Forgotten Truths
Preface to the Second EditionThe early demandfor a new edition of “Forgotten Truths” gives proof that truths which have beenlet slip by so many are still cherished by not a few.The only adversecriticism the book has evoked is that which was anticipated in the closingpages of Chap. 12.In the early yearsof my Christian life I was greatly perplexed and distressed by the suppositionthat the plain and simple words of such Scriptures as John 3:16, 1 John 2:2, 1Timothy 2:6 were not true, save in a cryptic sense understood only by theinitiated. For, I was told, the over-shadowing truth of Divine sovereignty inelection barred our taking them literally. But half a century ago a friend ofthose days—the late Dr. Horatius Bonar—delivered me from this strangelyprevalent error. He taught me that truths may seem to us irreconcilable onlybecause our finite minds cannot understand the Infinite; and we must neverallow our faulty apprehension of the eternal counsels of God to hinderunquestioning faith in the words of Holy Scripture.Nor was this aplausible effort to evade the special difficulty raised by a misuse of thegreat truth of election; for a kindred mystery permeates our whole existence.We are conscious of possessing a free and independent will which enables us toturn hither and thither as we please, and to do good or evil. Were itotherwise, indeed, the Divine judgment of the sinner would be unjust. And yet,when we review the consequences of our conduct, we recognise the hand of God.True it is that we think of Him only when the consequences are serious; but, asthe Lord explicitly taught, His sovereignty declares itself even in the fall ofa sparrow.All this has itscounterpart in relation to the promise of the Coming. The believer and theinfidel are agreed that in Apostolic times the saints were taught to regard theLord’s return as a hope that might be realised during their lifetime. But nowwe are asked to acknowledge that the infidel is right in maintaining that thiswas entirely a mistake! For, it is argued, the Lord cannot come till “thenumber of His elect” is complete. And Ephesians 1:4 is construed to mean thatat some epoch in time, prior to 4004 B.C. (or whatever date be fixed for “thefoundation of the world”), people now living were made beneficiaries of God’sfavour. It follows, therefore, that, as exhyp. “the number of the elect” was not complete prior to this twentiethcentury of our era, the Advent could not have taken place at any period in thepast; and possibly the thirtieth century may dawn before the promise isfulfilled! And when in amazement we seek for some explanation of the words,“Surely I am coming quickly, “we are told that “with the Lord a thousand yearsare as one day” (2 Peter 3:8. See p. 84, post).But does any one really imagine that there is a celestial timepiece with athousand-year dial! Is it not clear as light from the language of these andkindred Scriptures, such, ex. gr., asPsalm 90:4, that eternity is God’s domain? Therefore is it that His judgmentsare unsearchable and His ways past finding out. For eternity is not unlimitedtime, but the antithesis of time; whereas time is the law of our being, “thecondition under which all created things exist” (Trench, Synonyms).Those who put aspecial meaning on certain words in Gospel texts can plead with truth thatthese words are sometimes used in a restricted sense. But no plea of the kindis tenable here. “I am surely coming quickly”: “Yet avery little while and the Coming One will come, and will not delay.” These words are too definite to admit of anysecond meaning; and to refuse to take them literally is equivalent tochallenging their truth. But how then can we explain the fact that they arestill unfulfilled? A solution of that most perplexing difficulty is supplied bythe following pages.R. A.
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