RPM, Volume 17, Number 22, May 24 to May 30, 2015

Systematic Theology

By R. L. Dabney, D. D., LL. D


Chapter 43: Death of Believers

Why Death befalls the Justified.
Souls Immortal.
Benefits received by Justified at Death.
Sanctification then complete.
No Intermediate Place.
Sleep of Souls rejected.
[Lecture 69]

Note: some of the "words" in the original text in unintelligible. We have left the original "words" just as they are presently found in the text.

Section Eight—Life After Death for Believers

Chapter 43: Death of Believers

Syllabus for Lecture 69

1. Why does Death befall Justified persons?
Dick, Lect. 80. Ridgley, Qu. 84. Knapp, Theol. 147.

2. Renew the Arguments for the Immortality of the soul
Butler's Analogy. pt. 1. Turrettin, Loc. 5. Qu. 14. Dick as above. Ridgley, Qu 86. Breckinridge's Theol., Vol. 1. bk. 1., ch. 6.

3. What benefits do believers receive at Death? Is entire sanctification one of them?
Dick, Lect. 81. Ridgley, Qu. 86. Knapp, as above.

4. Are any Souls detained in any other place (as a Hades, etc.) than Heaven and Hell?
Turrettin, Loc. 12., Qu. 11. Hodge, pt. 4., ch. 1. 1, 3. Knapp, as above.

5. Is the Soul Conscious and Active, between Dead and the Resurrection?
Hodge, as above 2. Dick, Lect. 81. Ridgley, Qu. 86. Dr. John. Miller, Questions raised by the Bible, pt. 1. "Last Things," by Dr. Gardiner Spring

1. Death is a Penal Evil. Why Then Inflicted on the justified?

Death is undoubtedly a penal evil; and not merely a natural law, as Socinians and Pelagians teach. This we have already shown by the Bible, (Gen. 2:17; 3:17—19; 5:3; Rom. 5:12, 14), and by the obvious reasoning, that the benevolence and righteousness, with the infinite power of God, would combine to prevent any suffering to His moral creatures while free from guilt. Man enters life now, subject to the whole penalty of death, including temporal physical evils, spiritual death, and bodily death; and this is the consequence of Adam's fall through our federal connection with him. From spiritual death, all believers are delivered at their regeneration. Physical evils and bodily death remain; and inasmuch as the latter was a most distinctive and emphatic retribution for sin, the question is, how it comes to be inflicted on those who are absolutely justified in Christ. On the one hand, bodily death was a penal infliction. On the other hand, we have taught that believers are justified from all guilt, and are required to render no penal satisfaction whatever. (Rom. 5:1; Heb. 10:14, etc.) Yet all believers die?

False and True Answers.

Now this question is very inadequately met by such views as these: That this anomaly is no greater than many others in the divine dealings; for example., the continuance of imperfection and indwelling sin so many years in believers, or their subjection to the malice of evil men and demons. That the destruction of the body is necessary to a perfect sanctification; a thing shown to be untrue in the cases of Enoch, Elijah, the human soul of Christ, and all the believers who shall be on earth at the last consummation; or, that the natural law of mortality, and the rule of God's kingdom, that men must "walk by faith, not by sight," would both be violated, if so visible a difference revere placed between saints and sinners, as the entire exemption of the former from bodily death. These are partial explanations. The true answer is, that although believers are fully justified, yet according to that plan of grace which God has seen fit to adopt, bodily death is unnecessary and wholesome chastisement for the good of the believer's soul. If this postulate can be shown to be correct, the occurrence of death to the justified man will fall into the same class with all other paternal chastisements, and will receive the same explanation.

Ground and Nature of Chastisements.

