State of the Dead
State of the Dead
What happens when a person dies? Is death the end of the road? Does man have an immortal soul, which leaves the body at the moment of death or is death merely a period of unconscious sleep until the resurrection? In this incisive 12-part series, Pastor Bohr meticulously examines Bible texts dealing with these questions in order to ascertain what they really teach.”
The doctrine of the immortality of the soul is pagan in origin and not of God. It is not found in scripture and yet it is taught as tradition from its leading beneficiary the Catholic Church. The acceptance of this doctrine is essential to Romes teachings on purgatory and indulgences and makes possible other doctrines such as the conscious state of the dead, saint worship, mariology, reward at death, prayers and baptism for the dead, eternal torment, and universal salvation.. The idea of the immortal soul removes from Gods Word the doctrines of the resurrection and the investigative judgement and clears the way for modern spiritualism which is of the Jesuit order. State of the Dead
These developmental techniques were used by Ignatius Loyola who founded the society of Jesus which was formally approved by Pope Paul III in September 1540.
These teachings are foundational to the emerging church, and the plans of Rome and that wily foe who will be found behind this system.
Satan is seeking to overcome men today, as he overcame our first parents, by shaking their confidence in their Creator and leading them to doubt the wisdom of His government and the justice of His laws. Satan and his emissaries represent God as even worse than themselves, in order to justify their own malignity and rebellion. The great deceiver endeavors to shift his own horrible cruelty of character upon our heavenly Father, that he may cause himself to appear as one greatly wronged by his expulsion from heaven because he would not submit to so unjust a governor. He presents before the world the liberty which they may enjoy under his mild sway, in contrast with the bondage imposed by the stern decrees of Jehovah. Thus he succeeds in luring souls away from their allegiance to God.GC. P534
How repugnant to every emotion of love and mercy, and even to our sense of justice, is the doctrine that the wicked dead are tormented with fire and brimstone in an eternally burning hell; that for the sins of a brief earthly life they are to suffer torture as long as God shall live. Yet this doctrine has been widely taught and is still embodied in many of the creeds of Christendom. Said a learned doctor of divinity:
“The sight of hell torments will exalt the happiness of the saints forever. When they see others who are of the same nature and born under the same circumstances, plunged in such misery, and they so distinguished, it will make them sensible of how happy they are.”
Another used these words:
“While the decree of reprobation is eternally executing on the vessels of wrath, the smoke of their torment will be eternally ascending in view of the vessels of mercy, who, instead of taking the part of these miserable objects, will say, Amen, Alleluia! praise ye the Lord!”
Where, in the pages of God’s word, is such teaching to be found? Will the redeemed in heaven be lost to all emotions of pity and compassion, and even to feelings of common humanity? Are these to be exchanged for the indifference of the stoic or the cruelty of the savage? No, no; such is not the teaching of the Book of God. Those who present the views expressed in the quotations given above may be learned and even honest men, but they are deluded by the sophistry of Satan. He leads them to misconstrue strong expressions of Scripture, giving to the language the coloring of bitterness and malignity which pertains to himself, but not to our Creator.
“As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?” Ezekiel 33:11. GC p.535
From the Writings of J.N. Loughborough: A chapter from the book titled “An Examination of the Scripture Testimony Concerning Mans Present Condition and His Future Reward or Punishment” (Download Link)
THE STATE OF THE DEAD
Do the Scriptures teach that man is conscious between the periods of the death and resurrection of the body?
The position of the believer in the immortality of the soul on this subject, and in regard to what is termed death, may be gathered from the following: a passage
Dryden renders from Ovid, who died A.D. 18:
“Nor dies the spirit, but new life repeats, In other forms, and only changes seats.
Then death, so called, is but old matter, dressed In some new figure, and a varied vest.
Thus all things are but altered, NOTHING DIES. Death, so called, can but the form deface, The immortal soul flies out to seek her fortune.”
The above is true, if the soul is the life of the man. Death is termed the separation of the soul from the body. We inquire, What dies? Certainly not the body; for that they tell us has no life only what it derives from the soul. If the soul
is immortal, that does not die, and the Poet’s sentiment would be true.
“There’s no such thing as death. What’s called so is but the beginning of a new existence. A fresh segment in the eternal round of change.”
But the Bible declares [Gen. ix, 4, and Lev. xvii, 11]
“the life of the flesh is the blood.”
We will now notice a few testimonies of Scripture on the subject of death.
Ps cxlvi, 3, 4.
“Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, (what God breathed into his nostrils,) he returneth to his earth; (unto dust shalt thou return:) in that very day his thoughts perish.”
Solomon says, [Eccl. ix, 4, 6]
“For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die; but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten, also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in anything that is done under the sun.”
Here it is stated in positive language
“The dead know not anything.”
Well, says the objector, that is, their bodies do not know anything. We inquire, Did their bodies know anything when they were living? Not according to your position. You have claimed, that the soul of man is the mind; so all the thoughts and knowledge of man must be centered in the soul.
The mind cannot exist without thoughts. But in the day a man dies, “HIS THOUGHTS PERISH.” Then his mind is gone. The testimony from Solomon, the dead know not anything, [Eccl. ix,] is a consequent on the first testimony. [Ps. cxlvi, 3,4.] they know not anything, for their thoughts have perished. How different this testimony from the belief entertained by professing Christians of the present time, that “the dead know more than all the living; for their souls are in the presence of God, and there they see as they are seen, and know as they are known;” and some teach that they are familiar with the acts of earth and heaven, for they return and are guardian angels to the living.
But Job says, [Chap. vii, 21,]
“And why dost thou not pardon my transgression,, and take away mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.”
Shall not be on earth, says the objector. But we reply, Job says, I shall not be. Shall not exist. Where would he be? Sleeping in the dust of the earth. Oh, says the objector that is the body that sleeps. We reply, it is the same part that transgresses, and that you say is the soul.
01 The Right to the Tree of Life
02 The Thief and the Witch
03 The Rich Man and Lazarus
04 Paul's Dilemma
05 Absent from the Body & Present With the Lord
06 Preaching to the Spirits in Prison
07 Rachels Departing Soul
08 The Keys of Hades
09 The Dead Who Stand Before God
10 The Souls Under the Alter
11 Undying Worm & Unquenchable Fire
12 Immortality of the Soul or Resurrection of Dead
01 The Right to the Tree of LifeWhat happens when a person dies? Is death the end of the road? Does man have an immortal soul, which leaves the body at the moment of death or is death merely a period of unconscious sleep until the resurrection? In this incisive 12-part series, Pastor Bohr meticulously examines Bible texts dealing with these questions in order to ascertain what they really teach.
02 The Thief and the WitchWhat happens when a person dies? Is death the end of the road? Does man have an immortal soul, which leaves the body at the moment of death or is death merely a period of unconscious sleep until the resurrection? In this incisive 12-part series, Pastor Bohr meticulously examines Bible texts dealing with these questions in order to ascertain what they really teach.
03 The Rich Man and LazarusWhat happens when a person dies? Is death the end of the road? Does man have an immortal soul, which leaves the body at the moment of death or is death merely a period of unconscious sleep until the resurrection? In this incisive 12-part series, Pastor Bohr meticulously examines Bible texts dealing with these questions in order to ascertain what they really teach.
04 Paul's Dilemma
05 Absent from the Body & Present With the Lord
06 Preaching to the Spirits in Prison
07 Rachels Departing Soul
08 The Keys of Hades
09 The Dead Who Stand Before God
10 The Souls Under the Alter
11 Undying Worm & Unquenchable Fire
12 Immortality of the Soul or Resurrection of Dead
Again, in Chap. iii, 13, Job says,
“For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept; then had I been at rest, with kings and councilors of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves, or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver; or as an hidden, untimely birth, I had not been.”
What stronger language could be used to express unconsciousness? In Chap. x, 18, 19, he says,
“Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me! I should have been as though I had not been.”
But, we are told, the foregoing testimony applies for the body; for it is after Job gives up the ghost, that he says,
“I should have been as though I had not been:”
the ghost still exists. You claim, then, that this ghost is a part capable of consciousness separate from the body.
“The word ghost is a Saxon word, derived from gust of wind, and occurs fourteen times in the king’s version.”-Bible vs. Tradition.
The giving up the ghost instead of signifying that man is in possession of an entity, that can be conscious separated from the body, simply means, they breathed out their last. If because the Bible states concerning men, that they gave up the ghost, the testimony proves it to be conscious after leaving the body, then it must have been conscious before it entered the body; and this presupposes that the ghost, or soul as it is termed, would have been conscious if it had never been connected with the body. None us us have knowledge of anything prior to this life, and we know of no Scripture testimony to show our pre-existence. So we conclude if Job would be in death as though he had not been, he would have no consciousness whatever.
In Chap. xiv, 10-12, Job says
“But man dieth, and wasteth away; yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?”
Where? In heaven says the advocate of the immortality of the soul.
