William Styles, A Guide To Church Fellowship (Complete)

Article 15 – The Resurrection And The Final Condition Of The Godly And The Ungodly

Articles Of The Faith And Order Of A Primitive Or Strict And Particular Baptist Church Of The Lord Jesus Christ, Based On The Declaration Of Faith And Practice Of John Gill, D. D., 1720

XV. The Resurrection and the Final Condition of the Godly and the Ungodly.

We believe that there will be a “resurrection of the dead,” both of the just and of the unjust,[1] and that Christ will come a second time to judge both the quick and the dead.[2]

We believe that He will then change the vile bodies of His saints, and fashion them like unto His own glorious body, and usher them into His kingdom and glory, in which they will eternally reign with Him;[3] and consign all that know not God to the equitable and conscious punishment of hell for ever and ever.[4]


[1] Dan 12:2; Jn 10:28,29; Acts 17:18; Heb 6:2; Rev 20:12

[2] 1 Cor 15:23; 2 Tim 4:1; Heb 9:28; Rev 1:7 

[3] Job 19:25; Ps 17:15; Is 26:19; Jn 11:25,26; 1 Cor 15:20, 42-58; Phil 3:20,21; 1 Thess 4:16-18; 2 Thess 1:7; 2 Tim 2:12; Heb 9:28; 1 Jn 3:2; Rev 22:5

[4] Dan 12:2; Matt 10:28; 13:42,50, 25:41; Lk 12:47,48; Jn 5:27,29; Acts 17:31; 2 Thess 1:9; Rev 20:10,15


This Article reaffirms our belief in the certainty of the Resurrection of the Just, in order to place in juxta-position with it, our equally assured belief in the Resurrection of the ungodly. Whether both will occur at the same time, or whether the saints will be raised at a period long prior to the Resurrection of the wicked, is, as we have stated, a moot point with us: though perhaps the majority of the Strict and Particular Baptists believe that all that have died, will be raised again simultaneously.

We are, however, lovingly content to let such questions be matters of private judgment, on which everyone should seek to be “fully persuaded in his own mind.”[1]

It suffices to say that we all believe that “in our flesh we shall see God,”—that the Resurrection will consummate our Regeneration: in other words, that glorification will do for our bodies what grace does for our souls, and that we shall be introduced to God in our whole and perfect personalities—body and soul being rendered meet for the eternal enjoyment of heaven—while our first sight of our risen and glorified Lord will trans­ form us into His likeness:

“Then shall these eyes, these very eyes,
The Risen Saviour see,
And all my rising bones shall say,
Lord, who is like to Thee?’”

The question, “How can these things be?” can be safely deferred till we reach yonder world of joy.

Will the Resurrection of the Saints precede that of the Ungodly?

Note 1.—John 5:21-29. The words “condemnation” in verse 24 and “damnation” in verse 29, should be read “judgment,” as they stand for the same term which is found in the original in verses 22 and 27. Note that our Lord here gives no hint of an interval between the Resurrection of the Just and the Unjust.[2]

Note 2.—The following passages are often quoted to prove that the bodies of the righteous will be raised at a period long prior to those of the ungodly. It is not the object of this book to disprove this idea; we, however, do submit that these particular passages do not teaoh the views so frequently derived from them.

1 Thess. 4:16.—“The dead in Christ shall rise first.” Often quoted as if it meant that the godly dead will be raised before the ungodly—many insisting that a period of a thousand years will intervene between the two events. The Apostle, however, is not here contrasting the resurrection of the saints with that of sinners, He is solely insisting that those who are alive at the second Advent, will take no precedence above (“not prevent”—“in no wise precede”) those that have already died in the Faith. The dead in Christ will rise first—their souls will be re-united to their glorified bodies, and they will stand in their whole persons on the earth. Then (immediately after) all the godly, who are alive at that solemn time, will experience the change more fully spoken of in 1 Cor. 15:51,52, and without dying, be transformed into the likeness of their Risen Lord. “So shall we”—namely the risen dead and the changed and glorified saints on earth—“ever be with the Lord.”

Rev. 6:9-11.—“I saw under the altar the souls (mark, not the glorified bodies) of them that had been slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held; and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long. O Master, holy and true, dost Thou not judge [us] and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? and there was given unto each one of them a white robe; and it was said unto them that they should rest yet for a little season until their fellow-servants also and (in the sense of “even”) their brethren who should be killed even as they, (referring not to the manner, but to the fact) should be fulfilled.”—Rev. Ver.

What was the locality of this vision? Indisputably, heaven; which is contrasted with the earth in verse 10. Whom did John behold in this vision? The souls, or disembodied spirits, (not the whole glorified persons) of those who “had been slain” for their faithful testimony to “the word of God.” In what position did he see them? Under the altar, namely the Altar of burnt offering. Can this be understood literally, namely, that John beheld a number of forms crouching beneath the brazen Altar? Certainly not. There was no space under this altar, and the thought would be grotesque and absurd. What, then, is the idea thus figuratively expressed? Two thoughts are conveyed by the word altar—sacrifice and safety. The latter is probably designed here. A man’s life could not be taken while he clung to the altar, which was a place of sanctuary or refuge. See Ex. 21:14 (where note that the exception proves the rule); 1 Kings 1:50; 1 Kings 2:28. The words, “under the altar,” therefore, mean that these martyrs—though they had been killed on earth—were, in their disembodied condition, absolutely secure in the Master’s presence. They did not cling to the “horns of the altar,” but were “under” it—wholly and effectually covered or protected by it. What was their petition to God? “How long, O Master, holy and true, dost Thou not judge [us] (that is declare Thine own estimate of us, in the sense of Psalms 26:1; 35:24; and 43:1), and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth ”(that is, inflict judicial punishment on these persons.) How was their petition answered? “White robes were given them.” “White” stands for punty, innocence, or righteousness; and the phrase means that their innocence, though they had been put to an ignominious death, would shortly be confessed by all.[3] What was added? They were enjoined to “rest”—namely to abide God’s time (Psa. 37:7) “for a little season,” until another persecution should take place in which other Christians would be killed as they had been.

