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a “house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens;" or, if sinful, we shall, when death takes place, also have a spiritual body, but on account of its unregenerate state, it will be found “naked," that is, overwhelmed with shame and everlasting contempt."
The question now comes to be considered, by what inhabitants is that intermediate state, gulf, or world occupied, and what is their character ?
We learn from Scripture that the inhabitants of the spiritual world, in its universal complex or aggregate, consist of angels (who, as the apostle says, are " the spirits of just men made perfect"), spirits, devils, , and satans. We also read of cherubim and seraphim, but as described in Ezekiel and John, they are evidently symbolic characters only, and do not come under this category. Now the inhabitants of heaven are universally called angels, but this term is also sometimes employed, like devils and satans, to denote the inhabitants of hell; but then they are called either "evil angels,” (Psalm xlix.) or “angels of the dragon,” (Rev. xii. 9.) Those in hell whose governing love, or quality, is some principle of evil, are called devils ; and those whose governing characteristic is some principle of falsity, are called satans.
But besides these two universal classes of spiritual beings who inhabit Heaven and Hell, we often read of a third class who are neither in heaven nor in hell, but who must needs, from their nature, as described in Scripture, inhabit, for a time at least, a middle or intermediate state, which is the world of spirits denoted in the parable by “the great gulf or chasm” between Heaven and Hell. A little attention to the teaching of the Word of God upon this subject, will make it sufficiently clear. When the Lord came into the world, “evil and unclean spirits” were in close proximity with men; and the principal object of His coming was to destroy and to subjugate their power. It is evident that so long as they were in such close proximity to mankind, as in many cases to possess not only the minds but the bodies of men, they were not in hell, but in a region of the spiritual world which is not hell, and certainly not heaven, and consequently a region or state intermediate between both. The prophet Ezekiel says,- .“ The hand of the Lord fell upon me, and the spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven.” This the prophet said when he was " in the spirit;" consequently the heaven and the earth which he saw, were not in the natural but in the spiritual world. (Ezekiel viii. 1, 2, 3.) And Zechariah says, —“The two women [whom he saw when his eyes were opened to see objects in the spiritual world] lifted up the ephah between the earth and heaven.” (Zech. v. 9.) Now here, as in the former passage, is a
state in the spiritual world between the earth and heaven; and as this state is not hell, nor heaven, it must be between them, consequently there is an intermediate state. This intermediate state is called in the Hebrew Scriptures, Sheol; although this term is sometimes translated in the common version by grave, and sometimes by hell, yet it means the common receptacle of souls, whether good or bad, immediately after their departure out of this world. It was here where the spirit of Samuel was seen by Saul and the woman of Endor. (1 Sam. xxviii. 11–20.) For it is evident that Samuel's spirit had not yet ascended into heaven, nor had it descended into hell; it was consequently in an intermediate state between both. In the New Testament, the term Hades is employed to denote the invisible world, as the term Sheol is in Hebrew to signify the same fact. Hudes, however, is translated hell; nevertheless, it does not always mean hell in the absolute sense of the term, as the final abode of the wicked, but the general receptacle of the dead, both good and evil, on their first entrance into the eternal or spiritual world. This is the idea which the Jews, according to Josephus, attached to the term Hades. Thus that venerable writer expressly states that “ Hades is the place in which the souls of the righteous and unrighteous are detained ;" but from this it certainly follows, that if the souls of the evil and the good are detained in one place, and are together for a time, they can neither be in heaven nor in hell, and consequently they must be in a middle, or intermediate state.
But the Scriptures of the New Testament afford us still more abundant evidence of the existence of this intermediate state between heaven and hell. Nearly all the scenery of the Apocalypse was seen by John, when “in the spirit,” as being between Heaven and Hell. A few instances, out of many that might be adduced, will suffice to prove this fact :-“I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and he laid hold on the dragon, and cast him into it,” &c. (Rev. xx. 1, 2, 3.) Now here was heaven above where John was; and the bottomless pit, which is hell, below him; consequently John was in an intermediate state. The dragon, denoting infernal spirits to be cast into hell at the time of judgment, was also in the intermediate state, for it is obvious that the dragon was neither in heaven, that is, heaven properly so called, nor the fictitious heaven alluded to in Rev. xii. 7, whence the dragon was cast out, nor in hell, but was cast thither by the angel; a fact which also proves
that judgment takes place in this intermediate spiritual world, for the entire chapter is descriptive of the general Judgment executed on the fallen
[Enl. Series.-No. 16, vol. ii.]
church, and especially on those who, through death, have entered into hades, or the intermediate world of spirits, and who have not been judged, as to their final states. A singular passage in respect to hades occurs in Rev. xx. 13, 14, which we will here consider: · Death and hell (hades) delivered up the dead which were in them, and they were judged every man according to their works; and death and hell (hades) were cast into the lake of fire.” It is here seen that hades is translated hell, and it may be asked, how can hell be cast into hell, or into the “lake of fire"? But when it is known that hades denotes the intermediate world, and specifically, those who are in that world, and in this case, the evil who were there reserved for judgment, the apparent inconsistency will not only disappear, but it will be evident that hades signifies an intermediate world between Heaven and Hell. Again ; the “souls under the altar who cried, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth ?” (Rev. vi. 9, 10, 11.) These souls were certainly not in hell, nor were they in heaven, and were consequently in a middle state between them. Many other passages, proving the same fact, might also be adduced if space permitted.
