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    EXAMINATION OF SCRIPTURES SUPPOSED TO TEACH MAN’S CONSCIOUSNESS IN DEATH. 1These scriptures, and others under similar heads, for the sake of convenient reference, are noticed in the order in which they stand, from Genesis onward.

    a. Genesis 25:8. It is claimed that the deaths of the patriarchs are recorded in such a manner as to give us to understand that their existence did not cease with death. Abraham’s, for instance: “Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years, and was gathered to his people.” God had promised Abraham [see Genesis 15:15] that he should go to his fathers in peace, and be buried in a good old age. If this expression means that he should go to dwell in conscious intercourse with them, let us inquire concerning their locality. What evidence have we that his fathers were righteous persons? It is a very significant fact that he had to be separated from his kindred and his father’s house, in order that God might make him a special subject of his providence [Genesis 12:1]; and in Joshua 24:2, we are told plainly that they were gross idolaters - the servants of other gods. They must have been, therefore, at the time of Abraham’s death, according to popular opinion, burning in hell. And if Abraham’s being gathered to them means that his soul should go to be with theirs, it follows that God gave him the not very consoling promise that he should “go to hell in peace,” in a good old age. But none of “Abraham’s seed” will be willing to admit for a moment that such can be the condition of their “righteous father.” We answer, then, that his being gathered to his people simply means his being gathered to them in the grave, the common receptacle of all the dead. Jacob said when mourning for Joseph, whom he supposed dead, “I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning.” Genesis 37:35. And the apostle, speaking of David,says that he “was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption.” Acts 13:36.MOI 32.2

    b. Genesis 35:18. “And it came to pass as her soul was in departing (for she died),” etc. On this passage, Luther Lee remarks: “Her body did not depart. Her brains did not depart. There was nothing which departed which could consistently be called her soul; only upon the supposition that there is in man an immaterial spirit, which leaves the body at death.” In reply, the reader needs not to be reminded that neh-phesh, the word here used for soul, signifies something else besides brain and body. For our part, we much prefer the exposition of Parkhurst, mentioned above, that neh-phesh may here signify the breath. And such an idea is in the strictest accordance with reason and matter of fact; thus, it came to pass as her breath was departing (or, as the breath of life was leaving her), for she died, etc. Compare this with Genesis 1:20, 30, margin.MOI 33.1

    c. 1 Samuel 28:15, or, The Witch of Endor. In considering this singular chapter, several important points must be noticed. 1. The Lord had departed from Saul, and “answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.” Verse 6. 2. In this condition, he seeks information by means of necromancy. But necromancy (a pretended communication with the dead. Webster) God had specially denounced and forbidden as a heinous sin [Deuteronomy 18:9-11]; and this very act was one of the offences for which Saul was finally destroyed. 1 Chronicles 10:13, 14. It is therefore morally certain that the Lord would not answer him in this way. 3. If Samuel’s immortal soul was in Heaven, as of course it was if popular theology be true, it is very improbable that it should come back to earth at the bidding of such a notorious sinner as one who had a familiar spirit. 4. If Samuel had come from Heaven, to go back, of course, at the close of the interview, he uttered an untruth when he told Saul that he should be the next day with him [verse 19]; for we cannot suppose for a moment that one whom God had utterly forsaken here, would immediately be received into Heaven, 5. Samuel is represented as saying, “Why hast thou disquieted me to bring me up?” [verse 15] not why hast thou brought me or my immortal soul down from Heaven, but why hast thou brought me up? showing, conclusively, that if this is to be understood as a literal transaction, Samuel came, not down from Heaven, but up from the grave by a bodily resurrection; in which case the conscious-state dogma receives no countenance from it whatever. But we should consider it equally improbable that the witch should be permitted to bring Samuel up bodily from the grave, as that she should be permitted to bring, at will, his immortal spirit down from Heaven. We therefore conclude that the whole thing was a deception of the Devil, a display of satanic power, an ancient spirit manifestation, differing from the modern only in this respect, that then to make his deception take, he had to pretend to bring up the dead; now he takes advantage of the prevailing belief of a conscious spirit-entity, and brings the immortal souls all back from Heaven.MOI 34.1

    d. 1 Kings 17:21, 22. “And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.” The same claim is set up from this text as from Genesis 35:18, and we reply that the same exposition may be given of it. And that this is a correct exposition is shown from the account of the child’s sickness and death in verse 17. His sickness was so sore, says the record, that there was no breath left in him. And then, as would naturally be supposed, when Elijah comes to restore him, he prays that the very thing that had left him, and thereby caused his death, might come into him again, and cause him to live; namely, the breath of life.MOI 35.1

    e. Psalm 90:10. “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off and we fly away.” What flies away, and where does it fly to? it is here asked. It will be noticed that the latter clause of the verse states the reason why our strength is labor and sorrow; and it must strike any one as very singular reasoning to say that our strength is labor and sorrow, because it is soon cut off, and we go to Heaven(?). We should rather conclude the idea to be, that it is soon cut off, and we go into the grave, where, according to the quotation from Ecclesiastes, there is no work, wisdom, knowledge, nor device. This is confirmed by Ecclesiastes 9:3. “The heart of the sons of men is full of evil; and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go the dead.” Had this text read, “and after that they go away,” it would have been exactly parallel to Psalm 90:10; for no essential difference can be claimed between going and flying. But here it is expressly told where we go: we go to the grave. What is omitted in Psalm 90:10, is here supplied.MOI 35.2

