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´╗┐Title: The Destiny of the Soul - A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life
Author: Alger, William Rounseville, 1822-1905
Language: English
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THE DESTINY OF THE SOUL.

A CRITICAL HISTORY
OF THE
DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE,

BY
WILLIAM ROUNSEVILLE ALGER.

TENTH EDITION,

WITH SIX NEW CHAPTERS, AND

A Complete Bibliography of the Subject.
[Note: bibliography not included here]

COMPRISING 4977 BOOKS RELATING TO THE NATURE, ORIGIN, AND
DESTINY OF THE SOUL. THE TITLES CLASSIFIED AND ARRANGED
CHRONOLOGICALLY, WITH NOTES, AND INDEXES OF THE AUTHORS AND
SUBJECTS.

BY EZRA ABBOT,

PROFESSOR OF NEW TESTAMENT CRITICISM AND INTERPRETATION IN
THE DIVINITY SCHOOL OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY.


BOSTON:
ROBERTS BROTHERS.
1880

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1860, by
WILLIAM ROUNSEVILLE ALGER,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United
States for the District of Massachusetts.

Copyright 1878, W.R. Alger

ELECTROTYPED BY JOHNSON & CO., PHILADA.

University Press: John Wilson & Son,
Cambridge.


PREFACE TO THE TENTH EDITION.


THIS work has passed through nine editions, and has been out of
print now for nearly a year. During the twenty years which have
elapsed since it was written, the question of immortality, the
faith and opinions of men and the drift of criticism and doubt
concerning it, have been a subject of dominant interest to me, and
have occupied a large space in my reading and reflection.
Accordingly, now that my publisher, moved by the constant demand
for the volume, urges the preparation of a new edition introducing
such additional materials as my continued researches have gathered
or constructed, I gladly comply with his request.

The present work is not only historic but it is also polemic;
polemic, however, not in the spirit or interest of any party or
conventicle, but in the spirit and interest of science and
humanity. Orthodoxy insists on doctrines whose irrationality in
their current forms is such that they can never be a basis for the
union of all men. Therefore, to discredit these, in preparation
for more reasonable and auspicious views, is a service to the
whole human race. This is my justification for the controversial
quality which may frequently strike the reader.

Looking back over his pages, after nearly a quarter of a century
more of investigation and experience, the author is grateful that
he finds nothing to retract or expunge. He has but to add such
thoughts and illustrations as have occurred to him in the course
of his subsequent studies. He hopes that the supplementary
chapters now published will be found more suggestive and mature
than the preceding ones, while the same in aim and tone. For he
still believes, as he did in his earlier time, that there is much
of error and superstition, bigotry and cruelty, to be purged out
of the prevailing theological creed and sentiment of Christendom.
And he still hopes, as he did then, to contribute something of
good influence in this direction. The large circulation of the
work, the many letters of thanks for it received by the author
from laymen and clergymen of different denominations, the numerous
avowed and unavowed quotations from it in recent publications,
all show that it has not been produced in vain, but has borne
fruit in missionary service for reason, liberty, and charity.

This ventilating and illumining function of fearless and
reverential critical thought will need to be fulfilled much longer
in many quarters. The doctrine of a future life has been made so
frightful by the preponderance in it of the elements of material
torture and sectarian narrowness, that a natural revulsion of
generous sentiment joins with the impulse of materialistic science
to produce a growing disbelief in any life at all beyond the
grave. Nothing else will do so much to renew and extend faith in
God and immortality as a noble and beautiful doctrine of God and
immortality, freed from disfiguring terror, selfishness, and
favoritism.

The most popular preacher in England has recently asked his
fellow believers, "Can we go to our beds and sleep while China,
India, Japan, and other nations are being damned?" The proprietor
of a great foundry in Germany, while he talked one day with a
workman who was feeding a furnace, accidentally stepped back, and
fell headlong into a vat of molten iron. The thought of what
happened then horrifies the imagination. Yet it was all over in
two or three seconds. Multiply the individual instance by
unnumbered millions, stretch the agony to temporal infinity, and
we confront the orthodox idea of hell!

Protesting human nature hurls off such a belief with indignant
disdain, except in those instances where the very form and
vibration of its nervous pulp have been perverted by the hardening
animus of a dogmatic drill transmitted through generations. To
trace the origin of such notions, expose their baselessness,
obliterate their sway, and replace them with conceptions of a more
rational and benignant order, is a task which still needs to be
done, and to be done in many forms, over and over, again and
again. Though each repetition tell but slightly, it tells.

Every sound argument is instantly crowned with universal victory
in the sight of God, and therefore must at last be so in the sight
of mankind. However slowly the logic of events limps after the
logic of thoughts, it always follows. Let the mind of one man
perceive the true meaning of the doctrine of the general
resurrection and judgment and eternal life, as a natural evolution
of history from within, and it will spread to the minds of all
men; and the misinterpretation of that doctrine so long prevalent,
as a preternatural irruption of power from without, will be set
aside forever. For there is a providential plan of God, not
injected by arbitrary miracle, but inhering in the order of the
world, centred in the propulsive heart of humanity, which beats
throb by throb along the web of events, removing obstacles and
clearing the way for the revelation of the completed pattern. When
it is done no trumpets may be blown, no rocks rent, no graves
opened. But all immortal spirits will be at their goals, and the
universe will be full of music.

NEW YORK, February 22, 1878.

PREFACE.


WHO follows truth carries his star in his brain. Even so bold a
thought is no inappropriate motto for an intellectual workman, if
his heart be filled with loyalty to God, the Author of truth and
the Maker of stars. In this double spirit of independence and
submission it has been my desire to perform the arduous task now
finished and offered to the charitable judgment of the reader. One
may be courageous to handle both the traditions and the novelties
of men, and yet be modest before the solemn mysteries of fate and
nature. He may place no veil before his eyes and no finger on his
lips in presence of popular dogmas, and yet shrink from the
conceit of esteeming his mind a mirror of the universe. Ideas,
like coins, bear the stamp of the age and brain they were struck
in. Many a phantom which ought to have vanished at the first cock
crowing of reason still holds its seat on the oppressed heart of
faith before the terror stricken eyes of the multitude. Every
thoughtful scholar who loves his fellow men must feel it an
obligation to do what he can to remove painful superstitions, and
to spread the peace of a cheerful faith and the wholesome light of
truth. The theories in theological systems being but philosophy,
why should they not be freely subjected to philosophical
criticism? I have endeavored, without virulence, arrogance, or
irreverence towards any thing sacred, to investigate the various
doctrines pertaining to the great subject treated in these pages.
Many persons, of course, will find statements from which they
dissent, sentiments disagreeable to them. But, where thought and
discussion are so free and the press so accessible as with us, no
one but a bigot will esteem this a ground of complaint. May all
such passages be charitably perused, fairly weighed, and, if
unsound, honorably refuted! If the work be not animated with a
mean or false spirit, but be catholic and kindly, if it be not
superficial and pretentious, but be marked by patience and
thoroughness, is it too much to hope that no critic will assail it
with wholesale condemnation simply because in some parts of it
there are opinions which he dislikes? One dispassionate argument
is more valuable than a shower of missile names. The most vehement
revulsion from a doctrine is not inconsistent, in a Christian
mind, with the sweetest kindness of feeling towards the persons
who hold that doctrine. Earnest theological debate may be carried
on without the slightest touch of ungenerous personality. Who but
must feel the pathos and admire the charity of these eloquent
words of Henry Giles?

"Every deep and reflective nature looking intently 'before and
after,' looking above, around, beneath, and finding silence and
mystery to all his questionings of the Infinite, cannot but
conceive of existence as a boundless problem, perhaps an
inevitable darkness between the limitations of man and the
incomprehensibility of God. A nature that so reflects, that
carries into this sublime and boundless obscurity 'the large
discourse of Reason,' will not narrow its concern in the solution
of the problem to its own petty safety, but will brood over it
with an anxiety which throbs for the whole of humanity. Such a
nature must needs be serious; but never will it be arrogant: it
will regard all men with an embracing pity. Strange it should ever
be otherwise in respect to inquiries which belong to infinite
relations, that mean enmities, bitter hatreds, should come into
play in these fathomless searchings of the soul! Bring what
solution we may to this problem of measureless alternatives,
whether by Reason, Scripture, or the Church, faith will never
stand for fact, nor the firmest confidence for actual
consciousness. The man of great and thoughtful nature, therefore,
who grapples in real earnest with this problem, however satisfied
he may be with his own solution of it, however implicit may be his
trust, however assured his convictions, will yet often bow down
before the awful veil that shrouds the endless future, put his
finger on his lips, and weep in silence."

The present work is in a sense, an epitome of the thought of
mankind on the destiny of man. I have striven to add value to it
by comprehensiveness of plan, not confining myself, as most of my
predecessors have confined themselves, to one province or a few
narrow provinces of the subject, but including the entire subject
in one volume; by carefulness of arrangement,  not piling the
material together or presenting it in a chaos of facts and dreams,
but grouping it all in its proper relations; by clearness of
explanation, not leaving the curious problems presented wholly in
the dark with a mere statement of them, but as far as possible
tracing the phenomena to their origin and unveiling their purport;
by poetic life of treatment, not handling the different topics
dryly and coldly, but infusing warmth and color into them; by
copiousness of information, not leaving the reader to hunt up
every thing for himself, but referring him to the best sources for
the facts, reasonings, and hints which he may wish; and by
persevering patience of toil, not hastily skimming here and there
and hurrying the task off, but searching and researching in every
available direction, examining and re examining each mooted point,
by the devotion of twelve years of anxious labor. How far my
efforts in these particulars have been successful is submitted to
the public.

To avoid the appearance of pedantry in the multiplication of foot
notes, I have inserted many authorities incidentally in the text
itself, and have omitted all except such as I thought would be
desired by the reader. Every scholar knows how easy it is to
increase the number of references almost indefinitely, and also
how deceptive such an ostensible evidence of wide reading may be.

When the printing of this volume was nearly completed, and I had
in some instances made more references than may now seem needful,
the thought occurred to me that a full list of the books published
up to the present time on the subject of a future life, arranged
according to their definite topics and in chronological order,
would greatly enrich the work and could not fail often to be of
vast service. Accordingly, upon solicitation, a valued friend  Mr.
Ezra Abbot, Jr., a gentleman remarkable for his varied and
accurate scholarship  undertook that laborious task for me; and he
has accomplished it in the most admirable manner. No reader,
however learned, but may find much important information in the
bibliographical appendix which I am thus enabled to add to this
volume. Every student who henceforth wishes to investigate any
branch of the historical or philosophical doctrine of the
immortality of the soul, or of a future life in general, may thank
Mr. Abbot for an invaluable aid.

As I now close this long labor and send forth the result, the
oppressive sense of responsibility which fills me is relieved by
the consciousness that I have herein written nothing as a bigoted
partisan, nothing in a petty spirit of opinionativeness, but have
intended every thought for the furtherance of truth, the honor of
God, the good of man.

The majestic theme of our immortality allures yet baffles us. No
fleshly implement of logic or cunning tact of brain can reach to
the solution. That secret lies in a tissueless realm whereof no
nerve can report beforehand. We must wait a little. Soon we shall
grope and guess no more, but grasp and know. Meanwhile, shall we
not be magnanimous to forgive and help, diligent to study and
achieve, trustful and content to abide the invisible issue? In
some happier age, when the human race shall have forgotten, in
philanthropic ministries and spiritual worship, the bigotries and
dissensions of sentiment and thought, they may recover, in its
all embracing unity, that garment of truth which God made
originally "seamless as the firmament," now for so long a time
torn in shreds by hating schismatics. Oh, when shall we learn that
a loving pity, a filial faith, a patient modesty, best become us
and fit our state? The pedantic sciolist, prating of his clear
explanations of the mysteries of life, is as far from feeling the
truth of the case as an ape, seated on the starry summit of the
dome of night, chattering with glee over the awful prospect of
infinitude. What ordinary tongue shall dare to vociferate
egotistic dogmatisms where an inspired apostle whispers, with
reverential reserve, "We see through a glass darkly"? There are
three things, said an old monkish chronicler, which often make me
sad. First, that I know I must die; second, that I know not when;
third, that I am ignorant where I shall then be.

"Est primum durum quod scio me moriturum: Secundum, timeo quia hoc
nescio quando: Hine tertium, flebo quod nescio ubi manebo."

Man is the lonely and sublime Columbus of the creation, who,
wandering on this cloudy strand of time, sees drifted waifs and
strange portents borne far from an unknown somewhere, causing him
to believe in another world. Comes not death as a means to bear
him thither? Accordingly as hope rests in heaven, fear shudders at
hell, or doubt faces the dark transition, the future life is a
sweet reliance, a terrible certainty, or a pathetic perhaps. But
living in the present in the humble and loving discharge of its
duties, our souls harmonized with its conditions though aspiring
beyond them, why should we ever despair or be troubled overmuch?
Have we not eternity in our thought, infinitude in our view, and
God for our guide?


CONTENTS


Part First.

HISTORICAL AND CRITICAL INTRODUCTORY VIEWS.

CHAPTER I.

THEORIES OF THE SOUL'S ORIGIN

CHAPTER II.

HISTORY OF DEATH

CHAPTER III.

GROUNDS OF THE BELIEF IN A FUTURE LIFE

CHAPTER IV.

THEORIES OF THE SOUL'S DESTINATION

Part Second.

ETHNIC THOUGHTS CONCERNING A FUTURE LIFE.

CHAPTER I.

BARBARIAN NOTIONS OF A FUTURE LIFE

CHAPTER II.

DRUIDIC DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE

CHAPTER III.

SCANDINAVIAN DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE

CHAPTER IV.

ETRUSCAN DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE

CHAPTER V.

EGYPTIAN DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE

CHAPTER VI.

BRAMANIC AND BUDDHIST DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE

CHAPTER VII.

PERSIAN DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE

CHAPTER VIII.

HEBREW DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE

CHAPTER IX.

RABBINICAL DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE

CHAPTER X.

GREEK AND DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE

CHAPTER XI.

MOHAMMEDAN DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE

CHAPTER XII.

EXPLANATORY SURVEY OF THE FIELD AND ITS MYTHS

Part Third.

NEW TESTAMENT TEACHINGS CONCERNING A FUTURE LIFE.

CHAPTER I.

PETER'S DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE

CHAPTER II.

DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE IN THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS

CHAPTER III.

DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE IN THE APOCALYPSE

CHAPTER IV.

PAUL'S DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE

CHAPTER V.

JOHN'S DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE

CHAPTER VI.

CHRIST'S TEACHINGS CONCERNING THE FUTURE LIFE

CHAPTER VII.

RESURRECTION OF CHRIST

CHAPTER VIII.

ESSENTIAL CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE OF DEATH AND LIFE

Part Fourth.

CHRISTIAN THOUGHTS CONCERNING A FUTURE LIFE.

CHAPTER I.

PATRISTIC DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE

CHAPTER II.

MEDIAVAL DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE

CHAPTER III.

MODERN DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE

Part Fifth.

HISTORICAL AND CRITICAL DISSERTATIONS CONCERNING A FUTURE LIFE.

CHAPTER I.

DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE IN THE ANCIENT MYSTERIES

CHAPTER II.

METEMPSYCHOIS; OR, TRANSMIGRATION OF SOULS

CHAPTER III.

RESURRECTION OF THE FLESH

CHAPTER IV.

DOCTRINE OF FUTURE PUNISHMENT; OR, CRITICAL HISTORY OF THE IDEA OF
A HELL

CHAPTER V.

THE FIVE THEORETIC MODES OF SALVATION

CHAPTER VI.

RECOGNITION OF FRIENDS IN A FUTURE LIFE

CHAPTER VII.

LOCAL FATE OF MAN IN THE ASTRONOMIC UNIVERSE

CHAPTER VIII.

CRITICAL HISTORY OF DISBELIEF IN A FUTURE LIFE

CHAPTER IX.

MORALITY OF THE DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE

Part Sixth.

SUPPLEMENTARY CHAPTERS.

CHAPTER I.

THE END OF THE WORLD

CHAPTER II.

THE DAY OF JUDGMENT

CHAPTER III.

THE MYTHOLOGICAL HELL AND THE TRUE ONE; OR, THE LAW OF PERDITION

CHAPTER IV.

THE GATES OF HEAVEN; OR, THE LAW OF SALVATION IN ALL WORLDS

CHAPTER V.

RESUME OF THE SUBJECT: HOW THE QUESTION OF IMMORTALITY NOW STANDS

CHAPTER VI.

THE TRANSIENT AND THE PERMANENT IN THE DESTINY OF THE SOUL

PART FIRST.


HISTORICAL AND CRITICAL INTRODUCTORY VIEWS.

CHAPTER I.

THEORIES OF THE SOUL'S ORIGIN.

PAUSING, in a thoughtful hour, on that mount of observation whence
the whole prospect of life is visible, what a solemn vision greets
us! We see the vast procession of existence flitting across the
landscape, from the shrouded ocean of birth, over the illuminated
continent of experience, to the shrouded ocean of death. Who can
linger there and listen, unmoved, to the sublime lament of things
that die? Although the great exhibition below endures, yet it is
made up of changes, and the spectators shift as often. Each rank
of the host, as it advances from the mists of its commencing
career, wears a smile caught from the morning light of hope, but,
as it draws near to the fatal bourne, takes on a mournful cast
from the shadows of the unknown realm. The places we occupy were
not vacant before we came, and will not be deserted when we go,
but are forever filling and emptying afresh.

"Still to every draught of vital breath
Renew'd throughout the bounds of earth and ocean,
The melancholy gates of death
Respond with sympathetic motion."

We appear, there is a short flutter of joys and pains, a bright
glimmer of smiles and tears, and we are gone. But whence did we
come? And whither do we go? Can human thought divine the answer?

It adds no little solemnity and pathos to these reflections to
remember that every considerate person in the unnumbered
successions that have preceded us, has, in his turn, confronted
the same facts, engaged in the same inquiry, and been swept from
his attempts at a theoretic solution of the problem into the real
solution itself, while the constant refrain in the song of
existence sounded behind him, "One generation passeth away, and
another generation cometh; but the earth abideth forever." The
evanescent phenomena, the tragic plot and scenery of human birth,
action, and death, conceived on the scale of reality, clothed in

"The sober coloring taken from an eye That hath kept watch o'er
man's mortality,"

and viewed in a susceptible spirit, are, indeed, overwhelmingly
impressive. They invoke the intellect to its most piercing
thoughts. They swell the heart to its utmost capacity of emotion.
They bring us upon the bended knees of wonder and prayer.

"Between two worlds life hovers, like a star'
Twixt night and morn upon the horizon's verge.
How little do we know that which we are!
How less what we may be! The eternal surge
Of time and tide rolls on, and bears afar
Our bubbles: as the old burst, new emerge,
Lash'd from the foam of ages: while the graves
Of empires heave but like some passing waves."

Widely regarding the history of human life from the beginning,
what a visionary spectacle it is! How miraculously permanent in
the whole! how sorrowfully ephemeral in the parts! What pathetic
sentiments it awakens! Amidst what awful mysteries it hangs! The
subject of the derivation of the soul has been copiously discussed
by hundreds of philosophers, physicians, and poets, from Vyasa to
Des Cartes, from Galen to Ennemoser, from Orpheus to Henry More,
from Aristotle to Frohschammer. German literature during the last
hundred years has teemed with works treating of this question from
various points of view. The present chapter will present a sketch
of these various speculations concerning the commencement and
fortunes of man ere his appearance on the stage of this world.

The first theory to account for the origin of souls is that of
emanation. This is the analogical theory, constructed from the
results of sensible observation. There is, it says, one infinite
Being, and all finite spirits are portions of his substance,
existing a while as separate individuals, and then reassimilated
into the general soul. This form of faith, asserting the efflux of
all subordinate existence out of one Supreme Being, seems
sometimes to rest on an intuitive idea. It is spontaneously
suggested whenever man confronts the phenomena of creation with
reflective observation, and ponders the eternal round of birth and
death. Accordingly, we find traces of this belief all over the
world; from the ancient Hindu metaphysics whose fundamental
postulate is that the necessary life of God is one constant
process of radiation and resorption, "letting out and drawing in,"
to that modern English poetry which apostrophizes the glad and
winsome child as

"A silver stream
Breaking with laughter from the lake Divine
Whence all things flow."

The conception that souls are emanations from God is the most
obvious way of accounting for the prominent facts that salute our
inquiries. It plausibly answers some natural questions, and boldly
eludes others. For instance, to the early student demanding the
cause of the mysterious distinctions between mind and body, it
says, the one belongs to the system of passive matter, the other
comes from the living Fashioner of the Universe. Again: this
theory relieves us from the burden that perplexes the finite mind
when it seeks to understand how the course of nature, the
succession of lives, can be absolutely eternal without involving
an alternating or circular movement. The doctrine of emanation
has, moreover, been supported by the supposed analytic similarity
of the soul to God. Its freedom, consciousness, intelligence,
love, correspond with what we regard as the attributes and essence
of Deity. The inference, however unsound, is immediate, that souls
are consubstantial with God, dissevered fragments of Him, sent
into bodies. But, in actual effect, the chief recommendation of
this view has probably been the variety of analogies and images
under which it admits of presentation. The annual developments of
vegetable life from the bosom of the earth, drops taken from a
fountain and retaining its properties in their removal, the
separation of the air into distinct breaths, the soil into
individual atoms, the utterance of a tone gradually dying away in
reverberated echoes, the radiation of beams from a central light,
the exhalation of particles of moisture from the ocean, the
evolution of numbers out of an original unity, these are among the
illustrations by which an exhaustless ingenuity has supported the
notion of the emanation of souls from God. That "something cannot
come out of nothing" is an axiom resting on the ground of our
rational instincts. And seeing all things within our comprehension
held in the chain of causes and effects, one thing always evolving
from another, we leap to the conclusion that it is precisely the
same with things beyond our comprehension, and that God is the
aboriginal reservoir of being from which all the rills of finite
existence are emitted.

Against this doctrine the current objections are these two. First,
the analogies adduced are not applicable. The things of spirit and
those of matter have two distinct sets of predicates and
categories. It is, for example, wholly illogical to argue that
because the circuit of the waters is from the sea, through the
clouds, over the land, back to the sea again, therefore the
derivation and course of souls from God, through life, back to
God, must be similar. There are mysteries in connection with the
soul that baffle the most lynx eyed investigation, and on which no
known facts of the physical world can throw light. Secondly, the
scheme of emanation depends on a vulgar error, belonging to the
infancy of philosophic thought, and inconsistent with some
necessary truths. It implies that God is separable into parts, and
therefore both corporeal and finite. Divisible substance is
incompatible with the first predicates of Deity, namely,
immateriality and infinity. Before the conception of the
illimitable, spiritual unity of God, the doctrine of the emanation
of souls from Him fades away, as the mere figment of a dreaming
mind brooding over the suggestions of phenomena and apparent
correspondences.

The second explanation of the origin of souls is that which says
they come from a previous existence. This is the theory of
imagination, framed in the free and seductive realm of poetic
thought. It is evident that this idea does not propose any
solution of the absolute origination of the soul, but only offers
to account for its appearance on earth. The pre existence of souls
has been most widely affirmed. Nearly the whole world of Oriental
thinkers have always taught it. Many of the Greek philosophers
held it. No small proportion of the early Church Fathers believed
it.1 And it is not without able advocates among the scholars and
thinkers

1 Keil, Opuscula; Be Pre existentia Animarum. Beausobre, Hist. du
Manicheisme, lib. vii. cap. iv.


of our own age. There are two principal forms of this doctrine;
one asserting an ascent of souls from a previous existence below
the rank of man, the other a descent of souls from a higher
sphere. Generation is the true Jacob's ladder, on which souls are
ever ascending or descending. The former statement is virtually
that of the modern theory of development, which argues that the
souls known to us, obtaining their first organic being out of the
ground life of nature, have climbed up through a graduated series
of births, from the merest elementary existence, to the plane of
human nature. A gifted author, Dr. Hedge, has said concerning pre
existence in these two methods of conceiving it, writing in a
half humorous, half serious, vein, "It is to be considered as
expressing rather an exceptional than a universal fact. If here
and there some pure liver, or noble doer, or prophet voice,
suggests the idea of a revenant who, moved with pity for human
kind, and charged with celestial ministries, has condescended to

'Soil his pure ambrosial weeds
With the rank vapors of this sin worn mould,'

or if, on the other hand, the 'superfluity of naughtiness'
displayed by some abnormal felon seems to warrant the supposition
of a visit from the Pit, the greater portion of mankind, we
submit, are much too green for any plausible assumption of a
foregone training in good or evil. This planet is not their
missionary station, nor their Botany Bay, but their native soil.
Or, if we suppose they pre existed at all, we must rather believe
they pre existed as brutes, and have travelled into humanity by
the fish fowl quadruped road with a good deal of the habitudes and
dust of that tramp still sticking to them." The theory of
development, deriving human souls by an ascension from the lower
stages of rudimentary being, considered as a fanciful hypothesis
or speculative toy, is interesting, and not destitute of plausible
aspects. But, when investigated as a severe thesis, it is found
devoid of proof. It is enough here to say that the most
authoritative voices in science reject it, declaring that, though
there is a development of progress in the plan of nature, from the
more general to the more specific, yet there is no advance from
one type or race to another, no hint that the same individual ever
crosses the guarded boundaries of genus from one rank and kingdom
to another. Whatever progress there may be in the upward process
of natural creation or the stages of life, yet to suppose that the
life powers of insects and brutes survive the dissolution of their
bodies, and, in successive crossings of the death gulf, ascend to
humanity, is a bare assumption. It befits the delirious lips of
Beddoes, who says,

"Had I been born a four legg'd child, methinks I might have found
the steps from dog to man And crept into his nature. Are there not
Those that fall down out of humanity Into the story where the
four legg'd dwell?"

The doctrine that souls have descended from an anterior life on
high may be exhibited in three forms, each animated by a different
motive. The first is the view of some of the Manichean teachers,
that spirits were embodied by a hostile violence and cunning, the
force and fraud of the apostatized Devil. Adam and Eve were angels
sent to observe the doings of Lucifer, the rebel king of matter.
He seized these heavenly spies and encased them in fleshly
prisons. And then, in order to preserve a permanent union of these
celestial natures with matter, he contrived that their race should
be propagated by the sexes. Whenever by the procreative act the
germ body is prepared, a fiend hies from bale, or an angel stoops
from bliss, or a demon darts from his hovering in the air, to
inhabit and rule his growing clay house for a term of earthly
life. The spasm of impregnation thrills in fatal summons to hell
or heaven, and resistlessly drags a spirit into the appointed
receptacle. Shakspeare, whose genius seems to have touched every
shape of thought with adorning phrase, makes Juliet, distracted
with the momentary fancy that Romeo is a murderous villain, cry,

"O Nature! what hadst thou to do in hell
When thou didst bower the spirit of a fiend
In mortal paradise of such sweet flesh?"

The second method of explaining the descent of souls into this
life is by the supposition that the stable bliss, the uncontrasted
peace and sameness, of the heavenly experience, at last wearies
the people of Paradise, until they seek relief in a fall. The
perfect sweetness of heaven cloys, the utter routine and safety
tire, the salient spirits, till they long for the edge and hazard
of earthly exposure, and wander down to dwell in fleshly bodies
and breast the tempest of sin, strife, and sorrow, so as to give a
fresh charm once more to the repose and exempted joys of the
celestial realm. In this way, by a series of recurring lives below
and above, novelty and change with larger experience and more
vivid contentment are secured, the tedium and satiety of fixed
happiness and protection are modified by the relishing opposition
of varied trials of hardship and pain, the insufferable monotony
of immortality broken up and interpolated by epochs of surprise
and tingling dangers of probation.

"Mortals, behold! the very angels quit
Their mansions unsusceptible of change,
Amid your dangerous bowers to sit
And through your sharp vicissitudes to range!"

Thus round and round we run through an eternity of lives and
deaths. Surfeited with the unqualified pleasures of heaven, we
"straggle down to this terrene nativity:" When, amid the sour
exposures and cruel storms of the world, we have renewed our
appetite for the divine ambrosia of peace and sweetness, we
forsake the body and ascend to heaven; this constant recurrence
illustrating the great truths, that alternation is the law of
destiny, and that variety is the spice of life.

But the most common derivation of the present from a previous life
is that which explains the descent as a punishment for sin. In
that earlier and loftier state, souls abused their freedom, and
were doomed to expiate their offences by a banished, imprisoned,
and burdensome life on the earth. "The soul," Plutarch writes,
"has removed, not from Athens to Sardis, or from Corinth to
Lemnos, but from heaven to earth; and here, ill at ease, and
troubled in this new and strange place, she hangs her head like a
decaying plant."

Hundreds of passages to the same purport might easily be cited
from as many ancient writers. Sometimes this fall of souls from
their original estate was represented as a simultaneous event: a
part of the heavenly army, under an apostate leader, having
rebelled, were defeated, and sentenced to a chained bodily life.
Our whole race were transported at once from their native shores
in the sky to the convict land of this world. Sometimes the
descent was attributed to the fresh fault of each individual, and
was thought to be constantly happening. A soul tainted with impure
desire, drawn downwards by corrupt material gravitation, hovering
over the fumes of matter, inhaling the effluvia of vice, grew
infected with carnal longings and contagions, became fouled and
clogged with gross vapors and steams, and finally fell into a body
and pursued the life fitted to it below. A clear human child is a
shining seraph from heaven sunk thus low. Men are degraded
cherubim.

"Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar."

The theory of the pre existence of the soul merely removes the
mystery one stage further back, and there leaves the problem of
our origin as hopelessly obscure as before. It is sufficiently
refuted by the open fact that it is absolutely destitute of
scientific basis. The explanation of its wide prevalence as a
belief is furnished by two considerations. First, there were old
authoritative sages and poets who loved to speculate and dream,
and who published their speculations and dreams to reign over the
subject fancies of credulous mankind. Secondly, the conception was
intrinsically harmonious, and bore a charm to fascinate the
imagination and the heart. The fragmentary visions, broken
snatches, mystic strains, incongruous thoughts, fading gleams,
with which imperfectrecollection comes laden from our childish
years and our nightly dreams, are referred by self pleasing fancy
to some earlier and nobler existence. We solve the mysteries of
experience by calling them the veiled vestiges of a bright life
departed, pathetic waifs drifted to these intellectual shores over
the surge of feeling from the wrecked orb of an anterior
existence. It gratifies our pride to think the soul "a star
travelled stranger," a disguised prince, who has passingly
alighted on this globe in his eternal wanderings. The gorgeous
glimpses of truth and beauty here vouchsafed to genius, the
wondrous strains of feeling that haunt the soul in tender hours,
are feeble reminiscences of the prerogatives we enjoyed in those
eons when we trod the planets that sail around the upper world of
the gods. That ennui or plaintive sadness which in all life's deep
and lonesome hours seems native to our hearts, what is it but the
nostalgia of the soul remembering and pining after its distant
home? Vague and forlorn airs come floating into our consciousness,
as from an infinitely remote clime, freighted with a luxury of
depressing melancholy.

"Ah! not the nectarous poppy lovers use,
Not daily labor's dull Lethean spring,
Oblivion in lost angels can infuse
Of the soil'd glory and the trailing wing."

How attractive all this must be to the thoughts of men, how
fascinating to their retrospective and aspiring reveries, it
should be needless to repeat. How baseless it is as a
philosophical theory demanding sober belief, it should be equally
superfluous to illustrate further.

The third answer to the question concerning the origin of the soul
is that it is directly created by the voluntary power of God. This
is the theory of faith, instinctively shrinking from the
difficulty of the problem on its scientific ground, and evading it
by a wholesale reference to Deity. Some writers have held that all
souls were created by the Divine fiat at the beginning of the
world, and laid up in a secret repository, whence they are drawn
as occasion calls. The Talmudists say, "All souls were made during
the six days of creation; and therefore generation is not by
traduction, but by infusion of a soul into body." Others maintain
that this production of souls was not confined to any past period,
but is continued still, a new soul being freshly created for every
birth. Whenever certain conditions meet,

"Then God smites his hands together,
And strikes out a soul as a spark,
Into the organized glory of things,
From the deeps of the dark."

This is the view asserted by Vincentius Victor in opposition to
the dogmatism of Tertullian on the one hand and to the doubts of
Augustine on the other.2 It is called the theory of Insufflation,
because it affirms that God immediately breathes a soul into each
new being: even as in the case of Adam, of whom we read that "God
breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and he became a
living soul." The doctrine drawn from this Mosaic text, that the
soul is a divine substance, a breath of God, miraculously breathed
by Him into every creature at the commencement of its existence,
often reappears, and plays a prominent part in the history of
psychological opinions. It corresponds with the beautiful Greek
myth of Prometheus, who is fabled to have made a human image from
the dust of the ground, and then, by fire stolen from heaven, to
have animated it with a living soul. So man, as to his body, is
made of earthly clay; but the Promethean spark that forms his soul
is the fresh breath of God. There is no objection to the real
ground and essence of this theory, only to its form and
accompaniments. It is purely anthropomorphitic; it conceives God
as working, after the manner of a man, intermittently,
arbitrarily. It insulates the origination of souls from the fixed
course of nature, severs it from all connection with that common
process of organic life which weaves its inscrutable web through
the universe, that system of laws which expresses the unchanging
will of God, and which constitutes the order by whose solemn logic
alone He acts. The objection to this view is, in a word, that it
limits the creative action of God to human souls. We suppose that
He creates our bodies as well; that He is the immediate Author of
all life in the same sense in which He is the immediate Author of
our souls. The opponents of the creation theory, who strenuously
fought it in the seventeenth century, were accustomed to urge
against it the fanciful objection that "it puts God to an invenust

2 Augustine, De Anima et ejus Origine, lib. iv.


employment scarce consistent with his verecundious holiness; for,
if it be true, whenever the lascivious consent to uncleanness and
are pleased to join in unlawful mixture, God is forced to stand a
spectator of their vile impurities, stooping from his throne to
attend their bestial practices, and raining down showers of souls
to animate the emissions of their concupiscence"3

A fourth reply to the inquiry before us is furnished in
Tertullian's famous doctrine of Traduction, the essential import
of which is that all human souls have been transmitted, or brought
over, from the soul of Adam. This is the theological theory: for
it arose from an exigency in the dogmatic system generally held by
the patristic Church. The universal depravity of human nature, the
inherited corruption of the whole race, was a fundamental point of
belief. But how reconcile this proposition with the conception,
entertained by many, that each new born soul is a fresh creation
from the "substance," "spirit," or "breath" of God? Augustine
writes to Jerome, asking him to solve this question.4 Tertullian,
whose fervid mind was thoroughly imbued with materialistic
notions, unhesitatingly cut this Gordian knot by asserting that
our first parent bore within him the undeveloped germ of all
mankind, so that sinfulness and souls were propagated together. 5
Thus the perplexing query, "how souls are held in the chain of
original sin," was answered. As Neander says, illustrating
Tertullian's view, "The soul of the first man was the fountain
head of all human souls: all the varieties of individual human
nature are but modifications of that one spiritual substance." In
the light of such a thought, we can see how Nature might, when
solitary Adam lived, fulfil Lear's wild conjuration, and

"All the germens spill
At once that make ingrateful man."

In the seventh chapter of the Koran it is written, "The Lord drew
forth their posterity from the loins of the sons of Adam." The
commentators say that God passed his hand down Adam's back, and
extracted all the generations which should come into the world
until the resurrection. Assembled in the presence of the angels,
and endued with understanding, they confessed their dependence on
God, and were then caused to return into the loins of their great
ancestor. This is one of the most curious doctrines within the
whole range of philosophical history. It implies the strict
corporeality of the soul; and yet how infinitely fine must be its
attenuation when it has been diffused into countless thousands of
millions! Der Urkeim theilt sich ins Unendliche.

"What! will the line stretch out to the crack of doom?"

The whole thought is absurd. It was not reached by an induction of
facts, a study of phenomena, or any fair process of reasoning, but
was arbitrarily created to rescue a dogma from otherwise
inevitable rejection. It was the desperate clutch of a heady
theologian reeling in a vortex of hostile argument, and ready to
seize any fancy, however artificial, to save

3 Edward Warren, No Pre Existence, p. 74.

4 Epistola CLXVI.

5 De Anima, cap. x. et xix.


himself from falling under the ruins of his system. Henry Woolner
published in London, in 1655, a book called "Extraction of Soul: a
sober and judicious inquiry to prove that souls are propagated;
because, if they are created, original sin is impossible."

The theological dogma of traduction has been presented in two
forms. First, it is declared that all souls are developed out of
the one substance of Adam's soul; a view that logically implies an
ultimate attenuating diffusion, ridiculously absurd. Secondly, it
is held that "the eating of the forbidden fruit corrupted all the
vital fluids of Eve; and this corruption carried vicious and
chaotic consequences into her ova, in which lay the souls of all
her posterity, with infinitely little bodies, already existing."6
This form is as incredible as the other; for it equally implies a
limitless distribution of souls from a limited deposit. As Whewell
says, "This successive inclusion of germs (Einschachtelungs
Theorie) implies that each soul contains an infinite number of
germs."7 It necessarily excludes the formation of new spiritual
substance: else original transmitted sin is excluded. The doctrine
finds no parallelism anywhere else in nature. Who, no matter how
wedded to the theology of original sin and transmitted death,
would venture to stretch the same thesis over the animal races,
and affirm that the dynamic principles, or animating souls, of all
serpents, eagles, and lions, were once compressed in the first
patriarchal serpent, eagle, or lion?

That the whole formative power of all the simultaneous members of
our race was concentrated in the first cell germ of our original
progenitor, is a scientific impossibility and incredibleness. The
fatal sophistry in the traducian account of the transmission of
souls may be illustrated in the following manner. The germs of all
the apple trees now in existence did not lie in the first apple
seed. All the apple trees now existing were not derived by literal
development out of the actual contents of the first apple seed.
No: but the truth is this. There was a power in the first apple
seed to secure certain conditions; that is, to organize a certain
status in which the plastic vegetative life of nature would posit
new and similar powers and materials. So not all souls were latent
in Adam's, but only an organizing power to secure the conditions
on which the Divine Will that first began, would, in accordance
with His creative plan, forever continue, His spirit creation. The
distinction of this statement from that of traduction is the
difference between evolution from one original germ or stock and
actual production of new beings. Its distinction from the third
theory the theory of immediate creation is the difference between
an intermittent interposition of arbitrary acts and the continuous
working of a plan according to laws scientifically traceable.

There is another solution to the question of the soul's origin,
which has been propounded by some philosophers and may be called
the speculative theory. Its statement is that the germs of souls
were created simultaneously with the formation of the material
universe, and were copiously sown abroad through all nature,
waiting there to be successively taken up and furnished with the
conditions of development.8 These latent seeds of souls, swarming
in all places, are drawn in with the first breath or imbibed with
the earliest nourishment of the

6 Hennings, Geschichte von den Seelen der Menschen, s. 500.

7 Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, vol. I. b. ix. ch. iv.
sect. 4.

8 Ploucquet, De Origin atque Generatione Anima Humana ex
Principiis Monadologicis stabilita.

new born child into the already constructed body which before has
only a vegetative life. The Germans call this representation
panspermismus, or the dissemination theory. Leibnitz, in his
celebrated monadology, carries the same view a great deal further.
He conceives the whole created universe, visible and invisible, to
consist of monads, which are not particles of matter, but
metaphysical points of power. These monads are all souls. They are
produced by what he calls fulgurations of God. The distinction
between fulguration and emanation is this: in the latter case the
procession is historically defined and complete; in the former
case it is momentaneous. The monads are radiated from the Divine
Will, forth through the creation, by the constant flashes of His
volition. All nature is composed of them, and nothing is
depopulated and dead. Their naked being is force, and their
indestructible predicates are perception, desire, tendency to
develop. While they lie dormant, their potential capacities all
inwrapped, they constitute what we entitle matter. When, by the
rising stir of their inherent longing, they leave their passive
state and reach a condition of obscure consciousness, they become
animals. Finally, they so far unwind their bonds and evolve their
facultative potencies as to attain the rank of rational minds in
the grade of humanity. Generation is merely the method by which
the aspiring monad lays the organic basis for the grouped building
of its body. Man is a living union of monads, one regent monad
presiding over the whole organization. That king monad which has
attained to full apperception, the free exercise of perfect
consciousness, is the immortal human soul. 9 Any labored attempt
to refute this ingenious doctrine is needless, since the doctrine
itself is but the developed structure of a speculative conception
with no valid basis of observed fact. It is a sheer hypothesis,
spun out of the self fed bowels of a priori assumption and
metaphysic fancy. It solves the problems only by changes of their
form, leaving the mysteries as numerous and deep as before. It is
a beautiful and sublime piece of latent poetry, the evolution and
architecture of which well display the wonderful genius of
Leibnitz. It is a more subtle and powerful process of thought than
Aristotle's Organon, a more pure and daring work of imagination
than Milton's Paradise Lost. But it spurns the tests of
experimental science, and is entitled to rank only among the
splendid curiosities of philosophy; a brilliant and plausible
theorem, not a sober and solid induction.

One more method of treating the inquiry before us will complete
the list. It is what we may properly call the scientific theory,
though in truth it is hardly a theory at all, but rather a careful
statement of the observed facts, and a modest confession of
inability to explain the cause of them. Those occupying this
position, when asked what is the origin of souls, do not pretend
to unveil the final secret, but simply say, everywhere in the
world of life, from bottom to top, there is an organic growth in
accordance with conditions. This is what is styled the theory of
epigenesis, and is adopted by the chief physiologists of the
present day. Swammerdam, Malebranche, even Cuvier, had defended
the doctrine of successive inclusion; but Wolf, Blumenbach, and
Von Baer established in its place the doctrine of epigenesis. 10

9 Leibnitz, Monadologie.

10 Ennemoser, Historisch psychologische Untersuchungen tiber den
Ursprung der menschlichen Seelen, zweite Auflage.


Scrupulously confining themselves to the mass of collected facts
and the course of scrutinized phenomena, they say there is a
natural production of new living beings in conformity to certain
laws, and give an exposition of the fixed conditions and sequences
of this production. Here they humbly stop, acknowledging that the
causal root of power, which produces all these consequences, is an
inexplicable mystery. Their attitude is well represented by
Swedenborg when he says, in reference to this very subject, "Any
one may form guesses; but let no son of earth pretend to penetrate
the mysteries of creation." 11

Let us notice now the facts submitted to us. First, at the base of
the various departments of nature, we see a mass of apparently
lifeless matter. Out of this crude substratum of the outward world
we observe a vast variety of organized forms produced by a
variously named but unknown Power. They spring in regular methods,
in determinate shapes, exist on successive stages of rank, with
more or less striking demarcations of endowment, and finally fall
back again, as to their physical constituents, into the inorganic
stuff from which they grew. This mysterious organizing Power,
pushing its animate and builded receptacles up to the level of
vegetation, creates the world of plants.

"Every clod feels a stir of might,
An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And, grasping blindly above it for light,
Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers."

On the level of sensation, where the obscure rudiments of will,
understanding, and sentiment commence, this life giving Power
creates the world of animals. And so, on the still higher level of
reason and its concomitants, it creates the world of men. In a
word, the great general fact is that an unknown Power call it what
we may, Nature, Vital Force, or God creates, on the various planes
of its exercise, different families of organized beings. Secondly,
a more special fact is, that when we have overleaped the mystery
of a commencement, every being yields seed according to its kind,
wherefrom, when properly conditioned, its species is perpetuated.
How much, now, does this second fact imply? It is by adding to the
observed phenomena an indefensible hypothesis that the error of
traduction is obtained. We observe that human beings are begotten
by a deposit of germs through the generative process. To affirm
that these germs are transmitted down the generations from the
original progenitor of each race, in whom they all existed at
first, is an unwarranted assertion and involves absurdities. It is
refuted both by Geoffrey St. Hilaire's famous experiments on eggs,
and by the crossing of species.12 In opposition to this
theological figment, observation and science require the belief
that each being is endowed independently with a germ forming
power.

Organic life requires three things: a fruitful germ; a quickening
impulse; a nourishing medium. Science plainly shows us that this
primal nucleus is given, in the human species, by the union of the
contents of a sperm cell with those of a germ cell; that this
dynamic start is imparted from the life force of the parents; and
that this feeding environment is

11 Tract on the Origin and Propagation of the Soul, chap. i.

12 Flourens, Amount of Life on the Globe, part ii. ch. iii. sect. ii.

furnished by the circle of co ordinated relations. That the
formative power of the new organism comes from, or at least is
wholly conditioned by, the parent organism, should be believed,
because it is the obvious conclusion, against which there is
nothing to militate. That the soul of the child comes in some way
from the soul of the parent, or is stamped by it, is also implied
by the normal resemblance of children to parents, not more in
bodily form than in spiritual idiosyncrasies. This fact alone
furnishes the proper qualification to the acute and significant
lines of the Platonizing poet:

"Wherefore who thinks from souls new souls to bring,
The same let presse the sunne beames in his fist
And squeeze out drops of light, or strongly wring
The rainbow till it die his hands, well prest."

"That which is born of the flesh is flesh: that which is born of
the spirit is spirit." As the body of the child is the derivative
of a germ elaborated in the body of the parent, so the soul of the
child is the derivative of a developing impulse of power imparted
from the soul of the parent. And as the body is sustained by
absorbing nutrition from matter, so the soul is sustained by
assimilating the spiritual substances of the invisible kingdom.
The most ethereal elements must combine to nourish that consummate
plant whose blossom is man's mind. This representation is not
materialism; for spirit belongs to a different sphere and is the
subject of different predicates from matter, though equally under
a constitution of laws. Nor does this view pretend to explain what
is inherently transcendent: it leaves the creation of the soul
within as wide a depth and margin of mystery as ever. Neither is
this mode of exposing the problem atheistic. It refers the forms
of life, all growths, all souls, to the indefinable Power that
works everywhere, creates each thing, vivifies, governs, and
contains the universe. And, however that Power be named, is it not
God? And thus we still reverently hold that it is God's own hands
"That reach through nature, moulding men." The ancient heroes of
Greece and India were fond of tracing their genealogy up directly
to their deities, and were proud to deem that in guarding them the
gods stooped to watch over a race of kings, a puissant and
immortal stock,

"Whose glories stream'd from the same clond girt founts
Whence their own dawn'd upon the infant world."

After all the researches that have been made, we yet find the
secret of the beginning of the soul shrouded among the fathomless
mysteries of the Almighty Creator, and must ascribe our birth to
the Will of God as piously as it was done in the eldest mythical
epochs of the world. Notwithstanding the careless frivolity of
skepticism and the garish light of science abroad in this modern
time, there are still stricken and yearning depths of wonder and
sorrow enough, profound and awful shadows of night and fear
enough, to make us recognise, in the golden joys that visit us
rarely, in the illimitable visions that emancipate us often, in
the unearthly thoughts and dreams that ravish our minds,
enigmatical intimations of our kinship with God, prophecies of
a super earthly destiny whose splendors already break through the
clouds of ignorance, the folds of flesh, and the curtains of
time in which our spirits here sit pavilioned.

Augustine pointedly observes, "It is no evil that the origin of
the soul remains obscure, if only its redemption be made
certain."13 Non est periculum si origo animoe lateat, dum
redemptio clareat. No matter how humanity originates, if its
object be to produce fruit, and that fruit be immortal souls. When
our organism has perfected its intended product, willingly will we
let the decaying body return into the ground, if so be we are
assured that the ripened spirit is borne into the heavenly garner.
Let us, in close, reduce the problem of the soul's origin to its
last terms. The amount of force in the universe is uniform.14
Action and reaction being equal, no new creation of force is
possible: only its directions, deposits, and receptacles may be
altered. No combination of physical processes can produce a
previously non existent subject: it can only initiate the
modification, development, assimilation, of realities already in
being. Something cannot come out of nothing. The quickening
formation of a man, therefore, implies the existence, first, of a
material germ, the basis of the body; secondly, of a power to
impart to that germ a dynamic impulse, in other words, to deposit
in it a spirit atom, or monad of life force. Now, the fresh body
is originally a detached product of the parent body, as an apple
is the detached product of a tree. So the fresh soul is a
transmitted force imparted by the parent soul, either directly
from itself, or else conditioned by it and drawn from the ground
life of nature, the creative power of God. If filial soul be
begotten by procession and severance of conscious force from
parental soul, the spiritual resemblance of offspring and
progenitors is clearly explained. This phenomenon is also equally
well explained if the parent soul, so called, be a die striking
the creative substance of the universe into individual form. The
latter supposition seems, upon the whole, the more plausible and
scientific. Generation is a reflex condition moving the life basis
of the world to produce a soul, as a physical impression moves the
soul to produce a perception.15

But, however deep the mystery of the soul's origin, whatever our
conclusion in regard to it, let us not forget that the inmost
essence and verity of the soul is conscious power; and that all
power defies annihilation. It is an old declaration that what
begins in time must end in time; and with the metaphysical shears
of that notion more than once the burning faith in eternal life
has been snuffed out. Yet how obvious is its sophistry! A being
beginning in time need not cease in time, if the Power which
originated it intends and provides for its perpetuity. And that
such is the Creative intention for man appears from the fact that
the grand forms of belief in all ages issuing from his mental
organization have borne the stamp of an expected immortality. Our
ideas may disappear, but they are always recoverable. If the souls
of men are ideas of God, must they not be as enduring as his mind?

13 Epist. CLVI.

14 Faraday, Conservation of Force, Phil. Mag., April, 1857.

15 Dr. Frohschammer, Ursprang der menechlichen Seelen, sect. 115.


The naturalist who so immerses his thoughts in the physical phases
of nature as to lose hold on indestructible centres of
personality, should beware lest he lose the motive which propels
man to begin here, by virtue and culture, to climb that ladder of
life whose endless sides are affections, but whose discrete rounds
are thoughts.

CHAPTER II.

HISTORY OF DEATH.

DEATH is not an entity, but an event; not a force, but a state.
Life is the positive experience, death the negation. Yet in nearly
every literature death has been personified, while no kindred
prosopopoeia of life is anywhere to be found. With the Greeks,
Thanatos was a god; with the Romans, Mors was a goddess: but no
statue was ever moulded, no altar ever raised, to Zoe or Vita. At
first thought, we should anticipate the reverse of this; but, in
truth, the fact is quite naturally as it is. Life is a continuous
process; and any one who makes the effort will find how difficult
it is to conceive of it as an individual being, with distinctive
attributes, functions, and will. It is an inward possession which
we familiarly experience, and in the quiet routine of custom we
feel no shock of surprise at it, no impulse to give it imaginative
shape and ornament. On the contrary, death is an impending
occurrence, something which we anticipate and shudder at,
something advancing toward us in time to strike or seize us. Its
externality to our living experience, its threatening approach,
the mystery and alarm enwrapping it, are provocative conditions
for fanciful treatment, making personifications inevitable.

With the Old Aryan race of India, death is Yama, the soul of the
first man, departed to be the king of the subterranean realm of
the subsequent dead, and returning to call after him each of his
descendants in turn. To the good he is mild and lovely, but to the
impious he is clad in terror and acts with severity. The purely
fanciful character of this thought is obvious; for, according to
it, death was before death, since Yama himself died. Yama does not
really represent death, but its arbiter and messenger. He is the
ruler over the dead, who himself carries the summons to each
mortal to become his subject.

In the Hebrew conception, death was a majestic angel, named
Sammael, standing in the court of heaven, and flying thence over
the earth, armed with a sword, to obey the behests of God. The
Talmudists developed and dressed up the thought with many details,
half sublime, half fantastic. He strides through the world at a
step. From the soles of his feet to his shoulders he is full of
eyes. Every person in the moment of dying sees him; and at the
sight the soul retreats, running through all the limbs, as if
asking permission to depart from them. From his naked sword fall
three drops: one pales the countenance, one destroys the vitality,
one causes the body to decay. Some Rabbins say he bears a cup from
which the dying one drinks, or that he lets fall from the point of
his sword a single acrid drop upon the sufferer's tongue: this is
what is called "tasting the bitterness of death." Here again, we
see, it is not strictly death that is personified. The embodiment
is not of the mortal act, but of the decree determining that act.
The Jewish angel of death is not a picture of death in itself, but
of God's decree coming to the fated individual who is to die.

The Greeks sometimes depicted death and sleep as twin boys, one
black, one white, borne slumbering in the arms of their mother,
night. In this instance the phenomenon of dissolving
unconsciousness which falls on mortals, abstractly generalized in
the mind, is then concretely symbolized. It is a bold and happy
stroke of artistic genius; but it in no way expresses or suggests
the scientific facts of actual death. There is also a classic
representation of death as a winged boy with a pensive brow and
an inverted torch, a butterfly at his feet. This beautiful image,
with its affecting accompaniments, conveys to the beholder not
the verity, nor an interpretation, of death, but the sentiments
of the survivors in view of their bereavement. The sad brow denotes
the grief of the mourner, the winged insect the disembodied
psyche, the reversed torch the descent of the soul to the under
world; but the reality of death itself is nowhere hinted.

The Romans give descriptions of death as a female figure in dark
robes, with black wings, with ravenous teeth, hovering everywhere,
darting here and there, eager for prey. Such a view is a
personification of the mysteriousness, suddenness, inevitableness,
and fearfulness, connected with the subject of death in men's
minds, rather than of death itself. These thoughts are grouped
into an imaginary being, whose sum of attributes are then
ignorantly both associated with the idea of the unknown cause and
confounded with the visible effect. It is, in a word, mere poetry,
inspired by fear and unguided by philosophy.

Death has been shown in the guise of a fowler spreading his net,
setting his snares for men. But this image concerns itself with
the accidents of the subject, the unexpectedness of the fatal
blow, the treacherous springing of the trap, leaving the root of
the matter untouched. The circumstances of the mortal hour are
infinitely varied, the heart of the experience is unchangeably the
same: there are a thousand modes of dying, but there is only one
death. Ever so complete an exhibition of the occasions and
accompaniments of an event is no explanation of what the inmost
reality of the event is.

The Norse conception of death as a vast, cloudy presence, darkly
sweeping on its victims, and bearing them away wrapped in its
sable folds, is evidently a free product of imagination brooding
not so much on the distinct phenomena of an individual case as on
the melancholy mystery of the disappearance of men from the
familiar places that knew them once but miss them now. In a
somewhat kindred manner, the startling magnificence of the sketch
in the Apocalypse, of death on the pale horse, is a product of
pure imagination meditating on the wholesale slaughter which was
to deluge the earth when God's avenging judgments fell upon the
enemies of the Christians. But to consider this murderous warrior
on his white charger as literally death, would be as erroneous as
to imagine the bare armed executioner and the guillotine to be
themselves the death which they inflict. No more appalling picture
of death has been drawn than that by Milton, whose dire image has
this stroke of truth in it, that its adumbrate formlessness
typifies the disorganizing force which reduces all cunningly built
bodies of life to the elemental wastes of being. The incestuous
and mistreated progeny of Sin is thus delineated:

"The shape,
If shape it might be call'd that shape had none
Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb,
Or substance might be call'd that shadow seem'd,
For each seem'd either, black it stood as night,
Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell,
And shook a dreadful dart: what seem'd his head
The likeness of a kingly crown had on."

But the most common personification of death is as a skeleton
brandishing a dart; and then he is called the grisly king of
terrors; and people tremble at the thought of him, as children do
at the name of a bugbear in the dark. What sophistry this is! It
is as if we should identify the trophy with the conqueror, the
vestiges left in the track of a traveller with the traveller
himself. Death literally makes a skeleton of man; so man
metaphorically makes a skeleton of Death! All these
representations of death, however beautiful, or pathetic, or
horrible, are based on superficial appearances, misleading
analogies, arbitrary fancies, perturbed sensibilities, not on a
firm hold of realities, insight of truth, and philosophical
analysis. They are all to be brushed aside as phantoms of
nightmare or artificial creations of fiction. Poetry has mostly
rested, hitherto, on no veritable foundation of science, but on a
visionary foundation of emotion. It has wrought upon flitting,
sensible phenomena rather than upon abiding substrata of facts.
For example, a tender Greek bard personified the life of a tree as
a Hamadryad, the moving trunk and limbs her undulating form and
beckoning arms, the drooping boughs her hair, the rustling foliage
her voice. A modern poet, endowed with the same strength of
sympathy, but acquainted with vegetable chemistry, might personify
sap as a pale, liquid maiden, ascending through the roots and
veins to meet air, a blue boy robed in golden warmth, descending
through the leaves, with a whisper, to her embrace. So the
personifications of death in literature, thus far, give us no
penetrative glance into what it really is, help us to no acute
definition of it, but poetically fasten on some feature, or
accident, or emotion, associated with it.

There are in popular usage various metaphors to express what is
meant by death. The principal ones are, extinction of the vital
spark, departing, expiring, cutting the thread of life, giving up
the ghost, falling asleep. These figurative modes of speech spring
from extremely imperfect correspondences. Indeed, the unlikenesses
are more important and more numerous than the likenesses. They are
simply artifices to indicate what is so deeply obscure and
intangible. They do not lay the secret bare, nor furnish us any
aid in reaching to the true essence of the question. Moreover,
several of them, when sharply examined, involve a fatal error. For
example, upon the admitted supposition that in every case of dying
the soul departs from the body, still, this separation of the soul
from the body is not what constitutes death. Death is the state of
the body when the soul has left it. An act is distinct from its
effects. We must, therefore, turn from the literary inquiry to the
metaphysical and scientific method, to gain any satisfactory idea
and definition of death.

A German writer of extraordinary acumen and audacity has said,
"Only before death, but not in death, is death death. Death is so
unreal a being that he only is when he is not, and is not when he
is."1 This paradoxical and puzzling as it may appear is
susceptible of quite lucid interpretation and defence. For death
is, in its naked significance, the state of not being. Of course,
then, it has no existence save in the conceptions of the living.
We compare a dead

1 Feuerbach, Gedanken uber Tod and Unsterblichkeit, sect. 84.


person with what he was when living, and instinctively personify
the difference as death. Death, strictly analyzed, is only this
abstract conceit or metaphysical nonentity. Death, therefore,
being but a conception in the mind of a living person, when that
person dies death ceases to be at all. And thus the realization of
death is the death of death. He annihilates himself, dying with
the dart he drives. Having in this manner disposed of the
personality or entity of death, it remains as an effect, an event,
a state. Accordingly, the question next arises, What is death when
considered in this its true aspect?

A positive must be understood before its related negative can be
intelligible. Bichat defined life as the sum of functions by which
death is resisted. It is an identical proposition in verbal
disguise, with the fault that it makes negation affirmation,
passiveness action. Death is not a dynamic agency warring against
life, but simply an occurrence. Life is the operation of an
organizing force producing an organic form according to an ideal
type, and persistently preserving that form amidst the incessant
molecular activity and change of its constituent substance. That
operation of the organic force which thus constitutes life is a
continuous process of waste, casting off the old exhausted matter,
and of replacement by assimilation of new material. The close of
this process of organific metamorphosis and desquamation is death,
whose finality is utter decomposition, restoring all the bodily
elements to the original inorganic conditions from which they were
taken. The organic force with which life begins constrains
chemical affinity to work in special modes for the formation of
special products: when it is spent or disappears, chemical
affinity is at liberty to work in its general modes; and that is
death. "Life is the co ordination of actions; the imperfection of
the co ordination is disease, its arrest is death." In other
words, "life is the continuous adjustment of relations in an
organism with relations in its environment." Disturb that
adjustment, and you have malady; destroy it, and you have death.
Life is the performance of functions by an organism; death is the
abandonment of an organism to the forces of the universe. No
function can be performed without a waste of the tissue through
which it is performed: that waste is repaired by the assimilation
of fresh nutriment. In the balancing of these two actions life
consists. The loss of their equipoise soon terminates them both;
and that is death. Upon the whole, then, scientifically speaking,
to cause death is to stop "that continuous differentiation and
integration of tissues and of states of consciousness"
constituting life. 2 Death, therefore, is no monster, no force,
but the act of completion, the state of cessation; and all the
bugbears named death are but poor phantoms of the frightened and
childish mind.

Life consisting in the constant differentiation of the tissues by
the action of oxygen, and their integration from the blastema
furnished by the blood, why is not the harmony of these processes
preserved forever? Why should the relation between the integration
and disintegration going on in the human organism ever fall out of
correspondence with the relation between the oxygen and food
supplied from its environment? That is to say, whence originated
the sentence of death upon man? Why do we not live immortally as
we are? The current reply is, we die because our first parent
sinned. Death is a penalty inflicted upon the

2 Spencer, Principles of Psychology, pp. 334-373.


human race because Adam disobeyed his Maker's command. We must
consider this theory a little.

The narrative in Genesis, of the creation of man and of the events
in the Garden of Eden, cannot be traced further back than to the
time of Solomon, three thousand years after the alleged
occurrences it describes. This portion of the book of Genesis, as
has long been shown, is a distinct document, marked by many
peculiarities, which was inserted in its present place by the
compiler of the elder Hebrew Scriptures somewhere between seven
and ten centuries before Christ.3 Ewald has fully demonstrated
that the book of Genesis consists of many separate fragmentary
documents of different ages, arranged together by a comparatively
late hand. Among the later of these pieces is the account of the
primeval pair in paradise. Grotefend argues, with much force and
variety of evidence, that this story was derived from a far more
ancient legend book, only fragments of which remained when the
final collection was made of this portion of the Old Testament.4
Many scholars have thought the account was not of Hebrew origin,
but was borrowed from the literary traditions of some earlier
Oriental nation. Rosenmuller, Von Bohlen, and others, say it bears
unmistakable relationship to the Zendavesta which tells how
Ahriman, the old Serpent, beguiled the first pair into sin and
misery. These correspondences, and also that between the tree of
life and the Zoroastrian plant hom, which gives life and will
produce the resurrection, are certainly striking. Buttmann sees in
God's declaration to Adam, "Behold, I have given you for food
every herb bearing seed, and every tree in which is fruit bearing
seed," traces of a prohibition of animal food. This was not the
vestige of a Hebrew usage, but the vegetarian tradition of some
sect eschewing meat, a tradition drawn from South Asia, whence the
fathers of the Hebrew race came.5 Gesenius says, "Many things in
this narrative were drawn from older Asiatic tradition." 6 Knobel
also affirms that numerous matters in this relation were derived
from traditions of East Asian nations.7 Still, it is not necessary
to suppose that the writer of the account in Genesis borrowed any
thing from abroad. The Hebrew may as well have originated such
ideas as anybody else. The Egyptians, the Phoenicians, the
Chaldeans, the Persians, the Etruscans, have kindred narratives
held as most ancient and sacred.8 The Chinese, the Sandwich
Islanders, the North American Indians, also have their legends of
the origin and altered fortunes of the human race. The
resemblances between many of these stories are better accounted
for by the intrinsic similarities of the subject, of the mind, of
nature, and of mental action, than by the supposition of
derivation from one another.

Regarding the Hebrew narrative as an indigenous growth, then, how
shall we explain its origin, purport, and authority? Of course we
cannot receive it as a miraculous revelation conveying infallible
truth. The Bible, it is now acknowledged, was not given in the
providence

3 Tuch, Kommentar uber Genesis, s. xcviii.

4 Zur altesten Sagenpoesie des Orients. Zeitschrift der deutschen
Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft, band viii. ss. 772-779.

5 Mythologus, (Schopfung and Sundenfall, ) band i. s. 137.

6 Article "Adam," in Encyclopadia by Ersch and Gruber.

7 Die Genesis erklart, s. 28.

8 Palfrey's Academical Lectures, vol. ii. pp. 21-28.


of God to teach astronomy, geology, chronology, and the operation
of organic forces, but to help educate men in morality and piety.
It is a religious, not a scientific, work. Some unknown Hebrew
poet, in the early dawn of remembered time, knowing little
metaphysics and less science, musing upon the fortunes of man, his
wickedness, sorrow, death, and impressed with an instinctive
conviction that things could not always have been so, casting
about for some solution of the dim, pathetic problem, at last
struck out the beautiful and sublime poem recorded in Genesis,
which has now for many a century, by Jews, Christians,
Mohammedans, been credited as authentic history. With his own
hands God moulds from earth an image in his own likeness, breathes
life into it, and new made man moves, lord of the scene, and lifts
his face, illuminated with soul, in submissive love to his
Creator. Endowed with free will, after a while he violated his
Maker's command: the divine displeasure was awakened, punishment
ensued, and so rushed in the terrible host of ills under which we
suffer. The problem must early arise: the solution is, to a
certain stage of thought, at once the most obvious and the most
satisfactory conceivable. It is the truth. Only it is cast in
imaginative, not scientific, form, arrayed in emblematic, not
literal, garb. The Greeks had a lofty poem by some early unknown
author, setting forth how Prometheus formed man of clay and
animated him with fire from heaven, and how from Pandora's box the
horrid crew of human vexations were let into the world. The two
narratives, though most unequal in depth and dignity, belong in
the same literary and philosophical category. Neither was intended
as a plain record of veritable history, each word a naked fact,
but as a symbol of its author's thoughts, each phrase the
metaphorical dress of a speculative idea.

Eichhorn maintains, with no slight plausibility, that the whole
account of the Garden of Eden was derived from a series of
allegorical pictures which the author had seen, and which he
translated from the language of painting into the language of
words. At all events, we must take the account as symbolic, a
succession of figurative expressions. Many of the best minds have
always so considered it, from Josephus to Origen, from Ambrose to
Kant. What, then, are the real thoughts which the author of this
Hebrew poem on the primal condition of man meant to convey beneath
his legendary forms of imagery? These four are the essential ones.
First, that God created man; secondly, that he created him in a
state of freedom and happiness surrounded by blessings; third,
that the favored subject violated his Sovereign's order; fourth,
that in consequence of this offence he was degraded from his
blessed condition, beneath a load of retributive ills. The
composition shows the characteristics of a philosopheme or a myth,
a scheme of conceptions deliberately wrought out to answer an
inquiry, a story devised to account for an existing fact or
custom. The picture of God performing his creative work in six
days and resting on the seventh, may have been drawn after the
septenary division of time and the religious separation of the
Sabbath, to explain and justify that observance. The creation of
Eve out of the side of Adam was either meant by the author as an
allegoric illustration that the love of husband and wife is the
most powerful of social bonds, or as a pure myth seeking to
explain the incomparable cleaving together of husband and wife by
the entirely poetic supposition that the first woman was taken out
of the first man, bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh. All early
literatures teem with exemplifications of this process, a
spontaneous secretion by the imagination to account for some
presented phenomenon. Or perhaps this part of the relation
"and he called her woman [manness], because she was taken
out of man" may be an instance of those etymological myths with
which ancient literature abounds. Woman is named Isha because she
was taken out of man, whose name is Ish. The barbarous treatment
the record under consideration has received, the utter
baselessness of it in the light of truth as foundation for literal
belief, find perhaps no fitter exposure than in the fact that for
many centuries it was the prevalent faith of Christendom that
every woman has one rib more than man, a permanent memorial of the
Divine theft from his side. Unquestionably, there are many good
persons now who, if Richard Owen should tell them that man has the
same number of ribs as woman, would think of the second chapter of
Genesis and doubt his word!

There is no reason for supposing the serpent in this recital to be
intended as a representative of Satan. The earliest trace of such
an interpretation is in the Wisdom of Solomon, an anonymous and
apocryphal book composed probably a thousand years later. What is
said of the snake is the most plainly mythical of all the
portions. What caused the snake to crawl on his belly in the dust,
while other creatures walk on feet or fly with wings? Why, the
sly, winding creature, more subtle, more detestable, than any
beast of the field, deceived the first woman; and this is his
punishment! Such was probably the mental process in the writer. To
seek a profound and true theological dogma in such a statement is
as absurd as to seek it in the classic myth that the lapwing with
his sharp beak chases the swallow because he is the descendant of
the enraged Tereus who pursued poor Progne with a drawn sword. Or,
to cite a more apposite case, as well might we seek a reliable
historical narrative in the following Greek myth. Zeus once gave
man a remedy against old age. He put it on the back of an ass and
followed on foot. It being a hot day, the ass grew thirsty, and
would drink at a fount which a snake guarded. The cunning snake
knew what precious burden the ass bore, and would not, except at
the price of it, let him drink. He obtained the prize; but with
it, as a punishment for his trick, he incessantly suffers the
ass's thirst. Thus the snake, casting his skin, annually renews
his youth, while man is borne down by old age.9 In all these cases
the mental action is of the same kind in motive, method, and
result.

The author of the poem contained in the third chapter of Genesis
does not say that man was made immortal. The implication plainly
is that he was created mortal, taken from the dust and naturally
to return again to the dust. But by the power of God a tree was
provided whose fruit would immortalize its partakers. The penalty
of Adam's sin was directly, not physical death, but being forced
in the sweat of his brow to wring his subsistence from the sterile
ground cursed for his sake; it was indirectly literal death, in
that he was prevented from eating the fruit of the tree of life.
"God sent him out of the garden, lest he eat and live forever." He
was therefore, according to the narrative, made originally subject
to death; but an immortalizing antidote was prepared for him,
which he forfeited by his transgression. That the writer made use
of the trees of life and knowledge as embellishing allegories is
most

9 Alian, no Nat. Animal., lib. vi. cap. 51.


probable. But, if not, he was not the only devout poet who, in the
early times, with sacred reverence believed the wonders the
inspiring muse gave him as from God. It is not clear from the
Biblical record that Adam was imagined the first man. On the
contrary, the statement that Cain was afraid that those who met
him would kill him, also that he went to the land of Nod and took
a wife and builded a city, implies that there was another and
older race. Father Peyrere wrote a book, called "Praadamita," more
than two hundred years ago, pointing out this fact and arguing
that there really were men before Adam. If science should
thoroughly establish the truth of this view, religion need not
suffer; but the common theology, inextricably built upon and
intertangled with the dogma of "original sin," would be hopelessly
ruined. But the leaders in the scientific world will not on that
account shut their eyes nor refuse to reason. Christians should
follow their example of truth seeking, with a deeper faith in God,
fearless of results, but resolved upon reaching reality.

It is a very singular and important fact that, from the appearance
in Genesis of the account of the creation and sin and punishment
of the first pair, not the faintest explicit allusion to it is
subsequently found anywhere in literature until about the time of
Christ. Had it been all along credited in its literal sense, as a
divine revelation, could this be so? Philo Judaus gives it a
thoroughly figurative meaning. He says, "Adam was created mortal
in body, immortal in mind. Paradise is the soul, piety the tree of
life, discriminative wisdom the tree of knowledge; the serpent is
pleasure, the flaming sword turning every way is the sun revolving
round the world."10 Jesus himself never once alludes to Adam or to
any part of the story of Eden. In the whole New Testament there
are but two important references to the tradition, both of which
are by Paul. He says, in effect, "As through the sin of Adam all
are condemned unto death, so by the righteousness of Christ all
shall be justified unto life." It is not a guarded doctrinal
statement, but an unstudied, rhetorical illustration of the
affiliation of the sinful and unhappy generations of the past with
their offending progenitor, Adam, of the believing and blessed
family of the chosen with their redeeming head, Christ. He does
not use the word death in the Epistle to the Romans prevailingly
in the narrow sense of physical dissolution, but in a broad,
spiritual sense, as appears, for example, in these instances: "To
be carnally minded is death;" "The law of the spirit of life in
Christ hath made me free from the law of sin and death." For the
spiritually minded were not exempt from bodily death. Paul himself
died the bodily death. His idea of the relations of Adam and
Christ to humanity is more clearly expressed in the other passage
already alluded to. It is in the Epistle to the Corinthians, and
appears to be this. The first man, Adam, was of the earth, earthy,
the head and representative of a corruptible race whose flesh and
blood were never meant to inherit the kingdom of God. The second
man, Christ the Lord, soon to return from heaven, was a quickening
spirit, head and representative of a risen spiritual race for whom
is prepared the eternal inheritance of the saints in light. As by
the first man came death, whose germ is transmitted with the
flesh, so by the second man comes the resurrection of the dead,
whose type is seen in his glorified ascension from Hades to
heaven. "As in Adam all die, even so in

10 De Mundi Opificio, liv lvi. De Cherub. viii.


Christ shall all be made alive." Upon all the line of Adam sin has
entailed, what otherwise would not have been known, moral death
and a disembodied descent to the under world. But the gospel of
Christ, and his resurrection as the first fruits of them that
slept, proclaim to all those that are his, at his speedy coming, a
kindred deliverance from the lower gloom, an investiture with
spiritual bodies, and an admission into the kingdom of God.
According to Paul, then, physical death is not the retributive
consequence of Adam's sin, but is the will of the Creator in the
law of nature, the sowing of terrestrial bodies for the gathering
of celestial bodies, the putting off of the image of the earthy
for the putting on of the image of the heavenly. The specialty of
the marring and punitive interference of sin in the economy is, in
addition to the penalties in moral experience, the interpolation,
between the fleshly "unclothing" and the spiritual "clothing
upon," of the long, disembodied, subterranean residence, from the
descent of Abel into its palpable solitude to the ascent of Christ
out of its multitudinous world. From Adam, in the flesh, humanity
sinks into the grave realm; from Christ, in the spirit, it shall
rise into heaven. Had man remained innocent, death, considered as
change of body and transition to heaven, would still have been his
portion; but all the suffering and evil now actually associated
with death would not have been.

Leaving the Scriptures, the first man appears in literature, in
the history of human thought on the beginning of our race, in
three forms. There is the Mythical Adam, the embodiment of
poetical musings, fanciful conceits, and speculative dreams; there
is the Theological Adam, the central postulate of a group of
dogmas, the support of a fabric of controversial thought, the lay
figure to fill out and wear the hypothetical dresses of a
doctrinal system; and there is the Scientific Adam, the first
specimen of the genus man, the supposititious personage who, as
the earliest product, on this grade, of the Creative organic force
or Divine energy, commenced the series of human generations. The
first is a hypostatized legend, the second a metaphysical
personification, the third a philosophical hypothesis. The first
is an attractive heap of imaginations, the next a dialectic mass
of dogmatisms, the last a modest set of theories.

Philo says God made Adam not from any chance earth, but from a
carefully selected portion of the finest and most sifted clay, and
that, as being directly created by God, he was superior to all
others generated by men, the generations of whom deteriorate in
each remove from him, as the attraction of a magnet weakens from
the iron ring it touches along a chain of connected rings. The
Rabbins say Adam was so large that when he lay down he reached
across the earth, and when standing his head touched the
firmament: after his fall he waded through the ocean, Orion like.
Even a French Academician, Nicolas Fleurion, held that Adam was
one hundred and twenty three feet and nine inches in height. All
creatures except the angel Eblis, as the Koran teaches, made
obeisance to him. Eblis, full of envy and pride, refused, and was
thrust into hell by God, where he began to plot the ruin of the
new race. One effect of the forbidden fruit he ate was to cause
rotten teeth in his descendants. He remained in Paradise but one
day. After he had eaten from the prohibited tree, Eve gave of the
fruit to the other creatures in Eden, and they all ate of it, and
so became mortal, with the sole exception of the phoenix, who
refused to taste it, and consequently remained immortal.

The Talmud teaches that Adam would never have died had he not
sinned. The majority of the Christian fathers and doctors, from
Tertullian and Augustine to Luther and Calvin, have maintained the
same opinion. It has been the orthodox that is, the prevailing
doctrine of the Church, affirmed by the Synod at Carthage in the
year four hundred and eighteen, and by the Council of Trent in the
year fifteen hundred and forty five. All the evils which afflict
the world, both moral and material, are direct results of Adam's
sin. He contained all the souls of men in himself; and they all
sinned in him, their federal head and legal representative. When
the fatal fruit was plucked,

"Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat, Sighing through
all her works, gave signs of woe That all was lost."

Earthquakes, tempests, pestilences, poverty, war, the endless
brood of distress, ensued. For then were

"Turn'd askance The poles of earth twice ten degrees and more
From the sun's axle, and with labor push'd Oblique the centric
globe."

Adam's transcendent faculties and gifts were darkened and
diminished in his depraved posterity, and all base propensities
let loose to torment, confuse, and degrade them. We can scarcely
form a conception of the genius, the beauty, the blessedness, of
the first man, say the theologians in chorus.11 Augustine
declares, "The most gifted of our time must be considered, when
compared with Adam in genius, as tortoises to birds in speed."
Adam, writes Dante, "was made from clay, accomplished with every
gift that life can teem with." Thomas Aquinas teaches that "he was
immortal by grace though not by nature, had universal knowledge,
fellowshipped with angels, and saw God." South, in his famous
sermon on "Man the Image of God," after an elaborate panegyric of
the wondrous majesty, wisdom, peacefulness, and bliss of man
before the fall, exclaims, "Aristotle was but the rubbish of an
Adam, and Athens the rudiments of Paradise!" Jean Paul has
amusingly burlesqued these conceits. "Adam, in his state of
innocence, possessed a knowledge of all the arts and sciences,
universal and scholastic history, the several penal and other
codes of law, and all the old dead languages, as well as the
living. He was, as it were, a living Pegasus and Pindus, a movable
lodge of sublime light, a royal literary society, a pocket seat of
the Muses, and a short golden age of Louis the Fourteenth!"

Adam has been called the Man without a Navel, because, not being
born of woman, there could be no umbilical cord to cut. The
thought goes deep. In addition to the mythico theological pictures
of the mechanical creation and superlative condition of the first
man, two forms of statement have been advanced by thoughtful
students of nature. One is the theory of chronological progressive
development; the other is the theory of the

11 Strauss gives a multitude of apposite quotations in his
Christliche Glaubenslehre, band i. s. 691, sect. 51, ff.


simultaneous creation of organic families of different species or
typical forms. The advocate of the former goes back along the
interminable vistas of geologic time, tracing his ancestral line
through the sinking forms of animal life, until, with the aid of a
microscope, he sees a closed vesicle of structureless membrane;
and this he recognises as the scientific Adam. This theory has
been brought into fresh discussion by Mr. Darwin in his rich and
striking work on the Origin of Species12 The other view contrasts
widely with this, and is not essentially different from the
account in Genesis. It shows God himself creating by regular
methods, in natural materials, not by a vicegerent law, not with
the anthropomorphitic hands of an external potter. Every organized
fabric, however complex, originates in a single physiological
cell. Every individual organism from the simple plant known as red
snow to the oak, from the zoophyte to man is developed from such a
cell. This is unquestionable scientific knowledge. The phenomenal
process of organic advancement is through growth of the cell by
selective appropriation of material, self multiplication of the
cell, chemical transformations of the pabulum of the cell,
endowment of the muscular and nervous tissues produced by those
transformations with vital and psychical properties.

But the essence of the problem lies in the question, Why does one
of these simple cells become a cabbage, another a rat, another a
whale, another a man? Within the limits of known observation
during historic time, every organism yields seed or bears progeny
after its own kind. Between all neighboring species there are
impassable, discrete chasms. The direct reason, therefore, why one
cell stops in completion at any given vegetable stage, another at
a certain animal stage, is that its producing parent was that
vegetable or that animal. Now, going back to the first individual
of each kind, which had no determining parent like itself, the
theory of the gradually ameliorating development of one species
out of the next below it is one mode of solving the problem.
Another mode more satisfactory at least to theologians and their
allies is to conclude that God, the Divine Force, by whom the life
of the universe is given, made the world after an ideal plan,
including a systematic arrangement of all the possible
modifications. This plan was in his thought, in the unity of all
its parts, from the beginning; and the animate creation is the
execution of its diagrams in organic life. Instead of the lineal
extraction of the complicated scheme out of one cell, there has
been, from epoch to epoch, the simultaneous production of all
included in one of its sections. The Creator, at his chosen times,
calling into existence a multitude of cells, gave each one the
amount and type of organic force which would carry it to the
destined grade and form. In this manner may have originated, at
the same time, the first sparrow, the first horse, the first man,
in short, a whole circle of congeners.

"The grassy clods now calved; now half appear'd
The tawny lion, pawing to get free
His hinder parts, then springs as broke from bonds,
And rampant shakes his brinded mane."

12 The most forcible defence of this hypothesis is that made by
Herbert Spencer. See, in his volume of Essays, No. 2 of the
Haythorne Papers. Also see Oken, Entstehung des ersten Menechen,
Isis, 1819, ss. 1117-1123.


Each creature, therefore, would be distinct from others from the
first. "Man, though rising from not man, came forth sharply
defined." The races thus originated in their initiative
representatives by the creative power of God, thenceforth possess
in themselves the power, each one, in the generative act, to put
its typical dynamic stamp upon the primordial cells of its
immediate descendants. Adam, then, was a wild man, cast in
favoring conditions of climate, endowed with the same faculties as
now, only not in so high a degree. For, by his peculiar power of
forming habits, accumulating experience, transmitting acquirements
and tendencies, he has slowly risen to his present state with all
its wealth of wisdom, arts, and comforts.

By either of these theories, that of Darwin, or that of Agassiz,
man, the head of the great organic family of the earth, and it
matters not at all whether there were only one Adam and Eve, or
whether each separate race had its own Adams and Eves,13 not
merely a solitary pair, but simultaneous hundreds, man, physically
considered, is indistinguishably included in the creative plan
under the same laws and forces, and visibly subject to the same
destination, as the lower animals. He starts with a cell as they
do, grows to maturity by assimilative organization and endowing
transformation of foreign nutriment as they do, his life is a
continuous process of waste and repair of tissues as theirs is,
and there is, from the scientific point of view, no conceivable
reason why he should not be subject to physical death as they are.
They have always been subject to death, which, therefore, is an
aboriginal constituent of the Creative plan. It has been
estimated, upon data furnished by scientific observation, that
since the appearance of organic life on earth, millions of years
ago, animals enough have died to cover all the lands of the globe
with their bones to the height of three miles. Consequently, the
historic commencement of death is not to be found in the sin of
man. We shall discover it as a necessity in the first organic cell
that was ever formed.

The spherule of force which is the primitive basis of a cell
spends itself in the discharge of its work. In other words, "the
amount of vital action which can be performed by each living cell
has a definite limit." When that limit is reached, the exhausted
cell is dead. To state the fact differently: no function can be
performed without "the disintegration of a certain amount of
tissue, whose components are then removed as effete by the
excretory processes." This final expenditure on the part of a cell
of its modification of force is the act of molecular death, the
germinal essence of all decay. That this organic law should rule
in every living structure is a necessity inherent in the actual
conditions of the creation. And wherever we look in the realm of
physical man, even "from the red outline of beginning Adam" to the
amorphous adipocere of the last corpse when fate's black curtain
falls on our race, we shall discern death. For death is the other
side of life. Life and death are the two hands with which the
organic power works.

The threescore simple elements known to chemists die, that is,
surrender their peculiar powers and properties, and enter into new
combinations to produce and support higher forms of life.
Otherwise these inorganic elemental wastes would be all that the
material universe could show.

13 The Diversity of Origin of the Human Races, by Louis Agassiz,
Christian Examiner, July, 1850.


The simple plant consists of single cells, which, in its
development, give up their independent life for the production
of a more exalted vegetable form. The formation of a perfectly
organized plant is made possible only through the continuous dying
and replacement of its cells. Similarly, in the development of an
animal, the constituent cells die for the good of the whole
creature; and the more perfect the animal the greater the
subordination of the parts. The cells of the human body are
incessantly dying, being borne off and replaced. The epidermis or
scarf skin is made of millions of insensible scales, consisting of
former cells which have died in order with their dead bodies to
build this guardian wall around the tender inner parts. Thus,
death, operating within the individual, seen in the light of
natural science, is a necessity, is purely a form of self
surrendering beneficence, is, indeed, but a hidden and indirect
process and completion of life.14

And is not the death of the total organism just as needful, just
as benignant, as the death of the component atoms? Is it not the
same law, still expressing the same meaning? The chemicalelements
wherein individuality is wanting, as Wagner says, die that
vegetable bodies may live. Individual vegetable bodies die that
new individuals of the species may live, and that they may supply
the conditions for animals to live. The individual beast dies that
other individuals of his species may live, and also for the good
of man. The plant lives by the elements and by other plants: the
animal lives by the elements, by the plants, and by other animals:
man lives and reigns by the service of the elements, of the
plants, and of the animals. The individual man dies if we may
trust the law of analogy for the good of his species, and that he
may furnish the conditions for the development of a higher life
elsewhere. It is quite obvious that, if individuals did not die,
new individuals could not live, because there would not be room.
It is also equally evident that, if individuals did not die, they
could never have any other life than the present. The foregoing
considerations, fathomed and appreciated, transform the
institution of death from caprice and punishment into necessity
and benignity. In the timid sentimentalist's view, death is
horrible. Nature unrolls the chart of organic existence, a
convulsed and lurid list of murderers, from the spider in the
window to the tiger in the jungle, from the shark at the bottom of
the sea to the eagle against the floor of the sky. As the perfumed
fop, in an interval of reflection, gazes at the spectacle through
his dainty eyeglass, the prospect swims in blood and glares with
the ghastly phosphorus of corruption, and he shudders with
sickness. In the philosophical naturalist's view, the dying
panorama is wholly different. Carnivorous violence prevents more
pain than it inflicts; the wedded laws of life and death wear the
solemn beauty and wield the merciful functions of God; all is
balanced and ameliorating; above the slaughterous struggle safely
soar the dove and the rainbow; out of the charnel blooms the rose
to which the nightingale sings love; nor is there poison which
helps not health, nor destruction which supplies not creation with
nutriment for greater good and joy.

By painting such pictures as that of a woman with "Sin" written on
her forehead in great glaring letters, giving to Death a globe
entwined by a serpent, or that of Death as a

14 Hermann Wagner, Der Tod, beleuchtet vom Standpunkte der
Naturwissenschaften.

skeleton, waving a black banner over the world and sounding
through a trumpet, "Woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth!" by
interpreting the great event as punishment instead of fulfilment,
extermination instead of transition, men have elaborated, in the
faith of their imaginations, a melodramatic death which nature
never made. Truly, to the capable observer, death bears the double
aspect of necessity and benignity: necessity, because it is an
ultimate fact, as the material world is made, that, since organic
action implies expenditure of force, the modicum of force given to
any physical organization must finally be spent; benignity,
because a bodily immortality on earth would both prevent all the
happiness of perpetually rising millions and be an unspeakable
curse upon its possessors.

The benevolence of death appears from this fact, that it
boundlessly multiplies the numbers who can enjoy the prerogatives
of life. It calls up ever fresh generations, with wondering eyes
and eager appetites, to the perennial banquet of existence. Had
Adam not sinned and been expelled from Paradise, some of the
Christian Fathers thought, the fixed number of saints foreseen by
God would have been reached and then no more would have been
born.15

Such would have been the necessity, there being no death. But, by
the removal of one company as they grow tired and sated, room is
made for a new company to approach and enjoy the ever renewing
spectacle and feast of the world. Thus all the delightful boons
life has, instead of being cooped within a little stale circle,
are ceaselessly diffused and increased. Vivacious claimants
advance, see what is to be seen, partake of what is furnished, are
satisfied, and retire; and their places are immediately taken by
hungry successors. Thus the torch of life is passed briskly, with
picturesque and stimulating effect, along the manifold race of
running ages, instead of smouldering stagnantly forever in the
moveless grasp of one. The amount of enjoyment, the quantity of
conscious experience, gained from any given exhibition by a
million persons to each of whom it is successively shown for one
hour, is, beyond all question, immensely greater and keener than
one person could have from it in a million hours. The generations
of men seem like fire flies glittering down the dark lane of
History; but each swarm had its happy turn, fulfilled its hour,
and rightfully gave way to its followers. The disinterested
beneficence of the Creator ordains that the same plants, insects,
men, shall not unsurrenderingly monopolize and stop the bliss of
breath. Death is the echo of the voice of love reverberated from
the limit of life.

The cumulative fund of human experience, the sensitive affiliating
line of history, like a cerebral cord of personal identity
traversing the centuries, renders a continual succession of
generations equivalent to the endless existence of one generation;
but with this mighty difference, that it preserves all the edge
and spice of novelty. For consider what would be the result if
death were abolished and men endowed with an earthly immortality.
At first they might rejoice, and think their last, dreadest enemy
destroyed. But what a mistake! In the first place, since none are
to be removed from the earth, of course none must come into it.
The space and material are all wanted by those now in possession.
All are soon mature men and women, not another infant ever to hang
upon a mother's breast or be lifted in a father's arms.

15 Augustine, Op. Imp. iii. 198.


All the prattling music, fond cares, yearning love, and
gushing joys and hopes associated with the rearing of children,
gone! What a stupendous fragment is stricken from the fabric of
those enriching satisfactions which give life its truest value and
its purest charm! Ages roll on. They see the same everlasting
faces, confront the same returning phenomena, engage in the same
worn out exercises, or lounge idly in the unchangeable conditions
which bear no stimulant which they have not exhausted. Thousands
of years pass. They have drunk every attainable spring of
knowledge dry. Not a prize stirs a pulse. All pleasures,
permutated till ingenuity is baffled, disgust them. No terror
startles them. No possible experiment remains untried; nor is
there any unsounded fortune left. No dim marvels and boundless
hopes beckon them with resistless lures into the future. They have
no future. One everlasting now is their all. At last the incessant
repetition of identical phenomena, the unmitigated sameness of
things, the eternal monotony of affairs, become unutterably
burdensome and horrible. Full of loathing and immeasurable
fatigue, a weariness like the weight of a universe oppresses them;
and what would they not give for a change! any thing to break the
nightmare spell of ennui, to fling off the dateless flesh, to
die, to pass into some unguessed realm, to lie down and sleep
forever: it would be the infinite boon!

Take away from man all that is dependent on, or interlinked with,
the appointment of death, and it would make such fundamental
alterations of his constitution and relations that he would no
longer be man. It would leave us an almost wholly different race.
If it is a divine boon that men should be, then death is a good to
us; for it enables us to be men. Without it there would neither be
husband and wife, nor parent and child, nor family hearth and
altar; nor, indeed, would hardly any thing be as it is now. The
existent phenomena of nature and the soul would comprise all. And
when the jaded individual, having mastered and exhausted this
finite sum, looked in vain for any thing new or further, the world
would be a hateful dungeon to him, and life an awful doom; and how
gladly he would give all that lies beneath the sun's golden round
and top of sovereignty to migrate into some untried region and
state of being, or even to renounce existence altogether and lie
down forever in the attractive slumber of the grave! Without
death, mankind would undergo the fate of Sisyphus, no future, and
in the present the oppression of an intolerable task with an
aching vacuum of motive. The certainty and the mystery of death
create the stimulus and the romance of life. Give the human race
an earthly immortality, and you exclude them from every thing
greater and diviner than the earth affords. Who could consent to
that? Take away death, and a brazen wall girds in our narrow life,
against which, if we remained men, we should dash and chafe in the
climax of our miserable longing, as the caged lion or eagle beats
against his bars.

The gift of an earthly immortality conferred on a single person a
boon which thoughtless myriads would clasp with frantic triumph
would prove, perhaps, a still more fearful curse than if
distributed over the whole species.

Retaining his human affections, how excruciating and remediless
his grief must be, to be so cut off from all equal community of
experience and destiny with mankind, to see all whom he loves,
generation after generation, fading away, leaving him alone, to
form new ties again to be dissolved, to watch his beloved ones
growing old and infirm, while he stands without a change! His love
would be left, in agony of melancholy grandeur, "a solitary angel
hovering over a universe of tombs" on the tremulous wings of
memory and grief, those wings incapacitated, by his madly coveted
prerogative of deathlessness, ever to move from above the sad rows
of funereal urns. Zanoni, in Bulwer's magnificent conception, says
to Viola, "The flower gives perfume to the rock on whose breast it
grows. A little while, and the flower is dead; but the rock still
endures, the snow at its breast, the sunshine on its summit." A
deathless individual in a world of the dying, joined with them by
ever bereaved affections, would be the wretchedest creature
conceivable. As no man ever yet prayed for any thing he would pray
to be released, to embrace dear objects in his arms and float away
with them to heaven, or even to lie down with them in the kind
embrace of mother earth. And if he had no affections, but lived a
stoic existence, exempt from every sympathy, in impassive
solitude, he could not be happy, he would not be man: he must be
an intellectual marble of thought or a monumental mystery of woe.

Death, therefore, is benignity. When men wish there were no such
appointed event, they are deceived, and know not what they wish.
Literature furnishes a strange and profound, though wholly
unintentional, confirmation of this view. Every form in which
literary genius has set forth the conception of an earthly
immortality represents it as an evil. This is true even down to
Swift's painful account of the Struldbrugs in the island of
Laputa. The legend of the Wandering Jew,16 one of the most
marvellous products of the human mind in imaginative literature,
is terrific with its blazoned revelation of the contents of an
endless life on earth. This story has been embodied, with great
variety of form and motive, in more than a hundred works. Every
one is, without the writer's intention, a disguised sermon of
gigantic force on the benignity of death. As in classic fable poor
Tithon became immortal in the dawning arms of Eos only to lead a
shrivelled, joyless, repulsive existence; and the fair young witch
of Cuma had ample cause to regret that ever Apollo granted her
request for as many years as she held grains of dust in her hand;
and as all tales of successful alchemists or Rosicrucians concur
in depicting the result to be utter disappointment and revulsion
from the accursed prize; we may take it as evidence of a
spontaneous conviction in the depths of human nature a conviction
sure to be brought out whenever the attempt is made to describe in
life an opposite thought that death is benign for man as he is
constituted and related on earth. The voice of human nature speaks
truth through the lips of Cicero, saying, at the close of his
essay on Old Age, "Quodsi non sumus immortales futuri, tamen
exstingui homini suo tempore optabile est."

