INDICTMENT OF ETERNAL
THE SELF-NEGATION OF A
TRIED, JUDGED AND CONDEMND OUT OF ITS
OWN MOUTH BY THE ARGUMENTS AND ADMISSIONS
OF ITS STAUNCHEST ADVOCATED
By E. D. SLOUGH
Church of Christ in Terra Haute, Indiana
F. L. Rown, Publisher
Chapter 1: Language
Chapter 2: Natural Immortality
Chapter 3: Scriptural Immortality
Chapter 4: Death
Chapter 5: The Resurrection
Chapter 6: Paradise
Chapter 7: Punishment—Judgment—Justice
Chapter 8: Destruction
Chapter 9: The Rich Man And Lazarus
Chapter 10: Review of Campbell
Chapter 11: Review of Nichols and Denny
Chapter 12: Chain of Absurdities
Appendix by William Robert West, WHAT ABOUT ENOCH AND ELIJAH?
A NEW FOREWORD
By William Robert West
E. D. Slough was the preacher at the church of Christ; Terre Haute, Indiana in 1914 when, “The Indictment Of Eternal Torment, The Self-negation Of A Monstrous Doctrine” was printed. It has long been out of print and used copies are hard to find. It is now in pubic domain and can be printed by anyone.
His book is as good as “The Fire That Consumes” by Edward Fudge, but it did not receive much circulation. Brother Fudge believes there is a Hell and all the lost will be in it, but believes it will be a short Hell that will end with the death of those that has been in Hell for a while, and they will be tormented by God for as long as they are in Hell.
The fate of those not in Christ according to:
Š According to Slough
o Death – Resurrection – Judgment – Second death
Š According to Fudge
o Death – Resurrection – Judgment – Hell – Second death
During the Judgment there most likely will be fear and regret when the lost see what they have lost by not being a Christian. Fudge then adds a place between the Judgment and the second death that is not in the Bible, names it “Hell” and says God will torment the lost, some with more torment, some with less torment before the second death.
This is an excellent book.
In the year 1415 the corruptions of Rome were unbearable. She was mistress of the land. None could stay her hand. Unbelief meant the dungeon. Protest meant the stake. A man stood up with courage and shouted into the ears of Rome “abomination”? That little word made Rome angry and she shouted back “heretic.” But she stopped not there. She summoned him to appear in the council and answer charges of heresy, demanding him to recant. He submitted this proposition—“Disprove my arguments and I recant.” Said Rome, “We’ll disprove them with the torch.” And they burned him forthwith. And John Huss was silent. We repudiate that deed. The whole church despises it with horror. The whole Protestant world revolts at the thought of intolerance. Nor do I believe there is a brother in the Church of Christ but that abhors it. Yet, we are liable to manifest that spirit with words, though we would go no farther.
During the dark ages, when superstition and tyranny reigned over the better judgments of men, dominating every civil right of liberty, and subduing ever aspiration to advance intellectually, the gospel light was in chaotic blackness, handicapped by an intolerant mob of ungodly and profane rulers, whose highest ambition was to reduce humanity to a condition of absolute serfdom and ignorance, that they might eternally fleece them of their gold and their blood, that they themselves might revel in beastly sensuality and luxury. So that age is a historical reality, the blackest, the most inhuman, the most vile, and intolerant that ever disgraced the ledger of events. And a memorial to all coming ages of the fruits of ungodliness.
Under such a series of profligacy, licentiousness, idolatry, ignorance, and superstition, nothing could result but the very condition that did result. And the very horror of it all, it all occurred under the garb of religion. In that sacred name, which has been a thousand times desecrated, dungeons have been prepared, fires have been kindled for martyrs, and every device genius could contrive was made the tool of usurpation and diabolical power to suppress the liberty of thought, that the mind of men might be effectually bound in the fetters of espionage to serve the god of greed, and the Lucifer’s called priests and rulers. And even a mind with a tendency to reason for itself was persecuted and intimidated from every source by the instruments of brute degenerates, and has accomplished just what these men anticipated—A plane where the few do the thinking for the many.
Eventually, this resulted in a revolution, costing the blood of countless hosts of men and women and children, and because of the confusion of mind, it broke up into numerous factions and parties, each confined and circumscribed by the same principles which had dominated their rights under the galling yoke that had just thrown off. And with them also, a departure from set rules and fixed principles, was another denunciation, and so sensitive to those creeds where those parties that they would shrink back from one of their member who would have the audacity or courage to question their truths as they would from a leper or an infectious disease. Sheltered thus under religious zeal, the hearts of men become congealed and settled into a condition of mimics, rejecting all ideas not in harmony with that of their own teacher.
An inquisition of chains and torches is not less preferable than the perpetual subjection to doctrines, which palsy the mind; and against which men dare not lift a voice lest they be decried as heretics, and a menace to the cause of Christ. This age of the world, prolific with the religious “isms” of men, eager to separate themselves in the livery of sect, and follow a favorite crowd under which they were reared, is the true menace to the cause and progress of truth.
Thus far I have spoken in a general way. But there is a particular way to which I wish to call your attention. For so long as men close their eyes to possible light, they cannot see. Out of this mass of Egyptian darkness light is slowly evolving. I can see the breaking of the dawn, and the reflected rays of light shooting over the hills! But with this twentieth century civilization, we (the Church of Christ) dare not say we have reached the summit of knowledge, the pinnacle of perfection. To do so would be an expression of egotism, for all who have scanned the word of God will be constrained to say with Paul, “Oh, the depths of the riches both of wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable his judgments and his ways past finding out.”
Men of renown and scholarship have for ages sought for proof on the pages of nature’s book, for the immortality of the souls of all men. My aim will be to show they have all alike failed. Truth is modest in the presence of great men. Speculation is the field of their exploration. No wonder these profound thinks are baffled to astonishment as they wrestle with the deep things of God, building as they do great structures upon the passing phantoms of the brain. The popular feeling that somehow by irrevocable fate, or unchangeable law, once in being always in being. The delusion which tells of in inborn principle in man both immortal in indestructible, that as we depart here instantaneously awake in a new world with new power and realizations, and upon which fabrication has been built eternal torment, purgatory, and a host of other doctrines, have been sounded out from out pulpits, periodicals, funeral sermons and fireside talks. It has permeated every village and hamlet; it is worldwide in its scope, and its defense.
We charge our neighbors with crooked reasoning. They can justly retort, thou are the man, for we are no less bound up with early training than those whom we criticize. We dare not raise the voice against the tenets of faith more than they, without expecting in return a volley denunciation and contempt. Picturing the future of the unsaved with all the horror that words can employ, an eternity of woe and misery, and everlasting existence of torture. And the very illustrations used to prove it are a positive denial of it. And yet I presume not one of them has noticed it, because they use the same proofs over and over.
Often have my friends exhorted me to be cautious in the agitation of convictions contrary to the established teaching of the Church; that it would be in opposition to all the scholarship of the world; that I would be practically alone, and bring the scorn of the religious world upon me. Yet those same friends would give a word painting of eternal torment that would make Hopkins turn over in his grave and give a sigh of relief. Henceforth let the logically remove the serious objections against their peculiar tent, with the word of God, rather than by scholastic writers. Thought it be an error, they would not call a long nurtured theory in question in fear of combating scholarship. Verily, scholarship will not tear down its own building. Shall we muzzle out inherited right of free thinking and free speaking and bow to the mandates of theological speculations? Shall we decide that investigation of disputed points of the Bible ought to be suppressed to honor the scholarship back of them? There is no delusion in the name of religion preached among men that has no scholarship back of it. Then why oppose error at all? Though I should get no hearing, I prefer to be alone in the truth, than with the multitude in error. But I am not along. Thousands are in sympathy with these arguments, many of them representing the highest channels of learning. But, on the other hand, thousand of great learned men have lived in error all their lives, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. While many of the weak and lowly have found the truth and laid hold of it. If all ages of the world many thing have been withheld from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes. Learning too often leads to speculation, rather than an earnest search for the truth. For that reason truth in the hands of an intellectual dwarf has often been a source of much annoyance to the mighty.
Some place great weight on the number of people believing in this theory. No weaker argument could be brought forth. Numbers prove nothing to be true. They only prove popularity. Not a dogma taught in the world without finding its friends. Many of the most absurd tenets are advocated by millions. Mahometanism with 176,834,000, Confucianism with 256,000,000, Hindooism with 190,000,000, Buddhism with 147,900,000, Polytheism with 117,681,000, Catholicism with 230,800,000—what a strong argument this would be if there was any proof in numbers. What a weak argument Protestantism with 90,000,000, could bring against it, and the Church of Christ but in insignificant number even of those. These statistics are taken from the New National Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, page 2175.
An argument founded on the basic principles of a proposition, principles, which are self-evident, the ultimate conclusion, if we reasons soundly, will be the truth.
“If we would act like sincere searchers for truth, we should survey every argument with a careful and unbiased mind, whether it agree with our former opinion or no. We should give every reasoning its full force, and weigh it in our sedatest judgment…The best way to try the arguments brought against our own opinions is to sit down and endeavor to give a solid answer one by one to every arguments brought by the author to support his doctrine. And in this attempt, if we find there are some arguments, which we are not able to answer fully to our own minds, we should then begin to bethink ourselves, whether we have not hitherto been in a mistake, and whether the defender of the contrary sentiments may not be in the right. Such a method as this will forbid us to pronounce at once against those doctrines, and those writers, which are contrary to our sentiments. And we shall endeavor to find solid arguments to refute their position before we establish ourselves in a contrary position…In the composure of men remember, it is not their reason but your own that is given you to guide you when you come to the years of discretion. Never apply yourselves to read any author with a determination beforehand either for him or against him, or with a settled resolution to believe or to disbelieve, to conform or oppose whatsoever he says. But always with a design to lay your mind open to truth and to embrace it wherever you find it, as well as to reject falsehood, though it appear under ever so fair a disguise”—Watts on the Mind, pp 248-51-74.
I care not for the contempt this will bring forth. I ask only that this be subjected to the most vigorous test by an honest heart. If you are right you will see my error; if I am right you will see your own error, so after all some good may be accomplished. The line drawn deep, broad and distinct, and on every page we will know just where we stand. The Bible cannot agree with “Tom and Dick” if “Tom and Dick” do not agree with one another. But “Tom and Dick’s” faith should not have any intrinsic weight on the subject. We protest against their policies. They have confused the public mind by grinding out of their theological burrs, new meanings into common words. They have thrown false colors over the scriptures. They have inherited in a large measure their faith, and in this way religious heredity has muzzled the powers of their reason. So why let Tom and Dick forever close our eyes and seal our mouths, dictating to us a religious teaching? On its very face it is an obvious farce and an extravagant burlesque on the great architect of the universe.
The issue before us in this work is that unfounded theory of “natural immortality, or the deathless nature of the soul,” which if ever established must include the dog and the bear. Let that dogma be confirmed and the whole structure of eternal torment must stand forever unscathed. Fundamental to the entire doctrine is this theory. If it stand, the conclusion is inevitable. If it falls, the whole fabric built upon it crushes into atoms.
Reader, if you will kindly indulge me the time, I will build a wall against that error, towards which the powers of scholasticism will blow their mighty blasts in vain. And the theory of eternal torment, growing of necessity out of the notion that the spirit of man is indestructible, will be shown to be the grossest error that ever cast a shadow over the fair universe of God. An error that has been pounded and “propounded” into the hearts of men and women, both in and out of the church, from the days of Socrates, 500 years before Christ, down to the twentieth century. You dare not deny that Socrates and Plato, his pupil, are the originators and perpetrators of this doctrine. And it is further seen by men as apparently confirmed by the parables and metaphors of revelation.
Some one may ask what does it matter if we do believe it? It matters much. Let me point you to some of its mischief. What caused Universalism to rise up and deny the future retribution? That very doctrine of natural immortality. How did it cause it? This way—they believed the spirit of man indestructible. They saw a furnace of fire in scripture opening its jaws to receive countless hosts. They know the fire could only torture such a spirit. They saw no release from it: they saw in the distant eternity the writhing millions of humanity no nearer the end of their suffering than when they entered. They thought “horror!” Such would make God a tyrant, more terrible than a thousand inquisitions of the dark ages. They cried “absurdity.” They cried right, too. So they devised a crude escape. They figured it all away, and agreed to take all men into heaven irrespective of moral qualification. All punishment became to them reformative, and, ultimately, the last man would depart for glory.
From whence came the soul-benumbing ingredients of Calvin’s Eternal Election of much of the human race to everlasting misery in a lake of fire, regardless of moral attire, choice or conduct” Came it not from the gangrenes of putrescent mental sore? Came it not from a scattering mind, incapacitated to gather, associate and concentrate evidence? With him, the deathless nature of the soul was a profound reality—it was unquestionable—to doubt was to exhibit weakness. He saw God revealed in scripture with powers sweeping all infinity. He saw some intimations of an election, a pre-election, a foreknowledge, and following this lead he unconsciously forced to the grossest absurdity the mind of man can entertain. Lay your premises in error, and draw your conclusions in harmony, and you have a falsehood masquerading in your brain in the guise of the angel of truth.
What caused induced the rise of “spiritualism?” That dark, deceitful pretense of talking with the dead. Any one may talk to the dead, but the dead answers not. These people also were repulsed by the doctrine of endless misery, and immediately rejected the Bible, but held tenaciously to the eternal perpetuity of the spirit of man, and invented a diabolical fare for its chart of unseen activity. Notwithstanding the Divine denunciations against it as the work of devilish agencies.
Upon what is “Purgatory” and Saint Worship” founded? Are not its entire fortifications resting upon that one delicate thread? These delusive and pernicious evils of Catholicism, destined to drag man and women, boys and girls down to an irredeemable fate, under the “spell” that a failure here means but a little longer term of purification in the fires of Purgatory.
Again, from that theory, legions of infidels and atheist have been created: besides, thousands more have wandered off into every form and bypath of delusion. Denying the conclusions and consequences to which the theory leads, man have given wings to scores of false notions withdrawing from it entirely, or making some sour of apology for God as did Thompson in the “Theism,” “that it belongs to the necessities of existence and cannot therefore be otherwise.”
The objector may reply, “Well, because men corrupt and misunderstand truth is no proof against it.” I grant it: but when you strive to teach thinking people a doctrine against which their whole nature rebels as utterly horrible and unbelievable, not all of them will receive it; some will if you quote scripture, even though it be the very opposite of human ideas of justice. But this class has been made to believe the first absurdity of natural immortality, or the indestructible nature of the soul, and then when led to the Bible. Build its teachings upon their convictions, the saw the conclusion would be absurdity so gross that their conception of God was shivered to pieces, and rather than destroy all their sense of propriety by accepting the meaning of a lake of fire, filled with humanity for eternal duration, they at once either rejected the whole Bible or literally butchered its teaching with the knife of ignorance.
Let these people be assured that man is a created being, and that the Author can both create and destroy. Let them learn that there is a real destruction, terrific in its import, literal in its results—that the choice is between life and death, not between life and everlasting misery in something equal to a lake of fire—and you will have hushed their mouths forever. You ask, how? Simple enough. They see and know of the laws of all nations bringing men before the tribunal of justice and demanding his life because it been rightfully forfeited. When their Creator demands their life, to satisfy their abominations, and they have nothing where with to pay but their life, they must still abide by the sense of justice they approved for others.
This book courts no man’s friendship that is not friend to the most rigid search for truth. It is not impoverished by limits of freedom. It will cross the path of error fearlessly. Some will say hard thing about it—that is already anticipated.
Luke 16:23 is used as a proof text by the clergy to prove that at death the spirit departs at once to some indefinable place of joy or sorry—punishment if wicked—and remain in that state of torment as the parable reveals it, till the day of resurrection, and then comes forth to be “judged” and sentenced to everlasting misery. Now that is the way they preach it, and there is no disputing it, either; but while they are preaching it that way the Apostle Peter is declaring that the “unjust” are “reserved” unto the day of judgment to be punished. Now, their theory, as they preach it, is based on the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, while Peter’s testimony is of the simplest and most obvious clearness. Peter may be wrong—and he is, if they are right. 2 Cor. 5:1, 8, is used in conjunction with the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus to prove an immediate entrance into heaven at death, or into a state of happiness that cannot be distinguished from the descriptions they give of heaven, and in which Paul evidently teaches the presence of the Lord occurs in the “new house” from heaven (or immortality), while Paul declares in 1 Cor. 15:54 that this “immortal body” will not be put on till the resurrection of the dead, at the last day.
THE INDICTMENT OF ETERNAL TORMENT
“The immortality of the soul is a fundamental article of the Christian system.”—Dictionary, edition 1848, Noah Webster.
“I have a firm conviction that our soul is an existence of indestructible nature, whose working is from eternity to eternity.”—Goethe.
“The spirit of man goes to God who give it. This is proof of the immortal principle in man, and of an eternal existence”—E. G. Denny, December 28, 1911.
“The wicked go away into everlasting torment. It shall never, never end. If after enduring it all for twice ten thousand times ten thousand years, they might have a deliverance, or as least an abatement, it were less terrible.”--Wm. Davidson, sermon on the judgment.
“Human language is inadequate to represent fully the dreadful realities of the lost”—Johnson. “People’s New Testament, with Notes.”
Out of your own mouth shall I judge you (Luke 19:22). And the world shall judge you. On the borderline between the known and the unknown, it the playground where shadows and imaginations meet; where fancies and visions flit across the mind; and where doctrines of man are spawn. A doctrine is noting if not founded the basic principles of truth. If it is assumed it is worthless, and if the arguments adduced in defense of a proposition turn out to be chaff—the cheapest sort of failure—it is plausible inference that the position is groundless, and under ordinary circumstances would warrant reprobation.
Doctrines founded on assumed premises and “ifs” is not the proper employment of language, but the abuse of it, and a further abuse of the common confidence of humanity. It is this fact that suggested the paramount importance of this chapter under the above caption.
Is it reasonable to suppose that, with a language to choose from so prolific in terms that would have conveyed the meaning sought, they would deliberately pass them and select words whose meaning must all be reversed in the plain teaching of the Bible in order to understand God? Is it reasonable that, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we would be handed a scheme of redemption carrying an invisible in indefinite meaning in teaching us, the opposite of what the same words teach us in our common exchange of conversation? Yet that such a change has come over the words life, death, immortality, punishment, consume, devour, etc., in their transition from the Dictionary to the Bible, is a fact patent on the face of theological definitions in contradistinction to the universally accepted meanings of said words.
Modern theologians try to get out of the terms that were used by explaining that we are not to take the words in their common meaning, and right here is foundation of the greatest abuse and exploitation of human language on this mundane sphere. When we drop the common meaning of a word what have we left? It is nothing but the license of unlimited liberty to attach to it whatsoever strikes our fancy. Thus the sounds we hear are a thousand uncertainties.
Paul said: “And even things without life giving sound—except they give a distinction in the sounds—how shall it be known what is piped or harped? So likewise you, except you utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? For you shall speak into the air.” (1 cor. 14:7,9.)
What do the people know about a destruction that does not destroy? Could they describe it? Or about a consumption that does not consume? Could they tell? Or a death that does not kill? Can it be defended? No. Even the preachers who proclaim it in season and out cannot tell.
“It is not until we have ascertained that the ‘literal’ meaning of a term will serve that we have any liberty to annex a metaphorical meaning to it at all.”—Eclectic Review, August, 1845, p. 155.
Were that rule honored and adhered to as it should be, more than half the theology of the world would be swept down in a moment in one great cataclysm. But the clergy and scholars have adopted the figurative meaning exclusively on life and death, and all accessory words, except in the parables and symbols and metaphors, where there use is evidently ambiguous as can be judged by the nature of the subject, and its essentially dark and obscure sayings, and the literal sense of the word is pressed with intrepid zeal and persistence, or so much and so far as the theory at stake requires. And because they do this, they regard the doctrine established sufficiently to bring all others into disfavor.
I frankly confess such a course it the very opposite of the one pursued here. And I shall take the “rules”—good ones—laid down by our champions in debate and superiors in the pulpit and show they have dishonored and disgraced the very guide set forth to light the way, and only feigned to follow it.
That charge may seem severe, but none too severe if true. It will be shown to be true beyond the remotest doubt that could arise. And will point out wherein they oppose each other’s sides of there necessary rules, and oppose each other’s conclusion, which places them in a hopeless state of confusion, making it impossible for them to teach the people the truth. For whether the people see it or not, the teachers are contradictory of the choice and validity of a fixed rule of interpretation.
I here introduce a rule laid down by Clark Braden in his discussion with Hughey, and which Braden assures us is in accord with all authorities on the subject. Fix it in your mind and you shall see ere long that not only preachers and speakers and writers, but the man Braden himself, literally mocked it. And it is this phase, which makes the plight a thousand fold more difficult.
“It is a well known rule in interpretation, that words must be taken in their primary and commonly accepted meaning, unless we are compelled by the context to give other meaning…so says Blacksktone, Hedge, Whately, and all writers on such matters…we want definitions, primary and ordinary, not possible meaning or secondary meanings”—Braden-Hughey Debate, pp. 30, 31, 146.
Nothing is the matter with that rule. It is a splendid one. It will be readily accepted by most Bible students, and accounted a necessity by all authorities.
As a prelude to numerous instances to be cited, we will examine one word as a brief test case.
According to references at the beginning of this chapter, it is generally and almost universally believed and taught that man is immortal by nature. And so we hear them talk of “natural immortality.”
The New Testament abounds in promises of immortality to a certain class—“those who seek it.”
Immortality must mean something in the Bible different from that of “natural immortality,” and they define it “immortal happiness.” The Dictionary, and the Greek Lexicon, tells us immortality means “exempt from death.” Neither of them defines it as happiness. Natural immortality, men define as “endless existence.” They assume it. The Bible nowhere speaks of it. But if it were true they define if correct. But Bible immortality, because it tells who may inherit it and who may not, is defined as happiness, nothing in the context requiring such a construction; in fact, the context demands the literal sense—endless life. Here is Braden’s rule, the Dictionary and Lexicon all guiding us to the true meaning of scripture. I call Barden, Deny, Sommers, Morris, and any other living man, to answer why this difference! And to say if it isn’t a clear case of perversion of language.
In a subsequent chapter I have pointed out where Mr. Campbell said if a word can have any other than a literal meaning, it would be begging the question to adopt the literal.
Let us reason this matter a little. Campbell was a great scholar, professor, speaker, writer, and debater, and it was he who made the above remark.
About the same time the Eclectic Review said we must determine the literal meaning will not serve before we have any right to adopt the figurative. Mr. Braden follows in recent years, just as well informed as Campbell, as well educated, as powerful in debate, and as deep in his writings, and takes direct issue with Campbell. Neither Campbell, nor Braden, then could decide the question for us. We must decide for our selves after we hear the rules and the scripture to which they are applied. Still later comes Mr. Morris, of Kansas, perhaps the equal of Campbell or Braden, matured in study, and sides with Campbell, holding the figurative meaning the greatest. And thus we might go on indefinitely lining them up on either side, proving that they have on fixed rule of interpretation, from the fact that they ignore all rules, and each other’s position.
We believe with the Eclectic Review, and with Whately, Hedges, Blackstone, and Braden’s rule, that the literal sense of the world must be retained and pressed unless the context shows it would involve an absurdity—then will be time to modify its meaning.
Here are these leaders, divided upon the most simple and necessary rules that have been approved by the scholarship, which opportunity and industry could inspire. What then must the people do who are listening for the truth? What would you expect them to do? They can be no less divided than you are, and no more agreed. And the cause of truth suffers.
It is the height of folly to seek a figurative meaning when the literal will stand and be intelligible and sensible. It is an almost infallibly safe rule to observe, and in which human nature will acquiesce in unity.
It is a dangerous and unprofitable art that traffics in the sliding sense of words, leaving impressions with the people that are untrue.
The question to be asked is not, does the Bible say it; but, is it figurative or literal? The Bible may say it, and we may be unconsciously injecting into it another sense altogether foreign.
No interpreter but will admit the Bible abounds in both figurative and literal terms; in parables, allegories, metaphors, types, shadows and illustrations of numerous thought and variety. The interpreter’s business is to be able to sift them down to mutual agreement, that the obvious literal texts may be confirmed by the figurative, and not that the whole system of teaching be reversed, with a figurative meaning ground into the common words, and urged as the greatest meaning. And this is the very situation and complication confronting us today.
It is therefore not a misstatement of facts when we charge that these spiritual lights of the church have laid down and sanctioned strict measures governing the interpretation of symbolic language, and have been the first to depart from them. Many will be brought to notice and their own violation of said rules made manifest. Suppose that fact should be known by the people, that their teachers absolutely ignore their own rules for interpreting scripture, and would it not have an unsalutary effect? They would justly be incensed with such a breach of propriety.
Mr. Trench, a noted scholar and scriptorian, saw the same liberty, the same latitude, the same looseness with the sacred text as we find today: persons laboring to establish weak tottering theories from metaphors, and the same results flowing out from them. Indeed, it is a practice hoary with age. And it is made possable the more easily from this fact.
I do not say there is a difference between the narration of real events and the narration of parables. A parable reads like a real event, and that is why our commentators become confounded in their employment of them. Yet it seems strange that this should give us trouble. It would be as simple as the alphabet, should we but start right. And any one who does start right, will be dumbfounded at every step at the extent the simple words of the English language have suffered violence at the hands of undesigning men perhaps, but men, nevertheless, who could plead “bias” with more propriety than “ignorance.” And when it is done, they force it into credulous ears with all the power a Paul would use before “Felix” reasoning of the judgment to come.
Here are French’s thoughts concerning it:
“The parables may not be made first sources of doctrine. Doctrines otherwise, and already established, may be illustrated, an indeed further confirmed by them. But it is not allowable to constitute doctrines first by their aid…this rule, however had been forgotten often, and controversialists, looking around for arguments with which to sustain some weak position, one for which they find no other support in scripture, often invent for themselves support in these”—Trench on the Parables.
Not only do men define words with a double meaning, and press the figurative where every rule and context loudly demand the literal sense, but they take up the grand narrative of the Lord’s preaching called parables and proclaim them as “real circumstances,” assiduously denouncing those who object.
We will give you an authoritative definition of many of the words mostly concerned in this work. Definitions that are sound, solid, and unquestionable, and will invite any test at your command and desire.
For the English I shall use Funk and Wagnall’s “New Standard Dictionary,” 1913 edition.
“Life—The state of being alive, that condition in which animals and plants exist, as distinguished from inorganic substances, and from dead bodies.”
“Immortality—The quality or state of being immortal. Exemption from death or annihilation; life without end.”
“Death—Cessation of physical life. The total and permanent cessation of the functions or vital actions of an organism.”
“Mortal—Subject to death. Destined to die.”
“Destroy—To bring to ruin or to demolish in any way.”
“Destruction—The act of destroying or overthrowing; demolition, devastation, ruin, perish, to pass away from life or existence: be destroyed or consumed, hence to be lost, come to naught, wither, decay.”
“Burn—To destroy by combustion or heat, to consume.”
“Consume—To destroy gradually as by burning, eating, etc., or by using up, wearing out, wasting or squandering.”
“Annihilate—To put out of existence, destroy absolutely.”
“Punishment—Pain or any other penalty inflicted on a person for a crime or offence, by an authority to which the offender is subject.”
“Unquenchable—That cannot be quenched; inextinguishable.” (Webster’s Unabridged.)
“Quenched—To extinguish, to put out.” (Webster’s Unabridged.)
These definitions are the primary meanings of the words, which we call the literal meaning.
Just because all these words are used in scripture with a different sense from the Dictionary meaning, I will make assurance doubly sure, and give another authority, the Encyclopedic Dictionary.
“Life—Existence as a living being, as opposed to one in the literal sense dead.”
“Destroy—To demolish, to pull to pieces, to annihilate, to ruin, to consume, to kill, to extirpate, to devour, to put an end to.”
“Destruction—State of being destroyed. The act of killing, of destroying. Destruction is an act of immediate violence.”
“Consume—To destroy as by decomposition, waste of fire. ‘And the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty’ (2 Kings 1:2). Bring to utter ruin, to exterminate, to devour, to cause to disappear.”
“Devour—To destroy or consume rapidly and violently. To annihilate, to do away with utterly.”
“Annihilate—To reduce to non-existence in the literal sense of the word. To reduce anything to non-existence by dissolving it into its constituent elements, and thus destroying its distinctive character.”
“Punishment—That which is inflicted as a penalty imposed by law.”
“Death—That state of any animal, being or plant, in which the vital functions have totally and permanently ceased to act. The extinction of life; destruction, capital punishment.”
I have a special object in citing these two authorities on words, which will be seen subsequently.
For the Greek, the definitions are taken from “Liddel and Scott’s Greek Lexicon.”
It is a mark of unfairness to attach peculiar meanings to the Greek works, which are found in the New Testament Scriptures, when those meaning are absent in the Greek Lexicons. If they were defined thus and so in the Greek, we would expect to abide by them in the New Testament. But since it is not true, we have a perfect right to object.
And this new definition given to the words in scripture which has no relevancy whatsoever to their native tongue, and which they receive in the transition, is nothing more nor less than the opinions of men, the very thing the Lord condemned in the Jews for annulling the law by traditionary teachings.
If one man has the right to say that a word found in the Greek Testament has a different meaning than the word meant in its primary sense, then all men have that right, and there can be no fixed rule of interpretation; and that is the prime reason why we have no fixed rule, and why every man has a rule of his own, ever ignoring it.
But grant that the apostles knew what they wanted to say, and selected such words from the current language as would convey their meaning. Believing this to be the true rule of interpretation, the definitions of the following Greek words are the definitions used in the Greek classics:
“Bios”—Time or course of life. (Luke 8:14)
“Zooa”—One’s living, substance: (later) life, existence.
“Zaaoo”—Properly of animal life; to live. (Matt. 17:63)
“Thanatos”—Death, whether natural or violent. (Luke 2:16)
“Thnatos”—Liable to death, mortal. (2 Cor. 4:11)
“Paucha”—Breath, life, spirit. (Acts 20:10)
“Athanasia” (ethanatios)—Undying, immoral; opp. To Thnatos. (1 Cor. 15:53, 54)
“Aphthartor”—Incorruptible, imperishable (1 Cor. 15:52)
“Phthartos”—Corruptible, destructible, perishable. (Rom. 1:23)
“Phtheiroo”—To corrupt, spoil, ruin, destroy. (1 Cor. 15:33)
“Ollumi”—To destroy, consume, make an end of, to kill, to slay.
“Olethros”—Ruin, destruction, death. (1 Cor. 5:5)
“Apollumi”—A stronger form of ‘Olklumi.’ To destroy utterly, to kill, to slay. (1 Cor. 1:19)
“Apoolea”—Loss, destruction. (Mark 14:4)
“Kathairesis”—A putting down, destroying, killing, slaying. (2 Cor. 10:4)
“Suntrimma”—A fracture, a stumbling bloc, offence. (Rom. 3:16)
“Asbestor”—Unquenchable, inextinguishable. (Matt. 3:12)
“Kolasis”—A pruning or checking the growth of trees. Chastisement, correction, punishment. (Matt. 25:46)
Now here is a list of Greek words found scattered throughout the Greek New Testament, and their English equivalents which we have in the English New Testament, and as we find them in the English dictionary. There is no difference in the meaning of those Greek and English words. They are interchangeable, and we know what they mean.
Upon these clear and simple definitions I stand and will remain until the discrepancies between the theory of endless misery and the Bible are swept into oblivion. And I invite a free-handed co-operation in this effort to rid the church of the greatest theological tangle that now remains as obstruction to the progress of the truth.
Space forbids giving each passage in which the above words occur, not would it be commendable, so I have given but one. Nor do I undertake to say that the above words are the only ones occurring in the New Testament of similar meaning. But let the common meaning of the words be carried to the word of God as in every day life, and the end of all argument will be at hand; and in no other way can the agitation be ended; and in no other way should it be.
Spiritualism, Universalism, Russellism, prayers for the dead and to the dead, Christian Science, Advocates of the Larger Hope, and long list of others will of necessity fade from existence. Introduce in their place the sure and irremedial lost of life and pleasures result of ungodliness, and you will have a gospel like the apostles preached, both comprehensive and just, and such a gospel will carry conviction to the hearts of men and women dying in sin. I say introduce these simple gospel terms in the obvious sense, and like a flash of power the countless “isms” of men will theoretically pass into nonentity, their mouths forever logically shut.
Men framed theology, and the meaning of words in theology is different from that of everyday use. How does that occur? And why should it be so? No one can tell; not even the men who did it. It is altogether unlike the Apostle Paul. He said: “Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others, then ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.” (1 Cor. 14:19)
That was a heavy blow to “hair-splitters,” but it seems to have missed the mark. Never since the sun began to shine was there such a clatter of contradictory voices as now. Never was there such a need to get back to the Bible. Words used with foreign meanings are largely responsible for this. The trumpet has made in indistinct sound, and the people know not what to do. “If the people would allow the words in the Bible to teach them the same thought they get from the Dictionary, and from common use—allow God to mean the same thing when talking to us that we mean when talking to one another—these disputes would quickly adjust themselves. The condition of unrest everywhere on these issues of the Bible is ample argument that something is needed as a standard which makes words mean the same whether in or out of the Bible.”
The Church of Christ challenges the world of churches on its position. It presumes to stand on the impregnable rock of Holy Writ. It will measure strength with the most learned disputants, and sends out its challenge on the broad principle of an assured “unity of scripture.” But it has not this unity altogether. It believes all scriptures given by inspiration is profitable doctrine, for reproof, etc. It teaches the necessity for a working faith. It lays the pruning knife against all corruptions of the ordinances of the Bible, of the New Testament. It believes in prayer, fellowship, singing, exhortation, and the sacrament, in sending the gospel to other and in the support of the ministry. It believes in a high practical life. It is indeed a great school. But its brightest day has not appeared. Wrapt in the sealed bosom of the future a day will dawn in infinite glory as revealed in the mirror of prophecy. And as knowledge increases the Church will arise toward the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, and as she rises the shackles of error will vanish. The truth will dissipate them. Error, operating within or without, is the stay of her progress.
The rapid growth of interest in Bible study as evinced by reports from all points of the compass, speaks of untold good yet to break forth on humanity.
Do not forget that though the church is past the nineteenth century, it has been the victim of the “dragon’s teeth,” a persecution that crushes; and was for centuries all but trampled out of existence. For this reason she is still an infant both in growth and in knowledge. It would indeed be a liberal presumption that she would be absolutely free from all traditional teaching immediately after rising from such a struggle out of the dense smoke of Egypt. The theory I am opposing is a “dark age” “survivor” founded upon the assumption of “man’s deathless soul” and perpetuated by the continuous application of false definitions. And for real genuine absurdity, it is perhaps second to none in the catalogue of wonders.
To me its chief mystery is how it has skirmished about so as to survive this twentieth century light (unless it be through its long undaunted prestige of antiquity and popular opinion).
Plato’s philosophy was that, “As we had no beginning we would have no end.” Plato was intelligent, but this is not proof of it. If this assertion should be accepted to prove anything, it would prove that he was “loony,” for no wise man would assume a proposition so preposterous. I might say, “As man is superior to God, he is therefore under no obligations to Him.” And should I say such it would have the same ring of an argument Plato suggested. Surely Plato was not himself when he said it. And yet it is about as sound as the assumption that, once in existence always in existence, barring nothing, irrespective of moral attainment. How Plato discovered that man always existed, he failed to say; how and why no one can remember of always being, he did not inform us. And we are not foolish enough to enter into an extensive or unscrupulous speculation concerning it. Suffice to say Plato’s ramifications are but sparks of an affluent and imaginative brain.
But let us take up another thread of argument: Some time ago it was proclaimed with much zeal and devout accentuation that the lost would grope and struggle forever in a lake of “real fire.” Many discourses have I heard giving instant approval. Today the fire is barred; it is used as a representation only. Today, it is preached to be in outer darkness, far from all light. Today it is preached to be “in the presence of all the holy angels.” And it is said to be just outside the Holy City. Today, you can hear different expression according to the text the preacher has absorbed deepest.
What it is and where it is, is plainly evident to have no definite solution in the minds of the people, not even the clergy. And while the ministry has toned it down again and again, there is as much room for toning as ever before. For thought they were able to show it is not real fire, they have not ameliorated its intensity, for whether fire or its equivalent, if the representation is not exaggeration of facts, it would be difficult to choose between the two.
However, as stated on intimated before, the Bibles does not quibble about it. It does no toning. It pulls no fire. All that is done by men. The very symbols that use to prove endless torment, are the scriptures which hold the furnace and lake of fire before their eyes with its yawning mouth ready to receive those for whom it is prepared. And with impressive accentuation, and without ceremony, it casts the countless hosts alive into it. Not one of these scriptures has pulled the fire. Not one has modified its fury and flames. Not one has apologized for its inconceivable intensity. Not one. Yet the modern ministry have almost to a man united their efforts, procured shovels and tongs, rakes, scrapers, and proceeded to clear the lake and furnace of all its fire before the lost are cast into it. In the sermons the fire is gone, but an eternal misery equal to that produced by fire is its unutterable substitute. But when I read the book, I still find the fire in the furnace.
The coming generations will put the fire back into their sermons, and will teach a dying world the irredeemable loss of life and all it holds in store, and means. As the world grows richer in the knowledge of God, the truth will rise up from the grave of oppression, and her light will glitter with more brilliant splendor.
Looking at it from whatever angle we may, it should be taken for granted that the figures used by the inspired men to represent the punishment of the unsaved, are at least fair. They being used so often, and in such varied connections, we are honor bound to concede the Lord was capable of selecting such figures—so pliable as language is—that would represent and not deceive. Yet the advocates of endless torment are compelled by all the forces of reason to discard the idea of real fire, because of the extravagance of its enormity, and have substituted a more endurable element. And while it is represented by fire, it is in fact much less severe. Ask any preacher you meet, and he will confess.
People are already arising to the demand of a more consistent retribution, and the cry will increase until the system is renovated and pared down to the level of justice. That at least to declare it out of all proportion when viewed as a matter of justice.
Faith in the Lord would lead us to conclude the illustrations he used were the best that divine wisdom could employ within the range of human understanding, and were adapted exactly to set forth the truth in its simplest form. The burning up of chaff, briars, thorns, dry branches, does not bring to my mind the idea of endless misery. It brings to my mind the end. Yet, these are the symbols the Lord employed by which to illustrate the punishment of the wicked. Had He designed to teach eternal misery and pain, there was thousands of more suitable imagery to select from. It could have been compared to “leprosy,” to “consumption,” “to the penal institutions of the state,” “to federal prisons,” etc., yet not one such illustration was used. The imagery He selected is painfully appropriate; men have misapplied them.
Let us now examine a scripture often quoted as a proof text by the clergy. It is found in Mark 9:44. “If your hand offend you cut it off. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell: into the fire that never shall be quenched. Where their worm dies not and their fire is not quenched.”
We sit under the eloquent voice of the interpreter and hear him paint to our mental vision a scene of the future state of the impenitent. “The fire that is unquenched is an indescribable flame that feasts forever on the victim, and the worm that never dies represents a bitter compunction, an agonizing conscience, beyond the power of words to express.” And that “language is barren and inadequate to furnish words expressive of its horror.” That is saying a great deal. And we will give it a try out. Listen to Johnson:
“The fire referred to is of course a mere symbol of the sum total of ‘certain dreadful realities for which there are no adequate representations in human language. Fire is used in the scriptures to denote suffering, persecution, trial, distress of any kind”—People’s New Testament with Notes, Vol. 1, pages 194-195.
Understand, he said: “Fire is the mere symbol of the sum total of certain dreadful realities, for which there are no adequate representations in human language.” If that be true, the Lord pity a human birth (See Matt. 7). And once you get a glimpse of the power of language, you will say amen. And I shall here open your eyes toughing the infinite vividness and inexhaustible wealth and fertility of human language painting terrific imagery when under the direction and skill of the polished but misguided orator.
“You are found of spectacles…that eternal day of judgment when all ages shall be swallowed up in one conflagration: what a variety of spectacles shall then appear…Then shall we hear the tragedians more tuneful in the expressions of their own sufferings: then shall we see the dancers more sprightly amidst the flames: the charioteer all ‘red hot’ in his burning car, and the wrestlers hurled…upon a plane off fire”—De Spectaculis, c. 30 (Tertullian), A. D. 220.
Out of a thousand such expressions in the Koran, we offer but one here:
“Those who disbelieve we will surely cast to the ‘broiled in hell fire.’ So often as their skins shall be burned, we shall give them other skins in exchange, that they may taste the sharp torment. They shall be dragged on their faces into hell, and it shall be said unto them, ‘taste ye the torment of hell fire’ which ye rejected as a falsehood. They shall be taken by the forelocks and the feet and ‘flung into hell’ ‘where they shall drink scalding water.’ The true believer shall lie on ‘couches’ and look down upon the infidels in hell and ‘laugh them to scorn’”—Koran of Mohammed.
That is very fierce indeed. It seems as if they world be severe enough to satisfy all requirements of a refracted law, but Johnson say no: That human language is inadequate to describe it. So we’ll look again.
“The damned shall be packed in like brick in a kiln, and be so bound that ‘they cannot move a limb, nor even the eyelid.’ And while thus fixed, ‘the Almighty shall blow the fires of hell through them forever’”—Isaac Ambrose.
I tell you my imagination withers and falters in the failure to comprehend what that would mean. I cannot grasp it, so the power of language goes beyond the reach of the mental grasp. Again:
“Suppose that we saw without eyes for twenty or thirty years together, a great furnace of fire of the quantity of the whole earth, and saw there, Cain and all the damned ‘as lumps of red fire,’ and they boiling, and leaping for pain in a dungeon of everlasting brimstone, and the black and terrible devils, with long and sharp-toothed whips of scorpions lashing out scourges on them, and if we saw our neighbors—yes, our own dear children—swimming and sinking in that black lake, and heard the yelling and crying of out young one—if we saw this we should not dare to blaspheme the majesty of God”—Trial of Faith (Samuel Rutherford).
“Only conceive the poor wretch in the flames. See how his tongue hangs from between his blistered lips. How it excoriates and burns the roof of his mouth, as if it were a firebrand. Behold him crying for a drop of water. When the damned jingle the burning irons of their torments they shall say ‘forever’”—Spurgeon.
So far as I am concerned, the English language is flexible enough to satisfy the most exacting mind it would seem. And sure enough it needs no ally to reinforce its power, even the whole object would be to paint a horror. But I shall show you that Johnson, like a little child, bowed himself to the shrine of a heathen dogma, even too infernal and horrid for the impoverished brains of a Pope to entertain—and at which Lucifer himself would shudder with trembling and fright. Hear it again:
“There will be a vast ocean of fire in which the wicked will be overwhelmed, which will always be in tempest, and they shall be tossed to and fro, having no rest day nor night, vast waves or billows of fire continually rolling over their heads, of which they shall be forever full of quick sense within and without. Their heads, their eyes, their tongues, their heads their feet, their loins, their vitals shall forever be full of a glowing, melting fire, fierce enough to melt the very ricks and elements…not for one hour, not one day, not one age…not for ten thousand million of ages one after another, but forever, without any end at all and never to be delivered.” Jonathan Edwards (sermon, Vol. 7, p. 166).
“A thousand years is a long time to be in torment; we find a fever of one and twenty days to be like an age in length; but when the duration of an ‘intolerable misery’ is forever in the height, and forever in the beginning; and ten thousand years have spent no part of its term, but,” etc.—Jeremy Taylor (sermon on the foolish excha).
“The drunkard shall have plenty of his cups when scalding lead shall forever shall be poured down his throat, and his breath draw flames of fire instead of air…The wicked shall be crowed together like bricks, in a fiery furnace…what woes and lamentations…Down they go, howling and shrieking and gnashing their teeth, what weeping wailing, roaring, yelling.” etc., etc.—Ebenezer Erskine (sermon on the judgment).
Here I pause to reflect; this list could be multiplied to volumes, showing the potential force of language when filtered through a wild and reckless mind overwhelmed with an hallucination. And if you can wish for more, I refer you to A. W. Hall’s debate on Universalism, in the latter part of book entitled, “Universalism Against Itself.”
If the human mind would not be appalled, and utterly crazed with disgust and abhorrence, to entertain the belief and witness the execution of such a vengeance, and under the spell that it must continue incessantly and forever, must be composed of the putrid imagination of fanatice and paganized dreamers: and to whose eyes, like those of Hopkins, suffering in other is a sort of luxury, and adds electric shocks of pleasure to the redeemed as they behold it.
If this list is inadequate to express satisfactorily to the mind even of the type of Johnson, it is because their minds have transformed into the image of the savage, or through an indescribable hardening of the brain, have lost all sense of the import of language. It is an exhibition of mental powers whose organs have petrified into solid stone or ossified into solid bond—a main afflicted with atrophy of reason.
The charges men have made against God and credited to Him as noted above would, if true, make Him a fiend that would mortify and stultify and repulse every effort of love. And instead of drawing humanity to Him, they would flee as rabbits before the pursuer. I am here reminded of McGarvey’s words:
“If men should practice such policies on his son...it would be an audacious rebellion against all sense of the goodness and mercy of love.”
Just here let me present another conflict between out teachers. Johnson said human language was inadequate to represent fully the suffering of the lost. We have given several examples. Now, here comes McGarvey and tells us it is out of all proportion when viewed as a matter of justice. We found Campbell and Braden on opposite sides; and now McGarvey and Johnson at variance on another point. Such consequences as these silently passing between the great light of the church are sufficient to seem to cause people to think there is room to doubt. Truth never finds itself cumbered with such embarrassments. The words of Whately recur to my mind, and they are so apt and appropriate I give them for your benefit:
“The truth or falsity of a conditional proposition depends entirely upon it consequences”—Element of Logic, page 95.
We have summed up a few of the consequences of this dark, sense-withering doctrine and have found it so gigantic and revolting that the human heart would shrivel into a granite pebble, should it persistently entertain them, in the light of the descriptions given above. If the truth of falsity of a proposition is to be judged by its consequences, then it is needless to pile up more consequences to prove this false.
The objector might retort, “Well, but these men have overdrawn the truth.” I reply, not according to Johnson. He declares human language is in inadequate to represent it fully. So said Spurgeon, and hundreds of others. And I will add that if men are indestructible, and are indestructible, and are destined to that lake of fire or its equivalent for endless ages the picture these men have given is not overdrawn. Nor can it be, just as they said.
In the word of God, the furnace and lake are sending up clouds of smoke and vapors and fumes of brimstone, and as the unfortunates of earth are cast into it. The last news we have they are still there and the fire is glowing with intensity. The moment you furnish me evidence that man is indestructible, I will proceed to satisfy your mind that these men we have quoted have not overdrawn the scene.
