human society so impressive as the periodical sitting in judgment of the great Oriental kings. It was the custom of those half deified rulers the King of Egypt, the Sultan of Persia, the Emperor of India, the Great Father of China to set up, each in the gate of his palace, a tribunal for the public and irreversible administration of justice. Seated on his throne, blazing in purple, gold, and gems, the members of the royal family nearest to his person; his chief officers and chosen favorites coming next in order; his body guards and various classes of servants, in distinctive costumes, ranged in their several posts; vast masses of troops, marshalled far and near. The whole assemblage must have composed a sight of august splendor and dread. Then appeared the accusers and the accused, criminals from their dungeons, captives taken in war, representatives of tributary nations, all who had complaints to offer, charges to repel, or offences to expiate. The monarch listened, weighed, decided, sentenced; and his executioners carried out his commands. Some were pardoned, some rewarded, some sent to the quarries, some to prison, some to death. When the tribunal was struck, and the king retired, and the scene ended, there was relief with one, joy with another, blood here, darkness there, weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth in many a place.

Dramatic scenes of judgment, public judicial procedures, in some degree corresponding with the foregoing picture, are necessary in human governments. The prison, the culprit, the witnesses, the judge, the verdict, the penalty, are inevitable facts of the social order. Offences needing to be punished by overt penalties, wrongs demanding to be rectified by outward decrees, criminals gathered in cells, appeals from lower courts to higher ones, may go on accumulating until a grand audit or universal clearing up of arrears becomes indispensable. Is it not obvious how natural it would be for a mind profoundly impressed with these facts, and vividly stamped with this imagery, to think of the relation between mankind and God in a similar way, conceiving of the Creator as the Infinite King and Judge, who will appoint a final day to set everything right, issue a general act of jail delivery, summon the living and the dead before him, and adjudicate their doom according to his sovereign pleasure?

The tremendous language ascribed to Jesus, in the twenty fifth chapter of Matthew, was evidently based on the historic picture of an Eastern king in judgment. "When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left." If Jesus himself used these words, we suppose he meant figuratively to indicate by them the triumphant installation, as a ruling and judging power in human society, of the pure eternal principles of morality, the true universal principles of religion, which he had taught and exemplified. But unfortunately the image proved so overpoweringly impressive to the imagination of subsequent times, that its metaphorical import was lost in its physical setting.

This momentous error has arisen from the inevitable tendency of the human mind to conceive of God after the type of an earthly king, as an enthroned local Presence; from the rooted incapacity of popular thought to grasp the idea that God is an equal and undivided Everywhereness. In his great speech on Mar's Hill, the apostle Paul told the Athenians that "God had appointed a day in the which he would judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained." Is not this notion of the judgment being delegated to Jesus plainly adopted from the political image of a deputy? The king himself rarely sits on a judicial tribunal: he is generally represented there by an inferior officer. But this arrangement is totally inapplicable to God, who can never abdicate his prerogatives, since they are not legal, but dynamic. The essential nature of God is infinity. Certainly, there can be no substitution of this. It cannot be put off, nor put on, nor multiplied. There is one Infinite alone.

The Greeks located, in the future state, three judges of the dead, Minos, who presided at the trial of souls arriving from Europe; Rhadamanthus, who examined those coming from Asia; and Aacus, who judged those from Africa. They had no fourth and fifth inspectors for the souls from America and Australia, because those divisions of the earth were, as yet, unknown! How suggestive is this mixture of knowledge and ignorance! The heaven of the Esquimaux is a place where they will have a plenty of fine boats and harpoons, and find a summer climate, and a calm ocean abounding with fat seals and walruses. The Greenlander's hell is a place of torment from cold; the Arab's, a place of torment from heat. Every people and every man unless they have learned by comparative criticism to correct the tendency conceive their destiny in the unknown future in forms and lights copied, more or less closely, from their familiar experiences here. Is there not just as much reason for holding to the literal accuracy and validity of the result in one case as in another? The popular picture, in the imagination of Christendom, of Gabriel playing a trumpet solo at the end of the world, and a huge squad of angelic police darting about the four quarters of heaven, gathering the past and present inhabitants of the earth, while the Judge and his officers take their places in the Universal Assize, instead of being received as sound theology, should be held as moral symbol. Taken in any other way, it sinks into gross mythology. Can any one fail to see that this picture of the Last Judgment is the result of an illogical process; namely, the poetic association and universalizing of our fragmentary judicial experiences, and the bodily transfer of them over upon our relations with God? The procedure is clearly a fallacious one, because the relations of men with God in the sphere of eternal truths are wholly different from their relations with each other in the sphere of political society. They are, in no sense, formal or forensic, but substantial and moral; not of the nature of a league or compact, but interior and organic; not acting by fits and starts, or gathering through interruptions and delays to convulsive catastrophes, but going on in unbreakable continuity. God is a Spirit; and we too, in essence, are spirits. The rewards and punishments imparted from God to us, then, are spiritual, results of the regular action of the laws of our being as related to all other being. Consequently, no figures borrowed from those judicial and police arrangements inevitable in the broken and hitching affairs of earthly rulers, can be directly applicable, the circumstances are so completely different. The true illustration of the divine government must be adopted from physiology and psychology, where the perfect working of the Creator is exemplified, not from the forum and the court, where the imperfect artifices of men are exhibited.