In a conversation at the house of Sappho, a discussion once arose
upon the question whether death was a blessing or an evil. Some
maintained, the former alternative; but Sappho victoriously closed
the debate by saying, If it were a blessing to die, the immortal
gods would experience it. The gods live forever: therefore, death
is an evil.17 The reasoning was plausible and brilliant. Yet its
sophistry is complete. To men, conditioned as they are in this
world, death may be the greatest blessing; while to the gods,
conditioned so differently, it may have no similar application.

16 Bibliographical notice of the legend of the wandering Jew, by
Paul Lacroix; trans. into English by G.W. Thornbury. Grasse, Der
ewige Jude.

17 Fragment X. Quoted in Mare's Hist. Lit. Greece, book iii. chap.
v. sect. 18.


Because an earthly eternity in the flesh would be a frightful
calamity, is no reason why a heavenly eternity in the spirit
would be other than a blissful inheritance.

Thus the remonstrance which may be fallaciously based on some of
the foregoing considerations namely, that they would equally make
it appear that the immortality of man in any condition would be
undesirable is met. A conclusion drawn from the facts of the
present scene of things, of course, will not apply to a scene
inconceivably different. Those whose only bodies are their minds
may be fetterless, happy, leading a wondrous life, beyond our
deepest dream and farthest fancy, and eternally free from trouble
or satiety.

Death is to us, while we live, what we think it to be. If we
confront it with analytic and defiant eye, it is that nothing
which ever ceases in beginning to be. If, letting the
superstitious senses tyrannize over us and cow our better part of
man, we crouch before the imagination of it, it assumes the shape
of the skeleton monarch who takes the world for his empire, the
electric fluid for his chariot, and time for his sceptre. In the
contemplation of death, hitherto, fancy inspired by fear has been
by far too much the prominent faculty and impulse. The literature
of the subject is usually ghastly, appalling, and absurd, with
point of view varying from that of the credulous Hindu,
personifying death as a monster with a million mouths devouring
all creatures and licking them in his flaming lips as a fire
devours the moths or as the sea swallows the torrents,18 to that
of the atheistic German dreamer, who converts nature into an
immeasurable corpse worked by galvanic forces, and that of the
bold French philosopher, Carnot, whose speculations have led to
the theory that the sun will finally expend all its heat, and
constellated life cease, as the solar system hangs, like a dead
orrery, ashy and spectral, the ghost of what it was. So the
extravagant author of Festus says,

"God tore the glory from the sun's broad brow And flung the
flaming scalp away."

The subject should be viewed by the unclouded intellect, guided by
serene faith, in the light of scientific knowledge. Then death is
revealed, first, as an organic necessity in the primordial life
cell; secondly, as the cessation of a given form of life in its
completion; thirdly, as a benignant law, an expression of the
Creator's love; fourthly, as the inaugurating condition of another
form of life. What we are to refer to sin is all the seeming
lawlessness and untimeliness of death. Had not men sinned, all
would reach a good age and pass away without suffering. Death is
benignant necessity; the irregularity and pain associated with it
are an inherited punishment. Finally, it is a condition of
improvement in life. Death is the incessant touch with which the
artist, Nature, is bringing her works to perfection.

Physical death is experienced by man in common with the brute.
Upon grounds of physiology there is no greater evidence for man's
Spiritual survival through that overshadowed crisis than there is
for the brute's. And on grounds of sentiment man ought not to
shrink from sharing his open future with these mute comrades. Des
Cartes and Malebranche taught that animals are mere machines,
without souls, worked by God's arbitrary power. Swedenborg held
that "the souls of brutes are extinguished with their bodies." 19


18 Thomson's trans. of Bhagavad Gita, p. 77.

19 Outlines of the Infinite, chap. ii. sect. iv. 13.


Leibnitz, by his doctrine of eternal monads, sustains the
immortality of all creatures.

Coleridge defended the same idea. Agassiz, with much power and
beauty, advocates the thought that animals as well as men have a
future life. 20 The old traditions affirm that at least four
beasts have been translated to heaven; namely, the ass that spoke
to Balaam, the white foal that Christ rode into Jerusalem, the
steed Borak that bore Mohammed on his famous night journey, and
the dog that wakened the Seven Sleepers. To recognise, as Goethe
did, brothers in the green wood and in the teeming air, to
sympathize with all lower forms of life, and hope for them an open
range of limitless possibilities in the hospitable home of God, is
surely more becoming to a philosopher, a poet, or a Christian,
than that careless scorn which commonly excludes them from regard
and contemptuously leaves them to annihilation. This subject has
been genially treated by Richard Dean in his "Essay on the Future
Life of Brutes."

But on moral and psychological grounds the distinction is vast
between the dying man and the dying brute. Bretschneider, in a
beautiful sermon on this point, specifies four particulars. Man
foresees and provides for his death: the brute does not. Man dies
with unrecompensed merit and guilt: the brute does not. Man dies
with faculties and powers fitted for a more perfect state of
existence: the brute does not. Man dies with the expectation of
another life: the brute does not. Three contrasts may be added to
these. First, man desires to die amidst his fellows: the brute
creeps away by himself, to die in solitude. Secondly, man inters
his dead with burial rites, rears a memorial over them, cherishes
recollections of them which often change his subsequent character:
but who ever heard of a deer watching over an expiring comrade, a
deer funeral winding along the green glades of the forest? The
barrows of Norway, the mounds of Yucatan, the mummy pits of
Memphis, the rural cemeteries of our own day, speak the human
thoughts of sympathetic reverence and posthumous survival, typical
of something superior to dust. Thirdly, man often makes death an
active instead of a passive experience, his will as it is his
fate, a victory instead of a defeat.21 As Mirabeau sank towards
his end, he ordered them to pour perfumes and roses on him, and to
bring music; and so, with the air of a haughty conqueror, amidst
the volcanic smoke and thunder of reeling France, his giant spirit
went forth. The patriot is proud to lay his body a sacrifice on
the altar of his country's weal. The philanthropist rejoices to
spend himself without pay in a noble cause, to offer up his life
in the service of his fellow men. Thousands of generous students
have given their lives to science and clasped death amidst their
trophied achievements. Who can count the confessors who have
thought it bliss and glory to be martyrs for truth and God?
Creatures capable of such deeds must inherit eternity. Their
transcendent souls step from their rejected mansions through the
blue gateway of the air to the lucid palace of the stars. Any
meaner allotment would be discordant and unbecoming their rank.

Contemplations like these exorcise the spectre host of the brain
and quell the horrid brood of fear. The noble purpose of self
sacrifice enables us to smile upon the grave, "as some sweet
clarion's breath stirs the soldier's scorn of danger."

20 Contributions to the Natural History of the United States, vol.
i. pp. 64-66. Umbreit, fiber das Sterben ais einen Akt menschlich
personlicher Selbststandigkeit. Studien und Kritiken, 1837.


Death parts with its false frightfulness, puts on its true beauty,
and becomes at once the evening star of memory and the morning
star of hope, the Hesper of the sinking flesh, the Phosphor of
the rising soul. Let the night come, then: it shall be welcome.
And, as we gird our loins to enter the ancient mystery, we will
exclaim, with vanishing voice, to those we leave behind,

"Though I stoop Into a dark tremendous sea of cloud, It is but for
a time I press God's lamp Close to my breast: its splendor, soon
or late, Will pierce the gloom: I shall emerge somewhere."

CHAPTER III.

GROUNDS OF THE BELIEF IN A FUTURE LIFE.

IT is the purpose of the following chapter to describe the
originating supports of the common belief in a future life; not to
probe the depth and test the value of the various grounds out of
which the doctrine grows, but only to give a descriptive sketch of
what they are, and a view of the process of growth. The objections
urged by unbelievers belong to an open discussion of the question
of immortality, not to an illustrative statement of the suggesting
grounds on which the popular belief rests. When, after sufficient
investigation, we ask ourselves from what causes the almost
universal expectation of another life springs, and by what
influences it is nourished, we shall not find adequate answer in
less than four words: feeling, imagination, faith, and reflection.
The doctrine of a future life for man has been created by the
combined force of instinctive desire, analogical observation,
prescriptive authority, and philosophical speculation. These are
the four pillars on which the soul builds the temple of its hopes;
or the four glasses through which it looks to see its eternal
heritage.

First, it is obvious that man is endowed at once with
foreknowledge of death and with a powerful love of life. It is not
a love of being here; for he often loathes the scene around him.
It is a love of self possessed existence; a love of his own soul
in its central consciousness and bounded royalty. This is an
inseparable element of his very entity. Crowned with free will,
walking on the crest of the world, enfeoffed with individual
faculties, served by vassal nature with tributes of various joy,
he cannot bear the thought of losing himself, of sliding into the
general abyss of matter. His interior consciousness is permeated
with a self preserving instinct, and shudders at every glimpse of
danger or hint of death. The soul, pervaded with a guardian
instinct of life, and seeing death's steady approach to destroy
the body, necessitates the conception of an escape into another
state of existence. Fancy and reason, thus set at work, speedily
construct a thousand theories filled with details. Desire first
fathers thought, and then thought woos belief.

Secondly, man, holding his conscious being precious beyond all
things, and shrinking with pervasive anxieties from the moment of
destined dissolution, looks around through the realms of nature,
with thoughtful eye, in search of parallel phenomena further
developed, significant sequels in other creatures' fates, whose
evolution and fulfilment may haply throw light on his own. With
eager vision and heart prompted imagination he scrutinizes
whatever appears related to his object. Seeing the snake cast its
old slough and glide forth renewed, he conceives, so in death man
but sheds his fleshly exuvia, while the spirit emerges,
regenerate. He beholds the beetle break from its filthy sepulchre
and commence its summer work; and straightway he hangs a golden
scarsbaus in his temples as an emblem of a future life. After
vegetation's wintry deaths, hailing the returning spring that
brings resurrection and life to the graves of the sod, he dreams
of some far off spring of Humanity, yet to come, when the frosts
of man's untoward doom shall relent, and all the costly seeds sown
through ages in the great earth tomb shall shoot up in celestial
shapes. On the moaning sea shore, weeping some dear friend, he
perceives, now ascending in the dawn, the planet which he lately
saw declining in the dusk; and he is cheered by the thought that

"As sinks the day star in the ocean bed, And yet anon repairs his
drooping head, And tricks his beams, and with new spangled
ore Flames in the forehead of the morning sky, So Lycidas, sunk
low, shall mount on high."

Some traveller or poet tells him fabulous tales of a bird which,
grown aged, fills its nest with spices, and, spontaneously
burning, soars from the aromatic fire, rejuvenescent for a
thousand years; and he cannot but take the phoenix for a
miraculous type of his own soul springing, free and eternal, from
the ashes of his corpse. Having watched the silkworm, as it wove
its cocoon and lay down in its oblong grave apparently dead, until
at length it struggles forth, glittering with rainbow colors, a
winged moth, endowed with new faculties and living a new life in a
new sphere, he conceives that so the human soul may, in the
fulness of time, disentangle itself from the imprisoning meshes of
this world of larva, a thing of spirit beauty, to sail through
heavenly airs; and henceforth he engraves a butterfly on the
tombstone in vivid prophecy of immortality. Thus a moralizing
observation of natural similitudes teaches man to hope for an
existence beyond death.

Thirdly, the prevailing belief in a future life is spread and
upheld by the influence of authority. The doctrine of the soul's
survival and transference to another world, where its experience
depends on conditions observed or violated here, conditions
somewhat within the control of a select class of men here, such a
doctrine is the very hiding place of the power of priest craft, a
vast engine of interest and sway which the shrewd insight of
priesthoods has often devised and the cunning policy of states
subsidized. In most cases of this kind the asserted doctrine is
placed on the basis of a divine revelation, and must be implicitly
received. God proclaims it through his anointed ministers:
therefore, to doubt it or logically criticize it is a crime.
History bears witness to such a procedure wherever an organized
priesthood has flourished, from primeval pagan India to modern
papal Rome. It is traceable from the dark Osirian shrines of Egypt
and the initiating temple at Eleusis to the funeral fires of Gaul
and the Druidic conclave in the oak groves of Mona; from the
reeking altars of Mexico in the time of Montezuma to the masses
for souls in Purgatory said this day in half the churches of
Christendom. Much of the popular faith in immortality which has
prevailed in all ages has been owing to the authority of its
promulgators, a deep and honest trust on the part of the people in
the authoritative dicta of their religious teachers.

In all the leading nations of the earth, the doctrine of a future
life is a tradition handed down from immemorial antiquity,
embalmed in sacred books which are regarded as infallible
revelations from God. Of course the thoughtless never think of
questioning it; the reverent piously embrace it; all are educated
to receive it. In addition to the proclamation of a future life by
the sacred books and by the priestly hierarchies, it has also been
affirmed by countless individual saints, philosophers, and
prophets. Most persons readily accept it on trust from them as a
demonstrated theory or an inspired knowledge of theirs. It is
natural for modest unspeculative minds, busied with worldly cares,
to say, These learned sages, these theosophic seers, so much more
gifted, educated, and intimate with the divine counsels and plan
than we are, with so much deeper experience and purer insight than
we have, must know the truth: we cannot in any other way do so well
as to follow their guidance and confide in their assertions.
Accordingly, multitudes receive the belief in a life to come on
the authority of the world's intellectual and religious leaders.

Fourthly, the belief in a future life results from philosophical
meditation, and is sustained by rational proofs.1 For the
completion of the present outline, it now remains to give a brief
exposition of these arguments. For the sake of convenience and
clearness, we must arrange these reasonings in five classes;
namely, the physiological, the analogical, the psychological, the
theological, and the moral.

There is a group of considerations drawn from the phenomena of our
bodily organization, life and death, which compose the
physiological argument for the separate existence of the soul. In
the first place, it is contended that the human organization, so
wondrously vitalized, developed, and ruled, could not have grown
up out of mere matter, but implies a pre existent mental entity, a
spiritual force or idea, which constituted the primeval impulse,
grouped around itself the organic conditions of our existence, and
constrained the material elements to the subsequent processes and
results, according to a prearranged plan.2 This dynamic agent,
this ontological cause, may naturally survive when the fleshly
organization which it has built around itself dissolves. Its
independence before the body began involves its independence after
the body is ended. Stahl has especially illustrated in physiology
this idea of an independent soul monad.

Secondly, as some potential being must have preceded our birth, to
assimilate and construct the physical system, so the great
phenomena attending our conscious life necessitate, both to our
instinctive apprehension and in our philosophical conviction, the
distinctive division of man into body and soul, tabernacle and
tenant. The illustrious Boerhaave wrote a valuable dissertation on
the distinction of the mind from the body, which is to be found
among his works. Every man knows that he dwells in the flesh but
is not flesh. He is a free, personal mind, occupying and using a
material body, but not identified with it. Ideas and passions of
purely immaterial origin pervade every nerve with terrific
intensity, and shake his encasing corporeity like an earthquake. A
thought, a sentiment, a fancy, may prostrate him as effectually as
a blow on his brain from a hammer. He wills to move a palsied
limb: the soul is unaffected by the paralysis, but the muscles
refuse to obey his volition: the distinction between the person
willing and the instrument to be wielded is unavoidable.

Thirdly, the fact of death itself irresistibly suggests the
duality of flesh and spirit. It is the removal of the energizing
mind that leaves the frame so empty and meaningless. Think of the
undreaming sleep of a corpse which dissolution is winding in its
chemical embrace. A moment ago that hand was uplifted to clasp
yours, intelligent accents were vocal on those

1 Wohlfarth, Triumph des Glaubens an Unsterblichkeit und
Wiedersehen uber jeden Zweifel. Oporinus, Historia Critica
Doctrina de Immortalitate Mortalium.

2 Muller, Elements of Physiology, book vi. sect. i. ch. 1.


lips, the light of love beamed in that eye. One shuddering sigh,
and how cold, vacant, forceless, dead, lies the heap of clay! It
is impossible to prevent the conviction that an invisible power
has been liberated; that the flight of an animating principle has
produced this awful change. Why may not that untraceable something
which has gone still exist? Its vanishing from our sensible
cognizance is no proof of its perishing. Not a shadow of genuine
evidence has ever been afforded that the real life powers of any
creature are destroyed.3 In the absence of that proof, a multitude
of considerations urge us to infer the contrary. Surely there is
room enough for the contrary to be true; for, as Jacobi profoundly
observes, "life is not a form of body; but body is one form of
life." Therefore the soul which now exists in this form, not
appearing to be destroyed on its departure hence, must be supposed
to live hereafter in some other form.4

A second series of observations and reflections, gathered from
partial similarities elsewhere in the world, are combined to make
the analogical argument for a future life. For many centuries, in
the literature of many nations, a standard illustration of the
thought that the soul survives the decay of its earthy investiture
has been drawn from the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into the
butterfly.5 This world is the scene of our grub state. The body is
but a chrysalis of soul. When the preliminary experience and
stages are finished and the transformation is complete, the spirit
emerges from its cast off cocoon and broken cell into the more
ethereal air and sunnier light of a higher world's eternal day.
The emblematic correspondence is striking, and the inference is
obvious and beautiful. Nor is the change, the gain in endowments
and privileges, greater in the supposed case of man than it is
from the slow and loathsome worm on the leaf to the swift and
glittering insect in the air.

Secondly, in the material world, so far as we can judge, nothing
is ever absolutely destroyed. There is no such thing as
annihilation. Things are changed, transformations abound; but
essences do not cease to be. Take a given quantity of any kind of
matter; divide and subdivide it in ten thousand ways, by
mechanical violence, by chemical solvents. Still it exists, as the
same quantity of matter, with unchanged qualities as to its
essence, and will exist when Nature has manipulated it in all her
laboratories for a billion ages. Now, as a solitary exception to
this, are minds absolutely destroyed? are will, conscience,
thought, and love annihilated? Personal intelligence, affection,
identity, are inseparable components of the idea of a soul. And
what method is there of crushing or evaporating these out of
being? What force is there to compel them into nothing? Death is
not a substantive cause working effects. It is itself merely an
effect. It is simply a change in the mode of existence. That this
change puts an end to existence is an assertion against analogy,
and wholly unsupported.

Thirdly, following the analogy of science and the visible order of
being, we are led to the conception of an ascending series of
existences rising in regular gradation from coarse to fine, from
brutal to mental, from earthly composite to simply spiritual, and
thus pointing up the rounds of life's ladder, through all nature,
to the angelic ranks of heaven. Then, feeling his kinship and
common vocation with supernal beings, man is assured of a loftier
condition of

3 Sir Humphry Davy, Proteus or Immortality.

4 Bakewell, Natural Evidence of a Future State.

5 Butler, Analogy, part i. ch. 1.


of existence reserved for him. There are no such immense, vacantly
yawning chasms, as that would be, between our fleshly estate and
the Godhead. Nature takes no such enormous jumps. Her scaling
advance is by staid and normal steps.

"There's lifeless matter.
Add the power of shaping,
And you've the crystal: add again the organs
Wherewith to subdue sustenance to the form
And manner of one's self, and you've the plant:
Add power of motion, senses, and so forth,
And you've all kinds of beasts: suppose a pig.
To pig add reason, foresight, and such stuff,
Then you have man.
What shall, we add to man
To bring him higher?"

Freedom from the load of clay, emancipation of the spirit into the
full range and masterdom of a spirit's powers!

Fourthly, many strong similarities between our entrance into this
world and our departure out of it would make us believe that death
is but another and higher birth.6 Any one acquainted with the
state of an unborn infant deriving its sole nutriment, its very
existence, from its vascular connection with its mother could
hardly imagine that its separation from its mother would introduce
it to a new and independent life. He would rather conclude that it
would perish, like a twig wrenched from its parent limb. So it may
be in the separation of the soul from the body. Further, as our
latent or dimly groping senses were useless while we were
developing in embryo, and then implied this life, so we now have,
in rudimentary condition, certain powers of reason, imagination,
and heart, which prophesy heaven and eternity; and mysterious
intimations ever and anon reach us from a diviner sphere,

"Like hints and echoes of the world To spirits folded in the
womb."

The Persian poet, Buzurgi, says on this theme,

"What is the soul? The seminal principle from the loins of
destiny. This world is the womb: the body, its enveloping
membrane: The bitterness of dissolution, dame Fortune's pangs of
childbirth. What is death? To be born again, an angel of
eternity."

Fifthly, many cultivated thinkers have firmly believed that the
soul is not so young as is usually thought, but is an old stager
on this globe, having lived through many a previous existence,
here or elsewhere.7 They sustain this conclusion by various
considerations, either drawn from premises presupposing the
necessary eternity of spirits, or resting on dusky reminiscences,
"shadowy recollections," of visions and events vanished long ago.
Now, if the idea of foregone conscious lives, personal careers oft
repeated with unlost being, be admitted, as it frequently has been
by such men as Plato and Wordsworth, all the

6 Bretschneider, Predigten uber Tod, Unsterblichkeit, und
Anferstehung.

7 James Parker, Account of the Divine Goodness concerning the
Pre existence of Souls.


connected analogies of the case carry us to the belief that
immortality awaits us. We shall live through the next transition,
as we have lived through the past ones.

Sixthly, rejecting the hypothesis of an anterior life, and
entertaining the supposition that there is no creating and
overruling God, but that all things have arisen by spontaneous
development or by chance, still, we are not consistently obliged
to expect annihilation as the fate of the soul. Fairly reasoning
from the analogy of the past, across the facts of the present, to
the impending contingencies of the future, we may say that the
next stage in the unfolding processes of nature is not the
destruction of our consciousness, but issues in a purer life,
elevates us to a spiritual rank. It is just to argue that if
mindless law or boundless fortuity made this world and brought us
here, it may as well make, or have made, another world, and bear
us there. Law or chance excluding God from the question may as
easily make us immortal as mortal. Reasoning by analogy, we may
affirm that, as life has been given us, so it will be given us
again and forever.

Seventhly, faith in immortality is fed by another analogy, not
based on reflection, but instinctively felt. Every change of
material in our organism, every change of consciousness, is a kind
of death. We partially die as often as we leave behind forgotten
experiences and lost states of being. We die successively to
infancy, childhood, youth, manhood. The past is the dead: but our
course is still on, forever on. Having survived so many deaths, we
expect to survive all others and to be ourselves eternally.

There is a third cluster of reasonings, deduced from the
distinctive nature of spirit, constituting the psychological
argument for the existence of the soul independent of the body. In
the outset, obviously, if the soul be an immaterial entity, its
natural immortality follows; because death and decay can only be
supposed to take effect in dissoluble combinations. Several
ingenious reasons have been advanced in proof of the soul's
immateriality, reasons cogent enough to have convinced a large
class of philosophers.8 It is sufficient here to notice the
following one. All motion implies a dynamic mover. Matter is
dormant. Power is a reality entirely distinct from matter in its
nature. But man is essentially an active power, a free will.
Consequently there is in him an immaterial principle, since all
power is immaterial. That principle is immortal, because
subsisting in a sphere of being whose categories exclude the
possibility of dissolution.9

Secondly, should we admit the human soul to be material, yet if it
be an ultimate monad, an indivisible atom of mind, it is immortal
still, defying all the forces of destruction. And that it actually
is an uncompounded unit may be thus proved. Consciousness is
simple, not collective. Hence the power of consciousness, the
central soul, is an absolute integer. For a living perceptive
whole cannot be made of dead imperceptive parts. If the soul were
composite, each component part would be an individual, a
distinguishable consciousness. Such not being the fact, the
conclusion results that the soul is one, a simple substance.10

8 Astrue, Dissertation sur l'Immaterialite et l'Immortalite de
l'Ame. Broughton, Defence of the Doctrine of the Human Soul as an
Immaterial and Naturally Immortal Principle. Marstaller, Von der
Unsterblichkeit der Menschlichen Seele.

9 Andrew Baxter, Inquiry into the Nature of the Soul.

10 Herbart, Lehrbuch zur Psychologie, sect. 150.


Of course it is not liable to death, but is naturally eternal.

Thirdly, the indestructibleness of the soul is a direct inference
from its ontological characteristics. Reason, contemplating the
elements of the soul, cannot but embrace the conviction of its
perpetuity and its essential independence of the fleshly
organization. Our life in its innermost substantive essence is
best defined as a conscious force. Our present existence is the
organic correlation of that personal force with the physical
materials of the body, and with other forces. The cessation of
that correlation at death by no means involves, so far as we can
see, the destruction or the disindividualization of the primal
personal force. It is a fact of striking significance, often
noticed by psychologists, that we are unable to conceive ourselves
as dead. The negation of itself is impossible to consciousness.
The reason we have such a dread of death is that we conceive
ourselves as still alive, only in the grave, or wandering through
horrors and shut out from wonted pleasures. It belongs to material
growths to ripen, loosen, decay; but what is there in sensation,
reflection, memory, volition, to crumble in pieces and rot away?
Why should the power of hope, and joy, and faith, change into
inanity and oblivion? What crucible shall burn up the ultimate of
force? What material processes shall ever disintegrate the
simplicity of spirit? Earth and plant, muscle, nerve, and brain,
belong to one sphere, and are subject to the temporal fates that
rule there; but reason, imagination, love, will, belong to
another, and, immortally fortressed there, laugh to scorn the
fretful sieges of decay.

Fourthly, the surviving superiority of the soul, inferred from its
contrast of qualities to those of its earthy environment, is
further shown by another fact, the mind's dream power, and the
ideal realm it freely soars or walks at large in when it
pleases.11 This view has often been enlarged upon, especially by
Bonnet and Sir Henry Wotton. The unhappy Achilles, exhausted with
weeping for his friend, lay, heavily moaning, on the shore of the
far sounding sea, in a clear spot where the waves washed in upon
the beach, when sleep took possession of him. The ghost of
miserable Patroclus calve to him and said, "Sleepest thou and art
forgetful of me, O Achilles?" And the son of Peleus cried, "Come
nearer: let us embrace each other, though but for a little while."
Then he stretched out his friendly hands, but caught him not; for
the spirit, shrieking, vanished beneath the earth like smoke.

Astounded, Achilles started up, clasped his hands, and said,
dolefully, "Alas! there is then indeed in the subterranean abodes
a spirit and image, but there is no body in it."12 The realm of
dreams is a world of mystic realities, intangible, yet existent,
and all prophetic, through which the soul nightly floats while the
gross body slumbers. It is everlasting, because there is nothing
in it for corruption to take hold of. The appearances and sounds
of that soft inner sphere, veiled so remote from sense, are
reflections and echoes from the spirit world. Or are they a direct
vision and audience of it? The soul really is native resident in a
world of truth, goodness, and beauty, fellow citizen with divine
ideas and affections. Through the senses it has knowledge and
communion with the hard outer world of matter. When the senses
fall away, it is left, imperishable denizen of its own appropriate
world of idealities.

11 Schubert, Die Symbolik des Traumes.

12 Iliad, lib. xxiii. ll. 60 106.


Another assemblage of views, based on the character of God, form
the theological argument for the future existence of man.13
Starting with the idea of a God of infinite perfections, the
immortality of his children is an immediate deduction from the
eternity of his purposes. For whatever purpose God originally gave
man being, for the disinterested distribution of happiness, for
the increase of his own glory, or whatever else, will he not for
that same purpose continue him in being forever? In the absence of
any reason to the contrary, we must so conclude. In view of the
unlimited perfections of God, the fact of conscious responsible
creatures being created is sufficient warrant of their perpetuity.
Otherwise God would be fickle. Or, as one has said, he would be a
mere drapery painter, nothing within the dress.

Secondly, leaving out of sight this illustration of an eternal
purpose in eternal fulfilment, and confining our attention to the
analogy of the divine works and the dignity of the divine Worker,
we shall be freshly led to the same conclusion. Has God moulded
the dead clay of the material universe into gleaming globes and
ordered them to fly through the halls of space forever, and has he
created, out of his own omnipotence, mental personalities
reflecting his own attributes, and doomed them to go out in
endless night after basking, poor ephemera, in the sunshine of a
momentary life? It is not to be imagined that God ever works in
vain. Yet if a single consciousness be extinguished in everlasting
nonentity, so far as the production of that consciousness is
concerned he has wrought for nothing. His action was in vain,
because all is now, to that being, exactly the same as if it had
never been. God does nothing in sport or unmeaningly: least of all
would he create filial spirits, dignified with the solemn
endowments of humanity, without a high and serious end.14 To make
men, gifted with such a transcendent largess of powers, wholly
mortal, to rot forever in the grave after life's swift day, were
work far more unworthy of God than the task was to Michael Angelo
set him in mockery by Pietro, the tyrant who succeeded Lorenzo the
Magnificent in the dukedom of Florence, that he should scoop up
the snow in the Via Larga, and with his highest art mould a statue
from it, to dissolve ere night in the glow of the Italian sun.

Thirdly, it is an attribute of Infinite Wisdom to proportion
powers to results, to adapt instruments to ends with exact
fitness. But if we are utterly to die with the ceasing breath,
then there is an amazing want of symmetry between our endowments
and our opportunity; our attainments are most superfluously
superior to our destiny. Can it be that an earth house of six feet
is to imprison forever the intellect of a La Place, whose
telescopic eye, piercing the unfenced fields of immensity,
systematized more worlds than there are grains of dust in this
globe? the heart of a Borromeo, whose seraphic love expanded to
the limits of sympathetic being? the soul of a Wycliffe, whose
undaunted will, in faithful consecration to duty, faced the fires
of martyrdom and never blenched? the genius of a Shakspeare, whose
imagination exhausted worlds and then invented new? There is vast
incongruity between our faculties and the scope given them here.
On all it sees below the soul reads "Inadequate," and rises

13 Aebli, Unsterblichkeit der menschlichen Seele, sechster Brief.

14 Ulrici, Unsterblichkeit der menschlichen Seele aus dem Wesen
Gottes erwiesen.


dissatisfied from every feast, craving, with divine hunger and
thirst, the ambrosia and nectar of a fetterless and immortal
world. Were we fated to perish at the goal of threescore, God
would have harmonized our powers with our lot. He would never have
set such magnificent conceptions over against such poor
possibilities, nor have kindled so insatiable an ambition for so
trivial a prize of dust to dust.

Fourthly, one of the weightiest supports of the belief in a future
life is that yielded by the benevolence of God. Annihilation is
totally irreconcilable with this. That He whose love for his
creatures is infinite will absolutely destroy them after their
little span of life, when they have just tasted the sweets of
existence and begun to know the noble delights of spiritual
progress, and while illimitable heights of glory and blessedness
are beckoning them, is incredible. We are unable to believe that
while his children turn to him with yearning faith and gratitude,
with fervent prayer and expectation, he will spurn them into
unmitigated night, blotting out those capacities of happiness
which he gave them with a virtual promise of endless increase.
Will the affectionate God permit humanity, ensconced in the field
of being, like a nest of ground sparrows, to be trodden in by the
hoof of annihilation? Love watches to preserve life. It were
Moloch, not the universal Father, that could crush into death
these multitudes of loving souls supplicating him for life, dash
into silent fragments these miraculous personal harps of a
thousand strings, each capable of vibrating a celestial melody of
praise and bliss.

Fifthly, the apparent claims of justice afford presumptive proof,
hard to be resisted, of a future state wherein there are
compensations for the unmerited ills, a complement for the
fragmentary experiences, and rectification for the wrongs, of the
present life.15 God is just; but he works without impulse or
caprice, by laws whose progressive evolution requires time to show
their perfect results. Through the brief space of this existence,
where the encountering of millions of free intelligences within
the fixed conditions of nature causes a seeming medley of good and
evil, of discord and harmony, wickedness often triumphs, villany
often outreaches and tramples ingenuous nobility and helpless
innocence. Some saintly spirits, victims of disease and penury,
drag out their years in agony, neglect, and tears. Some bold
minions of selfishness, with seared consciences and nerves of
iron, pluck the coveted fruits of pleasure, wear the diadems of
society, and sweep through the world in pomp. The virtuous suffer
undeservedly from the guilty. The idle thrive on the industrious.
All these things sometimes happen. In spite of the compensating
tendencies which ride on all spiritual laws, in spite of the
mysterious Nemesis which is throned in every bosom and saturates
the moral atmosphere with influence, the world is full of wrongs,
sufferings, and unfinished justice.16 There must be another world,
where the remunerating processes interiorly begun here shall be
openly consummated. Can it be that Christ and Herod, Paul and
Nero, Timour and Fenelon, drop through the blind trap of death
into precisely the same condition of unwaking sleep? Not if there
be a God!

15 M. Jules Simon, La Religion Naturelle, liv. iii.:
l'Immortalite.

16 Dr. Chalmers, Bridgewater Treatise, chap. 10.


There is a final assemblage of thoughts pertaining to the
likelihood of another life, which, arranged together, may be
styled the moral argument in behalf of that belief.17 These
considerations are drawn from the seeming fitness of things,
claims of parts beseeching completion, vaticinations of
experience. They form a cumulative array of probabilities whose
guiding forefingers all indicate one truth, whose consonant voices
swell into a powerful strain of promise. First, consider the
shrinking from annihilation naturally felt in every breast. If man
be not destined for perennial life, why is this dread of non
existence woven into the soul's inmost fibres? Attractions are co
ordinate with destinies, and every normal desire foretells its own
fulfilment. Man fades unwillingly from his natal haunts, still
longing for a life of eternal remembrance and love, and confiding
in it. All over the world grows this pathetic race of forget me
nots. Shall not Heaven pluck and wear them on her bosom? Secondly,
an emphatic presumption in favor of a second life arises from the
premature mortality prevalent to such a fearful extent in the
human family. Nearly one half of our race perish before reaching
the age of ten years. In that period they cannot have fulfilled
the total purposes of their creation. It is but a part we see, and
not the whole. The destinies here seen segmentary will appear full
circle beyond the grave.

The argument is hardly met by asserting that this untimely
mortality is the punishment for non observance of law; for,
denying any further life, would a scheme of existence have been
admitted establishing so awful a proportion of violations and
penalties? If there be no balancing sphere beyond, then all should
pass through the experience of a ripe and rounded life. But there
is the most perplexing inequality. At one fell swoop, infant,
sage, hero, reveller, martyr, are snatched into the invisible
state. There is, as a noble thinker has said, an apparent "caprice
in the dispensation of death strongly indicative of a hidden
sequel." Immortality unravels the otherwise inscrutable mystery.

Thirdly, the function of conscience furnishes another attestation
to the continued existence of man. This vicegerent of God in the
breast, arrayed in splendors and terrors, which shakes and
illumines the whole circumference of our being with its thunders
and lightnings, gives the good man, amidst oppressions and woes, a
serene confidence in a future justifying reward, and transfixes
the bad man, through all his retinue of guards and panoplied
defences, with icy pangs of fear and with a horrid looking for
judgment to come. The sublime grandeur of moral freedom, the
imperilling dignities of probation, the tremendous
responsibilities and hazards of man's felt power and position, are
all inconsistent with the supposition that he is merely to cross
this petty stage of earth and then wholly expire. Such momentous
endowments and exposures imply a corresponding arena and career.
After the trial comes the sentence; and that would be as if a
palace were built, a prince born, trained, crowned, solely that he
might occupy the throne five minutes! The consecrating, royalizing
idea of duty cannot be less than the core of eternal life.
Conscience is the sensitive corridor along which the mutual
whispers of a divine communion pass and repass. A moral law and a
free will

17 Crombie, Natural Theology, Essay IV.: The Arguments for
Immortality. Bretschneider, Die Religiose Glaubenslehre, sect.
20-21.


are the root by which we grow out of God, and the stem by which we
are grafted into him.

Fourthly, all probable surmisings in favor of a future life, or
any other moral doctrine, are based on that primal postulate
which, by virtue of our rational and ethical constitution, we are
authorized and bound to accept as a commencing axiom, namely, that
the scheme of creation is as a whole the best possible one,
impelled and controlled by wisdom and benignity. Whatever, then,
is an inherent part of the plan of nature cannot be erroneous nor
malignant, a mistake nor a curse. Essentially and in the finality,
every fundamental portion and element of it must be good and
perfect. So far as science and philosophy have penetrated, they
confirm by facts this a priori principle, telling us that there is
no pure and uncompensated evil in the universe. Now, death is a
regular ingredient in the mingled world, an ordered step in the
plan of life. If death be absolute, is it not an evil? What can
the everlasting deprivation of all good be called but an immense
evil to its subject? Such a doom would be without possible solace,
standing alone in steep contradiction to the whole parallel moral
universe. Then might man utter the most moving and melancholy
paradox ever expressed in human speech:

"What good came to my mind I did deplore, Because it perish must,
and not live evermore."

Fifthly, the soul, if not outwardly arrested by some hostile
agent, seems capable of endless progress without ever exhausting
either its own capacity or the perfections of infinitude.18 There
are before it unlimited truth, beauty, power, nobleness, to be
contemplated, mastered, acquired. With indefatigable alacrity,
insatiable faculty and desire, it responds to the infinite call.
The obvious inference is that its destiny is unending advancement.
Annihilation would be a sequel absurdly incongruous with the
facts. True, the body decays, and all manifested energy fails; but
that is the fault of the mechanism, not of the spirit. Were we to
live many thousands of years, as Martineau suggests, no one
supposes new souls, but only new organizations, would be needed.
And what period can we imagine to terminate the unimpeded spirit's
abilities to learn, to enjoy, to expand? Kant's famous
demonstration of man's eternal life on the grounds of practical
reason is similar. The related ideas of absolute virtue and a
moral being necessarily imply the infinite progress of the latter
towards the former. That progress is impossible except on
condition of the continued existence of the same being. Therefore
the soul is immortal.19

Sixthly, our whole life here is a steady series of growing
preparations for a continued and ascending life hereafter. All the
spiritual powers we develop are so much athletic training, all the
ideal treasures we accumulate are so many preliminary attainments,
for a future life. They have this appearance and superscription.
Man alone foreknows his own death and expects a succeeding
existence; and that foresight is given to prepare him. There are
wondrous impulses in us, constitutional convictions prescient of
futurity, like those prevising instincts in birds leading them to
take preparatory flights before their actual migration.

18 Addison, Spectator, Nos. 3 and 210.

19 Jacob, Beweis fur die Unsterblichkeit der Seele aus dem
Begriffe der Pflicht.


Eternity is the stuff of which our love, flying forward, builds
its nest in the eaves of the universe. If we saw wings growing
out upon a young creature, we should be forced to conclude that
he was intended some time to fly. It is so with man. By exploring
thoughts, disciplinary sacrifices, supernal prayers, holy toils
of disinterestedness, he fledges his soul's pinions, lays up
treasures in heaven, and at last migrates to the attracting clime.

"Here sits he, shaping wings to fly: His heart forebodes a
mystery; He names the name eternity."

Seventhly, in the degree these preparations are made in obedience
to obscure instincts and the developing laws of experience, they
are accompanied by significant premonitions, lucid signals of the
future state looked to, assuring witnesses of its reality. The
more one lives for immortality, the more immortal things he
assimilates into his spiritual substance, the more confirming
tokens of a deathless inheritance his faith finds. He becomes
conscious of his own eternity.20 When hallowed imagination weighs
anchor and spreads sail to coast the dim shores of the other
world, it hears cheerful voices of welcome from the headlands and
discerns beacons burning in the port. When in earnest communion
with our inmost selves, solemn meditations of God, mysterious
influences shed from unseen spheres, fall on our souls, and many a
"strange thought, transcending our wonted themes, into glory
peeps." A vague, constraining sense of invisible beings, by whom
we are engirt, fills us. We blindly feel that our rank and
destination are with them. Lift but one thin veil, we think, and
the occult Universe of Spirit would break to vision with cloudy
crowds of angels. Thousand "hints chance dropped from nature's
sphere," pregnant with friendly tidings, reassure us. "Strange,"
said a gifted metaphysician once, "that the barrel organ, man,
should terminate every tune with the strain of immortality!" Not
strange, but divinely natural. It is the tentative prelude to the
thrilling music of our eternal bliss written in the score of
destiny. When at night we gaze far out into immensity, along the
shining vistas of God's abode, and are almost crushed by the
overwhelming prospects that sweep upon our vision, do not some
pre monitions of our own unfathomed greatness also stir within us?
Yes: "the sense of Existence, the ideas of Right and Duty, awful
intuitions of God and immortality, these, the grand facts and
substance of the spirit, are independent and indestructible. The
bases of the Moral Law, they shall stand in every tittle, although
the stars should pass away. For their relations and root are in
that which upholds the stars, even with worlds unseen from the
finite, whose majestic and everlasting arrangements shall burst
upon us as the heavens do through the night when the light of this
garish life gives place to the solemn splendors of eternity."

Eighthly, the belief in a life beyond death has virtually
prevailed everywhere and always. And the argument from universal
consent, as it is termed, has ever been esteemed one of the
foremost testimonies, if not indeed the most convincing testimony,
to the truth of the doctrine. Unless the belief can be shown to be
artificial or sinful, it must seem conclusive. Its innocence is
self evident, and its naturalness is evidenced by its
universality.

20 Theodore Parker, Sermon of Immortal Life.


The rudest and the most polished, the simplest and the most
learned, unite in the expectation, and cling to it through
every thing. It is like the ruling presentiment implanted in
those insects that are to undergo metamorphosis. This believing
instinct, so deeply seated in our consciousness, natural,
innocent, universal, whence came it, and why was it given?
There is but one fair answer. God and nature deceive not.

Ninthly, the conscious, practical faith of civilized nations, to
day, in a future life, unquestionably, in a majority of
individuals, rests directly on the basis of authority, trust in a
foreign announcement. There are two forms of this authority. The
authority of revelation is most prominent and extensive. God has
revealed the truth from heaven. It has been exemplified by a
miraculous resurrection. It is written in an infallible book, and
sealed with authenticating credentials of super natural purport.
It is therefore to be accepted with implicit trust. Secondly, with
some, the authority of great minds, renowned for scientific
knowledge and speculative acumen, goes far. Thousands of such men,
ranking among the highest names of history, have positively
affirmed the immortality of the soul as a reliable truth. For
instance, Goethe says, on occasion of the death of Wieland, "The
destruction of such high powers is something which can never, and
under no circumstances, even come into question." Such a dogmatic
expression of conviction resting on bare philosophical grounds,
from a mind so equipped, so acute, and so free, has great weight,
and must influence a modest student who hesitates in confessed
incompetence.21 The argument is justly powerful when but humanly
considered, and when divinely derived, of course, it absolutely
forecloses all doubts.

Tenthly, there is another life, because a belief in it is
necessary to order this world, necessary as a comfort and an
inspiration to man now. A good old author writes, "the very nerves
and sinews of religion is hope of immortality." The conviction
that there is a retributive life hereafter is the moral cement of
the social fabric. Take away this truth, and one great motive of
patriots, martyrs, thinkers, saints, is gone. Take it away, and to
all low minded men selfishness becomes the law, earthly enjoyment
the only good, suffering and death the only evil. Life then is to
be supremely coveted and never put in risk for any stake. Self
indulgence is to be secured at any hazard, little matter by what
means. Abandon all hope of a life to come, and "from that instant
there is nothing serious in mortality." In order that the world
should be governable, ethical, happy, virtuous, magnanimous, is it
possible that it should be necessary for the world to believe in
an untruth?

"So, thou hast immortality in mind?
Hast grounds that will not let thee doubt it?
The strongest ground herein I find:
That we could never do without it!"

Finally, the climax of these argumentations is capped by that
grand closing consideration which we may entitle the force of
congruity, the convincing results of a confluence of harmonious
reasons. The hypothesis of immortality accords with the cardinal
facts of observation, meets all points of the case, and
satisfactorily answers every requirement.

21 Lewis, Influence of Authority in Matters of Opinion.


It is the solution of the problem, as the fact of Neptune explained
the perturbations of the adjacent planets. Nothing ever gravitates
towards nothing; and it must be an unseen orb that so draws our
yearning souls. If it be not so, then what terrible contradictions
stagger us, and what a chilling doom awaits us! Oh, what mocking
irony then runs through the loftiest promises and hopes of the
world! Just as the wise and good have learned to live, they
disappear amidst the unfeeling waves of oblivion, like snow flakes
in the ocean. "The super earthly desires of man are then created
in him only, like swallowed diamonds, to cut slowly through his
material shell" and destroy him.

The denial of a future life introduces discord, grief, and despair
in every direction, and, by making each step of advanced culture
the ascent to a wider survey of tantalizing glory and experienced
sorrow, as well as the preparation for a greater fall and a sadder
loss, turns faithful affection and heroic thought into "blind
furies slinging flame." Unless immortality be true, man appears a
dark riddle, not made for that of which he is made capable and
desirous: every thing is begun, nothing ended; the facts of the
present scene are unintelligible; the plainest analogies are
violated; the delicately rising scale of existence is broken off
abrupt; our best reasonings concerning the character and designs
of God, also concerning the implications of our own being and
experience, are futile; and the soul's proud faculties tell
glorious lies as thick as stars. Such, at least, is the usual way
of thinking.

However formidable a front may be presented by the spectral array
of doubts and difficulties, seeming impediments to faith in
immortality, the faithful servant of God, equipped with
philosophical culture and a saintly life, will fearlessly advance
upon them, scatter them right and left, and win victorious access
to the prize. So the mariner sometimes, off Sicilian shores, sees
a wondrous island ahead, apparently stopping his way with its
cypress and cedar groves, glittering towers, vine wreathed
balconies, and marble stairs sloping to the water's edge. He sails
straight forward, and, severing the pillared porticos and green
gardens of Fata Morgana, glides far on over a glassy sea smiling
in the undeceptive sun.

CHAPTER IV.

THEORIES OF THE SOUL'S DESTINATION.

BEFORE examining, in their multifarious detail, the special
thoughts and fancies respecting a future life prevalent in
different nations and times, it may be well to take a sort of
bird's eye view of those general theories of the destination of
the soul under which all the individual varieties of opinion may
be classified. Vast and incongruous as is the heterogeneous mass
of notions brought forth by the history of this province of the
world's belief, the whole may be systematized, discriminated, and
reduced to a few comprehensive heads. Such an architectural
grouping or outlining of the chief schemes of thought on this
subject will yield several advantages.

Showing how the different views arose from natural speculations on
the correlated phenomena of the outward world and facts of human
experience, it affords an indispensable help towards a
philosophical analysis and explanation of the popular faith as to
the destiny of man after death, in all the immense diversity of
its contents. An orderly arrangement and exposition of these
cardinal theories also form an epitome holding a bewildering
multitude of particulars in its lucid and separating grasp,
changing the fruits of learned investigation from a cumbersome
burden on the memory to a small number of connected formularies in
the reason. These theories serve as a row of mirrors hung in a
line of historic perspective, reflecting every relevant shape and
hue of meditation and faith humanity has known, from the ideal
visions of the Athenian sage to the instinctive superstitions of
the Fejee savage. When we have adequately defined these theories,
of which there are seven, traced their origin, comprehended their
significance and bearings, and dissected their supporting
pretensions, then the whole field of our theme lies in light
before us; and, however grotesque or mysterious, simple or subtle,
may be the modes of thinking and feeling in relation to the life
beyond death revealed in our subsequent researches, we shall know
at once where to refer them and how to explain them. The precise
object, therefore, of the present chapter is to set forth the
comprehensive theories devised to solve the problem, What becomes
of man when he dies?

But a little while man flourishes here in the bosom of visible
nature. Soon he disappears from our scrutiny, missed in all the
places that knew him. Whither has he gone? What fate has befallen
him? It is an awful question. In comparison with its concentrated
interest, all other affairs are childish and momentary. Whenever
that solemn question is asked, earth, time, and the heart, natural
transformations, stars, fancy, and the brooding intellect, are
full of vague oracles. Let us see what intelligible answers can be
constructed from their responses.

The first theory which we shall consider propounds itself in one
terrible word, annihilation. Logically this is the earliest,
historically the latest, view. The healthy consciousness, the
eager fancy, the controlling sentiment, the crude thought, all the
uncurbed instinctive conclusions of primitive human nature, point
forcibly to a continued existence for the soul, in some way, when
the body shall have perished. And so history shows us in all the
savage nations a vivid belief in a future life. But to the
philosophical observer, who has by dint of speculation freed
himself from the constraining tendencies of desire, faith,
imagination, and authority, the thought that man totally ceases
with the destruction of his visible organism must occur as the
first and simplest settlement of the question.1 The totality of
manifested life has absolutely disappeared: why not conclude that
the totality of real life has actually lost its existence and is
no more? That is the natural inference, unless by some means the
contrary can be proved. Accordingly, among all civilized people,
every age has had its skeptics, metaphysical disputants who have
mournfully or scoffingly denied the separate survival of the soul.
This is a necessity in the inevitable sequences of observation and
theory; because, when the skeptic, suppressing or escaping his
biassed wishes, the trammels of traditional opinion, and the
spontaneous convictions prophetic of his own uninterrupted being,
first looks over the wide scene of human life and death, and
reflectingly asks, What is the sequel of this strange, eventful
history? obviously the conclusion suggested by the immediate
phenomena is that of entire dissolution and blank oblivion. This
result is avoided by calling in the aid of deeper philosophical
considerations and of inspiring moral truths. But some will not
call in that aid; and the whole superficial appearance of the
case regarding that alone, as they then will is fatal to our
imperial hopes. The primordial clay claims its own from the
disanimated frame; and the vanished life, like the flame of an
outburnt taper, has ceased to be. Men are like bubbles or foam
flakes on the world's streaming surface: glittering in a momentary
ray, they break and are gone, and only the dark flood remains
still flowing forward. They are like tones of music, commencing
and ending with the unpurposed breath that makes them. Nature is a
vast congeries of mechanical substances pervaded by mindless
forces of vitality. Consciousness is a production which results
from the fermentation and elaboration of unconscious materials;
and after a time it deceases, its conditions crumbling into their
inorganic grounds again.

From the abyss of silence and dust intelligent creatures break
forth, shine, and sink back, like meteor flashes in a cloud. The
generations of sentient being, like the annual growths of
vegetation, by spontaneity of dynamic development, spring from
dead matter, flourish through their destined cycle, and relapse
into dead matter. The bosom of nature is, therefore, at once the
wondrous womb and the magnificent mausoleum of man. Fate, like an
iron skeleton seated at the summit of the world on a throne of
fresh growing grass and mouldering skulls, presides over all, and
annihilation is the universal doom of individual life. Such is the
atheistic naturalist's creed. However indefensible or shocking it
is, it repeatedly appears in the annals of speculation; and any
synopsis of the possible conclusions in which the inquiry into
man's destiny may rest that should omit this, would be grossly
imperfect.

This scheme of disbelief is met by insuperable objections. It
excludes some essential elements of the case, confines itself to a
wholly empirical view; and consequently the relentless solution it
announces applies only to a mutilated problem. To assert the
cessation of the soul because its physical manifestations through
the body have ceased, is certainly to affirm without just warrant.
It would appear impossible for volition and intelligence to

1 Lalande, Dictionnaire des Athees Anciens et Modernes.


originate save from a free parent mind. Numerous cogent evidences
of design seem to prove the existence of a God by whose will all
things are ordered according to a plan. Many powerful impressions
and arguments, instinctive, critical, or moral, combine to teach
that in the wreck of matter the spirit emerges, deathless, from
the closing waves of decay. The confirmation of that truth becomes
irresistible when we see how reason and conscience, with delighted
avidity, seize upon its adaptedness alike to the brightest
features and the darkest defects of the present life, whose
imperfect symmetries and segments are harmoniously filled out by
the adjusting complement of a future state.2

The next representation of the fate of the soul disposes of it by
re absorption into the essence from which it emanated. There is an
eternal fountain of unmade life, from which all individual,
transient lives flow, and into which they return. This conception
arose in the outset from a superficial analogy which must have
obtruded itself upon primitive notice and speculation; for man is
led to his first metaphysical inquiries by a feeling contemplation
of outward phenomena. Now, in the material world, when individual
forms perish, each sensible component relapses into its original
element and becomes an undistinguishable portion of it. Our
exhaled breath goes into the general air and is united with it:
the dust of our decaying frames becomes part of the ground and
vegetation. So, it is strongly suggested, the lives of things, the
souls of men, when they disappear from us, are remerged in the
native spirit whence they came. The essential longing of every
part for union with its whole is revealed and vocal throughout all
nature. Water is sullen in stillness, murmurs in motion, and never
ceases its gloom or its complaining until it sleeps in the sea.
Like spray on the rock, the stranding generations strike the
sepulchre and are dissipated into universal vapor. As lightnings
slink back into the charged bosom of the thunder cloud, as eager
waves, spent, subside in the deep, as furious gusts die away in
the great atmosphere, so the gleaming ranks of genius, the
struggling masses of toil, the pompous hosts of war, fade and
dissolve away into the peaceful bosom of the all engulfing SOUL.
This simplest, earliest philosophy of mankind has had most
extensive and permanent prevalence.3 For immemorial centuries it
has possessed the mind of the countless millions of India. Baur
thinks the Egyptian identification of each deceased person with
Osiris and the burial of him under that name, were meant to denote
the reception of the individual human life into the universal
nature life. The doctrine has been implicitly held wherever
pantheism has found a votary, from Anaximander, to whom finite
creatures were "disintegrations or decompositions from the
Infinite," to Alexander Pope, affirming that

"All are but parts of one stupendous whole, Whose body nature is,
and God the soul."

The first reasoners, who gave such an ineradicable direction and
tinge to the thinking of after ages, were furthermore driven to
the supposition of a final absorption, from the

2 Drossbach, Die Harmonie der Ergebnisse der Naturforschung mit
den Forderungen des Menschlichen Gemuthes.

3 Blount, Anima Mundi; or, The Opinions of the Ancients concerning
Man's Soul after this Life.


impossibility, in that initiatory stage of thought, of grasping
any other theory which would apparently meet the case so well or
be more satisfactory. They, of course, had not yet arrived at the
idea that God is a personal Spirit whose nature is revealed in the
constitutive characteristics of the human soul, and who carries on
his works from eternity to eternity without monotonous repetition
or wearisome stagnancy, but with perpetual variety in never
ceasingmotion. Whatever commences must also terminate, they said,
forgetting that number begins with one but has no end. They did
not conceive of the universe of being as an eternal line, making
immortality desirable for its endless novelty, but imaged it to
themselves as a circle, making an everlasting individual
consciousness dreadful for its intolerable sameness, an immense
round of existence, phenomena, and experience, going forth and
returning into itself, over and over, forever and ever. To escape
so repulsive a contemplation, they made death break the fencing
integument of consciousness and empty all weary personalities into
the absolute abyss of being.

Again: the extreme difficulty of apprehending the truth of a
Creator literally infinite, and of a limitless creation, would
lead to the same result in another way. Without doubt, it seemed
to the naive thinkers of antiquity, that if hosts of new beings
were continually coming into life and increasing the number of the
inhabitants of the future state, the fountain from which they
proceeded would some time be exhausted, or the universe grow
plethoric with population. There would be no more substance below
or no more room above. The easiest method of surmounting this
problem would be by the hypothesis that all spirits come out of a
great World Spirit, and, having run their mortal careers, are
absorbed into it again. Many especially the deepest Oriental
dreamers have also been brought to solace themselves with this
conclusion by a course of reasoning based on the exposures, and
assumed inevitable sufferings, of all finite being. They argue
that every existence below the absolute God, because it is set
around with limitations, is necessarily obnoxious to all sorts of
miseries. Its pleasures are only "honey drops scarce tasted in a
sea of gall." This conviction, with its accompanying sentiment,
runs through the sacred books of the East, is the root and heart
of their theology, the dogma that makes the cruelest penances
pleasant if a renewed existence may thus be avoided. The sentiment
is not alien to human longing and surmise, as witnesses the night
thought of the English poet who, world sated, and sadly yearning,
cries through the starry gloom to God,

"When shall my soul her incarnation quit, And, readopted to thy
blest embrace, Obtain her apotheosis in thee?"

Having stated and traced the doctrine of absorption, it remains to
investigate the justice of its grounds. The doctrine starts from a
premise partly true and ends in a conclusion partly false. We
emanate from the creative power of God, and are sustained by the
in flowing presence of his life, but are not discerptions from his
own being, any more than beams of light are distinct substances
shot out and shorn off from the sun to be afterwards drawn back
and assimilated into the parent orb. We are destined to a
harmonious life in his unifying love, but not to be fused and lost
as insentient parts of his total consciousness. We are products of

God's will, not component atoms of his soul. Souls are to be in
God as stars are in the firmament, not as lumps of salt are in a
solvent. This view is confirmed by various arguments.

In the first place, it is supported by the philosophical
distinction between emanation and creation. The conception of
creation gives us a personal God who wills to certain ends; that
of emanation reduces the Supreme Being to a ghastly array of laws,
revolving abysses, galvanic forces, nebular star dust, dead ideas,
and vital fluids. According to the latter supposition, finite
existences flow from the Infinite as consequences from a
principle, or streams from a fountain; according to the former,
they proceed as effects from a cause, or thoughts from a mind.
That is pantheistic, fatal, and involves absorption by a logical
necessity; this is creative, free, and does not presuppose any
circling return. Material things are thoughts which God
transiently contemplates and dismisses; spiritual creatures are
thoughts which he permanently expresses in concrete immortality.
The soul is a thought; the body is the word in which it is
clothed.

Secondly, the analogy which first leads to belief in absorption is
falsely interpreted. Taken on its own ground, rightly appreciated,
it legitimates a different conclusion.

A grain of sand thrown into the bosom of Sahara does not lose its
individual existence. Distinct drops are not annihilated as to
their simple atoms of water, though sunk in the midst of the sea.
The final particles or monads of air or granite are not
dissolvingly blended into continuity of unindividualized
atmosphere or rock when united with their elemental masses, but
are thrust unapproachably apart by molecular repulsion. Now, a
mind, being, as we conceive, no composite, but an ultimate unity,
cannot be crushed or melted from its integral persistence of
personality. Though plunged into the centre of a surrounding
wilderness or ocean of minds, it must still retain itself unlost
in the multitude. Therefore, if we admit the existence of an
inclusive mundane Soul, it by no means follows that lesser souls
received into it are deprived of their individuality. It is "one
not otherwise than as the sea is one, by a similarity and
contiguity of parts, being composed of an innumerable host of
distinct spirits, as that is of aqueous particles; and as the
rivers continually discharge into the sea, so the vehicular
people, upon the disruption of their vehicles, discharge and
incorporate into that ocean of spirits making the mundane Soul."4

Thirdly, every consideration furnished by the doctrine of final
causes as applied to existing creatures makes us ask, What use is
there in calling forth souls merely that they may be taken back
again? To justify their creation, the fulfilment of some educative
aim, and then the lasting fruition of it, appear necessary. Why
else should a soul be drawn from out the unformed vastness, and
have its being struck into bounds, and be forced to pass through
such appalling ordeals of good and evil, pleasure and agony? An
individual of any kind is as important as its race; for it
contains in possibility all that its type does. And the purposes
of things, so far as we can discern them, the nature of our
spiritual constitution, the meaning of our circumstances and
probation, the resulting tendencies of our experience, all seem to
prophesy, not the destruction, but the perfection and
perpetuation, of individual being.

4 Tucker, Light of Nature, Part II. chap. xxii.


Fourthly, the same inference is yielded by applying a similar
consideration to the Creator. Allowing him consciousness and
intentions, as we must, what object could he have either in
exerting his creative power or in sending out portions of himself
in new individuals, save the production of so many immortal
personalities of will, knowledge, and love, to advance towards the
perfection of holiness, wisdom, and blessedness, filling his
mansions with his children? By thus multiplying his own image he
adds to the number of happy creatures who are to be bound together
in bands of glory, mutually receiving and returning his affection,
and swells the tide of conscious bliss which fills and rolls
forever through his eternal universe.

Nor, finally, is it necessary to expect personal oblivion in God
in order to escape from evil and win exuberant happiness. Those
ends are as well secured by the fruition of God's love in us as by
the drowning of our consciousness in his plenitude of delight.
Precisely herein consists the fundamental distinction of the
Christian from the Brahmanic doctrine of human destiny. The
Christian hopes to dwell in blissful union with God's will, not to
be annihilatingly sunk in his essence. To borrow an illustration
from Scotus Erigena,5 as the air when thoroughly illumined by
sunshine still keeps its aerial nature and does not become
sunshine, or as iron all red in the flame still keeps its metallic
substance and does not turn to fire itself, so a soul fully
possessed and moved by God does not in consequence lose its own
sentient and intelligent being. It is still a bounded entity,
though recipient of boundless divinity. Thus evil ceases, each
personality is preserved and intensely glorified, and, at the same
time, God is all in all. The totality of perfected, enraptured,
immortalized humanity in heaven may be described in this manner,
adopting the masterly expression of Coleridge:

"And as one body seems the aggregate Of atoms numberless, each
organized, So, by a strange and dim similitude, Infinite myriads
of self conscious minds In one containing Spirit live, who fills
With absolute ubiquity of thought All his involved monads, that
yet seem Each to pursue its own self centring end."

A third mode of answering the question of human destiny is by the
conception of a general resurrection. Souls, as fast as they leave
the body, are gathered in some intermediate state, a starless
grave world, a ghostly limbo. When the present cycle of things is
completed, when the clock of time runs down and its lifeless
weight falls in the socket, and "Death's empty helmet yawns grimly
over the funeral hatchment of the world," the gates of this long
barred receptacle of the deceased will be struck open, and its
pale prisoners, in accumulated hosts, issue forth, and enter on
the immortal inheritance reserved for them. In the sable land of
Hades all departed generations are bivouacking in one vast army.
On the resurrection morning, striking their shadowy tents, they
will scale the walls of the abyss, and, reinvested with their
bodies, either plant their banners on the summits of the earth in
permanent encampment, or storm the battlements of the sky and
colonize heaven with flesh and blood.

5 Philosophy and Doctrines of Erigena, Universalist Quarterly
Review, vol. vii. p. 100.


All advocates of the doctrine of psychopannychism, or the sleep
of souls from death till the last day, in addition to the general
body of orthodox Christians, have been supporters of this
conclusion.6

Three explanations are possible of the origination of this belief.
First, a man musing over the affecting panorama of the seasons as
it rolls through the year, budding life alternating with deadly
desolation, spring still bringing back the freshness of leaves,
flowers, and carolling birds, as if raising them from an annual
interment in winter's cold grave, and then thinking of the destiny
of his own race, how many generations have ripened and decayed,
how many human crops have been harvested from the cradle and
planted in the tomb, might naturally  especially if he had any
thing of the poet's associating and creative mind say to himself,
Are we altogether perishable dust, or are we seed sown for higher
fields, seed lying dormant now, but at last to sprout into swift
immortality when God shall make a new sunshine and dew
omnipotently penetrate the dry mould where we tarry? No matter how
partial the analogy, how forced the process, how false the result,
such imagery would sooner or later occur; and, having occurred, it
is no more strange that it should get literal acceptance than it
is that many other popular figments should have secured the firm
establishment they have.

Secondly, a mourner just bereaved of one in whom his whole love
was garnered, distracted with grief, his faculties unbalanced, his
soul a chaos, is of sorrow and fantasy all compact; and he solaces
himself with the ideal embodiment of his dreams, half seeing what
he thinks, half believing what he wishes. His desires pass through
unconscious volition into supposed facts. Before the miraculous
power of his grief wielded imagination the world is fluent, and
fate runs in the moulds he conceives. The adored form on which
corruption now banquets, he sees again, animated, beaming, clasped
in his arms. He cries, It cannot be that those holy days are
forever ended, that I shall never more realize the blissful dream
in which we trod the sunny world together! Oh, it must be that
some time God will give me back again that beloved one! the
sepulchre closed so fast shall be unsealed, the dead be restored,
and all be as it was before! The conception thus once born out of
the delirium of busy thought, anguished love, and regnant
imagination, may in various ways win a fixed footing in faith.

Thirdly, the notion which we are now contemplating is one link in
a chain of thought which, in the course of time and the range of
speculation, the theorizing mind could not fail to forge. The
concatenation of reflections is this. Death is the separation of
soul and body. That separation is repulsive, an evil. Therefore it
was not intended by the Infinite Goodness, but was introduced by a
foe, and is a foreign, marring element. Finally God will vanquish
his antagonist, and banish from the creation all his thwarting
interferences with the primitive perfection of harmony and
happiness. Accordingly, the souls which Satan has caused to be
separated from their bodies are reserved apart until the fulness
of time, when there shall be a universal resurrection and
restoration. So far as reason is competent to pronounce on this
view considered as a sequel to the disembodying doom of man, it is
an arbitrary piece of fancy. Philosophy ignores it. Science gives
no hint of it.

6 Baumgarten, Beantwortung des Sendschreibens Heyns vom Schlafe
der abgeschiedenen Seelen. Chalmers. Astronomical Discourses, iv.


It sprang from unwarranted metaphors, perverted, exaggerated,
based on analogies not parallel. So far as it assumes to rest
on revelation it will be examined in another place.

Fourthly, after the notion of a great, epochal resurrection, as a
reply to the inquiry, What is to become of the soul? a dogma is
next encountered which we shall style that of a local and
irrevocable conveyance. The disembodied spirit is conveyed to some
fixed region,7 a penal or a blissful abode, where it is to tarry
unalterably. This idea of the banishment or admission of souls,
according to their deserts, or according to an elective grace,
into an anchored location called hell or heaven, a retributive or
rewarding residence for eternity, we shall pass by with few words,
because it recurs for fuller examination in other chapters. In the
first place, the whole picture is a gross simile drawn from
occurrences of this outward world and unjustifiably applied to the
fortunes of the mind in the invisible sphere of the future. The
figment of a judicial transportation of the soul from one place or
planet to another, as if by a Charon's boat, is a clattering and
repulsive conceit, inadmissible by one who apprehends the
noiseless continuity of God's self executing laws. It is a jarring
mechanical clash thrust amidst the smooth evolution of spiritual
destinies. It compares with the facts as the supposition that the
planets are swung around the sun by material chains compares with
the law of gravitation.

Moral compensation is no better secured by imprisonment or freedom
in separate localities than it is, in a common environment, by the
fatal working of their interior forces of character, and their
relations with all things else. Moreover, these antagonist
kingdoms, Tartarean and Elysian, defined as the everlasting
habitations of departed souls, have been successively driven, as
dissipated visions, from their assumed latitudes and longitudes,
one after another, by progressive discovery, until now the
intelligent mind knows of no assignable spot for them. Since we
are not acquainted with any fixed locations to which the soul is
to be carried, to abide there forever in appointed joy or woe, and
since there is no scientific necessity nor moral use for the
supposition of such places and of the transferrence of the
departed to them, we cannot hesitate to reject the associated
belief as a deluding mistake. The truth, as we conceive it, is not
that different souls are borne by constabulary apparitions to two
immured dwellings, manacled and hurried into Tophet or saluted and
ushered into Paradise, but that all souls spontaneously pass into
one immense empire, drawn therein by their appropriate
attractions, to assimilate a strictly discriminative experience.
But, as to this, let each thinker form his own conclusion.

The fifth view of the destination of the soul may be called the
theory of recurrence.8 When man dies, his surviving spirit is
immediately born again in a new body. Thus the souls, assigned in
a limited number to each world, continually return, each one still
forgetful of his previous lives. This seems to be the specific
creed of the Druses, who affirm that all souls were created at
once, and that the number is unchanged, while they are born over
and over. A Druse boy, dreadfully alarmed by the discharge of a
gun, on being asked by a Christian the cause of his fear, replied,
"I was born murdered;" that is, the soul of a man who had been
shot

7 Lange, Das Land der Herrlichkelt.

8 Schmidius, Diss. de Multiplici Animarum Reditu in Corpora.


passed into his body at the moment of his birth.9 The young
mountaineer would seem, from the sudden violence with which he was
snatched out of his old house, to have dragged a trail of
connecting consciousness over into his new one. As a general rule,
in distinction from such an exception, memory is like one of those
passes which the conductors of railroad trains give their
passengers, "good for this trip only." The notion of an endless
succession of lives on the familiar stage of this dear old world,
commencing each with clean wiped tablets, possesses for some minds
a fathomless allurement; but others wish for no return pass on
their ticket to futurity, preferring an adventurous abandonment
"to fresh fields and pastures new," in unknown immensity, to a
renewed excursion through landscapes already traversed and
experiences drained before.

Fourier's doctrine of immortality belongs here. According to his
idea, the Great Soul of this globe is a composite being,
comprising about ten billions of individual souls. Their
connection with this planet will be for nearly eighty thousand
years. Then the whole sum of them will swarm to some higher
planet, Fourier himself, perhaps, being the old gray gander that
will head the flock, pilot king of their flight. Each man is to
enjoy about four hundred births on earth, poetic justice leading
him successively through all the grades and phases of fortune,
from cripplehood and beggary to paragonship and the throne. The
invisible residence of spirits and the visible are both on this
globe, the former in the Great Soul, the latter in bodies. In the
other life the soul becomes a sharer in the woes of the Great
Soul, which is as unhappy as seven eighths of the incarnated
souls; for its fate is a compound of the fates of the human souls
taken collectively. Coming into this outward scene at birth, we
lose anew all memory of past existence, but wake up again in the
Great Soul with a perfect recollection of all our previous lives
both in the invisible and in the visible world. These alternating
passages between the two states will continue until the final
swooping of total humanity from this exhausted planet in search of
a better abode.10

The idea of the recurrence of souls is the simplest means of
meeting a difficulty stated thus by the ingenious Abraham Tucker
in his "Light of Nature Pursued." "The numbers of souls daily
pouring in from hence upon the next world seem to require a
proportionable drain from it somewhere or other; for else the
country might be overstocked." The objection urged against such a
belief from the fact that we do not remember having lived before
is rebutted by the assertion that

"Some draught of Lethe doth await, As old mythologies relate, The
slipping through from state to state."

The theory associated with this Lethean draught is confirmed by
its responsive correspondence with many unutterable experiences,
vividly felt or darkly recognised, in our deepest bosom. It seems
as if occasionally the poppied drug or other oblivious antidote

9 Churchill, Mount Lebanon, vol. ii. ch. 12.

10 Fourier, Passions of the Human Soul, (Morell's translation,)
Introduction, vol. i. pp. 14-18; also pp. 233-236.


administered by nature had been so much diluted that reason, only
half baffled, struggles to decipher the dim runes and vestiges of
a foregone state;

"And ever something is or seems That touches us with mystic
gleams, Like glimpses of forgotten dreams."

In those excursive reveries, fed by hope and winged with dream,
which scour the glens and scale the peaks of the land of thought,
this nook of hypothesis must some time be discovered. And, brought
to light, it has much to interest and to please; but it is too
destitute of tangible proof to be successfully maintained against
assault.11

There is another faith as to the fate of souls, best stated,
perhaps, in the phrase perpetual migration. The soul, by
successive deaths and births, traverses the universe, an
everlasting traveller through the rounds of being and the worlds
of space, a transient sojourner briefly inhabiting each.12 All
reality is finding its way up towards the attracting, retreating
Godhead. Minerals tend to vegetables, these to animals, these to
men. Blind but yearning matter aspires to spirit, intelligent
spirits to divinity. In every grain of dust sleep an army of
future generations. As every thing below man gropes upward towards
his conscious estate, "the trees being imperfect men, that seem to
bemoan their imprisonment, rooted in the ground," so man himself
shall climb the illimitable ascent of creation, every step a star.
The animal organism is a higher kind of vegetable, whose
development begins with those substances with the production of
which the life of an ordinary vegetable ends.13 The fact, too,
that embryonic man passes through ascending stages
undistinguishable from those of lower creatures, is full of
meaning. Does it not betoken a preserved epitome of the long
history of slowly rising existence? What unplummeted abysses of
time and distance intervene from the primary rock to the Victoria
Regia! and again from the first crawling spine to the fetterless
mind of a Schelling! But, snail pace by snail pace, those
immeasurable separations have been bridged over; and so every
thing that now lies at the dark basis of dust shall finally reach
the transplendent apex of intellect. The objection of theological
prejudice to this developing succession of ascents that it is
degrading is an unhealthy mistake. Whether we have risen or fallen
to our present rank, the actual rank itself is not altered. And in
one respect it is better for man to be an advanced oyster than a
degraded god; for in the former case the path is upwards, in the
latter it is downwards. "We wake," observes a profound thinker,
"and find ourselves on a stair: there are other stairs below us,
which we seem to have ascended; there are stairs above us, many a
one, which go upward and out of sight." Such was plainly the trust
of the author of the following exhortation:

"Be worthy of death; and so learn to live That every incarnation
of thy soul In other realms, and worlds, and firmaments Shall be
more pure and high."

11 Bertram, Prufung der Meinung von der Praexistenz der
menechlichen Seele.

12 Nurnberger, Still Leben, oder uber die Unsterblichkeit der
Seele.

13 Liebig, Animal Chemistry, ch. ix.


Bulwer likewise has said, "Eternity may be but an endless series
of those emigrations which men call deaths, abandonments of home
after home, ever to fairer scenes and loftier heights. Age after
age, the spirit that glorious nomad may shift its tent, fated not
to rest in the dull Elysium of the heathen, but carrying with it
evermore its twin elements, activity and desire."

But there is something unsatisfactory, even sad and dreary, in
this prospect of incessant migration. Must not the pilgrim pine
and tire for a goal of rest? Exhausted with wanderings, sated with
experiments, will he not pray for the exempted lot of a contented
fruition in repose? One must weary at last of being even so
sublime a vagabond as he whose nightly hostelries are stars. And,
besides, how will sundered friends and lovers, between whom, on
the road, races and worlds interpose, ever over take each other,
and be conjoined to journey hand in hand again or build a bower
together by the way? A poet of finest mould, in happiest mood,
once saw a leaf drop from a tree which overhung a mirroring
stream. The reflection of the leaf in the watery sky hollow far
below seemed to rise from beneath as swiftly as the object fell
from above; and the two, encountering at the surface, became one.
Then he sang, touching with his strain the very marrow of deepest
human desire,

"How speeds, from in the river's thought,
The spirit of the leaf that falls,
Its heaven in that calm bosom wrought,
As mine among yon crimson walls!
From the dry bough it spins, to greet
Its shadow on the placid river:
So might I my companions meet,
Nor roam the countless worlds forever!"

Moreover, some elements of this theory are too grotesque, are the
too rash inferences from a too crude induction, to win sober
credit to any extent. It is easy to devise and carry out in
consistent descriptive details the hypothesis that the soul has
risen, through ten thousand transitions, from the condition of red
earth or a tadpole to its present rank, and that,

"As it once crawl'd upon the sod, It yet shall grow to be a god;"

but what scientific evidence is there to confirm and establish the
supposition as a truth? Why, if it be so, to borrow the humorous
satire of good old Henry More,

"Then it will follow that cold stopping curd And harden'd moldy
cheese, when they have rid Due circuits through the heart, at last
shall speed Of life and sense, look thorough our thin eyes And
view the close wherein the cow did feed Whence they were milk'd:
grosse pie crust will grow wise, And pickled cucumbers sans doubt
philosophize!"

The form of this general outline stalks totteringly on stilts of
fancy, and sprawls headlong with a logical crash at the first
critical probe.

The final theory of the destination of souls, now left to be set
forth, may be designated by the word transition.14 It affirms that
at death they pass from the separate material worlds, which are
their initiating nurseries, into the common spiritual world, which
is everywhere present. Thus the visible peoples the invisible,
each person in his turn consciously rising from this world's
rudimentary darkness to that world's universal light. Dwelling
here, free souls, housed in frames of dissoluble clay,

"We hold a middle rank 'twixt heaven and earth,
On the last verge of mortal being stand,
lose to the realm where angels have their birth,
Just on the boundaries of the spirit land."

Why has God "broken up the solid material of the universe into
innumerable little globes, and swung each of them in the centre of
an impassable solitude of space," unless it be to train up in the
various spheres separate households for final union as a single
diversified family in the boundless spiritual world? 15 The
surmise is not unreasonable, but recommends itself strongly,
that,

"If yonder stars be fill'd with forms of breathing clay like ours,
Perchance the space which spreads between is for a spirit's
powers."

The soul encased in flesh is thereby confined to one home, its
natal nest; but, liberated at death, it wanders at will,
unobstructed, through every world and cerulean deep; and
wheresoever it is, there, in proportion to its own capacity and
fitness, is heaven and is God.16 All those world spots so thickly
scattered through the Yggdrasill of universal space are but the
brief sheltering places where embryo intelligences clip their
shells, and whence, as soon as fledged through the discipline of
earthly teaching and essays, the broodlet souls take wing into the
mighty airs of immensity, and thus enter on their eternal
emancipation. This conjecture is, of all which have been offered
yet, perhaps the completest, least perplexed, best recommended by
its harmony with our knowledge and our hope. And so one might wish
to rest in it with humble trust.

The final destiny of an immortal soul, after its transition into
the other world, must be either unending progress towards infinite
perfection, or the reaching of its perihelion at last and then
revolving in uninterrupted fruition. In the former case, pursuing
an infinite aim, with each degree of its attainment the flying
goal still recedes. In the latter case, it will in due season
touch its bound and there be satisfied,

"When weak Time shall be pour'd out Into Eternity, and circular
joys Dance in an endless round."

14 Taylor, Physical Theory of Another Life, ch. xii.

15 Taylor, Saturday Evening, pp. 95-111.

16 Taylor, Physical Theory of Another Life, ch. xvii.


This result seems the more probable of the two; for the assertion
of countless decillions of personalities all progressing beyond
every conceivable limit, on, still on, forever, is incredible. If
endless linear progress were the destiny of each being, the whole
universe would at last become a line! And though it is true that
the idea of an ever novel chase attracts and refreshes the
imagination, while the idea of a monotonous revolution repels and
wearies it, this is simply because we judge after our poor earthly
experience and its flagging analogies. It will not be so if that
revolution is the vivid realization of all our being's
possibilities.

Annihilation, absorption, resurrection, conveyance, recurrence,
migration, transition,  these seven answers to the question of our
fate, and of its relation to the course of nature, are thinkable
in words. We may choose from among them, but can construct no real
eighth. First, there is a constant succession of growth and decay.
Second, there is a perpetual flow and ebb of personal emanation
and impersonal resumption. Third, there is a continual return of
the same persistent entities. Fourth, all matter may be sublimated
to spirit, and souls alone remain to occupy boundless space.
Fifth, the power of death may cease, all the astronomic orbs be
populated and enjoyed, each by one generation of everlasting
inhabitants, the present order continuing in each earth until
enough have lived to fill it, then all of them, physically
restored, dwelling on it, with no more births or deaths. Sixth, if
matter be not transmutable to soul, when that peculiar reality
from which souls are developed is exhausted, and the last
generation of incarnated beings have risen from the flesh, the
material creation may, in addition to the inter stellar region, be
eternally appropriated by the spirit races to their own free range
and use, through adaptations of faculty unknown to us now; else it
may vanish as a phantasmal spectacle. Or, finally, souls may be
absolutely created out of nothing by the omnipotence of God, and
the universe may be infinite: then the process may proceed
forever.

But men's beliefs are formed rather by the modes of thought they
have learned to adopt than by any proofs they have tested; not by
argumentation about a subject, but by the way of looking at it.
The moralist regards all creation as the work of a personal God, a
theatre of moral ends, a just Providence watching over the parts,
and the conscious immortality of the actors an inevitable
accompaniment. The physicist contemplates the universe as
constituted of atoms of attraction and repulsion, which subsist in
perfect mobility through space, but are concreted in the molecular
masses of the planets. The suns are vast engines for the
distribution of heat or motion, the equivalent of all kinds of
force. This, in its diffusion, causes innumerable circulations and
combinations of the original atoms. Organic growth, life, is the
fruition of a force derived from the sun. Decay, death, is the
rendering up of that force in its equivalents. Thus, the universe
is a composite unity of force, a solidarity of ultimate unities
which are indestructible, though in constant circulation of new
groupings and journeys. To the religious faith of the moralist,
man is an eternal person, reaping what he has sowed. To the
speculative intellect of the physicist, man is an atomic force, to
be liberated into the ethereal medium until again harnessed in
some organism. In both cases he is immortal: but in that, as a
free citizen of the ideal world; in this, as a flying particle of
the dynamic immensity.

PART SECOND.


ETHNIC THOUGHTS CONCERNING A FUTURE LIFE.

CHAPTER I.

BARBARIAN NOTIONS OF A FUTURE LIFE.

PROCEEDING now to give an account of the fancies and opinions in
regard to a future life which have been prevalent, in different
ages, in various nations of the earth, it will be best to begin by
presenting, in a rapid series, some sketches of the conceits of
those uncivilized tribes who did not so far as our knowledge
reaches possess a doctrine sufficiently distinctive and full, or
important enough in its historical relations, to warrant a
detailed treatment in separate chapters.

We will glance first at the negroes. According to all accounts,
while there are, among the numerous tribes, diversities and
degrees of superstition, there is yet, throughout the native pagan
population of Africa, a marked general agreement of belief in the
survival of the soul, in spectres, divination, and witchcraft; and
there is a general similarity of funeral usages. Early travellers
tell us that the Bushmen conceived the soul to be immortal, and as
impalpable as a shadow, and that they were much afraid of the
return of deceased spirits to haunt them. They were accustomed to
pray to their departed countrymen not to molest them, but to stay
away in quiet. They also employed exorcisers to lay these ill
omened ghosts. Meiners relates of some inhabitants of the Guinea
coast that their fear of ghosts and their childish credulity
reached such a pitch that they threw their dead into the ocean, in
the expectation of thus drowning soul and body together.

Superstitions as gross and lawless still have full sway. Wilson,
whose travels and residence there for twenty years have enabled
him to furnish the most reliable information, says, in his recent
work,1 "A native African would as soon doubt his present as his
future state of being." Every dream, every stray suggestion of the
mind, is interpreted, with unquestioning credence, as a visit from
the dead, a whisper from a departed soul. If a man wakes up with
pains in his bones or muscles, it is because his spirit has
wandered abroad in the night and been flogged by some other
spirit. On certain occasions the whole community start up at
midnight, with clubs, torches, and hideous yells, to drive the
evil spirits out of the village. They seem to believe that the
souls of dead men take rank with good or bad spirits, as they have
themselves been good or bad in this life. They bury with the
deceased clothing, ornaments, utensils,

1 Western Africa, ch. xii.


and statedly convey food to the grave for the use of the
revisiting spirit. With the body of king Weir of the Cavalla
towns, who was buried in December of 1854, in presence of several
missionaries, was interred a quantity of rice, palm oil, beef, and
rum: it was supposed the ghost of the sable monarch would come
back and consume these articles. The African tribes, where their
notions have not been modified by Christian or by Mohammedan
teachings, appear to have no definite idea of a heaven or of a
hell; but future reward or punishment is considered under the
general conception of an association, in the disembodied state,
with the benignant or with the demoniacal powers.

The New Zealanders imagine that the souls of the dead go to a
place beneath the earth, called Reinga. The path to this region is
a precipice close to the sea shore at the North Cape. It is said
that the natives who live in the neighborhood can at night hear
sounds caused by the passing of spirits thither through the air.
After a great battle they are thus warned of the event long before
the news can arrive by natural means.2 It is a common superstition
with them that the left eye of every chief, after his death,
becomes a star. The Pleiades are seven New Zealand chiefs,
brothers, who were slain together in battle and are now fixed in
the sky, one eye of each, in the shape of a star, being the only
part of them that is visible. It has been observed that the
mythological doctrine of the glittering host of heaven being an
assemblage of the departed heroes of earth never received a more
ingenious version.3 Certainly it is a magnificent piece of insular
egotism. It is noticeable here that, in the Norse mythology, Thor,
having slain Thiasse, the giant genius of winter, throws his eyes
up to heaven, and they become stars. Shungie, a celebrated New
Zealand king, said he had on one occasion eaten the left eye of a
great chief whom he had killed in battle, for the purpose of thus
increasing the glory of his own eye when it should be transferred
to the firmament. Sometimes, apparently, it was thought that there
was a separate immortality for each of the eyes of the dead, the
left ascending to heaven as a star, the right, in the form of a
spirit, taking flight for Reinga.

The custom, common in Africa and in New Zealand, of slaying the
slaves or the wives of an important person at his death and
burying them with him, prevails also among the inhabitants of the
Feejee Islands. A chief's wives are sometimes strangled on these
occasions, sometimes buried alive. One cried to her brother, "I
wish to die, that I may accompany my husband to the land where he
has gone. Love me, and make haste to strangle me, that I may
overtake him."4 Departing souls go to the tribunal of Ndengei, who
either receives them into bliss, or sends them back, as ghosts, to
haunt the scenes of their former existence, or distributes them as
food to devils, or imprisons them for a period and then dooms them
to annihilation. The Feejees are also very much afraid of Samiulo,
ruler of a subterranean world, who sits at the brink of a huge
fiery cavern, into which he hurls the souls he dislikes. In the
road to Ndengei stands an enormous giant, armed with an axe, who
tries to maim and murder the passing souls. A powerful chief,
whose gun was interred with him, loaded it, and, when

2 Shortland, Traditions of the New Zealanders, ch. vii.

3 Library of Ent. Knowl.: The New Zealanders, pp. 223-237.

4 Wilkes, Narrative of the U. S. Exploring Expedition, vol. iii.
ch. 3.


he came near the giant, shot at him, and ran by while the monster
was dodging the bullet.

The people of the Sandwich Islands held a confused medley of
notions as to another life. In different persons among them were
found, in regard to this subject, superstitious terror, blank
indifference, positive unbelief. The current fancy was that the
souls of the chiefs were led, by a god whose name denotes the
"eyeball of the sun," to a life in the heavens, while plebeian
souls went down to Akea, a lugubrious underground abode. Some
thought spirits were destroyed in this realm of darkness; others,
that they were eaten by a stronger race of spirits there; others
still, that they survived there, subsisting upon lizards and
butterflies.5 What a piteous life they must have led here whose
imaginations could only soar to a future so unattractive as this!

The Kamtschadales send all the dead alike to a subterranean
elysium, where they shall find again their wives, clothes, tools,
huts, and where they shall fish and hunt. All is there as here,
except that there are no fire spouting mountains, no bogs,
streams, inundations, and impassable snows; and neither hunting
nor fishing is ever pursued in vain there. This lower paradise is
but a beautified Kamtschatka, freed from discommoding hardships
and cleansed of tormenting Cossacks and Russians. They have no
hell for the rectification of the present wrong relations of
virtue and misery, vice and happiness. The only distinction they
appear to make is that all who in Kamtschatka are poor, and have
few small and weak dogs, shall there be rich and be furnished with
strong and fat dogs. The power of imagination is very remarkable
in this raw people, bringing the future life so near, and
awakening such an impatient longing for it and for their former
companions that they often, the sooner to secure a habitation
there, anticipate the natural time of their death by suicide.6

The Esquimaux betray the influence of their clime and habits, in
the formation of their ideas of the life to come, as plainly as
the Kamtschadales do. The employments and enjoyments of their
future state are rude and earthy. They say the soul descends
through successive places of habitation, the first of which is
full of pains and horrors. The good, that is, the courageous and
skilful, those who have endured severe hardships and mastered many
seals, passing through this first residence, find that the other
mansions regularly improve. They finally reach an abode of perfect
satisfaction, far beneath the storms of the sea, where the sun is
never obscured by night, and where reindeer wander in great droves
beside waters that never congeal, and wherein the whale, the
walrus, and the best sea fowls always abound.7 Hell is deep, but
heaven deeper still. Hell, they think, is among the roots, rocks,
monsters, and cold of the frozen or vexed and suffering waters;
but

"Beneath tempestuous seas and fields of ice
Their creed has placed a lowlier paradise."

The Greenlanders, too, located their elysium beneath the abysses
of the ocean, where the good Spirit Torngarsuk held his reign in a
happy and eternal summer. The wizards, who pretended to visit this
region at will, described the disembodied souls as pallid, and, if
one

5 Jarves, Hist. of the Sandwich Islands, p. 42.

6 Christoph Meiners, Vermischte Philosophische Schriften, 169-173.

7 Prichard, Physical Hist. of Mankind, vol. i. ch. 2.


sought to seize them, unsubstantial.8 Some of these people,
however, fixed the site of paradise in the sky, and regarded the
aurora borealis as the playing of happy souls. So Coleridge
pictures the Laplander

"Marking the streamy banners of the North, And thinking he those
spirits soon should join Who there, in floating robes of rosy
light, Dance sportively."

But others believed this state of restlessness in the clouds was
the fate only of the worthless, who were there pinched with hunger
and plied with torments. All agreed in looking for another state
of existence, where, under diverse circumstances, happiness and
misery should be awarded, in some degree at least, according to
desert.9

The Peruvians taught that the reprobate were sentenced to a hell
situated in the centre of the earth, where they must endure
centuries of toil and anguish. Their paradise was away in the blue
dome of heaven. There the spirits of the worthy would lead a life
of tranquil luxury. At the death of a Peruvian noble his wives and
servants frequently were slain, to go with him and wait on him in
that happy region.10 Many authors, including Prescott, yielding
too easy credence to the very questionable assertions of the
Spanish chroniclers, have attributed to the Peruvians a belief in
the resurrection of the body. Various travellers and writers have
also predicated this belief of savage nations in Central Africa,
of certain South Sea islanders, and of several native tribes in
North America. In all these cases the supposition is probably
erroneous, as we think for the following reasons. In the first
place, the idea of a resurrection of the body is either a late
conception of the associative imagination, or else a doctrine
connected with a speculative theory of recurring epochs in the
destiny of the world; and it is in both instances too subtle and
elaborate for an uncultivated people. Secondly, in none of the
cases referred to has any reliable evidence been given of the
actual existence of the belief in question. It has merely been
inferred, by persons to whose minds the doctrine was previously
familiar, from phenomena by no means necessarily implying it. For
example, a recent author ascribes to the Feejees the belief that
there will be a resurrection of the body just as it was at the
time of death. The only datum on which he founds this astounding
assertion is that they often seem to prefer to die in the full
vigor of manhood rather than in decrepit old age! 11 Thirdly, we
know that the observation and statements of the Spanish monks and
historians, in regard to the religion of the pagans of South
America, were of the most imperfect and reckless character. They
perpetrated gross frauds, such as planting in the face of high
precipices white stones in the shape of the cross, and then
pointing to them in proof of their assertion that, before the
Christians came, the Devil had here parodied the rites and
doctrines of the gospel. 12 They said the Mexican goddess, wife of
the sun, was Eve, or

8 Egede, Greenland, ch. 18.

9 Dr. Karl Andree, Gronland.

10 Prescott, Conquest of Peru, vol. i. ch. 3.

11 Erskine, Islands of the Western Pacific, p. 248.

12 Schoolcraft, History, &c. of the Indian Tribes, part v. p. 93.


the Virgin Mary, and Quetzalcoatl was St. Thomas! 13 Such
affirmers are to be cautiously followed. Finally, it is a quite
significant fact that while some point to the pains which the
Peruvians took in embalming their dead as a proof that they looked
for a resurrection of the body, Acosta expressly says that they
did not believe in the resurrection, and that this unbelief was
the cause of their embalming.14 Garcilaso de la Vega, in his
"Royal Commentaries of the Peruvian Incas," says that when he
asked some Peruvians why they took so great care to preserve in
the cemeteries of the dead the nails and hair which had been cut
off, they replied that in the day of resurrection the dead would
come forth with whatever of their bodies was left, and there would
be too great a press of business in that day for them to afford
time to go hunting round after their hair and nails.15 The fancy
of a Christian is too plain here. If the answer were really made
by the natives, they were playing a joke on their credulous
questioner, or seeking to please him with distorted echoes of his
own faith.

The conceits as to a future life entertained by the Mexicans
varied considerably from those of their neighbors of Peru. Souls
neither good nor bad, or whose virtues and vices balanced each
other, were to enter a medium state of idleness and empty content.
The wicked, or those dying in any of certain enumerated modes of
death, went to Mictlan, a dismal hell within the earth. The souls
of those struck by lightning, or drowned, or dying by any of a
given list of diseases, also the souls of children, were
transferred to a remote elysium, Tlalocan. There was a place in
the chief temple where, it was supposed, once a year the spirits
of all the children who had been sacrificed to Tlaloc invisibly
came and assisted in the ceremonies. The ultimate heaven was
reserved for warriors who bravely fell in battle, for women who
died in labor, for those offered up in the temples of the gods,
and for a few others. These passed immediately to the house of the
sun, their chief god, whom they accompanied for a term of years,
with songs, dances, and revelry, in his circuit around the sky.
Then, animating the forms of birds of gay plumage, they lived as
beautiful songsters among the flowers, now on earth, now in
heaven, at their pleasure.16 It was the Mexican custom to dress
the dead man in the garb appropriated to the guardian deity of his
craft or condition in life. They gave him a jug of water. They
placed with him slips of paper to serve as passports through
guarded gates and perilous defiles in the other world. They made a
fire of his clothes and utensils, to warm the shivering soul while
traversing a region of cold winds beyond the grave.17 The
following sentence occurs in a poem composed by one of the old
Aztec monarchs: "Illustrious nobles, loyal subjects, let us aspire
to that heaven where all is eternal and corruption cannot come.
The horrors of the tomb are but the cradle of the sun, and the
shadows of death are brilliant lights for the stars." 18

13 Squier, Serpent Symbol in America, p. 13.

14 Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the Indies, book v. ch. 7.