Rev. 20:4.—[I saw] “The souls of them who had been, beheaded (slain with an axe—a strictly Roman method of execution) for the witness of Jesus (for their testimony to Jesus) and for the word of God, and such as worshipped not the Beast (given their allegiance to the Religio-political tyrant of chapters 13 and 14:19 and 20) neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads (namely, yielded him open homage) nor in their hands (namely, deferred secretly to his authority) and they lived, and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not (both Dean Alford and Dr. Scrivener give zao, which, is simply ‘to live’ in both instances) until the thousand years Were finished ” (or completed.)

The persons seen in this vision are unquestionably the same as those whom John beheld in chapter 6:9-11, with the addition of those who it was there predicted should be after­ wards slain for the Faith. The two classes are therefore clearly indicated.

First Class.—“ I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the word of God,” etc.

Second Class—martyred at a later period [and also of those] “who had not worshipped the beast,” etc.[4]

Whom, then, did the holy seer behold in Rev. 20:4-6? The souls, or disembodied spirits of the persons who had thus suffered—not, as Millennarians assert, the whole elect church from the commencement of time. The idea that the expression includes all saints is wholly unfounded, company is clearly designed. What is stated of these martyrs? That though their souls were in heaven, they were to “ live” with Christ “a thousand years.” Does this mean that their bodies were to be raised again, and that they were to live, in their whole persons, on the earth during this period? No. The text furnishes no foundation for this idea. In what sense, then, is the word “live” to be here understood? Perhaps, in the figurative sense, of their memories being re­garded with love and reverence. Bunyan lives in his “Pilgrim’s Progress;” Cromwell lives—though vilified for generations; Spurgeon lives in his sermons, which are scattered broadcast, and in his beneficent institutions. The men in question were to live, in that the truths for which they suffered would be universally respected and received. It may again mean that they are to live—not simply to exist —but to enjoy their holy lives in a special and peculiar way with Christ, with whom they are to reign.

Does not this mean that the Saviour is to return to the earth before this, and that these holy persons are to live and reign here with Him? Indisputably, no; since He is not said to come and reign with them; but they are said to live and reign with Him. Are these views supported by respectable and spiritually-minded scholars? Yes. Rev. Henry Gauntlett, (whose work on the Revelation is of the highest merit,) Albert Barnes, and the Bishop of Eipon, Rev. W. Boyd Carpenter, D.D., in his Exposition of the Revelation in the “New Testament Commentary for English Readers,”[5] regard it in this light. Both the latter give most scholarly and substantial reasons for the opinion which they advance.

What is further said of the “souls” which John saw in this vision? That they were to “reign” as well as “live” with Christ. What is the meaning? That, though dead, the influence of the truths for which they had suffered should be paramount on the earth for the period intended. But should we not regard the word as meaning that they were, in their glorified persons, to rule in visible spleudour in a Palace which was to be erected on earth? No. They were to reign as Christ is now said to reign—in Providence, and over the consciences and hearts of spiritual men.[6] For how long were these “souls” to “live” and “reign with Christ”—that is, to exercise the same spiritual influence on earth as Christ is now exercising? A thousand years. Is this to be understood literally? No. It would do violence to the whole book of Revelation so to interpret it. This wonderful portion of the Word of God throughout expresses truths and facts in symbolical terms. No one supposes that John beheld an actual Lamb opening the seals of a literal book (chap. 6:1); or that a hundred and forty-four thousand of the seed of Abraham, numerically and exactly, will be in heaven (chap. 7:4); or that he saw a real wild beast rising up out of the literal sea, (chap. 13:1.) Expositors of every school endeavour to assign to such expressions the meaning which the figures naturally suggest. In harmony with this principle, definite numbers, when very large, stand for indefinite ones. “A thousand years,” therefore, means a very long period, just as the hundred and forty-four thousand in chapter 14:1 (who are probably not the same persons as those referred to m chapter 7:4) mean an indescribably numerous company.

Is there not another cogent reason why their reigning with Christ cannot be understood literally? Yes. Of these “souls” (verse 4) it is said that “they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years,” (verse 6.) Now, they could not, in their dis­ embodied condition, literally act as “priests.” We are therefore compelled to understand this expression to mean that these holy beings will be engaged in worship, between which and the functions of a priest some striking points of resemblance may be traced; and we are sure that if their priesthood was purely symbolical, their reigning with Christ must be so also.

What is this revival of the truth, forgotten during the tyrannical reign of the “beast ” (Pagan Rome) and the “false prophet” (Papal Rome) entitled? The “first resurrection.” But does this not mean the raising of the bodies of some of the human race prior to the rest of the dead? No. In harmony with the rest of this marvellous book, this expression must be interpreted figuratively[7] to mean that there would be a great increase of truth-loving men before the final end of all things below. That the resurrection of the bodies of the persons in question is not intended, is clear from the fact that they are spoken of as “souls” throughout, and that the verb describing what they will experience is not ana-zoo, to live again, but zoo, which means to live, and here, as has been observed, to live in the highest sense.

Can we, then, be certain as to the interpretation of the passage? “For my part,” says Matthew Pool, “I freely confess that I do not understand this and the next two verses, nor shall I be positive as to any sense of them nor have the researches of recent commentators availed to elucidate them. It is easy to show what they do not mean; but most difficult to demonstrate exactly what they do.

With what object, then, have these remarks been introduced? As this is the sole passage on which the Millennarian theory rests, it has been sought to show that this pernicious idea has no Scriptural authority, and particularly that these verses do not teach that there will be an interval of a thousand years between the Resurrection of the just and that of the unjust.

Millennarianism a Dangerous Error.

