Answers to Correspondents.: Forgiveness; Mortality of Body/Soul?; "Hell"; Chronological Accuracy; MAT 12:24-28; Sing

Luke 23:34; Hebrews 10:17; Matthew 6:14-15; Psalm 34:6; Genesis 15:13; Exodus 12:40; Galatians 3:17; Matthew 12:24-28; Romans 15:9; 1 Corinthians 14:18; James 5:13
C. R.-Luke 23:3434Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. (Luke 23:34); Heb. 10:1717And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 10:17); Matt. 6:14,1514For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14‑15); Psa. 34:66This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. (Psalm 34:6).—In praying for the forgiveness of His foes, the Lord had in view the great crime they were then committing. It was national forgiveness, in that the nation of Israel were guilty of His blood, and of course in the main limited to them. We might have supposed that in killing the Heir and casting Him out of the vineyard, judgment would have instantly overtaken them. But the intercession of the Lord Jesus prevailed, though when the Holy Spirit came and bore witness to the once crucified but then risen and glorified Savior, they aggravated their sin in resisting and rejecting His testimony according to Stephen's word in Acts 7:5151Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. (Acts 7:51), till at last wrath came upon them to the uttermost (1 Thess. 2:1616Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost. (1 Thessalonians 2:16)). We speak of the nation as such, not of individuals.
The difference between the second and third passages is this. Heb. 10:1717And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 10:17) treats of that which is eternal and individual. The believer's sins shall be remembered no more. This is based on the one sacrifice for sins offered once for all. There can be no repetition of that sacrifice, and there can be no reopening of any charge of guilt against the one who has fled to Christ for refuge. All is settled; we are "perfected forever." Matt. 6:14, 1514For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14‑15) deals not with what is eternal, but with that which is conditional and governmental. Assuredly the eternal forgiveness of a poor sinner is not dependent on any good quality in him. But in the holy government of God our Father, it is measured out to us, His, children, as we mete it out to others. If we cherish an ungracious, unforgiving spirit, our petitions will not be heard, and we shall have to be corrected and chastened until willing to forgive as we have been forgiven. To confound eternal with governmental forgiveness is a serious mistake, against which we should sedulously guard ourselves. Finally, we had looked at Psa. 34:66This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. (Psalm 34:6) as prophetically true of the Lard Jesus in His earthly pathway-an example and gracious encouragement to others. We sincerely regret that your inquiries, received in April, should have remained so long unanswered. It was quite an oversight.
F.—We entirely agree with you in saying that "mortality" has reference to the body only, not to the soul. But if the latter is not mortal, what is it then? A thousand voices would reply, "Immortal to be sure," meaning that the soul never dies. And surely it is so. To this meaning you consent, though objecting to the word "immortal" being applied to the soul. But does it not then become a mere haggle over words? You subscribe to the doctrine while dissenting from the term employed to define it! Well, if a better can be found, let it by all means be used. We shall not quarrel with your terms so long as the substance and reality be maintained.
A. J. P.—It is important to remember that two words in the original tongue are translated in our English Bible "Hell." These are Hades and Gehenna. Concerning the latter we may say in the words of another, "It is a place into which God's judgment casts the unrepentant and rebellious wicked, where their worm does-not die, and the fire is not quenched. That human figures of fire and worms are used may be; but the force is plain enough—it is the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels, where God casts in judgment those that are righteously rejected, a judicial punishment for which there is no relief, of which there is no cessation.”
As to little children who have not reached the age of responsibility at the time of the Lord's return, we presume they will have their place among those "caught up... to meet the Lord in the air." For "it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish" (Matt. 18:1414Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. (Matthew 18:14)). Others of riper age who have never had the gospel presented to them, and therefore never rejected it, may have the opportunity of sharing in the blessing in store for men after the Church is gone. Now 2 Thess. 2:1111And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: (2 Thessalonians 2:11) enlightens us as to what will befall those who have heard of Christ and rejected Him; but we must not suppose that with the translation of the Church the door of salvation will be closed to all of Adam's race. If so, how should' Israel be restored and blessed, and the Gentile nations, too, the "sheep" of Matt. 25:3333And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. (Matthew 25:33)?