“Life holds the ethereal spirit in, And binds it down to brotherhood with brutes. Death gives it wings to mount above the stars.”
We will let Job answer his own question.
“As the waters fail from the sea, and as the flood decayeth and drieth up: so man lieth down and riseth not: till the heavens be no more they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.”
The dead are said to sleep. In John xi, 11, we have an account of the sickness, death, and resurrection of Lazarus.
“After that he said unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go that I may awake him out of his sleep.” “Then said his disciples, Lord if he sleep, he shall do well.” Verse 14, “Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.” As they came near Bethany, Martha the sister of Lazarus met Jesus and said, “Lord if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” “Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha said unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, (at the last day,) yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, (at the last day,) shall never die. (“Changed in a moment” to immortality.) Believest thou this?” Then Jesus, with the two sisters of Lazarus, came weeping to the grave. After praying to his Father, he turns his attention to the grave and cried, Lazarus come forth.
To suit the theory of the present day he should have cried, O Immortal spirit of Lazarus, come down from heaven and animate this lifeless clay. We get no intimation from this language that Lazarus came from any place but the grave. Certainly it would have been cruel to call his immortal spirit from heaven to come down and raise the body, and subject it again to all the evils of the world.
What a contrast we find between the teachings of men and that of the Bible.
The poet says, “I’ll praise my Maker while I’ve breath, And when my voice is lost in death; Praise shall employ my nobler powers.”
David says, [Ps, cxv, 17,] “The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.” Chap. vi, 5. “For in death there is no remembrance of thee; in the grave, who shall give thee thanks?”
Chap. lxxxviii, 10-12 “Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah. Shall thy loving kindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction? Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?”
The advocates of immortality claim that these texts apply to the body; but it will be necessary for them to show that a live man’s body praises the Lord, before we can admit their position.
Paul says, “With the mind I myself serve the law of God.”
We have an account in Isaiah, [Chap. xxxviii,] of Hezekiah’s sickness, by which he was brought near the grave. The Lord restored him again to health; but in his thanksgiving to God he does not state, that the Lord had delivered him from endless joys, or from a safe passage into heaven; but
“Thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption. For the grave cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee; they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth; the living, the living, he shall praise thee as I do this day.”
His soul had been delivered from the pit of corruption. If his soul was incorruptible, we fail to see what would have been the damage had it passed into a pit of corruption. A pit of corruption could not corrupt it. An attempt to harmonize the immortality of the soul with the above text, reminds us of a proposition that was published quite extensively in the news papers of the day not many months since. “If an irresistible force be brought against an immovable body, what will be the result?” On a few moment’s reflection anyone would see that it was an impossibility. So to place an incorruptible soul in a pit of corruption would be an act of the same nature as that proposed above. But Hezekiah speaks of the deliverance of his soul from the pit as proof that God loved his soul. If his soul had passed into the pit, it would have received damage; namely, corruption. It would have turned back again to dust. We have seen already, that the word soul in its primary use means the whole person.
See Gen. xlvi, 20. “All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt were three score and six.” Acts xxvii, 37. “And we were all in the ship two hundred three score and sixteen souls.” But it is objected that Christ says in Matt. xvi, 26, “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul.” Is not the soul here spoken of as something in distinction from the man who loses it?
In Luke ix, 25, it is recorded, “For what is a man advantaged if he gain the whole world and lose himself, or be cast away.” Comparing the text in Matthew with Luke, we learn that the soul here spoken of as lost, is the man himself who will be cast away. Says Christ Matt. v, 13, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”
a. But says the objector, Paul says, [1 Thess. v. 23,] “I pray God your whole spirit, and soul and body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This testimony would not prove that the soul was capable of a separate existence. Paul is merely speaking of man in an organized condition, and prays that he may be preserved blameless That man, in a living, organized form is possessed of those parts, we do not deny. The term soul is sometimes applied to man’s life while in that position. But to prove that the part termed soul was susceptible of a separate existence, it would be necessary to show that it had been separated from the body, and while thus separated, maintained its consciousness. “We say the true meaning of soul is, a creature that lives by breathing: and as the essential endowment of such a creature is life, so life will stand often as a correct meaning of the soul. When soul is applied to man, it may be translated life, soul, man, you, yourself, person, myself, thyself, etc., according to the text.”–
Bible vs. Tradition. According to the preceding testimony, there is no necessity of claiming that the text [1 Thess. v, 23] refers to a disembodied spirit. As testimony is commonly quoted to prove the immortality of the soul, there is either a useless repetition in the above test, or man is possessed of two parts, each independent of the body.
First, they quote a text that speaks of the spirit, and tell us that is the immortal part. Next they quote a text that speaks of the soul, and that is the immortal part.
But in the above text we have both words introduced, and they are used in such a manner as to lead us to conclude that they apply to two different parts of man. But we understand that Paul prayed that they might be preserved as beings, body, life, and breath. The word that is rendered soul in this text is psuche.
“The Greek term psuche is the only Greek word used for soul. It comes from psucho to breathe; to blow; its primary meaning is the breath, a living being, any animal that lives by breathing; the soul. Life, is a secondary and accommodated use of the term.”–
Bible vs. Tradition, p. 37.
The word in the above text, rendered spirit, is pneuma, which signifies breath. “The Greek word pneuma, derived from pneo, ‘to blow,’ has been chosen by inspiration to represent the Hebrew word ruah. It means wind, air, breath, and a something, or principle contained in them, which imparts and sustains life.”–Bible vs. Tradition, p. 85.
Some seem to think if they can produce a text that says anything in regard to the spirit in man, that they have certainly proved the immortality of the soul; so they urge such texts as the above, and Job xxxii, 8, upon us as proof that man has a deathless spirit, (“But there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.”) not stopping to consider, that not a word is said in these testimonies concerning the nature of the spirit, or its duration.
Some urge forward Gen. xxxv, 18, as proof of the separate existence of the soul. “And it came to pass as her soul was in departing, (for she died,”) etc. It is claimed that here was something that departed. We reply that which departed was her life, as we may learn from the closing expression of the above testimony. “For she died.” “She died,” which caused her soul (life) to depart. Compare Gen i, 20, 30, as rendered in the margin, with the above text.
b. Again, it is said, Elijah, prayed [1 Kings xvii, 21] “Let this child’s soul come into him again.” This text, letting it have all the bearing possible on the subject, would not prove the soul to be a part capable of a conscious existence, separate, from the body. Elijah prayed that the soul might enter the body, it was that which would impart life to the body. Of course, the same soul leaving he body would cause it to die.
But we inquire, what caused the death of the child? “His sickness was so sore that there was no breath left in him.” Then the soul here spoken of is the breath of life. The breath of itself is not the life. But as we may learn from Gen. vii, 22, (margin) it is called, “the breath of the spirit of life.” “The life is in the blood.” And by constant invigoration from the gases of the atmosphere conveyed to the blood through the lungs, man is kept in a healthy and active state.
c. It is claimed by those who advocate the view of the conscious existence of the soul in death, that Solomon must have believed that the soul or spirit was capable of a separate existence from the body.
For he inquires, [Eccl. iii, 21] “Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, or the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?”
From the above text it is urged, that there must be a spirit in man that exists after death, or Solomon would not have asked. “Who knoweth the spirit of man?” But do our objecting friends admit the conclusion to which their own argument would carry them: If because Solomon says, “Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth up.” This testimony proves that man has a deathless spirit; does it not prove the same for beasts when applied to them?
“Who knoweth the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” We do not consider his testimony to prove, that either man or beasts have deathless spirits. An inference, it is true, has been thus drawn from his testimony, but is there, we inquire, any authority for drawing an inference from a text to support a sentiment, unless we are sure the sentiment is plainly taught in Scripture?
Dr. Adam Clarke remarks on Matt. v, 26, “Let it be remembered, that by the consent of all, (except the basely interested,) no metaphor, is ever to be produced in proof of a doctrine. In the things that concern our eternal salvation we need the most pointed and express evidence on which to establish the faith of our souls.” If we can find that Solomon teaches in positive language that men have immortality, then (and not till then) will we consent to draw an inference to that effect from the above text.
We will now examine the context of the text, and inquire, Does Solomon, in Eccl. iii, teach the existence of spirits after death?
We will begin with verse 18, and read.
“I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.”
We do not understand that Solomon is here going to teach that in every respect man is no higher than a beast. Man is endowed with higher intellectual faculties, and has the promise of immortality set before him to encourage him to seek God. There is however, one point Solomon would call our attention to in which man is not above the beast.
“For (because, the reason why men are beasts) that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them, as the one dieth so dieth the other, yea they have all one breath, so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast, for all is vanity.”
We are told that the death of man is the separation of the soul from the body.