The lake and furnace of fire described by them is the same one described by the New Testament. It cannot be shown that one is more intense than the other. The one John saw is the one these men saw. For I know of nothing more blood curding than the thoughts of being cast into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. They are merely pressing the “plain and natural” sense of the word, and the thing that is clamored for by all, and practiced by all on just this sort of narrative. The only change these men made in their descriptions of the lake and furnace was in the different positions they placed the sufferer. But that could not heighten the severity of the pains. For if that lake is a fair representation of endless misery, it could not be exaggerated, and could be no more tolerable than if it were real fire. Either way it surpasses all understanding if those who inhabit it shall exist in it forever.
The exaggeration is wholly in the system teaching that man is by creation nature, necessitated to endless existence. That he is indestructible and cannot die.
Johnson could see it representing everything but what it represents most vividly. This he could not see. He was afraid to see it. To him it symbolized suffering, persecution, pain, trials and distresses, but not once a destruction. Men and God both use fire to consume or destroy. Since the savage ages of barbarity, in the reign of papal dynasties, men have not used fire to torture with. No record is made where God ever did. Punishment for sin is not always vindictive. It has as administrative purpose as well as that of suffering. And it is the administrative form of punishment always exercised in capital punishment, which consists in taking the life of the individual, and never by a drawn-out process of torment. The respite he receives between the verdict and the execution is judicially and clemency, and granted as a favor.
It was through the long night of medieval ignorance and superstition that the ghoulish fiendish modes of punishment were resorted to. The rank, thumb screw, the iron virgin, the dungeon, mire, and the torture to death by edges with the most refined arts and devices of brutality. Today under civilized governments the greatest criminals pass out of life with the infliction of pain. That is a copy, and exact copy, of the statist for punishing high criminals under the Law of Moses. The most desperate offenders were stoned to death, without any preliminary torture. God taught man that very lesson of firm and unswerving justice in the book of righteousness. Shall we suppose that God has no administrative law in heaven? He has. Sin when it is finished brings forth death. And what I am contending for is the literal sense of the word.
As a matter of course, fire being a symbol of future recompense, must carry its symbolical result, a result set forth in a great variety of figures. Fire being a consumer, and use to illustrate a great fact, the fact so illustrated must be in harmony with the illustration, or it becomes unintelligible.
We are told by historians that a little south and east of Jerusalem there is a deep picturesque ravine, a narrow valley, and once a beautiful resort for city folks to leave the hustle and hum of commercial activities, and stroll under the leafy bowers of the stately trees which flourished there. This is known as the “Valley Of Hinnom” (gehenna). Let us have its history:
“On the southern brow overlooking the valley at is eastern extremity, Solomon erected high places for ‘Molech’ (1 Kings 11:7), whose horrid rites were revived from time to time in the same vicinity by the later idolatrous kings; Ahaz and Manasseh, made their children pass through the fire in this valley (2 Kings 16:3), and the fiendish custom of infant sacrifice to the fire gods seems to have been kept up in Tophet at its southeast extremity for a considerable period of time (Jer. 7:31). To put an end to these abominations, the place was polluted by Josiah, who rendered it ceremonially unclean by spreading over it human bones and other corruptions (2 Kings 23:10, 14), from which time it seems to have become the common cesspool of the city, into which its sewage was conducted to be carried off by the waters of the Kedron, as well as a lay stall where all the solid filth was collected. From its ceremonial defilement, and from the detested abominable fire of Molech, if not from the supposed ever-burning funeral piles, the later Jews applied the name to this valley, ‘Gehenna.’—Smith’s Bible Dictionary, page 331.
That the Jews had polluted their own language is plainly seen here. There was nothing about that “funeral pile” not that burning Molech which would suggest the lies of eternal torment as they had it. No one could get such a lesson from that scene. It was their theology and they must therefore see it every place, fire and death were associated.
It was in this valley where the worms were found rioting on putrid flesh, and where the fire was ever seen kindled to decaying bodies of criminals, and paupers who had no burial. It was from this picture that Mark 9:44 was drawn—the unquenchable fire and the worm; both symbols of destruction and not of misery. So the Jews perverted their language and made it teach them a falsehood.
But it is more important with us to learn how our own language has been polluted. And I will make that point so plain a ten-year-old child can see it.
First, we have seen from two standard Dictionaries that life means “state of being alive,” ete., irrespective of condition, whether happy or otherwise. We saw, furthermore, that eternal means endless, without end, ete. We join the two words together and have the phrase “eternal life,” and it means “endless existence,” or endless state of being alive.
The objector immediately protests that its meaning is “eternal happiness,” though he admits the definitions correct for the two words separately; and he takes us to the Greek. We turn to “Zooa,” and read “life,” “existence;” and to the word “Alonion” and read “endless,” and we put the two Greek words together an have “endless existence,” the same identical thing we have in English. We can go no farther than that in defining words. We need go no farther. But our critic quickly reminds us that in the Bible the phase “eternal life’ means “eternal happiness.” That takes all the sense out of our definition. But hear Mr. Campbell:
“In New Testament language we have the phrase ‘eternal life’ forty-four times, and forty-four times only. Never used to indicate mere eternal existence, but the eternal enjoyments of life…eternal life is only another name for eternal happiness.” Life and Death, page 24.
Question: What did we gain by going to the Greek? Did the Greek settle it? No. The Greek said endless existence. Both English and Greek said it. But as soon as the Bible was opened, the Greek and English definitions were dismissed and a theological one given—eternal happiness.
How could a perusal of the Greek be beneficial? Why appeal to it at all? For according to the standard authority of both Greek an English, there is nothing whatsoever in the phrase “eternal life” indicating happiness.
Take the world death: English language means cessation of life. But to make sure that we understand it, we go to the Greek, and read, Thanatos, death, loss of life, whether violent or natural. But as soon as we open the Bible we find it carrying another meaning and is defined as “life in another condition.” Here it is:
“Death, indeed as the original word intimates, signifies separation from God. This is its true and divinely authenticated meaning”—Life and Death, page 22.
Campbell had told us on page 19 that “where there is neither organization nor union of any kind (with God) there is no sort of life whatever.” And that death means separation from God. Very well, then, the scriptures speak of a class who shall be utterly disconnected from God. “Depart from Me all you that work iniquity, I never know you.”
Hence by Campbell’s own arguments we prove that there will be no sort of life whatever when the wicked are cut off. But what did we gain by going to the Greek? Not one thing. For the Greek and English agree that death is cessation of life, and say nothing about separation from God.
Had we the space, we could go on with destruction, perish, consume, devour, and many others, and find the same juggling has occurred with all. I thought they said we world go to the Greek and get the true meaning of the word, and we did. But we have discovered that the Greek and English are a unit, and are therefore sure we have the correct definition. But nothing at all like the Bible definition. Somebody has been fooling us. A man is mocking our intelligence when he makes appear he is abiding faithful to a certain principle, and is not. Had these men said: “Here is the word death, defined by all standard works as ‘cessation of life,’ and here in the Bible we find the word ‘death’ connected with the punitive reward for transgression, it must mean ‘cessation of life’ again.’ That would dealing wisely and prudently with language, and would have been a long step in the way of truth. But as soon as they take the word life to the Dictionary and Lexicon and find its meaning to be “the state of being alive,” and then proceed to the Bible and there define as a mental enjoyment, I feel that I have a right to object. Our judgment was given us to judge with, and God demands us to judge righteous judgment and not from the appearance. Here I exercise the faculty of judgment, and pronounce this an act of violence to language. How can you withhold the same judgment? The same we can say for death. They found it in the Dictionary and Lexicon to mean “cessation of life.” They open the Bible and find the word and tell us it is a separation of soul and body, and second death separation from God. I object again. I think I have a right to. I say, hold on; that is not what the Greek said. Nor what the English said. If it means cessation of life in the dictionary, and in the Greek Lexicon, then it means the same in the Bible. Now what is your judgment?
I recall a charge made against men who laid down rules governing the interpretation of scripture, and were the first to depart from them. I refer you to Braden’s rule, or any other. Here is the proof. And I have redeemed the assertion.
The looseness with which language is regarded, is a guarantee in advance that these writers and teachers will be perpetual conflict among themselves on points here and there and yonder, just as we have shown a few pages back. And here I will point out another. Mr. Morris and Campbell were agreed that figurative meaning of the word was the greatest meaning. Now they separate. Morris says:
“We speak of a live tree, a dead tree. When a tree dies it does not cease to be. Dead trees exist in barns, houses, and underground or above ground, ages after they die.” Octographic Review, August 19, 1913, page 4.
On the same page he talks of men existing after death just as he talked of the tree, saying:
“Man, petrified, or mummified, or turned to dust, has not ceased to be, even as to his body.”
Mr. Campbell informed us that it is not true. Hear him:
“The tree nor the man is not where life is not”—Life and Death, page 17.
I could hardly guess Braden’s position on this, not having heard him say. Perhaps he would stand by Campbell this time, and Johnson with Morris.
Every false doctrine is self-condemned. It betrays itself. It must be everlastingly dodging and puling the mask back over its exposed parts. No man can give a false definition of a word not a false application, which cannot be readily detected. Even wise men cannot conceal them. Henry Drummond was a wise man, and he give a splendid definition of death, and with simultaneous action began to blot it out:
“Suppose by disease of accident a man has been deprived of the use of his ears…With regard to that external relation; therefore, he is no longer living. Part of him may truly be held to be insensible, or ‘dead.’ A man who is also blind is thrown out of correspondence with another large part of his environment…he is still further dead. Next let it be conceived the subtle finger of cerebral disease lays hold of him, his whole brain affected, and the sensory nerves, the medium of communication with the environment, cease altogether and acquaint is with what is going on in the outside world…he is still further dead…but finally, some important part of the mere animal frame work breaks down…something central has snapped, and all are thrown out of work, the lungs refuse to correspond with the air, the heart with the blood…it is now dead’—Natural Law in the Spiritual World, pp. 115, 116.
We will accept that as a correct definition of death, though it took him a “long round about” way to tell it. He found it to be the cessation of life just as the Dictionary says. He agreed with Gibbons that the physical organs are essential to the activity of the spirit, and should one read this and stop, he would conclude that Drummond disbelieved in the survival of consciousness through death, seeing the process of dissolution was a dissolution of the faculties also. And that consequently, he believed the individual ceased to be at death.
But not so. Strange as it may seem, Henry Drummond occupied the succeeding twelve pages to controvert what he had so ably proved. “By your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.” Let us hear him:
“Now of the great mass of living organisms, of the great mass of men, is it not to be affirmed that they are out of correspondence with outer circle (spiritual circle, or God)? Suppose, to make the final issue more real, we give this outermost circle of environment a name. Suppose we call it God. Suppose we also substitute a word for correspondence to express more intimately the personal relation. Let us call it communion. We can now determine accurately the spiritual relation of different sections of mankind. Those who are in communion with God, live. Those who are not are dead. The task we have set ourselves is to investigate the essential nature of spiritual death. And we have found it to consist in a want of communion with God. The unspiritual man is he who lives in the circumscribed environment of the present world. ‘She that lives in pleasure is dead while she lives.’ To be carnally minded is death. We do not picture the possessor of this carnal mind in any sense a monster…The contention at present simply is that he is ‘dead.’”—Natural Law in the Spiritual World, pp. 121, 122.
I call the reader back to his other definition of death, and a flat contradiction of death is clearly seen. This is more like two combatants. He seems to be debating the issue with himself, and has taken both sides. But he placed himself on the theological map. A man who can “wire in and wire out” with such ease and accuracy, occupying both pro and con of a great subject, and pass it over with detection, ought to enjoy a “Carnegie Hero Medal.”
Who would have, or could have, anticipated that H. Drummond, professor and scholar that he was, should follow the practiced and methodical genius, the trail of the “angle worm” in the dust of sophistical reasoning?
With erudition and thought, he laid down a proposition showing that the loss of an organ was the loss of a faculty, and was so far dead. The loss of another organ was the loss of another faculty, and still further dead. And at last the vital connection and union suddenly snap and all the faculties are gone, and that is death. Offended at that simplicity, he steps away a few paces, “lambasts it with rocks,” and stirs up such a fog of dust as to completely obscure it, until he can get his other definition established, the very opposite.
But he must find man dead and alive at the same time in order to get a definition of death. For he was a staunch believer in the “deathless nature of the soul.” He had drunk liberally at the wells, and like all who teach it, found himself obliged to vibrate back and forth like the pendulum of a clock.
It seems incredible that man cannot see themselves eluding the things they pretend to do. If they drag us to the Greek to get definitions, we demand that abide by them. But we have not found them doing so. In succeeding chapters this indictment shall be strengthened a hundred fold.
The labors of men are endless striving to establish from the pages of nature, analogies for the proof of the immortality of the soul. Strange indeed that man will search the universe, the planetary system, and the stellar space, seeking proof for a fancied theory, the absolute disproof of which is, or ought to be, in their own home—The Bible.
Among all the analogies sought from the vaults of nature demonstrating, or purporting to demonstrate, immortality, which have came to my notice, are alike void in the very point where the analogy is most needed. No analogy adequately meets the requirements. If these men could succeed in establishing intermediate state—its proof of consciousness—they think they would then have the theory of eternal torment immovable.
The change of worms into flies, and the enlargement of their locomotive powers by the change. Of birds and insects breaking the shell of their embryonic state and entering a higher existence (not, as Butler says, a new world furnished with new accommodations, or finding a new sphere of action assigned them), is nothing to the point. For it is not as one rising from a low plane of action to a higher one, but of the first entrance into activity. The assertion he makes regarding a birth into life, as analogous of a future life, lacks the one essential feature, which he fails to note—that the one is from life to life, the other from death to life. There is but one feature of similarity, that in both cases it is a change from inaction to action. Simply because we are susceptible to pain and pleasure is no evidence that those powers will continue after death, as he urges in Part 1, page 40, unless we allow the same analogy to hold good in case of the beast, which Butler does, while you would object. That would be too much.
Why should not the presumption be just as strong, not to say a thousand times stronger, that since these powers are stilled in death, to all our powers of detection, and since proof goes no further, they must stop altogether. This would have been the consistent way, and so much the more under his view on page 51 (butler’s Analogy): “that we cannot argue from the reason of the thing that death is the destruction of the living agents, because we know not at all what death is in itself, but only some of its effects.”
Neither did Campbell, Lard, Johnson, Milligan and Christopher know what death is, judging from the numerous kinds of death they found. Yet man, beast and vegetation were dying all the time before their eyes. They saw the same results in all, but could not tell what it was. How, then, could we argue from the reason of the thing that these powers continue after death, if we know not what it is? Yet these men did that very thing.
To say the “probability of life after death is sufficient to act upon,” unless there be some positive reason to think death destroys the powers of life, is an unwarranted begging of the question. Where have “probabilities” any authority in this problem? What reason can be more positive and forcible than the fact that they cease so far as we can judge? And that, too, in man, beast, reptile and tree. If we are thus to reason from what we know, to “probabilities” of what may be, we should arrive at a conclusion the very opposite of Mr. Butler’s. This would be more rational than to reason that the “unknown” will be the very opposite of the known.
Butler now begins to crawfish. He saw a giant bob up out of the sea of his speculation. He saw a door opened and he now slides through, saying, “For I do not mean to affirm that there is the same degree of conviction that our living powers will continue after death, as there is that our substance will” (Butler’s Analogy, page 40). See that? Real cute, wasn’t it? That changes the entire program, for no one denies that the substance continues. But substance and conscious activity are two distinct things. A rock is substance, but it has no life. Hence the probability is not so strong as anticipated.
While dealing with Butler, I must go a few steps farther to show how unreasonable men can get and how twisted they get things into their mind when some hobby is at state and needs defense. If a man should claim ability to climb a ladder into the skies and remain up there after kicking the structure from under him, we would want some proof of it. But that claim would be no greater absurdity in the physical field than are the arguments of these men in theology.
Again, “the loss of a limb does not lessen the active power, since the sufferer could move as before if he had another limb” (Butler’s Analogy, page 7). But what if he has not another limb? I wonder if analogies had all been used? We do not say the seat of volition and power is in the limbs; if it were, and amputation of a limb would mean the loss of the mind. If they could see the spirit walking around without a body, they would not need such foolishness to fill their books. But that little “if” has been the treat hindrance of their cause.
Men constantly seek to establish the subject with “ifs.” Take their perpetual use of the “if” out of their arguments and they remain so dry and dusty that “spontaneous combustion” immediately follows.
We do not doubt that. In fact, any one, even a child, might reach that conclusion. It would be reasonable. But the only reason he give that sin will be eternal is this: “If” it may exist here in the creation of infinite power and goodness, we can discover ‘no impossibility’ in eternal evil.”
Indeed, who said anything about “impossibilities”? What we want is common sense argument showing that all the evidences point in that direction. In the absence of such evidence, these scholastic educators build their inferences upon “might be’s” and draw their conclusions from the “modus operandus” of “ifs.” Thompson went on to say that it belonged to the “necessities of existence, and that therefore God had no choice in the mater.”
Here is another remark from Butler:
“Nor can we find anything throughout the whole analogy of nature, to afford us even the slightest presumption that animals ‘ever’ lose their living powers, ‘much less’ if it were possible that they lose them by death. For we have no faculties wherewith to trace them through it or beyond it, so as to see what becomes of them. This event removes them from our view. It destroys the sensible proof of which we had before their death, of their being possessed of living powers but does not appear to afford the least reason that they are then by that event deprived of them.”—Butler’s Analogy, p. 42.
We must give him credit for one thing—that since man and beast were made of the same substance, he gave them and the same qualities of being. Whatever he argued for one he argued for both, from the point of nature. He was consistent in that. The same arguments that made the soul of man deathless will logically immortalize the whole animal kingdom.
By reasoning that death dissolves all conscious life it is made a necessity for a means to be provided by which the creature may be brought back before he can live again. This being accomplished by the resurrection, we can readily see that the scope of the resurrection is but the “measure of all that shall live after death.” Therefore, as the resurrection is not provided for any below man, none below man shall live after death. Had Butler been able to see that simple thought, he would never have published his book.
Let me introduce to you a noted New York scientist—A. Wilford Hall, the author of “The Problem of Human Life,” which has been distributed far and wide. How tirelessly he labored to establish the one point—“Natural Immortality.” The power and strength of his book depended upon it. Learned and shrewd were his efforts. He delved down deep, deeper than the average reader could follow, and there he found what satisfied him as proof of his ambitious desires. And assuming them to settle the question forever, he set them forth as conclusive, and drew conclusion of the future eternity of all of Adam’s race. If it be shown that he proved nothing at all, and that his assumptions were vain myths of his imagination, the reader will appreciate how smoothly a man can coat the surface of his faith with spurious substance.
His basic argument is this: Anything that exists is substance; all visible forms of substance were created out of the invisible forces of nature, as light, heat, sound, magnetism, gravitation, and all life given direct from God, the highest of all substance. Then he concludes, that, as substance is eternal, and as man is part of that substance, he is indestructible and eternal (“Problem of Human Life,” pages 30, 31, 32, 403).
Allowing that argument to stand as valid, we will proceed with another step—
(1) All visible forms were made out of pre-existing substance. (2) The dog, hose, ox, snake, etc., were made of pre-existing substance. (3) Their life was given direct from God, the highest of all substances. (4) Therefore, these creatures are indestructible and eternal.
Extending this line of argument to include all life, because we must be fair, we have made a plain absurdity of his position. You would reject the conclusion instantly, because it involves too much. Yet our preachers are filling the world with doctrine of the deathless nature of the soul, with no stronger philosophy back of it.
How easy it is to disprove Hall’s assumptions. He continually urges that all the visible objects of creation may be reduced back to their original simple elements. He could see that man, in common with the brute family, was made of material at hand; he could see the life of all coming from God and lighting up the body, and while he could see the beasts of the field, at death, reduced to their simple elements, he saw man as the irreducible creature. We see he was not logical at all. Had he laid aside his preconceptions, and had he not allowed himself to be biased by early training, and had applied his principle on other objects as he did on man, he could not have failed to see the same result that we have. Then he would have, of necessity, avoided the conclusion. For if man becomes an indestructible entity, the same must be admitted for all life. Both postulates stand or fall together. Therefore, that fact is no ground at all upon which to build the eternity of man.
Let me in a few words show the fallacy of Hall’s reasoning with irresistible force. Substance (according to Hall) is uncreated. (I do not know if he is right or not). But we know that man was created, and that he didn’t exist as a man before. Therefore, logically, the destruction of man would reduce him to the elements as they were before he was created, and right there he ceases to be a man. Will any teacher or scientist see it a difficult matter then to destroy man literally?
I find no reason to discriminate in results between the death of a man and that of a horse. And had not God, in His divine wisdom and goodness, and mercy for His fallen creature, provided a means for his reinstatement, by which He could forgive his sins and give him a new chance for life, the eternal fate of the horse and his rider would have been one and the same. The theory which teaches otherwise is giving license to a philosophy which, if freely exercised, world immortalize the whole animal kingdom from the ocean octopus down to the snake, the spider, the fly and the ugliest wooly worm that crawls on the branches of a tree, and even to the larva sealed on the under side of the leaf. For if that be proof at all, it must carry the same weight over the field it includes.
A. Wilford Hall has no nearer solved the problem he attempted than did his predecessors, whom he criticized. True, he framed a theory, which without the Bible or other revelation might offer a ray of comfort to poor mortal man, though it be laden with doubts. But besides conflicting with the Word of God, which makes immortality a divine gift, not to all but distributed conditionally, and dooming the rest to utter destruction, Mr. Hall arrives no nearer the solution of the difficulty than did those who were the object of his target. For after analyzing all the faculties of man and beast, attributing to both intelligence, memory, fear, hate, love, etc., he finds but one or two distinct lines of demarcation: that man inherits no knowledge at birth while the beast dose; and that man has the capacity to hope and long for a future life the beast does not.
Upon these threadbare and meaningless differences he weaves the beautiful Garland of Immortality for all men, by the laws of creation, and denies it to the beast. What charm would life hold dear if our hope rested on no stronger prophecy? Much time and labor did Hall consume developing this feature of the subject.
Stripped of all verbiage, his position is this: The brute receives its stock of knowledge at birth, sufficient for its purpose, and adds but little to it in life by experience and imitation. Man, the highest earthly creature, is a blank at birth, capable of endless growth.
Evidently, Hall is but partially correct. The infants of all the tribes of earth are about equally frail at birth, having instinct to nurse—not much more. To say they do not learn much afterwards, and often to attain to great flights of cunning and ability, is to appear wanting in information. He must have had in mind an insect or worm; for surely he could not have made that assertion as a scientist had he visited a modern menagerie, and witnessed the wonderful feats of both wild and domestic animals. Passing by the devotion and obedience of domestic animals to their masters—all of which was learned, not inherited—we go to the animal trainer and note the results of skillful art. We see them taught to leap through covered hoops and over high walls at the master’s bidding, and doing many interesting tumbling acts. While from the north seas are brought wild animals trained to a system of ball pitching and catching that is not only interesting to spectators, but a visible sign of the wonderful power of these creatures. Was all that inherited at birth? “Yes,” say these scientists; instinct was a little aided by imitation. What they call instinct in animals the call knowledge and skill in man. If a man performs on a tight wire we call it skill; if an orang-outang performs more bicycle wonders than the average trick rider, they call it instinct. Great discrimination between the same powers in different creatures! Great!
What is instinct? You tell me the infant of all families of animals has the instinct of seeking food, including the infant man. When does that instinct turn to knowledge in man, and why does it remain instinct in the beast: Instinct is an involuntary act, an act without knowledge or choice. In maturity, neither man not beast act altogether by instinct. Both alike possess their respective degrees of knowledge. And Hall admitted the same. So there is no room here for the theory of natural immortality to be established for man with the exclusion of the lower animals. These very facts disprove them and overthrow the foundation he sought to lay. The fact that the chimpanzee can act almost human in everything but talk shows it is not acting by instinct, but an advancement by education greatly beyond their infantile powers.
So gradual and regular is the rise of life from the lowest to the highest that the similarities almost merge into each other. Even the prototype of man can be distinctly observed in the baboon, the chimpanzee, and orangutan. This is a significant fact that even a “preacher” will not deny. And hundreds of such facts make abundance of evidence. We gladly concede the superiority of man over the brute, in capacity and form. But that assures immortality for one no more than for the other. It is, however, the foundation-stone for the subsequent revelations to him of God’s purpose, and the “Magna Charta” of his hope. For upon that high endowment God has fastened a responsibility by which merit and demerit are measured and reward weighed.
Yet Hall’s labors were not in vain, for with a master hand he established the finger of God in creation, as a first cause, with such force that every shade of atheism should seek the cover of darkness.
But if man is immortal in any sense, i. e., imperishable, I see not how scholars can discriminate in favor of man, and exclude the beast from immortality; unless they are able to show that the spirit of man is of a different substance from that of beast. This they have not yet attempted to do. So then, logically, allowing that spirit is spirit wherever it be, if man is imperishable, because of the possession of an indestructible entity, we are compelled to accept the same conclusion for all the lower species, having life from the same source. If that isn’t a fair argument, then all reason and argument it to me nothing but nonsense. And should that position be granted, then the myriads of snakes, bugs, beasts, fowls, etc., are conscious beyond death. I wonder what the spirits of cattle, swine, and fowls think of their cannibalistic “friends?” They may not seek the company of man over there.
We can never agree with Chalmers, that the moral fabric of man is proof of his immortality. They say, “Man is a higher creature then beast, therefore he is an immortal one.” We say, “Man is no greater then the horse or the baboon than horse is greater than an insect. That the argument proves nothing at all from the point of richer endowments, unless God founds future glory on such capacity; but even then, not upon capacity alone is such hope founded, but upon the proper use of such endowment.? They say, “God breathed the breath of life into man, and, therefore, it was a spirit.” We say, “So did God breathe the breath of life into the lower animals” (See Gen. 6). And scores of other fictitious differences are brought up seeking a distinction between man and animal sufficient to make the difference between the destructible and the indestructible, and in no instance dare they exclude the brute from the same end. Whatever they find for man they must admit for the cat, the snake, the bee, and the turtle, from the point of nature and reason. Life itself is not intelligent, so far as man is concerned, for thousands of humanity today in the world possess as much force we call life as Abraham, Paul, Moses, Lincoln, Washington, or Cromwell possessed, and yet are no wiser than a “cannibal,” a “mound builder,” or a “lunatic.” If life is intelligence, there is no explanation for such conditions. Life, through the aid of its counterpart, the body, is capacity, and in these lay the power of development and growth. Can we not understand that the life of the bird, beast, reptile, insect, and man are all lighted up by the breath of God? And because of that common fact, the argument for one must involve the other till it be shown that God has made additional provision for man; then whatever that provision must be the first point from which to draw the conclusion of destiny. What, then, differentiates the powers of intelligence, the one from the other? What makes the horse a more dignified creature than the worm? Is it a different kind of life? If that were at all rational, there would be millions of different kinds of life. But if you argue that the life of man is different from the substance of an ox, you lay the basis for that very kind of conclusion, and we would be compelled to introduce it into every species.
The organism of the horse is the distinguishing difference between it and the bug. A higher organism, a greater field of activity. Here then is man’s pre-eminence over the beast—an organism adapted to a higher and broader field of usefulness. Into these finer qualities of the human mechanism this life enters and forms the being we call man, and he is the greatest of God’s earth creatures. His field is vast, but his life is a blank in the beginning, and forever after that he is no wiser then he has learned, and for that reason, we say life is not an intelligent spirit but a blank, and can be improved only in its “home,” the body. My contention is that when life departs, it departs as the same breath of life that entered in—a blank. And I prove it by the same argument you prove it for the bear or chicken, because we are on the same foundation and the same premises. The conclusion must be the same. So then, if the death of beast is the end of its being, so with men. Here, then, can be seen the absolute necessity for the resurrection. And because man is a rational being, and capable of enjoying a blessing, and since through Adam he lost a chance for eternal life, God vouchsafed to be no respecter of persons and has given us the same chance He gave Adam, a whole lifetime to prepare. He has given us a better chance than He give Adam in the garden of Eden, for one sin banished him, and here we have a mediator to whom we can appeal when we err. So that no man can say, “If I had been in Adam’s place I would not have sinned.” If we disobey God now, we are no better than Adam. In order, then, to restore man to the tree of life, he must be brought back—and the resurrection accomplishes that necessity. But no promise was made to the brute, so no future life for them.
Despite these simple and plausible explanations, men can see and argue that the spirit of the ox is absorbed at death, or is somehow swallowed up, because the scripture intimates it as “going down into the earth.” When in harmony with science, that no substance can be destroyed, they therefore believe it goes back to God. Yes, sir! Your own preacher will tell you, if you will ask him, that he believes the life of the beast goes back to God and is swallowed up into the great fountain of life out of which it issued. According to their own logic, the spirit of man and beast go to the same place. Therefore, when Solomon said, “Who knows the spirit of man that goes up, or the spirit of beast that goes down to the earth,” to say it is proof of man’s immortality, is saying what none can prove. In millions and millions of instances man is not above the wild beasts of the jungle. They eat each other with no more thought or compunction of conscience than you would have for eating a piece of fried chicken. They even descend below the level of decent brutes, and have no concern at all for the future. What, in the name of sense, God would want to keep such creatures in existence forever for, they themselves would be too ignorant to understand. That philosophy which teaches such is too inhuman to interest a savage who delights in devouring life. It is too presumptuous for any one but a Pope or a Calvin. Such arguments are utterly self-destructive. In saying God placed in man an element as eternal as Himself, they think they have gained a point. But they lose, for in the first place they merely infer it; they cannot prove it. In the second place, even though the “element” is eternal as God, it furnishes no proof that the spirit of man is as eternal as God. It is no proof that it is an intelligent entity. In the third place, the same argument can be sustained just as readily for the polar bear, and walrus, and eagle and albatross. And if one is sustained both are. I make a distinction between life and intelligence. To me they are not the same. I see life about me with no intelligence at all. Even life that is crazy. Therefore, to conclude that because the life of man is from God, he must exist as long as God exists is placing the whole animal kingdom, which has life from the same source, on the same plane.
Then that sort of evidence is not very favorable to give us hope hereafter. Would that kind suit you? We want something better than that. We can most all agree that the mental powers of the lower species are dissolved by death. Then, where is there a scintilla of evidence, judging from the scientific axiom that like causes produce like results, that man could pull through it with better results? Only by throwing away all reason and logic, all axioms of science and all assurance of truth and shutting our eyes, can a different result be obtained.
“Investigation and research have led every thoughtful mind to the axiom that all human inquiry brings us face to face with ultimate truths, truths that can be resolved into no simples elements; for which we can give no further reason than that they exist. On these ultimate truths rest all reasoning, demonstration, and inference. As we pass out from them in our explanations, we always end in the mysterious, the unknown, the finite.”—Braden’s Problem of Problems, page 225.
Braden says, regarding Campbell’s position that “man can have no knowledge or idea except through one of the other of the five senses:”
“Such a position while attempting to elevate revelation, is really one of those ‘suicidal’ arguments that ‘destroy’ the cause they are expected to sustain…It makes revelation create, or implant within man his ‘religious’ nature. It destroys the immortality of the spirit.” (“Problem of Problems,” page 231).
What! Campbell, a champion of that cause, destroying it with suicidal argument? Braden is beating the air trying to impress us that Campbell made a Mistake. Campbell spoke a truth, though his theory be buried forever.
Here stand Clark Braden and Alexander Campbell, two champions of the “indestructible soul” theory, both believing the same thing, and Campbell’s arguments supporting it are charged by Braden with destroying it—suicidal. Braden was right. For the admission made by Campbell that through the five senses must come all knowledge and light to the soul shows that the instinct for immortality was not inherent in man, but came by revelation. And that by seeing, hearing, feeling, thinking, and tasting all knowledge and growth is accomplished. Even the champions of that theory are at variance, and what one calls proof, the other calls disproof.
Braden is only kicking “gibraltar” with tender feet by trying to disprove Campbell on that proposition, it can be demonstrated to infinity that there is no other source of knowledge outside the five senses. And if that overthrows the theory of natural immortality, as Braden affirms, then it proves Braden and Campbell both wrong on that theory. “For this other is a fact.” Test it. If it could be possible to rear a child to maturity without teaching it, and without it seeing the light of day, at maturity its mind would be the same blank as at birth. It body would be twenty-one years, its mind only a day old, its faculties that of an infant. It could have no instinct of immortality. Hence both Braden and Campbell lose. And the theory is shattered to pieces, making it sure that by revelation, planting the seed and nourishing it, the “instinct” of immortality came into existence and is perpetuated, through in the minds of many it is so rudimental and crude as to be utterly void of consistency.
We argue that the eyes, ears, brain, and nervous organism are instruments through which the spirit operates—that the body and spirit are mutual in their work—that where one performs both perform. In fact, that they depend on each other for conscious life both in man and beast. How can it be intelligently argued that the destruction of these instruments does not dissolve all consciousness in man as in beast? If we discard reason, then explain without it. I submit this as a fundamental principle in psychology and metaphysics without the apprehension of a solution better able to endure criticism. This is an offer of light upon many scriptures that have been injudiciously corrupted by prejudiced opinion. It further enables us to grasp a thought on future retribution both just and rational,--not endless misery, but as a terrible destruction, as terrible as that set forth in the New Testament in the graphic picture of inspiration, from which none will recover.
We gather a group of impotent folk before us for investigation,--the blind and dumb and deaf. Bear in mind that we are laboring under the delusion that the powers of the mind are active and sensitive when liberated from the temple of flesh. Now in case of a deaf person, where is the spirit? On, you say, it is in the body. Very well, then it ought to be able to hear, so we will get up real close and scream into it like a peal of thunder. Dose it hear? What is the matter, we ask? On, you say, it can’t hear because of a physical defect. The ear is affected. Well, what difference does that make? How can that affect the hearing of the spirit? It is taught that spirit can see and hear without the body, and if it can then it can hear without the ear, and why the suspension of this function in the body of man because of a simple imperfection in the physical organism? How could you intelligently argue that you walk with the aid of your feet, and at the same time put up a counter argument that you can walk just as well without them? You may walk in the midst of a thousand blind and deaf people and not one of them can see or hear you. Is it possible that a spirit can go blind and deaf? Is it possible that you can walk and talk and sing and not be observed by them? Not merely possible, but a pathetic certainty. Now try to imagine the condition of those spirits should they suddenly depart from their house and stand before you. Do you think they could hear and see? If you do you possess the greatest credulity for mystery I have ever known. If those spirits can either see not hear while in the body, because of disability of the ears and eyes, what other conclusion should be feasible but that should the spirit be totally severed from the body it would still be blind and deaf, and powerless to act in any capacity until connected with its organs again.
I want to bring before you another illustration that is an abuse of truth. Our clergy tell us our eyes are the “windows of the soul.” That it looks out through the eyes on the world, as we sit in a house and look out through the window into the street. We are sitting in room peering through the window into the street and we see distinctly through the window pane the movement of the people and objects, but we say, remove the pane and we can see better without it. It is removed and our vision is really clearer. That is our experience looking through the window. They tell us we look out through these windows, the “eyes,” and seek to leave the impression that when delivered from these obstruction, as in the case of the window pane, the spirit can see equally better. Very well: remove the obstruction, break these windows of the soul, and get them out of the way. Can you see better, as in the other case? How strange! In the first instance, when the glass is broken we cannot see at all. Hence, we have learned that the illustration used by the preachers fails it illustrate. It only misleads. It shows facts in false colors. The cases are not similar at all. It shows that in the first instance we are not dependent upon the windows to look out upon the street, but in the other we are. And that without these windows the spirit is in darkness. This is comprehensible, the other is not.
To say these organs aid the mind in its various exercises, and turn right around and grant it power to perform them better alone, is not giving these organs much credit for the office they fill, and flatly denies the former admission that they are aids. Just as well step over with Butler, and affirm with him that, “our bodies are no part of ourselves.” Of course, we are all agreed that all this machinery is necessary here. For there is no other alternative in the face of so much evidence. Therefore, when, through misfortune, the mental powers are destroyed, because deprived of their aid, we must conclude that the mind cannot be restored to its power but by a restoration to its organism. That this mutual interdependence of soul and body is indeed delicate, so that the affectation of the organs equally affects the mental power until reparation is made even to normal condition. This is not only sound and lucid, but it is imperfect accord with out most penetrating observation and knowledge. This is a substantial argument against that stubborn old absurdity of natural immortality, and one which will bear all the knocks you have in store. Could it be a possibility that the spirit depends not on the eyes, ears, and brain for power to see, think, and hear, then there could be given no valid reason why the impairing of these organs equally affects these powers.
So, then, the failure of these, the ablest advocates, to establish the “deathless” nature of the soul from reason, and the champions who went before and have followed after have likewise failed, makes it obvious that it cannot be done; and that we are indebted directly to revelation for all light and hope. To that book we have the same free access, the same privilege and duty to study with unbiased minds. It tells ever so much about immortality, eternal life, never die, live forever, etc. It tells us how it was brought to light through the gospel. That before, it was all darkness. It tells how we may have a right to the tree of life, and live forever—how to discipline ourselves, and that the right to live forever is the richest treasure God can offer to man or angel.
Every object of creation is a result of the combination of substance. Dissolve the combination, and the object is destroyed. For this reason, death destroys man, and the resurrection brings him back.
We take the ground that where there is plenty of evidence it is no trouble to establish a truth. And we state further that truth always has abundance of support though it may often be befouled besmirched with contaminating influences, which render it useless and obscure. But with all the ingenuity, talent, scholarship, and wealth and position and opportunity back of the theory of natural immortality, it has confessed itself at a loss, and impotent to frame a program of eternal life which world easily and naturally exclude the brute creation. If any deficiency on earth would nullify the whole process of a system being born and reared in such straits and strategies, it would be that self-confessed and self-consciousness that it has nothing upon which to rest its foot nor hang its hope.
Truth is never at a loss to dig deep and fasten itself upon the rock. It never lacks for allies and its forts are impenetrable. Henry Drummond has admitted substantially that the doctrine of natural immortality cannot exclude the brute creation except by sheer apology, and graciously consented to grant them a place alone side with men. Hear him:
“Now the difficulty in framing a theory of Eternal Life has been to construct one which will exclude the brute creation, drawing the line rigidly at man, or at least somewhere within the human race. Not that we need to object to the immortality of the dog or the whole creation,” etc.—Natural Law in the Spiritual World, page 177.
Henry Drummond has run amuck so often along the precarious path, and wormed his way out through pretended, but unintelligible explanations, that it can be shown that his book is a mass of “dilemmas” upon whose thousand horns his doctrines would be gored and perforated as a sand screen and shed the last drop of their vitality.
So, we conclude if natural immortality was even a plausibility it would be blessed with as least some favorable references that would not wither and die as the light rises upon them.
“Where doctrines of divine revelation are plainly published, together with sufficient proofs of their revelation, all mankind are bound to receive them, though they cannot perfectly understand them; for we know that God is true, and cannot dictate falsehood. But if these pretended doctrines are directly contrary to the natural faculties of understanding and reason, which God has given us, we may be well assured these dictates were never revealed to us by God himself. When persons are really influenced by authority to believe pretended mysteries, in plain opposition to reason, and yet pretend reason for what they believe, this is but a vain amusement. There is no reason whatsoever, that can prove or establish any authority so firmly, as to give it power to dictate in matters of belief, what is contrary to the dictates of our reasonable nature. God himself has never given us any such revelations; and I think it may be said with reverence, He neither can nor will do it, unless He change our faculties from what they are at present. To tell us we must believe a proposition which is plainly contrary to reason, is to tell us we must believe two ideas are joined, while we plainly see and know them to be disjoined.”—Watts on the Mind, pages 243, 244.
“We should not too easily give in to all the dictates of tradition, and the pompous pretense to the testimony of man, till we have fairly examined the several things which are necessary to make up a credible testimony, and to lay a just foundation for our belief. There are and have been so many falsehoods imposed upon mankind, with specious pretences of eye and ear witnesses, that should make us wisely cautious, and justly suspicious of reports where the concurrent signs of truth do not fairly appear, and where the matter is of considerable importance. And the less probable the fact testified is in itself, the greatest evidence may be justly demanded of the veracity of that testimony, on which it claims to be admitted.”—Watts on the Mind, page 25.
Immortality occupies a prominent place in the New Testament. In chapter one we have it defined in both Greek and English, and presented also a test case where in its application in scripture it suffered on injection into it of a foreign element, which revolutionized the word, giving it a quality called happiness for its definition.
The argument introduced there cannot be injured by reinforcing it here. And the object is to make it so plain that further explanation would be superfluous. It is not true that immortality means happiness. It is therefore false. I prove it by going to the origin of the words. Hence to take an attribute of the word and graft it into it as the definition is worthy of universal contempt.
Immortal happiness is not a Bible term, but a human phrase, which had even blinded the eyes of the most astute observers.
As we have seen, if immortality may be rightly defined as “Immortal Happiness,” why is it that “natural immortality” should not be defined as “Natural Immortal Happiness”? Why? Would it not be consistent? Is it not imperative? We understand why. “Because people are not naturally happy” and they could not make the definition “stick.” Then it ought to be protested everywhere that man is not immortal by nature, and that would sound the wireless S. O. S. of the doctrines founded upon it.
For if it be admitted that “immortality” does not mean “immortal happiness,” then its true meaning must be accepted—perpetual existence, exempt from death. See Chapter 1 for definitions.
If, however, it be left standing as “happiness,” involve what it may, then the whole question must be yielded. For every one knows that all men are not “naturally happy” even though “naturally immortal.” Immortality and mortality stand indirect contrast—exempt from death—death. Life and death. Not happiness and death.
But hear is where the slime and mucous substance begins to gloss the surface, and where the greatest breach is left without a bridge. In speaking of “Natural Immortality” it is never defined as some sort of pleasure—the Dictionary and Lexicon meaning are pressed unrelentlessly—“endless existence,” exempt from death. And thus they affirm that all humanity are destined to exist forever. But just as soon as the same word is seen in Holy Writ, its meaning changes to “immoral happiness.” There is nothing in the context requiring such rendering. No warrant is derived from the rules they claim to follow, and yet, there is a reason for it, which can be traced and shown, though so fragile it breaks with its own weight.
Let us see if we can’t decipher the truth about it.
1. There is an “immortality” spoken of in the New Testament for certain characters, and it is thoroughly established that all men will not share in it, but only who prepare in harmony with the divine pattern. It is well known that if “immortality” were defined here as “endless existence it would seem that possibly all men would not exist forever.” For this is to be given with discrimination. And should this be defined as such, not only would their mouths be closed forever on the “deathless nature of the soul,” but they could not argue for “natural immortality” not for in intermediate state, not for eternal torment. In fact, it is a necessary postulate that they define immortality as “immortal happiness” regardless of the dagger they plunge into the English and Greek languages.
Hence we cannot imagine them so absurd as to argue that the Bible offers an “endless existence” to a certain quality of character, and to no others, and then step down to the murderer, the reprobate, the idolater and iniquitous, and offer them an endless existence by the nature, creation, or inheritance. Well enough for their doctrine that they define immortality with a double meaning. It is an improvised “make believe.” It is a stratagem. Driven by necessity to do so, or swamp the whole fabric of their philosophy, and blot it out of existence. Now just take a plain view of the whole situation in a nutshell.
Immortality—exempt from death—endless existence (dictionary).
Natural immortality—deathless—exist forever (theology).
Bible immortality—immortal happiness—ecstatic enjoyments of the saints (theology).
What do you think of that? What would you do if you could understand that you have been deceived with a perversion of that word?
I told you they adhere to the dictionary definition for natural immortality—which is a myth, and man made. But for Bible immortality they reverse it and prevent it. Yet all the time, the Greek and English languages, Dictionaries and Lexicons, never have and never will define but one immortality, and will never define it different from the above.
It is not a plausible presumption that God could make a creature He could not destroy utterly. It would indeed seem strange that God’s power is greater to create than to destroy. We are speaking, not of substances but of creatures. Whether “spirit” is destructible or not matters not, the creature made of it is. And he who says no, says it for the dog and the horse also.
Immortality is an endless existence, not because the creature is indestructible within himself, not because of the insufficient power of God, but through the divine preservation. For mortal or immortal, we have no right to assume that God has involved himself in the necessities of fate, by which His only alternative is to lash the victim with eternal firebrands, because unable to destroy him.
Let us be reasonable with God and with our views of Him, and there is nothing more reasonable than that God can break down any building, which disgraces His name, and proves unprofitable.
Some argue as if God has placed Himself under eternal obligation to them. They say: “God placed me here, He gave me being, I had not asked for it. He took the responsibility upon Himself, and is therefore morally bound to provide for me the best He has as any other Father would do for his children.”
They see God’s duty toward them but cannot see their duty toward God. They fail to appreciate the many blessings He has bestowed upon them, and received not so much as a thank in return. Many enjoy His providence daily with ungrateful hearts. He has invited them to places of honor and glory in His everlasting kingdom, and they responded not. He gives them talents and opportunities, admonitions and reproofs, chastisements and promised, yet they harden their hearts and go their way. Blind to all He has done for them, blind to their own highest interest, they justly forfeit their lives, and they will give them up with deep regretful hearts.
When the Lord said in Luke 20:37: “Neither can they die any more for they are equal unto the angels,” He did not mean to teach that it would be a physical impossibility to destroy them. He is not talking about the omnipotence of God, as Campbell supposed (see Review of Campbell), but they cannot die any more because the water of life flows to them forever. They cannot die because God is their preserver and through His abundant life and mercy, they share His glory.
But it might be a moral impossibility for God to destroy one who had fulfilled the ends of his creation to his remotest ability, as Enoch, Elijah, Abraham, Moses, or Paul. Because God’s promises are wrapped about these creatures who serve Him devoutly. It is morally impossible for God to do wrong, and in that sense it might be impossible for Him to destroy a righteous person, because of His word. But otherwise God is greater than all His creatures. And one who forfeits the right to live forever, by rejecting the conditions stated will deliver up life to satisfy it.
Hence, immortality will be endless because sinless and for no other reason. And it will be sinless because of no temptation, and the refining fires of experience passed through.
There is no consciousness before birth. Reason also teaches us there was none before creation. That, as man did not exist, there was no mind or thoughts, though that same breath of life existed with God. You are here called upon to pick those apocalyptic symbols out of your eyes and give a reason why consciousness could be retained by the spirit when the breath of life is discharged. To do so would be performing a long-felt want. We ask not for presumptions, too many of them now. Give a reason.
