Stanley P. Smith (1861 – 1931), a British Protestant missionary to China, was a proponent of universal restoration.
Stanley Smith was an “attractive, athletic and handsome young man”, an eloquent orator, and was the son of a successful and godly London surgeon.
In 1873, D. L. Moody and Ira Sankey arrived in the British Isles for a 3-year evangelical mission. Stanley Smith, then 13 years old, heard Moody preached and was converted.
In 1879, he entered Cambridge University. There he attended the fledging Cambridge Intercollegiate Christian Union and helped with meetings for slum children.
He joined the Trinity College Rowing Club and by the autumn of 1881, he was the captain of the college boats.
He took his degree in 1882. After that, he met an elderly gentleman who showed him “the difference between being an average Christian and living altogether possessed, set free from the domination of personal sin and used by the Holy Spirit of God. He learned to take at face value and to act on the truth, ‘He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves but for Him who died for them and rose again’, and ‘Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God’” (Taken from ‘The Shaping of Modern China, Hudson Taylor’s Life and Legacy, Vol. II’ by A. J. Broomhall).
In 1883, Stanley Smith made the decision to join the China Inland Mission, met with Hudson Taylor, and confirmed his decision.
Shortly before he left England for China, he spoke at a meeting at Exeter Hall. The great hall was overcrowded, and many could not get in at all.
“As at Cambridge, Stanley Smith then gave the main, spellbinding address. It cannot be read without conveying the atmosphere in that hall. Neither the apostles nor their successors today were charged with the ‘milk and water of religion but the cream of the Gospel’. William Carey on leaving yet another meeting of colleagues in Britain to discuss ‘the Gospel and the world’, had protested, ‘Are we going to separate again, and is nothing to be done? If David Livingstone could leap to life (again) what would he say? ‘Do not follow my body home to this cathedral, but follow where my heart is……in Africa.’ The five thousand would never have been fed if the apostles had served only the front rows again and again. Then seizing on the indignation of the hour, ‘a greater than Gordon cries from Khartoum……the voice of Christ from the cross of Calvary……”I thirst”……He thirsts for the Chinese, for the Africans, for the Asiatics, and for the South Americans……Would you pass by that Christ? ……There is “sin in the camp”, the infidelity of Achan thwarting the victory of God’s people, the triumph of the Gospel’” (Taken from ‘The Shaping of Modern China, Hudson Taylor’s Life and Legacy, Vol. II’ by A. J. Broomhall).
He arrived in China on Mar 18, 1881, a member of the famed ‘Cambridge Seven’.
In 1902, Stanley Smith declared himself a positive believer in the final restoration of all. This conflicted with the belief of the China Inland Mission and he had to leave.
He set up his small independent mission in East Shanxi in China and taught and preached until he died on 31 Jan 1931.
His son Algernon Stanley-Smith co-founded the Ruanda Mission in Africa.
Gladys Aylward who brought 100 children over the mountains to escape the Japanese was connected with Stanley Smith’s small and humble mission.
Stanley Smith was not the only one in the China Inland Mission who believed in universal restoration. William Berger who co-founded the mission with Hudson Taylor also did. Because of widespread opposition to this belief, William Berger voluntarily retired in order not to derail the mission. His retirement was a tremendous loss to Hudson Taylor. He had been the main financial contributor and Home (England) Director and his hard work and support and dedication had been invaluable to Hudson Taylor in the early difficult years of the mission.
Following is an extract from “’The Spiritual Condition of the Heathen’: A Reply to Mr. Henry W. Frost, Director of the China Inland Mission in North America” by Stanley P. Smith:
We believe that the heathen are lost and that they will be judged : but we can well imagine that God will give those who have not heard the Gospel in this world a chance to hear it in the other world, and that thus they will have the opportunity of being saved.