Is it permissible to call Millennarianism a “pernicious” opinion? If contrary to the word of God, it indisputably is so, though some deem it of little practical importance whether a Christian holds it or not. A doctrine which has in countless instances unsettled Churches, inflated the pride of believers, and caused them to separate themselves from those with whom they were in holy and happy fellowship ought, however, to be withstood. William Palmer in his “Plain Papers on the Millennium,” and his “Principles of Scripture Interpretation,” fully substantiates this, and exhibits the serious consequences to which it has led. “All truths,” he contends, “are related, connected, and of proportionate correspondence, and all are, therefore, more or less affected by the antagonism of error. Touch but one of its filaments, and the vibration is felt throughout the whole system,” etc.

Future Judgment.

Note 2.—It is commonly believed by Strict and Particular Baptists that, at the end of the world, after the Resurrection, all that have ever lived, or will yet live—including both Christians and the world—will, at one and the same time, be tried in their whole persons before the throne of God, there to be acquitted or condemned. This is ordinarily styled the General Judgment: Matt. 25:31-46; Acts 17:31; Rom. 14:10-12; 2 Cor. 5:10; Heb. 9:27; and Rev. 20:12,13. To these might be added 1 Cor. 5:5, in which an excommunicated Christian is said to be delivered “unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, in order that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord;” 2 Tim. 1:18, where Paul prays for his deceased friend Onesiphorus, “the Lord will grant to him to find mercy from the Lord in that day 1 Cor. 3:13, Paul’s assurance that the true character and final results of evangelical activity will at a future period be made manifest, “for the day shall declare” (them); 1 Thess. 2:19, his assertion that the Thessalonian believers will be his hope, joy, and crown of rejoicing “In the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ at His coming;” his charging Timothy to preach the word fully and faithfully, “because the Lord Jesus Christ will judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom;” and 2 Tim. 4:8, his recorded expectation that the Lord, the righteous judge would give him “the crown of righteousness in that day,” &c, (2 Tim. 4:8.)

Some weight should be, moreover, attached to the consensus of Christians in all ages as expressed in the hymns they loved—from the Dies Irce (The Day of Wrath) of the early church—to the many compositions on the Day of Judgment which are popular at the present time.

The writer, who, perhaps, stands almost alone, is, notwithstanding, persuaded that this view is not only erroneous but contradictory to many plain Scriptures. John 5:24, “He that heareth My word and believeth on Him that sent Me hath eternal life and oometh not (a present tense with a future force) into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life,” John 5:28,29. “All that are in their graves shall come forth, they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of judgment;” John 3:18, “He that believeth on Him is not judged,” (that is shall never be, a present with a future force.)[8] Again, so far from our being in suspense until “the day of the judgment” is over, ”we shall then have boldness.” Christ has been judged, condemned, and punished for us, and is now beyond the possibility of being again arraigned as our Surety; and “as He is, so are we in this world,” (l John 4:17.) God’s love has saved us the prospect of the terrors of a future trial, and infused a responsive love into our hearts, which knows no fear. Surely these passages assert or imply what is contrary to the popular doctrine of a general Judgment. See Note to page 105.

It cannot, however, be denied that the passages whioh bear on this subject seem contradictory. If these can be reduced to harmony, the benefit will be great. It is, therefore, suggested that these do got all, as is popularly supposed, refer to the same event—and thatthey may be classified under different heads.

The Manifestation of the Saints before the Judgment Seat of Christ immediately after Death.

Note 3.—Rom. 14:10,12, “We shall all stand before the Judgment seat (bema) of Christ (or God.) “Every one of us shall give account of himself to God;” 2 Cor. 5:9-11, “We also make it our aim, whether at home, (in Paradise with Christ) or absent (on earth in the body) to be well-pleasing unto Him, for we must all be made manifest before the Judgment-seat (bema) of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” The persons here intended are indisputably Christians, whom Paul was exclusively addressing.

It has been assumed that the Judgment-seat (bema) of Christ is identical with the “Great white throne” (megas leuJcos thronoa) of Rev. 20:11.

The writer would shrink from founding a doctrine on a grammaticism or purely verbal distinction, yet his belief in plenary inspiration has led him to a close and critical examination of the “words” which the Holy Ghost taught the writers of the Bible to use, (1 Cor. 2:13.) In the present oase two distinct terms are employed, and two ideas are surely intended. A throne is the official seat of the highest person in a state, and is only occupied on occasions of peculiar importance. Hence the word is referred to God as the supreme Governor of the universe, and to Christ as the final Judge of men, (Matt. 25:31; Rev. 20:11.) A judgment-seat (bema) was the official seat of a subsidiary governor or magistrate. The term was also applied to a tribune or platform, from which public speeches were delivered, and also to the dais or raised chair on which the umpire of a race or contest sat to decide who were the victors, and to announce their names, and to present their rewards. In this sense it is probably to be understood here. Christ will occupy the bema or Judgment-seat—not as a penal Judge to consign men to heaven or hell, but as the authoritative and final Judge of the oonduct of His people while here below, When will Christians thus be made manifest before Christ’s bema or Judgment-seat? The writer emphatically rejects the idea of the Plymouth Brethren[9] that it will not be till after the Resurrection. He oonceives it to be incongruous to suppose that the blessed dead in Paradise have this solemn investigation before them, or to think that they can be calmly and supremely happy with Christ, while anticipating that they must at some future period be publicly arraigned before His tribunal to be “made manifest” and to “receive the things done in the body”—to hear His formal and final estimate of the moral and spiritual quality of their actions when on earth.

Without dogmatising, he suggests that Christians will be called to give this account immediately after death. In texts referring in general terms to the decease of men, the exodus of the soul from the body, and its reception into the unseen world, it is said that “The spirit shall return to God who gave it,” (Ecc. 12:7.) “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this [cometh—which may be omitted] [a] judgment,” not the judgment, Heb. 9:27, Rev. Veb. This judgment which is to come to men as men, after death, will vary. Sinners will “fall into the hands of the living God and the judgment will be characterised by His “fiery indignation,” (Heb. 10:26,31); while saints will be “received” kindly by the Lord Jesus, (Acts 7:59). Clearly a judgment, though not the great sessional Judgment before “the great white throne,” awaits all men immediately after their decease.