Says Solomon, “As man dieth, so dieth the beast.” But according to Ps. civ, 29, the death of the beast is caused by taking away the breath. “Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.” Verse 20. Solomon continues, “All go unto one place, (we are told men go to heaven, then beasts go to heaven also,) all are of the dust, all turn to dust again.” Here we have the positive testimony of Solomon. He then inquires, Who knoweth the spirit of man, etc. Who knows that it is contrary to what he has stated? The question compared with his positive statement, is like this. I state that this ink with which I am writing is black. Who knows that it is blue? No one would suppose I meant to have them infer that the ink was blue; for I had already positively stated it was black. So with Solomon: he has stated first just how the case was, and then inquires, Who knows that the opposite is true? but we inquire was there a prevailing sentiment to give rise to such a question in the days of Solomon, if the soul was not immortal?
Yes: Heathen Philosophers boldly asserted the immortality of the soul, and declared that when they died their souls would be deified, and dwell among the gods. If they had lived virtuous lives here, and had been a benefit to the world, they should go immediate-among the greater gods, but were it otherwise they should go among the lesser gods. In accordance with this sentiment, Socrates is represented as saying just before he died, “Don’t think when you carry out my body that you are burying Socrates. You will bury my body, but I shall go to be among the gods.” Solomon living in a time when such a sentiment prevailed, made his positive statement in regard to it as we have above copied, and how the natural the inquiry that follows:
“Who knoweth (that the Heathen sentiment is true) the spirit of man that goeth upward?” He has told us that man (not merely his body) turns to dust. The Douay (Catholic) Bible gives us the following rendering of the above text: “Who knoweth if the spirit of the children of Adam ascend upward, and if the spirit of beasts descend downward.”
d. The advocates of the doctrine we are opposing, unwilling still to quit their long-cherished position, urge forward the case of the souls under the altar, [Rev. vi, 9, 10,] supposing it to be conclusive testimony that the soul is conscious after death.
“And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held; and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them: and it was said that they must rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that though be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”
This scene presented to John, was a view of events as they would exist under the fifth state of the church, here brought to view as under the fifth seal. These souls spoken of had not been born when John beheld them, and heard them cry for vengeance. So to claim that these souls must have been conscious when John saw them, is folly. He had a view of the persecutions of the Papal Church upon the people of God. Some have supposed the souls were seen in heaven. But if they were redeemed and were in perfect happiness, why were they calling for vengeance on their blood? If the common theory be true, the very act of their blood’s being spilled, hurried them into heaven. The scenes John was viewing were upon earth, and when he viewed the souls as they would be, they were under the altar, not under (as some would say) the altar of incense in heaven, but under the altars of Papal sacrifice.
“They must rest until their fellow servants and their brethren should be killed as they were.”
Then their souls had been killed, (were dead) and (the dead know not anything,) were unconscious: They were to rest. The Scriptures do not speak of men going to heaven to rest when dead.
But says Job, Chap. iii, 17, “There (in the grave) the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary be at rest. There the prisoners rest together.” etc. But it is urged, “They cried, “for vengeance and must therefore have been conscious.
We answer, in the Scriptures intelligence is sometimes ascribed to inanimate objects, not to show that they possess consciousness, but to show the manner in which God regards the people connected with those objects.
In Hab. ii, 11, we read, “The stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.”
By reading the context we may learn this sentiment: if a city was built with blood or by bloodshed, the very city itself would witness against those who built it, and the idea is here conveyed by the wall’s speaking.
James v, 4. “Behold the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth,” etc. Here wages are represented as crying; not that money is conscious, or possessed of intelligence, but to show that God regards the dishonest dealings of men with their fellow men.
When Cain had spilled the blood of his brother upon the earth, God does not say to him, that the immortal soul of Abel came and informed me; but “The voice of thy brother’s blood, crieth to me from the ground.” God beheld his blood, and it revealed the fact that wrong had been committed, a life had been taken, and thus it called for vengeance; but no one would claim that the blood had a voice. So in Revelation, when the fifth seal was opened, “The souls of them that had been beheaded, cried.”
We have already shown that the word soul sometimes applies to life. (“The life of the flesh is the blood.”) The blood of those who had been slain as it ran under the altars of sacrifice spoke for vengeance with the same voice as did Abel’s blood. This testimony is not to give us to understand that the soul is conscious, but being given hundreds of years before hand, was to comfort and encourage God’s people who might be called upon to pass through the fiery ordeal. God assured them, that although they might suffer, he beheld their lives they had laid down, and in a little season he not only would avenge them on the Papacy; but according to the promise given before of Christ, “He that will lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s shall keep it unto life eternal,” they might expect a rich reward.
John saw these souls again as he was viewing events connected with Christ’s second coming, as recorded in Rev. xx, 4. “And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God, . . . and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” According to the above testimony, when he first say them, they were dead; for he says they lived, (came to life.) His next testimony, shows that this is what he means; for, “The rest of the dead (then these were part of the dead,) lived not again (did not come to life) until the thousand years were finished.” It seems this testimony then cannot be made to prove anything in favor of consciousness in death.
e. Others perhaps at this point in the investigation stand ready to refer us to the case of Saul and Samuel, supposing it to prove the existence of the soul after death. But let us examine the matter with care.
1 Sam. xxvii, 3. “Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city.” . . . “And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem.” “And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled. And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets. Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit,” . . . and they said, “There is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.” And Saul came unto the woman and he sware to her that no harm should befall her for performing this work he desired.
“Then said the woman, whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, bring me up Samuel; and when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice; and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul; and the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth; and he said unto her, What form is he of? and she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel.”
“And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up?” Samuel is represented as saying to him, [verse 19,] “Moreover, the Lord will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to-morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me.”
The above testimony is far from establishing that for which it is often quoted: the immortality of the soul. There is not a word said in regard to the soul. It is first stated that Samuel was dead and buried. How then could he converse in this manner without a resurrection? The testimony is that Samuel was disquieted, and brought up. The scene all goes to show (if it was a reality) that Samuel had a resurrection. But we inquire, Is it reasonable to suppose that God would impart power to the woman that she might raise Samuel to converse with Saul, when he would take no notice of him through the means of communication he had himself appointed? viz., dreams, Urim and prophets.
Again, should we take the position commonly claimed, that this was a conversation between Saul and Samuel’s soul, can we admit, that Saul and his sons were going to be admitted the next day into heaven, (“to-morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me,”) when we are informed that God would not answer his prayers, and as Samuel is represented as stating to him, [verse 16,] “The Lord is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?”
If we believed it to be real that Saul was the next day to be with Samuel, it would simply prove that Saul would be in the grave.
We look upon it as a deception that was practiced upon Saul. It is not stated that he saw Samuel, but he received his testimony from the woman. This is a case of consultation with familiar spirits.
The act of professing to consult with the dead, is a sin abhorred in the sight of God as we may learn from the Scriptures.
When the Lord was about to bring the children of Israel into the land of Canaan, he said to them, “There shall not be found among you anyone that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.” Deut. xviii. “Because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee.” Here the Lord protests against professing to consult with the dead; and numbers it with the sins which had filled up the cup of the Amorites.
When God made the promise to Abraham, the reason given him that his seed should sojourn in a strange land, was, “For the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” Gen. xv, 16. But when they were given up to idolatry, and engaged in the damning sin of necromancy, the Lord’s anger was kindled against them and he drove them out of the land. Isaiah speaks of a work of consulting with spirits, that should after exist in the following manner: [Chap. viii:] “When they say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep and that mutter, should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?” Why not seek to the dead? If the sentiment be true that the spirits of our dead friends are our guardian angels, consistency would teach that there should be some medium of communication between them and their friends whom they were guarding.
But the testimony of Job is, [Chap. xiv, 19-21.] “And thou destroyest the hope of man.
Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth: thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away. His sons come to honor, and he knoweth it not: and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.” From this testimony we learn, that man in the state of death is not in a position to guard his friends on earth, for he is ignorant of their prosperity and adversity. The same sentiment is taught concerning Abraham by Isaiah, [Chap. lxiii, 16,] in directing his petition to God concerning his inheritance. “Doubtless thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not. It would be absurd to claim that Abraham was ignorant of those who were looking for the same inheritance promised him, if he was their guardian angel.
How different the above testimonies from that of one of the great men of this nation, when placing his son in the Military Academy at West Point, “Remember (said he) that the heroes of the revolution are about you, and are watching your movements.”
To the dead is not the place to go for knowledge. But Isaiah says, “To the law and the testimony, if they (those who seek unto familiar spirits) speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” The Word declares “the dead know not anything,” while necromancy ascribes knowledge to the dead, at least in its present form, (Spiritualism.)
