[Table of Contents]
|Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)
M I S C E L L A N E O U S.
VARIOUS FORMS OF UNBELIEF.
Mr. Campbell writes in 1836, page 520:
Arguments for a separate state between death and the resurrection; for hades; for paradise; for Abraham's bosom, and for something called spirit as distinct from the gross substance of the human body, have been offered from the following topics:--
1. From the appearance of Moses on the mount of transfiguration before the resurrection of the Resurrection and the Life.
2. From Heb. xii. 9: "We have had fathers of our flesh who chastised us and we give them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection to the FATHER OF OUR SPIRITS, and live?"
3. From Luke xxiv. 39: "A spirit has not flesh and bones as you see me have."
4. From II. Cor. iv. 16: "But though, indeed, our outward man is impaired, the inward man is renewed day by day."
5. From II. Cor. v. 6: "While at home in the body we are absent from the Lord; but we are desirous rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord."
6. From II. Cor. v. 3: "We shall not be found naked when divested of our earthly mansion, but shall be invested with a heavenly tabernacle."
7. From Heb. xii. 23: "The spirits of just men made perfect."
From these Scripture topics we have sketched with great brevity a few arguments against the notion that the whole man goes into the grave and continues there until the morning of resurrection; and against the notion that man is only a compound of flesh, blood and bones--all body and breath, without any thing that can live or act independent of his fleshly being. We now proceed to another topic, which we shall call our--
8th Argument. Matt. x. 28: "Fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
Here it is PSUCHE, rendered soul: and not PNEUMA, spirit; and it is GEHENNA, hell; and not HADES, the separate or invisible state. Let it then be observed that psuche is here, as in many other places, used for the spirit, or indestructible part of man. The Great Teacher of  the truths of the unseen and eternal world here asserts unequivocally that men can kill the body, and that they cannot kill the soul. By implication, then, the Saviour teaches that, as respects human power, the body is mortal, and the soul deathless or immortal. They are two parts of man--both also susceptible of pain. Man can afflict or destroy the one--God alone can afflict or destroy the other.
Gehenna, or hell, is never used for the grave, or the general and common state of the dead, as is the term hades. It is used only in reference to punishment and pain. Unless the Messiah had acted the theorist and assumed the speculative philosopher, we cannot imagine how he could more unambiguously and forcibly have taught that the destiny of the soul, and the body at death is not one and the same, or that the soul lives when the body is killed. Consequently, the soul is not, in this acceptation, the blood or the animal life, but the thinking and deathless spirit of man--which, to use the words of Solomon, "returns to God who gave it" when "the body returns to the dust."
We offer a ninth argument from I. Cor. xv. 44: "There is a spiritual body." Hence the dead saints will be raised in spiritual bodies. But will it not strike the attention of all, that a spiritual body is--only a body and not a spirit: but it is much more homogeneous, and consequently a more suitable accommodation for a human spirit justified, than an animal or "natural body." But our argument is--as the natural body is not the natural man, neither is the spiritual body the spiritual man; and as the animal body is not the sinner, so the spiritual body is not the saint, but the habitation of a pure spirit. If, then, the saints have spiritual bodies at the resurrection, that which inhabits a spiritual body is something distinct from it; for all will agree that as the natural body without the spirit is dead, so the spiritual body without the spirit would not make an immortal saint.
Argument 10.--Jas. ii. 28: "For as the body without the spirit is dead." James argues from a matter that is universally true, and universally admitted, to illustrate a matter not apprehended by all the persons whom he addressed. His illustration is, that as "the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead." With him, then, we argue that at death there is a separation of the spirit from the body--and not a falling asleep of the spirit in the body.
At this crisis of the examination there falls into my hands the "PHYSICAL THEORY OF ANOTHER LIFE," by the eloquent and learned author of the "NATURAL HISTORY OF ENTHUSIASM;" from the first section of which I hasten to treat my readers to a few pertinent reflections:--
"That which Christianity requires us to believe is the actual survivance of our personal consciousness embodied, and the perpetuity of our sense of good and evil, and our continued sensibility of pain and  pleasure, and the unbroken recollection, in another life, of the events and affections of the present state. What Christianity decisively affirms is, that the LIFE--moral, intellectual, and active and corporeal--is not commensurate with or dependent upon animal organization; but that it may, and that it will spring up anew from the ruins of its present habitation. 'Destroy this body,' and the man still lives; but whether he might live immaterially, is a mere question of philosophy which the inspired writers do not care to decide. In almost all instances it is with facts, rather than with abstruse principles, that they have to do, and in relation to our present subject, after having peremptorily affirmed that human nature is to survive in another state, and is to rise embodied from the ashes of its present animal organization, St. Paul leaves speculation at large, neither affirming nor denying any hypothesis that may consist with the fact which alone is important to our religious belief.