God forever sits in judgment on all souls, in the reactions of their own acts. The divine retribution for every deed is the kick of the gun, not an extra explosion arbitrarily thrown in. The thief, the liar, the misanthrope, the drunkard, the poet, the philosopher, the hero, the saint, all have their just and intrinsic returns for what they are and for what they do, in the fitness of their own characters and their harmonies or discords with the will of God, with the public order of creation. Thus is the daily experience of one man made a lake of peace threaded with thrilling rivulets of bliss; that of another, a stream of devouring fire and poison, or a heaving and smoking bed of uncleanness and torment. The virtues represent the conditions of universal good; the vices represent private opposition to those conditions. Accordingly, the good man is in attracting and cooperative connection with all good; the bad man, in antagonistic and repulsive connection with it. In these facts a perfect retribution resides. If any one does not see it, does not feel its working, it is because he is too insensible to be conscious of the secrets of his own being, too dull to read the lessons of his own experience. And this self ignorant degradation, so far from refuting, is itself the profoundest exemplification of the truth of that wonderful word of Jesus: "Verily, I say unto you, they have their reward." Those who consider themselves saints indulge in an unspeakable vulgarity, when they feel, "Well, the sinners have their turn in this world; we shall have ours in the next." The law of retribution in the spiritual sphere is identical with the first law of motion in the material sphere; action and reaction are equal, and in opposite directions. This law being instantaneous and incessant in its operation, there can be no occasion for a final epoch to redress its accumulated disbalancements. It has no disbalancements, save in our erroneous or defective vision.

The true conception of the relation of the all judging Creator to his creatures is that of the Infinite Being who supplies all finite receptacles in accordance with their special forms of organization and character, and who causes exact retributions of good and evil intrinsically to inhere in their indulged modes of thought and feeling and will, their own virtues and vices, fruitions and battlements. This internal, continuous, dynamic view worthily represents the perfection of the Divine government. The incomparably inferior view the external, intermittent, constabulary theory rests, as it seems to us, merely on the traditions of ignorance and fancy. It has, in every instance, originated from the unwarrantable interpretation of a trope as a truth.

For example, the picture of the Last Judgment, supposed to be drawn by Jesus, in the Parable of the Tares, must be considered, not as a rigid prophecy of the end of the earth, and the transmundane destination of souls, but as a free emblem of the approaching close of the Jewish dispensation, and the terrible calamities which would then come on the proud, obstinate and rebellious people. The reaping angels are the Roman and Jewish armies, and other kindred agencies and collisions in the destined evolution of the fortunes of Christianity and mankind in the future. Taken literally, the symbols are incongruous with fact, and absolutely incredible in doctrine. For they are based on the image of a royal land owner, who draws his support from the income of his fields and subjects, and who rewards the faithful bringer of fruits, and punishes the slothful defaulter; who welcomes and stores sheaves, because they are wealth: rejects and burns tares, because they are an injury and a nuisance. But nothing can be riches or a nuisance to the infinite God, who neither lives on revenue nor judges by jerks. Men are not literally wheat, the property of the good sower, Christ; nor tares, the property of the bad sower, the Devil: they are souls, responsibly belonging to themselves, under God. And the pay of the human agriculturists, in the moral fields of the divine King, consists in the daily crops of experience they raise, not in being advanced to a seat at the right hand of their Lord, or in being flagellated and flung into a flaming furnace.