We understand the case of Saul and Samuel to be a case similar to the Spiritual manifestations of the present time, with this difference: in ancient time the work was performed by pretending to raise the dead, but at the present by consulting with departed souls. Then there was no communication of this kind without a pretended resurrection of the person with whom men were desirous of consulting. But now legions of spirits, professing to be the souls of our friends who have “left the shores of time,” flock around, earnestly desiring the privilege of instructing us.
f. It is claimed by the advocates of the conscious existence of the soul in death, that the deaths of the patriarchs, and saints of old time, are recorded in such a manner as to give us to understand that they still exist after death. The death of Isaac is a sample of those they quote. Gen. xxxv, 28, 29. “And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years. And Isaac gave up the ghost and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days; and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.” Here it is claimed “he was gathered to his people.”
Where were his people? There is no testimony that says they were in heaven. We shall claim that they were in the grave, from the last clause of the text above quoted, Esau and Jacob buried him. His father certainly was in the grave, and went to his fathers when he went to the grave. Gen. xv, 15. “And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace: thou shalt be buried in a good old age.” He went to his fathers in the grave. When Jacob supposed his son was destroyed by beasts and was mourning for him, his testimony goes far from proving that he was in heaven. Gen. xxxvii, 35. “And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him: but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.”
We should conclude if any of the patriarchs were favored with the privilege of entering heaven, David would be one, as he is said to be a man after God’s own heart. But what is the testimony concerning David? Paul testifies concerning him, [Acts xii, 36,] “For David after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers and saw corruption.” David at death went to his fathers and saw corruption.
Certainly there is no corruption in heaven. Peter speaking of David, [Acts ii, 34,] says, “For David is not ascended into the heavens.”
If (as some say) David is in a conscious state, where is he?
Peter says [Acts ii, 29,] “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.” The testimony of the Bible, is far from stating that the worthies of old went to heaven when they died. Paul says, [Heb. xi, 13,] speaking of a multitude of saints, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises.”
g. It is claimed that the dead are represented as “flying away;” therefore there must be some principle aside from the body, that exists in death. Ps. xc, 10. “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off and we fly away. The objector is ready to ask, Where do they fly to? We know of no testimony that says they fly to heaven, or to a place of punishment. Solomon in Eccl. ix, 3, we think sets this subject in a clear light. “The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.”
h. It is claimed that the dead must be in a conscious state, for according to the testimony of Peter, Christ went and preached to the spirits of the dead the three days his body lay in the tomb. We know this is the sentiment taught in the gospel of Nicodemus; but we have ever considered that as doubtful authority; and have suspicions that it favors too much the doctrine of Papal purgatory to come from any other source than that of artful priests. We will look at Peter’s testimony candidly and see if any such sentiment is to be learned there.
1 Pet. iii, 18. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit, by which (Spirit) he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when once the long suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water.” The last verse above quoted explains how it was that Christ preached to the spirits, that were then in prison. It does not state that he went while dead, or that his soul went. It would seem from the reading of the testimony that the preaching was done in the days of Noah. Christ preached by his Spirit through Noah to the antediluvians.
The testimony declares that Christ was raised by the Spirit (Spirit of God) by which he went and preached when once the long suffering of God waited in the days of Noah. Says the objector, “He preached to spirits. We suppose those spirits were men; and not that the men in the days of Noah were disembodied ghosts. The word which in the above text is rendered spirit, (as translators inform us,) is sometimes rendered person; and they quote the above text as one instance where it may be thus rendered. Milton says of the “spirits in prison,” “literally, in guard, or as the Syriac version renders it, in sepulchres, in the grave.” The grave is without doubt referred to by the word prison, in the above text. The Lord says [Isa. xlii, 7] that Christ shall be given for a light to the Gentiles, “to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.”
In Chapter xlix, 8, 9, he says, “I will give thee for a covenant to the people that thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves.” This testimony also agrees with that of Christ. John v, 28, “The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth.” The promise that Christ should be sent [Isa. lxi] was that he should “proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” Zechariah speaking of the work to be performed by Christ says, [Chap. ix, 11,] “As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out the pit wherein is no water.” We might quote many texts similar to these showing that the grave is called in Scripture, a prison.
i. It is claimed that Paul must have believed in the existence of spirits when he gave his judgment concerning those who committed forms of sin. 1 Cor. v, 5. “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” If the testimony read, “that the spirit may be saved” when they die, there might be some plausibility in claiming that the spirit in this text referred to something aside from the body. But the testimony is “That the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” The day of the Lord Jesus we understand to be the day of the Lord, spoken of in the Old Testament; and by the testimony there given concerning it, we find that it is introduced by the second coming of Christ.
Isaiah says, speaking of the day of the Lord, [Chap. xiii, 9,] “Behold the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.” The day of the Lord, according to this text, is when the Lord executes wrath on the inhabitants of the earth, which according to Rev. xiv, 14, is not until Christ ceases to mediate for men, clothes himself with garments of vengeance and comes to reap the harvest of the earth. Paul’s testimony refers to a salvation that is to take place in the day of the Lord’s anger. There, as it is admitted, the resurrection of the body takes place. So the salvation here spoken of cannot be the salvation of disembodied spirits, but of the persons who had been delivered unto Satan. The word that is rendered spirit in the text under consideration is the same as in thus rendered in 1 Pet. iii, 19, which as we have already stated translators tell us sometimes signifies person. This text is one instance where they tell us it has this meaning. See Bible vs. Trad., pp. 106, 107.
j. From the testimony in Rev. xxii, 8, 9, it is argued that the prophets of old must be in a conscious state. “When I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the saying of this book: worship God.”
On the above text, it is claimed that one of the prophets was conversing with John. If we supposed the text had that meaning, there would be no necessity of claiming it as proof of the existence of the souls of the prophets after death. The angel did not say, I am the soul of one of the prophets. Two prophets at least, Enoch and Elijah, ascended bodily into heaven; so if the text conveyed the idea that the angel was one of the prophets, it might be either of those. But we do not understand from the testimony, that it was a prophet that was conversing with John. John testifies that it was “the angel which shewed me these things., In verses 5, 6, of this chapter, we read, “And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light; and they shall reign forever and ever. And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true. And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants, the things which must shortly be done.” The proof that Christ here offers, of the truth of these testimonies concerning the kingdom, is that God by his angel has borne witness to them, through the prophets. In verse 16, he states, “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches.”
It seems from the above testimonies that God and Christ each had an angel, that had as their appointed work the bearing of messages to those to whom God would reveal them. There is no testimony in scripture that the dead had any such work to perform, but of the angels (who according to Heb. ii, 5, 9, 16, are of a higher order of beings than men) God says, [Heb. i, 14.] “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation?”
In Rev. xix, 10, John says of this angel, “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: (of those who are sent to minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation,) worship God; for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” That is, the testimony of Jesus came by the same spirit by which holy men of God were moved. Worship God; for this is his revelation. See Chap. i, 1. “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass: and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.” The angel says, Do not worship me: “I am thy fellow servant.” I am a servant of Jesus in bearing this testimony to you, as you also will be in carrying it to the people. We are fellow servants, I am no more an object of worship than you are. John it seems thought this angel an object worthy of his adoration: the angel corrects that impression by giving him to understand that he is a fellow servant, bearing a part in the same work in which John was engaged.
But, say you, this angel told John “I am of thy brethren.” He must therefore have been a man. As we have already shown, the testimony of the text is that he was an angel; there is no necessity of claiming that he is a man, simply because he said he was of John’s brethren, for Paul by his testimony [Eph. iii, 14, 15,] makes the angels and saints one brotherhood. Speaking of Christ, he says, “Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” We would say in conclusion of our remarks on the text before us, allowing the testimony of the word, there is no proof in these texts, concerning the existence of man in death. Their testimony is speaking of the work of an angel.
k. It is argued that John taught that men exist in death, by his testimony. [Rev. xiv, 1-5.] “And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Zion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: and they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lord whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and the Lamb.” It is claimed that here are 144,000 at least that John saw in heaven, on mount Zion. (Mount Zion–“the city of the living God.” Heb.) It is claimed that the 144,000 were spirits that had been redeemed, and that John saw them in heaven in the year 96 when he had his vision. We have not time to enter into a detailed exposition of the 144,000 but will with brevity make some remarks on the subject. With that class of people who suppose that John was merely viewing events that existed in the year 96, the text before us stands as an insurmountable objection to the views we are advocating in this work. But by those who admit that John was viewing events as they would exist in some future time, the text will be found to harmonize perfectly with the doctrine here taught. We shall claim
in the onset that John did not state that he saw 144,000 stand on mount Zion in the year 96; but, that he then saw events as they would exist; and at that point in his vision where the 144,000 were redeemed, he saw them stand on mount Zion. The first five verses of Rev. xiv, are a continuation of the subject introduced in chapter xiii. Commencing with Rev. xii, and closing with these five verses, we have a chain of consecutive events, carrying us from the time of our Saviour’s birth to his second advent. Three persecuting powers are introduced which war
on Christ and the saints of God.
1. The Dragon. A symbol of Pagan Rome, made war upon the Son of God himself, who was delivered. Rev. xii, 5. “And her child was caught up to God, and his throne.”
