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can it be said, that the mind depends upon the organization of the brain--that the injury of the one is the injury of the other-when here is an instance of a large portion removed by the knife of a surgeon, and yet the man lives, and thinks I hola, therefore, that this view is opposed to experimental science. Our own consciousness also is opposed to it. There is a stirring of immortality within the bosom of every man, and we instinctively feel, that we shall live when our bocies are dead. It requires no small portion of sophistry to resist the testimany of our consciousness upon this question. And if there be any individual here who has screwed up his firmness to that point, I would ask him, as an honest man, whether the labour it has cost him to bring his mind to that opinion does not prove how deeply it is seated in the convictions of mankind ! But our authoritative appeal is not to the testimony of science, or to the conscious emotions of our own minds, but to the Word of God. This holy volume we regard as a revelation which opens to our view the unseen world, and brings life and immortality to light. Now, its statements go upon the principle, that an immortal soul is superadded to the animal body. Thus, in the narrative of the creation of man, it is declared, that God formed his body out of the dust of the ground, and that he “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” Thus also, Solomon has declared, that at the close of life, “the dust” speaking of the body, “shall return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return to God that gave it ” Our Lord Jesus has sanctioned the same idea, when, speaking of persecution in its most cruel forms, he said to his disciples— “ Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul : but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell," (Matt. x. 28.) Now, had our Lord known, that the soul is dependant for consciousness upon the organization of the body, and that, when animal life is destroyed, the conscious being of the individual is placed in abeyance till the resurrection, could he have employed language like this? Language, which in so decided a manner points out the separate existence of the soul after the body has been destroyed.
The separate existence of the soul after the body is dead was also believed by the pious Jews, who made it the occasion of devoutly commending their departing spirits to the hands of their God and Father. David exclaimed, “ Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit; for thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” The martyred Stephen cried, “ Lord Jesus, into thy hands I commit my spirit.” And the Saviour himself said, “ Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.” Surely these illustrious saints, who were the subjects of the special inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and also the Son of God himself, would not be permitted to believe and sanction the separate and conscious existence of the disembodied spirit, if that doctrine were not founded in truth. These remarks, I trust, are sufficient for the first part of the subject.
REMOVED AT DEATH INTO A SEPARATE STATE.
The second observation I would make is, that THESE CONSCIOUS SPIRITS ARE
I am afraid that we do not sufficiently realize that great change which the act of death will effect in us. It is very certain, brethren, that in our present state, we are under the influence of two very distinct and opposing faculties. These have been called the sensual or imaginative faculty, and the moral sense. The sensual or imaginative powers of our nature are naturally affected by sentient things, while the moral sense is mainly influenced by the contemplation of the character of God, and the eternal principles of truth and rectitude. Now when our spirits shall leave the body they will be delivered from the presence and the power of those sentient things which now oppress them and interrupt their contemplation of the holy and the blessed. Then the mind will be brought into the unveiled contemplation of God, and of the great realities of truth and holiness, and will apprehend those things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, and which it hath not entered into the imagination of men to conceive.
The spirit, thus disembodied, enters upon that state which is generally described in the term before us. It is said of the rich man, “ that in hell he lifted up his eyes.” Now, my brethren, I think this a very unfortunate rendering of the word “ hades" in the New Testament. Hell, in our popular theological language, means the place of torment: but the word which is so translated “ádn," I am sure ought not to be thus restricted, for it includes in its usual sense the whole unseen world, while the place of final suffering is always described by another word, yeerra. Concerning the English word “ hell,” it would, perhaps, be interesting to mention what I think is its history. It is derived from an Anglo-saxon word Hel-An, which is,“ to cover." Hence the old English verb, to hell, and an old writer remarks, “ Hell hath an apt appellation as being helled over, that is to say, hidden or covered in low obscurity." Thus a “heller” is a man that is employed to cover anything : and I am told, that in the West of England to this day, a thatcher who covers in a barn, or a slater who covers in a house, is called, in the provincial dialect “ a heller".