The purpose for which the saints are, after death, to be called to stand before the Judgment-seat of Christ is fully stated. It is not to decide whether they are saved or not. It is not to determine the degree of glory with which each will be invested. (See page 99.) It is, however, manifestation, for we “must all” then “be made manifest”—or exhibited in full light. Our personal right—through boundless grace—to be there will not be challenged, but our actions will be examined, and reeeive commendation or censure. 2 Cor. 5:10: “Each one will receive the things done in the body according to what he hath done, whether it,” not, so to speak, the actions considered generally, but each one—for the singular number is used— whether it, (after the closest and most impartial scrutiny), prove to have been good or bad. Observe, the bad actions of unsaved men, contrasted with the good actions of saved men are not in question; but the acts of every saved man, from his conversion to his death, which will be examined and estimated.

Our sins, after our call by grace, if honestly and earnestly judged, confessed, and abandoned, will probably not be brought forward at this solemn time. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9, and, perhaps, 1 Cor. 11:31. Many undoubted Christians, however, did things that were unquestionably wrong, and never owned or made reparation for them.

Whether Calvin, in spite of all that has been written, was absolutely blameless in the matter of Servetus, may be questioned.

Samuel Rutherford, whose Letters have melted so many hearts, was a bitter and unjust controversialist, exhibiting “such assumption of personal infallibility, such fierceness of contradiction, such unmeasured vituperation, such extreme narrowness of sectarian orthodoxy, and such suspicion of all who differed from him, as are alike wonderful and sorrowful.” Representative Nonconformists. Eev. A. B. Grosart. Page 202.

The Countess of Huntingdon trafficked in human beings. Whitfield kept slaves. J. C. Philpot not only maintained that the deity of Jesus Christ was generated, but absolutely reviled, in most uncourteou8 language, those who ventured to oppose his idea. Jamss Wells preached and printed his terrible sermon, “The Faith of Rahab Defended.” Protestants, in their mistaken zeal, have persecuted Roman Catholics. Episcopalians persecuted the Puritans. The Puritan Fathers in America persecuted Baptists and Quakers. Sir Thomas Browne approved of the burning of witches. None were more bitter against the Baptists than holy Richard Baxter. Wesley lied about Toplady, whom he supposed to have died. Toplady wrote a book against Wesley, whom he styled an Old Fox Tarred and Feathered. C. H. Spurgeon aided and abetted certain persons who, in 1866, turned against their honoured Pastor, Georee Murrell of St. Neot’s. (See W. Palmer’s Letter to Mr. O. H. O.)

With such facts in view, it is not hard to understand the meaning of the words, “that every one (each Christian) may receive the things done in his body according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” Surely the above actions, though those of eminent Christians, were “bad things;” but it is nowhere recorded that they were confessed aa suck by those that committed them, either to God or to men.

Can we think that these holy men were permitted after death, to mingle with the “sweet societies” of the world of light with­ out any solemn presentation of their persons and commenda­ tion of their characters or condemnation of their mistakes or transgressions, to themselves and others? Something would surely be lacking in Christ’s moral government of His people were nothing of this kind to take place.

Lastly, the moral and spiritual influence of this, in its bearing on our lives and conduct now, appears in Rom. 14: 10-12 and 2 Cor. 5:9-11. The terrors of a supposed far distant General Judgment affect even Christians but little. The Millennarian idea of the judgment of the saints after the Resurrection and prior to the Lord’s reign on earth is vague, remote, and inoperative for all practical purposes. But life is uncertain; death is at hand; Christ observes all our actions, and we shall know His thoughts about them as soon as the soul quits its tenement of clay. This is a fact so near as to be Solemn and momentous. May God impress the significance on every Christian heart.[10]

II. The Judgment of the Quick.

Note 4.—(2 Tim. 4:1 ; 1 Pet 4:6), namely, those that are alive at the Second Advent of Christ.

Matt. 25:31-46. This evidently describes a judgment which will take place on the earth after the Lord has returned in glory. No mention is made of the dead. All who compose the then existing nations will be arraigned before [the] “throne of His glory” as “the Son of Man,” and the relation of men to Him will then be determined by their previous conduct to His followers. This condemnation of the wicked will be penal and final.

Acts 17:31, “Inasmuch as He hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world (or the inhabited earth, Greek) in righteousness by the Man whom He hath ordained.” (Rev. Veb.) This also refers to the judgment of the nations as appears (1) From the fact that the Judge, as in Matt. 25:31-46, will be Jesus in the character of the [risen] Son of Man. (2) Those who are to be judged are not the whole of Adam’s race, or “the dead, small and great,” but “the inhabitable earth,” namely, all the inhabitants of the earth at this period. The word is oikoumene, which never means the whole of the generations of humanity, and does not include the dead.

This is the Judgment which is so often foretold in the Old Testament, and which the godly in the past dispensation eagerly anticipated. Psa. 95:13, and 98:9, “The Lord cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall He judge the world (namely, the Gentiles nations) and the [Jewish] people with equity.”

III.—The Last Judgment.

All evangelical Christians agree that the vast and involved proceedings of Time will be brought to a final termination by the arraignment of the human race before “the great white throne,” after the Lord’s return and the Resurrection, (Rev. 20:11,12) on the “day of judgment.”

On this subject there is, however, diversity of opinion.

The phrase “the general or universal judgment,” does not occur in the Bible, nor is the idea scriptural. For

1. Those who will then be judged will not be persons who are living at the Lord’s return. Theirs (if ungodly) will be the judgment of “the quick” (see page 119) which is distinguished from that of “the dead.” (Acts 10:42; 2 Tim. 4:1; 1 Pet. 4:5.) Here it is the dead—namely, those that have died—that will “stand before God.”

2. Infants who died before arriving at rational and moral accountability, and, therefore, could not have committed personal transgressions, will not form part of this great assembly, since all that compose it will be “judged according to their works.” “Small and great” (verse 12) does not mean, of all ages, but refers to “all sorts and conditions of men.”