    We may also add that the Hebrew word gooph, rendered “fly away,” signifies, according to Gesenius, “First, to cover, spec. with wings, feathers, as birds cover their young. Second, to fly, properly of birds. Third, to cover over, wrap in darkness. Fourth, to overcome with darkness, to faint, to faint away.” The idea seems to be this: Though our days be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow, for it is soon cut off, and we sink away, go to the grave, and are wrapped in the darkness of death.MOI 36.1

    f. Ecclesiastes 3:21. “Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” This text is made the basis of an opinion that Solomon believed that man had a spirit capable of a separate, conscious existence in death. But do our friends not perceive that the beasts also are said to have a spirit, and if it follows from that expression, that man’s spirit is conscious after death, the same is also true of the beast? Do they not know, also, that the word rendered spirit in both cases is their great enemy, roo-agh, the very same word that is, in the text but one before, rendered breath: “they have all one breath?” Now let us examine the context. Solomon expresses a desire in verse 18, that the sons of men may see that they themselves are beasts. Not that he intended that man is in no respect superior to a beast; for he is, in many respects: in his organization, in his reasoning faculties, and infinitely so in his future prospects, if righteous. But he simply means, as we learn from verse 19, that in one respect — in respect to death — man possesses no superiority over the other orders of animated existence. “For,” he says, “that which befalleth the sons of men, befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man [in this respect] hath no pre-eminence above a beast. All go unto one place [if, then, men go to Heaven, beasts go there with them]; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.” After having thus expressly declared that the life and condition in death, of man and beast, are exactly alike, can we suppose that he means in the very next verse to contradict all he has said before, and declare that there is a difference? We cannot. It is therefore but reasonable to conclude that the translation of this passage as given by John Milton, author of Paradise Lost, is correct; namely, “Who knoweth the spirit of man (an sursum ascendat) whether it goeth upward,” etc. The Douay Bible renders the passage thus: “Who knoweth if the spirit of the children of Adam ascend upward, and if the spirit of the beasts descend downward?” To this agree the Septuagint, Vulgate, Chaldee Paraphrase and Syriac version. Such a view, that man’s spirit went up and the beast’s down, was doubtless prevalent in the heathen world, in the days of Solomon. After stating, therefore, the facts in the case, he inquires, Who knows that this heathen sentiment is true, that man’s spirit goes up, and the beast’s down? He had declared that they all went to one place. Who can contradict it?MOI 36.2

    g. Ecclesiastes 12:7. “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” Here, it is said, is an express declaration that the spirit does fly away to God, or that the soul lives after the body is dead. Well, as the spirit is said to be something expressly given us of God, and that, too, in connection with the body made of dust, we ask for the record of this gift, and a description of the thing given. The mind naturally reverts to Genesis 2:7, where it is recorded that the body of man was formed of dust, and the breath of life was breathed into it directly from God. Is, then, this breath of life the spirit which God has given man? We have no record of any other. But this breath of life, as we have seen, is common to all living things, and cannot, therefore, be used as a distinguishing characteristic of man. And if this breath, as drawn from the surrounding atmosphere, may be said to come from, or be given by, God, with the same propriety may it be said, when it leaves the body at death, to return unto him. This text, therefore, furnishes no assistance to the opposite of the views we hold, nor any objection to our own.MOI 37.1

    h. Matthew 10:28. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul [and after that have no more that they can do - Luke], but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” On the authority of this text, it is claimed that the soul is a thing endowed with life distinct from the body; that it lives on in consciousness after death; for killing the body does not and cannot kill it. So far, indeed, it looks very plausible. But we must take into consideration that the word here rendered soul is psuche, a word forty times rendered “life” in the New Testament. In the 39th verse of the same chapter we have an instance: “He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” Substitute the word soul here for life, and take the expression, to lose the soul, in the popular signification, and what a text we should have! “He that findeth his soul shall lose it in hell; and he that loseth his soul in hell in everlasting misery for my sake, shall find it!” But the word is there correctly translated life, and means just what it says: He that findeth his life, that is, seeks by a compromise of the truth and the gospel of Christ to save his life in this world, shall lose it, or be deprived of it in the world to come; but he that follows devotedly in the footsteps of his Saviour, even though he should thereby lose his life here, or be put to death by those who can kill the body, but have no more that they can do, shall find himself in the world to come in possession of a life, over which the puny arm of man has no power. So in verse 28: We are not to fear them which can kill the body, or deprive us of our brief span of life here, but cannot touch that life which is hid with Christ in God, which will be bestowed upon us when our great Life-giver shall appear. Colossians 3:3, 4.MOI 38.1

    On the words in Matthew 16:25, “For what is man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul,” Dr. Clarke says: “On what authority many have translated the word psuche in the 25th verse, life, and in this verse, soul, I know not, but am certain it means life in both places.”MOI 39.1

    i. Matthew 17:3, or, The Transfiguration. “And behold, there appeared unto them, Moses and Elias, talking with him.” Although Moses was buried long ages before on the lonely mount of Nebo, here he is, or rather his immortal soul, it is claimed, present and conscious on the mount of transfiguration; from which the conclusion is, that the soul does not become unconscious when the body dies. In regard to this transaction, we remark that it was a vision, as it is called in verse 9, or Moses and Elias were really and bodily present on the occasion. On either assumption, the text is easily and clearly explainable. If it was merely a vision, it is not necessary that Moses or Elias should be even immaterially present, and therefore it would have nothing to do with the question of consciousness in death. But if it was a real transaction, then they themselves were present, and not merely their immortal souls. Elias had been translated, and hence, could be present without involving any separation of soul and body. This Luther Lee admits when he says: “So far as Elias is concerned, we admit, there is little or no force in it, since he was translated, and did not die; but so far as Moses is concerned, the argument is conclusive.” Not quite so conclusive as it is supposed; for if Moses was bodily present, it was not by virtue of any immortal soul in its independent existence, but by a resurrection. Dr. Clarke admits this, as his comment on this passage shows. Thus he says: “Elijah came from Heaven in the same body which he had upon earth, for he was translated, and did not see death. 2 Kings 2:11. And the body of Moses was probably raised again as a pledge of the resurrection.” If this is correct, it affords a good explanation of Jude 9, which must otherwise remain somewhat shrouded in mystery. This passage, however, need not detain us longer. If Moses was not there, the whole scene was a vision; if he was there, he was resurrected; and in either case, no argument can be drawn from it in favor of the conscious state of the dead, of the existence of the soul separately from the body.MOI 39.2

