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idea as this ? Are the religious enjoyments of a Paul no better than blank nothingness? And yet you tell us that all the descriptions of the happiness and happy consequences of a religious life in the Bible, are to be understood of a happiness enjoyed on this side of the grave! And you tell us that this happiness of the believer on this side the grave is enough to authorise one to forego all worldly advantages, to obtain it. And now you tell us that non-existence is far better than even the believer's enjoyment. The conclusion from the premises is, that non-existence is preferalıle to all religious, and of course to all worldly enjoyments. If this be so, Job had real occasion to execrate the day wherein he was born, and to lament that he was not forever left to enjoy that blessed non-existence. Away with such nonsense! When Paul says, for me to live is Christ, he declares the present life to be a source of high enjoyment. The expression is condensed, and one of exceeding power. “It is everything to me that Christ is;" and who will believe that he meant to say that annihilation was better to him than such a combination of sources of enjoyment found in Christ and his service ?
2 Cor. 5: 6. Therefore, we are always confident, knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body and present with the Lord. One would think this passage deserved a place in an examination of all the texts which relate to the separate existence of the soul. But Mr. B. has chosen to leave it out of that examination, and has introduced in another treatise, that upon the resurrection, and there incidentally alludes to its bearings on this subject. What his purpose in so doing was, it does not become me to say. The effect is, whether purposed or not, to prevent one of the most direct proofs from having its influence on the mind, in connexion with the rest. Here the possibility of being absent from the body, and yet in a state of happiness is so fully implied, that in spite of any perversions and explanations, it would have influence on the most prejudiced mind, and if the separation of this passage from the rest was intended for that purpose, it was the result of some skill in the tactics of sophistry. If a man can be absent from the body and be present with the Lord, and that presence with the Lord be a desirable state, what more is wanted to prove the conscious existence of separate spirits ? But Mr. Balfour's labour at evasion here consists in saying that “In Scripture style the writers often speak of things as present, yea as past, the more strongly to express their certainty.” But how he would fit this principle to the interpretation of this text he has not told us. So we will attempt the labo for him. So we read it. We are always confident, knowing that while we are sure of being in the body, we are not certain of being with the Lord. We are confident I say, and willing rather to be uncertain as respects being in the body, and certain of being with the Lord. Thus it will sometimes happen that Scripture language brings out the truth with such clearness, that the man who is determined by hook or by crook to cover it, is sure of getting into a condition so pitiable.
Again, you will notice that the denial of the existence of the separate spirits of men, was one of the features of the Sadducean system. Our Saviour encountered the Sadducees on this very point. And his argument to prove that the spirits of dead saints were now living with God, was that God said to Moses, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and this was said hundreds of years after these patriarchs were dead. And God was not the God of the dead but of the living. Therefore, these patriarchs though dead in body, were living in spirit at that time. We ask no one to concede that this argument is conclusive; for being used by the Saviour, it has his authority added to its intrinsic force. But Mr. B. says the Sadducees' question had no reference to the soul in a disembodied state, because they did not believe the soul existed in such a state. But Mr. B. is the first of men, women or children, who understood the Sadducees to have been gravely and honest asking for the sake of infor tion, “whose wife shall she be of the seven.” Does the man need to be informed that the question was suggested as a difficulty in the way of believing that souls existed in the future world? But waiving this
point: as well might Mr. B. say, that their question had no reference to the resurrection, because the Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection. But suppose we admit the question had no reference to the disembodied state, every one can see that Christ's argument proves the disembodied state, whether he intended it or not, even with more force than it does the resurrection. If it proved anything it proved that Abraham was living at the time referred to, and it proves the resurrection only as an inference from that conclusion. I wonder not that Mr. B. has omitted this passage from its place in the discussion, and noticed it only in another treatise.