3. None of God’s elect and redeemed people will then be arraigned. The language of Rev. 20:12,15, though difficult, seems to indicate that those only whose names are not in the Lamb’s book of life will be summoned, and that to these the investigation will be confined.

With these reservations, what is written in ordinary treatises on the subject may be read with profit; and it is not our object to repeat accessible matter.

This judgment will, however, be universal in the sense of including men of all times and nations, whether the knowledge of Divine things had been vouchsafed them or not. The writer has elsewhere protested against the popular but most erroneous misuse of Rom. 2:12-16; so often quoted to prove that heathens will be saved if they follow the fight of nature. It is, however, evident that Paul’s subject here is not salvation, but retribution. He is discussing the final condition of those that “have sinned” and “shall perish” These he divides into two classes—those who have no written revelation of God’s will and those that possess one, and shows that the judgment of God will be equitable in both cases.—Manual of Faith and Practice, page 274.

Though not summoned to appear before the throne, saved sinners will be present and aid in the final assize, (1 Cor. 6:21) not as subordinate judges, for “the Father hath committed all judgment unto the Son, (John 5:22), but as having had a personal knowledge of the sins of their ungodly neighbours, and as approving of the equity which “the Lord the righteous Judge” will display. (Rom. 2: 2-6)

It is also hinted—perhaps somewhat obscurely—that before sinners are consigned to their eternal destiny, the Judge will openly commend His people in the presence of their enemies— presenting them with “crowns,” or tokens of His approval, (2 Tim. 4:8; 1 Pet. 5:4; Heb. 11:26); and then and thus shall every (Christian) man receive “his own reward,” (1 Cor. 3:8) and “every (Christian) man have his praise”—the praise that is due to him—“from God.” (1 Cor.  4:5)[11]

The results of all evangelical labours will then be publicly declared, (1 Thess. 2:19), and all the subjects of God’s moral government be accurately and fully informed of the true character, bearing, and influence of all the events that occurred in the world’s history.

Then the private commendations pronounced on each saint after his death at the Judgment-seat of Christ will be publicly corroborated and confirmed. It will be demonstrated that “the gates,” or counsels “of hell” have “not prevailed against” the church, (Matt. 16:18); that Satan’s machinations have all been foiled; that God’s plans have all succeeded, and that the hosts of the redeemed who exultingly surround the Judge, are numerically and exactly identical with those whose names were written in the “book of life” before the foundation of the world.

IV.—The Judgment of Angels.

Part of the proceedings of the final assize will be the judgment of angels, (Jude 6.) Whether this will precede or follow the judgment of men is not stated—the former is probable. The saints will assist at the judgment of angels in the same way as at the judgment of unsaved sinners, (1 Cor. 6:3.) Fallen angels have a fore-knowledge of their future doom, and know that Christ will be their Judge, (Matt. 8:29.) Their final destination after the Day of Judgment will be “the lake of fire,” prepared for the punishment both of their chief, Satan or the Devil, and the fallen spirits who have acted in concert with him, (Rev. 20:10.) Thither, also, doomed and damned men will be conveyed, (Matt. 25:41.)[12] Satan’s influence over intelligent creatures will then terminate for ever.

The Author’s Reminder.

The reader is besought to remember that many of the views expressed on pages 114 to 122 are not those of ordinary Strict and Particular Baptists, and, therefore, have not their sanction and authority.

The Eternal Condition of the Righteous and the Ungodly.

Note 4.—Our Article asserts that both the blessedness of the righteous in Heaven and the misery of the wicked in Hell, will be eternal.

The former is never denied, and demands no confirmation. The latter is disputed by four classes of opponents.

(1.) Some Materialists who do not believe in the Resurrection from the dead, contend that Death is the final termination Of human existence.

(2.) Universalists hold that, in accordance with an unrevealed method of mercy, all mankind—some even including the Devil and his angels—will finally be reconciled to God and saved. No direct texts are urged in support of this view; though a great number have to be toned down or explained away.

(3.) Those who entertain the Larger Hope—namely, that to the Heathen and others who have had no opportunity in this life of examining the claims of the Gospel, and of accepting or rejecting its offers of mercy, a second probation will be granted after death. There is, it is urged, at least a possibility that the terrors of the unseen world will produce a reformation which was not effected hero. This the absence of material enticements to sin may favour, and the penitence and prayers of godless disembodied spirits lead to their pardon and renovation. To this, it suffices to reply that the Bible says nothing about a posthumous salvation, and that Death is invariably spoken of as the termination of the happiness of the ungodly. What men are when they die, they will continue to be in their future condition. Death perpetuates character. Eccles. 11:3,[13] Rev. 22:11.

(4.) Eternal Punishment is denied by those who hold Annihilation, or Conditional Immortality. This is the doctrine that men—considered in their whole per­ sonality of body and soul—are mortal, and must, but for Divine interposition, eventually cease to be. Some, namely believers, they admit, will exist for ever, not on account of their original constitution, but through their union to Christ, from whom they have obtained deathless and eternal being. These, and these only they contend, will never die, the condi­ tion of endless life being Faith in the Saviour[14] and the accept­ ance from Him of the gift of immortality. They, however, hold that the souls of the ungodly will sur­ vive death; that their bodies will be raised again; that they will be arraigned in their whole persons before the great white throne, to be judged; that they will be punished by the torture of literal fire for a longer or shorter period; that, finally, their bodies, being destructible, will be exterminated by the element which has caused their suffering, and their souls, being mortal, will simultaneously perish; and that thus the final end of the ungodly will be annihilation or absolute termination or EXISTENCE. This is submitted as a fair statement of the Annihilation scheme. As our readers may be called upon to refute this theory, we briefly indicate the method of reply.

Annihilation Refuted.

I. We assert that human souls, as such, are immortal.

Observe that we are not now concerned with the souls of saints, as saints, or of sinners, as sinners; but with the souls of both saints and sinners, considered as men and women.

If the omnipotence of God is granted, we must admit that He could have called creatures into existence, who, but for some special intervention of His power, would never cease to exist. The souls of men, we affirm, are precisely such beings.