On this Mr. Frost remarks as follows: —
"It is always dangerous, so far as truth is concerned, to give freedom to the imagination. To grant men the right to imagine, would be to create as many theories of divine procedure as there are men. Moreover such liberty would cast us back on human reasoning as the basis of truth, which would create spiritual instability of the gravest kind. If there was no revelation, this would be the best, in spite of peril, which men could do. But since there is a revelation, the surest and safest thing for any one to do is to depend wholly upon it. And when we search the Word of God for some intimation to the effect that the heathen will have another chance in the world beyond, we search in vain. As to such a supposition, there is complete silence. Also, on the contrary, there is positive testimony that the present time is regarded as the only and final opportunity of salvation which men may have. For instance. Christ urged His apostles and disciples to preach the Gospel in this life, with fervent haste, throughout the world, and to every creature; which evidently would not have been the case if He could as well have left the work to another time and state and to other preachers, such as the angels or Himself. Again, the Apostles and Paul gave themselves, in the face of constant opposition and through the process of great suffering, to the task of evangelizing the whole world of their day; which manifestly would not have been the case unless they had been constrained by the conception of a present and pressing peril. And again, Paul witnessing to the Corinthians declares: 'Now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation; 'which words, be it observed, were written to those who had been heathen and who were under the temptation of going back into heathen practices, and which thus indicate that what was true of them was also true of the heathen at large. Unless, therefore, we are to admit that the Word teaches annihilation or universalism — which doctrines a true theology has wholly and forever discredited — we are forced to the conclusion that the present world is the only place for the display of God's grace in saving souls and of man's opportunity of benefiting by that saving grace."
The reader will observe that Mr. Frost maintains "when we search the Word of God for some intimation to the effect that the heathen will have another chance in the world beyond, we search in vain. As to such a supposition there is complete silence."
By this "complete silence" I am reminded of the endless tormentist Sir Robert Anderson's words, " As regards the destiny of those the Bible fails to reach it is absolutely silent," a statement which, in the interests of truth, I am glad to see Mr. Frost's pamphlet effectually annihilates. But I stoutly maintain that Mr. Frost's statement about "complete silence" is equally unscriptural and untrue.
I respectfully ask Mr. Frost how “all nations" and "all families” (Acts 3:25) are not only to "have a chance” of being blessed, but will actually "be blessed" in Christ, if all the lost heathen are to suffer endless conscious suffering? Yet this broad statement of blessing occurs seven times in Scripture, and is described as being "the gospel” (Gal. 3:8).
Mr. Frost continues: —
"On the contrary, there is positive testimony that the present time is regarded as the only and final opportunity of salvation which men may have."
I respectfully but firmly defy Mr. Frost to produce a single Scripture which will sustain this statement.
Mr. Frost gives three instances; by these I suppose he means to prove the above dogma.
He says: —
"For instance, Christ urged His apostles and disciples to preach the gospel in this life with fervent haste, throughout the world, and to every creature; which evidently would not have been the case, if He could as well have left the work to another time and state, and to other preachers, such as the angels or Himself."
To imagine that Christ would not urge His disciples to bring about vast present good, because that good, if now neglected, might be brought about in the far future, is a thought which seems to me to attribute callous indifference to our Blessed Lord.
Perish the thought!
To seek to secure, for the "lost" in this age, the unspeakable gains of forgiveness of a guilty past, acceptance with God, followed by a life of holy devotion to Him and His cause, is quite sufficient to demand our most strenuous and life-long efforts. In addition to this, however, there is their salvation from future punishment; this, of course, gives an added motive. There is no ground for working ourselves up into a frenzy by imagining that any single one of God's creatures is going to endless conscious suffering, for which doctrine Mr. Frost stands so resolutely, nor is there reason for going mad over the thought that all the departed heathen, or any of our departed loved ones have gone to such a doom.
To permit evil for a higher good is conceivable of God, and provable from Scripture (Rom. 5: 15-21, 8:20,21); but to permit evil in order to add to it endless evil is, to me, inconceivable of the ONE "save whom none is good — God," Mark 10:18), who "is kind toward the unthankful and evil” (Luke 6:35), who "delighteth in mercy" (Mic. 7:18), who affirms that "mercy glorieth (or "exults") over judgment" (Jam. 2:13), and who "shuts up the all (Rom. 11:32. . The force of the Greek tous panias, which occurs twice in this verse, ("the all") is brought out by the words "all without exception,” see Bengel Gnomon.) unto disobedience that He might have mercy on all without exception.”
I ask the reader kindly to refer to pp. 50 fol. of "A Plea and a Protest," if he would care to see that those mediatorial offices of the Lord, which are directly connected with man's salvation, are in being throughout the mediatorial reign of Christ with His saints, in the age of the ages up to the consummation. These offices are in being, in order to be in exercise, with the saints as the ready channels of His saving ministry.
Let us proceed to Mr. Frost's second point.
He says: —
" Again, the Apostles and Paul gave themselves in the face of constant opposition and through the process of great suffering, to the task of evangelizing the whole world of their day; which manifestly would not have been the case unless they had been constrained by the conception of a present and pressing peril."
