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not that their disembodied spirits appeared unto many. But why inform us that their bodies out of their graves," yet say nothing at all about their disembodied spirits? The very silence of the historian shows, he did not believe souls went to heaven or hell at death. Similar remarks might be made on all the other instances of persons raised from the dead. We are aware some have said, souls go to paradise not to heaven at death. But as little is said about the souls of those persons coming from paradise as heaven, which ought to settle this question. We may just as well affirm they come from purgatory as either of those places. One thing is certain-if any person was raised from the dead in our day, he would soon be questioned, how he felt, and what he had seen and heard in the world of spirits. Why? Because we have imbibed notions not to be found in the Bible about the immortality of the soul and its condition after death.
7th. Is any thing said in Scripture respecting the immortality of men's souls or disembodied spirits at the resurrection of the dead? No; it is said the dead shall be raised incorruptible, hut not a word is said about their souls having existed in a disembodied state, or that they ever had immortal souls. John 5: 28, 29, is no exception to this remark, for if it was admitted the passage teaches a literal resurrection, nothing is said in it about souls coming forth from heaven or hell to a resurrection of life or damnation. No, it is all in the graves, but who supposes men's immortal souls are in the graves? Paul, 1 Cor. 15, treats on the subject of the resurrection at length. At verse 17, he says, "if Christ be not risen then they who have fallen asleep in Christ are perished." But how could this possibly be if their souls were immortal and in heaven? Paul certainly seems to speak, as if he had no faith in the doctrine
of disembodied spirits. Some think the reason why the bodies of men are to be raised is because their souls are immortal. But the fact is certain, I leave others to account for it, why no sacred writer says a word about the immortal soul in treating on the subject of the resurrection. I may add, if an immortal body, is united to a soul which was immortal in this state of existence, then man after the resurrection is doubly immortal. But strange to tell, this immortal soul did not prevent its possessor from death, nor is its immortality assigned as any reason why the body is to be raised immortal at the resurrection.
8th. Is any thing said then in Scripture respecting immortal souls or disembodied spirits after the resurrection from the dead? Nothing; nor could we expect this; for at the resurrection the intermediate state comes to an end according to the common opinions, and after it, soul and body are reunited to suffer or enjoy together for ever. But it deserves notice, that no such reunion is ever mentioned in the Bible, or that a disembodied soul, which had existed in an intermediate state, is after the resurrection connected with an immortal body.
9th. Is the term immortal ever joined in Scripture with the terms soul and spirit? No: though the terms nesme, nephish, ruah, pneuma, and psuhe, rendered soul and spirit, occur so often in the Bible, yet we never hear of an immortal soul or immortal spirit from any sacred writer. The body is mortal and they explicitly declare this. See Rom. 6: 12. 8: 11. Yea, they call the whole man mortal. "Shall mortal man be more just than God?" Job 4: 17. comp. 2 Chron. 14: 11, in the margin. Was it of more importance to inform us that we are mortal, than that we have immortal souls? The first was obvious from every day's observation. The last could on
ly be known by divine revelation. It is a very obvious case, if man has an immortal soul, it does not prevent his mortality, nor protract his death for a single hour. On the contrary, we sicken, die, and return to dust the same as the brute creation. What Solomon says, Eccles. 3: 19, 20, is certainly true so far as our observation of men and beasts extends. All allow man's body is mortal, but I ask, is it ever intimated that man puts off his mortality at death? Never but it is common to hear persons speak of putting off this mortal coil, or flesh, at death. Paul speaks, 2 Cor. 5: 1-10, of putting off this earthly house of his tabernacle, but we shall see in another place, that he did not expect to be present with the Lord until the resurrection. It is evident he says nothing about an immortal soul. I then ask every Christian man, where did you find the phrases immortal souls, never dying souls, imperishable spirits? It was not from your Bibles. If you deny it to be heathen language, show, if you can, that it has a better origin.
We have pursued this subject through all the stages of man's existence; his creation, his life-time, at death, after it, and his resurrection from the dead. The result of this investigation is the Bible does not teach the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, or its existence in a disembodied state, but are relics of heathenism. That man's only hope for future life is his being raised again from the dead, we shall attempt to show in the next Essay.
IN considering objections, I shall confine myself to such, as are likely to be urged against the views
which have been advanced in this Essay. It may be objected
1st. That God's wisdom and goodness are impeached, if man's existence is suspended between death and the resurrection, for all this time might have been spent in a life of activity and enjoyment in his service. Answer: and why are not God's wisdom and goodness also impeached, in suffering an eternity to pass away before he created man? Could not this period have been spent in a life of activity and enjoyment in his service? Again; why are not his wisdom and goodness impeached in so making man, that more than one third part of his whole life time is spent in infantile weakness and sleep? All this time might have been spent in a life of activity and enjoyment in his service. But why does not the objector rather sayIf my creed be true, God's wisdom and goodness are much more impeached in continuing the existence of unnumbered millions between death and the resurrection in unutterable anguish and wo. Let the objector himself say, would it not look more like wisdom and goodness in God, to blot them forever out of existence, or rather, never to have given them an existence, seeing it proves such a curse to them? But the objector forgets that his objection lies equally against God's wisdom and goodness respecting men's bodies, for he admits their existence is suspended between death and the resurrection. Could not they have spent all this time in a life of activity and enjoyment in his service? Why might not the objector say, it was neither wise nor good in God to say "dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return?" Man is a poor judge of what is wisest and best for God to do. Why not let us rather say "blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead?"
2d. It is objected" the common opinions cheer the mind of man with the prospect of IMMEDIATE happiness after death, but your views hold up the dreary prospect of sleep, in the darkness, silence, and corruption of the grave. Away with this sleepy system." Answer: the objector ought to have added, "the common opinions also present to a great part of the human race the cheering prospect of immediate endless misery after death, and to which they were doomed before they were born," according to ancient orthodoxy. This to be sure is a very cheering prospect to the mind of man in view of his death. But I find religious people take special care, that this kind of cheer shall be enjoyed by others, not themselves. Those who hold to a limited period of punishment after death, hold out better cheer to be enjoyed afterward, but on either of these schemes, where is their advantage over the views I have exhibited? But passing this, permit me to ask, of what real benefit can it be to man, to cheer him with the prospect of immediate happiness after death, if it is not taught in Scripture? After examining this subject with all the care and attention I am able to give it, I must say it is only ideal cheer. The grounds on which I have come to such a conclusion are laid before the reader, let him judge for himself. The heathen had their elysian fields, and the Mahometans have their paradise, to cheer them in the prospect of death; and Christians would do well to consider, if their happiness and misery for souls after death, are not derived from the heathen.
But let us examine what this dreary prospect is. It is very evident, it cannot be a dreary prospect to any one after death, for on my views-" the dead know not any thing." But even to the living, it cannot be more dreary to us, than to all who have gone before us. Death in itself, always has, and always will