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dured for the truth's sake in comparison with these ministers of Satan, and after furnishing a long list of the things he had encountered, he finally says, “I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord” (chapter 12). "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 (possible, margin) for a man to utter." And then adds the apostle, “Lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me: And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." This thorn in the flesh appears to have been some impediment in his speech, which would be very embarrassing to a public speaker, and it was no doubt this which his enemies alluded to when they said that his speech was contemptible, and Paul himself said to them in his first letter, “I came not to you with excellency of speech ”; and again, “My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom.” But although Paul could not, because of infirmities, make as imposing an appearance as some of his opponents, yet they could not boast of such marvelous revelations and visions as the Lord had shown to him.
Now in regard to visions and revelations, they who are instructed in the Scriptures will understand that God is able to carry a man away bodily, or transport him mentally in spirit to any part of the earth or up into paradise, as may please him, and there show unto him in vision such things as he in his wisdom sees fit. It is competent for the spirit to snatch a person, as was done in the case of Philip after he had baptized the eunuch, for it is said (Acts 8: 39-40), “And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: ... But Philip was found at Azotus." Also Obadiah, the governor of Ahab's house, said to Elijah, " Thou sayest, Go, tell thy Lord, Behold Elijah is here. it shall come to pass as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the Lord shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me" (1 Kings 18:11-12).
Again it is said in the book of Ezekiel (3: 11-15), “ The Lord said to Ezekiel, Go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord God, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear. Then the spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice as of a great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the Lord from his place. (Verse 14) So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit: but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me. Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar," and there he spake to them the word of the Lord.
Again in the fortieth chapter, it is said, “In the five and twentieth year
of our captivity, in the beginning of the year, in the tenth day of the month
the hand of the Lord was heavy upon me, and brought me thither. In the visions of God brought he me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain, by which was as the frame of a city on the south." From this standpoint he was shown in vision things which had no existence as yet, but which were to arise in the latter days. He was therefore conveyed mentally where he could see things in spirit, not bodily.
The book of the Revelation is a series of visions and revelations, mostly of things to arise in the future, and therefore it is said, “After this I looked and behold a door was opened in heaven," and John heard voice as it were of a trumpet talking with him which said, “Come up hither and I will show thee things which must be hereafter.” And John says, “Immediately I was in the spirit.” Then were shown to John in vision the wonders of the latter days, things which were to be hereafter. They were passed before his mental vision in successive order, and in describing them, as they passed, he says, “And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne.” And again, “ And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals.” Again, “When the fifth angel sounded, I saw a star fall from heaven." And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and I saw a beast rise out of the sea." “And I looked and lo, a lamb stood on the Mount Sion." “After these things, I saw another angel come down from heaven.” And again, “And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the Bride, the Lamb's wife; and he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.” Thus John was transported in mental visions to different places, from which he was shown things which had no existence at that time, but which were to arise in the future.
And now in regard to Paul's visions and revelations, he himself says that he knew not whether he was caught up to the third heaven mentally or physically, whether he was caught up to paradise in mind, or in body (for either way was possible with God). Yet for himself he knew not of himself which method was employed. But he heard unspeakable things which it is not lawful or possible to utter, and lest he should be exalted above measure because of these revelations, there was given him a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet him, and although he besought the Lord thrice that this might be taken from him, he was refused saying, “My grace is sufficient for thee."
And now the play which the parsons practice upon Paul's words, by which they attempt to foist upon him the heathen theory of immortality, and commit him to the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, is really too superficial and ridiculous to merit serious attention, yet to satisfy honest inquiry, we will see how much there is to it. They say, When Paul says “In the body, and out of the body," does he not mean that the real man, the “ I myself,” is one thing, and the body another? And again, when he speaks in the same letter (5: 1-2) and says, If our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building with God, an house not made with hands," does he not intend to convey the idea that the man is one thing, and the house another, and that therefore the man might live in the house, or out of the house, as the case might be? We answer, Most certainly not. The man and the house are one and the same thing; he simply employs a figure of speech which is common among men. This may easily be seen as follows: In Paul's first letter to the Corinthians (15:51-54) he says, “Behold, I show you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” Paul here includes himself among his brethren and says “We.” Now who is the “I” that speaks ? Is it not the real Paul that can live out of the house, or in the house, as they say? and who are the "we" that he includes himself among? Are they not the real persons that can live in the body, or out of the body as they say again? Most certainly they are, if their contention amounts to anything. Well now, how are these parties that he includes himself among divided ? and what happens to them? Why, he says, “We shall not all sleep (that is, shall not all be dead), but we shall all be changed." So then, strange to tell, some of these parties that can live out of the house, or in the house, are dead. How does that come? But Paul continues, "We shall be changed." Now we ask again, What are they to be changed from? and what are they to be changed into? Now look, ye blind, and see, and hearken ye that have ears to hear. “ The trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For (on the part of the dead) this corruptible must put on incorruption, and (on the part of the living) this mortal must put on immortality.” So then, the persons that Paul includes himself among, when he says we” are divided into two classes: one is dead, and the other is alive at Christ's coming; and the dead are said to be corruptible, and those that are alive are said to be mortal: the dead are changed from corruption to incorruption, and the living are translated from mortality to immortality. And so what becomes of this wonderful theory of the Protestant and Catholic world on which the hopes of millions are founded? The answer is, It vanishes into thin air, “and like the baseless fabric of a vision, leaves not a wrack behind." And we may add that the same rule of interpretation as above applies with equal force to Paul's words in his first letter to the Thessalonians (4: 14-17).