We do not endeavour to prove this by mere reasoning. This has been attempted by learned men. Their arguments have, perhaps, enforced the assent of the mind; but they have invariably failed to obtain the practical consent of the heart. Even Samuel Drow’s marvollous “Essay on the Immateriality and Immortality of the Human Soul, Founded solely on Physical and Rational Principles,” is adapted to convince persons of a metaphysical turn of mind only. Butler’s grand chapter on the probability that we shall live after death, (Analogy, Book I., Chap. 1,) is of little practical value except to persons of culture. So, arguments based upon the soul’s vast capacities—its boundless desires—its universal recognition of some kind of Deity—the prevalence of religious worship— its shame at sin—its apprehensions of a future existence—and the intuitions of immortality of which all men are conscious, and which many of the more enlightened and virtuous heathen avowed—can have force only with the educated, and are useless to honest enquirers, if plain and uneducated persons.

We do not base our proof upon the immateriality of the soul, or upon the fact that it will survive the catastrophe of death. We concede that it may be immaterial without being immortal, and that it may exist apart from the body, without its necessarily living for ever.

We avoid such injudicious expressions as that the human soul “essentially,” “naturally,” or “necessarily,” immortal[15]—namely, that it must, independently of all exterior causes or considerations, continue to live for ever. One Being only is essentially immortal. God is naturally self-existent, and, by a necessity of His being, cannot cease to exist. The risen Saviour is the “only one having” absolute “immortality,” (athanaaia.) God is independent of all His creatures, and in no ways subject to laws, forces, or agencies without Himself. Angels, saints, Satan, demons and damned men exist or live through His sustaining power; and would collapse into non­entity but for Him.

We base our belief solely on the testimony of the Word of God. Again, we concede that the Scriptures in no place explicitly and distinctly assert the immortality of the human soul. This, however, does not stagger us, for the existence of the Supreme Being is likewise nowhere affirmed. The Bible takes this for granted, from its commencement to its conclusion: and, in like manner, it assumes throughout that it is the will of God that the immaterial nature of man should live for ever. Any scriptural demonstration of this fact must, therefore, be infer­ ential. We can only show that it is unquestionably implied in the passages we advance.

The First Adam.

The immortality of the human soul is involved in the inspired accounts (for there are two; Gen. 1, 2, 3, and 2:4-7,) of the creation of man. That the lower animals were designed to die and to cease to be, after a limited period of existence, is all but universally admitted. That the Inspired Records attribute a speciality to man and his original constitution, none will deny. What this speciality is, now claims our attention. It appears that Adam was not—like the lower animals—called into existence by one creative act, but by two. His bodily structure was first formed, “of the dust of the ground.” It was then a perfect, but lifeless, organism. Subsequently, the Lord God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” Gen. 2:7; 1 Cor. 15:45. Again, we read that “God said, Let us make man in our image, and after our likeness;”—so, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him.” As, therefore, a portrait or a statue is in some respects, the representation of its original, man was formed to be the “image” and “likeness” of God. Thus the sought-for speciality of man as created is apparent. The principle which vivified his body was not created with it, but afterwards “breathed into” it by a distinct act of God, and it was, as other Scriptures teach, capable of existing apart from it—and, as he was created, thero were points of correspondence between him and his Maker.

We enquire in what way he was the image of God. Not, assuredly, because his body was a representation of the Divine essence. “God is a spirit,” (John 4:24,) and no material object can represent Him, (Isaiah 40:18; 46:5.) Adam’s resemblance to God must have consisted in the properties of his immaterial nature. In other words, His soul— faintly and feebly, but to a point accurately—represented the incommunicable glories and attributes of his Creator. Nor has the Fall effaced this image. “Men are [still] made after the similitude cf God,” James 3:9.

Thus God is holy—man was created “upright,” (Eccl. 7:29); God is omniscient—man possessed a mind of vast intelligence; God is a free agent (Job 23:13; Dan. 4:35)—man enjoyed full liberty to exercise his intellectual faculties; God can impart His thoughts and feelings to intelligent beings—man could hold fellowship with othor intelligent beings, his “tongue” being his “glory.” (Psa. 30:12, margin); God is self-existent and eternal—man is immortal.

This lost point we expressly limit to his soul. His body was liable to die. It would have required the special sustenance of the fruit of the tree of life to perpetuate it, had the time of his probation on earth been prolonged. His soul we are, however, not told could die. “To dust shalt thou return” could not refer to his whole person, or we must join with materialists and admit that he possessed no spiritual nature—in plain words, that he had no soul. The resemblance of Gen. 1:26 thus assuredly lies, in one respect, between the eternity of God’s essence and the immortality of man’s soul.

This is again implied in Luke 3:36, where (supplying the word “son” from verse 23) we read “which was the son of Godand in Acts 27:29, we are also told that “we are the offspring of God.” The ideas of “sonship” and “off­ spring” assuredly imply similitude to a parent; and if Adam’s spiritual nature resembled the essence of his God, as the nature of a child does that of his parent—his immortality is indisputably included.

Our position is strengthened by Gen. 2:7. God breathed into him “the breath of life.” ‘‘He became a living soul.” This breath, breathed into man, differed from the “spirit” or animal life, possessed by the beasts of the field. It was distinct from his material frame. It did not depend on the body for its existence; and being derived immediately from God, there is firm ground for assuming that it was not created to die. Whether “a living soul” means an ever-living soul, the reader must determine. Certainly the term elsewhere has the force of “deathless.” (Psa. 42:2; 1 Tim. 4:10.) Its connection, however, must determine its force, and there is, at least, strong presumption that it here also has the meaning of continuing to exist for ever.

Moreover, there is not a Scripture which asserts or implies that mortality is inherent in the soul of man. Should an Annihilationist demand of the reader a text which states that it was created to exist for over, it will suffice to ask him to produce one which asserts that it will not.[16]

The Last Adam.

Christ, “the Son of Man” was “made in all things like unto His brethren,” (Heb. 2:17.) This, of course, refers wholly to His created nature or humanity. His Deity could undergo no change. This similitude, while it included His body with its functions, assuredly extended to His soul.