2. The Dragon gives his power to the seven headed and ten horned beast, (Papacy) who made war on the church of God for 42 months. But the beast was to be wounded, let into captivity, and thus the saints of God were to be delivered.
3. A two-horned beast was seen, coming up at the very point where Papal government ceased, which was also to war on the saints. He in his turn will persecute the saints of God, and make a decree, (as we see by the closing
testimony of Rev. xiii,) that they shall be put to death. The first five verses of chapter xiv, show how those fare that have this decree passed against them; they are delivered and stand on mount Zion with the Lamb.
This view of the subject is consistent and in keeping with God’s manner of dealing with his people. In other instances, when God has shown by his word a persecution that was coming on his people, he always has shown them the manner of their deliverance. In Dan. vii, there is a prophecy of the little horn (Papacy) that should make war on the saints and prevail against them. If the prophecy had closed with the sad picture of the Papacy’s prevading against the church and putting to death its millions by every means of torture that could be invented, where would have been the encouragement to God’s people, to bear up in the hour of trial? “But,” says the angel to Daniel, “the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and posses the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.” Here they find encouragement. Although they may fall by the hand of that persecuting power, the kingdom will at last be theirs. So also in Dan. xii. “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for those children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble (on the wicked) such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. Again in Matt. xxiv, Christ says, speaking of the Papal persecution, “For then shall be great tribulation (on the saints) such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” We see in all these instances we have quoted, that God has been careful to show his people their deliverance and the exact manner in which it would be brought about. So in the two first persecutions of Rev. xii, and xiii. The Dragon sought to devour Christ. He was caught up to God and his throne.
Second. By clothing the Papal beast with civil authority he cast out a flood of persecution on the church. But the “earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood.” Rev. xii, 16. He was led into captivity, Chap. xiii. Napoleon took away the civil power of the Pope.
Does not God prove faithful to his plan in past times, and show his people their deliverance from the work of the two horned beast? We answer, He does, if the deliverance of the 144,000 is allowed to be the last link in this chain of prophecy. But if it is not the last link, and applies merely to some spirits that John saw in A.D. 96, then we are left to guess what will become of God’s saints, when the decrees of the two horned beast are out against them. We shall claim, that this testimony concerning the 144,000 does not apply to any spirits that were in
heaven when John wrote, (John did not say he saw 144,000 spirits,) but that it applies to a deliverance to be wrought for the saints of God at the second coming of Christ. “And the beast was taken, and with him the
false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshiped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” Rev. xix, 20. Thus God’s saints are delivered.
The deliverance of the 144,000 is not stated to be a deliverance of spirits after the death of the body; for then it would make their deliverance to be the execution of the very decree that was out against them, that they should be put to death. They are not said to be delivered from the state of the dead. But we read, [verse 4.] “These were redeemed from among men;” [verse 3.] they “were redeemed from among men on earth; that is, from among the living. We shall claim them to be the saints who shall be alive when Christ comes to execute vengeance on the wicked governments of earth, and thereby deliver his people. Says Paul, [1 Cor. xv,] “We shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” The saints of God who are alive when Jesus comes are not to die, but will be redeemed from among the living. “We which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds.” Those who are thus changed from mortal to immortality, can raise a shout of praise in which no others can join. “O death, where is thy sting?” Death has never stung them, and they can triumphantly shout, “O death, where is thy sting?” John says of the 144,000, “And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the 144,000 which were redeemed from the earth.”
They are changed from mortal to immortality, and never taste of death. How often we see it stated concerning different individuals that have died, that they got the victory over death, when the facts in the case are, they sunk beneath his icy hand. Paul does not locate this song of victory at death; but “when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
This testimony concerning the 144,000 we shall consider as a description of the deliverance of those holy ones who shall be alive when Christ comes. They are to be made partakers of a blessing that but two in the world’s history ever experienced; namely, translation to heaven without tasting death.
Enoch and Elijah were holy ones. “Enoch walked with God 300 years and was not; for God took him.” They also must be holy who would be prepared to participate of Enoch’s blessing. John says of them, “In their mouth was found no guile; for they are without fault before the throne of God.”
l. But says the objector, I had supposed the 144,000 were spirits of saints that had ascended to mount Zion, and that they were the same that Paul speaks of in Heb. xii, 22, 23. “But ye are come into mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” Paul could not have meant to tell the Hebrews, in the above testimony, that they had already come to mount Zion, but that their faith reached forward to the time when they would come. It might perhaps read. Ye are coming (are come by faith) to mount Zion * * * to the general assembly and church of the first born, which are written in heaven; (margin, enrolled.) Not that the church of the first born were already there, but their names were written in the Lamb’s book of life. “Ye are coming to the spirits of just men made perfect,” not to spirits made perfect, but to spirits of men made perfect. The worthies of past ages are not yet made perfect, according to Paul’s testimony in Heb. xi, 39, 40. “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be
made perfect.” Then, when the perfect state comes, all will be perfected together.
Paul says [1 Cor. xiii, 10,.] “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” “Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face.” This will be when Christ comes. 1 John iii, 2. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doeth not appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him; for we shall see Him as he is.” We cannot see that this text [Heb. xii,] proves anything in favor of the existence of the spirit separate from the body. It all applies in the future, and to the time
when the saints shall be delivered. Then the saints will not exist as disembodied spirits, but as men, with
resurrected, immortal bodies. We suppose Heb. xii, 22, 23, to refer to the deliverance of the saints of God into the kingdom.
m. An objection is urged from the testimony of Christ to the Sadducees: [Matt. xxii, 31, 32:] “Have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” From this text it is argued that there must be an immortal part of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that lives while the body is dead, or else God would be the God of the dead. The spirits, or souls, of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, are claimed to be themselves. Therefore God is the God of the living, because they (their spirits) are alive. If we had found testimony that spoke of immortal spirits it might answer to talk thus; but the Bible says of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They are dead. We have already quoted, in another place, that God told Abraham that he should be buried in a good old age. Paul in Heb. xi, speaks of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob with a host of others, and he says, “These all died in the faith, not having received the promise.” The Jews said to Christ as recorded in John viii 52, “Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.” But, it is asked, what shall we do with the text above quoted. We answer, let it go as proof of that for which Christ quoted it, not that dead men are alive, but that they shall live again. We can see by reading the context, that the subject was introduced is the resurrection. Christ was teaching the sentiment among them that there should be a resurrection, and the class with whom this dispute took place believed in no resurrection. Verses 23-28. “The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased; and having no issue, left his wife unto his brother. Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection, whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.” Their question was an objection (as they supposed) to the doctrine Christ was teaching, that the dead would rise. Verses 29-32. “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. But, as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” We see from Christ’s answer to the Sadducees that his testimony is to show that the dead will rise. We shall admit of no inference that this testimony refers to spirits. There is not one word said in the text, of souls, or spirits; but the testimony is about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who are dead.
Well, says the objector, if they are dead in the sense you claim, they cannot have a resurrection. There must be some spirit to raise the body. If they are unconscious there is no such spirit remaining in existence. We are aware that popular theology claims that it is not possible to raise man if he dies. If theologians of the present time were asked the question Job asked, [Chap. xiv, 14,] “If a man die shall he live again?” their answer would be, No. There is no spirit to raise the body. What said Job. “All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou shalt have a desire to the work of thine hands.” Again he says, [Chap. xvii, 13.] “If I wait the grave is mine house,” etc. But, says the objector, how are they raised? Answer. By the power of God. It will not answer for us to limit his power, and be Sadducees at last. “God is able of these stones (says Christ) ‘to raise up children to Abraham.” If God is able to impart life and activity to a flinty rock, he can re-organize man from the dust, and verify his promise concerning him. If popular theology is true there is no resurrection. They tell us the man does not die, but merely lays off the clog that never had life, except what it derived from the soul. What folly to talk of bringing to life that which never died, (the body,) or of bringing to life that which is alive, (the soul.)
We see by comparing the record of the different evangelists, that we are not mistaken in our claim that Christ was striving in his conversation with the Sadducees to convince them of the resurrection. They professed to believe the testimony of Moses; so Christ quotes Moses as proof of the resurrection. Mark reads, [Chap. xii, 26,.] “And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?” Luke’s testimony corresponds with that of the others. Chap. xx, 37. “Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham.” They all testify that Christ was showing that the dead would be raised.
But, says the objector, God is not the God of the dead. That is very true; but If Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are never going to live again, God is the God of the dead. The truth in this matter might be embodied in this form.