"INHERITANCE RESERVED IN HEAVEN FOR YOU" We might mention that the apostle Peter's words also have been employed to sustain this erroneous and hurtful doctrine, that men may and do enter upon their reward at death, especially where he says in his first Epistle, first chapter, “He hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.” And then strike in the ministers of our day, and add, “And when you die you will go to heaven and get it." But not so says the apostle, for he continues, "reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time, ... that it may be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” And he continues in verse 13,“ Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.' “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away (5:4). Thus it is seen that the inspired men of God pointed to the coming of Christ and the resurrection of the just as the time that we are to look for our reward as steady as the needle to the pole.
We may say that we have now examined nearly all the Scriptures which are most frequently quoted and which are supposed by the advocates of man's natural immortality to indirectly and inferentially support the doctrine, and we find that a proper interpretation of them discovers no proof to sustain any such theory but in every instance is found to support the opposite doctrine. But there remains yet one important testimony to be considered which is regarded by many as conclusive and incontrovertible proof of the truth of the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, and of all that grows out of it, as to rewards and punishments after death. We will therefore investigate it carefully.
THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS
We will endeavor to show what the lessons really are that the Son of God sought to convey to the wise and to the unwise by this remarkable Scripture. That it is a parable, there can be no doubt, and it may be proved as follows: Matthew, after recording (chapter 13) a number of parables that Jesus spake to the people who flocked from every quarter to hear him, adds (verse 34), “ All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables, and without a parable spake he not to them.” This statement renders it certain that this was a parable, for the scribes and Pharisees, who sat in the seat of Moses and constituted the respected teachers and clergy of that day, came with, and composed a part of the multitudes, of which Matthew says, “Without a parable spake he not unto them.” They came however, not to learn anything, but with treacherous designs, to catch him in his words, or to convict him of breaking the law, especially the law of the sabbath, that they might deliver him to the officers, to prison and death, and Jesus spake many parables to, and of them, which cut them to the heart.
Luke in chapter 16 records two parables. The first one is spoken against the sin of covetousness, and the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things, and they derided him (verse 14). And Jesus said unto them, "Ye are they which justify yourselves before men, but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men, is abomination in the sight of God.” After this he spake to them the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, which applied peculiarly to themselves. This parable fully recognizes the existence of the doctrine of the immortality of the soul as it was believed and taught by the scribes and Pharisees in Christ's day, and its consequent existence after death as a departed, disembodied spirit, existing either in the enjoyment of happiness with the righteous, or else enduring torment in the flames of hell, as they held and taught. And it may be said that this parable furnishes the most graphic and perfect description of this doctrine and its results as it was held in his day and since, and is held now, that has ever been published. But let a man be careful and not fall into the snare that is here set for the feet of those to whom this parable was spoken, for he spake not his parables to those persons to open their eyes, but to close them, and to seal their delusions upon them (Mark 4:11-12). And while in this parable Jesus accurately recounts the peculiar features of this superstition, he by no means endorses the doctrine as being true; he builds a parable upon it, and to understand and see the application requires that a person be familiar with the situation of affairs among the people of Israel in the times of Christ and John the Baptist, his forerunner.
The people of Israel by the preaching of John the Baptist and Jesus were divided into two distinct classes ; namely, the chief priests, scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and others, on the one hand, who rejected the counsel of God against themselves, and were not baptized of John (Luke 7:29-30); and on the other hand, the common people, publicans, harlots and sinners, who justified God and were baptized of John for the remission of sins. The first claimed to be righteous, and were taken by Jesus at their own estimate of themselves, and judged accordingly, who said professedly, "I go, sir” (Matt. 21:28-32), but went not; the others were sinners, and said virtually by their outward deportment, "I will not," but afterwards repented and went. Concerning these two classes, Jesus said, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Matt. 9:13). Again, “The whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” Again, " There is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).
These two classes in Israel are the two sons and form the subject of many of the parables of Jesus (Matt. 21:23-32; Luke 7: 29-30). They are the two sons in the parable of the prodigal son. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the first class is represented by the rich man and his five brethren, the second class by the beggar Lazarus. The chief priests, scribes and Pharisees fared sumptuously every day upon the tithes and offerings of the people, and the priests were clothed in purple and fine linen (Exod. 28: 5-8). But the Lazarus class comprised the poor of the people, publicans and sinners, who were poor and ate the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table, in having to be taught by them because they sat in the seat of Moses (Matt. 23:13). They were the poor of that world, but as James said, rich in faith and heirs of God's kingdom and glory (Jas. 2:5). They made one common fund of all they had (Acts 2: 44-45), and so when their stores would be exhausted they would be poor indeed, and when the hand of persecution was laid heavily upon them, they would soon be reduced to great distress and suffering. But the dogs came and licked their sores in this way; the Gentiles were regarded by the Jews as dogs, and so called in the Scriptures (Ps. 22: 16-20; Mark 7: 24-28). When the gospel was preached to the Gentiles and churches were established among them, the apostles levied contributions from them to relieve the sufferings and distresses of the poor Christian Jews in Judea and Jerusalem, on this basis, that salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22) and as they now were made partakers of the Jews' spiritual things, it was then their duty in return to minister to them in carnal things (as is seen by reference to Rom. 5:25-27; II Cor. 9: 1-15).
Parables are intended to set forth certain doctrines or truths and may be based either upon fact or fiction, upon things real or imaginary (Judges