"What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?"--HEB. ii: 6.
THIS language is quoted by Paul from David, Ps. viii: 4. We have our grand questions in agriculture, commerce, and politics; in arts, sciences, and improvements, all having their comparative importance, interest, and consequences; but all these questions sink into insignificance, emptiness, and nothingness in view of the momentous question, "What is man?" David says: "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers; the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?" This shows that he had just been viewing the heavens, considering the vastness, stupendous proportions, and magnitude of the wonderful works of God that appear in the heavens above us; and, in contrast with all that appeared to him, his mind reverts to man, and he bursts forth in the inquiry, "What is man?" In view, too, of all these wonderful works that he considered in the heavens, from the hand of God, he is overwhelmed that God should stoop to be mindful of man, or the son of man, to visit him! This is wonderful, beyond all human comprehension; but that our heavenly Father should number even the hairs of the heads of his saints, as the Lord assures us he does, is superlatively encouraging, consoling, and comforting, and is sufficient to call out everlasting gratitude and thanksgiving from the children of men. Is it so, that he who made all things--who made and upholds the worlds by the word of his mighty power, condescends to number even the hairs on the heads of his saints, and that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without his notice? This is all true. Our heavenly Father is, then, infinitely good, and man is of much more value than many sparrows. This, then, opens the way to inquire into the question, "What is man?" in three states:
1. What is man in the present or fleshly state? 2. What is man in the intermediate state, or between death and the resurrection? 3. What is man in the eternal or resurrection state?
These are questions to be settled by revelation. All science, philosophy, and reasoning, aside from revelation, must forever fail to answer these great questions concerning man. Men of the world--some of them scientific men--have talked much of the "light of nature" and "the book of nature," but no "light of nature" nor "book of nature" can answer any one of these questions. There is no light in nature even to reveal God to man, or man to himself, much less to tell what man is in any one of the three states in question. To proceed, then, at once to the matter in hand, let it be distinctly understood what is in view, and what is to be accomplished in the examination of the subject in hand.
The system, plan, or scheme of redemption is unique, there being a complete and perfect symmetry in all its parts. The man who humanizes the Savior of the world, as some Unitarians and Humanitarians do, lets down the whole system, in all its parts, to the same level. In precisely the same way, the man who lowers down man to a mere animal, a material being, a thinking lump of matter, lowers down the whole system in the same proportion all round. It is a matter to be deeply regretted, that any human being of ordinary intelligence should degrade himself, and try to degrade his race so far as to maintain that man is composed wholly of matter; that when a man dies, as one expresses it, "he dies all over;" or, as another expresses it, "he is unmade;" or, as another has it, "he is decomposed," and no more exists as a man than he did a thousand years before he was created. Still, we have the men in our day who have thus degraded themselves, and are thus carnalizing the gracious system which God has ordained for our salvation. These maintain that man has no conscious existence between death and the resurrection; that after the resurrection all, both good and bad, will appear in the final judgment, when the wicked will be killed again, or decomposed, and have no conscious existence forever. In other words, they maintain that the entire man is mortal, and assume that, at death, his conscious existence terminates till raised from the dead; and after the last judgment, the conscious existence of the wicked will be terminated forever, and the righteous will be immortalized. Reference is here made to this theory that all may see what becomes of it, when the light of revelation is opened out on it. Without further preliminary, turn your attention to the matters in hand.
What is man in the present or fleshly state? Paul says, "And may your spirit, and soul, and body be preserved whole without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thess. v: 23. This is the Bible Union reading. To get the passage fully into view, read the verse from the beginning from the common version: "And the very God of peace sanctify you fully; and I pray God your whole spirit, and soul, and body be preserved blameless to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." From this passage it is clear that the man wholly consists of a "whole spirit, and soul, and body." It matters not whether we can clearly and perfectly distinguish between the "whole spirit, and soul, and body" or not, nor whether we can fully understand the union of a "whole spirit, and soul, and body" in one person; nor whether we can understand all about what pertains to the whole spirit, the whole soul, or the whole body, still there is the fact that the Divine Spirit of all wisdom and all revelation recognized in man a "whole spirit, and soul, and body," or recognized in man a triune being, a trinity, a being consisting of a "whole spirit, and soul, and body." This threefold or triune nature of man is never lost sight of in the entire revelation from God to man.