"Let it be distinctly kept in view, that although the essential independence of mind and matter, or the abstract possibility of the former existing apart from corporeal life, may well be considered as implied in the Christian scheme; yet an actual incorporeal state of the human soul at any period of its course, is not necessarily involved in the principle of our faith, any more than it is explicitly asserted. This doctrine of what is called the immateriality of the soul, should ever be treated as a merely philosophical speculation, and as unimportant to our Christian profession. The question, then, concerning pure immateriality we regard as having been passed, untouched, by Paul: nor do we consider it as in any specific manner important to the inquiries upon which we are about to enter. Nevertheless there may be an advantage in concisely stating what seems to be the present relative position of the two parties in the old controversy concerning matter and mind--a controversy very likely to die away forever.
"The antagonistic principles are then thus balanced:--Two classes of facts, readily distinguishable, present themselves to our consciousness. Those of the one class we involuntarily attribute to an external world, and think of as the consequences of our connexion with matter, or as the effects which its properties produce upon our minds. But those of the other class we as invariably regard as belonging to the mind, and as arising from itself; and they are, many of them at least, of a sort which we might easily imagine to have a place, if there were no external world, or if the mind had no sentient knowledge of its existence. Theory and speculation apart, the entire mass of our consciousness resolves itself naturally and easily into these two elements, and it is only by the temporary force of some arbitrary system of philosophy that we can be brought to regard the two elements as essentially the one and the same; and the constitution of our minds reluctates every moment at the violence done it by any such means.
"But notwithstanding the remonstrances of common sense, the attempt has in every age been renewed on the one side by the materialist, and on the other side by the speculatist, (if we may so use the term,) to melt down these two elements into a mass, or to annul the distinction between them;--the one by affirming that mind is a mere organization, or a product of matter; and the other by alleging that these varied sensations, or states of the mind, which by 'a natural prejudice' we attribute to an external material world, are in fact  nothing more than peculiar conditions of the mind itself, and that there neither is an external world, nor can be; or that even if there were, we could never have any substantial proof of its existence.
"Now the two parties, if indeed two such parties may be said to be yet extant, have nearly come to an agreement on one point--namely, that our belief of the reality of matter and of mind can never be made to stand together as collateral truths, equal in authority and resting upon the same sort of evidence, and ascertained by the same process of reasoning. If at last they are to consist one with the other, the one must be assumed as intuitively certain, and as incapable of proof by reasoning; while the other must thence be derived in the way of inference, and must, however well proved, yet take a secondary place in the order of things known. Which of the two, then, shall we assume as needing no proof, and employ as a fulcrum of argument in proving the other, or in disproving it?
The materialist--and in this argument the materialist must take the atheist as his companion--the materialist says, 'It is impossible for me to doubt the existence of matter; for it is under my touch, it is before my eyes, and its properties are the subject of the only sciences that are absolute in their methods of reasoning and infallible in their results. But as to mind, otherwise than as it is merely a function of animal organization, or a product of cerebral secretions, I know nothing, and can know nothing of it; and the inquiry concerning it ever has been, and must always remain, obscure and unsatisfactory.'
"But the spiritualist contemns this summary treatment of the argument by his antagonist as crude and illogical, and such as can satisfy none who are competent to analyze strictly their own consciousness. He affirms that this statement of the case by his opponent takes for granted the very facts that are to be proved; and in reply to the materialist, he says, 'All I contend for, and which I affirm to be intuitively certain, and known without proof, you first tacitly assume and then formally deny. What are all these sensations of touch and sight, and what are these demonstrations of mathematical science of which you speak, but so many states of the mind--so many mental phenomena, as I may term them, which, while they imply necessarily the existence of mind, do but render the existence of matter probable, or at best demonstrate its reality by a circuit of reasoning.
"'I will grant you that an external world may exist, and I believe that it does exist; but this very belief, let it rise as high as it may, together with the argument that sustains it, are still only so many elements of mental consciousness, and can never nullify or annihilate that of which they are parts.' This scepticism concerning the reality of matter and an external world, which is of a far more subtile and sweeping kind than that of the materialist concerning mind, he finds it impossible to supplant; and he feels himself undermined in his assault upon spiritualism, and his foot sinks whichever way he endeavors to advance. His opponent therefore leaves him with this defiance--'Prove the existence of an external world, if you please, or if you can;--and I too believe it to exist; but I believe it by inference, and therefore hold it as a truth, if not inferior in certainty, yet assuredly as subordinate to that primary truth--the existence of mind.'