Let us then recall some principles which were established in our defense of our view of the Atonement against Romanists. First. A chastisement, while God's motive in it is only benevolent, does not cease to be, to the believer, a natural evil. We may call it a blessing in disguise; but the Christian smarting under it feels that if this language means that it is not a real evil, it is a mere play upon words. The accurate statement is, that God wisely and kindly exercises in chastisements His divine prerogative of bringing good out of evil. Bodily death does not cease to be to the believer a real natural evil in itself, and to be feared and felt as such. Second. Hence, chastisement is a means of spiritual benefit appropriate only to sinning children of God. It would not be Just, for instance, that God should adopt chastisements as a means to advance Gabriel, who never had any guilt, to some higher stage of sanctified capacities and blessedness; because where there is no guilt there is no suffering. Third. Still, God's motive in chastising the believer is not at all retributive, but wholly beneficent; whereas His retributions of the guilty are intended, not primarily to benefit them, but to satisfy righteousness. Here then is the distinctive difference between Rome and us; that we hold, while the sufferings endured in chastisements have a reference to our sinful and guilty condition; in the believer's case they are neither paid by him, nor received by God, as any penal satisfaction whatever for guilt: that satisfaction is wholly paid by our surety. Heb. 12:6—10; Rom. 8:18—28; 1 Cor. 4:17: with Rom. 8:33; Ps. 103:12; Micah 7:19. Whereas, Rome teaches that penitential sufferings of believers go to complete the actual penal satisfaction for the reatum paenae, left incomplete by Christ.

How Compatible with Satisfaction for Sin.

Fourth. The use of such means of sanctification is compatible with divine justice, although an infinite vicarious satisfaction is made for our guilt by our surety; because, as we saw, a vicarious satisfaction is not a commercial equivalent for our guilt; a legal tender such as brings our Divine Creditor under a righteous obligation to cancel our whole indebtedness. But His acceptance of it as a legal satisfaction was, on His part, an act of pure grace; and therefore the acceptance acquits us just so far as, and no farther than, Clod is pleased to allow it. And we learn from His word, that He has been pleased to accept it just thus far; that the believer shall be required to pay no more penal satisfaction to the broken law; yet shall be liable to such suffering of chastisements as shall be wholesome for his own improvement, and appropriate to his sinning condition.

Bodily Death an Edifying Chastisement.

Now then, does bodily death subserve the purposes of a wholesome and sanctifying chastisement? I answer, most eminently. The prospect of it serves, from the earliest day when it begins to stir the sinner's conscience to a wholesome seriousness, through all his convictions, conversion, Christian warfare, to humble the proud soul, to mortify carnality, to check pride, to foster spiritual mindedness. It is the fact that sicknesses are premonitions of death, which make them active means of sanctification. Bereavements through the death of friends form another valuable class of disciplinary sufferings. Now that death may be actually in prospect, death must actually occur. And when the closing scene approaches, no doubt in every case where the believer is conscious, the pains of its approach, the solemn thoughts and emotions it suggests, are all used by the Holy Spirit as powerful means of sanctification to ripen the soul rapidly for Heaven. I doubt not, that when we take into view the whole moral influences of the life long prospect of our own deaths, the prospect and occurrence of bereavement by death of friends, the pungent efficiency given to sickness by its connection with death, as well as the actual influences of the closing scene, we shall see that all other chastisements put together, are far less efficacious in checking inordinate affection and sanctifying the soul: yea, that without this, there would be no efficacious chastisement at all left in the world. A race of sinners must be a race of mortals; Death is the only check (of the nature of means) potent enough to prevent depravity from breaking out with a power which would make the state of the world perfectly intolerable! Another reason for inflicting death on justified believers may be found in 1 Peter 4:12, 13. It is the supreme test of the power of faith. Death is the greatest of temporal and natural evils, abhorrent to the strongest instincts of man's nature, and involving the maximum of natural losses and privations. If faith and grace can overcome this enemy, and extract his sting, then indeed have we a manifestation of their virtue, which is transcendent. As Christ, our Captain of salvation, gave that supreme evidence of His love and devotion, so it is most appropriate that His people should present the like evidence of the power of His Spirit and principles in them. It is thus we become "partakers of His sufferings," and assist in signalizing His victory over death.