Jesus himself, undoubtedly, used this physical imagery as the vehicle of spiritual truths; it is lamentable that perfunctory minds have so generally overlooked the substance in the dress. He is represented, in Matthew, as having said to his apostles: "When the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Now, that he used this figure to convey an impersonal moral meaning, and that his profound thought underwent a materializing degradation in the minds of his hearers and reporters, appears clearly from the incident related immediately afterward. The wife of Zebedee asked that her two sons might sit, the one on his right hand, and the other on the left, in his kingdom. And Jesus said, "Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give." The imagery meant that the missionary assistants, in forwarding and spreading the kingdom of truth and love he came to establish, would be represented in common with himself in the power it would acquire and sway over the world. When his hearers interpreted the imagery in a physical sense, as indicating that he was hereafter to be a visible king, and that his favorites might expect to share in his authority, honor, and glory, he solemnly repudiated it.

There is yet another and a wholly different style of imagery employed by Jesus to convey his instructions as to the judgment which is to separate the justified from the condemned. The consideration of this species of imagery would afford an independent proof, of a cogent character, that they strangely misapprehend the mind of Jesus who interpret the moral meaning of his parable in an outward and dramatic sense. The metaphors to which we now refer are of a domestic and convivial nature, based on some of the most impressive social customs of the Oriental nations. It was the habit of kings, governors, and other rich and powerful men, to give, on certain occasions, great banquets, to which the guests were invited by special favor. These feasts were celebrated with the utmost pomp and splendor, by night, in brilliantly illuminated apartments. The contrast of the blazing lights, the richly costumed guests, the music and talk, the honor and luxury within, set against the darkness, the silence, the envious poverty and misery without, must have deeply struck all who saw it, and would naturally secure rhetorical reflections in speech and literature. The Jews illustrated their idea of the Kingdom of God by the symbol of a table at which Abraham and Isaac and Jacob were banqueting, and would be joined by all their faithful countrymen. In his parable of the Supper, describing how a king, on occasion of the marriage of his son, made a feast and sent out generous invitations to it, Jesus works up this imagery still more elaborately. What did he really mean to teach by it? Is it not clearly apparent from the whole context that he intended it as an illustration of the fact that the Jews, to whom he first announced his gospel, and offered all its privileges, having rejected it, its blessings would be freely thrown open to the Gentiles, and that they would crowd in to occupy the place of joy and honor, which the chosen people of Jehovah had refused to accept? It is by a pure effect of fancy and doctrinal bias that the parable has been perverted into a description of the Last Judgment. The reference plainly indicates admission to or exclusion from the privileges of the new dispensation, a matter of personal experience in the heart of the disciple and in the society of the church on this earth. The wedding garment, without which no one can come to the royal table, is a holy, humble, and loving character. In consequence of his destitution of this, Judas, although seated at the table, with the most honored guests, in the very presence of his Lord, was proved to have no right there, and was thrust into the outer darkness. His bad spirit, his inability to appreciate and enjoy the pure truths of the kingdom, constituted his expulsion. That such was the idea in the mind of Jesus, something to be experienced personally and spiritually in the present, and not something to be shown collectively and materially at the end of the world, appears from the great number of different forms in which he reiterates his doctrine. Had he meant to teach literally that he was to come in person at the last day, and sit in judgment on all men, would he not have had a distinct conception of the method, and have always drawn one and the same consistent picture of it? But if he meant to teach that all who were fitted by their spirit, character and conduct to assimilate the living substance of his kingdom were thereby made members of it, while all others were, by their own intrinsic unfitness, excluded, then it was perfectly natural that his fertile mind would on a hundred different occasions convey this one truth in a hundred different figures of speech. That in which the images all differ is unessential: that in which they all agree must be the essential thought. Now the parables differ in the forms of judgment they picture. Therefore these forms are metaphoric dress. The parables agree in assigning a different fate to the righteous and the wicked. Therefore this difference is the vital truth. And Jesus nowhere makes righteousness consist in anything national, dogmatic, or ceremonial, but everywhere is something moral.

The doctrine of an unfailing tribunal in the soul, the belief that we are all judged momentarily at the continuous bar of the truth reflected in our own conscience, is too deep, delicate, and elusive a view for the ignorance and hardness of some ages, and of some persons in every age. They cannot understand that the mind of man is itself a living table of the law and judgment seat of the Creator, by its positive and negative polarities, in sympathetic connection with the standards of good and evil, pronouncing the verdicts and executing the sentences deserved. They need to project the scheme of retribution into the startling shape of a trial in a formal court, and then to universalize it into an overwhelming world assize. The semi dramatic figment, no doubt, was an inevitable stage of thought, and has wrought powerfully for good in certain periods of history. But the pure truth must be as much better for all who can appreciate it, as it is more real and more pervasive.