    j. Matthew 22:32, or, Christ and the Sadducees. “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” This testimony would not be true, it is claimed, if there was not an immortal part of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, then living; for otherwise, contrary to the express declaration of Christ, God would be the God of the dead. But a careful attention to the point at issue between Christ and the Sadducees, will utterly preclude such a conclusion. See verse 23: “The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection, and asked him,” etc. The Sadducees professed to believe the writings of Moses, but denied the resurrection. Christ also believed the writings of Moses, but taught the resurrection. Here, then, was a fair issue between them. They hear him teaching the resurrection; and to object their faith to his, they refer to the law of Moses concerning marriage, and then state a familiar fact; viz., that seven brothers one after another all had one woman, and all died. Now arises a problem very difficult to their minds, no doubt. How will this matter be arranged in the resurrection, which you teach? Whose wife shall she be in the resurrection? Let it be noticed that the controversy between Christ and the Sadducees had no respect whatever to an intermediate state, nor does their query or Christ’s answer have any reference to such a state. They do not inquire whose wife she is now, or which of the men’s immortal souls claims her immortal soul in the spirit world; but, Whose wife shall she be in the resurrection (a future event)? Christ tells them that they err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. And then, to defend himself and condemn them out of their own mouth, he proceeds to prove - what? a conscious, intermediate state? No; but the resurrection, from the writings of Moses. “But as touching the resurrection from the dead,” says he, [as touching the dead that they rise, says Mark; and that the dead are raised, says Luke,] “have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”MOI 40.1

    Let us now show that this quotation did prove the resurrection, and our argument on this passage is closed. That Moses by this language did teach the resurrection of the dead, we think is easily evident. Thus, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were dead; but God is not the God of the dead (or those who are irrecoverably and eternally dead, as the Sadducees believed them to be), but he is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. What, therefore, shall we logically and scripturally conclude from this fact? Why, simply that they shall live again, or have a resurrection from the dead. In this view of the subject, Christ reasoned well, proved the point he aimed to prove, confounded the Sadducees, and gained the applause of the Pharisees, who believed in the resurrection.MOI 41.1

    But grant for a moment that the language means what is popularly claimed for it, and what becomes of Christ’s reputation as a reasoner, and a teacher of wisdom sent from God? He set out to prove the resurrection: but when he closes his argument, lo, mirabile visu! he has proved that all men are alive, and, therefore, there is no need of a resurrection! He neither meets the query of the Sadducees, nor defends himself, but quite the reverse. Believe that our Lord would reason thus, ye who can!MOI 42.1

    If any should admit that a resurrection is proved by the language, but claim from it that such resurrection takes place at death, a theory not uncommon at the present time, we reply that they thereby abandon the conscious-state theory, and affirm the existence of those who have died on another ground, viz., a resurrection. But, further, this is equally foreign from what Christ set out to prove; for he had reference to an event which was then future to the seven brethren and the woman, who had died. They asked him, saying, “In the resurrection, therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them,” etc.” And Jesus answered and said, “When they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels in Heaven.” Mark 12:23-25. Again, in Luke’s account, Jesus says, “But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage.” Luke 20:35. Thus we see that a future event is everywhere referred to, and if he in reality proved that an event had already taken place, which he designed to show would take place in the future, it speaks no better for his reasoning or his wisdom than the former supposition.MOI 42.2

    Why God condescends to call himself the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, though they are yet dead, we learn from Hebrews 11:16. It is not because they are now alive, but because “he hath prepared for them a city.” “Wherefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city,” into possession of which they will of course come in the future.MOI 43.1

    But enough on this argument. We have found it an irrefragable evidence for the resurrection of the dead, and a future life; but it affirms nothing whatever for consciousness in death. Luke 16:19-31, or, The Rich Man and Lazarus. With the points brought to view in this scripture, and the use made of them, the reader is doubtless familiar. The poor man dies and is carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also dies and is buried, and in hell he lifts up his eyes, being in torments, and calls for a drop of water to cool his tongue, etc. Where, surely, if not here, shall we find evidence of the life of the immortal soul in death? and the advocate of that doctrine thinks, no doubt, he has it here, beyond the possibility of refutation. But let us carefully examine the basis upon which it rests. There are but two views which can be taken of this scripture: one, that it is a parable, the other, a literal narration. If it is a parable, the following language is applicable to it: “Allegory is a combination of kindred metaphors, so connected in sense as to form a kind of story. The parables of Scripture, as well as fables that point a moral, are varieties of this figure.” 1Quackenbos’ Rhetoric, p.248. Such is the nature of this Scripture, if it is a parable. But in regard to the use of metaphorical language in proof of any doctrine, Dr. Clarke thus speaks: “Let it be remembered, that by the consent of all (except the basely interested), no metaphor is ever to be produced in proof of a doctrine. In the things that concern our eternal salvation, we need the most pointed and express evidence on which to establish the faith of our souls.” 2Comment on Matthew 5:26. Those by whose “consent” this stands as a rule, will not take any exceptions to our rigidly adhering to it. The other class we do not feel specially bound to gratify. Hence, we may dismiss all further consideration of the subject in the light of a parable; since, if it is such, it cannot be legitimately brought forward to sustain the infinite weight of the soul’s immortality.MOI 43.2

    But if it is a literal narration, what then? Well, let us see. The beggar dies, and is carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. Let it be noted right here that it is the beggar himself that is spoken of, and not any of his immaterial appendages. The beggar died; and the beggar, the very one that died, not his immortal soul, is carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. Now, the inquiry arises, and a pertinent one it is, too, When do the angels, according to the scriptures, bear those who have died, into Abraham’s bosom, or, which is doubtless meant by this expression, into the state of the blessed? Inspirations answers, “And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:31. When is this? It is when the Son of man is seen coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. See verse 30. It is then that the mighty voice of the archangel’s trump pierces the silent chambers of the dead and calls them forth. 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. This part of the scene, then, is definitely located. We have no proof that at death the angels bear away the immortal soul into Abraham’s bosom. This has to be assumed in order to make this scripture available to the common theory. But this is assuming the very point in dispute, and begging the whole question.MOI 44.1