2. Death a Means of Glory to Saint, Unmixed Curse to Sinner.

Yet, as the afflictions of the righteous differ much from the torments of the wicked, this is peculiarly true of their deaths. To the impenitent man, death is full of the sting of sin. In the case of the saint, this sting is extracted by redemption. There may nut be the abounding triumphs of spiritual joy; but if the believer is conscious, he usually enjoys a peace, which controls and calms the agitations of the natural feelings recoiling from death. In the case of the sinner, the horror of dying is made up of two sets of feelings, the instinctive love of life, with the natural affections which tie him to the earth; and evil conscience with dread of future retributions. And the latter is often predominant in the sinner's anguish. But in the case of the saint it is removed; and death is only an evil in the apprehension of the former feelings. Second: to the sinner, death is the beginning of his utter misery; to the saint it is the usher, (a dreaded one indeed) into his real blessedness. By it the death in sins and bondage of depravity are fixed upon the sinner irrevocably: but the saint is delivered by it from all his indwelling sins. Death removes the sinner forever from God, from partial gospel privileges and communions. But to the saint, it is the means of breaking down the veil, and introducing him into the full fruition and vision of God.

3. Benefits Received by Saint at Death—1. Complete Sanctification.

In the Shorter Catechism Qu. 37three benefits are mentioned as received from Christ at the believer's death: perfect sanctification, immediate entrance into glory, and the prospect of a bodily resurrection.

We take up here, the first, postponing the others for separate discussion; and assuming for the time, the implied truth of the immortality of the soul. The complete sanctification of believers at death would hardly be denied by any, who admitted that their souls entered at once into the place of our Saviour's glorified residence, and of God's visible throne. It is those who teach a separate state, a transmigration, or Hades, or purgatory, or sleep in the grave, who deny the immediate sanctification of souls. For, the attributes of God and heaven are such as obviously to require perfect purity of all who dwell there. Let the student bear this in mind, and have in view the truth to be hereafter established, that the souls of believers "do immediately pass into glory." The place is holy, and debars the approach of all moral impurity. (Rev. 21:27). The inhabitants, the holy angels are pure, and could not appropriately admit the companionship of one tainted with indwelling sin. True; they now fly forth to "minister to them who shall be the heirs of salvation;" but this is not a companionship. The King of that world is too pure to receive sinners to His bosom. He does indeed condescend, by His Holy Spirit, into the polluted breasts of sinners on earth; but this is a far different thing from a public, full and final admission of sin into the place of His holiness. See 1 Peter 1:15, 16; Ps. 5:4: 15:2; Is. 6:5. The blessedness of the redeemed is incompatible with any remaining imperfection (Rev. 21:4). For wherever there is sin, there must be suffering. And last, this glorious truth is plainly asserted in the word of God. Heb. 12:23; Eph. 5:27; 1 John 3:2.

Made Feasible by Body's Death.

How this sanctification is wrought, we may not tell. Recall the remark made when sanctification was discussed; that it is not mysticism, nor gnosticism, nor asceticism, to ascribe its completion to our release from the body, as a convenient occasion. Bodily appetites are the occasions of the larger part of most men's sins: as the bodily members are the instruments of all their overt sins. How natural, then, that when these are removed, God should finally remove sin? The agent of this work is still, no doubt, the Holy Spirit.

Old and New Testaments teach Immortality.

I have already remarked that all these views presuppose that immortality which is brought to light in the gospel. It has always seemed to me that the Bible treats the question of man's immortality, as it does that of God's existence; assumes it as an undisputed postulate. Hence the debate urged by Warburton and his opposers, whether Moses taught a future existence, seems to me preposterous. To dispute that he did, flies into the very teeth of Scripture. (Matt. 22:32; Heb. 2:16; and in Pentateuch, Gen. 5:22, 24; Gen. 15:15; 25:8; 35:29; 37:35; Jude 1:14, 15; Num. 20:24; 27:13. All religion and even all morality imply a future existence. But our Saviour, whose purpose it was to reaffirm the truths of Old Testament Revelation, and of natural Religion, which had been obscured by the perverse skepticism of men, does teach man's immortality with peculiar distinctness and fullness. The reader may consult for instance, Matt. 10:28; Luke 16:26; Matt. 20:33; 25: to the end; John. 5:24; 8:51: 11:25; 12:25; 1 Cor. 5:1—10; 1 Cor. 15: etc. This may perhaps be a part of the Apostle's meaning, when he says, (2 Tim. 1:10) that Christ "hath brought life and immortality to light in the gospel." But it would certainly be a great abuse of his meaning, to understand from him that Christ was the first adequately to teach that there is an immortal existence. Paul speaks rather, as the context clearly shows, (" bath abolished death,") of spiritual life and a happy immortality which Christianity procures. And it is the glory of the religion of the Bible to have clearly made this known to man.