This book holds the position that consciousness is a result obtained by the “union of the breath of life with this wonderful, mechanical organism,” and when the union is severed, the result is the same as before creation, with this difference: that the character formed by this union, the words and deeds and thoughts, which constitute the whole term of life, are recorded, and at the resurrection the organism will come forth answering to this character. If that is too simple to be true, it is none too simple for me to believe and for inspiration to intimate.
We pretend to judge honestly and fairly after due investigation. And we hold that truth is uniform throughout all space. That under all circumstances it holds together, and in no case inconsistent. The lesson it teaches one place, it teaches alike in every place. A phenomenon produced by a certain law cannot be argued away with “ifs” or “ands.”
It is too well known to doubt that about four-fifths of the people of the globe can by faith see themselves at death take their departure on newly made wings to some far-off abode of spirits, to the “happy hunting ground,” to “Abraham’s bosom,” to “Paradise,” or to a place of regretful reflections. That while the relatives and friends are sorrowing for the loss sustained, the spirit is regaling in the land of spirits on a scale so sumptuous as passing all understanding.
Reason teaches us—and that is only a term for common sense—that such a spirit with eyes so keen, and ears so sensitive, and tongue so glib should at all times manifest its powers when in the body.
Experience teaches us that it does not and cannot. There are countless cases in which the “spiritual” man—I accommodate myself to the usual expression—is partially or totally impotent. Under the above notion there is no perceptible reason why such phenomena should occur. How could the power of the spirit be impeded or wholly arrested in the exercise of its functions if it can act independent of the physical organs? And that very affirmation stands without a proof. How can the mind be so active, so vivid, so intelligent after the organism through which it operates has fallen to pieces—since it is so powerless and helpless during process of dissolution? And if the spirit remains unscathed by death, why is it so affected by the loss of its eyes, or ears? If these questions are easily answered, answer them.
Here is a strange freak of the spirit. It walks about here for ten to ninety years carrying a carcass weighting from twenty to five hundred pounds, seeing, hearing, thinking, talking, etc. Suddenly by some “mishap” the carcass loses its eyes, and behold the “spirit” loses its eyes too. Directly the carcass’ ear gearing becomes deranged and useless, and lo, the “spirit” loses its “ears.” Later the brain receives such a blow as to cause what is known as concussion, and by the way, here the “spirit” has “concussion” also, utters words of insanity. Soon the brain has collapsed and the spirit says nothing, knows nothing, and is also helpless.
Hear is the place for some study. Every time the carcass lost an organ, the spirit lost a function, a power, or faculty. One by one the organism gave way until at last nothing remained in use but the power to breathe. Just now that organ fails—where is the spirit? We reduced it until it could neither see, hear, think, talk, not feel. It has but one more jolt, just breathing. When that power is gone the spirit has nothing whatever left. Now if when the last organ breaks, the spirit assumes all these powers and departs to the Elysian Fields of glory, it is the biggest hypocrite of all creation. For none of the animal kingdom acts that way.
But one says: “Well, this is all quite true from a natural viewpoint, but the scriptures indicate a conscious survival of the spirit at death, and as it is of universal belief, even among the heathen and all churches, it must be true.”
If the scriptures indicate it, it should not be so contrary to reason. It will be seen that the word of God is a sweeping denial of it. It would not do to say reason teaches the same result for man and beast in death, and then argue that scripture contradicts the established facts or reason. Scripture, reason, and nature will be found in perfect agreement even in small things.
It is obvious and worthy of mention here that all orders of animal life rises in intellectual power as the advance is noticeable in the physical organism. Not submitting this of anything, it is nevertheless a fact of some significance. It seems to suggest that the mental powers of man, beast and insect are measured in capacity, not by different kinds of life, but by different kinds of creatures. It is not in accord with good judgment to assume the breath of life was intelligent personality before it was breathe into man, unless we go on across and admit the same for beast. To deny it for one is to deny it for both.
The life force of man and goose alike is the breath of life from God. Yet, they do not think alike—or they ought not. The life force could not be argued as something different in the one from the other. The same difference is obvious in the organism as in the mental capacities. It is evidently the organism, which differentiates the mental powers from the lowest to the highest type of life. Dissolve the union of life and body, and all mentality ceases. Therefore the kind of organism indicates not the kind of life, or another kind of spirit, but the habits, inclinations and abilities of the creature.
This would lead us to the inference, a necessary one, that when this life goes out, all powers of life and activity of both body and spirit cease unto a reunion is effected. If never reunited, the creature exists no more.
I would here introduce another able advocate of that intangible something everybody believes and none understands—Mr. A. M Morris, of Winfield, Kan. In an article in the Octographic Review, of Indianapolis, September 2, 1913, p. 4, subject, “Sin and Its Devine Penalty.” Almost a page is consumed proving that men are higher then brutes; that brutes cannot read nor hope nor be subjects of legislation, nor believe in a resurrection or future life, and that no message was ever delivered to them by the prophets, etc. And he proved it satisfactorily to me I’m quite sure. But that is not an admission that he nailed a point of what he had in mind—the divine penalty. He was following a logical phrase known as “Ignoratio Elencha,” meaning the fallacy of “arguing to the wrong point.” The very effort put forth by him was wasted on irrelevant matter, but he passed it over on his readers as proof of man’s continued existence after death or after destruction. The whole world knows and always has known that man is more highly endowed than the beast, and labor to prove it but the sailing of his craft in the clouds of uncertainty, arguing the points which are not disputed, and proving things which are not questioned. But necessity knows no law. The eternal wretchedness of mankind—except the few the preachers find mentioned in the New Testament—must be supported, though nothing but “goat’ wool” (trifles) be found for premises. For it is this higher endowment which covers all the difference between responsibility and irresponsibility. It is this moral capacity that makes man a subject for legislation, and gives him the higher hope.
But Mr. Morris made a few scattering remarks deserving some notice. He affirms the Bible treats of “sickness” in man in a manner that it never can be affirmed of animals, and then produces examples like this (Isa. 1:5,6): “Why should you be stricken any more? You will revolt more and more. From the sole of the foot to the crown of the head there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and petrifying sores.”
In this he would show us how men are sick in a different sense from which can be said of beasts. What has he proved? I lay that same charge of fallacy at his door. He is arguing to the wrong point. Sin is not literal sickness. Who is it that does not understand this is merely a comparison the prophet is using. We know what physical diseases and ulcers and sores are, now moral defects are compared to this, that we might the more easily comprehend its heinousness. And so we ourselves speak of “moral rottenness,” “civic corruption,” “political ulcers,” “national eruptions,” etc. Not because they are literally so, but for reason of clearness and emphasis we use these figures of speech in our ordinary conversation. Sin, literally, is the “transgression of law,” but we speak of it as a moral disease, a moral leprosy. It seems that any person familiar with Bible idioms and figures would be able to discern the “illustration” from the thing “illustrated.”
But on the same page he says: “Every parallel attempted to be made between man’s death and the death of an animal that ignores man’s ‘death in sin’ is absurd.”
What in the name of reason we ask has “man’s death in sin” got to do with the physical death of man or beast? I confess I am too stupid to see, and he has failed as usual to point out. Death in sin is but a penalty hanging over the sinner’s head, which may be averted by turning to God in penitent obedience. It is a state of condemnation not to be executed until the probation is ended—the days of grace.
Surely Solomon had not taken this fine of Morris into consideration when he wrote Ecclesiastes, for he said that man and beast not only die alike but go to the same place. See Chapter 11.
It is axiomatic that an argument that proves nothing is worth nothing. I affirm that Morris proved nothing, for the points aimed at for the most part are not doubted. In the remainder the conclusion was irrelevant, and being so it was hurtful to his position. It is about the same as “felo de se” (suicidal). It is but a vain attempt to maintain the position, and leads to the shifting of grounds and the undue assumptions which have overwhelmed this subject with drift and trash as deep as the tidal wave before a great storm. So despite all of Morris’s meanderings in this thicket of underbrush called confusion, man’ death in sin has no relation to his physical death, seeing the good man, the bad man and the beast die alike.
In the March 1911 issue of the Columbian Magazine, rejoinders are made against Thomas A. Edison’s denial of immortality, as set forth in the January issue previously.
Among those who replied to Edison were men of such distinction as Cardinal Jas. Gibbons, Dr. Newell Dwight Hillis, pastor of the Plymouth Church of Brooklyn, N. Y., and Chas. A. Eaton, pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church of New York City.
These eminent men of learning teach thousands of people annually, publicly, and who in turn disseminate their ideas to other. Besides this, through various periodicals they reach millions of people, and thus help to mould the thought and religious convictions of the world. In fact, we are brought face to face with these great moral forces.
In entering this channel for information, where we can contrast the opinions of men with the Bible, as far as space will permit, we are able to collect powerful forces and offer them in condensed form, free from dust and corrosion, that the reader may render an intelligent verdict, as the real inner truth shines out.
For this reason, I could not afford to let “Gibbons,” “Hillis” and “Eaton” escape the notice they deserve, though they said nothing to the point. Men of this type are the more dangerous, because of their ability to conceal their fallacies by the ingenious flow of words, and under the hypnotic power of much learning, influence the position.
Though Gibbons pretended to refute the materialistic views of Edison, there was but a wild scramble of his pen over several large pages, leaving a deep impression on the mind that much of the time he had forgotten his subject, and only occasionally did he touch it in a vital place. The reporter asked Gibbons if there were no proofs for immortality for those who refuse to accept Christianity, to which he replied:
“Yes, plenty of them and good one. They are to be found in a thorough course of philosophy, and they can be really grasped ‘only by those who have had such a course’ Philosophy is perhaps the most abstruse and difficult branch of knowledge. It is the crown of a liberal education, a crown I may say worn by very few, exceeding few…But I said there are philosophic proofs for the spiritual nature of the soul and its survival after death. Let your readers, if they wish, study such a work as Maher’s Psychology…It is a most valuable book and very satisfying, to my judgment.” (Cardinal Gibbons, Columbian Magazine, March, 1911).
Gibbons did a time or two refer to Paul In 1 Cor. 15 and to Christ showing that immortality was one of the plainest facts of the New Testament. But the reporter correctly understood that immortality was not for all men, but for a certain character of men, and that he had asked for the proofs of immortality for all men. In other words, proof for the “deathless nature of the soul.” So the reporter rejected Gibbons’ reply and pressed the question for proof of a future life for those who reject the gospel. Then Gibbons pointed to philosophy, with a “Yes, plenty of them, and good one.” But that few could grasp them, though it satisfied his mind of the survival of the unsaved after death.
You see Gibbons is shrewd enough not to attempt to prove his theory by the Bible. Maher’s psychology settles that. God was able to reveal the immortality of the righteous, but it took Maher to discover it for the unrighteous. What God refused to declare, Maher reveals. If God refused to say all men will exist forever, Maher will say it for Him. How did Maher learn it? Life Hall? Like Butler? Like Socrates? Like Plato? Yes, the same way with the same proofs. On page 965, Columbian Magazine, as part of his reply to Edison, and to which some attention has already been given, he remarks: “We know there is a connection between the brain and the mind, that the mind thinks through the aid of the brain as it sees through the aid of the eyes.” (Gibbons).
I challenge any philosophy or philosopher to answer if Gibbons’ admission does not compel him to the conclusion the mind can “never think without the brain.” Logically, his philosophy is as rotten as the sewage of a city if cut short of that. That makes it cut its own throat, the truth of which every argument will sustain. Without repeating previous arguments, go back over the previous chapter and be convinced how fully Gibbons is self-refuted. And as his philosophy falls, it falls with all its kind.
Let us turn our attention now to Mr. Hillis’ reply to Edison, and gather the light he has to offer. In part he said:
“I take my philosophy from Socrates, my argument from Paul, and the revelation from Him whose name is above every name…I believe President Harper was right when in his dying hour he said, ’Pray God to give me much hard word to do beyond.’ I believe that Raphael is still painting pictures; that Kohn Keats is still writing poems; that Robert Burns, who blessed sweet flowers here with sweet music, is still living the immortality is sweet song to flowers of a richer hue and perfume. Since heaven is a city, I am inclined to think Mr. Edison will be very useful looking after the electric lights.”—Newel Dwight Hillis, Columbian Magazine, March, 1911, page 983.
While reading that, I was made to wonder if it was intended for a burlesque, and if he smiled greatly when it fell from his pen. I wondered if it occurred between acts in a vaudeville, or if he is showing what powerful arguments a man of learning can bring forth in defense of “natural immortality” and against a materialistic “bubble.” He is showing what “scholarship” can do by the side of an “inventor.” But, honestly, it seems incredible that a preacher (?) of the gospel, a man of fortune and influence, could say it piously. That, indeed, is a worldly conception of heaven. What a sad delinquency in scriptural knowledge he exhibits. What does Heaven need with an electric light plant with an atheist pulling the wires—if there shall be no night there, and no infidels there?
The employments of heaven are of an exalted type, the conception of which must to us considerably speculative, to be sure. But a man is hardly justified in speculations so wholly carnal. We are given but few hints of the future employments of the saints, and none of these is the work of the flesh, or carnal things, but they minister to the glory of God. In His unsearchable resources He will find plenty for all to do of a delightful nature.
Do you like the philosophy of Hillis? Would that not have been grand for little children to have originated in the playhouse? Much more suitable there than coming from the mind of maturity and reflection. Indeed, it indicates the measure of growth, and shows him to be yet a child in Divine things.
Well, the source of his philosophy forbids us to expect more. He gets it from Socrates, his argument from Paul. Wonder if Socrates was a greater philosopher than Paul? Hillis thinks so. From Socrates comes not only his philosophy, but his argument and conclusion. There is nothing in Paul’s writing leading to such conclusions as Raphaed still painting pictures, or Keats writing poems. Had he taken his philosopher from the Lord, Paul, Peter, Jude, James, and John, he could have made Edison tremble. Show me a philosopher more profound then Paul. Show me a greater masterpiece than 1 Cor. 15, or 2 Cor. 5. Where is a philosophy surpassing Matthew chapter 5, 6, 7? Where is the equal of Matthew 25? Just look at Romans, chapters 9 and 11,and ever so many more. If I should argue with Hillis, that is the best, I would feel that I had offered a contemptible offence to inspiration. Paul said nothing about Socrates; Peter never mentioned him, and they both had access to his works. To go back that far for authority on this subject, when holy man of God have told more than all the world ever knew, is a reversion and return to medieval darkness. Hillis couldn’t see Raphael and Keats by way of Paul, so he went round by way of Socrates, though it was 500 years farther. I would that I could impress Hillis that wisdom from heaven is in the Bible; true wisdom that deceives not. Would that he store his mind full of it, and tell it to others.
I have no better word for Eaton that for Hillis, so vain and unworthy is his attempt. In part he say:
“I think Mr. Edison’s opinion of what lies beyond the grave is worth as much as the opinion of any other man. But I do not think any of us, religionist or irreligionist, really knows anything about it. The first and most exhaustive argument for immortality is that given by Socrates. As an argument this had never been surpassed; the fundamental principles upon which he rested his case are these—the universe is composed of opposites—right and wrong, light and darkness, life and death—so death is no violation. Therefore, the souls of men cannot die because the soul of man is indivisible. At this point, I think that Socrates has our Edison, rather badly whipped”—Chas. Eaton, Columbian Magazine, March 1911, page 984.
Well, Mr. Eaton, I am inclined to call it a draw. I see not where either of them has the advantage. Of course, according to Socrates’ theory, the soul of man cannot die because indivisible. According to his theory. What does that count? Suppose the soul cannot die, according to his theory, does that prove that it cannot die at all? Might it not die by some other theory” Does his theory keep it alive? What if it should die according to Paul’s theory, or according to God’s theory? Who said, “All souls are Mine, the soul that sins it shall die.” (Ezek. 18:4). How came Socrates to be authority? Edison lays just as strong a claim to your faith as Socrates. Both alike assumed the point upon which the whole issue depends. But Mr. Eaton esteems the theory of Socrates as the most exhaustive argument for immortality known to him, and one, which has never been surpassed. How ignorant he must be of the New Testament, a little volume, which came into being 500 years after Socrates, and is called by apostles the “bringing to light” of life and immortality. That it had been dim and obscure, that hope was resting on an invisible thread, that only the grave could the eyes of man penetrate. The great beyond was dark and dismal, gloomy and full of anxiety. Now, through he mighty conqueror of death, the light shines in the tomb, it reflects beyond, and points to a future for man altogether undreamed of and so brilliant no poet had very painted its glory, telling who shall and who shall not be participants in that great ocean of joy provided by the rich mercies of God through a crucified and risen Redeemer. The philosophy of Socrates fades into midnight darkness through the fullness of heaven’s flashlight, the New Testament, the most exhaustive document on immortality presented to man in any age of the world, or ever conceived, built upon the impregnable rock of eternal truth, and destined to sweep eventually all other philosophy into the dark, distant vista of “nihility.” Whosoever desires the best, the most exhaustive treatise on the glorious consummation of prepared humanity, a people tied by fire and persecutions, a people washed in the blood of the Lamb, of immortality in its brightest conceptions, study the New Testament, and lay the philosophy of Socrates in the grave with its author, and you cannot fail to appreciate the marvelous light as a thousand fold superior to the philosophy of all the uninspired men born or unborn, surpassing all the bounds of human limitation, against which the flimsy theories of those we have reviewed pale into insignificance.
Let the reader bear in mind these gentlemen started out to convince Mr. Edison of immortality, —to defeat his materialistic point of view, —to show the world the proofs were “plenty and good one,” that the soul of man would survive death in a conscious state. You have before you the sum of their entire pretensions used on the occasion. And each of them consumed two or three pages in the Columbian Magazine. They talked of everything but furnishing proofs of their subject. They knew their utter weakness for the event. They knew they had no argument to place. They knew were an impotent and unqualified as a school body of eight. And they know there was nothing for them to do but talk a little “rabble” and nonsense from Socrates, and leave the Bible strictly alone. Cautiously and sagaciously they did that. Don’t forget, either, the world looks up to those men for instruction and example. Can you find one proof of the subject they went after, like “mice fighting an elephant”? And they were just that much smaller then their subject, too, so what could we expect from them? Did Edison’s position suffer by their attack? Not a wit. They did nothing. Get a copy of that magazine, and you will be shocked at the fearful cheapness of their vain attempt. Regardless of their high social and educational standing, we must confess their rejoinder to Edison was a flimsy evasion of the point at issue, and could establish nothing definite had it been extended to a thousand volumes. Jesus Christ is the light of immortality, and in Him is no darkness at all. Those who argue it intelligently must go to Him and His ambassadors. Outside of that there is no proof. And they will tell you unmistakably you are entitled to it or no.
Why not say, “According to Edison’s theory he has Socrates rather badly whipped.” Why not say it that way? Isn’t it just as logical? Just as consistent? According to Edison’s theory there is “no hereafter for man because the intelligence and life is composed of ‘cells,’ and a destruction of the cells is a destruction of life. Because all investigations have failed to discover a soul” (Thos. A. Edison, Col. Mag., January 1911). Now, I ask you, is not Edison’s theory founded as substantially as that of Socrates? Both alike are unproved. There is not a theory imaginable that cannot make a good showing, no matter how corrupt and abominable.
But who said death is division? Socrates. And that the soul cannot die because it is indivisible? Socrates. Did he ever demonstrate it at any time, or in any way? Where is just one proof he ever offered outside of assumption? There is not one, because everything in nature and reason points to the very opposite. Then what is Socrates’ theory worth? Absolutely nothing to any one, except as old medieval relic of ancient superstition. The thinkso’s of a Socrates or Plato are, to me, of little significance when placed beside the testimony of the Lord, of Paul, Peter, James, John, Ezekiel, Moses, Isaiah, Solomon and the prophets. These latter outweigh all the Socratic philosophy that can be crowded into a Carnegie Library. For they are uniform in their teaching, averring that the lost not only can die but will die. And if Socrates’ hallucination be true, that the soul of man is indivisible, then it must die undivided, for the soul that sin’s it “shall die.” (Ezek. 18:4). But what Socrates and most all commentators affirm is that the soul is the spirit of man. Yet man did not become a “living soul” before the union of the breath of life with the body. At the same time we must know that the scriptures frequently speak of the soul in a manner tending to lead one to believe only the body could be meant (See Lev. 17:12 and 23:0). Speaking of the soul eating blood and doing work. (Also Job 27:8 and Luke 12:20). Speaking of God taking souls away, etc. There are scores of such texts of either class. Hence, since Socrates says death is division, and Mr. Hillis must agree that the Bible is full of death for the unsaved, we must conclude that either Socrates is unreliable authority, or since the soul must die, it too then must be divisible. Otherwise, death does not mean division, as affirmed of it. Let Mr. Eaton from his decision form this, and then let him tell us how he can reconcile Socrates with the Bible. Inevitably he will find himself in a dilemma, from which he cannot possibly extricate himself. He must deny that death is division, or admit that the soul is divisible. Or he must jump from figurative to literal from literal to figurative, from one lid of the Bible to the other, he may be talking of the first or second death. Not admitting, now denying, now imagery, now real, until he could not locate himself with compass and chart in the great sea of theology in a thousand years. But if the soul cannot die because indivisible then it must always have existed, which was Socrates’ theory, and which is necessary, logically, before the theory can stand for one moment. But such a conclusion would be an absurdity no man could believe seriously. Hence it unsoundness is its chief and mort conspicuous characteristic.
The advocates of that theory plainly contend that this immortal principle is the spirit, and that it is indestructible. They do teach it is eternal as God himself. But they will not standby that assertion. The moment it is attacked the post is deserted, and admission is made that it can be destroyed, completely, utterly, but that it depends on the will of God. Then why not let the will of God agree with His threats? Look in His word for His threats, and we will arrive at that feature in due process of time.
Again, they tell us man is not naturally immortal, but will be raised immaterial or indestructible. That, then, would be immortality, for such is the meaning of the word. The scripture nowhere speaks of the imperishable nature of man, but of his perishable nature, and gives the guarantee of exemption from death only to those who accept Christ. There is not a text in the Bible saying the lost will be raised imperishable, but many saying they will be as chaff, tares, dry branches, stubble, and words of similar import. Numerous texts speak of the immortality of the saints, and any one using them to prove the deathless nature of the spirit of all men, is only grasping a straw to save a sinking cause which is rooted as deep as early training and prejudice can root it. With such an indiscriminate juggling of scripture, Universalism defends its dogma.
“To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.” (Paul, Rom. 2:7).
“But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (Paul, 2 Tim. 1:10).
“For this corruptible must put on incorruptible, and this mortal must put on immortality…But thinks be to God which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Paul, 1 Cor. 15:53, 57).
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Paul, Rom. 6:23).
“My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me, and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (The Lord, John 10:27 28).
The scriptures cited above tell a deep and solemn story in a few words. It truly seems to me as charging the Lord with foolishness, when He tells us that it is yet future and to be given only to the faithful, and to be sought for diligently, for men to vigorously defend the unscriptural dogma that man is already immortal. It sound strange to hear John declaring, “The world will pass away, and the lusts thereof, but he that does the will of God abides forever,” and then listen to men affirm with all their eloquence that all men will abide forever irrespective of their doing the will of God. It indeed sounds strange to hear men try to prove that the wicked enter punishment at death, and then listen to the unassuming apostle tell us in quiet tones that the unjust are reserved to the day of judgment to be punished. Strange, isn’t it” By all the rules of logic, the perishable nature of man is inferred and implied in the very language that promises to immortalize him conditionally, that he may remain.
“If eternal life is a place to enter into, as affirmed by some, then it does not mean “eternal happiness” as Campbell affirmed. It cannot mean both a “place” and a “condition.” And to say it means either is an unwarranted begging of the question without a parallel or precedent. For you know, if you know the English language, that eternal life means a life without end. And to say it means “eternal happiness” or a place to enter into is a spurious imitation of argument.
The demolition of the bars of the grave, the chamber of death, the bondage of the dust of men, pointing through the valley of the shadow of death to a brilliant hope of life again in its fullness and glory, is the Lord’s grandest triumph in behalf of humanity, without which the future chaos and gloom would settle down forever over us and the mists of darkness be an eternal pall.
What a magnificent thought it is that man may live forever. Forever—a thought refined with anticipation and excellent glory. Worlds may come and go, stars and planets may run their course and cease, age on age may roll their cycles by, and man may live on, and on, and on forever.
No greater blessing could God be store then than endless life filled with His riches and wisdom. The poet beautifully said:
“When we have been there ten thousand years,
Yet bright shining is the sun;
We have no less days to live
Then when we first begun.”
The mind is lost in contemplation of a gift so great. A million ages will find the redeemed in the bloom of glorified manhood and womanhood, with an eternal future ever opening before them, new and grander wonders of the infinite wisdom of God.
We speak of a man being of great age if he had reached the century mark. Is He? Life passes as a mist and a dream. It is only a fleeting shadow. Yet, we struggle and labor to live a few days more, and gladly send out our last dollar for the hope of a little extension of our days. Why? Just for one reason, we love life, and hate death, not because we think of eternal torment, but for the sake of “being.” As Solomon said, “A living dog is better than a dead lion.” Death is the exclusion of life and its pleasures—that exclusion causes us to shrink back from it. Death is our enemy. “the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death,” says Paul, and to the righteous never more shall they fall a captive to it. Nothing sort of eternal life can satisfy man. The life that ends, be it prolonged ever so far, cannot satisfy. Would I say, “Lord, give me ten thousand years, and fill me with abundance, and let me enjoy it here with my friends, and then I shall be willing to drop out of existence?” Would I? Surely not. I would be more eager for the next ten thousand. So with you. And the time would never come when we would willingly say, “I want to depart to my home in the dust of the earth.” God knew this better then we, and has provided the only blessing that can eternally satisfy the human longing—endless life in Christ.
How speedily this life sweeps into the past. Scarcely do we learn to live till we can hear the shovels and picks at work, and the rumble of clods upon the thin pine box prepared for our dust. The span between the cradle and the grave is but a stone throw. Pick up a pebble and cast it from you, the distance between you and where the pebble stops is a fair symbol of life—as fast as you can walk over to the pebble, the sun goes down. In that brief space hangs the eternal destiny. In that brief moment must our salvation we worked out with fear and trembling. In that span must we perfect our lives with knowledge of God and His will, with chastisements, with trial and patience, with all the grace of God. Yet, how imprudently men cast their opportunities from them and waste their only hope. Many have no higher aspirations than the beasts that perish. What shall we eat and drink, and how shall we satisfy a sensuous appetite? With these satiated, they feel no higher need. Many there are whose development is not upward, but downward, down toward desolation and destruction. Down toward the brute and below the brute they descend, and often in the midst of life the light goes out. What shall they be fit for when they are lighted up again? What can they be used for? Nothing but the judicial execution of the penalty threatened—“These as natural brute beasts made to betaken and destroyed speaking evil of the things they understand not, and shall utterly perish in their own corruption.”
It is a law universal that to everyone who has shall be given, and he shall have abundance, but to him that has not, shall be taken away even that he has. Unimproved or misimproved talents cannot be preserved. Our own lives are witnesses to the decay of power through misuse or abuse. They fall into imbecility and ruin. Ten thousand voices from nature and revelation cry out to all the sons and daughters of men for a wise employment of our talents if we would retain them or again more.
Therefore, in the resurrection, eternal life will be granted to those only who have set their hearts to know God and have perfected their character I harmony with the pattern submitted in Christ. The undeveloped mind and the corrupted mind, the impure and the slothful, being deficient and incapable of glorifying God, will not inherit eternal life, and as a superfluous growth and excrescence marring the harmony of the universe, will be cut off forever.
“I give you charge in the sight of God, who quickens (makes alive) all thing…that you keep this commandment without spot, without reproach, until the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ…Who only has immortality” (1 Tim. 6:13, 16).
The Bible speaks of two deaths, the first and the second, and unless it be admitted that the results in each case are the same it would be making an absurdity of the Bible teaching. If the first death is a separation of the soul and body, then the second death would be a repetition of this, or the language of the Bible isn’t clear.
In this work, the word death is taken at what it means. The writers had words to select from that would have conveyed the thoughts which the preachers try to tell us the word death means, and the fact that they nowhere and at no time chose to use them is a significant argument. Certainly they knew what they wanted to say.
Just a suggestion. The first death, as we have seen from the above, could not be the separation of the soul and body, and I will venture that it is not separation from God. If the death that passed upon Adam was (and I think is) the first death, and if this was separation from God, then before the creature could die again he would have to be reunited with God. The facts of the case are, that the second death is the result of a continual rebellion against God.
Under the pressure of the belief that the spirit of man is naturally immortal, they could not define death for man as they do for the lower species. Suppose we grant, for argument sake, that “separation” is its “divinely authenticated” definition, as Campbell asserts. What is the resurrection for? To reunite soul and body. Then why is it the second death does not separate them again? If the first death separates soul and body, and the resurrection reunites them, then why is it they die again they are not separated again? Why not? What ails these definitions? Will they not bear investigation? For, evidently, if the separation of soul and body is a “divinely authenticated” definition, then whenever death occurs, logically, that separation of soul and body must occur. For if it be sound it means as much one place as another. Therefore, it is obvious that all this rabble about the second death being a separation from God is only fog gathered around the truth. What a wonderful theory I have to oppose. Separation of soul and body kills the body and leaves the soul untouched. Again, in the second death, body and soul and spirit can all die without being separated from each other. Or, again, one can die while the other lives, or they can both die together without separation, and at the same time both live. Did I say wonderful theory? Let me add profound sublimity to it. This calling death the separation of the soul and body is the beginning of a long series of errors, culminating in the most unbelievable fiction. Death, instead of being the separation of soul and body, it the result following simultaneously with it.
All these people argue directly opposite in regard to the second death from their observation in the first, without giving any reason except from a few apocalyptic texts which they apply literally, and then compelled to interpret all the plain scriptures figuratively. The rich man and Lazarus offer no light on the situation, which will be abundantly shown, and if fraught with many insurmountable difficulties.
But we must trace the meaning of death, and be assured that we are not mistaken. If we start right we may hope to end right. We look out over the vegetable world; we see trees, shrubbery and plants, having exhausted their term of life, are crumbling back to the elements again from whence they by that mysterious force arose. That is death! We come to the animal kingdom; we observe the rambling brute of the field fall to the earth and walk no more. That is death! And to define death by any other standard, any were or at any time, is to run straight away from its meaning. This definition agrees with that given by the Dictionary, and by every authority worthy to be called such. To deny it would be to deny our own senses. To throw the key of knowledge away, and love darkness rather than light. So when man lies down to wake no more in the house of clay, and we convey him to the silent tomb, again we are face to face with the true definition of death. The same in man as in beast so far as nature acts.
Let me illustrate the true definition. A house may be held together by nails, and there may be mutual dependence between the nails and the lumber for the house to stand. Now the separation of the nails from the house is not the falling of the house, but the cause of its falling. We must have true definitions, or we will be involved in a constant muddle. The idea that the second death is separation from God, is an essential quality inhering in the theory of natural immortality. The scriptural reference brought up by Campbell and others, of living men abiding in death, and interpreted by them as another kind of death, is nothing less than a farcical tangle and confusion of mind in theology. Just as though the word could be twisted into as many forms as there are imaginations. Campbell found four kinds of death. The Bible speaks of two deaths, and it tells us the second one takes place beyond the death of the body (See Rev. 20 and 21). It is forcibly expressed, and is the last death I can learn of in scripture. Then Mr. Campbell either went into the future beyond the second death of Revelations and found a third and fourth death, or he has the third and fourth death take place before the second (See chapter on Review of A. Campbell). They speak of the variety of death as a person would of the “apple crop.” Show me the kind of death that does not kill, and I will show you a false idea. Think of it! Four kinds of death! The Bible knows nothing of it. It speaks of two deaths but not two kinds of death. It recognizes but one kind. It never heard of a third and fourth kinds.
The text speaking of men as abiding in death has been a source of much confusion to many men. The reason is, they endeavored to make it another kind of death. They have argued as if it were a real death. No wonder they have been baffled. It has been asked by many to explain how a man could abide in death if he were not there. It is simple, and we gladly accommodate the request. First, how could a man be dead at all without being there? But he can, can’t he? Him being dead is a fact that he is not there. If he were there he would not be dead. Would he? Therefore, to abide in death is only a continuation of him being there. This is literal death. And that is all there is of it. A child can see that. But even a man cannot understand how a person can abide in real death, and be alive. Men abide in future death prospectively, only, and have the power to reverse matters at will. Strange that men will read the pleas for eternal life and immortality, begging people to turn and live, and are not able to discriminate whether the apostles are speaking of life on earth or in heaven.
How provoking it sometimes becomes to watch men labor with unknown fatigue to substantiate unscrupulous dogmas with scripture. Striving to make you understand what is to your mind an impossibility, “that a man can be living and dead at the same time.” You can just a readily grasp the conception that light and darkness exist at the same time at the same place. It serves as proof how an insidious error will beg for any kind of hearing. Strange, indeed, that those people may abide in death alive and not realize it. Neither feel it, hear it, see it, nor taste it. Strange, isn’t it? We know that wasn’t the first death. If it was the second death of scripture, who would fear it? Would you? Would it hurt any one? You say that is figurative. Then why not talk it as a figure, without deceiving somebody with the delusion that it is another kind of death, or that it is a definition of death. Figurative or not, if Mr. Morris says, the figurative meaning is the greatest meaning—and here we have its application, and see it is extremely mild—who will fear its figurative application in the next world? Would you? Will its figurative meaning be more there than here? Will it? How do you know? They appeal to its figurative meaning in the great day as its greatest meaning, and then proceed to give us examples of it, which demonstrate that there is nothing to fear, since men care nothing for it here. The Book indicates a weeping and gnashing of teeth when the second death comes upon them; no telling what they will do when the “third or forth” death hits them. The Book is silent on that. But our teachers know. These arguments from the defenders of that theory are their own application and understanding of scripture. If we show their utter misconception of the scriptures, the overthrow of their system must be complete. The argument from 1 John 3:14 is brittle as clay. The same inconsistent jabber as before is all we have to oppose. “He that hates his brother abides in death.” Any sinner is under condemnation. And to abide in condemnation is not the death itself. No. No. Yet these people argue as if it were. And they call it another kind of death.
I have been urging that you are nursing an absurdity. I call it that in plain terms. But here they dodge back and say: “Oh, this is figurative;” next they tell us “it’s another kind of death.” And to show what they mean by that they bring forward a host of scripture where people have been sinners, and condemned, and explain how this other kind of death finds them living and doing well. Yes, alive and dead at the same time. Alive to the place they are in and dead to the place they are out of, which makes it a fictions unexcelled by a Hindu fable. It confuses earnest searchers for the truth. It places truth where it must be dug out of the debris of so-called learning, before it can be intelligible to the great common people.
Not one of these scholars will tell you that those who are said to be “abiding in death now” have ever experienced either the first or second death. Not one. Not one would say death has taken place. Every one would say, “Oh, I know it is still future.” If they know it is still future why in the name of reason do they try to make out that it is another kind of death? Why try to conceal a great and significant truth? Why not say it means that they are in a condemned state? Any man who will so deal with divine truths ought to feel deeply embarrassed in such a muddle. This method of misconstruing the apostle’s words and then slipping out through a prefixed loop-hole, as soon as it is seen not to work, may be very cunning, but it cannot be edifying. When a man tells you that “death is a place to enter into and that dying is a struggling in death,” and “that when you have passed through but are dead any way while they live, you can mark it in your post-mortem ledger that there is a breakdown of machinery, or misplaced cogs, in that man’s shop, no difference who he is or where he migrated from.
At this place I wish to introduce some more of the philosophy of Hall, in the “problem of Life,” page 468. He say:
“There is no person who has arrived at the age of reflection, or who has ever philosophized on the vast problems of a future life, or who has pondered on that unspeakable something called ‘immortality’ of the soul, who has not been confronted with the puzzling inquiry: ‘If I am to live after my body dies, why shall not my faithful, intelligent, confiding dog live also? If the mental power and vital essence of such an animal with its memory and loving devotion can be annihilated, or can sink into nonentity at death, what philosophical proof or probable evidence can be adduced to show that man shall live after the death of the body, and retain his personal and conscious identity”’—Problem of Human Life, page 468.
The logical conclusion is that there is no proof that man will live after death. Philosophy could not do it, for every philosophical fact would utterly fail to show that a dead, inert body would live again.
In his “Universalism Against Itself,” Hall says:
“Again it might be argued…that the wicked will be raised from the dead and utterly destroyed, or annihilated. Paul says concerning them: ‘Whose end is destruction’ (Phil. 3:19). It might be asked, how can their end be destruction, unless they come to an end, and how can they come to an end unless they are annihilated” Or, unless they utterly perish, as says the Apostle Peter? Or, how can they live after they die the second death? (Rev. 21:8). How, it might be asked, can the punishment of the wicked be compared to the burning up of ‘chaff,’ ‘tares,’ ‘dry branches,’ hay, wood, stubble, thorns and briers? ‘And they always burning and never burn up’ (Matt. 3:12; Matt. 13:40; John 15:6; 1 Cor. 3:15). Would there be any similarity between endless misery and the burning up of chaff.”—Universalism Against Itself (Hall) page 418.
Mr. Hall, as quote here, asked a question we should have been glad to hear him answer. No use to listen for an answer to such questions, when they spring them merely to show there is no argument in them. For Hall himself, ignored their force—practically saying they teach “not” the lesson they carry. His query was, “what similarity is there between endless misery and the burning up of chaff, tares and dry branches, thorns, briers, hay and stubble?” That is just what I want some one to explain. And while admitted in the question itself that there was no similarity between them, yet he took the burning of all these combustible substances as representations of endless misery.
Hall’s query, “How can they live after they die the second death?” is another question he should have enlightened us on. Taking it as a matter of fact that they can and do, he was as mute as a wax image. Denying that death means death, just as the Universalist die, we are hear to affirm that Hall and his opponent were both in the same boat, out at sea with no guide post or light house.
The philosophy, which at death carries the spirit into a far-off abode of conscious life, one the pretext of the deathless nature of the soul, is not defining death at all, but a theological chimera drawn from the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. When once you are convinced of the groundless and insupportable nature of the system, it will not be so difficult to pull up and leave it. The theory did not spring into prominence with a leap and bound. The seeds of it were scattered by the controversial schools of Judea, as given by Smith’s Bible Dictionary, and reproduced in another chapter of this book. Besides the few figurative expressions seeming at a glance to favor it, it was strengthened by that desire to live and never die. It is a dignified thought for man to dream that he shall live forever. It is easy to believe, and none feeling that he deserve eternal torment, begins to encourage himself with imaginary means of escape. But you say, “Oh, I don’t believe in natural immortality, but that they will be raised immortal.” Some who see they are utterly unable to support the former view that the latter as a dodge. When you say you don’t believe in natural immortality, you overthrow your own argument for eternal torment. You overthrow your own picture of the intermediate state. You despoil your own interpretation of the Rich Man and Lazarus. And when you do all of that, you had just as well come on across, and admit that the whole orthodox theory of retribution is a delusive farce. You do believe in natural immortality ever time you declare the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus be a real circumstance. Many men I can name who have believed in inherent immortality, judging by their own lips. A. Wilford Hall believed it and vigorously defended it; Jeremy Taylor, Wm. Davidson, Spurgeon, Goethe, Rosseau, J. Collier, B. Lytton, Theodore Parker, Emerson, Tillotson, Max Muller, J. Edwards, Thos. Brown, Robert South, Calvin, Ralph Erskine, Noar Webster, Isaac Ambrose, Samuel Hopkins, Mohammed, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Pope Leo X., and every Pope before and since and every Catholic in the world; all the Mahometans. Again: T. Dwight, Athenagorus, Hubbard Winslow, Hedge, Bunson, Byron, Longfellow, Socrates, Plato, Gibbons, Newell Dwight Hillis, McGarvey, Sommer, Lard, Campbell, Butler. Time would fail me. A great volume of names could be mentioned of those who have believed and taught it as leaders of men. Therefore, I fearlessly affirm every advocate can be logically driven to that conclusion, though it means much and unpleasant discomfiture. For then they endeavor to defend the theory of natural immortality, it is then they realize how scant are its materials. This doctrine of natural immortality as it seeks encouragement from this or that text, and when routed from one position immediately assumes another, is evidently an unprofitable issue, and has a tendency toward many evils.
Mr. Morris says, in the Octographic Review:
“The whole strength and plausibility of the arguments made to show that man dies as a beast or disappears…is sophistry. There is more of him living, and hence more of him to die. He dies while he lives; is dead in the greatest meaning of that word, before he dies in the lesser sense of the word.”
The greatest meaning of death, then, is to be alive, and move, talk, read, think and act. Is he laboring under a mighty delusion impossible to throw off? Has that confusion taken hold of the bones and sinews? Is the greatest meaning of death a figurative meaning? Is the figure greater than the object it is taken from? Is the shadow greater than the substance? Can we not see the fallacy of such reasoning? Only a ten-cent Dictionary would solve that problem if he would let it. Real, literal, absolute death, death like a dog dies, dead all over and all through, would not, to Morris, be its greatest meaning. No! Not till it dies so dead it can run, jump, yell, talk, sing, and swear, not till then is it dead in the greatest meaning of the word. I had held literal death as the greatest meaning of the word, and figurative use of the word as only a pending death, a sentence not yet execute.
There is another class of Bible phrases to which we must call attention. These will further illustrate the serious struggles our teachers and commentators are having, seeking a rational disposition of the simple expressions. The Bible is prolific in the use of the word sleep, in speaking of death. Here are a few: Ps. 13:3, “Lest I sleep the sleep of death;” John 11:11, “I will awake him (Lazarus) out of sleep;” 1 Cor. 15:18, “Then they also which slept in Jesus will God bring with him;” Matt. 9:24, “The maid is not dead but sleeps;” John 11:11, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps,” Etc., etc. Sleep is a beautiful analogy of death. So beautiful, indeed, that it is often called sleep. Between deep sleep and the dead there is a marvelous resemblance. To neither is the world anything, to neither is there knowledge. So the similitude is both striking and appropriate. Some will now cry, “soul sleeper.” Let them cry. They first reproach the Lord. But the inspired writers call death sleep by analogy only. It is not exactly as a man sleeping, breathing, pulsations of heart regular, circulation of blood orderly. No! But there, in deep sleep, is a splendid analogy of death. There is no consciousness, no remembrance, no world. And the night passes instantly. There is the analogy. And because of the similarity, inspiration gives us a more beautiful conception of death, by which we may gather the real truth. But those who reproachfully exclaim, Soul sleeper, at last find themselves in the same net with Campbell when he said:
“The ashes of the dead man sleep no more than the ashes of a tree. If the dead sleep, it is, therefore, not their ashes, but their spirits that sleep. Why, then, should the dying saints so often commend their spirits and never their bodies to the Lord? Why should the dying Stephen say, Lord Jesus receive my spirit, if his spirit sleeps till the resurrection?”—Life and Death, page 73.
Now you can see Campbell’s difficulty facing him. But did his questions answer the difficulty, and disperse the darkness? Did his questions scatter the mists of doubt? He himself said, “If the dead sleep, it is not their bodies, but their spirit that sleep.” He said that; he would stand by it. But inspiration says the dead sleep. The Lord calls it a sleep. It is analogous to sleep. Then Campbell concludes it is the spirit that sleeps, for the divine oracle speaks it. It was clear to Campbell, and to all, that death was spoken of as a sleep. He affirmed that “If the dead sleep” it is their spirit. Why, then, did he proceed to make it appear spurious? Why labor to impress us that nothing sleeps? For he begins at once to bombard that very point of scripture with questions tending to mould an unbelief in it, asking why, then, a dying person should call on the Lord to receive his spirit. We will leave the scripture as it is and try to reconcile the appeals of the dying saint to it. That’s easy. Even a person believing the dead to be unconscious, would not seem very devout in the face of death who would not call on the Lord to receive his spirit. There is the saint’s last petition to the Father of spirits, and that, “The Lord will raise them up at the last day” (John 6:40). Campbell asks what gain Paul would have made when he said, “It is far better to depart and be with Christ,” if these eighteen centuries he has been sleeping? I reply, the same gain as if he had entered instantly into glory, so far as he is concerned. For he was through with his struggles with ferocious human beasts, who loved only persecution of righteous man. Not only so, but these eighteen centuries have passed in the twinkling of an eye to Paul, and when he awakes at the last day, it will seem that he had died but the moment before. This is equivalent to an immediate resurrection at death, and entering glory. After that, all eternity will conduce to Paul’s happiness.
Mr. Campbell mentioned a suggestion that had been made that the “saints sleep of soundly” between death and the resurrection, that the interval of time is “annihilated.” But this argument cannot be sarcastically subdued. This view of the subject is comprehensive, and simplifies a host of discrepancies, which other wise are a constant menace to the unity of the scripture. This position is conclusive, and meets the requirements of reason and inspiration. It fills in the gap crossed so often on shaky bridges. That is means this to us—if we die this moment, it is equivalent as standing in judgment this moment, on the same principle that an eternity passed before we were born, and it passed instantly; the universe seems to have existed no longer than we can remember. Turn now with me to Matt. 25:1, 3, to the parable of the “Ten virgins.” To save space, you read it in the New Testament. “While the bride groom tarried, they all slumbered and slept and at midnight a cry was made, Behold the Bridegroom comes.” I want the reader to know first how it is generally interpreted. Nevin says:
“Of course the sleep here spoken of is a widely different thing in the several cases of the wise and foolish. The foolish one sleeping in their carnal security, quite satisfied with the profession they make, deceiving themselves and at peace in Zion. The wise are sleeping overcome by their lengthened watching and because of the weakness of their faith. They are sleeping as the apostles did in the garden for sorrow,” etc.—Parable of Jesus (Nevin) page 250.
Nevin is not so much to blame for that unraveling of the parable. He was supporting a theory. He knew, of course, that he had the truth in his mind, so this parable must bend or break, and it seems ready to snap under the strain. But there is nothing intelligible about his explanation. He left no light. He left darkness. It shows he carried the seeds of error in his mind. Suppose the wise are sleeping in their extended watching, that is the very condition the Lord warned against. And that very fact would show them to be unwise. Rom. 3:1, “It is high time to awake” 1 Cor. 15:34, “Awake to righteousness and sin not.” Eph. 5:14, “Awake you that sleeps.” These scriptures indicate the error of Nevin, that he had not obtained the lesson in the parable. And that no Christian is wise who sleep his way through to “sorrow.” For no sorrow should interfere with the active duties of the Christian.
