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religious costume, or in dead externals! None but Christ can save us! Nothing can set aside the necessity of faith and regeneration. It will not do to boast our baptism, for circumcision is nothing. It will not avail to boast of our church and godly connexions; there is a man in hell, who called upon father Abraham out of the burning depth, but called in vain. And there are thousands in heaven, from the four points of the compass, who had no connection with the Abrahamic race. Faith is the capital requirement. Lord, increase our faith.
A few lines more. We apologise to the reader for the name of Abraham appearing so much in this paper, and the name of Jesus so little. Close exposition is our apology. But let it be understood and remembered, that Jesus is always supposed to be present when the faith of Abraham is named, because it is faith in Jesus. We must not lose ourselves in faith, in its acts or exercises, to the neglect of him who is its object and gives it all its value. Faith is but the eye that sees him. The beauty is not in the seeing eye, but in the object seen. Faith is but the hand laid on the head of the victim. It makes no atonement, but by touching him who takes away sin, obtains remission. Faith is not the fringe of virtuous power that cures our wasting malady. It is only the ardent touch that brings the ready virtue out of that healing robe. Glorious things are spoken of faith. High honour too, it is, to be counted children of Abraham. But what is faith, and who is Abrabam ? Christ is all !
Christ is all! Put genealogies and ceremonies, and prayers and church-routine, yes, and faith itself, on the background, and let Christ be all and in all. Glory be to him alone.
ART. II.-IS THERE AN INTERMEDIATE STATE ?
E read with much pleasure and interest the well-written
article in your May number on an “intermediate state," and, though we cannot agree with all the statements of the writer, we do heartily admire the clear and forcible manner in which he has expressed his opinions.
The writer of that article supposes that there is, or may be, an intermediate region, divided into two provinces; the one of comparative bliss, and the other of comparative misery, separated from each other by a wide gulph, into one of which every soul goes at death, being there detained until the general resurrection. Doubtless the present condition of disembodied spirits is intermediate, in the sense that they have not yet arrived at the ultimate condition of existence, which is impossible while the body remains under the power of death; and we see no reasonable doubt that their bappiness or misery will be greatly increased when clothed with the resurrection body. Yet we object to the supposition that meanwhile they are detained in an intermediate place, or, as spirits, are imperfectly happy or miserable. To avoid ambiguity, we shall for the most part use the words intermediate place to express definitely the subject of our consideration.
It is true many Christians in early times thought that the souls of the good did not immediately upon death enter into heaven, but remained in earnest expectation of the accomplishment of the promise of God. But we need scarcely say, that many unscriptural and hurtful opinions were held in the Church from a very early period. Some of the ancient Christians thought the pains of hell were temporary;* that Christ prayed, not in reality, but only in appearance ;t and that man at his creation was imperfect. Such defective opinions were to be expected, when, as was the case, sound rules of biblical interpretation were not generally recognized, and fanciful ideas and philosophical conceits were introduced into Christian theology.
Among early Christian writers-Tertullian, Ambrose, Augustine, Hilary, Prudentius, and Lactantius—are known to have held the opinion, that the spirits of deceased saints are (in abditis recepticules et exterioribus atris) in hidden receptacles and exterior halls, where they anticipate with a measure of happiness the resurrection of their bodies and the glorification of their souls. These writers were by no means inspired, and are not implicitly to be followed; indeed, it has been a misfortune to the Church in all succeeding generations, that she has allowed her opinions to be so greatly influenced by the writings of the so-called Christian fathers. Though the tenet just referred to has the sanction of antiquity, we are not disposed on that account to receive it as true, else we might as well believe in the heathen purgatory described in Plato's writings, and found in Homer's Odyssey, and Virgil's Æneid.
The germ of this intermediate theory is undoubtedly found in the writings of heathen philosophers, and from thence it made its way into the theology of the early Christian writers, and ultimately resolved itself into the purgatorial dogma of papal Rome. Many crude, and even contradictory notions, were held by the early Christians concerning the state of the soul after death. Tertullian held the opinion that no soul would participate in perfect happiness until the resurrection of the body; that previous to that Origin. of John Damascene.
event the soul would remain in a state of consciousness in some lower region; and that, as the uttermost farthing would be required of every offender, the soul would be occupied, in this intermediate state, with reflections upon every small fault committed during life, and suffer more or less from the consciousness of deserved punishment, until it should be re-united with the body.* We have no more Scriptural authority for the first than for the last part of this statement; and it were easy to see how in the course of time the idea of purgatorial pains crept into the Church. The heathen believed that the souls of the dead in an intermediate state might receive help from the prayers and sacrifices of the living, which is proved from the complaints of the ghost of Elpenor, as related by Homer, f and of Palinurus, by Virgil. Now, we find that it was very common for the early Christians to offer prayers for the repose, quiet, and comfort, until the time of the general resurrection, of those saints whom they supposed were in the intermediate region. Doubtless, several things contributed to introduce the notion of an intermediate place into the early Christian Church. Some pagans appear to have admitted of but two places—Tarturus and Elysiumin the future world; but supposed that many in Tarturus, after a time of suffering, would be purified, and escape to the blissful Elysian fields. Others thought some spirits went, not at once to Tarturus or Elysium, but hovered about the spot where their bodies were buried. Others, again, supposed that those whose bodies were not decently interred, were shut out of the Elysian abodes, but wandered restlessly about in some outer region. It is not difficult to imagine that such men after embracing Christianity and learning that the salvation of man would not be completed until the resurrection of the body, should suppose, their old creed leading them that way, that there was an intermediate place in which the departed were detained until that glorious event. And so it would seem that the early Christian writers did not rid themselves of all their old heathen beliefs, but endeavoured to reconcile them with Christian doctrines, as well as to conciliate the heathen philosophers by their statements respecting an intermediate region.