Which is that of Soul and Body.

It may be well to note that the immortality of the Bible is that of the whole man, body and soul; and herein God's word transcends entirely all the guesses of natural reason. And this future existence implies the continuance of our consciousness, memory, mental, and personal identity; of the same soul in the same body, (after the resurrection). There must be also the essential and characteristic exercises of our reasonable and moral nature, with an unbroken continuity. For if the being who is to live, and be affected with weal or woe by my conduct here, is not the I, who now act, and hope, and fear, that future existence is of small moment to me.

4. Rational Arguments Reviewed.

It may not be amiss here, to review the amount of light which natural reason has been able to collect concerning man's future existence. Since the resurrection of the body is purely a doctrine of revelation, of which reason could not have any surmise (witness the Pagan philosophies), the question must be discussed rationally as a question concerning the immortality of the soul only. All that natural experience ever sees of the body is its death, dissolution, and seemingly irreparable destruction. But since the soul is the true seat of sensation, knowledge, emotion, merit, and will, the assertion of its immortality is far the most important doctrine of man's future existence. The various opinions of men on this subject, who had no revelation, may be seen stated in Knapp's Theol. 149,viz: materialism (Epicurus,) transmigrations, (Brahmins Pythagoras, and some Jews,) reabsorption into the pan (Stoic Pantheists), and separate disembodied immortality (Plato, &c). Among the many reasonings advanced by ancients and moderns, these following seem to me to have probable weight.

(a) The consensus populorum, especially when we consider how naturally man's sensuous nature and evil conscience might incline him to neglect the truth.

(b) The analogy of the fact, that man and all other living things obviously experience several stages; first the foetus, then infant, then adult. It is natural to expect other stages. (Butler).

(c) A present existence raises a presumption of continued existence, (as the sun's rising, that it will rise again) unless there is something in the body's dissolution to destroy the probability. But is there? No. For body sleeps while soul wakes. Body may waste, fatten, be amputated, undergo flux of particles, loss of sensible organs, while soul remains identical. In sensation, the soul only uses the organs of sense, as one might feel with a stick, or see through a glass. The more essential operations of spirit, conception, memory, comparison, reasoning, etc., are only related to bodily functions, if at all; as causes to effects: whence we conclude that the essential subsistence of the soul is independent of the body. (Butler).

(d) The soul is simple, a monad,, as is proved by consciousness. But there is not a particle of analogy, in the universe, to show that it is probable God will annihilate any substance He has created. The only instances of destruction we see, are those of disorganization of the complex. (Butler: Brown).

(e) The soul has higher powers than any of God's terrestrial works; strange that the brute, earth, and even elephants, eagles, and geese should be more long lived! It has a capacity for mental and moral development beyond any which it attains in this life. God has ordained that all things else should fulfill the ends of their existence. It can know and glorify God: strange that God, making all things for His own glory, should make His rational servants such that the honor derived from them must utterly terminate.

(f) Conscience points directly to a superior moral Ruler, and a future existence, with its retributions.

(g) The unequal distribution of retributions here on earth, coupled with our confidence in the righteousness of God, compels a belief in a future existence, where all shall be equalized.

5. Is there an Intermediate Place?

We have asserted it, as the doctrine of the Bible, that the souls of believers do pass immediately into glory. In opposition to this, there are some, among the professed believers in the Bible, who hold some kind of intermediate state, in which the souls of all, saints and sinners, are detained. The opinions of this kind may be ranked under three heads: 1. That of the Romanist Purgatory, which has been already discussed. 2. That of the Jewish Hades, held by some Rabbins and Prelatists, early and modern; and 3d. That of the ancient Socinians and modern Thomasites, who hold that the soul will sleep unconscious until the body's resurrection. The second of these opinions will be the subject of the present section; and the third, of the fifth and last.

Jewish Doctrine.

