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souls for another world, nor were they advised to apply to the ministers of religion to assist them in this business. Religious people in those days, never flocked round such persons, all anxiety to help them to save their souls. God sometimes commanded such instantaneous executions, nor was a delay in any case deemed necessary, that the soul of the criminal might be prepared for eternity. The barbarous age will not account for all this, for I ask, did God live in a barbarous age? Was he influenced by its barbarity to command such instantaneous executions of the very wickedest of men? Either good people in those days, had no faith in the immortality of the soul, and its misery in a disembodied state, or they were devoid of all compassion for poor immortal souls. If the latter was the case, how could their own souls be fit for heaven?
But, passing these extraordinary cases, let us notice persons dying in the ordinary course of providence. No notes were put up in meeting; no ministers were called in to pray for the salvation of the immortal souls of the dying; nor is a single fear expressed, either by the dying, or those around them, that the person's soul at death would go into a state of future punishment. What, say some, does not James, chap. 5: 14, command to call in the elders of the church to pray over the sick? Yes; but observe, he nor no other sacred writer, commands any persons to pray for the salvation of the immortal souls of the dying, from any punishment after death whatever. No; the context clearly shows, elders were to pray, that the sick might be healed of their diseases. But now, ministers are chiefly called on to pray for the salvation of the immortal souls of the sick. Their restoration to health is a secondary consideration. If the person dying has lived a wicked life, friends, neighbors, yea, all good people
around, are anxious and fearful the person's soul must go to hell. The person is visited, and prayed for, and talked to so much, that instead of restoring him to health, they hasten his death. The terrors of an endless hell, are the consolation such persons have to administer, not the hope of the resurrection from the dead, which had the person known and believed, he would have lived a better life.
But in Scripture, we read just as little about people hoping their souls would go to heaven at death, as fearing their souls would go to hell. But now, those who express the most confident hope, are deemed the first rate saints. To die without this hope is called dying in the dark. But it seems all good people in ancient times died in the dark, for an instance is not on record, where any one expressed his hope of going to heaven at death. The death of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Simeon, Stephen, and others are recorded, but not one of them said a word about their immortal souls, or their going to heaven at death. Peter in his day said, that David then had not ascended into the heavens. Rachel's soul departed, but it is not said it went to heaven, for even Parkhurst allows soul here only means breath or life, Gen. 35: 18. That death is called in Scripture a departure, is evident. See Luke 2: 29. Phil. 1:23. comp. Acts 20: 29. 2 Tim. 4: 6. John 13: 1. 16: 17. The Saviour's soul at death did not go to heaven, for he did not ascend there, until forty days after he arose from the dead. All good men in ancient times died in hope, but it was the hope of the resurrection from the dead. But now, the chief hope in life, and at death, is about the immortal soul going to heaven. But a Catholic can as easily prove, that souls go to purgatory at death, as a Protestant can prove, that they go to heaven or hell.
5th. Do we ever read in Scripture, of any souls
being in heaven or hell after death? No; and this we think shows, that the common opinions are not true. There are some circumstances which show them false. For example, if souls go to heaven and hell at death, we might expect the condition of the damned and saved, affectingly described to alarm men's fears and stimulate their opes. The way our orthodox brethren preach about heaven and hell, shows this to be a reasonable expectation on their own principles. From what they say about heaven and hell, one might conclude they had made the tour of both places, for surely we are not so well acquainted with the geography of Africa as they profess to be with heaven and hell. But let only a single text be produced, which says souls are in heaven or hell, enjoying or suffering after death, and I exonerate them from all blame. Again, it is said, there is joy in heaven among the angels of God, over one sinner that repenteth. But why is it not said, there is joy in heaven among redeemed souls over one sinner that repenteth, if it be true such souls are there? One should think their joy would be the greatest, seeing they were once sinners themselves. But not a word is said about their joy, or of their being there. Again; we read of angels as ministers of God to our world. But we never read of souls or disembodied spirits, being sent here on any message whatever. Why not, if they are in heaven? For what more suitable beings could be sent, being from experience acquainted with all our weaknesses and wants, and might be supposed to take a deep interest in those they have left behind. Further; we read of angels standing in the presence of God in heaven, but we never read this of disembodied spirits. Any texts, which might be deemed an exception to this remark, occur in the book of Revelation, a book which no sect as yet professes to understand, and
according to the interpretations given of it, do not prove such a doctrine. Again; when Paul was caught up into the third heaven in a vision, he does not say he saw any disembodied spirits there. If he had, it was certainly as lawful for him to utter this as for our orthodox brethren to preach it. Do not they preach that disembodied spirits are in heaven? And they also confidently assert, they learn this from the Bible. We call on them to name the texts from which they learn this. I would add, no Scripture writer speaks of disembodied spirits being in hell, either in vision or plain language. The parable of the rich man, commonly appealed to, says not a word about his soul. When our orthodox friends come to advocate, that men's bodies after death are in torment, they can refer to this parable with some degree of plausibility. But they must allow, that it says nothing about the man's soul being in torment. 1 Peter 3: 19, 20, has been considered Sect. 1, and we should think, Mr. Hudson will hesitate in referring to it again as proof, that disembodied spirits are either punished or preached to in the prison of hell.
6th. Did any of the persons raised from the dead intimate, that their disembodied spirits while they were dead, enjoyed happiness, suffered misery, or had conscious existence of any kind? No; they are all as silent as the grave in which they lay, on this subject. The widow's child at Zarephath, Jairus' daughter, the widow's son of Nain, Lazarus, Dorcas, the persons who rose at our Lords crucifixion, and others, were raised again from the dead. Some of them were raised soon after death; others of them several days after death, and perhaps a longer period. If the common opinions are true, the souls of such persons must have been in heaven or hell, all the time they were dead. But permit me to ask,
did our Lord or any one else, command their souls to return from heaven or hell to reanimate their bodies? Never; well, did such persons say they saw, or heard, or felt any thing while their bodies were dead? No; not a word that even they had conscious existence. Had no person curiosity enough to ask them any questions as to their condition after death? No; nor does it appear they supposed they had any information to communicate, but believed that "the dead know not any thing," which corroborates my views stated in Section 1.
But if those persons' souls went to heaven at death, we should think they would return with some reluctance, to take up their abode again in such vile bodies. If they went to hell, they might return with pleasure; out of two evils choosing the least. But we should presume must die again with great reluctance to take up their abode with devils and damned spirits. If it is said, God suffered their former souls to remain in heaven and hell, and furnished them with new souls when he raised them from the dead; admit this to be true, what then became of those new souls when the persons died again? Did they also go to heaven or hell? If this is admitted, then a man might have two souls in heaven or hell, or perhaps one in each place; for if he lost his first soul it is natural to conclude he would be careful to have the second saved. Some would likely ask, to which of these souls shall the body belong at the resurrection? But enough of such senseless speculations, to which the common ideas of disembodied spirits lead.
How long the persons had been dead, who arose at our Lord's crucifixion, is not said. Be this as it may, it is certain their souls must have come from heaven to reanimate their bodies, if the common opinions are true. They were saints. But observe it is said, "many bodies of the saints who slept arose,"