    The rich man also dies, and lifts up his eyes, being in torments. How long it is after he dies before he lifts up his eyes in torments, we are not directly informed. But when he looks up, he sees Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom. It must, therefore, be after Lazarus has been carried there, which is not, as we have seen, till after he is raised. Again we ask, When is it that the wicked, represented by the rich man, will be in torments, and see the righteous in the kingdom? See Luke 13:24-28 for an answer: “Strive to enter in at the straight gate, for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in and shall not be able. When once the Master of the house hath risen up and shut to the door,” etc., then he shall say, “Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.” This again locates it in the future; for it is when the Master of the house has risen up and shut to the door, or when the probation of our race is past. Thus, as a literal narration, the scene is inevitably located beyond the resurrection. It cannot, therefore, be used to prove the conscious entrance of the soul of man into bliss or woe at the hour of death.MOI 45.1

    And here we leave it. For if we have found on good and satisfactory reasons, that either as parable or literal narration, it cannot be made available to that theory which we oppose, we have carried the exposition as far as the scope and object of these pages strictly demand. It is with a full appreciation of the justness of that sentiment which forbids our pulling down a man’s house without giving a better one, that we thus speak. But it is to a theory as a whole that this sentiment applies, and not to the particular reasons on which it rests; and as regards the theory in full, we are doing it no violence; for while we are showing (satisfactorily to all, we trust,) the weakness of the evidence which supports the mystical views of the present day, we are giving something better in their place, a more substantial theory, according to the plain and harmonious teaching of the Sacred Word. In this particular instance, we are only endeavoring to dissuade persons from leaning on a false prop, and putting trust in fallacious reasoning; and we are equally solicitous to do as much as this, whether the popular theory be true or false.MOI 45.2

    l. Luke 23:43, or, The Thief on the Cross. “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” An express affirmation, it is claimed, that they would both be conscious and both in paradise that day, though their bodies should be cold in death. But there is no reasonable exposition of this scripture that can conduct us to such a conclusion; while there are several that lead to just the opposite. Before offering, however, any solution of the passage, we will state the objection that lies like a mountain barrier in the way of the common exposition: it is, that Christ did not go in that same day to paradise. He said, three days after he had made the above promise to the thief, that he had not yet ascended to his Father. John 20:17. In harmony with this declaration the promise must of course be understood. In other words, paradise must be located somewhere away from the presence of the Father, if it still be true that the spirits of Jesus and the thief went there on the very identical day on which they died. Paradise is therefore made to mean a place for disembodied spirits; simply a state of separate existence for souls, where they are kept till the resurrection. What argument exists for this position other than a law of necessity or convenience, we are not scripturally informed.MOI 46.1

    But paradise is definitely located in the Word of God; and when we hear the Scripture writers speaking of paradise, we may know with the utmost certainty to what place they refer. Let us for a moment look at the testimony on this point.MOI 47.1

    First, Paul says [2 Corinthians 12:2], “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.” In verse 4, he tells us that he was caught up to paradise. This testimony settles one fact, namely, that paradise is located in the third heaven.MOI 47.2

    Again, we read, in Revelation 2:7, in the promise of the Saviour to the overcomers in the Ephesus church, “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” Another nail in a sure place. Paradise, then, we have found to be in the third heaven, and in paradise is the tree of life. One more inquiry concerning the location of this tree of life will definitely settle this question.MOI 47.3

    In Revelation 21 and 22, we have a description of the New Jerusalem, the holy city which is above. In chap 22:1, 2, we read: “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it [the city] and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruit, and yielded her fruit every month.” By this testimony, we learn that the tree of life, which grows in the midst of the paradise of God, is in the holy city, fast by the river of life, which proceeds from the throne of God. Nothing could be more explicit than this. We have now found the paradise of the New Testament. It is in the third heaven, where God maintains his residence and his throne.MOI 47.4

    Apply this fact to the testimony of Luke 23:43, and John 20:17, and the declaration of the Saviour that he had not yet ascended to his Father, the third day after his crucifixion, is as plain and positive a declaration as could be made that he had not yet been to paradise.MOI 48.1

    And what does this prove? Does it prove that the declaration of the Saviour failed? Not by any means. It only shows that the words, “This day,” in the expression, “This day shalt thou be with me in paradise,” as it stands in the common version, do not refer to that day on which the Saviour died; and that they err egregiously who make paradise some convenient, separate apartment, some accommodating “ante-chamber” for the reception of that creature of the imagination - the conscious disembodied spirit.MOI 48.2

    What, then, is the import of this scripture? is the next inquiry. Let the inquirer give his attention, and we will tell him, to his entire satisfaction, we trust. The difficulty arises from the manner in which the sentence is punctuated. The comma is unfortunately so placed as to make “to-day” qualify the declaration, “shalt thou be with me in paradise;” unfortunately placed, we say, because it makes Christ, three days afterward, expressly contradict what, according to this construction, he here promised. And as the punctuation is not the work of inspiration, and, withal, of but recent origin, the comma in its present form not having been invented till the year 1790, we shall take the liberty to place the comma after “to-day,” making “to-day” an adjunct of the phrase, “I say unto thee.” It will then read thus: “Verily, I say unto thee to-day, thou shalt be with me,” etc. Some Greek MSS., according to Griesbach, place the comma after “to-day,” in this declaration. But the objector accuses us of making sad nonsense of the text by this change; and he asks in bitter irony, “Didn’t the thief know it was that day without Christ’s telling him?” Very true, as a matter of fact; but let the objector beware, lest his sarcasm fall upon the Scriptures themselves; for such very expressions do occur therein. See Zechariah 9:12, “Turn you to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope: even to-day do I declare that I will render double unto thee.” Transposing this sentence, without altering the sense, and we have phraseology similar to that of Luke 23:43; namely, “I declare unto you even to-day, I will render double unto thee.” The events threatened here were to take place in the future, when the Lord should bend Judah, etc. See context. So the phrase, “to-day,” could not qualify the “rendering double,” etc., but only the declaration.MOI 48.3

    Here, then, is an expression exactly parallel with that in Luke, and the same irony is applicable; thus, “Did not the prisoners of hope know it was that day when the declaration was made to them?” But let our opponents now discard their unworthy weapon; for here it is leveled against the words of Inspiration itself.MOI 49.1

