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THE SPIRITUAL PHILOSOPHY OF CHRIST. 383
" eternal death" he simply meant the punishment which the wicked must undergo for their, sins. On the other hand, there are those of the Church who hold that the literal death of the soul is the punishment meted out to all who die in their sins, while "eternal life" is the reward promised to all who are good. Neither of these sects has, however, satisfactorily explained to unbelievers why it is that belief or unbelief enters as a factor in the case, since man is not supposed to be able to command his belief.
It is to the reconciliation of these conflicting theories that I shall now address myself.
The first proposition of my theory is that the death, or practical extinction, of the soul as a conscious entity is the necessary result of unbelief in immortality.
The second proposition is that the soul, having attained immortality through belief, is then subject to the law of rewards and punishments " according to the deeds done in the body."
The same propositions are more sententiously expressed in Romans ii. 12: " For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law."
In other words, the condition precedent to the attainment of immortality, or salvation, that is, the saving of the soul from death, is belief. The condition precedent to the attainment of eternal' blis3 and the avoidance of the punishments incident to sin, is righteousness.
It will thus be seen that if it can be shown that these two propositions are necessarily true, we shall avoid, on the one hand, the incongruous idea that belief'will atone for all sin; and, on the other, the equally incongruous idea that the extinction of the soul is the necessary consequence of all sin.
In discussing the first proposition we shall first inquire what are the inherent probabilities regarding the meaning which Christ attached to the words which are quoted above. Is it probable, or even possible, that he could have taught that belief alone was a sufficient atonement for the sins of