Since God, the indefeasible Creator, is a resistless power of justice and love in omnipresent relations with his creatures, the genuine day of judgment to each being must be the entire career of that being. In a lower degree, every day is a day of judgment; because all acts, in the spirit from which they spring and the end at which they aim, carry their own immediate retributions. If we could survey the whole, at once, from the Divine point of view, and comprehend the relation of the parts to the whole, undoubtedly we should perceive that the deserts and the receipts of each ephemeral existence are balanced between the rise and set of its sun. But death may, with most solemn emphasis, be regarded as the final day of judgment to each man, in this sense; that then the sum of his earthly life and deeds is sealed up and closed from all further alteration by him, passing into history as a collective cause or total unit of influence. As long as the creation rolls in space, and conscious beings live and die, that bequeathal will tell its good or evil tale of him. What sensitive spirit will not tremble at the thought of a judgment so unavoidable and so tremendous as this! The votaries of superstition are mistaken in supposing that the removal of their false beliefs will destroy or weaken the sanctions of duty among men. The removal of imaginary sanctions will but cause the true ones to appear more clearly and to work more effectively.

The judgment of God then, we conclude, is no vengeful wreaking of arbitrary royal volitions; but it is the return of the laws of being on all deeds, actual or ideal. This is, in itself, perpetual and infallible: but it sometimes forces itself on our recognition in sudden shocks or crises caused by the gathering obstacles and opposition made to it by our ignorance, vice, and crime. Every other doctrine of the Divine judgment is either an error or a figurative statement of this one. In the latter case, the physical cover should be dissolved and thrown away, the moral nucleus laid bare and appropriated. But the popular mind of Christendom has unfortunately pursued the contrary course, first exaggerating and consolidating the metaphors, then putting their forms literally in the place of their meaning.

The awful panorama of the last things, as painted in the Apocalypse, the sun becoming as sackcloth of hair, and the moon as blood; the blighted stars dropping; the unveiling of the great white throne, from before the face of whose occupant the frightened heaven and earth flee away; the standing up of the dead, both small and great, the opening of the books, and the judging of the dead out of the things written therein, this scenic array has, by its terrible vividness and power of fanciful plausibility, sunk so deeply into the imagination, and taken such a tenacious hold on the feelings of the Christian world, secured for itself so constant a contemplation and encrusted itself with such a mass of associations, that it has actually come to be regarded as a veritable revelation of the reality, and to act as such. And yet, surely, surely, no one who will stop to think on the subject, with conscious clearness, can believe that books are provided in heaven with the names of men in them and recording angels appointed to keep their accounts by double or by single entry, and that God will literally sit upon a vast white dais raised on the earth, and go through an overt judicial ceremony. On what principle is a part of the undivided apocalyptic portrayal rendered as emblem, the rest accepted as absolute verity? If the blood red warrior on his white horse followed by the shining cavalry of heaven, the horrible vials of wrath, the chimerical angels and beasts, the sky and globe converted into terror struck fugitives, the bridal city descending from God with its incredible walls and its impossible gates and its magic tree of life yielding twelve kinds of fruit, are imagery; then the lake of burning sulphur, and the resurrection trumpet, and the indictment of the dead before the dazzling throne, are imagery too. The reader smiles at the idea that the good Esquimau will sit in Leaven amidst boiling pots of walrus meat, while in hell the fish lines of the bad Esquimau will break, and his canoe be crushed by falling ice. But what better reason can the civilized man give for the reflecting over upon the judgments of the future his present experience in the imagery of criminal courts? The same process of thought is exemplified in both cases. Can any one literally credit the following verses:

"There are two angels that attend, unseen Each one of us, and in great books record Our good and evil deeds. He who writes down The good ones after every action closes His volume and ascends to God. The other keeps his dreadful day book open Till sunset, that we may repent, which doing, The record of the action fades away, And leaves a line of white across the page."

No more should we literally credit the kindred phraseology in the New Testament. It is free metaphor. The sultan may keep in his treasury a book with the names of all his favorites enrolled in it. Is it not a peurility to suppose that God has such documents?