It appears, then, from Scripture, that there is an intermediate state, which may be called the world of spirits, between heaven and hell ; the same fact also appears to be truly rational, as it is unphilosophical to suppose, as shewn above, that there can be two opposites without intermediates. This intermediate state was also universally admitted by the ancient writers of the Christian church, nor was it doubted until the period of the Reformation, when the Protestant church, “ in order (as Dr. Jung-Stilling remarks) to do away with the Romish fiction of Purgatory, denied at the same time the existenee of hades."*
Now most false dogmas, such as Purgatory, have a certain Truth under-. lying them of which they are the perversion. But the true idea of reformation is to separate the Truth from the perversion which accompanies it, and thus to preserve the Truth and to cast away the perversion. The Truth, in this case, is the existence of an intermediate state; the perversion of this Truth consists in changing it into a purgatory, for the most wicked purpose of dominion over souls, and of acquiring filthy lucre by saying masses and prayers for the dead, under the pretext of thereby releasing them from the alleged pains of purgatorial fire and torment. This perversion of a great Truth has been a mighty engine of priestcraft and of spiritual despotism. +
* " Theory of Pneumatology," p. 18. + See Swedenborg's “ Apocalypse Revealed;" A. R. 784; R. C. 475.
In this world mankind are gathered together in indiscriminate masses; the evil are so mixed with the good, that in many cases there is, as to external appearance, no difference between them. The tares here grow together with the wheat,” and in this mixed condition men enter into the spiritual world. But the tares must be separated from the wheat,--the goats from the sheep. This separation is evidently effected by the process of judgment. But it is obvious, that judgment is not effected in this life, or in this world; it is consequently effected in the other life, or in the spiritual world. But it is certain that judgment does not take place either in heaven or in hell; it must consequently take place in a region of the spiritual world which is neither heaven nor hell, and that region is the intermediate state, or world of spirits which is between heaven and hell. We accordingly find that the scene of judgment, as stated above, is the world of spirits, as is abundantly evident from every thing that is said of the Judgment in the Apocalypse. • It is commonly supposed that judgment is to take place in this world at the time of the supposed general resurrection; but this is a mistake which has no foundation either in Scripture or reason. This notion is founded on an erroneous idea of the resurrection, which, as we have seen above, is not a resurrection of dead bodies, but a resurrection of the spirit of a man, in a spiritual body, (1 Cor. xv. 44.) in the spiritual world immediately, as in the case of Lazarus and Dives, after death. The Apostle shews us plainly that judgment does not take place in the supposed risen natural body, when he says,-“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.” (2 Cor. v. 10.) Now this passage declares a state and condition of the soul separate from the body which it had in the world, in which separate state it is to undergo a judgment for the things done in the body. This declaration of the Apostle clearly indicates, that no
doctrine as that which generally prevails respecting the general resurrection at some distant period, of dead bodies, and the judgment then to take place, was present to his thoughts; but it is plain that he was thinking of an immediate resurrection in “a house not made with hands;" that is, the spiritual body, as contrasted with the “earthly house," or natural body, relinquished by death. It is commonly stated as an argument in support of the resurrection of the natural body, that the spirit is necessarily imperfect without it, and that in order to be perfect the spirit must again be united with the body.
But this idea is again proved to be erroneous by the Apostle when he says, that the primitive Christians had come “to the spirits of just men made perfect." (Heb. xii. 23.) Now, if the spirit of a just man is thus made perfect, what need is there of being united again to its “ earthly house,” or to its natural body, to become perfect ?
It will now be seen, we trust, that Scripture and reason powerfully teach us, that there is an intermediate state in the spiritual world between heaven and hell. This state, however, will be still further elucidated and confirmed in the following article. Enough has been shewn to demonstrate that the soul is not in a state of insensibility, sleep, or unconsciousress; but in a state of more perfect sensibility and consciousness than can be experienced here whilst clogged with the heaviness and dullness of a material body. The soul, after death, having its own spiritual body suited to the world in which it is to live for ever, can manifest and display all its activities of affection and thought, that is, all its very life, in the freest and most perfect manner, which is impossible whilst clothed with a body of clay. We have also seen that the supposed interval between death and the imagined resurrection, at some future period, of the natural body, is an erroneous doctrine, supported neither by Scripture nor reason; but that the true doctrine is that which is taught by the Lord in the parable of Dives and Lazarus, and universally confirmed by His Holy Word where properly understood. We have, finally, seen that the true idea of the Intermediate State is full of practical import, and highly conducive to regeneration, holiness, and happiness.*
PURGATORY A FICTION OF PRIESTCRAFT, AND THE
PERVERSION OF A GREAT TRUTH.
In the previous Paper it was said that Purgatory is the perversion of a great Truth, and a fiction of the Romish priesthood to acquire power over the souls of men, and to possess themselves of their property under the pretext, that by saying masses and by offering prayers for the dead, they can liberate them more speedily than they could otherwise be liberated, from the pains of purgatorial fire and torment.
We will now consider in what this perversion consists. It is a Truth most generally believed, that this world is the stage and the scene of man's probation, and of his preparation for heaven. Thus it is de
* The reader is especially ref ed to Swedenborg' “ Heaven and Hell;" and also to a very able treatise on the Intermediate State in the Rev. Mr. Rendell's work on the “ Peculiarities of the Bible," p. 480,-EDITOR.