Hear Johnson on the same:
“They all slumbered and slept, literally; nodded and fell asleep. The midnight cry is the summons of death, or the trump of judgment. The cry for oil is the death-bed repentance or an attempt at preparation in the face of judgment. Midnight is the hour of slumber and silence, when an outcry is always startling and unexpected”—People’s New Testament, with Notes, pages 135, 136.
He makes the summons of death and the trump of judgment equivalent. And he makes “death bed repentance” the thing represented by crying for oil, neither of which clears this parable of the mists of doubt.
Do you want an exegesis of this parable a thousand times more simple and consistent? Let us try it this way. Have not multitudes of both the wise and foolish been falling sleep in death since our Lord uttered this? And are they not still under its power? Have those chains ever been broken? Are not disciples of the Lord, both wise and foolish, falling asleep daily? Is not the bridegroom still tarrying? And are they not still in the midnight sleep? Certainly, all that is simple enough. But who are the watchers? Neither Johnson nor Nevin told us. At midnight the cry was made—who made the cry? Is not every hour the midnight hour to the dead? Then when the Lord comes, all the dead will be in that midnight hour of sleep. And the watchers who made the cry, “Behold the bridegroom come,” may represent those who come with Him, or those who are alive at His coming. Paul says, “We shall not all sleep,” and “we which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord,” etc. (1 Thess. 4). Anyway, we are assured it is not the dead who will make the cry. Many will awake in that day realizing their lamps are going out. They will not be permitted to enter in at the door. So it is not the summons of death, not death bed repentance, nor carless Christian, nor Christians sleeping in sorrow, etc, No! It is describing a pathetic scene when the voice of the archangel calls the sleeping hosts from the dust of the earth.
Listen to Watts again:
“For the most part people are born to their opinions…They clothe their minds as they do their bodies, after the fashion in vogue; not one in a hundred ever examines their principle. It is suspected of lukewarmness to suppose an examination necessary, and it will be charged as a tendency to apostasy if we go about to examine them.”—Watts on the Mind, page 174
It was Pettingell’s mistake to argue as he did touching the life of Christ, and his death, when he said:
“It was no mockery of death by which He escaped from the body for a time, that He might make an excursion into Hades and then return and take it, but an actual death, the same kind of death that man incurs by sin. All that was human in Him died—His divine Spirit could not die”—Unspeakable Gift, page 162.
While Pettingell meant to exalt the Christ, he involved himself in a dilemma, and injured the theory he sought to establish. And, in fact, disproved his own conclusion, or at least, mystified it with the evidence of an unclear conception. For while, as he says, that the Lord was quickened by the same spirit and burst the bars of the grave, triumphing over death, and showing how man maybe immortalize and live forever, yet the very point which needs light is made more obscure, For be it known, that if His spirit could not die, as Pettingell affirms, then He did not die as other men die, as Pettingell affirmed, and he is involved in a metaphysical difficulty, which the objector might hurl against him with much effect. We argue—and so did Pettingell—that the death of man is a dissolution of the whole man, just as of a beast. That he ceases to be a man, just as a beast ceased to be a beast. And to say the Lord died actual death, just as any other man dies, and at the same time say “His divine spirit could not die,” is arguing pro and con on the same issue. It is arguing that since one disembodied spirit can exist, any other might, and so the theory would be much worse complicated than before. The scriptures are explicit in leading us into the real secret of this marvelous work of God, and in two verses the mystery is unfolded. In Heb. 2:7, 9, Paul says one in a certain place testified, saying, “What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that your visited him? You made him a little lower than the angels,” etc. This made him subject to death. And in verse 9 he says, “But we see Jesus, who was make a little lower then the angels for the suffering of death.” This fact places man and Christ on a common level as pertaining to death, and for this reason we say He died as man dies in every sense of the world. We are taught that Christ disrobed himself of immortality—guarantee against death—and took not on him the nature of angels, but seed—flesh—of Abraham, that through death he might destroy the Devil, and deliver the captives from the sentence of death—the grave. Therefore had He retained in indestructible spirit or an immortal spirit He could not have died as man die. He laid aside immortality for the glory God set before him, and took the robe of flesh for a season, and was destroyed, was utterly excluded from life, from the moment of death to the moment of the resurrection, when God brought Him forth again, for as Peter says, “God, having loosed the pains of death, for it was not possible that He should be held by it” (Acts 2). Hence, to be consistent, we must infer that the death of Christ was a cutting off from life as with ourselves. And so Paul says, “Now He is alive forever, and death has no more dominion over Him” (Rom. 6).
But I want to reproduce another argument advanced by Mr. Pettingell. He refers to the Greek Lexicon, to the word “thanitos” (death), showing that the author defined the word in its simplest way, meaning the extinction of life. But to tell us what it means when used by an apostle, he refers us to 1 John 5:16, and James 5:20, and tell us that here it means “an unchanging, eternal state of wretchedness and misery” (Polymicrian Greek Lexicon, p. 105). Upon this violent abuse of liberty Mr. Pettingell literally swiped the earth with that Greek author, and pointed out the inconceivable persuasion of early influences and prejudice swerving the human mind away from consistency into the sinking sands of popular belief. How did that Greek lexicographer learn that John and James taught that the word death “means unchanging, eternal state of wretchedness and misery?” What other manuscripts has he in his possession from John and James, not found in the New Testament? Was he not looking at the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus? And at the “Unquenchable fire?” At the “Smoke that ascends up forever?” And at the “Worm that dies not?” The schools he attended taught him that, and when ripe as a teacher, he taught it.
If there is a grain of sense in his definition, it will be intelligible when we substitute the definition for the word death. James 5:20 says, “Let him know that he which converts a sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from (death), an unchanging, eternal state of wretchedness and misery.”
Greenfield gives the primary definition of death correctly as the “extinction of life,” but in scripture, according to his predecessor’s interpretation, he follows the old schools. If death means the extinction of life, as Greenfield conceded, how then can it mean “an unchanging, eternal state of wretchedness and misery,” as he interpreted from James? Where is the connection between extinction of life and eternal misery? Where is the relationship? What resemblance it there? Such a conclusion is contrary to the fundamental facts involved in the premises.
I here call upon Mr. Braden, who yelled so vociferously against his opponent (Hughey) for substitution fanciful definitions of primary ones, to witness one of the most corrupt substitutes for a definition that can be found in theological circles of learning, in direct violation of all valid rules governing language. Laying aside the real and adopting the figurative, to the discomfort of the truth and God’s glory. Mr. Braden says:
“We ask, can it be possible that so important a command (baptism) was expressed by God in language so ambiguous, that so able a man as my opponent has to hunt its meaning by routes so dark, devious, and tedious, as he has indicated this morning?”—Braden-Hughey Debate, page 32.
How fittingly we turn this toward its author, and through him to all the teachers and schools of the philosophy, and defy them to point to a single word so simple as death that men have pushed through more dark, devious and tedious channels in search of meaning. They could not do it. Let us, with Braden, Whately, Dobney, Hedges, and others, urge the primary and obvious sense of words, where there is nothing in the context to forbid it, and when it is not derogatory to other scriptures. And when there is something in the context to forbid it, let us point out what it is, and we shall have shut the mouths of infidels and cavilers, and bolted them with an iron bar. Then the pointed shafts of their ridicule and calumny, and bitter invectives, will turn upon themselves. Ingersoll could not have said with contemptible derision—
“Where did that doctrine of hell come from? I will tell you—from that fellow in the dugout (atheists’ primitive men). It was a souvenir from the coiling, twisting snakes with their fangs’ mouths; and it came from the bark, growl and howl of wild beasts. It was born of the laugh of the hyena, and got it from the depraved chatter of malicious apes. And I despise it with every drop of my blood. I defy it…Oh, it is an infamous doctrine to teach little children, to put a shadow in the heart of a child, to fill the insane asylums with that miserable, infamous lie.”—Ingersoll’s Mistakes of Moses, page 345
They would be coerced to agree with Paul in Rom.1:18-32, where he draws a cartoon of licentiousness and degeneracy which can be surpassed only by the diabolical rottenness of Papal Rome, and conclude that they know they are worthly of death. To this sentence, with its universal sentiment of concession, infidels and atheists must hang their heads with eternal silence, while the monitor within them, conscience, cries out, right.
The traditions of men impoverish the minds of the people and rob the Bible of the sanctity and meaning of one of its most sublime and cherished doctrines—the resurrection. Its importance is concealed, and men must look upon it with less concern than they would if the simple truths concerning it were fully known. When God said to Adam, “cursed is the ground for your sake, in toil shall you eat of it all the says of your life; thorns and thistles shall it bring forth unto you, and you shall eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return unto the ground. For out of it were you taken, for dust you are and unto dust shall you return” (Gen. 3:17-19). And when Adam returned to the ground, in fulfillment of that verdict, he would have ceased forever, had not God intervened with His redemptive scheme and provided a resurrection. As a beast perishes in death, so would have Adam perished. This adds a luster to the glorious work of the Lord and Savior, which had been eliminated by the teaching of men. For what could be the purpose of a resurrection, if, as Milligan, Lord, McGarvey, etc., affirm, the spirits are enjoying the felicities of heaven’s splendors and joys, or languishing in the horrors of flame?
But few subjects in the New Testament receive more abundant attention then the resurrection. It was the joy of Paul’s life. It was his ground of hope, the source of his rejoicing. “What advantage this me if the dead rise not; let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die,” was his reply to the Sadducees. Indeed, it is the song of inspiration from Matthew to Revelation. “The hour is coming when all that in their graves shall come forth,” etc.
Should Lincoln present himself to the world now, and furnish satisfactory poof that he is the original “Abe Lincoln” who fell with the assassin’s bullet, that he was the President of the United States at the time, he would be a world attraction, and men from all points of the compass would be frantic to see him. Yet, a phenomenon no less wonderful is vouchsafed to all the sons of Adam, to all the daughters of Eve, to all the tribes of the earth, among men. Were it not for that consolation, the mantel of darkness, as the night without a star, would wave its draperies over us. Truth looks good to me. I care for no playoff words for the sake of novelty. I had rather see all human opinion swept into the gutter, and carried off by the flood, if by so doing the truth may shine out, that men may see its glory.
The view set forth here, that death is the dissolution of the whole being called man, makes a resurrection an absolute necessity if he shall ever exist again. And that alone accounts for the strains of rejoicing of inspired men in that hope. And it further illuminates and exalts the ancient prophets in their grand revelations. Listen to David: “His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth, in that very day his thoughts perish” (Ps. 146:4). Listen to Solomon: “For the living know that they shall die; but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. As their love, as their hatred and their envy is not perished; neither have they any more a portion forever in anything that is done under the sun” (Eccl. 9:5-6).
Listen to Solomon again: “For that which befalls the sons of men befalls beasts; even one thing befalls them: as the one dies, so dies the other; yea. They have all one breath; and man has no pre-eminence over the beasts. For all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of dust and all turn to dust again. Who knows the spirit of man that goes upward or the spirit of the beast that does downward to the earth?” (Eccl. 3:19-21).
See how beautiful the thought pervading these scriptures instantly connect with and blend into harmonious agreement with the Lord’s oft-repeated phrase in the sixth chapter of John, verses 29, 40, 44, 54, “And this is the Father’s will which has sent Me, that of all which He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should rise it up again at the last day. “And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that everyone which sees and believes on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” “No man can come to Me, except the father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” “Whoso eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Four times in rapid succession the phrase, “I will raise him up at the last day,” is sounded into the ears of the multitude, carrying a preponderance of weight that all the future of man and his hope of glory depends upon the resurrection. “I will raise him up.” “I will raise him up.” “I will raise him up.” As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Here is such an array of evidence, that to draw any other conclusion than that death is the end of man until he is restored by the resurrection, cannot fail to becloud the mind and fill it with doubts and misgiving, leaving it without clearness and without meaning.
Then add to this testimony another class of scriptures, with the same import and the same value, and you have the most indomitable proof that the dead will never live again anywhere, until the voice of the Son of God says, “come forth.” 1 Thess. 5:23, “I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the ‘coming’ of our Loud Jesus Christ.” 1 Tim. 6:14, “That you keep this commandment without spot, without reproach, until the ‘appearing’ of out Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Tm 4:1, “I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom.” 1 Pet. 1:7, “That the trial of your faith…though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory, at the ‘appearing’ of Jesus Christ.” 2 Tim. 4:8. “Not to me only, but to all them also which love his ‘appearing.’” 1 Thess. 2:19,”Are not even you ‘in the presence’ of our Lord Jesus Christ at his ‘coming.’” Ps. 16:11, “In your presence is fullness of joy.”
Hundreds of such texts are scattered through the Word of God, giving assurance that only in His presence is there joy, and that only in the resurrection are we in His presence—which will be at His coming. Being in the presence of God in the sense of these texts means where we can see Him. We are always where He can see us. These three classes of scripture on three distinct subjects all agree in one common conclusion, that “His breath goes forth…in that very day his thought perish.” “This is the Father’s will…that I should lose nothing, but should ‘raise it up again at the last day.’” And that we are in the presence of Christ at his coming—by being raised from the dead at that time.
Some one says, “If death results the same to man and beast, and they case to exist, there could be no resurrection, for there would be nothing to raise.” I attribute to God power enough to raise the whole animal kingdom that has existed on the face of the earth, and you believe not one of their spirits exist. Do you believe He could perform that act? Then why doubt the other and say there could be no resurrection if man ceases at death, for there would be nothing to raise? The God I am speaking can bring all of them back; He knows who they are, He has forgotten not one of them. And Paul says, “He calls those thing which be not as though they were” (Rom. 4). You have formed a character in life; be it good or bad, it is yours, and it represents you. Upon the everlasting records is kept every word, deed and though. When the voice of the Archangel rings out, “come forth,” the sleeping hosts of earth and sea will come forth with that character they formed here, and you will know that it is you. Do you tell me, there is nothing to arise? Do you think God unable to find you?” The important thing is to build that character right, and you will not be ashamed in that day. We may not knowhow it was done. We understand not how the great tree springs up out of the little acorn; but it does, just the same. God knows how. But to me there is no greater mystery here than in the beginning when God said, “Let the waters bring forth,” etc. And “let the earth bring forth,” and life speedily multiplied into millions, in countless variety, filling oceans and continents. God speaks, and it is so.
It is an intelligent step toward truth to be able to justly discountenance such theories as those of Milligan, Lord, McGarvey, Campbell, and thousands of others, toughing these great questions. To these men, the resurrection has no essential, conceivable importance. Taking, as they do, the dead into a high place of enjoyment and even into heaven itself, there felicitation with the angels in heaven’s glory, they destroy every argument they could reasonable adduce pleading for the necessity of a resurrection. Their arguments are suicidal, and inflict a fatal wound on their theory. They heedlessly pass over such discrepancies in their own defense; picking up a mote against an opponent and magnifying it into a beam, they eagerly play the stunt of swallowing the camel after straining at the gnat, gnashing with their teeth in confusion against the very laws of simplicity, which would lead them to truth.
I am now going to establish a logical deduction from one of the most beautiful and profound portraits of revealed secret. An argument that will stand after you and I have mingled with the dust; it will stand forever because true. To it all scripture will join, and must join. And I want you to get it fixed in your mind and challenge every man you meet to dare attack it. To lay the whole ground before you, we shall place the scripture here in its true sense. It is found in 2 Cor. 5:1, 8:
“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved (i. e., if our body decays), we have a building of God a (spiritual) house not made with hands (not of human instrumentality), eternal in the heavens. For in this (body) we groan (with the burden of life). Earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our (spiritual) house, which is from heaven; if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked (with out an enduring house). For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened (with many sorrows, cares and disappointments); not that we would be unclothed (not desiring especially to die), but clothed upon (with our new body), that mortality might be swallowed up of life (immortality). Now he that has wrought us for the selfsame thing (this very purpose) of God, who also has given unto us the earnest of the spirit (its pledge of intercession in behalf of out infirmities). Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord…We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body (of flesh), and to be present with the Lord” (In our spiritual body or house from Heaven).
Being present with the Lord at death can be understood only by the explanation He Himself gave. Our clergy never present the case as Paul did. They do not argue the laying off of this body and instantly springing up in the presence of the Lord in a new body of heavenly texture. Oh, no! “Well,” continues the inquirer, “if they enter into the presence of the Lord at death with a new body, as you have implied, how do you make out that the resurrection does not occur at death? In that question lies the secret and solution of the whole difficulty. Neither is it a quibble, not a technicality. It is a deep and genuine truth evolved by the law of deduction, a law as infallible in establishing a fact as the law of gravity in holding the earth in place. Before I throw the rays of light on that, I will continue to weave the evidence into it
Some think there is a sort of temporary body given at death, which is again laid by at the last day. I don’t know where they get that information—it is unknown to the Bible. B. W. Johnson, in “The People’s New Testament,” on Matt. 22, holds the resurrection spoken of there to be the resurrection of the soul (or spirit). I don’t know where he got that—scriptures says nothing like it. But doesn’t this show what difficulty this little scripture is giving these men? They have the wrong idea in mind. What they believe will not agree with what they see here, and it must be patched up some way. Paul was not teaching that a temporary body is supplied at death to be laid away at the resurrection. This fleshly body is the temporary one. The resurrection body is the permanent one to the righteous, and there is none other. Paul was contrasting this temporal body with the future glorious body, and it was in that body he would be “present with the Lord.” So, logically, his presence with the Lord will be after the resurrection of the body, and not before. But when does the resurrection occur? All agree, at the last day, in the end of the world. And among numerous proofs at hand, we will only cite you to 1 Cor. 15. Here Paul leads unto the light of a mystery. “Behold I show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump. For the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible. And we shall be changed, for this corruptible (earthly house) must put on incorruption (house from heaven). And this mortal shall put on immortality. So then when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory.” Here we are able to determine that the resurrection is at the end of the world. And right then, for the first time, the saints will be in the presence of the Lord and in his heavenly house. And right then, as Paul said in 2 Cor. 5:4, “Mortality shall be swallowed up of life.” So, then we know Paul designed to teach the same lesson in both chapters, and they must be interpreted in agreement with each other, or nothing but the mists of darkness will surround it.
But how can it be interpreted to agree with the doctrine that the spirit goes into the presence of God at death in an intermediate state, without a body? Yet, that is the way you have been taught. You have, therefore, been taught erroneously. Listen to Campbell on this:
“Paul also affirms that soon as absent from the body we are present with the Lord. May I not ask what language could more clearly indicate a continued and uninterrupted consciousness than this, or the fact of a separate state, a state in which the soul lives out of the body?”—A. Campbell, Life and Death, page 74, 75.
Now this absence from the body and presence with the Lord is strictly logical by Paul’s principles of reasoning, but strictly absurd under Campbell’s. For Paul argued this presence to be in his house from heaven, which he showed us in chapter fifteen to occur at the resurrection of the dead. While Campbell makes it immediate at death without a body. Here is Paul and Campbell, side by side; they both saw an entrance into the presence of the Lord at death, but Campbell did not see the raised body go along, while Paul did. Campbell sees them go into the intermediate state naked, without a body, a position Paul cunningly guarded against. He continues:
“Again, Paul contrasts the pleasures which as a Christian he could enjoy while in the body with those he could enjoy out of the body. And from his inspired knowledge of the whole premised concludes it would be far better for him immediately to die than to live, so far as his own happiness is concerned”—Life and Death, page 75.
Yes, but here Paul was not contrasting his joys in this body with the joys he would have without a body. On, no; but out of this body, and in his heavenly body. “How do you know?” says one. Because he makes that contrast himself, in the first five verses. Any one can see it; it isn’t hid. He had said, “Not for that he would be found naked,” or without a body, or an enduring one. Let it be borne in mind that he was contrasting present and future bodies and the respective pleasures pertaining to these. He spoke not of the future happiness occurring without a body, in a separate state, but as belonging to the raised, immortal body. One of your chief troubles is, that you see Paul teaching an immediate presence without a body. Read Paul again, his manner of presenting it. True enough Paul seems to speak of being present with the Lord immediately at death. But he had just finished explaining the translation into the other body. He had reasoned life this: “this old fleshly body is full of burdens, it is broken down with infirmity, it has pains and sorrows, it hungers and thirsts, it gets cold and uncomfortable.” Just then, he turned his mental eyes upon that glorious body from Heaven, he saw it free from all care, no aches nor pains, no bruises not anxieties, no corruption, no faults. Nothing but beauty, joy, and loveliness. And like you or I, he concluded that to leave this for that was far better. For in it he would be present with the Lord, and have pleasures untold forevermore. This then agrees with 1 Cor. 15.
The other way, as advocated by Mr. Campbell, gives Paul all these glories without a body, or compels us to hold that the resurrection takes place at death. No other conclusion is possible. Hence, Campbell has misunderstood Paul, for even he would not allow the resurrection at that time. Paul leaves us without a doubt as to his meaning regarding the change, when he says, “That mortality might be swallowed up of life,” or with immortality, which all agree is among the last scenes of earth. So the house from Heaven is not put on till the resurrection day, be that when it may. Nor are we in the presence of the Lord (in the sense Paul saw) till it is put on. So them, if we conclude otherwise, our error is self proved. Because the lesson here most obvious is the change of bodies, which, if it actually occurs at death, would obviate the necessity for a general resurrection at the last day, as we have been taught.
Let me, if possible, make that difficulty more distinct, more obvious and more apparent. For before I leave this you must see that in 2 Cor. 5 a resurrection is as much involved in being present with the Lord as in 1 Cor. 15. Both chapters are two grand, elaborate revelations on that grandest of all subjects, the resurrection. Let us put it in syllogistic form, as we have now seen it, and must see it.
1. Paul—All Christians who put off the earthly house and assume the house from heaven are present with the Lord.
2. Campbell—But all Christian are present with the Lord at death.
3.Conclusion—therefore, all Christians who die are at once raised from the dead, immortalized.
Allowing that our premises are sound, we are forced to that conclusion. But let up put it in this way:
1. In the resurrection only do we receive our house from heaven, according to 1 Cor. 15.
2. But the dead are not present with the Lord, except in this new house, as we have deduced from 2 Cor. 5:1, 8, and bound to accept by all established rules of interpretation.
3. There, at death, the resurrection either takes place or its equivalent in some respect.
And I want to affirm that it is the equivalent in point of time that takes place and not the resurrection itself—so the purpose is in reality as if accomplished. If I can fully explain that to your good sense, that riddle will disappear from your mind as if by magic, and you will see a light beaming with a beautiful revelation.
Nearly twenty centuries since, the common, frequent warning to the disciples was “watch.” Behold I come quickly.” “Be you ready, for you know not what hour the good man of the house will come,” “I will come and will not tarry.” “Behold I come quickly and My reward is with me.” And the last voice of Revelation is, “He which testifies these thing says surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so come Lord Jesus.” And Peter assures us the Lore is not slack concerning His promises. Over And over he ceased not to emphasize this great admonition. Question, has He come? Is two thousand years to be interpreted as “quickly?” Was he speaking by our measure of time? If not, what incentive would it be to encourage faithfulness and zeal in His disciples, if they know not what is meant? No one can call two thousand years a short time, but by comparison with eternity, than a million years would be short, but what power would that have to spring a motive in the human heart to great fervency of spirit? If it is spoken with God’s idea or reckoning time, “a thousand years as one day,” and consequently only about two days with Him has passed. What power would that have on the fleeting span of human life of thirty to seventy years? Men might adopt that method, but surely the Lord would bring it more nearly to our own doors, that we might be influenced with solemnity. So we see that by the flimsy twirl of a phrase, all there plain admonitions are pushed far from us into the mazes of uncertainty, losing their power on the lives of the people. How easily they are brought down to the understanding of a child, by allowing the only feasible view of death as a state of unconsciousness, through the dissolution of the mind—by which the lapse of time between death and the resurrection, be it long or short, makes the coming of the Lord as close as we are to the hour of death. Hence, as it has been but a day or so to the Lord, it has been two thousand years to the living and only the twinkling of an eye to the dead. And should the Lord delay His coming a hundred thousand years, the same “twinkling of an eye” would cover it all.
Now since the scriptures make appear an immediate entrance at death into the presence of the Lord, and still hold us off till the consummation of all things, and as they declare the wicked angels and unjust are reserved to that day, it is a double argument that the intermediate state of bodiless spirits is a gigantic myth. And the usual interpretation of the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus is exploded to the four winds. Therefore, to all of us, the coming of the Lord draws nigh. As we see the hour of death approaching, we see the Son of man coming in His glory with His reward. And to all, in every age of the world to the end of time, the same warning voice is fraught with greatest meaning and interest. To you, my brother, it appeals with the voice of an archangel to “watch” for in an hour when you think not, He will come. To every nation, kindred and tongue the voice comes home with renewed power and emphasis, “watch.” But we will continue to pile up the proofs. Open your Bible at 1 Cor. 15:12 and read this, “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you there is no resurrection from the dead?” The Sadducees were materialistic in their schools of learning. And those who had accepted Christ had accepted His resurrection. But they seem to have gradually drifted back to old forms. The resurrection of Christ, as we are informed by Paul in the fore part of the chapter, was witnessed by hundreds, upon which testimony the Sadducees had confessed; and, besides, the supernatural power manifested by the apostles was a remaining support that they had testified to the truth. With all this evidence at the command of Paul, he literally tore his way through the very fiber of their school of philosophy, for if they are right, that there is no resurrection, their faith is a vanity, and themselves deceived. Then, “Those also who are fallen asleep in Christ are perished” (v. 18). What did Paul mean, saying those who had fallen asleep in Christ are perished, if there be no resurrection? Does he man in eternal misery? If, through the teaching of Paul, they believed themselves misled, and they are once turn away, if they are right how will they perish? If Christ never rose from the dead, cut off the New Testament and tell me from the Old Testament what Paul meant. The word “perish” is of frequent use in both Testaments. Is it not obvious that it there be no resurrection, there can be no future life? That it all depends upon it? Therefore, they perish as the beast perishes. The utter loss of being. There thoughts perish. They can never rally from that bondage. By necessity they remain hopelessly perished. In verse 19 he continues, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”
Why Paul? Because of our self-denials and sacrifices. Our persecutions and sufferings. The world is moving along in sensuousness and jollification, apparently satisfied and happy, and opposite to them, we are sacrificing, chastising ourselves, applying strict discipline to our daily walk, struggling against the natural propensities of the flesh, and educating our conscience token perceptions of evil—finding ourselves struggling against a mighty foe, that when we would do good evil is present with us. Now, then, after all this, if there be no resurrection, our efforts and pains to work righteousness being us nothing more then those who lived in revelry. So we are more miserable than they. We suffer and they do not, in this respect. And if no resurrection, no future forward, not even an intermediate state. Let Paul prove that is correct and that we have not corrupted his words.
Ephesus was a city of carnage and brutality, more beastly than human. Unchained licentiousness and sensuality had eaten the vitals of society. Hear the great “goddess Diana” was worshiped. Here bullfighting was their religion, their pastime, their pleasure. Here they entered the ring with long daggers in mortal combat with helpless beast, to satiate the wicked lusts of ten thousand degenerate spectators. Here, “after this manner,” Paul fought with the wild human beasts, against these giant evils. He lays this argument before the Corinthian Church, “If after the manner of men I fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage to me, if the dead rise not? Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die.” Here is the argument, plain and simple. If the dead rise not, make the most of life, enjoying it to the utmost in whatever channel your inclination leads you, for it will be all one at death. This was the Sadducean education. And Paul thought the motto worthy of adoption, if the dead rise not. This throws a new light on his former expression, “if the dead raise not, then those who have fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” This shows in what sense they are perished, and in what sense Christians are of all men most miserable, since all would meet the same fate.
This is no nightmare of the brain; it is susceptible of deep demonstration. You believe at death the spirit at once awakes in other lands, where, if holy, it rejoices with unspeakable joy, or, if unholy, ceaseless remorse, like a gnawing worm, fills with horrid forebodings. And that these conditions continue till the last trumpet sounds, as indicated by the apostle.
Very well. Suppose I say to you that I have arrived at the conclusion that there is no resurrection of the dead. Your reply is, “If there be no resurrection, it is of no consequence how we live. So we’ll just eat and drink, for tomorrow we may be dead.” With your views of the intermediate state, such a reply coming from you would be a gross absurdity. “Why?” you ask. Because you believe the spirit of men are either happy or miserable in “hades” and that condition the result of their moral life here. So if there be no resurrection, you can’t get away from the conclusion in your premises that the spirit is now, “right now,” happy or miserable. And that it is “right now” of the highest importance how we live, for they will continue to be so eternally, resurrection or no resurrection. Can you not see that wherever the measuring reed is laid, the scriptures leave you to yourself? What does this show? It shows conclusively that Paul did not believe your doctrine. Then you ought not believe it, for Paul was right, and he understood his subject, however much we may misunderstand him. Had he believed as you do, there would have been no room for his conclusion to eat and drink,--for if the dead do not raise, yet, that eternal “purgatory” will clasp hands with the wicked, and usher them into its treasures of sorrow.
The scriptures admonish us to render to all their just dues. I, therefore, gladly give Mr. Dobney credit for a suggestion on Matt. 22: 23, 33, on page 153, in his book entitled “Future Punishment.” I have carried his argument to the end of my ability, subjecting it to the most crucial teat, and it remains unshaken. I pass it over to you with the information that it will be on tap at the end of the struggle. But I must first lead you up to it by a few general thoughts, bringing to your mind the confusion surrounding this scripture. For if you can be made to see that out preachers betray the outward signs of a cloudy and foggy mind on this chapter, you might open your own eyes to the reason of it.
The foundation of the argument our Lord adduced originated in the “Burning Bush” when God said to Moses, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exod. 3:1, 6). To save me space, turn and read it, and if you can find in it proof of any kind of life after death, except by the law of deduction, show me and I will commit this book to the flames. But if life after death is proved from this scripture by that law, and the proof culminates in the resurrection, it shows the future life in involved in it. This is no far-fetched meaningless argument. It is not a mere technicality. It is a profound witness against the notion of consciousness in a disembodied state. Though this text is constantly quoted to prove the dead are conscious. One of the first scriptures resorted to is the Lord’s refutation of the Sadducees. With that construction placed on the Lord’s argument, they would be forced to admit that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had been raised from the dead. Which of course is not impossible, but I think hardly probable. McGarvey holds this as proof of a resurrection, but he denies it in his application, for he proceeds to point out that invisible world of spirits of the dead. He was evidently conscious of a mental entanglement by which he met this scripture and departed without imparting any light. Here is his Language, “You do err, not knowing the scriptures, because the scriptures teach the doctrine of a resurrection” (“McGarvey’s Sermons,” page 39).
While the scripture may have dimly taught that doctrine, McGarvey failed to show it was taught in this special text. And this is all the text the Lord quoted on that occasion. So while McGarvey admits the scriptures teach a resurrection he give us nothing on this, but used this very argument of the Lord to prove a conscious state of the dead. He cannot use it for that, and at the same time use it to prove a resurrection. If it proves the dead to be still alive, as he used it, he dare not use it again to prove the resurrection of the dead. Do you see his predicament? If he proves life after death on the grounds of immortality inherited by creation, he dare not use the same text to prove something different.
I want you to hear B. W. Johnson, also, on this text (Matt. 22; 21):
“But as touching the resurrection of the dead—The Sadducees doubted some of the prophetic books, but accepted Moses. Hence, the Lord appeals to Moses to show that he taught ‘future existence’ or the resurrection, which is the sense in which the latter phrase is used. (32) I am the God of Abraham, etc. the present tense shows that he is still the God of the departed patriarchs, and that they are still in existence. Queen Victoria is not the queen of Bacon, Shakespeare, and Ben Johnson, but only of her living subjects. The Savior teaches that the soul is resurrected after it leaves the body, and that there is no unconscious state between death and the final resurrection of the body”—The People’s New Testament with Notes, pages 122, 123.
No need of a six-year course in “higher criticism” to make it obvious that something is wrong with McGarvey’s and Johnson’s theology. And though they argue it differently, somehow they reach the same conclusion. But that is one of the strange coincidences of that theory. No matter how they disagree on important scriptures, they at last merge into eternal torment for the lost. “A resurrection of the soul at death,” says Johnson, “afterward that of the body.” That sounds something like Campbell’s two judgments. So we have two resurrection, two judgments, and two rewards, Well! Quite complicated, isn’t it? Why did he say the soul is resurrected at death? That was the only way out for him. He said the patriarchs were still living. He said the resurrection would be at the last day. He saw the Lord had proved a resurrection here, so it must be of the soul.
The schools of Judea were pretty well balanced in talent, and the resurrection was one of their chief bones of contention. Both were vigilant and unyielding, but the Pharisees were never able to stop the mouths of their opponents. The Sadducees concluded that while many things spoken by Moses and the prophets darkly forecasted a future life, yet other scriptures seemed to exclude that hope, and the balance of testimony appeared to revert against the notion, and thus they drifted into skepticism, figuring that the hope of a future life was the flitting of an “angel phantom” across the brain. So when the Savior appeared upon the world’s great stage with the glad tidings of hope, the fearless Sadducees were anxious to challenge him on the great issues dividing the two schools. They laughed at the mention of the resurrection, and life in an intermediate state was a huge joke, the proof of which no man could produce from Moses and the prophets—the only source of information by which to settle it.
I hope the situation is now clear to the reader that this scripture is in bad need of light, and that out teachers are as much in the dark as those we have cited.
Now watch the movements of the Sadducees, as they frame their proposition for the Lord, expecting to perplex and confuse Him as they had the Pharisees. It must bear on the point in dispute, it must be clearly defined, it must present the difficulty. Like a skillful artist this was accomplished, and they longed to see Him grapple with it. Here is the proposition: “The same day there came to Him Sadducees which say that there is no resurrection of the dead.” “Resurrection of the dead,” that was the issue. Nothing said about the departed spirits. Nothing. They then presented to Him the problem that had devised, about the “woman with seven husbands,” and asked the question, “Whose wife shall she be of seven in the resurrection?” Not in the intermediate state. Why did they ask that question? Evidently, they supposed the same relationship would exist there as here, and there would be a serious conflict. They held that (however weak it may seem) to be sufficient reason to reject the theory altogether. Quick of comprehension, the Lord was master of the situation. He used Moses, whom they professed to believe. And with one effort he laid them to the dust. “You do err, not knowing the scriptures not the power of God, for in the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken to by God saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob?” Remember, He quotes this as “touching the resurrection of the the dead,” not, as Johnson says, of the soul. The dead. The very point challenged. His argument and comment following is the “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” His conclusion is, therefore, there is a resurrection; His opponents, feeling the depths of that defeat, sneaked away baffled and humiliated. And yet, under the common belief of “hades,” there is no proof at all of a resurrection. The most that could be inferred from it is that the dead are now alive, enjoying pleasure, or writhing in agony, and they might continue in that state eternally without a resurrection.
We will throw the argument into the syllogistic form, and you will gather its force more readily.
Major premises—“God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
Minor premise—“He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”
Conclusion—“Therefore there is a resurrection of the dead.”
This is a simplified, condensed presentation of the argument. How came the conclusion to be, “there is a resurrection?” There is no mention of it in either premise, and the moment we admit the conclusion of the Lord to be correct, we logically eliminate all conscious life till the resurrection occurs, or else we must conclude that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are raised from the dead.
Here is the usual way of presenting it, which destroys the Lord’s argument and makes Him prove that the dead are living in a separate place without a body, a point not found in the proposition—to say—
1. God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
2. He is not the God of the dead but of the living.
3. Therefore, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are now living in a disembodied state.
This is an interpretation void of logic, and is just what the Lord refuted. He did not conclude they are alive. No, indeed. He concluded that since God is not the God of the dead, there must be a resurrection so He can be the God of the living, for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are dead.
In his “Elements of Logic” (page 82) Whately said, “No term must be distributed in the conclusion that was not distributed in one of the premises.” That it would be an illicit process of reasoning.
That rule is profoundly reliable, and since the Lord distributed the resurrection in His conclusion, it must be involved in the premises. And as Christ is the resurrection and the life, it must be wrapped up in the word “living,” that God is not the God of the dead but of the living. His arguments, to meet the requirements of the proposition as proof of a resurrection, which silenced His disputants, shows conclusively that the life spoken of concerning the patriarchs is dependent upon the resurrection.
To say that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but he is not the God of the dead but the living, therefore, Abraham Isaac, and Jacob still live, might prove a life after death, but not a resurrection, unless the resurrection takes place at death.
This is Dobney’s position, and here I give his language. After presenting it in syllogistic order, he adds:
“With us it would be a striking and satisfactory proof of a continuance of conscious existence after death, but no proof whatever of a resurrection, and yet it is to prove this letter exclusively that our Lord, who could not have reasoned inaccurately or sophistically, adduces it, and his acute and leaned disputants, to their deep mortification, were forced to acquiesce, and stood confounded by his wisdom. Quite contrary to inference we should have drawn, our Lord’s reasoning, which is perfectly syllogistic, if we bear in mind the thesis he undertook, makes the life which therefore he predicates of the Patriarchs, to be one with and dependent upon the resurrection. Thus (1) God is not the God of the dead (utterly and eternally perished), which was disputing, but of the living. (2) But He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of the patriarchs. (3) Therefore, these still live—or will live again—which is the same thing with Him with whom the future is the present, and who calls the thing that are not—but shall be—as thought they already were”—Future Punishment, pages 154-155.
This great scholar bolted that down by the most rugged and inviolable principle of logic, none can gainsay. So then the Lord established a life after death, but he nailed the resurrection to it. Making them inseparable.
Let us now verify what we have said. Suppose the regain their composure and return to renew their conflict with the Lord, saying. “Master, we must concede you have proved some sort of life after death from Moses, because it is valid reasoning that God is not the God of the dead but of the living, but it is not clear what you mean by saying God is the God of the living. We submit to you three position, one of which you must take:
(1) That Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are living in a separate state without a body.
Or (2) that they have been raised from the dead.
Or (3) that this living spoken of the Patriarchs is dependent upon the resurrection and will occur some other time.
(1) If you choose the first ground and say they are living in disembodied state, as your argument seems to imply, you have not proved a resurrection of the dead. For granting that they are now living as spirits, without a resurrection, for all your argument is worth they might live there eternally and be happy without being raised from the dead.
(2) If you choose the second and allow that they have been raised from the dead, then there could be no intermediate state, nor a general resurrection at the last day.
(3) But if you choose the third and say, the life of the patriarchs is not in a separate state, but is consequent upon the resurrection, then you have indeed established a resurrection of the dead, which we cannot overthrow.” And that is exactly the way they saw it, for they asked Him no more questions. Their silence betrays their conscious defeat. Hence, we also conclude with Dobney and others, “No resurrection, no future life.”
Fix it firmly in your mind that the Sadducees were men and women, like yourself. That they had their troubles and disputes as we do. That they denied the resurrection of the dead. But they denied also the intermediate state of happiness or misery. In fact, they held it as a folly. The Pharisees believed in it, and it, too, was a bone of contention in the schools. They did not approach the Lord on the question of the condition of the spirits of the dead. They even ridiculed the idea. But let us suppose they had challenged the lord on the condition of the spirits of the dead—the intermediate state, as it was held by the Pharisees. Let us further suppose they used the same problem—the woman with seven husbands—and let us infer they asked the same question—just a little different—“Whose wife shall she be in the intermediate state?”
Let us now suppose the Lord had given them the same reply, “You do err, not knowing the scriptures not the power of God, for in the intermediate state of the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God. But that there is an intermediate state of intelligent spirits, have you never heard what God said to Moses, 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.” What would the Lord have proved? Would He not have proved that the departed spirits are alive? Would He not have established the intermediate state of the dead as a place on intelligence? Sure He would. Yet, that is the very thing He did not prove. But from that very argument that would forever have established the conscious state of the dead, He used on another subject distinctly different from it, and proved the resurrection as His doctrine.
Again, we conclude that since the Lord proved a resurrection of the dead, by the same scripture that would have proved forever the common belief of the intermediate state had he applied it here, is an absolute disproof of consciousness of departed spirits, and a proof that the life of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob cannot exist till the resurrection, be that at death or the end of the world.
In arguing against this position, some have thought the Greek language is against me, and they turn to “anastasis” (resurrection), saying it means life after death. Very well, so does the resurrection mean life after death. And even the word “anastasis” may be used only in that sense, as it sometimes is, but that is no better for your theory. It is as much against you as before, for as soon as we refer to 1 Cor. 15:21, you have to take “backwater.” “For since by man came death (opposite to life) by man came also the resurrection”—anastasis, future life. And the resurrection being the work of Christ, and Him being the (anastasis) resurrection and the life, it follows that but for Him there would be no anastasis, future life. Turned either way, our position is equally substantiated.
How frail, then, the assumption of Johnson, that it was a resurrection of the “soul” the Lord proved. It proves he had not mastered the central fact in the narrative. He would overthrow the Lord’s argument, were he correct. The question was, “Whose wife shall she be in the resurrection,” not of the soul (spirit) but of the dead. This shows how our theologians figure the great facts of the Bible. A warped opinion demands a warped text.
It can be sustained with great force that immortality is connected with the resurrection. And that no part of man is by creation immortal. To me it seems life picking a bubble to oppose that theory of natural immortality. It seems that no one could believe it. It seems like trying to prove that there is a moon and stars. The threads upon which is hangs are so fragile that I am struck with amazement to see it so strenuously defended by mature Bible students. But the theory is before us, it is real and deeply imbedded and stubborn. So we must have a double portion of faith and patience dealing with it in all its crooks and turns.
“’Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from hence-forth. Yea, says the spirit, that they may rest from their labors and their works do follow them.’ It is not to be inferred from this, however, that the spirits of the just made perfect are in a state of slothful inactivity. By no means. The four living creatures and twenty-four elders are throughout the apocalypse represented as worshipping God day and night, ever with rapture, participating in the joys of Heaven, as the behold”—Milligan in New Testament Commentary (Hebrews), page 136.
Not in “slothful inactivity,” Neither stupid nor lazy, right up in Heaven, having all the pleasure God has promised. The resurrection must be a giant farce, if it is yet future. And here is another text from Paul, indication it to be future. “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not precede them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (Thess. 4: 15, 16). That doesn’t sound much like Milligan who takes them to haven at death, as shown. See “New Testament Commentary” (Hebrews), pages 333-334.
I have changed that these men were in a wilderness of confusion. That they are looking through a smoked glass. And that they have exhibited to the world the fact that something over their mental vision conceals from their conception the beautiful thread of simplicity, connecting all inspiration, into a unity the very opposite of their inferences. It further shows that they have trained their minds to believe things that are repulsive to reason and common sense, in the lake of fire “torment forever.”
If the common theory of paradise be true, we have it located. It is in the ground. The woman actually saw “gods” ascending out of the earth, and while she beheld, she saw an old man coming up wearing a mantle. It seems that he should have come down in “spiritual glory” life Moses and Elijah on the Mount, since he is supposed to have been dwelling with them. Nevertheless, it is a strange incident that Samuel should have come from such a paradise of glory and happiness and look as he did, feeble with age, when he passed way, and Moses coming from the same place clothed with glory. There is an inherent harmony in undefiled truth that somehow is perfectly satisfying to the senses and reason. No truth will contradict any other truth. The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus is held as a real event, and as proof of the “deathless soul.” But here is an event three thousand years old, an historic fact, one we can claim as free from uncertainty and doubt. A plain story simply told. There was a real king by the name of Saul, there was a real prophet by the name Samuel, there was a real witch, name unknown, there was a real city called Endor. These four characters form the groundwork of this event. This king had sinned against God. God had abandoned him. He was in trouble, on the verge of a great battle. He was ill equipped to meet the foe. He trembled with fear for the results, and conscious that God had left him he inquired for a witch—one with a familiar spirit. It was revealed to him that in the city of Endor a witch had taken refuge, and he sought her out, concealing his own identity lest his object be frustrated, requesting her to call up this man Samuel. Yielding to his request she called, and up comes Samuel,” as if by some magic or mysterious spell she had control of his person. Well, after a description Saul perceived it was Samuel in truth, and he bowed himself to the ground. And Samuel talked, and said to Saul, “Why have you disquieted me to bring me up?” Saul explains his distressed conditions, and how that God had departed from him, and Samuel said, “Wherefore then do you ask of me, seeing the Lord has departed from you and become your enemy?” And after a few reproofs, he informs Saul with the astonishing announcement, “Moreover, the Lord will deliver Israel with you into the hand of the Philistines; and tomorrow shall you and your sons be with me.” This is the narration of a real event. There is no doubt, nor quibbling. It is a notable fact. And seeing it deals with the dead, and reveals the every opposite condition as in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the question is left wide open to the whole world to bring an agreement between them, if both are real events.
Samuel was old when he died; he looked old when he appeared to the witch. He was buried with his mantle; he arose with it. He came “up out of the earth”—there seemed to be more than one at first. He inquired why he had been disquieted. He told Saul that on the morrow he and his sons would be with him (Samuel). Not the parable. The rich man dies and awakes I torment. Lazarus dies and is carried to Abraham’s bosom. He is comforted. Abraham’s bosom is a place pictured as “far off.” Should Lazarus be called “up” he would have to come “down.” Samuel was also in Abraham’s bosom, but he had to come “up.” Moses was also in Abraham’s bosom (you say), and he had to come” down” to the Mount. He was glorious, but Samuel was marked with age. Samuel was in Paradise, but Saul and his sons were to be with him the next day. They also, then, go into Abraham’s bosom, instead of down with the Rich Man. Oh. This remarkable paradise you tell me of. Who can understand it.
What is the meaning of the word Paradise, and to what use have men put it” Let us see:
“Paradise—A park, a forest where wild beasts were kept for hunting. A pleasure garden. A garden of trees of various kinds. Delightful grove.
In the N. T., ‘The celestial paradise,’ that part of ‘hades’ in which the souls of believers enjoy happiness. Where God dwell”—Polymicrian Greek Lexicon, on Luke, 23:43.
Greenfield was a convert to the common theory, and he wove it into his interpretation of Luke 23. The Greek had given him the definition of “Paradise” as a park or forest for hunting, etc., but he, in his application of it to the thief, succumbed to the prevalent belief, and posted it to the “hadean” faith. Greenfield, thought author of a Greek Lexicon, was not inspired.