15 Book ii. ch. 7.

16 Clavigero, History of Mexico, book vi. sect. 1.

17 Prescott, Conquest of Mexico, vol. i. ch. 6.

18 Ibid. sect. 39.


Amidst the mass of whimsical conceptions entering into the faith
of the widely spread tribes of North America, we find a ruling
agreement in the cardinal features of their thought concerning a
future state of existence. In common with nearly all barbarous
nations, they felt great fear of apparitions. The Sioux were in
the habit of addressing the deceased at his burial, and imploring
him to stay in his own place and not come to distress them. Their
funeral customs, too, from one extremity of the continent to the
other, were very much alike. Those who have reported their
opinions to us, from the earliest Jesuit missionaries to the
latest investigators of their mental characteristics, concur in
ascribing to them a deep trust in a life to come, a cheerful view
of its conditions, and a remarkable freedom from the dread of
dying. Charlevoix says, "The best established opinion among the
natives is the immortality of the soul." On the basis of an
account written by William Penn, Pope composed the famous passage
in his "Essay on Man:"

Lo! the poor Indian, whose untutor'd mind
Sees God in clouds and hears him in the wind.
His soul proud Science never taught to stray
Far as the solar walk or milky way:
Yet simple nature to his faith hath given,
Behind the cloud topp'd hill, an humbler heaven,
Some safer world in depth of woods embraced,
Or happier island in the watery waste.
To be, contents his natural desire:
He asks no angel's wing, no seraph's fire,
But thinks, admitted to that equal sky,
His faithful dog shall bear him company."

Their rude instinctive belief in the soul's survival, and surmises
as to its destiny, are implied in their funeral rites, which, as
already stated, were, with some exceptions, strikingly similar
even in the remotest tribes.19

In the bark coffin, with a dead Indian the Onondagas buried a
kettle of provisions, a pair of moccasins, a piece of deer skin
and sinews of the deer to sew patches on the moccasins, which it
was supposed the deceased would wear out on his journey. They also
furnished him with a bow and arrows, a tomahawk and knife, to
procure game with to live on while pursuing his way to the land of
spirits, the blissful regions of Ha wah ne u.20 Several Indian
nations, instead of burying the food, suspended it above the
grave, and renewed it from time to time. Some writers have
explained this custom by the hypothesis of an Indian belief in two
souls, one of which departed to the realm of the dead, while the
other tarried by the mound until the body was decayed, or until it
had itself found a chance to be born in a new body.21 The
supposition seems forced and extremely doubtful. The truth
probably lies in a simpler explanation, which will be offered
further on.

19 Baumgarten, Geschichte der Volker von America, xiii. haupts.:
vom Tod, Vergribniss, und Trauer.

20 Clarke, Onondaga, vol. l. p. 51.

21 Muller, Geschichte der Amerikanischen Urreligionen, sect.
66.


The Winnebagoes located paradise above, and called the milky way
the "Road of the Dead." 22 It was so white with the crowds of
journeying ghosts! But almost all, like the Ojibways, imagined
their elysium to lie far in the West. The soul, freed from the
body, follows a wide beaten path westward, and enters a country
abounding with all that an Indian covets. On the borders of this
blessed land, in a long glade, he finds his relatives, for many
generations back, gathered to welcome him.23 The Chippewas, and
several other important tribes, always kindled fires on the fresh
graves of their dead, and kept them burning four successive
nights, to light the wandering souls on their way.24 An Indian
myth represents the ghosts coming back from Ponemah, the land of
the Hereafter, and singing this song to the miraculous Hiawatha:

"Do not lay such heavy burdens
On the graves of those you bury,
Not such weight of furs and wampum,
Not such weight of pots and kettles;
For the spirits faint beneath them.
Only give them food to carry,
Only give them fire to light them.
Four days is the spirit's journey
To the land of ghosts and shadows,
Four its lonely night encampments.
Therefore, when the dead are buried,
Let a fire, as night approaches,
Four times on the grave be kindled,
That the soul upon its journey
May not grope about in darkness." 25

The subject of a future state seems to have been by far the most
prominent one in the Indian imagination. They relate many
traditions of persons who have entered it, and returned, and given
descriptions of it. A young brave, having lost his betrothed,
determined to follow her to the land of souls. Far South, beyond
the region of ice and snows, he came to a lodge standing before
the entrance to wide blue plains. Leaving his body there, he
embarked in a white stone canoe to cross a lake. He saw the souls
of wicked Indians sinking in the lake; but the good gained an
elysian shore, where all was warmth, beauty, ease, and eternal
youth, and where the air was food. The Master of Breath sent him
back, but promised that he might at death return and stay. 26 The
Wyandots tell of a dwarf, Tcha ka bech, who climbed a tree which
grew higher as often as he blew on it. At last he reached heaven,
and discovered it to be an excellent place. He descended the tree,
building wigwams at intervals in the branches. He then returned
with his sister and nephew, resting each night in one of the
wigwams.

22 Schoolcraft, History, &c. of the Indian Tribes, part iv. p.
240.

23 Ibid. part ii. p. 135.

24 Ibid. part v. p. 64; part iv. p. 55.

25 Longfellow, Song of Hiawatha, xix.: The Ghosts.

26 Schoolcraft, Indian in his Wigwam. p 79.


He set his traps up there to catch animals. Rising in the night to
go and examine his traps, he saw one all on fire, and, upon
approaching it, found that he had caught the sun!

Where the Indian is found believing in a Devil and a hell, it is
the result of his intercourse with Europeans. These elements of
horror were foreign to his original religion.27 There are in some
quarters faint traces of a single purgatorial or retributive
conception. It is a representation of paradise as an island, the
ordeal consisting in the passage of the dark river or lake which
surrounds it. The worthy cross with entire facility, the unworthy
only after tedious struggles. Some say the latter are drowned;
others, that they sink up to their chins in the water, where they
pass eternity in vain desires to attain the alluring land on which
they gaze.28 Even this notion may be a modification consequent
upon European influence. At all events, it is subordinate in force
and only occasional in occurrence. For the most part, in the
Indian faith mercy swallows up the other attributes of the Great
Spirit. The Indian dies without fear, looking for no punishments,
only for rewards.29 He regards the Master of Breath not as a holy
judge, but as a kind father. He welcomes death as opening the door
to a sweet land. Ever charmingly on his closing eyes dawns the
prospect of the aboriginal elysium, a gorgeous region of soft
shades, gliding streams, verdant groves waving in gentle airs,
warbling birds, herds of stately deer and buffalo browsing on
level plains. It is the earth in noiseless and solemn
metamorphosis.30

We shall conclude this chapter by endeavoring to explain the
purport and origin of the principal ceremonies and notions which
have now been set forth pertaining to the disembodied state. The
first source of these particulars is to be sought, not in any
clear mental perceptions, or conscious dogmatic belief, but in the
natural workings of affection, memory, and sentiment. Among almost
every people, from the Chinese to the Araucanians, from the
Ethiopians to the Dacotahs, rites of honor have been paid to the
dead, various offerings have been placed at their graves. The
Vedas enjoin the offering of a cake to the ghosts of ancestors
back to the third generation. The Greeks were wont to pour wine,
oil, milk, and blood into canals made in the graves of their dead.
The early Christians adopted these "Feasts of the Dead" as
Augustine and Tertullian call them from the heathen, and
Celebrated them over the graves of their martyrs and of their
other deceased friends. Such customs as these among savages like
the Shillooks or the Choctaws are usually supposed to imply the
belief that the souls of the deceased remain about the places of
sepulture and physically partake of the nourishment thus
furnished. The interpretation is farther fetched than need be, and
is unlikely; or, at all events, if it be true in some cases, it is
not the whole truth. In the first place, these people see that the
food and drink remain untouched, the weapons and utensils are left
unused in the grave. Secondly, there are often certain features in
the barbaric ritual obviously metaphorical, incapable of literal
acceptance. For instance, the Winnebagoes light a small fire on
the grave of a deceased warrior to light him on his journey to the
land of souls,

27 Loskiel, Hist. Mission of United Brethren to N. A. Indians,
part i. ch. 3.

28 Schoolcraft, Indian in his Wigwam, p. 202. History, &c. of
Indian Tribes, part iv. p. 173.

29 Schoolcraft, History of Indian Tribes, part ii. p. 68.

30 Ibid. pp. 403, 404.


although they say that journey extends to a distance of four days
and nights and is wholly invisible. They light and tend that
watch fire as a memorial of their departed companion and a rude
expression of their own emotions; as an unconscious emblem of
their own struggling faith, not as a beacon to the straying ghost.
Again, the Indian mother, losing a nursing infant, spurts some of
her milk into the fire, that the little spirit may not want for
nutriment on its solitary path.31 Plato approvingly quotes
Hesiod's statement that the souls of noble men become guardian
demons coursing the air, messengers and agents of the gods in the
world. Therefore, he adds, "we should reverence their tombs and
establish solemn rites and offerings there;" though by his very
statement these places were not the dwellings or haunts of the
freely circuiting spirits.32

Not by an intellectual doctrine, but by an instinctive
association, when not resisted and corrected, we connect the souls
of the dead in our thoughts with the burial places of their forms.
The New Zealand priests pretend by their spells to bring wandering
souls within the enclosed graveyards.33 These sepulchral folds are
full of ghosts. A sentiment native to the human breast draws
pilgrims to the tombs of Shakspeare and Washington, and, if not
restrained and guided by cultivated thought, would lead them to
make offerings there. Until the death of Louis XV., the kings of
France lay in state and were served as in life for forty days
after they died.34 It would be ridiculous to attempt to wring any
doctrinal significance from these customs. The same sentiment
which, in one form, among the Alfoer inhabitants of the Arru
Islands, when a man dies, leads his relatives to assemble and
destroy whatever he has left, which, in another form, causes the
Papist to offer burning candles, wreaths, and crosses, and to
recite prayers, before the shrines of the dead saints, which, in
still another form, moved Albert Durer to place all the pretty
playthings of his child in the coffin and bury them with it, this
same sentiment, in its undefined spontaneous workings, impelled
the Peruvian to embalm his dead, the Blackfoot to inter his
brave's hunting equipments with him, and the Cherokee squaw to
hang fresh food above the totem on her husband's grave post. What
should we think if we could foresee that, a thousand years hence,
when the present doctrines and customs of France and America are
forgotten, some antiquary, seeking the reason why the mourners in
Pere la Chaise and Mount Auburn laid clusters of flowers on the
graves of their lamented ones, should deliberately conclude that
it was believed the souls remained in the bodies in the tomb and
enjoyed the perfume of the flowers? An American traveller, writing
from Vienna on All Saints' Day, in 1855, describes the avenues of
the great cemetery filled with people hanging festoons of flowers
on the tombstones, and placing burning candles of wax on the
graves, and kneeling in devotion; it being their childish belief,
he says, that their prayers on this day have efficacy to release
their deceased relatives from purgatory, and that the dim taper
flickering on the sod lights the unbound soul to its heavenly
home. Of course these rites are not literal expressions of literal
beliefs, but are

31 Andree, North America, p. 246.

32 Republic, book v. ch. 15.

33 R. Taylor, New Zealand, ch. 7.

34 Meiners, Kritische Geschichte der Religionen, buch iii. absch.
1.


symbols of ideas, emblems of sentiments, figurative and inadequate
shadows of a theological doctrine, although, as is well known,
there is, among the most ignorant persons, scarcely any
deliberately apprehended distinction between image and entity,
material representation and spiritual verity.

If a member of the Oneida tribe died when they were away from
home, they buried him with great solemnity, setting a mark over
the grave; and whenever they passed that way afterwards they
visited the spot, singing a mournful song and casting stones upon
it, thus giving symbolic expression to their feelings. It would be
absurd to suppose this song an incantation to secure the repose of
the buried brave, and the stones thrown to prevent his rising; yet
it would not be more incredible or more remote from the facts than
many a commonly current interpretation of barbarian usages. An
amusing instance of error well enforcing the need of extreme
caution in drawing inferences is afforded by the example of those
explorers who, finding an extensive cemetery where the aborigines
had buried all their children apart from the adults, concluded
they had discovered the remains of an ancient race of pigmies! 35

The influence of unspeculative affection, memory, and sentiment
goes far towards accounting for the funeral ritual of the
barbarians. But it is not sufficient. We must call in further aid;
and that aid we find in the arbitrary conceits, the poetic
associations, and the creative force of unregulated fancy and
imagination. The poetic faculty which, supplied with materials by
observation and speculation, constructed the complex mythologies
of Egypt and Greece, and which, turning on its own resources,
composed the Arabian tales of the genii and the modern literature
of pure fiction, is particularly active, fertile, and tyrannical,
though in a less continuous and systematic form, in the barbarian
mind. Acting by wild fits and starts, there is no end to the
extravagant conjectures and visions it bodies forth. Destitute of
philosophical definitions, totally unacquainted with critical
distinctions or analytic reflection, absurd notions, sober
convictions, dim dreams, and sharp perceptions run confusedly
together in the minds of savages. There is to them no clear and
permanent demarcation between rational thoughts and crazy fancies.
Now, no phenomenon can strike more deeply or work more powerfully
in human nature, stirring up the exploring activities of intellect
and imagination, than the event of death, with its bereaving
stroke and prophetic appeal. Accordingly, we should expect to find
among uncultivated nations, as we actually do, a vast medley of
fragmentary thoughts and pictures plausible, strange, lovely, or
terrible relating to the place and fate of the disembodied soul.
These conceptions would naturally take their shaping and coloring,
in some degree, from thescenery, circumstances, and experience
amidst which they were conceived and born. Sometimes these
figments were consciously entertained as wilful inventions,
distinctly contemplated as poetry. Sometimes they were
superstitiously credited in all their grossness with full assent
of soul. Sometimes all coexisted in vague bewilderment. These
lines of separation unquestionably existed: the difficulty is to
know where, in given instances, to draw them. A few examples will
serve at once to illustrate the

35 Smithsonian Contributions, vol. ii. Squier's Aboriginal
Monuments, appendix, pp. 127-131.


operation of the principle now laid down, and to present still
further specimens of the barbarian notions of a future life.

Some Indian tribes made offerings to the spirits of their departed
heroes by casting the boughs of various trees around the ash,
saying that the branches of this tree were eloquent with the
ghosts of their warrior sires, who came at evening in the chariot
of cloud to fire the young to deeds of war.36 There is an Indian
legend of a witch who wore a mantle composed of the scalps of
murdered women. Taking this off, she shook it, and all the scalps
uttered shrieks of laughter. Another describes a magician scudding
across a lake in a boat whose ribs were live rattlesnakes.37 An
exercise of mind virtually identical with that which gave these
strokes made the Philippine Islanders say that the souls of those
who die struck by lightning go up the beams of the rainbow to a
happy place, and animated Ali to declare that the pious, on coming
out of their sepulchres, shall find awaiting them white winged
camels with saddles of gold. The Ajetas suspended the bow and
arrows of a deceased Papuan above his grave, and conceived him as
emerging from beneath every night to go a hunting.38 The fisherman
on the coast of Lapland was interred in a boat, and a flint and
combustibles were given him to light him along the dark cavernous
passage he was to traverse. The Dyaks of Borneo believe that every
one whose head they can get possession of here will in the future
state be their servant: consequently, they make a business of
"head hunting," accumulating the ghastly visages of their victims
in their huts.39 The Caribs have a sort of sensual paradise for
the "brave and virtuous," where, it is promised, they shall enjoy
the sublimated experience of all their earthly satisfactions; but
the "degenerate and cowardly" are threatened with eternal
banishment beyond the mountains, where they shall be tasked and
driven as slaves by their enemies.40 The Hispaniolians locate
their elysium in a pleasant valley abounding with guava, delicious
fruits, cool shades, and murmuring rivulets, where they expect to
live again with their departed ancestors and friends.41 The
Patagonians say the stars are their translated countrymen, and the
milky way is a field where the departed Patagonians hunt
ostriches. Clouds are the feathers of the ostriches they kill.42
The play is here seen of the same mythological imagination which,
in Italy, pictured a writhing giant beneath Mount Vesuvius, and,
in Greenland, looked on the Pleiades as a group of dogs
surrounding a white bear, and on the belt of Orion as a company of
Greenlanders placed there because they could not find the way to
their own country. Black Bird, the redoubtable chief of the O Ma
Haws, when dying, said to his people, "Bury me on yonder lofty
bluff on the banks of the Missouri, where I can see the men and
boats passing by on the river." 43 Accordingly, as soon as he
ceased

36 Browne, Trees of America, p. 328.

37 Schoolcraft, Hist. &c part i. pp. 32-34.

38 Earl, The Papuans, p. 132.

39 Earl, The Eastern Seas, ch. 8.

40 Edwards, Hist. of the West Indies, book i. ch. 2.

41 Ibid. ch. 3.

42 Falkner, Patagonia, ch. 5.

43 Catlin, North American Indians, vol. ii. p. 6.


to breathe, they set him there, on his favorite steed, and heaped
the earth around him. This does not imply any believed doctrine,
in our sense of the term, but is plainly a spontaneous
transference for the moment, by the poetic imagination, of the
sentiments of the living man to the buried body.

The unhappy Africans who were snatched from their homes, enslaved
and cruelly tasked in the far West India islands, pined under
their fate with deadly homesickness. The intense longing moulded
their plastic belief, just as the sensation from some hot bricks
at the feet of a sleeping man shaped his dreams into a journey up
the side of Atna. They fancied that if they died they should
immediately live again in their fatherland. They committed suicide
in great numbers. At last, when other means had failed to check
this epidemic of self destruction, a cunning overseer brought them
ropes and every facility for hanging, and told them to hang
themselves as fast as they pleased, for their master had bought a
great plantation in Africa, and as soon as they got there they
would be set to work on it. Their helpless credulity took the
impression; and no more suicides occurred.44

The mutual formative influences exerted upon a people's notions
concerning the future state, by the imagination of their poets and
the peculiarities of their clime, are perhaps nowhere more
conspicuously exhibited than in the case of the Caledonians who at
an early period dwelt in North Britain. They had picturesque
traditions locating the habitation of ghosts in the air above
their fog draped mountains. They promised rewards for nothing but
valor, and threatened punishments for nothing but cowardice; and
even of these they speak obscurely. Nothing is said of an under
world. They supposed the ghosts at death floated upward naturally,
true children of the mist, and dwelt forever in the air, where
they spent an inane existence, indulging in sorrowful memories of
the past, and, in unreal imitation of their mortal occupations,
chasing boars of fog amid hills of cloud and valleys of shadow.
The authority for these views is Ossian, "whose genuine strains,"
Dr. Good observes, "assume a higher importance as historical
records than they can claim when considered as fragments of
exquisite poetry."

"A dark red stream comes down from the hill. Crugal sat upon the
beam; he that lately fell by the hand of Swaran striving in the
battle of heroes. His face is like the beam of the setting moon;
his robes are of the clouds of the hill; his eyes are like two
decaying flames; dark is the wound on his breast. The stars dim
twinkled through his form, and his voice was like the sound of a
distant stream. Dim and in tears he stood, and stretched his pale
hand over the hero. Faintly he raised his feeble voice, like the
gale of the reedy Lego. 'My ghost, O'Connal, is on my native
hills, but my corse is on the sands of Ullin. Thou shalt never
talk with Crugal nor find his lone steps on the heath. I am light
as the blast of Cromla, and I move like the shadow of mist.
Connal, son of Colgar, I see the dark cloud of death. It hovers
over the plains of Lena. The sons of green Erin shall fall. Remove
from the field of ghosts.' Like the darkened moon, he retired in
the midst of the whistling blast."

We recognise here several leading traits in all the early
unspeculative faiths, the vapory form, the echoless motion, the
marks of former wounds, the feeble voice, the memory

44 Meiners, Geschichte der Religionen, buch xiv. sect. 765.


of the past, the mournful aspect, and the prophetic words. But the
rhetorical imagery, the scenery, the location of the spirit world
in the lower clouds, are stamped by emphatic climatic
peculiarities, whose origination, easily traceable, throws light
on the growth of the whole mass of such notions everywhere.

Two general sources have now been described of the barbarian
conceptions in relation to a future state. First, the natural
operation of an earnest recollection of the dead; sympathy,
regret, and reverence for them leading the thoughts and the heart
to grope after them, to brood over the possibilities of their
fate, and to express themselves in rites and emblems. Secondly,
the mythological or arbitrary creations of the imagination when it
is set strongly at work, as it must be by the solemn phenomena
associated with death. But beyond these two comprehensive
statements there is, directly related to the matter, and worthy of
separate illustration, a curious action of the mind, which has
been very extensively experienced and fertile of results. It is a
peculiar example of the unconscious impartation of objective
existence to mental ideas. With the death of the body the man does
not cease to live in the remembrance, imagination, and heart of
his surviving friends. By an unphilosophical confusion, this
internal image is credited as an external existence. The dead pass
from their customary haunts in our society to the imperishable
domain of ideas. This visionary world of memory and fantasy is
projected outward, located, furnished, and constitutes the future
state apprehended by the barbarian mind. Feuerbach says in his
subtle and able Thoughts on Death and Immortality, "The Realm of
Memory is the Land of Souls." Ossian, amid the midnight mountains,
thinking of departed warriors and listening to the tempest, fills
the gale with the impersonations, of his thoughts, and exclaims,
"I hear the steps of the dead in the dark eddying blast."

The barbarian brain seems to have been generally impregnated with
the feeling that every thing else has a ghost as well as man. The
Gauls lent money in this world upon bills payable in the next.
They threw letters upon the funeral pile to be read by the soul of
the deceased.45 As the ghost was thought to retain the scars of
injuries inflicted upon the body, so, it appears, these letters
were thought, when destroyed, to leave impressions of what had
been written on them. The custom of burning or burying things with
the dead probably arose, in some cases at least, from the
supposition that every object has its mancs. The obolus for
Charon, the cake of honey for Cerberus, the shadows of these
articles would be borne and used by the shadow of the dead man.
Leonidas saying, "Bury me on my shield: I will enter even Hades as
a Lacedamonian," 46 must either have used the word Hades by
metonymy for the grave, or have imagined that a shadowy fac simile
of what was interred in the grave went into the grim kingdom of
Pluto. It was a custom with some Indian tribes, on the new made
grave of a chief, to slay his chosen horse; and when he fell they
supposed

"That then, upon the dead man's plain, The rider grasp'd his steed
again."

45 Pomponius Mela, De Orbis Situ, iii. 2.

46 Translation of Greek Anthology, in Bohn's Library, p. 58.


The hunter chases the deer, each alike a shade. A Feejee once, in
presence of a missionary, took a weapon from the grave of a buried
companion, saying, "The ghost of the club has gone with him." The
Iroquois tell of a woman who was chased by a ghost. She heard his
faint war whoop, his spectre voice, and only escaped with her life
because his war club was but a shadow wielded by an arm of air.
The Slavonians sacrificed a warrior's horse at his tomb.47 Nothing
seemed to the Northman so noble as to enter Valhalla on horseback,
with a numerous retinue, in his richest apparel and finest armor.
It was firmly believed, Mallet says, that Odin himself had
declared that whatsoever was burned or buried with the dead
accompanied them to his palace.48 Before the Mohammedan era, on
the death of an Arab, the finest camel he had owned was tied to a
stake beside his grave, and left to expire of hunger over the body
of his master, in order that, in the region into which death had
introduced him, he should be supplied with his usual bearer.49 The
Chinese who surpass all other people in the offerings and worship
paid at the sepulchres of their ancestors make little paper
houses, fill them with images of furniture, utensils, domestics,
and all the appurtenances of the family economy, and then burn
them, thus passing them into the invisible state for the use of
the deceased whom they mourn and honor.50 It is a touching thought
with the Greenlanders, when a child dies, to bury a dog with him
as a guide to the land of souls; for, they say, the dog is able to
find his way anywhere.51 The shadow of the faithful servant guides
the shadow of the helpless child to heaven. In fancy, not without
a moved heart, one sees this spiritual Bernard dog bearing the
ghost child on his back, over the spectral Gothard of death, safe
into the sheltering hospice of the Greenland paradise.

It is strange to notice the meeting of extremes in the rude
antithetical correspondence between Plato's doctrine of archetypal
ideas, the immaterial patterns of earthly things, and the belief
of savages in the ghosts of clubs, arrows, sandals, and
provisions. The disembodied soul of the philosopher, an eternal
idea, turns from the empty illusions of matter to nourish itself
with the substance of real truth. The spectre of the Mohawk
devours the spectre of the haunch of roast venison hung over his
grave. And why should not the two shades be conceived, if either?

"Pig, bullock, goose, must have their goblins too,
Else ours would have to go without their dinners:
If that starvation doctrine were but true,
How hard the fate of gormandizing sinners!"

The conception of ghosts has been still further introduced also
into the realm of mathematics in an amusing manner. Bishop
Berkeley, bantered on his idealism by Halley, retorted that he too
was an idealist; for his ultimate ratios terms only appearing with
the

47 Wilkinson, Dalmatia and Montenegro, vol. i. ch. 1.

48 Northern Antiquities, ch. 10.

49 Lamartine, History of Turkey, book i. ch. 10.

50 Kidd, China, sect. 3.

51 Crantz, History of Greenland, book iii. ch. 6, sect. 47.


disappearance of the forms in whose relationship they consist were
but the ghosts of departed quantities! It may be added here that,
according to the teachings of physiological psychology, all
memories or recollected ideas are literally the ghosts of departed
sensations.

We have thus seen that the conjuring force of fear, with its dread
apparitions, the surmising, half articulate struggles of
affection, the dreams of memory, the lights and groups of poetry,
the crude germs of metaphysical speculation, the deposits of the
inter action of human experience and phenomenal nature, now in
isolated fragments, again, huddled indiscriminately together
conspire to compose the barbarian notions of a future life.

CHAPTER II.

DRUIDIC DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

THAT strange body of men, commonly known as the Druids, who
constituted what may, with some correctness, be called the Celtic
priesthood, were the recognised religious teachers throughout
Gaul, Armorica, a small part of Germany on the southern border,
all Great Britain, and some neighboring islands. The notions in
regard to a future life put forth by them are stated only in a
very imperfect manner by the Greek and Roman authors in whose
surviving works we find allusions to the Druids or accounts of the
Celts. Several modern writers especially Borlase, in his
Antiquities of Cornwall1 have collected all these references from
Diodorus, Strabo, Procopius, Tacitus, Casar, Mela, Valerius
Maximus, and Marcellinus. It is therefore needless to cite the
passages here, the more so as, even with the aid of all the
analytic and constructive comments which can be fairly made upon
them, they afford us only a few general views, leaving all the
details in profound obscurity. The substance of what we learn from
these sources is this. First, that the Druids possessed a body of
science and speculation comprising the doctrine of immortality,
which they taught with clearness and authority. Secondly, that
they inculcated the belief in a future life in inseparable
connection with the great dogma of metempsychosis. Thirdly, that
the people held such cheerful and attractive views of the future
state, and held them with such earnestness, that they wept around
the newborn infant and smiled around the corpse; that they
encountered death without fear or reluctance. This reversal of
natural sentiments shows the tampering of a priesthood who had
motives.

A somewhat more minute conception of the Druidic view of the
future life is furnished us by an old mythologic tale of Celtic
origin.2 Omitting the story, as irrelevant to our purpose, we
derive from it the following ideas. The soul, on being divested of
its earthly envelop, is borne aloft. The clouds are composed of
the souls of lately deceased men. They fly over the heads of
armies, inspiring courage or striking terror. Not yet freed from
terrestrial affections, they mingle in the passions and affairs of
men. Vainly they strive to soar above the atmosphere; an
impassable wall of sapphire resists their wings. In the moon,
millions of souls traverse tremendous plains of ice, losing all
perception but that of simple existence, forgetting the adventures
they have passed through and are about to recommence. During
eclipses, on long tubes of darkness they return to the earth, and,
revived by a beam of light from the all quickening sun, enter
newly formed bodies, and begin again the career of life. The disk
of the sun consists of an assemblage of pure souls swimming in an
ocean of bliss. Souls sullied with earthly impurities are to be
purged by repeated births and probations till the last stain is
removed, and they are all finally fitted to ascend to a succession
of spheres still higher than the sun, whence they can never sink
again to reside in the circle of the lower globes and grosser
atmosphere.

1 Book ii. ch. 14.

2 Davies, Celtic Researches, appendix, pp. 558-561.


These representations are neither Gothic nor Roman, but Celtic.

But a far more adequate exposition of the Druidic doctrine of the
soul's destinies has been presented to us through the translation
of some of the preserved treasures of the old Bardic lore of
Wales. The Welsh bards for hundreds of years were the sole
surviving representatives of the Druids. Their poems numerous
manuscripts of which, with apparent authentication of their
genuineness, have been published and explained contain quite full
accounts of the tenets of Druidism, which was nowhere else so
thoroughly systematized and established as in ancient Britain.3
The curious reader will find this whole subject copiously treated,
and all the materials furnished, in the "Myvyrian Archaology of
Wales," a work in two huge volumes, published at London at the
beginning of the present century. After the introduction and
triumph of Christianity in Britain, for several centuries the two
systems of thought and ritual mutually influenced each other,
corrupting and corrupted.4 A striking example in point is this.
The notion of a punitive and remedial transmigration belonged to
Druidism. Now, Taliesin, a famous Welsh bard of the sixth century,
locates this purifying metempsychosis in the Hell of Christianity,
whence the soul gradually rises again to felicity, the way for it
having been opened by Christ! Cautiously eliminating the Christian
admixtures, the following outline, which we epitomize from the
pioneer5 of modern scholars to the Welsh Bardic literature,
affords a pretty clear knowledge of that portion of the Druidic
theology relating to the future life.

There are, says one of the Bardic triads, three circles of
existence. First, the Circle of Infinity, where of living or dead
there is nothing but God, and which none but God can traverse.
Secondly, the Circle of Metempsychosis, where all things that live
are derived from death. This circle has been traversed by man.
Thirdly, the Circle of Felicity, where all things spring from
life. This circle man shall hereafter traverse. All animated
beings originate in the lowest point of existence, and, by regular
gradations through an ascending series of transmigrations, rise to
the highest state of perfection possible for finite creatures.
Fate reigns in all the states below that of humanity, and they are
all necessarily evil. In the states above humanity, on the
contrary, unmixed good so prevails that all are necessarily good.
But in the middle state of humanity, good and evil are so balanced
that liberty results; and free will and consequent responsibility
are born. Beings who in their ascent have arrived at the state of
man, if, by purity, humility, love, and righteousness, they keep
the laws of the Creator, will, after death, rise into more
glorious spheres, and will continue to rise still higher, until
they reach the final destination of complete and endless
happiness. But if, while in the state of humanity, one perverts
his reason and will, and attaches himself to evil, he will, on
dying, fall into such a state of animal existence as corresponds
with the baseness of his soul. This baseness may be so great as to
precipitate him to the lowest point of being; but he shall climb
thence through a series of births best fitted to free him from his
evil propensities. Restored to the probationary state, he may fall
again; but, though this should occur again and again

3 Sketch of British Bardism, prefixed to Owen's translation of the
Heroic Elegies of Llywarch Hen.

4 Herbert, Essay on the Neo Druidic Heresy in Britannia.

5 Poems, Lyric and Pastoral, by Edward Williams, vol. ii. notes,
pp. 194-256.


for a million of ages, the path to happiness still remains open,
and he shall at last infallibly arrive at his preordained
felicity, and fall nevermore. In the states superior to humanity,
the soul recovers and retains the entire recollection of its
former lives.

We will quote a few illustrative triads. There are three necessary
purposes of metempsychosis: to collect the materials and
properties of every nature; to collect the knowledge of every
thing; to collect power towards removing whatever is pernicious.
The knowledge of three things will subdue and destroy evil:
knowledge of its cause, its nature, and its operation. Three
things continually dwindle away: the Dark, the False, the Dead.
Three things continually increase: Light, Truth, Life.

These will prevail, and finally absorb every thing else. The soul
is an inconceivably minute particle of the most refined matter,
endowed with indestructible life, at the dissolution of one body
passing, according to its merits, into a higher or lower stage of
existence, where it expands itself into that form which its
acquired propensities necessarily give it, or into that animal in
which such propensities naturally reside. The ultimate states of
happiness are ceaselessly undergoing the most delightful
renovations, without which, indeed, no finite being could endure
the tedium of eternity. These are not, like the death of the lower
states, accompanied by a suspension of memory and of conscious
identity. All the innumerable modes of existence, after being
cleansed from every evil, will forever remain as beautiful
varieties in the creation, and will be equally esteemed, equally
happy, equally fathered by the Creator. The successive occupation
of these modes of existence by the celestial inhabitants of the
Circle of Felicity will be one of the ways of varying what would
otherwise be the intolerable monotony of eternity. The creation is
yet in its infancy. The progressive operation of the providence of
God will bring every being up from the great Deep to the point of
liberty, and will at last secure three things for them: namely,
what is most beneficial, what is most desired, and what is most
beautiful. There are three stabilities of existence: what cannot
be otherwise, what should not be otherwise, what cannot be
imagined better; and in these all shall end, in the Circle of
Felicity.

Such is a hasty synopsis of what here concerns us in the theology
of the Druids. In its ground germs it was, it seems to us,
unquestionably imported into Celtic thought and Cymrian song from
that prolific and immemorial Hindu mind which bore Brahmanism and
Buddhism as its fruit. Its ethical tone, intellectual elevation,
and glorious climax are not unworthy that free hierarchy of
minstrel priests whose teachings were proclaimed, as their
assemblies were held, "in the face of the sun and in the eye of
the light," and whose thrilling motto was, "THE TRUTH AGAINST THE
WORLD."

The latest publication on the subject of old Welsh literature is
"Taliesin; or, The Bards and Druids of Britain." The author, D. W.
Nash, is obviously familiar with his theme, and he throws much
light on many points of it. His ridicule of the arbitrary tenets
and absurdities which Davies, Pughe, and others have taught in all
good faith as Druidic lore and practice is richly deserved. But,
despite the learning and acumen displayed in his able and valuable
volume, we must think Mr. Nash goes wholly against the record in
denying the doctrine of metempsychosis to the Druidic system, and
goes clearly beyond the record in charging Edward Williams and
others with forgery and fraud in their representations of ancient
Bardic doctrines.6 In support of such grave charges direct evidence
is needed; only suspicious circumstances are adduced. The non
existence of public documents is perfectly reconcilable with
the existence of reliable oral accounts preserved by the initiated
few, one of whom Williams, with seeming sincerity, claimed to be.

6 Taliesin, ch. iv.


CHAPTER III.

SCANDINAVIAN DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

MANY considerations combine to make it seem likely that at an
early period a migration took place from Southern Asia to Northern
Europe, which constituted the commencement of what afterwards grew
to be the great Gothic family. The correspondence of many of the
leading doctrines and symbols of the Scandinavian mythology with
well known Persian and Buddhist notions notions of a purely
fanciful and arbitrary character is too peculiar, apparently, to
admit of any other explanation.1 But the germs of thought and
imagination transplanted thus from the warm and gorgeous climes of
the East to the snowy mountains of Norway and the howling ridges
of Iceland, obtained a fresh development, with numerous
modifications and strange additions, from the new life, climate,
scenery, and customs to which they were there exposed. The
temptation to predatory habits and strife, the necessity for an
intense though fitful activity arising from their geographical
situation, the fierce spirit nourished in them by their actual
life, the tremendous phenomena of the Arctic world around them,
all these influences break out to our view in the poetry, and are
reflected by their results in the religion, of the Northmen.

From the flame world, Muspelheim, in the south, in which Surtur,
the dread fire king, sits enthroned, flowed down streams of heat.
From the mist world, Niflheim, in the north, in whose central
caldron, Hvergelmir, dwells the gloomy dragon Nidhogg, rose floods
of cold vapor. The fire and mist meeting in the yawning abyss,
Ginungagap, after various stages of transition, formed the earth.
There were then three principal races of beings: men, whose
dwelling was Midgard; Jotuns, who occupied Utgard; and the Asir,
whose home was Asgard. The Jotuns, or demons, seem to have been
originally personifications of darkness, cold, and storm, the
disturbing forces of nature, whatever is hostile to fruitful life
and peace. They were frost giants ranged in the outer wastes
around the habitable fields of men. The Asir, or gods, on the
other hand, appear to have been personifications of light, and
law, and benignant power, the orderly energies of the universe.
Between the Jotuns and the Asir there is an implacable contest.2
The rainbow, Bifrost, is a bridge leading from earth up to the
skyey dwelling place of the Asir; and their sentinel, Heimdall,
whose senses are so acute that he can hear the grass spring in the
meadows and the wool grow on the backs of the sheep, keeps
incessant watch upon it. Their chief deity, the father Zeus of the
Northern pantheon, was Odin, the god of war, who wakened the
spirit of battle by flinging his spear over the heads of the
people, its inaudible hiss from heaven being as the song of Ate
let loose on earth. Next in rank was Thor, the personification of
the exploding tempest. The crashing echoes of the thunder are his
chariot wheels rattling through the cloudy halls of Thrudheim.
Whenever the lightning strikes a cliff or an iceberg, then Thor
has flung his hammer, Mjolnir, at Joton's head.

1 Vans Kennedy, Ancient and Hindu Mythology, pp. 452, 463-464.

2 Thorpe, Northern Mythology, vol. ii.


Balder was the god of innocence and gentleness, fairest,
kindest, purest of beings. Light emanated from him, and
all things loved him. After Christianity was established in the
North, Jesus was called the White Christ, or the new Balder. The
appearance of Balder amidst the frenzied and bloody divinities of
the Norse creed is beautiful as the dew cool moon hanging calmly
over the lurid storm of Vesuvius. He was entitled the "Band in the
Wreath of the Gods," because with his fate that of all the rest
was bound up. His death, ominously foretold from eldest antiquity,
would be the signal for the ruin of the universe. Asa Loki was the
Momus Satan or Devil Buffoon of the Scandinavian mythology, the
half amusing, half horrible embodiment of wit, treachery, and
evil; now residing with the gods in heaven, now accompanying Thor
on his frequent adventures, now visiting and plotting with his own
kith and kin in frosty Jotunheim, beyond the earth environing sea,
or in livid Helheim deep beneath the domain of breathing
humanity.3

With a Jotun woman, Angerbode, or Messenger of Evil, Loki begets
three fell children. The first is Fenris, a savage wolf, so large
that nothing but space can hold him. The second is Jormungandur,
who, with his tail in his mouth, fills the circuit of the ocean.
He is described by Sir Walter Scott as

"That great sea snake, tremendous curl'd, Whose monstrous circle
girds the world."

The third is Hela, the grim goddess of death, whose ferocious
aspect is half of a pale blue and half of a ghastly white, and
whose empire, stretching below the earth through Niflheim, is full
of freezing vapors and discomfortable sights. Her residence is the
spacious under world; her court yard, faintness; her threshold,
precipice; her door, abyss; her hall, pain; her table, hunger; her
knife, starvation; her man servant, delay; her handmaid, slowness;
her bed, sickness; her pillow, anguish; and her canopy, curse.
Still lower than her house is an abode yet more fearful and
loathsome. In Nastrond, or strand of corpses, stands a hall, the
conception of which is prodigiously awful and enormously
disgusting. It is plaited of serpents' backs, wattled together
like wicker work, whose heads turn inwards, vomiting poison. In
the lake of venom thus deposited within these immense wriggling
walls of snakes the worst of the damned wade and swim.

High up in the sky is Odin's hall, the magnificent Valhalla, or
temple of the slain. The columns supporting its ceiling are
spears. It is roofed with shields, and the ornaments on its
benches are coats of mail. The Valkyrs are Odin's battle maids,
choosers of heroes for his banquet rooms. With helmets on their
heads, in bloody harness, mounted on shadowy steeds, surrounded by
meteoric lightnings, and wielding flaming swords, they hover over
the conflict and point the way to Valhalla to the warriors who
fall. The valiant souls thus received to Odin's presence are
called Einheriar, or the elect. The Valkyrs, as white clad virgins
with flowing ringlets, wait on them in the capacity of cup
bearers. Each morning, at the crowing

3 Oehlenschlager, Gods of the North. This celebrated and brilliant
poem, with the copious notes in Frye's translation, affords the
English reader a full conception of the Norse pantheon and its
salient adventures.


of a huge gold combed cock, the well armed Einheriar rush through
Valhalla's five hundred and forty doors into a great court yard,
and pass the day in merciless fighting. However pierced and hewn
in pieces in these fearful encounters, at evening every wound is
healed, and they return into the hall whole, and are seated,
according to their exploits, at a luxurious feast. The
perennial boar Sehrimnir, deliciously cooked by Andrimnir, though
devoured every night, is whole again every morning and ready to be
served anew. The two highest joys these terrible berserkers and
vikings knew on earth composed their experience in heaven: namely,
a battle by day and a feast by night. It is a vulgar error, long
prevalent, that the Valhalla heroes drink out of the skulls of
their enemies. This notion, though often refuted, still lingers in
the popular mind. It arose from the false translation of a phrase
in the death song of Ragnar Lodbrok, the famous sea king, "Soon
shall we drink from the curved trees of the head," which, as a
figure for the usual drinking horns, was erroneously rendered by
Olaus Wormius, "Soon shall we drink from the hollow cups of
skulls." It is not the heads of men, but the horns of beasts, from
which the Einheriar quaff Heidrun's mead.4

No women being ever mentioned as gaining admission to Valhalla or
joining in the joys of the Einheriar, some writers have affirmed
that, according to the Scandinavian faith, women had no immortal
souls, or, at all events, were excluded from heaven. The charge is
as baseless in this instance as when brought against
Mohammedanism. Valhalla was the exclusive abode of the most daring
champions; but Valhalla was not the whole of heaven. Vingolf, the
Hall of Friends, stood beside the Hall of the Slain, and was the
assembling place of the goddesses.5 There, in the palace of Freya,
the souls of noble women were received after death. The elder Edda
says that Thor guided Roska, a swift footed peasant girl who had
attended him as a servant on various excursions, to Freya's bower,
where she was welcomed, and where she remained forever. The virgin
goddess Gefjone, the Northern Diana, also had a residence in
heaven, and all who died maidens repaired thither.6 The presence
of virgin throngs with Gefjone, and the society of noble matrons
in Vingolf, shed a tender gleam across the carnage and carousal of
Valhalla. More is said of the latter the former is scarcely
visible to us now because the only record we have of the Norse
faith is that contained in the fragmentary strains of ferocious
Skalds, who sang chiefly to warriors, and the staple matter of
whose songs was feats of martial prowess or entertaining
mythological stories. Furthermore, there is above the heaven of
the Asir a yet higher heaven, the abode of the far removed and
inscrutable being, the rarely named Omnipotent One, the true All
Father, who is at last to come forth above the ruins of the
universe to judge and sentence all creatures and to rebuild a
better world. In this highest region towers the imperishable gold
roofed hall, Gimle, brighter than the sun. There is no hint
anywhere in the Skaldic strains that good women are repulsed from
this dwelling.

According to the rude morality of the people and the time, the
contrasted conditions of admission to the upper paradise or
condemnation to the infernal realm were the admired

4 Pigott, Manual of Scandinavian Mythology, p. 65.

5 Keyser, Religion of the Northmen, trans. by Pennock, p. 149.

6 Pigott, p. 245.


virtues of strength, open handed frankness, reckless audacity, or
the hated vices of feebleness, cowardice, deceit, humility. Those
who have won fame by puissant feats and who die in battle are
snatched by the Valkyrs from the sod to Valhalla. To die in arms
is to be chosen of Odin,

"In whose hall of gold The steel clad ghosts their wonted orgies
hold. Some taunting jest begets the war of words: In clamorous
fray they grasp their gleamy swords, And, as upon the earth, with
fierce delight By turns renew the banquet and the fight."

All, on the contrary, who, after lives of ignoble labor or
despicable ease, die of sickness, sink from their beds to the
dismal house of Hela. In this gigantic vaulted cavern the air
smells like a newly stirred grave; damp fogs rise, hollow sighs
are heard, the only light comes from funeral tapers held by
skeletons; the hideous queen, whom Thor eulogizes as the Scourger
of Cowards, sits on a throne of skulls, and sways a sceptre, made
of a dead man's bone bleached in the moonlight, over a countless
multitude of shivering ghosts.7 But the Norse moralists plunge to
a yet darker doom those guilty of perjury, murder, or adultery. In
Nastrond's grisly hail, which is shaped of serpents' spines, and
through whose loop holes drops of poison drip, where no sunlight
ever reaches, they welter in a venom sea and are gnawed by the
dragon Nidhogg.8 In a word, what to the crude moral sense of the
martial Goth seemed piety, virtue, led to heaven; what seemed
blasphemy, baseness, led to hell.

The long war between good and evil, light and darkness, order and
discord, the Asir and the Jotuns, was at last to reach a fatal
crisis and end in one universal battle, called Ragnarokur, or the
"Twilight of the Gods," whose result would be the total
destruction of the present creation. Portentous inklings of this
dread encounter were abroad among all beings. A shuddering
anticipation of it sat in a lowering frown of shadow on the brows
of the deities. In preparation for Ragnarokur, both parties
anxiously secured all the allies they could. Odin therefore
joyously welcomes every valiant warrior to Valhalla, as a recruit
for his hosts on that day when Fenris shall break loose. When
Hakon Jarl fell, the Valkyrs shouted, "Now does the force of the
gods grow stronger when they have brought Hakon to their home." A
Skald makes Odin say, on the death of King Eirilc Blood Axe, as an
excuse for permitting such a hero to be slain, "Our lot is
uncertain: the gray wolf gazes on the host of the gods;" that is,
we shall need help at Ragnarokur. But as all the brave and
magnanimous champions received to Valhalla were enlisted on the
side of the Asir, so all the miserable cowards, invalids, and
wretches doomed to Hela's house would fight for the Jotuns. From
day to day the opposed armies, above and below, increase in
numbers. Some grow impatient, some tremble. When Balder dies, and
the ship Nagelfra is completed, the hour of infinite suspense will
strike. Nagelfra is a vessel for the conveyance of the hosts of
frost giants to the battle. It is to be built of dead men's nails:
therefore no one should die with unpaired nails, for if he does he

7 Pigott, pp. 137, 138.

8 The Voluspa, strophes 34, 35.


furnishes materials for the construction of that ship which men
and gods wish to have finished as late as possible.9

At length Loki treacherously compasses the murder of Balder. The
frightful foreboding which at once flies through all hearts finds
voice in the dark "Raven Song" of Odin. Having chanted this
obscure wail in heaven, he mounts his horse and rides down the
bridge to Helheim. With resistless incantations he raises from the
grave, where she has been interred for ages, wrapt in snows, wet
with the rains and the dews, an aged vala or prophetess, and
forces her to answer his questions. With appalling replies he
returns home, galloping up the sky. And now the crack of doom is
at hand. Heimdall hurries up and down the bridge Bifrost, blowing
his horn till its rousing blasts echo through the universe. The
wolf Skoll, from whose pursuit the frightened sun has fled round
the heavens since the first dawn, overtakes and devours his bright
prey. Nagelfra, with the Jotun hosts on board, sails swiftly from
Utgard. Loki advances at the head of the troops of Hela. Fenris
snaps his chain and rushes forth with jaws so extended that the
upper touches the firmament, while the under rests on the earth;
and he would open them wider if there were room. Jormungandur
writhes his entire length around Midgard, and, lifting his head,
blows venom over air and sea. Suddenly, in the south, heaven
cleaves asunder, and through the breach the sons of Muspel, the
flame genii, ride out on horseback with Surtur at their head, his
sword outflashing the sun. Now Odin leads forward the Asir and the
Einheriar, and on the predestined plain of Vigrid the strife
commences. Heimdall and Loki mutually slay each other. Thor kills
Jormungandur; but as the monster expires he belches a flood of
venom, under which the matchless thunder god staggers and falls
dead. Fenris swallows Odin, but is instantly rent in twain by
Vidar, the strong silent one, Odin's dumb son, who well avenges
his father on the wolf by splitting the jaws that devoured him.
Then Surtur slings fire abroad, and the reek rises around all
things. Iggdrasill, the great Ash Tree of Existence, totters, but
stands. All below perishes. Finally, the unnamable Mighty One
appears, to judge the good and the bad. The former hie from fading
Valhalla to eternal Gimle, where all joy is to be theirs forever;
the latter are stormed down from Hela to Nastrond, there, "under
curdling mists, in a snaky marsh whose waves freeze black and thaw
in blood, to be scared forever, for punishment, with terrors ever
new." All strife vanishes in endless peace. By the power of All
Father, a new earth, green and fair, shoots up from the sea, to be
inhabited by a new race of men free from sorrow. The foul, spotted
dragon Nidhogg flies over the plains, bearing corpses and Death
itself away upon his wings, and sinks out of sight.10

It has generally been asserted, in consonance with the foregoing
view, that the Scandinavians believed that the good and the bad,
respectively in Gimle and Nastrond, would experience everlasting
rewards and punishments. But Blackwell, the recent editor of
Percy's translation of Mallet's Northern Antiquities as published
in Bohn's Antiquarian Library, argues with great force against the
correctness of the assertion.11 The point is

9 Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie, s. 775, note.

10 Keyser, Religion of the Northmen, part i. ch. vi.

11 Pp. 497-503.


dubious; but it is of no great importance, since we know that the
spirit and large outlines of their faith have been reliably set
forth. That faith, rising from the impetuous blood and rude mind
of the martial race of the North, gathering wonderful
embellishments from the glowing imagination of the Skalds,
reacting, doubly nourished the fierce valor and fervid fancy from
which it sprang. It drove the dragon prows of the Vikings
marauding over the seas. It rolled the Goths' conquering squadrons
across the nations, from the shores of Finland and Skager Rack to
the foot of the Pyrenees and the gates of Rome. The very ferocity
with which it blazed consumed itself, and the conquest of the
flickering faith by Christianity was easy. During the dominion of
this religion, the earnest sincerity with which its disciples
received it appears alike from the fearful enterprises it prompted
them to, the iron hardihood and immeasurable contempt of death it
inspired in them, and the superstitious observances which, with
pains and expenses, they scrupulously kept. They buried, with the
dead, gold, useful implements, ornaments, that they might descend,
furnished and shining, to the halls of Hela. With a chieftain they
buried a pompous horse and splendid armor, that he might ride like
a warrior into Valhalla. The true Scandinavian, by age or sickness
deprived of dying in battle, ran himself through, or flung himself
from a precipice, in this manner to make amends for not expiring
in armed strife, if haply thus he might snatch a late seat among
the Einheriar. With the same motive the dying sea king had himself
laid on his ship, alone, and launched away, with out stretched
sails, with a slow fire in the hold, which, when he was fairly out
at sea, should flame up and, as Carlyle says, "worthily bury the
old hero at once in the sky and in the ocean." Surely then, if
ever, "the kingdom of heaven suffered violence, and the violent
took it by force."

CHAPTER IV.

ETRUSCAN DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

ALTHOUGH the living form and written annals of Etruria perished
thousands of years ago, and although but slight references to her
affairs have come down to us in the documents of contemporary
nations, yet, through a comparatively recent acquisition of facts,
we have quite a distinct and satisfactory knowledge of her
condition and experience when her power was palmiest. We follow
the ancient Etruscans from the cradle to the tomb, perceiving
their various national costumes, peculiar physiognomies, names and
relationships, houses, furniture, ranks, avocations, games, dying
scenes, burial processions, and funeral festivals. And, further
than this, we follow their souls into the world to come, behold
them in the hands of good or evil spirits, brought to judgment and
then awarded their deserts of bliss or woe. This knowledge has
been derived from their sepulchres, which still resist the
corroding hand of Time when nearly every thing else Etruscan has
mingled with the ground.1 They hewed their tombs in the living
rock of cliffs and hills, or reared them of massive masonry. They
painted or carved the walls with descriptive and symbolic scenes,
and crowded their interiors with sarcophagi, cinerary urns, vases,
goblets, mirrors, and a thousand other articles covered with
paintings and sculptures rich in information of their authors.
From a study of these things, lately disinterred in immense
quantities, has been constructed, for the most part, our present
acquaintance with this ancient people. Strange that, when the
whole scene of life has passed away, a sepulchral world should
survive and open itself to reveal the past and instruct the
future! We seem to see, rising from her tombs, and moving solemnly
among the mounds where all she knew or cared for has for so many
ages been inurned, the ghost of a mighty people. With dejected air
she leans on a ruined temple and muses; and her shadowy tears fall
silently over what was and is not.

The Etruscans were accustomed to bury their deceased outside their
walls; and sometimes the city of the living was thus surrounded by
a far reaching city of the dead. At this day the decaying fronts
of the houses of the departed, for miles upon miles along the
road, admonish the living traveller. These stone hewn sepulchres
crowd nearly every hill and glen. Whole acres of them are also
found upon the plains, covered by several feet of earth, where
every spring the plough passes over them, and every autumn the
harvest waves; but the dust beneath reposes well, and knows
nothing of this.

"Time buries graves. How strange! a buried grave! Death cannot
from more death its own dead empire save."

The houses of the dead were built in imitation of the houses of
the living, only on a smaller scale; and the interior arrangements
were so closely copied that it is said the resemblance held in all
but the light of day and the sound and motion of life. The images

1 Mrs. Gray, Sepulchres of Etruria.


painted or etched on the urns and sarcophagi that fill the
sepulchres were portraits of the deceased, accurate likenesses,
varying with age, sex, features, and expression. These personal
portraits were taken and laid up here, doubtless, to preserve
their remembrance when the original had crumbled to ashes. What a
touching voice is this from antiquity, telling us that our poor,
fond human nature was ever the same! The heart longed to be kept
still in remembrance when the mortal frame was gone. But how vain
the wish beyond the vanishing circle of hearts that returned its
love! For, as we wander through those sepulchres now, thousands of
faces thus preserved look down upon us with a mute plea, when
every vestige of their names and characters is forever lost, and
their very dust scattered long ago.

Along the sides of the burial chamber were ranged massive stone
shelves, or sometimes benches, or tables, upon which the dead were
laid in a reclining posture, to sleep their long sleep. It often
happens that on these rocky biers lie the helmet, breastplate,
greaves, signet ring, and weapons, or, if it be a female, the
necklace, ear rings, bracelet, and other ornaments, each in its
relative place, when the body they once encased or adorned has not
left a single fragment behind. An antiquary once, digging for
discoveries, chanced to break through the ceiling of a tomb. He
looked in; and there, to quote his own words, "I beheld a warrior
stretched on a couch of rock, and in a few minutes I saw him
vanish under my eyes; for, as the air entered the cemetery, the
armor, thoroughly oxydized, crumbled away into most minute
particles, and in a short time scarcely a trace of what I had seen
was left on the couch. It is impossible to express the effect this
sight produced upon me."

An important element in the religion of Etruria was the doctrine
of Genii, a system of household deities who watched over the
fortunes of individuals and families, and who are continually
shown on the engravings in the sepulchres as guiding, or actively
interested in, all the incidents that happen to those under their
care. It was supposed that every person had two genii allotted to
him, one inciting him to good deeds, the other to bad, and both
accompanying him after death to the judgment to give in their
testimony and turn the scales of his fate. This belief, sincerely
held, would obviously wield a powerful influence over their
feelings in the conduct of life.

The doctrine concerning the gods that prevailed in this ancient
nation is learned partly from the classic authors, partly from
sepulchral monumental remains. It was somewhat allied to that of
Egypt, but much more to that of Rome, who indeed derived a
considerable portion of her mythology from this source. As in
other pagan countries, a multitude of deities were worshipped
here, each having his peculiar office, form of representation, and
cycle of traditions. It would be useless to specify all.2 The
goddess of Fate was pictured with wings, showing her swiftness,
and with a hammer and nail, to typify that her decrees were
unalterably fixed. The name of the supreme god was Tinia. He was
the central power of the world of divinities, and was always
represented, like Jupiter Tonans, with a thunderbolt in his hand.
There were twelve great "consenting gods," composing the council
of Tinia, and called "The Senators of Heaven." They were pitiless
beings, dwelling in the inmost recesses

2 Muller, Die Etrusker, buch iii. kap. iv. sects. 7-14.


of heaven, whose names it was not lawful to pronounce. Yet they
were not deemed eternal, but were supposed to rise and fall
together. There was another class, called "The Shrouded Gods,"
still more awful, potent, and mysterious, ruling all things, and
much like the inscrutable Necessity that filled the dark
background of the old Greek religion. Last, but most feared and
most prominent in the Etruscan mind, were the rulers of the lower
regions, Mantus and Mania, the king and queen of the under world.
Mantus was figured as an old man, wearing a crown, with wings at
his shoulders, and a torch reversed in his hand. Mania was a
fearful personage, frequently propitiated with human sacrifices.
Macrobius says boys were offered up at her annual festival for a
long time, till the heads of onions and poppies were substituted.3
Intimately connected with these divinities was Charun, their chief
minister, the conductor of souls into the realm of the future,
whose dread image, hideous as the imagination could conceive, is
constantly introduced in the sepulchral pictures, and who with his
attendant demons well illustrates the terrible character of the
superstition which first created, then deified, and then trembled
before him. Who can become acquainted with such horrors as these
without drawing a freer breath, and feeling a deeper gratitude to
God, as he remembers how, for many centuries now, the religion of
love has been redeeming man from subterranean darkness, hatred,
and fright, to the happiness and peace of good will and trust in
the sweet, sunlit air of day!

That a belief in a future existence formed a prominent and
controlling feature in the creed of the Etruscans4 is abundantly
shown by the contents of their tombs. They would never have
produced and preserved paintings, tracings, types, of such a
character and in such quantities, had not the doctrines they
shadow forth possessed a ruling hold upon their hopes and fears.
The symbolic representations connected with this subject may be
arranged in several classes. First, there is an innumerable
variety of death bed scenes, many of them of the most touching and
pathetic character, such as witnesses say can scarcely be looked
upon without tears, others of the most appalling nature, showing
perfect abandonment to fright, screams, sobbing, and despair. The
last hour is described under all circumstances, coming to all
sorts of persons, prince, priest, peasant, man, mother, and child.
Patriarchs are dying surrounded by groups in every posture of
grief; friends are waving a mournful farewell to their weeping
lovers; wives are torn from the embrace of their husbands; some
seem resigned and willingly going, others reluctant and driven in
terror.

The next series of engravings contain descriptions and emblems of
the departure of the soul from this world, and of its passage into
the next. There are various symbols of this mysterious transition:
one is a snake with a boy riding upon its back, its amphibious
nature plainly typifying the twofold existence allotted to man.
The soul is also often shown muffled in a veil and travelling
garb, seated upon a horse, and followed by a slave carrying a
large sack of provisions, an emblem of the long and dreary journey
about to be taken. Horses are depicted harnessed to cars in which
disembodied spirits are seated, a token of the swift ride

3 Saturnal. lib. i. cap. 7.

4 Dennis, Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria, ch. xii.


of the dead to their doom. Sometimes the soul is gently invited,
or led, by a good spirit, sometimes beaten, or dragged away, by
the squalid and savage Charun, the horrible death king, or one of
his ministers; sometimes a good and an evil spirit are seen
contending for the soul; sometimes the soul is seen, on its knees,
beseeching the aid of its good genius and grasping at his
departing wing, as, with averted face, he is retiring; and
sometimes the good and the evil spirits are leading it away
together, to abide the sentence of the tribunal of Mantus. Whole
companies of souls are also set forth marching in procession,
under the guidance of a winged genius, to their subterranean
abode.

Finally, there is a class of representations depicting the
ultimate fate of souls after judgment has been passed. Some are
shown seated at banquet, in full enjoyment, according to their
ideas of bliss. Some are shown undergoing punishment, beaten with
hammers, stabbed and torn by black demons. There are no proofs
that the Etruscans believed in the translation of any soul to the
abode of the gods above the sky, no signs of any path rising to
the supernal heaven; but they clearly expected just discriminations
to be made in the under world. Into that realm many gates are shown
leading, some of them peaceful, inviting, surrounded by apparent
emblems of deliverance, rest, and blessedness; others yawning,
terrific, engirt by the heads of gnashing beasts and furies
threatening their victim.

"Shown is the progress of the guilty soul
From earth's worn threshold to the throne of doom;
Here the black genius to the dismal goal
Drags the wan spectre from the unsheltering tomb,
While from the side it never more may warn
The better angel, sorrowing, flees forlorn.
There (closed the eighth) seven yawning gates reveal
The sevenfold anguish that awaits the lost.
Closed the eighth gate, for there the happy dwell.
No glimpse of joy beyond makes horror less."

In these lines, from Bulwer's learned and ornate epic of King
Arthur, the dire severity of the Etruscan doctrine of a future
life is well indicated, with the local imagery of some parts of
it, and the impenetrable obscurity which enwraps the great sequel.

CHAPTER V.

EGYPTIAN DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

IN attempting to understand the conceptions of the ancient
inhabitants of Egypt on the subject of a future life, we are first
met by the inquiry why they took such great pains to preserve the
bodies of their dead. It has been supposed that no common motive
could have animated them to such lavish expenditure of money,
time, and labor as the process of embalming required. It has been
taken for granted that only some recondite theological
consideration could explain this phenomenon. Accordingly, it is
now the popular belief that the Egyptians were so scrupulous in
embalming their dead and storing them in repositories of eternal
stone, because they believed that the departed souls would at some
future time come back and revivify their former bodies, if these
were kept from decay. This hypothesis seems to us as false as it
is gratuitous. In the first place, there is no evidence of it
whatever,  neither written testimony nor circumstantial hint.
Herodotus tells us, "The Egyptians say the soul, on the
dissolution of the body, always enters into some other animal then
born, and, having passed in rotation through the various
terrestrial, aquatic, and arial beings, again enters the body of a
man then born."1 There is no assertion that, at the end of the
three thousand years occupied by this circuit, the soul will re
enter its former body. The plain inference, on the contrary, is
that it will be born in a new body, as at each preceding step in
the series of its transmigrations. Secondly, the mutilation of the
body in embalming forbids the belief in its restoration to life.
The brain was extracted, and the skull stuffed with cotton. The
entrails were taken out, and sometimes, according to Porphyry2 and
Plutarch,3 thrown into the Nile; sometimes, as modern examinations
have revealed, bound up in four packages and either replaced in
the cavity of the stomach or laid in four vases beside the mummy.
It is absurd to attribute, without clear cause, to an enlightened
people the belief that these stacks of brainless, eviscerated
mummies, dried and shrunken in ovens, coated with pitch, bound up
in a hundredfold bandages, would ever revive, and, inhabited by
the same souls that fled them thirty centuries before, again walk
the streets of Thebes! Besides, a third consideration demands
notice. By the theory of metempsychosis universally acknowledged
to have been held by the Egyptians it is taught that souls at
death, either immediately, or after a temporary sojourn in hell or
heaven has struck the balance of their merits, are born in fresh
bodies; never that they return into their old ones. But the point
is set beyond controversy by the discovery of inscriptions,
accompanying pictures of scenes illustrating the felicity of
blessed souls in heaven, to this effect: "Their bodies shall
repose in their tombs forever; they live in the celestial regions
eternally, enjoying the presence of the Supreme God." 4 A writer
on this subject says, "A people who believed in the transmigration

1 Herod. lib. ii. cap. 123.

2 De Abstinentia, lib. iv. cap. 10.

3 Banquet of the Seven Wise Men.

4 Champollion, Descr. de l'Egypte, Antiq. tom ii. p. 132. Stuart's
Trans. of Greppo's Essay, p. 262.


of souls would naturally take extraordinary pains to preserve the
body from putrefaction, in the hope of the soul again joining the
body it had quitted." The remark is intrinsically untrue, because
the doctrine of transmigration coexists in reconciled belief with
the observed law of birth, infancy, and growth, not with the
miracle of transition into reviving corpses. The notion is
likewise historically refuted by the fact that the believers of
that doctrine in the thronged East have never preserved the body,
but at once buried or burned it. The whole Egyptian theology is
much more closely allied to the Hindu, which excluded, than to the
Persian, which emphasized, the resurrection of the body.

Another theory which has been devised to explain the purpose of
Egyptian embalming, is that "it was to unite the soul permanently
to its body, and keep the vital principle from perishing or
transmigrating; the body and soul ran together through the journey
of the dead and its dread ordeal." 5 This arbitrary guess is
incredible. The preservation of the body does not appear in any
way not even to the rawest fancy to detain or unite the soul with
it; for the thought is unavoidable that it is precisely the
absence of the soul which constitutes death. Again: such an
explanation of the motive for embalming cannot be correct, because
in the hieroglyphic representations of the passage to the judgment
the separate soul is often depicted as hovering over the body, 6
or as kneeling before the judges, or as pursuing its adventures
through the various realms of the creation. "When the body is
represented," Champollion says, "it is as an aid to the spectator,
and not as teaching a bodily resurrection. Sharpe's opinion that
the picture of a bird poised over the mouth of a mummy, with the
emblems of breath and life in its claws, implies the doctrine of a
general physical resurrection, is an inferential leap of the most
startling character. What proof is there that the symbol denotes
this? Hundreds of paintings in the tombs show souls undergoing
their respective allotments in the other world while their bodily
mummies are quiet in the sepulchres of the present. In his
treatise on "Isis and Osiris," Plutarch writes, "The Egyptians
believe that while the bodies of eminent men are buried in the
earth their souls are stars shining in heaven." It is equally
nonsensical in itself and unwarranted by evidence to imagine that,
in the Egyptian faith, embalming either retained the soul in the
body or preserved the body for a future return of the soul. Who
can believe that it was for either of those purposes that they
embalmed the multitudes of animals whose mummies the explorer is
still turning up? They preserved cats, hawks, bugs, crocodiles,
monkeys, bulls, with as great pains as they did men.7 When the
Canary Islands were first visited, it was found that their
inhabitants had a custom of carefully embalming the dead. The same
was the case among the Peruvians, whose vast cemeteries remain to
this day crowded with mummies. But the expectation of a return of
the souls into these preserved bodies is not to be ascribed to
those peoples. Herodotus informs us that "the Ethiopians, having
dried the bodies of their dead, coat them with white plaster,
which they paint with colors to the likeness of the deceased and
encase in a transparent substance. The dead, thus kept from being
offensive, and yet plainly visible, are retained a

5 Bonomi and Arundel on Egyptian Antiq., p. 46.

6 Pl. xxxiii. in Lepsius' Todtenb. der. Agypter.

7 Pettigrew, Hist of Egyptian Mummies, ch. xii.


whole year in the houses of their nearest relatives. Afterwards
they are carried out and placed upright in the tombs around the
city." 8 It has been argued, because the Egyptians expended so
much in preparing lasting tombs and in adorning their walls with
varied embellishments, that they must have thought the soul
remained in the body, a conscious occupant of the dwelling place
provided for it.9 As well might it be argued that, because the
ancient savage tribes on the coast of South America, who obtained
their support by fishing, buried fish hooks and bait with their
dead, they supposed the dead bodies occupied themselves in their
graves by fishing! The adornment of the tomb, so lavish and varied
with the Egyptians, was a gratification of the spontaneous
workings of fancy and affection, and needs no far fetched
explanation. Every nation has its funeral customs and its rites of
sepulture, many of which would be as difficult of explanation as
those of Egypt. The Scandinavian sea king was sometimes buried, in
his ship, in a grave dug on some headland overlooking the ocean.
The Scythians buried their dead in rolls of gold, sometimes
weighing forty or fifty solid pounds. Diodorus the Sicilian says,
"The Egyptians, laying the embalmed bodies of their ancestors in
noble monuments, see the true visages and expressions of those who
died ages before them. So they take almost as great pleasure in
viewing their bodily proportions and the lineaments of their faces
as if they were still living among them." 10 That instinct which
leads us to obtain portraits of those we love, and makes us
unwilling to part even with their lifeless bodies, was the cause
of embalming. The bodies thus prepared, we know from the testimony
of ancient authors, were kept in the houses of their children or
kindred, until a new generation, "who knew not Joseph," removed
them. Then nothing could be more natural than that the priesthood
should take advantage of the custom, so associated with sacred
sentiments, and throw theological sanctions over it, shroud it in
mystery, and secure a monopoly of the power and profit arising
from it. It is not improbable, too, as has been suggested, that
hygienic considerations, expressing themselves in political laws
and priestly precepts, may at first have had an influence in
establishing the habit of embalming, to prevent the pestilences
apt to arise in such a climate from the decay of animal
substances.

There is great diversity of opinion among Egyptologists on this
point. One thinks that embalming was supposed to keep the soul in
the body until after the funeral judgment and interment, but that,
when the corpse was laid in its final receptacle, the soul
proceeded to accompany the sun in its daily and nocturnal circuit,
or to transmigrate through various animals and deities. Another
imagines that the process of embalming was believed to secure the
repose of the soul in the other world, exempt from
transmigrations, so long as the body was kept from decay.11
Perhaps the different notions on this subject attributed by modern
authors to the Egyptians may all have prevailed among them at
different times or among distinct sects. But it seems most likely,
as we have said, that embalming first arose from physical and
sentimental considerations naturally operating, rather than from
any

8 Lib. iii. cap. 24.

9 Kenrick, Ancient Egypt, vol. i. ch. xxi. sect. iii.

10 Lib. i. cap. 7.

11 Library of Entertaining Knowledge, vol. ii. ch. iii.


theological doctrine carefully devised; although, after the
priesthood appropriated the business, it is altogether probable
that they interwove it with an artificial and elaborate system of
sacerdotal dogmas, in which was the hiding of the national power.

The second question that arises is, What was the significance of
the funeral ceremonies celebrated by the Egyptians over their
dead? When the body had been embalmed, it was presented before a
tribunal of forty two judges sitting in state on the eastern
borders of the lake Acherusia. They made strict inquiry into the
conduct and character of the deceased. Any one might make
complaint against him, or testify in his behalf. If it was found
that he had been wicked, had died in debt, or was otherwise
unworthy, he was deprived of honorable burial and ignominiously
thrown into a ditch. This was called Tartar, from the wailings the
sentence produced among his relatives. But if he was found to have
led an upright life, and to have been a good man, the honors of a
regular interment were decreed him. The cemetery a large plain
environed with trees and lined with canals lay on the western side
of the lake, and was named Elisout, or rest. It was reached by a
boat, the funeral barge, in which no one could cross without an
order from the judges and the payment of a small fee. In these and
other particulars some of the scenes supposed to be awaiting the
soul in the other world were dramatically shadowed forth. Each
rite was a symbol of a reality existing, in solemn correspondence,
in the invisible state. What the priests did over the body on
earth the judicial deities did over the soul in Amenthe. It seems
plain that the Greeks derived many of their notions concerning the
fate and state of the dead from Egypt. Hades corresponds with
Amenthe; Pluto, with the subterranean Osiris; Mercury
psychopompos, with Anubis, "the usher of souls;" Aacus, Minos, and
Rhadamanthos, with the three assistant gods who help in weighing
the soul and present the result to Osiris; Tartarus, to the ditch
Tartar; Charon's ghost boat over the Styx, to the barge conveying
the mummy to the tomb; Cerberus, to Oms; Acheron, to Acherusia;
the Elysian Fields, to Elisout.12 Kenrick thinks the Greeks may
have developed these views for themselves, without indebtedness to
Egypt. But the notions were in existence among the Egyptians at
least twelve hundred years before they can be traced among the
Greeks.13 And they are too arbitrary and systematic to have been
independently constructed by two nations. Besides, Herodotus
positively affirms that they were derived from Egypt. Several
other ancient authors also state this; and nearly every modern
writer on the subject agrees in it.

The triumphs of modern investigation into the antiquities of
Egypt, unlocking the hieroglyphics and lifting the curtain from
the secrets of ages, have unveiled to us a far more full and
satisfactory view of the Egyptian doctrine of the future life than
can be constructed from the narrow glimpses afforded by the
accounts of the old Greek authorities. Three sources of knowledge
have been laid open to us. First, the papyrus rolls, one of which
was placed in the bosom of every mummy. This roll, covered with
hieroglyphics, is called the funeral ritual, or book of the dead.
It served as a passport through the burial rites. It contained the
names of the deceased and his parents, a series of prayers he was
to recite

12 Spineto on Egyptian Antiq, Lectures IV., V.

13 Wilkinson, Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, 2d
Series, vol. i. ch. 12.


before the various divinities he would meet on his journey, and
representations of some of the adventures awaiting him in the
unseen state.14 Secondly, the ornamental cases in which the
mummies are enclosed are painted all over with scenes setting
forth the realities and events to which the soul of the dead
occupant has passed in the other life.15 Thirdly, the various
fates of souls are sculptured and painted on the walls in the
tombs, in characters which have been deciphered during the present
century:16

"Those mystic, stony volumes on the walls long writ, Whose sense
is late reveal'd to searching modern wit."

Combining the information thus obtained, we learn that, according
to the Egyptian representation, the soul is led by the god Thoth
into Amenthe, the infernal world, the entrance to which lies in
the extreme west, on the farther side of the sea, where the sun
goes down under the earth. It was in accordance with this
supposition that Herod caused to be engraved, on a magnificent
monument erected to his deceased wife, the line, "Zeus, this
blooming woman sent beyond the ocean." 17 At the entrance sits a
wide throated monster, over whose head is the inscription, "This
is the devourer of many who go into Amenthe, the lacerator of the
heart of him who comes with sins to the house of justice." The
soul next kneels before the forty two assessors of Osiris, with
deprecating asseverations and intercessions. It then comes to the
final trial in the terrible Hall of the two Truths, the approving
and the condemning; or, as it is differently named, the Hall of
the double Justice, the rewarding and the punishing. Here the
three divinities Horns, Anubis, and Thoth proceed to weigh the
soul in the balance. In one scale an image of Thmei, the goddess
of Truth, is placed; in the other, a heart shaped vase,
symbolizing the heart of the deceased with all the actions of
his earthly life. Then happy is he "Who, weighed 'gainst Truth,
down dips the awful scale."

Thoth notes the result on a tablet, and the deceased advances with
it to the foot of the throne on which sits Osiris, lord of the
dead, king of Amenthe. He pronounces the decisive sentence, and
his assistants see that it is at once executed. The condemned soul
is either scourged back to the earth straightway, to live again in
the form of a vile animal, as some of the emblems appear to
denote; or plunged into the tortures of a horrid hell of fire and
devils below, as numerous engravings set forth; or driven into the
atmosphere, to be vexed and tossed by tempests, violently whirled
in blasts and clouds, till its sins are expiated, and another
probation granted through a renewed existence in human form.

We have two accounts of the Egyptian divisions of the universe.
According to the first view, they conceived the creation to
consist of three grand departments. First came the earth, or zone
of trial, where men live on probation. Next was the atmosphere, or
zone of temporal

14 Das Todtenbuch der Agypter, edited with an introduction by Dr.
Lepsius.

15 Ch. ix. of Pettigrew's History of Egyptian Mummies.

16 Champollion's Letter, dated Thebes, May 16, 1829. An abstract
of this letter may be found in Stuart's trans. of Greppo's Essay
on Champollion's Hieroglyphic System, appendix, note N.

17 Basnage, Hist. of the Jews, lib. ii. ch. 12, sect. 19.


punishment, where souls are afflicted for their sins. The ruler of
this girdle of storms was Pooh, the overseer of souls in penance.
Such a notion is found in some of the later Greek philosophers,
and in the writings of the Alexandrian Jews, who undoubtedly drew
it from the priestly science of Egypt. Every one will recollect
how Paul speaks of "the prince of the power off the air." And
Shakspeare makes the timid Claudio shrink from the verge of death
with horror, lest his soul should, through ages,

"Be imprison'd in the viewless winds, And blown with restless
violence round about The pendent world."

After their purgation in this region, all the souls live again on
earth by transmigration.18 The third realm was in the serene blue
sky among the stars, the zone of blessedness, where the accepted
dwell in immortal peace and joy. Eusebius says, "The Egyptians
represented the universe by two circles, one within the other, and
a serpent with the head of a hawk twining his folds around them,"
thus forming three spheres, earth, firmament, divinity.

But the representation most frequent and imposing is that which
pictures the creation simply as having the earth in the centre,
and the sun with his attendants as circulating around it in the
brightness of the superior, and the darkness of the infernal,
firmament. Souls at death pass down through the west into Amenthe,
and are tried. If condemned, they are either sent back to the
earth, or confined in the nether space for punishment. If
justified, they join the blissful company of the Sun God, and rise
with him through the east to journey along his celestial course.
The upper hemisphere is divided into twelve equal parts,
corresponding with the twelve hours of the day. At the gate of
each of these golden segments a sentinel god is stationed, to whom
the newly arriving soul must give its credentials to secure a
passage. In like manner, the lower hemisphere is cut into the same
number of gloomy sections, corresponding with the twelve hours of
the night. Daily the chief divinity, in robes of light, traverses
the beaming zones of the blessed, where they hunt and fish, or
plough and sow, reap and gather, in the Fields of the Sun on the
banks of the heavenly Nile. Nightly, arrayed in deep black from
head to foot, he traverses the dismal zones of the damned, where
they undergo appropriate retributions. Thus the future destiny of
man was sublimely associated with the march of the sun through the
upper and lower hemispheres.19 Astronomy was a part of the
Egyptian's theology. He regarded the stars not figuratively, but
literally, as spirits and pure genii; the great planets as
deities. The calendar was a religious chart, each month, week,
day, hour, being the special charge and stand point of a god.20

There was much poetic beauty and ethical power in these doctrines
and symbols. The necessity of virtue, the dread ordeals of the
grave, the certainty of retribution, the mystic circuits of
transmigration, a glorious immortality, the paths of planets and
gods and souls through creation, all were impressively enounced,
dramatically shown.

18 Liber Metempsychosis Veterum Agyptiorum, edited and translated
into Latin from the funeral papyri by H. Brugsch.

19 L'Univers, Egypte Ancienne, par Champollion Figeac, pp. 123
145.

20 Agyptische Glaubenslehre von Dr. Ed. Roth, ss. 171, 174.


"The Egyptain soul sail'd o'er the skyey sea
In ark of crystal, mann'd by beamy gods,
To drag the deeps of space and net the stars,
Where, in their nebulous shoals, they shore the void
And through old Night's Typhonian blindness shine.
Then, solarized, he press'd towards the sun,
And, in the heavenly Hades, hall of God,
Had final welcome of the firmament."

This solemn linking of the fate of man with the astronomic
universe, this grand blending of the deepest of moral doctrines
with the most august of physical sciences, plainly betrays the
brain and hand of that hereditary hierarchy whose wisdom was the
wonder of the ancient world. Osburn thinks the localization of
Amenthe in the west may have arisen in the following way. Some
superstitious Egyptians, travelling westwards, at twilight, on the
great marshes haunted by the strange gray white ibis, saw troops
of these silent, solemn, ghostlike birds, motionless or slow
stalking, and conceived them to be souls waiting for the funeral
rites to be paid, that they might sink with the setting sun to
their destined abode.21

That such a system of belief was too complex and elaborate to have
been a popular development is evident. But that it was really held
by the people there is no room to doubt. Parts of it were publicly
enacted on festival days by multitudes numbering more than a
hundred thousand. Parts of it were dimly shadowed out in the
secret recesses of temples, surrounded by the most astonishing
accompaniments that unrivalled learning, skill, wealth, and power
could contrive. Its authority commanded the allegiance, its charm
fascinated the imagination, of the people. Its force built the
pyramids, and enshrined whole generations of Egypt's embalmed
population in richly adorned sepulchres of everlasting rock. Its
substance of esoteric knowledge and faith, in its form of exoteric
imposture and exhibition, gave it vitality and endurance long. In
the vortex of change and decay it sank at last. And now it is only
after its secrets have been buried for thirty centuries that the
exploring genius of modern times has brought its hidden
hieroglyphics to light, and taught us what were the doctrines
originally contained in the altar lore of those priestly schools
which once dotted the plains of the Delta and studded the banks of
eldest Nile, where now, disfigured and gigantic, the solemn

"Old Syhinxes lift their countenances bland Athwart the river sea
and sea of sand."

21 Monumental History of Egypt, vol. i. ch. 8.


CHAPTER VI.

BRAHMANIC AND BUDDHIST DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

IN the Hindu views of the fate of the human soul, metaphysical
subtlety and imaginative vastness, intellect and fancy, slavish
tradition and audacious speculation, besotted ritualism and
heaven storming spirituality, are mingled together on a scale of
grandeur and intensity wholly without a parallel elsewhere in the
literature or faith of the world. Brahmanism, with its hundred
million adherents holding sway over India, and Buddhism, with
its four hundred million disciples scattered over a dozen
nations, from Java to Japan, and from the Ceylonese to the
Samoyedes, practically considered, in reference to their actually
received dogmas and aims pertaining to a future life, agree
sufficiently to warrant us in giving them a general examination
together. The chief difference between them will be explained in
the sequel.

The most ancient Hindu doctrine of the future fate of man, as
given in the Vedas, was simple, rude, and very unlike the forms in
which it has since prevailed. Professor Wilson says, in the
introduction to his translation of the Rig Veda, that the
references to this subject in the primeval Sanscrit scriptures are
sparse and incomplete. But no one has so thoroughly elucidated
this obscure question as Roth of Tubingen, in his masterly paper
on the Morality of the Vedas, of which there is a translation, by
Professor Whitney, in the Journal of the American Oriental
Society.1 The results of his researches may be stated in few
words.

When a man dies, the earth is invoked to wrap his body up, as a
mother wraps her child in her garment, and to lie lightly on him.
He himself is addressed thus: "Go forth, go forth on the ancient
paths which our fathers in old times have trodden: the two rulers
in bliss, Yama and Varuna, shalt thou behold." Varuna judges all.
He thrusts the wicked down into darkness; and not a hint or clew
further of their doom is furnished. They were supposed either to
be annihilated, as Professor Roth thinks the Vedas imply, or else
to live as demons, in sin, blackness, and woe. The good go up to
heaven and are glorified with a shining spiritual body like that
of the gods. Yama, the first man, originator of the human race on
earth, is the beginner and head of renewed humanity in another
world, and is termed the Assembler of Men. It is a poetic and
grand conception that the first one who died, leading the way,
should be the patriarch and monarch of all who follow. The old
Vedic hymns imply that the departed good are in a state of exalted
felicity, but scarcely picture forth any particulars. The
following passage, versified with strict fidelity to the original,
is as full and explicit as any:

Where glory never fading is, where is the world of heavenly light,
The world of immortality, the everlasting, set me there!
Where Yama reigns, Vivasvat's son, in the inmost sphere of heaven
bright.
Where those abounding waters flow, oh, make me but immortal there!
Where there is freedom unrestrain'd, where the triple vault of
heaven's in sight,
Where worlds of brightest glory are, oh, make me but immortal
there!
Where pleasures and enjoyments are, where bliss and raptures ne'er
take flight,
Where all desires are satisfied, oh, make me but immortal there!

1 Vol iii. pp. 342-346.


But this form of doctrine long ago passed from the Hindu
remembrance, lost in the multiplying developments and
specifications of a mystical philosophy, and a teeming
superstition nourished by an unbounded imagination.

Both Brahmans and Buddhists conceive of the creation on the most
enormous scale. Mount Meru rises from the centre of the earth to
the height of about two millions of miles. On its summit is the
city of Brahma, covering a space of fourteen thousand leagues, and
surrounded by the stately cities of the regents of the spheres.
Between Meru and the wall of stone forming the extreme
circumference of the earth are seven concentric circles of rocks.
Between these rocky bracelets are continents and seas. In some of
the seas wallow single fishes thousands of miles in every
dimension. The celestial spaces are occupied by a large number of
heavens, called "dewa lokas," increasing in the glory and bliss of
their prerogatives. The worlds below the earth are hells, called
"naraka." The description of twenty eight of these, given in the
Vishnu Purana,2 makes the reader "sup full of horrors." The
Buddhist "Books of Ceylon" 3 tell of twenty six heavens placed in
regular order above one another in the sky, crowded with all
imaginable delights. They also depict, in the abyss underneath the
earth, eight great hells, each containing sixteen smaller ones,
the whole one hundred and thirty six composing one gigantic hell.
The eight chief hells are situated over one another, each
partially enclosing and overlapping that next beneath; and the
sufferings inflicted on their unfortunate occupants are of the
most terrific character. But these poor hints at the local
apparatus of reward and punishment afford no conception whatever
of the extent of their mythological scheme of the universe.

They call each complete solar system a sakwala, and say that, if a
wall were erected around the space occupied by a million millions
of sakwalas, reaching to the highest heaven, and the entire space
were filled with mustard seeds, a god might take these seeds, and,
looking towards any one of the cardinal points, throw a single
seed towards each sakwala until all the seeds were gone, and still
there would be more sakwalas, in the same direction, to which no
seed had been thrown, without considering those in the other three
quarters of the heavens. In comparison with this Eastern vision of
the infinitude of worlds, the wildest Western dreamer over the
vistas opened by the telescope may hide his diminished head! Their
other conceptions are of the same crushing magnitude, Thus, when
the demons, on a certain occasion, assailed the gods, Siva using
the Himalaya range for his bow, Vasuke for the string, Vishnu for
his arrow, the earth for his chariot with the sun and moon for its
wheels and the Vedas for its horses, the starry canopy for his
banner with the tree of Paradise for its staff, Brahma for his
charioteer, and the mysterious monosyllable Om for his whip
reduced them all to ashes.4

The five hundred million Brahmanic and Buddhist believers hold
that all the gods, men, demons, and various grades of animal life
occupying this immeasurable array of worlds compose one cosmic
family. The totality of animated beings, from a detestable gnat to

2 Wilson's trans. pp. 207-209.

3 Upham's trans. vol. iii. pp. 8, 66, 159.

4 Vans Kennedy, Ancient and Hindu Mythology, p. 429.


thundering Indra, from the meanest worm to the supreme Buddha,
constitute one fraternal race, by the unavoidable effects of the
law of retribution constantly interchanging their residences in a
succession of rising and sinking existences, ranging through all
the earths, heavens, and hells of the universe, bound by the
terrible links of merit and demerit in the phantasmagoric dungeon
of births and deaths. The Vishnu Purana declares, "The universe,
this whole egg of Brahma, is everywhere swarming with living
creatures, all of whom are captives in the chains of acts." 5

The one prime postulate of these Oriental faiths the ground
principle, never to be questioned any more than the central and
stationary position of the earth in the Ptolemaic system is that
all beings below the Infinite One are confined in the circle of
existence, the whirl of births and deaths, by the consequences of
their virtues and vices. When a man dies, if he has an excess of
good desert, he is born, as a superior being, in one of the
heavens. According to the nature and degree of his merit, his
heavenly existence is prolonged, or perhaps repeated many times in
succession; or, if his next birth occurs on earth, it is under
happy circumstances, as a sage or a king. But when he expires,
should there, on the other hand, be an overbalance of ill desert,
he is born as a demon in one of the hells, or may in repeated
lives run the circuit of the hells; or, if he at once returns to
the earth, it is as a beggar, a leprous outcast, a wretched
cripple, or in the guise of a rat, a snake, or a louse.

"The illustrious souls of great and virtuous men
In godlike beings shall revive again;
But base and vicious spirits wind their way
In scorpions, vultures, sharks, and beasts of prey.
The fair, the gay, the witty, and the brave,
The fool, the coward, courtier, tyrant, slave,
Each one in a congenial form, shall find
A proper dwelling for his wandering mind."

A specific evil is never cancelled by being counterbalanced by a
greater good. The fruit of that evil must be experienced, and also
of that greater good, by appropriate births in the hells and
heavens, or in the higher and lower grades of earthly existence.
The two courses of action must be run through independently. This
is what is meant by the phrases, so often met with in Oriental
works, "eating the fruits of former acts," "bound in the chains of
deeds." Merit or demerit can be balanced or neutralized only by
the full fruition of its own natural and necessary consequences.6
The law of merit and of demerit is fate. It works irresistibly,
through all changes and recurrences, from the beginning to the
end. The cessation of virtue or of vice does not put an end to its
effects until its full force is exhausted; as an arrow continues
in flight until all its imparted power is spent. A man faultlessly
and scrupulously good through his present life may be guilty of
some foul crime committed a hundred lives before and not yet
expiated. Accordingly, he may now suffer for it, or his next birth
may take place in a hell. On the contrary, he may be credited with
some great merit acquired thousands of

5 P. 286.

6 Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol. iv. p. 87.


generations ago, whose fruit he has not eaten, and which may bring
him good fortune in spite of present sins, or on the rolling and
many colored wheel of metempsychosis may secure for him next a
celestial birthplace. In short periods, it will be seen, there is
moral confusion, but, in the long run, exact compensation.

The exuberant prodigiousness of the Hindu imagination is
strikingly manifest in its descriptions of the rewards of virtue
in the heavens and of the punishments of sin in the hells. Visions
pass before us of beautiful groves full of fragrance and music,
abounding in delicious fruits, and birds of gorgeous plumage,
crystal streams embedded with pearls, unruffled lakes where the
lotus blooms, palaces of gems, crowds of friends and lovers,
endless revelations of truth, boundless graspings of power, all
that can stir and enchant intellect, will, fancy, and heart. In
some of the heavens the residents have no bodily form, but enjoy
purely spiritual pleasures. In others they are self resplendent,
and traverse the ether. They are many miles in height, one being
described whose crown was four miles high and who wore on his
person sixty wagon loads of jewels. The ordinary lifetime of the
inhabitants of the dewa loka named Wasawartti equals nine billions
two hundred and sixteen millions of our years. They breathe only
once in sixteen hours.

The reverse of this picture is still more vigorously drawn, highly
colored, and diversified in contents. The walls of the Hindu hell
are over a hundred miles thick; and so dazzling is their
brightness that it bursts the eyes which look at them anywhere
within a distance of four hundred leagues.7 The poor creatures
here, wrapped in shrouds of fire, writhe and yell in frenzy of
pain. The very revelry and ecstasy of terror and anguish fill the
whole region. The skins of some wretches are taken off from head
to foot, and then scalding vinegar is poured over them. A glutton
is punished thus: experiencing an insatiable hunger in a body as
large as three mountains, he is tantalized with a mouth no larger
than the eye of a needle.8 The infernal tormentors, throwing their
victims down, take a flexible flame in each hand, and with these
lash them alternately right and left. One demon, Rahu, is seventy
six thousand eight hundred miles tall: the palm of his hand
measures fifty thousand acres; and when he is enraged he rushes up
the sky and swallows the sun or the moon, thus causing an eclipse!
In the Asiatic Journal for 1840 is an article on "The Chinese
Judges of the Dead," which describes a series of twenty four
paintings of hell found in a Buddhist temple. Devils in human
shapes are depicted pulling out the tongues of slanderers with
redhot wires, pouring molten lead down the throats of liars, with
burning prongs tossing souls upon mountains planted with hooks of
iron reeking with the blood of those who have gone before,
screwing the damned between planks, pounding them in husking
mortars, grinding them in rice mills, while other fiends, in the
shape of dogs, lap up their oozing gore. But the hardest
sensibility must by this time cry, Hold!

With the turmoil and pain of entanglement in the vortex of births,
and all the repulsive exposures of finite life, the Hindus
contrast the idea of an infinite rest and bliss, an endless

7 Hardy, Manual of Buddhism, p. 26.

8 Coleman, Mythology of the Hindus, p. 198.


exemption from evil and struggle, an immense receptivity of
reposing power and quietistic contemplation. In consequence of
their endlessly varied, constantly recurring, intensely earnest
speculations and musings over this contrast of finite restlessness
and pain with infinite peace and blessedness, a contrast which
constitutes the preaching of their priests, saturates their sacred
books, fills their thoughts, and broods over all their life, the
Orientals are pervaded with a profound horror of individual
existence, and with a profound desire for absorption into the
Infinite Being. A few quotations from their own authors will
illustrate this:

"A sentient being in the repetition of birth and death is like a
worm in the midst of a nest of ants, like a lizard in the hollow
of a bamboo that is burning at both ends."9 "Emancipation from all
existence is the fulness of felicity."10 "The being who is still
subject to birth may now sport in the beautiful gardens of heaven,
now be cut to pieces in hell; now be Maha Brahma, now a degraded
outcast; now sip nectar, now drink blood; now repose on a couch
with gods, now be dragged through a thicket of thorns; now reside
in a mansion of gold, now be exposed on a mountain of lava; now
sit on the throne of the gods, now be impaled amidst hungry dogs;
now be a king glittering with countless gems, now a mendicant
taking a skull from door to door to beg alms; now eat ambrosia as
the monarch of a dewa loka, now writhe and die as a bat in the
shrivelling flame."11 "The Supreme Soul and the human soul do not
differ, and pleasure or pain ascribable to the latter arises from
its imprisonment in the body. The water of the Ganges is the same
whether it run in the river's bed or be shut up in a decanter; but
a drop of wine added to the water in the decanter imparts its
flavor to the whole, whereas it would be lost in the river. The
Supreme Soul, therefore, is beyond accident; but the human soul is
afflicted by sense and passion. Happiness is only obtained in
reunion with the Supreme Soul, when the dispersed individualities
combine again with it, as the drops of water with the parent
stream. Hence the slave should remember that he is separated from
God by the body alone, and exclaim, perpetually, 'Blessed be the
moment when I shall lift the veil from off that face! the veil of
the face of my Beloved is the dust of my body.'"12 "A pious man
was once born on earth, who, in his various transmigrations, had
met eight hundred and twenty five thousand Buddhas. He remembered
his former states, but could not enumerate how many times he had
been a king, a beggar, a beast, an occupant of hell. He uttered
these words: 'A hundred thousand years of the highest happiness on
earth are not equal to the happiness of one day in the dewa lokas;
and a hundred thousand years of the deepest misery on earth are
not equal to the misery of one day in hell; but the misery of hell
is reckoned by millions of centuries. Oh, how shall I escape, and
obtain eternal bliss?'" 13

9 Eastern Monachism, p. 247.

10 Vishnu Purana, p. 568.

11 Hardy, Manual of Buddhism, p. 454.

12 Asiatic Researches, vol. xvii. p. 298.

13 Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol. iv. p. 114.