It is useless to stop and stumble ourselves because we can not understand all about this triune nature. We can not understand all about any thing. We only understand in part; but the Lord understands, and when he speaks of a "whole spirit, and soul, and body," he means something. There is a clear intimation of the same kind in the Mosaic account of the creation: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Gen. ii: 7. The word "man" here is used metonymically; the whole is evidently used for a part. It was only the body that was "formed of the dust," a perfect corporeal human structure, or a perfect human body; but it was lifeless, motionless, and powerless. This is clear from what follows: "And breathed into his nostrils the breath of life." The body was formed, but before the Lord breathed into it the breath of life it did not breathe nor live. But after he breathed into it the breath of life, it lived and breathed. He became, what he was not before, a living soul, or a living being or person.
But that we may see more fully what man is, hear the Lord: "Be not afraid of 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." Matt. x: 28. Here the Lord, alluding to the persecutors, says they "kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul." Here is not only a distinction made between the soul and body, but two different things are stated--one of the soul and the other of the body. 1. Man can kill the body. 2. Man can not kill the soul. The following is clear from this:
1. There is a clear distinction between the soul and the body. 2. That the death of the body is not the death of the whole man--is not the death of the soul. 3. That the soul does not die when the body dies. 4. That man can kill the body. 5. That man can not kill the soul.
There is no far-fetched reasoning here. As certainly as the Lord spoke truth, man is "not able to kill the soul." Man is able to kill the body. The body, then, dies, while the soul does not. The material man can be killed by man, but the soul, or "inner man"--the immaterial man--can not be killed by man.
The Sadducees did not believe in the existence of angels or spirits, and, to be consistent, denied the resurrection of the dead. They believed they were invincible in argument. They were ever ready for debate with their opposers, the Pharisees. They learned that the Lord had indorsed the Pharisees, so far as the question of the resurrection was concerned. The Sadducees regarded this as a fine opening for them. They considered themselves invulnerable on this question. Accordingly, they prepared to meet Jesus on their favorite point of discussion. They studied out one of their greatest difficulties, and presented it to him. Probably they had puzzled their former antagonists with it many times. They selected the puzzling case of the woman who had married seven men in succession, who had all died, and the woman also had died, and inquired which one of the seven should have her in the resurrection. This was as difficult as any of the subtleties produced by the caviling and captious from that time to the present. But the Lord solved their difficult problem in a single sentence, as follows: "In that world they neither marry nor are given in marriage." In that respect "they are as the angels of God." So much for their puzzling question; but now he proceeds to give them a further lesson: "Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live to him." Luke xx: 37, 38. Here we have an argument from our Lord, showing that the dead shall be raised. What is the argument? It is as follows: God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. How is he, then, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, seeing that they are dead? They are dead to us, but alive to him: for all live to him. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, though dead to us, live to God. This proves the existence of human spirits, and that they live to God after death, which was denied by the Sadducees; and which, if proved to him, settled the question of the resurrection of the dead. The Lord affirms that the dead shall rise, and maintains that Moses showed this in declaring that God is the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; which, as he is not the God of the dead, proves that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob live to him, for, says Jesus, "all live to him;" and thus settles the question of human existence after death, or spiritual existence after death, which proved the resurrection to the Sadducee. This settles the main question in this discourse, as it shows that Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, who had died to this world and all that is in it many ages before, still lived to God--were still in conscious existence; thus showing that there is a conscious existence between death and the resurrection--that during this period persons live to God.
Please turn to that grand and sublime event called "the transfiguration." What did the transfiguration consist of? The Lord appeared in divine majesty, as he would if we could see him now, glorified, highly exalted, and crowned Lord of all, as he sits on the throne in heaven. There were three representatives there, or eye-witnesses in the flesh or from the fleshly state, viz., Peter, James; and John. There was one representative there from the intermediate state, or the state between death and the resurrection, viz., Moses. There was also one representative there from the eternal state, or from the resurrection state, viz., Elijah. This was the most august and sublime scene that ever appeared to mortal eyes. Peter, James, and John were there as witnesses. The Almighty Father there showed their Lord and King as he would appear to us if we could see him as he is now in heaven, thus enabling them to say, "We were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when such a voice came to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice we heard from heaven, being with him in the holy mount." 2 Pet. i: 17. They saw the glorified and highly exalted Lord, and heard the wonderful voice from the excellent glory.