Some seem to suppose that the Hebrew word Sheol, occuring in the Old Testament, and its Greek equivalent Hades, found in the New, necessarily imply in their signification an intermediate place. Such is not the case. Fulks, in his defence of the English translation of the Bible, against Gregory Martin, says, “ That the Hebrew word (Sheol) properly signifies a receptacle of the bodies after death, yet when mention is made of the wicked, by consequence it may signify hell; as the day signifies light; the night, darkness ; fire, heat; peace, prosperity.” Sheol, as used in the Sacred Writings, has at least five different significations, which must in great measure be gathered from the context, or its Scripture parallels. 1. The place of torment, hell, properly so called. “The wicked shall be turned into hell (sheol), and all the nations that forget God." Psa. ix. 17. 2. The grave. This appears to be its most frequent meaning. “The grave (sheol)
* Tertull. De Anima. + Odyss, bib. xi. 55.78. | Æn vi. 363-365, 371.
that saith not, it is enough.” Prov. xxx. 16. 60 that thou wouldest hide me in the grave (sheol). Job xiv. 13. “If I wait, the grave (sheol) is mine house : I have made my bed in the darkness. I have said to corruption, thou art my father : to the worm, thou art my mother and my sister. And where is now my hope ? as for my hope, who shall see it? They shall go down to the bars of the pit (sheol), when our rest together is in the dust.” Job xvii. 13-16. See also Gen. xlii. 38, and Eccles. ix. 10. 3. The common state of the dead, without reference to any particular place, either of misery or happiness, or difference of moral character. “For in death there is no remembrance of thee; in the grave (sheol), who shall give thee thanks ? Ps. vi. 5. See also Isaiah xiv. 9. It has been said that the good detained in sheol are conscious, enjoy God's presence, and anticipate a better state ; but Hezekiah said, “Sheol cannot praise thee." Isaiah xxxviii. 18. 4. The lower, deep, or remote parts of the earth. “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell (sheol), behold, thou art there.” Psa. cxxxix. 8. 5. Sorrow, misery, or danger. “Thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell (sheol). Psa. lxxxvi. 13. Compare with ver. 7. Here sheol is used to signify deep sorrow, metaphorically referring to being brought up out of a deep pit or unseen place. See Psa. xl. 2. Hades is used in two senses in the New Testament. 1. The place of torment. “ And in hell (hades) he lift up his eyes, being in torments.” Luke xvi. 23. 2. The grave. O death where is thy sting? O grave (hades) where is thy victory." 1 Cor. xv. 55. See also Rev. i. 18: vi 8. We have not found any passage in the Scriptures where these words, if compared with the accompanying verses, plainly indicate an intermediate place, and are disposed to believe they have no such meaning when used in the Word of God. It is very interesting to note the primary and similar meaning of the words sheol, hades, and hell. Sheol, signifies low, or deep; hades, a place unseen ; hell is derived from an old German word signifying deep or hidden ;* hence, what Usher observes concerning hades, may be said of all these words, they “ properly signify the other world, the place or state of the dead, whether in respect of the soul, or of the body; so that heaven itself may be comprehended." John Howe represents hades as comprehending but two places, heaven and hell, properly so called; the first of which he calls “the celestial hades," and the latter “the horrid infernal hades.”+ The idea common to the three words is, that of an unseen, or invisible state, without reference to any particular place either of happiness or misery; and when used in Scripture,
* Leigh’s Critica Sacra, in loc. † Howe's Theology, by Dunn, chap. xxiii. p. 462.
attention must be paid to the context or other parts of the Sacred Writings, to determine the precise meaning of the word in the passage under consideration.
We must look to the Scriptures for a decision of this matter. Now, we humbly submit, that after an attentive and serious reading of the Bible, an unbiased mind would have no impression of an intermediate place. Such an opinion should not be encouraged, unless good proof of its truth can be found in the Word of God. We do not think it can fairly be inferred even from those passages that are usually adduced as evidences in its favour.
Let us examine a few passages that have been supposed to indicate an intermediate place. In beautiful figurative words, the king and kingdom of Bablyon are described as descending into hell (sheol), Isaiah xiv. 6. The dead are represented as speaking and exulting over them. But that this is no more than the desolating ravages of death, metaphorically employed to set forth the utter destruction with which God would visit the king and kingdom of Babylon, is evident from the very words employed : “Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the voice of thy viols; the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.” (ver. 11). See also Ezek. xxxii. 21, 27, where hell (sheol) is again used in a very similar manner.
The passage occurring Ps. xvi. 10, predicting the resurrection of Christ does not teach that our Saviour's soul at death descended into an intermediate place. David, after expressing great confidence in God, says, “My flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (sheol); neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” The psalmist believed the body would rise again, and gives expression to his faith by a double assertion. The
same mode of double expression signifying one and the same idea is very frequent in the Psalms. Indeed it is most important in reading the poetic parts of the Old Testament to bear in mind the chief characteristic of Hebrew poetry is parallelism, or the repetition of the same idea in parallel clauses, for this will often, as in the passage now under our notice, supply us with the key to the interpretation. Though there are only eleven verses in this Psalm, yet we may find at least six parallelisms, in which the second clause expresses the meaning of the first with more or less clearness. After the psalmist had said : “My flesh also shall rest in hope” he makes an assertion, expressed in parallel clauses ; “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (sheol); neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption; ” in which the second part more clearly states the idea contained in the first. Here holy one corresponds to soul, and corruption to hell. The word soul is often used in Scripture for the person when the body is particularly meant, and the Jews called dead bodies, souls. See