“Paradise—Questions as to the nature and locality of paradise as identical with the garden of Gen. 2 and 3…It remains to trace the history of the world and the associations connected with it, as it appears in the later books of the Old Testament and in the language of Christ and His Apostles. The word itself, though it appears in the above form in Cant. 4:13, Eccl. 2:5, Neh. 2:8 may be classed, hardly a doubt, as of Aryan rather then of Semitic origin. It first appears in Greek as coming straight from Persia. Greek lexicographers classify it as a Persian word. Modern philologists accept the same conclusion with hardly a dissenting voice. In Xenophen the word occurs frequently, and we get a vivid picture of the scene, which it implied. A wide open park, enclosed against injury, yet with its natural beauty unspoiled, with stately forest trees, many of them bearing fruit, watered by clear streams, on whose banks roved large herds of antelopes or sheep. This was the scenery that connected itself in the mind of the Greek traveler with the word paradise, and for which his own language supplied no precise equivalent. Through the writing of Xenophen, and through the general admixture of Orientalisms in the later Greek after the conquests of Alexander, the word gained a recognized place, and the LXX writers chose it for a new use, which gave it a higher worth, and secured for it a more perennial life. They used the same word whenever there was any allusion, however remote, to the fair region, which had been the blissful home of man. It was natural, however that this higher meaning should become the exclusive one, and be associated with new thoughts. Paradise, with no other word to qualify it, was the bright region which man had lost, which was guarded by the flaming sword. Soon a new hope sprang up. There was a paradise still, into which man might hope to enter. It is a matter of some interest to ascertain with what associations the word was connected in the minds of the Jews of Palestine and other countries at the time of our Lord’s teaching. What sense therefore we may attach to it in the writings of the N. T…To the Idealist school of Alexandria, of which Philo is the representative, paradise was nothing more than a symbol and an allegory. Spiritual perfection was the only paradise. The trees that grew in it were thoughts of the spiritual man. The rabbinic schools of Palestine presented a phase of thought the very opposite of that of the Alexandrian writer. They had their descriptions, definite and detailed, a complete topography of the unseen world. It was a region of the world of the dead, of sheol, in the heart of the earth. Gehenna was on one side, with its flames and torments; paradise on the other, the intermediate home of the blessed. Or, again, paradise was neither on the earth, not within it, but above it, in the third Heaven, or in some higher orb. Or there were two paradises, the upper and the lower—one in Heaven, for those who had attained the heights of holiness; one in the earth, for those who had lived but decently; and the heavenly paradise was sixty times larger then the whole lower earth.
Out of the discussions and theories of the Rabbis, there grew a broad popular belief, fixed in the hearts of man, accepted without discussion, blending with there best hope. Their prayer for the dying or dead was that his soul might rest in paradise, in the Garden of Eden.
The belief of the Essenes, as reported by Josephus, may be accepted as a fair representation of the thoughts of those who, like them, were not trained in the rabbinical schools, living in a simple and more childlike faith. To them, accordingly, paradise was a far-off land, a region where there was no scorching heat, no consuming cold, where the soft west wind from the ocean blew for evermore. It is with this popular belief, rather that with that of either school of Jewish thought, that the language of the N. T. connects itself. The old word is kept, and is raised to a new dignity or power. It is significant, indeed, that the word ‘paradise’ nowhere occurs in the public teaching of our Lord, or in His intercourse with His disciples. Connected as it had been with the thoughts of a sensuous happiness, it was not the fittest, nor the best word for those whom He was training to rise out of sensuous thoughts to the higher regions of the spiritual life. For then, accordingly, the kingdom of Heaven, the kingdom of God, are the words most dwelt on. With the thief dying on the cross the case was different. We can assume nothing in the robber outlaw but the most rudimentary forms of popular belief. The answer to his prayer gave him what he needed most,--the assurance of immediate rest and peace. The word paradise spoke to him, as to other Jews, of repose, shelter, joy—the greatest contrast possible to the thirst and agony and shame of the hours upon the cross. There is a like significance in the general absence of the word from the language of the epistles. Here also it is found nowhere in the direct teaching. It occurs only in passages that are apocalyptic, and therefore almost of necessity symbolic (2 Cor. 12:3; Rev. 2:11). The eager curiosity which prompts men to press on into these things behind the veil has let them to construct hypotheses more or less definite as to the intermediate state, and these have affected the thought which Christian writers have connected with the word ‘paradise’”—Smith’s Bible Dictionary, pages 689-690.
There was a wide diversity of opinion, and why shouldn’t there be in the absence of revelation and the almost silent of the scripture. The schools were divided. The idealist school of Alexandria was visionist. It saw paradise full of trees and those trees representing the thoughts of men. To them nothing was real. While their sister opponent could see in the far east where no man had set foot, the living reality and its diversions, In that day the earth was believed to be a great, vast, flat earth, they thought in the center or heart of it would be the appropriate place for “sheols,” the confines of the dead. This shows to what extent they had drank at the fountain of Palate, for nothing like that can be drawn from Old Testament teaching, which constituted all the divine authority at that time. But it was the theory of Plato. Their conception of the spirit or soul, which, according to Socrates was “indivisible and therefore could not die,” forced them to find a place for it after death. They had to send it to heaven or to hell at once without a body, or provide an intermediate place in which it could be retained till the resurrection gave them a body. So they chose the latter, and while they held them in the detention cell, they thought it good to give them a taste of glory and of misery—and which felicities were showered upon the righteous, the scenes of “Dante’s Inferno” were the real experiences of the wicked, and the flames feasted upon their miseries with ceaseless thirst. Like a copious historic fact let down from heaven stood the gigantic farce, woven into the very fibers of the brain. What a grand field was here open before the Lord for the play of metaphors, what a parable in itself, what an opportunity to take that fable and teach them a lesson of solid truth, and paint before their eyes their own true condition, and the results of it.
To say those disputing factions, both of whom had trampled the teachings of Moses beneath their feet, ignored the precepts, perverted the prophets, and traduced the morals of Israel, and descended into a flowing stream of conceited self-righteousness, and yet, from the original simplicity of the word paradise, had gradually developed it into a correct picture of the intermediate state, with no more material than the O. T. furnished, is giving them credit for philosophic accuracy with no conceivable parallel on the records of human speculation. To say, further, that they had stumbled even to a detailed description correctly mapped out, of thing no man could know, but by revelation, not only seems incredible, but it is incredible.
“The four living creatures and twenty-four elders are throughout the vision of the apocalypse represented as worshiping God day and night and participating even with rapture in the joys of Heaven as they behold from time to time the triumphs of him, who by his own blood has redeemed them to God out of every kindred, tongue and people and nation (Rev. 4:6, 11). And so Lazarus after death was carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:22). And the penitent thief went immediately with Christ into paradise…Also Paul says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. These passages are therefore inconsistent with soul-sleeping”—N. T. Commentary (Hebrews), page 136.
There is not a commentator come to my notice who makes “paradise” a place of “less glory.” So they, after all, make no distinction between paradise and heaven itself. They follow that word which is indefinite and obscure because of the use men made of it in ancient ages till it leads them into the glorious “heaven of God.” It can be logically determined that such a use of these scriptures will compel these men to admit that the spirits of the dead go directly to heaven, and that, too, without a body, since they concede the resurrection not does take place at death.
I have stated the common belief of paradise as best I could. In the paradise of Eden, which is symbolical of the paradise of God, and from which we have a glimpse of heavenly rest, we observe the “Tree of Life,” the object of which was to perpetuate life by right of access to it. Christ, the bread of life, the water of life, etc., all being symbols of the power and office of Christ. Wherever we can locate the “Tree of Life” in paradise, we shall surely have found the paradise men talk so much about. In Rev. 2:7, after reproving the church of Ephesus, the Lord said: “He that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” But where is this paradise of God? Turn to Rev. 22:1, 2: “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, and on either side of the river, there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
This is Milligan’s paradise, and the paradise of all these teachers who talk so much about paradise for the departed spirit. They, themselves, have followed the word till it led them into Revelation, to where the spirits of the just were inexpressibly happy. But they shall not stop at that point. We will take up their methods, and continue to pursue the word to the end, and behold we land in Heaven, according to their own philosophy. Here is the issue in simple form: If they chase this word from it obscurity down through the variety of its “apocalyptic” paths, and reach to the exalted glory found by Milligan, and still in an intermediate state, and there stop as if at the end, it demonstrates the utter weakness of their position. Why stop there? Why not look again and see it exalted again? How dare they draw the line when the light still beacons them on? Well enough they stopped, for had they kept pace with this symbolical light to its final disappearance in the last chapter of the book, they would have ruined their theory forever. It is impossible for them to hold their conception of paradise, as equal and harmonious with the paradise of the N.T., with our arriving in Heaven with it, which would do away with it altogether.
This, to my mind, throws that system into a dilemma that should make it stand up and take notice. Can they squirm through all the meshes of this entanglement, and tell us plainly why they do not trace the word throughout its history and use in the N. T., and why they stop its trail just as it grows most luminous and glorious? If we have not judged right, apologies will be gladly tendered. For I have never yet heard a preacher refer to the last two chapters of Revelation as a painting of the intermediate state, though there, also, is the tree of life, which that found in Rev. 2 and garbled it up with fervency. They evidently see the very point I have here suggested, that the paradise they speak of is “heaven itself.”
Many glories of the Bible are represented in figures and metaphors. To take these and pin them down to literality, is to throw chaotic mists over a wide field of splendid and useful information.
Let that myth of the intermediate state be buried in the grave with Socrates, it author, and let the beautiful light of simplicity shine in our hearts from the Bible and nature, and the glory of God will be immeasurably exalted in our eyes.
Many things in Revelation we cannot even see through a glass darkly. We cannot penetrate the eloquence of those symbols and gather their fullness of meaning. Some of them, however, are now matters of historic fact, and some are obvious when paralleled with the tendency of the times. But to build great doctrines on figurative language and then be compelled to figure all plain language away, is the direct road to confusion of mind. Many there be who are led into that path. May the reader and writer be faithful to death, and these things will be better known over there.
In Ecc. 9:5, we find these words: “For the living know that they shall die, but the dead know not anything.” You say, “Oh, the dead body he means; he just as will said nothing. We don’t bury men while they know things. We wait till we know they do not know things, then we put them away. Solomon meant the whole man knows nothing. Let me quote from Butler’s “Analogy”:
“The simplicity and absolute oneness of a living agent cannot, indeed, from the nature of the things, be properly proved by experimental observations; but as these (observations) fall in with the supposition of its unity, so they plainly lead up to conclude certainly that our gross organized bodies, with which we receive the objects of sense and with which we act, are no part of ourselves and therefore show us that we have no reason to believe their destruction to be ours”—Butler’s Analogy, page 44.
There is no argument in existence that will show men to be anything but an “old crank” for carrying that old body around here for twenty to a hundred years, and spending every dollar they can dig up, to encourage an M. D. to patch it up if possible, that they may stay a few days longer. “I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:23).
In Psalms 6:5, 6, David says, “For in death there is no remembrance of you. In Sheol who shall give you thinks?”
Eccl. 9:5, “The dead know not anything.” Ps. 115:16, “The dead praise not the Lord.”
Ps 146:4, “His breath goes forth, he returns to the earth, in that very day his thoughts perish.”
Eccl. 9:10, “For there is no work not device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave where you go.”
There are a host of similar tests. If they point specifically to the dead carcass only, why should wise men place so must stress upon them? Does not every one understand that the corpse has no knowledge? Why in the name of reason do they argue that point so strenuously, as if some one doubted it? Was there ever a nation or an individual that held such a notion? If merely the dead body was all these writers had in mind, they must have thought it greatly needed light, and that the common people were ignorant as dummies and believed the “dead body was alive.”
Answer me. “While these patriarchs and prophets were talking so much about the ‘dead body’ having no wisdom, no thoughts, no praises, no knowledge and no intelligence of any sort, why did they not draw on the spirit a little for our special edification, and teach us that there is wisdom and knowledge and thoughts and praises where it goes? Why not? Why talk so much and so dramatically about the dead body, and tell us that which all know, and say not one encouraging word about the joys and praises the spirits are giving God in the unseen world? Is there nothing significant about that omission? Why did they not cheer up our earth life, by painting a picture of the hosts of happy spirits in the unseen world of the dead? That would have been real instruction. That would have been, indeed, information, and would have settled a long drawn argument. Do you want the real reason for this action on the part of inspired men? Here it is. Obviously, they were speaking of the whole creature man. They saw no spirit off yonder praising God as Milligan, McGarvey, and others. They saw death the end of man, and they pointed it out as such, including his thoughts perishing in death, which means the dissolution of all his faculties. They did not talk of the thoughts being transferred, but perishing. The only possible result of death, destroying the organism by which thought is possible. Never a time did they say, ‘There is wisdom and knowledge with the spirits of the dead.’ How easy it would have been to say it. But had they said it, they could not have said the other. There are two propositions—one or the other must be untrue.
Look at the incongruity of reasoning standing out like a huge knot on a limb. Some one says, “John Doe is dead.” And that there is no remembrances or praise where he went. He knows not anything. But immediately they tell us “the real John Doe is the spirit” and that it knows better than before. The man of God said, “whither you go” there is no wisdom, etc. “Thou” John Doe. Men say “Thou” means the spirit, and that it never ceases to think. Our clergy and the wise men are at variance again. What shall we do? We will leave them that way—if they can’t see the truth. Thus,
John Doe is dead, and he is not dead.
His thoughts perish, and they do not perish.
He praised God, and he does not praise Him.
He remembers, and he does not remember.
All at the same time—the same John Doe. John Doe is a prodigious type of man.
The clergy remind me of the woman who baked two kinds of pies, and being quite prudent and cautious, she labeled one of them T. M. for “is mince: and the other T. M. for “taint mince.” Logically enough, afterwards she found herself in an embarrassing position, unable to determine which T. M. stood for “taint mince.”
Precisely it is with the case in hand. The clergy have stamped “T” on both sides of the scripture for “tis” and “taint” and now they are bewildered to know which “T” stands for “taint.” They cannot locate their high seas craft with an improved chart and compass.
They cannot even suggest a reason why those ancient mouth pieces of God should argue and repeat and emphasize and affirm and declare over and over that the ‘dead body’ knows nothing, remembers nothing, praised nothing, thinks nothing and does nothing, which is only a deep and solemn fact known by all the living, and never open their mouths once about the spirit being able to do all these things. It would have been in perfect accord with their enthusiasm along this line to have said, ‘Cheer up and rejoice, for though the dead body has no knowledge, no wisdom, no thoughts, etc., yet the spirit is rejoicing and happy, thinking and praising God. What a relief that would have been to modern theology. But the fact that such was not the case is proof that it is not true.
This is another example of that old treacherous, deceitful scheme of hair-splitting and sliding sense of words at work again. And the clergy have made a clearing house out of that policy of evading argument. Let me insist upon the reader lifting your head above the low marshy swamps through which we have been following this evasive monster, and get a fresh breath of pure, sweet and clean atmosphere.
If you are able to comprehend these arguments, you will be quick to appreciate the spirit of freedom which they breathe, and they will lift you out of a medieval doctrine which has been the fall and ruin of many. It will place God before you in the true light, and yourself be fore Him as a creature of the dust of the earth, and to whom He will be glad to bestow the unspeakable boon of eternal life, if you can be fitted to receive it. But your life will be measured with the line and plummet, and it must stand the test or you give it up to pay the forfeit (Isa. 28:16, 17).
The phrase, everlasting punishment, carries to many minds the thought of everlasting torment. No reason why it should for there is no necessary connection between these two words,—this shall be amply proved. Those who advocate the theory of endless misery find this phrase one of their chief and unfailing friends. Its great force is merely to state it and its devotees think all protests should cease,—that it closes the door against further inquiry. And this, in conjunction with Luke 16, the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Mark 9:44, the “undying worm,” and Rev. 20:10, the tormenting of Satan spoken of in connection with the beast and false prophet forever, all of which are figurative, from the bulk of evidence for the theory. Should they be logically compelled to renounce the construction they place on these scriptures, they would feel themselves slipping without hope of recovery. The death knell to their doctrine would have tolled. While writing his, I feel confident their insecurity shall be to them a deep realization. When the Lord talked with man, and used human language, if he placed other meanings on the words than those understood by men, how could God teach us? Or if He used them in a figurative sense, in their last and most important supplication, why were we not apprised of the change? The very though is absurd, that the figurative use of these words in their greatest meaning, as argued by Mr. Morris, shown in a previous chapter.
The word “punishment” is not a puzzling word. One of the most familiar terms in the English language. Do you know its meaning? Just think a moment and try to define it. The dictionary tells us it is the infliction of penalty for an offence. Is it? If the teacher tells the pupil she will ‘punish’ him a question would spring up in his mind, what way? Even the child knows there are many ways to punish. Though our theologians, after losing sight of the definition of the word, at last give it but one idea, that of misery. Cunning enough, indeed, to separate it from its primary meaning in the New Testament. As if death inflicted for sin was not a punishment. If it is a recompense of the some nature, what is the nature, how severe? The term punishment as a retaliation for offence, never defines the nature of the infliction to be executes. It only announces the fact that a judicial penalty is due, without revealing the severity of it. Punishment, retaliation, recompense, penalty, are synonymous words, and may be used interchangeably. So if the Lord had said, “These shall go into everlasting recompense” or penalty, or retaliation, we would still be forced to seek other scriptures to learn what kind of recompense is meant.
We are told there can be no punishment without pain. I deny the assertion. I challenge the reader to search the Old Testament for the hundreds of instances where the infliction of death was the penalty for crimes. And that it was inflicted to satisfy the offence regardless of the pain accompanying it. Punishment lasts so long as its results last, and where death has been administered for the satisfaction of crime, the punishment continues till life is restored, and if never restored, it is an everlasting punishment.
Lost of property, loss of liberty, loss of life, may all be meted out to the transgressors under the label of punishment. And death as the capital punishment, legalized on the statutes of all civilized nations of the world, is the highest punishment man can inflict—or so recognized—being the deprivation of life, the first source of all pleasures and enjoyments, and recognized as being forfeited for certain crimes. Then the contrary position assumed by the other side is inadmissible.
Here is the Bible position:
“The earliest theory of punishment current among man kind is doubtless the one of simple ‘retaliation,’ blood for blood. Viewed historically, the first case of punishment for crime mentioned in the scripture, next to the fall itself, is that of Cain, the first murderer. That ‘death’ was regarded as the fitting punishment for murder appears plain from the remark of Lamech (Gen. 4:24)…Passing onward to Mosaic times, we find the sentence of capital punishment in the case of murder plainly laid down in the law…The following offences also are mentioned in the law as liable to the ‘punishment of death.’ Striking or ever reviling a parent (Ex. 21: 15, 17); blasphemy (Liv. 24: 14, 17); Sabbath breaking (Num. 15:32, 36); witchcraft (Ex. 22:18); adultery (Lev. 20:10); unchastity (Deut 22). Etc.”—Smith’s Bible Dictionary, page 281.
“But most commentators agree that in accordance with the ‘prima facie’ meaning of Heb. 10:28, the sentence of ‘cutting off’ may perhaps conclude that the primary meaning of ‘cutting off’ is a sentence of death to be executed in some cases without remission, but in others voidable: (1) By immediate atonement on the offender’s part; (2) by direct interposition of the Almighty, i.e., a sentence of death always recorded, but not always executed. Punishments in themselves are twofold, capital and secondary”—Smith’s Bible Dictionary, page 781.
We must not settle on the meaning of the word punishment, and know what we are talking about. Smith was an advocate of endless torment, constantly admitting, however, that death itself is punishment for sin. Telling us the Bible holds it as such, that all nations so view it. And that you also do any time but when you read or think of future retribution. Nevertheless, you are brought face to face with two propositions, one of which you must choose.
Š First, death inflicted for crime without regard to suffering, is punishment; or,
Š Second, that it is not punishment. If you choose the second, and say it is not, all the statures of the world fall. All the people have been deceived. The Dictionary has misrepresented it to us; smith’s argument crumbles. The Bible has misled us; and your own conscience is deceiving you.
If you choose the first, and admit that death is punishment, how dare you then go back at the mention of it, and affirm it is not. For once you admit that it is you virtually admit that literal death may be the everlasting punishment spoken of in Matt. 25:46.
You say punishment ceases the moment pain ceases. All right, then, death is not punishment, and you yourself are contradictory. And, by the way, this is a sample of the course of argument pursued in defense of endless torment. They admit willingly that death is a punishment according to the laws of both God and man, and that it has been inflicted times innumerable, but when pressed to the point of what the admission involves when applied to Matt. 25:46, they straightway deny it. For when once admitted, the text comprehends that death followed by no resurrection would be an everlasting “death,” and as it is to be inflicted for sin, it would consequently be an everlasting punishment. So the retribution is simple; the wages of sin is “death.” And sin when it is finished brings forth “death.”
Now let us place it in syllogistic form:
1. Any infliction on a person, or loss of property, or imprisonment for any crime is “punishment” (Dictionary).
2. Death is inflicted for certain crimes (Bible and law).
3. Therefore, death is punishment.
If any man denies that, I shall never waste a moment arguing with him. If any man admits it, I shall hold him to the inevitable conclusion that the phrase “everlasting punishment” means nothing more nor less than the everlasting infliction of a penalty for an offence, as demanded by law, but does not state what the penalty shall be. According to numerous scriptures we are abundantly assured the penalty for sin is death, and that should settle all doubts with the most obstinate caviler and the grounds for quibbling forever swept away.
What the Lord means to teach is that the punishment will be permanent. Nothing said as to whether it shall be eternal misery or not. In fact, no kind of misery or pain is specified in this text.
With this information, that the penalty attached to sin in the Day of Judgment will be unending, we can turn to other portions of the scriptures and determine the nature of it—just what this punishment will be. In 2 Thess. 1:7, 9, Paul has the same subject up for discussion. He likewise speaks of the punishment for those who know not God and obey not the gospel. He said the Lord would take vengeance on them. He said they would be destroyed; and told us the duration of it, that it would be an everlasting destruction. He said they would be punished with destruction; not with imprisonment, not with eternal torment, but with destruction. Then, the everlasting punishment spoken of by the Lord in Matt. 25:46 is explained by Paul as an everlasting destruction. This makes these scriptures comprehensive, and in agreement with all we have argued from the beginning. This everlasting destruction is a terrific retribution for sin, and will destroy the whole being, never again to be raised to life. Accordingly, therefore, we are rationally compelled to press the literal sense of these words.
I am constrained to call attention to an article appearing in the Octographic Review, Feb. 2, 1911, by T. D Willis, entailed “The Future State of the Unsaved Will Be One of Misery and Suffering,” in which he explains, after the usual custom, that is will be “eternal.” He seems to feel his position so secure and unassailable, that one would appear fanatical or grossly self-conceited to call it in question. However, I am willing to risk incurring his contempt, jest to roll some boulders down the hill into his” glass house” of eternal torment. He opens up on Matt. 25:46, the text under investigation in this chapter. He tells us the Greek word “Kolasin” here rendered punishment is also found in 1 John 4:18, and is translated “torment,” and adds: “Accordingly, since the word is translated “torment” in one passage, and can have no other meaning, it might with equal propriety and force have been translated ‘torment’ in the other.” I unequivocally charge that he had made a bad start. Noting peculiar about his conclusion from such premises. But he can never sustain his premises. In fact, they are but scum and cobwebs. To say “Kolasin” in Greek is a synonym of “punishment in English. It merely states the infliction of a penal of recompense as justly “due,” but does not state the nature of it. “Kolasin” simply means punishment, whether that punishment shall be torment or not, the word does not define. And to say that it can mean only torment is an inexcusable abuse of language. Mr. Willis has employed Campbell’s method of applying Kolasin. I gladly acknowledge my own insignificance by the side of either of them, yet they are both wrong in their application of that word, the fact of which the Greek itself will testify. And even though criticism comes from the most obscure walks of life, it must nevertheless come. Before me lies a Greek Testament with Lexicon attached, by C. Greenfield, the same Lexicon, I presume, from which Mr. Willis quoted, because it contains the same reference to John 4:8. Here is the word Kolasin as the author defines it. “Kolasis—chastisement, punishment (Matt. 25:46); apprehension of punishment, torment (1 John 4:18). (“The Polymicrian Greek Lexicon” (Greenfield) page 132.
I respectfully challenge Willis or any other reader to affirm to intelligent men his assertion that Kolasin can have no other meaning but “torment.” This effort on the part of Willis shows how far men will go in the endeavor to establish a traditional heritage, and what an influence a prepossessed mind will exert in rendering meanings to agree with it.
Why did not Willis say, “Since Kolasin is rendered ‘punishment’ in one passage and can have no other meaning, that it might with equal propriety have been rendered punishment in the other” Why didn’t he say that? Was there no grounds to say it? If, as the Lexicon states, Kolasin means “chastisement” or “punishment” or “apprehensions,: then why say it can have no other meaning than torment? Why? To satisfy a perverse and deceptive doctrine. And so the word is suffering a perversion to hold it down as meaning only torment.
We have shown that punishment for crime is not always a system of torture. That the extreme punishment is the cutting off from life. But I shall demonstrate in another form that punishment for crime is not necessarily accompanied by misery.
Suppose two men are found wallowing in the gutter, from the effects of strong drink, and both are arrested and taken before the bar of justice. They are found guilty of the offence; the law defines the penalty alike for each, say $10.00. Both pay the price and depart. Are these men punished? Yes, the law says both of them are punished. It develops afterward that one is a very poor man, and it takes his last dollar to satisfy the law. Does he suffer? Certainly, both in body and mind. It adds an extra burden on him to replace the “ten spot” he lost, and is deprived of the benefit of the money he had. It takes so many hard knocks to get the ten again. But it is revealed that the other fellow was worth a million dollars, he laughs at the fine, reaches into his pocket and brings forth a roll of bills that would pay a thousand such fines, pays his penalty and goes on his way rejoicing. Was he punished? The law says he was. Did he suffer? He says he did not. Why not? Jest one reason—punishment does not carry with it an essential idea of misery, but means the infliction of a penalty prescribed by the law for a crime. He was punished, then, not with misery, but with the cutting of a portion of his estate, which was all the law required of any man for such an offence, provided he would rather pay than lay in a cell. The poor man felt it, the rich did not. So, then, Kolasisn may mean torment or it may not—but it does mean punishment.
In Rev. 20:10 we have the Greek word “basanidzoo,” and it means “Shall be tormented.” There is no Kolasin there. But Mr. Wills quotes it and then adds:
“So if the words of the Bible are to be taken in their plain and natural sense, it seems clear that the future state of the impenitent is to be one of pain and suffering, or wretchedness and misery” (Octogaphic Review, February 21,1911).
We must confess that Mr. Willis is taking it very real and natural indeed. But even Mr. Willis dose so in exceptional cases only. It is not general at all. The natural sense of scripture is pressed with him, as with others, when there is a purpose to serve. But there is not a canon of interpretation under the sun that does not condemn his methods, if it is worthy of notice. Do you believe he means what he says? If you do you shall be disappointed, for he does not observe the rule only as it conforms to his opinion. This will be easily determined by following him in his common application of scripture. Since he urged the plain and natural sense of scripture, we would expect him to practice it himself; and if he does not, his plea for others to do so, leaving the impression that he does, is worthy of repudiation.
Again (2 Peter 2:9), “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the Day of Judgment to be punished.” What is the plain and natural sense of the word “reserve?” It means to hold back, to withhold. Does Willis urge the plain and natural sense of that? No, indeed, he does not. Why not? Because the immediate entrance of the wicked into torment, as he teaches, would suffer an endless overthrow. Therefore, “Reserve” is modified and its true sense suppressed to satisfy that theory.
Try is again: “But these as natural brute beasts made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things they understand not and shall utterly perish in their own corruption” (2 Peter 2:12). What is the plain and natural sense of perish? Is it not a literal destruction? The people of the flood perished. Sodom and Gomorrah perished. Fifteen hundred in the great Titanic tragedy perished. Five hundred people in the Iroquois Theater fire perished. And thousands, tens of thousands, perish annually in one manner or another. Oh, Yes. We too keenly realize what the plain and natural sense of perish means. But does Willis urge it here? No, never. Peter says they shall “utterly perish,” utterly, completely, absolutely, put an end to. Why not plead for the plain, natural sense of the word then? Listen, reader, he knows his theory would “utterly perish” that instant. That’s why. Simple enough, Isn’t it?
Once more (1 Thess. 1:9): Paul declares those who obey not the gospel and all the ungodly shall be punished with and everlasting destruction. Every one knows destruction of life and property is one of the familiar misfortunes of humanity. But does Willis urge the natural sense of this? Certainly not. Why not? Because it would everlastingly destroy his hobby of endless woe and grief.
I want to make this rebuke severe, not so much for Willis’s sake, but for all, for it is the same pretext put up by nearly all the clergy that “If the Bible doesn’t man what it says, then nobody knows what it does mean,” It is the general custom to select a scripture just fitting the notion in mind, and then appeal to the plain and natural sense of the word, though they select from the highest symbols of revelation. And this ought to make it obvious to all that they do not adhere to the principle themselves, only so far as suited to their narrow opinions.
And again (Matt. 25:46): “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment.” Is this the world of God? Most assuredly. What is the plain natural sense of “punishment?” Go to your dictionary. Is it not an infliction for crime, meted out to the offender by a duly qualified officer? Absolutely correct. Be it a fine of one dollar, imprisonment, or death. Dose Willis urge the plain natural sense of it? I should say not. For to him punishment can mean nothing but torment, which is a huge error. Now, reader, it is clear to you that Willis was urging a method of scripture analysis upon you, which he himself departs from as far as he can. Is it not positively misleading? Is not a fallacy clearly seen on the face of his practice? Why should they urge such a rule on you, when they reject it in a thousand instances? They leave the plain natural sense of the word on the most obvious and simple texts, and the moment they reach the symbolic, pictorial, and figurative and then they press the plain and natural sense with all their power, relying entirely upon apocalyptic language for the poof of endless misery. All valid rules opposed to it. The greatest blunder ever made in Bible exegesis is taking Paul and Peter figuratively, and resorting to the plain and natural sense of the apocalypse and parables.
It is full of intense interest to watchmen go to the most picturesque display of representation know or ever recorded, select a peculiarly constructed narrative, seemingly applicable to a strange theory, apply it literally, and then appeal to the reader to accept the plain and natural sense of the word of God.
They can never stand immovable upon such a foundation. So they shift about like a father in a storm, with no certain dwelling place. You could never force one of these fellows to take the words “death,” “perish,” “destroy,” “consume,” ete., in their plain obvious sense. No, indeed. Like Morris, their figurative sense carries their greatest meaning. Yet, they cry for the plain and natural sense of the world of God.
Willis refers us to Rom. 2:8, 9, and asks, “Would anyone be bold enough to deny that indignation and wrath necessarily involve the idea of conscious misery?” Well, not if that indignation and wrath is from the condemned. But I understood that to be from God. That God will pour out his indignation and wrath upon them. So he has made no point there. I do not deny, however, that there will be a deep consciousness of misery to the lost. I hold with scripture that there will be a weeping and wailing. And that those features are set forth in the most fervid colorings. What we deny is its eternity. How long the process may continue before the stroke of death cuts them asunder, we have no means of determining. But sufficiently long to exact justice for all the deeds charged against them. Willis’ attempt at proving it to be eternal is only a “fake” proof. He proved nothing. He assumed his premises and they being utterly void, his conclusion is worthless. But here is his effort—“That according to Matt. 25:46, the one class endures as long as the other.” How easy to argue that. It has been presented hundreds of times. We grant it. The punishment will be endless, but that is not proof that the suffering will. You see he has instilled into the word punishment nothing but torment. Consequently, to him it teaches endless torment. Could he but see that punishment might as readily mean death as torment; he could see endless punishment for sin, without “endless misery.”
“Punishments are inflicted because of the demerit of sin…Yet in no case is the punishment of sin adequate to its demerit. If it wore possible, punishment would be remedial, and partake of the nature of an atonement. But this, it never is, and cannot be. Under human government crimes are graded and so are punishments…and when they are properly adjusted, the former is regarded as adequate to the latter. But this sufficiency does not obtain under divine government. Sin and its punishment may be adequately adjusted in the world to come, as to the demerit of one and the degree of the other, but in no instance is there the slightest hint that the punishment will finally atone for sin and set the sinner free” Remedial system (Christopher), page 389.
He has indirectly taught here that God has but two alternatives to choose from. No, I recall that. Jest one choice. That since punishment cannot atone for sin, God can only fill their cup with torment for eternity to come. Yet, he talks of God adjusting the punishment to the crime, that some may, according to their works, be punished more than others. If it were true, that punishment cannot satisfy for sin, there would be no possibility of grading the crimes to a certain degree of punishment. You can surely see that if some deserve less punishment than others, that the punishment could be increased and the duration of it diminished. It is obvious that the amount of punishment due each sinner can be computed by the Lord. Therefore, Christopher would be bound to admit that by increasing the volume of the punishment, the term of its extent must be proportionately shortened. That is proof of his error. He was laboring under the “mental spell” of an “indestructible spirit,” and of course saw but two possible ways—either to set the sinner free, or torment him eternally—and as God could not do the former, He must do the latter.
He concedes that crime and punishment are here adjusted by human reason, but said it could not obtain under the Divine Government. He failed to explain just why. We will explain for him. He had learned that man was unequivocally destined to an endless existence; he saw a portion doomed to destruction, which he must interpret to be “living anguish” forever. Hence he places himself in such a net that he cannot get through the meshes, and must decide that punishment is not adequate to the sin, and that nothing shout of eternity can satisfy.
If we should ask that the intensity be doubled, that the term may be shortened, and should be told that it is already to the extreme of endurance, we should have another absurd argument. For if all are suffering the extreme of endurance, then where does the reward according to works come in? For that would allow no degree between the greatest criminal and the humble suicide, who through many avenues found no charm in life. To make a long story short, Christopher could reach no other conclusion from his premises. Once let the theory of immortality be granted and the conclusion he reached is inevitable.
To me, here is the simple way. Punishment is of a reformative nature until it reaches a criminal who has justly forfeited his right to live, then he pays with his life. But all reformative methods must be applied here. We are forewarned that no sinner shall escape over there. The penalty for all is death—but in the process of death, we anticipate time and occasion for the administration of degrees as we are so often reminded of.
Men have gone to the extreme of naming sin an infinite offence and worthy of infinite punishment because committed against an infinite God. Such was Wilford Hall’s position, in his debate entitled “Universalism Against Itself.” I have my Dictionary before me. The word “infinite” is defined as “having no bounds or limits.” “Boundless.” “Not limited or circumscribed.” “The upmost range.” Let us make an application: If sin is an infinite offence, then its punishment will be boundless, the utmost range. If sin is punished infinitely, every sinner will punished without limitation, to the utmost degree. Since there is no greater punishment than that, every sinner will suffer the same—to the upmost degree. There could be no conception as reward according to works, as we would understand it. Who will dare say Calvin and Hopkins and Spurgeon and others have overdrawn the picture? The good moral man suffers as the vilest reprobate. The suicide that found no charm in life, and purposely discontinued it, became equal to the outlaw and murderer. Oh, yes! I know the absurdity of it, is the infinite part. Man is finite, and his works are finite. To talk of bringing an infinite act from a finite creature is infinite nonsense. Being finite, his works are no greater than he, and the punishment of death for sin is a finite punishment because it could be greater. But it is of infinite duration; it will never be reversed. People who have been destroyed off the earth could be found no more on it. I will take the stand argumentatively that when the people spoken of by Peter shall utterly perish, not off of, nor out of, but in their own corruption, that they cannot be found anywhere, but will be as though they had not been, as the prophet declares.
McGarvey brought up an old time persuasion, to reconcile evil with the will of God forever, allowing that if he could reconcile it with his will for these 6,000 years, that he might for all eternity. Thompson, in his “Theism.” And Campbell and Christopher all spoke of the same thing, so they must have thought it a strong argument in their favor. I affirm there is nothing in it for them. True, evil has existed many centuries, and God has at all times expressed Himself as opposed to it. But that is no proof that God will always tolerate it. He has appointed a day of reckoning, in which all men will stand before Him to be judged. It is in that day a disposition of evil will be made. Can we not wait till His appointed time? Must we frame up unreasonable theories as to possibilities? Sure God might preserve them eternally for ought I know so far as power is concerned. But why frame up suspicious argument that He will, when He has repeatedly told us He will utterly destroy the wicked? Speculations of men will never influence Him to change or alter His determinate counsel.
Hear Campbell on the judgment: “The judgment at death is not the general, but the particular judgment of individuals.” Well, is not the general judgment also a particular judgment of individuals? What sort of judgment could there be but a particular judgment of individuals? The Bible tells of no other. Nothing about a judgment at death, and he who affirms it, assumes it. Judgment for humanity must be individually administered. If administered at death it cannot be shown that it will be administered again. There is but one judgment threatened in the Bible. Can you judge them at death and reward them partially as is assumed, and judge them again at the last day and reward them again, without having two judgments and rewards? Can you? To show that to be his doctrine, read,
“As the phrase would seem to indicate, whose spirits returning to God are judged and instantly rewarded so far as in a separate state they are subjects of reward and punishment.” (“Christian System,” Campbell, page 74).
What made Campbell stumble onto this “particular judgment” at death, to be repeated at the last day? Let me say, with due respect for the dead, his philosophy would have felled itself with its own stroke had not this belief suggested itself. Reward and punishment presupposes judgment just as Campbell affirmed. But the question comes to us, “what feature could the second judgment contain not essentially in the first?” Judgment for the sinner consists in finding him guilty and executing the legal sentence. But when this is done how can it be repeated? And if it is repeated, wherein would if differ from the first? Therefore, if men are judged at death and enter into punishment, there can be no last great day of judgment. To talk it is “only sounding bass.” For it is the same parties before the same judge, on the same charge. They have not appealed their case, they have not asked a new trial; then how could it be, unless the judge thought He had made a judicial error? This again proves the supposed judgment at death is an assumed one, to meet a contingency loudly demanding it. The fact condemns it. It is so far out of harmony with general facts, that a denial of it altogether is fully warranted.
In his Commentary on 2 Cor. 5:1, 8, Livermore, a Universalist, makes an immediate entrance of the saints into a disembodied state, or into heaven; so Milligan, Lord, McGarvey, etc.—and yet contends for a future resurrection, the purpose of which they can give no account. Under such construction of scripture we stand in the midst of a mighty fog, being forced to concede that if the saints at death enter into a place of happiness, whether with or without a body, they have previously been judged and rewarded.
“There is no reason whatsoever that can prove or establish any authority so firmly as to give it power to dictate in matters of belief, what is contrary to all the dictates of our reasonable nature. God himself has never given any such revelations. And I think it maybe said with reverence, he neither can nor will do it, unless he change our faculties from what they are at present. To tell us we must believe a proposition which is contrary to reason, it to tell us we must believe two ideas joined, while we plainly see and know them to be disjoined”—Watts on the Mind, page 244.
All human conceptions of moral or spiritual equity are based upon the revealed will or God. Every law framed in civilized nations, in behalf of humanity, is founded upon that revealed conception of justice in the Bible. I do not mean corrupt laws for the rich, by which they feast on the peonage of oppression. I mean not a willful corruption of righteous laws. But those purporting to adjust an administration to the laws of equality. These laws are based on that revealed law of life for life, blood for blood, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. God is the author of that law (Gen. 9:6; Exod. 21:24). Upon these scriptures the conception of justice and equity is based. From this it branches out into every avenue of human affairs, and culminates in the Golden Rule. “Whatsoever you would that men should do unto you, do you even so unto them.” For this is the law and the prophets. From this flows the broad, universal idea of justice. From this the conceptions of a just recompense are drawn. Upon this principle God invites all men to act, and assures them He will abide by it, even though they refuse. Upon it He rebukes haughty Israel, saying, “Yet you say the way of the Lord is not equal?” (Ezek. 18:25). Why call on Israel if they were unable to judge the meaning of equity? Yet it was this very simple and well-defined law of justice that baffled McGarvey into a confession that strikes the fatal blow to his theory, demonstrating the great perplexity of his mind. He says:
“It has been very vehemently argued and insisted upon, that such punishment for sin would be unjust on the part of God, because the penalty would be far beyond the demerits of the sin for which it was inflicted. To inflict punishment such as is described in the Bible upon a human being, and that continuing without end, for the sins which he committed during the brief stay which he experienced here on earth, is out of all proportion, when viewed as a matter of justice. Justice demands that the penalty shall be proportioned to the crime. Well it does look that way; it undoubtedly does. No father would inflict that kind of punishment upon his son for any conceivable offense against the father, it is argued, and I believe that is true. I would hate to see the man that would. He would not be my friend. It would show not only a want of justice, but an audacious rebellion against all sense of the goodness and mercy and love, of which we have already spoken. But now then, while it does appear that way; and if I were the Judge I would not give that sentence; if I had the trial of the matter, I am sure that I would not allow that sentence to be passed; yet who am I? Well, I am a sinner”—McGarvey’s Sermons, page 31.
I would like to fill two chapters on that extract from McGarvey’s sermons. Here is material for a whole volume. Never was a more formidable argument uttered against the theory we are opposing than this pathetic confession. I wish I had space to demonstrate that God is as good as McGarvey tried to believe him to be. I would that I could cause you to see that McGarvey felt his whole nature revolting against the notion he was defending. I would that I could cause you to see that McGarvey felt his whole nature revolting against the notion he was defending. McGarvey has used his powers of reason, and his mature judgment, upon this theory of retribution, and he found it repulsive to his soul. That it was, to his judgment, out of all proportion when viewed as a matter of justice. Watts was not infallible, but if that principle he introduced is correct, “that God himself has never given revelation contrary to our sense of right or reason,” then here is one of the ablest defenders of that system who has entered the pulpit in a century, with his fingers emphasizing with emotional gestures to a great audience, in Louisville, Ky., that it is out of all proportion when viewed as a matter justice—and if any one else but God, he would hate to see him, etc. That it would be a rebellion against all we know of the word justice.
This coming from so great a scholar as McGarvery makes it the most pathetic and serious. And it makes it more obviously false when presented with a touch of the poet’s brush. McGarvery offers an apology for it. How? ‘Well, who am I? I am a sinner.’ And therefore the sinner has never learned what justice is, and cannot judge between what would be right and what would be grossly unjust. No. But here, God has not left us in the dark as to the meaning justice, when He has taught it with untiring patience to His weak creatures, and now He asks us to judge if He has not dealt justly with us. McGarvey counted himself no greater sinner than other Christians. The Church of God is supposed to be a holy temple, a righteous people, loving justice and mercy—A fit habitation of God through the spirit, filled with God’s thoughts, full of knowledge of God, to which McGarvey has attained a reasonably high degree. And it is to such men as he, as well as all degrees below him, that this punishment, such as he believe the Bible to teach, if executed by a father against a son for any conceivable offence, would be an audacious rebellion against the goodness and mercy of love, And it is to such men, who are capable of sound judgment, that God challenges to show where He is unjust and to use their own power to test Him.
Then there must be something out of joint with the theory, charging God with such principles of conduct toward His own creatures, utterly repugnant and audacious to the intelligence of man, when viewed as matters of justice. Surely, that which rebels against the common sense of man could not become a virtue in Heaven. For however frail we may be, there is an inhered sense of right in us, cultivated by our education and associations. And between that sense of right and the idea of endless misery the chasm is so vast and unfathomable that even the mind of McGarvey saw it as span less as eternity. And his judgment crumpled up into that of a defenseless child, saying I don’t know how it can be.
Had McGarvey been as prudent at this point as he was known to be in other matters, he would have reasoned that: “God has given me faculties to judge of him as he reveals his nature to me. I see him as a kind, loving, indulgent Father. That lake of fire is severe. To think of a creature living in it forever is abhorrent to good judgment. It must therefore be a fire that consumes.” Had he struck that note, he could have played a tune that would be contagious down to the end of time. For when God calls on men to judge that his way is equal, and then presents to them a problem of such nature that it becomes to the wisest and best alike utterly revolting when viewed in the light of justice, you can set it down for me that you have misunderstood God. God is willing for honest men to say if he is not right. And calls on men to judge.
In McGarvey’s study of the Bible he had—as any one can—found it strewn with constant repetition of righteousness, justice, holiness, equity, love, vengeance, wrath and retribution, according to a man’s just desert, and as his works warrant. That the harvest shall conform to the seed sown. He understood it when applied here among men. He could see the murderer go forth to the hangman’s loop from the courts of men, he could acquiesce in the verdict, and exclaim, right. But no sooner does he turn his eyes toward the great tribunal of God than he clamors it is out of all proportion and an audacious rebellion against the sense of love, when viewed as a matter justice. Let me tell you that what the human sense of justice calls an audacious rebellion if practiced by men, is no less anywhere, and the word of God will sustain me in it. Supposing we are witnessing the trial of a thief who had taken some trivial matter; he is proved guilty, the judge rises to announce the finding, saying, “According to the evidence I find the party guilty of the offence as charged, the punishment of which I deem just and right is life imprisonment at hard labor, with inflictions of pain and other grievances daily; and I call the respected audience to judge that I have rendered an honest, impartial and just sentence.” What would that audience think? It would cry, “away with such a judge.” Every fair-minded person would almost sink away with astonishment and disgust. Revolt would be inevitable. Anathemas, hisses, and threats would overwhelm him. The crowd would say, “That is out of all proportion with the offence, when viewed as a matter of justice.” This is the principle that so baffled McGarvey, and thousands of others. The witnesses in the supposed case could not be more bewildered than was he, and all others who are brought face to face with the theory and what it actually means.
Hear McGarvey again:
“I am very free to confess that if I had, as God has, almighty power, and almighty wisdom, I cannot for the life of me see that I would allow any human being to be cast into a lake that burns with fire and brimstone…I would not allow one single human being to ever shed a tear, to ever feel a pang of body or heart. I would never allow any more widows in this world, nor any more orphan children. I would not allow pestilence to walk abroad, not death to waste. I would have no graveyards in this world.”
McGarvey shows us he had a good heart in him. But the very opposite of that is God’s earth condition. Does that show that God has a bad heart in him? This contrast McGarvey made between the way he would do and the way things are under God’s management would seem to indicate we have the wrong God. Of course, he did not mean it so. But here he has left a misleading impression. Even had McGarvey all this power he spoke of, he could not, and would not have done as he said he would, without reducing humanity to a machine. We can prove this in any home where children depart from home rules and deliberately violate the admonition of parents. There is no way to prevent it but by force. Even when McGarvey’s children at maturity choose to do wrong (if they should), he could not prevent it but by force. Force destroys freedom. Deprivation of freedom is slavery. Only by force, miraculous force, could God prevent these hardships from falling on the heads of humanity. The exercise of this force would make man a slave. A slave is not the kind of servant God desires. But the will of God is as good as that of McGarvey. It was not God’s will that man should sin. It was not His will that death should enter. It was not His will that sickness, sorrow, widows, orphans, pestilence, and calamity should fill the world, and bear heavy on the human heart. He tried to prevent it. He admonished, he still pleads; but men are free, they must be to form their character. So God could not prevent it except by taking man’s freedom. He leaves man to choose, apprising him of the consequences of a bad choice. Just what McGarvey would have done. Just what all men do in their own homes. Therefore, no man need tell us they would have things in this world so much better than God has. Heaven is even far better than this earth would have been had McGarvey carried out his views as he would had he the power. Yes, Heaven is far superior. The same God rules there, and why is it? It is because the people there obey Him. It shows, then, that men have brought all these troubles on themselves, and that, through the abuse of freedom. God is exonerated, man condemned.