When the Gospels and the Epistles of the New Testament were written, the reappearance of Christ for the last judgment was almost universally supposed by the Church to be just at hand. At any instant of day or night the signal blast might be blown, the troops of the sky pour down the swarms of the dead surge up, and the sheep and the goats for ever be parted to the right and left. Each day when they saw "the sun write its irrevocable verdict in the flame of the west," the believers felt that the supreme Dies iroe was so much nearer to its dawn. But as generation after generation died, without the sight, and the tokens of its approach seemed no clearer, the belief itself subsided from its early prominence into the background. But as it retreated, and became more obscure and vague in its date and other details, it grew ever more sombre, appalling, and stupendous in its general certainty and preternatural accompaniments. When the tenth century drew nigh its close, a literal acceptance of the scriptural text that "the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, after being bound in the bottomless pit for a thousand years," should "be loosed a little season," filled Christendom with the most intense agitation and alarm. From all the literature and history of that period the reverberations of the frightful effects of the general expectation of the impending judgment and destruction of the world have rolled down to the present time. The portentous season passed, all things continuing as they were, and the immense incubus rose and dissolvingly vanished. And the Mediaval Church, like the Apostolic Church before, instead of logically saying: Our expectation of the physical return of Christ was a delusion, fancifully concluded: We were wrong as to the date; and still continued to expect him.

The longer the crisis was delayed, and the more it was brooded over, the more awful the suppositious picture became. The Mohammedans held that the end would be announced by three blasts: the blast of consternation, so terrible that mothers will neglect the babes on their breasts, and the solid world will melt; the blast of disembodiment, which will annihilate everything but heaven and hell and their inhabitants; and the blast of resurrection, which will call up brutes, men, genii, and angels, in such numbers that their trial will occupy the space of thousands of years.

But in the later imagination of Christendom the vision assumed a shape even more fearful than this. The Protestant Reformation, when one party identified the Pope, the other, Luther, with Antichrist, gave a new impulse to the common expectation of the avenging advent of the Lord. The horrible cruelties inflicted on each other by the hostile divisions of the Church aggravated the fears and animosities reflected in the sequel at the last day. Probably nothing was ever seen in this world more execrable or more dreadful than those great ceremonies celebrated in Spain and Portugal, in the seventeenth century, at the execution of heretics condemned to death by the Inquisition. The slow, dismal tolling of bells; the masked and muffled familiars; the Dominicans carrying their horrid flag, followed by the penitents behind a huge cross; the condemned ones, barefoot, clad in painted caps and the repulsive sanbenito; next the effigies of accused offenders who had escaped by flight; then, the bones of dead culprits in black coffins painted with flames and other hellish symbols; and, finally, the train closing with a host of priests and monks. The procession tediously winds to the great square in front of the cathedral, where the accused stand before a crucifix with extinguished torches in their hands. The king, with all his court and the whole population of the city, exalt the solemnity by their presence. The flames are kindled, and the poor victims perish in long drawn agonies. Now can anything conceivable give one a more vivid idea of the terrors embodied in the day of judgment than the fact that it came to be thought of under the terrific image of an Auto da Fe magnified to the scale of the human race and the earth, Christ, the Grand Inquisitor, seated as judge; his familiars standing by ready with their implements of torture to fulfil his bidding; his fellow monks enthroned around him; his sign, the crucifix, towering from hell to heaven in sight of the universe; the whole heretical world, dressed in the sanbenito, helpless before him, awaiting their doom? Who will not shudder at the inexorable horrors of such a scheme of doctrine, and devoutly thank God that he knows it to be a fiction as baseless as it is cruel?

Since the cooling down of the great Anabaptist fanaticism, the millennarian fever has raged less and less extensively. But if the literature it has produced, in ignorant and declamatory books, sermons, and tracts, were heaped together, they would make a pile as big as one of the pyramids. The preaching of Miller, about a quarter of a century ago, with his definite assignment of the time for the appointed consummation, caused quite a violent panic in the United States. Several prophets of a similar order in Germany have also stirred transient commotions. In England, the celebrated London preacher, Dr. Cumming, whose works entitled "The End," and "The Great Tribulation," have been circulated in tens of thousands of copies, is now the most prominent representative of this catastrophic belief. He has, however, made himself so ridiculous by his repeated postponements of the crisis, that he has become more an object of laughter than of admiration. Mathematical calculations, based on mystic numbers transmitted in apocalyptic poetry, are at a heavy discount. And yet there is a considerable sect, called the Second Adventists, composed of the most illiterate believers, and swelled by clergymen wrought up to the fanatic pitch by an exclusive dogmatic drill, who lead an eleemosynary life on mouldy scraps of Scripture, and anxiously wait for the sound of the archangelic trump. Every earthquake, pestilence, revolution, violent thunderstorm, comet, meteoric shower, or extraordinary gleaming of the aurora borealis, startles them as a possible avant courier of the crack of doom. Some of them are said to keep their white robes in their closets all ready for ascension. What a dismal thing it must be to live in such a lurid and lugubrious dream; their best hope for the world the hope that its end is at hand,