The literary products of the Eastern mind wonderfully abound with
painful descriptions of the compromises, uncleannesses, and
afflictions inseparably connected with existence. Volumes would be
required to furnish an adequate representation of the vivid and
inexhaustible amplification with which they set forth the direful
disgusts and loathsome terrors associated with the series of ideas
expressed by the words conception, birth, life, death, hell, and
regeneration. The fifth chapter in the sixth book of the Vishnu
Purana affords a good specimen of these details; but, to
appreciate them fully, one must peruse dispersed passages in a
hundred miscellaneous works:

"As long as man lives, he is immersed in afflictions, like the
seed of the cotton amidst the down. . . . Where could man,
scorched by the fires of the sun of this world, look for felicity,
were it not for the shade afforded by the tree of emancipation? .
. . Travelling the path of the world for many thousands of births,
man attains only the weariness of bewilderment, and is smothered
by the dust of imagination. When that dust is washed away by the
bland water of real knowledge, then the weariness is removed. Then
the internal man is at peace, and obtains supreme felicity."14

The result of these views is the awakening of an unquenchable
desire to "break from the fetters of existence," to be "delivered
from the whirlpool of transmigration." Both Brahmanism and
Buddhism are in essence nothing else than methods of securing
release from the chain of incarnated lives, and attaining to
identification with the Infinite. There is a text in the
Apocalypse which may be strikingly applied to this exemption from
further metempsychosis: "Him that overcometh I will make a pillar
in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out forever." The
testimony of all who have investigated the subject agrees with the
following assertion by Professor Wilson: "The common end of every
system studied by the Hindus is the ascertainment of the means by
which perpetual exemption from the necessity of repeated births
may be won."15 In comparison with this aim, every thing else is
utterly insignificant. Prahlada, on being offered by Vishnu any
boon he might ask, exclaimed, "Wealth, virtue, love, are as
nothing; for even liberation is in his reach whose faith is firm
in thee." And Vishnu replied, "Thou shalt, therefore, obtain
freedom from existence."16 All true Orientals, however favored or
persecuted by earthly fortune, still cry night and day upwards
into the infinite, with outstretched arms and yearning voice,

"O Lord, our separate lives destroy! Merge in thy gold our souls'
alloy: Pain is our own, and Thou art Joy!"

According to the system of Brahmanism, the creation is regularly
called into being and again destroyed at the beginning and end of
certain stupendous epochs called kalpas. Four thousand three
hundred and twenty million years make a day of Brahma. At the end
of this day the lower worlds are consumed by fire; and Brahma
sleeps on the abyss for a night as long

14 Vishnu Parana, p. 650.

15 Sankhya Karika, preface, p. 3.

16 Vishnu Purana, p. 144.


as his day. During this night the saints, who in high Jana loka
have survived the dissolution of the lower portions of the
universe, contemplate the slumbering deity until he wakes and
restores the mutilated creation. Three hundred and sixty of these
days and nights compose a year of Brahma; a hundred such years
measure his whole life. Then a complete destruction of all things
takes place, every thing merging into the Absolute One, until he
shall rouse himself renewedly to manifest his energies.17 Although
created beings who have not obtained emancipation are destroyed in
their individual forms at the periods of the general dissolution,
yet, being affected by the good or evil acts of former existence,
they are never exempted from their consequences, and when Brahma
creates the world anew they are the progeny of his will, in the
fourfold condition of gods, men, animals, and inanimate things.18
And Buddhism embodies virtually the same doctrine, declaring "the
whole universe of sakwalas to be subject alternately to
destruction and renovation, in a series of revolutions to which
neither beginning nor end can be discovered."

What is the Brahmanic method of salvation, or secret of
emancipation? Rightly apprehended in the depth and purity of the
real doctrine, it is this. There is in reality but ONE SOUL: every
thing else is error, illusion, misery. Whoever acquires the
knowledge of this truth by personal perception is thereby
liberated. He has won the absolute perfection of the unlimited
Godhead, and shall never be born again. "Whosoever views the
Supreme Soul as manifold, dies death after death." God is
formless, but seems to assume form; as moonlight, impinging upon
various objects, appears crooked or straight.19 Bharata says to
the king of Sauriva, "The great end of all is not union of self
with the Supreme Soul, because one substance cannot become
another. The true wisdom, the genuine aim of all, is to know that
Soul is one, uniform, perfect, exempt from birth, omnipresent,
undecaying, made of true knowledge, dissociated with
unrealities."20 "It is ignorance alone which enables Maya to
impress the mind with a sense of individuality; for as soon as
that is dispelled it is known that severalty exists not, and that
there is nothing but one undivided Whole." 21 The Brahmanic
scriptures say, "The Eternal Deity consists of true knowledge."
"Brahma that is Supreme is produced of reflection."22 The logic
runs thus. There is only One Soul, the absolute God. All beside is
empty deception. That One Soul consists of true knowledge. Whoever
attains to true knowledge, therefore, is absolute God, forever
freed from the sphere of semblances.

The foregoing exposition is philosophical and scriptural
Brahmanism. But there are numerous schismatic sects which hold
opinions diverging from it in regard to the nature and destiny of
the human soul. They may be considered in two classes. First,
there are some who defend the idea of the personal immortality of
the soul. The Siva Gnana Potham "establishes the doctrine of the
soul's eternal existence as an individual being." 23 The Saiva
school

17 Vishnu Purana, p. 25. Hardy, Manual of Buddhism, p. 33, note.

18 Vishnu Parana, pp. 39, 116.

19 Colebrooke, Essays, vol. i. p. 359.

20 Vishnu Purana, p. 252.

21 Vans Kennedy, Ancient and Hindu Mythology, p. 201.

22 Vishnu Purana, pp. 546, 642.

23 Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol. ii. p. 141.


teach that when, at the close of every great period, all other
developed existences are rendered back to their primordial state,
souls are excepted. These, once developed and delivered from the
thraldom of their merit and demerit, will ever remain intimately
united with Deity and clothed in the resplendent wisdom.24
Secondly, there are others and probably at the present time they
include a large majority of the Brahmans who believe in the real
being both of the Supreme Soul and of separate finite souls,
conceiving the latter to be individualized parts of the former and
their true destiny to consist in securing absorption into it. The
relation of the soul to God, they maintain, is not that of ruled
and ruler, but that of part and whole. "As gold is one substance
still, however diversified as bracelets, tiaras, ear rings, or
other things, so Vishnu is one and the same, although modified in
the forms of gods, animals, and men. As the drops of water raised
from the earth by the wind sink into the earth again when the wind
subsides, so the variety of gods, men, and animals, which have
been detached by the agitation of the qualities, are reunited,
when the disturbance ceases, with the Eternal." 25 "The whole
obtains its destruction in God, like bubbles in water." The
Madhava sect believe that there is a personal All Soul distinct
from the human soul. Their proofs are detailed in one of the Maha
Upanishads.26 These two groups of sects, however, agree perfectly
with the ancient orthodox Brahmans in accepting the fundamental
dogma of a judicial metempsychosis, wherein each one is fastened
by his acts and compelled to experience the uttermost consequences
of his merit or demerit. They all coincide in one common
aspiration as regards the highest end, namely, emancipation from
the necessity of repeated births. The difference between the three
is, that the one class of dissenters expect the fruition of that
deliverance to be a finite personal immortality in heaven; the
other interpret it as an unwalled absorption in the Over Soul,
like a breath in the air; while the more orthodox believers regard
it as the entire identity of the soul with the Infinite One.

Against the opinion that there is only one Soul for all bodies, as
one string supports all the gems of a necklace, some Hindu
philosophers argue that the plurality of souls is proved by the
consideration that, if there were but one soul, then when any one
was born, or died, or was lame, or deaf, or occupied, or idle, all
would at once be born, die, be lame, deaf, occupied, or idle. But
Professor Wilson says, "This doctrine of the multitudinous
existence or individual incorporation of Soul clearly contradicts
the Vedas. They affirm one only existent soul to be distributed in
all beings. It is beheld collectively or dispersedly, like the
reflection of the moon in still or troubled water. Soul, eternal,
omnipresent, undisturbed, pure, one, is multiplied by the power of
delusion, not of its own nature."27

All the Brahmanic sects unite in thinking that liberation from the
net of births is to be obtained and the goal of their wishes to be
reached by one means only; and that is knowledge, real wisdom, an
adequate sight of the truth. Without this knowledge there is no
possible emancipation; but there are three ways of seeking the
needed knowledge.

24 Ibid. vol. iv. p. 15.

25 Vishnu Purana, p. 287.

26 Weber, Akademische Vorlesungen uber Indische
Literaturgeschichte, s. 160.

27 Sankbya Karika, p. 70.


Some strive, by direct intellectual abstraction and effort, by
metaphysical speculation, to grasp the true principles of being.
Others try, by voluntary penance, self abnegation, and pain, to
accumulate such a degree of merit, or to bring the soul into such
a state of preparedness, as will compel the truth to reveal
itself. And still others devote themselves to the worship of some
chosen deity, by ritual acts and fervid contemplation, to obtain
by his favor the needed wisdom. A few quotations may serve to
illustrate the Brahmanic attempts at winning this one thing
needful, the knowledge which yields exemption from all incarnate
lives.

The Sankhya philosophy is a regular system of metaphysics, to be
studied as one would study algebra. It presents to its disciples
an exhaustive statement of the forms of being in twenty five
categories, and declares, "He who knows the twenty five
principles, whatever order of life he may have entered, and
whether he wear braided hair, a top knot only, or be shaven, he is
liberated." "This discriminative wisdom releases forever from
worldly bondage."28 "The virtuous is born again in heaven, the
wicked is born again in hell; the fool wanders in error, the wise
man is set free." "By ignorance is bondage, by knowledge is
deliverance." "When Nature finds that soul has discovered that it
is to her the distress of migration is owing, she is put to shame
by the detection, and will suffer herself to be seen no more."29
"Through knowledge the sage is absorbed into Supreme Spirit."30
"The Supreme Spirit attracts to itself him who meditates upon it,
as the loadstone attracts the iron."31 "He who seeks to obtain a
knowledge of the Soul is gifted with it, the Soul rendering itself
conspicuous to him." "Man, having known that Nature which is
without a beginning or an end, is delivered from the grasp of
death." "Souls are absorbed in the Supreme Soul as the reflection
of the sun in water returns to him on the removal of the water."32

The thought underlying the last statement is that there is only
one Soul, every individual consciousness being but an illusory
semblance, and that the knowledge of this fact constitutes the
all coveted emancipation. As one diffusive breath passing through
the perforations of a flute is distinguished as the several notes
of the scale, so the Supreme Spirit is single, though, in
consequence of acts, it seems manifold. As every placid lakelet
holds an unreal image of the one real moon sailing above, so each
human soul is but a deceptive reflection of the one veritable
Soul, or God. It may be worth while to observe that Plotinus, as
is well known, taught the doctrine of the absolute identity of
each soul with the entire and indistinguishable entity of God:

"Though God extends beyond creation's rim, Yet every being holds
the whole of him."

It belongs to an unextended substance, an immateriality, to be
everywhere by totality, not by portions. If God be omnipresent, he
cannot be so dividedly, a part of him here and a part

28 Ibid. pp. 1, 16.

29 Ibid. pp. 48, 142, 174.

30 Vishnu Purana, p. 57.

31 Ibid. p. 651.

32 Rammohun Roy, Translations from the Veda, 2d ed., London, 1832,
pp. 69, 39, 10.


of him there; but the whole of him must be in every particle of
matter, in every point of space, in all infinitude.

The Brahmanic religion is a philosophy; and it keeps an
incomparably strong hold on the minds of its devotees. Its most
vital and comprehensive principle is expressed in the following
sentence: "The soul itself is not susceptible of pain, or decay,
or death; the site of these things is nature; but nature is
unconscious; the consciousness that pain exists is restricted to
the soul, although the soul is not the actual seat of pain." This
is the reason why every Hindu yearns so deeply to be freed from
the meshes of nature, why he so anxiously follows the light of
faith and penance, or the clew of speculation, through all mazes
of mystery. It is that he may at last gaze on the central TRUTH,
and through that sight seize the fruition of the supreme and
eternal good of man in the unity of his selfhood with the
Infinite, and so be born no more and experience no more trouble.
It is very striking to contrast with this profound and gorgeous
dream of the East, whatever form it assumes, the more practical
and definite thought of the West, as expressed in these lines of
Tennyson's "In Memoriam:"

"That each, who seems a separate whole,
Should move his rounds, and, fusing all
The skirts of self again, should fall
Remerging in the general Soul,
Is faith as vague as all unsweet:
Eternal form shall still divide
The eternal soul from all beside,
And I shall know him when we meet."

But is it not still more significant to notice that, in the lines
which immediately succeed, the love inspired and deep musing
genius of the English thinker can find ultimate repose only by
recurring to the very faith of the Hindu theosophist?

"And we shall sit at endless feast,
Enjoying each the other's good:
What vaster dream can hit the mood
Of Love on earth! He seeks at least
Upon the last and sharpest height,
Before the spirits fade away,
Some landing place, to clasp and say,
Farewell! We lose ourselves in light!"

We turn now to the Buddhist doctrine of a future life as
distinguished from the Brahmanic. The "Four Sublime Truths" of
Buddhism, as they are called, are these: first, that there is
sorrow; secondly, that every living person necessarily feels it;
thirdly, that it is desirable to be freed from it; fourthly, that
the only deliverance from it is by that pure knowledge which
destroys all cleaving to existence. A Buddha is a being who, in
consequence of having reached the Buddhaship, which implies the
possession of infinite goodness, infinite power, and infinite
wisdom, is able to teach men that true knowledge which secures
emancipation.

The Buddhaship that is, the possession of Supreme Godhead is open
to every one, though few ever acquire it. Most wonderful and
tremendous is the process of its attainment. Upon a time, some
being, perhaps then incarnate as a mosquito alighting on a muddy
leaf in some swamp, pauses for a while to muse. Looking up through
infinite stellar systems, with hungry love and boundless ambition,
to the throne and sceptre of absolute immensity, he vows within
himself, "I will become a Buddha." The total influences of his
past, the forces of destiny, conspiring with his purpose,
omnipotence is in that resolution. Nothing shall ever turn him
aside from it. He might soon acquire for himself deliverance from
the dreadful vortex of births; but, determined to achieve the
power of delivering others from their miseries as sentient beings,
he voluntarily throws himself into the stream of successive
existences, and with divine patience and fortitude undergoes every
thing.

From that moment, no matter in what form he is successively born,
whether as a disgusting bug, a white elephant, a monarch, or a
god, he is a Bodhisat, that is, a candidate pressing towards the
Buddhaship. He at once begins practising the ten primary virtues,
called paramitas, necessary for the securing of his aim. The
period required for the full exercise of one of these virtues is a
bhumi. Its duration is thus illustrated. Were a Bodhisat once in a
thousand births to shed a single drop of blood, he would in the
space of a bhumi shed more blood than there is water in a thousand
oceans. On account of his merit he might always be born amidst the
pleasures of the heavens; but since he could there make no
progress towards his goal, he prefers being born in the world of
men. During his gradual advance, there is no good he does not
perform, no hardship he does not undertake, no evil he does not
willingly suffer; and all for the benefit of others, to obtain the
means of emancipating those whom he sees fastened by ignorance in
the afflictive circle of acts. Wherever born, acting, or
suffering, his eye is still turned towards that EMPTY THRONE, at
the apex of the universe, from which the last Buddha has vaulted
into Nirwana. The Buddhists have many scriptures, especially one,
called the "Book of the Five Hundred and Fifty Births," detailing
the marvellous adventures of the Bodhisat during his numerous
transmigrations, wherein he exhibits for each species of being to
which he belongs a model character and life.

At length the momentous day dawns when the unweariable Bodhisat
enters on his well earned Buddhaship. From that time, during the
rest of his life, he goes about preaching discourses, teaching
every prepared creature he meets the method of securing eternal
deliverance. Leaving behind in these discourses a body of wisdom
sufficient to guide to salvation all who will give attentive ear
and heart, the Buddha then his sublime work of disinterested love
being completed receives the fruition of his toil, the super
essential prize of the universe, the Infinite Good. In a word, he
dies, and enters Nirwana. There is no more evil of any sort for
him at all forever. The final fading echo of sorrow has ceased in
the silence of perfect blessedness; the last undulation of the
wave of change has rolled upon the shore of immutability.

The only historic Buddha is Sakya Muni, or Gotama, who was born at
Kapila about six centuries before Christ. His teachings contain
many principles in common with those of the Brahmans. But he
revolted against their insufferable conceit and cruelty. He
protested against their claim that no one could obtain
emancipation until after being born as a Brahman and passing
through the various rites and degrees of their order. In the
face of the most powerful and arrogant priesthood in the world,
he preached the perfect equality of all mankind, and the consequent
abolition of castes. Whoever acquires a total detachment of
affection from all existence is thereby released from birth and
misery; and the means of acquiring that detachment are freely
offered to all in his doctrine.

Thus did Gotama preach. He took the monopoly of religion out of the
hands of a caste, and proclaimed emancipation to every creature
that breathes. He established his system in the valley of the
Ganges near the middle of the sixth century before Christ. It soon
overran the whole country, and held sway until about eight hundred
years after Christ, when an awful persecution and slaughter on the
part of the uprising Brahmans drove it out of the land with sword
and fire. "The colossal figure which for fourteen centuries had
bestridden the Indian continent vanished suddenly, like a rainbow
at sunset."33

Gotama's philosophy, in its ontological profundity, is of a
subtlety and vastness that would rack the brain of a Fichte or a
Schelling; but, popularly stated, so far as our present purpose
demands, it is this. Existence is the one all inclusive evil;
cessation of existence, or Nirwana, is the infinite good. The
cause of existence is ignorance, which leads one to cleave to
existing objects; and this cleaving leads to reproduction. If one
would escape from the chain of existence, he must destroy the
cause of his confinement in it, that is, evil desire, or the
cleaving to existing objects. The method of salvation in Gotama's
system is to vanquish and annihilate all desire for existing
things. How is this to be done? By acquiring an intense perception
of the miseries of existence, on the one hand, and an intense
perception, on the other hand, of the contrasted desirableness of
the state of emancipation, or Nirwana. Accordingly, the discourses
of Gotama, and the sacred books of the Buddhists, are filled with
vivid accounts of every thing disgusting and horrible connected
with existence, and with vivid descriptions, consciously faltering
with inadequacy, of every thing supremely fascinating in
connection with Nirwana. "The three reflections on the impermanency,
suffering, and unreality of the body are three gates leading to
the city of Nirwana." The constant claim is, that whosoever by
adequate moral discipline and philosophical contemplation attains
to a certain degree of wisdom, a certain degree of intellectual
insight, instead of any longer cleaving to existence, will shudder
at the thought of it, and, instead of shrinking from death, will
be ravished with unfathomable ecstasy by the prospect of Nirwana.
Then, when he dies, he is free from all liability to a return.

When Gotama, early in life, had accidentally seen in succession a
wretchedly decrepit old man, a loathsomely diseased man, and a
decomposing dead man, then the three worlds of passion, matter,
and spirit seemed to him like a house on fire, and he longed to be
extricated from the dizzy whirl of existence, and to reach the
still haven of Nirwana. Finding ere long that he had now, as the
reward of his incalculable endurances through untold aons past,
become Buddha, he said to himself, "You have borne the misery of
the whole round of transmigrations, and have arrived at infinite
wisdom, which is the highway to Nirwana, the

33 Major Cunningham, Bbilsa Topes, or Buddhist Monuments of
Central India, p. 168.


city of peace. On that road you are the guide of all beings. Begin
your work and pursue it with fidelity." From that time until the
day of his death he preached "the three laws of mortality, misery,
and mutability." Every morning he looked through the world to see
who should be caught that day in the net of truth, and took his
measures accordingly to preach in the hearing of men the truths by
which alone they could climb into Nirwana. When he was expiring,
invisible gods, with huge and splendid bodies, came and stood, as
thick as they could be packed, for a hundred and twenty miles
around the banyan tree under which he awaited Nirwana, to gaze on
him who had broken the circle of transmigration.34

The system of Gotama distinguishes seven grades of being: six
subject to repeated death and birth; one the condition of the
rahats and the Buddhaship exempt therefrom. "Who wins this has
reached the shore of the stormy ocean of vicissitudes, and is in
safety forever." Baur says, "The aim of Buddhism is that all may
obtain unity with the original empty Space, so as to unpeople the
worlds."35 This end it seeks by purification from all modes of
cleaving to existing objects, and by contemplative discrimination,
but never by the fanatical and austere methods of Brahmanism.
Edward Upham, in his History of Buddhism, declares this earth to
be the only ford to Nirwana. Others also make the same
representation:

"For all that live and breathe have once been men, And in
succession will be such again."

But the Buddhist authors do not always adhere to this statement.
We sometimes read of men's entering the paths to Nirwana in some
of the heavens, likewise of their entering the final fruition
through a decease in a dewa loka. Still, it is the common view
that emancipation from all existence can be secured only by a
human being on earth. The last birth must be in that form. The
emblem of Buddha, engraved on most of his monuments, is a wheel,
denoting that he has finished and escaped from the circle of
existences. Henceforth he is named Tathagata, he who has gone.

Let us notice a little more minutely what the Buddhists say of
Nirwana; for herein to them hides all the power of their
philosophy and lies the absorbing charm of their religion.

"The state that is peaceful, free from body, from passion, and
from fear, where birth or death is not, that is Nirwana." "Nirwana
puts an end to coming and going, and there is no other happiness."
"It is a calm wherein no wind blows." "There is no difference in
Nirwana." "It is the annihilation of all the principles of
existence." "Nirwana is the completion and opposite shore of
existence, free from decay, tranquil, knowing no restraint, and of
great blessedness." "Nirwana is unmixed satisfaction, entirely
free from sorrow." "The wind cannot be squeezed in the hand, nor
can its color be told. Yet the wind is. Even so Nirwana is, but
its properties cannot be told." "Nirwana, like space, is
causeless, does not live nor die, and has no locality. It is the
abode of those liberated from existence." "Nirwana is not, except
to the being who attains it."36

34 Life of Gotama in Journal of the American Oriental Society,
vol. iii.

35 Symbolik and Mythologie, th. ii. abth. 2, s. 407.

36 For these quotations, and others similar, see Hardy's valuable
work, "Eastern Monachism," chap. xxii., on "Nirwana, its Paths and
Fruition."


Some scholars maintain that the Buddhist Nirwana is nothing but
the atheistic Annihilation. The subject is confessedly a most
difficult one. But it seems to us that the opinion just stated is
the very antithesis of the true interpretation of Nirwana. In the
first place, it should be remembered that there are various sects
of Buddhists. Now, the word Nirwana may be used in different
senses by different schools.37 A few persons a small party,
represented perhaps by able writers may believe in annihilation in
our sense of the term, just as has happened in Christendom, while
the common doctrine of the people is the opposite of that. In the
second place, with the Oriental horror of individuated existence,
and a highly poetical style of writing, nothing could be more
natural, in depicting their ideas of the most desirable state of
being, than that they should carry their metaphors expressive of
repose, freedom from action and emotion, to a pitch conveying to
our cold and literal thought the conceptions of blank
unconsciousness and absolute nothingness.

Colebrooke says, "Nirwana is not annihilation, but unceasing
apathy. The notion of it as a happy state seems derived from the
experience of ecstasies; or else the pleasant, refreshed feeling
with which one wakes from profound repose is referred to the
period of actual sleep."38 A Buddhist author speculates thus:
"That the soul feels not during profound trance, is not for want
of sensibility, but for want of sensible objects." Wilson,
Hodgson, and Vans Kennedy three able thinkers, as well as
scholars, in this field agree that Nirwana is not annihilation as
we understand that word. Mr. Hodgson believes that the Buddhists
expect to be "conscious in Nirwana of the eternal bliss of rest,
as they are in this world of the ceaseless pain of activity."
Forbes also argues against the nihilistic explanation of the
Buddhist doctrine of futurity, and says he is compelled to
conclude that Nirwana denotes imperishable being in a blissful
quietude.39 Many additional authorities in favor of this view
might be adduced, enough to balance, at least, the names on the
other side. Koeppen, in his very fresh, vigorous, and lucid work,
just published, entitled "The Religion of Buddha, and its Origin,"
says, "Nirwana is the blessed Nothing. Buddhism is the Gospel of
Annihilation." But he forgets that the motto on the title page of
his volume is the following sentence quoted from Sakya Muni
himself: "To those who know the concatenation of causes and
effects, there is neither being nor nothing." To them Nirwana is.
Considering it, then, as an open question, unsettled by any
authoritative assertion, we will weigh the probabilities of the
case.

No definition of Nirwana is more frequent than the one given by
the Kalpa Sutra,40 namely, "cessation from action and freedom from
desire." But this, like many of the other representations, such,
for instance, as the exclusion of succession, very plainly is not
a denial of all being, but only of our present modes of
experience. The dying Gotama is said to have "passed through the
several states, one after another, until he arrived at the state
where there is no pain. He then continued to enter the other
higher states, and from the highest entered Nirwana." Can literal
annihilation, the naked emptiness of nonentity, be better than

37 Burnouf, Introduction a l'Histoire du Buddhisme Indien,
Appendice No. I., Du mot Nirvana.

38 Colebrooke, Essays, vol. i. p. 353.

39 Eleven Years in Ceylon, vol. ii. chap. ix.

40 Tanslation by Dr. Stevenson, p. 23.


the highest state of being? It can be so only when we view Nothing
on the positive side as identical with All, make annihilating
deprivation equivalent to universal bestowment, regard negation as
affirmation, and, in the last synthesis of contradictions, see the
abysmal Vacuum as a Plenum of fruition. As Oken says, "The ideal
zero is absolute unity; not a singularity, as the number one, but
an indivisibility, a numberlessness, a homogeneity, a
translucency, a pure identity. It is neither great nor small,
quiescent nor moved; but it is, and it is not, all this."41

Furthermore, if some of the Buddhist representations would lead us
to believe that Nirwana is utter nothingness, others apparently
imply the opposite. "The discourses of Buddha are a charm to cure
the poison of evil desire; a succession of fruit bearing trees
placed here and there to enable the traveller to cross the desert
of existence; a power by which every sorrow may be appeased; a
door of entrance to the eternal city of Nirwana." "The mind of the
rahat" (one who has obtained assurance of emancipation and is only
waiting for it to arrive) "knows no disturbance, because it is
filled with the pleasure of Nirwana." "The sight of Nirwana
bestows perfect happiness." "The rahat is emancipated from
existence in Nirwana, as the lotus is separated from the mud out
of which it springs." "Fire may be produced by rubbing together
two sticks, though previously it had no locality: it is the same
with Nirawna." "Nirwana is free from danger, peaceful, refreshing,
happy. When a man who has been broiled before a huge fire is
released, and goes quickly into some open space, he feels the most
agreeable sensation. All the evils of existence are that fire, and
Nirwana is that open space." These passages indicate the cessation
in Nirwana of all sufferings, perhaps of all present modes of
existence, but not the total end of being. It may be said that
these are but figurative expressions. The reply is, so are the
contrasted statements metaphors, and it is probable that the
expressions which denote the survival of pure being in Nirwana are
closer approximations to the intent of their authors than those
which hint at an unconscious vacancy. If Nirwana in its original
meaning was an utter and infinite blank, then, "out of that very
Nothing," as Max Muller says, "human nature made a new paradise."

There is a scheme of doctrine held by some Buddhist philosophers
which may be thus stated. There are five constituent elements of
sentient existence. They are called khandas, and are as follows:
the organized body, sensation, perception, discrimination, and
consciousness. Death is the dissolution and entire destruction of
these khandas, and apart from them there is no synthetical unit,
soul, or personality. Yet in a certain sense death is not the
absolute annihilation of a human existence, because it leaves a
potentiality inherent in that existence. There is no identical ego
to survive and be born again; but karma that is, the sum of a
man's action, his entire merit and demerit produces at his death a
new being, and so on in continued series until Nirwana is
attained. Thus the succession of being is kept up with transmitted
responsibility, as a flame is transferred from one wick to
another. It is evident enough, as is justly claimed by Hardy and
others, that the limitation of existence to the five khandas,
excluding the idea of any independent individuality, makes death

41 Elements of Physiophilosophy, Tulk's trans. p. 9.


annihilation, and renders the very conception of a future life for
those now living an absurdity. But we are convinced that this view
is the speculative peculiarity of a sect, and by no means the
common belief of the Buddhist populace or the teaching of Gotama
himself. This appears at the outset from the fact that Gotama is
represented as having lived through millions of existences, in
different states and worlds, with preserved identity and memory.
The history of his concatenated advance towards the Buddhaship is
the supporting basis and the saturating spirit of documentary
Buddhism. And the same idea pervades the whole range of narratives
relating to the repeated births and deaths of the innumerable
Buddhist heroes and saints who, after so many residences on earth,
in the hells, in the dewalokas, have at last reached emancipation.
They recollect their adventures; they recount copious portions of
their experience stretching through many lives.

Again: the arguments cited from Buddha seem aimed to prove, not
that there is absolutely no self in man, but that the five khandas
are not the self, that the real self is something distinct from
all that is exposed to misery and change, something deep,
wondrous, divine, infinite. For instance, the report of a debate
on this subject between Buddha and Sachaka closes with these
words: "Thus was Sachaka forced to confess that the five khandas
are impermanent, connected with sorrow, unreal, not the self.42
These terms appear to imply the reality of a self, only that it is
not to be confounded with the apprehensible elements of existence.
Besides, the attainment of Nirwana is held up as a prize to be
laboriously sought by personal effort. To secure it is a positive
triumph quite distinct from the fated dissolution of the khandas
in death. Now, if there be in man no personal entity, what is it
that with so much joy attains Nirwana? The genuine Buddhist
notion, as seems most probable, is that the conscious essence of
the rahat, when the exterior elements of existence fall from
around him, passes by a transcendent climax and discrete leap
beyond the outermost limits of appreciable being, and becomes that
INFINITE which knows no changes and is susceptible of no
definitions. In the Ka gyur collection of Tibetan sacred books,
comprising a hundred volumes, and now belonging to the Cabinet of
Manuscripts in the Royal Library of Paris, there are two volumes
exclusively occupied by a treatise on Nirwana. It is a significant
fact that the title of these volumes is "Nirwana, or Deliverance
from Pain." If Nirwana be simply annihilation, why is it not so
stated? Why should recourse be had to a phrase partially
descriptive of one feature, instead of comprehensively announcing
or implying the whole case?

Still further: it deserves notice that, according to the unanimous
affirmation of Buddhist authors, if any Buddhist were offered the
alternative of an existence as king of a dewa loka, keeping his
personality for a hundred million years in the uninterrupted
enjoyment of perfect happiness, or of translation into Nirwana, he
would spurn the former as defilement, and would with unutterable
avidity choose the latter. We must therefore suppose that by
Nirwana he understands, not naked destruction, but some mysterious
good, too vast for logical comprehension, too obscure to
Occidental thought to find expression in Occidental language.

42 Hardy, Manual, p. 427.


At the moment when Gotama entered upon the Buddhaship, like
a vessel overflowing with honey, his mind overflowed with the
nectar of oral instruction, and he uttered these stanzas:

"Through many different births I have run, vainly seeking The
architect of the desire resembling house. Painful are repeated
births. O house builder! I have seen thee. Again a house thou
canst not build for me. I have broken thy rafters and ridge pole;
I have arrived at the extinction of evil desire; My mind is gone
to Nirwana."

Hardy, who stoutly maintains that the genuine doctrine of Buddha's
philosophy is that there is no transmigrating individuality in
man, but that the karma creates a new person on the dissolution of
the former one, confesses the difficulties of this dogma to be so
great that "it is almost universally repudiated." M. Obry
published at Paris, in 1856, a small volume entirely devoted to
this subject, under the title of "The Indian Nirwana, or the
Enfranchisement of the Soul after Death." His conclusion, after a
careful and candid discussion, is, that Nirwana had different
meanings to the minds of the ancient Aryan priests, the orthodox
Brahmans, the Sankhya Brahmans, and the Buddhists, but had not to
any of them, excepting possibly a few atheists, the sense of
strict annihilation. He thinks that Burnouf and Barthelemy Saint
Hilaire themselves would have accepted this view if they had paid
particular attention to the definite inquiry, instead of merely
touching upon it in the course of their more comprehensive
studies.

What Spinoza declares in the following sentence "God is one,
simple, infinite; his modes of being are diverse, complex,
finite" strongly resembles what the Buddhists say of Nirwana and
the contrasted vicissitudes of existence, and may perhaps throw
light on their meaning. The supposition of immaterial, unlimited,
absolutely unalterable being the scholastic ens sine qualitate
answers to the descriptions of it much more satisfactorily than
the idea of unqualified nothingness does. "Nirwana is real; all
else is phenomenal." The Sankhyas, who do not hold to the
nonentity nor to the annihilation of the soul, but to its eternal
identification with the Infinite One, use nevertheless nearly the
same phrases in describing it that the Buddhists do. For example,
they say, "The soul is neither a production nor productive,
neither matter nor form"43 The Vishnu Purana says, "The mundane
egg, containing the whole creation, was surrounded by seven
envelops, water, air, fire, ether, egotism, intelligence, and
finally the indiscrete principle"44 Is not this Indiscrete
Principle of the Brahmans the same as the Nirwana of the
Buddhists? The latter explicitly claim that "man is capable of
enlarging his faculties to infinity."

43 Sankhya Karika, pp. 16-18.

44 Vishnu Purana, p. 19.


Nagasena says to the king of Sagal, "Neither does Nirwana exist
previously to its reception, nor is that which was not, brought
into existence: still, to the being who attains it, there is
Nirwana." According to this statement, taken in connection with
the hundreds similar to it, Nirwana seems to be a simple mental
perception, most difficult of acquirement, and, when acquired,
assimilating the whole conscious being perfectly to itself. The
Asangkrata Sutra, as translated by Mr. Hardy, says, "From the
joyful exclamations of those who have seen Nirwana, its character
may be known by those who have not made the same attainment." The
superficial thinker, carelessly scanning the recorded sayings of
Gotama and his expositors in relation to Nirwana, is aware only of
a confused mass of metaphysical hieroglyphs and poetical
metaphors; but the Buddhist sages avow that whoso, by concentrated
study and training of his faculties, pursues the inquiry with
adequate perseverance, will at last elicit and behold the real
meaning of Nirwana, the achieved insight and revelation forming
the widest horizon of rapturous truth ever contemplated by the
human mind. The memorable remark of Sir William Hamilton, that
"capacity of thought is not to be constituted into the measure of
existence," should show the error of those who so unjustifiably
affirm that, since Nirwana is said to be neither corporeal nor
incorporeal, nor at all describable, it is therefore absolutely
nothing. A like remark is also to be addressed to those who draw
the same unwarrantable conclusion of the nothingness of Nirwana
from the fact that it has no locality, or from the fact that it is
sometimes said to exclude consciousness. Plato, in the Timaus,
stigmatizes as a vulgar error the notion that what is not in any
place is a nonentity. Many a weighty philosopher has followed him
in this opinion. The denial of place is by no means necessarily
the denial of being. So, too, with consciousness. It is
conceivable that there is a being superior to all the modes of
consciousness now known to us. We are, indeed, unable to define
this, yet it may be. The profoundest analysis shows that
consciousness consists of co ordinated changes.45 "Consciousness
is a succession of changes combined and arranged in special ways."
Now, in contrast to the Occidental thinker, who covets alternation
because in his cold climate action is the means of enjoyment, the
Hindu, in the languid East, where repose is the condition of
enjoyment, conceives the highest blessedness to consist in
exemption from every disturbance, in an unruffled unity excluding
all changes. Therefore, while in some of its forms his dream of
Nirwana admits not consciousness, still, it is not inconsistent
with a homogeneous state of being, which he, in his metaphysical
and theosophie soarings, apprehends as the grandest and most
ecstatic of all.

The etymological force of the word Nirwana is extinction, as when
the sun has set, a fire has burned out, or a lamp is extinguished.
The fair laws of interpretation do not compel us, in cases like
this, to receive the severest literal significance of a word as
conveying the meaning which a popular doctrine holds in the minds
of its believers. There is almost always looseness, vagueness,
metaphor, accommodation. But take the term before us in its
strictest sense, and mark the result. When a fire is extinguished,
it is obvious that, while the flame has disappeared, the substance
of the flame, whatever it was, has not ceased to be, has not been

45 Herbert Spencer, Principles of Psychology, ch. xxv.


actually annihilated. It has only ceased to be in a certain
visible form in which it existed before; but it still survives
under altered conditions. Now, to compare the putting out of a
lamp to the death of a man, extinction is not actual destruction,
but a transition of the flame into another state of being. That
other state, in the case of the soul, is Nirwana.

There is a final consideration, possibly of some worth in dealing
with this obscure theme. We will approach it through a preliminary
query and quotation. That nothing can extend beyond its limits is
an identical proposition. How vast, then, must be the soul of man
in form or in power!

"If souls be substances corporeal, Be they as big just as the body
is? Or shoot they out to the height ethereal? Doth it not seem the
impression of a seal Can be no larger than the wax? The soul with
that vast latitude must move Which measures the objects that it
doth descry. So must it be upstretch'd unto the sky And rub
against the stars."

Cousin asserts that man is conscious of infinity, that "the
unconditional, the absolute, the infinite, is immediately known in
consciousness by difference, plurality, and relation." Now, does
not the consciousness of infinity imply the infinity of
consciousness? If not, we are compelled into the contradiction
that a certain entity or force reaches outside of its outermost
boundary. The Buddhist ideal is not self annihilation, but self
universalization. It is not the absorption of a drop into the sea,
but the dilatation of a drop to the sea. Each drop swells to the
whole ocean, each soul becomes the Boundless One, each rahat is
identified with the total Nirwana. The rivers of emancipated men
neither disembogue into the ocean of spirit nor evaporate into the
abyss of nonentity, but are blended with infinitude as an
ontological integer. Nirwana is unexposed and illimitable space.
Buddhism is perfect disinterestedness, absolute self surrender. It
is the gospel of everlasting emancipation for all. It cannot be
that a deliberate suicide of soul is the ideal holding the deepest
desire of four hundred millions of people. Nirwana is not
negation, but a pure positive without alternation or foil.

Some light may be thrown on the subject by contemplating the
successive states through which the dying Gotama passed. Max
Muller describes them, after the Buddhist documents, thus: "He
enters into the first stage of meditation when he feels freedom
from sin, acquires a knowledge of the nature of all things, and
has no desire except that of Nirvana. But he still feels pleasure;
he even uses his reasoning and discriminating powers. The use of
these powers ceases in the second stage of meditation, when
nothing remains but a desire after Nirvana, and a general feeling
of satisfaction arising from his intellectual perfection. That
satisfaction, also, is extinguished in the third stage.
Indifference succeeds; yet there is still self consciousness, and
a certain amount of physical pleasure. In the fourth stage these
last remnants are destroyed; memory fades away, all pleasure and
pain are gone, and the doors of Nirvana now open before him. We
must soar still higher, and, though we may feel giddy

and disgusted,46 we must sit out the tragedy till the curtain
falls. After the four stages of meditation are passed, the Buddha
(and every being is to become a Buddha) enters first into the
infinity of space, then into the infinity of intelligence, and
thence he passes into the third region, the realm of nothing. But
even here there is no rest. There is still something left, the
idea of the nothing in which he rejoices. That also must be
destroyed; and it is destroyed in the fourth and last region,
where there is not even the idea of a nothing left, and where
there is complete rest, undisturbed by nothing, or what is not
nothing."47 Analyze away all particulars until you reach an
uncolored boundlessness of pure immateriality, free from every
predicament; and that is Nirwana. This is one possible way of
conceiving the fate of the soul; and the speculative mind must
conceive it in every possible way. However closely the result
resembles the vulgar notion of annihilation, the difference in
method of approach and the difference to the contemplator's
feeling are immense. The Buddhist apprehends Nirwana as infinitude
in absolute and eternal equilibrium: the atheist finds Nirwana in
a coffin. That is thought of with rapture, this, with horror.

It should be noticed, before we close this chapter, that some of
the Hindus give a spiritual interpretation to all the gross
physical details of their so highly colored and extravagant
mythology. One of their sacred books says, "Pleasure and pain are
states of the mind. Heaven is that which delights the mind, hell
is that which gives it pain. Hence vice is called hell, and virtue
is called heaven." Another author says, "The fire of the angry
mind produces the fire of hell, and consumes its possessor. A
wicked person causes his evil deeds to impinge upon himself, and
that is hell." The various sects of mystics, allied in faith and
feeling to the Sufis, which are quite numerous in the East, agree
in a deep metaphorical explanation of the vulgar notions
pertaining to Deity, judgment, heaven, and hell.

In conclusion, the most remarkable fact in this whole field of
inquiry is the contrast of the Eastern horror of individuality and
longing for absorption with the Western clinging to personality
and abhorrence of dissolution.48 The true Orientalist, whether
Brahman, Buddhist, or Sufi, is in love with death. Through this
gate he expects to quit his frail and pitiable consciousness,
losing himself, with all evil, to be born anew and find himself,
with all good, in God. All sense, passion, care, and grief shall
cease with deliverance from the spectral semblances of this false
life. All pure contemplation, perfect repose, unsullied and
unrippled joy shall begin with entrance upon the true life beyond.
Thus thinking, he feels that death is the avenue to infinite
expansion, freedom, peace, bliss; and he longs for it with an
intensity not dreamed of by more frigid natures. He often compares
himself, in this world aspiring towards another, to an enamored
moth drawn towards the fire, and he exclaims, with a sigh and a
thrill,

46 Not disgust, but wonder and awe, fathomless intellectual
emotion, at so unparalleled a phenomenon of our miraculous human
nature.

47 Buddhism and Buddhist Pilgrims, p. 19.

48 Burnouf, Le Bhagavata Purana, tome i. livre iii. ch. 28:
Acquisition de la Delivrance, ch. 31.

Marche de l'ame individuelle. "Highest nature wills the capture;
'Light to light!' the instinct cries; And in agonizing rapture
falls the moth, and bravely dies. Think not what thou art,
Believer; think but what thou mayst become For the World is thy
deceiver, and the Light thy only home." 49

The Western mind approaches the subject of death negatively,
stripping off the attributes of finite being; the Eastern mind,
positively, putting on the attributes of infinite being. Negative
acts, denying function, are antipathetic, and lower the sense of
life; positive acts, affirming function, are sympathetic, and
raise the sense of life. Therefore the end to which those look,
annihilation, is dreaded; that to which these look, Nirwana, is
desired. To become nothing, is measureless horror; to become all,
is boundless ecstasy.

49 Milnes, Palm Leaves.


CHAPTER VII.

PERSIAN DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

THE name of Zoroaster is connected, either as author or as
reviser, with that remarkable system of rites and doctrines which
constituted the religion of the ancient Iranians, and which yet
finds adherents in the Ghebers of Persia and the Parsees of India.
Pliny, following the affirmation of Aristotle, asserts that he
flourished six thousand years before Plato. Moyle, Gibbon, Volney,
Rhode, concur in throwing him back into this vast antiquity.
Foucher, Holty, Heeren, Tychsen, Guizot, assign his birth to the
beginning of the seventh century before Christ. Hyde, Prideaux, Du
Perron, Kleuker, Herder, Klaproth, and others, bring him down to
about a hundred and fifty years later. Meanwhile, several weighty
names press the scale in favor of the hypothesis of two or three
Zoroasters, living at separate epochs. So the learned men differ,
and the genuine date in question cannot, at present at least, be
decided. It is comparatively certain that, if he was the author of
the work attributed to him, he must have flourished as early as
the sixth century before Christ. The probabilities seem, upon the
whole, that he lived four or five centuries earlier than that,
even, "in the pre historic time," as Spiegel says. However, the
settlement of the era of Zoroaster is not a necessary condition of
discovering the era when the religion commonly traced to him was
in full prevalence as the established faith of the Persian empire.
The latter may be conclusively fixed without clearing up the
former. And it is known, without disputation, that that religion
whether it was primarily Persian, Median, Assyrian, or Chaldean
was flourishing at Babylon in the maturity of its power in the
time of the Hebrew prophets Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Daniel,
twenty five hundred years ago.

The celebrated work on the religion of the ancient Medes and
Persians by Dr. Hyde, published in 1700, must be followed with
much caution and be taken with many qualifications. The author was
biassed by unsound theories of the relation of the Hebrew theology
to the Persian, and was, of course, ignorant of the most
authoritative ancient documents afterwards brought to light. His
work, therefore, though learned and valuable, considering the time
when it was written, is vitiated by numerous mistakes and defects.
In 1762, Anquetil du Perron, returning to France from protracted
journeying and abode in the East, brought home, among the fruits
of his researches, manuscripts purporting to be parts of the old
Persian Bible composed or collected by Zoroaster. It was written
in a language hitherto unknown to European scholars, one of the
primitive dialects of Persia. This work, of which he soon
published a French version at Paris was entitled by him the "Zend
Avesta." It confirmed all that was previously known of the
Zoroastrian religion, and, by its allusions, statements, and
implications, threw great additional light upon the subject.

A furious controversy, stimulated by personal rivalries and
national jealousy, immediately arose. Du Perron was denounced as
an impostor or an ignoramus, and his publication stigmatized as a
wretched forgery of his own, or a gross imposition palmed upon him
by some lying pundit. Sir William Jones and John Richardson, both
distinguished English Orientalists, and Meiners in Germany, were
the chief impugners of the document in hand. Richardson
obstinately went beyond his data, and did not live long enough to
retract; but Sir William, upon an increase of information, changed
his views, and regretted his first inconsiderate zeal and somewhat
mistaken championship. The ablest defender of Du Perron was
Kleuker, who translated the whole work from French into German,
adding many corrections, new arguments, and researches of great
ability. His work was printed at Riga, in seven quarto volumes,
from 1777 to 1783. The progress and results of the whole
discussion are well enough indicated in the various papers which
the subject drew forth in the volumes of the "Asiatic Researches"
and the numbers of the "Asiatic Journal." The conclusion was that,
while Du Perron had indeed betrayed partial ignorance and crudity,
and had committed some glaring errors, there was not the least
ground for doubt that his asserted discovery was in every
essential what it claimed to be. It is a sort of litany; a
collection of prayers and of sacred dialogues held between Ormuzd
and Zoroaster, from which the Persian system of theology may be
inferred and constructed with some approach to completeness.

The assailants of the genuineness of the "Zend Avesta" were
effectually silenced when, some thirty years later, Professor
Rask, a well known Danish linguist, during his inquiries in the
East, found other copies of it, and gave to the world such
information and proofs as could not be suspected. He, discovering
the close affinities of the Zend with Sanscrit, led the way to the
most brilliant triumph yet achieved by comparative philology.
Portions of the work in the original character were published in
1829, under the supervision of Burnouf at Paris and of Olshausen
at Hamburg. The question of the genuineness of the dialect
exhibited in these specimens, once so freely mooted, has been
discussed, and definitively settled in the affirmative, by several
eminent scholars, among whom may be mentioned Bopp, whose
"Comparative Grammar of the Sanscrit, Zend,
Greek, Latin, Lithuanian, Gothic, and German Languages" is an
astonishing monument of erudition and toil. It is the conviction
of Major Rawlinson that the Zoroastrian books of the Parsees were
imported to Bombay from Persia in their present state in the
seventh century of our era, but that they were written at least
twelve centuries earlier.1

But the two scholars whose opinions upon any subject within this
department of learning are now the most authoritative are
Professor Spiegel of Erlangen, and Professor Westergaard of
Copenhagen. Their investigations, still in progress, made with all
the aids furnished by their predecessors, and also with the
advantage of newly discovered materials and processes, are of
course to be relied on in preference to the earlier, and in some
respects necessarily cruder, researches. It appears that the
proper Zoroastrian Scriptures namely, the Yasna, the Vispered, the
Vendidad, the Yashts, the Nyaish, the Afrigans, the Gahs, the
Sirozah, and a few other fragments were composed in an ancient
Iranian dialect, which may as Professor

W. D. Whitney suggests in his very lucid and able article in vol.
v. of the Journal of the American Oriental Society most fitly be
called the Avestan dialect. (No other book in this dialect, we
believe, is known to be in existence now.) It is difficult to say
when these

1 Wilson, Parsi Religion Unfolded, p. 405.


documents were written; but in view of all the relevant
information now possessed, including that drawn from the
deciphered cuneiform inscriptions, the most probable date is about
a thousand years before Christ. Professor R. Roth of Tubingen
whose authority herein as an original investigator is perhaps
hardly second to any other man's says the books of the Zoroastrian
faith were written a considerable time before the rise of the
Achamenian dynasty. He is convinced that the whole substantial
contents of the Zend Avesta are many centuries older than the
Christian era.2 Professor Muller of Oxford also holds the same
opinion.3 And even those who set the date of the literary record a
few centuries later, as Spiegel does, freely admit the great
antiquity of the doctrines and usages then first committed to
manuscript. In the fourth century before Christ, Alexander of
Macedon overran the Persian empire. With the new rule new
influences prevailed, and the old national faith and ritual fell
into decay and neglect. Early in the third century of the
Christian era, Ardeshir overthrew the Parthian dominion in Persia
and established the Sassanian dynasty. One of his first acts was,
stimulated doubtless by the surviving Magi and the old piety of
the people, to reinaugurate the ancient religion. A fresh zeal of
loyalty broke out, and all the prestige and vigor of the long
suppressed worship were restored. The Zoroastrian Scriptures were
now sought for, whether in manuscript or in the memories of the
priests. It would seem that only remnants were found. The
collection, such as it was, was in the Avestan dialect, which had
grown partially obsolete and unintelligible. The authorities
accordingly had a translation of it made in the speech of the
time, Pehlevi. This translation most of which has reached us
written in with the original, sentence after sentence forms the
real Zend language, often confounded by the literary public with
Avestan. The translation of the Avestan books, probably made under
these circumstances as early as A. D. 350, is called the
Huzvaresch. In regard to some of these particulars there are
questions still under investigation, but upon which it is not
worth our while to pause here. For example, Spiegel thinks the
Zend identical with the Pehlevi of the fourth century; Westergaard
believes it entirely distinct from Pehlevi, and in truth only a
disguised mode of writing Parsee, the oldest form of the modern
Persian language.

The source from which the fullest and clearest knowledge of the
Zoroastrian faith, as it is now held by the Parsees, is drawn, is
the Desatir and the Bundehesh. The former work is the unique
vestige of an extinct dialect called the Mahabadian, accompanied
by a Persian translation and commentary. It is impossible to
ascertain the century when the Mahabadian text was written; but
the translation into Persian was, most probably, made in the
seventh century of the Christian era.4 Spiegel, in 1847, says
there can be no doubt of the spuriousness of the Desatir; but he
gives no reasons for the statement, and we do not know that it is
based on any other arguments than those which, advanced by De
Sacy, were refuted by Von Hammer. The Bundehesh is in the Pehlevi
or Zend language, and was written, it is

2 Ueber die Heiligen Schriften der Arier. Jahrbucher fur Deutsche
Theologie, 1857, band ii. ss. 146, 147.

3 Essay on the Veda and the Zend Avesta, p. 24. See also Bunsen's
Christianity and Mankind, vol. iii. p. 114.

4 Baron von Hammer, in Heidelberger Jabrbucher der Literatur,
1823. Id. in Journal Asiatique, Juillet, 1833. Dabistan,
Preliminary Discourse, pp. xix.  lxv.


thought, about the seventh century, but was derived, it is
claimed, from a more ancient work.5 The book entitled "Revelations
of Ardai Viraf" exists in Pehlevi probably of the fourth century,
according to Troyer,6 and is believed to have been originally
written in the Avestan tongue, though this is extremely doubtful.
It gives a detailed narrative of the scenery of heaven and hell,
as seen by Ardai Viraf during a visit of a week which his soul
leaving his body for that length of time paid to those regions.
Many later and enlarged versions of this have appeared. One of
them, dating from the sixteenth century, was translated into
English by T. A. Pope and published in 1816. Sanscrit translations
of several of the before named writings are also in existence. And
several other comparatively recent works, scarcely needing mention
here, although considered as somewhat authoritative by the modern
followers of Zoroaster, are to be found in Guzeratee, the present
dialect of the Indian Parsees. A full exposition of the
Zoroastrian religion, with satisfactory proofs of its antiquity
and documentary genuineness, is presented in the Preliminary
Discourse and Notes to the Dabistan. This curious and entertaining
work, a fund of strange and valuable lore, is an historico
critical view of the principal religions of the world, especially
of the Oriental sects, schools, and manners. It was composed in
Persian, apparently by Mohsan Fani, about the year 1645. An
English translation, with elaborate explanatory matter, by David
Shea and Anthony Troyer, was published at London and at Paris in
1843.7

In these records there are obscurities, incongruities, and chasms,
as might naturally be anticipated, admitting them to be strictly
what they would pass for. These faults may be accounted for in
several ways. First, in a rude stage of philosophical culture,
incompleteness of theory, inconsistent conceptions in different
parts of a system, are not unusual, but are rather to be expected,
and are slow to become troublesome to its adherents. Secondly,
distinct contemporary thinkers or sects may give expression to
their various views in literary productions of the same date and
possessing a balanced authority. Or, thirdly, the heterogeneous
conceptions in some particulars met with in these scriptures may
be a result of the fact that the collection contains writings of
distinct ages, when the same problems had been differently
approached and had given birth to opposing or divergent
speculations. The later works of course cannot have the authority
of the earlier in deciding questions of ancient belief: they are
to be taken rather as commentaries, interpreting and carrying out
in detail many points that lie only in obscure hints and allusions
in the primary documents. But it is a significant fact that, in
the generic germs of doctrine and custom, in the essential
outlines of substance, in rhetorical imagery, in practical morals,
the statements of all these books are alike: they only vary in
subordinate matters and in degrees of fulness.

The charge has repeatedly been urged that the materials of the
more recent of the Parsee Scriptures the Desatir and the
Bundehesh were drawn from Christian and Mohammedan sources. No
evidence of value for sustaining such assertions has been adduced.
Under the circumstances, scarcely any motive for such an
imposition appears. In view of the whole case,

5 Dabistan, vol. i. p. 226, note.

6 Ibid. p. 185, note.

7 Reviewed in Asiatic Journal, 1844, pp. 582-595.


the reverse supposition is rather to be credited. In the first
place, we have ample evidence for the existence of the general
Zoroastrian system long anterior to the rise of Christianity. The
testimony of the classic authors to say nothing of the known
antiquity of the language in which the system is preserved is
demonstrative on this point. Secondly, the striking agreement in
regard to fundamental doctrines, pervading spirit, and ritual
forms between the accounts in the classics and those in the
Avestan books, and of both these with the later writings and
traditional practice of the Parsees, furnishes powerful
presumption that the religion was a connected development,
possessing the same essential features from the time of its
national establishment. Thirdly, we have unquestionable proofs
that, during the period from the Babylonish captivity to the
advent of Christ, the Jews borrowed and adapted a great deal from
the Persian theology, but no proof that the Persians took any
thing from the Jewish theology. This is abundantly confessed by
such scholars as Gesenius, Rosenmuller, Stuart, Lucke, De Wette,
Neander; and it will hardly be challenged by any one who has
investigated the subject. But the Jewish theology being thus
impregnated with germs from the Persian faith, and being in a
sense the historic mother of Christian theology, it is far more
reasonable, in seeking the origin of dogmas common to Parsees and
Christians, to trace them through the Pharisees to Zoroaster, than
to imagine them suddenly foisted upon the former by forgery on the
part of the latter at a late period. Fourthly, it is notorious
that Mohammed, in forming his religion, made wholesale draughts
upon previously existing faiths, that their adherents might more
readily accept his teachings, finding them largely in unison with
their own. It is altogether more likely, aside from historic
evidence which we possess, that he drew from the tenets and
imagery of the Ghebers, than that they, when subdued by his armies
and persecuted by his rule from their native land, introduced new
doctrines from the Koran into the ancestral creed which they so
revered that neither exile nor death could make them abjure it.
For, driven by those fierce proselytes, the victorious Arabs, to
the mountains of Kirman and to the Indian coast, they clung with
unconquerable tenacity to their religion, still scrupulously
practising its rites, proudly mindful of the time when every
village, from the shore of the Caspian Sea to the outlet of the
Persian Gulf, had its splendid fire temple,

"And Iran like a sunflower turn'd Where'er the eye of Mithra
burn'd."

We therefore see no reason for believing that important Christian
or Mohammedan ideas have been interpolated into the old
Zoroastrian religion. The influence has been in the other
direction. Relying then, though with caution, on what Dr. Edward
Roth says, that "the certainty of our possessing a correct
knowledge of the leading ancient doctrines of the Persians is now
beyond all question," we will try to exhibit so much of the system
as is necessary for appreciating its doctrine of a future life.

In the deep background of the Magian theology looms, in mysterious
obscurity, the belief in an infinite First Principle, Zeruana
Akerana. According to most of the scholars who have investigated
it, the meaning of this term is "Time without Bounds," or absolute
duration. But Bohlen says it signifies the "Untreated Whole;" and
Schlegel thinksit denotes the "Indivisible One." The conception
seems to have been to the people mostly an unapplied abstraction,
too vast and remote to become prominent in their speculation or
influential in their faith. Spiegel, indeed, thinks the conception
was derived from Babylon, and added to the system at a later
period than the other doctrines. The beginning of vital theology,
the source of actual ethics to the Zoroastrians, was in the idea
of the two antagonist powers, Ormuzd and Ahriman, the first
emanations of Zeruana, who divide between them in unresting strife
the empire of the universe. The former is the Principle of Good,
the perfection of intelligence, beneficence, and light, the source
of all reflected excellence. The latter is the Principle of Evil,
the contriver of misery and death, the king of darkness, the
instigator of all wrong. With sublime beauty the ancient Persian
said, "Light is the body of Ormuzd; Darkness is the body of
Ahriman." There has been much dispute whether the Persian theology
grew out of the idea of an essential and eternal dualism, or was
based on the conception of a partial and temporary battle; in
other words, whether Ahriman was originally and necessarily evil,
or fell from a divine estate.

In the fragmentary documents which have reached us, the whole
subject lies in confusion. It is scarcely possible to unravel the
tangled mesh. Sometimes it seems to be taught that Ahriman was at
first good, an angel of light who, through envy of his great
compeer, sank from his primal purity, darkened into hatred, and
became the rancorous enemy of truth and love. At other times he
appears to be considered as the pure primordial essence of evil.
The various views may have prevailed in different ages or in
different schools. Upon the whole, however, we hold the opinion
that the real Zoroastrian idea of Ahriman was moral and free, not
physical and fatal. The whole basis of the universe was good; evil
was an after perversion, a foreign interpolation, a battling
mixture. First, the perfect Zeruana was once all in all: Ahriman,
as well as Ormuzd, proceeded from him; and the inference that he
was pure would seem to belong to the idea of his origin. Secondly,
so far as the account of Satan given in the book of Job perhaps
the earliest appearance of the Persian notion in Jewish
literature warrants any inference or supposition at all, it would
lead to the image of one who was originally a prince in heaven,
and who must have fallen thence to become the builder and
potentate of hell. Thirdly, that matter is not an essential core
of evil, the utter antagonist of spirit, and that Ahriman is not
evil by an intrinsic necessity, will appear from the two
conceptions lying at the base and crown of the Persian system:
that the creation, as it first came from the hands of Ormuzd, was
perfectly good; and that finally the purified material world shall
exist again unstained by a breath of evil, Ahriman himself
becoming like Ormuzd. He is not, then, aboriginal and
indestructible evil in substance. The conflict between Ormuzd and
him is the temporary ethical struggle of light and darkness, not
the internecine ontological war of spirit and matter. Roth says,
"Ahriman was originally good: his fall was a determination of his
will, not an inherent necessity of his nature." 8 Whatever other
conceptions may be found, whatever inconsistencies or
contradictions to this may appear, still, we believe the genuine
Zoroastrian view was such as we have now stated. The opposite
doctrine arose from the more abstruse lucubrations of a more
modern time, and is Manichaan, not Zoroastrian.

8 Zoroastrische Glaubenslehre, ss. 397, 398.


Ormuzd created a resplendent and happy world. Ahriman instantly
made deformity, impurity, and gloom, in opposition to it. All
beauty, virtue, harmony, truth, blessedness, were the work of the
former. All ugliness, vice, discord, falsehood, wretchedness,
belonged to the latter. They grappled and mixed in a million
hostile shapes. This universal battle is the ground of ethics, the
clarion call to marshal out the hostile hosts of good and ill; and
all other war is but a result and a symbol of it. The strife thus
indicated between a Deity and a Devil, both subordinate to the
unmoved ETERNAL, was the Persian solution of the problem of evil,
their answer to the staggering question, why pleasure and pain,
benevolence and malignity, are so conflictingly mingled in the
works of nature and in the soul of man. In the long struggle that
ensued, Ormuzd created multitudes of co operant angels to assail
his foe, stocking the clean empire of Light with celestial allies
of his holy banner, who hang from heaven in great numbers, ready
at the prayer of the righteous man to hie to his aid and work him
a thousandfold good. Ahriman, likewise, created an equal number of
assistant demons, peopling the filthy domain of Darkness with
counterbalancing swarms of infernal followers of his pirate flag,
who lurk at the summit of hell, watching to snatch every
opportunity to ply their vocation of sin and ruin. There are such
hosts of these invisible antagonists sown abroad, and incessantly
active, that every star is crowded and all space teems with them.
Each man has a good and a bad angel, a ferver and a dev, who are
endeavoring in every manner to acquire control over his conduct
and possession of his soul.

The Persians curiously personified the source of organic life in
the world under the emblem of a primeval bull. In this symbolic
beast were packed the seeds and germs of all the creatures
afterwards to people the earth. Ahriman, to ruin the creation of
which this animal was the life medium, sought to kill him. He set
upon him two of his devs, who are called "adepts of death." They
stung him in the breast, and plagued him until he died of rage.
But, as he was dying, from his right shoulder sprang the
androgynal Kaiomorts, who was the stock root of humanity. His body
was made from fire, air, water, and earth, to which Ormuzd added
an immortal soul, and bathed him with an elixir which rendered him
fair and glittering as a youth of fifteen, and would have
preserved him so perennially had it not been for the assaults of
the Evil One.9 Ahriman, the enemy of all life, determined to slay
him, and at last accomplished his object; but, as Kaiomorts fell,
from his seed, through the power of Ormuzd, originated Meschia and
Meschiane, male and female, the first human pair, from whom all
our race have descended. They would never have died,10 but
Ahriman, in the guise of a serpent, seduced them, and they sinned
and fell. This account is partly drawn from that later treatise,
the Bundehesh, whose mythological cosmogony reminds us of the
Scandinavian Ymer. But we conceive it to be strictly reliable as a
representation of the Zoroastrian faith in its essential
doctrines; for the earlier documents, the Yasna, the Yeshts, and
the Vendidad, contain the same things in obscure and undeveloped
expressions. They, too, make repeated mention of the mysterious
bull, and of Kaiomorts.11 They invariably represent death as
resulting

9 Kleuker, Zend Avesta, band i. anhang 1, s. 263.

10 Ibid. band i. s. 27.

11 Yasna, 24th IIa.


from the hostility of Ahriman. The earliest Avestan account of the
earthly condition of men describes them as living in a garden
which Yima or Jemschid had enclosed at the command of Ormuzd.12
During the golden age of his reign they were free from heat and
cold, sickness and death. "In the garden which Yima made they led
a most beautiful life, and they bore none of the marks which
Ahriman has since made upon men." But Ahriman's envy and hatred
knew no rest until he and his devs had, by their wiles, broken
into this paradise, betrayed Yima and his people into falsehood,
and so, by introducing corruption into their hearts, put an end to
their glorious earthly immortality. This view is set forth in the
opening fargards of the Vendidad; and it has been clearly
illustrated in an elaborate contribution upon the "Old Iranian
Mythology" by Professor Westergaard.13 Death, like all other
evils, was an after effect, thrust into the purely good creation
of Ormuzd by the cunning malice of Ahriman. The Vendidad, at its
commencement, recounts the various products of Ormuzd's beneficent
power, and adds, after each particular, "Thereupon Ahriman, who is
full of death, made an opposition to the same."

According to the Zoroastrian modes of thought, what would have
been the fate of man had Ahriman not existed or not interfered?
Plainly, mankind would have lived on forever in innocence and joy.
They would have been blessed with all placid delights, exempt from
hate, sickness, pain, and every other ill; and, when the earth was
full of them, Ormuzd would have taken his sinless subjects to his
own realm of light on high. But when they forsook the true service
of Ormuzd, falling into deceit and defilement, they became
subjects of Ahriman; and he would inflict on them, as the
creatures of his hated rival, all the calamities in his power,
dissolve the masterly workmanship of their bodies in death, and
then take their souls as prisoners into his own dark abode. "Had
Meschia continued to bring meet praises, it would have happened
that when the time of man, created pure, had come, his soul,
created pure and immortal, would immediately have gone to the seat
of bliss."14 "Heaven was destined for man upon condition that he
was humble of heart, obedient to the law, and pure in thought,
word, and deed." But "by believing the lies of Ahriman they became
sinners, and their souls must remain in his nether kingdom until
the resurrection of their bodies."15 Ahriman's triumph thus
culminates in the death of man and that banishment of the
disembodied soul into hell which takes the place of its
originally intended reception into heaven.

The law of Ormuzd, revealed through Zoroaster, furnishes to all
who faithfully observe it in purity of thought, speech, and
action, "when body and soul have separated, attainment of paradise
in the next world,"16 while the neglecters of it "will pass into
the dwelling of the devs,"17 "after death will have no part in
paradise, but will occupy the place of darkness

12 Die Sage von Dschemschid. Von Professor R. Roth. In Zeitschrift
der Deutschen Morgeulandischen Gesellschaft, band iv. ss. 417-431.

13 Weber, Indische Studien, band iii. 8. 411.

14 Yesht LXXXVII. Kleuker, band ii. sect. 211.

15 Bundehesh, ch. xv.

16 Avesta die Heiligen Schriften der Parsen. Von Dr. F. Spiegel,
band i. s, 171.

17 Ibid. s. 158.


destined for the wicked."18 The third day after death, the soul
advances upon "the way created by Ormuzd for good and bad," to be
examined as to its conduct. The pure soul passes up from this
evanescent world, over the bridge Chinevad, to the world of
Ormuzd, and joins the angels. The sinful soul is bound and led
over the way made for the godless, and finds its place at the
bottom of gloomy hell.19 An Avestan fragment 20 and the Viraf
Nameh give the same account, only with more picturesque fulness.
On the soaring bridge the soul meets Rashne rast, the angel of
justice, who tries those that present themselves before him. If
the merits prevail, a figure of dazzling substance, radiating
glory and fragrance, advances and accosts the justified soul,
saying, "I am thy good angel: I was pure at the first, but thy
good deeds have made me purer;" and the happy one is straightway
led to Paradise. But when the vices outweigh the virtues, a dark
and frightful image, featured with ugliness and exhaling a noisome
smell, meets the condemned soul, and cries, "I am thy evil spirit:
bad myself, thy crimes have made me worse." Then the culprit
staggers on his uncertain foothold, is hurled from the dizzy
causeway, and precipitated into the gulf which yawns horribly
below. A sufficient reason for believing these last details no
late and foreign interpolation, is that the Vendidad itself
contains all that is essential in them, Garotman, the heaven of
Ormuzd, open to the pure, Dutsakh, the abode of devs, ready for
the wicked, Chinevad, the bridge of ordeal, upon which all must
enter.21

Some authors have claimed that the ancient disciples of Zoroaster
believed in a purifying, intermediate state for the dead. Passages
stating such a doctrine are found in the Yeshts, Sades, and in
later Parsee works. But whether the translations we now possess of
these passages are accurate, and whether the passages themselves
are authoritative to establish the ancient prevalence of such a
belief, we have not yet the means for deciding. There was a yearly
solemnity, called the "Festival for the Dead," still observed by
the Parsees, held at the season when it was thought that that
portion of the sinful departed who had ended their penance were
raised from Dutsakh to earth, from earth to Garotman. Du Perron
says that this took place only during the last five days of the
year, when the souls of all the deceased sinners who were
undergoing punishment had permission to leave their confinement
and visit their relatives; after which, those not yet purified
were to return, but those for whom a sufficient atonement had been
made were to proceed to Paradise. For proof that this doctrine was
held, reference is made to the following passage, with others:
"During these five days Ormuzd empties hell. The imprisoned souls
shall be freed from Ahriman's plagues when they pay penance and
are ashamed of their sins; and they shall receive a heavenly
nature; the meritorious deeds of themselves and of their families
cause this liberation: all the rest must return to Dutsakh."22
Rhode thinks this was a part of the old Persian faith, and the
source of

18 Ibid. s. 127.

19 Ibid. ss. 248-252. Vendidad, Fargard XIX.

20 Kleuker, band i. ss. xxxi. xxxv.

21 Spiegel, Vendidad, ss. 207, 229, 233, 250.

22 Kleuker, band ii. s. 173.


the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory.23 But, whether so or
not, it is certain that the Zoroastrians regarded the whole
residence of the departed souls in hell as temporary.

The duration of the present order of the world was fixed at twelve
thousand years, divided into four equal epochs. In the first three
thousand years, Ormuzd creates and reigns triumphantly over his
empire. Through the next cycle, Ahriman is constructing and
carrying on his hostile works. The third epoch is occupied with a
drawn battle between the upper and lower kings and their
adherents. During the fourth period, Ahriman is to be victorious,
and a state of things inconceivably dreadful is to prevail. The
brightness of all clear things will be shrouded, the happiness of
all joyful creatures be destroyed, innocence disappear, religion
be scoffed from the world, and crime, horror, and war be rampant.
Famine will spread, pests and plagues stalk over the earth, and
showers of black rain fall. But at last Ormuzd will rise in his
might and put an end to these awful scenes. He will send on earth
a savior. Sosiosch, to deliver mankind, to wind up the final
period of time, and to bring the arch enemy to judgment. At the
sound of the voice of Sosiosch the dead will come forth. Good,
bad, indifferent, all alike will rise, each in his order.
Kaiomorts, the original single ancestor of men, will be the
firstling. Next, Meschia and Meschiane, the primal parent pair,
will appear. And then the whole multitudinous family of mankind
will throng up. The genii of the elements will render up the
sacred materials intrusted to them, and rebuild the decomposed
bodies. Each soul will recognise, and hasten to reoccupy, its old
tenement of flesh, now renewed, improved, immortalized. Former
acquaintances will then know each other. "Behold, my father! my
mother! my brother! my wife! they shall exclaim." 24

In this exposition we have following the guidance of Du Perron,
Foucher, Kleuker, J. G. Muller, and other early scholars in this
field attributed the doctrine of a general and bodily resurrection
of the dead to the ancient Zoroastrians. The subsequent researches
of Burnouf, Roth, and others, have shown that several, at least,
of the passages which Anquetil supposed to teach such a doctrine
were erroneously translated by him, and do not really contain it.
And recently the ground has been often assumed that the doctrine
of the resurrection does not belong to the Avesta, but is a more
modern dogma, derived by the Parsees from the Jews or the
Christians, and only forced upon the old text by misinterpretation
through the Pehlevi version and the Parsee commentary. A question
of so grave importance demands careful examination. In the absence
of that reliable translation of the entire original documents, and
that thorough elaboration of all the extant materials, which we
are awaiting from the hands of Professor Spiegel, whose second
volume has long been due, and Professor Westergaard, whose second
and third volumes are eagerly looked for, we must make the best
use of the resources actually available, and then leave the point
in such plausible light as existing testimony and fair reasoning
can throw upon it. In the first place, it should be observed that,
admitting the doctrine to be nowhere mentioned in the Avesta,
still, it does not follow that the belief was not prevalent when
the

23 Rhode, Heilige Sage des Zendvolks, s. 410.

24 Bundehesh, ch. xxxi.


Avesta was written. We know that the Christians of the first two
centuries believed a great many things of which there is no
statement in the New Testament. Spiegel holds that the doctrine in
debate is not in the Avesta, the text of which in its present form
he thinks was written after the time of Alexander.25 But he
confesses that the resurrection theory was in existence long
before that time.26 Now, if the Avesta, committed to writing three
hundred years before Christ, at a time when the doctrine of the
resurrection is known to have been believed, contains no reference
to it, the same relation of facts may just as well have existed if
we date the record seven centuries earlier. We possess only a
small and broken portion of the original Zoroastrian Scriptures;
as Roth says, "songs, invocations, prayers, snatches of
traditions, parts of a code, the shattered fragments of a once
stately building." If we could recover the complete documents in
their earliest condition, it might appear that the now lost parts
contained the doctrine of the general resurrection fully formed.
We have many explicit references to many ancient Zoroastrian books
no longer in existence. For example, the Parsees have a very early
account that the Avesta at first consisted of twenty one Nosks. Of
these but one has been preserved complete, and small parts of
three or four others. The rest are utterly wanting. The fifth
Nosk, whereof not any portion remains to us, was called the Do az
ah Hamast. It contained thirty two chapters, treating, among other
things, "of the upper and nether world, of the resurrection, of
the bridge Chinevad, and of the fate after death." 27 If this
evidence be true, and we know of no reason for not crediting it,
it is perfectly decisive. But, at all events, the absence from the
extant parts of the Zend Avesta of the doctrine under examination
would be no proof that that doctrine was not received when those
documents were penned.

Secondly, we have the unequivocal assertion of Theopompus, in the
fourth century before Christ, that the Magi taught the doctrine of
a general resurrection.28 "At the appointed epoch Ahriman shall be
subdued," and "men shall live again and shall be immortal." And
Diogenes adds, "Eudemus of Rhodes affirms the same things."
Aristotle calls Ormuzd Zeus, and Ahriman Haides, the Greek names
respectively of the lord of the starry Olympians above, and the
monarch of the Stygian ghosts beneath. Another form also in which
the early Greek authors betray their acquaintance with the Persian
conception of a conflict between Ormuzd and Ahriman is in the
idea expressed by Xenophon in his Cyropadia, in the dialogue
between Araspes and Cyrus of two souls in man, one a brilliant
efflux of good, the other a dusky emanation of evil, each bearing
the likeness of its parent.29 Since we know from Theopompus that
certain conceptions, illustrated in the Bundehesh and not
contained in the fragmentary Avestan books which have reached us,
were actually received Zoroastrian

25 Studien uber das Zend Avesta, in Zeitschrift der Deutschen
Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft, 1855, band ix. s. 192.

26 Spiegel, Avesta, band i. s. 16.

27 Dabistan, vol. i. pp. 272-274.

28 Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers, Introduction,
sect. vi. Plutarch, concerning Isis and Osiris.

29 Lib. vi. cap. i. sect. 41.


tenets four centuries before Christ, we are strongly supported in
giving credence to the doctrinal statements of that book as
affording, in spite of its lateness, a correct epitome of the old
Persian theology.

Thirdly, we are still further warranted in admitting the antiquity
of the Zoroastrian system as including the resurrection theory,
when we consider the internal harmony and organic connection of
parts in it; how the doctrines all fit together, and imply each
other, and could scarcely have existed apart. Men were the
creatures of Ormuzd. They should have lived immortally under his
favor and in his realm. But Ahriman, by treachery, obtained
possession of a large portion of them. Now, when, at the end of
the fourth period into which the world course was divided by the
Magian theory, as Theopompus testifies, Ormuzd overcomes this
arch adversary, will he not rescue his own unfortunate creatures
from the realm of darkness in which they have been imprisoned?
When a king storms an enemy's castle, he delivers from the
dungeons his own soldiers who were taken captives in a former
defeat. The expectation of a great prophet, Sosiosch, to come and
vanquish Ahriman and his swarms, unquestionably appears in the
Avesta itself.30 With this notion, in inseparable union, the
Parsee tradition, running continuously back, as is claimed, to a
very remote time, joins the doctrine of a general resurrection; a
doctrine literally stated in the Vendidad,31 and in many other
places in the Avesta,32 where it has not yet been shown to be an
interpolation, but only supposed so by very questionable
constructive inferences. The consent of intrinsic adjustment and
of historic evidence would, therefore, lead to the conclusion that
this was an old Zoroastrian dogma. In disproof of this conclusion
we believe there is no direct positive evidence whatever, and no
inferential argument cogent enough to produce conviction.

There are sufficient reasons for the belief that the doctrine of a
resurrection was quite early adopted from the Persians by the
Jews, not borrowed at a much later time from the Jews by the
Parsees. The conception of Ahriman, the evil serpent, bearing
death, (die Schlange Angramainyus der voll Tod ist,) is
interwrought from the first throughout the Zoroastrian scheme. In
the Hebrew records, on the contrary, such an idea appears but
incidentally, briefly, rarely, and only in the later books. The
account of the introduction of sin and death by the serpent in the
garden of Eden dates from a time subsequent to the commencement of
the Captivity. Von Bohlen, in his Introduction to the Book of
Genesis, says the narrative was drawn from the Zend Avesta.
Rosenmuller, in his commentary on the passage, says the narrator
had in view the Zoroastrian notions of the serpent Ahriman and his
deeds. Dr. Martin Haug an acute and learned writer, whose opinion
is entitled to great weight, as he is the freshest scholar
acquainted with this whole field in the light of all that others
have done thinks it certain that Zoroaster lived in a remote
antiquity, from fifteen hundred to two thousand years before
Christ. He says that Judaism after the exile and, through Judaism,
Christianity afterwards received an important influence from
Zoroastrianism,

30 Spiegel, Avesta, band i. ss. 16, 244.

31 Fargard XVIII, Spiegel's Uebersetzung, s. 236.

32 Kleuker, band ii. ss. 123, 124, 164.


an influence which, in regard to the doctrine of angels, Satan,
and the resurrection of the dead, cannot be mistaken.33 The Hebrew
theology had no demonology, no Satan, until after the residence at
Babylon. This is admitted. Well, is not the resurrection a pendant
to the doctrine of Satan? Without the idea of a Satan there would
be no idea of a retributive banishment of souls into hell, and of
course no occasion for a vindicating restoration of them thence to
their former or a superior state.

On this point the theory of Rawlinson is very important. He
argues, with various proofs, that the Dualistic doctrine was a
heresy which broke out very early among the primitive Aryans, who
then were the single ancestry of the subsequent Iranians and
Indians. This heresy was forcibly suppressed. Its adherents,
driven out of India, went to Persia, and, after severe conflicts
and final admixture with the Magians, there established their
faith.34 The sole passage in the Old Testament teaching the
resurrection is in the so called Book of Daniel, a book full of
Chaldean and Persian allusions, written less than two centuries
before Christ, long after we know it was a received Zoroastrian
tenet, and long after the Hebrews had been exposed to the whole
tide and atmosphere of the triumphant Persian power. The
unchangeable tenacity of the Medes and Persians is a proverb. How
often the Hebrew people lapsed into idolatry, accepting Pagan
gods, doctrines, and ritual, is notorious. And, in particular, how
completely subject they were to Persian influence appears clearly
in large parts of the Biblical history, especially in the Books of
Esther and Ezekiel. The origin of the term Beelzebub, too, in the
New Testament, is plain. To say that the Persians derived the
doctrine of the resurrection from the Jews seems to us as
arbitrary as it would be to affirm that they also borrowed from
them the custom, mentioned by Ezekiel, of weeping for Tammuz in
the gates of the temple.

In view of the whole case as it stands, until further researches
either strengthen it or put a different aspect upon it, we feel
forced to think that the doctrine of a general resurrection was a
component element in the ancient Avestan religion. A further
question of considerable interest arises as to the nature of this
resurrection, whether it was conceived as physical or as
spiritual. We have no data to furnish a determinate answer.
Plutarch quotes from Theopompus the opinion of the Magi, that
when, at the subdual of Ahriman, men are restored to life, "they
will need no nourishment and cast no shadow." It would appear,
then, that they must be spirits. The inference is not reliable;
for the idea may be that all causes of decay will be removed, so
that no food will be necessary to supply the wasting processes
which no longer exist; and that the entire creation will be so
full of light that a shadow will be impossible. It might be
thought that the familiar Persian conception of angels, both good
and evil, fervers and devs, and the reception of departed souls
into their company, with Ormuzd in Garotman, or with Ahriman in
Dutsakh, would exclude the belief in a future bodily resurrection.
But Christians and Mohammedans at this day believe in immaterial
angels and devils, and in the immediate entrance of disembodied
souls upon reward or

33 Die Lehre Zoroasters nach den alten Liedern des Zendavesta.
Zeitschrift der Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft, band ix. ss. 286,
683-692.

34 Rawlinson's Herodotus, vol. i. pp. 426-431.


punishment in their society, and still believe in their final
return to the earth, and in a restoration to them of their former
tabernacles of flesh. Discordant, incoherent, as the two beliefs
may be, if their coexistence is a fact with cultivated and
reasonable people now, much more was it possible with an
undisciplined and credulous populace three thousand years in the
past. Again, it has been argued that the indignity with which the
ancient Persians treated the dead body, refusing to bury it or to
burn it, lest the earth or the fire should be polluted, is
incompatible with the supposition that they expected a
resurrection of the flesh. In the first place, it is difficult to
reason safely to any dogmatic conclusions from the funeral customs
of a people. These usages are so much a matter of capricious
priestly ritual, ancestral tradition, unreasoning instinct, blind
or morbid superstition, that any consistent doctrinal construction
is not fairly to be put upon them. Secondly, the Zoroastrians did
not express scorn or loathing for the corpse by their manner of
disposing of it. The greatest pains were taken to keep it from
disgusting decay, by placing it in "the driest, purest, openest
place," upon a summit where fresh winds blew, and where certain
beasts and birds, accounted most sacred, might eat the corruptible
portion: then the clean bones were carefully buried. The dead body
had yielded to the hostile working of Ahriman, and become his
possession. The priests bore it out on a bed or a carpet, and
exposed it to the light of the sun. The demon was thus exorcised;
and the body became further purified in being eaten by the sacred
animals, and no putrescence was left to contaminate earth, water,
or fire.35 Furthermore, it is to be noticed that the modern
Parsees dispose of their dead in exactly the same manner depicted
in the earliest accounts; yet they zealously hold to a literal
resurrection of the body. If the giving of the flesh to the dog
and the vulture in their case exists with this belief, it may have
done so with their ancestors before Nebuchadnezzar swept the Jews
to Babylon. Finally, it is quite reasonable to conclude that the
old Persian doctrine of a resurrection did include the physical
body, when we recollect that in the Zoroastrian scheme of thought
there is no hostility to matter or to earthly life, but all is
regarded as pure and good except so far as the serpent Ahriman has
introduced evil. The expulsion of this evil with his ultimate
overthrow, the restoration of all as it was at first, in purity,
gladness, and eternal life, would be the obvious and consistent
carrying out of the system. Hatred of earthly life, contempt for
the flesh, the notion of an essential and irreconcilable warfare
of soul against body, are Brahmanic and Manichaan, not
Zoroastrian. Still, the ground plan and style of thought may not
have been consistently adhered to. The expectation that the very
same body would be restored was known to the Jews a century or two
before Christ. One of the martyrs whose history is told in the
Second Book of Maccabees, in the agonies of death plucked out his
own bowels, and called on the Lord to restore them to him again at
the resurrection. Considering the notion of a resurrection of the
body as a sensuous burden on the idea of a resurrection of the
soul, it may have been a later development originating with the
Jews. But it seems to us decidedly more probable that the Magi
held it as a part of their creed before they came in contact with
the children of Israel. Such an opinion may be modestly held until
further information is

35 Spiegel, Avesta, ss. 82, 104, 109, 111, 122.


afforded 36 or some new and fatal objection brought.

After this resurrection a thorough separation will be made of the
good from the bad. "Father shall be divided from child, sister
from brother, friend from friend. The innocent one shall weep over
the guilty one, the guilty one shall weep for himself. Of two
sisters one shall be pure, one corrupt: they shall be treated
according to their deeds." 37 Those who have not, in the
intermediate state, fully expiated their sins, will, in sight of
the whole creation, be remanded to the pit of punishment. But the
author of evil shall not exult over them forever. Their prison
house will soon be thrown open. The pangs of three terrible days
and nights, equal to the agonies of nine thousand years, will
purify all, even the worst of the demons. The anguished cry of the
damned, as they writhe in the lurid caldron of torture, rising to
heaven, will find pity in the soul of Ormuzd, and he will release
them from their sufferings. A blazing star, the comet Gurtzscher,
will fall upon the earth. In the heat of its conflagration, great
and small mountains will melt and flow together as liquid metal.
Through this glowing flood all human kind must pass. To the
righteous it will prove as a pleasant bath, of the temperature of
milk; but on the wicked the flame will inflict terrific pain.
Ahriman will run up and down Chinevad in the perplexities of
anguish and despair. The earth wide stream of fire, flowing on,
will cleanse every spot and every thing. Even the loathsome realm
of darkness and torment shall be burnished and made a part of the
all inclusive Paradise. Ahriman himself, reclaimed to virtue,
replenished with primal light, abjuring the memories of his
envious ways, and furling thenceforth the sable standard of his
rebellion, shall become a ministering spirit of the Most High,
and, together with Ormuzd, chant the praises of Time without
Bounds. All darkness, falsehood, suffering, shall flee utterly
away, and the whole universe be filled by the illumination of good
spirits blessed with fruitions of eternal delight. In regard to
the fate of man,

Such are the parables Zartushi address'd To Iran's faith, in the
ancient Zend Avest.

36 Windischmann has now (1863) fully proved this, in his
Zoroastrische Studien. Spiegel frankly avows it: Avesta, band
iii., einleitung, s. lxxv.

37 Rhode, Heilige Sage des Zendvolks, s. 467.


CHAPTER VIII.

HEBREW DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

ON the one extreme, a large majority of Christian scholars have
asserted that the doctrine of a retributive immortality is clearly
taught throughout the Old Testament. Able writers, like Bishop
Warburton, have maintained, on the other extreme, that it says
nothing whatever about a future life, but rather implies the total
and eternal end of men in death. But the most judicious,
trustworthy critics hold an intermediate position, and affirm that
the Hebrew Scriptures show a general belief in the separate
existence of the spirit, not indeed as experiencing rewards and
punishments, but as surviving in the common silence and gloom of
the under world, a desolate empire of darkness yawning beneath all
graves and peopled with dream like ghosts.1

A number of important passages have been cited from different
parts of the Old Testament by the advocates of the view first
mentioned above. It will be well for us to notice these and their
misuse before proceeding farther.

The translation of Enoch has been regarded as a revelation of the
immortality of man. It is singular that Dr. Priestley should
suggest, as the probable fact, so sheer and baseless a hypothesis
as he does in his notes upon the Book of Genesis. He says, "Enoch
was probably a prophet authorized to announce the reality of
another life after this; and he might be removed into it without
dying, as an evidence of the truth of his doctrine." The gross
materialism of this supposition, and the failure of God's design
which it implies, are a sufficient refutation of it. And, besides
the utter unlikelihood of the thought, it is entirely destitute of
support in the premises. One of the most curious of the many
strange things to be found in Warburton's argument for the Divine
Legation of Moses an argument marked, as is well known, by
profound erudition, and, in many respects, by consummate ability
is the use he makes of this account to prove that Moses believed
the doctrine of immortality, but purposely obscured the fact from
which it might be drawn by the people, in order that it might not
interfere with his doctrine of the temporal special providence of
Jehovah over the Jewish nation. Such a course is inconsistent with
sound morality, much more with the character of an inspired
prophet of God.

The only history we have of Enoch is in the fifth chapter of the
Book of Genesis. The substance of it is as follows: "And Enoch
walked with God during his appointed years; and then he was not,
for God took him." The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews,
following the example of those Rabbins who, several centuries
before his time, began to give mystical interpretations of the
Scriptures, infers from this statement that Enoch was borne into
heaven without tasting death. But it is not certainly known who
the author of that epistle was; and, whoever he was, his opinion,
of course, can have no authority upon a subject of criticism like

1 Boettcher, De Inferis Rebusque post mortem futuris ex Hebraorum
et Gracoram Opinionibus.

this. Replying to the supposititious argument furnished by this
passage, we say, Take the account as it reads, and it neither
asserts nor implies the idea commonly held concerning it. It says
nothing about translation or immortality; nor can any thing of the
kind be legitimately deduced from it. Its plain meaning is no more
nor less than this: Enoch lived three hundred and sixty five
years, fearing God and keeping his commandments, and then he died.
Many of the Rabbins, fond as they are of finding in the Pentateuch
the doctrine of future blessedness for the good, interpret this
narrative as only signifying an immature death; for Enoch, it will
be recollected, reached but about half the average age of the
others whose names are mentioned in the chapter. Had this
occurrence been intended as the revelation of a truth, it would
have been fully and clearly stated; otherwise it could not answer
any purpose. As Le Clerc observes, "If the writer believed so
important a fact as that Enoch was immortal, it is wonderful that
he relates it as secretly and obscurely as if he wished to hide
it." But, finally, even admitting that the account is to be
regarded as teaching literally that God took Enoch, it by no means
proves a revelation of the doctrine of general immortality. It
does not show that anybody else would ever be translated or would
in any way enter upon a future state of existence. It is not put
forth as a revelation; it says nothing whatever concerning a
revelation. It seems to mean either that Enoch suddenly died, or
that he disappeared, nobody knew whither. But, if it really means
that God took him into heaven, it is more natural to think that
that was done as a special favor than as a sign of what awaited
others. No general cause is stated, no consequence deduced, no
principle laid down, no reflection added. How, then, can it be
said that the doctrine of a future life for man is revealed by it
or implicated in it?

The removal of Elijah in a chariot of fire, of which we read in
the second chapter of the Second Book of Kings, is usually
supposed to have served as a miraculous proof of the fact that the
faithful servants of Jehovah were to be rewarded with a life in
the heavens. The author of this book is not known, and can hardly
be guessed at with any degree of plausibility. It was
unquestionably written, or rather compiled, a long time probably
several hundred years after the prophets whose wonderful
adventures it recounts had passed away. The internal evidence is
sufficient, both in quality and quantity, to demonstrate that the
book is for the most part a collection of traditions. This
characteristic applies with particular force to the ascension of
Elijah. But grant the literal truth of the account: it will not
prove the point in support of which it is advanced, because it
does not purport to have been done as a revelation of the doctrine
in question, nor did it in any way answer the purpose of such a
revelation. So far from this, in fact, it does not seem even to
have suggested the bare idea of another state of existence in a
single instance. For when Elisha returned without Elijah, and told
the sons of the prophets at Jericho that his master had gone up in
a chariot of fire, which event they knew beforehand was going to
happen, they, instead of asking the particulars or exulting over
the revelation of a life in heaven, calmly said to him, "Behold,
there be with thy servants fifty sons of strength: let them go, we
pray thee, and seek for Elijah, lest peradventure a whirlwind, the
blast of the Lord, hath caught him up and cast him upon one of the
mountains or into one of the valleys. And he said, Ye shall not
send. But when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send."
This is all that is told us. Had it occurred as is stated, it
would not so easily have passed from notice, but mighty
inferences, never to be forgotten, would have been drawn from it
at once. The story as it stands reminds one of the closing scene
in the career of Romulus, speaking of whom the historians say, "In
the thirty seventh year of his reign, while he was reviewing an
army, a tempest arose, in the midst of which he was suddenly
snatched from the eyes of men. Hence some thought he was killed by
the senators, others, that he was borne aloft to the gods."2 If
the ascension of Elijah to heaven in a chariot of fire did really
take place, and if the books held by the Jews as inspired and
sacred contained a history of it at the time of our Savior, it is
certainly singular that neither he nor any of the apostles allude
to it in connection with the subject of a future life.