"Now even if it were granted that from a due regard to the constitution of the human mind, its physiology obliges us to receive its  instinctive and voluntary conviction of the reality of an external world as a proper evidence of its existence, and as superseding all reasoning on the subject, so that the two truths should be considered as alike intuitively known, still the spiritualist will retain the advantage he has gained over his opponent; for it is manifest that, if there be room at all for hesitation or scepticism in relation to either truth, it is matter, not mind, that is in jeopardy. The very ground of the assumption that the existence of an external world ought to be admitted as certain, without reasoning, is nothing else but a consideration of the laws or constitution of the mind. Mind, therefore, and its elementary principles, stand first in logical order; and the existence of matter follows, if not as an inference, yet as a truth to be affirmed after another has been granted.
"The bearing of this controversy upon Christianity may thus be stated:--The doctrine of the materialist, if it were followed out to its extreme consequences, and consistently held, is plainly atheistic, and therefore incompatible with any form of religious belief. It is so, because, in affirming that mind is nothing more than the product of animal organization, it excludes the belief of a pure and untreated mind--the cause of all things; for if there be a supreme mind, absolutely independent of matter, then unquestionably there may be created minds also independent of matter. But if the materialist is ready to admit, as he usually does, the divine existence and the pure spirituality of the divine nature, and if he professes to mean nothing more than that created minds are in fact always embodied, and that, apart from some material structure or animal organization, there is no consciousness or activity; then, and in this sense understood, materialism becomes a doctrine of little or no importance to our faith as Christians; for it may consist well enough with what is affirmed in the Scriptures concerning the immortality of man, the resurrection, the intermediate state, and the existence and agency of invisible orders. On the other hand, although the great principles of theology are saved and respected by the spiritualist, yet if he goes so far as to call in question the reality of the external world, and the material universe, it will not be without having recourse to very subtile modes of reasoning, and to abstruse distinctions, that he can reconcile this sort of scepticism with the plain sense and explicit affirmations of the inspired volume.
"Moreover, as Christianity, by its characteristic temper, distastes philosophic refinements of all sorts, it, will reject those which tend to introduce a species of mysticism scarcely less atheistic than the boldest doctrine of the materialist. To bring into doubt in any way (and it is of little moment in what way or on what pretext) that which the common sense of mankind has always assumed to be certain, is, if not to shake the evidence of all truth, yet to paralyze the faculty by which evidence of any kind is seized and held. Whether you rob a man of his treasure, or disable the hand that grasps it, you do him an equal injury; or perhaps we should say that the latter is the worse wrong of the two."
Argument 11.--II. Cor. xii. 2-5: "Fourteen years ago I knew a man in Christ, whether in the body I know not; or out of the body, I know not; God knows: such a one I knew caught away as far as the third  heaven. Besides I knew such a man, whether in the body or out of the body, I know not, God knows; that he was caught away into Paradise and heard unspeakable words, which it is not possible for a man to utter. Concerning such a one I will boast."
The Apostle here explicitly admits two states of man--a state in the body, and a state out of the body. The body is not man; for he conceived of man in the body, and man out of the body. The latter is usually called the separate state--in Greek, Hades. Entranced as he was with the visions and revelations which in Paradise he enjoyed, he could not tell whether he himself left the body, and, abstracted from it, had, in a spiritual state, listened to the communications of the unseen world--the delightful conversations in the Paradisaical circles; or whether the spirit, together with the body, had been borne away from earth to those blessed regions in which Jesus sojourned until the third day, in the company of Abraham and all the righteous disembodied ancients, of which joys he spoke on the cross to the dying thief who acknowledged him. I say, the Apostle was constrained to speak ambiguously of himself as embodied or disembodied; but had he not fully admitted two such states, it would be impossible to justify his course in a matter so supernatural as favoring an idea wholly unfounded and absolutely erroneous, if indeed there be no such separate state; especially, too, not in a parabolical, but in a literal description of himself as favored above all his contemporaries.