"Impatient of the stars that keep their course And make no pathway for the coming Judge!"

But this excited and uneasy anticipation is now a rare exception. In the minds of most intelligent Christians, even of those who still cling to the old Orthodox dogmas, the day of judgment has been put forward as far as the day of creation has been put backward. Less and less do religious believers shudder before the theatric trials depicted in heathen and Christian mythology; more and more do they reverently recognize the intrinsic jurisdiction in the structure of the soul, and in the organism of society. The time is not far remote, let us trust, when the ancient spirit of national separation, political antipathy, and sectarian hatred, whose subjects identify themselves with the party of God, all others with the party of the Devil, and cry, "How long, O Lord, dost thou not judge and avenge us on our enemies," will give way to that better spirit of philanthropy and true piety, which sees brethren in all men, and prays to the common Father for the equal salvation and blessedness of all. Then the faith of the self righteous, who plume themselves on their sound creed, and so relentlessly consign the heretics to perdition, gloating over the idea of the time "when the kings of the earth, and the chief captains, and the rich men, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every freeman, shall hide themselves in dens and caves, saying to the mountains and the rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?" then the temper of this faith will be seen to be as wicked as its doctrine is erroneous. It will be recognized as a remnant of the barbaric past in steep contradiction with the whole mind of the modest and loving Jesus, who, when the disciples wished to call down fire from heaven to consume his opponents, rebuked them in words still condemning all their imitators, "Ye know not what spirit ye are of." Many a bigoted and complacent dogmatist, wrapt in that same ignorance to day, fails to read his own heart, and obstinately shuts his eyes to the truth, foolishly fancying himself better and safer, on account of his blind conservatism, than he who fearlessly seeks the guidance of science. Yet are not the principles of science as much glimpses of the mind of God as any sentences in the Bible are? The whole ecclesiastical scheme of eschatology is a delusion. No such gigantic melodrama, no such grotesque and horrible extravaganza, will ever get itself enacted between heaven and earth. Forever, as freshly as on the first morning, the Creator pours his will through his works in irresistible vibrations of goodness and justice; and forever may all his creatures come to him unimpeded, and trust in him without limit.

Away, then, monstrous horrors, bred in the night of the past! Dreadful incubi! too cruelly and too long ye have sat on the breast of man. The cockcrow of reason has been heard, and it is time ye were gone. Fade, terrible dream, painted by superstition on the cope of the sky, picture of contending fiends and angels, fiery rain, a frowning God, and shuddering millions of victims! Away forever, and leave the blue space free for the benignant mysteries of the unknown eternity to lure us blessedly forward to our fate. Come, believers in the merciful God of truth, lend your aid to the glorious work of spiritual emancipation. In this benign battle for the deliverance of the world from error and fear, every free mind should be a champion, every loving heart a volunteer. Free leaders of the free, forward! out of the darkness into the light. Lift your banner in the front of the field of opinions where all may see it, and then follow it as far as truth itself shall lead. On! Progress is the eternal rule. Man was made to outgrow the old and struggle into the new, as every morning the sun mounts afresh out of the dead day, and drives the night before him. Ignorance and despotism have crushed us long. But now, now we fling our fetters off, and, marching from good to better, hope to escape from every falsehood, and to conquer every wrong, under the inspiration of the omnipresent Judge who executes his decrees in the very working itself of that Universal Order whose progressive unfolding will be fulfilled at last, not in any magic resurrection and assize, but in the simple lifting of the veil of ignorance from all souls brought into full community, and the illumination before their opened faculties of the whole contents of history. For we believe that all history is by its own enactment indestructibly registered in the theatre of space, and that every consciousness is educating to read it and adore the perfect justification of the ways of God. The eternal immensity of the universe is the true Aula Regis in which God holds perpetual session, overlooking no suppliant, omitting no case.