Now, it is only on the basis of a certain degree of similarity and congruity between the human and Divine natures whicn make up the complex person of the Lord, that it is possible to conceive of their union as the constituent parts of one Being. The particulars in which such resemblance may be supposed to exist, it would not be difficult to enumerate, and these must include immortality or an adaptation to existence without any natural limit. For if there is a limit to the duration of the human soul as such, the human soul of Christ must have possessed this limit; in plain words, it must have been mortal.

His person, therefore, must have consisted of His Divine nature, which was essentially self-existent and eternal, in hypostatical union with a soul which was formed and designed to die. It is, however, surely inconceivable that Divine wisdom should have so framed the person of the Redeemer, as to unite in it two elements of unequal duration; elements, one of which must exist for ever, while the other would have arrived, in due course, at a natural period of extinction. Had not the human nature been adapted to endless being, it would never have been wrought into the structure of the Son of God.

Certainly sanctified reason recoils from the thought. God “made His soul an offering for sin,” (Isa. 53:10,) that He might save His people’s “souls,” (1 Pet. 1:9) from the “tribulation and anguish” which must otherwise come “upon every soul of man that doeth evil,” (Rom. 2:9.) That the offering of a mortal soul could secure the blessedness of eternal life, assuredly involves what is fatal to the creed of the Annihilationist. If it be granted that Christ was “made in all things like unto His brethren,” their souls must have been immortal. The Ground of the Error, lies in confounding the terms “EXIST” and “LIVE.” It is the will of God that men shall exist, or continue in being, for ever. “Life” or happy and glorious existence through the possession of a principle capable of fellowship with God, is a super-added gift conferred on all the chosen and ransomed people of the ever-living God.

II. While we maintain the immortality of the human soul, we deny that the bodies of the wicked will, after the Resurrection, be destroyed.

It is urged that the fire which will be the instrumentality of the torture of the wicked, and which will finally destroy their bodies, will be literal fire. This we deny. Its property is to torment a disembodied spirit, (Luke 16:24,) which material fire could not do. “Moreover, that hell-fire will not be literal and material is evident from the circumstances of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. On that solemn occasion the moral government of God found its fullest exemplification and manifestation. Whatever the dread word, ‘damnation,’ may express and involve was endured by the forsaken and broken­ hearted Saviour when He ‘was made a curse for us.’ Terrors, indeed, took hold of Him, but there were no literal flames blazing around the cross; neither will physical fire form part of the punishment of the loBt hereafter.” (John Hazelion.)

Nor will the raised bodies of the wicked be exterminated by any other instrumentality. Death will cease to be operative after the last Judgment, (Rev. 20:14.) Note the Revised Version: “And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, even the lake of fire.” Death (together with Hades, which is represented as his escort) is personified. As in 1 Cor. 15:26, it is declared that “Death, the last enemy, shall be destroyed,” so here, the evident meaning is that, “Death, considered as the power which separates the soul from the body, will exist no more.” The wicked in Hell cannot die, in the sense of being exterminated.

The word “destroy” when used in relation to the future of the wicked, has been shown by competent scholars not to mean the extinction of their existence. “Everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord,” (2 Thess. 1:9,) evidently means punitive banishment from the “fulness of joy” and the “pleasures for evermore,” associated with the presence of Jehovah, (Psa. 16:11.) If a definite act, terminating existence, were intended by the terms “destruction,” the words “everlasting” and “presence of the Lord,” would be not only redundant but meaningless. A process of punishment which will never end is obviously intended.

The “second death” does not indicate extinction of being. The expression occurs only in Rev. 2:21; 20:6; 20:14; and 21:8. It is evidently used in a symbolic sense. Natural death is not ceasing to be, but a transition from one to another mode of existence. The “second death” is evidently an act of God’s punitive vengeance by which sinners will be consigned to their final doom in a place, and amid surroundings, metaphorically described as “the Lake of fire, which is the second death,” (Rev. 20:14, Rev. Ver.)

III. We affirm that as the unsaved will, after the Resurrection, never be annihilated—so, they will be punished IN THEIR whole persons for ever and ever.

John 3:36. “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” This clearly implies the perpetuity of the existence of a godless man. He will not cease to be; but “life”—that is holy joy in God’s presence, he will never “see” or partake of. So far, however, from the penal expression of God’s wrath exterminating him, it will “abide on him,” and, being unappeased, it will “abide on him for ever.” As the ages roll on in unceasing succession, he will have the terrible consciousness of the frown of his Maker.

Matt. 25:16. “These shall go away into eternal (aionion) punishment: but the righteous into eternal (aionion) life.” Here the same word is used in both clauses to denote the duration of the punishment of the wicked and the felicity of the righteous. Each will be unending.

It is contended by some that the Scriptures teach eternal punishment, not eternal punishing. The fire which causes the torment will, it is urged, bum for ever, but tormented sinners will cease to be, and their sufferings will therefore terminate with their existence.

We, however, reply that this is not the fair sense of the words employed to describe the dire future of sinners. A scourge is not a punishment; the pain it is adapted to inflict is. A prison is not a punishment; confinement in it is.

Thus Matt. 25:46, “everlasting punishment”, Mark 3:29, “eternal damnation”, Mark 9:43, “the fire that never shall be quenched”, and Jude 13, “the blaokness of darkness for ever,” and similar expressions, do not simply indicate that the agencies and instrumentalities, which will cause sufferings to the lost, will not be abolished, but that the lost themselves will endure the actual pain of soul and body which these will inflict, for ever and ever.

Events which happened in Time will be seen in their eternal significance, for even God cannot alter facts, and their results must abide, to the unending sorrow of sinners.

If these are truths “it were cruel kindness to keep them back from our fellow men.” (Spurgeon.)


[1] The above, like the question of the Restoration of the Jews, of what character will it be? or the Anglo-Israelitish Theory, should never be paraded by brethren whose convictions are emphatic, so as to interfere with the peace and harmony of our churches.