    But when we take into consideration the circumstances of the case, we see a force and propriety in the Saviour’s making his declaration emphatically upon that day. He had been preaching the advent of the kingdom of heaven to listening multitudes. A kingdom, he had promised to his followers. But the powers of death and darkness had apparently triumphed, and were crushing into the very grave both his prospects and his promises. He who was expected to be the king of the coming kingdom, stretched upon the shameful cross, was expiring in ignominy and reproach; his disciples were scattered; and where now was the prospect of that kingdom which had been preached and promised? But amid the supernatural influences at work upon that memorable day, a ray of divine illumination may have flashed in upon the soul of the poor thief, traveling the same road of death beside his Lord. A conviction of the truthfulness of his claims as the Messiah, the Son of God, may have fastened upon his mind, and a desire have sprung up in his heart to trust his lot in his hands, leading him to put up a humble and sincere petition, Lord, in mercy remember me when the days of thy triumph and glory shall come. Yes, says the suffering Saviour, in the hearing of the mocking multitude, I say unto thee to-day - to-day, in this hour of my darkness and agony - to-day, when the fatal cross is apparently giving the lie to all my pretensions - to-day, a day of forlorn prospects and withered hopes, so far as human eyes can see - verily, to-day I say unto thee, thou shalt be with me in paradise, when my kingdom shall be established in triumph and glory.MOI 49.2

    Thus, there is a divine force and beauty in these words of our Lord, as uttered on that occasion. How like a sun at midnight would they have broken in upon the gloom that enshrouded the sorrowing hearts of the disciples, had they fathomed their import. For who had occasion to sink in despair, if not he upon whom all depended, and that, too, when sinking under the agonies of the cross. But lo! no cloud of gloom is sufficient to fix its shadows upon his serene brow. His divine foresight, riding calmly over the events of the present, fixes itself upon that coming period of glory, when he shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied. There in the hour of his deepest humility, he points them to the joys of paradise.MOI 50.1

    Thus, by a simple removal of the comma one word forward, the stone of stumbling is taken out of this text, by making it harmonize with other scriptures; and thus, the promise, by having reference to something in the future, and not to anything to be performed on that day, contains no affirmation of consciousness in death.MOI 51.1

    Another explanation of this passage is based on the nature of the thief’s request. He requested to be remembered, not particularly that day or the next, but when the Lord should come in his kingdom. The Lord replies, Verily I say unto you, to-day, or this day [when I come in my kingdom], thou shalt be with me in paradise.MOI 51.2

    Again, it is claimed by some that what the thief said was only in mockery of Christ, denominated King by the inscriptions upon his cross; and that his reply was only a more solemn asseveration of what could not be: “Shalt thou be [dost thou think it possible that thou shalt be] with me in paradise?” In this case the adverb, “to-day,” could be reasonably disposed of only by putting the comma after it, and making it qualify “say,” as in the first exposition.MOI 51.3

    Thus, three expositions are given of Luke 23:43. There is a degree of plausibility in each. The reader can adopt that which seems to him most satisfactory; but if he should have the curiosity to inquire which the writer was inclined to regard as the truthful one, he would be told, The first.MOI 51.4

    m. Acts 7:59. “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” Here, it is claimed, Stephen called upon God to receive his conscious, intelligent soul, when he should fall in death. Christ used a similar expression in Luke 23:46: “Into thy hands I commend my spirit.” The expression seems to be borrowed from Psalm 31:5; which Psalm declares how David put his trust in the Lord against those who “devised to take away his life. But, we inquire, if the soul lives right along in one uninterrupted course of existence, where would be the propriety of committing it at the hour of death into the hands of our Maker, any more than at any other time? There would be none. The expression bears upon the very face of it evidence that those making use of it desired to commit something into the care of their Maker which was about to pass out of their possession; to commit something into his hands for safe keeping while they should fall beck from the plane of life into unconsciousness. What was this? Answer, their pneuma. Now let us look at Robinson’s second definition of this word, as follows: “The spirit of man, i.e., the vital spirit, life, soul [animal soul - Greenfield]; Latin, anima, the principle of life residing in the breath, breathed into man from God, and again returning to God.” This, then, is what Stephen commended to his God, to be bestowed upon him again at that time when they who for Christ’s sake lose their life, shall find it. Matthew 10:39.MOI 51.5

    n. Romans 8:38, 39. “For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, etc., shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” It is claimed that death cannot separate us from the love of God; but, as God cannot exercise his love toward any but a rational and conscious creature, therefore, the soul must be alive after death. 1Immortality of the Soul, by Luther Lee, p.111. To what far-fetched and abortive reasoning will wrong theories lead intelligent men. We owe the reader an apology for noticing this passage at all. We should not here introduce it, were it not used as an objection to the view we advocate; and we should not believe it could ever be urged as an objection, had we not actually seen it. The reasoning of the apostle has to be completely inverted before any argument (may we be pardoned the misnomer) can be manufactured out of it for the conscious-state theory. For it is of our love to God, through Christ, and not of his to us, that the apostle speaks. It has reference, also, wholly to this life. Thus he says, verse 35, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” That is, shall these things which we have to endure in this life on account of our profession of the gospel and our love for Christ, quench that love in anywise? Shall we compromise the gospel, and alienate ourselves from the love of Christ, who has done so much for us, and through whom we hope for so much [see the whole chapter], to avoid a little persecution, peril, and distress? The separation from the love of Christ by death, of which he speaks, is the same as the separation by persecution, etc.; but tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril and sword, do not necessarily kill us; they have respect to this life; the separation, therefore, is something which takes place here - simply an alienation of our hearts from him. And shall all these things, he asks - nay, more, shall even the prospect of death on account of our profession of Christ, prevent our loving and following him? No! is the implied and emphatic answer.MOI 52.1

    Such we believe to be the view which any one must take of this passage, who does not find himself under the unfortunate necessity of making out a case.MOI 53.1