This is indeed one of the most singular incidents in all sacred history. We have Enoch and Elijah, soul and body, translated to heaven; we have Moses and Elijah revisiting our planet, and standing upon Mount Tabor; we have Jesus and the thief disembodied in paradise; and we have Paul the Apostle returned to earth, boasting of having made a flight to paradise and back again, to his own amazement as well as that of the whole world. He knew that paradise was the place of disembodied, pure, and happy spirits; and how it was possible for him to make this tour in the body, he could not comprehend; and how he could make it out of the body, he could not explain; but that he was in paradise, and saw and heard what human speech could not reveal, is that which he positively and unhesitatingly affirms. And in doing this, he speaks honestly and in perfect harmony with his own views and convictions of all the states and modes of human existence. Those who can not reason themselves into the knowledge of these matters, had better then believe Paul, who hesitates not to speak of man in the body and of man out of the body--of man on earth, in paradise, and in heaven.
Argument 12.--Luke xxiii. 43: "To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise." 
Paradise is indeed a figurative representation of blessedness; because a garden, which in our language represents the word paradise, is literally a place of pleasure and enjoyment. Hence the Jews always called the Garden of Eden in which God placed Adam, paradise. This, then, became the name of a blessed state; and as the righteous dead were by the Jews and patriarchs supposed to be in a state of bliss, it was natural to speak of them as in paradise. Immediate bliss was therefore pronounced to the dying but penitent thief. Now as the body of the thief yet lies in Judea, for of his resurrection we have neither faith nor knowledge, it follows that the Saviour spoke of spiritual enjoyment in a state of separation from the body. This must be the import, else the promise has not yet been accomplished. "To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise." No fact, analogy, or figure will justify the application or interpretation of these words as referring to the sepulchre or grave, or to a period after the resurrection from the dead.
I would only add, that as paradise both literally and figuratively imports any thing rather than death or the grave, its latitude is such as to include all future bliss, even that after the resurrection as well as that intermediate. Thus says Jesus to the conquering Christian, "To him that overcometh will I grant to eat of the tree of life which grows in the midst of the paradise of God." And in the preceding passage from Corinthians we find the third heaven and paradise used interchangeably.
Argument 13.--Phil. i. 22, 24: "To live is Christ, to die is gain." "But whether to live in the flesh would be to my advantage; or what to choose I do not know; for I am in a strait between the two, having a strong desire to depart and be with Christ, which is by far the better."
This passage clearly teaches, if any thing is taught in it, that THE SOONER FROM THIS STATE THE SOONER WITH CHRIST. But if there be no intermediate state of bliss between the dead and the final crown, after the day of resurrection of the just, then Paul was deceived in all his reasonings; for then it is not true that the sooner from time the sooner with Christ.
To be with Christ is not to be unconscious in the grave, for Christ is not in the grave. "Say not, then, Who shall bring him up from the dead?" To be with Christ is not to sleep in unconsciousness in the dust, for then saint and sinner are equally with Christ. To be with Christ is not to have communion with Christ in the body; for Paul had that communion with him while in the flesh, or present in the body. "To be with Christ," then, is to be in a more intimate, spiritual, and sensible communion with the Lord, than the present body and religious ordinances in the church can bestow. 
If Paul meant no more than an escape from his toils and sufferings, he could have expressed all that in the words "I wish to depart." But he has more in vision than departing from this life--he expected immediately to enter upon another. Words have no meaning if Paul does not here teach that the righteous after death are present with the Lord in a state of bliss superior to any thing which can be enjoyed on earth, and that this is not the final or ultimate state of reward of which Paul sometimes spoke; but a state of separate and spiritual existence antecedent to it.
Argument 14.--"Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (Stephen in Acts vii. 59). "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit" (Jesus in Luke xxiii. 46).
In both these passages it is pneuma, spirit; not breath nor blood, but spirit! It is not "Take care of my body," nor "Preserve my breath;" but "Receive my spirit" when it leaves this body! It is not "Raise me up at the last day," but "Receive my spirit." To explain this, is to illustrate sunlight by moonlight!
Argument 15.--John iv.: "God is spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."
That God is spirit, and that therefore we have a spirit, are not primarily matters of reason, but matters of faith. Some of our brethren write to me and speak to me on this subject as if I ought to show them a spirit--an abstract spirit--to authorize them to admit the existence of spirits. They do not perceive the lurking scepticism, or rather atheism, in this demand. I believe in the great abstract, eternal, immutable, self-existent Spirit; and therefore I easily believe that he can more easily give me a spirit than a body; because, speaking after the manner of men, it is more easy for an eternal, self-existent Spirit to produce a spirit than a body. But I can not show a spirit; neither can I show the great abstract Spirit! Will any one thence infer there is no eternal Spirit--no self-existent Pneuma!! Forbid it, faith, reason, and philosophy!