The miracles performed by Elijah and by Elisha in restoring the
dead children to life related in the seventeenth chapter of the
First Book of Kings and in the fourth chapter of the Second Book
are often cited in proof of the position that the doctrine of
immortality is revealed in the Old Testament. The narration of
these events is found in a record of unknown authorship. The mode
in which the miracles were effected, if they were miracles, the
prophet measuring himself upon the child, his eyes upon his eyes,
his mouth upon his mouth, his hands upon his hands, and in one
case the child sneezing seven times, looks dubious. The two
accounts so closely resemble each other as to cast still greater
suspicion upon both. In addition to these considerations, and even
fully granting the reality of the miracles, they do not touch the
real controversy, namely, whether the Hebrew Scriptures contain
the revealed doctrine of a conscious immortality or of a future
retribution. The prophet said, "O Lord my God, let this child's
soul, I pray thee, come into his inward parts again." "And the
Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the soul of the child came
into him again, and he revived." Now, the most this can show is
that the child's soul was then existing in a separate state. It
does not prove that the soul was immortal, nor that it was
experiencing retribution, nor even that it was conscious. And we
do not deny that the ancient Jews believed that the spirits of the
dead retained a nerveless, shadowy being in the solemn vaults of
the under world. The Hebrew word rendered soul in the text is
susceptible of three meanings: first, the shade, which, upon the
dissolution of the body, is gathered to its fathers in the great
subterranean congregation; second, the breath of a person, used as
synonymous with his life; third, a part of the vital breath of
God, which the Hebrews regarded as the source of the life of all
creatures, and the withdrawing of which they supposed was the
cause of death. It is clear that neither of these meanings can
prove any thing in regard to the real point at issue, that is,
concerning a future life of rewards and punishments.

One of the strongest arguments brought to support the proposition
which we are combating at least, so considered by nearly all the
Rabbins, and by not a few modern critics is the account of the
vivification of the dead recorded in the thirty seventh chapter of
the Book of Ezekiel. The prophet "was carried in the spirit of
Jehovah" that is, mentally, in a prophetic ecstasy into a valley
full of dry bones. "The bones came together, the flesh

2 Livy, i. 16; Dion. Hal. ii. 56.


grew on them, the breath came into them, and they lived and stood
on their feet, an exceeding great army." It should first be
observed that this account is not given as an actual occurrence,
but, after the manner of Ezekiel, as a prophetic vision meant to
symbolize something. Now, of what was it intended as the symbol? a
doctrine, or a coming event? a general truth to enlighten and
guide uncertain men, or an approaching deliverance to console and
encourage the desponding Jews? It is fair to let the prophet be
his own interpreter, without aid from the glosses of prejudiced
theorizers. It must be borne in mind that at this time the prophet
and his countrymen were bearing the grievous burden of bondage in
a foreign nation. "And Jehovah said to me, Son of man, these bones
denote the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, Our bones are
dried, and our hope is lost, and we are cut off." This plainly
denotes their present suffering in the Babylonish captivity, and
their despair of being delivered from it. "Therefore prophesy, and
say to them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will open your
graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, O my people,
and bring you into the land of Israel." That is, I will rescue you
from your slavery and restore you to freedom in your own land. The
dry bones and their subsequent vivification, therefore, clearly
symbolize the misery of the Israelites and their speedy
restoration to happiness. Death is frequently used in a figurative
sense to denote misery, and life to signify happiness. But those
who maintain that the doctrine of the resurrection is taught as a
revealed truth in the Hebrew Scriptures are not willing to let
this passage pass so easily. Mr. Barnes says, "The illustration
proves that the doctrine was one with which the people were
familiar." Jerome states the argument more fully, thus: "A
similitude drawn from the resurrection, to foreshadow the
restoration of the people of Israel, would never have been
employed unless the resurrection itself were believed to be a fact
of future occurrence; for no one thinks of confirming what is
uncertain by what has no existence."

It is not difficult to reply to these objections with convincing
force. First, the vision was not used as proof or confirmation,
but as symbol and prophecy. Secondly, the use of any thing as an
illustration does by no means imply that it is commonly believed
as a fact. For instance, we are told in the ninth chapter of the
Book of Judges that Jotham related an allegory to the people as an
illustration of their conduct in choosing a king, saying, "The
trees once on a time went forth to anoint a king over them; and
they said to the olive tree, Come thou and reign over us;" and so
on. Does it follow that at that time it was a common belief that
the trees actually went forth occasionally to choose them a king?
Thirdly, if a given thing is generally believed as a fact, a
person who uses it expressly as a symbol, of course does not
thereby give his sanction to it as a fact. And if a belief in the
resurrection of the dead was generally entertained at the time of
the prophet, its origin is not implied, and it does not follow
that it was a doctrine of revelation, or even a true doctrine.
Finally, there is one consideration which shows conclusively that
this vision was never intended to typify the resurrection; namely,
that it has nothing corresponding to the most essential part of
that doctrine. When the bones have come together and are covered
with flesh, God does not call up the departed spirits of these
bodies from Sheol, does not bring back the vanished lives to
animate their former tabernacles, now miraculously renewed. No: he
but breathes on them with his vivifying breath, and straightway
they live and move. This is not a resurrection, but a new
creation. The common idea of a bodily restoration implies and,
that any just retribution be compatible with it, it necessarily
implies the vivification of the dead frame, not by the
introduction of new life, but by the reinstalment of the very same
life or spirit, the identical consciousness that before animated
it. Such is not represented as being the case in Ezekiel's vision
of the valley of dry bones. That vision had no reference to the
future state.

In this connection, the revelation made by the angel in his
prophecy, recorded in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Daniel,
concerning the things which should happen in the Messianic times,
must not be passed without notice. It reads as follows: "And many
of the sleepers of the dust of the ground shall awake, those to
life everlasting, and these to shame, to contempt everlasting. And
they that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament,
and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever
and ever." No one can deny that a judgment, in which reward and
punishment shall be distributed according to merit, is here
clearly foretold. The meaning of the text, taken with the
connection, is, that when the Messiah appears and establishes his
kingdom the righteous shall enjoy a bodily resurrection upon the
earth to honor and happiness, but the wicked shall be left below
in darkness and death.3 This seems to imply, fairly enough, that
until the advent of the Messiah none of the dead existed
consciously in a state of retribution. The doctrine of the
passage, as is well known, was held by some of the Jews at the
beginning of the Christian era, and, less distinctly, for about
two centuries previous. Before that time no traces of it can be
found in their history. Now, had a doctrine of such intense
interest and of such vast importance as this been a matter of
revelation, it seems hardly possible that it should have been
confined to one brief and solitary text, that it should have
flashed up for a single moment so brilliantly, and then vanished
for three or four centuries in utter darkness. Furthermore, nearly
one half of the Book of Daniel is written in the Chaldee tongue,
and the other half in the Hebrew,  indicating that it had two
authors, who wrote their respective portions at different periods.
Its critical and minute details of events are history rather than
prophecy. The greater part of the book was undoubtedly written as
late as about a hundred and sixty years before Christ, long after
the awful simplicity and solitude of the original Hebrew theology
had been marred and corrupted by an intermixture of the doctrines
of those heathen nations with whom the Jews had been often brought
in contact. Such being the facts in the case, the text is
evidently without force to prove a divine revelation of the
doctrine it teaches.

In the twenty second chapter of the Gospel by Matthew, Jesus says
to the Sadducees, "But as touching the resurrection of the dead,
have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I
am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?
God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." The passage to
which reference is made is written in the third chapter of the
Book of Exodus. In order to ascertain the force of the Savior's
argument, the extent of meaning it had in his mind, and the amount
of knowledge attributed by it to Moses, it will be necessary to
determine first the definite purpose he had

3 Wood, The Last Things, p. 45.


in view in his reply to the Sadducees, and how he proposed to
accomplish it. We shall find that the use he made of the text does
not imply that Moses had the slightest idea of any sort of future
life for man, much less of an immortal life of blessedness for the
good and of suffering for the bad. We should suppose, beforehand,
that such would be the case, since upon examining the declaration
cited, with its context, we find it to be simply a statement made
by Jehovah explaining who he was, that he was the ancient national
guardian of the Jews, the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
This does not seem to contain the most distant allusion to the
immortality of man, or to have suggested any such thought to the
mind of Moses. It should be distinctly understood from the outset
that Jesus did not quote this passage from the Pentateuch as
proving any thing of itself, or as enabling him to prove any thing
by it directly, but as being of acknowledged authority to the
Sadducees themselves, to form the basis of a process of reasoning.
The purpose he had in view, plainly, was to convince the Sadducees
either of the possibility or of the actuality of the resurrection
of the dead: its possibility, if we assume that by resurrection he
meant the Jewish doctrine of a material restoration, the reunion
of soul and body; its actuality, if we suppose he meant the
conscious immortality of the soul separate from the body. If the
resurrection was physical, Christ demonstrates to the Sadducees
its possibility, by refuting the false notion upon which they
based their denial of it. They said, The resurrection of the body
is impossible, because the principle of life, the consciousness,
has utterly perished, and the body cannot live alone. He replied,
It is possible, because the soul has an existence separate from
the body, and, consequently, may be reunited to it. You admit that
Jehovah said, after they were dead, I am the God of Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob: but he is the God of the living, and not of the
dead, for all live unto him. You must confess this. The soul,
then, survives the body, and a resurrection is possible. It will
be seen that this implies nothing concerning the nature or
duration of the separate existence, but merely the fact of it.
But, if Christ meant by the resurrection of the dead as we think
he did the introduction of the disembodied and conscious soul into
a state of eternal blessedness, the Sadducees denied its reality
by maintaining that no such thing as a soul existed after bodily
dissolution. He then proved to them its reality in the following
manner. You believe for Moses, to whose authority you implicitly
bow, relates it that God said, "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob," and this, long after they died. But evidently he
cannot be said to be the God of that which does not exist:
therefore their souls must have been still alive. And if Jehovah
was emphatically their God, their friend, of course he will show
them his loving kindness. They are, then, in a conscious state of
blessedness. The Savior does not imply that God said so much in
substance, nor that Moses intended to teach, or even knew, any
thing like it, but that, by adding to the passage cited a premise
of his own, which his hearers granted to be true, he could deduce
so much from it by a train of new and unanswerable reasoning. His
opponents were compelled to admit the legitimacy of his argument,
and, impressed by its surpassing beauty and force, were silenced,
if not convinced. The credit of this cogent proof of human
immortality, namely, that God's love for man is a pledge and
warrant of his eternal blessedness a proof whose originality and
significance set it far beyond all parallel is due to the dim
gropings of no Hebrew prophet, but to the inspired insight of the
great Founder of Christianity.

The various passages yet unnoticed which purport to have been
uttered by Jehovah or at his command, and which are urged to show
that the reality of a retributive life after death is a revealed
doctrine of the Old Testament, will be found, upon critical
examination, either to owe their entire relevant force to
mistranslation, or to be fairly refuted by the reasonings already
advanced. Professor Stuart admits that he finds only one
consideration to show that Moses had any idea of a future
retribution; and that is, that the Egyptians expressly believed
it; and he is not able to comprehend how Moses, who dwelt so long
among them, should be ignorant of it.4 The reasoning is obviously
inconsequential. It is not certain that the Egyptians held this
doctrine in the time of Moses: it may have prevailed among them
before or after, and not during, that period. If they believed it
at that time, it may have been an esoteric doctrine, with which he
did not become acquainted. If they believed it, and he knew it, he
might have classed it with other heathen doctrines, and supposed
it false. And, even if he himself believed it, he might possibly
not have inculcated it upon the Israelites; and the question is,
what he did actually teach, not what he knew.

The opinions of the Jews at the time of the Savior have no bearing
upon the point in hand, because they were acquired at a later
period than that of the writing of the records we are now
considering. They were formed, and gradually grew in consistency
and favor, either by the natural progress of thought among the
Jews themselves, or, more probably, by a blending of the
intimations of the Hebrew Scriptures with Gentile speculations,
the doctrines of the Egyptians, Hindus, and Persians. We leave
this portion of the subject, then, with the following proposition.
In the canonic books of the Old Dispensation there is not a single
genuine text, claiming to come from God, which teaches explicitly
any doctrine whatever of a life beyond the grave. That doctrine as
it existed among the Jews was no part of their pure religion, but
was a part of their philosophy. It did not, as they held it, imply
any thing like our present idea of the immortality of the soul
reaping in the spiritual world what it has sowed in the physical.
It simply declared the existence of human ghosts amidst unbroken
gloom and stillness in the cavernous depths of the earth, without
reward, without punishment, without employment, scarcely
with consciousness, as will immediately appear.

We proceed to the second general division of the subject. What
does the Old Testament, apart from the revelation claimed to be
contained in it, and regarding only those portions of it which are
confessedly a collection of the poetry, history, and philosophy of
the Hebrews, intimate concerning a future state of existence?
Examining these writings with an unbiased mind, we discover that
in different portions of them there are large variations and
opposition of opinion. In some books we trace an undoubting belief
in certain rude notions of the future condition of souls; in other
books we encounter unqualified denials of every such thought. "Man
lieth down and riseth not," sighs the despairing Job. "The dead
cannot praise God, neither any that go down into darkness," wails
the repining Psalmist. "All go to one place,"

4 Exegetical Essays, (Andover, 1830,) p. 108.


and "the dead know not any thing," asserts the disbelieving
Preacher. These inconsistencies we shall not stop to point out and
comment upon. They are immaterial to our present purpose, which is
to bring together, in their general agreement, the sum and
substance of the Hebrew ideas on this subject.

The separate existence of the soul is necessarily implied by the
distinction the Hebrews made between the grave, or sepulchre, and
the under world, or abode of shades. The Hebrew words bor and
keber mean simply the narrow place in which the dead body is
buried; while Sheol represents an immense cavern in the interior
of the earth where the ghosts of the deceased are assembled. When
the patriarch was told that his son Joseph was slain by wild
beasts, he cried aloud, in bitter sorrow, "I will go down to Sheol
unto my son, mourning."

He did not expect to meet Joseph in the grave; for he supposed his
body torn in pieces and scattered in the wilderness, not laid in
the family tomb. The dead are said to be "gathered to their
people," or to "sleep with their fathers," and this whether they
are interred in the same place or in a remote region. It is
written, "Abraham gave up the ghost, and was gathered unto his
people," notwithstanding his body was laid in a cave in the field
of Machpelah, close by Hebron, while his people were buried in
Chaldea and Mesopotamia. "Isaac gave up the ghost and died, and
was gathered unto his people;" and then we read, as if it were
done afterwards, "His sons, Jacob and Esau, buried him." These
instances might be multiplied. They prove that "to be gathered
unto one's fathers" means to descend into Sheol and join there the
hosts of the departed. A belief in the separate existence of the
soul is also involved in the belief in necromancy, or divination,
the prevalence of which is shown by the stern laws against those
who engaged in its unhallowed rites, and by the history of the
witch of Endor. She, it is said, by magical spells evoked the
shade of old Samuel from below. It must have been the spirit of
the prophet that was supposed to rise; for his body was buried at
Ramah, more than sixty miles from Endor. The faith of the Hebrews
in the separate existence of the soul is shown, furthermore, by
the fact that the language they employed expresses, in every
instance, the distinction of body and spirit. They had particular
words appropriated to each. "As thy soul liveth," is a Hebrew
oath. "With my spirit within me will I seek thee early." "I,
Daniel, was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body:" the
figure here represents the soul in the body as a sword in a
sheath. "Our bones are scattered at the mouth of the under world,
as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth;" that is,
the soul, expelled from its case of clay by the murderer's weapon,
flees into Sheol and leaves its exuvioe at the entrance. "Thy
voice shall be as that of a spirit out of the ground:" the word
"Lhere used signifies the shade evoked by a necromancer from the
region of death, which was imagined to speak in a feeble whisper.

The term rephaim is used to denote the manes of the departed. The
etymology of the word, as well as its use, makes it mean the weak,
the relaxed. "I am counted as them that go down into the under
world; I am as a man that hath no strength." This faint, powerless
condition accords with the idea that they were destitute of flesh,
blood, and animal life, mere umbroe. These ghosts are described as
being nearly as destitute of sensation as they are of strength.
They are called "the inhabitants of the land of stillness." They
exist in an inactive, partially torpid state, with a dreamy
consciousness of past and present, neither suffering nor enjoying,
and seldom moving. Herder says of the Hebrews, "The sad and
mournful images of their ghostly realm disturbed them, and were
too much for their self possession." Respecting these images, he
adds, "Their voluntary force and energy were destroyed. They were
feeble as a shade, without distinction of members, as a nerveless
breath. They wandered and flitted in the dark nether world." This
"wandering and flitting," however, is rather the spirit of
Herder's poetry than of that of the Hebrews; for the whole tenor
and drift of the representations in the Old Testament show that
the state of disembodied souls is deep quietude. Freed from
bondage, pain, toil, and care, they repose in silence. The ghost
summoned from beneath by the witch of Endor said, "Why hast thou
disquieted me to bring me up?" It was, indeed, in a dismal abode
that they took their long quiet; but then it was in a place "where
the wicked ceased from troubling and the weary were at rest."

Those passages which attribute active employments to the dwellers
in the under world are specimens of poetic license, as the context
always shows. When Job says, "Before Jehovah the shades beneath
tremble," he likewise declares, "The pillars of heaven tremble and
are confounded at his rebuke." When Isaiah breaks forth in that
stirring lyric to the King of Babylon,

"The under world is in commotion on account of thee, To meet thee
at thy coming; It stirreth up before thee the shades, all the
mighty of the earth; It arouseth from their thrones all the kings
of the nations; They all accost thee, and say, Art thou too become
weak as we?"

he also exclaims, in the same connection,

"Even the cypress trees exult over thee, And the cedars of
Lebanon, saying, Since thou art fallen, No man cometh up to cut us
down."

The activity thus vividly described is evidently a mere figure of
speech: so is it in the other instances which picture the rephaim
as employed and in motion. "Why," complainingly sighed the
afflicted patriarch, "why died I not at my birth? For now should I
lie down and be quiet; I should slumber; I should then be at
rest." And the wise man says, in his preaching, "There is no work,
nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in Sheol." What has already
been said is sufficient to establish the fact that the Hebrews had
an idea that the souls of men left their bodies at death and
existed as dim shadows, in a state of undisturbed repose, in the
bowels of the earth.

Sheol is directly derived from a Hebrew word, signifying, first,
to dig or excavate. It means, therefore, a cavity, or empty
subterranean place. Its derivation is usually connected, however,
with the secondary meaning of the Hebrew word referred to, namely,
to ask, to desire, from the notion of demanding, since rapacious
Orcus lays claim unsparingly to all; or, as others have fancifully
construed it, the object of universal inquiry, the unknown mansion
concerning which all are anxiously inquisitive. The place is
conceived on an immense scale, shrouded in accompaniments of
gloomy grandeur and peculiar awe: an enormous cavern in the earth,
filled with night; a stupendous hollow kingdom, to which are
poetically attributed valleys and gates, and in which are
congregated the slumberous and shadowy hosts of the rephaim, never
able to go out of it again forever. Its awful stillness is
unbroken by noise. Its thick darkness is uncheered by light. It
stretches far down under the ground. It is wonderfully deep. In
language that reminds one of Milton's description of hell, where
was

"No light, but rather darkness visible,"

Job describes it as "the land of darkness, like the blackness of
death shade, where is no order, and where the light is as
darkness." The following passages, selected almost at random, will
show the ideas entertained of the place, and confirm and
illustrate the foregoing statements. "But he considers not that in
the valleys of Sheol are her guests." "Now shall I go down into
the gates of Sheol." "The ground slave asunder, and the earth
opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all
their men, and all their goods: they and all that appertained to
them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed upon them."
Its depth is contrasted with the height of the sky. "Though they
dig into Sheol, thence shall mine hand take them; though they
climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down." It is the
destination of all; for, though the Hebrews believed in a world of
glory above the solid ceiling of the dome of day, where Jehovah
and the angels dwelt, there was no promise, hope, or hint that any
man could ever go there. The dirge like burden of their poetry was
literally these words: "What man is he that liveth and shall not
see death? Shall he deliver his spirit from the hand of Sheol?"
The old Hebrew graves were crypts, wide, deep holes, like the
habitations of the troglodytes. In these subterranean caves they
laid the dead down; and so the Grave became the mother of Sheol, a
rendezvous of the fathers, a realm of the dead, full of eternal
ghost life.

This under world is dreary and altogether undesirable, save as an
escape from extreme anguish. But it is not a place of retribution.
Jahn says, "That, in the belief of the ancient Hebrews, there were
different situations in Sheol for the good and the bad, cannot be
proved."5 The sudden termination of the present life is the
judgment the Old Testament threatens upon sinners; its happy
prolongation is the reward it promises to the righteous. Texts
that prove this might be quoted in numbers from almost every page.
"The wicked shall be turned into Sheol, and all the nations that
forget God," not to be punished there, but as a punishment. It is
true, the good and the bad alike pass into that gloomy land; but
the former go down tranquilly in a good old age and full of days,
as a shock of corn fully ripe cometh in its season, while the
latter are suddenly hurried there by an untimely and miserable
fate. The man that loves the Lord shall have length of days; the
unjust, though for a moment he flourishes, yet the wind bloweth,
and where is he?

We shall perhaps gain a more clear and adequate knowledge of the
ideas the Hebrews had of the soul and of its fate, by marking the
different meanings of the words they used to

5 Biblical Archeology, sect. 314.


denote it. Neshamah, primarily meaning breath or airy effluence,
next expresses the Spirit of God as imparting life and force,
wisdom and love; also the spirit of man as its emanation,
creation, or sustained object. The citation of a few texts in
which the word occurs will set this in a full light. "The Lord God
formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his
nostrils the spirit of existence, and man became a conscious
being." "It is the divine spirit of man, even the inspiration of
the Almighty, that giveth him understanding." "The Spirit of God
made me, and his breath gave me life."

Ruah signifies, originally, a breathing or blowing. Two other
meanings are directly connected with this. First, the vital
spirit, the principle of life as manifested in the breath of the
mouth and nostrils. "And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two
and two of all flesh in whose nostrils was the breath of life."
Second, the wind, the motions of the air, which the Hebrews
supposed caused by the breath of God. "By the blast of thine anger
the waters were gathered on an heap." "The channels of waters were
seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered, O Lord, at
the blast of the breath of thy nostrils." So they regarded the
thunder as his voice. "The voice of Jehovah cutteth out the fiery
lightnings," and "shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh." This word is
also frequently placed for the rational spirit of man, the seat of
intellect and feeling. It is likewise sometimes representative of
the character and disposition of men, whether good or bad. Hosea
speaks of "a spirit of vile lust." In the Second Book of
Chronicles we read, "There came out a spirit, and stood before
Jehovah, and said, I will entice King Ahab to his destruction. I
will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his
prophets." Belshazzar says to Daniel, "I know that the spirit of
the holy gods is in thee." Finally, it is applied to Jehovah,
signifying the divine spirit, or power, by which all animate
creatures live, the universe is filled with motion, all
extraordinary gifts of skill, genius, strength, or virtue are
bestowed, and men incited to forsake evil and walk in the paths of
truth and piety. "Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created,
and thou renewest the face of the earth; thou takest away their
breath, they die and return to their dust." "Jehovah will be a
spirit of justice in them that sit to administer judgment." It
seems to be implied that the life of man, having emanated from the
spirit, is to be again absorbed in it, when it is said, "Then
shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall
return unto God who gave it."

Nephesh is but partially a synonym for the word whose
significations we have just considered. The different senses it
bears are strangely interchanged and confounded in King James's
version. Its first meaning is breath, the breathing of a living
being. Next it means the vital spirit, the indwelling life of the
body. "If any mischief follow, thou shalt take life for life." The
most adequate rendering of it would be, in a great majority of
instances, by the term life. "In jeopardy of his life [not soul]
hath Adonijah spoken this." It sometimes represents the
intelligent soul or mind, the subject of knowledge and desire. "My
soul knoweth right well.". Also the heart, is often used more
frequently perhaps than any other term as meaning the vital
principle, and the seat of consciousness, intellect, will, and
affection. Jehovah said to Solomon, in answer to his prayer, "Lo,
I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart." The later
Jews speculated much, with many cabalistic refinements, on these
different words. They said many persons were supplied with a
Nephesh without a Ruah, much more without a Neshamah. They
declared that the Nephesh (Psyche) was the soul of the body, the
Ruah (Pneuma) the soul of the Nephesh, and the Neshamah (Nous) the
soul of the Ruah. Some of the Rabbins assert that the destination
of the Nephesh, when the body dies, is Sheol; of the Ruah, the
air; and of the Neshamah, heaven. 6

The Hebrews used all those words in speaking of brutes, to denote
their sensitive existence, that they did in reference to men. They
held that life was in every instance an emission, or breath, from
the Spirit of God. But they do not intimate of brutes, as they do
of men, that they have surviving shades. The author of the Book of
Ecclesiastes, however, bluntly declares that "all have one breath,
and all go to one place, so that a man hath no pre eminence above
a beast." As far as the words used to express existence, soul, or
mind, legitimate any inference, it would seem to be, either that
the essential life is poured out at death as so much air, or else
that it is received again by God, in both cases implying
naturally, though not of philosophic necessity, the close of
conscious, individual existence. But the examination we have made
of their real opinions shows that, however obviously this
conclusion might flow from their pneumatology, it was not the
expectation they cherished. They believed there was a dismal
empire in the earth where the rephaim, or ghosts of the dead,
reposed forever in a state of semi sleep.

"It is a land of shadows: yea, the land
Itself is but a shadow, and the race
That dwell therein are voices, forms of forms.
And echoes of themselves."

That the Hebrews, during the time covered by their sacred records,
had no conception of a retributive life beyond the present, knew
nothing of a blessed immortality, is shown by two conclusive
arguments, in addition to the positive demonstration afforded by
the views which, as we have seen, they did actually hold in regard
to the future lot of man. First, they were puzzled, they were
troubled and distressed, by the moral phenomena of the present
life, the misfortunes of the righteous, the prosperity of the
wicked. Read the Book of Ecclesiastes, the Book of Job, some of
the Psalms. Had they been acquainted with future reward and
punishment, they could easily have solved these problems to their
satisfaction. Secondly, they regarded life as the one blessing,
death as the one evil. Something of sadness, we may suppose, was
in the wise man's tones when he said, "A living dog is better than
a dead lion." Obey Jehovah's laws, that thy days may be long in
the land he giveth thee; the wicked shall not live out half his
days: such is the burden of the Old Testament. It was reserved for
a later age to see life and immortality brought to light, and for
the disciples of a clearer faith to feel that death is gain.

There are many passages in the Hebrew Scriptures generally
supposed and really appearing, upon a slight examination, not
afterwards to teach doctrines different from those here stated. We
will give two examples in a condensed form. "Thou wilt not leave

6 Tractatus de Anima a R. Moscheh Korduero. In Kabbala Denudata.
tom. i. pars ii.


my soul in Sheol: . . . at thy right hand are pleasures for
evermore." This text, properly translated and explained, means,
Thou wilt not leave me to misfortune and untimely death: . . . in
thy royal favor is prosperity and length of days. "I know that my
Redeemer liveth:. . . in my flesh I shall see God." The genuine
meaning of this triumphant exclamation of faith is, I know that
God is the Vindicator of the upright, and that he will yet justify
me before I die. A particular examination of the remaining
passages of this character with which erroneous conceptions are
generally connected would show, first, that in nearly every case
these passages are not accurately translated; secondly, that they
may be satisfactorily interpreted as referring merely to this
life, and cannot by a sound exegesis be explained otherwise;
thirdly, that the meaning usually ascribed to them is inconsistent
with the whole general tenor, and with numberless positive and
explicit statements, of the books in which they are found;
fourthly, that if there are, as there dubiously seem to be in some
of the Psalms, texts implying the ascent of souls after death to a
heavenly life, for example, "Thou shalt guide me with thy
countenance, and afterward receive me to glory," they were the
product of a late period, and reflect a faith not native to the
Hebrews, but first known to them after their intercourse with the
Persians.

Christians reject the allegorizing of the Jews, and yet
traditionally accept, on their authority, doctrines which can be
deduced from their Scriptures in no other way than by the absurd
hypothesis of a double or mystic sense. For example, scores of
Christian authors have taught the dogma of a general resurrection
of the dead, deducing it from such passages as God's sentence upon
Adam: "From the dust wast thou taken, and unto the dust shalt thou
return;" as Joel's patriotic picture of the Jews victorious in
battle, and of the vanquished heathen gathered in the valley of
Jehoshaphat to witness their installation as rulers of the earth;
and as the declaration of the God of battles: "I am he that kills
and that makes alive, that wounds and that heals." And they
maintain that the doctrine of immortality is inculcated in such
texts as these: when Moses asks to see God, and the reply is, "No
man can see me and live;" when Bathsheba bows and says, "Let my
lord King David live forever;" and when the sacred poet praises
God, saying, "Thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes
from tears, and my feet from falling." Such interpretations of
Scripture are lamentable in the extreme; their context shows them
to be absurd. The meaning is forced into the words, not derived
from them.

Such as we have now seen were the ancient Hebrew ideas of the
future state. To those who received them the life to come was
cheerless, offering no attraction save that of peace to the weary
sufferer. On the other hand, it had no terror save the natural
revulsion of the human heart from everlasting darkness, silence,
and dreams. In view of deliverance from so dreary a fate, by
translation through Jesus Christ to the splendors of the world
above the firmament, there are many exultations in the Epistles of
Paul, and in other portions of the New Testament.

The Hebrew views of the soul and its destiny, as discerned through
the intimations of their Scriptures are very nearly what, from a
fair consideration of the case, we should suppose they would be,
agreeing in the main with the natural speculations of other early
nations upon the same subject. These opinions underwent but little
alteration until a century or a century and a half before the dawn
of the Christian era.

This is shown by the phraseology of the Septuagint version of
the Pentateuch, and by the allusions in the so called
Apocryphal books. In these, so far as there are any relevant
statements or implications, they are of the same character as
those which we have explained from the more ancient writings. This
is true, with the notable exceptions of the Wisdom of Solomon and
the Second Maccabees, neither of which documents can be dated
earlier than a hundred and twenty years before Christ. The former
contains the doctrine of transmigration. The author says, "Being
wise, I came into a body undefiled."7 But, with the exception of
this and one other passage, there is little or nothing in the book
which is definite on the subject of a future life. It is difficult
to tell what the author's real faith was: his words seem rather
rhetorical than dogmatic. He says, "To be allied unto wisdom is
immortality;" but other expressions would appear to show that by
immortality he means merely a deathless posthumous fame, "leaving
an eternal memorial of himself to all who shall come after him."
Again he declares, "The spirit when it is gone forth returneth
not; neither the soul received up cometh again." And here we find,
too, the famous text, "God created man to be immortal, and made
him to be an image of his own eternity. Nevertheless, through envy
of the devil came death into the world, and they that hold of his
side do find it."8 Upon the whole, it is pretty clear that the
writer believed in a future life; but the details are too
partially and obscurely shadowed to be drawn forth. We may,
however, hazard a conjecture on the passage last quoted,
especially with the help of the light cast upon it from its
evident Persian origin. What is it, expressed by the term "death,"
which is found by the adherents of the devil distinctively?
"Death" cannot here be a metaphor for an inward state of sin and
woe, because it is contrasted with the plainly literal phrases,
"created to be immortal," "an image of God's eternity." It cannot
signify simply physical dissolution, because this is found as well
by God's servants as by the devil's. Its genuine meaning is, most
probably, a descent into the black kingdom of sadness and silence
under the earth, while the souls of the good were "received up."

The Second Book of Maccabees with emphasis repeatedly asserts
future retribution and a bodily resurrection. In the seventh
chapter a full account is given of seven brothers and their mother
who suffered martyrdom, firmly sustained by faith in a glorious
reward for their heroic fidelity, to be reaped at the
resurrection. One of them says to the tyrant by whose order he was
tortured, "As for thee, thou shalt have no resurrection to life."
Nicanor, bleeding from many horrible wounds, "plucked out his
bowels and cast them upon the throng, and, calling upon the Lord
of life and spirit to restore him those again, [at the day of
resurrection,] he thus died."9 Other passages in this book to the
same effect it is needless to quote. The details lying latent in
those we have quoted will soon be illuminated and filled out when
we come to treat of the opinions of the Pharisees. 10

7 Cap. viii. 20.

8 Cap. ii. 23, 24.

9 Cap. xiv. 46.

10 See a very able discussion of the relation between the ideas
concerning immortality, resurrection, judgment, and retribution,
contained in the Old Testament Apocrypha, and those in the New
Testament, by Frisch, inserted in Eichhorn's Allgemeine Bibliothek
der Biblischen Literatur, band iv. stuck iv.


There lived in Alexandria a very learned Jew named Philo, the
author of voluminous writings, a zealous Israelite, but deeply
imbued both with the doctrines and the spirit of Plato. He was
born about twenty years before Christ, and survived him about
thirty years. The weight of his character, the force of his
talents, the fascinating adaptation of his peculiar philosophical
speculations and of his bold and subtle allegorical expositions of
Scripture to the mind of his age and of the succeeding centuries,
together with the eminent literary position and renown early
secured for him by a concurrence of causes, have combined to make
him exert according to the expressed convictions of the best
judges, such as Lucke and Norton a greater influence on the
history of Christian opinions than any single man, with the
exception of the Apostle Paul, since the days of Christ. It is
important, and will be interesting, to see some explanation of his
views on the subject of a future life. A synopsis of them must
suffice.

Philo was a Platonic Alexandrian Jew, not a Zoroastrian
Palestinian Pharisee. It was a current saying among the Christian
Fathers, "Vel Plato Philonizat, vel Philo Platonizat." He has
little to say of the Messiah, nothing to say of the Messianic
eschatology. We speak of him in this connection because he was a
Jew, flourishing at the commencement of the Christian epoch, and
contributing much, by his cabalistic interpretations, to lead
Christians to imagine that the Old Testament contained the
doctrine of a spiritual immortality connected with a system of
rewards and punishments.

Three principal points include the substance of Philo's faith on
the subject in hand. He rejected the notion of a resurrection of
the body and held to the natural immortality of the soul. He
entertained the most profound and spiritual conceptions of the
intrinsically deadly nature and wretched fruits of all sin, and of
the self contained welfare and self rewarding results of every
element of virtue, in themselves, independent of time and place
and regardless of external bestowments of woe or joy. He also
believed at the same time in contrasted localities above and
below, appointed as the residences of the disembodied souls of
good and of wicked men. We will quote miscellaneously various
passages from him in proof and illustration of these statements:

"Man's bodily form is made from the ground, the soul from no
created thing, but from the Father of all; so that, although man
was mortal as to his body, he was immortal as to his mind."11
"Complete virtue is the tree of immortal life."12 "Vices and
crimes, rushing in through the gate of sensual pleasure, changed a
happy and immortal life for a wretched and mortal one."13
Referring to the allegory of the garden of Eden, he says, "The
death threatened for eating the fruit was not natural, the
separation of soul and body, but penal, the sinking of the soul in
the body."14 "Death is twofold, one of man, one of the soul. The
death of man is the separation of the soul from the body; the
death of the soul is the corruption of virtue

11 Mangey's edition of Philo's works, vol. i. p. 32.

12 Ibid. p. 38.

13 Ibid. p. 37.

14 Ibid. p. 65.


and the assumption of vice."15 "To me, death with the pious is
preferable to life with the impious. For those so dying, deathless
life delivers; but those so living, eternal death seizes."16 He
writes of three kinds of life, "one of which neither ascends nor
cares to ascend, groping in the secret recesses of Hades and
rejoicing in the most lifeless life."17 Commenting on the promise
of the Lord to Abram, that he should be buried in a good old age,
Philo observes that "A polished, purified soul does not die, but
emigrates: it is of an inextinguishable and deathless race, and
goes to heaven, escaping the dissolution and corruption which
death seems to introduce."18 "A vile life is the true Hades,
despicable and obnoxious to every sort of execration." 19
"Different regions are set apart for different things, heaven for
the good, the confines of the earth for the bad."20 He thinks the
ladder seen by Jacob in his dream "is a figure of the air, which,
reaching from earth to heaven, is the house of unembodied souls,
the image of a populous city having for citizens immortal souls,
some of whom descend into mortal bodies, but soon return aloft,
calling the body a sepulchre from which they hasten, and, on light
wings seeking the lofty ether, pass eternity in sublime
contemplations."21 "The wise inherit the Olympic and heavenly
region to dwell in, always studying to go above; the bad, the
innermost parts of Hades, always laboring to die."22 He literally
accredits the account, in the sixteenth chapter of Numbers, of the
swallowing of Korah and his company, saying, "The earth opened and
took them alive into Hades."23 "Ignorant men regard death as the
end of punishments, whereas in the Divine judgment it is scarcely
the beginning of them."24 He describes the meritorious man as
"fleeing to God and receiving the most intimate honor of a firm
place in heaven; but the reprobate man is dragged below, down to
the very lowest place, to Tartarus itself and profound
darkness."25 "He who is not firmly held by evil may by repentance
return to virtue, as to the native land from which he has
wandered. But he who suffers from incurable vice must endure its
dire penalties, banished into the place of the impious until the
whole of eternity."26

Such, then, was the substance of Philo's opinions on the theme
before us, as indeed many more passages, which we have omitted as
superfluous, might be cited from him to show. Man was made
originally a mortal body and an immortal soul. He should have been
happy and pure while in the body, and on leaving it have soared up
to the realm of light and bliss on high, to join the angels.
"Abraham, leaving his mortal part, was added to the people of God,

15 Ibid. p. 65.

16 Ibid. p. 233.

17 Ibid. p. 479.

18 Ibid. p. 513.

19 Ibid. p. 527.

20 Ibid. p. 555.

21 Ibid. p. 641, 642.

22 Ibid. p. 643.

23 Ibid. vol. ii. p. 178.

24 Ibid. p. 419.

25 Mangey's edition of Philo's Works, vol. ii. p. 433.

26 Ibid. vol. i. p. 139.


enjoying immortality and made similar to the angels. For the
angels are the army of God, bodiless and happy souls."27 But,
through the power of evil, all who yield to sin and vice lose that
estate of bright and blessed immortality, and become discordant,
wretched, despicable, and, after the dissolution of the body, are
thrust down to gloom and manifold just retribution in Hades. He
believed in the pre existence, and in a limited transmigration, of
souls. Here he leaves the subject, saying nothing of a
resurrection or final restoration, and not speculating as to any
other of the details. 28

We pass on to speak of the Jewish sects at the time of Christ.
There were three of these, cardinally differing from each other in
their theories of the future fate of man. First, there were the
skeptical, materialistic Sadducees, wealthy, proud, few. They
openly denied the existence of any disembodied souls, avowing that
men utterly perished in the grave. "The cloud faileth and passeth
away: so he that goeth down to the grave doth not return."29 We
read in the Acts of the Apostles, "The Sadducees say there is no
resurrection, neither angel nor spirit." At the same time they
accepted the Pentateuch, only rejecting or explaining away those
portions of it which relate to the separate existence of souls and
to their subterranean abode. They strove to confound their
opponents, the advocates of a future life, by such perplexing
questions as the one they addressed to Jesus, asking, in the case
of a woman who had had seven successive husbands, which one of
them should be her husband in the resurrection. All that we can
gather concerning the Sadducees from the New Testament is amply
confirmed by Josephus, who explicitly declares, "Their doctrine is
that souls die with the bodies."

The second sect was the ascetical and philosophical Essenes, of
whom the various information given by Philo in his celebrated
paper on the Therapeuta agrees with the account in Josephus and
with the scattered gleams in other sources. The doctrine of the
Essenes on the subject of our present inquiry was much like that
of Philo himself; and in some particulars it remarkably resembles
that of many Christians. They rejected the notion of the
resurrection of the body, and maintained the inherent immortality
of the soul. They said that "the souls of men, coming out of the
most subtle and pure air, are bound up in their bodies as in so
many prisons; but, being freed at death, they do rejoice, and are
borne aloft where a state of happy life forever is decreed for the
virtuous; but the vicious are assigned to eternal punishment in a
dark, cold place." 30 Such sentiments appear to have inspired the
heroic Eleazar, whose speech to his followers is reported by
Josephus, when they were besieged at Masada, urging them to rush
on the foe, "for death is better than life, is the only true life,
leading the soul to infinite freedom and joy above."31

27 Ibid. p. 164.

28 See, in the Analekten of Keil and Tzschirner, band i stuck
ii., an article by Dr. Schreiter, entitled Philo's Ideen uber
Unsterblichkeit, Auferstehung, und Vergeltung.

29 Lightfoot in Matt. xxii. 23.

30 Josephus, De Bell. lib. ii. cap. 8.

31 Ibid. lib. vii. cap. 8.


But by far the most numerous and powerful of the Jewish sects at
that time, and ever since, were the eclectic, traditional,
formalist Pharisees: eclectic, inasmuch as their faith was formed
by a partial combination of various systems; traditional, since
they allowed a more imperative sway to the authority of the
Fathers, and to oral legends and precepts, than to the plain
letter of Scripture; formalist, for they neglected the weightier
spiritual matters of the law in a scrupulous tithing of mint,
cumin, and anise seed, a pretentious wearing of broad
phylacteries, an uttering of long prayers in the streets, and the
various other hypocritical priestly paraphernalia of a severe
mechanical ritual.

From Josephus we learn that the Pharisees believed that the souls
of the faithful that is, of all who punctiliously observed the law
of Moses and the traditions of the elders would live again by
transmigration into new bodies; but that the souls of all others,
on leaving their bodies, were doomed to a place of confinement
beneath, where they must abide forever. These are his words: "The
Pharisees believe that souls have an immortal strength in them,
and that in the under world they will experience rewards or
punishments according as they have lived well or ill in this life.
The righteous shall have power to live again, but sinners shall be
detained in an everlasting prison."32 Again, he writes, "The
Pharisees say that all souls are incorruptible, but that only the
souls of good men are removed into other bodies."33 The fragment
entitled "Concerning Hades," formerly attributed to Josephus, is
now acknowledged on all sides to be a gross forgery. The Greek
culture and philosophical tincture with which he was imbued led
him to reject the doctrine of a bodily resurrection; and this is
probably the reason why he makes no allusion to that doctrine in
his account of the Pharisees. That such a doctrine was held among
them is plain from passages in the New Testament, passages which
also shed light upon the statement actually made by Josephus.
Jesus says to Martha, "Thy brother shall rise again." She replies,
"I know that he shall rise in the resurrection, at the last day."
Some of the Pharisees, furthermore, did not confine the privilege
or penalty of transmigration, and of the resurrection, to the
righteous. They once asked Jesus, "Who did sin, this man or his
parents, that he was born blind?" Plainly, he could not have been
born blind for his own sins unless he had known a previous life.
Paul, too, says of them, in his speech at Casarea, "They
themselves also allow that there shall be a resurrection of the
dead, both of the just and of the unjust." This, however, is very
probably an exception to their prevailing belief. Their religious
intolerance, theocratic pride, hereditary national vanity, and
sectarian formalism, often led them to despise and overlook the
Gentile world, haughtily restricting the boon of a renewed life to
the legal children of Abraham.

But the grand source now open to us of knowledge concerning the
prevailing opinions of the Jews on our present subject at and
subsequent to the time of Christ is the Talmud. This is a
collection of the traditions of the oral law, (Mischna,) with the
copious precepts and comments (Gemara) of the most learned and
authoritative Rabbins. It is a wonderful monument of myths and
fancies, profound speculations and ridiculous puerilities, antique

32 Antiq. lib. xviii. cap. 1.33 De Bell. lib. ii. cap. 8.


legends and cabalistic subtleties, crowned and loaded with the
national peculiarities. The Jews reverence it extravagantly,
saying, "The Bible is salt, the Mischna pepper, the Gemara balmy
spice." Rabbi Solomon ben Joseph sings, in our poet's version,

"The Kabbala and Talmud hoar Than all the Prophets prize I more;
For water is all Bible lore, But Mischna is pure wine."

The rambling character and barbarous dialect of this work have
joined with various other causes to withhold from it far too much
of the attention of Christian critics. Saving by old Lightfoot and
Pocock, scarcely a contribution has ever been offered us in
English from this important field. The Germans have done far
better; and numerous huge volumes, the costly fruits of their
toils, are standing on neglected shelves. The eschatological views
derived from this source are authentically Jewish, however closely
they may resemble some portion of the popular Christian
conceptions upon the same subject. The correspondences between
some Jewish and some Christian theological dogmas betoken the
influx of an adulterated Judaism into a nascent Christianity, not
the reflex of a pure Christianity upon a receptive Judaism. It is
important to show this; and it appears from several
considerations. In the first place, it is demonstrable, it is
unquestioned, that at least the germs and outlines of the dogmas
referred to were in actual existence among the Pharisees before
the conflict between Christianity and Judaism arose.Secondly, in
the Rabbinical writings these dogmas are most fundamental, vital,
and pervading, in relation to the whole system; but in the
Christian they seem subordinate and incidental, have every
appearance of being ingrafts, not outgrowths. Thirdly, in the
apostolic age Judaism was a consolidated, petrified system,
defended from outward influence on all sides by an invulnerable
bigotry, a haughty exclusiveness; while Christianity was in a
young and vigorous, an assimilating and formative, state.
Fourthly, the overweening sectarian vanity and scorn of the Jews,
despising, hating, and fearing the Christians, would not permit
them to adopt peculiarities of belief from the latter; but the
Christians were undeniably Jews in almost every thing except in
asserting the Messiahship of Jesus: they claimed to be the genuine
Jews, children of the law and realizers of the promise. The Jewish
dogmas, therefore, descended to them as a natural lineal
inheritance. Finally, in the Acts of the Apostles, the letters of
Paul, and the progress of the Ebionites, (which sect included
nearly all the Christians of the first century,) we can trace step
by step the actual workings, in reliable history, of the process
that we affirm, namely, the assimilation of Jewish elements into
the popular Christianity.

CHAPTER IX.

RABBINICAL DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

THE starting point in the Talmud on this subject is with the
effects of sin upon the human race. Man was made radiant, pure,
immortal, in the image of God. By sin he was obscured, defiled,
burdened with mortal decay and judgment. In this representation
that misery and death were an after doom brought into the world by
sin, the Rabbinical authorities strikingly agree. The testimony is
irresistible. We need not quote confirmations of this statement,
as every scholar in this department will accept it at once. But as
to what is meant precisely by the term "death," as used in such a
connection, there is no little obscurity and diversity of opinion.
In all probability, some of the Pharisaical fathers perhaps the
majority of them conceived that, if Adam had not sinned, he and
his posterity would have been physically immortal, and would
either have lived forever on the earth, or have been successively
transferred to the home of Jehovah over the firmament. They call
the devil, who is the chief accuser in the heavenly court of
justice, the angel of death, by the name of "Sammael." Rabbi
Reuben says, "When Sammael saw Adam sin, he immediately sought to
slay him, and went to the heavenly council and clamored for
justice against him, pleading thus: 'God made this decree, "In the
day thou eatest of the tree thou shalt surely die." Therefore give
him to me, for he is mine, and I will kill him; to this end was I
created; and give me power over all his descendants.' When the
celestial Sanhedrim perceived that his petition was just, they
decreed that it should be granted."1 A great many expressions of
kindred tenor might easily be adduced, leaving it hardly possible
to doubt as indeed we are not aware that any one does doubt that
many of the Jews literally held that sin was the sole cause of
bodily dissolution. But, on the other hand, there were as
certainly others who did not entertain that idea, but understood
and explained the terms in which it was sometimes conveyed in a
different, a partially figurative, sense. Rabbi Samuel ben David
writes, "Although the first Adam had not sinned, yet death would
have been; for death was created on the first day." The reference
here is, as Rabbi Berechias explains, to the account in Genesis
where we read that "darkness was upon the face of the deep," "by
which is to be understood the angel of death, who has darkened the
face of man."2 The Talmudists generally believed also in the pre
existence of souls in heaven, and in a spiritual body investing
and fitting the soul for heaven, as the present carnal body
invests and fits it for the earth. Schoettgen has collected
numerous illustrations in point, of which the following may serve
as specimens.3 "When the first Adam had not sinned, he was every
way an angel of the Lord, perfect and spotless, and it was decreed
that he should live forever like one of the celestial ministers."
"The soul cannot ascend into Paradise except it be first invested
with a

1 Schoettgen, Dissertatio de Hierosolyma Coelesti, cap. iii. sect.
9.

2 Schoettgen, Hora Biblica et Talmudica, in Rom. v. 12, et in
Johan. iii. 19.

3 Ibid. in 2 Cor. v. 2.


clothing adapted to that world, as the present is for this world."
These notions do not harmonize with the thought that man was
originally destined for a physical eternity on this globe. All
this difficulty disappears, we think, and the true metaphorical
force often intended in the word "death" comes to view, through
the following conception, occupying the minds of a portion of the
Jewish Rabbins, as we are led to believe by the clews furnished in
the close connection between the Pharisaic and the Zoroastrian
eschatology, by similar hints in various parts of the New
Testament, and by some quite explicit declarations in the Talmud
itself, which we shall soon cite in a different connection. God at
first intended that man should live for a time in pure blessedness
on the earth, and then without pain should undergo a glorious
change making him a perfect peer of the angels, and be translated
to their lofty abode in his own presence; but, when he sinned, God
gave him over to manifold suffering, and on the destruction of his
body adjudged his naked soul to descend to a doleful imprisonment
below the grave. The immortality meant for man was a timely ascent
to heaven in a paradisal clothing, without dying. The doom brought
on him by sin was the alteration of that desirable change of
bodies and ascension to the supernal splendors, for a permanent
disembodiment and a dreaded descent to the subterranean glooms. It
is a Talmudical as much as it is a Pauline idea, that the
triumphant power of the Messiah would restore what the unfortunate
fall of Adam forfeited. Now, if we can show as we think we can,
and as we shall try to do in a later part of this article that the
later Jews expected the Messianic resurrection to be the prelude
to an ascent into heaven, and not the beginning of a gross earthly
immortality, it will powerfully confirm the theory which we have
just indicated. "When," says one of the old Rabbins, "the dead in
Israelitish earth are restored alive," their bodies will be "as
the body of the first Adam before he sinned, and they shall all
fly into the air like birds."4

At all events, whether the general Rabbinical belief was in the
primitive destination of man to a heavenly or to an earthly
immortality, whether the "death" decreed upon him in consequence
of sin was the dissolution of the body or the wretchedness of the
soul, they all agree that the banishment of souls into the realm
of blackness under the grave was a part of the penalty of sin.
Some of them maintained, as we think, that, had there been no sin,
souls would have passed to heaven in glorified bodies; others of
them maintained, as we think, that, had there been no sin, they
would have lived eternally upon earth in their present bodies; but
all of them agreed, it is undisputed, that in consequence of sin
souls were condemned to the under world. No man would have seen
the dismal realm of the sepulchre had there not been sin. The
earliest Hebrew conception was that all souls went down to a
common abode, to spend eternity in dark slumber or nerveless
groping. This view was first modified soon after the Persian
captivity, by the expectation that there would be discrimination
at the resurrection which the Jews had learned to look for, when
the just should rise but the wicked should be left.

The next alteration of their notions on this subject was the
subdivision of the underworld into Paradise and Gehenna, a
conception known among them probably as early as a century before
Christ, and very prominent with them in the apostolic age. "When
Rabbi

4 Schoettgen, in 1 Cor. xv. 44.


Jochanan was dying, his disciples asked him, 'Light of Israel,
main pillar of the right, thou strong hammer, why dost thou weep?'
He answered, 'Two paths open before me, the one leading to bliss,
the other to torments; and I know not which of them will be my
doom.'"5 "Paradise is separated from hell by a distance no greater
than the width of a thread."6 So, in Christ's parable of Dives and
Lazarus, Abraham's bosom and hell are two divisions. "There are
three doors into Gehenna: one in the wilderness, where Korah and
his company were swallowed; one in the sea, where Jonah descended
when he 'cried out of the belly of hell;' one in Jerusalem, for
the Lord says, 'My furnace is in Jerusalem.'"7 "The under world is
divided into palaces, each of which is so large that it would take
a man three hundred years to roam over it. There are distinct
apartments where the hell punishments are inflicted. One place is
so dark that its name is 'Night of Horrors."8 "In Paradise there
are certain mansions for the pious from the Gentile peoples, and
for those mundane kings who have done kindness to the
Israelites."9 "The fire of Gehenna was kindled on the evening of
the first Sabbath, and shall never be extinguished."10 The
Egyptians, Persians, Hindus, and Greeks, with all of whom the Jews
held relations of intercourse, had, in their popular
representations of the under world of the dead, regions of peace
and honor for the good, and regions of fire for the bad. The idea
may have been adopted from them by the Jews, or it may have been
at last developed among themselves, first by the imaginative
poetical, afterwards by the literally believing, transference
below of historical and local imagery and associations, such as
those connected with the ingulfing of Sodom and Gomorrah in fire
and sulphur, and with the loathed fires in the valley of Hinnom.

Many of the Rabbins believed in the transmigration or revolution
of souls, an immemorial doctrine of the Fast, and developed it
into the most ludicrous and marvellous details.11 But, with the
exception of those who adopted this Indian doctrine, the Rabbins
supposed all departed souls to be in the under world, some in the
division of Paradise, others in that of hell. Here they fancied
these souls to be longingly awaiting the advent of the Messiah.
"Messiah and the patriarchs weep together in Paradise over the
delay of the time of the kingdom."12 In this quotation the Messiah
is represented as being in the under world, for the Jews expected
that he would be a man, very likely some one who had already
lived. For a delegation was once sent to ask Jesus, "Art thou
Elias? art thou the Messiah? art thou that prophet?" Light is thus
thrown upon the Rabbinical saying that "it was doubted whether the
Messiah would come from the living, or the dead."13 Borrowing some
Persian modes of thinking, and adding them to their own inordinate
national pride, the Rabbins soon began

5 Talmud, tract. Berachoth.

6 Eisenmenger, Entdecktes Judenthum, th. ii. cap. v. s. 315.

7 Lightfoot, in Matt. v. 22.

8 Schroder, Satzungen and Gebrauche des Talmudisch Rabbinischen
Judenthums, s. 408.

9 Schoettgen, in Johan. xiv. 2.

10 Nov. Test. ex Talmude, etc. illustratum a J. G. Menschen, p.
125.

11 Basnage, Hist. of Jews, lib. iv. cap. 30. Also, Traditions of
the Rabbins, in Blackwood for April, 1833.

12 Eisenmenger, th. ii. s. 304.

13 Lightfoot, in Matt. ii. 16.


to fancy that the observance or non observance of the Pharisaic
ritual, and kindred particulars, must exert a great effect in
determining the destination of souls and their condition in the
under world. Observe the following quotations from the Talmud.
"Abraham sits at the gate of hell to see that no Israelite
enters." "Circumcision is so agreeable to God, that he swore to
Abraham that no one who was circumcised should descend into
hell."14 "What does Abraham to those circumcised who have sinned
too much? He takes the foreskins from Gentile boys who died
without circumcision, and places them on those Jews who were
circumcised but have become godless, and then kicks them into
hell."15 Hell here denotes that division in the under world where
the condemned are punished. The younger Buxtorf, in a preface to
his father's "Synagoga Judaica," gives numerous specimens of
Jewish representations of "the efficacy of circumcision being so
great that no one who has undergone it shall go down into hell."
Children can help their deceased parents out of hell by their good
deeds, prayers, and offerings.16 "Beyond all doubt," says Gfrorer,
"the ancient Jewish synagogue inculcated the doctrine of
supererogatory good works, the merit of which went to benefit the
departed souls."17 Here all souls were, in the under world, either
in that part of it called Paradise, or in that named Gehenna,
according to certain conditions. But in whichever place they were,
and under whatever circumstances, they were all tarrying in
expectation of the advent of the Messiah.

How deeply rooted, how eagerly cherished, the Jewish belief in the
approaching appearance of the Messiah was, and what a splendid
group of ideas and imaginations they clustered around his reign,
are well known facts. He was to be a descendant of royal David, an
inspired prophet, priest, and king, was to subdue the whole earth
beneath his Jewish sceptre and establish from Jerusalem a
theocratic empire of unexampled glory, holiness, and delight. In
so much the consent was general and earnest; though in regard to
many further details there would seem to have been an incongruous
diversity of opinions. They supposed the coming of the Messiah
would be preceded by ten frightful woes,18 also by the appearance
of the prophet Elias as a forerunner.19 There are a few passages
in the Rabbinical writings which, unless they were forged and
interpolated by Christians at a late period, show that there were
in the Jewish mind anticipations of the personal descent of the
Messiah into the under world.20 "After this the Messiah, the son
of David, came to the gates of the underworld. But when the bound,
who are in Gehenna, saw the light of the Messiah, they began
rejoicing to receive him, saying, 'He shall lead us up from this
darkness.'" "The captives shall

14 Schroder, s. 332.

15 Eisenmenger, th. ii. kap. vi. s. 340.

16 Ibid. s. 358.

17 Geschichte des Urchristenthums, zweit. abth. s. 186. Maimonides
also asserts the doctrine of supererogatory works: see p. 237 of
H. H. Bernard's Selections from the Yad Hachazakah of Maimonides.

18 Surenhusius, Mischna, pars tertia, p. 308.

19 Lightfoot, in Matt. xvii. 10.

20 For a general view of the Jewish eschatology, see Gfrorer,
Geschichte des Urchristenthums, kap. x.; Eisenmenger, Entdecktes
Judenthum, th. ii. kap. xv. xvii.


ascend from the under world, Schechinah at their head."21 Gfrorer
derives the origin of the doctrine that Christ rescued souls out
of the under world, from a Jewish notion, preserved in the
Talmud,22 that the just patriarchs sometimes did it.23 Bertholdt
adduces Talmudical declarations to show that through the Messiah
"God would hereafter liberate the Israelites from the under world,
on account of the merit of circumcision"24 Schoettgen quotes this
statement from the Sohar: "Messia shall die, and shall remain in
the state of death a time, and shall rise."25 The so called Fourth
Book of Ezra says, in the seventh chapter, "My son, the Christ,
shall die: then follow the resurrection and the judgment."
Although it is clear, from various other sources, as well as from
the account in John xii. 34, that there was a prevalent
expectation among the Jews that "the Messiah would abide forever,"
it also seems quite certain that there were at the same time at
least obscure presentiments, based on prophecies and traditions,
that he must die, that an important part of his mission was
connected with his death. This appears from such passages as we
have cited above, found in early Rabbinical writers, who would
certainly be very unlikely to borrow and adapt a new idea of such
a character from the Christians; and from the manner in which
Jesus assumes his death to be a part of the Messianic fate and
interprets the Scriptures as necessarily pointing to that effect.
He charges his disciples with being "fools and blind" in not so
understanding the doctrine; thus seeming to imply that it was
plainly known to some. But this question the origin of the idea of
a suffering, atoning, dying Messiah is confessedly a very nice and
obscure one. The evidence, the silence, the inferences, the
presumptions and doubts on the subject are such, that some of the
most thorough and impartial students say they are unable to decide
either way.

However the foregoing question be decided, it is admitted by all
that the Jews earnestly looked for a resurrection of the dead as
an accompaniment of the Messiah's coming. Whether Christ was to go
down into the under world, or to sit enthroned on Mount Zion, in
either case the dead should come up and live again on earth at the
blast of his summoning trumpet. Rabbi Jeremiah commanded, "When
you bury me, put shoes on my feet, and give me a staff in my hand,
and lay me on one side, that when the Messiah comes I may be
ready."26 Most of the Rabbins made this resurrection partial.
"Whoever denies the resurrection of the dead shall have no part in
it, for the very reason that he denies it."27 "Rabbi Abbu says, "A
day of rain is greater than the resurrection of the dead; because
the rain is for all, while the resurrection is only for the
just."28 "Sodom and Gomorrah shall not rise in the resurrection of
the dead."29 Rabbi Chebbo says, "The patriarchs so vehemently
desired to be buried in

21 Schoettgen, De Messia, lib. vi. cap. v. sect. 1.

22 Eisenmenger, th. ii. ss. 343, 364.

23 Geschichte Urchrist. kap. viii. s. 184.

24 Christologia Judaorum Jesu Apostolorumque Atate, sect. 34, (De
Descensu Messia ad Inferos.)

25 De Messia, lib. vi. cap. v. sect. 2.

26 Lightfoot, in Matt. xxvii. 52.

27 Witsius, Dissertatio de Seculo, etc. sect. 9.

28 Nov. Test. Illustratum, etc. a Meuschen, p. 62.

29 Schoettgen, in Johan. vi. 39.


the land of Israel, because those who are dead in that land shall
be the first to revive and shall devour his years, [the years of
the Messiah.] But for those just who are interred beyond the holy
land, it is to be understood that God will make a passage in the
earth, through which they will be rolled until they reach the land
of Israel."30 Rabbi Jochanan says, "Moses died out of the holy
land, in order to show that in the same way that God will raise up
Moses, so he will raise all those who observe his law." The
national bigotry of the Jews reaches a pitch of extravagance in
some of their views that is amusing. For instance, they declare
that "one Israelitish soul is dearer and more important to God
than all the souls of a whole nation of the Gentiles!" Again, they
say, "When God judges the Israelites, he will stand, and make the
judgment brief and mild; when he judges the Gentiles, he will sit,
and make it long and severe!" They affirm that the resurrection
will be effected by means of a dew; and they quote to that effect
this verse from Canticles: "I sleep, but my heart waketh; my head
is filled with dew, and my locks with drops of the night." Some
assert that "the resurrection will be immediately caused by God,
who never gives to any one the three keys of birth, rain, and the
resurrection of the dead." Others say that the power to raise and
judge the dead will be delegated to the Messiah, and even go so
far as to assert that the trumpet whose formidable blasts will
then shake the universe is to be one of the horns of that ram
which Abraham offered up instead of his son Isaac! Some confine
the resurrection to faithful Jews, some extend it to the whole
Jewish nation, some think all the righteous of the earth will have
part in it, and some stretch its pale around all mankind alike.31
They seem to agree that the reprobate would either be left in the
wretched regions of Sheol when the just arose, or else be thrust
back after the judgment, to remain there forever. It was believed
that the righteous after their resurrection would never die again,
but ascend to heaven. The Jews after a time, when the increase of
geographical knowledge had annihilated from the earth their old
Eden whence the sinful Adam was expelled, changed its location
into the sky. Thither, as the later fables ran, Elijah was borne
in his chariot of fire by the horses thereof. Rabbi Pinchas says,
"Carefulness leads us to innocence, innocence to purity, purity to
sanctity, sanctity to humility, humility to fear of sins, fear of
sins to piety, piety to the holy spirit, the holy spirit to the
resurrection of the dead, the resurrection of the dead to the
prophet Elias."32 The writings of the early Christian Fathers
contain many allusions to this blessed habitation of saints above
the clouds. It is illustrated in the following quaint Rabbinical
narrative. Rabbi Jehosha ben Levi once besought the angel of death
to take him up, ere he died, to catch a glimpse of Paradise.
Standing on the wall, he suddenly snatched the angel's sword and
sprang over, swearing by Almighty God that he would not come out.
Death was not allowed to enter Paradise, and the son of Levi did
not restore his sword until he had promised to be more gentle
towards the dying.33 The righteous were never to return to the
dust, but "at the end

30 Schoettgen, De Messia, lib. vi. cap. vi. sect. 27.

31 See an able dissertation on Jewish Notions of the Resurrection
of the Dead, prefixed to Humphrey's Translation of Athenagoras on
the Resurrection.

32 Surenhusius, Mischna, pars tertia, p. 309.

33 Schroder, s. 419.


of the thousand years," the duration of the Messiah's earthly
reign, "when the Lord is lifted up, God shall fit wings to the
just, like the wings of eagles."34 In a word, the Messiah and his
redeemed ones would ascend into heaven to the right hand of God.
So Paul, who said, "I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee,"
declares that when the dead have risen "we shall be caught up in
the clouds to be forever with the Lord."

We forbear to notice a thousand curious details of speculation and
fancy in which individual Rabbins indulged; for instance, their
common notion concerning the bone luz, the single bone which,
withstanding dissolution, shall form the nucleus of the
resurrection body. It was a prevalent belief with them that the
resurrection would take place in the valley of Jehoshaphat, in
proof of which they quote this text from Joel: "Let the heathen be
wakened and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there will I
sit to judge the nations around." To this day, wherever scattered
abroad, faithful Jews cling to the expectation of the Messiah's
coming, and associate with his day the resurrection of the dead.35
The statement in the Song of Solomon, "The king is held in the
galleries," means, says a Rabbinical book, "that the Messiah is
detained in Paradise, fettered by a woman's hair!" Every day,
throughout the world, every consistent Israelite repeats the words
of Moses Maimonides, the peerless Rabbi, of whom it is a proverb
that "from Moses to Moses there arose not a Moses:" "I believe
with a perfect faith that the Messiah will come, and though he
delays, nevertheless, I will always expect him till he come." Then
shall glory cover the living, and the risen, children of Israel,
and confusion fall on their Gentile foes. In almost every inch of
the beautiful valley of Jehoshaphat a Jew has been buried. All
over the slopes of the hill sides around lie the thick clustering
sepulchral slabs, showing how eagerly the chosen people seek to
sleep in the very spot where the first rising of the dead shall
be. Entranced and mute,

"In old Jehoshaphat's valley, they
Of Israel think the assembled world
Will stand upon that awful day,
When the Ark's light, aloft unfurl'd,
Among the opening clouds shall shine,
Divinity's own radiant shrine."

Any one familiar with the Persian theology36 will at once notice a
striking resemblance between many of its dogmas and those, first,
of Pharisaism, secondly, of the popular Christianity. Some
examination of this subject properly belongs here. There is, then,
as is well known, a circle or group of ideas, particularly
pertaining to eschatology, which appear in the later Jewish
writings, and remarkably correspond to those held by the Parsees,
the followers of Zoroaster. The same notions also reappear in the
early Christianity as popularly understood. We will specify some
of these correspondences. The doctrine of angels, received by the
Jews, their names, offices, rank, and destiny, was borrowed and
formed

34 Schoettgen, de Messia, lib. vi. cap. vi. sect. 23; cap. vii.
ss. 3, 4.

35 John Allen, Modern Judaism, ch. vi. and xv.

36 See Abriss der Religion Zoroasters nach den Zendbuchern, von
Abbe Foucher, in Kleuker's Zend Avesta, band i. zweit anhang, ss.
328-342.


by them during and just after the Babylonish captivity, and is
much like that which they found among their enslavers.37 The
guardian angels appointed over nations, spoken of by Daniel, are
Persian. The angels called in the Apocalypse "the seven spirits of
God sent forth into all the earth," in Zechariah "the seven eyes
of God which run to and fro through all the earth," are the
Amschaspands of the Persian faith. The wars of the angels are
described as minutely by the old Persians as by Milton. The Zend
Avesta pictures Ahriman pregnant with Death, (die alte
hollenschlange, todschwangere Ahriman,) as Milton describes the
womb of Sin bearing that fatal monster. The Gahs, or second order
of angels, the Persians supposed,38 were employed in preparing
clothing and laying it up in heaven to clothe the righteous after
the resurrection, a fancy frequent among the Rabbins and
repeatedly alluded to in the New Testament. With both the Persians
and the Jews, all our race both sexes sprang from one original
man. With both, the first pair were seduced and ruined by means of
fruit which the devil gave to them. With both, there was a belief
in demoniacal possessions, devils or bad spirits entering human
bodies. With both, there was the expectation of a great
Deliverer,  the Persian Sosiosch, the Jewish Messiah, whose coming
would be preceded by fearful woes, who would triumph over all
evil, raise the dead, judge the world, separate the righteous and
the wicked, purge the earth with fire, and install a reign of
glorious blessedness.39 "The conception of an under world," says
Dr. Roth, "was known centuries before Zoroaster; but probably he
was the first to add to the old belief the idea that the under
world was a place of purification, wherein souls were purged from
all traces of sin."40 Of this belief in a subterranean purgatory
there are numerous unmistakable evidences and examples in the
Rabbinical writings.41

These notions and others the Pharisees early adopted, and wrought
into the texture of what they called the "Oral Law," that body of
verbally transmitted legends, precepts, and dogmas, afterwards
written out and collected in the Mischna, to which Christ
repeatedly alluded with such severity, saying, "Ye by your
traditions make the commandments of God of none effect." To some
doctrines of kindred character and origin with these Paul refers
when he warns his readers against "the worshipping of angels,"
"endless genealogies," "philosophy falsely so called," and various
besetting heresies of the time. But others were so woven and
assimilated into the substance of the popular Judaism of the age,
as inculcated by the Rabbins, that Paul himself held them, the
lingering vestiges of his earnest Pharisaic education and
organized experience. They naturally found their way into the
Apostolic Church, principally composed of Ebionites, Christians
who had been Jews; and from it they were never separated, but have
come to us in seeming orthodox garb, and are generally

37 Schroder, p. 385.

38 Yacna, Ha 411. Kleuker, zweit. auf. s. 198.

39 Die Heiligen Schriften der Parsen, von Dr. F. Spiegel, kap. ii.
ss. 32-37. Studien and Kritiken, 1885, band i., "Ist die Lehre von
der Anferstehung des Leibes nicht ein alt Persische Lehre?" F.
Nork, Mythen der Alten Perser als Quellen Christlicher
Glaubenslehren und Ritualien.

40 Die Zoroastrischen Glaubenslehre, von Dr. Eduard Roth. s. 450.

41 See, In tom. i. Kabbala Denudata, Synopsis Dogmatum Libri Sohar
pp. 108, 109, 113.


retained now. Still, they were errors. They are incredible to the
thinking minds of to day. It is best to get rid of them by the
truth, that they are pagan growths introduced into Christianity,
but to be discriminated from it. By removing these antiquated and
incredible excrescences from the real religion of Christ, we shall
save the essential faith from the suspicion which their
association with it, their fancied identity with it, invites and
provokes.

The correspondences between the Persian and the Pharisaic faith,
in regard to doctrines, are of too arbitrary and peculiar a
character to allow us for a moment to suppose them to have been an
independent product spontaneously developed in the two nations;
though even in that case the doctrines in question have no
sanction of authority, not being Mosaic nor Prophetic, but only
Rabbinical. One must have received from the other. Which was the
bestower and which the recipient is quite plain.42 There is not a
whit of evidence to show, but, on the contrary, ample presumption
to disprove, that a certain cycle of notions were known among the
Jews previous to a period of most intimate and constant
intercourse between them and the Persians. But before that period
those notions were an integral part of the Persian theology. Even
Prideaux admits that the first Zoroaster lived and Magianism
flourished at least a thousand years before Christ. And the dogmas
we refer to are fundamental features of the religion. These dogmas
of the Persians, not derived from the Old Testament nor known
among the Jews before the captivity, soon after that time began to
show themselves in their literature, and before the opening of the
New Testament were prominent elements of the Pharisaic belief. The
inference is unavoidable that the confluence of Persian thought
and feeling with Hebrew thought and feeling, joined with the
materials and flowing in the channels of the subsequent experience
of the Jews, formed a mingled deposit about the age of Christ,
which deposit was Pharisaism. Again: the doctrines common to
Zoroastrianism and Pharisaism in the former seem to be prime
sources, in the latter to be late products. In the former, they
compose an organic, complete, inseparable system; in the latter,
they are disconnected, mixed piecemeal, and, to a considerable
extent, historically traceable to an origin beyond the native,
national mind. It is a significant fact that the abnormal symbolic
beasts described by several of the Jewish prophets, and in the
Apocalypse, were borrowed from Persian art. Sculptures
representing these have been brought to light by the recent
researches at Persepolis. Finally, all early ecclesiastical
history incontestably shows that Persian dogmas exerted on the
Christianity of the first centuries an enormous influence, a
pervasive and perverting power unspent yet, and which it is one of
the highest tasks of honest and laborious Christian students in
the present day to explain, define, and separate. What was that
Manichaanism which nearly filled Christendom for a hundred years,
what was it, in great part, but an influx of tradition,
speculation, imagination, and sentiment, from Persia? The Gnostic
Christians even had a scripture called "Zoroaster's Apocalypse."43
"The wise men from the east," who knelt before the infant Christ,
"and opened their treasures, and gave him gifts, gold,
frankincense, and myrrh," were Persian Magi. We may imaginatively
regard that sacred scene as an emblematical figure of the far
different tributes which

42 Lucke, Einleitung in die Offenbarung des Johannes, kap. 2,
sect. 8.

43 Kleuker, Zend Avesta, band ii. anhang i. s. 12.


a little later came from their country to his religion, the
unfortunate contributions that permeated and corrupted so much of
the form in which it thenceforth appeared and spread. In the pure
gospel's pristine day, ere it had hardened into theological dogmas
or become encumbered with speculations and comments, from the lips
of God's Anointed Son repeatedly fell the earnest warning, "Beware
of the leaven of the Pharisees." There is far more need to have
this warning intelligently heeded now, coming with redoubled
emphasis from the Master's own mouth, "Beware of the leaven of the
Pharisees." For, as the gospel is now generally set forth and
received, that leaven has leavened well nigh the whole lump of it.

CHAPTER X.

GREEK AND ROMAN DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

THE disembodied soul, as conceived by the Greeks, and after them
by the Romans, is material, but of so thin a contexture that it
cannot be felt with the hands. It is exhaled with the dying
breath, or issues through a warrior's wounds. The sword passes
through its uninjured form as through the air. It is to the body
what a dream is to waking action. Retaining the shape, lineaments,
and motion the man had in life, it is immediately recognised upon
appearing. It quits the body with much reluctance, leaving that
warm and vigorous investiture for a chill and forceless existence.
It glides along without noise and very swiftly, like a shadow. It
is unable to enter the lower kingdom and be at peace until its
deserted body has been buried with sacred rites: meanwhile, naked
and sad, it flits restlessly about the gates, uttering doleful
moans.

The early Greek authors describe the creation as a stupendous
hollow globe cut in the centre by the plane of the earth. The
upper hemisphere is lighted by beneficent luminaries; the lower
hemisphere is filled with unvarying blackness. The top of the
higher sphere is Heaven, the bright dwelling of the Olympian gods;
its bottom is the surface of the earth, the home of living men.
The top of the lower sphere is Hades, the abode of the ghosts of
the dead; its bottom is Tartarus, the prison of the Titans,
rebellious giants vanquished by Zeus. Earth lies half way from the
cope of Heaven to the floor of Tartarus. This distance is so great
that, according to Hesiod, it would take an anvil nine days to
fall from the centre to the nadir. Some of the ancients seem to
have surmised the sphericity of the earth, and to have thought
that Hades was simply its dark side, the dead being our antipodes.
In the Odyssey, Ulysses reaches Hades by sailing across the ocean
stream and passing the eternal night land of the Cimmerians,
whereupon he comes to the edge of Acheron, the moat of Pluto's
sombre house. Virgil also says, "One pole of the earth to us
always points aloft; but the other is seen by black Styx and the
infernal ghosts, where either dead night forever reigns or else
Aurora returns thither from us and brings them back the day."1 But
the prevalent notion evidently was that Hades was an immense
hollow region not far under the surface of the ground, and that it
was to be reached by descent through some cavern, like that at
Avernus.

This subterranean place is the destination of all alike, rapacious
Orcus sparing no one, good or bad. It is wrapped in obscurity, as
the etymology of its name implies, a place where one cannot see.

"No sun e'er gilds the gloomy horrors there; No cheerful gales
refresh the stagnant air."

The dead are disconsolate in this dismal realm, and the living
shrink from entering it, except as a refuge from intolerable
afflictions. The shade of the princeliest hero dwelling there the

1 Georg. lib. i. II. 242-250.


swift footed Achilles says, "I would wish, being on earth, to
serve for hire another man of poor estate, rather than rule over
all the dead." Souls carry there their physical peculiarities, the
fresh and ghastly likenesses of the wounds which have despatched
them thither, so that they are known at sight. Companies of
fellow countrymen, knots of friends, are together there,
preserving their remembrance ofearthly fortunes and beloved
relatives left behind, and eagerly questioning each newly arriving
soul for tidings from above. When the soul of Achilles is told of
the glorious deeds of Neoptolemus, "he goes away taking mighty
steps through the meadow of asphodel in joyfulness, because he had
heard that his son was very illustrious."2 Sophocles makes the
dying Antigone say, "Departing, I strongly cherish the hope that I
shall be fondly welcomed by my father, and by my mother, and by my
brother."3 It is important to notice that, according to the early
and popular view, this Hades, the "dark dwelling of the joyless
images of deceased mortals," is the destination of universal
humanity. In opposition to its dolorous gloom and repulsive
inanity are vividly pictured the glad light of day, the glory and
happiness of life. "Not worth so much to me as my life," says the
incomparable son of Peleus, "are all the treasures which populous
Troy possessed, nor all which the stony threshold of Phoebus
Apollo contains in rocky Pytho. Oxen, and fat sheep, and trophies,
and horses with golden manes, may be acquired by effort; but the
breath of man to return again is not to be obtained by plunder nor
by purchase, when once it has passed the barrier of his teeth."

It is not probable that all the ornamental details associated by
the poets with the fate and state of the dead as they are set
forth, for instance, by Virgil in the sixth book of the Aneid were
ever credited as literal truth. But there is no reason to doubt
that the essential features of this mythological scenery were
accepted in the vulgar belief. For instance, that the popular mind
honestly held that, in some vague sense or other, the ghost, on
leaving the body, flitted down to the dull banks of Acheron and
offered a shadowy obolus to Charon, the slovenly old ferryman, for
a passage in his boat, seems attested not only by a thousand
averments to that effect in the current literature of the time,
but also by the invariable custom of placing an obolus in the dead
man's mouth for that purpose when he was buried.

The Greeks did not view the banishment of souls in Hades as a
punishment for sin, or the result of any broken law in the plan of
things. It was to them merely the fulfilment of the inevitable
fate of creatures who must die, in the order of nature, like
successive growths of flowers, and whose souls were too feeble to
rank with gods and climb into Olympus. That man should cease from
his substantial life on the bright earth and subside into sunless
Hades, a vapid form, with nerveless limbs and faint voice, a
ghostly vision bemoaning his existence with idle lamentation, or
busying himself with the misty mockeries of his former pursuits,
was melancholy enough; but it was his natural destiny, and not an
avenging judgment.

But that powerful instinct in man which desires to see villany
punished and goodness rewarded could not fail, among so cultivated
a people as the Greeks, to develop a doctrine of future
compensation for the contrasted deserts of souls. The earliest
trace of the idea of

2 Odyssey, lib. xi. II. 538, 539.

3 Antigone, II. 872-874.


retribution which we find carried forward into the invisible world
is the punishment of the Titans, those monsters who tried by
piling up mountains to storm the heavenly abodes, and to wrest the
Thunderer's bolts from his hand. This germ is slowly expanded; and
next we read of a few specified criminals, who had been
excessively impious, personally offending Zeus, condemned by his
direct indignation to a severe expiation in Tartarus. The insulted
deity wreaks his vengeance on the tired Sisyphus, the mocked
Tantalus, the gnawed Tityus, and others. Afterwards we meet the
statement that condign retribution is always inflicted for the two
flagrant sins of perjury and blasphemy. Finally, we discern a
general prevalence of the belief that punishment is decreed, not
by vindictive caprice, but on the grounds of universal morality,
all souls being obliged in Hades to pass before Rhadamanthus,
Minos, or Aacus, three upright judges, to be dealt with, according
to their merits, with impartial accuracy. The distribution of
poetic justice in Hades at last became, in many authors, so
melodramatic as to furnish a fair subject for burlesque. Some
ludicrous examples of this may be seen in Lucian's Dialogues of
the Dead. A fine instance of it is also furnished in the Emperor
Julian's Symposium. The gods prepare for the Roman emperors a
banquet, in the air, below the moon. The good emperors are
admitted to the table with honors; but the bad ones are hurled
headlong down into Tartarus, amidst the derisive shouts of the
spectators.

As the notion that the wrath of the gods would pursue their
enemies in the future state gave rise to a belief in the
punishments of Tartarus, so the notion that the distinguishing
kindness of the gods would follow their favorites gave rise to the
myth of Elysium. The Elysian Fields were earliest portrayed lying
on the western margin of the earth, stretching from the verge of
Oceanus, where the sun set at eve. They were fringed with
perpetual green, perfumed with the fragrance of flowers, and
eternally fanned by refreshing breezes. They were represented
merely as the select abode of a small number of living men, who
were either the mortal relatives or the special favorites of the
gods, and who were transported thither without tasting death,
there to pass an immortality which was described, with great
inconsistency, sometimes as purely happy, sometimes as joyless and
wearisome. To all except a few chosen ones this region was utterly
inaccessible. Homer says, "But for you, O Menelaus, it is not
decreed by the gods to die; but the immortals will send you to the
Elysian plain, because you are the son in law of Zeus."4 Had the
inheritance of this clime been proclaimed as the reward of heroic
merit, had it been really believed attainable by virtue, it would
have been held up as a prize to be striven for. The whole account,
as it was at first, bears the impress of imaginative fiction as
legibly upon its front as the story of the dragon watched garden
of Hesperus's daughters, whose trees bore golden apples, or the
story of the enchanted isle in the Arabian tales.

The early location of Elysium, and the conditions of admission to
it, were gradually changed; and at length it reappeared, in the
under world, as the abode of the just. On one side of the
primitive Hades Tartarus had now been drawn up to admit the
condemned into its penal tortures, and on the other side Elysium
was lowered down to reward the justified by receiving them into
its peaceful and perennial happiness; while, between the two,
Erebus

4 Odyssey, lib. iv. II. 555-570.


remained as an intermediate state of negation and gloom for
unsentenced shades. The highly colored descriptions of this
subterranean heaven, frequently found thenceforth, it is to be
supposed were rarely accepted as solid verities. They were
scarcely ever used, to our knowledge, as motives in life,
incitement in difficulties, consolation in sorrow. They were
mostly set forth in poems, works even professedly fictitious. They
were often denied and ridiculed in speeches and writings received
with public applause. Still, they unquestionably exerted some
influence on the common modes of thought and feeling, had a
shadowy seat in the popular imagination and heart, helped men to
conceive of a blessed life hereafter and to long for it, and took
away something of the artificial horror with which, under the
power of rooted superstition, their departing ghosts hailed the
dusky limits of futurity:

"Umbra Non tacitas Erebi sedes, Ditisque profundi Pallida regna
petunt."

First, then, from a study of the Greek mythology we find all the
dead a dull populace of ghosts fluttering through the neutral
melancholy of Hades without discrimination. And finally we discern
in the world of the dead a sad middle region, with a Paradise on
the right and a Hell on the left, the whole presided over by three
incorruptible judges, who appoint the new corners their places in
accordance with their deserts.

The question now arises, What did the Greeks think in relation to
the ascent of human souls into heaven among the gods? Did they
except none from the remediless doom of Hades? Was there no path
for the wisest and best souls to climb starry Olympus? To dispose
of this inquiry fairly, four distinct considerations must be
examined. First, Ulysses sees in the infernal regions the image of
Herakles shooting the shadows of the Stymphalian birds, while his
soul is said to be rejoicing with fair legged Hebe at the banquets
of the immortal gods in the skies. To explain this, we must
remember that Herakles was the son of Alcmene, a mortal woman, and
of Zeus, the king of the gods. Accordingly, in the flames on Mount
Oeta, the surviving ghost which he derived from his mother
descends to Hades, but the purified soul inherited from his father
has the proper nature and rank of a deity, and is received into
the Olympian synod.5 Of course no blessed life in heaven for the
generality of men is here implied. Herakles, being a son and
favorite of Zeus, has a corresponding destiny exceptional from
that of other men.

Secondly, another double representation, somewhat similar, but
having an entirely different interpretation, occurs in the case of
Orion, the handsome Hyrian hunter whom Artemis loved. At one time
he is described, like the spectre of the North American Indian,
chasing over the Stygian plain the disembodied animals he had in
his lifetime killed on the mountains:

"Swift through the gloom a giant hunter flies: A ponderous brazen
mace, with direful sway, Aloft he whirls to crush the savage prey;

5 Ovid, Met. lib. ix. II. 245-272.


Grim beasts in trains, that by his truncheon fell, Now, phantom
forms, shoot o'er the lawn of hell."

In the common belief this, without doubt, was received as actual
fact. But at another time Orion is deified and shown as one of the
grandest constellations of the sky,

"A belted giant, who, with arm uplift, Threatening the throne of
Zeus, forever stands, Sublimely impious."

This, obviously, is merely a poetic symbol, a beautiful artifice
employed by the poets to perpetuate a legend by associating it
with the imperishable hieroglyphs of the galaxy. It is not
credible that men imagined that group of stars only outlined in
such shape by the help of arbitrary fancy to be literally the
translated hunter himself. The meaning simply was that he was
immortalized through the eternal linking of his name and form with
a stellar cluster which would always shine upon men. "The
reverence and gratitude of a weak world for the heroes and
benefactors they could not comprehend, named them divinities, whom
they did star together to an idolatrous immortality which
nationalized the heavens" with the shining shapes of the great and
brave. These types of poetry, symbols lent to infant science, were
never meant to indicate a literal translation and metamorphosis of
human souls, but were honors paid to the memories of illustrious
men, emblems and pledged securities of their unfading fame. With
what glorious characters, with what forms of deathless beauty,
defiant of decay, the sky was written over! Go out this evening
beneath the old rolling dome, when the starry scroll is outspread,
and you may still read the reveries of the marvelling minds of the
antique world, as fresh in their magic loveliness as when the
bards and seers of Olympus and the Agean first stamped them in
heaven. There "the great snake binds in his bright coil half the
mighty host." There is Arion with his harp and the charmed
dolphin. The fair Andromeda, still chained to her eternal rock,
looks mournfully towards the delivering hero whose conquering hand
bears aloft the petrific visage of Medusa. Far off in the north
the gigantic Bootes is seen driving towards the Centaur and the
Scorpion. And yonder, smiling benignantly upon the crews of many a
home bound ship, are revealed the twin brothers, joined in the
embrace of an undying friendship.

Thirdly, it is asserted by several Latin authors, in general
terms, that the ghost goes to Hades but the soul ascends to
heaven; and it has been inferred most erroneously that this
statement contains the doctrine of an abode for men after death on
high with the gods. Ovid expresses the real thought in full,
thus:

"Terra tegit carnem; tumulum circumvolat umbra; Orcus habet manes;
spiritus astra petit."

"The earth conceals the flesh; the shade flits round the tomb; the
under world receives the image; the spirit seeks the stars." Those
conversant with the opinions then prevalent will scarcely doubt
that these words were meant to express the return of the composite
man to the primordial elements of which he was made. The
particulars of the dissolving individual are absorbed in the
general elements of the universe. Earth goes back to earth, ghost
to the realm of ghosts, breath to the air, fiery essence of soul
to the lofty ether in whose pure radiance the stars burn.
Euripides expressly says that when man dies each part goes whence
it came, "the body to the ground, the spirit to the ether."6
Therefore the often misunderstood phrase of the Roman writers,
"the soul seeks the stars," merely denotes the impersonal mingling
after death of the divine portion of man's being with the parent
Divinity, who was supposed indeed to pervade all things, but more
especially to reside beyond the empyrean.

Fourthly: what shall be said of the apotheosis of their celebrated
heroes and emperors by the Greeks and Romans, whereby these were
elevated to the dignity of deities, and seats were assigned them
in heaven? What was the meaning of this ceremony? It does not
signify that a celestial immortality awaits all good men; because
it appears as a thing attainable by very few, is only allotted by
vote of the Senate. Neither was it supposed actually to confer on
its recipients equality of attributes with the great gods, making
them peers of Zeus and Apollo. The homage received as gods by
Alexander and others during their lives, the deification of Julius
Casar during the most learned and skeptical age of Rome, with
other obvious considerations, render such a supposition
inadmissible. In view of all the direct evidence and collateral
probabilities, we conclude that the genuine import of an ancient
apotheosis was this: that the soul of the deceased person so
honored was admitted, in deference to his transcendent merits, or
as a special favor on the part of the gods, into heaven, into the
divine society. He was really a human soul still, but was called a
god because, instead of descending, like the multitude of human
souls, to Hades, he was taken into the abode and company of the
gods above the sky. This interpretation derives support from the
remarkable declaration of Aristotle, that "of two friends one must
be unwilling that the other should attain apotheosis, because in
such case they must be forever separated."7 One would be in
Olympus, the other in Hades. The belief that any, even a favored
few, could ever obtain this blessing, was of quite limited
development, and probably sprang from the esoteric recesses of the
Mysteries. To call a human soul a god is not so bold a speech as
it may seem. Plotinus says. "Whoever has wisdom and true virtue in
soul itself differs but little from superior beings, in this alone
being inferior to them, that he is in body. Such an one, dying,
may therefore properly say, with Empedocles, 'Farewell! a god
immortal now am I.'"

The expiring Vespasian exclaimed, "I shall soon be a god."8 Mure
says that the doctrine of apotheosis belonged to the Graco
Pelasgic race through all their history.9 Seneca severely
satirizes the ceremony, and the popular belief which upheld it, in
an elaborate lampoon called Apocolocyntosis, or the reception of
Claudius among the pumpkins. The broad travesty of

6 The Suppliants, l. 533.

7 Nicomachean Ethics, lib. viii. cap. 7.

8 Suetonius, cap. xxiii.

9 Hist. Greek Literature, vol. i. ch. 2, sect. 5.


Deification exhibited in Pumpkinification obviously measures the
distance from the honest credulity of one class and period to the
keen infidelity of another.

One of the most important passages in Greek literature, in
whatever aspect viewed, is composed of the writings of the great
Theban lyrist. Let us see what representation is there made of the
fate of man in the unseen world. The ethical perception, profound
feeling, and searching mind of Pindar could not allow him to
remain satisfied with the undiscriminating views of the future
state prevalent in his time. Upon such a man the problem of death
must weigh as a conscious burden, and his reflections would
naturally lead him to improved conclusions. Accordingly, we find
him representing the Blessed Isles not as the haven of a few
favorites of the gods, but as the reward of virtue; and the
punishments of the wicked, too, are not dependent on fickle
inclinations, but are decreed by immutable right. He does not
describe the common multitude of the dead, leading a dark sad
existence, like phantoms in a dream: his references to death and
Hades seem cheerful in comparison with those of many other ancient
Greek authors. Dionysius the Rhetorician, speaking of his
Threnes, dirges sung at funerals, says, "Simonides lamented the
dead pathetically, Pindar magnificently."

His conceptions of the life to come were inseparably connected
with certain definite locations. He believed Hades to be the
destination of all our mortal race, but conceived it subdivided
into a Tartarus for the impious and an Elysium for the righteous.
He thought that the starry firmament was the solid floor of a
world of splendor, bliss, and immortality, inhabited by the gods,
but fatally inaccessible to man. When he thinks of this place, it
is with a sigh, a sigh that man's aspirations towards it are vain
and his attempts to reach it irreverent. This latter thought he
enforces by an earnest allusion to the myth of Bellerophon, who,
daring to soar to the cerulean seat of the gods on the winged
steed Pegasus, was punished for his arrogance by being hurled down
headlong. These assertions are to be sustained by citations of his
own words. The references made are to Donaldson's edition.

In the second Pythian Ode10 Pindar repeats, and would appear to
endorse, the old monitory legend of Ixion, who for his outrageous
crimes was bound to an ever revolving wheel in Hades and made to
utter warnings against such offences as his own. In the first
Pythian we read, "Hundred headed Typhon, enemy of the gods, lies
in dreadful Tartarus."11 Among the preserved fragments of Pindar
the one numbered two hundred and twenty three reads thus: "The
bottom of Tartarus shall press thee down with solid necessities."
The following is from the first Isthmian Ode: "He who, laying up
private wealth, laughs at the poor, does not consider that he
shall close up his life for Hades without honor."12 The latter
part of the tenth Nemean Ode recounts, with every appearance of
devout belief, the history of Castor and Pollux, the god begotten
twins, who, reversing conditions with each other on successive
days and nights, spent their interchangeable immortality each
alternately in heaven and in Hades. The astronomical
interpretation of this account may be correct; but its
applicability to the wondering faith of the earlier poets is
extremely doubtful.

10 L. 39.

11 LI. 15, 16.

12 L. 68.


The seventh Isthmian contains this remarkable sentence: "Unequal
is the fate of man: he can think of great things, but is too
ephemeral a creature to reach the brazen floored seat of the
gods."13 A similar sentiment is expressed in the sixth Nemean:
"Men are a mere nothing; while to the gods the brazen heaven
remains a firm abode forever."14 The one hundred and second
fragment is supposed to be a part of the dirge composed by Pindar
on the death of the grandfather of Pericles. It runs in this way:
"Whoso by good fortune has seen the things in the hollow under the
earth knows indeed the end of life: he also knows the beginning
vouchsafed by Zeus." It refers to initiation in the Eleusinian
Mysteries, and means that the initiate understands the life which
follows death. It is well known that a clear doctrine of future
retribution was inculcated in the Mysteries long before it found
general publication. The ninety fifth fragment is all that remains
to us of a dirge which appears, from the allusion in the first
line, to have been sung at a funeral service performed at
midnight, or at least after sunset. "While it is night here with
us, to those below shines the might of the sun; and the red rosied
meadows of their suburbs are filled with the frankincense tree,
and with golden fruits. Some delight themselves there with steeds
and exercises, others with games, others with lyres; and among
them all fair blossoming fortune blooms, and a fragrance is
distilled through the lovely region, and they constantly mingle
all kinds of offerings with the far shining fire on the altars of
the gods." This evidently is a picture of the happy scenes in the
fields that stretch around the City of the Blessed in the under
world, and is introduced as a comfort to the mourners over the
dead body.