-an individual who covers in a thing. Therefore hell, in the popular language of our forefathers, meant “ the covered, the concealed place, quite irrespective of happiness or suffering." Now this, in my judgment, is precisely the meaning of the word hades ; it is the covered place, and neither describes heaven nor the place of final torment, but that separate state into which the disembodied spirits, both of the good and the bad, are called at death to enter. The word which is employed to describe the final place of torment, as I have said, gehennah, is quite distinct in its origin and import : and those who can consult the Greek Testament will find that wherever the final sufferings of the body after the resurrection are spoken of, there this word is used; but wherever the separate state of the soul is spoken of there the other word, hades, is used. Thus, for example, where our Lord says, “ Fear not them who can kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do: but fear him which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell ;" he does not use a dns, the covered place, but yera, the place of torment. This is the case in our text: he does not use the word expressive of the place of final suffering, but that which conveys the idea of concealment. The equivalent word used by the writers of the Old Testament partakes of the same general character with hades, bini Shcol
. It is used, Dr. George Campbell observes, as corresponding with the other, and “ signifies the state of the dead in general, without regard to the goodness or badness of the persons, their happiness or misery." Many passages might be quoted to illustrate this sense : but I will only take one of the most plain and striking. In Genesis, xxxvii. we find that news was brought to Jacob that his son Joseph had been devoured by wild beasts. His treacherous brethren brought the torn and stained garments of Joseph, and poor Jacob wept over it, thinking that his son
had been devoured by the jaws of the ravenous beasts of the forest. “And he put sackcloth upon
his loins, and mourned for his son many days. And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave (Shcol), unto my son mourning." Now he could never have meant that he should go into the sepulchre where his son was buried; for he supposed that his son had found a tomb in the stomachs of ravenous beasts: and therefore he must refer to the unseen place, the covered state : “ I shall go down into the unseen place to my son, mourning."
I will only notice a single passage from the New Testament confirmatory of this sense, where it is said (Revelations, vi. 8), “ And I looked, and behold a pale horse ; and his name that sat on him was Death, and hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth." Now it must be a very uncharitable conclusion to suppose that all that perished under the fearful judgments here announced, whenever they occurred, went to the infernal place of torment. Understand the word, however, in the sense for which I contend, and its meaning is plain and obvious.
The spirits of those who died of the plagues were, by the act of death, transferred to the separate, the concealed state.
Having thus shewn you how this state is generally described, allow me secondly, to remark, that this separate state is offectingly divided. In the parable before us we are plainly told, that the beggar was in Abraham's bosom, that the rich man was in a state of suffering, and that between them both there was a gulf fixed. Concerning “ Abraham's bosom,” I may remark that it is a phrase frequently employed by the Jews expressive of their veneration and love for the great father of their nation, and friend of God, Abraham. If we would understand this phrase, we must recollect that the Easterns, at their social entertainments, were in the habit of sitting on mats or carpets on the floor, or on raised sofas around the table, and that the most favoured guests sat next to the master of the feast. Thus, we read that John, the beloved friend of our Lord, sat next his master at the paschal supper, and “there was leaning on Jesus one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.” (John, xiii. 23.) Thus, in the language of the Jews, John was in Jesus's bosom-possessed of the privilege of immediate and endearing converse.
So when it is said that Lazarus was in Abraham's bosom, it means, that he was entertained by Abraham the patriarch of all the faithful, and permitted to enjoy with him all the endearments of social intercourse.
On the other hand it is said, that the rich man was in a state of torment, that he cried under the suffering of the flame, and that he asked for water to cool his tongue. For the right interpretation of this part of the parable we must recal our introductory remarks; for I conceive that much of this constitutes what I have called the filling up of the picture. It is said that the rich man was buried: all that appertained to him capable of suffering from the action of fire was then in the grave, actually buried in the sepulchre of his fathers. When our Lord, therefore, said that the rich man cried, “ Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue,” he merely exhibited things spiritual by things material; and taught that in this separate state his disembodied spirit was called to suffer that anguish which a clear view of the rectitude and holiness of God, and of his own depravity and guilt, will occasion to every unpardoned transgressor in another world. Let me not be understood here as if I denied the existence of a place of torment for the finally impenitent, and which is represented “ as a lake that burneth with fire and brimstone." No! But still this is most obvious, that during the whole of that period which intervenes between death and the resurrection, while the bodies of the departed sleep in the grave, and their spirits only are in the other world, it is impossible that their bodies can be the subject of the torments described in this passage ; and it must therefore describe that anguish which remorse of conscience must occasion under a sense of an eternal separation from God, the fountain of all good, and of banishment to a hopeless state of self-accusation and despair.
