« PreviousContinue »
ing in torments. Luke 16: 23. This passage needs no comment. Certainly, the world of future misery is here set before
I know it is said, that this was the lower Tartarean part of aans, and that Abraham and Lazarus were in the upper part, and this is thought to be evident from the fact, that they were sufficiently near to each other to hold conversation. But I see no evidence that Abraham and Lazarus were in qons at all. The Scriptures do not so teach us, and the supposition is altogether gratuitous. The supposed division of this place into the two apartments of paradise and Tartarus is of heathen and not of Christian origin. I can find no trace or intimation of it in the Bible. The fact that Abraham and the rich man were in circumstances to speak to each other no more proves that they were in different apartments of the same place, than does the fact that God and angels are often represented as speaking out of heaven to inspired men prove that earth and heaven are but different apartments of the same place. Without doubt, spirits can see each other, and hold conversation, at much greater distances, than would be possible to us. We certainly know, that the rich man and Lazarus were widely and eternally separated. The former “ lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and saw” the latter “afar off.” There was an impassable gulf betwixt themwide enough to sever between the everlasting abodes of the righteous and wicked—between heaven and hell.
I have said that neither big nor ens is ever used in the Scriptures to signify the abode of the spirits of the just. In opposition to this statement, a single passage has been referred to. David says :
“Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption.” Ps. 16: 10. The Apostle Peter, having quoted this passage and applied it to Christ, goes on to assure us, that David here “spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither did his flesh see corruption.” Acts 2: 31. We have then, in this verse from the Psalms, a poetical prediction of the resurrection of Christ from the tomb, and of nothing else. The prediction is expressed, after the usual manner of the Hebrew poets, in a parallelism; the plain import of which is, that Christ was to be raised from the dead, he was to be raised speedily. His vocates of the intermediate place. As this passage is the only one on which the semblance of an argument can be founded, that the words in question are ever used, in the Scriptures, to denote the world of happy spirits; and since, properly interpreted, they have no such signification here; I am warranted in affirming that they have it nowhere. They signify the grave --the place of the dead body; and also the world of miserable spirits ; but never, the future abode of the righteous.
Another argument for the intermediate place is derived from certain passages of Scripture, in which“ things under the earth” are represented as 'doing homage to God and the Saviour. " That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.” Phil. 21: 10. The "things under the earth” are supposed to be the souls of departed saints, who are shut up somewhere in the bowels of the earth, and who, from those deep caverns, are sending up a spiritual worship to the Saviour. * But a comparison of passages will show, that the time, when every knee is to bow to Christ, is the day of judgment. “We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ : for it is written: As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” Rom. 14: 10, 11. In the great day of judgment, every creature will do homage, of some sort, to the Saviour. But then, the bodies of the saints will have been raised, and the intermediate region, if there be any, will have been deserted.
The following passage has been quoted for the same purpose, as that above." And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and in the sea, heard I saying: Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.” Rev. 5: 13. This grand chorus of praise the holy Apostle heard
sung in heaven ; and every creature in heaven united in it, even those who had left their bodies to moulder and dissolve on the surface of the earth, and under the earth, and in the sea. That this is the proper sense of the passage is to my own mind certain ; and thus interpreted, it not only does not prove an intermediate place, but it proves the contrary. It proves that the souls of the righteous dead were, at the time of the vision, in heaven. If the passage before us proves that any
* See Physical Theory of another Life, p. 192.
of the souls of the righteous were, in John's time, “under the earth,” it equally proves that some of them were “in the sea”. a place to which no critic, I believe, has yet consigned them.'
Another passage, which has been appealed to in proof of the intermediate place, is that in which Christ is said to have
gone and “preached to the spirits in prison.” 1 Pet. 3: 19. These “spirits in prison” are supposed to be the holy dead—perhaps the virtuous heathen—imprisoned in the intermediate place, into which the soul of the Saviour went at death, that he might preach to them the gospel. On this interpretation, I remark, in the first place, that the preaching spoken of was bestowed, not upon the holy dead, or the virtuous heathen, but upon the impious antediluvians, who were “disobedient in the days of Noah," and perished in the flood. This is indubitable, from the passage itself. Secondly, Christ did not preach to these imprisoned spirits in person, but by his Spirit,—the Holy Spirit,that Spirit by which his lifeless body was quickened, or raised from the dead. “ Being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit, by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.". Thirdly, this preaching was accomplished, not while the body of the Saviour was entombed, but “when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing.” Then, “while the ark was preparing,” Christ preached by his Spirit, inspiring and assisting Noah, to those who, in Peter's time, were “ spirits in prison" -spirits shut up in the prison of hell. I know of no other interpretation which can fairly be given to this vexed passage of Scripture; and thus explained, it goes not a step towards proving the doctrine of an intermediate place.