    But looking at this scripture from the objector’s stand-point, the singular inquiry at once forced itself upon us, Can the immortal soul in its disembodied state suffer tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril and sword!? o. 1 Corinthians 5:5. “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” We may remark here that it is not till the day of the Lord Jesus that the spirit is spoken of as being saved. It does not say that the spirit may go off to Heaven in conscious existence at the hour of death. The means through which persons will be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus is the resurrection, as we shall presently see. The salvation of the whole person is what is undoubtedly referred to here; pneuma, the spirit, being put simply in contrast with sarkos, the flesh. The destruction of the flesh, good authorities understand in a literal manner, of the power with which the apostles were authorized to punish offenders in a supernatural manner with disease or death. John 20:23; Acts 13:11, etc.MOI 53.2

    p. 2 Corinthians 4:16. “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” Is this inward man the immortal soul? We answer, No; but the new man which we put on, Christ formed within the hope of glory. See Colossians 3:9, 10; Ephesians 4:22, 24; 3:16, 17; Colossians 1:27.MOI 54.1

    q. 2 Corinthians 5:8. “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” This is the only real expression in this chapter from which an argument for the conscious state can be drawn. But we hold it to be wrong to take an isolated expression, and build upon it a great doctrine, without taking into consideration the general tenor of the context with which it stands connected. And what is the intent of Paul’s discourse here? He is contrasting the temporal and eternal states. See previous chapter, verses 17, 18. “The things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” “Our earthly house of this tabernacle,” and the “building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens,” of the first verse of chap. 5, bring to view the same things. “For in this [in this state] we groan earnestly,” says he, “desiring to be clothed upon with our house from Heaven.” And this being clothed upon is explained in verse 4, to be the swallowing up of mortality in life. The same scene is brought to view in Romans 8:22, 23: “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves [almost the same expression], waiting for the adoption, to wit., the redemption of our body.” Such are the scenes brought to view in 2 Corinthians 5:1-10; but when they take place, or when it is that mortality is to be swallowed up of life, we are not there informed. Paul elsewhere, however, tells us [see chapter 15 of his first epistle to these same Corinthians]: “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” Verse 53. When? “At the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” Verse 52. Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory” [or mortality is swallowed up of life]. Verse 54.MOI 54.2

    But what is meant by the “body” from which Paul desired to be absent? We answer, that, judging from the tenor of his whole argument, it must be a term to represent this mortal, groaning, travailing state. From this, to be sure, we are released by death; for the dead “rest from their labors;” but we cannot be present with the Lord till clothed upon with incorruption, as already shown.MOI 55.1

    r. 2 Corinthians 12:2. “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.” There is such a thing, then, we are told, as the soul’s maintaining a conscious existence out of the body. We submit that this does not follow. Mark the apostle’s subject, verse 1. It is visions and revelations. He goes on to relate a view he had had of paradise, and states that he is in doubt whether he was taken up bodily into paradise or not. If he was not, he was, of course, according to his subject, in vision. All must admit that these two conditions are the only ones brought to view by the apostle; either being carried bodily into paradise, or viewing it in vision. All the apostle means, then, by the phrase, “out of the body,” is merely to be in vision. But according to the view usually taken, as being out of the body (a separation of soul and body) is death, when the apostle had a vision, he died; and when he came out of vision, of course he had a resurrection! Will our friends go all the way with their theory? Paul, then, does not say it is possible for a man to be out of the body in the popular signification of that expression; for he only relates that he had had an inexpressible view of paradise; but whether he was taken up bodily into that glorious place, or whether, being wrapped in vision, the things were presented to his mind by the power of the Holy Ghost (in which case they would appear none the less real), he could not tell; God alone knew the means he had employed to give his servant a vision of his glory. What would be his astonishment, could he now be present, to behold the attempts that are made to wrest his language into proof for the conscious state of the dead: a doctrine which he so often, both directly and incidentally, had taken occasion to deny!MOI 55.2

    s. Philippians 1:23. “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” We are anxious to give all the passages adduced by those who advocate life in death, their true bearing, and all the force to which they are entitled. Truth is too strong to need prevarication. We therefore differ from our opponents only where we feel obliged so to do - where to follow them would be, to the best of our discernment, to adopt unsound principles of interpretation. In the present instance we can go with them in every particular except the conclusion. We concede, then, that the language of Paul in Philippians 1:23, and the context, conveys the following meaning: first, that he had only two states in view, viz., life and death; as he says in verse 20, “So now, also, Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” [not to me, but to the cause of Christ]; that is, it would be equal gain to the cause of Christ whether he should live or die. Second, that he knew not which he should choose, provided it was placed before him as a matter of choice, for he had a desire to depart and be with Christ, but it was more needful for his brethren that he should remain. If he should consult his own personal desires, he would depart; he longed to go: but then the church could illy spare him; they had need of his presence and his labors. “To abide in the flesh,” says he, “is more needful for you.” Perhaps the apostle here had his eye upon the grievous wolves, of which he elsewhere speaks; and he knew it was needful that he should live to beat back those fell destroyers from the fold of Christ. Third, that by the expression, “to depart,” he meant death. Then, says the objector, you agree with us that when a saint dies he is immediately with Christ in Heaven? By no means, we reply. If you take this testimony to prove the conscious state, it is vulnerable still in its most vital point; for it does not state how long a time elapses between the departing and the being with Christ: it does not say that the being with Christ is immediate. But it would seem so, from the manner in which it is expressed, says one; and, we reply, it would not be proper to express it in any other manner, since a person absolutely unconscious, as in death, has no perception whatever of a lapse of time, and the next event of which he has any knowledge, is what opens to him beyond the resurrection. No perceptible time elapses to the dead between their death and the resurrection. When Abel shall come forth at the trump of God, it will seem to him but an instant before, that he was falling beneath the murderous blows of Cain.MOI 56.1

    Says Bishop Law, “The Scriptures, in speaking of the connection between our present and future being, do not take into the account our intermediate state in death; no more than we in describing the course of any man’s actions, take into account the time he sleeps. Therefore, the Scriptures (to be consistent with themselves) must affirm an immediate connection between death and the judgement. Hebrews 9:27; 2 Corinthians 5:6, 8.MOI 58.1