But they saw another distinguished personage there. Moses was there. Yes, Moses, the mediator of the First Testament was there; the man Moses, after he had died, been absent from this world fifteen hundred years, and his body had been mingled with the dust. Moses appears, is identified, and spoken of by name. He is there, separate from the body, for Christ was the first-born from the dead, of every creature, and he was not born from the dead then. What a grand matter! A man who had disappeared from this world for fifteen centuries, re-appears, is identified, his former life and character identified with him; separate from the body, but in a conscious state, and holds a conversation with our Lord in regard to his sufferings to be accomplished at Jerusalem! The mediator of the Old Testament in a conversation with the Mediator of the New Testament, as if coming to him to resign his authority as lawgiver, and hand all over into the hands of the new Lawgiver. What a grand occasion! He represented the intermediate state.
But there was yet another distinguished personage there. The ancient prophet Elijah was there, a representative of the eternal or resurrection state. He did not suffer death. Many long centuries before, standing on the east side of the Jordan, surrounded by the multitude, he entered the chariot of God, and, as the hosts of Israel stood gazing after him, he ascended to God. As he was wafted triumphantly toward heaven, he threw off-his mantle, and it fell on Elisha. He was changed, glorified, immortalized, and happified, and thus shown to Peter, James, and John, a specimen of redeemed, immortalized, and happified humanity. They saw him, too, participating in the conversation touching the Lord's sufferings to be accomplished in Jerusalem. We have, then, the testimony of these witnesses of Jesus, who saw his Divine Majesty, to the conscious existence of Moses, between death and the resurrection, and to the conscious existence of Elijah, in the eternal state. They were both present and participated in the conversation with our Lord.
The next scripture to which your attention is directed, is the case of the rich man and Lazarus, Luke xvi: 19-31. It may be said, "That is only a parable." How do you know that it is a parable? "It says," exclaims a man, "in my Bible, at the head of the chapter, 'The Parable of the rich man and Lazarus.'" That is the case with many Bibles; but how came that heading there? All know, or ought to know, that that heading, and, indeed, all the headings are modern, and utterly without Divine authority. The purpose of them is merely for convenience, in finding passages of Scripture. There is not only no authority for heading this passage as it is, or at all, but the heading alluded to is manifestly erroneous. It is no parable at all, but a statement of an actual case. This is evident from the wording of it. It is introduced by stating, "There was a certain rich man." This is too particular for a parable, or a supposed or hypothetical case. It points to a particular person. It is not "There was a rich man," but "There was a certain rich man." And then, on the other hand, it is not merely "There was a beggar," but "a certain beggar," pointing to a particular person. Then the Lord adds, "whose name was Lazarus;" thus giving the proper name of the "certain" person of whom he is speaking. Some have argued that "Lazarus" means poor. True, it has that meaning now, but it had not then. The probability is that that meaning was derived from this very case. But any one can see that the word is not used in that sense. It is not "There was a certain beggar, who was Lazarus," but "whose name was Lazarus," or, more abbreviated, "named Lazarus." The statement of the case has every appearance of a real case, or an actual case, which the Lord knew to exist.
But, not to argue the case, and for the sake of any one who may not be convinced that it is an actual case, but a supposed or hypothetical case, let it be observed that this will not in the least militate against the argument. The Lord did not suppose a case that would never occur. If he supposed a case, it was all founded in reality. This is the case with all types and shadows. They all have their foundation in reality. There never was a shadow without a substance. There never was a counterfeit without a genuine. All counterfeits are imitations of the genuine. There never would have been a counterfeit dollar if there had not been a genuine dollar. Even the false is evidence of the true. Every false god is an evidence of the true God. There never could have been a false god if there had not been a true God. There never could have been a false or counterfeit priest, if there had not been a true or genuine priest. The false is an imitation of the genuine. The false professor of religion is an imitation of the genuine, and proof of the existence of the genuine. The false professor is an attempted imitation of the genuine, but not the genuine, but an indisputable proof of the genuine.