Further to illustrate my idea of the separate condition of the departed, I will again advert to what is said of Lazarus. I regard it to be descriptive of that state which is called in the New Testament “ Paradise.” Our Lord Jesus said to the dying thief, “ To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” Most individuals, I presume, understand by that expression that he intended to take him that day to heaven. Paradise, however, I regard as a portion of the unseen world distinct from the abode of complete felicity which is in the third heavens. Thither the spirit of the pardoned thief and of his merciful Lord entered, and there possessed as much felicity as disembodied spirits can enjoy. To confirm this idea, I would remind you of what our Lord remarked to Mary in the garden when she came to embrace him: “Touch me not,” or, as some read it, “ Detain me not," " for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” Now this occurred after the resurrection of our Lord, whose spirit had been three days separated from his dead body, which was laid in a new sepulchre of Joseph. Still he addresses his friend, “Now do not attempt to detain me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father: but go and tell my brethren, that I am about to ascend to my Father and their Father; to my God, and their God. I told you that it is expedient for you that I should go away: I now go to prepare a place for you; and when I come again at the last day, I will receive you to myself, that where I am there ye may be also."
This view is further sustained, in my judgment, by the expression of the Psalmist, and which the apostle Peter expressly applied to our Lord: “Thou wilt not leave his soul in hell, nor suffer thine holy one to see corruption." Some individuals, indeed, have held the most extraordinary opinion that in order to the complete satisfaction of the death of Christ, it was necessary that he should actually suffer the torments of the damned; and they therefore interpret this passage in the popular sense of the word, and maintain that our Lord actually descended into hell, the place of suffering for the guilty and impenitent. But it seems to me utterly needless, if not utterly absurd to assume this, because, I take it, that the sufferings of guilty minds must consist in a consciousness of their guilt, in a perception of the folly and madness of their impotent rebellion against the government of a holy and gracious God. Now as the Saviour could never be the conscious subject of personal guilt, because he was holy, harmless, and undefiled, so he could never know the torments of remorse which is felt by the impenitent. To maintain, therefore, the popula. sense of the word, in reference to our Lord's sufferings, appears forced and most unnatural; but, on the other hand, if we understand it to refer to his entrance into the unseen world, that sense seems simple and obvious : “ Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption;" that is, “My body shall not corrupt in the tomb, and my soul shall not remain in the separate state ; but my soul and body shall be re-united again, to part no more." Thus the Saviour became the first fruits of them that slept, the blessed earnest of the resurrection of all his people.
I know that St. Paul's words, “ Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better,” are cited against the interpretation I now maintain. Brethren, I do not think that this and similar passages materially affect my argument. If our blessed Saviour be divine, he must be omnipresent. We rejoice in his gracious presence in the sanctuary, where our spirits are often blessed with unspeakable delight. Now there is doubtless a much higher manifestation of his presence in the paradisaic regions of the separate state a manifestation which may fill the disembodied spirit with unutterable felicity; and yet it may not be admitted into the holiest of all, where the presence of his glorified humanity is actually enjoyed. I conceive that the soul of a believer, separate from the body, possesses, in the unseen state, all that tranquillity, rest, and joy_all that elevation of thought and feeling which is necessary to its present blessedness, and which will be preparatory to a higher and perfect state of existence. Such a state is surely sufficient to justify the desire which St. Paul expressed to depart, without concluding that at once he would depart to the blessedness of heaven itself.
Look, on the other hand, to the condition of the wicked in the unseen world. We have already seen that the torment which our Lord described is not material suffering, but that anguish which remorse of conscience will occasion, which self-condemnation will excite-that conflict and distress which the society of wicked spirits will aggravate. Many a transgressor in the separate state will find himself associated with those whom he has corrupted by his principles or conduct, and will find, in their bitter reproaches, a fearful addition to his own miseries. The prophet Isaiah, in his fourteenth chapter, has described the coming of the spirit of the great king of Babylon into the infernal regions with much sublimity, and has peculiarly marked the scorn and insult which other spirits would then pour forth upon that cruel spoiler. The passage is too long for citation, but Bishop Louth’s version of part of it deserves your notice :
“ Hades from beneath is moved because of thee, to meet thee at thy coming: “He rouseth for thee the mighty dead, all the great chiefs of the earth; “ He maketh to rise up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. “ All of them shall accost thee, and shall say unto thee: “ Art thou, even thou, too, become weak as we? Art thou made like unto us?"
Now this passage illustrates the pain and woe which a disembodied spirit feels when it meets in Hades those with whom it has transgressed on earth. For here the proud king of Babylon is made to confront the princes he had oppressed and slaughtered by his murderous power, and he had sent before him into the unseen world: he is met and taunted by them: “ Art thou also become weak as we? Art thou become like unto us ?" There is no compassion among the wicked in the infernal state ; and therefore they cry tauntingly to him, as if their own sorrows were mitigated by a consciousness that he also suffered with them.