    It may be objected again, that Paul, according to this view, would gain nothing by departing, since he would not be with Christ any sooner that if he should remain in the flesh a while longer. Measuring the time absolutely, he would not, to be sure; but measuring it by his consciousness (his only means of measurement), and he would; just as much sooner as what time elapsed between the penning of that sentence and the day of his death. Paul, then, in Philippians 1:23, does not contradict what he elsewhere says, when speaking of the dead, he tells us plainly that they are asleep.MOI 58.2

    t. 1 Thessalonians 4:14. “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him.” Yes, says the objector, bring them from Heaven; so they must now be with him there in a conscious state. Not quite so fast. The text speaks of those who sleep in Jesus. Do you believe those who have gone to Heaven are asleep? We always supposed that Heaven was a place of unceasing activity, and of uninterrupted joy. And, again, are all these persons going to be brought from Heaven asleep! What a theological incongruity! But, from what place are they brought, if not from Heaven? The same place, we answer, from which God brought our Lord Jesus Christ. And what place was that? See Hebrews 13:20: “Now the God of peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ,” etc. We may then read the text in Thessalonians, as follows: “For if we believe that Jesus died and God brought him from the dead, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him from the dead.” Simply this the text affirms and nothing more. It is a glorious pledge of the resurrection, and so far diametrically opposed to the conscious-state theory.MOI 58.3

    u. 2 Timothy 4:6. “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.” It is claimed that the departure here referred to is death, with which we agree. We take no exceptions to the remark so often made, “Departed this life,” etc. But as Paul does not here intimate that his departure was to be to Heaven, or even to any conscious intermediate state, we have no right to infer this.MOI 59.1

    v. Hebrews 12:23: “Ye are come to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written [in the Lamb’s book of life] in Heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” Of this passage, two expositions may be given. The first is, that the apostle here certainly could not mean to tell the Hebrews that they had in reality and literally come to mount Zion [see verse 22], to the city of the living God, etc. This, then, was only prospective; and they had come, on a change of dispensation, only by faith, to all these things which are mentioned. The spirits of just men made perfect are not, therefore, spoken of as existing in the present tense. Let it be noticed again that it does not say spirits made perfect, but men made perfect. But when is it that men are made perfect? He tells us in verse 39, 40 of chap. 11, of this same epistle to the Hebrews: “And these all [the ancient worthies] having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise, God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” The child of God in the nineteenth century may take up this language as his own. The Scriptures reveal to us God’s grand design of having the whole family perfected together when all those who are written in Heaven shall be gathered home.MOI 59.2

    The second exposition, and which is not without its force, is, that Paul is here simply contrasting the two dispensations, the Mosaic and the Christian (which is evidently the case, and equally true on the exposition above given), and that we, Christians, are come, or have come, in the present tense, to mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, etc. That is, that we are no longer, in this dispensation, to look to old Jerusalem, or to the earthly mount Zion, but to the Jerusalem above, the mother of us all; that we have come to it in this respect, that now our communication and intercourse is to be directly with it, without going through the circuitous medium of an outward priesthood, as in the former dispensation. In this sense, we have come to God and an innumerable company of angels [angels are more intimately connected with the believer and the work of this dispensation]; and to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in Heaven [we enjoy a closer union with those whose names are in the book of life than was ever experienced in any dispensation before]; and to the spirits of just men made perfect; that is, persons, perfected, not in the sense of Hebrews 11:40, which refers to the final glorification, but perfect as Christ makes us perfect here, through the justification of his blood and the sanctification of his Spirit. And the Christian of this dispensation does come directly “to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”MOI 60.1

    It is in this sense that Dr. Clarke understands the passage. He says:MOI 61.1

    The spirits of just men made perfect.” We cannot understand these terms without the assistance of Jewish phraseology. The Jews divide mankind into three classes. 1. The JUST PERFECT, tsaddikim gemurim. 2. The wicked perfect, reshaim gemurim. 3. Those between both, beinoniyim.MOI 61.2

    “1. The just perfect are those, First, who have conquered all brutal appetites and gross passions. Second, who have stood in the time of strong temptation. Third, who give alms with a sincere heart. Fourth, who worship the true God only. Fifth, who are not invidious. Sixth, those from whom God has taken yester hara, evil concupiscence, and given yester tob, the good principle.MOI 61.3

    2. The wicked perfect are those, First, who never repent. Second, they receive their portion in this life, because they can have none in the life to come, and are under the influence of yester hara, the evil principle.MOI 61.4

    “3. The intermediate are those who are influenced partly by the evil principle and partly by the good. See Schoettgen.MOI 61.5

    “In several parts of this epistle [to the Hebrews] teleios, the just man, signifies one who has a full knowledge of the Christian system, who is justified and saved by Christ Jesus; and the teteleiomenoi are the adult Christians, who are opposed to the nepioi, or babes, in knowledge and grace. See chap 5:12-14; 8:11; and Galatians 4:1-3. The spirits of just men made perfect, or the righteous perfect, are the full-grown Christians; those who are justified by the blood and sanctified by the Spirit of Christ. Being come to such, implies that spiritual union which the disciples of Christ have with each other, and which they possess how far soever separate; for they are all joined in one Spirit, Ephesians 4:3, 4; and of one soul, Acts 4:32. This is a unity which was never possessed even by the Jews themselves, in their best state; it is peculiar to real Christianity: as to nominal Christianity, wars and desolations between man and his fellows, are quite consistent with its spirit.” The reader is also referred to Dr. C.’s note at the end of the chapter. We are inclined to think that this latter exposition best expresses the sense of the passage.MOI 61.6

    w. 1 Peter 3:18, 19. “For Christ also hath once suffered, etc., being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit, by which, also, he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” A paraphrase of this passage will, we think, make all plain. Thus, Being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit, by which, also, he went [not when he died, but] when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing, etc., and preached to the spirits, or persons, in prison.MOI 62.1

    Dr. Clarke remarks on this passage, “He went and preached. By the ministry of Noah, one hundred and twenty years.” Thus, he places Christ’s going and preaching by his Spirit, in the days of Noah, where it evidently belongs, and not during the time that his body lay in the grave.MOI 62.2

    Again, he says, “The word πνευμασι, spirits, is supposed to render this view of the subject improbable, because this must mean disembodied spirits; but this certainly means righteous men, and men still in the church militant; and the Father of spirits, Hebrews 12:9, means men still in the body; and the God of the spirits of all flesh, Numbers 16:22, and 27:16, means men, not in a disembodied state.”MOI 62.3