The Jewish doctrine seems to have been, that the souls of departed men do not pass at once into their ultimate abode; but into the invisible world, Aidh" laov where they await their final doom, until the final consummation, in a state of partial and negative blessedness or misery, respectively. This Hades has two departments, that of the blessed, Paradise, or the Bosom of Abraham, and that of the lost, Tartarus. But this Paradise is far short of the heavens proper in blessedness, as well as different in locality, and this Tartarus far less intolerable than Gehenna, or hell proper. The following passages were supposed by them to favor this opinion: Gen. 37:35; "Go down to Hades;"1 Samuel 28:11, 14 and 19: "An old man cometh up," "Be with me tomorrow:" Zech. 9:11; where it is supposed the souls are in a place like a dry pit; Ps. 6.; 5; 88:10; 115:17; 143:3; where the state of the dead is described seemingly as a senseless and negative one. And some Papists have supposed that their kindred notion of a Limbus partum found support in Luke 16:23; in that Dives and Lazarus seem to be near enough to each other, to converse. This, they suppose, proves that both are in the same "underworld." They quote also Eccles. 9:5, 6, and similar passages, which seem to teach the state of the dead to be one of inactivity and negation.

Intermediate State Discussed.

The reply to this Jewish and patristic notion must proceed on the postulate, that they both misunderstand the Scriptures; the Fathers and Prelatists following the errors of the Rabbins. One general remark to be made is, that when the Old Testament seems to speak of the spirit world, as a place of darkness and inaction, it evidently speaks "ad sensum." It is thus that the dead appear to us: As to terrestrial interests, their activities and knowledge are ended. These passages are not to be strained to deny that souls enter upon new, spiritual activities, beyond the sphere of human experience.

1. The general drift of Scriptures certainly teaches, that at death man's probation ends. "As the tree falleth, so it shall lie." See also, Rev. 22:11. Now, why should the future career and destiny of souls be thus held in abeyance and suspense, so many ages after probation ends? The intrinsic activity of the soul, as well as the propriety of the result makes it probable that the reward, either for good or evil, will begin as soon as it is completely secured.

2. The death of believers is, in both Testaments, represented as an entrance upon their rest. See, for instance, Is. 6:1, 2. So the death of sinners is the beginning of their judgment. Heb. 9:27.

3. To this agree the expectations of the Apostle Paul, 1 Cor. 5:4, 8; Phil. 1:21—24. To be "absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." He anticipates no interval. Again: while to live is Christ to him; "to die is gain." Were the Rabbinical doctrine true, death, as compared with a Christian and fruitful life, would be comparative loss. Especially would it have been impossible for the apostle to be "in a strait," betwixt the desires of living and dying, if he had supposed that the choice was between the active life of an apostle, yielding constant good to men and glory to God, as well as rich enjoyment, amidst his tribulations, of spiritual happiness; and the empty, silent, useless, expectant existence of a melancholy spirit in the Hades of the fanciful Jews.

4. This is expressly confirmed by the history of the dead saints which is given us in Scripture. On the mount of transfiguration, Moses and Elijah are seen already in glory. Of Moses' at least it may be said, that he died a real corporeal death. Again: in Luke 16:22 to end. Lazarus is "in Abraham's bosom," he "is comforted;" while Dives is in the fire of "torment," in the actual receipt of his penal retribution. When we compare Matt. 8: At, we see that Abraham is in "the kingdom of heaven" which here, evidently means heaven. Again: Christ promises the converted robber: "This day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise." That Paradise is the heaven of bliss, and not some limbos in a Jewish Hades, is clear from 1 Cor. 12:2—4, and Rev. 2:7. It is the same as the "third heaven." It is the place where Christ abides in glory, and the tree of life is found. So in Rev. 14:13. Those who die in the Lord are blessed from the date of their death (for such is the only tenable rendering of the "from henceforth," ap arti). So Heb. 12:13, the spirits of the just were already made perfect, and denizens, with the angels, of "the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem," when that Epistle was written.

The consistent exposition of the much criticized passage, 1 Peter 3:19,20, may be seen, Lect. 38.