The ensuing passage the most important one on our subject is from
the second Olympic Ode.15 "An honorable, virtuous man may rest
assured as to his future fate. The souls of the lawless, departing
from this life, suffer punishment. One beneath the earth,
pronouncing sentence by a hateful necessity imposed upon him,
declares the doom for offences committed in this realm of Zeus.
But the good lead a life without a tear, among those honored by
the gods for having always delighted in virtue: the others endure
a life too dreadful to look upon. Whoever has had resolution
thrice in both worlds to stand firm, and to keep his soul pure
from evil, has found the path of Zeus to the tower of Kronos,
where the airs of the ocean breathe around the Isle of the
Blessed, and where some from resplendent trees, others from the
water glitter golden flowers, with garlandsofwhich they wreathe
their wrists and brows in the righteous assemblies of
Rhadamanthus, whom father Kronos has as his willing assistant."
The "path of Zeus," in the above quotation, means the path which
Zeus takes when he goes to visit his father Kronos, whom he
originally dethroned and banished, but with whom he is now
reconciled, and who has become the ruler of the departed spirits
of the just, in a peaceful and joyous region.

The following passage constitutes the ninety eighth fragment. "To
those who descend from a fruitless and ill starred life Persephone
[the Queen of the Dead] will grant a compensation for their former
misfortune, after eight years [the judicial period of atonement
and lustration for great crimes] granting them their lives again.
Then, illustrious kings, strong,

13 Ll. 42-44.

14 Ll. 4-6.

15 Ll. 55-78.


swift, wise, they shall become the mightiest leaders; and
afterwards they shall be invoked by men as sacred heroes." In this
piece, as in the preceding one where reference is made to the
thrice living man, is contained the doctrine, early brought from
the East, that souls may repeatedly return from the dead and in
new bodies lead new lives. One other fragment, the ninety sixth,
added to the foregoing, will make up all the important genuine
passages in Pindar relating to the future life. "By a beneficent
allotment, all travel to an end freeing from toil. The body indeed
is subject to the power of death; but the eternal image is left
alive, and this alone is allied to the gods. When we are asleep,
it shows in many dreams the approaching judgment concerning
happiness and misery." When our physical limbs are stretched in
insensible repose, the inward spirit, rallying its sleepless and
prophetic powers, foretells the balancing awards of another world.

We must not wholly confound with the mythological schemes of the
vulgar creed the belief of the nobler philosophers, many of whom,
as is well known, cherished an exalted faith in the survival of
the conscious soul and in a just retribution. "Strike!" one of
them said, with the dauntless courage of an immortal, to a tyrant
who had threatened to have him brayed in a mortar: "strike! you
may crush the shell of Anaxarchus: you cannot touch his life."
Than all the maze of fabulous fancies and physical rites in which
the dreams of the poets and the guesses of the people were
entangled, how much more

"Just was the prescience of the eternal goalThat gleamed, 'mid
Cyprian shades, on Zeno's soul, Or shone to Plato in the lonely
cave, God in all space, and life in every grave!"

An account of the Greek views on the subject of a future life
which should omit the doctrine of Plato would be defective indeed.
The influence of this sublime autocrat in the realms of intellect
has transcended calculation. However coldly his thoughts may have
been regarded by his contemporary countrymen, they soon obtained
cosmopolitan audience, and surviving the ravages of time and
ignorance, overleaping the bars of rival schools and sects,
appreciated and diffused by the loftiest spirits of succeeding
ages, closely blended with their own speculations by many
Christian theologians have held an almost unparalleled dominion
over the minds of millions of men for more than fifty generations.

In the various dialogues of Plato, written at different periods of
his life, there are numerous variations and inconsistencies of
doctrine. There are also many mythical passages obviously intended
as symbolic statements, poetic drapery, by no means to be handled
or looked at as the severe outlines of dialectic truth.
Furthermore, in these works there are a vast number of opinions
and expressions introduced by the interlocutors, who often belong
to antagonistic schools of philosophy, and for which, of course,
Plato is not to be held responsible. Making allowance for these
facts, and resolutely grappling with the many other difficulties
of the task, we shall now attempt to exhibit what we consider were
the real teachings of Plato in relation to the fate of the soul.
This exposition, sketchy as it is, and open to question as it may
be in some particulars, is the carefully weighed result of
earnest, patient, and repeated study of all the relevant passages.

In the first place, it is plain that Plato had a firm religious
and philosophical faith in the immortality of the soul, which was
continually attracting his thoughts, making it a favorite theme
with him and exerting no faint influence on his life. This faith
rested both on ancient traditions, to which he frequently refers
with invariable reverence, and on metaphysical reasonings, which
he over and over presents in forms of conscientious elaboration.
There are two tests of his sincerity of faith: first, that he
always treats the subject with profound seriousness; secondly,
that he always uses it as a practical motive. "I do not think,"
said Socrates, "that any one who should now hear us, even though
he were a comic poet, would say that I am talking idly."16 Again,
referring to Homer's description of the judgments in Hades, he
says, "I, therefore, Callicles, am persuaded by these accounts,
and consider how I may exhibit my soul before the judge in the
most healthy condition."17 "To a base man no man nor god is a
friend on earth while living, nor under it when dead," say the
souls of their ancestors to the living; "but live honorably, and
when your destined fate brings you below you shall come to us as
friends to friends."18 "We are plants, not of earth, but of
heaven."19 We start, then, with the affirmation that Plato
honestly and cordially believed in a future life.

Secondly, his ethical and spiritual beliefs, like those of nearly
all the ancients, were closely interwoven with physical theories
and local relations. The world to him consisted of two parts, the
celestial region of ideas, and the mundane region of material
phenomena,  corresponding pretty well, as Lewes suggests, to our
modern conception of heaven and earth. Near the close of the
Phado, Socrates says that the earth is not of the kind and
magnitude usually supposed. "We dwell in a decayed and corroded,
muddy and filthy region in the sediment and hollows of the earth,
and imagine that we inhabit its upper parts; just as if one
dwelling in the bottom of the sea should think that he dwelt on
the sea, and, beholding the sun through the water, should imagine
that the sea was the heavens. So, if we could fly up to the summit
of the air as fishes emerging from the sea to behold what is on
the earth here and emerge hence, we should know that the true
earth is there. The people there dwell with the gods, and see
things as they really are; and what the sea is to us the air is to
them, and what the air is to us the ether is to them." Again, in
the tenth book of the Republic, eleventh chapter, the soul is
metaphorically said in the sea of this corporeal life to get
stones and shell fish attached to it, and, fed on earth, to be
rendered to a great extent earthy, stony, and savage, like the
marine Glaucus, some parts of whose body were broken off and
others worn away by the waves, while such quantities of shells,
sea weed, and stones had grown to him that he more resembled a
beast than a man. In keeping with the whole tenor of the Platonic
teaching, this is a fine illustration of the fallen state of man
in his vile environment of flesh here below. The soul, in its
earthly sojourn, embodied here, is as much mutilated and degraded
from its equipped and pure condition in its lofty natal home, the
archetypal world of Truth above the base Babel of material
existence, as Glaucus was on

16 Phado, 40.

17 Gorgias, 173.

18 Menexenus, 19.

19 Timaus, 71.


descending from his human life on the sunny shore to his encrusted
shape and blind prowling in the monstrous deep.

At another time Plato contrasts the situation of the soul on earth
with its situation in heaven by the famous comparison of the dark
cave. He supposes men, unable to look upwards, dwelling in a
cavern which has an opening towards the light extending lengthwise
through the top of the cavern. A great many images, carrying
various objects and talking aloud, pass and repass along the edge
of the opening. Their shadows fall on the side of the cave below,
in front of the dwellers there; also the echoes of their talk
sound back from the wall. Now, the men, never having been or
looked out of the cave, would suppose these shadows to be the real
beings, these echoes the real voices. As respects this figure,
says Plato, we must compare ourselves with such persons. The
visible region around us is the cave, the sun is the light, and
the soul's ascent into the region of mind is the ascent out of the
cave and the contemplation of things above.20

Still again, Plato describes the ethereal paths and motions of the
gods, who, in their chariots, which are the planets and stars,
ride through the universe, accompanied by all pure souls, "the
family of true science, contemplating things as they really are."
"Reaching the summit, they proceed outside, and, standing on the
back of heaven, its revolution carries them round, and they behold
that supercelestial region which no poet here can ever sing of as
it deserves." In this archetypal world all souls of men have
dwelt, though "few have memory enough left," "after their fall
hither," "to call to mind former things from the present." "Now,
of justice and temperance, and whatever else souls deem precious,
there are here but faint resemblances, dull images; but beauty was
then splendid to look on when we, in company with the gods, beheld
that blissful spectacle, and were initiated into that most blessed
of all mysteries, which we celebrated when we were unaffected by
the evils that awaited us in time to come, and when we beheld, in
the pure light, perfect and calm visions, being ourselves pure and
as yet unmasked with this shell of a body to which we are now
fettered."21

To suppose all this employed by Plato as mere fancy and metaphor
is to commit an egregious error. In studying an ancient author, we
must forsake the modern stand point of analysis, and envelop
ourselves in the ancient atmosphere of thought, where poetry and
science were as indistinguishably blended in the personal beliefs
as oxygen and nitrogen are in the common air. We have not a doubt
that Plato means to teach, literally, that the soul was always
immortal, and that in its anterior states of existence, in the
realm of ideas on high, it was in the midst of those essential
realities whose shifting shadows alone it can behold in its lapsed
condition and bodily imprisonment here. That he closely
intertwisted ethical with physical theories, spiritual destinies
with insphering localities, the fortunes of men with the
revolutions of the earth and stars, is a fact which one can hardly
read the Timaus and fail to see; a fact which continually
reappears. It is strikingly shown in his idea of the consummation
of all things at regular epochs determined by the recurrence of a
grand

20 Republic, lib. vii. cap. 1 4.

21 Phadrus, 56-58, 63, 64.


revolution of the universe, a period vulgarly known under the name
of the "Platonic Year."22 The second point, therefore, in the
present explanation of Plato's doctrine of another life, is the
conception that there is in the empyrean a glorious world of
incorruptible truth, beauty, and goodness, the place of the gods,
the native haunt of souls; and that human souls, having yielded to
base attractions and sunk into bodies, are but banished sojourners
in this phenomenal world of evanescent shadows and illusions,
where they are "stung with resistless longings for the skies, and
only solaced by the vague and broken reminiscences of their former
state."

Thirdly, Plato taught that after death an unerring judgment and
compensation await all souls. Every soul bears in itself the plain
evidence of its quality and deeds, its vices and virtues; and in
the unseen state it will meet inevitable awards on its merits. "To
go to Hades with a soul full of crimes is the worst of all
evils."23 "When a man dies, he possesses in the other world a
destiny suited to the life which he has led in this."24 In the
second book of the Republic he says, "We shall in Hades suffer the
punishment of our misdeeds here;" and he argues at much length the
absolute impossibility of in any way escaping this. The fact of a
full reward for all wisdom and justice, a full retribution for all
folly and vice, is asserted unequivocally in scores of passages,
most of them expressly connecting the former with the notion of an
ascent to the bright region of truth and intellect, the latter
with a descent to the black penal realm of Hades. Let the citation
of a single further example suffice. "Some souls, being sentenced,
go to places of punishment beneath the earth; others are borne
upward to some region in heaven."25 He proves the genuineness of
his faith in this doctrine by continually urging it, in the most
earnest, unaffected manner, as an animating motive in the
formation of character and the conduct of life, saying, "He who
neglects his soul will pass lamely through existence, and again
pass into Hades, aimless and unserviceable."26

The fourth and last step in this exposition is to show the
particular form in which Plato held his doctrine of future
retribution, the way in which he supposed the consequences of
present good and evil would appear hereafter. He received the
Oriental theory of transmigration. Souls are born over and over.
The banishment of the wicked to Tartarus is provisional, a
preparation for their return to incarnate life. The residence of
the good in heaven is contingent, and will be lost the moment they
yield to carelessness or material solicitations. The circumstances
under which they are reborn, the happiness or misery of their
renewed existence, depend on their character and conduct in their
previous career; and thus a poetic justice is secured. At the
close of the Timaus, Plato describes the whole animal kingdom as
consisting of degraded human souls, from "the tribe of birds,
which were light minded souls, to the tribe of oysters, which have
received the most remote habitations as a punishment of their
extreme ignorance." "After this manner, then, both formerly and

22 Statesman, 14, 15.

23 Gorgias, 165.

24 Republic, lib. vi. cap. i.

25 Phadrus, 61.

26 Timaus, 18.


now, animals transmigrate, experiencing their changes through the
loss or acquisition of intellect and folly." The general doctrine
of metempsychosis is stated and implied very frequently in many of
the Platonic dialogues. Some recent writers have tried to explain
these representations as figures of speech, not intended to
portray the literal facts, but merely to hint their moral
equivalents. Such persons seem to us to hold Plato's pages in the
full glare of the nineteenth century and read them in the
philosophic spirit of Bacon and Comte, instead of holding them in
the old shades of the Academy and pondering them in the marvelling
spirit of Pythagoras and Empedocles.

We are led by the following considerations to think that Plato
really meant to accredit the transmigration of souls literally.
First, he often makes use of the current poetic imagery of Hades,
and of ancient traditions, avowedly in a loose metaphorical way,
as moral helps, calling them "fables." But the metempsychosis he
sets forth, without any such qualification or guard, with so much
earnestness and frequency, as a promise and a warning, that we are
forced, in the absence of any indication to the contrary, to
suppose that he meant the statements as sober fact and not as
mythical drapery. As with a parable, of course we need not
interpret all the ornamental details literally; but we must accept
the central idea. And in the present case the fundamental thought
is that of repeated births of the soul, each birth trailing
retributive effects from the foregone. For example, the last four
chapters of the tenth book of the Republic contain the account of
Erus, a Pamphylian, who, after lying dead on the battle field ten
days, revived, and told what he had seen in the other state. Plato
in the outset explicitly names this recital an "apologue." It
recounts a multitude of moral and physical particulars. These
details may fairly enough be considered in some degreeas mythical
drapery, or as the usual traditional painting; but the essential
conception running through the account, for the sake of which it
is told, we are not at liberty to explain away as empty metaphor.
Now, that essential conception is precisely this: that souls after
death are adjudged to Hades or to heaven as a recompense for their
sin or virtue, and that, after an appropriate sojourn in those
places, they are born again, the former ascending, squalid and
scarred, from beneath the earth, the latter descending, pure, from
the sky. In perfect consonance with this conclusion is the moral
drawn by Plato from the whole narrative. He simply says, "If the
company will be persuaded by me, considering the soul to be
immortal and able to bear all evil and good, we shall always
persevere in the road which leads upwards."

Secondly, the conception of the metempsychosis is thoroughly
coherent with Plato's whole philosophy. If he was in earnest about
any doctrine, it was the doctrine that all knowledge is
reminiscence. The following declarations are his. "Soul is older
than body." "Souls are continually born over again from Hades into
this life." "To search and learn is simply to revive the images of
what the soul saw in its pre existent state of being in the world
of realities."27 Why should we hesitate to attribute a sincere
belief in the metempsychosis to the acknowledged author of the
doctrine that the soul lived in another world before appearing
here, and that its knowledge is but reminiscence? If born from the
other world

27 Menexenus, 15.


once, we may be many times; and then all that is wanted to
complete the dogma of transmigration is the idea of a presiding
justice. Had not Plato that idea?

Thirdly, the doctrine of a judicial metempsychosis was most
profoundly rooted in the popular faith, as a strict verity,
throughout the great East, ages before the time of Plato, and was
familiarly known throughout Greece in his time. It had been
imported thither by Musaus and Orpheus at an early period, was
afterwards widely recommended and established by the Pythagoreans,
and was unquestionably held by many of Plato's contemporaries. He
refers once to those "who strongly believe that murderers who have
gone to Hades will be obliged to come back and end their next
lives by suffering the same fate which they had before inflicted
on others."28 It is also a remarkable fact that he states the
conditions of transmigration, and the means of securing exemption
from it, in the same way that the Hindus have from immemorial
time: "The soul which has beheld the essence of truth remains free
from harm until the next revolution; and if it can preserve the
vision of the truth it shall always remain free from harm," that
is, be exempt from birth; but "when it fails to behold the field
of truth it falls to the earth and is implanted in a body."29 This
statement and several others in the context corresponds precisely
with Hindu theology, which proclaims that the soul, upon attaining
real wisdom, that is, upon penetrating beneath illusions and
gazing on reality, is freed from the painful necessity of repeated
births. Now, since the Hindus and the Pythagoreans held the
doctrine as a severe truth, and Plato states it in the identical
forms which they employed, and never implies that he is merely
poetizing, we naturally conclude that he, too, veritably
inculcates it as fact.

Finally, we are the more confirmed in this supposition when we
find that his lineal disciples and most competent expounders, such
as Proclus, and nearly all his later commentators, such as Ritter,
have so understood him. The great chorus of his interpreters, from
Plotinus to Leroux, with scarcely a dissentient voice, approve the
opinion pronounced by the learned German historian of philosophy,
that "the conception of the metempsychosis is so closely
interwoven both with his physical system and with his ethical as
to justify the conviction that Plato looked upon it as legitimate
and valid, and not as a merely figurative exposition of the soul's
life after death." To sum up the whole in one sentence: Plato
taught with grave earnestness the immortality of the soul, subject
to a discriminating retribution, which opened for its temporary
residences three local regions, heaven, earth, and Hades, and
which sometimes led it through different grades of embodied being.
"O thou youth who thinkest that thou art neglected by the gods,
the person who has become more wicked departs to the more wicked
souls; but he who has become better departs to the better souls,
both in life and in all deaths."30

Whether Aristotle taught or denied the immortality of the soul has
been the subject of innumerable debates from his own time until
now. It is certainly a most ominous fact that his great name has
been cited as authority for rejecting the doctrine of a future
life by so many

28 The Laws, b. ix. ch. 10.

29 Phadrus, 60-62.

30 The Laws, lib. x. cap. 13.


of his keenest followers; for this has been true of weighty
representatives of every generation of his disciples. Antagonistic
advocates have collected from his works a large number of varying
statements, endeavoring to distinguish between the literal and the
figurative, the esoteric and the popular. It is not worth our
while here, either for their intrinsic interest or for their
historic importance, to quote the passages and examine the
arguments. All that is required for our purpose may be expressed
in the language of Ritter, who has carefully investigated the
whole subject: "No passage in his extant works is decisive; but,
from the general context of his doctrine, it is clear that he had
no conception of the immortality of any individual rational
entity."31

It would take a whole volume instead of a chapter to set forth the
multifarious contrasting tenets of individual Greek philosophers,
from the age of Pherecydes to that of Iamblichus, in relation to a
future life. Not a few held, with Empedocles, that human life is a
penal state, the doom of such immortal souls as for guilt have
been disgraced and expelled from heaven. "Man is a fallen god
condemned to wander on the earth, sky aspiring but sense clouded."
Purged by a sufficient penance, he returns to his former godlike
existence. "When, leaving this body, thou comest to the free
ether, thou shalt be no longer a mortal, but an undying god."
Notions of this sort fairly represent no small proportion of the
speculations upon the fate of the soul which often reappear
throughout the course of Greek literature. Another class of
philosophers are represented by such names as Marcus Antoninus,
who, comparing death to disembarkation at the close of a voyage,
says, "If you land upon another life, it will not be empty of
gods: if you land in nonentity, you will have done with pleasures,
pains, and drudgery."32 And again he writes, "If souls survive,
how has ethereal space made room for them all from eternity? How
has the earth found room for all the bodies buried in it? The
solution of the latter problem will solve the former. The corpse
turns to dust and makes space for another: so the spirit, let
loose into the air, after a while dissolves, and is either renewed
into another soul or absorbed into the universe. Thus room is made
for succession."33 These passages, it will be observed, leave the
survival of the soul at all entirely hypothetical, and, even
supposing it to survive, allow it but a temporary duration. Such
was the common view of the great sect of the Stoics. They all
agreed that there was no real immortality for the soul; but they
differed greatly as to the time of its dissolution. In the words
of Cicero, "Diu mansuros aiunt animos; semper, negant:" they say
souls endure for a long time, but not forever. Cleanthes taught
that the intensity of existence after death would depend on the
strength or weakness of the particular soul. Chrysippus held that
only the souls of the wise and good would survive at all.34
Panatius said the soul always died with the body, because it was
born with it, which he proved by the resemblances of children's
souls to those of their parents.35 Seneca has a great many
contradictory passages on this subject

31 Hist. Anc. Phil. p. iii. b. ix. ch. 4.

32 Meditations, lib. iii. cap. 3.

33 Ibid. lib. iv. cap. 21.

34 Plutarch, Plac. Phil. iv. 7.

35 Tusc. Quast. lib. i. cap. 32.


in his works; but his preponderant authority, upon the whole, is
that the soul and the body perish together.36 At one time he says,
"The day thou fearest as the last is the birthday of eternity."
"As an infant in the womb is preparing to dwell in this world, so
ought we to consider our present life as a preparation for the
life to come."37 At another time he says, with stunning bluntness,
"There is nothing after death, and death itself is nothing."

Post mortem nihil est, ipsaque mors nihil. 38

Besides the mystics, like Plotinus, who affirmed the strict
eternity of the soul, and the Stoics, like Poseidonius, who
believed that the soul, having had a beginning, must have an end,
although it might endure for a long period after leaving the body,
there were among the Greeks and Romans two other classes of
believers in a future life, namely, the ignorant body of the
people, who credited, more or less fully, the common fables
concerning Hades; and an educated body of select minds, who, while
casting off the popular superstitions, yet clung tenaciously to
the great fact of immortality in some form or other, without
attempting to define the precise mode of it.

There was among the illiterate populace, both Greek and Roman,
even from the age of Eumolpus to that of Augustus, a good deal of
firm faith in a future life, according to the gross scheme and
particulars preserved to us still in the classic mythology. A
thousand current allusions and statements in the general
literature of those times prove the actual existence of a common
and literal belief in Hades with all its accompaniments. This was
far from being, in the average apprehension, a mere myth. Plato
says, "Many, of their own accord, have wished to descend into
Hades, induced by the hope of there seeing and being with those
they have loved."39 He also says, "When a man is about to die, the
stories of future punishment which he had formerly ridiculed
trouble him with fears of their truth."40 And that frightful
accounts of hell really swayed and terrified the people, even so
late as the time of the Roman republic, appears from the earnest
and elaborate arguments employed by various writers to refute
them.

The same thing is shown by the religious ritual enacted at
funerals and festivals, the forms of public and private worship
observed till after the conversion of Constantine. The cake of
rice and honey borne in the dead hand for Cerberus, the periodical
offerings to the ghosts of the departed, as at the festivals
called Feralia and Parentalia,41 the pictures of the scenery of
the under world, hung in the temples, of which there was a famous
one by Polygnotus,42 all imply a literal crediting of the vulgar
doctrine. Altars were set up on the spots where Tiberius and Caius
Gracchus were murdered, and services were there performed in honor
of their manes. Festus, an old Roman lexicographer who lived in
the second or third century, tells us there was in the Comitium a
stone covered pit which was supposed to be the

36 Christoph Meiners, Vermischte Philosophische Schriften.
Commentarius quo Stoicorum Sententia; de Animorum post mortem
Statu satis illustrantur.

37 Epist. 102.

38 Troades, 1. 397.

39 Phado, 34.

40 Republic, lib. i. cap. 5.

41 Ovid, Fasti, lib. ii. II. 530-580.

42 Pausanias, lib. x. cap. 28.


mouth of Orcus, and was opened three days in the year for souls to
rise out into the upper world.43 Apuleius describes, in his
treatise on "the god of Socrates," the Roman conceptions of the
departed spirits of men. They called all disembodied human souls
"lemures." Those of good men were "lares," those of bad men
"larva." And when it was uncertain whether the specified soul was
a lar or a larva, it was named "manes." The lares were mild
household gods to their posterity. The larva were wandering,
frightful shapes, harmless to the pious, but destructive to the
reprobate.44

The belief in necromancy is well known to have prevailed
extensively among the Greeks and Romans. Aristophanes represents
the coward, Pisander, going to a necromancer and asking to "see
his own soul, which had long departed, leaving him a man with
breath alone."45 In Latin literature no popular terror is more
frequently alluded to or exemplified than the dread of seeing
ghosts. Every one will recall the story of the phantom that
appeared in the tent of Brutus before the battle of Philippi. It
pervades the "Haunted House" of Plautus. Callimachus wrote the
following couplet as an epitaph on the celebrated misanthrope:

"Timon, hat'st thou the world or Hades worse? Speak clear! Hades,
O fool, because there are more of us here!" 46

Pythagoras is said once to have explained an earthquake as being
caused by a synod of ghosts assembled under ground! It is one of
the best of the numerous jokes attributed to the great Samian; a
good nut for the spirit rappers to crack. There is an epigram by
Diogenes Laertius, on one Lycon, who died of the gout:

"He who before could not so much as walk alone, The whole long
road to Hades travell'd in one night!"

Philostratus declares that the shade of Apollonius appeared to a
skeptical disciple of his and said, "The soul is immortal."47 It
is unquestionable that the superstitious fables about the under
world and ghosts had a powerful hold, for a very long period, upon
the Greek and Roman imagination, and were widely accepted as
facts.

At the same time, there were many persons of more advanced culture
to whom such coarse and fanciful representations had become
incredible, but who still held loyally to the simple idea of the
survival of the soul. They cherished a strong expectation of
another life, although they rejected the revolting form and
drapery in which the doctrine was usually set forth. Xenophon puts
the following speech into the mouth of the expiring Cyrus: "I was
never able, my children, to persuade myself that the soul, as long
as it was in a mortal body, lived, but when it was removed from
this, that it died; neither could I believe that the soul ceased
to think when separated from the unthinking and senseless body;
but it seemed to me most probable that when pure and free from any
union with the body, then it became most

43 De Significatione Verborum, verbum "Manalis."

44 Lessing, Wie die Alten den Tod gebildet.

45 Ayes, I. 1485.

46 Epigram IV.

47 Vita Apollonii, lib. viii. cap. 31.


wise."48 Every one has read of the young man whose faith and
curiosity were so excited by Plato's writings that he committed
suicide to test the fact of futurity. Callimachus tells the story
neatly:

"Cleombrotus, the Ambracian, having said, 'Farewell, O sun!'
leap'd from a lofty wall into the world Of ghosts. No deadly ill
had chanced to him at all; But he had read in Plato's book upon
the soul." 49

The falling of Cato on his sword at Utica, after carefully
perusing the Phado, is equally familiar.

In the case of Cicero, too, notwithstanding his fluctuations of
feeling and the obvious contradictions of sentiment in some of his
letters and his more deliberate essays, it is, upon the whole,
plain enough that, while he always regarded the vulgar notions as
puerile falsehoods, the hope of a glorious life to come was
powerful in him. This may be stated as the result of a patient
investigation and balancing of all that he says on the subject,
and of the circumstances under which he says it. To cite and
criticize the passages here would occupy too much space to too
little profit.

At the siege of Jerusalem, Titus made a speech to his soldiers, in
the course of it saying to them, "Those souls which are severed
from their fleshly bodies by the sword in battle, are received by
the pure ether and joined to that company which are placed among
the stars."50 The beautiful story of Cupid and Psyche, that
loveliest of all the myths concerning the immortality of the soul,
was a creation by no means foreign to the prevalent ideas and
feelings of the time when it was written. The "Dissertations" of
Maximus Tyrius abound with sentences like the following. "This
very thing which the multitude call death is the birth of a new
life, and the beginning of immortality."51 "When Pherecydes lay
sick, conscious of spiritual energy, he cared not for bodily
disease, his soul standing erect and looking for release from its
cumbersome vestment. So a man in chains, seeing the walls of his
prison crumbling, waits for deliverance, that from the darkness in
which he has been buried he may soar to the ethereal regions and
be filled with glorious light."52

The conception of man as a member of the cosmic family of gods and
genii was known to all the classic philosophers, and was cherished
by the larger portion of them. Pindar affirms one origin for gods
and men. Plato makes wise souls accompany the gods in their
excursions about the sky. Cicero argues that heaven, and not
Hades, is the destination of the soul at death, because the soul,
being lighter than the earthly elements surrounding it here, would
rise aloft through the natural force of gravitation.53 Plutarch
says, "Demons are the spies and scouts of the gods, wandering and
circuiting around on their commands." Disembodied souls

48 Cyropadia, lib. viii. cap. 7.

49 Epigram XXIV.

50 Josephus, De Bell. lib. vi. cap. 1.

51 Diss. XXV.

52 Diss. XLI.

53 Tusc. Quest. lib i. cap. 17.


and demons were the same. The prevalence of such ideas as these
produced in the Greek and Roman imagination a profound sense of
invisible beings, a sense which was further intensified by the
popular personifications of all natural forces, as in fountains
and trees, full of lapsing naiads and rustling dryads. An
illustrative fact is furnished by an effect of the tradition that
Thetis, snatching the body of Achilles from the funeral pile,
conveyed him to Leuke, an island in the Black Sea. The mariners
sailing by often fancied they saw his mighty shade flitting along
the shore in the dusk of evening.54 But a passage in Hesiod yields
a more adequate illustration: "When the mortal remains of those
who flourished during the golden age were hidden beneath the
earth, their souls became beneficent demons, still hovering over
the world they once inhabited, and still watching, clothed in thin
air and gliding rapidly through every region of the earth, as
guardians over the affairs of men."55

But there were always some who denied the common doctrine of a
future life and scoffed at its physical features. Through the
absurd extravagances of poets and augurs, and through the growth
of critical thought, this unbelief went on increasing from the
days of Anaxagoras, when it was death to call the sun a ball of
fire, to the days of Catiline, when Julius Casar could be chosen
Pontifex Maximus, almost before the Senate had ceased to
reverberate his voice openly asserting that death was the utter
end of man. Plutarch dilates upon the wide skepticism of the
Greeks as to the infernal world, at the close of his essay on the
maxim, "Live concealed." The portentous growth of irreverent
unbelief, the immense change of feeling from awe to ribaldry, is
made obvious by a glance from the known gravity of Hesiod's
"Descent of Theseus and Pirithous into Hades," to Lucian's
"Kataplous," which represents the cobbler Mycillus leaping from
the banks of the Styx, swimming after Charon's boat, climbing into
it upon the shoulders of the tyrant Megapenthes and tormenting him
the whole way. Pliny, in his Natural History, affirms that death
is an everlasting sleep.56 The whole great sect of the Epicureans
united in supporting that belief by the combined force of ridicule
and argument. Their views are the most fully and ably defended by
the consummate Lucretius, in his masterly poem on the "Nature of
Things." Horace,57 Juvenal,58 Persius,59 concur in scouting at the
tales which once, when recited on the stage, had made vast
audiences perceptibly tremble.60 And Cicero asks, "What old woman
is so insane as to fear these things?"61

There were two classes of persons who sought differently to free
mankind from the terrors which had invested the whole prospect of
death and another world. The first were the materialists, who
endeavored to prove that death was to man the absolute end of
every thing. Secondly, there were the later Platonists, who
maintained that this world is the only Hades, that heaven is our
home, that all death is ascent to better life. "To remain on high
with the gods is life; to descend into this world is death, a
descent into Orcus," they said. The following couplet, of an
unknown date, is translated from the Greek Anthology:

"Diogenes, whose tub stood by the road, Now, being dead, has the
stars for his abode."

54 Muller, Greek Literature, ch. vi.

55 Works and Days, lib. i. II. 120-125.

56 Lib. ii. cap. 7.

57 Lib. i. epist. 16.

58 Sat. II.

59 Sat. II.

60 Tusc. Quest. lib. i. cap. 16.

61 Ibid. cap. 21.


Macrobius writes, in his commentary on the "Dream of Scipio,"
"Here, on earth, is the cavern of Dis, the infernal region. The
river of oblivion is the wandering of the mind forgetting the
majesty of its former life and thinking a residence in the body
the only life. Phlegethon is the fires of wrath and desire.
Acheron is retributive sadness. Cocytus is wailing tears. Styx is
the whirlpool of hatreds. The vulture eternally tearing the liver
is the torment of an evil conscience."62

To the ancient Greek in general, death was a sad doom. When he
lost a friend, he sighed a melancholy farewell after him to the
faded shore of ghosts. Summoned himself, he departed with a
lingering look at the sun, and a tearful adieu to the bright day
and the green earth. To the Roman, death was a grim reality. To
meet it himself he girded up his loins with artificial firmness.
But at its ravages among his friends he wailed in anguished
abandonment. To his dying vision there was indeed a future; but
shapes of distrust and shadow stood upon its disconsolate borders;
and, when the prospect had no horror, he still shrank from its
poppied gloom.

62 Lib. i. cap. 9, 10.


CHAPTER XI.

MOHAMMEDAN DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

ISLAM has been a mighty power in the earth since the middle of the
seventh century. A more energetic and trenchant faith than it was
for eight hundred years has not appeared among men. Finally
expelled from its startling encampments in Spain and the
Archipelago, it still rules with tenacious hold over Turkey, a
part of Tartary, Palestine, Persia, Arabia, and large portions of
Africa. At this moment, as to adherence and influence, it is
subordinate only to the two foremost religious systems in the
world, Buddhism and Christianity. The dogmatic structure of Islam
as a theology and its practical power as an experimental religion
offer a problem of the gravest interest. But we must hasten on to
give an exposition of merely those elements in it which are
connected with its doctrine of a future life.

It is a matter of entire notoriety that there is but the least
amount of originality in the tenets of the Mohammedan faith. The
blending together of those tenets was distinctive, the unifying
soul breathed into them was a new creation, and the great aim to
which the whole was subordinated was peculiar; but the component
doctrines themselves, with slight exception, existed before as
avowed principles in the various systems of belief and practice
that prevailed around. Mohammed adopted many of the notions and
customs of the pagan Arabs, the central dogma of the Jews as to
the unity of God, most of the traditions of the Hebrew Scriptures,
innumerable fanciful conceits of the Rabbins,1 whole doctrines of
the Magians with their details, some views of the Gnostics, and
extensive portions of a corrupted Christianity, grouping them
together with many modifications of his own, and such additions as
his genius afforded and his exigencies required. The motley
strangely results in a compact and systematic working faith.

The Islamites are divided into two great sects, the Sunnees and
the Sheeahs. The Arabs, Tartars, and Turks are Sunnees, are
dominant in numbers and authority, are strict literalists, and are
commonly considered the orthodox believers. The Persians are
Sheeahs, are inferior in point of numbers, are somewhat freer in
certain interpretations, placing a mass of tradition, like the
Jewish Mischna, on a level with the Koran,2 and are usually
regarded as heretical. To apply our own ecclesiastical phraseology
to them, the latter are the Moslem Protestants, the former the
Moslem Catholics. Yet in relation to almost every thing which
should seem at all fundamental or vital they agree in their
teachings. Their differences in general are upon trivial opinions,
or especially upon ritual particulars. For instance, the Sheeahs
send all the Sunnees to hell because in their ablutions they wash
from the elbow to the finger tips; the Sunnees return the
compliment to their rival sectarists because they wash from the
finger tips to the elbow. Within these two grand denominations of
Sheeah and

1 Rabbi Abraham Geiger, Prize Essay upon the question, proposed by
the University of Bonn, "Was hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthum
aufgenommen?"

2 Merrick, Translation of the Sheeah Traditions of Mohammed in the
Hyat ul Kuloob, note x.


Sunnee are found a multitude of petty sects, separated from each
other on various questions of speculative faith and ceremonial
practice. Some take the Koran alone, and that in its plain literal
sense, as their authority. Others read the Koran in the
explanatory light of a vast collection of parables, proverbs,
legends, purporting to be from Mohammed. There is no less than a
score of mystic allegorizing sects3 who reduce almost every thing
in the Koran to symbol, or spiritual signification, and some of
whom as the Sufis are the most rapt and imaginative of all the
enthusiastic devotees in the world.

A cardinal point in the Mohammedan faith is the asserted existence
of angels, celestial and infernal. Eblis is Satan. He was an angel
of lofty rank; but when God created Adam and bade all the angels
worship him, Eblis refused, saying, "I was created of fire, he of
clay: I am more excellent and will not bow to him."4 Upon this God
condemned Eblis and expelled him from Paradise. He then became the
unappeasable foe and seducing destroyer of men. He is the father
of those swarms of jins, or evil spirits, who crowd all hearts and
space with temptations and pave the ten thousand paths to hell
with lures for men.

The next consideration preliminary to a clear exhibition of our
special subject, is the doctrine of predestination, the
unflinching fatalism which pervades and crowns this religion. The
breath of this appalling faith is saturated with fatality, and its
very name of Islam means "Submission." In heaven the prophet saw a
prodigious wax tablet, called the "Preserved Table," on which were
written the decrees of all events between the morning of creation
and the day of judgment. The burning core of Mohammed's preaching
was the proclamation of the one true God whose volition bears the
irresistible destiny of the universe; and inseparably associated
with this was an intense hatred of idolatry, fanned by the wings
of God's wrath and producing a fanatic sense of a divine
commission to avenge him on his insulters and vindicate for him
his rightful worship from every nation. There is an apparent
conflict between the Mohammedan representations of God's absolute
predestination of all things, and the abundant exhortations to all
men to accept the true faith and bring forth good works, and thus
make sure of an acceptable account in the day of judgment. The
former make God's irreversible will all in all. The latter seem to
place alternative conditions before men, and to imply in them a
power of choice. But this is a contradiction inseparable from the
discussion of God's infinite sovereignty and man's individual
freedom. The inconsistency is as gross in Augustine and Calvinism
as it is in the Arabian lawgiver and the creed of the Sunnees. The
Koran, instead of solving the difficulty, boldly cuts it, and does
that in exactly the same way as the thorough Calvinist. God has
respectively elected and reprobated all the destined inhabitants
of heaven and hell, unalterably, independently of their choice or
action. At the same time, reception of the true faith, and a life
conformed to it, are virtually necessary for salvation, because it
is decreed that all the elect shall profess and obey the true
faith. Their obedient reception of it proves them to be elected.
On the other hand, it is foreordained that none of the reprobate
shall become disciples and followers of the Prophet. Their
rejection of

3 Churchill, Mount Lebanon, vol. i. ch. xv.

4 Sale's Translation of the Koran, ch. vii.


him, their wicked misbelief, is the evidence of their original
reprobation. As the Koran itself expresses it, salvation is for
"all who are willing to be warned; but they shall not be warned
unless God please:"5 "all who shall be willing to walk uprightly;
but they shall not be willing unless God willeth."6

But such fine drawn distinctions are easily lost from sight or
spurned in the eager affray of affairs and the imminent straits of
the soul. While in dogma and theory the profession of an orthodox
belief, together with scrupulous prayer, fasting, alms, and the
pilgrimage to Mecca, or the absence of these things, simply
denotes the foregone determinations of God in regard to the given
individuals, in practice and feeling the contrasted beliefs and
courses of conduct are held to obtain heaven and hell. And we
find, accordingly, that Mohammed spoke as if God's primeval
ordination had fixed all things forever, whenever he wished to
awaken in his followers reckless valor and implicit submission.
"Whole armies cannot slay him who is fated to die in his bed." On
the contrary, when he sought to win converts, to move his hearers
by threatenings and persuasions, he spoke as if every thing
pertaining to human weal and woe, present and future, rested on
conditions within the choice of men. Say, "'There is but one God,
and Mohammed is his prophet,' and heaven shall be your portion;
but cling to your delusive errors, and you shall be companions of
the infernal fire." Practically speaking, the essence of
propagandist Islam was a sentiment like this. All men who do not
follow Mohammed are accursed misbelievers. We are God's chosen
avengers, the commissioned instruments for reducing his foes to
submission. Engaged in that work, the hilts of all our scimitars
are in his hand. He snatches his servant martyr from the battle
field to heaven. Thus the weapons of the unbelievers send their
slain to paradise, while the weapons of the believers send their
slain to hell. Up, then, with the crescent banner, and, dripping
with idolatrous gore, let it gleam over mountain and plain till
our sickles have reaped the earth! "The sword is the key of heaven
and the key of hell. A drop of blood shed in the cause of Allah, a
night spent in arms, is of more avail than two months of fasting
and prayer. Whoever falls in battle, his sins are forgiven. In the
day of judgment his wounds shall be resplendent as vermilion and
odoriferous as musk."7 An infuriated zeal against idolaters and
unbelievers inflamed the Moslem heart, a fierce martial enthusiasm
filled the Moslem soul, and tangible visions of paradise and hell
floated, illuminate, throughtheMoslem imagination. And so from the
Persian Gulf to the Caucasus, from Sierra Leone to the Pyrenees,
the polity of Mohammed overran the nations, with the Koran in its
left hand, the exterminating blade in its right, one thunder shout
still breaking from its awful lips: "Profess Islam, and live, with
the clear prospect of eternal bliss beyond life; reject it, and
die, with the full certainty of eternal anguish beyond death."
When the crusading Christians and the Saracenic hosts met in
battle, the conflict was the very frenzy of fanaticism. "There the
question of salvation or damnation lay on the ground between the
marshalled armies, to be fought for and carried by the stronger."
Christ and Allah encountered, and the endless fate of their
opposed

5 Koran, ch. lxxiv.

6 Ibid. ch. lxxxi.

7 Gibbon, Decline and Fall of Rome, ch. 1.


followers hung on the swift turning issue. "Never have the
appalling ideas of the invisible world so much and so distinctly
mingled with the fury of mortal strife as in this instance. To the
eyes of Turk and Arab the smoke of the infernal pit appeared to
break up from the ground in the rear of the infidel lines. As the
squadrons of the faithful moved on to the charge, that pit yawned
to receive the miscreant host; and in chasing the foe the
prophet's champions believed they were driving their antagonists
down the very slopes of perdition. When at length steel clashed
upon steel and the yell of death shook the air, the strife was not
so much between arm and arm as between spirit and spirit, and each
deadly thrust was felt to pierce the life at once of the body and
of the soul."8

That terrible superstition prevails almost universally among the
Mussulmans, designated the "Beating in the Sepulchre," or the
examination and torture of the body in the grave. As soon as a
corpse is interred, two black and livid angels, called the
Examiners, whose names are Munkeer and Nakeer, appear, and order
the dead person to sit up and answer certain questions as to his
faith. If he give satisfactory replies, they suffer him to rest in
peace, refreshed by airs from paradise; but if he prove to have
been an unbeliever or heretic, they beat him on the temples with
iron maces till he roars aloud with pain and terror. They then
press the earth on the body, which remains gnawed and stung by
dragons and scorpions until the last day. Some sects give a
figurative explanation of these circumstances. The utter denial of
the whole representation is a schismatic peculiarity of the sect
of Motozallites. But all true believers, both Sunnee and Sheeah,
devoutly accept it literally. The commentators declare that it is
implied in the following verse of the Koran itself: "How,
therefore, will it be with them when they die and the angels shall
strike their faces and their backs?" 9

The intermediate state of souls from the time of death until the
resurrection has been the subject of extensive speculation and
argument with the Islamites. The souls of the prophets, it is
thought, are admitted directly to heaven. The souls of martyrs,
according to a tradition received from Mohammed, rest in heaven in
the crops of green birds who eat of the fruits and drink of the
rivers there. As to the location of the souls of the common crowd
of the faithful, the conclusions are various. Some maintain that
they and the souls of the impious alike sleep in the dust until
the end, when Israfil's blasts will stir them into life to be
judged. But the general and orthodox impression is that they tarry
in one of the heavens, enjoying a preparatory blessedness. The
souls of the wicked, it is commonly held, after being refused a
place in the tomb and also being repulsed from heaven, are carried
down to the lower abyss, and thrown into a dungeon under a green
rock, or into the jaw of Eblis, there to be treated with
foretastes of their final doom until summoned to the judgment.10

A very prominent doctrine in the Moslem creed is that of the
resurrection of the body. This is a central feature in the
orthodox faith. It is expounded in all the emphatic details of its
gross literality by their authoritative doctors, and is dwelt upon
with unwearied reiteration by the Koran. True, some minor
heretical sects give it a spiritual interpretation; but the great

8 Taylor, Hist. of Fanaticism, sect. vii.

9 Ch. xlvii.

10 Sale, Preliminary Discourse, sect. iv.


body of believers accept it unhesitatingly in its most physical
shape. The intrinsic unnaturalness and improbability of the dogma
were evidently felt by Mohammed and his expositors; and all the
more they strove to bolster it up and enforce its reception by
vehement affirmations and elaborate illustrations. In the second
chapter of the Koran it is related that, in order to remove the
skepticism of Abraham as to the resurrection, God wrought the
miracle of restoring four birds which had been cut in pieces and
scattered. In chapter seventh, God says, "We bring rain upon a
withered country and cause the fruits to spring forth. Thus will
we bring the dead from their graves." The prophet frequently
rebukes those who reject this belief. "What aileth them, that they
believe not the resurrection?"11 "Is not He who created man able
to quicken the dead?"12 "The scoffers say, 'Shall we be raised to
life, and our forefathers too, after we have become dust and
bones? This is nothing but sorcery.'"13 First, Israfil will blow
the blast of consternation. After an interval, he will blow the
blast of examination, at which all creatures will die and the
material universe will melt in horror. Thirdly, he will blow the
blast of resurrection. Upon that instant, the assembled souls of
mankind will issue from his trumpet, like a swarm of bees, and
fill the atmosphere, seeking to be reunited to their former
bodies, which will then be restored, even to their very hairs.

The day of judgment immediately follows. This is the dreadful day
for which all other days were made; and it will come with
blackness and consternation to unbelievers and evil doers, but
with peace and delight to the faithful. The total race of man will
be gathered in one place. Mohammed will first advance in front, to
the right hand, as intercessor for the professors of Islam. The
preceding prophets will appear with their followers. Gabriel will
hold suspended a balance so stupendous that one scale will cover
paradise, the other hell. "Hath the news of the overwhelming day
of judgment reached thee?"14 "Whoever hath wrought either good or
evil of the weight of an ant shall in that day behold the same."15
An infallible scrutiny shall search and weigh every man's deeds,
and exact justice shall be done, and no foreign help can avail any
one. "One soul shall not be able to obtain any thing in behalf of
another soul."16 "Every man of them on that day shall have
business enough of his own to employ his thoughts."17 In all the
Mohammedan representations of this great trial and of the
principles which determine its decisions, no reference is made to
the doctrine of predestination, but all turns on strict equity.
Reckoning a reception or rejection of the true faith as a crowning
merit or demerit, the only question is, Do his good works
outweigh, by so much as a hair, his evil works? If so, he goes to
the right; if not, he must take the left. The solitary trace of
fatalism or rather favoritism is this: that no idolater, once in
hell, can ever possibly be released, while no Islamite, however
wicked, can be damned eternally. The punishment of unbelievers is
everlasting, that of believers limited. The opposite of this
opinion is a great heresy with the generality of the Moslems. Some
say the judgment will require but the twinkling of an eye; others
that it will occupy fifty thousand years, during which time the
sun will be drawn from its sheath and burn insufferably, and the
wicked will stand looking up, their feet shod with shoes of fire,
and their skulls boiling like pots. At last,

11 Ch. lxxxiv.

12 Ch. lxxv.

13 Ch. xxxvii., lvi.

14 Koran, ch. lxxxviii.

15 Ibid. ch. xcix.

16 Ibid. ch. lxxxii.

17 Ibid. ch. lxxx.


when sentence has been passed on them, all souls are forced to try
the passage of al Sirat, a bridge thinner than a hair, sharper
than a razor, and hotter than flame, spanning in one frail arch
the immeasurable distance, directly over hell, from earth to
paradise. Some affect a metaphorical solution of this air severing
causeway, and take it merely as a symbol of the true Sirat, or
bridge of this world, namely, the true faith and obedience; but
every orthodox Mussulman firmly holds it as a physical fact to be
surmounted in the last day.18 Mohammed leading the way, the
faithful and righteous will traverse it with ease and as quickly
as a flash of lightning. The thin edge broadens beneath their
steps, the surrounding support of convoying angels' wings hides
the fire lake below from their sight, and they are swiftly
enveloped in paradise. But as the infidel with his evil deeds
essays to cross, thorns entangle his steps, the lurid glare
beneath blinds him, and he soon topples over and whirls into the
blazing abyss. In Dr. Frothingham's fine translation from
Ruckert,

"When the wicked o'er it goes, stands the bridge all sparkling;
And his mind bewilder'd grows, and his eye swims darkling.
Wakening, giddying, then comes in, with a deadly fright, Memory of
all his sin, rushing on his sight. But when forward steps the
just, he is safe e'en here: Round him gathers holy trust, and
drives back his fear. Each good deed's a mist, that wide, golden
borders gets; And for him the bridge, each side, shines with
parapets."

Between hell and paradise is an impassable wall, al Araf,
separating the tormented from the happy, and covered with those
souls whose good works exactly counterpoise their evil works, and
who are, consequently, fitted for neither place. The prophet and
his expounders have much to say of this narrow intermediate
abode.19 Its lukewarm denizens are contemptuously spoken of. It is
said that Araf seems hell to the blessed but paradise to the
damned; for does not every thing depend on the point of view?

The Mohammedan descriptions of the doom of the wicked, the
torments of hell, are constantly repeated and are copious and
vivid. Reference to chapter and verse would be superfluous, since
almost every page of the Koran abounds in such tints and tones as
the following. "The unbelievers shall be companions of hell fire
forever." "Those who disbelieve we will surely cast to be broiled
in hell fire: so often as their skins shall be well burned we will
give them other skins in exchange, that they may taste the sharper
torment." "I will fill hell entirely full of genii and men." "They
shall be dragged on their faces into hell, and it shall be said
unto them, 'Taste ye that torment of hell fire which ye rejected
as a falsehood.'" "The unbelievers shall be driven into hell by
troops." "They shall be taken by the forelocks and the feet and
flung into hell, where they shall drink scalding water." "Their
only entertainment shall be boiling water, and they shall be fuel
for hell." "The smoke of hell shall cast forth sparks as big as
towers, resembling yellow camels in color." "They who believe not
shall

18 W. C. Taylor, Mohammedanism and its Sects.

19 Koran, ch. viii. Sale, Preliminary Discourse, p. 125.


have garments of fire fitted on them, and they shall be beaten
with maces of red hot iron." "The true believers, lying on
couches, shall look down upon the infidels in hell and laugh them
to scorn."

There is a tradition that a door shall be shown the damned opening
into paradise, but when they approach it, it shall be suddenly
shut, and the believers within will laugh. Pitiless and horrible
as these expressions from the Koran are, they are merciful
compared with the pictures in the later traditions, of women
suspended by their hair, their brains boiling, suspended by their
tongues, molten copper poured down their throats, bound hands and
feet and devoured piecemeal by scorpions, hung up by their heels
in flaming furnaces and their flesh cut off on all sides with
scissors of fire. 20 Their popular teachings divide hell into
seven stories, sunk one under another. The first and mildest is
for the wicked among the true believers. The second is assigned to
the Jews. The third is the special apartment of the Christians.
They fourth is allotted to the Sabians, the fifth to the Magians,
and the sixth to the most abandoned idolaters; but the seventh the
deepest and worst belongs to the hypocrites of all religions. The
first hell shall finally be emptied and destroyed, on the release
of the wretched believers there; but all the other hells will
retain their victims eternally.

If the visions of hell which filled the fancies of the faithful
were material and glowing, equally so were their conceptions of
paradise. On this world of the blessed were lavished all the
charms so fascinating to the Oriental luxuriousness of sensual
languor, and which the poetic Oriental imagination knew so well
how to depict. As soon as the righteous have passed Sirat, they
obtain the first taste of their approaching felicity by a
refreshing draught from "Mohammed's Pond." This is a square lake,
a month's journey in circuit, its water whiter than milk or silver
and more fragrant than to be comparable to any thing known by
mortals. As many cups are set around it as there are stars in the
firmament; and whoever drinks from it will never thirst more. Then
comes paradise, an ecstatic dream of pleasure, filled with
sparkling streams, honeyed fountains, shady groves, precious
stones, all flowers and fruits, blooming youths, circulating
goblets, black eyed houris, incense, brilliant birds, delightsome
music, unbroken peace.21 A Sheeah tradition makes the prophet
promise to Ali twelve palaces in paradise, built of gold and
silver bricks laid in a cement of musk and amber. The pebbles
around them are diamonds and rubies, the earth saffron, its
hillocks camphor. Rivers of honey, wine, milk, and water flow
through the court of each palace, their banks adorned with various
resplendent trees, interspersed with bowers consisting each of one
hollow transparent pearl. In each of these bowers is an emerald
throne, with a houri upon it arrayed in seventy green robes and
seventy yellow robes of so fine a texture, and she herself so
transparent, that the marrow of her ankle, notwithstanding robes,
flesh, and bone, is as distinctly visible as a flame in a glass
vessel. Each houri has seventy locks of hair, every one under the
care of a maid, who perfumes it with a censer which God has made
to smoke with incense without the presence of fire; and no mortal
has ever breathed such fragrance as is there exhaled. 22

20 Hyat ul Kuloob, ch. x. p. 206.

21 Koran, ch. lv. ch. lvi.

22 Hyat ul Kuloob, ch. xvi. p. 286.


Such a doctrine of the future life as that here set forth, it is
plain, was strikingly adapted to win and work fervidly on the
minds of the imaginative, voluptuous, indolent, passionate races
of the Orient. It possesses a nucleus of just and natural moral
conviction and sentiment, around which is grouped a composite of a
score of superstitions afloat before the rise of Islam, set off
with the arbitrary drapery of a poetic fancy, colored by the
peculiar idiosyncrasies of Mohammed, emphasized to suit his
special ends, and all inflamed with a vindictive and propagandist
animus. Any word further in explanation of the origin, or in
refutation of the soundness, of this system of belief once so
imminently aggressive and still so widely established would seem
to be superfluous.

CHAPTER XII.

EXPLANATORY SURVEY OF THE FIELD AND ITS MYTHS.

SURVEYING the thought of mankind upon the subject of a future
life, as thus far examined, one can hardly fail to be struck by
the multitudinous variety of opinions and pictures it presents.
Whence and how arose this heterogeneous mass of notions?

In consequence of the endowments with which God has created man,
the doctrine of a future life arises as a normal fact in the
development of his experience. But the forms and accompaniments of
the doctrine, the immense diversity of dress and colors it appears
in, are subject to all the laws and accidents that mould and
clothe the products within any other department of thought and
literature. We must refer the ethnic conceptions of a future state
to the same sources to which other portions of poetry and
philosophy are referred, namely, to the action of sentiment,
fancy, and reason, first; then to the further action, reaction,
and interaction of the pictures, dogmas, and reasonings of
authoritative poets, priests, and philosophers on one side, and of
the feeling, faith, and thought of credulous multitudes and docile
pupils on the other. In the light of these great centres of
intellectual activity, parents of intellectual products, there is
nothing pertaining to the subject before us, however curious,
which may not be intelligibly explained, seen naturally to spring
out of certain conditions of man's mind and experience as related
with the life of society and the phenomena of the world.

So far as the views of the future life set forth in the religions
of the ancient nations constitute systematically developed and
arranged schemes of doctrine and symbol, the origin of them
therefore needs no further explanation than is furnished by a
contemplation of the regulated exercise of the speculative and
imaginative faculties. But so far as those representations contain
unique, grotesque, isolated particulars, their production is
accounted for by this general law: In the early stages of human
culture, when the natural sensibilities are intensely preponderant
in power, and the critical judgment is in abeyance, whatever
strongly moves the soul causes a poetical secretion on the part of
the imagination.1 Thus the rainbow is personified; a waterfall is
supposed to be haunted by spiritual beings; a volcano with fiery
crater is seen as a Cyclops with one flaming eye in the centre of
his forehead. This law holds not only in relation to impressive
objects or appearances in nature, but also in relation to
occurrences, traditions, usages. In this way innumerable myths
arise, explanatory or amplifying thoughts secreted by the
stimulated imagination and then narrated as events. Sometimes
these tales are given and received in good faith for truth, as
Grote abundantly proves in his volume on Legendary Greece;
sometimes they are clearly the gleeful play of the fancy, as when
it is said that the hated infant Herakles having been put to
Hera's breast as she lay asleep in heaven, she, upon waking,
thrust him away, and the lacteal fluid, streaming athwart the
firmament, originated the Milky Way! To apply this law to our
special subject:

1 Chambers's Papers for the People, vol. i.: The Myth, p. 1.


What would be likely to work more powerfully on the minds of a
crude, sensitive people, in an early stage of the world, with no
elaborate discipline of religious thought, than the facts and
phenomena of death? Plainly, around this centre there must be
deposited a vast quantity of ideas and fantasies. The task is to
discriminate them, trace their individual origin, and classify
them.

One of the most interesting and difficult questions connected with
the subject before us is this: What, in any given time and place,
were the limits of the popular belief? How much of the current
representations in relation to another life were held as strict
verity? What portions were regarded as fable or symbolism? It is
obvious enough that among the civilized nations of antiquity the
distinctions of literal statement, allegory, historic report,
embellished legend, satire, poetic creation, philosophical
hypothesis, religious myth, were more or less generally known. For
example, when Aschylus makes one of his characters say, "Yonder
comes a herald: so Dust, Clay's thirsty sister, tells me," the
personification, unquestionably, was as purposed and conscious as
it is when a poet in the nineteenth century says, "Thirst dived
from the brazen glare of the sky and clutched me by the throat."
So, too, when Homer describes the bag of Aolus, the winds, in
possession of the sailors on board Ulysses' ship, the half
humorous allegory cannot be mistaken for religious faith. It is
equally obvious that these distinctions were not always carefully
observed, but were often confounded. Therefore, in respect to the
faith of primitive times, it is impossible to draw any broad,
fixed lines and say conclusively that all on this side was
consciously considered as fanciful play or emblem, all on that
side as earnest fact. Each particular in each case must be
examined by itself and be decided on its own merits by the light
and weight of the moral probabilities. For example, if there was
any historic basis for the myth of Herakles dragging Cerberus out
of Hades, it was that this hero forcibly entered the Mysteries and
dragged out to light the enactor of the part of the three headed
dog. The aged North man, committing martial suicide rather than
die in his peaceful bed, undoubtedly accepted the ensanguined
picture of Valhalla as a truth. Virgil, dismissing Aneas from the
Tartarean realm through "the ivory gate by which false dreams and
fictitious visions are wont to issue," plainly wrought as a poet
on imaginative materials.

It should be recollected that most of the early peoples had no
rigid formularies of faith like the Christian creeds. The writings
preserved to us are often rather fragments of individual
speculations and hopes than rehearsals of public dogmas. Plato is
far from revealing the contemporaneous belief of Greece in the
sense in which Thomas Aquinas reveals the contemporaneous belief
of Christendom. In Egypt, Persia, Rome, among every cultured
people, there were different classes of minds, the philosophers,
the priests, the poets, the warriors, the common multitude, whose
modes of thinking were in contrast, whose methods of interpreting
their ancestral traditions and the phenomena of human destiny were
widely apart, whose respective beliefs had far different
boundaries. The openly skeptical Euripides and Lucian are to be
borne in mind as well as the apparently credulous Hesiod and
Homer. Of course the Fables of Asop were not literally credited.
Neither, as a general thing, were the Metamorphoses of Ovid. With
the ancients, while there was a general national cast of faith,
there were likewise varieties of individual and sectarian belief
and unbelief, skepticism and credulity, solemn reason and
recreative fancy.

The people of Lystra, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles,
actually thought Barnabas and Paul were Zeus and Hermes, and
brought oxen and garlands to offer them the sacrifices appropriate
to those deities. Peisistratus obtained rule over Athens by
dressing a stately woman, by the name of Phye, as Athene, and
passing off her commands as those of the tutelary goddess.
Herodotus ridicules the people for unsuspiciously accepting her.2
The incredibleness of a doctrine is no obstacle to a popular
belief in it. Whosoever thinks of the earnest reception of the
dogma of transubstantiation the conversion of a wheaten wafer into
the infinite God by nearly three quarters of Christendom at this
moment, must permit the paradox to pass unchallenged. Doubtless
the closing eye of many an expiring Greek reflected the pitiless
old oarsman plying his frost cold boat across the Stygian ferry,
and his failing ear caught the rush of the Phlegethonian surge. It
is equally certain that, at the same time, many another laughed at
these things as childish fictions, fitted only to scare "the baby
of a girl."

Stricken memory, yearning emotion, kindled fancy, a sensitive and
timorous observation of natural phenomena, rustling leaves,
wavering shadows, apparent effects of unknown causes, each is a
superstitious mother of beliefs. The Sonora Indians say that
departed souls dwell among the caves and rocks of the cliffs, and
that the echoes often heard there are their voices. Ruskin
suggests that the cause of the Greeks surrounding the lower world
residence of Persephone with poplar groves was that "the
frailness, fragility, and inconstancy of the leafage of the
poplar tree resembled the fancied ghost people." We can very
easily imagine how, in the breeze at the entrance to some
subterranean descent,

"A ghostly rank Of poplars, like a halted train of shades,
Trembled."

The operations of fierce passions, hate, fright, and rage, in a
brain boiling with blood and fire, make pictures which the savage
afterwards holds in remembrance as facts. He does not by
reflection consciously distinguish the internal acts and sights of
the mind from objective verities. Barbarians as travellers and
psychologists have repeatedly observed usually pay great attention
to the vagaries of madmen, the doings and utterances of the
insane. These persons are regarded as possessed by higher beings.
Their words are oracles: the horrible shapes, the grotesque
scenes, which their disordered and inflamed faculties conjure up,
are eagerly caught at, and such accounts of them as they are able
to make out are treasured up as revelations. This fact is of no
slight importance as an element in the hinting basis of the
beliefs of uncultivated tribes. Many a vision of delirium, many a
raving medley of insanity, has been accepted as truth.3 Another
phenomenon, closely allied to the former, has wrought in a similar
manner and still more widely. It has been a common superstition
with barbarous nations in every part of the world, from Timbuctoo
to Siberia, to suppose that dreams are real

2 Lib. i. cap. 60.

3 De Boismont, Rational History of Hallucinations, ch. 15:
Of Hallucinations considered in a Psychological, Historical,
and Religious Point of View.


adventures which the soul passes through, flying abroad while the
body lies, a dormant shell, wrapped in slumber. The power of this
influence in nourishing a copious credulity may easily be
imagined.

The origin of many notions touching a future state, found in
literature, is to be traced to those rambling thoughts and poetic
reveries with which even the most philosophical minds, in certain
moods, indulge themselves. For example, Sir Isaac Newton "doubts
whether there be not superior intelligencies who, subject to the
Supreme, oversee and control the revolutions of the heavenly
bodies." And Goethe, filled with sorrow by the death of Wieland,
musing on the fate of his departed friend, solemnly surmised that
he had become the soul of a world in some far realm of space. The
same mental exercises which supply the barbarian superstitions
reappear in disciplined minds, on a higher plane and in more
refined forms. Culture and science do not deliver us from all
illusion and secure us sober views conformed to fact. Still, what
we think amid the solid realities of waking life, fancy in her
sleep disjointedly reverberates from hollow fields of dream. The
metaphysician or theologian, instead of resting contented with
mere snatches and glimpses, sets himself deliberately to reason
out a complete theory. In these elaborate efforts many an opinion
and metaphor, plausible or absurd, sweet or direful, is born and
takes its place. There is in the human mind a natural passion for
congruity and completeness, a passion extremely fertile in
complementary products. For example, the early Jewish notion of
literally sitting down at table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob,
in the resurrection, was gradually developed by accretion of
assisting particulars into all the details of a consummate
banquet, at which Leviathan was to be the fish, Behemoth the
roast, and so on.4 In the construction of doctrines or of
discourses, one thought suggests, one premise or conclusion
necessitates, another. This genetic application is sometimes
plainly to be seen even in parts of incoherent schemes. For
instance, the conception that man has returned into this life from
anterior experiences of it is met by the opposing fact that he
does not remember any preceding career. The explanatory idea is at
once hit upon of a fountain of oblivion a river Lethe from which
the disembodied soul drinks ere it reappears. Once establish in
the popular imagination the conception of the Olympian synod of
gods, and a thousand dramatic tales of action and adventure,
appropriate to the characters of the divine personages, will
inevitably follow.

The interest, cunning, and authority of priesthoods are another
source of prevailing opinions concerning a life to come. Many
nations, early and late, have been quite under the spiritual
direction of priests, and have believed almost every thing they
said. Numerous motives conspire to make the priest concoct
fictions and exert his power to gain credence for them. He must
have an alluringly colored elysium to reward his obedient
disciples. When his teachings are rejected and his authority
mocked, his class isolation and incensed pride find a natural
satisfaction in threatening the reprobate aliens that a rain of
fire will one day wash them down the smoking gulfs of sulphur. The
Maronites, a sect of Catholic Christians in Syria, purchase of
their priests a few yards of land in heaven, to secure a residence
there when

4 Corrodi, Gesch. des Chiliasmns, th. i. abschn. 15: Gastmahl des
Leviathan.

they die.5 The Siamese Buddhists accumulate silver and bury it in
secret, to supply the needs of the soul during its wandering in
the separate state. "This foolish opinion robs the state of
immense sums. The lords and rich men erect pyramids over these
treasures, and for their greater security place them in charge of
the talapoins!"6 When, for some reason or other,  either as a
matter of neatness and convenience, or as a preventive of mutual
clawing, or for some to us unimaginable end, the authoritative
Skald wished to induce the Northmen to keep their nails close cut,
he devised the awful myth of the ship Nagelfra, and made his raw
minded people swallow it as truth. The same process was followed
unquestionably in a thousand other cases, in different particulars
of thought and aim, in different parts of the world.

In a bird's eye survey of the broad field we have traversed, one
cannot help noticing the marked influence of the present scenery
and habits, history and associations, of a people in deciding the
character of their anticipations of the future. The Esquimaux
paradise is surrounded by great pots full of boiled walrus meat.
The Turk's heaven is a gorgeously idealized pleasure garden or
celestial harem. As the apparition of a man wanders into the next
state, a shadow of his present state floats over into the future
with him. The Hereafter is the image flung by the Now. Heaven and
hell are the upward and downward echoes of the earth. Like the
spectre of the Brocken on the Hartz Mountains, our ideas of
another life are a reflection of our present experience thrown in
colossal on the cloud curtains of futurity. Charles Lamb, pushing
this elucidating observation much further, says, "The shapings of
our heavens are the modifications of our constitutions." A tribe
of savages has been described who hoped to go after death to their
forefathers in an under ground elysium whose glory consisted in
eternal drunkenness, that being their highest conception of bliss
and glory. What can be more piteous than the contemplation of
those barbarians whose existence here is so wretched that even
their imagination and faith have lost all rebound, and who
conceive of the land of souls only as poorer and harder than this,
expecting to be tasked and beaten there by stronger spirits, and
to have nothing to eat? The relation of master and servant, the
tyranny of class, is reflected over into the other life in those
aristocratic notions which break out frequently in the history of
our subject. The Pharisees some of them, at least excluded the
rabble from the resurrection. The Peruvians confined their heaven
to the nobility. The New Zealanders said the souls of the Atuas,
the nobles, were immortal, but the Cookees perished entirely.
Meiners declares that the Russians, even so late as the times of
Peter the Great, believed that only the Czar and the boyars could
reach heaven. It was almost a universal custom among savage
nations when a chieftain died to slay his wives and servants, that
their ghosts might accompany his to paradise, to wait on him there
as here. Even among the Greeks, as Bulwer has well remarked, "the
Hades of the ancients was not for the many; and the dwellers of
Elysium are chiefly confined to the oligarchy of earth."

The coarse and selfish assumption on the part of man of
superiority over woman, based on his brawniness and tyranny, has
sometimes appeared in the form of an assertion that

5 Churchill, Mt. Lebanon, vol. iii. ch. 7.

6 Pallegoix, Description du Royaume de Siam, ch. xx. p. 113.


women have no souls, or at least cannot attain to the highest
heaven possible for man. The former statement has been vulgarly
attributed to the Moslem creed, but with utter falsity. A pious
and aged female disciple once asked Mohammed concerning her future
condition in heaven. The prophet replied, "There will not be any
old women in heaven." She wept and bewailed her fate, but was
comforted upon the gracious assurance from the prophet's lips,
"They will all be young again when there." The Buddhists relate
that Gotama once directed queen Prajapati, his foster mother, to
prove by a miracle the error of those who supposed it impossible
for a woman to attain Nirwana. She immediately made as many
repetitions of her own form as filled the skies of all the
sakwalas, and, after performing various wonders, died and rose
into Nirwana, leading after her five hundred virtuous princesses.7

How spontaneously the idiosyncrasies of men in the present are
flung across the abysm into the future state is exhibited
amusingly, and with a rough pathos, in an old tradition of a
dialogue between Saint Patrick and Ossian. The bard contrasts the
apostle's pitiful psalms with his own magnificent songs, and says
that the virtuous Fingal is enjoying the rewards of his valor in
the aerial existence. The saint rejoins, No matter for Fingal's
worth; being a pagan, assuredly he roasts in hell. In hot wrath
the honest Caledonian poet cries, "If the children of Morni and
the tribes of the clan Ovi were alive, we would force brave Fingal
out of hell, or the same habitation should be our own."8

Many of the most affecting facts and problems in human experience
and destiny have found expression, hypothetic solution, in
striking myths preserved in the popular traditions of nations. The
mutual resemblances in these legends in some cases, though among
far separated peoples, are very significant and impressive. They
denote that, moved by similar motives and exercised on the same
soliciting themes, human desire and thought naturally find vent in
similar theories, stories, and emblems. The imagination of man, as
Gfrorer says, runs in ruts which not itself but nature has beaten.

The instinctive shrinking from death felt by man would, sooner or
later, quite naturally suggest the idea that death was not an
original feature in the divine plan of the world, but a
retributive additional discord. Benignant nature meant her
children should live on in happy contentment here forever; but sin
and Satan came in, and death was the vengeance that followed their
doings. The Persians fully developed this speculation. The Hebrews
either also originated it, or borrowed it from the Persians; and
afterwards the Christians adopted it. Traces of the same
conception appear among the remotest and rudest nations. The
Caribbeans have a myth to the effect that the whole race of men
were doomed to be mortal because Carus, the first man, offended
the great god Tiri. The Cherokees ascribe to the Great Spirit the
intention of making men immortal on earth; but, they say, the sun
when he passed over told them there was not room enough, and that
people had better die! They also say that the Creator attempted to
make the first man and woman out of two stones, but failed, and
afterwards fashioned them of clay; and therefore it is that they
are perishable.9 The

7 Hardy, Manual of Buddhism, p. 314.

8 Logan, Scottish Gael, ch. xiv.

9 Squier, Serpent Symbol, p. 67, note c.


Indians of the Oronoco declare that the Great Spirit dwelt for a
while, at first, among men. As he was leaving them, he turned
around in his canoe and said, "Ye shall never die, but shall shed
your skins." An old woman would not believe what he said; he
therefore recalled his promise and vowed that they should die.

The thought of more than one death that the composite man is
simplified by a series of separating deaths has repeatedly found
place. The New Testament speaks of "the second death;" but that is
a metaphorical phrase, descriptive, as there employed, of
condemnation and suffering. It is a thought of Plato that the
Deity put intellect in soul, and soul in a material envelope.
Following this hint, Plutarch says, in his essay on the Face in
the Moon, that the earth furnishes the body, the moon the soul,
the sun the mind. The first death we die, he continues, makes us
two from three; the second makes us one from two. The Feejees tell
how one of their warriors, seeing the spectre of a recently
deceased enemy of his, threw his war club at it and killed it.
They believed the spirit itself was thus destroyed. There is
something pathetic in this accumulation of dissolution upon
dissolution, this pursuit of death after death. We seem to hear,
in this thin succession of the ghosts of ghosts, the fainter
growing echoes of the body fade away.

Many narratives reveal the fond hovering of the human mind over
the problem of avoiding death altogether. The Hebrew Scriptures
have made us familiar with the translation of Enoch and the
ascension of Elijah without tasting death. The Hindus tell of
Divadassa, who, as a reward for his exceeding virtue and piety,
was permitted to ascend to heaven alive.10 They also say that the
good Trisanku, having pleased a god, was elevated in his living
body to heaven.11 The Buddhists of Ceylon preserve a legend of the
elevation of one of the royal descendants of Maha Sammata to the
superior heavens without undergoing death.12 There are Buddhist
traditions, furthermore, of four other persons who were taken up
to Indra's heaven in their bodies without tasting death, namely,
the musician Gattila, and the kings Sadhina, Nirni, and
Mandhatu.13 A beautiful myth of the translation of Cyrus is found
in Firdousi's Shah Nameh:

"Ky Khosru bow'd himself before his God: In the bright water he
wash'd his head and his limbs; And he spake to himself the Zend
Avesta's prayers; And he turn'd to the friends of his life and
exclaim'd, 'Fare ye well, fare ye well for evermore! When to
morrow's sun lifts its blazing banner, And the sea is gold, and
the land is purple, This world and I shall be parted forever. Ye
will never see me again, save in Memory's dreams.'When the sun
uplifted his head from the mountain, The king had vanish'd from
the eyes of his nobles. They roam'd around in vain attempts to
find him;

10 Vans Kennedy, Ancient and Hindu Mythology, p. 431.

11 Vishnu Purana, p. 371.

12 Upham, Sacred Books of Ceylon, vol. i. Introduction, p. 17.

13 Hardy, Manual of Buddhism, p. 25, note.


And every one, as he came back to the place, Bade a long farewell
to the king of the world. Never hath any one seen such a marvel
No, though he live long in the world That a man should go alive
into the presence of God."

There is a Greek story that Empedocles, "after a sacred festival,
was drawn up to heaven in a splendor of celestial effulgence."14
Philostratus relates a tradition of the Cretans, affirming that,
Apollonius having entered a temple to worship, a sound was heard
as of a chorus of virgins singing, "Come from the earth; come into
heaven; come." And he was taken up, never having been seen
afterwards. Here may be cited also the exquisite fable of
Endymion. Zeus promised to grant what he should request. He begged
for immortality, eternal sleep, and never fading youth.
Accordingly, in all his surpassing beauty he slumbers on the
summit of Latmus, where every night the enamored moon stoops to
kiss his spotless forehead. One of the most remarkable fragments
in the traditions of the American aborigines is that concerning
the final departure of Tarenyawagon, a mythic chief of
supernatural knowledge and power, who instructed and united the
Iroquois. He sprang across vast chasms between the cliffs, and
shot over the lakes with incredible speed, in a spotless white
canoe. At last the Master of Breath summoned him. Suddenly the sky
was filled with melody. While all eyes were turned up,
Tarenyawagon was seen, seated in his snow white canoe, in mid air,
rising with every burst of the heavenly music, till he vanished
beyond the summer clouds, and all was still.15

Another mythological method of avoidingdeath is by bathing in some
immortal fountain. The Greeks tell of Glaucus, who by chance
discovered and plunged in a spring of this charmed virtue, but was
so chagrined at being unable to point it out to others that he
flung himself into the ocean. He could not die, and so became a
marine deity, and was annually seen off the headlands sporting
with whales. The search for the "Fountain of Youth" by the
Spaniards who landed in Florida is well known. How with a vain
eagerness did Ponce de Leon, the battered old warrior, seek after
the magic wave beneath which he should sink to emerge free from
scars and stains, as fresh and fair as when first he donned the
knightly harness! Khizer, the Wandering Jew of the East,
accompanied Iskander Zulkarnain (the Oriental name for Alexander
the Great) in his celebrated expedition to find the fountain of
life.16 Zulkarnain, coming to a place where there were three
hundred and sixty fountains, despatched three hundred and sixty
men, ordering each man to select one of the fountains in which to
wash a dry salted fish wherewith he was furnished. The instant
Khizer's fish touched the water of the fountain which he had
chosen, it sprang away, alive. Khizer leaped in after it and
drank. Therefore he cannot die till the last trump sounds.
Meanwhile, clad in a green garb, he roams through the world, a
personified spring of the year.

14 Lewes, Biographical History of Philosophy, vol. i. p. 135, (1st
Eng. edit.)

15 Schoolcraft, Notes on the Iroquois, ch. ix.

16 Adventures of Hatim Tai, p. 125.


The same influences which have caused death to be interpreted as a
punitive after piece in the creation, and which have invented
cases wherein it was set aside, have also fabricated tales of
returns from its shrouded realm. The Thracian lover's harp,
"drawing iron tears down Pluto's cheek," won his mistress half way
to the upper light, and would have wholly redeemed her had he not
in impatience looked back. The grim king of Hades, yielding to
passionate entreaties, relented so far as to let the hapless
Protesilaus return to his mourning Laodameia for three hours. At
the swift end of this poor period he died again; and this time she
died with him. Erus, who was killed in battle, and Timarchus,
whose soul was rapt from him in the cave of Trophonius, both
returned, as we read in Plato and Plutarch, to relate with
circumstantial detail what they saw in the other world. Alcestis,
who so nobly died to save her husband's life, was brought back
from the region of the dead, by the interposition of Herakles, to
spend happy years with her grateful Admetus. The cunning Sisyphus,
who was so notorious for his treachery, by a shrewd plot obtained
leave, after his death, to visit the earth again. Safely up in the
light, he vowed he would stay; but old Hermes psychopompus
forcibly dragged him down.

When Columbus landed at San Salvador, the natives thought he had
descended from the sun, and by signs inquired if he had not. The
Hawaiians took Captain Cook for the god Lono, who was once their
king but was afterwards deified, and who had prophesied, as he was
dying, that he should in after times return. Te Wharewara, a New
Zealand youth, relates a long account of the return of his aunt
from the other world, with a minute description of her adventures
and observations there.17 Schoolcraft gives a picturesque
narrative of a journey made by a Wyandot brave to and from the
land of souls.18

There is a group of strangely pleasing myths, closely allied to
the two preceding classes, showing how the popular heart and
imagination glorify their heroes, and, fondly believing them too
godlike to die, fancy them only removed to some secret place,
where they still live, and whence in the time of need they will
come again to rescue or to bless their people. Greece dreamed that
her swift footed Achilles was yet alive in the White Island.
Denmark long saw king Holger lingering on the old warrior cairns
of his country. Portugal trusted that her beauteous prince
Sebastian had escaped from the fatal field to the East, and would
one day return to claim his usurped realm.19 So, too, of Roderick
the Goth, who fell in disastrous battle with the Arabs, the
Visiogothic traditions and faith of the people long insisted that
he would reappear. The Swiss herdsmen believe the founders of
their confederacy still sleep in a cavern on the shores of
Lucerne. When Switzerland is in peril, the Three Tells, slumbering
there in their antique garb, will wake to save her. Sweetly and
often, the ancient British lays allude to the puissant Arthur
borne away to the mystic vales of Avalon, and yet to be hailed in
his native kingdom, Excalibur once more gleaming in his hand. The
strains of the Troubadours swell and ring as they tell of
Charlemagne sleeping beneath

17 Shortland, Traditions of the New Zealanders, p. 128.

18 History, &c. of Indian Tribes, part ii. p. 235.

19 There is a fanatic sect of Sebastianists in Brazil now. See
"Brazil and the Brazilians," by Kidier and Fletcher, pp. 519-521.


the Untersberg, biding his appointed time to rise, resume his
unrivalled sceptre, and glorify the Frank race. And what grand and
weird ballads picture great Barbarossa seated in the vaults of
Kyffhauser, his beard grown through the stone table in front of
him, tarrying till he may come forth, with his minstrels and
knights around him, in the crisis hour of Germany's fortunes! The
Indians of Pecos, in New Mexico, still anxiously expect the return
of Montezuma; while in San Domingo, on the Rio Grande, a sentinel
every morning ascends to the top of the highest house, at sunrise,
and looks out eastward for the coming of the great chief.20 The
peasants of Brittany maintain as a recent traveller testifies that
Napoleon is still alive in concealment somewhere, and will one day
be heard of or seen in pomp and victory. One other dead man there
has been who was expected to return. the hated Nero, the popular
horror of whom shows itself in the shuddering belief expressed in
the Apocalypse and in the Sibylline Oracles that he was still
alive and would reappear.21

Alian, in his Various History, recounts the following singular
circumstances concerning the Meropes who inhabited the valley of
Anostan.22 It would seem to prove that no possible conceit of
speculation pertaining to our subject has been unthought of. A
river of grief and a river of pleasure, he says, lapsed through
the valley, their banks covered with trees. If one ate of the
fruit growing on the trees beside the former stream, he burst into
a flood of tears and wept till he died. But if he partook of that
hanging on the shore of the latter, his bliss was so great that he
forgot all desires; and, strangest of all, he returned over the
track of life to youth and infancy, and then gently expired. He
turned

"Into his yesterdays, and wander'd back To distant childhood, and
went out to God By the gate of birth, not death."

Mohammed, during his night journey, saw, in the lower heaven,
Adam, the father of mankind, a majestic old man, with all his
posterity who were destined for paradise on one side, and all who
were destined for hell on the other. When he looked on the right
he smiled and rejoiced, but as often as he looked on the left he
mourned and wept. How finely this reveals the stupendous pathos
there is in the theological conception of a Federal Head of
humanity!

The idea of a great terminal crisis is met with so often in
reviewing the history of human efforts to grasp and solve the
problem of the world's destiny, that we must consider it a normal
concomitant of such theorizings. The mind reels and loses itself
in trying to conceive of the everlasting continuance of the
present order, or of any one fixed course of things, but finds
relief in the notion of a revolution, an end, and a fresh start.
The Mexican Cataclysm or universal crash, the close of the Hindu
Calpa, the Persian Resurrection, the Stoic Conflagration, the
Scandinavian Ragnarokur, the Christian Day of Judgment, all embody
this one thought. The Drama of Humanity is played out, the curtain
falls, and when it rises again

20 Abbe Domenech's Seven Years' Residence in the Great Deserts of
North America; Vol. I. ch. viii.

21 Stuart, Commentary on the Apocalypse: Excursus upon ch. xiii.
v. 18.

22 Lib. iii. cap. 18.


all is commenced afresh. The clock of creation runs down and has
to be wound up anew. The Brahmans are now expecting the tenth
avatar of Vishnu. The Parsees look for Sosiosch to come, to
consummate the triumph of good, and to raise the dead upon a
renewed earth. The Buddhists await the birth of Maitri Buddha, who
is tarrying in the dewa loka Tusita until the time of his advent
upon earth. The Jews are praying for the appearance of the
Messiah. And many Christians affirm that the second advent of
Jesus draws nigh.

One more fact, even in a hasty survey of some of the most peculiar
opinions current in bygone times as to a future life, can scarcely
fail to attract notice. It is the so constant linking of the
soul's fate with the skyey spaces and the stars, in fond
explorings and astrologic dreams. Nowhere are the kingly greatness
and the immortal aspiring of man more finely shown. The loadstone
of his destiny and the prophetic gravitation of his thoughts are
upward, into the eternal bosom of heaven's infinite hospitality.

"Ye stars, which are the poetry of heaven!
If in your bright leaves we would read the fate
Of men and empires, 'tis to be forgiven,
That, in our aspirations to be great,
Our destinies o'erleap their mortal state
And claim a kindred with you; for ye are
A beauty and a mystery, and create
In us such love and reverence from afar
That fortune, fame, power, life, have named themselves a star."

What an immeasurable contrast between the dying Cherokee, who
would leap into heaven with a war whoop on his tongue and a string
of scalps in his hand, and the dying Christian, who sublimely
murmurs, "Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!" What a sweep
of thought, from the poor woman whose pious notion of heaven was
that it was a place where she could sit all day in a clean white
apron and sing psalms, to the far seeing and sympathetic natural
philosopher whose loving faith embraces all ranks of creatures and
who conceives of paradise as a spiritual concert of the combined
worlds with all their inhabitants in presence of their Creator!
Yet from the explanatory considerations which have been set forth
we can understand the derivation of the multifarious swarm of
notions afloat in the world, as the fifteen hundred varieties of
apple now known have all been derived from the solitary white
crab. Differences of fancy and opinion among men are as natural as
fancies and opinions are. The mind of a people grows from the
earth of its deposited history, but breathes in the air of its
living literature.23 By his philosophic learning and poetic
sympathy the cosmopolitan scholar wins the last victory of mind
over matter, frees himself from local conditions and temporal
tinges, and, under the light of universal truth, traces, through
the causal influences of soil and clime and history, and the
colored threads of great individualities, the formation of
peculiar national creeds. Through sense the barbarian mind feeds
on the raw pabulum furnished by the immediate phenomena of the
world and of its own life. Through culture the civilized mind
feeds on the elaborated substance of literature,

23 Schouw, Earth, Plants, and Man, ch. xxx.


science, and art. Plants eat inorganic, animals eat organized,
material. The ignorant man lives on sensations obtained directly
from nature; the educated man lives also on sensations obtained
from the symbols of other people's sensations. The illiterate
savage hunts for his mental living in the wild forest of
consciousness; the erudite philosopher lives also on the psychical
stores of foregone men.

NOTE. To the ten instances, stated on pages 210, 211, of
remarkable men who after their death were popularly imagined to be
still alive, and destined to appear again, an eleventh may be
added. The Indians of Pecos, in New Mexico, anxiously expect the
return of Montezuma. In San Domingo, on the Rio Grande, a sentinel
every morning ascends to the roof of the highest house at sunrise
and looks out eastward for the coming of the great chief. See the
Abbe Domenech's "Seven Years' Residence in the Great Deserts of
North America," vol. ii. ch. viii.

PART THIRD.


NEW TESTAMENT TEACHINGS CONCERNING AFUTURE LIFE.


CHAPTER I.

PETER'S DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

IN entering upon an investigation of the thoughts of the New
Testament writers concerning the fate of man after his bodily
dissolution, we may commence by glancing at the various allusions
contained in the record to opinions on this subject prevalent at
the time of the Savior or immediately afterwards, but which formed
no part of his religion, or were mixed with mistakes.

There are several incidents recorded in the Gospels which show
that a belief in the transmigration of the soul was received among
the Jews. As Jesus was passing near Siloam with his disciples, he
saw a man who had been blind from his birth; and the disciples
said to him, "Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that
he was born blind?" The drift of this question is, Did the parents
of this man commit some great crime, for which they were punished
by having their child born blind, or did he come into the world
under this calamity in expiation of the iniquities of a previous
life? Jesus denies the doctrine involved in this interrogation, at
least, as far as his reply touches it at all; for he rarely enters
into any discussion or refutation of incidental errors. He says,
Neither hath this man sinned nor his parents as the cause of his
blindness; but the regular workings of the laws of God are made
manifest in him: moreover, it is a providential occasion offered
me that I should show the divinity of my mission by giving him
sight.

When Herod heard of the miracles and the fame of Jesus, he said,
This is John the Baptist, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the
dead; and therefore mighty works are wrought by him. This brief
statement plainly shows that the belief in the reappearance of a
departed spirit, in bodily form, to run another career, was extant
in Judea at that period. The Evangelists relate another
circumstance to the same effect. Jesus asked his disciples who the
people thought he was. And they replied, Some think that thou art
John the Baptist, some Elias, and some Jeremiah or some other of
the old prophets, a forerunner of the Messiah. Then Jesus asked,
But who think ye that I am? And Simon Peter said, Thou art the
promised Messiah himself. There was a prophetic tradition among
the Jews, drawn from the words of Malachi, that before the Messiah
was revealed Elias would appear and proclaim his coming.

Therefore, when the disciples of Christ recognised him as the
great Anointed, they were troubled about this prophecy, and said
to their Master, Why do the Scribes say that Elias must first
come? He replies to them, in substance, It is even so: the
prophet's words shall not fail: they are already fulfilled. But
you must interpret the prophecy aright. It does not mean that the
ancient prophet himself, in physical form, shall come upon earth,
but that one with his office, in his spirit and power, shall go
before me. If ye are able to understand the true import of the
promise, it has been realized. John the Baptist is the Elias which
was to come. The New Testament, therefore, has allusions to the
doctrine of transmigration, but gives it no warrant.

The Jewish expectations in regard to the Messiah, the nature of
his kingdom, and the events which they supposed would attend his
coming or transpire during his reign, were the source and
foundation of the phraseology of a great many passages in the
Christian Scriptures and of the sense of not a few. The national
ideas and hopes of the Jews at that time were singularly intense
and extensive. Their influence over the immediate disciples of
Jesus and the authors of the New Testament is often very evident
in the interpretations they put upon his teachings, and in their
own words. Still, their intellectual and spiritual obtuseness to
the true drift of their Master's thoughts was not so great, their
mistakes are neither so numerous nor so gross, as it is frequently
supposed they were. This is proved by the fact that when they use
the language of the Messianic expectations of the Jews in their
writings they often do it, not in the material, but in a spiritual
sense. When they first came under the instruction of Jesus, they
were fully imbued with the common notions of their nation and age.
By his influence their ideas were slowly and with great difficulty
spiritualized and made to approach his own in some degree. But it
is unquestionably true that they never not even after his death
arrived at a clear appreciation of the full sublimity, the pure
spirituality, the ultimate significance, of his mission and his
words. Still, they did cast off and rise above the grossly carnal
expectations of their countrymen. Partially instructed in the
spiritual nature of Christ's kingdom, and partially biassed by
their Jewish prepossessions, they interpreted a part of his
language figuratively, according to his real meaning, and a part
of it literally, according to their own notions. The result of
this was several doctrines neither taught by Christ nor held by
the Jews, but formed by conjoining and elaborating a portion of
the conceptions of both. These doctrines are to be found in the
New Testament; but it should be distinctly understood that the
religion of Christ is not responsible for them, is to be separated
from them.

The fundamental and pervading aim of that epistle of Peter the
genuineness of which is unquestioned and the same is true in a
great degree of his speeches recorded in the Acts of the Apostles
is to exhort the Christians to whom it is written to purify
themselves by faith, love, and good works; to stand firmly amidst
all their tribulations, supported by the expectations and prepared
to meet the conditions of a glorious life in heaven at the close
of this life. Eschatology, the doctrine of the Last Things, with
its practical inferences, all inseparably interwoven with the
mission of Christ, forms the basis and scope of the whole
document.

Peter believed that when Christ had been put to death his spirit,
surviving, descended into the separate state of departed souls.
Having cited from the sixteenth Psalm the declaration, "Thou wilt
not leave my soul in the under world," he says it was a prophecy
concerning Christ, which was fulfilled in his resurrection. "The
soul of this Jesus was not left in the under world, but God hath
raised him up, whereof we all are witnesses." When it is written
that his soul was not left in the subterranean abode of
disembodied spirits, of course the inference cannot be avoided
that it was supposed to have been there for a time.

In the next place, we are warranted by several considerations in
asserting that Peter believed that down there, in the gloomy realm
of shades, were gathered and detained the souls of all the dead
generations. We attribute this view to Peter from the combined
force of the following reasons: because such was, notoriously, the
belief of his ancestral and contemporary countrymen; because he
speaks of the resurrection of Jesus as if it were a wonderful
prophecy or unparalleled miracle, a signal and most significant
exception to the universal law; because he says expressly of David
that "he is not yet ascended into the heavens," and if David was
still retained below, undoubtedly all were; because the same
doctrine is plainly inculcated by other of the New Testament
writers; and, finally, because Peter himself, in another part of
this epistle, declares, in unequivocal terms, that the soul of
Christ went and preached to the souls confined in the under
world, for such is the perspicuous meaning of the famous text,
"being put to death in the body, but kept alive in the soul, in
which also he went and preached [went as a herald] to the spirits
in prison." The meaning we have attributed to this celebrated
passage is the simple and consistent explanation of the words and
the context, and is what must have been conveyed to those familiar
with the received opinions of that time. Accordingly, we find
that, with the exception of Augustine, it was so understood and
interpreted by the whole body of the Fathers.1 It is likewise so
held now by an immense majority of the most authoritative modern
commentators. Rosenmuller says, in his commentary on this text,
"That by the spirits in prison is meant souls of men separated
from their bodies and detained as in custody in the under world,
which the Greeks call Hades, the Hebrews Sheol, can hardly be
doubted," (vix dubitari posse videtur.) Such has ever been and
still is the common conclusion of nearly all the best critical
theologians, as volumes of citations might easily be made to show.
The reasons which led Augustine to give a different exposition of
the text before us are such as should make, in this case, even his
great name have little or no weight. He firmly held, as revealed
and unquestionable truth,2 the whole doctrine which we maintain is
implied in the present passage; but he was so perplexed by certain
difficult queries3 as to locality and method and circumstance,
addressed to him with reference to this text, that he, waveringly,
and at last, gave it an allegorical interpretation. His exegesis
is not only arbitrary and opposed to the catholic doctrine of the
Church; it is also so far fetched and forced as to be destitute of

1 See, for example, Clem. Alex. Stromata, lib. vi.; Cyprian, Test.
adv. Judaos, lib. ii. cap. 27, Lactantius, Divin. Instit. lib.
vii. cap. 20.