All the parables of our Lord are founded in reality. He never would have said "I am the vine; you are the branches," if there had not been a real vine and branches. He never would have said "The kingdom of God is like a fish-net," if there had not been a real fish-net. But in the case in hand, he does not say that one thing is like another, or something is like "a certain rich man," but "There was a certain rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day." This "certain rich man" "died, and in hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments." Supposed, or a real case, the conscious existence after death is found in it. He is in "torments" after death. The beggar died, and was borne away by the angels to Abraham's bosom, and is comforted. Here, again, we have conscious existence after death. The rich man, after death, is in "torments," and Lazarus is "comforted." They are both in conscious existence. Their identity is retained. The rich man sees Lazarus and recognizes him. They are not in the same place. Lazarus is in Abraham's bosom; the rich man is in another place, "far off;" a "great gulf between them," so that they "can not pass" from one place to the other. The rich man is in "torments," and Lazarus is "comforted." This is a wide difference and a wonderful change in situations from that which existed before death.
Much darkness exists touching the conditions and states after death, on account of the obscurity in the translation in common use. The three Greek words, gehenna, hades, and tartarus are represented by the one English word hell. These three Greek words evidently do not mean the same thing. In the sense of the Greeks, hades means the invisible, or, as the Bible Union renders it, "under-world." It includes all the dead between death and the resurrection. Paradise, or Abraham's bosom, does not mean the same as hades. It is included in hades, but only contains the righteous between death and the resurrection. In the same way, tartarus does not mean the same as hades. It is included in hades, but only contains the wicked between death and the resurrection. The rich man, though in hades, was not in tartarus; and Lazarus, though also in hades, was in Abraham's bosom, or, literally, in paradise, and there was a great gulf between them. But neither of them was in gehenna. Gehenna is beyond the resurrection, the lake of fire prepared for the devil and his angels. The wicked, after the eternal judgment, will be cast into the gehenna of fire prepared for the devil and his angels, "where the worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched." This is the final doom of the wicked. When the saints die, they go to paradise, and enjoy a state of rest or comfort till the resurrection. When the wicked die, they go to tartarus, to a "place of torment," where they remain till the resurrection. After the final judgment, the wicked go into gehenna, and the righteous into heaven, to remain forever. This will be discussed more fully further on.
One other matter of importance appears here, and that is, that the rich man desired that Lazarus should be sent to his five brothers, "to testify to them that they come not also into this place of torment." See Luke xvi: 28. Men are now maintaining that spirits are coming back from the dead and converting people. The great apostle of infidelity, it is claimed, was convinced of the existence of God by visitations from departed spirits, after all the testimony of the apostles and prophets had failed to convince him. Here, then, is a case in hand. The rich man applies, finding himself, after death, in a "place of torment," and intercedes for one from the dead, to be sent to testify to his five brothers, that they come not also to this "place of torment." Is one sent from the dead to convince them who would not believe Moses and the prophets? Certainly not. This would be to admit that the testimony of Moses and the prophets was insufficient. "Abraham says to him: They have Moses and the prophets: let them hear them." The rich man presses the case: "Nay, father Abraham; if one shall go to them from the dead, they will repent." Abraham replies: "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one should rise from the dead." Here, then, is the clear proof that God does not permit the dead to return to convince the living. Here, also, is the clear statement, that if they would not hear Moses and the prophets, they would not be persuaded if one would rise from the dead. This ought to be an everlasting quietus, and is with those who believe the Bible, touching departed spirits returning and converting their surviving friends.
The very idea of our returning from the dead and converting persons who could not be converted by all the divine testimonies of Moses and the prophets, Jesus and the apostles, is supremely ridiculous. It is taking the position that departed human spirits could achieve more in turning sinners to God and saving them, than Moses and the prophets, and Jesus and the apostles. This is clothed with an affrontery, an arrogance, and absurdity almost unequaled. A few "table-tippers," "spirit-rappers," "spirit-mediums," or, in other words, persons possessed by unclean spirits, assuming to convince people who could not be convinced by either the mediator of the first, or the Mediator of the second covenant, Moses or Jesus, the prophets or apostles, is certainly the climax of absurdity! Then the convinced people, under this new system of mediation, spirit-mediation, human spirit-meditation, who could not be convinced by the divine mediation of him who was with God, and who was God; in whom dwells all the fullness of the Deity bodily, what a set of convinced people they are! What do they believe, now that they are convinced? They believe nothing, and are nothing but wandering stars, raging waves of the sea, clouds without rain, unstable souls--mere subjects of duplicity. They have not a redeeming quality, not an element to commend them or their teaching to a soul of our race. They have despised, rejected, and turned away from the Mediator of the New Testament, and are now seeking the mediation of human spirits of the dead! How transcendently ridiculous and absurd! This is only equaled by king Saul, turning away from the commandment of God, and seeking light from "the woman of Endor."
