The Doctrine of Restoration

Sec. IH.

When the existing form of the world—which is absolutely a bridge thrown to man, whereby he may attain from wrath to love, from curse to blessing, from death to life—shall be destroyed, man will be for ever established in the principle into which in this world he has sought to enter in habit and life by virtue of his own free determination. The fiery side, as the

with no other being during my life of seventy years' duration. In all these three was the same tenderness, the same faithfulness." The first of these beings was a bird, the second a dog, the third his wife.

1 Postscenien zur Geschichte der Menschheit, Werke (1807), vii. 277:

light side of the divine doxa, will have in hell, as in heaven, an eternal objectivity apart from God. There needs no final abolition of hell in heaven, that the whole creation may be a copy or expression of the everlasting triumph of light over darkness, which is set forth by the divine doxa, considered with respect to the internal nature of God (Div. IV. Sec. VI.). This triumph is completed. If the whole of creation were one being, it would indeed have to be perfected in such a manner as that the darkness should be in this one nature abolished in light. But as the entire creation is an infinite number of beings, that triumph is then already perfected, when those beings which have taken their stand in the principle of wrath are capable of nothing further in opposition to the holy one whose hereditary portion is in light, and which have become the footstool of God and of his Christ, i.e. the dark ground on which is enhanced the glory of the divine dominion. God is thus, moreover, irdvra iv iraaiv. He who, in respect of His triune nature, is love, embraces all who have laid themselves open to this love with the light of His doxa; and all who have shut their hearts to this love, He encircles with the darkness and the fire of His doxa. Love has conquered. Evil is placed under bonds. There needs not its absolute annihilation that the hexaemeron of the world's history may close, as did that of the world's creation, with "ikd 2\q rum (Gen. i. 31).

There, is no doctrine that contradicts the Holy Scripture in a more unwarrantable manner than that of the so-called Apokatastasis. There is only needed one glance into the life of Joh. Wilh. Petersen (f 1727), in order to be convinced how even the noblest soul may be absolutely perverted in all its relations by this doctrine. It is no postulate of reason for which it is delivered. For as it has of late been observed with perfect justice, the anthropologic, psychologic, and ethic view of the case claims, on the contrary, the possibility of an eternal condemnation. "Since man is not to be blessed by means of a natural process, must it not be possible to his will to establish his own induration, to continue rejecting grace for ever, and thus himself to choose his own condemnation?" Will it be said that this possibility of a continuous induration must include also a constant possibility of conversion? This will be found to be a precipitate conclusion. For this earthly life has already proved to us the fearful law of necessity, according to which evil progressively assumes an unchangeable natural impress in the individual. It is true that psychological experience also shows us, that in the human soul may be introduced a mighty turning-point, whereby the old is broken away from, and the development of the character takes a new direction. But there arises here the old question, whether, for the conversion of man, there is not a terminus peremptorius—an extremest limit, beyond which atonement and conversion are no longer possible. Although we dare not place this limit arbitrarily at any point whatever within the range of time (e.g. at the end of this life), still we must unconditionally place it at the end of time and of history itself, which is exactly the conception of the final advent of the Lord. So long as there is Time, conversion must be possible, for it is actually the Christian idea of the significance of time, that it is a period of trial and of grace; and as long as the sinner finds himself within the range of time, he exists under the patience of God. But when not merely this or that defined section of time, but Time itself, has passed by, then it cannot be understood how conversion is still possible, because conversion cannot be conceived of without a history of conversion. The possibility of conversion depends, for instance, not merely on the fact that there is good essentially present in man, and can never be extinguished, which is just as much the possibility of condemnation; but on the fact that internal and external conditions of effectiveness for the development of this possibility are present, that the sinner is still in that order of things which bears in itself the stamp of that which is undecided,—a state of the world where trial and temptation may still be talked of.1

What Martensen thus says of the natural character which evil assumes, agrees with what, from Div. III. 2 onwards, we have already frequently represented with respect to the consequences not merely ethical, but also physical, of sin. What he says of time is true in general of the present world, which, in its temporally limited constitution—its constitution calculated not less to conceal than to reveal the Godhead—its constitution mingled of self-evidences of divine love and divine wrath—is purposed to make man aware of his conditionary state, to render sin distasteful to him by means of its own necessary conse1 Martensen, Dogmatik, sec. 286.

quences, to check the enhancement of his sin to a demoniacal character, and to train him to the salvation which is to be attained by means of faith. If this psedagogic form of world be destroyed, man is, and remains, that which he has become within himself. He is, and remains; he is not annihilated: for Scripture no more teaches the final anniliilation of the wicked, than it does their apokatastasis or restoration. Human reason would like in one way or another to abolish the dualism with which the history of the world closes. Let her do it upon her own responsibility, but let her not falsify the Scripture. This teaches an eternal personal continuance of all personal beings, and indeed a continuance principally conditioned by what they have become in time.

Here in this life, says Jac. Bohme,1 the soul is on the balance, on the hinge; and if it is evil, it can be born again in love; but when the hinge is shattered, then it is in its own territory, in its principle of being.

But within the two principles there is movement, and that not only in a circle. The history of this world has ceased, yet experience does not also cease; and therefore it is not the close of all history.

1 See Hamberger, Lelire Jac. Bohme's, p. 302. Jac. Bohme is decided against the apokatastasis. His doctrine of the last things is therefore found unsatisfactory by Hamberger (ibid. p. 331); as, moreover, Franz v. Baader in this point became unfaithful to the master. We bow, as does also v. Rudloff with J. Bohme, to the word of Scripture, and reply to the apokatastasis with Augustine (civ. xxi. 23): Ita plane hoc erit, si non quod Deus dixit, sed quod suspicantur homines plus valebit. Also the sound decision of H. W. Rinck (Vom Zustand nach dem Tode, p. 291) deserves here distinguishing mention: "It seems to us to be very precipitate to decide, with Jung Stilling, that the supposition of an eternal condemnation prejudices God's honour, and is unbecoming to God. Do we, then, so thoroughly understand the proprieties of God? Do we fundamentally understand the nature of Him before whom the seraphim with veiled faces sing, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Sabaoth?"