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fills all things with His Life and His Presence, or as He Himself says, exercises “ all power in heaven and on earth.” (Matt. xxviii. 18.)
Everything immediately dependent on this Sun is called spiritual, whether in heaven, in the intermediate world of spirits, or in hell; for all beings in the spiritual world, whether angels, spirits, or satans and devils, are spiritual, and are subject to the spiritual laws of the world in which they live; as men and animals are subject to the physical and natural laws of the world in which they live. The souls of men are also subject to that spiritual Sun and its operation ; because, as already stated, they are subject, as to their affections and thoughts, and especially as to their ends and motives of life and conduct, to influences, either good or evil, which, according to their states either of obedience and love to God, or of disobedience and hatred to His laws, operate upon them, and impress their quality upon his life, and thus constitute his real character. All things in the natural world are also dependent on the Sun of the Spiritual Universe, as their creative and supporting cause; but they are, through the sun of the natural world, mediately dependent on the Spiritual Sun; and thence all things which are thus mediately dependent on the natural sun, or all things in the natural world, are called natural.
Now an intermediate state, or world of spirits, which is between heaven where angels dwell, and hell where devils have their abode, is not only according to Scripture, but is founded in the very nature of things, and is therefore in perfect accordance with reason ; since every thing revealed in Scripture is, when rightly understood, sublimely rational. For heaven and hell are most directly opposed to each other; that is, they are opposites in the most absolute sense of the term. Now, between opposites of every kind, there are always intermediates. Thus everywhere in nature there are intermediates between opposites. Hence between midwinter and midsummer there is spring, which is an intermediate season, partaking on the one hand of winter-elements, and on the other of summer-elements; for it is the especial characteristic of an intermediate to partake of the nature of both the things between which it serves as a medium. Again, between midnight and mid-day there is the morning, and between mid-day and midnight there is the evening, as intermediates. It is, in like manner, the case between all other kinds of opposites, whether they be natural or spiritual, and of consequence, between heaven and hell, which are, as already stated, the most diametrical opposites in the universe.
Now the Lord plainly teaches us this truth in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, from which we learn the following indubitable
facts :- First, that man rises in a spiritual body, in the spiritual world, immediately after the death of his natural body. For Lazarus “died and was carried by angels into Abraham's bosom, which is heaven, and the rich man also died and was buried; but in hell he lifted up
eyes being in torments,” &c. ere, observe, there is no long interval between death and the resurrection, but one event followed another as does an effect its cause. Secondly, we learn that both Lazarus and Dives were in bodies, and although disembodied as to the natural body, yet they were not disembodied souls, or souls without bodies, for they had each a spiritual body, according to the declaration of the apostle :-“There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body.” (1 Cor. xv. 44.) It is also evident that the spiritual body is, in all respects, as suited and adapted to the spiritual world as the natural body is to the natural world. Thirdly, we clearly gather from this parable, that there is between Lazarus in heaven and Dives in hell an impassable gulf. Now what, we ask, is this impassable gulf? The term in the original is chasma, chasm, which we also employ in English to denote an interstice, or an intermediate space between one place and another. To the wicked in hell, and probably also to the good in heaven, this interstice appears as an impassable gulf to denote the impossibility of one state being changed into another, which impossibility would, in the language of correspondence, and of phenomena as presented in the spiritual world, assume the appearance of a frightful and impassable gulf. It is this intermediate interstice or gulf which, according to the Lord's words, is between heaven and hell; and as, whatever the Lord reveals is of infinite importance to us, it is quite certain that something useful and edifying for us to know is implied by this intermediate chasm or world between heaven and hell.
Now, we think it will not be difficult to ascertain from Scripture who the inhabitants of this intermediate world are, and likewise what their character is. But before we proceed to do this, it seems necessary that we should correct a very mistaken idea as to the intermediate state, which is too commonly entertained at the present time. For the intermediate state is by very many considered to be that state which intervenes between the death and the resurrection, at some future time, of the natural body, called the “general resurr
rrection.” And many writers have speculated as to what may be the condition of the soul during this long interval, which in Adam's case is already, according to common computation, at least six thousand years. No other intermediate state, we believe, is thought of by the generality of Protestants. There are two opinions respecting the state of the soul during the supposed interval between death and the general resurrection. One is that the soul enters, immediately after death, upon a state either of enjoyment or suffering. The other is that the soul is, during that interval or intermediate state, in a condition of perfect insensibility or unconsciousness. And, as a result to which the highest authority in the Protestant church has, in respect to this important question, arrived, we here quote the words of Dr. Whateley, the present Archbishop of Dublin, who gives two lectures on these opinions,* and states it as his conviction :
“ That the notion of the soul, when separated from the body, entering immediately on a state of enjoyment or suffering, which is to last till the resurrection, has at least as strong reasons against it as for it in Scripture.”
He seems, in order to avoid the Romish fiction of a Purgatory, to incline to the latter opinion, that the soul, during the interval between death and the resurrection, is in a state of profound sleep or unconsciousness; and he supports this idea by stating
“ The only alternative as I have before observed)—the only other possible supposition,-is, that the soul remains in a state of profound sleep,-of utter unconsciousness,—during the whole interval between its separation from the body by death, and its re-union at the resurrection. One objection to the reception of this supposition in the minds, I apprehend, of many persons, -an objection which affects the imagination, though not the understanding, -is, that it seems as if there were a tedious and dreary interval of non-existence to be passed, by such as should be supposed to sleep, perhaps for some thousands of years, which might elapse between their death and the end of the world. The imagination represents a wearisome length of time during which (on this supposition) those that sleep in Christ would have to wait for his final coming to reward them. We fancy it hard that they should be lost both to the world and to themselves,—destitute of the enjoyments both of this life and of the next, and continuing for so many ages as if they had never been born.