Paul says: "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." Who is this "we" that has our earthly house of the tabernacle"--or of the body, which is the meaning of it--and who has "a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens?" See 2 Cor. v: 1. Is not this the being, the personality? "For," says the apostle, "in this we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: seeing that we should be found clothed, not naked." The person or the "we" in the tabernacle, is not the tabernacle or the body, but the tenant in the body. He proceeds: "Now he who has wrought us for this very thing is God, who also gave to us the earnest of the Spirit. Being, therefore, always confident, and knowing that while at home in the body we are absent from the Lord, (for we walk by faith, not by sight,) we are confident, and are well pleased rather to leave our home in the body, and to be at home with the Lord." "We," the person, the being, may be "at home in the body," or "may leave our home in the body, and be at home with the Lord;" or, as it is in the common version, present with the Lord. When we die, we leave home in the body; are absent from the body, and at home, or present with the Lord.
Shall we hear the apostle again? "I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I know not; or whether out of the body, I know not: God knows,) such a one caught up even to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body or without the body, I know not: God knows,) that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter." 2 Cor. xii: 2-4. The apostle here states what he knew as a matter of fact, and what he did not know. What did he know? 1. He knew a man in Christ. 2. That such an one, above fourteen years ago (when Paul wrote), was caught up to the third heaven--to paradise. 3. That he heard unspeakable things, not lawful to utter. These things he knew. What, then, did he not know? He did not know whether the man was caught away to paradise in the body or out of the body. Two things are clearly involved here: 1. That the man of whom Paul speaks was not the body, but dwelt in the body. 2. That the man could have been caught away to paradise in the body. 3. That the man could have been caught away to paradise out of the body. Then it follows, also, that a man can see, hear, and remember out of, or separate from, the body; or that a man may be separate from the body and be conscious; or that a man may be cognizant of things transpiring around him, separate from the body. This perfectly accords with another saying of the apostle, found 2 Cor. iv: 16: "For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perishes, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." The "outward man" is the body. Though it perishes, the "inward man," who dwells in the body, is renewed day by day. While the body is becoming enfeebled, weaker, and decaying, the "inner man," the spiritual man, is continually being renewed, invigorated, and sustained; and when the body dies, the "inner man" absents himself from the body, leaves the home in the body, and is present, or at home with the Lord.
This shows that life and death does not mean merely existence and non-existence, and that eternal life and the second death does not mean merely eternal existence and eternal non-existence, but that life and death have reference to two states of existence; so eternal life and the second death have reference to two states of existence--the one a state of existence in happiness, and the other a state of existence in punishment. This is clearly taught in other scriptures. For instance: "These shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal." Here is "eternal life" in contrast with "everlasting punishment." The original Greek word aionion, translated "eternal" on the one hand, is translated "everlasting" on the other. At the same time the righteous enter into eternal life, the wicked enter into everlasting punishment. Entering into "eternal life" here can not be entering into eternal existence, for they were already in existence; and if that existence was to be continued eternally, still they were already in it, and could not enter into that which they were already in. Nor could it mean entering into eternal conscious existence; for they were already in conscious existence, and could not enter into that which they were already in. If they were already in conscious existence, and it was to be eternal, they could not enter into it. To make "eternal life" there mean eternal existence, or eternal conscious existence, is to do away with all idea of their entering into it; for they were already in existence, and conscious existence; and if that existence is eternal, they were already in eternal existence. Then there is no such thing as "going away into everlasting non-existence." This would be utterly senseless. As we can think of and understand the commencement of existence, so can we understand the termination of existence; or, as we can understand bringing into existence, we can understand going out of existence; or, as we can understand the Lord giving existence, we can understand the taking existence.