2 Epist. XCIX.

3 Ibid.


plausibility. He says the spirits in prison may be the souls of
men confined in their bodies here in this life, to preach to whom
Christ came from heaven. But the careful reader will observe that
Peter speaks as if the spirits were collected and kept in one
common custody, refers to the spirits of a generation long ago
departed to the dead, and represents the preaching as taking place
in the interval between Christ's death and his resurrection. A
glance from the eighteenth to the twenty second verse inclusive
shows indisputably that the order of events narrated by the
apostle is this: First, Christ was put to death in the flesh,
suffering for sins, the just for the unjust; secondly, he was
quickened in the spirit; thirdly, he went and preached to the
spirits in prison; fourthly, he rose from the dead; fifthly, he
ascended into heaven. How is it possible for any one to doubt that
the text under consideration teaches his subterranean mission
during the period of his bodily burial?

In the exposition of the Apostles' Creed put forth by the Church
of England under Edward VI., this text in Peter was referred to as
an authoritative proof of the article on Christ's descent into the
under world; and when, some years later, thatreference was
stricken out, notoriously it was not because the Episcopal rulers
were convinced of a mistake, but because they had become afraid of
the associated Romish doctrine of purgatory.

If Peter believed as he undoubtedly did that Christ after his
crucifixion descended to the place of departed spirits, what did
he suppose was the object of that descent? Calvin's theory was
that he went into hell in order that he might there suffer
vicariously the accumulated agonies due to the LOST, thus
placating the just wrath of the Father and purchasing the release
of the elect. A sufficient refutation of that dogma, as to its
philosophical basis, is found in its immorality, its forensic
technicality. As a mode of explaining the Scriptures, it is
refuted by the fact that it is nowhere plainly stated in the New
Testament, but is arbitrarily constructed by forced and indirect
inferences from various obscure texts, which texts can be
perfectly explained without involving it at all. For what purpose,
then, was it thought that Jesus went to the imprisoned souls of
the under world? The most natural supposition the conception most
in harmony with the character and details of the rest of the
scheme and with the prevailing thought of the time would be that
he went there to rescue the captives from their sepulchral
bondage, to conquer death and the devil in their own domain, open
the doors, break the chains, proclaim good tidings of coming
redemption to the spirits in prison, and, rising thence, to ascend
to heaven, preparing the way for them to follow with him at his
expected return. This, indeed, is the doctrine of the Judaizing
apostles, the unbroken catholic doctrine of the Church. Paul
writes to the Colossians, and to the Ephesians, that, when Christ
"had spoiled the principalities and powers" of the world of the
dead, "he ascended up on high, leading a multitude of captives."
Peter himself declares, a little farther on in his epistle, "that
the glad tidings were preached to the dead, that, though they had
been persecuted and condemned in the flesh by the will of men,
they might be blessed in the spirit by the will of God."4 Christ
fulfilled the law of

4 See Rosenmuller's explanation in hoc loco.


death,5 descending to the place of separate spirits, that he might
declare deliverance to the quick and the dead by coming
triumphantly back and going into heaven, an evident token of the
removal of the penalty of sin which hitherto had fatally doomed
all men to the under world.6

Let us see if this will not enable us to explain Peter's language
satisfactorily. Death, with the lower residence succeeding it, let
it be remembered, was, according to the Jewish and apostolic
belief, the fruit of sin, the judgment pronounced on sin. But
Christ, Peter says, was sinless. "He was a lamb without blemish
and without spot." "He did no sin, neither was guile found in his
mouth." Therefore he was not exposed to death and the under world
on his own account. Consequently, when it is written that "he bore
our sins in his own body on the tree," that "he suffered for sins,
the just for the unjust," in order to give the words their clear,
full meaning it is not necessary to attribute to them the sense of
a vicarious sacrifice offered to quench the anger of God or to
furnish compensation for a broken commandment; but this sense,
namely, that although in his sinlessness he was exempt from death,
yet he "suffered for us," he voluntarily died, thus undergoing for
our sakes that which was to others the penalty of their sin. The
object of his dying was not to conciliate the alienated Father or
to adjust the unbalanced law: it was to descend into the realm of
the dead, heralding God's pardon to the captives, and to return
and rise into heaven, opening and showing to his disciples the way
thither. For, owing to his moral sinlessness, or to his delegated
omnipotence, if he were once in the abode of the dead, he must
return: nothing could keep him there. Epiphanius describes the
devil complaining, after Christ had burst through his nets and
dungeons, "Miserable me! what shall I do? I did not know God was
concealed in that body. The son of Mary has deceived me. I
imagined he was a mere man."7 In an apocryphal writing of very
early date, which shows some of the opinions abroad at that time,
one of the chief devils, after Christ had appeared in hell,
cleaving its grisly prisons from top to bottom and releasing the
captives, is represented upbraiding Satan in these terms: "O
prince of all evil, author of death, why didst thou crucify and
bring down to our regions a person righteous and sinless? Thereby
thou hast lost all the sinners of the world."8 Again, in an
ancient treatise on the Apostles' Creed, we read as follows: "In
the bait of Christ's flesh was secretly inserted the hook of his
divinity. This the devil knew not, but, supposing he must stay
when he was

5 See King's History of the Apostles' Creed, 3d ed., pp. 234-239.
"The purpose of Christ's descent was to undergo the laws of death,
pass through the whole experience of man, conquer the devil, break
the fetters of the captives, and fix a time for their
resurrection." To the same effect, old Hilary, Bishop of
Poictiers, in his commentary on Psalm cxxxviii., says, "It is a
law of human necessity that, the body being buried, the soul
should descend ad interos."

6 Ambrose, De Fide, etc., lib. iv. cap. 1, declares that "no one
ascended to heaven until Christ, by the pledge of his
resurrection, solved the chains of the under world and translated
the souls of the pious." Also Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, in his
fourth catechetical lecture, sect. 11, affirms "that Christ
descended into the under world to deliver those who, from Adam
downwards, had been imprisoned there."

7 In Assumptionem Christi.

8 Evan. Nicodemi, cap. xviii.


devoured, greedily swallowed the corpse, and the bolts of the
nether world were wrenched asunder, and the ensnared dragon
himself dragged from the abyss."9 Peter himself explicitly
declares, "It was not possible that he should be held by death."
Theodoret says, "Whoever denies the resurrection of Christ rejects
his death."10 If he died, he must needs rise again. And his
resurrection would demonstrate the forgiveness of sins, the
opening of heaven to men, showing that the bond which had bound in
despair the captives in the regions of death for so many voiceless
ages was at last broken. Accordingly, "God, having loosed the
chains of the under world, raised him up and set him at his own
right hand."11

And now the question, narrowed down to the smallest compass, is
this: What is the precise, real signification of the sacrificial
and other connected terms employed by Peter,  those phrases which
now, by the intense associations of a long time, convey so strong
a Calvinistic sense to most readers? Peter says, "Ye know that ye
were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ." If there were
not so much indeterminateness of thought, so much unthinking
reception of traditional, confused impressions of Scripture texts,
it would be superfluous to observe that by the word blood here,
and in all parallel passages, is meant simply and literally death:
the mere blood, the mere shedding of the blood, of Christ, of
course, could have no virtue, no moral efficacy, of any sort. When
the infuriated Jews cried, "His blood be on us, and on our
children!" they meant, Let the responsibility of his death rest on
us. When the English historian says, "Sidney gave his blood for
the cause of civil liberty," the meaning is, he died for it. So,
no one will deny, whenever the New Testament speaks in any way of
redemption by the blood of the crucified Son of Man, the
unquestionable meaning is, redemption by his death. What, then,
does the phrase "redemption by the death of Christ" mean? Let it
be noted here let it be particularly noticed that the New
Testament nowhere in explicit terms explains the meaning of this
and the kindred phrases: it simply uses the phrases without
interpreting them. They are rhetorical figures of speech,
necessarily, upon whatever theological system we regard them. No
sinner is literally washed from his transgressions and guilt in
the blood of the slaughtered Lamb. These expressions, then, are
poetic images, meant to convey a truth in the language of
association and feeling, the traditionary language of imagination.
The determination of their precise significance is wholly a matter
of fallible human construction and inference, and not a matter of
inspired statement or divine revelation. This is so, beyond a
question, because, we repeat, they are figures of speech, having
no direct explanation in the records where they occur. The
Calvinistic view of the atonement was a theory devised to explain
this scriptural language. It was devised without sufficient
consideration of the peculiar notions and spirit, the peculiar
grade of culture, and the time, from which that language sprang.
We freely admit the inadequacy of the Unitarian

9 Ruffinus, Expos. in Symb. Apost.

10 Comm. in 2 Tim. ii. 19.

11 By a mistake and a false reading, the common version has "the
pains of death," instead of "the chains of the under world." The
sense requires the latter. Besides, numerous manuscripts read
[non ASCII characters]. See, furthermore, Rosenmuller's thorough
criticism in loc. Likewise see Robinson's New Testament Greek
Lexicon, in [NAC].


doctrine of the atonement to explain the figures of speech in
which the apostles declare their doctrine. But, since the
Calvinistic scheme was devised by human thought to explain the New
Testament language, any scheme which explains that language as
well has equal Scripture claims to credence; any which better
explains it, with sharper, broader meaning and fewer difficulties,
has superior claims to be received.

We are now prepared to state what we believe was the meaning
originally associated with, and meant to be conveyed by, the
phrases equivalent to "redemption by the death of Christ." In
consequence of sin, the souls of all mankind, after leaving the
body, were shut up in the oblivious gloom of the under world.
Christ alone, by virtue of his perfect holiness, was not subject
to any part of this fate. But, in fulfilment of the Father's
gracious designs, he willingly submitted, upon leaving the body,
to go among the dead, that he might declare the good tidings to
them, and burst the bars of darkness, and return to life, and rise
into heaven as a pledge of the future translation of the faithful
to that celestial world, instead of their banishment into the
dismal bondage below, as hitherto. The death of Christ, then, was
the redemption of sinners, in that his death implied his ascent,
"because it was not possible that he should be holden of death;"
and his ascension visibly demonstrated the truth that God had
forgiven men their sins and would receive their souls to his own
abode on high.

Three very strong confirmations of the correctness of this
interpretation are afforded in the declarations of Peter. First,
he never even hints, in the faintest manner, that the death of
Christ was to have any effect on God, any power to change his
feeling or his government. It was not to make a purchasing
expiation for sins and thus to reconcile God to us; but it was, by
a revelation of the Father's freely pardoning love, to give us
penitence, purification, confidence, and a regenerating piety, and
so to reconcile us to God. He says in one place, in emphatic
words, that the express purpose of Christ's death was simply "that
he might lead us to God." In the same strain, in another place, he
defines the object of Christ's death to be "that we, being
delivered from sins, should live unto righteousness." It is plain
that in literal reality he refers our marvellous salvation to the
voluntary goodness of God, and not to any vicarious ransom paid in
the sacrifice of Christ, when he says, "The God of all grace hath
called us unto his eternal glory by Jesus Christ." The death of
Christ was not, then, to appease the fierce justice of God by
rectifying the claims of his inexorable law, but it was to call
out and establish in men all moral virtues by the power of faith
in the sure gift of eternal life sealed to them through the
ascension of the Savior.

For, secondly, the practical inferences drawn by Peter from the
death of Christ, and the exhortations founded upon it, are
inconsistent with the prevailing theory of the atonement. Upon
that view the apostle would have said, "Christ has paid the debt
and secured a seat in heaven for you, elected ones: therefore
believe in the sufficiency of his offerings, and exult." But not
so. He calls on us in this wise: "Forasmuch as Christ hath
suffered for us, arm yourselves with the same mind." "Christ
suffered for you, leaving an example that ye should follow his
steps." The whole burden of his practical argument based on the
mission of Christ is, the obligation of a religious spirit and of
pure morals. He does not speak, as many modern sectarists have
spoken, of the "filthy rags of righteousness;" but he says, "Live
no longer in sins," "have a meek and quiet spirit, which is in
the sight of God of great price," "be ye holy in all manner of
conversation," "purify your souls by obedience to the truth,"
"be ye a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices," "have
a good conscience," "avoid evil and do good," "above all, have
fervent love, for love will cover a multitude of sins." No candid
person can peruse the epistle and not see that the great moral
deduced in it from the mission of Christ is this: Since heaven
is offered you, strive by personal virtue to be prepared for it
at the judgment which shall soon come. The disciple is not told
to trust in the merits of Jesus; but he is urged to "abstain
from evil," and "sanctify the Lord God in his heart," and
"love the brethren," and "obey the laws," and "do well,"
"girding up the loins of his mind in sobriety and hope."
This is not Calvinism.

The third fortification of this exposition is furnished by the
following fact. According to our view, the death of Christ is
emphasized, not on account of any importance in itself, but as the
necessary condition preliminary to his resurrection, the
humiliating prelude to his glorious ascent into heaven. The really
essential, significant thing is not his suffering, vicarious
death, but his triumphing, typical ascension. Now, the plain,
repeated statements of Peter strikingly coincide with this
representation. He says, "God raised Christ up from the dead, and
gave him glory, [that is, received him into heaven,] that your
faith and hope might be in God." Again he writes, "Blessed be God,
who according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a
lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead unto
an incorruptible inheritance in heaven." Still again, he declares
that "the figure of baptism, signifying thereby the answer of a
good conscience toward God, saves us by the resurrection of Jesus
Christ, who is gone into heaven." According to the commonly
received doctrine, instead of these last words the apostle ought
to have said, "saves us by the death of him who suffered in
expiation of our sins." He does not say so. Finally, in the
intrepid speech that Peter made before the Jewish council,
referring to their wicked crucifixion of Jesus, he says, "Him hath
God raised up to his own right hand, to be a Leader and a Savior,
to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins." How plainly
remission of sins is here predicated, not through Christ's
ignominious suffering, but through his heavenly exaltation! That
exaltation showed in dramatic proof that by God's grace the
dominion of the lower world was about to be broken and an access
to the celestial world to be vouchsafed.

If Christ bought off our merited punishment and earned our
acceptance, then salvation can no more be "reckoned of grace, but
of debt." But the whole New Testament doctrine is, "that sinners
are justified freely through the redemption that is in Christ
Jesus." "The redemption that is in Christ"! Take these words
literally, and they yield no intelligible meaning. The sense
intended to be conveyed or suggested by them depends on
interpretation; and here disagreement arises. The Calvinist says
they mean the redemption undertaken, achieved, by Christ. We say
they mean the redemption proclaimed, brought to light, by Christ.
The latter explanation is as close to the language as the former.
Neither is unequivocally established by the statement itself. We
ought therefore to adopt the one which is at once most rational
and plausible in itself, and most in harmony with the peculiar
opinions and culture of the person by whom, and of the time when,
the document was written. All these considerations, historical,
philosophical, and moral, undeniably favor our interpretation,
leaving nothing to support the other save the popular theological
belief of modern Protestant Christendom, a belief which is the
gradual product of a few great, mistaken teachers like Augustine
and Calvin.

We do not find the slightest difficulty in explaining sharply and
broadly, with all its niceties of phraseology, each one of the
texts urged in behalf of the prevalent doctrine of the atonement,
without involving the essential features of that doctrine. Three
demonstrable assertions of fact afford us all the requisite
materials. First, it was a prevalent belief with the Jews, that,
since death was the penalty of sin, the suffering of death was in
itself expiatory of the sins of the dying man.12 Lightfoot says,
"It is a common and most known doctrine of the Talmudists, that
repentance and ritual sacrifice expiate some sins, death the rest.
Death wipes off all unexpiated sins."13 Tholuck says, "It was a
Jewish opinion that the death of the just atoned for the
people."14 He quotes from the Talmud an explicit assertion to that
effect, and refers to several learned authorities for further
citations and confirmations.

Secondly, the apostles conceived Christ to be sinless, and
consequently not on his own account exposed to death and subject
to Hades. If, then, death was an atonement for sins, and he was
sinless, his voluntary death was expiatory for the sins of the
world; not in an arbitrary and unheard of way, according to the
Calvinistic scheme, but in the common way, according to a
Pharisaic notion. And thirdly, it was partly a Jewish expectation
concerning the Messiah that he would,15 and partly an apostolic
conviction concerning Christ that he did, break the bolts of the
old Hadean prison and open the way for human ascent to heaven. As
Jerome says, "Before Christ Abraham was in hell, after Christ the
crucified thief was in paradise;"16 for "until the advent of
Christ all alike went down into the under world, heaven being shut
until Christ threw aside the flaming sword that turned every
way."17

These three thoughts that death is the expiatory penalty of sin,
that Christ was himself sinless, that he died as God's envoy to
release the prisoners of gloom and be their pioneer to bliss leave
nothing to be desired in explaining the sacrificial terms and
kindred phrases employed by the apostles in reference to his
mission.

Without question, Peter, like his companions, looked for the
speedy return of Christ from heaven to judge all, and to save the
worthy. Indications of this belief are numerously afforded in his
words. "The end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober
and watch unto prayer." "You shall give account to him that is
ready to judge the quick and the dead." Here the common idea of
that time namely, that the resurrection of the captives of the

12 Witsius, Dissertatio de Seculo hoc et futuro, sect. 8.

13 Lightfoot on Matt. xii. 32.

14 Comm. on John i. 29.

15 "God shall liberate the Israelites from the under world."
Bertholdt's Christologia Judaorum, sect. xxxiv., (De descensu
Messia ad Inferos,) note 2. "The captives shall ascend from the
under world, Shechinah at their head." Schoettgen de Messia, lib.
vi. cap. 5, sect. 1.

16 See his Letter to Heliodorus, Epiat. XXXV., Benedict. ed.

17 Comm. in Eccles. cap. iii. 21, et cap. ix.


under world would occur at the return of Christ is undoubtedly
implied. "Salvation is now ready to be revealed in the last time."
"That your faith may be found unto praise and honor and glory at
the appearing of Jesus Christ." "Be sober, and hope to the end for
the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of
Jesus Christ." "Be ye examples to the flock, and when the chief
Shepherd shall appear ye shall receive an unfading crown of
glory." "God shall send Jesus Christ, . . . whom the heavens must
receive until the times of the restitution of all things." It is
evident that the author of these passages expected the second
coming of the Lord Jesus to consummate the affairs of his kingdom.

If the apostle had formed definite conclusions as to the final
fate of unbelieving, wicked, reprobate men, he has not stated
them. He undeniably implies certain general facts upon the
subject, but leaves all the details in obscurity. He adjures his
readers with exceeding earnestness he over and over again adjures
them to forsake every manner of sinful life, to strive for every
kind of righteous conversation, that by faith and goodness they
may receive the salvation of their souls. He must have supposed an
opposite fate in some sort to impend over those who did otherwise,
rejecting Christ, "revelling in lasciviousness and idolatry."
Everywhere he makes the distinction between the faithful and the
wicked prominent, and presents the idea that Christ shall come to
judge them both, and shall reward the former with gladness,
crowns, and glory; while it is just as clearly implied as if he
had said it that the latter shall be condemned and punished. When
a judge sits in trial on the good and the bad, and accepts those,
plainly the inference is that he rejects these, unless the
contrary be stated. What their doom is in its nature, what in its
duration, is neither declared, nor inferrible from what is
declared. All that the writer says on this point is substantially
repeated or contained in the fourth chapter of his epistle, from
verses 12 to 19. A slight explanatory paraphrase of it will make
the position clear so far as it can be made clear. "Christian
believers, in the fiery trials which are to try you, stand firm,
even rejoicing that you are fellow sufferers with Christ, a pledge
that when his glory is revealed you shall partake of it with him.
See to it that you are free from crime, free from sins for which
you ought to suffer; then, if persecuted and slain for your
Christian profession and virtues, falter not. The terrible time
preceding the second advent of your Master is at hand. The
sufferings of that time will begin with the Christian household;
but how much more dreadful will be the sufferings of the close of
that time among the disobedient that spurn the gospel of God! If
the righteous shall with great difficulty be snatched from the
perils and woes encompassing that time, surely it will happen very
much worse with ungodly sinners. Therefore let all who suffer in
obedience to God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well
doing."

The souls of men were confined in the under world for sin. Christ
came to turn men from sin and despair to holiness and a
reconciling faith in God. He went to the dead to declare to them
the good tidings of pardon and approaching deliverance through the
free grace of God. He rose into heaven to demonstrate and visibly
exhibit the redemption of men from the under world doom of
sinners. He was soon to return to the earth to complete the
unfinished work of his commissioned kingdom. His accepted ones
should then be taken to glory and reward. The rejected ones
should Their fate is left in gloom, without a definite clew.

CHAPTER II.

DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE IN THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS.

THE Epistle to the Hebrews was written by some person who was
originally a Jew, afterwards a zealous Christian. He was
unquestionably a man of remarkable talent and eloquence and of
lofty religious views and feelings. He lived in the time of the
immediate followers of Jesus, and apparently was acquainted with
them. The individual authorship it is now impossible to determine
with certainty. Many of the most learned, unprejudiced, and able
critics have ascribed it to Apollos, an Alexandrian Jew, a compeer
of Paul and a fellow citizen of Philo. This opinion is more
probable than any other. Indeed, so numerous are the resemblances
of thoughts and words in the writings of Philo to those in this
epistle, that even the wild conjecture has been hazarded that
Philo himself at last became a Christian and wrote to his Hebrew
countrymen the essay which has since commonly passed for Paul's.
No one can examine the hundreds of illustrations of the epistle
gathered from Philo by Carpzov, in his learned but ill reasoned
work, without being greatly impressed. The supposition which has
repeatedly been accepted and urged, that this composition was
first written in Hebrew, and afterwards translated into Greek by
another person, is absurd, in view of the masterly skill and
eloquence, critical niceties, and felicities in the use of
language, displayed in it. We could easily fill a paragraph with
the names of those eminent in the Church such as Tertullian,
Hippolytus, Erasmus, Luther, Le Clerc, and Neander who have
concluded that, whoever the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews
was, he was not Paul. The list of those names would reach from the
Egyptian Origen, whose candor and erudition were without parallel
in his age, to the German Bleek, whose masterly and exhaustive
work is a monument of united talent and toil, leaving little to be
desired. It is not within our present aim to argue this point: we
will therefore simply refer the reader to the thorough and
unanswerable discussion and settlement of it by Norton.1

The general object of the composition is, by showing the
superiority of the Christian system to the Hebrew, to arm the
converts from Judaism to whom it is addressed against the
temptations to desert the fulfilling faith of Christ and to return
to the emblematic faith of their fathers. This aim gives a
pervading cast and color to the entire treatment to the reasoning
and especially to the chosen imagery of the epistle. Omitting, for
the most part, whatever is not essentially interwoven with the
subject of death, the resurrection, and future existence, and with
the mission of Christ in relation to those subjects, we advance to
the consideration of the views which the epistle presents or
implies concerning those points. It is to be premised that we are
forced to construct from fragments and hints the theological
fabric that stood in the mind of the writer. The suggestion also
is quite obvious that, since the letter is addressed solely to the
Hebrews and describes Christianity as the completion of

1 Christian Examiner, vols. for 1827 29.


Judaism, an acquaintance with the characteristic Hebrew opinions
and hopes at that time may be indispensable for a full
comprehension of its contents.

The view of the intrinsic nature and rank of Christ on which the
epistle rests seems very plainly to be that great Logos doctrine
which floated in the philosophy of the apostolic age and is so
fully developed in the Gospel of John: "The Logos of God, alive,
energetic, irresistibly piercing, to whose eyes all things are
bare and open;" "first begotten of God;" "faithful to Him that
made him;" inferior to God, superior to all beside; "by whom God
made the worlds;" whose seat is at the right hand of God, the
angels looking up to him, and "the world to come put in subjection
to him." The author, thus assuming the immensely super human rank
and the pre existence of Christ, teaches that, by the good will of
God, he descended to the world in the form of a man, to save them
that were without faith and in fear, them that were lost through
sin. God "bringeth in the first begotten into the world." "When he
cometh into the world he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou
wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared for me." "Jesus was
made a little while inferior to the angels." "Forasmuch, then, as
the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself
likewise partook of the same;" that is, in order to pass through
an experience like that of those whom he wished to deliver, he
assumed their nature. "He taketh not hold of angels, but he taketh
hold of the seed of Abraham:" in other words, he aimed not to
assist angels, but men. These passages, taken in connection with
the whole scope and drift of the document in which they are found,
declare that Jesus was a spirit in heaven, but came to the earth,
taking upon him a mortal frame of flesh and blood.

Why he did this is the question that naturally arises next. We do
not see how it is possible for any person to read the epistle
through intelligently, in the light of an adequate knowledge of
contemporary Hebrew opinions, and not perceive that the author's
answer to that inquiry is, that Christ assumed the guise and fate
of humanity in order to die; and died in order to rise from the
dead; and rose from the dead in order to ascend to heaven; and
ascended to heaven in order to reveal the grace of God opening the
way for the celestial exaltation and blessedness of the souls of
faithful men. We will commence the proof and illustration of these
statements by bringing together some of the principal passages in
the epistle which involve the objects of the mission of Christ,
and then stating the thought that chiefly underlies and explains
them.

"We see Jesus who was made a little while inferior to the angels,
in order that by the kindness of God he might taste death for
every man through the suffering of death crowned with glory and
honor." With the best critics, we have altered the arrangement of
the clauses in the foregoing verse, to make the sense clearer. The
exact meaning is, that the exaltation of Christ to heaven after
his death authenticated his mission, showed that his death had a
divine meaning for men; that is, showed that they also should rise
to heaven. "When he had by himself made a purification of our
sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high." "For
this cause he is the Mediator of the new covenant, that, his death
having occurred, (for the redemption of the transgressions under
the first covenant,) they which are called might enter upon
possession of the promised eternal inheritance." The force of this
last passage, with its context, turns on the double sense of the
Greek word for covenant, which likewise means a will. Several
statements in the epistle show the author's belief that the
subjects of the old dispensation had the promise of immortal life
in heaven, but had never realized the thing itself.2 Now, he
maintains the purpose of the new dispensation to be the actual
revelation and bestowment of the reality which anciently was only
promised and typically foreshadowed; and in the passage before us
he figures Christ the author of the Christian covenant as the
maker of a will by which believers are appointed heirs of a
heavenly immortality. He then following the analogy of
testamentary legacies and legatees  describes those heirs as
"entering on possession of that eternal inheritance" "by the death
of the Testator." He was led to employ precisely this language by
two obvious reasons: first, for the sake of that paronomasia of
which he was evidently fond; secondly, by the fact that it really
was the death of Christ, with the succeeding resurrection and
ascension, which demonstrated both the reality of the thing
promised in the will and the authority of the Testator to bestow
it.

All the expressions thus far cited, and kindred ones scattered
through the work, convey a clear and consistent meaning, with
sharp outlines and coherent details, if we suppose their author
entertained the following general theory; and otherwise they
cannot be satisfactorily explained. A dreadful fear of death,
introduced by sin, was tyrannizing over men. In consequence of
conscious alienation from God through transgressions, they
shuddered at death. The writer does not say what there was in
death that made it so feared; but we know that the prevailing
Hebrew conception was, that death led the naked soul into the
silent, dark, and dreary region of the under world, a doleful
fate, from which they shrank with sadness at the best, guilt
converting that natural melancholy into dread foreboding. In the
absence of any evidence or presumption whatever to the contrary,
we are authorized, nay, rather forced, to conclude that such a
conception is implied in the passages we are considering. Now, the
mission of Jesus was to deliver men from that fear and bondage, by
assuring them that God would forgive sin and annul its
consequence. Instead of banishing their disembodied spirits into
the sepulchral Sheol, he would take them to himself into the glory
above the firmament. This aim Christ accomplished by literally
exemplifying the truths it implies; that is, by personally
assuming the lot of man, dying, rising from among the spirits of
the dead, and ascending beyond the veil into heaven. By his death
and victorious ascent "he purged our sins," "redeemed
transgressions," "overthrew him that has the power of death," in
the sense that he thereby, as the writer thought, swept away the
supposed train of evils caused by sin, namely, all the
concomitants of a banishment after death into the cheerless
subterranean empire.

It will be well now to notice more fully, in the author's scheme,
the idea that Christ did locally ascend into the heavens, "into
the presence of God," "where he ever liveth," and

2 xi. 13, 16, et al. See chap. x. 36,

where to receive the promise most plainly means to obtain the thing
promised, as it does several times in the epistle.

So Paul, in his speech at Antioch, (Acts xiii. 32, 33,) says,
"We declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which
was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us
their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again" that by
this ascent he for the first time opened the way for others to
ascend to him where he is, avoiding the doom of Hades.

"We have a great High Priest, who has passed through the
heavens, Jesus, the Son of God." "Christ is not entered into the
most holy place, made with hands, the figure of the true, but into
heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us."
Indeed, that Jesus, in a material and local sense, rose to heaven,
is a conception fundamental to the epistle and prominent on all
its face. It is much more necessary for us to show that the author
believed that the men who had previously died had not risen
thither, but that it was the Savior's mission to open the way for
their ascension.

It is extremely significant, in the outset, that Jesus is called
"the first leader and the bringer to the end of our faith;" for
the words in this clause which the common version renders "author"
and "finisher"3 mean, from their literal force and the latent
figure they contain, "a guide who runs through the course to the
goal so as to win and receive the prize, bringing us after him to
the same consummation." Still more striking is the passage we
shall next adduce. Having enumerated a long list of the choicest
worthies of the Old Testament, the writer adds, "These all, having
obtained testimony through faith, did not realize the promise,4
God having provided a better thing for us, that they without us
should not be perfected," should not be brought to the end, the
end of human destiny, that is, exaltation to heaven. Undoubtedly
the author here means to say that the faithful servants of God
under the Mosaic dispensation were reserved in the under world
until the ascension of the Messiah. Augustine so explains the text
in hand, declaring that Christ was the first that ever rose from
the under world.5 The same exposition is given by Origen,6 and
indeed by nearly every one of the Fathers who has undertaken to
give a critical interpretation of the passage. This doctrine
itself was held by Catholic Christendom for a thousand years; is
now held by the Roman, Greek, and English Churches; but is, for
the most part, rejected or forgotten by the dissenting sects, from
two causes. It has so generally sunk out of sight among us, first,
from ignorance, ignorance of the ancient learning and opinions on
which it rested and of which it was the necessary completion;
secondly, from rationalistic speculations, which, leading men to
discredit the truth of the doctrine, led them arbitrarily to deny
its existence in the Scripture, making them perversely force the
texts that state it and wilfully blink the texts that hint it.
Whether this be a proper and sound method of proceeding in
critical investigations any one may judge. To us it seems equally
unmanly and immoral. We know of but one justifiable course, and
that is, with patience, with earnestness, and with all possible
aids, to labor to discern the real and full meaning of the words
according to the understanding and intention of the author. We do
so elsewhere, regardless of consequences. No other method, in the
case of the Scriptures, is exempt from guilt.

The meaning (namely, to bring to the end) which we have above
attributed to the word [NAC](translated in the common version to
make perfect) is the first meaning and the

3 Robinson's Lexicon, first edition, under [NAC]; also see Philo,
cited there.

4 Ch. x. 36.

5 Epist. CLXIV. sect. ix., ed. Benedictina.

6 De Principiis, lib. ii. cap. 2.


etymological force of the word. That we do not refine upon it
over nicely in the present instance, the following examples from
various parts of the epistle unimpeachably witness. "For it was
proper that God, in bringing many sons unto glory, should make him
who was the first leader of their salvation perfect [reach the
end] through sufferings;" that is, should raise him to heaven
after he had passed through death, that he, having himself arrived
at the glorious heavenly goal of human destiny, might bring others
to it. "Christ, being made perfect," (brought through all the
intermediate steps to the end,) "became the cause of eternal
salvation to all them that obey him; called of God an high
priest." The context, and the after assertion of the writer that
the priesthood of Jesus is exercised in heaven, show that the word
"perfected," as employed here, signifies exalted to the right hand
of God. "Perfection" (bringing unto the end) "was not by the
Levitical priesthood." "The law perfected nothing, but it was the
additional introduction of a better hope by which we draw near
unto God." "The law maketh men high priests which have infirmity,
which are not suffered to continue, by reason of death; but the
word of the oath after the law maketh the Son perfect for
evermore," bringeth him to the end, namely, an everlasting
priesthood in the heavens. That Christian believers are not under
the first covenant, whereby, through sin, men commencing with the
blood of Abel, the first death were doomed to the lower world, but
are under the second covenant, whereby, through the gracious
purpose of God, taking effect in the blood of Christ, the first
resurrection, they are already by faith, in imagination,
translated to heaven, this is plainly what the author teaches in
the following words: "Ye are not come to the palpable mount that
burneth with fire, and to blackness and tempest, where so terrible
was the sight that Moses exceedingly trembled, but ye are come to
Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable
company of angels, and to God, and to the spirits of the perfected
just, and to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, and to the
lustral blood which speaks better things than that of Abel." The
connection here demonstrates that the souls of the righteous are
called "perfected," as having arrived at the goal of their destiny
in heaven. Again, the author, when speaking of the sure and
steadfast hope of eternal life, distinguishes Jesus as a
[non-ASCII characters], one who runs before as a scout or leader:
"the Forerunner, who for us has entered within the veil," that is,
has passed beyond the firmament into the presence of God. The Jews
called the outward or lowermost heaven the veil.7 But the most
conclusive consideration upon the opinion we are arguing for and
it must be entirely convincing is to be drawn from the first half
of the ninth chapter. To appreciate it, it is requisite to
remember that the Rabbins with whose notions our author was
familiar and some of which he adopts in his reasoning were
accustomed to compare the Jewish temple and city with the temple
and city of Jehovah above the sky, considering the former as
miniature types of the latter. This mode of thought was originally
learned by philosophical Rabbins from the Platonic doctrine of
ideas, without doubt, and was entertained figuratively,
spiritually; but in the unreflecting, popular mind the Hebraic
views to which it gave rise were soon grossly materialized and
located. They also derived the same conception from God's command
to Moses when he was about to build the tabernacle:

7 Schoettgen, Hora Hebraica et Talmudica in 2 Cor. xii. 2.


"See thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee
in the mount." They refined upon these words with many conceits.
They compared the three divisions of the temple to the three
heavens: the outer Court of the Gentiles corresponded with the
first heaven, the Court of the Israelites with the second heaven,
and the Holy of Holies represented the third heaven or the very
abode of God. Josephus writes, "The temple has three compartments:
the first two for men, the third for God, because heaven is
inaccessible to men."8 Now, our author says, referring to this
triple symbolic arrangement of the temple, "The priests went
always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service, but
into the second went the high priest alone, once every year, not
without blood; this, which was a figure for the time then present,
signifying that the way into the holiest of all9 was not yet laid
open; but Christ being come, an high priest of the future good
things, by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place,
having obtained eternal deliverance." The points of the comparison
here instituted are these: On the great annual day of atonement,
after the death of the victim, the Hebrew high priest went into
the adytum of the earthly temple, but none could follow; Jesus,
the Christian high priest, went after his own death into the
adytum of the heavenly temple, and enabled the faithful to enter
there after him. Imagery like the fore going, which implies a
Sanctum Sanctorum above, the glorious prototype of that below, is
frequent in the Talmud.10 To remove all uncertainty from the
exposition thus presented, if any doubt linger, it is only
necessary to cite one more passage from the epistle. "We have,
therefore, brethren, by the blood of Jesus, leading into the
holiest, a free road, a new and blessed road, which he hath
inaugurated for us through the veil, that is to say, through his
flesh." As there was no entrance for the priest into the holiest
of the temple save by the removal of the veil, so Christ could not
enter heaven except by the removal of his body. The blood of Jesus
here, as in most cases in the New Testament, means the death of
Jesus, involving his ascension. Chrysostom, commenting on these
verses, says, in explanation of the word [non-ASCII characters],
"Christ laid out the road and was the first to go over it.
The first way was of death, leading [ad inferos] to the under
world; the other is of life," leading to heaven.

The interpretation we have given of these passages reconciles
and blends that part of the known contemporary opinions which
applies to them, and explains and justifies the natural force
of the imagery and words employed.

Its accuracy seems to us unquestionable by any candid person who is
competently acquainted with the subject. The substance of it is,
that Jesus came from God to the earth as a man, laid down his life
that he might rise from the dead into heaven again, into the real
Sanctum Sanctorum of the universe, thereby proving that faithful
believers also shall rise thither, being thus delivered, after the
pattern of his evident deliverance, from the imprisonment of the
realm of death below.

We now proceed to quote and unfold five distinct passages, not yet
brought forward, from the epistle, each of which proves that we
are not mistaken in attributing to the writer

8 Antiq. lib. iii. cap. 6, sect. 4; ibid. cap. 7, sect. 7.

9 Philo declares, "The whole universe is one temple of God, in
which the holiest of all is heaven." De Monarchia, p. 222, ed.
Mangey.

10 Schoettgen, Dissertatio de Hierosolyma Coelesti, cap. 2, sect.
9.


of it the above stated general theory. In the first verse which we
shall adduce it is certain that the word "death" includes the
entrance of the soul into the subterranean kingdom of ghosts. It
is written of Christ that, "in the days of his flesh, when he had
earnestly prayed to Him that was able to do it, to save him from
death, he was heard," and was advanced to be a high priest in the
heavens, "was made higher than the heavens." Now, obviously, God
did not rescue Christ from dying, but he raised him, [non-ASCII
characters], from the world of the dead.

So Chrysostom declares, referring to this very text, "Not to be
retained in the region of the dead, but to be delivered from it,
is virtually not to die."11 Moreover, the phrase above translated
"to save him from death" may be translated, with equal propriety,
"to bring him back safe from death."

The Greek verb [non-ASCII characters], to save, is often so used
to denote the safe restoration of a warrior from an incursion into
an enemy's domain. The same use made here by our author of the term
"death" we have also found made by Philo Judaus. "The wise," Philo
says, "inherit the Olympic and heavenly region to dwell in, always
studying to go above; the bad inherit the innermost parts of the
under world, always laboring to die."12 The antithesis between
going above and dying, and the mention of the under world in
connection with the latter, prove that to die here means, or at
least includes, going below after death.

The Septuagint version of the Old Testament twice translates Sheol
by the word "death."13 The Hebrew word for death, maveth, is
repeatedly used for the abode of the dead.14 And the nail of the
interpretation we are urging is clenched by this sentence from
Origen:  "The under world, in which souls are detained by death,
is called death."15 Bretschneider cites nearly a dozen passages
from the New Testament where, in his judgment, death is used to
denote Hades.

Again: we read that Christ took human nature upon him "in order
that by means of [his own] death he might render him that has the
power of death that is, the devil idle, and deliver those who
through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage."
It is apparent at once that the mere death of Christ, so far from
ending the sway of Death, would be giving the grim monster a new
victory, incomparably the most important he had ever achieved.
Therefore, the only way to make adequate sense of the passage is
to join with the Savior's death what followed it, namely, his
resurrection and ascension. It was the Hebrew belief that sin,
introduced by the fraud of the devil, was the cause of death, and
the doomer of the disembodied spirits of men to the lower caverns
of darkness and rest. They personified Death as king, tyrannizing
over mankind; and, unless in severe affliction, they dreaded the
hour when they must lie down under his sceptre and sink into his
voiceless kingdom of shadows. Christ broke the power of Satan,
closed his busy reign, rescued the captive souls, and relieved the
timorous hearts of the faithful, by rising triumphantly from

11 Homil. Epist. ad Heb. in hoc loc.

12 Quod a Deo mitt. Somn., p. 643, ed. Mangey.

13 2 Sam. xxii. 6; Prov. xxiii. 14.

14 Ps. ix. 13. Prov. vii, 27.

15 Comm. in Epist. ad Rom., lib. vi. cap. 6, sect. 6.: "Inferni
locus in quo anima detinebantur a morte mors appellatur."


the long bound dominion of the grave, and ascending in a new path
of light, pioneering the saints to immortal glory.

In another part of the epistle, the writer, having previously
explained that as the high priest after the death of the expiatory
goat entered the typical holy place in the temple, so Christ after
his own death entered the true holy place in the heavens, goes on
to guard against the analogy being forced any further to deny the
necessity of Christ's service being repeated, as the priest's was
annually repeated, saying, "For then he must have died many times
since the foundation of the world; but, on the contrary, [it
suffices that] once, at the close of the ages, through the
sacrifice of himself he hath appeared [in heaven] for the
abrogation of sin."16 The rendering and explanation we give of
this language are those adopted by the most distinguished
commentators, and must be justified by any one who examines the
proper punctuation of the clauses and studies the context. The
simple idea is, that, by the sacrifice of his body through death,
Christ rose and showed himself in the presence of God. The author
adds that this was done "unto the annulling of sin." It is with
reference to these last words principally that we have cited the
passage. What do they mean? In what sense can the passing of
Christ's soul into heaven after death be said to have done away
with sin? In the first place, the open manifestation of Christ's
disenthralled and risen soul in the supernal presence of God did
not in any sense abrogate sin itself, literally considered,
because all kinds of sin that ever were upon the earth among men
before have been ever since, and are now. In the second place,
that miraculous event did not annul and remove human guilt, the
consciousness of sin and responsibility for it, because, in fact,
men feel the sting and load of guilt now as badly as ever; and the
very epistle before us, as well as the whole New Testament,
addresses Christians as being exposed to constant and varied
danger of incurring guilt and woe. But, in the third place, the
ascension of Jesus did show very plainly to the apostles and first
Christians that what they supposed to be the great outward penalty
of sin was annulled; that it was no longer a necessity for the
spirit to descend to the lower world after death; that fatal doom,
entailed on the generations of humanity by sin, was now abrogated
for all who were worthy. Such, we have not a doubt, is the true
meaning of the declaration under review.

This exposition is powerfully confirmed by the two succeeding
verses, which we will next pass to examine. "As it is appointed
for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ,
having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a
second time, without sin, for salvation unto those expecting him."
Man dies once, and then passes into that state of separate
existence in the under world which is the legal judgment for sin.
Christ, taking upon himself, with the nature of man, the burden of
man's lot and doom, died once, and then rose from the dead by the
gracious power of the Father, bearing away the outward penalty of
sin. He will come again into the world, uninvolved, the next time,
with any of the accompaniments or consequences of sin, to save
them that look for him, and victoriously lead them into heaven
with him. In this instance, as all through the writings of the
apostles,

16 Griesbach in loc.; and Rosenmuller.


sin, death, and the under world are three segments of a circle,
each necessarily implying the others. The same remark is to be
made of the contrasted terms righteousness, grace, immortal life
above the sky; 17 the former being traced from the sinful and
fallen Adam, the latter from the righteous and risen Christ.

The author says, "If the blood of bulls and goats sanctifies unto
the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of
Christ, who having18 an eternal spirit offered himself faultless
to God, cleanse your consciousness!" The argument, fully
expressed, is, if the blood of perishable brutes cleanses the
body, the blood of the immortal Christ cleanses the soul. The
implied inference is, that as the former fitted the outward man
for the ritual privileges of the temple, so the latter fitted the
inward man for the spiritual privileges of heaven. This appears
clearly from what follows in the next chapter, where the writer
says, in effect, that "it is not possible for the blood of bulls
and of goats to take away sins, however often it is offered, but
that Christ, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins, forever
sat down at the right hand of God." The reason given for the
efficacy of Christ's offering is that he sat down at the right
hand of God. When the chosen animals were sacrificed for sins,
they utterly perished, and there was an end. But when Christ was
offered, his soul survived and rose into heaven, an evident sign
that the penalty of sin, whereby men were doomed to the under
world after death, was abolished. This perfectly explains the
language; and nothing else, it seems to us, can perfectly explain
it.

That Christ would speedily reappear from heaven in triumph, to
judge his foes and save his disciples, was a fundamental article
in the primitive Church scheme of the last things. There are
unmistakable evidences of such a belief in our author. "For yet a
little while, and the coming one will come, and will not delay."
"Provoke one another unto love and good works, . . . so much the
more as ye see the day drawing near." There is another reference
to this approaching advent, which, though obscure, affords
important testimony. Jesus, when he had ascended, "sat down at the
right hand of God, henceforward waiting till his enemies be made
his footstool." That is to say, he is tarrying in heaven for the
appointed time to arrive when he shall come into the world again
to consummate the full and final purposes of his mission. We may
leave this division of the subject established beyond all
question, by citing a text which explicitly states the idea in so
many words: "Unto them that look for him he shall appear the
second time." That expectation of the speedy second coming of the
Messiah which haunted the early Christians, therefore,
unquestionably occupied the mind of the composer of the Epistle to
the Hebrews.

If the writer of this epistolary essay had a firm and detailed
opinion as to the exact fate to be allotted to wicked and
persistent unbelievers, his allusions to that opinion are too few
and vague for us to determine precisely what it was. We will
briefly quote the substance of what he says upon the subject, and
add a word in regard to the inferences it does, or it does not,
warrant. "If under the Mosaic dispensation every transgression
received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so
great a salvation, first proclaimed by the

17 Neander, Planting and Training of the Church, Ryland's trans.
p. 298.

18 [Non-ASCII characters] is often used in the sense of with,
or possessing. See Wahl's New Testament Lexicon.


Lord?" "As the Israelites that were led out of Egypt by Moses, on
account of their unbelief and provocations, were not permitted to
enter the promised land, but perished in the wilderness, so let us
fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any
of you should seem to come short of it." Christ "became the cause
of eternal salvation to all them that obey him." "He hath brought
unto the end forever them that are sanctified." It will be
observed that these last specifications are partial, and that
nothing is said of the fate of those not included under them. "It
is impossible for those who were once enlightened, . . . if they
shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance. . . . But,
beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, even things that
accompany salvation." "We are not of them who draw back unto the
destruction, but of them who believe unto the preservation, of the
soul." "If we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of
the truth, there is no longer left a sacrifice for sins, but a
certain fearful looking for of judgment, and of fiery indignation
to devour the adversaries." "It is a fearful thing to fall into
the hands of the living God." "If they escaped not who refused him
that spoke on earth, [Moses,] much more we shall not escape if we
turn away from him that speaks from heaven," (Christ.) In view of
the foregoing passages, which represent the entire teaching of the
epistle in relation to the ultimate destination of sinners, we
must assert as follows. First, the author gives no hint of the
doctrine of literal torments in a local hell. Secondly, he is
still further from favoring nay, he unequivocally denies the
doctrine of unconditional, universal salvation. Thirdly, he either
expected that the reprobate would be absolutely destroyed at the
second coming of Christ,  which does not seem to be declared; or
that they would be exiled forever from the kingdom of glory into
the sad and slumberous under world, which is not clearly implied;
or that they would be punished according to their evil, and then,
restored to Divine favor, be exalted into heaven with the original
elect, which is not written in the record; or, lastly, that they
would be disposed of in some way unknown to him, which he does not
avow. He makes no allusion to such a terrific conception as is
expressed by our modern use of the word hell: he emphatically
predicates conditionality of salvation, he threatens sinners in
general terms with severe judgment. Further than this he has
neglected to state his faith. If it reached any further, he has
preferred to leave the statement of it in vague and impressive
gloom.

Let us stop a moment and epitomize the steps we have taken. Jesus,
the Son of God, was a spirit in heaven. He came upon the earth in
the guise of humanity to undergo its whole experience and to be
its redeemer. He died, passed through the vanquished kingdom of
the grave, and rose into heaven again, to exemplify to men that
through the grace of God a way was opened to escape the under
world, the great external penalty of sin, and reach a better
country, even a heavenly. From his seat at God's right hand, he
should ere long descend to complete God's designs in his mission,
judge his enemies and lead his accepted followers to heaven. The
all important thought running through the length and breadth of
the treatise is the ascension of Christ from the midst of the dead
[non-ASCII characters]into the celestial presence, as the pledge of
our ascent. "Among the things of which we are speaking, this is the
capital consideration, [non-ASCII characters] the most essential
point, "that we have such a high priest, who hath sat down at the
right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens." Neander
says, though apparently without perceiving the extent of its
ulterior significance, "The conception of the resurrection in
relation to the whole Christian system lies at the basis of this
epistle."

A brief sketch and exposition of the scope of the epistle in
general will cast light and confirmation upon the interpretation
we have given of its doctrine of a future life in particular. The
one comprehensive design of the writer, it is perfectly clear, is
to prove to the Christian converts from the Hebrews the
superiority of Christianity to Judaism, and thus to arm them
against apostasy from the new covenant to the ancient one. He
begins by showing that Christ, the bringer of the gospel, is
greater than the angels, by whom the law was given,19 and
consequently that his word is to be reverenced still more than
theirs.20 Next he argues that Jesus, the Christian Mediator, as
the Son of God, is crowned with more authority and is worthy of
more glory than Moses, the Jewish mediator, as the servant of God;
and that as Moses led his people towards the rest of Canaan, so
Christ leads his people towards the far better rest of heaven. He
then advances to demonstrate the superiority of Christ to the
Levitical priesthood. This he establishes by pointing out the
facts that the Levitical priest had a transient honor, being after
the law of a carnal commandment, his offerings referring to the
flesh, while Christ has an unchangeable priesthood, being after
the power of an endless life, his offering referring to the soul;
that the Levitical priest once a year went into the symbolic holy
place in the temple, unable to admit others, but Jesus rose into
the real holy place itself above, opening a way for all faithful
disciples to follow; and that the Hebrew temple and ceremonies
were but the small type and shadow of the grand archetypal temple
in heaven, where Christ is the immortal High Priest, fulfilling in
the presence of God the completed reality of what Judaism merely
miniatured, an emblematic pattern that could make nothing perfect.
"By him therefore let us continually offer to God the sacrifice of
praise." The author intersperses, and closes with, exhortations to
steadfast faith, pure morals, and fervent piety.

There is one point in this epistle which deserves, in its
essential connection with the doctrine of the future life, a
separate treatment. It is the subject of the Atonement. The
correspondence between the sacrifices in the Hebrew ritual and the
sufferings and death of Christ would, from the nature of the case,
irresistibly suggest the sacrificial terms and metaphors which our
author uses in a large part of his argument. Moreover, his precise
aim in writing compelled him to make these resemblances as
prominent, as significant, and as effective as possible. Griesbach
says well, in his learned and able essay, "When it was impossible
for the Jews, lately brought to the Christian faith, to tear away
the attractive associations of their ancestral religion, which
were twined among the very roots of their minds, and they were
consequently in danger of falling away from Christ, the most
ingenious author of this epistle met the case by a masterly
expedient. He instituted a careful comparison, showing the
superiority of Christianity to Judaism even in regard to the very
point where the latter seemed so much more glorious, namely, in
priesthoods, temples,

19 Heb. i. 4 14, ii. 2; Acts vii. 53; Gal. iii.

20 Heb. ii. 1 3.


altars, victims, lustrations, and kindred things."21 That these
comparisons are sometimes used by the writer analogically,
figuratively, imaginatively, for the sake of practical
illustration and impression, not literally as logical expressions
and proofs of a dogmatic theory of atonement, is made sufficiently
plain by the following quotations. "The bodies of those beasts
whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest for
sin are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he
might sanctify the people through his own blood, suffered without
the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp,
bearing his reproach." Every one will at once perceive that these
sentences are not critical statements of theological truths, but
are imaginative expressions of practical lessons, spiritual
exhortations. Again, we read, "It was necessary that the patterns
of the heavenly things should be purified with sacrificed animals,
but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than
these." Certainly it is only by an exercise of the imagination,
for spiritual impression, not for philosophical argument, that
heaven can be said to be defiled by the sins of men on earth so as
to need cleansing by the lustral blood of Christ. The writer also
appeals to his readers in these terms: "To do good and to
communicate forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well
pleased." The purely practical aim and rhetorical method with
which the sacrificial language is employed here are evident
enough. We believe it is used in the same way wherever it occurs
in the epistle.

The considerations which have convinced us, and which we think
ought to convince every unprejudiced mind, that the Calvinistic
scheme of a substitutional expiation for sin, a placation of
Divine wrath by the offering of Divine blood, was not in the mind
of the author, and does not inform his expressions when they are
rightly understood, may be briefly presented. First, the notion
that the suffering of Christ in itself ransomed lost souls, bought
the withheld grace and pardon of God for us, is confessedly
foreign and repulsive to the instinctive moral sense and to
natural reason, but is supposed to rest on the authority of
revelation. Secondly, that doctrine is nowhere specifically stated
in the epistle, but is assumed, or inferred, to explain language
which to a superficial look seems to imply it,  perhaps even seems
to be inexplicable without it;22 but in reality such a view is
inconsistent with that language when it is accurately studied. For
example, notice the following passage: "When Christ cometh into
the world," he is represented as saying, "I come to do thy will, O
God." "By the which will," the writer continues, "we are
sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus." That is,
the death of Christ, involving his resurrection and ascension into
heaven, fulfils and exemplifies the gracious purpose of God, not
purchases for us an otherwise impossible benignity. The above
cited explicit declaration is irreconcilable

21 Opuscula: De Imaginibus Judaicis in Epist. ad Hebraos.

22 That these texts were not originally understood as implying any
vicarious efficacy in Christ's painful death, but as attributing a
typical power to his triumphant resurrection, his glorious return
from the world of the dead into heaven, appears very plainly in
the following instance, Theodoret, one of the earliest explanatory
writers on the New Testament, says, while expressly speaking of
Christ's death, the sufferings through which he was perfected,
"His resurrection certified a resurrection for us all." Comm. in
Epist. ad Heb. cap. 2, v. 10.


with the thought that Christ came into the world to die that he
might appease the flaming justice and anger of God, and by
vicarious agony buy the remission of human sins: it conveys the
idea, on the contrary, that God sent Christ to prove and
illustrate to men the free fulness of his forgiving love. Thirdly,
the idea, which we think was the idea of the author of the Epistle
to the Hebrews, that Christ, by his death, resurrection, and
ascent, demonstrated to the faith of men God's merciful removal of
the supposed outward penalty of sin, namely, the banishment of
souls after death to the under world, and led the way, as their
forerunner, into heaven, this idea, which is not shocking to the
moral sense nor plainly absurd to the moral reason, as the
Augustinian dogma is, not only yields a more sharply defined,
consistent, and satisfactory explanation of all the related
language of the epistle, but is also which cannot be said of the
other doctrine in harmony with the contemporary opinions of the
Hebrews, and would be the natural and almost inevitable
development from them and complement of them in the mind of a
Pharisee, who, convinced of the death and ascension of the sinless
Jesus, the appointed Messiah, had become a Christian.

In support of the last assertion, which is the only one that needs
further proof, we submit the following considerations. In the
first place, every one familiar with the eschatology of the
Hebrews knows that at the time of Christ the belief prevailed that
the sin of Adam was the cause of death among men. In the second
place, it is equally well known that they believed the destination
of souls upon leaving the body to be the under world. Therefore
does it not follow by all the necessities of logic? they believed
that sin was the cause of the descent of disembodied spirits to
the dreary lower realm. In the third place, it is notorious and
undoubted that the Jews of that age expected that, when the
Messiah should appear, the dead of their nation, or at least a
portion of them, would be raised from the under world and be
reclothed with bodies, and would reign with him for a period on
earth and then ascend to heaven. Now, what could be more natural
than that a person holding this creed, who should be brought to
believe that Jesus was the true Messiah and after his death had
risen from among the dead into heaven, should immediately conclude
that this was a pledge or illustration of the abrogation of the
gloomy penalty of sin, the deliverance of souls from the
subterranean prison, and their admission to the presence of God
beyond the sky? We deem this an impregnable position. Every
relevant text that we consider in its light additionally fortifies
it by the striking manner in which such a conception fits, fills,
and explains the words. To justify these interpretations, and to
sustain particular features of the doctrine which they express,
almost any amount of evidence may be summoned from the writings
both of the most authoritative and of the simplest Fathers of the
Church, beginning with Justin Martyr,23 philosopher of Neapolis,
at the close of the apostolic age, and ending with John Hobart,24
Bishop of New York, in the early part of the nineteenth century.
We refrain from adducing the throng of such authorities here,
because they will be more appropriately brought forward in future
chapters.

23 Dial. cum Tryph. cap. v. et cap. lxxx.24 State of the Departed.


The intelligent reader will observe that the essential point of
difference distinguishing our exposition of the fundamental
doctrine of the composition in review, on the one hand, from the
Calvinistic interpretation of it, and, on the other hand, from the
Unitarian explanation of it, is this. Calvinism says that Christ,
by his death, his vicarious pains, appeased the wrath of God,
satisfied the claims of justice, and purchased the salvation of
souls from an agonizing and endless hell. Unitarianism says that
Christ, by his teachings, spirit, life, and miracles, revealed the
character of the Father, set an example for man, gave certainty to
great truths, and exerted moral influences to regenerate men,
redeem them from sin, and fit them for the blessed kingdom of
immortality. We understand the writer of the Epistle to the
Hebrews really to say in subtraction from what the Calvinist, in
addition to what the Unitarian, says that Christ, by his
resurrection from the tyrannous realm of death, and ascent into
the unbarred heaven, demonstrated the fact that God, in his
sovereign grace, in his free and wondrous love, would forgive
mankind their sins, remove the ancient penalty of transgression,
no more dooming their disembodied spirits to the noiseless and
everlasting gloom of the under world, but admitting them to his
own presence, above the firmamental floor, where the beams of his
chambers are laid, and where he reigneth forever, covered with
light as with a garment.

CHAPTER III.

DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE IN THE APOCALYPSE.

BEFORE attempting to exhibit the doctrine of a future life
contained in the Apocalypse, we propose to give a brief account of
what is contained, relating to this subject, in the Epistle of
James, the Epistle of Jude, and the (so called) Second Epistle of
Peter.

The references made by James to the group of points included under
the general theme of the Future Life are so few and indirect, or
vague, that it is impossible to construct any thing like a
complete doctrine from them, save by somewhat arbitrary and
uncertain suppositions. His purpose in writing, evidently, was
practical exhortation, not dogmatic instruction. His epistle
contains no expository outline of a system; but it has allusions
and hints which plainly imply some partial views belonging to a
system, while the other parts of it are left obscure. He says that
"evil desire brings forth sin, and sin, when it is finished,
brings forth death." But whether he intended this text as a moral
metaphor to convey a spiritual meaning, or as a literal statement
of a physical fact, or as a comprehensive enunciation including
both these ideas, there is nothing in the context positively to
determine. He offers not the faintest clew to his conception of
the purpose of the death and resurrection of Christ. He uses the
word for the Jewish hell but once, and then, undeniably, in a
figurative sense, saying that a "curbless and defiling tongue is
set on fire of Gehenna." He appears to adopt the common notion of
his contemporary countrymen in regard to demoniacal existences,
when he declares that "the devils believe there is one God, and
tremble," and when he exclaims, "Resist the devil, and he will
flee from you." He insists on the necessity of a faith that
evinces itself in good works and in all the virtues, as the means
of acceptance with God. He compares life to a vanishing vapor,
denounces terribly the wicked and dissolute rich men who wanton in
crimes and oppress the poor. Then he calls on the suffering
brethren to be patient under their afflictions "until the coming
of the Lord;" to abstain from oaths, be fervent in prayer, and
establish their hearts, "for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh."
"Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned:
behold, the Judge standeth before the door." Here the return of
Christ, to finish his work, sit in judgment, accept some, and
reject others, is clearly implied. And if James held this element
of the general scheme of eschatology held by the other apostles as
shown in their epistles, it is altogether probable that he also
embraced the rest of that scheme. There are no means of definitely
ascertaining whether he did or did not; though, according to a
very learned and acute theologian, another fundamental part of
that general system of doctrine is to be found in the last verse
of the epistle, where James says that "he who converts a sinner
from the error of his ways shall save a soul from death and hide a
multitude of sins." Bretschneider thinks that saving a soul from
death here means rescuing it from a descent into the under world,
the word death being often used in the New Testament as by the
Rabbins to denote the subterranean abode of the dead.1 This

1 Bretschneider, Religiose Glaubenslehre, sect. 59.


interpretation may seem forced to an unlearned reader, who
examines the text for personal profit, but will not seem at all
improbable to one who, to learn its historic meaning, reads the
text in the lighted foreground of a mind over whose background
lies a fitly arranged knowledge of all the materials requisite for
an adequate criticism. For such a man was Bretschneider himself.

The eschatological implications and references in the Epistle of
Jude are of pretty much the same character and extent as those
which we have just considered. A thorough study and analysis of
this brief document will show that it may be fairly divided into
three heads and be regarded as having three objects. First, the
writer exhorts his readers "to contend earnestly for the faith
once delivered to the saints," "to remember the words of Christ's
apostles," "to keep themselves in the love of God, looking for
eternal life." He desires to stir them up to diligence in efforts
to preserve their doctrinal purity and their personal virtue.
Secondly, he warns them of the fearful danger of depravity, pride,
and lasciviousness. This warning he enforces by several examples
of the terrible judgments of God on the rebellious and wicked in
other times. Among these instances is the case of the Cities of
the Plain, eternally destroyed by a storm of fire for their
uncleanness; also the example of the fallen angels, "who kept not
their first estate, but left their proper habitation, and are
reserved in everlasting chains and darkness unto the judgment of
the great day." The writer here adopts the doctrine of fallen
angels, and the connected views, as then commonly received among
the Jews. This doctrine is not of Christian origin, but was drawn
from Persian and other Oriental sources, as is abundantly shown,
with details, in almost every history of Jewish opinions, in
almost every Biblical commentary.2 In this connection Jude cites a
legend from an apocryphal book, called the "Ascension of Moses,"
of which Origen gives an account.3 The substance of the tradition
is, that, at the decease of Moses, Michael and Satan contended
whether the body should be given over to death or be taken up to
heaven. The appositeness of this allusion is, that, while in this
strife the archangel dared not rail against Satan, yet the wicked
men whom Jude is denouncing do not hesitate to blaspheme the
angels and to speak evil of the things which they know not. "Woe
unto such ungodly men: gluttonous spots, dewless clouds, fruitless
trees plucked up and twice dead, they are ordained to
condemnation." Thirdly, the epistle announces the second coming of
Christ, in the last time, to establish his tribunal. The Prophecy
of Enoch an apocryphal book, recovered during the present century
is quoted as saying, "Behold, the Lord cometh, with ten thousand
of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict the
ungodly of their ungodly deeds."4 Jude, then, anticipated the
return of the Lord, at "the judgment of the great day," to judge
the world; considered the under world, or abode of the dead, not
as a region of fire, but a place of imprisoning gloom, wherein "to
defiled and blaspheming dreamers is reserved the blackness of
darkness forever;"

2 E. g. Stuart's Dissertation on the Angelology of the Scriptures,
published in vol. i. of the Bibliotheca Sacra.

3 De Principiis, lib. iii. cap 2. See, also, in Michaelis's
Introduction to the New Testament, sect. 4 of the chapter on Jude.

4 Book of Enoch, translated by Dr. R. Laurence, cap. ii.


thought it imminently necessary for men to be diligent in striving
to secure their salvation, because "all sensual mockers, not
having the spirit, but walking after their own ungodly lusts,"
would be lost. He probably expected that, when all free
contingencies were past and Christ had pronounced sentence, the
condemned would be doomed eternally into the black abyss, and the
accepted would rise into the immortal glory of heaven. He closes
his letter with these significant words, which plainly imply much
of what we have just been setting forth: "Everlasting honor and
power, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be unto God, who is able to
keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the face
of his glory with exceeding joy."5

The first chapter of the so called Second Epistle of Peter is not
occupied with theological propositions, but with historical,
ethical, and practical statements and exhortations. These are,
indeed, of such a character, and so expressed, that they clearly
presuppose certain opinions in the mind of the writer. First, he
evidently believed that a merciful and holy message had been sent
from God to men by Jesus Christ, whereby are given unto us
exceeding great and precious promises." The substance of these
promises was "a call to escape the corruption of the world, and
enter into glory and be partakers of the Divine nature." By
partaking of the Divine nature, we understand the writer to mean
entering the Divine abode and condition, ascending into the safe
and eternal joy of the celestial prerogatives. That the author
here denotes heaven by the term glory, as the other New Testament
writers frequently do, appears distinctly from the seventeenth and
eighteenth verses of the chapter, where, referring to the incident
at the baptism of Jesus, he declares, "There came a voice from the
excellent glory, saying, 'This is my beloved Son;' and this voice,
which came from heaven, we heard." Secondly, our author regarded
this glorious promise as contingent on the fulfilment of certain
conditions. It was to be realized by means of "faith, courage,
knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, kindness, and love."
"He that hath these things shall never fall," "but an entrance
shall be ministered unto him abundantly into the everlasting
kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ." The writer
furnishes us no clew to his idea of the particular part performed
by Christ in our salvation. He says not a word concerning the
sufferings or death of the Savior; and the extremely scanty and
indefinite allusions made to the relation in which Christ was
supposed to stand between God and men, and the redemption and
reconciliation of men with God, do not enable us to draw any
dogmatic conclusions. He speaks of "false teachers, who shall
bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought
them." But whether by this last phrase he means to imply a ransom
of imprisoned souls from the under world by Christ's descent
thither and victory over its powers, or a purchased exemption of
sinners from their merited doom by the vicarious sufferings of
Christ's death, or a practical regenerative redemption of
disciples from their sins by the moral influences of his mission,
his teachings, example, and character, there is nothing in the
epistle clearly to decide; though, forming our judgment by the aid
of other sources of information, we should conclude in favor of
the first of these three conceptions as most probably expressing
the writer's thought.

5 Griesbuch's reading of the 25th verse of Jude.


The second chapter of the epistle is almost an exact parallel with
the Epistle of Jude: in many verses it is the same, word for word.
It threatens "unclean, self willed, unjust, and blaspheming men,"
that they shall "be reserved unto the day of judgment, to be
punished." It warns such persons by citing the example of the
rebellious "angels, who were thrust down into Tartarus, and
fastened in chains of darkness until the judgment." It speaks of
"cursed children, to whom is reserved the mist of darkness
forever." Herein, plainly enough, is betrayed the common notion of
the Jews of that time, the conception of a dismal under world,
containing the evil angels of the Persian theology, and where the
wicked were to be remanded after judgment and eternally
imprisoned.

The third and last chapter is taken up with the doctrine of the
second coming of Christ. "Be mindful of the words of the prophets
and apostles, knowing this first, that in the last days there
shall be scoffers, who will say, 'Where is the promise of his
coming? for since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as
from the beginning.'" The writer meets this skeptical assertion
with denial, and points to the Deluge, "whereby the world that
then was, being overflowed with water, perished." His argument is,
the world was thus destroyed once, therefore it may be destroyed
again. He then goes on to assert positively relying for authority
on old traditions and current dogmas that "the heavens and the
earth which are now are kept by the word of God in store to be
destroyed by fire in the day of judgment, when the perdition of
ungodly men shall be sealed." "The delay of the Lord to fulfil his
promise is not from procrastination, but from his long suffering
who is not willing that any should perish." He waits "that all may
come to repentance." But his patience will end, and "the day of
God come as a thief in the night, when the heavens, being on fire,
shall pass away with a crash, and the elements melt with fervent
heat." There are two ways in which these declarations may be
explained, though in either case the events they refer to are to
occur in connection with the physical reappearance of Christ.
First, they may be taken in a highly figurative sense, as meaning
the moral overthrow of evil and the establishment of righteousness
in the world. Similar expressions were often used thus by the
ancient Hebrew prophets, who describe the triumphs of Israel and
the destruction of their enemies, the Edomites or the Assyrians,
by the interposition of Jehovah's arm, in such phrases as these.
"The mountains melt, the valleys cleave asunder like wax before a
fire, like waters poured over a precipice." "The heavens shall be
rolled up like a scroll, all their hosts shall melt away and fall
down; for Jehovah holdeth a great slaughter in the land of Edom:
her streams shall be turned into pitch, and her dust into
brimstone, and her whole land shall become burning pitch." The
suppression of Satan's power and the setting up of the Messiah's
kingdom might, according to the prophetic idiom, be expressed in
awful images of fire and woe, the destruction of the old, and the
creation of a new, heaven and earth. But, secondly, this
phraseology, as used by the writer of the epistle before us, may
have a literal significance,  may have been intended to predict
strictly that the world shall be burned and purged by fire at the
second coming of the Lord. That such a catastrophe would take
place in the last day, or occurred periodically, was notoriously
the doctrine of the Persians and of the Stoics.6 For our own part,
we are convinced that the latter is the real meaning of the
writer. This seems to be shown alike by the connection of his
argument, by the prosaic literality of detail with which he
speaks, and by the earnest exhortations he immediately bases on
the declaration he has made. He reasons that, since the world was
destroyed once by water, it may be again by fire. The deluge he
certainly regarded as literal: was not, then, in his conception,
the fire, too, literal? He says, with calm, prosaic precision,
"The earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
Seeing, then, that all these things shall be dissolved, what
manner of persons ought ye to be in all holiness, looking for a
new heaven and a new earth, and striving that ye may be found by
him in peace, without spot, and blameless!" We do not suppose this
writer expected the annihilation of the physical creation, but
only that the fire would destroy all unransomed creatures from its
surface, and thoroughly purify its frame, and make it clean and
fit for a new race of sinless and immortal men.

"Tears shall not break from their full source,
Nor Anguish stray from her Tartarean den,
The golden years maintain a course
Not undiversified, though smooth and even,
We not be mock'd with glimpse and shadow then,
Bright seraphs mix familiarly with men,
And earth and sky compose a universal heaven."

We have now arrived at the threshold of the last book in the New
Testament, that book which, in the words of Lucke, "lies like a
Sphinx at the lofty outgate of the Bible." There are three modes
of interpreting the Apocalypse, each of which has had numerous and
distinguished advocates. First, it may be regarded as a congeries
of inspired prophecies, a scenic unfolding, with infallible
foresight, of the chief events of Christian history from the first
century till now, and onwards. This view the combined effect of
the facts in the case and of all the just considerations
appropriate to the subject compels us to reject. There is no
evidence to support it; the application of it is crowded with
egregious follies and absurdities. We thus simply state the result
of our best investigation and judgment, for there is no space here
to discuss it in detail. Secondly, the book may be taken as a
symbolic exhibition of the transitional crises, exposures,
struggles, and triumphs of the individual soul, a description of
personal experience, a picture of the inner life of the Christian
in a hostile world. The contents of it can be made to answer to
such a characterization only by the determined exercise of an
unrestrained fancy, or by the theory of a double sense, as the
Swedenborgians expound it. This method of interpreting the
Revelation is adopted, not by scholarly thinkers, who, by the
light of learning and common sense, seek to discern what the
writer meant to express, but by those persons who go to the
obscure document, with traditional superstition and lawless
imaginations, to see what lessons they can find there for their
experimental guidance and edification. We suppose that every
intelligent and informed student who has

6 Cicero de Nat. Deorum, lib. ii. cap. 46. Also Ovid, Minucius
Felix, Seneca, and other authorities, as quoted by Rosenmuller on
2 Peter iii. 7.


examined the subject with candid independence holds it as an
exegetical axiom that the Apocalypse is neither a pure prophecy,
blazing full illumination from Patmos along the track of the
coming centuries, nor an exhaustive vision of the experience of
the faithful Christian disciple. We are thus brought to the third
and, as we think, the correct mode of considering this remarkable
work. It is an outburst from the commingled and seething mass of
opinions, persecutions, hopes, general experience, and expectation
of the time when it was written. This is the view which would
naturally arise in the mind of an impartial student from the
nature of the case, and from contemplating the fervid faith,
suffering, lowering elements, and thick coming events of the
apostolic age. It also strikingly corresponds with numerous
express statements and with the whole obvious spirit and plan of
the work; for its descriptions and appeals have the vivid colors,
the thrilling tones, the significantly detailed allusions to
experiences and opinions and anticipations notoriously existing at
the time, which belong to present or immediately impending scenes.
This way of considering the Apocalypse likewise enables one who is
acquainted with the early Jewish Christian doctrines, legends, and
hopes, to explain clearly a large number of passages in it whose
obscurity has puzzled many a commentator. We should be glad to
give various illustrations of this, if our limits did not confine
us strictly to the one class of texts belonging to the doctrine of
a future life. Furthermore, nearly all the most gifted critics,
such as Ewald, Bleek, Lucke, De Wette,  those whose words on such
matters as these are weightiest, now agree in concluding that the
Revelation of John was a product springing out of the intense
Jewish Christian belief and experience of the age, and referring,
in its dramatic scenery and predictions, to occurrences supposed
to be then transpiring or very close at hand. Finally, this view
in regard to the Apocalypse is strongly confirmed by a comparison
of that production with the several other works similar to it in
character and nearly contemporaneous in origin. These apocryphal
productions were written or compiled according to the pretty
general agreement of the great scholars who have criticized them
somewhere between the beginning of the first century before, and
the middle of the second century after, Christ. We merely propose
here, in the briefest manner, to indicate the doctrine of a future
life contained in them, as an introduction to an exposition of
that contained in the New Testament Apocalypse.

In the TESTAMENT OF THE TWELVE PATRIARCHS it is written that "the
under world shall be spoiled through the death of the Most
Exalted."7 Again, we read, "The Lord shall make battle against the
devil, and conquer him, and rescue from him the captive souls of
the righteous. The just shall rejoice in Jerusalem, where the Lord
shall reign himself, and every one that believes in him shall
reign in truth in the heavens."8 Farther on the writer says of the
Lord, after giving an account of his crucifixion, "He shall rise
up from the under world and ascend into heaven."9 These extracts
seem to imply the common doctrine of that time, that Christ
descended into the under world, freed the captive saints, and rose
into heaven, and would soon return to establish his throne in
Jerusalem, to reign there for a time with his accepted followers.

7 See this book in Fabricii Codex Pseudepigraphus Veteris
Testamenti, Test. Lev. sect. iv.

8 Ibid. Test. Dan. sect. v.

9 Ibid. Test. Benj. sect. ix.


The FOURTH BOOK OF EZRA contains scattered declarations and hints
of the same nature.10 It describes a vision of the Messiah, on
Mount Zion, distributing crowns to those confessors of his name
who had died in their fidelity.11 The world is said to be full of
sorrows and oppressions; and as the souls of the just ask when the
harvest shall come,12 for the good to be rewarded and the wicked
to be punished, they are told that the day of liberation is not
far distant, though terrible trials and scourges must yet precede
it. "My Son Jesus shall be revealed." "My Son the Christ shall
die; and then a new age shall come, the earth shall give up the
dead, sinners shall be plunged into the bottomless abyss, and
Paradise shall appear in all its glory."13 The "Son of God will
come and consume his enemies with fire; but the elect will be
protected and made happy."14

The ASCENSION OF ISAIAH is principally occupied with an account of
the rapture of the soul of that prophet through the seven heavens,
and of what he there saw and learned. It describes the descent of
Christ, the beloved Son of God, through all the heavens, to the
earth; his death; his resurrection after three days; his victory
over Satan and his angels, who dwell in the welkin or higher
region of the air; and his return to the right hand of God.15 It
predicts great apostasy and sin among the disciples of the
apostles, and much dissension respecting the nearness of the
second advent of Christ.16 It emphatically declares that "Christ
shall come with his angels, and shall drag Satan and his powers
into Gehenna. Then all the saints shall descend from heaven in
their heavenly clothing, and dwell in this world; while the saints
who had not died shall be similarly clothed, and after a time
leave their bodies here, that they may assume their station in
heaven. The general resurrection and judgment will follow, when
the ungodly will be devoured by fire."17 The author as Gesenius,
with almost all the rest of the critics, says was unquestionably a
Jewish Christian, and his principal design was to set forth the
speedy second coming of Christ, and the glorious triumph of the
saints that would follow with the condign punishment of the
wicked.

The first book of the SIBYLLINE ORACLES contains a statement that
in the golden age the souls of all men passed peacefully into the
under world, to tarry there until the judgment; a prediction of a
future Messiah; and an account of his death, resurrection, and
ascension. The second book begins with a description of the
horrors that will precede the last time, threats against the
persecuting tyrants, and promises to the faithful, especially to
the martyrs, and closes with an account of the general judgment,
when Elijah shall come from heaven, consuming flames break out,
all souls be summoned to the tribunal of God at whose right hand
Christ will sit, the bodies of the dead be raised, the righteous
be purified, and the wicked be plunged into final ruin.

The fundamental thought and aim of the apocryphal BOOK OF ENOCH
are the second coming of Christ to judge the world, the
encouragement of the Christians, and the warning

10 See the abstract of it given in section vi. of Stuart's
Commentary on the Apocalypse.

11 Cap. ii. 12 Cap. iv. 13 Cap. v., vii. 14 Cap. xiii., xvi.

15 Ascensio Isaia Vatis, a Ricardo Laurence, cap. ix., x., xi.

16 Ibid. cap. ii., iii.

17 Ibid. cap. iv. 13-18.


of their oppressors by declarations of approaching deliverance to
those and vengeance to these. This is transparent at frequent
intervals through the whole book.18 "Ye righteous, wait with
patient hope: your cries have cried for judgment, and it shall
come, and the gates of heaven shall be opened to you." "Woe to
you, powerful oppressors, false witnesses! for you shall suddenly
perish." "The voices of slain saints accusing their murderers, the
oppressors of their brethren, reach to heaven with interceding
cries for swift justice."19 When that justice comes, "the horse
shall wade up to his breast, and the chariot shall sink to its
axle, in the blood of sinners."20 The author teaches that the
souls of men at death go into the under world, "a place deep and
dark, where all souls shall be collected;" "where they shall
remain in darkness till the day of judgment," the spirits of the
righteous being in peace and joy, separated from the tormented
spirits of the wicked, who have spurned the Messiah and persecuted
his disciples.21 A day of judgment is at hand. "Behold, he cometh,
with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment." Then the
righteous shall rise from the under world, be approved, become as
angels, and ascend to heaven. But the wicked shall not rise: they
remain imprisoned below forever.22 The angels descend to earth to
dwell with men, and the saints ascend to heaven to dwell with
angels.23 "From beginning to end, like the Apocalypse, the book is
filled," says Professor Stuart, (and the most careless reader must
remark it,) "with threats for the wicked persecutors and
consolations for the suffering pious." A great number of
remarkable correspondences between passages in this book and
passages in the Apocalypse solicit a notice which our present
single object will not allow us to give them here. An under world
divided into two parts, a happy for the good, a wretched for the
bad; temporary woes prevailing on the earth; the speedy advent of
Christ for a vindication of his power and his servants; the
resurrection of the dead; the final translation of the accepted
into heaven, and the hopeless dooming of the rejected into the
abyss, these are the features in the book before us which we are
now to remember.

There is one other extant apocryphal book whose contents are
strictly appropriate to the subject we have in hand, namely, the
APOCALYPSE OF JOHN.24 It claims to be the work of the Apostle John
himself. It represents John as going to Mount Tabor after the
ascension of Christ, and there praying that it may be revealed to
him when the second coming of Christ will occur, and what will be
the consequences of it. In answer to his request, a long and
minute disclosure is made. The substance of it is, that, after
famines and woes, Antichrist will appear and reign three years.
Then Enoch and Elijah will come to expose him; but they will die,
and all men with them. The earth will be purified with fire, the
dead will rise, Christ

18 Book of Enoch, translated into English by Dr. R. Laurence. See
particularly the following places: i. 1 5; lii. 7; liv. 12; lxi.
15; lxii. 14, 15; xciv.; xcv.; civ.

19 Ibid. cap. ix. 9 11; xxii. 5 8; xlvii. 1-4.

20 Ibid. cap. xcviii. 3.

21 Ibid. cap. x. 6 9, 15, 16; xxii. 2 5, 11 13; cii. 6; ciii. 5.

22 Ibid. cap. xxii. 14, 15; xlv. 2; xlvi. 4; 1. 1-4.

23 cap. xxxviii. xl.

24 See the abstract of it given in Lucke's Einleit. in die
Offenbar. Joh., cap. 2, sect. 17.


will descend in pomp, with myriads of angels, and the judgment
will follow. The spirits of Antichrist will be hurled into a gulf
of outer darkness, so deep that a heavy stone would not plunge to
the bottom in three years. Unbelievers, sinners, hypocrites, will
be cast into the under world; while true Christians are placed at
the right hand of Christ, all radiant with glory. The good and
accepted will then dwell in an earthly paradise, with angels, and
be free from all evils.

In addition to these still extant Apocalypses, we have references
in the works of the Fathers to a great many others long since
perished; especially the Apocalypses of Adam, Abraham, Moses,
Elijah, Hystaspes, Paul, Peter, Thomas, Cerinthus, and Stephen. So
far as we have any clew, by preserved quotations or otherwise, to
the contents of these lost productions, they seem to have been
much occupied with the topics of the avenging and redeeming advent
of the Messiah, the final judgment of mankind, the supernal and
subterranean localities, the resurrection of the dead, the
inauguration of an earthly paradise, the condemnation of the
reprobate to the abyss beneath, the translation of the elect to
the Angelic realm on high. These works, all taken together, were
plainly the offspring of the mingled mass of glowing faiths,
sufferings, fears, and hopes, of the age they belonged to. An
acquaintance with them will help us to appreciate and explain many
things in our somewhat kindred New Testament Apocalypse, by
placing us partially in the circumstances and mental attitude of
the writer and of those for whom it was written.

The Persian Jewish and Jewish Christian notions and
characteristics of the Book of Revelation are marked and
prevailing, as every prepared reader must perceive. The threefold
division of the universe into the upper world of the angels, the
middle world of men, and the under world of the dead; the keys of
the bottomless pit; the abode of Satan, the accuser, in heaven;
his revolt; the war in the sky between his seduced host and the
angelic army under Michael, and the thrusting down of the former;
the banquet of birds on the flesh of kings, mighty men, and
horses; the battle of Gog and Magog; the tarrying of souls under
the altar of God; the temple in heaven containing the ark of the
covenant, and the scene of a various ritual service; the twelve
gates of the celestial city bearing the names of the twelve tribes
of the children of Israel, and the twelve foundations of the walls
having the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb; the bodily
resurrection and general judgment, and the details of its sequel,
all these doctrines and specimens of imagery, with a hundred
others, carry us at once into the Zend Avesta, the Talmud, and the
Ebionitish documents of the earliest Christians, who mixed their
interpretations of the mission and teaching of Christ with the
poetic visions of Zoroaster and the cabalistic dogmatics of the
Pharisees. 25

It is astonishing that any intelligent person can peruse the
Apocalypse and still suppose that it is occupied with prophecies
of remote events, events to transpire successively in distant ages
and various lands. Immediateness, imminency, hazardous urgency,
swiftness, alarms, are written all over the book. A suspense,
frightfully thrilling, fills it, as if the world were holding its
breath in view of the universal crash that was coming with
electric velocity.

25 See, e. g., Corrodi, Kritische Geschichte des Chiliasmus, band
ii. th. 3 7; Gfrorer, Geschichte Urchristenthums, abth. ii. kap.
8 10; Schottgen in Apoc. xii. 6 9; ibid. in 2 Cor. v. 2.


Four words compose the key to the Apocalypse: Rescue, Reward,
Overthrow, Vengeance. The followers of Christ are now persecuted
and slain by the tyrannical rulers of the earth. Let them be of
good cheer: they shall speedily be delivered. Their tyrants shall
be trampled down in "blood flowing up to the horse bridles," and
they shall reign in glory. "Here is the faith and the patience of
the saints," trusting that, if "true unto death, they shall have a
crown of life," and "shall not be hurt of the second death," but
shall soon rejoice over the triumphant establishment of the
Messiah's kingdom and the condign punishment of his enemies who
are now "making themselves drunk with the blood of the martyrs of
Jesus." The Beast, described in the thirteenth chapter, is
unquestionably Nero; and this fact shows the expected
immediateness of the events pictured in connection with the rise
and destruction of that monstrous despot.26 The truth of this
representation is sealed by the very first verses of the book,
indicating the nature of its contents and the period to which they
refer: "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him,
to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass:
Blessed are they who hear the words of this prophecy and keep
them; for the time is at hand."

This rescue and reward of the faithful, this overthrow and
punishment of the wicked, were to be effected by the agency of a
unique and sublime personage, who was expected very soon to
appear, with an army of angels from heaven, for this purpose. The
conception of the nature, rank, and offices of Jesus Christ which
existed in the mind of the writer of the Apocalypse is in some
respects but obscurely hinted in the words he employs; yet the
relationship of those words to other and fuller sources of
information in the contemporaneous notions of his countrymen is
such as to give us great help in arriving at his ideas. He
represents Christ as distinct from and subordinate to God. He
makes Christ say, "To him that overcometh I will give power over
the nations, even as I received of my Father." He characterizes
him as "the beginning of the creation of God," and describes him
as "mounted on a white horse, leading the heavenly armies to war,
and his name is called the Logos of God." These terms evidently
correspond to the phrases in the introduction to the Gospel of
John, and in the Book of the Wisdom of Solomon, where are unfolded
some portions of that great doctrine, so prevalent among the early
Fathers, which was borrowed and adapted by them from the Persian
Honover, the Hebrew Wisdom, and the Platonic Logos.27 "In the
beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and all
things were made by him;... and the Logos was made flesh and dwelt
among us."28 "God of our fathers, and Lord of mercy, who hast made
all things by thy Logos."29 "Thine almighty Logos leaped down from
heaven from his royal throne, a fierce warrior, into the midst of
a land of destruction."30 "Plainly enough, the Apocalyptic view of
Christ is based on that profound Logos doctrine so copiously

26 See the excursus by Stuart in his Commentary on the Apoc. xiii.
18, which conclusively shows that the Beast could be no other than
Nero.

27 Lucke, Einleitung in das Evang. Joh.

28 Evang. Joh. i. 1, 3, 14.

29 Wisdom of Solomon, ix. 1, 2.

30 Ibid. xviii. 15.


developed in the writings of Philo Judaus and so distinctly
endorsed in numerous passages of the New Testament. First, there
is the absolute God. Next, there is the Logos, the first begotten
Son and representative image of God, the instrumental cause of the
creation, the head of all created beings. This Logos, born into
our world as a man, is Christ. Around him are clustered all the
features and actions that compose the doctrine of the last things.
The vast work of redemption and judgment laid upon him has in part
been already executed, and in part remains yet to be done.

We are first to inquire, then, into the significance of what the
writer of the Apocalypse supposes has already been effected by
Christ in his official relations between God and men, so far as
regards the general subject of a life beyond the grave. A few
brief and vague but comprehensive expressions include all that he
has written which furnishes us a guide to his thoughts on this
particular. He describes Jesus, when advanced to his native
supereminent dignity in heaven, as the "Logos, clothed in a
vesture dipped in blood," and also as "the Lamb that was slain,"
to whom the celestial throng sing a new song, saying, "Thou hast
redeemed us unto God by thy blood." Christ, he says, "loved us,
and washed us from our sins in his own blood." He represents the
risen Savior as declaring, "I am he that liveth, and was dead,
and, behold, I am alive for evermore, and have the keys of the
under world and of death." "Jesus Christ," again he writes, "is
the faithful witness, the first begotten from the dead." What,
now, is the real meaning of these pregnant phrases? What is the
complete doctrine to which fragmentary references are here made?
We are confident that it is this. Mankind, in consequence of sin,
were alienated from God, and banished, after death, to Hades, the
subterranean empire of shadows. Christ, leaving his exalted state
in heaven, was born into the world as a messenger, or "faithful
witness," of surprising grace to them from God, and died that he
might fulfil his mission as the agent of their redemption, by
descending into the great prison realm of the dead, and, exerting
his irresistible power, return thence to light and life, and
ascend into heaven as the forerunner and pledge of the deliverance
and ascension of others. Moses Stuart, commenting on the clause
"first begotten from the dead," says, "Christ was in fact the
first who enjoyed the privilege of a resurrection to eternal glory
and he was constituted the leader of all who should afterwards be
thus raised from the dead."31 All who had died, with the sole
exception of Christ, were yet in the under world. He, since his
triumphant subdual of its power and return to heaven, possessed
authority over it, and would ere long summon its hosts to
resurrection, as he declares: "I was dead, and, behold, I am alive
for ever more, and have the keys of the under world." The figure
is that of a conqueror, who, returning from a captured and subdued
city, bears the key of it with him, a trophy of his triumph and a
pledge of its submission. The text "Thou hast redeemed us unto God
by thy blood" is not received in an absolutely literal sense by
any theological sect whatever. The severest Calvinist does not
suppose that the physical blood shed on the cross is meant; but he
explains it as denoting the atoning efficacy of the vicarious
sufferings of Christ. But this interpretation is as forced and
constructive an exposition as the one we have given, and is not

31 Stuart, Comm. in Apoc. i. 5.


warranted by the theological opinions of the apostolic age, which
do, on the contrary, support and necessitate the other. The direct
statement is, that men were redeemed unto God by the blood of
Christ. All agree that in the word "blood" is wrapped up a
figurative meaning. The Calvinistic dogma makes it denote the
satisfaction of the law of retributive justice by a substitutional
anguish. We maintain that a true historical exegesis, with far
less violence to the use of language, and consistently with known
contemporaneous ideas, makes it denote the death of Christ, and
the events which were supposed to have followed his death, namely,
his appearance among the dead, and his ascent to heaven,
preparatory to their ascent, when they should no longer be exiled
in Hades, but should dwell with God. Out of an abundance of
illustrative authorities we will cite a few.

Augustine describes "the ancient saints" as being "in the under
world, in places most remote from the tortures of the impious,
waiting for Christ's blood and descent to deliver them."32
Epiphanius says, "Christ was the first that rose from the under
world to heaven from the time of the creation."33 Lactantius
affirms, "Christ's descent into the under world and ascent into
heaven were necessary to give man the hope of a heavenly
immortality."34 Hilary of Poictiers says, "Christ went down into
Hades for two reasons: first, to fulfil the law imposed on mankind
that every soul on leaving the body shall descend into the under
world, and, secondly, to preach the Christian religion to the
dead."35 Chrysostom writes, "When the Son of God cometh, the earth
shall burst open, and all the men that ever were born, from Adam's
birth up to that day, shall rise up out of the earth."36 Irenaus
testifies, "I have heard from a certain presbyter, who heard it
from those who had seen the apostles and received their
instructions, that Christ descended into the under world, and
preached the gospel and his own advent to the souls there, and
remitted the sins of those who believed on him."37 Eusebius
records that, "after the ascension of Jesus, Thomas sent Thaddeus,
one of the Seventy, to Abgarus, King of Edessa. This disciple told
the king how that Jesus, having been crucified, descended into the
under world, and burst the bars which had never before been
broken, and rose again, and also raised with himself the dead that
had slept for ages; and how he descended alone, but ascended with
a great multitude to his Father; and how he was about to come
again to judge the living and the dead."38 Finally, we cite the
following undeniable statement from Daille's famous work on the
"Right Use of the Fathers:" "That heaven shall not be opened till
the second coming of Christ and the day of judgment, that during
this time the souls of all men, with a few exceptions, are shut up
in the under world,  was held by Justin Martyr, Irenaus,
Tertullian, Augustine, Origen, Lactantius, Victorinus, Ambrose,
Chrysostom, Theodoret, OEcumenius, Aretas, Prudentius,
Theophylact, Bernard,

32 De Civitate Dei, lib. xx. cap. 15.

33 In Resurrectionem Christi.

34 Divin. Instit. lib. iv. cap. 19, 20.

35 Hilary in Ps. cxviii. et cxix.

36 Homil. in Rom. viii. 25.

37 Adv. Hares. lib. iv. sect. 45.

38 Ecc. Hist. lib. i. cap. 13.


and many others, as is confessed by all. This doctrine is
literally held by the whole Greek Church at the present day. Nor
did any of the Latins expressly deny any part of it until the
Council of Florence, in the year of our Lord 1439."39

In view of these quotations, and of volumes of similar ones which
might be adduced, we submit to the candid reader that the meaning
most probably in the mind of the writer of the Apocalypse when he
wrote the words "redemption by the Blood of Christ" was this, the
rescue certified to men by the commissioned power and devoted
self sacrifice of Christ in dying, going down to the mighty
congregation of the dead, proclaiming good tidings, breaking the
hopeless bondage of death and Hades, and ascending as the pioneer
of a new way to God. If before his death all men were supposed to
go down to helpless confinement in the under world on account of
sin, but after his resurrection the promise of an ascension to
heaven was made to them through his gospel and exemplification,
then well might the grateful believers, fixing their hearts on his
willing martyrdom in their behalf, exclaim, "He loved us, and
washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings
and priests unto God." It is certainly far more natural, far more
reasonable, to suppose that the scriptural phrase "the blood of
Christ" means "the death of Christ," with its historical
consequences, than to imagine that it signifies a complicated and
mysterious scheme of sacerdotal or ethical expiation, especially
when that scheme is unrelated to contemporaneous opinion,
irreconcilable withmorality,and confessedly nowhere plainly stated
in Scripture, but a matter of late and laborious construction and
inference. We have not spoken of the strictly moral and subjective
mission and work of Christ, as conceived by the author of the
Apocalypse,  his influences to cleanse the springs of character,
purify and inspire the heart, rectify and elevate the motives,
regenerate and sanctify the soul and the life, because all this is
plain and unquestioned. But he also believed in something
additional to this, an objective function: and what that was we
think is correctly explained above.