[2] Sufficient attention has not been paid to the fact that at the Second Advent there will be two classes of people living, (wholly exclusive of the dead who are to be raised) the Saints and the Ungodly. Neither of these will die the ordinary death of humankind. How few have for a moment considered the most true assertion of the “Apostles’ Creed”: Christ “ascended into heaven, from whence He shall come to judge the quick (the living) and the dead.”

[3] In the language of prophecy, the past tense is often used for the future, when the predicted event is shortly to occur. The persecutors of these martyrs were living, and their sin was to be exposed and punished before their death.

[4] n the first vision, Rev. 5:10, the Apostle hears these “souls” beseeching to have their characters vindicated, and their persecutions avenged. In the second, Rev. 20:4, he be­ holds them get the judgment for which they had supplicated. In the first their petition is presented; in the second it is granted. This affords a clue to the meaning of the latter passage. The living and reigning is not living literally on earth in pomp and splendour, but receiving judgment and avengement—namely, the righteousness of the cause for which they suffered being made manifest.

[5] This may be had separately under the title of “The Commentary for Schools—The Revelation,” Cawe Gauntlett and Barnes may be procured second-hand for a few pence.

[6] Millennarians assert that the reign of Christ is future; the Bible speaks of it as present. “He must reign”—that is, continue to reign, as He is now doing (dei gar auton basileuein, —for it is of necessity that He should continue uninterruptibly to reign) “until He hath put all enemies under His feet. This is directly contrary to the theory that he will not commence to reign before the (so-called) Millennium, at the commencement of which He will vanquish His foes. The Millennarian error consists in confounding the words “reside” and “reign.” The monarch of England resides in Great Britain, but reigns in India as well. Christ, in His whole glorified person resides in heaven, but His reign is universal in the whole creation, and special over His church. The Millennarian’s favourite expression, “the future personal reign of Jesus Christ” involves an absurdity. A monarch is a person. Reigning is a personal act. If the phrase “a personal reign” were permissible, there would be such a thing as “an impersonal reign.” The Lord Jesus indeed reigns in the “Holy Church through­ out the world” by His Divine Viceroy, the Holy Spirit, but might and majesty centre in Him, in whom “all fulness dwells.” He ever reigns personally.

[7] Dr. Gauntlett’s exposition, and that of Barnes, are worthy of the closest attention.

[8] The student would do well to study the verb krino, I judge, and its correlative noun hrisis, judgment, in contrast with the verb kata-Jcrino, I give judgment against or condemn, and its correlative nouns katafoisis, the act of condemning, and Icata- krima, an adverse judgment or condemnation.

[9] While making this disclaimer, the writer would express his indebtedness to many of the “Brethren” publications on this subject. Their views are, however, so intermixed with their doctrines of the Secret Rapture of the Church (in support of whioh not one text has ever been advanced),—the Resurrection of the pious dead before that of the ungodly (which we have questioned on page 108), the Millennial reign of Christ, &c,, as to render their literature wholly untrustworthy.

[10] Young Christians should remember that the Judgment-seat of Christ, like “the throne of grace,” or the “altar’’ that we are are said to “have,” (Heb. 4:16 and 13:10) is a figurative ex­ pression for a spiritual fact. No literal throne is intended, before which suppliants bow. No literal judgment Seat is meant before which the holy dead must stand on entering Paradise. The doctrine is that Christ Himself, in His gracious authority, will commend all that has been truly holy in our lives—however men may have censured us; and that He will pronounce His own estimate on what has been displeasing to Him, though all the world has applauded it.

[11] 1 Cor. 4:5. Literally, “And then the praise shall be to each from God.” Timorous commentators are afraid of this verse, and seek to show that epainos, correctly here—as in every other place in the New Testament—translated “praise,” has another meaning. “Praise” is, however, the proper rendering. To each Christian man at the Judgment day, the (or his due) praise shall be from God. This strongly corroborates the idea that saved sinners will not be present to be judged or acquitted, but to be commended according to their deserts.

[12] Young Bible students are cautioned not to confuse texts bearing on the above subjects with those that refer to God’s parental or providential judgment of them in this life. For instance, 1 Pet. 4:17 ; Eccles. 3:17.

[13] This verse is adduced because it is that which Strict and Particular Baptists generally advance in proof of the above position. By way of accommodation it is certainly striking, but its primary and proper meaning is evidently different from the sense in which it is quoted above. On the force of Rev. 22:11, there is, however, no room for doubt. See Barnes’ Notes.

[14] This is surely Arminianism carried to its farthest extreme. A mortal being—according to this scheme—has it in his power to do something called “believing” by which he will be elevated in the scale of being from mortality to immortality. All is contingent on his will. He may, if he chooses, grasp eternal life in the energy of mortal life: or he may “judge himself unworthy of eternal life,” (Acts 13:46) and remain on the plain of terminable existence. The doctrines of grace as taught by the Strict and Particular Baptists are the best answer to, and the surest preservative against the errors above refuted.

[15] What a creature may be constituted by its Creator, and what a being essentially is, are two widely different things. God Almighty alone ia essentially anything whatever, and all creatures are just what He chose to make them. We concede at once, therefore, that as man is not essentially mortal, so he is not essentially immortal; because if he were essentially immortal he could live in spite of God, and God could not put an end to his existence.—Everlasting Life and Ever­ lasting Punishment: G. W. Shepherd, 1888.

[16] While it was expressly stated what the consequence of the first man’s sin would be in relation to his body, (Gen. 3:3), its dire results in relation, both to his soul, and those of his posterity were reserved for future revelations. That the souls of sinners are—in a sense—dead through sin, is evident, (Eph. 2:1), but it is equally evident that this does not involve cessation of volition and action.

William Styles (1842-1914) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He is the author of several works, including “A Guide To Church Fellowship As Maintained By Primitive Or Strict And Particular Baptists” and “A Manual Of Faith And Practice”.

William Styles, A Guide To Church Fellowship (Complete)
William Styles, A Memoir of John Hazelton (Complete)