I have the privilege of being a missionary, and devoting myself to the task of world-evangelization. My parish consists of five thousand square miles, made up of five counties, in each county-town of which we have resident native workers.
As the sole European male worker I find my hands full. Oh! to bring the full gospel of pardon, holiness and health through faith in Christ's atonement and the power of His Spirit to every man, woman, and child!
Yet, if I ask myself what is the "conception" which constrains me to work and pray for this prefecture, it is NOT the thought that any one of them is going to an endless hell. Quite the contrary; I believe in this world, or the next, or in the consummation, every one of them will be brought to a saving knowledge of Christ. I believe this as firmly as I believe that God is "a faithful Creator," and that His word is true.
What keeps me at my work is: —
(1) The love of Christ to me, and mine to Him.
(2) The command of Christ to preach the gospel to every creature.
(3) The sense of the awfulness of the present sin, sickness, and misery, and the sense of duty to do all I can in the Name of Jesus and in the power of His Spirit to save them now.
(4) And lastly, the knowledge that what men sow they must reap; and that, if they die impenitent, an awful — because perfectly just, but in no case endless — punishment awaits them in the future state.
Now these four heads are quite sufficient to keep me pegging away till Jesus comes. The dogma of endless torment is quite needless as an incentive. Indeed one of the keenest men I ever knew in China on endless torment, a man who hardly ever moved out of his study to save souls.
Mr. Frost's third point is as follows: —
“And again Paul witnessing to the Corinthians declares: "Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation:' which words, be it observed, were written to those who were heathen and which indicate that what was true of them was also true of the heathen at large."
This is the only one of the three points where Scripture is adduced as direct proof. Mr. Frost would, no doubt, make a great point of the use of the definite article here “the accepted time-" — "the day of salvation." That he so believes is proved by his own language; "the present time is regarded as the only and final opportunity of salvation which men have," and again "the present world is the only place for the display of God's grace in saving souls." The definite article, however, is not in the Greek. The text should simply read: — "Now is an acceptable time; behold, now is a day of salvation." That "day" is as present now as then, and will continue throughout the "day of eternity" (2 Pet. 3:18, Greek, is an ascription of praise to the aviour), until universal reconciliation is accomplished.
Concerning Mr. Frost's three points, the first is to him "evident," the second "manifest," and the third unanswerable and dogmatic Scripture. To my mind each point seems weaker than the former.
Mr. Frost's last point is a summary judgment pronounced in favour of his own "theology."
He says: —
" Unless, therefore, we are to admit that the Word teaches annihilation or universalism — which doctrines a true theology has wholly and forever discredited — we are forced to the conclusion that the present world is the only place for the display of God s grace in saving souls."
That is, "a true theology" believes in the endless torment of over a hundred thousand million human beings! Reader, kindly pause and THINK!
I understand that, in America, there are those who call themselves "universalists," who deny hell and future punishment. It this be true, I should have as little sympathy with their views, as with the views of endless tormentists.
Mr. Frost maintains that "a true theology has wholly and forever discredited” final reconciliation.
As I am speaking on behalf of many, and as the doctrine of final reconciliation is, to us, entirely Scriptural, and more precious than life, Mr. Frost can hardly expect us to take his castigation lying down.
When I say that Mr. Frost holds that God will inflict endless torment on over a hundred thousand million of "His offspring,” I am not, as to numbers, unfair to him.
In the conclusion of his article he savs: — "It is admitted that one thousand million of the present population of the earth are heathen." Further, in his "Editorial Notes" he quotes an author to the effect that "half the earth's inhabitants die before 16," and reminds us that "these millions and billions are immortal souls.”
Now I have a personal proposition to make to Mr. Frost as follows: —
In my booklet “A Plea and Protest” sent herewith, I give a "resultant summary " of correspondence on "that God may be all in all," pp. 12, 13; and "an exposition of 1 Cor. 15: 24-28" pp. 45-57.
I have read what you have to say on " The Spiritual Condition of the Heathen," will you give me a hearing?
If you will, I propose you should take as your thesis, "That God may be all in all," and reconcile that prophecy with over a hundred thousand million beings enduring endless conscious suffering, in endless heart-hatred against God, and consequently God being NOTHING in any one of them! If you do this, I hope it will possibly help you to look a little more sympathetically on the views of some of your brethren in Christ, whom Christ does not love or honour less than He does you.
--- End of Extract.
I have appended the above article just for information and will not debate it.
I am finished with this thread.
No further comment.