Preface To the Second Edition (1889)
A new edition being called for, I have sought to make it as complete as possible; and the book having been stereotyped, the new matter has been put in the shape of an appendix. This has had its advantage, however, in allowing some systems of unbelief which have only lately obtained prominence, and have received, so far as I am aware, little or no examination, to be more thoroughly investigated - a thing demanded by the fact of their doctrines being disseminated over the face of the country with a zeal worthy of a better cause. May the Lord grant in mercy that the answers furnished to these, though still brief, may be used of Him to preserve some from the flood of error, ever rising higher. The testimony to this is decisive. The fact can surprise no one who is intelligent as to the Scripture-witness to the apostasy of the last days. Mr. Spurgeon's "Down-grade" papers in The Sword and Trowel are well known, and his withdrawal from the Baptist Union gives emphasis to his statements as to the decline of orthodoxy upon the subject of eternal punishment along with other fundamental truths.
Seven years before, a lecture by Mr. Edward White traces the spread of the doctrine of Conditional Immortality over the world, and names as its adherents many of the most noted writers and thinkers in all the Protestant denominations. Among these appears the name of Dr. Joseph Parker, of the City Temple, London, who shortly after Mr. Spurgeon's letters, announced in Boston that "not one leading Congregational minister in England, as far as he knew, preached now the eternal retribution of sin in the world to come, but rather a gospel of hope." While quite recently Dr. Hannay, secretary of the Congregational Union, is reported as saying that "in England, the doctrine of Eternal Torment was practically dead, the doctrine of Conditional Immortality stationary, and perhaps declining, while that theory of the future life known as the ‘larger hope' was being widely accepted."
This must be taken, of course, with qualification. That such statements can be made, however, shows but too well the drift. If here in America the same things cannot be yet said, the tendency is still in the same direction. There is need, and urgent need, for that which meets it. No argument known to me, of the least importance, has been omitted from the present volume; while a full index of texts and another of subjects will give any one who consults its pages the means of ready reference to the whole contents. To the Lord's grace and blessing it is now commended.
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