Such, I say, are the pictures which the imagination draws; but when we view things by the light of the -understanding, they present a very different aspect. Reason tells us (the moment we consider the subject), that a long and a short space of time are exactly the same to a person who is insensible. All our notion of time is drawn from the different impressions on our minds, succeeding one another : so that when any one loses his consciousness (as in the case of a fainting fit, or of those recovered from drowning, suffocation, or the like), he not only does not perceive the length of the interval between the loss of his consciousness and the return of it, but there is (to him) no such interval ; the moment at which he totally lost his sensibility seems (and is, to him) immediately succeeded by the moment in which he regains it. In the
* A View of the Scripture Revelations concerning a Future State. Fifth edition, revised, p. 89.
case of ordinary sleep, indeed, we are sensible, though very indistinctly, of the interval that passes ; because the mind, certainly for the most part, and probably always, continues active during sleep, though in a different manner; and though the confused ideas occurring in sleep, which we call dreams, are but imperfectly remembered, yet even in this case, it will often happen, when any one sleeps very soundly, that the moment of his waking shall appear to him immediately to succeed that of falling asleep; although the interval may have been many hours. Something of the same kind has been observed in a few instances of madness, and of apoplexy ; in which all the ordinary operations of the mind having been completely suspended for several years, the patients, on the recovery of their senses, have been found totally unconscious of the whole interval, and distinctly remembering and speaking of, as having happened the day before, events which occurred before the seizure; so that they could hardly be brought to believe that whole years had since elapsed. *
“ The long and dreary interval, then, between death and the day of judgment (supposing the intermediate state to be a profound sleep), does not exist at all, except in the imagination. To the party concerned there is no interval whatever; but to each person (according to this supposition) the moment of his closing his eyes in death, will be instantly succeeded by the sound of the last trumpet, which shall summon the dead, even though ages shall have intervened. And in this sense the faithful Christian may be, practically, in Paradise the day he dies. The promise made to the penitent thief, and the Apostle Paul's wish “ to depart and to be with Christ,” which, he said, was far better” than to remain any longer in this troublesome world, would each be fulfilled to all practical purposes, provided each shall have found himself in a state of happiness in the presence of his Lord, the very instant (according to his own perception) after having breathed his last in this world.”
Now we seriously ask the reader of this Paper, whether this is not a most gloomy view of this important subject? That for many thousands of years the soul is, between the death and the supposed resurrection of the body, in a state of unconsciousness, or in a most profound sleep unconscious of existence. What difference is there between such a state and no existence at all? Does it not, as to every practical purpose, amount to the idea of annihilation? What practical utility is there in this doctrine of the Archbishop, who has printed and published it in a work which, under his sanction, has gone through six editions ? What check does this unscriptural and irrational doctrine supply for the suppression and subjugation of any evil cupidity? What motive does it urge upon any mind to resist the darling sin, and to cherish and cultivate the opposite virtue? The man with evil and selfish dispositions, in which we are all, alas ! so prone to indulge, can find no motive sufficiently strong in the idea of death taking him to an unconscious sleep for
many, many ages, to resist the pleasures of sin and to practise any act of self-denial, without which we cannot become the Lord's disciples. Could the Archbishop, when making that most extraordinary statement, ever have seriously thought of the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus? in which the Lord teaches the very opposite doctrine. For was Lazarus, immediately after his death, in an unconscious sleep when“ he was carried by angels into Abraham's bosom”? And was the rich man in a similar unconscious slumber when “in hell he lifted his
eyes being in torment”? For both these events, it cannot be denied, took place immediately after their death. Could the Archbishop also for a moment have thought that the thief, on the day of his death, was with the Lord in Paradise ? Here the idea of an unconscious sleep for many ages is entirely excluded. On the contrary, every motive to resist evil is urged upon man by the doctrine that at death he enters, without any interval, upon his eternal state in the fullest consciousness of existence even in a far more perfect condition, as to every feeling and perception, than when in the world clogged with the dull sensations of the material body. Could the Apostle possibly think of death leading to an unconscious sleep of many ages, when he said, “ To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”?
We have been thus particular in our strictures on the Archbishop's statement, because we well know the power of authority, especially in matters of religion, upon the mind of the public. Under the peculiar spell of this authority, thousands would read the statement without calling it into question, and without reflecting even for a moment, because pronounced by the gravity of an Archbishop, that it could not be true.
Now when it is seen that the supposed resurrection, at some future time, of the material body, is, as the celebrated Locke demonstrated to the Bishop of Worcester of that day, founded neither in Scripture nor in reason, but is concluded only from some figurative expressions in the letter of God's Word, and by no means from its genuine sense, we may see that the common idea, stated above, of an intermediate state between death and the resurrection of the natural body, is groundless and false. The intermediate state is entirely of another character, and exists, as we have seen in the parable, between heaven and hell, and not between death and the supposed general resurrection. Whereas the true idea of the resurrection is that conveyed in the parable of Dives and Lazarus, and in the case of the crucified thief, which immediately follows the dissolution, as the apostle says, of our “ earthly tabernacle," when, if regenerate, we shall have a "spiritual body," or