6. Theories of Sleep of the Soul.

The other unscriptural theory which we promised to notice is, that the soul sleeps, or remains without consciousness; or at least, without external activities, from death to the resurrection. This is held in several forms. The early followers of Socinus, awhile not denying to the human spirit all consciousness during its disembodied state, taught that, without its sense organs, it could have no intercourse with any being out of itself. Thus, they supposed it spent the interval in a state of fruitless insulation. Again, there have been many, who while asserting fully the substantive existence of spirit as distinct from matter, supposed that it could not exist or act separate from matter. They taught that finite spirit cannot be related to space, or be possessed of any consciousness, save through its incorporation. Hence they must either hold that spirit, immediately upon the death of the body, is united to an ethereal, but still, an organized investment; as Swedenborg, (who also taught that the soul never receives, by any farther resurrection, any other incorporation) or they hold that all spiritual functions must remain in abeyance, until the bodily organism is reconstructed. To this view, even Isaac Taylor and Archbishop Whately seem to have leaned. Others, again, are materialists: They regard spirit not as a substance, but only as a function. If this be all, then of course, when the material structure shall be dissolved, spirit will cease, as truly as sound when the harp string is burned. The modern speculations of the Evolutionists, who are also materialists, seek to remove the just odium attaching to their doctrine, by elevating the matter with which they have identified our spirits into something immaterial. Having denied the substantiality of spirit, they proceed also to deny the substantiality of matter: and reduce both to forms of energy proceeding (if they be theists) as they say, from God; or, (if they be atheists) merely different modifications of one eternal, self existent Force. The doctrine of this school is: that the earliest "dust of the earth is a divine efficiency; and then life another; and then thought another; and then conscience more; all bred of God, and yet dependent back the one upon the other."


This obviously, if it is not atheism, is pantheism; for the only personality recognized, if any be recognized, is God's?

Those who attempt to reconcile these speculations with Scripture, although they flout the immortality of the soul, yet promise us a personal, or incorporate immortality, through a bodily resurrection guaranteed by God, and omnipotently wrought at Christ's final advent. Such an expectation is obviously an excrescence on their system, so heterogeneous to it, that we may very confidently anticipate its final rejection by those who now hold it. The logical and natural sequel to be drawn from their scheme is annihilation. Once teach men there is no substantive spirit, by whose mental identity the continuity of our being is preserved, while the body is scattered in dust; and the promise of a resurrection becomes to them meaningless and absurd. The whole basis for future rewards and penalties is gone. There is no more real identity between the mind that sinned here, and the new mind that arises there, than there is between the weed of this year bred of the vegetable mold which resulted from the rotting of the weed of last year. It is not one weed but two.

I shall not consume time by repeating the evidences of man's substantive spirituality; inasmuch as they have been twice briefly stated in this course, and more fully and impregnably established in my Discussion of the Sensualistic Philosophy of the Nineteenth Century. There are those, however, who admitting that spirit is a distinct substance, hold that, from the necessity of its nature, it must be either infinite, or incorporate in some organism, either carnal or ethereal. Says Isaac Taylor: it is impossible to assign spirit its ubi, without connecting it with a body; because locality is itself a mode of extension; and thus, in ascribing a ubi to pure spirit, we are ascribing extension to it. We might justly ask: if the last assertion were true, how would the matter be helped by assigning this spirit its ubi in a body occupying a finite portion of space?

The extended body is more certainly burdened with the attributes of extension, than the finite portion of space it occupies; so that, were there any real difficulty in the point, it would be more difficult for us to believe the unextended spirit localized in the extended body, than in the vacant, finite portion of space occupied thereby. But Taylor's whole difficulty has arisen from the oversight of a distinction which Turrettin has long ago given. Finite spirit of course does not occupy space circumscriptively; as the measure of corn fills the bushel measure, and assumes its cylindrical shape. But spirit may be in space definitively. The mathematical point has neither length, breadth, nor thickness: yet surely none will deny to it position in space; since the point is the first rudiment of the whole science of dimensions!

No man has ever had experience of cognitions and consciousness apart from his sense organs. Of course, then, no man can picture to himself how these mental functions are to proceed in the disembodied state. But this is wholly another thing from proving either consciousness, or even objective perceptions, impossible for a mind not incorporate. Is intelligence the faculty of the sense organs; or of the mind which uses them? Surely of the latter! Then the a priori probability is wholly in favor of the mind's exercising its own faculty (in some new way) when deprived of these instruments. If my sense of touch is able, through the intervention of a stick, to cognize a solid resisting object a yard distant, does anybody suppose that I will have any more difficulty in ascertaining its resistance to my factual sense, without the stick, by my hand alone? So, it is obviously possible, that my intelligence may only get the nearer to its object, by the removal of its present instrument, the sense organ.