God is spirit; and man in his image made has a spirit, else he could not worship him: for no being without pneuma, or spiritual nature, can worship the great Spirit. I argue, then, that as God is an abstract Spirit, as far as we can conceive of any thing abstract from the terraqueous; and as he can be worshiped acceptably only by spirit and in spirit; therefore, man, whose worship is acceptable, has a spirit abstract and heaven-descended as sure as there is one great Spirit, "the Father of spirits."
Argument 16.--The disciples said, "It is not Peter--it is his angel."
The belief in disembodied or abstract spirits, is as ancient as the Bible; and to the end of the New Testament there are frequent allusions to, and recognitions of, the common faith. The familiar spirits  of the olden time, and the satanic influence from Cain to Judas, all go to prove that abstract spirits can influence human passions and incite to evil actions. If the idea so often expressed in both Testaments concerning possessions and legions of demons were unfounded, a single word from Moses, from the Prophets, from Christ, or the Apostles, denying such existence, would have relieved the world from much error on this subject, if so be that spirits are nonentities, and that there is no region prepared for abstract spirits, good or evil. But the whole Bible countenances the idea, and on various occasions it is clearly asserted. Here we find in Jerusalem the disciples assembled, the disciples converted by the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven--the apostolic first fruits--concurring, and Luke reporting without comment, that it was Peter's spirit or angel; for sure it could not be his body, incarcerated as it was!--"It was his angel!" They were, however, mistaken in the fact; for it was not his angel--it was Peter in person.
That spirits can operate upon, and by and through human nerves and muscle, is abundantly evident, else all the demons and possessions of the Bible are mere fictions. These, however, are all matters of faith--not of sense--as is the being of the self-existent Spirit, whose mode of existence is unsearchable.
Argument 17.--"I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God is not a God of the dead, but of the living; for they are all alive to him" (Luke xx. 38).
Thus at a single stroke the Messiah dissipated the Sadducean hypothesis, for the denial of the resurrection of the dead with them was but the consequence of their disbelief of spirit--of abstract spirit--whether human or angelic. There was no other nor future life. All were dead--forever dead. Jesus aimed a blow at the root of this whole error by asserting that God was not a God of those that were dead, but of those who were alive. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob were, in his mode of reasoning, certainly alive; inasmuch as God, the living God, had chosen to be known and called by their names. If, then, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob were wholly dead and in the grave, God is a God of the dead! But he is not; therefore they are not dead. This is the point of this most triumphant refutation of materialism and Sadduceanism. With this I shall close my present series in the present volume. I have not exhausted the subject, nor have I fully expressed myself upon all the premises; but as I think that there is enough said for those who take the Book alone, and as I trust those who urged this labor on our hands are no longer desirous of being dogmatical on this point, I will dismiss it for the present.
We have frequently contemplated and represented man somewhat as a Microcosm--indeed, as an epitome of the universe. In plain  English, a miniature universe. We know nothing in the universe that has not its representative in man, in some manner or degree. He has a body in which is represented the consecrated four--fire air, earth and water. But philosophers affirm that in these are found some forty elements. Grant it! But has not man these four? If so, he has all the elements of which they are composed! Body, soul and spirit comprehended these forty elements. And no man can, with any palpable degree of self-respect, question the trinity or triunity of body, soul and spirit, in one human personality! No more rationally or religiously, that he can deny that fire, air, earth and sea engross the forty elements of our present canonized philosophy!
We have often said that the price of man's ransom ineffably transcends the price of the material universe. That was a work of six consecutive days--but the redemption of man was the work of more than twelve thousand days; the whole life, to say nothing of the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ. But this is only weighing the price in the balances of time. At our angle of vision, the cost of human redemption ineffably transcends the cost of the whole creation, so far as human wisdom and science can conceive of them. But in its height and depth, in its length and breadth, and in all its bearings upon creator and creature, upon time and eternity, and upon all that shall possess and enjoy it, there is no thought, no imagination of any creature can ever fully appreciate it.
Alexander Campbell. Extract from "Materialism--No. 3."
The Millennial Harbinger 7 (November 1836): |
|2. ----------. "Materialism--No. 4." The Millennial Harbinger 7 (December 1836): 556-560.|
|3. ----------. Extract from "The Soul and Spirit of Man." The Millennial Harbinger 32 (September 1861): 515.|
[Table of Contents]
|Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)