The present work is the development of one published some years ago, and now out of print, but which took up only a portion of the subject here considered, and at much less length. The rapid spread of the views in question, their variety and their importance, render a prolonged and patient examination of them absolutely necessary. The question has become one of the leading questions of the day, and nothing short of an extended appeal to Scripture will satisfy the need of those entangled by the error, or of those who may be in danger of becoming entangled. For others also, quite outside of these, the careful examination of Scripture upon a subject of such deep interest will be found very far from unprofitable. Truth as a whole is so connected in its various parts, that we cannot apprehend any one of these more fully, without this leading us to a fuller apprehension of many other points in which kindred truths touch this. While the perfection and profundity of the word of God will more and more be realized as its ability is proved to satisfy the real need of the soul and meet the natural thoughts and questions of the mind. Scripture thus proved will be its own best evidence as a Divine revelation.
No doubt there is abundance of external witness to its truth; but the surest of all is its own direct testimony to man's heart and conscience. Without Scripture he is an enigma which his own wit cannot explain: he knows not from whence he came or whither he is going; he knows neither himself nor God. With Scripture, "light is come into the world;" and what makes all things manifest needs not, although it everywhere finds, a testimony outside itself. Truth speaks for itself -"commends itself to every man's conscience in time sight of God"- although the true it is who alone will hear it.
In the following pages, then, the doctrine of Scripture is what is first examined, not merely negatively an answer sought to certain views. The statement of the truth is the only proper answer to the error. This the writer has sought everywhere to keep in mind, while yet endeavouring to meet whatever has been advanced on the other side as fully as possible. Especial attention has naturally been given to certain writers who are most prominently identified with the theory of annihilation on the one hand, or of universal salvation in its various modifications upon the other; and they are allowed to speak for the most part in their own words, and at sufficient length to ensure that there shall be no doubt or mistake as to the views they hold. Among these, Mr. Constable has challenged criticism of his arguments, and to him I have naturally sought the more fully to reply. To the arguments of Mr. Roberts also, the present leader of the Christadelphian body, who has printed an extended examination of my original volume, "Life and Immortality," I have necessarily devoted considerable space. May the Lord in His pity and love to souls, for whom He has died, be pleased to use these pages for the blessing of many, and to His own glory!
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