It is upon this willful disobedience that the retribution of death is set. Death for sin has always been God’s law. And men can look at that with a full comprehension on its meaning. And they can conscientiously say it is just. Listen to Paul in Rom. 1:32, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which do those things are worthy of ‘death,’ not only do the same but have pleasure in them that do them.” But McGarvey thinks us sinners cannot pass judgment on our own selves, because of a bias. No. But even a sinner could tell the difference between justice and an outrage. He mends matters but little be saying, “sinners are not to be the judges of what a sinner deserves,” because, says he, “we do not argue that way in the affairs of the world, in the courts of justice, and family discipline.” Well, who does all this judicial exercise in the world, if not men? Does the Lord? Sure enough, we do not take a murderer into the courtroom and ask him what punishment he wants. He would reply, none, to be sure. Not because he thought he did not deserve it, for his own conscience would condemn him, but his mouth would plead deliverance. But laws are modeled somewhat after the law of God, and even sinners judge and execute these laws on other sinners. But what they deem just when exercising the law against a criminal, they of course would not select for themselves in a similar case, were they given choice, no matter how just it would seem.
True, human judges cannot always adjust the proper proportion of punishment to crime. But verdict in an honest court has a universal sense of somewhere near right. And anyway it is not a travesty on human nature. God’s ways are infinitely above man’s. With the power and wisdom and knowledge he is able to take into account all the motives and intents of the heart, weigh them accurately and impartially, in the most evenly adjusted balances, determining the quality of the act, and its relation to the penalty, and administer the true punishment. This man cannot do. He can only approximate true justice as he learns it from God. Not that the Mosaic ritual is binding on Jew or Gentile today, but it sets forth God’s own appointments of righteous dealing with offenders in that age of the world. And the elementary principles of justice therein revealed are eternal for all we can know. But through the divine clemency God has superseded that law with a law of mercy, condemning those crimes with equal severity, but suspending the execution until the days of grace shall have passed. At last, those who persist in the course of evil must answer to the demands of justice, and that penalty is death.
So, then, people are actually believing in a principle and attributing to God a character that is absolutely opposed to human nature. And Watts holds that God is not the author of it.
In the issue of the Octographic Review of November 11, 1913, page 4, somebody asked Mr. Morris for an exegesis of the words destroy, perish, consumes, devour, burn up, etc. Here is part of what he say:
“All the apparent difficulty of interpretation grows out of the groundless assumption…that man ceases to be at death as a tree, a plant, a bird, a fish, or beast ceases to be.”
The assumptions he speaks of are absolute facts; such as he has never touched, and never can. He has but scaled the surface of things, while the fundamental problem, upon which great facts rest, entirely escaped his notice. The man, who denies the literal use of those words in their great and final application, ought to feel the sand slipping from under his feet. He has cited texts through the Bible where the words destroy, perish, consume, etc., were used by people, and in every instance he found the people still alive and doing well! Thus supposing he had established his position and saved the day. Any one ought to see at a glance that there is no definition given of these words, but a description of a condition of these people by a figurative use of these words. Not one of these people had perished, or burned up, or been destroyed. Not one. Yet Mr. Morris insists that these people were experiencing “the greatest meaning of these words.”
He adopts the figurative as their “greatest meaning” and the one to be applied to the wicked in the last day, and right here he has brought before us a score of scriptures where man have been destroyed, consumed, etc., and all are alive, and I can produce as many more where the Lord has expressed himself toward his erring people in a similar manner, such as, “My people are destroyed for want of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). Many of these people know not that they were destroyed till the Lord informed them. Now let us apply this meaning of these words to the wicked in the day of judgment, and if Mr. Morris is right they will have nothing to fear, for they may not be aware of it at all. Let him ascend the pulpit and preach a lake of fire and brimstone yawning for the lost, applying these scriptures to illustrate it, what would be the result? If his audience believes him their very nature would sigh a relief, as if a great burden had been lifted from them. Evidently when he illustrates the meaning of these words in the manner he does, calling the figurative meaning their greatest meaning, he cannot deny the application of these definitions to the wicked in the Day of Judgment. Such are the logical deductions from his sophistical premises. He further argues, “One may lose his own soul eternally, but to take the lower meaning of that word and apply it universally reduces the Bible to a mass of contradictions. With such sense first applied one would not survive for later calamities, extinction of being having preceded them. One could not be destroyed, then later perish, still later be devoured, then consumed, and eventually lost.”
Is it possible that men of letters and power will forever keep the veil over their eyes, lest they should see? Who is it that does not know every one of these words can be applied to an individual in a figurative sense and he survive it? Who is it that dose not know that the figurative sense of these words was used in all these cases? What has that to do with the final application of them? How does that prove that the last exercise of them will also be figurative? Of course, in the literal sense, they would not survive for a later calamity. But what later calamity is to follow the last one? His lower sense of the word seems to be altogether lost sight of. He can see but one sense, that of them metaphorical. He has shown us a large use these word in their metaphorical sense, but how does that prove that such will be their final use? I call the little children to the stand to witness this exhibition of the peculiar play of a biased judgment. Then like all the rest of us he says, “the Bible is harmonious and consistent, and as certainly as the corporeal of bodily death dose not end man’s existence, just that sure we are that any interpretation of any text that contradicts this fundamental fact is wrong and grossly misleading.” I admit that as certainly as death does not end man’s existence, just that sure we are, that any interpretation to the contrary to the one he gives of these scriptures is wrong. For he has not shown that man survives death, he only pretended that he had shown it. I ask the reader to go over his entire series of articles and see if he left us with just grounds to doubt.
Why would it be absurd to adopt the literal meaning of these words though they can be applied figuratively? N. Littlejohn is an able scriptorian, but I want you to watch his manipulation of the word destroy. He says, “That a thing cannot be literally destroyed but must be all the time destroying.” He would be forced to ague that a house could not die so dead but that it must keep dying deader, not a grammatical term but appropriate here. He continues to say that the moment destroying ceases, destruction ceases. To him the act and the state mean the same. Oh, reckless assumption, whence is thy source? Thou canst only weaken the cause thou hast aimed to strengthen. The whole argument is a gross fallacy, born of a misapprehension of the basis principles involved in the subject. Paul did not say everlastingly destroying. Under such argument we would be led to believe a house is worse destroyed when the ashes are carried away with the wind than if preserved in a barrel. He was thinking of something different from Paul. Yet, it is a continuous stream from beginning to end. Littlejohn remarked,
“I have said and now repeat, that those who are in death exist just the same as those who are in life, and if they exist they must be alive to the place they exist in, and they can be both dead and alive at the same time.” Ditto Campbell, Lard, Milligan, McGarvey, Sommer, Morris, Hell, Hopkins, Calvin—ad infinitum.
How often we are referred to the symbols of Revelation for some expression they think just fits the notion of endless torment. And how eagerly they press it into literality. The more Revelation symbols they can find, the more is Paul and Peter deserted. Even those outside the “Golden City” cannot be shown to remain forever from that text. But just such proofs they constantly seek from the Apocalypse. In Rev. 20:10, we are told the devil was cast into the same lake of fire where the “Beast and False Prophet” had been cast a thousand years before. See Rev. 19. B. W. Johnson says the beast was a powerful nation, and was cast into the “fire of extinction.” (See “Vision of the Ages” on Rev. 19:20). Then should Johnson be true, the beast and false prophet were utterly destroyed. I believe that…Paul tells us in Hebrews that the devil will be destroyed; and accordingly our preachers tell us it is only the devil’s “power” that will be destroyed. Now we will array Paul against the preachers, and see which holds the ground. The devil is one thing and his power is another. He might lose his power and still live. So the destruction of his power would not be the destruction of him. Listen here, “For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil” (Heb. 2:14). Now you that want to wrangle with Paul help yourselves. I will stand back and report results. In the face of this obvious lesson, why should men ply their wits to butcher and maim till it means nothing? For the word of God tells us that this destruction is pointed directly at the devil and his power. For a destruction of his power is, or course, involved in his own calamity.
In regard to the earth being destroyed, the quibble is raised to doubt it. I will stand by the apostle Peter and affirm that the earth was destroyed in some important sense that justified that apostle calling it a destruction. In Gen. 6 the Lord said, “Behold I will destroy them with the earth.” We have not the full details of the flood, but we do know the nature of water to destroy. I suppose Peter knew what he was saying. Quibbling does not change facts. Peter has not misrepresented it. There was some sort of destruction on the face of the earth, which warranted the apostle in terming it thus. Not that the elements were destroyed, but the earth in some manner was. There has been no stone unturned by these men to prove endless torment. Straining every nerve to get a destruction that does not destroy. But if they find such a destruction it would be a failure, for the power God uses to destroy does the work. Everlasting fire, unquenchable fire, worm that dies not, everlasting punishment, furnace of fire, lake of fire, chaff, tares, dry branches, stubble, etc., are all representations of destruction, and fitly symbolize it.
If, then, the beast was completely destroyed in the fire of extinction and the Devil cast into the same lake ages after, why should it not destroy him also? And the phrase “tormented day and night forever and ever” be used in its common limitation as a metaphor? For there will be no day and night there so far as light is revealed concerning it. And Johnson was admitting this beast to be a nation, and as a national power was destroyed and not as individuals, yet he goes right into the old theory with great labor to prove the deathless nature of the soul. The word forever has been used by inspired writers in a modified sense at various times. No use to deny that fact. And the common sense of the reader was compelled to judge for him self its limitations. It, too, is capable of a figurative use. And if ever it should be used in a modified sense at all, it seems that in symbols would be an appropriate place. Here are some scriptures for your study: Gen. 13:15, Lev. 25:30, Num. 18:19, Deut. 5:17, Ps. 49:11, Jer. 7:7, Jer. 25:5, Isa. 60:21, Gen. 49:26, Hab. 3:6, Gen. 17:8, and as many more as you need to show you how the words forever and everlasting have been used by the Lord himself. If it may be used in a liberal sense by the Lord and men in all ages of the world, I see no reason why Revelation 20:10 should be bound down to its widest use when the text itself is so symbolic.
That the word forever lasts as long as a nation, a kingdom, a heritage, a possession, or hills and mountains last, whether or not temporal or eternal things are under consideration. Even in our deeds and abstracts the word forever is used in the transfer of real estate. There are hundreds of instances in and out of the Bible confirming the fact that the word does not always carry the sense of endless duration. And that very thing is easily determined by its use. If the word is applied to God or to things essentially endless, the word fully meets the requirement: if applied to temporal things, then so long as the creature, or possession, or object continues does the word forever continue, and it ends with the object. This fact I am willing to turn over to your good judgment, for you to apply to Rev. 20:10 yourself, and only ask that you remember even Satan is a created being. And that the word, in brief, means as long as a creature or Creator continues, whether limited or unlimited…But it can be proved substantially by reason and inference that the Devil is a creature and subject to the law of creation. That man nor devil can exist eternally except as it be given from God.
When one makes an admission, and then begins to argue it away because it injures his doctrine, you can know there is not much hope of reconciliation. The phrase, “The word of the Lord shall endure forever” is abundantly assured by many plain and simple expressions. “Heaven and earth shall pass away but my word shall not pass away,” is a positive declaration. There are no such assurances that Satan will exist forever. It was said nowhere that the word of the Lord should be destroyed—but it does say Satan will be. This gives us much advantage at this point.
The Lord said, “I lift up My hand to heaven and say I live forever?” If all men have an endless existence by creation, Judas could say the same. Live forever means exist forever. Could not Judas have said, “I hold up my hand and say I live forever?” Could he not? Can you tell how he could exist forever without living forever? Jesus says, “Behold, I am alive forevermore.”…God said, “I kill and I make alive, neither is there any that can deliver out of my Hands.” When that day comes it will be obvious in a high sense to the countless millions of spectators, that it is no more difficult for God to destroy the individual than to create him, and that the forfeited life will be wiped out.
Others say that God can destroy the wicked, but it depends on his will. Campbell admits that himself, thought, in another place, as later pointed out, he said a “spirit cannot die,” that it is absurd to talk it, just for the reason that they are spirits. Here he forgot to attribute the will of God to it. Here the will of God has nothing to do with it, but because they are spirits. That’s strange doctrine. But many believe it dependent on his “will” if they perish, or die. But here, we don’t want to appear covering up the sense in with the word “will” was used. For God is not willing that men perish in sin. Oh, No. But if they persist in disobedience they bring it upon themselves contrary to his will, and he assures us the execution of the sentence will be absolute and without remedy. So if they will not yield to his will and wish, they must yield to his will in the judicial execution of his law. So between these to positions,—one that he “cannot destroy a spirit” and the there that he “will not,” they vibrate back and forth like the pendulum of a clock caught in the meshes of one, they forthwith shift to the other, neither of which can be sustained. To say God cannot take away the life he gives, or destroy the creature utterly, as some have affirmed, and as all must affirm when sorely pressed for defense, it to make God a God of fate. And to say it all depends on his “will” would make him a lover of human misery, by perpetuating them forever in a torment represented as terrific as fire. Yet he says, “I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, so turn you from your evil ways and live” (Ezek. 18:32).
Now if the second death is eternal torment, and if it depends on the will of God for its perpetuity, and he has no pleasure in it, why should he not blot them out and end it? If it is a matter of will, then consistency would demand their extinction, provided he has no pleasure in it as he affirms. Not do I question it for a moment. “Oh, well,” says the objector, “but his justice demands that they suffer forever.” What! Justice demands that they suffer eternal woe and pain, just because they didn’t seek eternal life? Endless misery in a lake of fire or its equivalent, to satisfy a few years of carnal and sinful life? All right, sir! Here is where I turn McGarvey loose on you. He said, “It is out of all proportion when viewed as a matter of justice,” that if a man should act of that principle, it would be an audacious rebellion against all sense of the goodness and mercy of love. When you study Hopkins” and Edwards’ barbaric expressions, and study your theory by the side of the N. T. lake of fire, you may be able to reach the same conclusion with McGarvey. McGarvey’s bold expression is a practical confession that human ideas of justice are antagonistic to that doctrine, and that itself a longwinded argument against it.
We have already shown the mind of the Jews concerning the dead, which furnished the Lord with the magnificent imagery from which he drew the lesson in Mark 9:44. There was the hollow image of Molech made of bass, with continual fire burning. Here the idolatrous fanatics placed their tiny babies in the arms of this idol, and beat drums furiously to shut from their ears their hideous shrieks of agony. No wonder a man with human brains rose up at last and defiled it to abolish such a custom. It not only became the receptacle of the filth of the city, but paupers and malefactors were taken there and consumed, thus reducing public expense. With out intermission the fire were kept going, and in that valley might be seen the worm, reveling incorruption—a providence in nature to speed decay of flesh. This is the material before the Lord’s eyes from which to draw his illustration—both burning carcasses and worms and fire. Why shouldn’t he paint a fearful picture? But this Gehenna, fire, and worm could not be the symbols of misery. They symbolize utter destruction, or nothing. And if the Lord designed from these to teach endless torment, it missed even the suggestion of it a thousand fathoms. Unquenchable fire does not mean a fire that burns with endless duration. Get the Dictionary if you want the truth, it is not hid. “Unquenchable—Incapable of being quenched, extinguished or allayed” (Encyclopedic Dictionary, page 987, Vol. 4). A house enveloped inflames, and surpassing the ability of the fireman’s force, is an unquenchable fire—fire that cannot be stayed in its course till it has exhausted the material.
Isaiah was a prophet of God; the drapery of his prophecies is second only to that of Revelation. It so happens that the language of Christ in Mark 9:44 was not altogether new, and we can double the force of the lesson by associating it with its previous lesson. “And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, says the Lord. And they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the man that have transgressed against me. For their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched” (Isa. 66:23, 24)…Instead of favoring eternal torment, it boldly refutes it, and leaves our opponents standing off to themselves, gazing through their theological glasses at the most inimical disproof of their belief. A concave mirror presents of distortion of facts. So long as we gaze in it, we are convinced that a person is as slender as a pole, or as much distorted the other way. Soon as we turn our eyes away, all is natural. No matter if we never persuade you to take those glasses off, we hesitate not to say, the Lord taught a lesson of the same import as that of Isaiah, and to know what it is, is merely to judge the meaning of Isaiah…
Matthew 10:28 is of the same order as Mark (9:44, and the answer to one applies to the other. You are at liberty to make the comparison. But we must draw one more picture from Isaiah that has been fulfilled centuries ago, and is on historic records of today. “For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompense for the controversy of Zion. For the streams there of shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched neither night nor day. The smoke there shall go up forever. From generation to generation it shall lay waste. None shall pass through it forever and forever. But the cormorant and bittern shall possess it. The owl and the raven shall dwell in it. And he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness. They shall call the nobles there of to the kingdom, but none shall be there. And all her princes shall be nothing. And thorns shall come up in her palaces, and nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof. It shall be a habitation for dragons, and the court for owls. The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island and the satyr shall cry to his fellows. The screech owl shall also rest there and find for herself a place of rest,” etc. (Isaiah 3:8, 15).
Here is a portrait, which if you could play the expert artist and comprehend it fully, then spread it before you on a large canvas, would be a valuable accession to any admirer of majestic visions. Let us try to comprehend the scene. Imagine a vast stretch of land—hills, valleys, and plains, forest and fields, farms and cities, rivers and highways. Suddenly, while we behold, the flames and smoke as from a mighty furnace roll upward, and the whole land is a lake of fire, and we learn the rivers turned to pitch, and the soil to brimstone, and it rises up forever. That would cause one to sit up and take notice. I remember John spoke of their smoke ascending up forever—the smoke of their torment (Rev. 14:11). Isaiah and John are speaking of different events. Possibly we can learn how to apply John by Isaiah. Perhaps Isaiah can instruct us a little.
Isaiah was speaking of the land of Idumea, a wicked and idolatrous country. Centuries ago she became a desolate, barren waste, inhabited by wild beasts and vultures. Today she is inhabited by the wild beasts and owls and varmints of the jungle. Isaiah somehow told one truth that has come down to us. Idumea is a desolation with an aching void. Travelers will tell us so. That part of the prophecy is fulfilled, but what about the other? What about the smoke going up forever? What about the rivers becoming pitch and the land brimstone? What about it? Travelers return from Idumea and we ask, “What about Isaiah’s prophecy—the fire and the smoke, the varmints and wild beasts, the kings and princes and people? He replies, “Well, sir; I just came from there. Idumea is a complete picture of barrenness. Her inhabitants are wild creatures and owls, vultures and satyrs. Her cities are all waste, and her people gone—no kings or princes there. No fire or smoke there. Nor rivers of pitch, or dust of brimstone—but the desolation is as awful and complete as if it had been accomplished by a mighty fire.”
You know it would be the height of folly for me to say Isaiah had misrepresented it, because he said the smoke would go up forever and ever. Would I dare say Isaiah had not been a true prophet, if the rivers did not turn to pitch and the dust to brimstone? Can I not get the lesson of fire and smoke and brimstone out of the perpetual desolation of Idumea? For two thousand five hundred years the symbolic fire and brimstone and smoke have been rolling up from that far away land, once a thriving and flourishing kingdom. And I can read the prophecy and see it just as clearly as if the smoke were ascending there today from a mighty lake of fire.
Say, reader, suppose you take this to Rev. 14:11 and get the lesson taught there. Will you? Do so and you cannot fail to be deeply impressed with the ease of its fitness. And begin to study symbolism with this “key” and you can unlock many a door that has been barred against you all your life. Barnes’ Commentary on Isaiah 34:6 say, “The idea here is, that there would be utter and permanent destruction…that the emblem of burning pitch and brimstone would be perpetual and entire desolation.”
Yes, we can see it now. It is over with and results are obvious, we know what Isaiah meant now. Then why is it that we are so baffled when the same symbols are used in later prophecy? If Isaiah meant utter desolation—which he did—then wherever the same symbols are used, the same results are in store. Therefore, Johnson’s talk about “fire” being a symbol of “dreadful sufferings is the beating of a tin pan. And we can sum up the N. T. phrases of “everlasting fire,” “unquenchable fire,” “smoke ascending up forever,” “lake of fire,” “furnace of fire,” “worm that dies not,” into one grand conclusion, that a desolation no less complete, permanent and irrevocable is reflected, than was in the prophecy of Isaiah and fulfilled in Idumea.
In concluding this chapter I wish to call your attention in a specific way to some few scriptures that have been used, but which I wish to further impress upon you, and explain some that may not seem clear.
Daniel 12: It is a mark of unfairness to shift words about in a text, thereby giving a new meaning. Some of our folks seem to think that just so they get all the words in, they are justified to place them in any position chosen. This is the manner often observed in Dan. 12. Daniel did not say they would be raised to “everlasting shame.” No sir. He said they would be “raised to shame and everlasting contempt.” Just the change of the position of one word throws a different hue on the whole force of the text. How long that shame will prevail we know not. The contempt is on one side, and shame on the other. Judas was ashamed after he had betrayed the Lord—He is held in contempt to this day by all thinking people…
Deut. 30:15: “I have set before you life and death.”
Our teachers tell us God has set before us life and eternal torment. If I am capable of judging, the whole set of preachers who teach such doctrine should go back and write their creed over and get it in harmony with God.
Ps. 6:5: “In death there is no remembrance of you.”
Oh, yes, David, didn’t Lazarus and Abraham remember God after they died?
1Pet. 3:21: “Even baptism does also now save us…by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
If we are saved by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, what saved Lazarus before Christ was raised from the dead? If you will give the subject thorough attention you will see there is no life after death at all, of any kind, until the resurrection occurs.
Acts 24:15: “And they have hope toward God, which they them selves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.”
How can that hope toward God because of the resurrection affect the interest of Paul so much if, as the preachers affirm, the saint passes into immediate joy and happiness at death?
Job 21:30: “That the wicked are reserved to the day of destruction.”
2 Pet. 2:9: “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.”
Rev 21:8: “…Shall have their part in the lake of fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Ps. 92:7: “When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish, it is that they shall be destroyed forever.”
Ps. 145:20: “The Lord preserves them that love him. But all the wicked will he destroy.” (Not much preservation in all that).
Isa. 1:28: “And the destruction of the transgressors, and of the sinners, shall be together, and they that forsake the Lord be consumed.”
Matt. 7:13: “Broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.”
Phil. 3:19: “They are enemies of the cross of Christ…whose end is destruction.”
2 Pet 2:12: “But these as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of things they understand not, and shall utterly perish in their own corruption.”
Acts 3:23: “And it shall come to pass that every soul which will not hear that prophet shall be destroyed from among the people.”
Ps 146:4: “His breath goes forth, he returns to the earth, in that very day his thoughts perish.” (Not so under your theory).
Ps 88:11, 12: “Shall your loving kindness be declared in the grave, or your faithfulness in destruction? Shall your wonders be known in the dark, and your righteousness, in the land of forgetfulness?”
What can be more expressive of the land of forgetfulness than the cessation of all functional activity” the mists of darkness? What is more expressive of utter emptiness than the land of forgetfulness?
2 Pet. 2:17: “These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest, to whom is reserved the mists of darkness forever.”
John 11:11: “Our friend Lazarus sleeps” (Land of forgetfulness—darkness).
Acts 7:60: “And he kneeled down and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge, and when he said this he fell asleep” (Land of forgetfulness—darkness).
1 Cor. 15:26: “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (How? It shall cease. You will be willing here to apply the word literally).
Rom.6:21: “For the end of these things is death.”
Ps. 59:13: “Consume them, in your wrath consume them that they may not be” (The only possible result after being consumed).
Jude 13: “Wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.”
Stronger terms could not be selected to indicate the utter extinction of these people. It does not say these stars are wandering forever, but they are now wandering and this blackness or darkness is in reserve, emblematic of the land of forgetfulness.
Ezek. 12:22: “With lies you have made the heart of the righteous man sad, whom I have not made sad, and strengthened the hands of the wicked that he should not turn from his wicked way, by promising him life.”
John 3:16:”He that believes not the Son shall not see life.”
Matt. 5:26: “For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul” (When you get a true definition of the lost, you can then see what it means to lose the soul).
2 Pet. 3:7: “But the heavens and earth which are now by the same word, are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”
This shows what is meant by the word “reserved” and now we can apply it to 2 Pet. 2:9 and know just what he meant when he said the unjust were reserved to the day of judgment to be punished.
The everlasting fire mentioned in the N. T. is a fire possibly at the eternal command of God—such as He rained on Sodom and Gomorrah, but does not indicate the material cast into is as everlasting. It rather indicates their dissoluble nature. Paul says God is a consuming fire—He proved it in Sodom—not a tormenting fire. The ministry tells us the worm represents sufferings of conscience, etc. they say it never dies—it of course lives on. The spirit is said to die, and it lives too. Here the word “die” is used in two senses. See? The wicked are said to die—and still live! The worm is said not to die, and it still lives. The English language is whittled into shreds by that trick.
Paul informs us the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. And as a result following, John says there will be no more death (Rev. 21:4). But my opponents argue that death will be going on forever, and that it will be a living death and eternal infliction, yet they admit there will be no more death, while their eyes are fixed on the mighty hordes of humanity struggling—dying and never dead; and always dead, and still alive.
The Rich Man and Lazarus
“We have the right interpretation,” remarks Dr. Angus, “when all the main circumstances are explained. If any important member of the narrative is rendered by our interpretation nugatory, or is paralyzed, the interpretation is false. And when we have a true interpretation of the whole, that interpretation of any part is to be rejected, which does not conduce to the consistency and force of the whole”—Parables of Jesus (nevin), page 11.
“The parables may not be made the first source of doctrines. Doctrines otherwise and already established, may be illustrated, or indeed further confirmed by them, but it is not allowable to constitute doctrines first by their aid…This rule, however, has been often forgotten, and controversialists, looking around for arguments with which to sustain some weak position, one for which they find no other support in scripture, often invent for themselves support in these”—Trench on The Parables.
“On the other hand, it will be necessary in the interpretation of this parable to bear in mind that its parabolic details must not be exploited, not doctrines of any kind derived from them, either as to the character of the other world, the question of the duration of future punishments, or the possible moral improvement of these in Gehinnom. All such things are foreign to the parable, which is only intended as a type, or exemplification and illustration, of what is intended to be taught. And, if proof were required, it would surely be enough to remind ourselves, that this parable is addressed to the Pharisees, to whom Christ would scarcely have communicated details, about the other world, on which He was so reticent in His teaching to the disciples”—Eldersheim, on the Life and times of Jesus, pp. 277-8.
Even though we have no established rules governing scripture interpretation, and though Trench’s and Hedges’ rules of logic had never been printed, our own judgment should tell us that truth is not found along such byways. You can with difficulty find a preacher that does not paint this parable in the most realistic colors—a real event, a real circumstance. It is not a question as to whether one can be saved believing it or not. We do not argue so on other errors. If it is a false doctrine that alone is sufficient grounds for criticism. And just because it is an error, we denounce it. The time will come when all error must succumb to the power or truth. Let it begin at once. The countless forms of error have turned multitudes into the channels of vague delusions, from which it is almost futile to attempt a deliverance. It is against the evils growing out of the theory of “natural immortality” that I wage this warfare, as much as the evil doctrine itself, and of which this parable affords the chief proof-texts. Let the subject be mentioned, and this text is counted sufficient to settle all disputes, and any other position is mooted as common heresy. But because it refuses to fit the case at all angles, it is pruned down to make it just right. And when objections are pointed out, they are met with, “Oh, well, that is only incidental and unimportant,” and so dismissed.
What you ought to do is to study valid rules, laid down by learned men, which you can find in abundance, and then use them. Every man competent in scripture knows well that the drapery of a parable is not to be pressed down in every detail, but that it is nevertheless told as a real circumstance. It is a finished story, and must be to make it intelligible. But many parables of the Lord are given with a view to a single lesson. For instance, the parable of the Unjust Steward is a lesson on provision against a time of coming need. The parable of the Good Samaritan—lesson, the true neighbor, etc. And therefore the parable maybe copied from real events, or from imaginary events, or from a popular belief, and a great story may be spoken for the for the sake of a great lesion, and to press every detail into service without a demand for it may paralyze the very lesson it was intended to convey. For, as Angus said, “That interpretation of any part it to be rejected which does not conduce to the consistency of the whole.” When, to regard them as real circumstances, as this parable is generally held, every detail must carry its respective force, and hold its place inviolate.
The unscriptural looseness with which this parable had been handed, just to sustain the age-worn doctrine, and as obsolete as it is old, is reasonable ground for condemnation of such conclusions as are drawn. For it is an unconcealed fact that those who treat it as a real circumstance, never fail to make half of it figurative before they turn it loose. They realize the difficulty of making it literal, as soon as it crossed the boundary line of time. Making it half literal and half metaphor, has opened the flood gates of delusion, and had deluged the human mind with mystery and confusion, where simple truth should have painted a solemn and far-reaching lesson. And from the pulpit and fireside have been preached, in the name of religion, the most abominable doctrines. If you don’t believe it, read J. Edwards, John Calvin, Hopkins, and a thousand other as repugnant to reason as the doctrines of the Papacy.
Useless, perhaps, to point to Johnson, Milligan, McGarvey, Sommer, Lord, Hall, Luneman, and hundreds of other learned men who select this parable to prove an immediate entrance at death into joy or sorrow. Never seemingly able to discover the impossibility of making it accommodate itself to such requirement. No wonder they become utterly nonplussed when the discrepancies involved in such a course are brought squarely to their attention through other scriptures. This fact has been tested time and time again with the same result—that of quibble and evasion pure and simple.
Take, for example, the parable of the Unjust Judge. It was not uttered to prove there was such a judge. Not at all, but to indicate the importance of patience in prayer. How different the lesson taught from the narrative itself. If we can get something as distinctly different from the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus as this, we might call it an interpretation.
The parable of the Unjust Steward was not to show there was such a steward, but to teach the disciples the importance of preparing for a day of need—“spiritually.”
Could we get such a moral from the parable of the Rich Man as this we might have the truth. And, in fact, it is to the moral of other parables that we appeal, rather than the descriptive matter. Could man see that a great wrong is obvious in making half the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus real, and the other half figurative the moment it passes to the unseen, they might have avoided an enormous error which has been a source of perpetual confusion. A rule, which looks to the sense of symbolic language rather than the words, would have kept many a student from falling into the pit of traditional error.
Before beginning the investigation of the narrative, I wish to refer to a question asked by a certain brother, through the Octographic Review, of Indianapolis, Ind. The question was asked by C. L. S., as follows:
“Is the case of the ‘Rich Man and Lazarus’ in Luke 16 a parable, or do you take it to be real? The reason why I ask is because a brother took this passage to prove that a soul goes direct to heaven or hell as soon as it takes it departure from this world. Again, in Rev. 20:13, it says, ‘Death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them.’ Now does this hell mean the grave, or a place of departed spirits? Is there any difference in the Greek of the two words? Or are they both from the same root?” (C. L. S., Octographic Review, February 7, 1011, page 4).
Who this C. L. S. is, we know not, but like thousands of others he met a difficulty which put him to his wits’ end, and perhaps found himself unable to clear the matter to the mind of his friend, or to his own mind. Some brethren teach that the spirit goes direct to heaven, others that it goes to an intermediate place of joy or sorrow, and it causes questions to spring up. We ask, what of it? For those who teach the intermediate state make a heaven or hell out of it, and they know it. I refer you to any of their writings on the subject.
The answer was given to the above questions by D. A. Sommer, in the same issue, as follows:
“The fact that the text says, ‘there was a certain rich man,’ and also mentioned the poor man by name convinces me that the case of the rich man and Lazarus is not a parable, but a real circumstance. The Greek word in Luke 16:23 and Rev. 20:13 is hades, and means the unseen world, without any reference to the good or bad department of it. There evidently is an intermediate state between death and the final heaven or hell. Abraham is undoubtedly where David is, and David is not yet ascended into heaven.”—D. A. Sommer, Octogaphic Review. February 7, 1911.
I waited long to see if any among the brotherhood would take exceptions to the position taken by Sommer, and not a dissenting voice was raised. True enough, I had not anticipated any objections. I was sure that would pass as “good wheat” and meet the general approval, as the prevailing notion. However, in the spirit of kindness, being personally acquainted with Bro. S., and esteeming him very highly, I willingly take exceptions to his exposition of this scripture, feeling quite sure he will appreciate every honest effort toward a clearer understanding of the scriptures. Should we both be wrong, it will be but an honest effort wasted, which must eventually give way to the sure triumphs of truth. Chaff is to be burned—only the wheat must be preserved. Facts do not change—error constantly assumes new forms as it struggles to hold a footing in the minds of men. No matter what we believe, we naturally gab every floating straw to sustain it.
We would expect a reason for believing this parable to be a real circumstance. And so Mr. Sommer gives us his reason, saying, “from the fact that the text says there was a certain rich man and also gives the poor man’s name.” He lays down a rule, then, by which to determine a real circumstance from a parable. If that rule is good and sound, it is just what the world has long needed. For such a rule will work wherever it is applied. So if accurate and reliable, we can tell which are parables and which are not. But if it proves unsound, so that it cannot be depended on, then it is worthless, absolutely, and not only so, but misleading and in the way.
In order to estimate the value and strength of this rule, we need only to apply it to other parables. But before we can do this, we must throw it into the form of a general principle, which, briefly sated is this: That when in the course of our Lord’s teachings he introduces distinct characters into his narratives, they are real events and not parables. This is the rule, for it was because of the distinct characters of this parable that he determined it to be a real circumstance. And we will test it on its own merits and be governed by the results. We turn to Luke 10:30, 37, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves which stropped him of his raiment, and wounded him and departed, leaving him half dead; and by chance there came down a certain priest that way and when he saw he passed by on the other side. And likewise a ‘Levite’ when he was at the place, came and looked on and passed by on the other side; but a certain ‘Samaritan,’ as he journeyed came where he was, and when he saw him he had compassion on him, and went to him and bound up his wounds, poring in oil and wine and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him, and on the morrow, when he departed he took out two pence and gave to the host and said unto him, take care of him, and whatever you spend more when I come again I will repay you.”
This gives us an ideal opportunity to try the rule. In this we have a narrative of the most realistic nature. Is characters are distinct. The plot is familiar. There is nothing impossible about it. And while it does not give their names, it tells where it occurred. It speaks of a certain priest, a Levite, a Samaritan. The man falling a victim was a certain man. It occurred between Jerusalem and Jericho, two real towns. There are also roadhouses or Inns in such places. If Mr. Sommer’s rule can ever be called valid, it must apply here. And no sooner do we apply it then we rake the whole narrative off the list of parables.
We admit it was within the range of possibilities for such a circumstance to have occurred in all its details, but there is not a probability in ten thousand that it did occur just that way. Though no doubt scores of journeymen met misfortune at the hands of highwaymen passing over the wilderness road between these cities, as we are informed by historians. But we apply the rule and make it a real circumstance.
Again: “then said he unto him, ‘a certain man’ made a great supper and bade many, and sent his servants at supper time to say to them that were bidden, come, for all things are now ready, and they all with one consent began to make excuse” etc. (Matt. 14:16, 18).
This has always been recognized as a parable. But it was a certain man that did it, he sent them out to bid them come, that it was ready, and such suppers were common among the oriental aristocrats. It could have occurred just that way—there is nothing incredible about it. When they began to make excuse, one had bought a piece of ground—a very common transaction; another had bought a yoke of oxen, and must test them, very natural indeed; another had married a wife. But the same certain man sent them into the highways to compel them to come in and said, “not one of them that are bidden shall taste of the supper.” The excuses were of the most frivolous make-believe, none of them would have been hindered from honoring the invitation. Everything about the narrative is natural, nothing incredible, so we apply the rule, and because of the great naturalness of the picture and its distinct characters it becomes a real event.
Let us try it again: “And Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘Simon, I have somewhat to say unto you.’ And he said, ‘Say on, Master.’ ‘There was a certain creditor which had two debtors, one owed five hundred pence and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me, therefore, which of them will love him most’” (Luke 7:41, 42). Here is that certain man, and a rich one, with two poor men, almost beggars, both owing more than they could pay. It was an apt illustration of a great lesson so badly needed at that time and to that person. We call it a parable, but when we apply the rule, because of its realism, it becomes a real circumstance.
We must give the rule a thorough test before we pass judgment upon it, so we will try it again--“And he spoke a parable unto them, saying, the ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully, and he thought within himself saying, what shall I do because I have no place to bestow my fruits? And he said, this will I do, I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there will I bestowal my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have much goods laid up for many years, take your ease, eat, drink and be merry. But God said unto him, you fool, this night your soul shall be required of you. Then whose shall those things be, which you have provided?” (Luke 12:16, 21). Here we know we have a parable, the Lord said so. It has a certain rich man in it. It was possible for all this to occur. Thousands of penurious, selfish, and rich men are doing this daily. God said, “You fool, this night your soul shall be required of you.” Whose soul? This one in the parable. Here the characters are just as distinct as in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. And we apply the rule here, and take it out of the list of parables. It becomes a real circumstance, or that rule is not worth a pinch of dust. But the Lord calls it a parable, and so do we.
This, then, surely tests the validity of the rule. And we must conclude that we can tell absolutely nothing by its use. These narratives without exception are presented as we would relate a scene to which we had been an eye witness. There could be no parables without these distinct characters. It matters not if the characters are named out and their homes established, a parable is given only for the lesson or moral it contains. And parables would be meaningless without them.
Certain of these narratives, Mr. Sommer regards as real circumstances, and others as parables. But it is the evident now that he did not come to that conclusion by the use of that rule, but by a preconceived idea, which must be sustained. For according to that rule, there were no parables uttered. All were real circumstances. Irrespective of consequences, we are driven to confess it a failure, and being a failure, we cannot apply it to the Rich Man and Lazarus.
I have placed special emphasis upon this little rule, not because it is Mr. Sommer’s, but because the principle expressed in the rule is adopted by almost every Bible expositor, to prove the same thing, or give it as a reason for alleging the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus to be a real circumstance. Hence, it was my ambition to demonstrate, since it was so easy, that the rule has no weight in it whatsoever, and is a burden instead of a help in the cause for which it was employed. And so, Mr. C. L. S.’s question was unanswered.
I shall volunteer my assistance in answering the questions. We are not ignorant of the fact that there is much uncertainty of opinion toughing this subject. That hardly two men can be found agreeing on every point. Though it is a fact patent to all that somehow these fellows all arrive at about the same conclusion, with this difference,
1. That some hold it as teaching an immediate entrance into a state of happiness or misery at death,
2. Some that of the final state, etc.
Most all, though, holding it as a real circumstance, because they have just such a view of the intermediate state.
One thing is obvious, that if it is a real circumstance, that is no word or phrase that can be figured away logically. No. It is not to be supposed that our Lord exaggerated truth in relating an event of any nature, nor do we believe he related real circumstances in figurative terms. We are told the rich man and beggar died. One was carried to Abraham’s bosom, while the other lifted up his eyes, being in torment. This, then, as we are advised, finds them in the intermediate state. But the rich man sees Abraham afar off—how far, we know not—but in talking distance anyway. And he cries, “Father Abraham, send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame.” We want to know if this was a real experience, and if it teaches the condition of the dead. Let it be remembered, then, according to the philosophy that they are “spirits.’” Will you tell me how you reason that a ‘spirit’s tongue’ can be cooled with water? “Oh” you say, ‘that represents’—hold on, no representations can be in a real circumstance. If you say it is real, stay with it. This policy of making it half literal and half figurative, just because there is an end to gain, is a nature “fakir” in theology. It, therefore, represents nothing if it is a real circumstance, as you affirm. How could Lazarus carry a drop of water on his “spiritual” finger? You say, “Oh, that doesn’t mean literal water.” Well sir, it does or you do not mean what you say, I care not who you are. But reason with me. How could a spiritual tongue be cooled with a drop of water? “Oh,” you say, “That must not be pressed too literal,” no, not too literal, but just a literal as in any real circumstance. If it was a literal fact, then the details, which make it up are literal fact also. And to deny that it to deny your position. Here is a stubborn fact. The narrative say the rich man did call on Abraham to send Lazarus. That he wanted Lazarus to dip his finger in water. And he wanted Lazarus to put that water on his tongue. And the reason was that he was tormented in the flame. That very portrait, if it were a real circumstance, will compel every one of you to admit that the torment of the intermediate state is produced by fire. How do you like it? Then stop saying it is a sort of compunction of conscience. For understand, conscience was never known to call for water to cool it. Get that?
It will no doubt be granted willingly, that for a real circumstance, the peculiar incidents connected with it here make this the most remarkable and phenomenal case on record. For we would be forced to concede that the spirit craved water, that it gets thirsty or feverish, and that it asked a favor of Abraham instead of God, that it was God who rendered the verdict and cast him in prison, that Abraham has no right or jurisdiction in the matter, and a hundred other things that make this narrative an absolute mystery, if it be a real circumstance.
Suppose you admit that it is partly metaphorical—which you are logically bound to do—how then could you infer it as proving the condition of the departed spirits? Would not that be turning right about and applying it literally again? The scene itself is laid in hades—the unseen world—and to say it teaches a lesson on the state of the dead is to make it a real circumstance just as you have. It cannot be real history, and at the same time be representation. It is by applying it literally that the intermediate state of the dead is determined to be a place of consciousness. How then can it teach the same thing after it is admitted to be metaphorical? And if it be established by rational argument to be symbolical, then to apply as a historical fact to prove a theory is the strongest proof possible that the theory is founded in the labyrinth of error. If it “proves” your theory by applying it as a read circumstance, and if it is shown to be a symbolism, it shatters your theory into a thousand fragments. And that can be demonstrated by scores of symbols of revelation. And no more conclusive evidence could be brought against it then that. Therefore, we conclude it does not teach the condition of the dead in the intermediate state.
But some one will say it represents the final state beyond the judgment. Well, them, why was the scene laid in hades, if it is to represent the final state? And more than that, you lose one of your constant “pet” texts for the intermediate state. Then don’t apply it there again. Have a grain of stability about you.
But why should the lost call on Abraham and Lazarus after the Day of Judgment? What would they have to do with it? What must it represent? How could he think Abraham or Lazarus might comfort him, after he has received sentence from God? What was that water he wanted? What relief could he hope for? How do you account for it that they are to be banished from the presence of God, and still be in talking distance with the saved? How does it occur that back in his father’s house on earth there remained five brethren, whom he desired should be warned? Who are those five brethren on earth, after the earth has been burned up, and the elements melted with fervent heat? What are they doing here after the judgment day has passed? How long are they supposed to hear Moses and the prophets after the last trump has sounded? Where would you begin if you were going to reconcile all this with your notion that it represents the final state of men? And why had not these five men been called to judgment with the rest of humanity?
It must be apparent to the ordinary observer that this parable cannot be worked into the future destiny of man, neither the intermediate state, not the final state. It will not fit the case. The works of a watch will fit into the case commonly used for it. They will fit the right case exactly, but no other. Truth need not be bent into all forms to make it harmonious. It always agrees with itself, and with every other truth. And if it were designed to teach what has been alleged for it, it would fit like the wheels of a great machine. If I should come to you and narrate a supposed circumstance which fit together no better than this narrative fits the notion commonly taught from it, you would mock the story as a fictitious imagination, and you would be treating it right.
These details we have been speaking of, might as a parable be dismissed without concern, or could be rendered sensibly in a figurative application. But the instant we say it is a real circumstance, they assume an immediate importance, and that importance grows greater in proportion to its peculiarity in said narrative. In symbolism, to speak of a spirit carrying water on its finger to cool another spirit’s tongue need not cause great stir if overlooked entirely—because of no apparent explanation at hand; and, indeed, it could receive a more intelligible explanation from a figurative point of view than from a literal. But the instant we declare it to be a real circumstance, it becomes significant, and because of its unusual peculiarity it grows in significance, for the reason that anything out of the ordinary in a real circumstance, always receives the more attention, and comment. If a fable passes as a fable it attracts little or no attention, but let it be circulated as truth, and the more extraordinary its details, the more wonder, excitement and comment it elicits. Therefore, the details in this parable being entirely out of the ordinary and totally foreign to a real circumstance, and altogether just what would be least looked for or expected, would be the first points to attract attention. And as they refuse to harmonize with general facts, and are utterly unintelligible when applied as a historical fact, we conclude that the narrative itself was never designed to be taken as such.
There is another phase of the subject I must notice hear. Suppose this should teach the intermediate, or the final state of the lost. What is there about it that teaches eternal torment? We all concede that according to the word of God the wicked will be punished in the future state, and are apprised of it in numerous scriptures. But there is absolutely nothing in this parable that teaches eternal torment, though the writings of men are full of it drawn from this chapter. There is no intimation here whether the rich will remain there in torment a day, a week, a year, or ten thousand years. But there is even in this a conception that he might eventually perish, for if he is so feverish and thirsty so soon, it might prove fatal. For we are assured positively that the unsaved shall perish, utterly.
Reader. Got your Dictionary and turn to the word perish, and put the two definitions together and then read 2 Peter 2:12, and you will have it all. There is more reason to believe that the lost will utterly perish even according to this parable than that they will be in misery forever. But there is not one probability in a million that it refers in the remotest degree to the future condition of men after death.
I could present to you what I think a rational interpretation and application of all the details of this parable, I can find what I think it represented by the five brethren, by the gulf, by the cry for water, by the appeal to Abraham for Lazarus, and why one is said to be buried and the burial of the other is not mentioned, and what the torment signifies, etc., etc. But what’s the use? Part of it at least would be speculation. You speculate on its entire application. I shall refrain. I have demonstrated that you have speculated on it. I will give a suggestion as to what I believe, and I am willing for you to call it speculation if you choose. But in the absence of any thing better, I adopt it.