God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Therefore Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will live again. From the word of God we learn that death is an unconscious state. A dead mean is no more of a timekeeper than a man in a sound sleep, who is wholly unconscious of what transpires around him. In the sacred writings the state of the dead is passed over as a blank space: they (the dead) know no pain, neither is happiness their portion, but they sleep. A man in the resurrection who has been dead 2,000 years, will realize no more the time that has elapsed than the one who has been sleeping for an hour; they have both been unconscious. We understand the truth of this matter before us to stand like this: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob obeyed God, while living, and died in the faith. God purposed that they should have a reward. While dead they are unconscious: the next that is known of them they will be alive. In God’s purpose they are alive, or counted the same as living, because his immutable word is, they shall live again. Paul, in Heb. after stating that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob “died in the faith, not having received the promise,” says, [verse 16,] “Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God:” for they are alive? No! NO!! “for he hath prepared for them a city.” We will now examine the case of
n. MOSES AND ELIAS. Their case is presented as proof that there must be some part of man that is conscious in death. Matt. xvii, 1-3 “Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them; and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was, white as the light. And behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.” The issue raised here is, that Moses’ and Elias’ souls were seen on the mount. We have the text before us, read it carefully. The words soul and spirit do not occur in the text. In all the testimony we have yet examined; we have failed to find the evidence that man has a principle capable of a conscious existence separate from the body. It therefore becomes those who would favor the doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul, to advance carefully, and not assume the point they wish to prove. But, say you, here is proof. Moses died, and God buried him. Moses was seen on the mount. And as there is no proof that Moses ever had a resurrection, it must have been his soul that the disciples saw.
The position of those who reason in favor of immortality from this text, might be thrown into the form of the following syllogism. Moses died and God buried him. Moses was seen on the mount; therefore, Moses did not die, but merely his body died. If those who reason on this text are going to claim that Moses was actually seen on the mount, the syllogism should assume this form. Moses died, and God buried him. Moses was seen on the mount; therefore,, Moses had a resurrection. So, we see, instead of claiming that there is no proof that Moses had a resurrection, the text itself is proof of that point, if we claim literally in the case. And if it is claimed as a fact that Moses was actually seen on the mount, it is not difficult to find inferential testimony at least, that the body of
Moses was raised. Jude verse 9. “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil, he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.” Here was a dispute about the body of Moses. If in the plan of God, he had wished to raise Moses for some wise purpose and sent the archangel to accomplish the work, we have no doubt but the devil (who “had the power of death,” Heb. ii, 14) would dispute his claim. It is argued by some that as Moses was a type of Christ, it would be consistent to conclude, that Moses had a resurrection. But we will not discuss this point further here, as we are inclined to the position, that Moses and Elias were not literally seen on the mount. Neither do we wish it understood by this statement, that we incline to the position that it was their souls that were seen. According to the present theology in regard to the soul, it cannot be seen with natural eyes; for it is immaterial. A Universalist minister once stated, with whom I was reasoning up this subject, “The soul is immaterial and cannot be seen with natural eyes; yet Christ, on the mount, so far detached the souls of the disciples from their bodies that they saw the souls of Moses and Elias with their inner vision.” But according to this, they came near dying; for death, we are told, is the separation of the soul from the body. But, says the objector, what are you going to do with the testimony before us, if you believe the disciples did not see Moses and Elias, neither their souls? Christ’s own testimony will set the subject forth in its true light. Matt. xvii, 9. “And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.” Then the transfiguration on the mount was a vision. It is not necessary to claim that the objects are actually present, that are seen in vision. When a person is in vision an image is formed before the mind. It is true Christ was actually on the mount; but in vision they saw him transfigured, and glorified; but Jesus was not actually glorified until the day of Pentecost. John vii, 39. “But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive, for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” But on the day of Pentecost the Holy Ghost was given. Daniel had visions in which symbols were introduced. He saw a beast with ten horns, whose nails were of brass, and his teeth of iron. None of us would claim that any such beast ever actually existed. But this figure that was formed before the mind of Daniel, was an exact illustration of a kingdom that should after arise. In some visions of the Bible we find symbols are not used, but an exact image of the things themselves as they will exist, is formed before the mind of the prophet. So in the case before us, we understand the disciples were shown Moses, Elias and Jesus, as they would appear in the kingdom of God. This vision was a fulfillment of what Christ promised eight days before. See Luke ix, 27-31. “But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the kingdom of God. And it came to pass, about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter, and John, and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistening. And behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias; who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.” Here was a vision of the kingdom of God, a miniature representation of the saints as they would exist in the kingdom. Christ was there, presented in his glorified state as he would appear in the kingdom of heaven: his raiment was white and glistening. Moses was there presented, one who had died, a representative of those who sleep in the grave, who shall be called forth by the voice of Jesus, and be clothed with immortality. Elijah who went up by a whirlwind into heaven was also presented, a representative of those who shall be alive when Jesus comes, who shall be changed in a moment in the twinkling of an eye, and never taste of death.
o. Says the objector, I supposed when a person had a vision their soul was separated from the body and carried to heaven, or where it could view the object concerning which God wished to make a revelation. Paul says he knew a man that was caught up into the third heaven. We will read Paul’s testimony and see what is said about the soul in the case of this vision being given. 2 Cor. xii, 1-5. “It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell; God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell; God knoweth,) how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.”
There is nothing said in the above text about the man’s soul being caught up into Paradise, but it was the man himself that was caught up. Had Paul believed that the soul was capable of an existence separated from the body, he would have told us, without doubt that his soul viewed this scene in Paradise, out of the body. We find no testimony in Paul’s writings, that man is possessed of a soul independent in its existence. This case before us is merely a vision. Paul himself did not know what condition he was in. It is said, “It is possible for a man to be out of the body, or Paul would not have said ‘whether in the body or out of the body.'” Paul does not say it is
possible for a man to be out of the body, but he knew a man that was caught up, whether he went up bodily, or merely in vision (out of the body) he could not tell. When he was in vision, the images that were formed
before his mind by the power of the Holy Ghost, were as much realities to him as though he had literally gone to heaven and viewed them. In expressing this sentiment he says, “Whether in the body (that is, whether I went to heaven bodily) or out of the body, (I went merely in vision) I cannot tell.” There is no proof in this text whatever for the separate existence of the soul, or that visions are caused (as was claimed) by the soul itself leaving the body to view the scenes presented.
p. It is still urged, Paul must have believed that man was in possession of a soul, that would rise in triumphant victory over the wreck of nature, when the body sunk to the tomb. He says, [2 Cor. iv, 16,] “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” The inward man must be something that is not affected by the decay of the body; for while the body is decaying, the inward man is renewed day by day. It is claimed, that the inward man, or man proper, is a distinct nature from the outward man, or rather the house in which the inner man is said to live. All the movements of the body, the development of the mind, and functions of life, are claimed to be but the outward manifestations of this embryo angel man, that dwells in the house of clay. Paul said, “I delight in the law of God after the inward man.” Rom. vii, 22. If the above claim in regard to the inward man be true, that it is an immortal soul, all men are in possession of it, then all men should delight in the law of God: for it is after (by following the mind of) the inward man, that men obey the law of God.
Those who advocate the immortality of the soul, claim that the souls of all men inspire in them a disposition to worship something, and many of them carry it out in worshipping stocks and stones. See Pure Gold, by Holmes.
But Paul testifies that the inward man led his mind to the law of God, not to idolatry.
But we now inquire, What is the inward man? What saith the Scripture? What is Paul’s testimony in regard to it? We will examine a few texts, which we think will set this matter in its true light. The text under consideration states that the inward man is renewed day by day. We shall claim that the inward man is the new man, for that is said to be renewed. Col. iii, 9, 10. “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.”
This new man is not the soul; for it is something we are said to put on. Paul says, [Eph iv, 22-24,] “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
Here the new man is said to be put on. How? By being renewed in the spirit of our minds. That is, instead of yielding ourselves servants of sin, and being led by the spirit of the Devil; we “yield ourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and our members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” Then the
spirit of our mind is led by the Spirit of the living God. But in Eph. iii, 16, 17.
Paul tells us in plain language what the inner man is. “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” Then the inner man instead of being a soul, of a nature contrary to matter, is Christ in us the hope of glory.
q. It is said, Paul spoke of death in such a manner as to give us to understand, that then men go to heaven. Phil. i, 23. “Having a desire to depart and be with Christ.” We feel quite positive, that the departing spoken of in the above text is not death, but we will examine it with the connection and see what Paul is teaching.
Verses 18-20. “What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence of in truth, CHRIST is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yes, and will rejoice. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the spirit of Jesus Christ. According to my earnest expectation, and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also, CHRIST shall be MAGNIFIED in my body, whether it be by LIFE, or by DEATH.”
We find the sentiment Paul is teaching is, that still it should be with him as it had been. See verse 12. “But I would ye should understand brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the FURTHERANCE of the gospel.” whatever might befall him it should be for the FURTHERANCE of the gospel. Verse 21. “For me to live is Christ.” According to the sentiment above, for him to live would MAGNIFY Christ. “And to die is gain.” Not to Paul, but to the cause of CHRIST.