Again, the translation of Enoch is proofin point. Paul says, by faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death, and was not found, because God had translated him. Now to translate does not mean to annihilate, but to transfer to another state of being. He went to dwell with God, for God took him. Now, he went into the spiritual world with a body, or without one. But to go into the spiritual world with a body, is an absurdity in terms. His translation must have amounted to laying aside the body, though without the pangs of death. Or should we suppose that the change consisted in an assumption of the glorified body, such as the saints will receive after the resurrection, his condition in heaven must have been lonely on the Universalist hypothesis-on the ground that there are no angels and no spirits of just men made perfect for him to consort with there.
One more passage, Rev. 22: 8, 9. And I John saw these things and heard them; and when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed 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 that keep the sayings of this book: worship God. The angel or messenger who was the instrumeiit of communicating the Revelations to John, was then one of the prophets, not one of course then living upon the earth; but it was one whose spirit had departed. That John thought it to be a real person, is evident from his attempt to worship him ; and if John could not know whether it was real, how can we? But if here was one of God's prophets acting after death as God's'messenger to communicate revelations through John to the world, it can no longer be pretended that all the dead are in a state of unconsciousness and annihilation. But if this was one of the spirits of just men made perfect, it appears that the saints even before the resurrection, are invested with a glory of which we have little conception. Here was one of John's fellow servants, invested with such a majesty and glory, that John could not know him to be such, but mistook him for God himself. Truly, we know not what we shall be !
I have now dwelt at sufficient length upon the Scripture proof of the soul's conscious existence in the intermediate state. And I flatter myself that I have succeeded as far as I have gone to disabuse it of Mr. B.'s perversions. And I may safely challenge any one to tell what point of doctrine is capable of more clear, and abundant proof from Scripture than this. But suppose the soul is annihilated at death and restored again at the resurrection, it does not lead the way to the Universalist conclusion. If the frame-work of the human mind be so dissolved that when it is rebuilt at the resurrection, it is not essentially the same mind, bearing the traces of the cultivation and of the injuries.it received in this world, the theory of a temporary annihilation does not evade the necessity of the sinner's suffering in the world to come. For if the mind after the resurrection be in its essential properties, in its moral character and in its affections towards the government of God, what it was when it left the world, then he must needs be the same guilty, wretched being that he was before—with the same defiled conscience, the same memory burdened with the history of a life of sin, the saine sense of guilt, the same lusts and passions, the same everything that is essential to make an intelligent and moral being wretched. He will have the elements of an eternal hell in his own bosom. He will be just what he would if he should pass into the eternal world without passing through the pangs of death. Select then from the sinks of wickedness, one of the maturest specimens of moral corruption, and suppose that man to be carried, without conversion, without a cleansing of his conscience in the blood of Christ, into the eternal world. Place him in the full light of that world, in a light which makes him see his own character in all its deformity, in the revealed presence of a holy God, let his consciousness make report of all the workings of his base and wretched passions ; let the fire of his every lust send out a flame ; let his sighing for incongruous and unattainable gratifications go on ; let memory hold up the blazing record of all past misdeeds; let remorse, quickened by the new light which floods the soul, commence its play, and he will want no fire nor brimstone to make a hell !
But take the other horn of the dilemma. Suppose the change which takes place at the resurrection be such as to divest the mind of all the consequences of sin, imparting, as Mr. Whittemore expresses it, “a new constitution,” which of its own nature originates the happiness of heaven, independent of character and conduct exhibited in this world. In that case, we shall not have the same consciousness, or the same memory, or the same of anything which forms the basis of moral responsibility. If we are moral beings, then in the world to come we shall have totally another moral nature. As it respects our connexion with our former selves, we shall be totally other beings. The souls that will enjoy that universal salvation which Mr. B. is expecting, will be other souls and not
That universal salvation would be no salvation for us, and would interest us no more than it would the inhabitants of the moon.
All the consolation such a hope of salvation would bring, would be in the expectation that after we ourselves had been annihilated some thousands of years, God will create in the stead of us, some happy beings who, by the constitution of their natures, will be fitted for endless life, while in their happiness we shall have no interest.
It is either one thing or the other. The soul of the sinner will wake in the future world with the same consciousness and affections which it had before, or it will not. If it does, it must needs suffer all the effects of unpardoned sin, bear its load of