I hold it is a finished story, beautifully told, and completely told for the one purpose of emphasizing a deep lesson that had been told the Jews in other forms. No parable is complete except it be a finished narrative. And many of Lord’s parables have been long drawn out portraits of an illustrative nature for sake of a single point. For example, the Good Samaritan was a beautiful story for the sake of the one lesson, “Whose neighbor am I?” The parable of the Unjust Steward is a long and eloquent narrative for the sake of one point—that of making provision for future needs, spiritually. And so we might name almost all the parables and draw the lesson in them, without regard to pressing every detail into service without an apparent place for them. But the story had to have the details to be at all intelligible, many of which we see no place to apply them.
The Lord had been teaching the Jews by parable; many of them had been drawn from the walks of common life and experience. It is not to be supposed he endorsed all the opinions of men just because he wove them into his narratives. He did not approve of the tactics of the Unjust Steward, although he taught a great lesson of prudence to all men from it. The steward provided against a future need. That was the commendable feature. In Luke 13, He had shown them their unhidden corruptions in bold parallel with other sinners. Then followed the parable of the Fig Tree, on which he had found no fruit for these three years, and ordered the vine dressers to cut it down. This also was directed against the Jews. He then rebuked the ruler of the synagogue for his indignation at the healing of an afflicted woman on the Sabbath Day. Then admonishing them to “Strive to enter into the straight gate,” for many would seek to enter in and would not be able. That there world be weeping and gnashing of teeth when they saw Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and themselves thrust out. The Jews, be it remembered, expected entrance into the kingdom of God because they were children of Abraham. In fact, they believed none others would have inheritance therein. So abundantly had they been favored by heaven they had, instead of being humbled, exalted themselves above measure, until their ambition had grown into habitual rivalry for distinction in high places, and at the feasts and banquets. So in the next chapter we have the parable of the supper, and the self-exalted man humiliated. Josephus makes mention others facts, corroborating the scripture.
In the parable of the Unjust Steward, we are shown how, without occasion or necessity, this man dealt treacherously with his benefactor. And the record says, “And the Pharisees also who were covetous heard all the things and derided him.” He had touched some sore spots of corruption. The keen edge of his words had shaved the mask from their guilt, and they could answer him only by derision. Then he turns on them with this parable, the Rich Man and Lazarus, and points out in the most impressive language the terrible judgment in store for them, showing them the certainty of the complete reversal of their high position.
Now a word as to the Jews themselves, No one can read carefully Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John without beings struck with awe and amazement at the unmistakable evidence of a haughty, corrupt, high-minded, envious and self-exalted people. They had defiantly closed their eyes, stopped their ears, and hardened their hearts against every offer of light and mercy. How well they deserved humiliation, and how solemnly the parable assures it. How wonderfully it has been fulfilled. As a nation they were rich and luxurious. Providence had smiled upon them bountifully. How appropriately they could be symbolized as a rich man, wearing purple and fine linen, faring sumptuously every day. On the other hand, the term Lazarus, says Pettingell, is a common Hebrew name for poverty, of which signified “leprous or diseased,” and adds, “Not Eleazer (Lazarus in Greek) the Pharisee, but Eleazer the beggar” (Smith’s Bible Dictionary, page 471). This Hebraism (Lazarus) might appropriately represent the Gentile world, who were not only less favored, and poor, but without God and without the bread of life, which the Jews were extravagantly throwing from their bountiful table. The Gentiles were virtually begging for the crumbs that were refused by the Jews. The Lord said to a certain woman, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread and give it to the dogs.” She replied, “Truth, Lord, but the dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” They too were full of sin.
There are two great facts before us, of which we need not be ignorant. The Jews have fallen as a nation and have been buried out of sight as such. The Gentiles have risen to the high places of the earth, and form the backbone of the great civilizations of nation. In Rom.11:11-15, Paul says, “I say then they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid, but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles for to provoke them to jealousy…for if the casting way of them be the receiving of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?”
The Jews as a nation, rich and kingly, full of abomination and hypocrisy, lifted up by pride, died—their very home plundered, and they scattered through all the earth, outcasts, and without a home. Once the most prosperous, luxurious, powerful people on earth, and in a moment tribulation, like a mighty whirlwind, dispersed them through every nation of the globe, persecuted and humiliated as no other people have ever been. Recent reports from Russia show that more than three million Jews in lower Russia are in desperate circumstances. Ground down by their iron hand of oppression, and the inhuman greed of capitalistic power. More than three millions in Russia alone, living on the husks of the swine herd, so to speak. No more do they wear purple and fine linen. No more do they fare sumptuously, symbols of kingly power and wealth and dignity. Having rejected God, He rejected them. And today they are figuratively begging the Gentiles for comfort. Not in America; here they are largely business men and wealthy. But America holds but a handful of them comparatively. The great body of them are outcasts on the earth, and persecuted people.
The warning and the pictorial scenery of the parable agree fully with the historic facts and present conditions of the Jew. From various authentic sources we gather the information that they have been subjected to a train of oppression and persecution without a parallel on the time-worn pages of history, and this was vividly delineated by the Lord long before it occurred. See Matt. 24.
Josephus describes the destruction of Jerusalem as an event tragic and abhorrent. That from the fourteenth day of the month of “Nisan,” when the Romans pitched their camp by the city, to the first day of the month “Tamuz,” he said that no less than a hundred and fifteen thousand dead had been thrown out at the gates about the city. And further, that the number of the rest of the dead could not be discovered. And when no longer able to carry them out, they stacked the corpses in heaps, in large houses, and shut them up to stop somewhat the spread of epidemic and pestilence. And the living was forced by the terrible distress and famine to search the sewers for scraps of food. And then adds this tragic story:
“Thus did the miseries of Jerusalem grow worse everyday, and the seditious were still more irritated by the calamities that were under, even while the famine preyed on themselves, after it had preyed upon the people; and indeed the multitude of carcasses that lay in heaps one upon another, was a horrible sight, and produced a pestilential stench which, which was a hindrance to those that would make sallies out of the city and fight the enemy. But as those were in battle array who had been already used to ten thousand murders, and must tread on those dead bodies as they march alone, so were they not terrified, not did the pity men as they marched over them, nor did they deem this affront offered the deceased to be any ill omen to themselves; but as they had their right hands already polluted the murders of their own countrymen, and in that condition ran out to fight the foreigners, they seem to me to have cast a reproach upon God himself, as if he were too slow in punishing,”—Josephus’ Complete Works (Whiston) page 665.
This great national calamity visited them in the year A. D. 70, less then forty years after it had been forecasted to them by the Lord in Matt. and Luke. “Behold (says Paul) therefore, the goodness and severity of God; on them which fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in his goodness, otherwise you (gentiles) shall also be cut off” (Rom. 11:22). Paul seemed to have anticipated the pending result of their unbelief and rejection of Christ.
If you want a symbolical “gulf” there is no better picture than the existing condition between Jew and Gentile from the call of Abraham to the present hour. As a separate and distinct people in the world, there is no greater national characteristic than that figurative gulf separating Jew and Gentile. Into whatever nation or country they enter, among any people they may reside, they remain the selfsame Jew. They do not intermarry, their social intercourse with the outside world is limited, they still look to Abraham. Surely, this is an impassable gulf.
To sum the whole story up into one grand lesson—that of humiliation of the Jews and exaltation of the Gentiles—makes it a vivid and ingenious picture, the history of which abounds in tragic experience to the Jew. This view is least cumbered with difficulty, and is as strong as language can make it.
It has been sufficiently established that it cannot be defined as a real circumstance. The stubborn facts of logic and argument throughout this work touching the state of the dead, the resurrection and judgment of man, forbid us treating this as a theory of the intermediate state.
The record does not say the rich man was a bad fellow, nor that Lazarus was good. His sores may have been the result of dissipation and vice, as is often the case. This, of course, is but a technical objection, but it confirms the fact that inferences must be made.
Again, taking the rich man into torment immediately at death is contrary to the teaching of the N. T. “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the Day of Judgment to be punished” (2 Peter 2:9). The unjust are reserved—reserved—reserved. Do you get it? Reserved to the Day of Judgment to be punished. That means they are not now judged or punished. So the common belief is antagonistic to every valid argument in favor of a last great Day of Judgment, so often expressed in the scripture. How easy it is to quote this parable and say, “this is the history of two men that died.” Easy, of course it’s easy. But not so easy to reconcile it with other scriptures.
Here is how McGarvey presents it:
“He (Christ) once described, as you remember, the life and death of two men, one a rich man faring sumptuously every day and clothed in purple and fine linen, the other a beggar covered with sores, and brought and laid everyday at the rich man’s gate to receive the crumbs that fell from his table. No companions but dogs that licked his sores. He says that the beggar died and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom, that this is the death of the good man. He says the rich man also died, and was buried, and in hades he lifted up his eyes and saw Lazarus afar off in Abraham’s bosom and begged—“father Abraham, send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame.’ It began then with him immediately after his death—just as soon as he died—in hades; hades, you know, is the place of departed spirits, where the spirits of men go when they leave the body, and where they remain till the resurrection. There will be no hades after that”—McGarvey’s Sermons, pages 20, 21.
I willingly dissent from such hypotheses with no possible grounds in sight for abridging the chasm. I feel that more objections rise up from that view then the one suggested in this book. And remembering here the words of Dr. Angus, inscribed at the head of this chapter, that if any important member of a narrative is rendered by our interpretation nugatory, or is paralyzed, the interpretation is false. We have found an incurable stroke of paralysis in the common theory of this parable, and we pronounce it false.
How obvious these discrepancies appear, when once we lay aside our prejudices. You say men are judged at death, and receive a temporary reward, which Campbell affirms is all they are capable of receiving in a disembodied state. Peter says they are reserved to the Day of Judgment to be punished. You say the Day of Judgment is at the end of the world, then how shall we find a judgment at death, except an assumed one to meet a strategic point arising imperceptibly though unavoidably out of the strained interpretation of scriptures?
Jude also speaks of the future day of reckoning. “The angels which kept not their first estate but left their own habitation, he has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness, unto judgment of the great day.”
So we conclude, in harmony with these scriptures, and in disagreement with a large part of the religious would, that the dead are not judged or punished at death. Consequently, the supposed immediate state of happiness or misery is a farcical deception, foisted upon the credulous public, and perpetuated through a misapprehension of the sacred text. Our final conclusion is, to use this parable to prove such a state of the dead is utterly abortive to truth. For, though Abraham and David maybe in the same place, ‘as Mr. Sommer affirms, is no proof at all that are in a place of happiness, and to so assume is a palpable mistake.
Let this simpler view prevail, and it lifts a load of accumulated rubbish, not from this parable only, but from a host of other scriptures that have been buried out of sight by it. Preachers could see a beauty in the gospel not seen before, and the church itself would take on new life, and the glory of a better understanding of scripture would shed a new halo over life and its possibilities. The numerous questions pouring into the editors of our religious journals could be handled with greater confidence, ability, and results. Scholasticism would re-inhabit its ancient grave. Skeptics, Unitarians, Spiritualists and the many other delusive superstitions could be defied and challenged to suggest a reasonable objection against the righteousness of the penalty threatened the sinner, since they approve the same course in the governments of men, and even resort to mob violence against certain crimes when in doubt about the righteous execution of the law, showing that the penalty of death is a righteous judgment and endorsed by all nations of the earth, and was a conspicuous element in the Law of Moses, give from Heaven.
Under the theory of endless torment, a hope of escape spring up in ten thousand breast who feel they are not sufficiently wicked to merit such a course of torture. That if it was meant for men it must have been for the rankest brand of criminals, having a tendency to raise excuses, rather than excite to obedience. The world is full of the theory of everlasting misery, yet men pass on unconcerned, as if a serious doubt occupied their minds. Give them the truth of an utter lost of life and it will awake in them a sensation of its seriousness, and if they love life, they will live for it.
I shall close this chapter; feeling assured that you must give it a figurative meaning. The arguments throughout this work absolutely overthrow the idea of this parable as a real circumstance, and had I passed it altogether, it would have been up to you just the same to allow it teaching a lesson, not as a real event of history, but as portrayed by symbols.
It disagrees with the logical arguments drawn from the Sadducean challenge of the Lord in Matt. 22. It disagrees with Paul’s arguments on the resurrection in 1 Cor. 15, and with his “change of bodies” in 2 Cor. 5. It disagrees with the arguments from reason and nature, as established in chapters one and two. It disagrees with every known fact drawn out by the deductive process of reasoning. Therefore, we say, fearless of even a possible refutation, that the common notion about this parable is spurious, and born out of a misapprehension of the word of God, and perpetuated today through the influence of its prestige and popularity and antiquity.
Review of A. Campbell
“In this essay Mr. Campbell deals with one of the subtlest forms of error with which the church of Christ has to deal. It is the theory of the destructionist, who holds that man is not ‘essentially immortal’ in any part of his nature, but that out of Christ he is mortal, wholly, and has no continues existence after death.”
“Mr. Campbell goes into the heart of the discussion, examining the words soul and spirit in the original languages, and furnishes herein a satisfactory refutation of this false theory of men and his future destiny.”—Catalogue of the Christian Publishing Company, St. Louis.
The Christian Publishing Company eulogizes the “essay” as noted above, in their advertisement of it in said catalogue. Not that this is in any sense a new thought, but there is a special point in it deserving of notice. Many people say, “Oh, we don’t believe in ‘natural immortality.’” While just as found in this catalogue the “Christian world” almost as a whole do teach it, condemning with sarcastic sharpness those who will not subscribe to their enameled doctrines. Observe how the Christian Publishing Company words its ad—“That the theory of the destructionist is one of the subtlest forms of error with which the ‘Church of Christ has to deal,’ because it denies that man is ‘essentially immortal’ in any part of his nature.”
They would disseminate into the mind of the reader not only, that man is “essentially immortal” and continues after death, but that whosoever opposes it, is a virulent, malignant enemy of the truth. It is further asserted that by gong into the original languages, a satisfactory refutation of this “false theory” is furnished, having presented a rational solution of it.
I feel much indisposed toward this examination of Campbell’s essay, because of the uncharitableness of men, who, without investigation for themselves, will spontaneously charge “egotism,” conceit, and other ironical terms. This misjudgment of motive is “dare pondus fumo” (giving weight to smoke). It is giving weight to a trifling impulse. They would rescind any critical reference to the honored dead as if an offence to propriety, or an unpardonable sin. If fair and impartial criticism were a dishonor, then we would refrain. But such a thought arises only out of the dust of conventionalism, and shall be no impediment in this free and unfettered search golden grains of truth. The love of truth for truth’s sake arises above the glory of men. And should it be called a departure from conventionalities, it is not a departure from justice to any man living or dead. And no son or daughter of Adam can invent a reasonable objection, whose minds and hearts are not vulcanized with traditional rubbish from the scrap heap of medieval times.
This book is a “drag-net” after the false premises of men, and if it rakes to the bottom, uncovering the secret sources of error, exposing the evasive and elliptical nature of arguments relied upon to establish the doctrine, it is the friend of all who love truth. On the threshold of this review, I would state what was strongly implied in chapter one, that, if the original languages do not convey the same ideas of words our translators have given us, it is time the whole Bible were committed to the flames and a new version given that does.
The man or set of men who argue that the words “death,” “destroy,” “consume,” “devour,” “lost,’ “cut-off,” “life,” “immortality,” etc., have a different meaning in Greek, ought to put up a fight for a new translation with such words as do convey the meaning. If these words must be reversed to understand God, as He has taught the world from the beginning of man’s residence upon it, and if they are deceptive if taken in their purest unadulterated sense, the purgation fire should be applied until it is thoroughly cleansed.
However, I am willing to risk my judgment in accepting the version we have as being a fair and honest transcript of the original Greek, and as reliable as ability and scholarship could guarantee. And in accepting it, I have no scruples in saying all the revised versions have left these same words just where the King James Version left them, and with the same connections. So we are safe in forecasting the conclusion that the most Campbell has accomplished is the weaving of another web over the mists surrounding the simplicity of words.
In the beginning of his essay he must have calculated to silence all opposition by the exercise of frightening terms, denouncing them as “presumptuous” and “way-ward dogmatists,” “prosing dreamers,” “reckless schismatics,” with but a narrow isthmus between them and absolute skepticism.
Opprobious terms pass with some equally as effective as argument. Should I tremble at trifles so small, my bones would have been shaken loose long since. We accept no conclusions merely because the man is adept in the employment of scathing epithets and furious innuendos. We say let reason sit upon the throne of judgment, and let the verdict conform to the evidences, and all need of malignity and staggering acrimony will be dispelled.
Being not unaware of the difficulty in leading a person to see an opponent’s views with unprejudiced feeling—which experience taught me while defending the same doctrine of recompense I now oppose—has led me to dispense with offensive titles and conduct myself, measuring my words with indulgence, hoping to avoid unnecessary offence.
I am no Greek scholar; I can only say the alphabet, pronounce the words and read; but with a Greek lexicon before me—which defines the Geek word as accurately as a person can define an English word with a Dictionary. The fact that the Lexicons have been before the world all these years makes it seem the more foolish to enter into this dead language to get proof of a theory which itself would be better off dead. Being more than confident that no point was brought out by Campbell that was not available otherwise. It tends only to conceal defects and weak points in the system resorting thereto, by throwing over it the halo of learning, and the play of much speaking which confuses more than enlightens. King James Version is good enough for all purposes, and if one cannot fortify his doctrine by it, there must be a deficiency in the doctrine, rather than the translation. Were it a doctrine of inspiration it would be easily proved. It is because of its extreme barrenness that it descends to such expedients. “Like seeking food from the funeral pyre”—the last extremity is exhausted.
Suppose we go to the Greek Lexicons and get the definitions of the words, who shall tell us what they mean when Paul and Peter used them? Who shall tell us what the Lord meant when He used them? Are we to be guided also by the commentators? Are they to tell us, both the meaning of the word and the meaning of the apostles’ use of it? We have a right to say what Luke or James meant equal to that of any uninspired man living or dead since the days of inspiration, whether professor, scholar or theologian.
This now prepares us with a better understanding of the situation, and furnishes my reason for entering this field against Mr. Campbell to show you there is absolutely no warrant for any man employing methods so foreign to prove eternal torment. Knowing that, if it were a doctrine of the Bible, the Bible as we have it would supply every needed argument, and satisfy every mind.
He takes the word “destruction” to the Greek “Dictionary” and tells us for that word we have four Greek terms—what in English we call “synonyms”—as follows: “Apooleia,” Olethros,” “Kathairesis,” and “Suntrimma.” The first found in Matt. 17:13, Rom. 9:22, Phil. 3:19, 2 Pet. 13, 16, (“Life and Death,” page 9).
I have examined each of these references, and this word “Apooleia,” and find it used in each of these texts. The Lexicon defines the word “Apooleia” in English to mean “Conumption,” “Destruction.” “Waste,” “Profusion,” or “state of being destroyed.” Very well, now let’s you and I guide that word to the Bible and defend it against all corruptions. And to do so would be to give its figurative use in illustrations and its literal sense in plain teaching. Here we have the meaning of the Greek word that was used by the inspired men, and just like any other interpreter of scripture, we can take this definition and associate it with the subject under consideration, and do it just as intelligently as any one. And to say, “If the word has a figurative meaning it would be begging the question to adopt the literal” is the out-cropping sign of a doctrine already in mind demanding just such a disposition of the word.
My Lexicon refers to Matt. 7:13, and says in this text it means “misery.” I ask, how does that occur? How can it mean misery here if the definition of the word does not admit? King James’ Version says: “For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction.” This version has carried the true sense of the Greek. The Greek defined it correctly, “to consume,” ete. Who then was it that said misery? Did Christ? No, indeed. Christ said “apooleia”—destroy, devour, state of being destroyed. Then it cannot mean misery, can it? We are not fooled as to how it occurred. Greenfield, the author of that Lexicon, thought it ought to mean misery because he believed it that way.
Do you call that a technicality? Then by the way, technicalities in reason are matters of necessity. And a quaint old proverbial saying is that, “Not even the gods can fight against necessity.”
Since the definition of “Apooleia” is “destroy” or “consume,” and since the Lord used that word in Matt.7:13, saying, “Broad is the way that leads to ‘apooleia,’” we know he meant destruction and not misery. And we do not want a man of the Greenfield type to be our interpreter, for we cannot fail to see that was “hammered out on his own anvil.”
Next we take the word “Olethros,” found in 1 Thess. 5:3; 2 Thess. 1:9; 1 Tim 6:9. I have examined each of these texts, and the Greek word “Olethros,” from which we have the English word destruction. The Lexicon defines it to destroy, destruction, ruin, death. The Greek, like the English, has synonymous words, as death, perish, devour, consume, massacre, demolish, etc. All the words in a sense mean the same—the same result, but a different process of reaching it. A person might die a natural death, or be violently destroyed, but the result is the same.
So them we can take ‘Olethros,” with its definition given us, and we can tell for ourselves what manner of destruction it is. But Greenfield also defines the word as meaning “misery.” If he has not deceived us we are in a great strait to know how Olethros can mean misery if it means destroy, unless we employ the term misery as a destructible term. There is no guessing about it. Misery and destruction are not the same English or Greek. Though there may be and will be misery in the process of destruction. But destruction is the final act—not a continual destroying as some have affirmed. “Liddell and Scott’’ have defined it as “Ruin,” “Destruction,” “Death,” and have not found it meaning misery as did Greenfield.
Therefore we conclude that if “misery” is an element in the word “Olethros” in any sense, it is connected as a destructible term only and as accompaniment of destruction, making the process more extraordinary. But we say Greenfield had forged upon the word more than is inhere in it, and has thereby corrupted it, since the best authorities have not sanctioned it.
Then we have the word “Kathairesis” (2 Cor. 10:8; 13:16). Defined in the Lexicon, “A taking down,” an “overthrow,” “demolition,” “detriment” (met), “destruction.”
Now, can you not take this definition of the Greek word “Kathairesis” to the scriptures and tell what kind of overthrow or destruction was in the Apostle’s mind? Why should we have a Greek education and be versed in all the dead languages and access to a great library to teach us what Paul meant in the use of this word? For example (2 Cor. 10:8): “For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority which the Lord has given us for edification and not for you destruction.” No need here to travel to Palestine for a new meaning of the word destruction. We have its meaning. All we need is just ordinary intelligence and learn what was liable to be destroyed. Even though Paul may not had in mind a destruction of men, it was at least a destruction of moral principles, which would have eventually issued in the destruction of the man. Let the subject under consideration compel us to give a word a figurative meaning before we depart from its generic meaning.
Next we have “Suntrimma” (Rom. 3:16), defined by the Lexicon as “A breaking or bruising” (by impl.), “Destruction.” Paul, in speaking of the condition of Jew and Gentile, quoted a prophecy in which was this language: “Destruction and misery are in their ways.” “Suntrimma,” as used in this verse, says the Lexicon, means destruction only indirectly. It is an implied destruction. They are in its ways and destruction will overtake them unless they leave its ways. But the Lexicon says “Suntrinmma” really means “A breaking or bruising,” and that gives us the present condition of those people. And that condition implied a destruction to follow, except it be warded off by holiness.
These four Greek words thus defined and applied leave us just where we were before examining them, except it takes them away from Campbell and Greenfield. And they may be fairly represented by our four English words, “Destroy,” “Perish,” “Overthrow,” or “Injurious.”
Mr. Campbell tells us “there are thus four kinds of varieties of destruction.” And he goes on to describe accordingly four kinds of death.
But he says “Alooleia” is found twenty times in the N. T, in the form of a substantive noun; eight times translated “Perdition,” five times “Destruction,” two times “Waste” and once each “Die,” “Perish,” “Damnable,” “Damnation,” “Pernicious Ways.”
Even the half blind may incline nearer to that list of English derivatives from “Apooleia” and see the “sliding sense” of the word at work. In fact, we can see where our pioneer translators have labored to slide the word away from its true meaning, and inject just a “tiny bit” of their own opinion in its place. For to get “pernicious ways” out of “Apooleia” is evidently “slipping one over on us.”
Look and see for yourself. “Apooleia”—“destruction,” “consumption,” “waste,” “state of being destroyed.” Now I ask, where is any room for “pernicious ways” to be derived from it? In the twenty times “Apooleia” is found in the N. T. they have given it eight different rendering. It might easily have eight or a dozen synonyms as other words and those synonyms—for the beauty of language, and to avoid the monotony of repetition—may be used interchangeably. But if it means what the Lexicon declared, why did they not render it in every passage equivalent to “Apossleia?”
But, after all, had not men taken advantage of that loose rendering, and sought to build upon it a false definition of the word, even “pernicious ways” would not have been very objectionable as a derivative of “Apooleia,” for they are destructive ways and imply an impending disaster. And the world “Apooleia” may be, and often is, used in such connections, or in a sense where, though the sentence is pending it is reckoned as virtually accomplished. Yet they had just as well rendered it by a more expressive term. They may perhaps have thought to lean it away from destruction just enough to show a thing maybe destroyed and still exist, as the whole essay is striving to do. For it must be evident that if “Apooleia” means “pernicious ways” in any other than a figurative sense, than it cannot mean “Destruction” in the true sense, for destruction, and pernicious ways are not the same. They are but relative terms, as cause and effect. For pernicious ways will be the cause of the destruction of many.
If it is used in this sense, then there is after all a consistency in it, and as is common among all classes of writers for the sake of emphasis to employ the effect for the cause and the hearer or reader obtains the benefit of a more impressive lesson.
One thing is profoundly sure that God has talked to the common people, to fishermen, laborers, and the humble and unlearned. He understands the secret springs of the heart, and they would understand Him had not His language been dragged through the cesspool of theological doctors during the long night of Papal darkness. It was in that age of unspeakable ignorance of the many, and domination by the few, that the word of God suffered what the religious world is now demonstrating, a transmutation of words and thoughts. “Bapizo” is no worse corrupted being rendered “pour or sprinkle” than “death or destroy” is being rendered “alive and misery,” as has been done. Not at all. For to say a person dies, and then assert the “real person’ does not die, as is urged, if fallacious reasoning, and he who can establish such a presumption could draw water with a sieve, call up the “spirit” of “Samuel.” Pull the moon out of its orbit or any other wonder.
In his essay on page 11, Campbell tells us the word “Apollum” is found ninety-two times in the N. T. And from these ninety-two times he concludes, we cannot fail to arrive at a radical conception of its meaning
He says of these ninety-two times, it is found thirty-two times rendered “perish” and “perished.”
Good; we know what that means. Many people perish annually in railroad disasters, ocean calamities, tornadoes, devastating fire, “horrible war” as it now raging in continental Europe. Million perish yearly by disease, by coal mine and factory accidents. And the Lord referred to the eighteen on whom the Tower of Siloam fell and said: “Except you repent you shall all likewise perish.” Yes, we know what perish means. Continuing, he says: “twenty-seven times it is translated “destroy” or “destroyed.”
Simple again. We might to the list above mentioned, as many more, and speak of them as either perished or destroyed.
“Thirty-one times it is translated ‘lose’’ or lost,’” easy again. Call all the above either “perished, destroyed or lost” and none can be ignorant of their meaning.
“It is translated once ‘marred,’ once ‘die.’” Thus we see, out of the ninety-two times it occurs, in every instance it carries with it the primary and original sense except one, “to mar.” And it must carry a like meaning or be counted a corruption of the word. For the Lexicon gives no such definition as “Marred” for “Apollumi.” Look and see for yourself.
Thus, instead of giving support to eternal torment, a volume of “ninety-two applications against it.
But, he argues, “Apollumi” is applied to a waste—“To what purpose is this waste of the ointment?” (Matt. 16:8). Well, what of that? I see no objection. Let us leave it there, for a waste of the ointment would be a destruction of it. Judas was speaking from his own mind as he saw it. To him it seemed a waste. It did not seem so to the other apostles, nor to the Lord; but to selfish Judas. And as far as he could see it was destroyed (apollumi) by anointing the Lord with it.
The object in taking us back to the Greek was to get Greek definitions of words used in the N. T. We have them, and we are going to stand by them, for there is nothing in the Lexicon on the word “apollumi” which can take so mild a form as “marred,” which the Dictionary defines “dissipate,” “to waste,” “to lose,” hinder, obstruct, impede, injure, spoil, hurt, damage, disfigure, etc. Take this definition of “mar’ and if you can apply it in a way which will “ruin of spoil,” such a degree would be acceptable. For on page 13 Campbell directs our attention to one evangelist who speaks of “bottles” being “destroyed” and “perish.” And by another evangelist the same” bottles” are said to be “marred.” Well, then, marred in this place means the same as “destroyed” in the other, whether our translators so saw it or not. In both instances the same word “apollumi” is used, and in both instances were the bottles destroyed, because in both instances “apollumi” means destroy.
This is much simplified when we remember bottles in those days were made of perishable substances such as leather and skins of animals. It requires no dangerous stretch of the imagination to anticipate that by long use the bottles would become unfit for “new wine.” That is why used the figure to teach the Jews that he was not injection new life into the old law, and made it interesting by the apt illustration that men do not put new wine into old bottles, or the bottles would break and the wine would be lost. Had the bottles been made of glass, as they are today, that could not have been said of them. So the primary meaning of “Apollumi” stands unshaken.
Again, on page 14, Campbell remarks: “The words destroy and destruction…have besides a literal, a figurative definition…For example, Jesus is said to have assumed our nature that the might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the Devil, and the works of the Devil.” Then he asks defiantly: “Has he done it yet?” We answer, not that we know of. But what does that amount to? If Jesus said He would I believe He will. Campbell refers to this as the figurative use of “destroy.” Why did he ask if it is accomplished yet? Why did he not say: “this is the figurative use of the word, and the Devil is destroyed, and behold he live, and is going up and down in the earth seeking whom he may devour.”
But instead of that he called it figurative and led us to understand that nothing was done yet in the literal way or any other way.
But Jesus said all evil doers would be destroyed. We ask, “Has He done it yet?” Just because He has not done it yet, is no evidence that He has misrepresented it to us. Peter and Jude both declare that they are reserved under chains of darkness (death) to the Day of Judgment to be destroyed. Let us have patience and permit God to finish His work in His own appointed time.
On the following page he continues:
“But it may be asked, “Will he not finally annihilate Satan and destroy his words?’ If so, I will respond by asking, ‘Would it not have been better to have absolutely and forever destroyed the Arch Apostate at the moment of his rebellion than after he had done all the evil he could?’”—Life and Death, page 15.
The question he spring did not answer the objector’s question he propounded. We do not know that it would have been better had Satan been blotted from existence at the time Mr. Campbell suggests. We presume if it had been the Lord would have done it, because He had the power. But the fact that He did not is no proof that He will not, if we are to have confidence in His word.
The Lord told Campbell, just as he tells us, that eventually he will destroy the Devil and his works. And I have no reason to doubt. We infer that the wisdom of God saw good to pass his vessels of mercy through the fiery trials of temptation, reproof, chastisement, and discipline, that they might be molded into the image of Christ, and subjected to the most refining tests, the chaff would be separated from the wheat with the greatest precision. This probationary period granted us gives occasion for the winnowing of the wheat and proving the chaff, with greater facility than the latest model machine. So Campbell did not answer the question; he merely evaded it. Had he asked for scriptural proof, it was available.
We are now treated to a good definition of life, and we accept it. But instantly he began to undermine it. He illustrates it by “life in a tree,” showing it to be connection with God in all its varied forms and concludes thur:
“Wherever then there is organization and union with God, there is life according to the nature of the organization and union. And where there is neither organization not union of any kind, there is no sort of life whatever”—Life and Death, page 19.
I say amen. And had he not begun at once to bombard that position, he would have sunk his own boat a hundred fathoms deep. For when God says “Depart from Me, I never know you,” no one dare say they are still connected with Him.
And remember Campbell says, “Where there is no connection with God, there is no sort of life.” This is nothing less than a trap that caught the owner.
Now, while this is fresh in mind, we will reinforce its sophistry with his comments on John 5. He says:
“The ‘vita fluid’ that is in the root and in the stem circulates through all the branches. To this they owe their verdure, their odor, and their fruitfulness. The life that is in the root is in the branches, dissevered from that they wither and perish. Connection with the vine is life. If life be in the vine, separation from it is death”—Life and Death, pages 30-31.
Braden was right in charging Campbell of making suicidal arguments. Never was there a more self-condemning argument cast up. Vital (from L. Via—life) fluid does flow from the root into the branches of every herb or tree or flower: Dissevered from that root they die—so says Campbell, so say we. Why? Because cut off from the source or fountain of life, and life cannot flow to them, carrying nutriment to all its parts. This cutting of from the source of life means death. Utter death. Let us have it in syllogistic form:
1. The fluid of life in the vine sustains the branches and gives them continued life.
2. The unfruitful branches shall be dissevered from the vine, according to John 15.
3. Therefore, the unfruitful branches cannot be happy (?). What a happy rendering…therefore they cannot live, being separated from the vine they wither and perish. That worked fine, try it again:
1. To perish means to wither and die (Campbell).
2. The unfruitful branches of Christ, who is the true Vine, will perish (Lord).
3. Therefore, they will “wither and die” for want of life.
Not for want of happiness, and that is another witness, that eternal life does not mean eternal happiness, as Campbell said, for these illustrations will not permit.
And if these representations adduced by Campbell from the word of God mean anything, they upset the entire scheme of “endless misery,” by showing that disseverance from the source of life means not only the loss of “happiness” but the loss of life itself, the first necessity, and fundamental to all else. Hence, he has proved to our entire satisfaction that where there is no connection with God there is no sort of life whatever.
You will no doubt be interested to hear Mr. Campbell comment on John 5:24. This is what he says.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that hears my word and believes on him that sent me has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life. Such a one was dead and is now alive…And yet he possessed human life while dead in that sense which he is now made alive…there is then a merely human life and there is a spiritual and divine life resident in the same person at the same time. But there must also be two sorts of death as well as two sorts of life, the one unavoidable implies the other. Hence according to the Messiah a living man passing from death unto life”—Life and Death, page 20.
Surely the above must be recognized by every Bible student as a staggering mixture of thoughts. “Two sorts of life.” “Two sorts of death.” “Dead in the sense in which he is now made alive while in possession of human life.” “Living men, passing death unto life,’ etc., etc, Can anyone explain that so even a philosopher could understand it? But he told us on page ten there are four varieties of destruction—four kinds—in the original languages. Well, he failed to find any of them harmful, the texts cited showed people destroyed and still living doing well, such as the prodigal son, etc.
These “sorts of death” spoken of must be a sort of “all sorts,” but to me it is void of clearness. The idea of a “living man” passing from “death” to life on the ground of “two sorts of life resident in the same person at the same time” may seem to some the depths of philosophy, but in reality it is nothing less than the vapors of confusion militating against the brightness of the light. The thought was not grasped that those scriptures were spoken to common folk by him who speaks to the understanding, and that the thought expressed was indeed a simple one. It was calculated for children to understand, and never intended to be turned into a metaphysical problem which the greatest intellects of earth would be powerless to present in intelligible form. Indeed, which none could comprehend, much less explain. Like the Jews when the Lord remarked, “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood you have no life in you,” they “roared,” “this is a hard saying, who can hear it?” “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
The absurdity of a literal interpretation of his words should have taught them to get a spiritual lesson from it. Therefore, nothing is plainer than the great potent fact on the face of the words, that this life he is speaking of is not “another sort of life.” But this life we possess from birth, purified, cleansed, sanctified and made good by obedience to the to the Gospel of Christ, and living a holy, unblamable, and unreprovable life before the Lord, and upon which purity of character is founded the hope and prospect of immortality. We possess the pledge of it here, and by faith, not dead faith, but faith that works, we may enjoy the fruit of it after the resurrection. Hence the ease with which we may yet fall short of the inheritance.
The death threatened to Adam was the “loss of life,” not merely the loss of “favor,” as many teach. And the day he sinned the loss was inevitable. Banishment from the Tree of Life brought him under the battling elements of decay, and though by force of his sturdy manhood he survived to the ninth century, yet death was preying upon him and had named him as a trophy from the day he sinned. And so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned and are alike excluded from the Tree of Life, the food which had the preservative of human life wrapped up in its mystery, so lone as access may be had to it. Had Adam lived ten thousand years, it was but a flash of the smallest magnitude compared to the inheritance he had sacrificed.
Campbell now ventures a definition of death:
“Death, indeed, as the original word intimates, signifies separation from God. This is the true and divinely authenticated meaning”—Life and Death, page 22.
Here is the fallacy. He has already told us that “there is no sort of life whatever where there is no connection with God.” Separation from God is disconnection from Him.” Therefore, even Campbell would be logically bound by his own definition to conclude that death means separation from life. Loss of life. And separation from God would be the direct cause.
God told Adam that if he ate of the fruit he would die, but the driving from the garden was not the death threatened. It was the means by which the sentence was effected. This driving from Eden placed Adam under the forces which work death.
If Campbell is right, then Adam died twice for his sin, for after 930 years later, that is one more than was threatened, and that makes it false. Adam did not die literally the day he sinned. Subsequent developments ought to teach us what constructions to place on Jehovah’s words, that it was sending him out into the world away from the food, which warded off age and disease, that nature might take her course. The very object for banishing the couple from Eden, we are told, “Lest they reach forth and take of the tree of life and eat and live forever” (Gen. 5:5). So when he died physically, the death threatened was accomplished.
He gave us on page 17 a definition of life, saying:
“The tree nor the man is ‘not where life is not.’ Life then we may venture to say is connection with God through the system called nature, and death is a disseverance of that system”—Life and Death, page 17.
In this place life is defined as we all understand it, without regard to happiness or misery. But the moment eternal life is touched—which can only mean life perpetuated to eternity-he leaves off the definition just noticed, and defines it eternal happiness. Listen:
“In N. T. language we have the phrase “eternal life” forty-four times, and forty-four times only—never used to indicate mere eternal existence but the eternal enjoyments of life….eternal life is only another name for eternal happiness.”—Life and Death, page 24.
In chapter one this is introduced and argument founded upon it. Here we must go a step farther. Could we but see there is not a probability in a million that God would perpetuate a life for all eternity in misery, and that God is able to cope with every contingency that may arise in the presence of his omnipotence, thing would take on new colors concern in this subject. The Bible does no say “mere existence” anywhere, much less when talking to men and women whose lives are always filled with something. But it does speak of “eternal life,” and while we are assured it will be a happy one, happiness is not a definition of the phrase at all. The central thought in the phrase is “continuance of being.”
The same thought is expressed in Deut. 4:40, “I lift up my hand to heaven, and say I live forever.” God does not mean to teach us by that expression that he is “happy forever.” Though essentially he is, the point our attention is invites to is, “His eternity.”
The Lord said; “I am He that was dead and behold I am alive forevermore.” According to the common method of interpreting scripture, we must argue that “mere existence” was not what the Lord meant. That this language is only another way of saying He “is happy forevermore.”
We not only reject the thought here, but we reject it in the position occupied by Campbell in saying the phrase eternal life is only another name for eternal happiness. We reject it because it is contrary to the sentiment contained in the scriptures. And it is contrary to our standard definitions as shown. And it is contrary to the laws of common sense governing language. Therefore it is a false definition.
But in harmony with those texts cited, John says, as noted elsewhere, “But he that does the will of God abides forever. See how simple it is. The same thought of continuance as above. In order to made this agree with his definition of eternal life, Campbell would have to affirm that “abides forever” means “happy forever,” for if admitted that the idea of continuance of being is central in the phrase, then conversely, it must throw the other class into a serious plight. I call it serious, while those who oppose me declare it would be a happy escape for the wicked. I call it serious and a thousand times worse than Morris’ and Nichols’ everlasting destruction, for I have never yet discovered where the figurative meaning of the words has been anything to fear, leaving the people in every instance in a hopeful condition, or making their faces “harder than rocks and refusing to turn to the Lord.” That kind of eternal punishment would be much preferable to the death I have in mind.
If Campbell’s reasoning were tried by the law of antithesis, it would be found as defective as we have already shown. For it contracts only one part of the compound idea. Let Mr. Dobney frame our argument on this:
“Deriving the meaning of each of the two parts of a compound idea from it antithetical fellow, how could it be objected to stating the case presented thus: ‘He affirms the ‘death’ threatened to the wicked to mean a ‘miserable existence,’ which is a compound idea, and antithesis of which must also be a compound idea, each part agreeing antithetically to its fellow in the first part—therefore, the life promised the righteous must mean a happy death.’ Here each part of the compound idea has its exact opposite. The antithesis is perfect, but then the conclusion is inadmissible. The premises from which it is legitimately derived must therefore be refused—that is, the definition given of death, that it means miserable existence. For adhered to it involves an absurdity the moment it is tested by the law of antithesis fairly applied”—Dobney on Future Punishment, page 197.
So the argument based on contrast is no stronger than its soundness. The cogent argument of Dobney settles that feature of the controversy forever.
On page 28 Mr. Campbell informs us that eternal life is not any substance, but merely a sensitive intellectual or moral enjoyment, etc. On page 17 he exclaimed, “but who can define life?” and while he went on to show us it connection with God, and without connection no life can exist, he began at once to cover up that fact-unconsciously we believe-and asks who can define it, as if it were utterly indefinable—which it may be—but the thought is this, as soon as eternal life is mentioned—something man never saw—we are told the “whys” and “ifs” of it that is not any “substance,” but intellectual sensation of joy, etc.
Suppose we define our common life here as a “common intellectual sensation of joy.” Why not? Looks as if the rule should work both ways. But if we should, nine-tenths of the human family would be instantly deprived of life, for their lives are not composed of intellectual sensations of joy. They know it is not, and we know it.
We are next introduced to a series of reflections on punishment for sin, and Campbell expresses a doubt that sin could be punished by annihilation, and then assumed that if it could, “pigeons,” doves, the calf, the lamb suffer the same fate as these creatures. This is positive evidence that there is no clear conception of what it involves. Here are his words:
“What would we think of the sincerity of the author of Christianity, who, in holding up the terrors of the Lord…only in unexaggerated fact, mean that they should have the same fate of the most innocent birds, beasts and fishes,--suffer an hour or a minute, and pass into unconsciousness.”—Life and Death, page 41.
What made him say “an hour or a minute?” Where did he get it? What chapter and verse? The Book says nothing about an “hour or a minute.” What it says is that the wicked and righteous will be dealt with justly. That according to their works shall the reward be. Why is it that a spurious doctrine will influence the greatest minds to fabricate such tactics of defense? That we will grasp the proverbial “straw” if there is no stronger anchor in reach?
But the issue was not touched. If God punishes sin in the process of destruction till his law is satisfied, what more could be demanded by angel or imp (demon). This He says He will do. We doubt it not. No bird or beast suffers for sin. Many people will. That makes the difference. And the process will be fearful enough to exact the utmost penalty for the abominable, as for the less guilty—each comprehending the lost of life as the ultimate end.
Such a conception can no more be conceived under the theory of endless torment than can “eternity,” “space,” “infinity,” “or the Godhead.” Casting the hosts indiscriminately into the same lake of fire whether real or not, at least paces it far beyond all human conception to figure out reward according to works. As far as the end of eternity is from the beginning.
Some people belittle the idea of absolute destruction on the flimsy pretest that it would be a happy escape for the unsaved. Escape. Destruction a happy escape? Think of it. Nichols and Morris have shown us their kind of destruction does no harm. And then to clamor that real, literal, absolute destruction would be a happy escape. What a happy escape the Sodomites had when fire and brimstone rained down from Heaven upon them. What a happy escape the millions enjoyed in the flood of waters. What have they escaped from? Is it from the glories of eternal life? What else could it be, for they need have no fear for Hichols’ Hell. And may the good Lord deliver us from such. Instead of an escape, I should call it a calamity second only, if not first, on the list of awful retributions.
Sure enough, were we compelled to choose between death and “eternal torment,” such as Hopkins and Johnson have described, we would choose death. But in choosing it, could we feel that we had made a happy escape? Could you?
We do not look at it here in that light, even when removed by the process of nature, much less when by calamity. Yes, between death and endless misery—not the kind we prove from the arguments of its advocates—we would choose “death.” But it would be with reluctance of the most indescribable feelings. So the idea of fishes and lambs and birds suffering as much as the worst criminal is all meaningless.
Mr. Campbell, like Nichols and Johnson, holds that punishment begins and ends with pain, though that definition would take all our worst criminals away without punishment—seeing death by instantaneous arts is effected, immediately depriving them of all sense of pain. But he proceeds to prove by syllogistic force that such is not punishment. Thus:
1. No one dispossessed of conscious guilt can be punished.
2. But persons annihilated are dispossessed of conscious guilt.
3. Therefore, no one annihilated can be punished”—Life and Death, page 43.
Easy, wasn’t it? Yes, but what did he prove? How could he have arrived at a conclusion different? His conclusion was in agreement with his premises, but his premises were as infirm as clay, as brittle as dry ground, as fragile as glass. His definition for punishment is pain, and once that is accepted as sound, no other conclusion can follow but the one that did follow. Examine your Dictionary and see the truth. If the Dictionary had said, punishment means any infliction of pain, and such had been it accustomed use, then all controversy would have to close, provide it be shown to be free from corruptions. But the Dictionary did not say it. It said punishment is the infliction of a penalty of pain or loss or other retributive burdens by a duly qualified officer, as prescribed by law. So says the law on all civilized nations of earth, so affirms the Bible from alpha to omega, so agrees the whole nature of man—proved by the administration of the death penalty by painless methods to the greatest criminals.
Let us try that same argument by the real and true definition of “punishment.”
1. Whatsoever law prescribes for the transgressor is punishment, whether is consists of pain or other loss or infliction.
2. The Bible declares for and “everlasting punishment” for many.
3. Therefore, many will experience the infliction of an everlasting “pain or loss of some nature” or “penalty of some description” which is defined throughout the N. T. in both symbols and plainness of expression. Hence, we justly conclude that Campbell’s premises were unsound, necessitating the unsoundness of his conclusion.
In reply, I do not know if they would affirm it or not. I would say no, if they remain holy. Yes, if they sin. To affirm that because angels are immortal—exempt from death—that they are therefore beyond the power of God to destroy, should they forfeit the right to live, in bringing more into the conclusion than is, or can be forced into the premised, and makes God’s power greater to create than to tear down. The premises admitting the “immortality of the angels,” do not mean that they are indestructible. And the introduction of that element into the conclusion is clearly, according to Whately, a logical fallacy. See “Element of Logic,” page 133. For we can triumphantly argue that this exemption from death accorded the angels is more, if not altogether, through the kindness of God, and not by any inherent and indestructible nature of the angels.. Yet, their exemption from death is of no practical purpose in the salvation of the theory Campbell sought to fortify, except immortality means indestructible.
Their exemption from death, like our own rests upon their continued holiness, and is their “Magna Charta” for an endless life to which they gladly consign their mutual interests. It is impossible for them to die, or perhaps for God to destroy them so long as they are free from sin, on the same principle that it is impossible for God to do wrong. It is, therefore, a moral impossibility and not a physical one.