    But, it may be asked, does it not speak of the spirits’ being in prison? and does not that expression denote a state of death, and show that men are conscious, and can be preached to, in death? Answer. We have seen that the preaching took place in the days of Noah, to men in this present state; and if the spirits, or persons, were in prison while they were hearing the preaching, that expression must mean their detention under the arrest of divine justice, their days being limited to a hundred and twenty years. Thus detained, and their doom appointed, they might be represented as being in prison, the judgments of God waiting either for their repentance, or for the expiration of the time allotted to them, that they might suffer the threatened doom. But if the preaching to them did not take place while they were in prison, and this expression denotes the state of death into which they have since fallen, and now are, then the passage furnishes no sort of proof for the conscious state; for it simply affirms that Christ, by his Spirit, went in the days of Noah and preached to those who are now in prison, or in a state of death. We will only remark finally, that to locate the scene here brought to view, beyond the grave, and to say that Christ’s soul or Spirit went, while his body lay in the grave, and preached to other souls which were detained somewhere after death where they could be benefited and reformed by Christ’s preaching, smells too strong of purgatory ever to be found on the lips of a Protestant. x. 2 Peter 1:14. “Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me.” It is here claimed that the “I” that speaks, and the “my” that is in possession of a tabernacle, is Peter’s soul, the man proper, and the tabernacle, is the body which he was going to lay off. That Peter here has reference to death, we doubt not; but it was to be as the Lord Jesus Christ had showed him. How had he shown him it would be? See John 21:18, 19: “But when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God.” Here we are shown that the “thou” and the “he,” claimed on 1 Peter 1:14, to be Peter’s soul, the man proper, was going to die, and by death glorify God. And Peter himself says in the next verse, “Moreover, I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.” Here, then, the same “my,” Peter’s soul, the man proper, recollect, which in the verse before is in the possessive case, and governed by decease, or death! Yes, Peter himself was going to die. We find no proof of a double entity here.MOI 63.1

    y. Revelation 6:9, 10. “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held; and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” Let us understand the real difficulty of this text, before we enter upon its exposition. We have seen in our examination of the words soul and spirit, that soul may and does sometimes mean the body, and that dead soul is as proper an expression as living soul. But it is claimed that the souls here must be alive, for they are heard to cry. Their consciousness is based upon their crying. For this reason, and no other, they are supposed to be intelligent and conscious. But this is far from a necessary conclusion. See Genesis 4:9, 10: “And the Lord said unto Cain.. the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.” Was the blood conscious? No; but it revealed the fact that a murder had been committed, a life taken, and thus it called for vengeance. See also Habakkuk 2:11; James 5:4, for other instances of similar expressions. So in Revelation, when the fifth seal was opened, John in symbolical vision saw the representation of an altar, and under that altar, like victims slain upon it and fallen by its side, he beheld those who had been martyred by the idolatry and superstition of Papal Rome; and their blood, even like the blood of Abel, cried to Almighty God for vengeance. And all this is in the strictest accordance with that beautiful figure of rhetoric, personification, which is “the attributing of life, action, intelligence, and personality to inanimate objects,” and without which language itself would scarcely be complete.MOI 64.1

    But let us look at the picture here brought to view, according to the popular interpretation. First, we have souls under the altar of incense in Heaven - souls, it would seem, shut up in a certain place in Heaven; and second, these souls cry for vengeance on those who had slain them, or rather driven them from their bodies on earth; but these very persons, if current theology be correct, had been the means of their going directly to Heaven, had caused their entrance into all its unspeakable and perpetual bliss. Act they well or consistently to call for vengeance on such? Is the life on earth so much happier than the life in Heaven, and so superior to it that vengeance must be taken on those who presume to shorten it by ushering us into the latter? It would hardly seem so. But, third, these souls call upon God to avenge their blood; but we did not suppose that an immaterial, invisible, indivisible, indestructible, unimaginable, popular soul, had blood that could be shed, as is here represented. Is there not something of incongruity in the view usually taken of this passage? We think all must admit it.MOI 65.1

    We will now answer in order a few such questions as may suggest themselves to the mind of the reader, according to our view of this passage, and so dismiss it. 1. Who or what are the souls under the altar? Answer. Those who had been slain by Papal Rome: the fifth seal, before the opening of which they were slain, denoting the time of the Reformation. It was during this decline of Papal rule that their fellow-servants and brethren were to be slain as they had been; and during this time it was said to them that they should rest. Job 3:17, 18: “There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary be at rest. There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor.” How true of these victims of Papal persecution! John in Revelation 20:4, speaks again of these souls: “I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus ... and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” This shows that the time does not come for these souls to live until the resurrection. 2. What and where is the altar? It denotes the place where they were slain, and was “upon earth,” says Dr. Clarke, “not in Heaven.” 3. How could they cry if they were not conscious and intelligent? Ans. Even as Abel’s blood did cry. 4. And white robes were given them? Showing the decision of Heaven on their characters: a good pledge that they will join the general assembly around the great white throne. Revelation 7:9. z. Revelation 22:8, 9. “And I John ... 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.” This text is supposed to prove that one of the old prophets came to John as an angel, showing that the dead exist in a conscious state. But it does not so teach. The angel simply stated that he was John’s fellow-servant, and the fellow-servant of John’s brethren, the prophets, and the fellow-servant of them which keep the sayings of this book. The being of whom they were all worshipers together was the great God. Therefore, says the angel, do not worship me, since I am only a worshiper with you at the throne of God; but worship God. This angel had doubtless been sent to the ancient prophets to reveal things to them,as he had now come to John. Such we believe to be the legitimate teaching of this scripture, the last that is found in the book of God, supposed to teach a conscious state.MOI 66.1

    We have now examined a whole alphabet of scriptures which are brought forward as objections to the view we advocate. We have found that when interpreted in accordance with the acknowledged rule that scripture should explain scripture, many of them become positive testimony for the unconscious state of the dead; and those that still retain their meaning under a vail of mystery, we have abundantly shown prove nothing for the other side, and so, at most, are but neutral.MOI 67.1

    But this argument has been rather negative than positive. We now propose to bring forward a few scriptures which prove beyond all the arts of sophistry or the blindness of prejudice, the view we hold. The patient and candid attention of the reader is still invited.MOI 67.2

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