Paul is not weighing the matter here to see what would be the greatest advantage to him, but he has told us already that whatever happens to him is to FURTHER THE GOSPEL. In another part of this work, we shall show that Paul did not look on death as a blessing, or that from which he was to receive any benefit.
Verse 22. “But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor: (to MAGNIFY Christ and FURTHER the gospel:) yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ; which is far better.” The strait in which Paul is placed the candid reader will see is betwixt living and dying. If left to make a choice there, he knew not which he would choose; he wished to lie passive in the hands of Christ, and let the event come, life or death, that would tend most to further the gospel. But he had a desire for what? To live? No. To die? No: but “to DEPART and be with Christ.” Well, say you, that was death. No, it was something far better than living in the flesh, in a mortal body, or dying. If he continued in the flesh, “bonds and afflictions” were his portion. If he died, (“the dead know not anything.”) he would not be in a condition to receive a reward, but would only rest in hope; but there was something he did desire, that was worth obtaining, “to depart and be with Christ,” not by death but bodily.
If you claim that the strait in which Paul is placed, is betwixt living here in the flesh and departing and being with Christ, then you make him contradict himself; for he says of those two betwixt which he is in a strait, “which I shall choose, I wot not,” but he did “desire to depart and be with Christ.” We consider than an earnest desire amounts to a choice, and that Paul would choose to depart and be with Christ. But as we have before said, that which Paul chose was far better than either of those betwixt which he was straitened. Here is his strait, whether to live here and preach the gospel, or to die a martyr and thus further the gospel. Which he should choose he did not know, but he had a desire for something better than either,” to depart and be with Christ. By death? No: he desired something better- TRANSLATION, and a change to immortality. He had the history, though brief, of
good old Enoch, who “walked with God 300 years and was not, for God took him.” And of Elijah who “was carried up by a whirlwind into heaven.” He desired to be a partaker of this blessing and their joys, “to depart and be with Christ.”
Paul did not desire to die, or to be unclothed, [2 Cor. v, 4,] but he desired to become immortal. We may learn definitely in regard Paul’s desire, by reading 2 Cor. v, 1-10.
r. As this testimony is brought as an objection to the view that man sleeps in death, we will examine it carefully, commencing with the first verse. “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” On this verse, it is claimed, that the “earthly house of this tabernacle,” is the body, in which the soul tabernacles, or takes up a temporary residence. The dissolving of the tabernacle is claimed to be death, or the turning of man back to dust. What is the house in heaven? Heaven, says the objector. No: Paul says, “we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
If the house spoken of on earth, is a body tenanted by the soul, consistency would teach us, that a house in heaven for the same soul would be another body. But this brings reasoners on this subject into a close corner, and gives theologians the work of proving that every saint on earth has a body in heaven. Universalists, (one class at least,) admit it, and refer us to Paul’s testimony: [1 Cor. xv, 38:] “But God giveth it a body, as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.” On this text they claim that God gives to every seed, or soul, his
body. But this is a wrong application of the text. The text simply shows that God has given to every grain, literally, just such a body as pleased him, and every seed when grown has its own body that God has given it. If a man sows wheat he need not expect to reap barley.
As there seems to be an opportunity of getting some clue to the earthly house, by a proper understanding of what is meant by the house in heaven, we will raise the inquiry. What is the Bible testimony about the house in heaven? Paul tell us, [Heb. xi, 10,] Abraham “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” We believe this city was the Father’s house, spoken of by Jesus: [John xiv, 1, 2:] “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not
so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” Paul was afterwards chosen as one of the apostles of Jesus. He felt that he was an heir to the same promise; he believed the testimony of Jesus concerning the Father’s house. He says, “We have a building of God, (the Father’s house,) a house not made with hands.”
We shall claim from the above testimony, that the house in heaven is the New Jerusalem, described by John in Revelation xxi. This would make “our earthly house of this tabernacle,” refer to our temporary residence on earth in this probationary state. The earth itself is but temporary in its present form, and it is to be dissolved. See 2 Pet. iii, 10. When it is dissolved the saints of God will be secure: God is their friend. Amid the destruction and awful thunders at the introduction of the day of God, mount Zion, the city of the living God will give them a shelter. Verses 2-4. “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of
life.” If it should still be claimed, that the tabernacle in the above text refers to the body, then we shall find a plurality of souls in each body; for Paul says, “We that are in this tabernacle.” But as we have presented arguments above to show that the earthly house is our residence here, we will drop this point at present. In the
three verses quoted above, Paul tells us plainly what his desire is: it is not to be unclothed, as would be the case, if an immortal soul then threw off its mortal garb, “but clothed upon: that mortality might be SWALLOWED UP OF LIFE.” His desire was for the time to come when the work would take place he had spoken of in his first epistle: [Chap. xv:] “this mortal shall put on immortality.” This was not to take place at death, but when
Christ should come, and raise the dead.
Verse 5. “Now he that hath, wrought us for the self-same thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.” Here we learn God’s purpose in creating man. It is, as expressed by an Apocryphal writer, [see Wisdom ii, 23, 24,] “For God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity. Nevertheless through envy of the Devil came death into the world: and they that do hold of his side do find it.”
Verses 6-9. “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (for we walk by faith, not by sight:) we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore, we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.” What is the body introduced in the above verses, and what is meant by being absent from the body? Here is really the only objectionable feature in the whole of Paul’s testimony in this chapter; and this is
easily explained if we keep before us what we have already learned from Paul.
We are not certain but Paul had reference to the Church, by the expression “the body.” Christ is said to be the head of the body, the Church. The text does not say, “We are willing to be absent” from our bodies, but the body. If the body referred to, is the Church, there is no difficulty about the text. But as the text is commonly understood to apply to our bodies, we will look at it in that light. Taking that view of the subject, there is no difficulty. Paul has told us his desire was “not to be unclothed, (as would be the case, if an immortal soul was absent from the body,) but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.” If we claim the body, to apply to our fleshly bodies, then being at home in the body, would be to remain still in this mortal state, to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord, would be to have mortality swallowed up of life.
Then we shall be absent from the mortal body, and present with the Lord. Paul says, “For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” And he also shows in 1 Thess. iv, 16, 17, how we are to be with the Lord. Not by dying. “And the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” We do not learn from the above testimony then that Paul expected to be with the Lord by death, but by the resurrection. This testimony proves nothing in favor of consciousness after death without a resurrection.
s. But, says the objector, Peter spoke of his tabernacle, as though it was his body, and that he HIMSELF (the soul) was that which put if off. 2 Pet. i, 13, 14. “Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you
up by putting you in remembrance; knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.” On this text it is said, “Peter says, ‘I shall put off my tabernacle.'” We shall not dispute but what Peter had reference by the above testimony to his death. He was shortly to put off his tabernacle even as our Lord showed him. We see by reading John xxi, 18, 19, that our Lord had showed him that he must die by the hands of his enemies. It is claimed that the my in this text that puts off the tabernacle, is Peter’s soul. Then Peter’s soul was to die in the transaction. See verse 15. “Moreover, I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.” We see then that not merely Peter’s body, but Peter HIMSELF was expecting to die.
Peter was to put off his tabernacle as Jesus had showed him. Read John xxi, 19. “When thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldst not. This spake he signifying by what death he should glorify God.” This testimony from Peter simply proves that he soon expected to die a martyr.
We will now come to the investigation of what is considered one of the strongest proofs of the immortality of the soul, and the conscious existence of the soul in death.
t. THE THIEF ON THE CROSS. Luke xxiii, 40-43. “But the other answering, rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation! And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of
our deeds; but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” The point in the above scripture that is claimed as proof of the immortality of the soul, is the
testimony of Christ to the thief. It is claimed that Christ promised the thief that he should be in paradise, (heaven,) with him that day. But we inquire, What is paradise? Heaven, says the objector. Well where is heaven? Where God is. But you have claimed that God is everywhere; is heaven everywhere? if so, then
there was no necessity for either Christ or the thief to die in order to get there. But in noticing the above text we shall first inquire, Where is paradise? We are not disposed to quote the testimony of Josephus, said to be the opinion of the Jews in regard to it. If the Scriptures furnish testimony on the subject, there is no necessity for appealing to either the fathers or the Jews, for testimony to settle this question. Some there are, doubtless, that would first inquire what wise men have believed in regard to paradise. Should we appeal to wise men, we should find their testimony discordant and perplexing. One would tell us that paradise is happiness. If that is so, the promise of Jesus would simply mean that the thief should be with Christ in happiness. But it was possible for them to be happy on the cross.