Another passage from the Apocalypse has been often quoted, in proof of the intermediate place. “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire." Chap. 20: 14. This is represented as taking place at the close of the general judgment, after which there is to be no more death, and the entire world of ons paradise, Tartarus, and all—is to be cast into the lake of fire! To me, I must confess, this is a very strange interpretation. The tree of life, which grows in the midst of the paradise of God, is then to be burnt up, root and branch! Those holy seats, in which Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, all the patriarchs and prophets, saints and martyrs had so long dwelt, and where they had offered up their songs of praise, are to be cast into the lake of fire! The whole paradise of God, with all its lovely bowers and pleasant fruits, is to come to an end, and a most miserable end! It is to be cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death. This will be “Paradise Lost," with a vengeance. Suffice it to say, that I reject such an interpretation as this, and adopt one which, to my own mind, seems much more natural and consistent. At the close of the judgment, death, which is the last enemy to the believer, is to be destroyed; and all those who came to the judgment from hell, the world of miserable spirits, are to be cast into the lake of fire. They are to be remanded back to hell again, which is now to be their prison for
It is further urged, in proof of an intermediate place, that the Scriptures represent the happiness of the righteous as not complete, until after the resurrection. The fact here alleged is admitted, but the conclusion drawn from it is denied. It does not follow, because the happiness of the righteous is not complete, until after the resurrection, that previously their souls are imprisoned in the centre of the earth, or in any other similar place or region. If in the moment of death, their disembodied spirits rise to heaven, and continue there till the resurrection, it is altogether likely that their happiness in heaven will be incomplete. It will be greatly increased, when they shall have received their glorified bodies from the tomb, and entered on the full rewards of eternity.
Again: it is insisted, that the early Christian fathers inculcated the doctrine of an intermediate place. It is admitted that such was the belief of many of the fathers, particularly those in the East. It may be accounted for, too, that such should have been their belief, without supposing that they derived it from the apostles. They were in continual controversy with the Gnostics, who undervalued the body, considered it as the grand corrupter of the soul, and denied altogether its resurrection. This led those fathers to set a high value on the resurrection of the body, to insist much upon it, and to represent the soul as in a very imperfect condition in abditis receptaculis, vel in exteriI have now examined the principal arguments in favor of an intermediate place; and to my own mind, they are far from being conclusive. They fail essentially in establishing the point for which they are adduced.
Let us now consider the arguments on the other side ;—those which are urged to show that the souls of the righteous, at death, go immediately to heaven, into the presence of Christ and the holy angels; and that the souls of the wicked go immediately to hell. Í commence with the proof of the first part of this proposition,--the souls of the righteous, at death, go immediately to heaven.
1. As much as this seems to have been indicated to the ancient patriarchs, in the promise of Canaan. These fathers of the faithful regarded the earthly Canaan as a type, an emblem of the heavenly Canaan. In the promises of an earthly inheritance, they read their title to a better country, even a heavenly. So we are assured by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. And where did they think this heavenly Canaan was situated? Directly across Jordan—the cold river of death. They did not place it in bike that gloomy and horrid region, of which the dark grave was to them but a type. No; it was heaven which they looked for. Heaven had been promised them, and heaven was the object of their hopes. Nor were their hopes disappointed. They have gone to heaven. They are spoken of in the Scriptures as those who “ through faith and patience, now inherit the promises.” Heb. 6: 12. Now, while their bodies are slumbering in the earth, their glorified spirits possess the promised rest above.
2. Our Saviour represents the saints, in the future life, and as the connexion shows-previous to the resurrection of the body, as being “like unto the angels in heaven," and "equal to the angels.” Mat. 22:30. Luke 20:36. Indeed, it would seem, that they must be more like the angels, before the resurrection of the body, than afterwards. But if they are like and equal to the angels in heaven, why should they not dwell with the angels in heaven? Why should they be imprisoned, many of them for thousands of years, as some will have it, in the centre of the earth?
3. Our Saviour's declaration to the dying thief: “This day shalt thou be with me in paradise,” is evidence, that the souls of believers go immediately from this world to heaven. The attempt has been made to use this passage in proof of the inter