It is too plain to need any elaboration that those who philosophize as do all our opponents, must deny the whole teaching of the Scriptures concerning the angels. If they are pure spirits, their existence, cognitions, and activities contradict every assertion these writers advance.

Scriptural Arguments for the Sleep of the Soul.

The sleep of the soul is inferred from such Scriptures as these: Death is called a sleep. The resurrection promised is frequently that of the man, and not of his body merely. In the famous chapter, 1 Cor. 15., the apostle argues for the resurrection, as though it were the Christian's only alternative hope against annihilation. See 1 Cor. 15:18, 19, 29—32. This implies, they plead; that the resurrection is to be the recall of both soul and body out of the grave. For, were the doctrine of the soul's separate immortality true, the apostle would have seen in that a substantial ground for hope beyond the grave, whether the body be raised or not.

These Perversions of Scripture Answered.

I reply, that the phenomena of death, the absolute quiescence of the corpse, the withdrawal of the soul from all known and experienced activities of this life, and its entrance upon its heavenly rest, are abundantly sufficient to Justify the calling of a Christian death "a sleep," consistently with the Bible doctrine of the separate activity of the soul. This is evidently what the Scriptures mean by the figure. That the man, and not the body, is so often spoken of as resurrected, is easily explained by that natural figure, by which sensuous beings, as we all are, speak of a corpse as "a man." But all doubt is cleared away, by such passages as Phil. 3:21. There, the resurrection is declared to be a "changing of our vile body, and fashioning of it like unto His glorious body.", 1 Cor. 15:42. That which "is sown in corruption," is "raised in incorruption." What can this be, but the body? In verse 42. "We have borne the image of the earthy." Wherein? In that we have animal and perishable bodies. Then the ego and the body which it "has borne," are distinct. The ingenious cavil from verses 18, 19, and 29 to 32, is easily solved by the following facts: The final immortality which the Bible teaches is, as we have distinctly stated, not that of souls disembodied, but of incorporate men. Hence it was altogether natural for the apostle to speak of our prospect for an immortality as identical with that of a resurrection. But again, (what is far more important), the apostle's argument was proceeding upon these truths: that the reality of Christ's resurrection, on one hand, was vital to all hope of a redeemed immortality for us in any form. See verses 12 to 18. But on the other hand, the fact of Christ's resurrection involves the truth, that we also shall rise as He did. Under this state of the argument, it is thoroughly consistent with our doctrine, that the apostle should argue as he did. The apostle does argue, that practically, the believer's resurrection is his only alternative hope against "perishing," but he does not argue that it is his only alternative hope against annihilation. The latter idea is nowhere entertained as an alternative.

Positive Scripture—Proofs.

In proof that ransomed souls are not detained in unconsciousness in the grave, we advance positively all those texts which show us such souls already in heaven. Here all the passages quoted under the former head apply: We need not consume time in repeating them. We add, that the protomartyr, Stephen, when dying said, with the full light of inspiration in his mind: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." He certainly expected an immediate glorification with Christ. See Acts 7:59. So, in Matt. 10:28, the distinction of spirit and body is indisputably made, and those who truly fear God are taught that though the persecutor may kill the body, the soul is happy in Christ. In Rev. 4:4, 6, with 5:9, John sees the redeemed already amidst the raptures of heaven, in the persons of the twenty—four elders, and the four living creatures. So, in Rev. 6:9 to 11, the souls of the martyrs were seen under (or below) the altar, in the full possession of their intelligence and activity, and adorned with their white robes. All this was before the resurrection.

The True Ego never feels Death.

It is the glory of the gospel, that it gives a victory over death. Over the true man, the being who feels, and hopes and fears, it has no dominion. The body alone falls under its stroke; but when it does so, it is unconscious of that stroke. Whatever there may be in the grave, with its gloom and worm, that is repulsive to man; with all that the true Ego has no part. While the worms destroy the unconscious flesh, the conscious spirit has soared away to the light and rest of its Saviour's bosom.

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