If they forfeit their right to life as Adam did, by disobedience, they must die.
But where there are a million influences to do good, and no temptation to evil, and in the enjoyment of every treasure a beneficent God can bestow with the sweet light and love of heaven all about them, if they should sin it would show an absolute want of reason, and none such will be admitted into Heaven. So they will live forever because sinless forever.
But we will have Campbell’s position in his own words and show you how he reached his conclusion:
“Spirits belong not to the precincts of mortality. No expression could be more incongruous or revolting than that a ‘spirit died or could die.’ Indeed it is said they cannot die when it is said angels cannot die—not because they are angels, but because they are spirits”—Life and Death, page 55.
But Campbell is only one of millions who argue it thus. It looked so to him. To him the spirit of man and angel were alike indestructible, just because they were “spirits.” But he never thought to argue that way about the “spirits of horses,” not because they were horses but because they were spirit. Nor about any other spirits but angels and men.
But unconsciously he involved himself in a suicidal argument when on page 61, he practically assailed his own position saying:
“We concede without argument, that God has never created anything He cannot destroy…But the question is not one of omnipotent power, it is rather what God wills.”
When these two statements of Campbell are brought side by side, can you not see the visage of his argument change? I thought he said it would be the most revolting in incongruous to say a spirit could die, and the reason just because they are spirits, no reverence whatever to the power of God. Now he admits that just because they are spirits is no argument, but depends upon the will of God, implying of course, that there was plenty of power.
Well, then suppose God wills to destroy an “incorrigible spirit,” would it die? But if spirits cannot die “because they are spirits,” then how could they die if destroyed? Campbell did not tell us this, though he accepted the inevitable—that they can be destroyed. And how absurd it would be to argue different.
Sure of this am I, if it were as difficult for the Lord to destroy an “incorrigible spirit” as it is to follow this crooked trail of ungrounded assumptions, it would be a desperate task. No unscriptural dogma beneath the canopy of heaven switches and swerves about in more restless and indefinite attitude than this one.
Campbell attempted an overthrow of the obvious sense of Ps. 146:4. This thought has been pursued so extensively in Chapter 11, that we shall merely place it in syllogistic form here as in introduction. David spoke of the perishing of thoughts in death, which is virtually denied by the antidestructionists, who are forced to concede by their interpretation of scripture only a transference of the thought.
A good way to argue this and straighten out the kinks is to simplify and condense it, thus:
1. All that belong to the flesh perish in death (reason).
2. But thoughts (love, joy, praises) parish in death (David).
3. Therefore, thoughts belong to the flesh equally as much as to the spirit. That disagrees with men, but in harmony with inspiration.
Let us try it the other way:
1. Whatsoever belongs to the spirit is untouched by death (theology).
2. But thoughts belong exclusively to the spirit (Campbell).
3. Therefore, thoughts are untouched by death (conclusion).
Now what becomes of David’s assertion? No man can subscribe to Campbell’s theory without denying David’s position.
But David and Paul are a unit, judging by Paul’s expression, “What advantages it me if the dead rise not?” He seemed to have understood that the thoughts perish in death, and only a resurrection could restore and reimburse.
To the average reader it may seem almost incredible that arguments of puerile, so insufficient, so weak, and inconsequential would be relied upon with such trust and confidence to sustain a doctrine whose scope and enormity stretch so easily beyond the fleetest winged imagination, taking for granted the “point” most unproved and unprovable, and with dexterous hand guide it with “ifs” and “ands” to a place of apparent safety. While Campbell assumed the point which should have been first proved, Butler goes one better and manipulates the “ifs” with the artifice and knack of the “sorcerers” of Egypt in the days of the “Pharaohs.” When you hear him, you will no doubt feel much disappointed with such vanity of argument from such a source. Hear him:
“For, ‘If’ it would be in a manner certain that we should survive death, ‘if’ it were certain death would not be our destruction: It must be highly probable we shall survive it, ‘if’ there be no grounds to think death will be our destruction”—Butler’s Analogy, page 41.
By the same method Butler could no doubt prove that men must be carried to heaven in a wheel barrow if ever they enter it. Think of it. Three little “ifs” all in a row. Why cover so great a circle? Why not cut off five-sixths of that bewildered monotone and come directly to the point? Why not say, “If death dose not destroy us we will survive it,” for that is all he said in substance. But in his conclusions he left no trace of “ifs.” Every conclusions stood before him as if profoundly proved. That is sophistry, pure and simple. In logic it is “petitio principii” (begging the question), for never was there such evidence of indistinct conception. Never such eternal squirming and sliding to pull the drift out of the engulfing current. Never such cunning adroitness of twisting through tight places by the skillful use of “ift.”
But Butler was conscious of the appalling magnitude of the subject he had espoused, and that on his hands was a problem of interminal depths, and surpassing all his powers, he saw good to employ the “if” as the mildest necessity demanded by the occasion.
Butler and Campbell are quite agreed on the analogy of sleep. But like every position examined, they have utterly misunderstood it. Simple as it is, they have destroyed the analogy and made it meaningless. We give Campbell’s observation:
“That there is some analogy between a dead man and one asleep is very obvious to the least attentive observer. But that analogy is only in that which is outward and visible, for even when men are literally asleep in the body, the mind is often employed in the most active enterprise of pain and pleasure”—Life and Death, page 72.
So prone are men to lose the true sense of words in laboring to establish a doctrine believed, or some peculiar tenet, that I have come to view it with much gravity in behalf of the multitude that are hungering for truth; for often it seems that our readers have but one object in view—to triumph—though I would not for the world make that charge against many devout and zealous preacher so the gospel.
But if you do not know that his definition of sleep is false, no use for you to read farther till you get a Dictionary and accept it.
But this simple word must also suffer, or even it alone would demolish his edifice. Here is the issue, “Do man literally sleep without dreams or nightmare? If they do, what other conclusions can follow then that Campbell was wrong? When you go to sleep and dream scare visions, ward, battles, wrecks, storms, disease, ghosts, volcanic horrors, calamities and fearful sights innumerable, are you literally asleep?
If you are, then what kind of sleep do you call it when the world is gone, no dreams, no nightmare episodes, no auto disaster, no frightful brawls, no upheaval of the earth and crashing of the elements, no thoughts, dead to the would, dead to all existence—what kind did you say?
Which is the literal way? Easy enough. When the mind is a blank, and all the world forgotten—that is literal sleep, and right there is the analogy of death.
All dream sleep is a “semi-sleep,” a “half-sleep.” It is but a spurious substitute, a mean imitation. Hence a person is not literally asleep when dreaming, for in true sleep there is no consciousness. Here is the reason—the deep secret why the Lord said, “Lazarus is asleep, but I go that I may awake him out of sleep.”
In deep sleep, consciousness is dissipated until awakened; so in death, it ceases till the resurrection. Let us put this in another form:
1. When men are literally sleep, the mind is active (Campbell).
2. But all men literally sleep (common sense).
3. Therefore the minds of all men are active in literal sleep. I don’t believe it, for since there is no sleep more than literal sleep it follows the deepest sleep is most disturbed, the most restless and the most undesirable. Why should I believe it? When by experience we know our best sleep is the least bothered with specters, and wholly at rest. That fact “literally” disfigures his definition. Now let us try it this way:
1. In deep sleep the mind is a bland and reposes with the body (experience).
2. But deep sleep is an analogy of death (Bible).
3. Therefore, there is no activity of mind or consciousness in death, of the individual, body, soul or spirit, nor will there be until the mind is again restored to the body.
While I seldom resort to analogies for illustration, this one is unique and forcible. See John 11:11, 14.
Momentarily, Mr. Campbell drops back to the common meaning of death, forgetting his divinely authenticated definition and argues that Christians do “actually die”:
“If he that believes on Christ shall never die and as Christians actually die so far as their bodies are contemplated, their souls must certainly survive their bodies, or else the Lord has deceived us”—Life and Death, page 82.
This he calls his “irrefragable” argument, bearing equally against soul sleeping and soul dying. In defining death here no note was made of “separation of soul and body.” He came right down in sight of the truth and found them “actually dying.”
Right here is my “irrefragable” refutation of his position. First, then, “if death is compared to a sleep, or unconscious existence,” it is wholly repudiated in those words, “he shall never die”—that is, pass into a state of unconsciousness” (Life and Death, page 82).
Test it on its own principle, and let it die with the infliction of its own sword. His definition of death is “separation of soul and body.” But he that believes in Christ shall “never die”—that is, shall never have soul and body separated. Then no more Christians will die. And if Christians do continue to die, Campbell has deceived us, “or his definition of death has deceived him,” if his principles of reason are worth a snuff. For the Lord said they never would.
This exposes the sophistry of that position. Our Lord was ignoring the insignificant article of physical death to the righteous: that it was as nothing: that it would pass as a moment: that all eternity would be to enjoy. Just as well indeed say: “They shall never die,” The second death is the great death; it is the one the Savior had in mind. Had he meant they shall never die the common death of all, none would believe him now, as death prevails over the good and the evil.
Should we argue as did the ancients that the earth is flat, and as some do today, and introduce for proof that the sun, moon, and stars revolve around it, we would be pursuing the same course as is relied upon to endless torment. But the most ordinary juvenile student could not be induced to accept it. A thousand years in the past, great men of the world sneered with caustic derision, the rotundity of the earth, and its globular form, moving with majestic precision and faithfulness around that faraway sun.
A thousand years hence the theory of “eternal misery” will be viewed with universal contempt. The withdrawing of the people in multitudes from it now is an unerring sign.
Many other things in Campbell’s essay have been fully argued in other portions of this book, and would be a useless repetition here We have been forced to reverse, face about, every position assumed. And the countless angles from which men have labored to defend it have made it an almost endless task.
It is more intensely true than ever to me that the whole system is a perpetual exhibition of what Watts termed “wrangling and hair-splitting” of words.
It was because of this thorough conviction in regard to endless woe that led Campbell to remark that
“The orthodox theory of eternal punishment (torment) is one of the glorious sanctions of our religion” (page 89).
It might indeed be a “glorious sanction to orthodoxy,” but the Bible does not instill into it much glory. The word of God holds it as a solemn one, but not a glorious one. We shall never reach that degree by advancing toward God, when the suffering of others will seem glorious.
Hopkins might behold it with ineffable joy and see his own glory diminish if the suffering of the lost should wane, but that type of heart has never been mellowed by the softening influences of the gospel.
Mr. Campbell finished his essay with the most cutting invectives. He seemed to think his closing words should be clothed with fire and sword. But vilifying is to no purpose where arguments are not convincing. Truth needs but a fair presentation free from the dust of sophistry to make it admirable.
The name of Campbell is a monument of glory, his burning oratory, his vast learning, his surpassing eloquence, is the highest tribute we can bestow, and we hope will abide for all time. None were more devout, nor more sincere and earnest. He merely started wrong, and being but a man, like other uninspired men, he was subject to the same frailty, and not exempt from error. The purpose of this review of his essay is for no display whatsoever. No motive so base and unworthy can be attributed to it but by those ignorant of the real facts involved. It is, therefore, no reflection on Campbell, in the least, but since so many are defending that theory with his arguments, it became expedient to make a special search into it, which has been both interesting and profitable. And we hope it will be a profitable to the reader, for blindness cannot always prevail. The time is here when the world is deaf to the parade and excitement of eternal torment, and is going its way in revelry and sensual gratification. Let the church give it the sure and irrevocable loss of life and note the change in a century. Truth is like a sword, and it cuts to the heart. It has move multitudes in the past; it is yet to move them in the future.
Death—Cessation of life | “Death”—Separation of soul and body
Everlasting Destruction—An | Everlasting Destruction—Endless
Endless death, state of | misery .
Being destroyed | .
Immortality—Exempt from death | Immortality—Immortal happiness
Eternal life—Endless existence| Eternal life—Eternal happiness
Consume—To destroy, to | Consume—to unhurt, unmolest,
Extirpate, to put an end to | undisture—Nichols
Devour—To consume, to destroy | Devour—Unaffected, untouched,
With violence | unscathed—Morris
Punishment—Any penalty | Punishment—Nothing but the
Inflicted by a duly qualified | infliction of pain—Campbell,
Officer for criminal offense | Nichols, etc.
I ask again, what have we gained by referring to the Greek? I answer, nothing, only this one point, we have learned that doctrine which sought aid there found none. That every effort was as sterile, as desolate, and as barren of proof as the Share Desert of vegetation.
But why should we expect more? We have the same Greek they had 2,000 years ago; the same Campbell had a century back; all we need is a Lexicon by which to determine if our theologians have measure up to their pretension, or rather up to the spirit of true Bible exegesis. We say they have erred—is that saying founded in conceit? Go back over this collection of facts, and say for yourself, if the indictment brought against them is not abundantly verified and just. Why is it, then, when we take those Greek words to the Bible, somehow, it appeals to us that we must transfer the literal from the symbols to the more simple teaching? Why is it that, to us, the last destruction has all the ear-marks of a literal one? The shaping and forging of the evidence, caused all scripture to bow meekly to a few metaphorical texts, which anticipated a reversion of all these same words used in the plain, simple instruction to God’s people.
I challenge the world to search universal space for a stronger indictment against any theory than the self-condemning words that flows out of its own mouth.
I challenge universal space to search the eternal regions for a more invincible indictment of any doctrine, than the self-confessed admission of McGarvey, that the principle involved is an audacious rebellion against all sense of the goodness and mercy of love, and out of all proportion when viewed as a matter of justice.
Never, in earth’s remotest history, was there a similar situation. They admit there is both a literal and figurative use of those words, and urge the figurative as the greatest meaning, and at the same time labor with the most tireless and irresistible anxiety to show us that the Greek definitions are really figurative. In truth, they seem determined that we shall believe that the figurative and literal are the same thing; and both figurative.
We concede that “Apooleia” means destroy literally, and that is figuratively applied to persons under condemnation. Why—in the name of common sense we ask—do they seek to overthrow its true definition and make it appear to means nothing but a beggarly imitation? Why do they not grant—all the time—that it has both a figurative and literal sense, and them exhaust their wits to show 1 Thess. 1:7, 9; 2 Pet. 2:12, and all similar scriptures demand the figurative sense? Strange as it may appear, they have dragged us to the Greek, not to exhaust every ability and resource to inject into the Greek definitions a sense not belonging there—the figurative sense as applied to the prodigal son and the lost sheep.
Instead, therefore, of striving to deceive us, by defining those Greek words erroneously, why not be fair, and insist that such scriptures as Matt. 7:13; Rev. 20:10, etc., carry the figurative, or as Morris says, the greatest meaning of the word?
When the Greek defines “Apooleia” “to destroy,” as its literal meaning, why should anyone be so creed bound as to search all synonymous terms, and throughout the N. T. scriptures where such words were employed, to see it if meant something else somewhere, some time?
It was not a matter of expedience with Campbell to do that. No need to resort to the impossible task of eliminating the literal sense of the word altogether. He should have still granted that which none can deny, that “Apooleia,” Apollumio,” “Kathairesie” all have a literal and unadulterated sense. And then have gone on and produced such evidence as could not be impeached—if such evidence existed—that in the last application of these terms, the figurative only would be selected.
As plausible as such a course would have been, it is the farthest from the one adopted. For I leave this chapter for the great religious forum to decide, if Campbell has not virtually denied that there cardinal words have a literal meaning, by his persistent effort to make the Greek definitions figurative. And that blindly—though unconscious of it—he followed the winding of whirlwind through the sands of the desert of uncertainty.
Review of Nichols and Denny
Without asking permission, I will now open up a line of argument found in a little “hand-book” recently published, a copy of which is in my possession. Perhaps you have one, and if not, I suggest you get one and see for yourself what strange notions may be fostered and vehemently argued in defense of endless woe.
By reason of limited space, attention will be called to but few instances out of many crying for exposure.
On page 86 Nichols went at length to prove there is no night in heaven and no day in hell.
To establish those two points he refers to Rev. 2l:25 and Matt 25:30. But in Rev. 14:11 he found the “smoke of their torment” going up forever and they having “no rest day not night.” And in Rev. 7:15 he found the saints worshiping God “day and night” before the throne.
These peculiar tests would indicate “both day and night” in both heaven and hell. He seemed to think some one might so read and understand it. But he had before presumed to prove there was always day in heaven and night in hell, and we think did a fair job of it, so this latter difficulty must be plastered up. He saw it would not do to press the literal sense. Here was a place for cunning to work. There was a gap calling for a bridge. He found himself in a thicket of brambles. And before he recovered to safety, a hook on the old “platform of reason” flung him a thousand feet deeper into the swamps.
In Rev. 20:10 the “Devil” is spoken of as being “tormented day and night” forever and ever. Hear is his solution:
“The saints remain in heaven through one eternal day—they serve Him day and night. The wicked will be in hell and will be tormented day and night. If the day stops in heaven, or night in hell, then torment will stop”—Nichol’s Handy Pocket Bible Encyclopedia, page 86.
Suppose the Lord had actually taught by such defunct and deficient methods, and suppose Nichols has reasoned correctly, and is right; we are persuaded to look upon that as the most unique, the most phenomenal, plan of argument ever employed to teach grand truths. And that “rule he used,” if he had any, whatever it was, has never fallen to my notice.
The text tells us the “false prophet and beast” were cast in this lake, and we read in chapter 19 when they were cast in. And it turns out according to the twentieth chapter that they had been in there a thousand years. Nichols made no explanation of this marvel at all. He argues, not that there will be a thousand years’ difference in the punishment of the unsaved in the Day of Judgment. Neither does the Bible. And in the absence of any scripture or argument being produced, I will reject the whole arrangement of his observations, and demand a more consistent one.
It is obvious that the beast and false prophet spoken of in chapters 19 and 20 are symbols of religious or civil powers. I believe them to be ecclesiastical and political combined. That they represent great organizations, as seen from the mighty conflict they faced, and lost—chapter 19. This is the conclusion of Johnson, and the fire was of extinction. Here again they are on opposite sides, Johnson maintaining that the beast and false prophet were burned up, and Nichols that they are “tormented day and night” forever with the Devil. But, by the way, Johnson, too, gets “eternal torment” for the ungodly out of Rev. 20:10, but never turned on a spark of light as to why that lake of fire burned up the beast and false prophet, and dose not burn up the rest who are cast into it. Not one word about that. And it would have been interesting, too. How a man can argue eternal torment for the wicked from Rev. 20:10 and hold that the beast and false prophet were burned up in the same lake, surpasses all my imagination, yet he did it.
But we find another contradiction between Nichols and Willis. Nichols affirms that the day and night spoken of hare has reference to both heaven and hell. That the day is for Heaven and the night for Hell. An art of driving a point I have never found among the inspired writers of the Bible. And Willis says, “if it don’t mean what it says it means nothing, “ and appeals to the pain and natural sense of the scriptures, and of this very text.
To Willis, of course, day and night alternately succeed each other forever in Hell. But somehow they both reach the same conclusion as to the destiny of the lost.
The phrase day and night is not detachable from the remainder of the text. In symbolism the Devil will be cast into the lake of fire and tormented day and night forever and ever where the beast and false prophet had been cast ages before. Who will ferret out these symbols and give us a “cut and dried,” detailed, historical essay on that? Yet they presume to do so. And mercilessly lash those wonderful metaphors for the sake of compelling them to disgorge the theory they want.
The phrase “day and night” appeals to be as symbolizing a continual vengeance upon him. And the term “forever,” as has been previously established, should be applied with considerable prudence in metaphorical narratives. Therefore, no “ifs nor ands” about it, we know the word has been used with vast frequency in scripture, and the common exegesis being so out to joint with reason.
Let Nicholls go over the N. T. and observe what the tongue of inspiration has said. Let him sum it up, and use his Dictionary (not his handy P. B. Encyclopedia), searching diligently the true sense of Heb. 2:14; James 5:20, and not from Revelation. Then a new light will dawn on Revelation never seen before.
But as I glance through his little volume, I am led to the opinion that he can quote scripture and out-argue it a hundred fold. And at times I must confess it is impossible to say with any degree of accuracy whether he is going or coming; whether for or against, or what his theme is. For if he is handing the “key” of truth, he has the unique insight into the depths of mysteries, unfathomable to common people. But his mode of dispensing scripture is so crude and disgruntled there is no reason why it should appeal to even a monk or savage whose minds are always “top side down” and reverse all human affairs.
With Nichols, anything once in existence can never be put out of existence. I presume he includes everything, especially “laws” and “spirits,” for he tells us “a law once enacted is always in existence. No matter how the lawmaker may supplant it with a better law.” Strange, isn’t it? Yes, but he goes much further: “Once you commit a sin”—no difference with what solemnity you have atoned for it, nor how sincerely you have repented, nor with what assurance you have had of pardon—“that sin still exists.” Strange again, isn’t it? But is it not “strange” that he made no explanation against whom that sin stands. He is not supposed to. He is expected only to substantiate his mental illusion, though contradictions galore arise in the process. We shall bring upon him no unnecessary embarrassment by asking where the hiding place of that sin is after being forgiven. It is impolite to seek explanations of such things. But hear are the scriptures referred to, with his comments:
“Gen. 6:7, ‘And the Lord said I will destroy man whom I have created.’ Ex. 32:33, ‘Whosoever has sinned against me him will I blot out of my book,’ Ps. 51:9, ‘Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that were against us.’ In theses passages the words destroy and blot out are from the Hebrew word ‘machah.’ This word does not imply ‘annihilation,’ for when sins are blotted out they are not annihilated. A fact or deed is not susceptible of annihilation. It may be forgiven, perchance forgotten, but not undone”—Nichols’ H. P. B. Encyclopedia, page 93.
Why he referred to Gen. 7 we know not. Surely he could not, under the severest mental strain, have misjudged that he strengthened his theory. When he reads of the great deluge, can he persuade himself to believe they were not literally destroyed? Could he have imagined that if called upon, he could produce them alive? The issue is decided. Unquestionable, he found the word “destroy” used in an accommodated or figurative sense, but does that prove that it was a figurative sense in the flood? This is proof positive that he is laboring to bring both the figurative and literal under one and the same sense, obliteration the literal and making it all figurative. Suppose he is correct with the Hebrew word, the same it true of both Greek and English words. All may be employed figuratively, but that does not prove the figurative is the real definition. So he has muffled the real truth, and stifled the voice of language.
Now what did he establish from the other texts he quoted? I reply nothing and proceed to verify it. He failed to distinguish between the “act” and the “guilt? Attached to it. No one would argue that the deed could be undone. The Bible dose not teach it. But it speaks of the “sin,” the “guilt” and blots it out. And the sinner stands sinless, guiltless, and reason teaches us that while the deed is still a fact, the sin does not exist. Nichols knows that to be the teaching of the Bible, and the meaning of justification, also of those scriptures cited.
He asserts that the blotting out of the writing of Moses did not annihilate them, leaving us to draw the conclusion he suggests, that they must always exist. For to him, blotting out means “wandering” like a lost sheep, or prodigal son. And though he gives us nothing definite on Gen. 6:7, he advanced against it at once to mortify its simple lesson, bending it to agree with his selections of its figurative and misconstrued use. He must have been gazing at the Jew still practicing the obsolete ordinances of Moses, and concluded they still exist. But what did the ordinances mean to the Jew? It meant sacredness, it meant that God had enjoined them. That it would be sacrilege to do otherwise. Why then did they not cease to practice them after they were blotted out? Because to the Jew they were everlasting, and could not be annulled. It was to the mind of the Jew the ordinances still existed, not to the mind of God—“To whom belonged the whole and undivided right to say.”
Therefore, they did not exist at all, because their author had abrogated them and legislated other laws in their place.
No law can exist with either God or man after it has been abolished, and this is the absolute proof of Nichols’ misconception of these terms. So when God enacted those laws, they first existed and their annulment was their non-existence.
But in respect to sin
God never said he would undo the deed. No. Nichols is opposing something that
has not been affirmed. If
God blots out a sin, the person is no longer a sinner. Where then is the sin? Did Nichols tell? No. And he never will. He has manifested a grade of confusion that belongs to the most fettered and hazy minds, holding the deed and sin (guilt) the same thing. Not discerning between cause and effect. If that were true, as he affirms, then sins could not be blotted out at all. Nor would the Lord have called it a blotting out. The fact they can be blotted out is proof that Nichols has not understood the word. “Sin is in the heart.” Out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts, adultery, fornication, heresies, etc. There is the sin. And if it is blotted out (forgiven or forgotten) it ceases to exist. And that is what blotting out means.
Suppose a man kills another, if it was premeditated, it is “murder,” but if accidental the law holds him innocent. In either case the man is killed, but only in one case is it sin. That makes it plain. The law for murder is life for life. If a man hates his brother without a cause he is a “murder.” He that looks on a woman to lust after her is an adulterer. Our law deals with the act. The law of God deals with the motive. But both the laws of men and God discern between accidental killing and willful murder. Hence Nichols is laboring under a painful miscarriage of argument. But like others, he must have a destruction of men that will preserve them intact.
We want you to see the arguments put up to sustain the theory of endless misery are a grand series of eternal failures. Hear him again:
“Hos. 13:9—‘O Israel, you have destroyed yourself.’ Job 19:10—‘He has destroyed me on every side, and I am gone.’ If the word ‘destroy’ in these passages means extinction, or termination of conscious existence, we have in the last citation a people, though annihilated, in a hopeful condition. A strange kind of annihilation”—Nichols’ H. P. B. Encyclopedia, page 93.
Yes, verily, a strange kind of destruction also. These scriptures were brought forward to prove that men exist after being destroyed. But if a text proves too much it is proverbial that it proves nothing, and here will be seen a strange case of speculation and confusion equally blended. For if such is the meaning of the word as he and Morris and others affirm, there is not a transgressor on earth who need have any fear for the future. And if he denies the application for the final consummation—since he has been so devoted to the agitation of it—no man ought ever to give him a hearing. If he admits it, none should ever fear it, let him choose either horn of this dilemma. It reveals a palpable error imposed upon a credulous people. Who are trusting for truth. It is a twilight chasing of the “ignus fatuus.” A frantic struggle to save a death-doomed theory. Look at his definition of destroy. Here were those people destroyed, and still in a hopeful condition. I say, therefore, “They may be eternally destroyed and be eternally in a hopeful condition, and he dare not deny it.” Let us place this definition by the side of Paul’s “everlasting destruction” in 1 Thess. 1:7-9, and let it be applied to them. And if they care for it at all, it will be different from here. For if they can be destroyed here, and be in a hopeful condition, so can they be hereafter so far as Nichols informs us from these texts.
And if they care not for it here, why should they hereafter?
Let us observe him as he presents himself before a large audience and thus proceeds:
“Brethren, I find in the search of the scriptures, a terrible destruction threatened against all unbelievers, all disobedient, all transgressors and ungodly. From Genesis to Revelation the voice of warning rings out with decisive emphasis. It becomes exceedingly important that we know what the word destroy means, and so we must here study it briefly. We must throw some light about it, giving you a comprehensive view of what the word holds in store. You have heard some prosing dreamers, some fanatics, or other ignoramus shoddily argue it means ‘annihilation.’ Brethren, be not deceived by these false teachers; go you not after them. It means the very opposite of what they affirm. There are many scriptures declaring to us the true meaning of destruction, and I can produce a list of texts as long as your ‘imagination.’ Teach us that multitudes of ‘people who where destroyed and still in a hopeful condition.’ Yet, they were in a hopeful condition after they were destroyed!”
Could you imagine Nichols ladling out to his audience that sort of manifesto? No. He involves it in his premises, but he draws a conclusion involving less than his premises warrant. His premises are that man may be, and has been destroyed and be in a hopeful condition all the time. His conclusion “must be,” therefore, people may be eternally destroyed and be eternally in a hopeful condition, and not suffer at all, for the text cited is positive those people were not suffering, thought he (Nichols) affirms they were destroyed. Let us test it.
Major Premise—People have been destroyed and remained in a hopeful condition (Figurative use of the phrase, Nichols, Morris).
Minor Premise—There is a destruction threatened to the ungodly and profane (Bible).
Conclusion—Therefore, all the ungodly and profane that are destroyed at last may be in a hopeful condition (Nichols).
Will Nichols accept that? I’ll say he will, for that is the thing taught in his book. For both he and Morris—and I can name a thousand more if you so request—urge us to believe the figurative is the greatest meaning. One who persists in such logic must swallow the conclusion, though they sink deeper in error.
Job truly was destroyed on every side. He had lost all his possessions, his sons and daughters, by a continuous calamity, until he felt as if he could say appropriately, “I am destroyed on every side.”
But Nichols knows as well as you or I that the texts he presented are in no case a destruction. He knows they prophesy a pending doom. He must know it is a people in a state of condemnation only, and which must eventually end in their destruction. He knows that. Or, if he does not, how could he plead a divine warrant to teach the people who deserve and want the truth?
But I will venture the assertion that even Nichols would say: “On, I know it was not a real destruction.” Of course he would. Well, it will be a “real one in the last analysis.” He would tell us the scriptures he mentioned furnished no definition of the word; anyway, I imagine he would, in the face of a thousand authorities, so to speak, of Dictionaries and Lexicons. That being a fair inference, I can justly say his doctrine is self-condemned.
But he talks of Jer. 17:18, “A double destruction,” and remarks: “Annihilate them twice, eh?” I answer yes. Just as easy as to “destroy them twice,” for in either case they must be restored once. Just as easy as to kill them twice, the kind of killing I have in mind, the kind that kills them dead like dirt, like mud (Jude 12). Just as easy as to die twice. The kind of dying I am talking about (2 Cor. 2:16). In all these cases they must be restored before the second application can be given, I’m talking about the Dictionary and Lexicon definition of the words. For according to Nichols’ idea, they might be destroyed a thousand times and never know it, while all the time being in a “hopeful condition.”
Nichols’s conception of the word perish is no less absurd, and equally as psychological. Here it is:
“Ps. 57:20—‘But the wicked shall perish.’ Isa. 57:1—‘The righteous perish and no man lat it to heart.’ Micah 7:2—‘The good man is perished out of earth.’ In the first passage if it means the wicked will be annihilated, it is clear and with equal force must follow that the last three passages teach the righteous will be annihilated”—Nichols’ H. P. B. Encyclopedia.
Nichols uses the term “annihilate” in its broadest sense, in its impossible sense. Perish are synonymous; either of them destroys. For let “perish” mean what it may, he has found the wicked and righteous involved in the same fate. He would tell you the wicked are in torment and the righteous in glory. Therefore, according to his own postulate, the word perish means either happiness or misery, and he dare not deny it, and if that fact does not mutilate and utterly demoralize his arguments I shall evacuate the fort and retreat to the rear.
But when do the righteous and the good man perish? Nichols left us to guess, but the word of God is explicit, removing every uncertainty; it teaches us in death. Would Nichols dare say in death? Would he? Why, that would be the biggest bubble ever blown, for how could he say they are still living here in the would and in a hopeful condition, as he found Israel, “after they had been destroyed.” Hence he would not dare say the perishing spoken of in his citations was in death, for his own position would crumble like sand. He dare not say it has reference to their spirits, for he holds that this perishing means torment to the lost, and he would not have the temerity to say “perish meant torment to the wicked and joy to the saint.” I can’t imagine his doing that, for he would not desire to insult the intelligence of all humanity. So then it is up to him to tell us when the righteous and wicked perish, and what it means.
I shall not speculate on a favorable answer, so I will proceed at once to answer it for him.
Surely, death is an ordeal that awaits both good and bad. They both perish. Not according to Nichols, but according to the Bible. Yet Nichols quoted several passages to prove they both perish, but when we tried his principles we discovered a disjointed jumble by which his argument were self-refuted and contradictory. But, granting for the sake of argument that Nichol and the scriptures indisputable declare the good and bad both perish, and I grant it as a necessity, and that the perishing of both good and bad results the same to each, how will Nichols get the saints to Heaven and the sinner to Hell, guided by his own definition of perish? He has left us in the dark again. He should have some sophistry somewhere to apply. His position is that the perishing of the wicked is eternal torment, and that wherever they perish they still exist—even in a hopeful condition. And he has shown that “perish” in all these scriptures is from the same Hebrew word “abdah.” Consequently we have deduced from his premises “eternal torment” for both righteous and wicked. It proves it for neither. But it does prove the sheer fickleness of the arguments examined. It proves that death is a real perishing of men, because both good and bad bow under it reign. That the disobedient will again perish after the judgment. And the perishing will result the same as it did to both good and bad in death. The people of the flood, of Sodom, and of a million other emergencies perished, and they disappeared. Why is it other people can perish and not realize it, and still be in a hopeful condition? Is Nichols too thickly clad in tradition to see that such is the Bible sense of the word, and that such must be its final use, and that he was laboring under a monstrous delusion?
What an invincible (?) argument he would have to carry his laborious definitions to the last exercise and pour out all their fury (?) and find them leaving the people “happy and sensuous” as was the actual fact concerning Israel, after Nichols has found them destroyed. But that audience we had him before would be astonished out of measure. And would lose all fear of future punishment should they be convinced that Nichols is correct.
He holds this destruction will be accomplished in the lake of fire, as the scriptures teach, and five times in a few pages he quotes Rev. 20:10, for proof they will suffer day and night forever. In strenuous places, repetition is a substitute very alluring. Let perish retain its sensible meaning, that dissolution of the whole creature occurs in death, and you can comprehend those texts. Then after the resurrection the good man will nevermore perish, but the bad one will again perish without hope.
We are also treated to an explanation of the phrase “cut off.” He presumes to show us we have misunderstood the whole category of the English language. That no one knows its meaning. He calls attention to Ps. 37:9, 34, to prove that wicked man were “cut off,” them refers to Dan. 9:26 to show that the “cutting off” of the Messiah rally meant to “cut him on,” if I may say it piously. You can read between the lines and see that Nichols would have you understand that “cutting off” and “cutting on” mean the same, or, in other words. That there is no such thing as “cutting off”; that everything means “cut on.” Well, I assure you his policy is real clever, but he is running a hazardous risk with his theory. Indeed, that theory will prostrate itself to the direst expedients for relief.
We are told that the “cutting off” of the wicked leaves them wandering about in a lost state—which is afterwards interpreted as endless misery, when transferred from time to eternity. And that “cut off” is from the Hebrew world “Karath,” and means the same in each instance. According then to Mr. Nichols, the “cutting off” of the Messiah left him wandering about in a lost condition, perhaps still hopeful, but as a lost sheep, or a lost coin.
Will he deny this conclusion from his premises? Not likely. He could ill afford it. But what are the facts? That’s all we want. What does “cutting off” mean? Did you ever take the ax, or little “red hatchet” and “cut off” the limb of a tree? Or did you ever see some one else do it? After it was “cut off” did you see it “cut on” again? You never, did you? Did you ever see a man who had an arm “cut off?” That is the whole sense of “cutting off.” Nothing more to it. Apply that sense to the unsaved, and it means cut off from life. Severed from being. Put out of existence. And that is its meaning when applied to the Messiah. He was cut off out of the land of the living said the prophet Isa. 53. How then did he get back? By the resurrection, was it not? “Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God has raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that he should be held by it” (Acts 2:23-24).
What are the “pains of death” Peter mentioned? Nichols would be obliged to say according to his manner of interpretation, that the Lord was in misery while he was dead. “Pains of death” is but a “poetic” phrase symbolizing the utter exclusion from life and its charms. We conclude again, let anyone be cut off here or hereafter, and in neither case can they come back but by the resurrection.
But more and worse, our author next seeks to have us confess that “was not” means “is.” Well, right here I balk. I might be taught that black is white, or green is blue, but I cannot see that “was not” means “is now.” I may have been taught wrong, but it has stuck deep; for, to me, “no” never means “yes.” But he gives us scripture, and forsooth we must somehow try to believe. We are referred to Ps. 37:35-36—“I have seen the wicked in great power and spreading like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away and “Lo, He was not” (Gen. 5:24). “And Enoch walked with God ‘and was not,’ for God took him.
“Was not” is exactly the same in each of these passages; if the first teaches annihilation of the wicked the second teaches the annihilation of Enoch. (Nichols’ H. P.B. Encyclopedia, page 95).
What insufferable logic. If he knows not the meaning of “was not” how can we approach him with the information? He has banked liberally, even excessively on our good nature; but he has presumed too largely upon it, and because of strained diplomatic affairs, I have broken all neutrality covenants and will besiege his forts, force evacuation and confiscate all the spoils. If I should come to you asking that you believe “no” means “yes,” and act serious in it, no doubt you would become restless until I had departed. Mr. Nichols comes with no lesser request, and earnestly pleading for it. The very opposite of what we know is means. We must deny its obvious sense and attach to it a foreign meaning we know to be untrue, which made the Bible a profound mystery, and deceiving ourselves with it.
What then did David mean when he said, “The wicked passed away and was not?” Did he mean they stayed here? They could not have passed away and remained here at the same time. The fact that they passed away is proof that they “was not” just as David affirmed the only result that could obtain. And when they could not be found again nor seen nor heard of among men, we have the definition of it. And if we apply that definition to Enoch we obtain the same truth, for when the people looked for him, “he was not”—could not be found.
But as badly mixed up as affairs already appear, if possible, he takes us a course deeper in the mire, and presenting us the “blossom” of what appears like the “fossilized plant of absurdity.”
Nothing less than close adherence to the true sense of the English language can furnish a panacea for this juggling of words such as we are seeing. The stage and setting are no better than before, and the play upon it no less adverse to reason. Let his own position refute itself, and it will be well done. He quotes a half dozen or more scriptures where the words, “Devour and consume” are mentioned, and ends up with Jer. 5:3—“O Lord, are not your eyes upon the truth? You have stricken them, but they are not grieved You have consumed them, but they have made their faces harden then a rock, they have refused to return.” In this same connection he refers to Rev. 20:9—“And the fire came down from God out of heaven and consumed them.”
Now, who is afraid to be consumed? Are you? What are you afraid of if Nichols is right? And if he is wrong then his doctrine is dangerous. Suppose you should be consumed, just make you face “harder than a rock,” as Israel did, and refuse to return. If he has represented the word right, no one should fear being consumed. There is nothing to dread. Suppose fire does come down from heaven and consumes them, they could make their faces “harder than rocks” as people did in the past, for it is not real fire, but a sort of figurative fire. Ask Nichols, he will tell you it is not fire, but represented by it.
And the more they are consumed, the harder they could make their faces. I am ignorant as to the “how” they do it—but the secret is out—for they do.
Let us place Nichols up before another large congregation and make him preach as he writes, and interpret scripture as his writings compel. This would be the substance of his sermon:
Brethren, there is much controversy over the word “consume,” but there is no rational grounds for quibbling over the word. The Bible is explicit in teaching us that all unbelievers, idolaters, ungodly and sinner will be “consumed” at the last day. Wild and reckless must be the polluted imagination, which would have you believe that “consume” means to “annihilate.” Let me emphasize that drastic measures should be employed to stay the progress of such “mockers of truth: and corruptors of Holy Writ. We are admonished to turn to the Lord and trust Him, that “fire will come down from God out of heaven and ‘consume’ all the chaff of the earth.” True, God has “consumed” whole nations in the far distant past, the records of which have descended to us, and we know that “consume’” does not mean to annihilate them. As further proof of this, I mention and instance in Jer. 5:3, where they were “consumed” and would not return, but made their faces harder than a rock, and refused to return.
Could you imagine him addressing an audience thus? No sir. You could not, but why not? Such is his teaching in his little book. That would be so different from the way the people are taught that they would be overwhelmed with amazement. The audience would see instantly that “the hardening of the face” was a process of counteracting the force of the consumption, and the more the Lord would consume them, the harder they must make their faces, and just laugh and revel in sensualism as of old. True, Nichols does not mean to teach it that way, but we say let a man teach all that is in his premises. The scriptures he gave us were designed by him to help us form a definition of the words. They give him his definition. I say let him stand by the consequences. For if Israel could be consumed and refuse to return, making their faces harder than a rock, and then he leads us to Rev. 20:9, taking this same example with us, and seeking to teach us that all sinners shall thus be consumed, Nichols himself would not fear it. He could eternally harden his face (they will show him how) as occasion might require.
The proof that they were not suffering is the fact they refused to return. And if, as Morris says, the figurative meaning is the greatest, then there is a case plainly made out, where the figurative use is employed and there is not the slightest pain connected with it. What think you? Let Nichols and all accept that, or renounce their theory.
We are now led to the second death of Rev. 20:14, and 21:19, and he says:
“Will you please observe that it is not intimated that any one dies in that lake. Death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. Who would think of saying ‘death died,’ or that hell died in the lake.” Nichols’ H. P. B. Encyclopedia, page 98.
Material must be getting painfully scarce when reduced to such straits for support. He surely has not read where the soul that sins it “shall die.” He has found where it does not die. He is determined to prove that nothing dies, though the word of God says there is a death in which something dies. He has not read to any advantage the hundreds of texts showing that there is a death beyond the resurrection for somebody. He talks much about the second death, and sets his head to outdo it; to make it a farce. The very thing the Bible calls death he calls life. When the Bible says they will be destroyed, he says they will not. He is unable to grasp the obvious picture, that the phrase “death and hell” cast into the lake of fire, is a “poetic,” a symbolic expression covering all the hosts of the unregenerate. He cannot comprehend the phrase “death and hell” as figurative, meaning the people, who never sought for eternal life. No. He must drag it through the muddy waters of confusion and exclaim: “Who ever thought of saying ‘death died or hell died?’”
He ought to understand from the combination of thought that the very expression itself is poetic—metaphorical. That there is no such thing possible as casting “literal death” into a lake of fire. Death is a state opposite of life, and hence, the symbol points to literal destruction; a real death. I deny Nichols’ position that there are not two deaths spoken of in the Bible. He denies it too, for he talks of the second death, and there could not be two deaths without dying twice.
He affirms it is appointed unto men one to die, and says this would be dying twice. And he places the words “once and twice” in big capitals for the sake of emphasis.
I agree it is appointed unto man but once to die. Yes, I admit it. But while it is appointed unto men but once to die, we are distinctly taught by the Bible that many will die “twice.” Then they die the second time without appointment, and that is true. The appointment of death for men includes good and bad, old and young, from innocent babes to the gray haired pilgrim, irrespective of age of condition, this appointment being fulfilled before our eyes unceasingly. It began after man was driven from the tree of life in Eden. Never again did God make an appointment of death for humanity. But He did appoint that if “man appointed himself a sinner” despite all the persuasion, all the warning, overtures, promises of life, and untold wealth of blessings, that the sinner should die. This is a conditional death that man appoints for himself, and does it knowingly. Whether he thinks it eternal torment or literal death. And it comes upon the sinner contrary to the will of God, and against His protests.
Of course that would be dying twice, as the Bible affirms, and which is denied by Nichols. The second death, not being of God’s appointment, is the appointment of men. And the man who will, and avoid it.
Jude 12 calls them “clouds without water” etc., carried about with winds, trees whose fruit withered, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots. Possible those persons had never died, that they were living and enjoying life then, but were shifting about with winds of evil thoughts. Destined to die twice—once by the appointment of God, once by their own appointment. The second death to follow the verdict of guilt at the resurrection.
If Nichols never saw these scriptures, the fault is his; if he saw them, what right had he to say, “it is appointed unto man once to die,: and that would be “dying twice,” as if in keen sarcasm, such a thought was absurd. Does he object to “dying twice” being taught by scriptures? To him death is but a separation from God, and to die twice would be only another separation. Why then does he think to darken your understanding by such remarks as, “Who ever heard that death died, or hell died?” Why does he desire to impress you that they don’t die, when his definition would only separate them from God? Is he keenly cognizant at times of the grand fundamental idea of death? If not, then why does he oppose the thought of “dying twice” as taught by Holy Writ? Let him answer it; I shall not endeavor.
Thus we see he is beating the air; pounding a mountain, thinking it a mole hill. Pitiably powerless to discern the meaning of a word until it reaches symbolism, then it assumes all the proportions of simplicity. It seems impossible for him to grasp the idea of future retribution should it be a real destruction. He can see no point gained to raise the wicked and consign them again to death through the fire of vengeance, though in the process they should deeply feel they had paid the uttermost farthing. He sees no impressive, for reaching lesson to the countless hosts of heaven who witness with solemn reverence the unsearchable wisdom of God in His executive dealing with sin. He discerns not the unspeakable sorrow taking hold upon the unnumbered throngs of earth-born creatures as they realize themselves cut off forever from existence, from life, from eternal life, with its unfolding ages of bliss to the redeemed. Cut off forever, for the worthless enjoyments of a few fleeting carnal pleasures. He sees not the judicial enforcement of a sentence bearing on its face the sweeping proof that God is true to His word. All there considerations count for nothing to one whose sole aim it seems is to sustain a threadbare doctrine. Could one look at it impartially and grasp a faint conception of the magnitude of that great even, spectacular, and absorbing as it will be, when the dark sable pall of death settles down over that innumerable army of evil, none could fail to be satisfied that the price—reward according to works—is just, and all any law could exact in righteousness. And to this, their own souls will testify. That being true, which every argument warrants, the lake of fire—whether real or no—can be comprehended, because it will utterly consume. In this view the degree according to works can be just a nearly comprehended as under Nichols’ eternal fire of torture, seeing they are all cast into the same lake with the Devil, and Johnson asserting that there are no adequate symbols in human language to represent it. Where then is the reward according to works?
If Nichols is correct, the whole family of impenitent’s will occupy apartments with the Devil in the same lake and be tortured for eternity.
He talked much of the degree of punishment, saying it could not be done under the theory of destruction, but he made no attempt to enlighten us as to how, under his strange scheme, and he never will. It is too barren of reason to dispense a ray of light whatsoever. Strange indeed, that a literal destruction would give the Lord no space to reward “according to works”—while to dump them indiscriminately into a furnace of fire—figurative or literal—with the devil, keeping them in perpetual life would enable Him to mete out to each their just dues. More than strange, that Nichols could not see, that by multiplying the fury of the less guilty, the term would be proportionately shortened. God is able no doubt to adjust it along the lines suggested by Nichols, but He has not taught it.
We are told that “destruction” makes death the supreme penalty, in “opposition to scripture” which speaks of a much sorer punishment than “death” for those who despise the “Spirit” etc. What is he giving us? Would he have us believe the Bible is as hopelessly confounded as he? Has he not often spoken of the second death, and defined it as an everlasting wandering in darkness? Why is he now drawing our minds to something else, something worse than death, worse than endless woe, as he defines it? Why does he not stand by his position that there is a second death taught by scripture, instead of leading us to infer it is not death? We demand that he stay where we