Queries About Future Probation -- By: I. E. Dwinell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 043:169 (Jan 1886)
Article: Queries About Future Probation
Author: I. E. Dwinell


Queries About Future Probation

I. E. Dwinell

It is held by those who make the hypothesis of probation beyond this life, that the essential elements of a moral trial, in a redeemed world, cannot exist unless the historical Christ is distinctly presented to the soul. It is not enough that Christ has died for all, made an atonement for all, changed the standing of all before God in respect to the possibility of salvation, given the means of repentance and spiritual knowledge to all in the teachings of nature and conscience and in the drawings of the Divine Spirit; and that the providence and love and grace of God invest all, to win them to welcome the light offered. Something more is needed. The historical Christ must be brought consciously before the mind and heart in the supreme form of moral appeal. Without this, they affirm, Christian consciousness is not satisfied; and if such a trial as this is not enjoyed during life, it demands that the opportunity should be presented in the world to come.

This is not regarded as another probation, but a part of the one begun on a lower plane here, carried up to its higher, decisive stage. It is hoped, and sometimes intimated, that this future presentation of the historical Christ, amid the changed scenes and new and transcendent motives of the eternal world, will be effective in the salvation of almost all.

This hypothesis suggests many grave queries, some of which we wish to call attention to in this article.

I. The first relates to the supposed necessity of a hypothesis to satisfy Christian consciousness on this subject.

Is this a proper subject to come into the field of Christian consciousness at all?

It relates to the administration of the government of God, and to a section of that administration — the completeness and finality of a moral trial — of which we have no experience and no observation. It can only be brought within the range of Christian consciousness through the ethical principles involved. And, in fact, this is the way in which it is done. The subject is viewed simply in an ethical light. Newman Smyth says of Dorner: “His system might almost be said to have its being in pure Christian ethics” (Int. Dorner on “The Future State,” p. 9). Specially are ethical considerations made the basis of Dorner’s suggestions about future probation, and this is true also of his followers. The “New Theology” assumes that we must have a theory on probation that satisfies the ethical sense, and that we cannot rest in any dogmatic proposition on this subject based on authority, unless it harmonizes also with our moral convictions.

But why should we have a theo...

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