We inquire, What saith the Scripture? Where is paradise? With an understanding of one thing, there is no difficulty in determining to what the Scripture writers referred by the word paradise, The Scripture speak of but one tree of life. It is always when spoken of, defined by the article the, which signifies but one. See Rev. ii, 7. “He
that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh, will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” From the above we see that the paradise of God is where the tree of life is. Do the Scriptures tell us where the tree of life is? It was once in the garden of Eden. Yes, but where is it now? See Rev. xxii, 1-3. “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him.” In the above testimony we learn [verse 3] that the throne of God is in the New Jerusalem. A river proceeds out of the throne and in the midst of the street of it, and on either side of it the tree of life stands. But, says one, there must be as many as two trees if it is on either side of the river. I choose to believe the testimony of Scripture, which calls it the tree of life. We have in this world the celebrated Banyan tree, (Indian fig,) the branches of which bend down and take root until the tree covers a space of many hundred feet in circumference. So doubtless with the tree of life: it is united in one from either side over the river, forming a beautiful bower. The above testimonies show that paradise is where the throne of God is, (in the New Jerusalem,) out of which the river of life flows, on either side of which is the tree of life. The New “Jerusalem is above.” Gal. iv, 16. In Rev. xxi, 2, 3, it is called the tabernacle (dwelling place) of God. “And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them.”
The promise of Christ to the thief was, today shalt thou be with me in paradise. As punctuated in King James’ version of the text, it reads, “Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” That is, to-day you shall be with me in the New Jerusalem, where the Father is on his throne. It is said, “they could not have been in paradise that day bodily, for Christ’s body lay in Joseph’s new tomb. If the promise to the thief was that he should be with Christ in paradise that day; it must be that Christ and the thief had souls or spirits that would exist after the death of the body, and those spirits were to be together in paradise that day.” Did Christ promise the thief that he should be with him in paradise that day? If he did, he failed to fulfill the promise; for he did not go there himself. Three days after his crucifixion, he said to Mary, [John xx, 17,] “Touch me not for I am not yet ascended to my Father: But go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.” But what are we to do? We are involved in an unanswerable difficulty, if Christ intended to tell the thief that he should be with him in paradise that day; for his testimony to Mary shows that he did not go to paradise. We are not disposed to take the position that Christ contradicted his own testimony.
We now inquire, Did Christ tell the thief that he should be in paradise with him that day? To determine the proper answer in this inquiry, we will notice the request of the thief. “Lord remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” The thief does not ask him to take him to heaven with him, neither does he say, Remember me when thou goest into thy kingdom, but Remember me when thou comest. This would seem to indicate that Christ was coming from some other place to the kingdom. But we suppose the request to have more particular reference to the time when the kingdom is established, which we understand to be at the end of the fourth universal kingdom of Dan. vii. Christ is represented in parable as a nobleman going to some far country to be installed with the right of empire. Luke xix, 11, 12. “And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.”
Christ, who is here represented by the nobleman, has gone into the far country (to the Father) to receive the kingdom. He is to return: this is his second coming. At that point he will exercise the office of a king. The territory of his kingdom is the earth.
The capital (paradise) is above. See testimonies on the subject of the kingdom on another page of this work.
The thief’s request was, to be remembered at the time Christ should come into his kingdom. Says Christ, (in direct accordance with the request,) “Thou shalt be with me in paradise.” The thief merely asked to be remembered. But our Saviour gave him the assurance that he should be with him in paradise when he came into his kingdom. But, says the objector, it does not read so. As the text is punctuated in our version of the Bible, it says, “Verily I say unto thee, to day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
We have already shown that two difficulties will be produced which are unanswerable, if we abide by the present punctuation of the text. 1st. It makes Christ promise the thief that he should be with him in heaven that day; and according to his own testimony three days after, he did not go to heaven that day himself. 2nd. If Christ meant to tell the thief that he should be with him in paradise the day they hung on the cross, where is the answer to the thief’s request for Christ to remember him when he came into his kingdom! You may perhaps reply, that if we take the Jews’ view of paradise, the first difficulty will disappear. It is claimed that they believe paradise is a kind of half way place in which the souls of both righteous and wicked are placed. There they are neither rewarded or punished, but are waiting the resurrection and judgment. If this is true, the thief would have been in paradise that day with out any favor from Christ; but he asked a favor: to be remembered of Christ when he should come into his kingdom. Says Christ, (granting his request,) “Verily I say unto thee to-day, shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Not in a half-way place, but as we have already shown, in the New Jerusalem, the
capitol of the kingdom. Our readers are perhaps aware of the fact that the punctuation of our Bibles in their present form is no inspiration, but merely the work of translators. By changing one mark of punctuation, in the testimony of Christ to the thief, both difficulties named will be settled. Moving the comma from after thee, and placing it after to-day, the text will read, “I say unto thee to-day, shalt thou be with me in paradise.” We are told that “the Greek Scriptures were originally written in solid blocks of capital letters, without division into sentences, or stops to mark clauses of sentences, and without even division into words.” The text was punctuated
about the tenth century. Griesbach, in the margin of his MSS. puts the stop after “to-day,” so that the text reads the same as punctuated above. Well, says one, what sense is there in the text, if it reads, “Verily I say unto
thee to-day?” Was Christ afraid that the thief would think he said it to-morrow, or yesterday! No. The term which is here rendered “to-day,” is in some portions of the Scriptures rendered this day; and its meaning is equivalent to the work now, which is used in some texts merely to give force to the language. See Mark xiii, 12. For those who may think it a strange idea, that is gained by moving the punctuation in the above text, we will quote a similar instance in Zech. ix, 12. “Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to-day do I declare that I
will render double unto thee.” If we transpose the sentence in this text, (which does not alter the sense,) it would read,” I declare unto you even to-day, I will render double unto thee.” This is the very idea that the Lord designed to convey by the above text, as we may learn by examining the context. He declared to them that day that he would render double unto them, when he should accomplish the work mentioned in the verses following. We will now punctuate the above text on the principle that Luke xxiii, 43, is punctuated in our version; namely, because the express, today, is used, the event mentioned in the text must take place that day. “I declare unto you, even to-day will I render double unto thee; when I have bent Judah for me, and filled the bow with Ephraim,” etc.
Here by giving such a punctuation we should get a positive contradiction in the text itself, making the text declare that an event was to take place that day, and yet not till some future day. As it stand in our version now, it states, I declare to- day, that at some future time, I will render double unto thee. So the case of Christ’s reply to the thief, “Verily I say unto thee to-day shalt thou (in the future) be with me in paradise.” We are now positive, that the testimony concerning the thief on the cross, proves nothing in favor of consciousness in death.
u. It is said, “Our Lord confirmed the belief that the spirit has a conscious state separate from the body, by saying to his disciples, after the resurrection, ‘Handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see my have.'” Jesus does not say, The spirit of man “hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have.” People suppose he must have referred to the spirit of man. Angels are spirits. “Who maketh his angels spirits.” Angels have bodies, although they are spiritual: they appeared to Lot in the form of men, and yet the Word says they are spirits. So the testimony of Christ, above quoted, cannot be proof of consciousness in death. The spirit spoken of might have been an angel for ought we know. v. But, says one, “The prayer of Stephen, when he died as a martyr would seem to convey the idea that he believed in the separate existence of the soul or
spirit: ‘And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.'” Acts vii, 59. It has been a matter of considerable dispute with those who have written on the above text, whether this language was that of Stephen, or his persecutors. The sentence, as it is constructed in the common version of the Bible conveys the idea, that “they stoned Stephen,” and mockingly called upon God, saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And this idea is confirmed by the language that follows, “And he kneeled down and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” If it could be shown that it was Stephen that said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,” this text alone, would furnish no proof of the separate
existence of the spirit.
We have already shown, that the Greek word which is rendered spirit is pneuma, and signifies life. So a literal rendering of the text would be, “Lord Jesus, receive my life.” Here he was dying a martyr for the cause of Christ. Jesus had said while upon earth, “He that will lose his life for my sake, and the gospel, the same shall keep it unto life eternal.” So if the language above quoted was that of Stephen, it would simply show that he was commending his life into the hands of him who could give him life again, even life eternal. If the sentiment
advocated so tenaciously at the present time is truth, it gains no help from the text before me. Mark the last clause of the text. “And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” What! did not Stephen go to heaven! If he did, Luke (the writer of the Acts of the Apostles) neglected to record it. He says of Stephen, “He fell asleep.”
Well says one, If Stephen did not go to heaven, I believe my father and mother are there, for just before they died they heard angels sing, and saw Jesus and angels all about them. How could this be if they did not go immediately into heaven when they died? That would be no proof that they were going to heaven.
Read verses 55, 56, and see what Stephen saw. “Be he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” But all this was no proof that he would exist after death; for a few moments after viewing the glorious scene, “he fell asleep.”
Thus we have endeavored to notice briefly the arguments and scripture testimonies that are adduced as proof of man’s existence in death. We have found in them no proof that man has a spirit, capable of a conscious existence separated from the body. But the solemn declaration of Scripture still stands forth, saying, “There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest.” Eccl. ix, 10. We have seen in this investigation, that the mourners of zion go about the streets mourning, not because their friends are
in heaven and happiness, but they mourn like Rachel. See Matt. ii, 18 “In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted,
BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT.”