All things are to be restored; (apokatastasis, i

All things are to be restored; (apokatastasis, i

Here is a striking hint – as to a future restoration; a hint that the nations are one day, in a future age, to be healed, for all this is subsequent to the passing away of the present earth, heaven (ch. xxi. r). And as a result of this healing, there shall be no more curse – no pain – no tears – but all things made new

e., complete restoration), and this is said to be the meaning of the work of Christ, the meaning of the promise to ABRAHAM, of the Jewish covenant (v. 25). ‘this God has spoken by all “the prophets since the world began,” and this is what the larger hope teaches.

“AND HAVE HOPE THAT THERE SHALL BE A RESURRECTION * * BOTH OF THE JUST AND THE UNJUST.” Acts xxiv. 15.

Shall there be a sin, or sorrow, or pain unhealed?

Note these words. Could S. PAUL have hoped for a resurrection of the unjust if that meant hopeless punishment to them? “Who is so great a fool,” asks a famous Father, “as to think so great a boon as the Resurrection can be, to those that rise, an occasion of endless torment ?”

I do mean that all are relevant, as links in that great chain of promise, which enshrines the doctrine of universal restoration

I may take this opportunity of asking attention to the fact that there runs through Scripture a definite law of expansion. First one family is chosen, then this family expands into a nation, then the nation is declared to be the source of blessing to all nations. Side by side with this numerical expansion there is visible a spiritual expansion. The prescribed sacrifices, the elaborate ritual, are pushed aside in favor of a spiritual creed, even in the Old Testament. Passing to the New Testament the law is the same, but more active still. By what, to a hasty judgment seems strange, Christ devotes half His time to the bodies of men, but we see the meaning to be that He cares for the whole man, and this care expands into the noble promise of the Resurrection. Next comes a most significant expansion. All barriers fall before the march of Redemption. The dead, the unrepentant dead, are evangelized; the Cross penetrates Hades, 1 Pet. iii. 18-20; iv. 6. Nor is this all there are hints plain enough of a greater expansion still. “All things in heaven,” “the Principalities and Powers,” – Eph. i. 10; iii. 10, c.; Col. i. 15-20, are drawn within the range of the Atonement. Can any Hope be broader than that here directly suggested by the Bible itself? The question seems rather this:-Are our broadest hopes broad enough? Shall there be a corner or nook or abyss, in all the universe of God, finally unlighted by the Cross? Is the very Universe, is Creation in all its extent, a field wide enough for the Son of God?

We have seen how numerous are the passages which the writings of S. Matthew, S. Luke and S. John contain, teaching directly or indirectly, the salvation of all men. Let us now consider the epistles of S. Paul, S. Peter, and that to the Hebrews. We shall find in these books the stream of promise still widening – the universality of Redemption indicated with a precision of language and a variety of illustration, which it seems not possible to reconcile with endless evil. I do not mean that every passage quoted is in itself conclusive. And here an important question arises. How – on the hypothesis of endless evil – can we account for such passages, as naturally and obviously point to the larger hope? That the Bible holds out a hope of universal reconciliation, c., c., cannot be denied. And, if this universal restoration is never to take place, how came this promise to be made? How came the Bible to raise expectations never destined (as we are told) to be fulfilled, in a matter so unspeakably important? Inspired writers, aware that all things (in the natural sense of the words) will never be restored, and yet asserting positively that they will be restored, present us with a fact, which our opponents may well be invited to account for and explain.