The Lord said to the thief on the cross: "To-day, I say to you, shall you be with me in paradise." Paradise never means the grave. Nor does it ever mean the state of the dead in general, of all classes, but is limited exclusively to the saved. While it was true that both our Lord and the thief were to die that day, it was not true that they were going out of conscious existence, or that the entire beings were going into their graves, but they were that day to be in paradise. King David, the Psalmist of Israel, when his child died, said, "He can not come to me: I shall go to him." John says: "I saw under the altar the souls of them who were beheaded for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus; and they cried and said, How long, O Lord God Almighty, holy, just, and true, cost thou not avenge us of our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" What did he see under the altar? Not the bodies, but the souls of them who were beheaded for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus. These were souls after death. Do you say this was only a figurative representation shown to John in vision? A figurative representation of what? Of something that had no existence? A figurative representation of souls, visible, under the altar; conscious, and crying to heaven for vengeance after death, when souls are to have no conscious existence after death? Would God represent something figuratively that had no existence? No; such a thing is absurd. It was in vision, representing not things that had no existence, but grand and sublime realities that had existence. No matter, so far as the argument is concerned, whether John literally saw the souls of them that were beheaded, or the Lord represented them to him in vision. If he literally saw souls under the altar, and heard them crying, and understood what they cried after death, it settles the question of conscious existence between death and the resurrection, or the conscious existence of the souls of men, separate from the bodies, after death. From this there is no escape. If the Lord represented this to John in vision, it settles the same thing, unless he represented something that had no existence. To say this is infidelity. The Lord represented realities, things that existed, and not myths, having no existence. Souls have conscious existence separate from their bodies; and are waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of their bodies, or the resurrection of their bodies from the dead.
The stupendous works of the Almighty Father of heaven and earth in creation were grand. So are his works wonderful, grand, and sublime in providence. But what shall be said, and what shall be thought, of his stupendous work in the ransom of the bodies of the children of men from the grave? What shall we say or think, or what can we say of the grand transaction, when God, by the Spirit of Christ that dwells in the saints, shall quicken their mortal bodies, or make their mortal bodies alive and raise them up from the dead; when the sea shall yield up the dead bodies that are in it; when the graves of all the earth shall give up the dead bodies; when death itself shall be despoiled of its power, and yield up all the dead so long held down under its awful grasp, and hades shall release and deliver up all its subjects; when we shall see them coming from the four quarters of the earth, and assembling in the eternal judgment; when the books shall be opened, and another book shall be opened, which is the book of life; and the dead shall be judged out of the things written in the books, according to their works? This will be the last meeting, and after it will follow the last separation. After the final judgment, the separation shall take place: "He shall divide them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats," as the Lord describes--Matt. xxv: 32--setting the one class on his right hand, and the other on his left. Those whose names shall not be found in the book of life shall be cast into the lake of fire, as described Rev. xx: 14; "into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels," as described by the Lord himself, Matt. xxv: 41; into the gehenna, where the fire shall never be quenched, and the worm shall never die. This is the second death. This is the last account of those who obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; of those who can not be won to Christ by all his love, his compassion, his merciful entreaties; by all his agonies in the garden, his wonderful sufferings on the cross, his streaming blood; by his holy life, his prayers and tears; by the holy efforts of all the saints, their prayers and tears; by the reasonings, persuasions, and warnings of their dying friends. This is the last account, the last trace of those whom we can not bring to God. We have wept over them, prayed over them, and grieved over them. We have exhausted our last resources, made our last efforts, and have been compelled to yield the point. The last and best appeal of heaven has been made and failed. They have turned away from it all, and dashed the cup of salvation from their lips, and rejected the Savior of the world. On their part all is lost. They are ruined forever. They are turned away from God, who loved them; from the Savior, who died for them; from the angels, who waited to have ministered to them had they come to God; from the saints, who prayed, wept over them, and tried to save them; from all that is good, and pure, and holy, and are cast off forever. The saints give them up, like they do their friends in death, because they can do no more for them. They would not go with the children of God. They would not be reconciled to God. They determined to have their own way. They chose the wicked for their associates while in this world, and now are compelled to have them, with the devil and his angels, for their associates forever. They are abandoned forever. No saint in the whole kingdom desires to follow them any further, but all lament that they could not save them.