A LEARNER.—Gen. 15:1313And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; (Genesis 15:13); Ex. 12:4040Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. (Exodus 12:40); Gal. 3:1717And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. (Galatians 3:17).-There are no grounds, so far as we know, for doubting the chronological accuracy of either of these passages. Patient examination and study of the text will show that the difficulties are only on the surface. In reading Gen. 15:1313And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; (Genesis 15:13), let the clauses be well noted: [1.] "Thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, [2.] and shall serve them; [3.] and they shall afflict them four hundred years"-the four hundred years embracing the whole, beginning with the birth of Isaac and ending with the exodus from Egypt. As to Ex. 12:4040Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. (Exodus 12:40), we should not confound the sojourning of the children of Israel with their dwelling in Egypt. They sojourned in Canaan, as Ex. 6:44And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers. (Exodus 6:4), Heb. 11:99By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: (Hebrews 11:9), tell us, and they dwelt in Egypt the whole period of four hundred and thirty years, covering both and more. For the term "children of Israel" denoted the whole family of which Abraham was the root. They were so styled to distinguish them from the descendants of Esau, who also sprang from the same original stock. Thus the four hundred and thirty years date from the call of Abram and his sojourn in the land in which he was a stranger, on to the birth of the seed and their deliverance from the Egyptian yoke. So we view it.
J. H.—Matt. 12:24-2824But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. 25And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: 26And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? 27And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. 28But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. (Matthew 12:24‑28).—The argument here seems so simple as to require but little comment. If the Lord Jesus, as some scrupled not to say, cast out demons by Satan's power, then Satan's kingdom could not stand. Every house, or city, or kingdom—no matter whose divided against itself, sounds the signal of its own downfall. Was Satan likely to follow such suicidal policy? Moreover, by whom did the nation's own children cast them out? If any claimed this power, from whence did they derive it? Was it from the devil? As to sectarian divisions, they are indeed a source of weakness and our common shame. But that which is eternal and of God's own planting is deeper than what divides, and there is a bond which unites all true believers which no differences can ever break.
J. D. S.—Rom. 15:99And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. (Romans 15:9); 1 Cor. 14:1818I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: (1 Corinthians 14:18); James 5:1313Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. (James 5:13).—There is no doubt that the verb "sing" in these passages was originally applied to playing the harp, as it is repeatedly used of David, Deborah, and others. But such is not its exclusive use even in the Old Testament. It sometimes denotes the singing of the words, apart from any mention of the instrument. Thus in Psa. 30:12, "that my glory may sing praise unto Thee, and not be silent." This verb is used in the Septuagint Greek version, and we know from comparing Psa. 16:99Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. (Psalm 16:9) with Acts 2:2626Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: (Acts 2:26), that "glory" means "tongue." Hence in Psa. 30 the word does not refer to instrumental but to vocal music.
Leaving this line of argument, a moment's thought should convince the ordinary English reader that in your passages instrumental music is hardly in the mind of the inspired writers. Singing in the assembly with the spirit and understanding, as in 1 Cor. 14, is in contrast with the unworthy and foolish use of "a tongue" which nobody could understand. In Eph. 5:1919Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; (Ephesians 5:19) we find the same word translated "making melody" in your heart. This scarcely supposes instrumental music, does it? Nor would any sober-minded person contend that it was needed to fulfill the exhortation of James 5:1313Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. (James 5:13). Speaking for ourselves, we should shrink from having recourse to musical instruments even in Sunday-schools and Evangelistic meetings, believing that no instrument can equal the human voice in uttering God's praises, especially when the heart is fervently engaged.