Turning to a more pleasing theme, what account have we of the saints after the resurrection? Their Lord and Redeemer shall say to them, "Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." "Well done, good and faithful; enter into the joys of our Lord." Then will they be seen coming, in the immortal splendors of the New Jerusalem, with crowns on their heads, palms of victory in their hands, and songs of everlasting joys on their lips, in the grand procession, which no man could number. Who can comprehend the stupendous procession when the mighty hosts of Israel of old, the most formidable column of humanity ever seen on the face of the earth, with Moses, the mediator of the first covenant, at their head, moved forward in crossing the Red Sea, out of Egyptian bondage, and the strains of praises that rose to heaven in view of a nation's freedom from most oppressive bondage? No one can comprehend this. What, then, must be our best effort to comprehend the imposing, stupendous, and sublime scenes, when the great assembly which John saw, which no man could number, from every nation, kindred, tribe, tongue, and people, in one grand and imposing column shall move forward to the gate of the everlasting city, and the doors shall fly wide, and the everlasting gates shall be lifted up, and the King of glory shall again come in and he welcomed by all the mighty hierarchs of the upper world? What must our best efforts be to comprehend, much less describe, the mighty procession, as it shall move forward, with the Mediator of the new covenant and their Redeemer in front, and exclaiming, "Father, here am I, and here are the children thou hast given me!" and when they shall chime in and unite in the grand song of "Blessing, and glory, and honor, and power, and dominion, to the Lord our God?" Then shall what was shown to John in vision appear in reality. He says: "And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the sound of many waters, and as the sound of mighty thunders, saying: Alleluia; because the Lord God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exalt, and we will give to him the glory; because the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife made herself ready. And it was given to her that she should be clothed in fine linen, pure and shining; for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints." "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and GOD WITH THEM himself shall be their God. And he shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and death shall be no more, nor shall mourning, nor crying, nor pain, be any more: because the former things are passed away. And he who sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he says, Write; because these words are faithful and true."
What a gloom was cast over the earth when man sinned. The world was condemned, and the sentence of death passed upon all! For six thousand years the executioner has been doing his work, inflicting the death penalty. No way of escape has been found. The inflexible law has gone forth: You shall surely die. There is no alternative. This penalty can not be revoked. But the Lord has come, and followed the condemned to the execution, and beyond it: "I will ransom them from the grave." After the penalty has been inflicted, I will raise man from the dead, and those whose names are enrolled in the book of life shall be robed in white, and walk with me in the streets of the New Jerusalem for they are worthy. What a grand triumph, when they shall shout, "O, death, where now is thy sting? O, hades, where now is thy victory?" They can then look back to death and shout the victory: We are free from your darts and missiles forever! and look back to hades and exclaim, We are free from your prison-house forever! Our great Deliverer has cleansed our souls from sin, in his own blood, and, by his omnipotent power, raised us from the dead and freed us from the fetters of the grave forever. He has lifted us up and seated us at his own right hand in the holy city, and has given us riches, and glories, and honors, transcending all human description. He has permitted us to join the grand throng who shall walk the golden streets, and unite in the celestial songs forever and ever. We shall never sin any more, and never have to hang our heads in shame, confess and beg for pardon. But with the angels of God, the pure and the holy, the just and the true; in the presence of our Father and our God, with our most gracious Lord, who has redeemed us, dwell forever and ever.
The Lord Jesus, the stone rejected by the Jewish builders, but the chief, or arch, in the foundation which God laid; the head over all things to the Church; in whom all fullness dwells, who has been the grand center of attraction of our afflictions; the chief among all the ten thousands and altogether lovely, will then dwell in our midst, honored and admired by all the upper world. Those who loved him here will love him there, and be like him; for they shall see him as he is. They shall need no light of the sun, nor any artificial light; for the Lord God and the Lamb shall be the light of the holy city. In ineffable bliss, inexpressible happiness, and joys that shall never end, they shall bask forever and ever. No want, no anxiety and solicitude; nor fear, nor gloom, nor dreary forebodings; no more heart-aching, heart-burning, nor heart-bleeding; no more doubts, uncertainties, and want of confidence; no more deceptions, delusions, and impositions; no more coldness, lukewarmness, nor backsliding, forever. The saints have reached their home, their everlasting rest, and all is well with them forever. They are beyond the reach of trial, of temptation, and danger, on "the other side of Jordan," in the eternal Canaan, the "rest remaining for the people of God." The broken hearts are all healed, the wounded spirits all bound up, and their griefs all gone. All their tears are wiped away forever. There shall be no more crying nor sorrowing, no more pain nor suffering forever.
To the name of our God and our Lord Jesus the Christ, be honor and power everlasting.