We are next to inquire more immediately into the closing parts of
the doctrine of the last things. Christ has appeared, declared the
tidings of grace, died, visited the dead, risen victoriously, and
gone back to heaven, where he now tarries. But there remain many
things for him, as the eschatological King, yet to do. What are
they? and what details are connected with them? First of all, he
is soon to return from heaven, visiting the earth a second time.
The first chapter of the book begins by declaring that it is "a
revelation of things which must shortly come to pass," and
"blessed is he that readeth; for the time is at hand." The last
chapter is full of such repetitions as these: "things which must
shortly be done;" "Behold, I come quickly;" "The time is at hand;"
"He that is unjust, let him be unjust still, and he that is holy,
let him be holy still;" "Surely I come quickly;" "Even so, come,
Lord Jesus." Herder says, in his acute and eloquent work on the
Apocalypse, "There is but one voice in it, through all its
epistles, seals, trumpets, signs, and plagues, namely, THE LORD IS
COMING!" The souls of the martyrs, impatiently waiting, under the
altar, the completion of the great drama, cry, "How long, O Lord,
dost thou delay to avenge our blood?" and they are told that "they
shall

39 Lib. ii. cap. 4, pp. 272, 273 of the English translation.


rest only for a little season." Tertullian writes, without a trace
of doubt, "Is not Christ quickly to come from heaven with a
quaking of the whole universe, with a shuddering of the world,
amidst the wailings of all men save the Christians?" The
Apocalyptic seer makes Christ say, "Behold, I come as a thief in
the night: blessed is he that watcheth." Accordingly, "a sentinel
gazed wherever a Christian prayed, and, though all the watchmen
died without the sight," the expectation lingered for centuries.
The Christians of the New Testament time to borrow the words of
one of the most competent of living scholars "carried forward to
the account of Christ in years to come the visions which his stay,
as they supposed, was too short to realize, and assigned to him a
quick return to finish what was yet unfulfilled. The suffering,
the scorn, the rejection of men, the crown of thorns, were over
and gone; the diadem, the clarion, the flash of glory, the troop
of angels, were ready to burst upon the world, and might be looked
for at midnight or at noon."40

Secondly, when Christ returned, he was to avenge the sufferings
and reward the fidelity of his followers, tread the heathen
tyrants in the wine press of his wrath, and crown the persecuted
saints with a participation in his glory. When "the time of his
wrath is come, he shall give reward to the prophets, and to the
saints, and to them that fear his name, and shall destroy them
that destroy the earth." "The kings, captains, mighty men, rich
men, bondmen, and freemen, shall cry to the mountains and rocks,
Fall on us, and hide us from the wrath of the Lamb." "To him that
overcometh, and doeth my works, I will give power over the
Gentiles;" "I will give him the morning star;" "I will grant him
to sit with me on my throne." Independently, moreover, of these
distinct texts, the whole book is pervaded with the thought that,
at the speedy second advent of the Messiah, all his enemies shall
be fearfully punished, his servants eminently compensated and
glorified.41

Thirdly, the writer of the Apocalypse expected in accordance with
that Jewish anticipation of an earthly Messianic kingdom which was
adopted with some modifications by the earliest Christians that
Jesus, on his return, having subdued his foes, would reign for a
season, in great glory, on the earth, surrounded by the saints. "A
door was opened in heaven," and the seer looked in, and saw a
vision of the redeemed around the throne, and heard them "singing
a new song unto the Lamb that was slain," in the course of which,
particularizing the favors obtained for them by him, they say, "We
shall reign upon the earth." Again, the writer says that "the
worshippers of the beast and of his image shall be tormented with
fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the
presence of the Lamb." Now, the lake of sulphurous fire into which
the reprobate were to be thrust was located, not in the sky, but
under the surface of the earth. The foregoing statement,
therefore, implies that Christ and his angels would be tarrying on
the earth when the final woe of the condemned was inflicted. But
we need not rely on indirect arguments. The writer explicitly
declares

40 Martineau, Sermon, "The God of Revelation his own Interpreter."

41 It seems to have been a Jewish expectation that when the
Messiah should appear he would thrust his enemies into Hades. In a
passage of the Talmud Satan is represented as seeing the Messiah
under the Throne of Glory: he falls on his face at the sight,
exclaiming, "This is the Messiah, who will precipitate me and all
the Gentiles into the under world." Bertholdt, Christologia, sect.
36.


that, in his vision of what was to take place, the Christian
martyrs, "those who were slain for the witness of Jesus, lived and
reigned with Christ a thousand years, while the rest of the dead
lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is
the first resurrection. Then Satan was loosed out of his prison,
and gathered the hosts of Gog and Magog to battle, and went up on
the breadth of the earth and compassed the camp of the saints
about, and fire came down out of heaven and devoured them." It
seems impossible to avoid seeing in this passage a plain statement
of the millennial reign of Christ on the earth with his risen
martyrs.

Fourthly, at the termination of the period just referred to, the
author of the Apocalypse thought all the dead would be raised and
the tribunal of the general judgment held. As Lactantius says,
"All souls are detained in custody in the under world until the
last day; then the just shall rise and reign; afterwards there
will be another resurrection of the wicked."42 "The time of the
dead is come, that they should be judged." "And I saw the dead,
small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened, and
the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the
books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead
which were in it, and death and the under world delivered up the
dead which were in them, and they were judged, every man according
to his works." "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first
resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they
shall be priests of God and of Christ, and reign with him a
thousand years." This text, with its dark and tacit reference by
contrast to those who have no lot in the millennial kingdom,
brings us to the next step in our exposition.

For, fifthly, after the general resurrection and judgment at the
close of the thousand years, the sentence of a hopeless doom to
hell is to be executed on the condemned. "Whosoever was not found
written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." "The
fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and
whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall
have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone;
which is the second death." The "second death" is a term used by
Onkelos in his Targum,43 and sometimes in the Talmud, and by the
Rabbins generally. It denotes, as employed by them, the return of
the wicked into hell after their summons thence for judgment.44 In
the Apocalypse, its relative meaning is this. The martyrs, who
were slain for their allegiance to the gospel, died once, and
descended into the under world, the common realm of death. At the
coming of Christ they were to rise and join him, and to die no
more. This was the first resurrection. At the close of the
millennium, all the rest of the dead were to rise and be judged,
and the rejected portion of them were to be thrust back again
below. This was a second death for them, a fate from which the
righteous were exempt. There was a difference, greatly for the
worse in the latter, between their condition in the two deaths. In
the former they descended to the dark under world, the silent and
temporary abode of the universal dead; but in the latter they went
down "into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the devil and the
beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and
night for

42 Divin. Instit. lib. vii. cap. 20, 21, 26.

43 on Deut. xxxiii. 6.

44 Gfrorer, Geschichte des Urchristenthums, kap. 10. s. 289.


ever and ever." For "Death and Hades, having delivered up the dead
which were in them, were cast into the lake of fire. This is the
second death." It is plain that here the common locality of
departed souls is personified as two demons, Death and Hades, and
the real thought meant to be conveyed is, that this region is to
be sunk beneath a "Tartarean drench," which shall henceforth roll
in burning billows over its victims there, "the smoke of their
torment ascending up for ever and ever." This awful imagery of a
lake of flaming sulphur, in which the damned were plunged, was of
comparatively late origin or adoption among the Jews, from whom
the Christians received it. The native Hebrew conception of the
state of the dead was that of the voiceless gloom and dismal
slumber of Sheol, whither all alike went. The notion of fiery
tortures inflicted there on the wicked was either conceived by the
Pharisees from the loathed horrors of the filth fire kept in the
vale of Hinnom, outside of Jerusalem, (which is the opinion of
most commentators,) or was imagined from the sea of burning
brimstone that showered from heaven and submerged Sodom and
Gomorrah in a vast fire pool, (which is maintained by
Bretschneider and others,) or was derived from the Egyptians, or
the Persians, or the Hindus, or the Greeks, all of whom had lakes
and rivers of fire in their theological hells, long before history
reveals the existence of such a belief among the Jews, (which is
the conclusion of many learned authors and critics.)

We have now reached the last feature in the scheme of eschatology
shadowed forth in the Apocalypse, the most obscure and difficult
point of all, namely, the locality and the principal elements of
the final felicity of the saved. The difficulty of clearly
settling this question is twofold, arising, first, from the swift
and partial glimpses which are all that the writer yields us on
the subject, and, secondly, from the impossibility of deciding
with precision how much of his language is to be regarded as
figurative and how much as literal, where the poetic presentation
of symbol ends and where the direct statement of fact begins. A
large part of the book is certainly written in prophetic figures
and images, spiritual visions, never meant to be accepted in a
prosaic sense with severe detail. And yet, at the same time, all
these imaginative emblems were, unquestionably, intended to
foreshadow, in various kinds and degrees, doctrinal conceptions,
hopes, fears, threats, promises, historical realities, past,
present, or future. But to separate sharply the dress and the
substance, the superimposed symbols and the underlying realities,
is always an arduous, often an impossible, achievement. The writer
of the Apocalypse plainly believed that the souls of all, except
the martyrs, at death descended to the under world, and would
remain there till after the second coming of Christ. But whether
he thought that the martyrs were excepted, and would at death
immediately rise into heaven and there await the fulfilment of
time, is a disputed point. For our own part, we think it extremely
doubtful, and should rather decide in the negative. In the first
place, his expressions on this subject seem essentially
figurative. He describes the prayers of the saints as being poured
out from golden vials and burned as incense on a golden altar in
heaven before the throne of God. "Under that altar," he says, "I
saw the souls of them that were slain for the word of God." If the
souls of the martyrs, in his belief, were really admitted into
heaven, would he have conceived of them as huddled under the altar
and not walking at liberty? Does not the whole idea appear rather
like a rhetorical image than like a sober theological doctrine?
True, the scene is pictured in heaven; but then it is a picture,
and not a conclusion. With De Wette, we regard it, not as a
dogmatic, but as a poetical and prophetic, representation. And
in regard to the seer's vision of the innumerable company of the
redeemed in heaven, surrounding the throne and celebrating the
praises of God and the Lamb, surely it is obvious enough that
this, like the other affiliated visions, is a vision, by
inspired insight, in the present tense, of what is yet to
occur in the successive unfolding of the rapid scenes in the
great drama of Christ's redemptive work, a prophetic vision of
the future, not of what already is. We know that in Tertullian's
time the idea was entertained by some that Christian martyrs, as
a special allotment, should pass at once from their sufferings to
heaven, without going, as all others must, into the under world;
but the evidence preponderates with us, upon the whole, that no
such doctrine is really implied in the Apocalypse. In the
fourteenth chapter, the author describes the hundred and forty
four thousand who were redeemed from among men, as standing with
the Lamb on Mount Zion and hearing a voice from heaven singing a
new song, which no man, save the hundred and forty four thousand,
could learn. The probabilities are certainly strongest that this
great company of the selected "first fruits unto God and the
Lamb," now standing on the earth, had not yet been in heaven; for
they only learn the heavenly song which is sung before the throne
by hearing it chanted down from heaven in a voice like
multitudinous thunders.

Finally, the most convincing proof that the writer did not suppose
that the martyrs entered heaven before the second advent of
Christ a proof which, taken by itself, would seem to leave no
doubt on the subject is this. In the famous scene detailed in the
twentieth chapter usually called by commentators the martyr scene
it is said that "the souls of them that were beheaded for the word
of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, lived and reigned
with Christ a thousand years. This is the first resurrection."
Now, is it not certain that if the writer supposed these souls had
never been in the under world, but in heaven, he could not have
designated their preliminary descent from above as "the first
resurrection," the first rising up? That phrase implies, we think,
that all the dead were below: the faithful and chosen ones were to
rise first to reign a while with Jesus, and after that the rest
should rise to be judged. After that judgment, which was expected
to be on earth in presence of the descended Lamb and his angels,
the lost were to be plunged, as we have already seen, into the
subterranean pit of torture, the unquenchable lake of fire. But
what was to become of the righteous and redeemed? Whether, by the
Apocalyptic representation, they were to remain forever on earth,
or to ascend into heaven, is a question which has been zealously
debated for over sixteen hundred years, and in some theological
circles is still warmly discussed. Were the angels who came down
to the earth with Christ to the judgment never to return to their
native seats? Were they permanently to transfer their deathless
citizenship from the sky to Judea? Were the constitution of human
nature and the essence of human society to be abrogated, and the
members of the human family to cease enlarging, lest they should
overflow the borders of the world? Was God himself literally to
desert his ancient abode, and, with the celestial city and all its
angelic hierarchy, float from the desolated firmament to Mount
Zion, there to set up the central eternity of his throne. We
cannot believe that such is the meaning, which the seer of the
Apocalypse wished to convey by his symbolic visions and pictures,
any more than we can believe that he means literally to say that
he saw "a woman in heaven clothed with the sun, and the moon under
her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars," or that
there were actually "armies in heaven, seated on white horses
and clothed in fine linen, white and clean, which is the
righteousness of saints." Our conviction is that he expected
the Savior would ascend with his angels and the redeemed
into heaven, the glorious habitation of God above the sky. He
speaks in one place of the "temple of God in heaven, into which no
man could enter until the seven plagues were fulfilled," and in
another place says that the "great multitude of the redeemed are
before the throne of God in heaven, and serve him day and night in
his temple;" and in still another place he describes two prophets,
messengers of God, who had been slain, as coming to life, "and
hearing a great voice from heaven saying to them, 'Come up
hither;' and they ascended up to heaven in a cloud, and their
enemies beheld them." De Wette writes, "It is certain that an
abstract conception of heavenly blessedness with God duskily
hovers over the New Testament eschatology." We think this is true
of the Book of Revelation.

It was a Persian Jewish idea that the original destination of man,
had he not sinned, was heaven. The apostles thought it was a part
of the mission of Christ to restore that lost privilege. We think
the writer of the Apocalypse shared in that belief. His allusions
to a new heaven and a new earth, and to the descent of a New
Jerusalem from heaven, and other related particulars, are symbols
neither novel nor violent to Jewish minds, but both familiar and
expressive, to denote a purifying glorification of the world, the
installation of a divine kingdom, and the brilliant reign of
universal righteousness and happiness among men, as if under the
very eyes of the Messiah and the very sceptre of God. The
Christians shall reign in Jerusalem, which shall be adorned with
indescribable splendors and shall be the centre of a world wide
dominion, the saved nations of the earth surrounding it and
"walking in the light of it, their kings bringing their glory and
honor into it." "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes,
and there shall be no more death." That is, upon the whole, as we
understand the scattered hints relevant to the subject to imply,
when Christ returns to the Father with his chosen, he will leave a
regenerated earth, with Jerusalem for its golden and peerless
capital, peopled, and to be peopled, with rejoicing and immortal
men, who will keep the commandments, be exempt from ancient evils,
hold intimate communion with God and the Lamb, and, from
generation to generation, pass up to heaven through that swift and
painless change, alluded to by Paul, whereby it was intended at
the first that sinless man, his corruptible and mortal putting on
incorruption and immortality, should be fitted for the
companionship of angels in the pure radiance of the celestial
world, and should be translated thither without tasting the
bitterness of death, which was supposed to be the subterranean
banishment of the disembodied ghost.

CHAPTER IV.

PAUL'S DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

THE principal difficulty in arriving at the system of thought and
faith in the mind of Paul arises from the fragmentary character of
his extant writings. They are not complete treatises drawn out in
independent statements,butspecial letters full of latent
implications. They were written to meet particular emergencies, to
give advice, to convey or ask information and sympathy, to argue
or decide concerning various matters to a considerable extent of a
personal or local and temporal nature. Obviously their author
never suspected they would be the permanent and immensely
influential documents they have since become. They were not
composed as orderly developments or full presentations of a creed,
but rather as supplements to more adequate oral instruction
previously imparted. He says to the Thessalonians, "Brethren,
stand fast and hold the traditions which ye have been taught,
whether by word or by our epistle." Several of his letters also
perhaps many have been lost. He exhorts the Colossians to "read
likewise the epistle from Laodicea." In his present First Epistle
to the Corinthians he intimates that he had previously
corresponded with them, in the words, "I wrote to you in a
letter." There are good reasons, too, for supposing that he
transmitted other epistles of which we have now no account. Owing,
therefore, to the facts that his principal instructions were given
by word of mouth, and that his surviving writings set forth no
systematic array of doctrines, we have no choice left, if we
desire to know what his opinions concerning the future life were,
when deduced and arranged, but to exercise our learning and our
faculties upon the imperfect discussions and the significant hints
and clews in his extant epistles. Bringing these together, in the
light of contemporary Pharisaic and Christian conceptions and
opinions, we may construct a system from them which will represent
his theory; somewhat as the naturalist from a few fragmentary
bones describes the entire skeleton to which they belonged. As we
proceed to follow this process, we must particularly remember the
leading notions in the doctrinal belief of the Jews at that
period, and the fact that Paul himself was "brought up at the feet
of Gamaliel," "after the most straitest order of the sect, a
Pharisee." When on trial at Jerusalem, he cried, "Men and
brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope of
the resurrection of the dead I am called in question." We can
hardly suppose that he would entirely throw off the influence and
form of the Pharisaic dogmas and grasp Christianity in its pure
spirituality. It is most reasonable to expect what we shall find
actually the fact that he would mix the doctrinal and emotional
results of his Pharisaic training with the teachings of Christ,
thus forming a composite system considerably modified from any
then existing. Indeed, a great many obscure texts in Paul may be
made perspicuous by citations from the old Talmudists. Considering
the value and the importance of this means of illustrating the New
Testament, it is neglected by modern commentators in a very
remarkable manner.

In common with his countrymen and the Gentiles, Paul undoubtedly
believed in a world of light and bliss situated over the sky,
where the Deity, surrounded by his angels, reigns in immortal
splendor. According to the Greeks, Zeus and the other gods,
with a few select heroes, there lived an imperishable life.
According to the Hebrews, there was "the house of Jehovah," "the
habitation of eternity," "the world of holy angels." The Old
Testament contains many sublime allusions to this place. Jacob in
his dream saw a ladder set up that reached unto heaven, and the
angels were ascending and descending upon it. Fixing his eyes upon
the summit, the patriarch exclaimed, not referring, as is commonly
supposed, to the ground on which he lay, but to the opening in the
sky through which the angels were passing and repassing, "Surely
this is the house of God and this the gate of heaven." Jehovah is
described as "riding over the heaven of heavens;" as "treading
upon the arch of the sky." The firmament is spoken of as the solid
floor of his abode, where "he layeth the beams of his chambers in
the waters," the "waters above," which the Book of Genesis says
were "divided from the waters beneath." Though this divine world
on high was in the early ages almost universally regarded as a
local reality, it was not conceived by Jews or Gentiles to be the
destined abode of human souls. It was thought to be exclusively
occupied by Jehovah and his angels, or by the gods and their
messengers. Only here and there were scattered a few dim
traditions, or poetic myths, of a prophet, a hero, a god descended
man, who, as a special favor, had been taken up to the supernal
mansions. The common destination of the disembodied spirits of men
was the dark,stupendous realms of the under world. As Augustine
observes, "Christ died after many; he rose before any: by dying he
suffered what many had suffered before; by rising he did what no
one had ever done before."1 These ideas of the celestial and the
infernal localities and of the fate of man were of course
entertained by Paul when he became a Christian. A few texts by way
of evidence of this fact will here suffice. "That at the name of
Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and those on
earth, and those under the earth." "He that descended first into
the lower parts of the earth is the same also that ascended up far
above all heavens." The untenableness of that explanation which
makes the descent into the lower parts of the earth refer to
Christ's descent to earth from his pre existent state in heaven
must be evident, as it seems to us, to every mind. Irenaus,
discussing this very text from Ephesians, exposes the absurdity
and stigmatizes the heresy of those who say that the infernal
world is this earth, ("qui dicunt inferos quidem esse hunc
mundum.")2 "I knew a man caught up to the third heaven, . . .
caught up into paradise." The threefold heaven of the Jews, here
alluded to, was, first, the region of the air, supposed to be
inhabited by evil spirits. Paul repeatedly expresses this idea, as
when he speaks of "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit
that worketh in the children of disobedience," and when he says,
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against
principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the
darkness, against wicked spirits in heavenly places." The second
heaven comprised the region of the planetary bodies. The third lay
beyond the firmament, and was the actual residence of God and the
angelic hosts. These quotations, sustained as they are by the
well known previous opinions of the Jews, as well as by numerous
unequivocal texts in the writings of the other apostles and by
many additional ones in those

1 Enarratio in Psalmum XC.

2 Adv. Hares. lib. v. cap. 31.


of Paul, are conclusive evidence that he believed in the received
heaven above the blue ether and stellar dome, and in the received
Hadean abyss beneath the earth. In the absence of all evidence to
the contrary, every presumption justifies the supposition that he
also believed  as we know all his orthodox contemporaries did that
that under world was the abode of all men after death, and that
that over world was solely the dwelling place of God and the
angels. Nay, we are not left to conjecture; for he expressly
declares of God that he "dwelleth in the light which no man can
approach unto." This conclusion will be abundantly established in
the course of the following exposition.

With these preliminaries, we are prepared to see what was Paul's
doctrine of death and of salvation. There are two prevalent
theories on this subject, both of which we deem partly scriptural,
neither of them wholly so. On the one extreme, the consistent
disciple of Augustine the historic Calvinist attributes to the
apostle the belief that the sin of Adam was the sole cause of
literal death, that but for Adam's fall men would have lived on
the earth forever or else have been translated bodily to heaven
without any previous process of death. That such really was not
the view held by Paul we are convinced. Indeed, there is one
prominent feature in his faith which by itself proves that the
disengagement of the soul from the material frame did not seem to
him an abnormal event caused by the contingency of sin. We refer
to his doctrine of two bodies, the "outward man" and the "inward
man," the "earthly house" and the "heavenly house," the "natural
body" and the "spiritual body." Neander says this is "an express
assertion" of Paul's belief that man was not literally made mortal
by sin, but was naturally destined to emerge from the flesh into a
higher form of life.3 Paul thought that, in the original plan of
God, man was intended to drop his gross, corruptible body and put
on an incorruptible one, like the "glorious body" of the risen
Christ. He distinctly declares, "Flesh and blood cannot inherit
the kingdom of God." Therefore, we cannot interpret the word
"death" to mean merely the separation of the soul from its present
tabernacle, when he says, "By one man sin entered into the world,
and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men." On the other
extreme, the fully developed Pelagian the common Unitarian holds
that the word "death" is always used in the arguments of Paul in a
spiritual or figurative sense, merely meaning moral alienation
from God in guilt, misery, and despair. Undoubtedly it is used
thus in many instances, as when it is written, "I was alive
without the law once; but, when the commandment came, sin rose to
life, and I died." But in still more numerous cases it means
something more than the consciousness of sin and the resulting
wretchedness in the breast, and implies something external,
mechanical, visible, as it were. For example, "Since by man came
death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead." Any one who
reads the context of this sentence may see that the terms "death"
and "resurrection" antithetically balance each other, and refer
not to an inward experience, but to an outward event, not to a
moral change, but to the physical descent and resurrection. It is
certain that here the words are not employed in a moral sense. The
phraseology Paul uses in stating the connection of the sin of Adam
with death, the connection of the resurrection of Christ with
immortal life, is too peculiar, emphatic, and extensive not to be
loaded with

3 Planting and Training, Ryland's trans. p. 240.


a more general and vivid significance than the simple unhappiness
of a sense of guilt, the simple peace and joy of a reconciled
conscience. The advocates, then, of both theories the Calvinist
asserting that Paul supposed sin to be the only reason why we do
not live eternally in the world with our present organization, and
the Rationalist asserting that the apostle never employs the word
"death" except with a purely interior signification are alike
beset by insuperable difficulties, perplexed by passages which
defy their fair analysis and force them either to use a violent
interpretation or to confess their ignorance.

We must therefore seek out some third view, which, rejecting the
errors, shall combine the truths and supply the defects of the two
former. We have now to present such a view, a theory of the
Pauline doctrine of the last things which obviously explains and
fills out all the related language of the epistles. We suppose he
unfolded it fully in his preaching, while in his supplementary and
personal letters he only alludes to such disconnected parts of it
as then rose upon his thoughts. A systematic development of it as
a whole, with copious allusions and labored defences, was not
needed then, as it might seem to us to have been. For the
fundamental notions on which it rested were the common belief of
the nation and age. Geology and astronomy had not disturbed the
credit of a definitely located Hades and heaven, nor had free
metaphysics sharpened the common mind to skeptical queries. The
view itself, as we conceive it occupied the mind of Paul, is this.
Death was a part of the creative plan for us from the first,
simply loosing the spirit from its corruptible body, clothing it
with an ethereal vehicle, and immediately translating it to
heaven. Sin marred this plan, alienated us from the Divine favor,
introduced all misery, physical and moral, and doomed the soul,
upon the fall of its earthly house, to descend into the slumberous
gloom of the under world. Thus death was changed from a pleasant
organic fulfilment and deliverance, spiritual investiture and
heavenly ascent, to a painful punishment condemning the naked
ghost to a residence below the grave. As Ewald says, through
Adam's sin "death acquired its significance as pain and
punishment."4 Herein is the explanation of the word "death" as
used by Paul in reference to the consequence of Adam's offence.
Christ came to reveal the free grace and gift of God in redeeming
us from our doom and restoring our heavenly destiny. This he
exemplified, in accordance with the Father's will, by dying,
descending into the dreary world of the dead, vanquishing the
forces there, rising thence, and ascending to the right hand of
the throne of heaven as our forerunner. On the very verge of the
theory just stated as Paul's, Neander hovers in his exposition of
the apostle's views, but fails to grasp its theological scope and
consequences. Krabbe declares that "death did not arise from the
native perishableness of the body, but from sin."5 This statement
Neander controverts, maintaining that "sin introduced no essential
change in the physical organization of man, but merely in the
manner in which his earthly existence terminates. Had it not been
for sin, death would have been only the form of a higher
development of life."6 Exactly so. With innocence, the soul at
death

4 Sendschreiben des Apostels Paulus, s. 210.

5 Die Lehre von oer Sunde und vom Tode, cap. xi, s. 192.

6 Neander's Planting and Training, book vi. ch. 1.


would have ascended pleasantly, in a new body, to heaven; but sin
compelled it to descend painfully, without any body, to Hades. We
will cite a few of the principal texts from which this general
outline has been inferred and constructed.

The substance of the fifth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans
may be thus stated. As by the offence of one, sin entered into the
world, and the judgment of the law came upon all men in a sentence
of condemnation unto death, so by the righteousness of one, the
free gift of God came upon all men in a sentence of justification
unto life; that as sin, by Adam's offence, hath reigned unto
death, so grace, by Christ's righteousness, might reign unto
eternal life. Now, we maintain that the words "death" and "life"
cannot in the present instance be entirely explained, in a
spiritual sense, as signifying disturbance and woe in the breast,
or peace and bliss there, because the whole connected discourse is
not upon the internal contingent experience of individuals, but
upon the common necessity of the race, an objective sentence
passed upon humanity, followed by a public gift of reversal and
annulment. So, too, we deny that the words can be justly taken, in
their strictly literal sense, as meaning cessation or continuance
of physical existence on the earth, because, in the first place,
that would be inconsistent with the doctrine of a spiritual body
within the fleshly one and of a glorious inheritance reserved in
heaven, a doctrine by which Paul plainly shows that he recognised
a natural organic provision, irrespective of sin, for a change in
the form and locality of human existence. Secondly, we submit that
death and life here cannot mean departure from the body or
continuance in it, because that is a matter with which Christ's
mission did in no way interfere, but left exactly as it was
before; whereas, in the thing really meant by Paul, Christ is
represented as standing, at least partially, in the same relation
between life and men that Adam stands in between death and men.
The reply to the question, What is that relation? will at once
define the genuine signification of the terms "death" and "life"
in the instance under review. And thus it is to be answered. The
death brought on mankind by Adam was not only internal
wretchedness, but also the condemnation of the disembodied soul to
the under world; the life they were assured of by Christ was not
only internal blessedness, but also the deliverance of the soul
from its subterranean prison and its reception into heaven in a
"body celestial," according to its original destiny had sin not
befallen. This interpretation is explicitly put forth by Theodoret
in his comments on this same passage, (Rom. v. 15-18.) He says,
"There must be a correspondence between the disease and the
remedy. Adam's sin subjected him to the power of death and the
tyranny of the devil. In the same manner that Adam was compelled
to descend into the under world, we all are associates in his
fate. Thus, when Christ rose, the whole humankind partook in his
vivification."7 Origen also and who, after the apostles
themselves, knew their thoughts and their use of language better
than he? emphatically declares in exposition of the expression of
Paul, "the wages of sin is death" that "the

7 Impatib., dialogue iii. pp. 132, 133, ed. Sirmondi.


under world in which souls are detained is called death."8

"As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."
These words cannot be explained, "As in Adam the necessity of
physical death came on all, so in Christ that necessity shall be
removed," because Christ's mission did not touch physical death,
which was still reigning as ever, before Paul's eyes. Neither can
the passage signify, "As through Adam wretchedness is the portion
of every heart of man, so through Christ blessedness shall be
given to every heart," because, while the language itself does not
hint that thought, the context demonstrates that the real
reference is not to an inward experience, but to an outward
event, not to the personal regeneration of the soul, but to a
general resurrection of the dead. The time referred to is the
second coming of Christ; and the force of the text must be this:
As by our bodily likeness to the first man and genetic connection
with him through sin we all die like him, that is, leave the body
and go into the under world, and remain there, so by our spiritual
likeness to the second man and redeeming connection with him
through the free grace of God we shall all rise thence like him,
revived and restored. Adam was the head of a condemned race,
doomed to Hades by the visible occurrence of death in lineal
descent from him; Christ is the head of a pardoned race, destined
for heaven in consonance with the plain token of his resurrection
and ascension. Again, the apostle writes, "In the twinkling of an
eye, at the last trump, the dead shall be raised incorruptible,
and we (who are then living) shall be changed; for this
corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal immortality.
Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, 'Death
is swallowed up in victory?" O Death, where is thy sting? O Hades,
where is thy victory?'" The writer evidently exults in the thought
that, at the second coming of Christ, death shall lose its
retributive character and the under world be baffled of its
expected prisoners, because the living shall instantly experience
the change of bodies fitting them to ascend to heaven with the
returning and triumphant Lord. Paul also announces that "Jesus
Christ hath abolished death and hath brought life and immortality
to light." The word "death" here cannot mean physical dissolution,
because Christ did not abolish that. It cannot denote personal sin
and unhappiness, because that would not correspond with and
sustain the obvious meaning of the contrasted member of the
sentence. Its adequate and consistent sense is this. God intended
that man should pass from a preliminary existence on earth to an
eternal life in heaven; but sin thwarted this glorious design and
altered our fate to a banishment into the cheerless under world.
But now, by the teachings and resurrection of Christ, we are
assured that God of his infinite goodness has determined freely to
forgive us and restore our original destination. Our descent and
abode below are abolished and our heavenly immortality made clear.
"We earnestly desire to be clothed upon with our house which is
from heaven, if so be that, being clothed, we shall not be found
naked. Not that we desire to be unclothed, but clothed upon, that
mortality may be swallowed up of life."

8 Comm. in Epist. ad Rom. lib. vi. cap. 6, sect. 6. Also see
Jerome, Comm. in Ecc. iii. 21. Professor Mau, in his able treatise
"Von dem Tode dem Solde der Sunden, and der Aufhebung desselben
durch die Auferstehung Christi," cogently argues, against Krabbe,
that death as the punishment of sin is not bodily dissolution, but
wretchedness and condemnation to the under world, (amandatio
Orcum.) In Pelt's Theologische Mitarbeiten, 1838, heft ii. ss.
107-108.


In these remarkable words the apostle expresses several particulars
of what we have already presented as his general doctrine. He
states his conviction that, when his "earthly house of this
tabernacle" dissolves, there is a "divinely constructed, heavenly,
and eternal house" prepared for him. He expresses his desire at
the coming of the Lord not to be dead, but still living, and then
to be divested of his earthly body and invested with the heavenly
body, that thus, being fitted for translation to the incorruptible
kingdom of God, he might not be found a naked shadow or ghost in
the under world. Ruckert says, in his commentary, and the best
critics agree with him, "Paul herein desires to become immortal
without passing the gates of death." Language similar to the
foregoing in its peculiar phrases is found in the Jewish Cabbala.
The Zohar describes the ascent of the soul to heaven clothed with
splendor, and afterwards illustrates its meaning in these terms:
"As there is given to the soul a garment with which she is clothed
in order to establish her in this world, so there is given her a
garment of heavenly splendor in order to establish her in that
world."9 So in the "Ascension of Isaiah the Prophet" an apocryphal
book written by some Jewish Christian as early, without doubt, as
the close of the second century the following passages occur.
Speaking of what was revealed to him in heaven, the prophet says,
"There I saw all the saints, from Adam, without the clothing of
the flesh: I viewed them in their heavenly clothing like the
angels who stood there in great splendor." Again he says, "All the
saints from heaven in their heavenly clothing shall descend with
the Lord and dwell in this world, while the saints who have not
died shall be clothed like those who come from heaven. Then the
general resurrection will take place and they will ascend together
to heaven."10 Schoettgen, commenting on this text, (2 Cor. v. 2, )
likewise quotes a large number of examples of like phraseology
from Rabbinical writers. The statements thus far made and proofs
offered will be amply illustrated and confirmed as we go on to
consider the chief component parts of the Pauline scheme of the
last things. For, having presented the general outline, it will be
useful, in treating so complex and difficult a theme, to analyze
it by details.

We are met upon the threshold of our inquiry by the essential
question, What, according to Paul, was the mission of Christ? What
did he accomplish? A clear reply to this question comprises three
distinct propositions. First, the apostle plainly represents the
resurrection, and not the crucifixion, as the efficacious feature
in Christ's work of redemption. When we recollect the almost
universal prevalence of the opposite notion among existing sects,
it is astonishing how clear it is that Paul generally dwells upon
the dying of Christ solely as the necessary preliminary to his
rising. "If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and
your faith also is vain: ye are yet in your sins." These words are
irreconcilable with that doctrine which connects our
"justification" with the atoning death, and not with the typical
resurrection, of Christ. "That Christ died for our sins, and that
he was buried, and that he rose again the third day." To place a
vicarious stress upon the first clause of this text is as
arbitrary as it would be to place it upon the second; but
naturally emphasize the third clause,

9 Laurence, Ascensio Isaia Vatis, appendix, p. 168.

10 Laurence, Ascensio Isaia atis, cap. 9, v. 7, 9; cap. 4.


and all is clear. The inferences and exhortations drawn from the
mission of Christ are not usually connected in any essential
manner with his painful death, but directly with his glorious
resurrection out from among the dead unto the heavenly
blessedness. "If we have been planted together in the likeness of
his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection."
Sinking into the water, when "buried by baptism into the death of
Christ," was, to those initiated into the Christian religion, a
symbol of the descent of Christ among the dead; rising out of the
water was a symbol of the ascent of Christ into heaven. "If ye
then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above,
where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God." When Paul cries,
exultingly, "Thanks be to God, who through Christ giveth us the
victory over the sting of death and the strength of sin," Jerome
says, "We cannot and dare not interpret this victory otherwise
than by the resurrection of the Lord."11 Commenting on the text
"To this end Christ both died and lived again, that he might reign
both over the dead and the living," Theodoret says that Christ,
going through all these events, "promised a resurrection to us
all." Paul makes no appeal to us to believe in the death of
Christ, to believe in the atoning sacrifice of Christ, but he
unequivocally affirms, "If thou shalt believe in thine heart that
God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Paul
conceived that Christ died in order to rise again and convince men
that the Father would freely deliver them from the bondage of
death in the under world. All this took place on account of sin,
was only made requisite by sin, one of whose consequences was the
subterranean confinement of the soul, which otherwise, upon
deserting its clayey tent, would immediately have been clothed
with a spiritual body and have ascended to heaven. That is to say,
Christ "was delivered because of our offences and was raised again
because of our justification." In Romans viii. 10 the preposition
occurs twice in exactly the same construction as in the text
just quoted. In the latter case the authors of the common version
have rendered it "because of." They should have done so in the
other instance, in accordance with the natural force and
established usage of the word in this connection. The meaning is,
Our offences had been committed, therefore Christ was delivered
into Hades; our pardon had been decreed, therefore Christ was
raised into heaven. Such as we have now stated is the real
material which has been distorted and exaggerated into the
prevalent doctrine of the vicarious atonement, with all its dread
concomitants.12 The believers of that doctrine suppose themselves
obliged to accept it by the language of the epistles. But the view
above maintained as that of Paul solves every difficulty and gives
an intelligent and consistent meaning to all the phrases usually
thought to legitimate the Calvinistic scheme of redemption. While
we deny the correctness of the Calvinistic interpretation of those
passages in which occur such expressions as "Christ gave himself
for us," "died for our sins," we also affirm the inadequacy

11 Comm. in Osee, lib. iii. cap. 13.

12 Die Lehre von Christi Hollenfahrt nach der Heil. Schrift, der
altesten Kirche, den Christlichen Symbolen, und nach ihrer
unendlichen Wichtigkeit und vielumfassenden Bedeutung dargestellt,
von Joh. Ludwig Konig. The author presents in this work an
irresistible array of citations and authorities. In an appendix he
gives a list of a hundred authors on the theme of Christ's descent
into hell.


of the explanations of them proposed by Unitarians, and assert
that their genuine force is this. Christ died and rose that we
might be freed through faith from the great entailed consequence
of sin, the bondage of the under world; beholding, through his
ascension, our heavenly destination restored. "God made him, who
knew no sin, to be sin on our account, that we might become the
righteousness of God in him," might through faith in him be
assured of salvation. In other words, Christ, who was not exposed
to the evils brought on men by sin, did not think his divine
estate a thing eagerly to be retained, but descended to the estate
of man, underwent the penalties of sin as if he were himself a
sinner, and then rose to the right hand of God, by this token to
assure men of God's gracious determination to forgive them and
reinstate them in their forfeited primal privileges. "If we be
reconciled by his death, much more shall we be saved by his life."
That is, if Christ's coming from heaven as an ambassador from God
to die convinces us of God's pardoning good will towards us, much
more does his rising again into heaven, where he now lives,
deliver us from the fear of the under world condemnation and
assure us of the heavenly salvation. Except in the light and with
the aid of the theory we have been urging, a large number of texts
like the foregoing cannot, as we think, be interpreted without
constructive violence, and even with that violence cannot convey
their full point and power.

Secondly, in Paul's doctrine of the redeeming work of Christ we
recognise something distinct from any subjective effect in
animating and purifying the hearts and lives of men. "Christ hath
redeemed us from the curse of the law." "In Christ we have
redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins."
Nothing but the most desperate exegesis can make these and many
similar texts signify simply the purging of individual breasts
from their offences and guilt. Seeking the genuine meaning of
Paul, we are forced to agree with the overwhelming majority of the
critics and believers of all Christendom, from the very times of
the apostles till now, and declare that these passages refer to an
outward deliverance of men by Christ, the removal by him of a
common doom resting on the race in consequence of sin. What Paul
supposed that doom was, and how he thought it was removed, let us
try to see. It is necessary to premise that in Paul's writings the
phrase "the righteousness of God" is often used by metonymy to
mean God's mode of accounting sinners righteous, and is equivalent
to "the Christian method of salvation." "By the deeds of the law
no flesh shall be justified; but the righteousness of God without
the law is manifested, freely justifying them through the
redemption that is in Christ." How evidently in this verse "the
righteousness of God" denotes God's method of justifying the
guilty by a free pardon proclaimed through Christ! The apostle
employs the word "faith" in a kindred technical manner, sometimes
meaning by it "promise," sometimes the whole evangelic apparatus
used to establish faith or prove the realization of the promise.
"What if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith
of God without effect?" Evidently by "faith" is intended "promise"
or "purpose." "Is the law against the promises of God? God forbid!
But before faith came we were kept under the law, shut up unto the
faith which should afterwards be revealed." Here "faith" plainly
means the object of faith, the manifested fulfilment of the
promises: it means the gospel. Again, "Whereof he hath offered
faith to all, in that he hath raised him from the dead." "Hath
offered faith" here signifies, unquestionably, as the common
version well expresses it, "hath given assurance," or hath
exemplified the proof. "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to
bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But
after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster."
In this instance "faith" certainly means Christianity, in
contradistinction to Judaism, and "justification by faith" is
equivalent to "salvation by the grace of God, shown through the
mission of Christ." It is not so much internal and individual in
its reference as it is public and general. We believe that no man,
sacredly resolved to admit the truth, can study with a purposed
reference to this point all the passages in Paul's epistles where
the word "faith" occurs, without being convinced that for the most
part it is used in an objective sense, in contradistinction to the
law, as synonymous with the gospel, the new dispensation of grace.
Therefore "justification by faith" does not usually mean salvation
through personal belief, either in the merits of the Redeemer or
in any thing else, but it means salvation by the plan revealed in
the gospel, the free remission of sins by the forbearance of God.
In those instances where "faith" is used in a subjective sense for
personal belief, it is never described as the effectual cause of
salvation, but as the condition of personal assurance of
salvation. Grace has outwardly come to all; but only the believers
inwardly know it. This Pauline use of terms in technical senses
lies broadly on the face of the Epistles to the Romans and the
Galatians. New Testament lexicons and commentaries, by the best
scholars of every denomination, acknowledge it and illustrate it.
Mark now these texts. "And by him all that believe are justified
from all things from which ye could not be justified by the law of
Moses." "To declare his righteousness, that he might be just and
the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus." "What things were
gain to me [under Judaism] I counted loss in comparison with
Christ, that I may be found in him, not having mine own
righteousness, which is of the law, but the righteousness which is
of God through faith in Christ." "By the deeds of the law no man
can be justified," "but ye are saved through faith." We submit
that these passages, and many others in the epistles, find a
perfect explanation in the following outline of faith, commenced
in the mind of Paul while he was a Pharisee, completed when he was
a Christian. The righteousness of the law, the method of salvation
by keeping the law, is impossible. The sin of the first man broke
that whole plan and doomed all souls helplessly to the under
world. If a man now should keep every tittle of the law without
reservation, it would not release him from the bondage below and
secure for him an ascent to heaven. But what the law could not do
is done for us in Christ. Sin having destroyed the righteousness
of the law, that is, the fatal penalty of Hades having rendered
salvation by the law impossible, the righteousness of God, that
is, a new method of salvation, has been brought to light. God has
sent his Son to die, descend into the under world, rise again, and
return to heaven, to proclaim to men the glorious tidings of
justification by faith, that is, a dispensation of grace freely
annulling the great consequence of sin and inviting them to heaven
in the Redeemer's footsteps. Paul unequivocally declares that
Christ broke up the bondage of the under world by his irresistible
entrance and exit, in the following text: "When he had descended
first into the lower parts of the earth, he ascended up on high,
leading a multitude of captives." What can be plainer than that?
The same thought is also contained in another passage, a passage
which was the source of those tremendous pictures so frequent in
the cathedrals of the Middle Age,  Christus spoliat Infernum: "God
hath forgiven you all trespasses, blotting out the handwriting of
ordinances that was against us, and took it away, nailing it to
Christ's cross; and, having spoiled principalities and powers, he
made a show of them, openly triumphing over them in Christ." The
entire theory which underlies the exposition we have just set
forth is stated in so many words in the passage we next cite. For
the word "righteousness" in order to make the meaning more
perspicuous we simply substitute "method of salvation," which is
unquestionably its signification here. "They [the Jews] being
ignorant of God's method of salvation, and going about to
establish their own method, have not submitted themselves unto
God's. For Christ is the end of the law for a way of salvation to
every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the method of
salvation which is of the law, that the man who doeth these things
shall be blessed in them. But the method of salvation which is of
faith ["faith" here means the gospel, Christianity] speaketh on
this wise: Say not in thy heart, 'Who shall ascend into heaven?'
that is, to bring Christ down; or, 'Who shall descend into the
under world?' that is, to bring up Christ again from among the
dead." This has been done already, once for all. "And if thou
shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the
dead, thou shalt be saved." The apostle avows that his "heart's
desire and his prayer unto God for Israel is, that they may be
saved;" and he asserts that they cannot be saved by the law of
Moses, but only by the gospel of Christ; that is, "faith;" that
is, "the dispensation of grace."

Paul's conception of the foremost feature in Christ's mission is
precisely this. He came to deliver men from the stern law of
Judaism, which could not wipe away their transgressions nor save
them from Hades, and to establish them in the free grace of
Christianity, which justifies them from all past sin and seals
them for heaven. What could be a more explicit declaration of this
than the following? "When the fulness of the time was come, God
sent forth his Son to redeem them that were under the law." Herein
is the explanation of that perilous combat which Paul waged so
many years, and in which he proved victorious, the great battle
between the Gentile Christians and the Judaizing Christians; a
subject of altogether singular importance, without a minute
acquaintance with which a large part of the New Testament cannot
be understood. "Christ gave himself for our sins, that he might
deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of
God." Now, the Hebrew terms corresponding with the English terms
"present world" and "future world" were used by the Jews to denote
the Mosaic and the Messianic dispensations. We believe with
Schoettgen and other good authorities that such is the sense of
the phrase "present world" in the instance before us. Not only is
that interpretation sustained by the usus loquendi, it is also the
only defensible meaning; for the effect of the establishment of
the gospel was not to deliver men from the present world, though
it did deliver them from the hopeless bondage of Judaism, wherein
salvation was by Christians considered impossible. And that is
precisely the argument of the Epistle to the Galatians, in which
the text occurs. In a succeeding chapter, while speaking expressly
of the external forms of the Jewish law, Paul says, "By the cross
of Christ the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world;"
and he instantly adds, by way of explanation, "for in Christ Jesus
neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision."
Undeniably, "world" here means "Judaism;" as Rosenmuller phrases
it, Judaica vanitas. In another epistle, while expostulating with
his readers on the folly of subjecting themselves to observances
"in meat and drink, and new moons and sabbaths," after "the
handwriting of ordinances that was against them had been blotted
out, taken away, nailed to the cross," Paul remonstrates with them
in these words: "Wherefore, if ye be dead with Christ from the
rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye
subject to ordinances?" We should suppose that no intelligent
person could question that this means, "Now that by the gospel of
Christ ye are emancipated from the technical requisitions of
Judaism, why are ye subject to its ordinances, as if ye were still
living under its rule?" as many of the best commentators agree in
saying, "tanquam viventes adhuc in Judaismo." From these
collective passages, and from others like them, we draw the
conclusion, in Paul's own words, that, "When we were children, we
were in bondage under the rudiments of the world," "the weak and
beggarly elements" of Judaism; but, now that "the fulness of the
time has come, and God has sent forth his Son to redeem us," we
are called "to receive the adoption of sons" and "become heirs of
God," inheritors of a heavenly destiny.

We think that the intelligent and candid reader, who is familiar
with Paul's epistles, will recognise the following features in his
belief and teaching. First, all mankind alike were under sin and
condemnation. "Jews and Gentiles all are under sin." "All the
world is subject to the sentence of God." And we maintain that
that condemning sentence consisted, partly at least, in the
banishment of their disembodied souls to Hades. Secondly, "a
promise was given to Abraham," before the introduction of the
Mosaic dispensation, "that in his seed [that is, in Christ] all
the nations of the earth should be blessed." When Paul speaks, as
he does in numerous instances, of "the hope of eternal life which
God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began," "the
promise given before the foundation of the world," "the promise
made of God unto the fathers, that God would raise the dead," the
date referred to is not when the decree was formed in the eternal
counsels of God, previous to the origin of the earth, but when the
covenant was made with Abraham, before the establishment of the
Jewish dispensation. The thing promised plainly was, according to
Paul's idea, a redemption from Hades and an ascension to heaven;
for this is fully implied in his "expectation of the resurrection
of the dead" from the intermediate state, and their being "clothed
in celestial bodies." This promise made unto Abraham by God, to be
fulfilled by Christ, "the law, which was four hundred and thirty
years afterwards, could not disannul." That is, as any one may see
by the context, the law could not secure the inheritance of the
thing promised, but was only a temporary arrangement on account of
transgressions, "until the seed should come to whom the promise
was made." In other words, there was "no mode of salvation by the
law;" "the law could not give life;" for if it could it would have
"superseded the promise," made it without effect, whereas the
inviolable promise of God was, that in the one seed of Abraham
that is, in Christ alone should salvation be preached to all that
believed. "For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is
made useless, and the promise is made useless." In the mean time,
until Christ be come, all are shut up under sin. Thirdly, the
special "advantage of the Jews was, that unto them this promise of
God was committed," as the chosen covenant people.

The Gentiles, groaning under the universal sentence of sin,
were ignorant of the sure promise of a common salvation yet
to be brought. While the Jews indulged in glowing and exclusive
expectations of the Messiah who was gloriously to redeem them, the
Gentiles were "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers
from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in
the world." Fourthly, in the fulness of time long after "the
Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen, had
preached the gospel beforehand unto Abraham, saying, In thy seed
shall all nations be blessed" "Christ redeemed us from the curse
of the law, being made a curse for us, that the blessing promised
to Abraham might come upon the Gentiles." It was the precise
mission of Christ to realize and exemplify and publish to the
whole world the fulfilment of that promise. The promise itself
was, that men should be released from the under world through the
imputation of righteousness by grace that is, through free
forgiveness and rise to heaven as accredited sons and heirs of
God. This aim and purpose of Christ's coming were effected in his
resurrection. But how did the Gentiles enter into belief and
participation of the glad tidings? Thus, according to Paul: The
death, descent, resurrection, and ascent of Jesus, and his
residence in heaven in a spiritual form, divested him of his
nationality.13 He was "then to be known no more after the flesh."
He was no longer an earthly Jew, addressing Jews, but a heavenly
spirit and son of God, a glorified likeness of the spirits of all
who were adopted as sons of God, appealing to them all as joint
heirs with himself of heaven. He has risen into universality, and
is accessible to the soul of every one that believeth. "In him
there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision,
barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free." The experience resulting in a
heart raised into fellowship with him in heaven is the inward seal
assuring us that our faith is not vain. "Ye Gentiles, who formerly
were afar off, are now made nigh by the blood of Christ; for he
hath broken down the middle wall of partition between Jews and
Gentiles, having abolished in his flesh the enmity, namely, the
law of commandments in ordinances, in order to make in himself of
twain one new man. For through him we both have access by one
spirit unto the Father. Now, therefore, ye are no more strangers
and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and of the
household of God." Circumcision was of the flesh; and the vain
hope of salvation by it was confined to the Jews. Grace was of the
spirit; and the revealed assurance of salvation by it was given to
the Gentiles too, when Christ died to the nationalizing flesh,
rose in the universalizing spirit, and from heaven impartially
exhibited himself, through the preaching of the gospel, to the
appropriating faith of all.

The foregoing positions might be further substantiated by applying
the general theory they contain to the explication of scores of
individual texts which it fits and unfolds, and which, we think,
cannot upon any other view be interpreted without forced
constructions unwarranted by a thorough acquaintance with the mind
of Paul and with the mind of his age. But we must be content with
one or two such applications as specimens. The word "mystery"
often occurs in the letters of Paul. Its current meaning in his
time was "something concealed," something into which one must be
initiated in order to understand it.

13 Martineau, Liverpool Controversy: Inconsistency of the Scheme
of Vicarious Redemption.


The Eleusinian Mysteries, for instance, were not necessarily any thing
intrinsically dark and hard to be comprehended, but things hidden
from public gaze and only to be known by initiation into them.
Paul uses the term in a similar way to denote the peculiar scheme
of grace, which "had been kept secret from the beginning of the
world," "hidden from ages and generations, but now made manifest."
No one denies that Paul means by "this mystery" the very heart and
essence of the gospel, precisely that which distinguishes it from
the law and makes it a universal method of salvation, a wondrous
system of grace. So much is irresistibly evident from the way and
the connection in which he uses the term. He writes thus in
explanation of the great mystery as it was dramatically revealed
through Christ: "Who was manifested in the flesh, [i. e. seen in
the body during his life on earth,] justified in the spirit,
[i. e. freed after death from the necessity of imprisonment in
Hades,] seen of angels, [i. e. in their fellowship after his
resurrection,] preached unto the Gentiles, [i. e. after the gift
of tongues on Pentecost day,] believed on in the world, [i. e. his
gospel widely accepted through the labors of his disciples,]
received up into glory, [i. e. taken into heaven to the presence
of God.]" "The revelation of the mystery" means, then, the visible
enactment and exhibition, through the resurrection of Christ, of
God's free forgiveness of men, redeeming them from the Hadean
gloom to the heavenly glory. The word "glory" in the New Testament
confessedly often signifies the illumination of heaven, the
defined abode of God and his angels. Robinson collects, in his
Lexicon, numerous examples wherein he says it means "that state
which is the portion of those who dwell with God in heaven." Now,
Paul repeatedly speaks of the calling of believers to glory as one
of the chief blessings and new prerogatives of the gospel. "Being
justified by faith, we rejoice in hope of the glory of God." "Walk
worthy of God, who hath called you unto his glory." "We speak
wisdom to the initiates, the hidden wisdom of God in a mystery,
which before the world [the Jewish dispensation] God ordained for
our glory." "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God:
behold, I show you a mystery: we shall all be changed in a moment,
and put on immortality." In the first chapter of the letter to the
Colossians, Paul speaks of "the hope which is laid up for you in
heaven, whereof ye have heard in the gospel;" also of "the
inheritance of the saints in light:" then he says, "God would now
make known among the Gentiles the mystery, which is, Christ among
you, the hope of glory." In the light of what has gone before, how
significant and how clear is this declaration! "All have sinned,
and failed to attain unto the glory of God; but now, through the
faith of Jesus Christ, [through the dispensation brought to light
by Christ,] the righteousness of God [God's method of salvation]
is unto all that believe." That is, by the law all were shut up in
Hades, but by grace they are now ransomed and to be received to
heaven. The same thought or scheme is contained in that remarkable
passage in the Epistle to the Galatians where Paul says the free
Isaac and the bond woman Hagar were an allegory, teaching that
there were two covenants, one by Abraham, the other by Moses. The
Mosaic covenant of the law "answers to the Jerusalem which is on
earth, and is in bondage with her children," and belongs only to
the Jews. The Abrahamic covenant of promise answers to "the
Jerusalem which is above, and is free, and is the mother of us
all." In the former, we were "begotten unto bondage." In the
latter, "Christ hath made us free."

We will notice but one more text in passing: it is, of all the
proof texts of the doctrine of a substitutional expiation, the one
which has ever been regarded as the very Achilles. And yet it can
be made to support that doctrine only by the aid of arbitrary
assumptions and mistranslations, while by its very terms it
perfectly coincides with nay, expressly declares  the theory which
we have been advocating as the genuine interpretation of Paul. The
usual commentators, in their treatment of this passage, have
exhibited a long continued series of perversions and sophisms,
affording a strong example of unconscious prejudice. The correct
Greek reading of the text is justly rendered thus: "Whom God set
forth, a mercy seat through the faith in his blood, to exhibit his
righteousness through the remission of former sins by the
forbearance of God." For rendering [non-ASCII characters]
"mercy seat," the usus loquendi and the internal harmony of meaning
are in our favor, and also the weight of many orthodox authorities,
such as Theodoret, Origen, Theophylact, OEcumenius, Erasmus, Luther,
and from Pelagius to Bushnell. Still, we are willing to admit the
rendering of it by "sin offering." That makes no important
difference in the result. Christ was a sin offering, in the
conception of Paul, in this sense: that when he was not himself
subject to death, which was the penalty of sin, he yet died in
order to show God's purpose of removing that penalty of sin
through his resurrection. For rendering [non-ASCII characters]
"through," no defence is needed: the only wonder is, how it ever
could have been here translated "for." Now, let two or three facts
be noticed.

First, the New Testament phrase "the faith of Christ," "the faith of
Jesus," is very unfairly and unwarrantably made to mean an
internal affection towards Christ, a belief of men in him. Its
genuine meaning is the same as "the gospel of Christ," or the
religion of Christ, the system of grace which he brought.14 Who
can doubt that such is the meaning of the word in these instances?
"Contend for the faith once delivered to the saints;" "Greet them
that love us in the faith;" "Have not the faith of our Lord Jesus
Christ with respect of persons." So, in the text now under our
notice, "the faith which is in his blood" means the dispensation
of pardon and justification, the system of faith, which was
confirmed and exemplified to us in his death and resurrection.
Secondly, "the righteousness of God," which is here said to be
"pointed out" by Christ's death, denotes simply, in Professor
Stuart's words, "God's pardoning mercy," or "acquittal," or
"gratuitous justification," "in which sense," he says truly, "it
is almost always used in Paul's epistles."15 It signifies neither
more nor less than God's method of salvation by freely forgiving
sins and treating the sinner as if he were righteous, the method
of salvation now carried into effect and revealed in the gospel
brought by Christ, and dramatically enacted in his passion and
ascension. Furthermore, we ask attention to the fact that the
ordinary interpreter, hard pressed by his unscriptural creed,
interpolates a disjunctive conjunction in the opposing teeth of
Paul's plain statement. Paul says, as the common version has it,
God is "just, and [i. e. even] the justifier." The creed bound
commentators read it,

14 Robinson has gathered a great number of instances in his
Lexicon, under the word "Faith," wherein it can only mean, as he
says, "the system of Christian doctrines, the gospel."

15 Stuart's Romans i. 17, iii. 25, 26, &c.


"just and yet the justifier." We will now present the true meaning
of the whole passage, in our view of it, according to Paul's own
use of language. To establish a conviction of the correctness of
the exposition, we only ask the ingenuous reader carefully to
study the clauses of the Greek text and recollect the foregoing
data. "God has set Christ forth, to be to us a sure sign that we
have been forgiven and redeemed through the faith that was proved
by his triumphant return from death, the dispensation of grace
inaugurated by him. Herein God has exhibited his method of saving
sinners, which is by the free remission of their sins through his
kindness. Thus God is proved to be disposed to save, and to be
saving, by the system of grace shown through Jesus, him that
believeth." In consequence of sin, men were under sentence of
condemnation to the under world. In the fulness of time God
fulfilled his ancient promise to Abraham. He freely justified
men, that is, forgave them, redeemed them from their doom, and
would soon open the sky for their abode with him. This scheme of
redemption was carried out by Christ. That is to say, God
proclaimed it to men, and asked their belief in it, by "setting
forth Christ" to die, descend among the dead, rise thence, and
ascend into heaven, as an exemplifying certification of the truth
of the glad tidings.

Thirdly, Paul teaches that one aim of Christ's mission was to
purify, animate, and exalt the moral characters of men, and
rectify their conduct, to produce a subjective sanctification in
them, and so prepare them for judgment and fit them for heaven.
The establishment of this proposition will conclude the present
part of our subject. He writes, "Our Saviour, Jesus Christ, gave
himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity and
purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works." "Let
every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." In
various ways he often represents the fact that believers have been
saved by grace through Christ as the very reason, the intensified
motive, why they should scrupulously keep every tittle of the
moral law and abstain even from the appearance of evil, walking
worthy of their high vocation. "The grace of God that bringeth
salvation to all men hath appeared, teaching us that, denying all
ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly,
righteously, and godly in this present world." Bad men, "that obey
not the gospel of Christ," such characters as "thieves,
extortioners, drunkards, adulterers, shall not inherit the kingdom
of God." He proclaims, in unmistakable terms, "God will render to
every man according to his deeds, wrath and tribulation to the
evil doer, honor and peace to the well doer, whether Jew or
Gentile." The conclusion to be drawn from these and other like
declarations is unavoidable. It is that "every one, Jew and
Gentile, shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ and
receive according to the deeds done in the body; for there is no
respect of persons." And one part of Christ's mission was to exert
a hallowing moral influence on men, to make them righteous, that
they might pass the bar with acquittal. But the reader who
recollects the class of texts adduced a little while since will
remember that an opposite conclusion was as unequivocally drawn
from them. Then Paul said, "By faith ye are justified, without the
deeds of the law." Now he says, "For not the hearers of the law
are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified
in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus
Christ." Is there a contradiction, then, in Paul? Only in
appearance. Let us distinguish and explain. In the two quotations
above, the apostle is referring to two different things.

First, he would say, By the faith of Christ, the free grace of God
declared in the gospel of Christ, ye are justified, gratuitously
delivered from that necessity of imprisonment in Hades which is
the penalty of sin doomed upon the whole race from Adam, and from
which no amount of personal virtue could avail to save men.
Secondly, when he exclaims, "Know ye not that the unrighteous
shall not inherit the kingdom of God?" his thought is of a
spiritual qualification of character, indispensable for positive
admission among the blest in heaven. That is to say, the impartial
penalty of primeval sin consigned all men to Hades. They could not
by their own efforts escape thence and win heaven. That fated
inability God has removed, and through Christ revealed its
removal; but, that one should actually obtain the offered and
possible prize of heaven, personal purity, faith, obedience,
holiness, are necessary. In Paul's conception of the scheme of
Christian salvation, then, there were two distinct parts: one,
what God had done for all; the other, what each man was to do for
himself. And the two great classes of seemingly hostile texts
filling his epistles, which have puzzled so many readers, become
clear and harmonious when we perceive and remember that by
"righteousness" and its kindred terms he sometimes means the
external and fulfilled method of redeeming men from the
transmitted necessity of bondage in the under world, and sometimes
means the internal and contingent qualifications for actually
realizing that redemption. In the former instance he refers to the
objective mode of salvation and the revelation of it in Christ. In
the latter, he refers to the subjective fitness for that salvation
and the certitude of it in the believer. So, too, the words
"death" and "life," in Paul's writings, are generally charged, by
a constructio proegnans, with a double sense, one spiritual,
individual, contingent, the other mechanical, common, absolute.
Death, in its full Pauline force, includes inward guilt,
condemnation, and misery, and outward descent into the under
world. Life, in its full Pauline force, includes inward rectitude,
peace, and joy, and outward ascent into the upper world. Holiness
is necessary, "for without it no one can see the Lord;" yet by
itself it can secure only inward life: it is ineffectual to win
heaven. Grace by itself merely exempts from the fatality of the
condemnation to Hades: it offers eternal life in heaven only upon
condition of "patient continuance in well doing" by "faith,
obedience to the truth, and sanctification of the spirit." But
God's free grace and man's diligent fidelity, combined, give the
full fruition of blessedness in the heart and of glory and
immortality in the sky.

Such, as we have set forth in the foregoing three divisions, was
Paul's view of the mission of Christ and of the method of
salvation. It has been for centuries perverted and mutilated. The
toil now is by unprejudiced inspection to bring it forward in its
genuine completeness, as it stood in Paul's own mind and in the
minds of his contemporaries. The essential view, epitomized in a
single sentence, is this. The independent grace of God has
interfered, first, to save man from Hades, and secondly, to enable
him, by the co operation of his own virtue, to get to heaven. Here
are two separate means conjoined to effect the end, salvation.
Now, compare, in the light of this statement, the three great
theological theories of Christendom. The UNITARIAN, overlooking
the objective justification, or offered redemption from the death
realm to the sky home, which whether it be a truth or an error is
surely in the epistles, makes the subjective sanctification all in
all. The CALVINIST, in his theory, comparatively scorns the
subjective sanctification, which Paul insists on as a necessity
for entering the kingdom of God, and, having perverted the
objective justification from its real historic meaning,
exaggerates it into the all in all. The ROMAN CATHOLIC holds that
Christ simply removed the load of original sin and its entailed
doom, and left each person to stand or fall by his own merits, in
the helping communion of the Church. He also maintains that a part
of Christ's office was to exert an influence for the moral
improvement and consecration of human character. His error, as an
interpreter of Paul's thought, is, that he, like the Calvinist,
attributes to Christ's death a vicarious efficacy by suffering the
pangs of mankind's guilt to buy their ransom from the inexorable
justice of God; whereas the apostle really represents Christ's
redeeming mission as consisting simply in a dramatic
exemplification of the Father's spontaneous love and purpose to
pardon past offences, unbolt the gates of Hades, and receive the
worthy to heaven. Moreover, while Paul describes the heavenly
salvation as an undeserved gift from the grace of God, the
Catholic often seems to make it a prize to be earned, under the
Christian dispensation, by good works which may fairly challenge
that reward. However, we have little doubt that this apparent
opposition is rather in the practical mode of exhortation than in
any interior difference of dogma; for Paul himself makes personal
salvation hinge on personal conditions, the province of grace
being seen in the new extension to man of the opportunity and
invitation to secure his own acceptance. And so the Roman Catholic
exposition of Paul's doctrine is much more nearly correct than any
other interpretation now prevalent. We should expect, a priori,
that it would be, since that Church, containing two thirds of
Christendom, is the most intimately connected, by its scholars,
members, and traditions, with the apostolic age.

A prominent feature in the belief of Paul, and one deserving
distinct notice as necessarily involving a considerable part of
the theory which we have attributed to him, is the supposition
that Christ was the first person, clothed with humanity and
experiencing death, admitted into heaven. Of all the hosts who had
lived and died, every soul had gone down into the dusky under
world. There they all were held in durance, waiting for the Great
Deliverer. In the splendors of the realm over the sky, God and his
angels dwelt alone. That we do not err in ascribing this belief to
Paul we might summon the whole body of the Fathers to testify in
almost unbroken phalanx, from Polycarp to St. Bernard. The Roman,
Greek, and English Churches still maintain the same dogma. But the
apostle's own plain words will be sufficient for our purpose.
"That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that
should rise from among the dead." "Now is Christ risen from among
the dead and become the first fruits of them that slept." "He is
the beginning, the first born from among the dead, that among all
he might have the pre eminence." "God raised Christ from among the
dead, and set him at his own right hand16 in the heavenly places,
far above every principality, and power, and might, and dominion."
The last words refer to different orders of spirits, supposed

16 Griesbach argues at length, and shows unanswerably, that this
passage cannot bear a moral interpretation, but necessarily has a
physical and local sense. Griesbachii Opuscula Academica, ed.
Gabler, vol. ii. pp. 145-149.


by the Jews to people the aerial region below the heaven of God.
"God hath" (already in our anticipating faith) "raised us up
together with Christ and made us sit in heavenly places with him."
These testimonies are enough to show that Paul believed Jesus to
have been raised up to the abode of God, the first man ever
exalted thither, and that this was done as a pledge and
illustration of the same exaltation awaiting those who believe.
"If we be dead with Christ, we believe we shall also live with
him." And the apostle teaches that we are not only connected with
Christ's resurrection by the outward order and sequence of events,
but also by an inward gift of the spirit. He says that to every
obedient believer is given an experimental "knowledge of the power
of the resurrection of Christ," which is the seal of God within
him, the pledge of his own celestial destination. "After that ye
believed, ye were sealed with that holy spirit of promise which is
the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the
purchased possession." The office of this gift of the spirit is to
awaken in the believing Christian a vivid realization of the
things in store for him, and a perfect conviction that he shall
yet possess them in the unclouded presence of God, beyond the
canopy of azure and the stars. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man conceived, the things which God hath prepared
for them that love him. But he hath revealed them unto us; for we
have received his spirit, that we might know them." "The spirit
beareth witness with our spirit that we are children and heirs of
God, even joint heirs with Christ, that we may be glorified [i. e.
advanced into heaven] with him."

We will leave this topic with a brief paraphrase of the celebrated
passage in the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. "Not
only do the generality of mankind groan in pain in this decaying
state, under the bondage of perishable elements, travailing for
emancipation from the flesh into the liberty of the heavenly glory
appointed for the sons and heirs of God, but even we, who have the
first fruits of the spirit, [i. e. the assurance springing from
the resurrection of Christ,] we too wait, painfully longing for
the adoption, that is, our redemption from the body." By longing
for the adoption, or filiation, is meant impatient desire to be
received into heaven as children to the enjoyment of the
privileges of their Father's house. "God predetermined that those
called should be conformed to the image of his Son, [i. e. should
pass through the same course with Christ and reach the heavenly
goal,] that he might be the first born among many brethren." To
the securing of this end, "whom he called, them he also justified,
[i. e. ransomed from Hades;17] and whom he justified, them he also
glorified," (i. e. advanced to the glory of heaven.) It is evident
that Paul looked for the speedy second coming of the Lord in the
clouds of heaven, with angels and power and glory. He expected
that at that time all enemies would be overthrown and punished,
the dead would be raised, the living would be changed, and all
that were Christ's would be translated to heaven.18 "The Lord
Jesus shall be revealed from

17 That "justify" often means, in Paul's usage, to absolve from
Hades, we have concluded from a direct study of his doctrines and
language. We find that Bretschneider gives it the same definition
in his Lexicon of the New Testament. See [non ASCII characters]

18 "Every one shall rise in his own division" of the great army of
the dead, "Christ, the first fruits; afterwards, they that are
Christ's, at his coming."


heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance
on them that know not God and obey not the gospel of Christ." "We
shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, at
the last trump." "We who are alive and remain until the coming of
the Lord shall not anticipate those that are asleep. For the Lord
himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of
the archangel, and with the trump of God;19 and the dead in Christ
shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught
up with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so we
shall always be with the Lord. Brethren, you need not that I
should specify the time to you; for yourselves are perfectly aware
that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night." "The
time is short." "I pray God your whole spirit, soul, and body be
preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." "At
his appearing he shall judge the living and the dead." "The Lord
is at hand." The author of these sentences undeniably looked for
the great advent soon. Than Paul, indeed, no one more earnestly
believed (or did more to strengthen in others that belief) in that
speedy return of Christ, the anticipation of which thrilled all
early Christendom with hope and dread, and kept the disciples day
and night on the stretch and start of expectation to hear the
awful blast of the judgment trump and to see the glorious vision
of the Son of God descending amidst a convoy of angels. What
sublime emotions must have rushed through the apostle's soul when
he thought that he, as a survivor of death's reign on earth, might
behold the resurrection without himself entering the grave! Upon a
time when he should be perchance at home, or at Damascus, or, it
might be, at Jerusalem, the sun would become as blood, the moon as
sackcloth of hair, the last trump would swell the sky, and,

"Lo! the nations of the dead, Which do outnumber all earth's
races, rise, And high in sumless myriads overhead Sweep past him
in a cloud, as 'twere the skirts Of the Eternal passing by."

The resurrection which Paul thought would attend the second coming
of Christ was the rising of the summoned spirits of the deceased
from their rest in the under world. Most certainly it was not the
restoration of their decomposed bodies from their graves, although
that incredible surmise has been generally entertained. He says,
while answering the question, How are the dead raised up, and with
what body do they come? "That which thou sowest, thou sowest not
that body which shall be, but naked grain: God giveth it a body as
it hath pleased him." The comparison is, that so the naked soul is
sown in the under world, and God, when he raiseth it, giveth it a
fitting body. He does not hesitate to call the man "a fool" who
expects the restoration of the same body that was buried. His
whole argument is explicitly against that idea. "There are bodies
celestial, as well as bodies terrestrial: the first man was

19 Rabbi Akiba says, in the Talmud, "God shall take and blow a
trumpet a thousand godlike yards in length, whose echo shall sound
from end to end of the world. At the first blast the earth shall
tremble. At the second, the dust shall part. At the third, the
bones shall come together. At the fourth, the members shall grow
warm. At the fifth, they shall be crowned with the head. At the
sixth, the soul shall re enter the body. And at the seventh, they
shall stand erect." Corrodi, Geschichte des Chiliasmus, band i. s.
355.


of the earth, earthy; the second man was the Lord from heaven; and
as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the
image of the heavenly; for flesh and blood cannot inherit the
kingdom of God." In view of these declarations, it is astonishing
that any one can suppose that Paul believed in the resurrection of
these present bodies and in their transference into heaven. "In
this tabernacle we groan, being burdened," and, "Who shall deliver
me from this body of death?" he cries. If ever there was a man
whose goading experience, keen intellectual energies, and moral
sensibilities, made him weary of this slow, gross body, and
passionately to long for a more corresponding, swift, and pure
investiture, it was Paul. And in his theory of "the glorious body
of Christ, according to which our vile body shall be changed," he
relieved his impatience and fed his desire. What his conception of
that body was, definitely, we cannot tell; but doubtless it was
the idea of a vehicle adapted to his mounting and ardent soul, and
in many particulars very unlike this present groaning load of
clay. The epistles of Paul contain no clear implication of the
notion of a millennium, a thousand years' reign of Christ with his
saints on the earth after his second advent. On the contrary, in
many places, particularly in the fourth chapter of the First
Epistle to the Thessalonians, (supposing that letter to be his,)
he says that the Lord and they that are his will directly pass
into heaven after the consummation of his descent from heaven and
their resurrection from the dead. But the declaration "He must
reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet," taken with its
context, is thought, by Bertholdt, Billroth, De Wette, and others,
to imply that Christ would establish a millennial kingdom on
earth, and reign in it engaged in vanquishing all hostile forces.
Against this exegesis we have to say, first, that, so far as that
goes, the vast preponderance of critical authorities is opposed to
it. Secondly, if this conquest were to be secured on earth, there
is nothing to show that it need occupy much time: one hour might
answer for it as well as a thousand years. There is nothing here
to show that Paul means just what the Rabbins taught. Thirdly,
even if Paul supposed a considerable period must elapse before
"all enemies" would be subdued, during which period Christ must
reign, it does not follow that he believed that reign would be on
earth: it might be in heaven. The "enemies" referred to are, in
part at least, the wicked spirits occupying the regions of the
upper air; for he specifies these "principalities, authorities,
and powers."20 And the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews
represents God as saying to Jesus, "Sit thou on my right hand,
until I make thine enemies thy footstool." Fourthly, it seems
certain that, if in the apostle's thought a thousand years were
interpolated between Christ's second coming and the delivering of
his mediatorial sceptre to God, he would have said so, at least
somewhere in his writings. He would naturally have dwelt upon it a
little, as the Chiliasts did so much. Instead of that, he
repeatedly contradicts it. Upon the whole, then, with Ruckert, we
cannot

20 The apocryphal "Ascension of Isaiah," already spoken of, gives
a detailed description of the upper air as occupied by Satan and
his angels, among whom fighting and evil deeds rage; but Christ in
his ascent conquers and spoils them all, and shows himself a
victor ever brightening as he rises successively through the whole
seven heavens to the feet of God. Ascensio Vatis Isaia, cap. vi x.


see any reason for not supposing that, according to Paul, "the
end" was immediately to succeed "the coming," as  [non-ASCII
characters] would properly indicate.

The doctrine of a long earthly reign of Christ is not deduced
from this passage, by candid interpretation, because it must be
there, but foisted into it, by Rabbinical information, because
it may be there.

Paul distinctly teaches that the believers who died before the
second coming of the Savior would remain in the under world until
that event, when they and the transformed living should ascend
"together with the Lord." All the relevant expressions in his
epistles, save two, are obviously in harmony with this conception
of a temporary subterranean sojourn, waiting for the appearance of
Jesus from heaven to usher in the resurrection. But in the fifth
chapter of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians he writes,
"Abiding in the body we are absent from the Lord." It is usually
inferred, from these words and those which follow them, that the
apostle expected whenever he died to be instantly with Christ.
Certainly they do mean pretty nearly that; but they mean it in
connection with the second advent and the accompanying
circumstances and events; for Paul believed that many of the
disciples  possibly himself would live until Christ's coming. All
through these two chapters (the fourth and fifth) it is obvious,
from the marked use of the terms "we" and "you," and from other
considerations, that "we" here refers solely to the writer, the
individual Paul. It is the plural of accommodation used by common
custom and consent. In the form of a slight paraphrase we may
unfold the genuine meaning of the passage in hand. "In this body I
am afflicted: not that I would merely be released from it, for
then I should be a naked spirit. But I earnestly desire,
unclothing myself of this earthly body, at the same time to clothe
myself with my heavenly body, that I may lose all my mortal part
and its woes in the full experience of heaven's eternal life. God
has determined that this result shall come to me sooner or later,
and has given me a pledge of it in the witnessing spirit. But it
cannot happen so long as I tarry in the flesh, the Lord delaying
his appearance. Having the infallible earnest of the spirit, I do
not dread the change, but desire to hasten it. Confident of
acceptance in that day at the judgment seat of Christ, before
which we must all then stand, I long for the crisis when, divested
of this body and invested with the immortal form wrought for me by
God, I shall be with the Lord. Still, knowing the terror which
shall environ the Lord at his coming to judgment, I plead with men
to be prepared." Whoever carefully examines the whole connected
passage, from iv. 6 to v. 16, will see, we think, that the above
paraphrase truly exposes its meaning.

The other text alluded to as an apparent exception to the doctrine
of a residence in the lower land of ghosts intervening between
death and the ascension, occurs in the Epistle to the
Philippians: "I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to
depart and to be with Christ, which is far better; but that I
should abide in the flesh is more needful for you." There are
three possible ways of regarding this passage. First, we may
suppose that Paul, seeing the advent of the Lord postponed longer
and longer, changed his idea of the intermediate state of deceased
Christians, and thought they would spend that period of waiting in
heaven, not in Hades. Neander advocates this view. But there is
little to sustain it, and it is loaded with fatal difficulties. A
change of faith so important and so bright in its view as this
must have seemed under the circumstances would have been clearly
and fully stated. Attention would have been earnestly invited to
so great a favor and comfort; exultation and gratitude would have
been expressed over so unheard of a boon. Moreover, what had
occurred to effect the alleged new belief? The unexpected delay of
Christ's coming might make the apostle wish that his departed
friends were tarrying above the sky instead of beneath the
sepulchre; but it could furnish no ground to warrant a sudden
faith in that wish as a fulfilled fact. Besides, the truth is that
Paul never ceased, even to the last, to expect the speedy arrival
of the Lord and to regard the interval as a comparative trifle. In
this very epistle he says, "The Lord is at hand: be careful for
nothing." Secondly, we may imagine that he expected himself, as a
divinely chosen and specially favored servant, to go to Christ in
heaven as soon as he died, if that should happen before the Lord's
appearance, while the great multitude of believers would abide in
the under world until the general resurrection. The death he was
in peril of and is referring to was that of martyrdom for the
gospel at the hands of Nero. And many of the Fathers maintained
that in the case of every worthy Christian martyr there was an
exception to the general doom, and that he was permitted to enter
heaven at once. Still, to argue such a thought in the text before
us requires an hypothesis far fetched and unsupported by a single
clear declaration of the apostle himself. Thirdly, we may assume
and it seems to us by far the least encumbered and the most
plausible theory that attempts to meet the case that Paul believed
there would be vouchsafed to the faithful Christian during his
transient abode in the under world a more intimate and blessed
spiritual fellowship with his Master than he could experience
while in the flesh. "For I am persuaded that neither death
[separation from the body] nor depth [the under world] shall be
able to separate us from God's love, which he has manifested
through Christ." He may refer, therefore, by his hopes of being
straightway with Christ on leaving the body, to a spiritual
communion with him in the disembodied state below, and not to his
physical presence in the supernal realm, the latter not being
attainable previous to the resurrection. Indeed, a little farther
on in this same epistle, he plainly shows that he did not
anticipate being received to heaven until after the second coming
of Christ. He says, "We look for the Savior from heaven, who shall
change our vile body and fashion it like unto his own glorious
body." This change is the preliminary preparation to ascent to
heaven, which change he repeatedly represents as indispensable.

What Paul believed would be the course and fate of things on earth
after the final consummation of Christ's mission is a matter of
inference from his brief and partial hints. The most probable and
consistent view which can be constructed from those hints is this.
He thought all mankind would become reconciled and obedient to
God, and that death, losing its punitive character, would become
what it was originally intended to be, the mere change of the
earthly for a heavenly body preparatory to a direct ascension.
"Then shall the Son himself be subject unto Him that put all
things under him, that God may be all in all." Then placid virtues
and innocent joys should fill the world, and human life be what it
was in Eden ere guilt forbade angelic visitants and converse with
heaven.21 "So when" without a

21 Neander thinks Paul's idea was that "the perfected kingdom of
God would then blend itself harmoniously throughout his unbounded
dominions." We believe his apprehension is correct. This globe
would become a part of the general paradise, an ante room or a l
ower story to the Temple of the Universe.


previous descent into Hades, as the context proves "this mortal
shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the
saying which is written, 'Death shall be swallowed up in victory.
O Death, thou last enemy, where is thy sting? O Hades, thou gloomy
prison, where is thy victory?'" The exposition just offered is
confirmed by its striking adaptedness to the whole Pauline scheme.
It is also the interpretation given by the earliest Fathers, and
by the Church in general until now. This idea of men being changed
and rising into heaven without at all entering the disembodied
state below was evidently in the mind of Milton when he wrote the
following lines:

"And from these corporeal nutriments, perhaps. Your bodies may at
last turn all to spirit, And, wing'd, ascend ethereal, may, at
choice, Here, or in heavenly paradise, dwell."

It now remains to see what Paul thought was to be the final
portion of the hardened and persevering sinner. One class of
passages in his writings, if taken by themselves, would lead us to
believe that on that point he had no fixed convictions in regard
to particulars, but, thinking these beyond the present reach of
reason, contented himself with the general assurance that all such
persons would meet their just deserts, and there left the subject
in obscurity. "God will render to every man to the Jew first, and
also to the Greek according to his deeds." "Whatsoever a man
soweth, that shall he also reap." "So then every one of us shall
give an account of himself to God." "At the judgment seat of
Christ every one shall receive the things done in his body,
according to that he hath done, whether it be good or whether it
be bad." From these and a few kindred texts we might infer that
the author, aware that he "knew but in part," simply held the
belief without attempting to pry into special methods, details,
and results that at the time of the judgment all should have exact
justice. He may, however, have unfolded in his preaching minutia
of faith not explained in his letters.

A second class of passages in the epistles of Paul would naturally
cause the common reader to conclude that he imagined that the
unregenerate those unfit for the presence of God were to be
annihilated when Christ, after his second coming, should return to
heaven with his saints. "Those who know not God and obey not the
gospel of Christ shall be punished with everlasting destruction
from the presence and glory of the Lord when he shall come." "The
end of the enemies of the cross of Christ is destruction." "The
vessels of wrath fitted for destruction." "As many as have sinned
without law shall perish without law." But it is to be observed
that the word here rendered "destruction" need not signify
annihilation. It often, even in Paul's epistles, plainly means
severe punishment, dreadful misery, moral ruin, and retribution.
For example, "foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in
destruction and perdition," "piercing them through with many
sorrows." It may or may not have that sense in the instances above
cited. Their meaning is intrinsically uncertain: we must bring
other passages and distinct considerations to aid our
interpretation.

From a third selection of texts in Paul's epistles it is not
strange that some persons have deduced the doctrine of
unconditional, universal salvation. "As in Adam all die, even so
in Christ shall all be made alive." But the genuine explanation of
this sentence, we are constrained to believe, is as follows: "As,
following after the example of Adam, all souls descend below, so,
following after Christ, all shall be raised up," that is, at the
judgment, after which event some may be taken to heaven, others
banished again into Hades. "We trust in the living God, who is the
Savior of all men, especially of them that believe." This means
that all men have been saved now from the unconditional sentence
to Hades brought on them by the first sin, but not all know the
glad tidings: those who receive them into believing hearts are
already exulting over their deliverance and their hopes of heaven.
All are objectively saved from the unavoidable and universal
necessity of Hadean imprisonment; the obedient believers are also
subjectively saved from the contingent and personal risk of
incurring that doom. "God hath shut them all up together in
unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all." "All" here means
both Jews and Gentiles; and the reference is to the universal
annulment of the universal fatality, and the impartial offer of
heaven to every one who sanctifies the truth in his heart. In some
cases the word "all" is used with rhetorical looseness, not with
logical rigidness, and denotes merely all Christians. Ruckert
shows this well in his commentary on the fifteenth chapter of
First Corinthians. In other instances the universality, which is
indeed plainly there, applies to the removal from the race of the
inherited doom; while a conditionality is unquestionably implied
as to the actual salvation of each person. We say Paul does
constantly represent personal salvation as depending on
conditions, as beset by perils and to be earnestly striven for.
"Lest that by any means I myself should be a castaway." "Deliver
such an one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the
spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." "Wherefore we
labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of the
lord." "To them that are saved we are a savor of life unto life;
to them that perish, a savor of death unto death." "Charge them
that are rich that they be humble and do good, laying up in store
a good foundation, that they may lay hold on eternal life." It is
clear, from these and many similar passages of Paul, that he did
not believe in the unconditional salvation, the positive
mechanical salvation, of all individuals, but held personal
salvation to be a contingent problem, to be worked out, through
the permitting grace of God, by Christian faith, works, and
character. How plainly this is contained, too, in his doctrine of
"a resurrection of the just and the unjust," and of a day of
judgment, from whose august tribunal Christ is to pronounce
sentence according to each man's deeds! At the same time, the
undeniable fact deserves particular remembrance that he says, and
apparently knows, nothing whatever of a hell, in the present
acceptation of that term, a prison house of fiery tortures. He
assigns the realm of Satan and the evil spirits to the air, the
vexed region between earth and heaven, according to the demonology
of his age and country. 22

Finally, there is a fourth class of passages, from which we might
infer that the apostle's faith merely excluded the reprobate from
participating in the ascent with Christ, just as some of the
Pharisees excluded the Gentiles from their resurrection, and there
left the subject in darkness.

22 A detailed and most curious account of this region, which he
calls Tartarus, is given by Angustine. De Gen. ad. lit. lib. iii.
cap. 14, 15, ed. Benedictina.


"They that are Christ's," "the dead in Christ, shall rise."
"No sensualist, extortioner, idolater, hath any inheritance
in the kingdom of Christ and of God." "There is laid up a crown of
righteousness, which the Lord shall give in that day to all them
that love his appearing." In all these, and in many other cases,
there is a marked omission of any reference to the ultimate
positive disposal of the wicked. Still, against the supposition of
his holding the doctrine that all except good Christians would be
left below eternally, we have his repeated explicit avowals. "I
have hope towards God that there shall be a resurrection both of
the just and the unjust." "We must all appear before the judgment
seat of Christ." These last statements, however, prove only that
Paul thought the bad as well as the good would be raised up and
judged: they are not inconsistent with the belief that the
condemned would afterwards either be annihilated, or remanded
everlastingly to the under world. This very belief, we think, is
contained in that remarkable passage where Paul writes to the
Philippians that he strives "if by any means he may attain unto
the resurrection." Now, the common resurrection of the dead for
judgment needed not to be striven for: it would occur to all
unconditionally. But there is another resurrection, or another
part remaining to complete the resurrection, namely, after the
judgment, a rising of the accepted to heaven. All shall rise from
Hades upon the earth to judgment. This Paul calls simply the
resurrection, [Non ASCII Characters] After the judgment, the
accepted shall rise to heaven. This Paul calls, with distinctive
emphasis, [Non ASCII Characters] the pre eminent or complete
resurrection, the prefix being used as an intensive. This is what
the apostle considers uncertain and labors to secure, "stretching
forward and pressing towards the goal for the prize of that call
upwards," [Non ASCII Characters] (that invitation to heaven,)
"which God has extended through Christ." Those who are condemned
at the judgment can have no part in this completion of the
resurrection, cannot enter the heavenly kingdom, but must be
"punished with everlasting destruction from the presence and glory
of the Lord," that is, as we suppose is signified, be thrust into
the under world for evermore. As unessential to our object, we
have omitted an exposition of the Pauline doctrine of the natural
rank and proper or delegated offices of Christ in the universe;
also an examination of the validity of the doubts and arguments
brought against the genuineness of the lesser epistles ascribed to
Paul. In close, we will sum up in brief array the leading
conceptions in his view of the last things. First, there is a
world of immortal light and bliss over the sky, the exclusive
abode of God and the angels from of old; and there is a dreary
world of darkness and repose under the earth, the abode of all
departed human spirits. Secondly, death was originally meant to
lead souls into heaven, clothed in new and divine bodies,
immediately on the fall of the present tabernacle; but sin broke
that plan and doomed souls to pass disembodied into Hades.
Thirdly, the Mosaic dispensation of law could not deliver men from
that sentence; but God had promised Abraham that through one of
his posterity they should be delivered. To fulfil that promise
Christ came. He illustrated God's unpurchased love and forgiveness
and determination to restore the original plan, as if men had
never sinned. Christ effected this aim, in conjunction with his
teachings, by dying, descending into Hades, as if the doom of a
sinful man were upon him also, subduing the powers of that prison
house, rising again, and ascending into heaven, the first one ever
admitted there from among the dead, thus exemplifying the
fulfilled "expectation of the creature that was groaning and
travailing in pain" to be born into the freedom of the heavenly
glory of the sons of God. Fourthly, "justification by faith,"
therefore, means the redemption from Hades by acceptance of the
dispensation of free grace which is proclaimed in the gospel.
Fifthly, every sanctified believer receives a pledge or earnest of
the spirit sealing him as God's and assuring him of acceptance
with Christ and of advance to heaven. Sixthly, Christ is speedily
to come a second time, come in glory and power irresistible, to
consummate his mission, raise the dead, judge the world, establish
a new order of things, and return into heaven with his chosen
ones. Seventhly, the stubbornly wicked portion of mankind will be
returned eternally into the under world. Eighthly, after the
judgment the subterranean realm of death will be shut up, no more
souls going into it, but all men at their dissolution being
instantly invested with spiritual bodies and ascending to the
glories of the Lord. Finally, Jesus having put down all enemies
and restored the primeval paradise will yield up his mediatorial
throne, and God the Father be all in all.

The preparatory rudiments of this system of the last things
existed in the belief of the age, and it was itself composed by
the union of a theoretic interpretation of the life of Christ and
of the connected phenomena succeeding his death, with the elements
of Pharasaic Judaism, all mingled in the crucible of the soul of
Paul and fused by the fires of his experience. It illustrates a
great number of puzzling passages in the New Testament, without
the necessity of recourse to the unnatural, incredible,
unwarranted dogmas associated with them by the unique, isolated
peculiarities of Calvinism. The interpretation given above, moreover,
has this strong confirmation of its accuracy, namely, that it is
arrived at from the stand point of the thought and life of the
Apostle Paul in the first century, not from the stand point of the
theology and experience of the educated Christian of the
nineteenth century.

CHAPTER V.

JOHN'S DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

WE are now to see if we can determine and explain what were the
views of the Apostle John upon the subject of death and life,
condemnation and salvation, the resurrection and immortality. To
understand his opinions on these points, it is obviously necessary
to examine his general system of theological thought. John is
regarded as the writer of the proem to the fourth Gospel, also of
three brief epistles. There are such widely spread doubts of his
being the author of the Apocalypse that it has seemed better to
examine that production separately, leaving each one free to
attribute its doctrine of the last things to whatever person known
or unknown he believes wrote the book. It is true that the
authorship of the fourth Gospel itself is powerfully disputed; but
an investigation of that question would lead us too far and detain
us too long from our real aim, which is not to discuss the
genuineness or the authority of the New Testament documents, but
to show their meaning in what they actually contain and imply
concerning a future life. It is necessary to premise that we think
it certain that John wrote with some reference to the sprouting
philosophy of his time, the Platonic and Oriental speculations so
early engrafted upon the stock of Christian doctrine. For the
peculiar theories which were matured and systematized in the
second and third centuries by the Gnostic sects were floating
about, in crude and fragmentary forms, at the close of the first
century, when the apostle wrote. They immediately awakened
dissension and alarm, cries of heresy and orthodoxy, in the
Church. Some modern writers deny the presence in the New Testament
of any allusion to such views; but the weight of evidence on the
other side internal, from similarity of phrase, and external, from
the testimony of early Fathers is, when accumulated and
appreciated, overwhelming. Among these Gnostic notions the most
distinctive and prominent was the belief that the world was
created and the Jewish dispensation given, not by the true and
infinite God, but by a subordinate and imperfect deity, the
absolute God remaining separate from all created things, unknown
and afar, in the sufficiency of his aboriginal pleroma or fulness.
The Gnostics also maintained that Creative Power, Reason, Life,
Truth, Love, and other kindred realities, were individual beings,
who had emanated from God, and who by their own efficiency
constructed, illuminated, and carried on the various provinces of
creation and races of existence. Many other opinions, fanciful,
absurd, or recondite, which they held, it is not necessary here to
state. The evangelist, without alluding perhaps to any particular
teachers or systems of these doctrines, but only to their general
scope, traverses by his declarations partially the same ground of
thought which they cover, stating dogmatically the positive facts
as he apprehended them. He agrees with some of the Gnostic
doctrines and differs from others, not setting himself to follow
or to oppose them indiscriminately, but to do either as the truth
seemed to him to require.

There are two methods of seeking the meaning of the introduction
to the fourth Gospel where the Johannean doctrine of the Logos is
condensed. We may study it grammatically, or historically;
morally, or metaphysically; from the point of view of experimental
religious faith, or from that of contemporary speculative
philosophy. He who omits either of these ways of regarding the
subject must arrive at an interpretation essentially defective.
Both modes of investigation are indispensable for acquiring a full
comprehension of the expressions employed and the thoughts
intended. But to be fitted to understand the theme in its
historical aspect which, in this case, for purposes of criticism,
is by far the more important  one must be intelligently acquainted
with the Hebrew personification of the Wisdom, also of the Word,
of God; with the Platonic conception of archetypal ideas; with the
Alexandrian Jewish doctrine of the Divine Logos; and with the
relevant Gnostic and Christian speculation and phraseology of the
first two centuries. Especially must the student be familiar with
Philo, who was an eminent Platonic Jewish philosopher and a
celebrated writer, flourishing previous to the composition of the
fourth Gospel, in which, indeed, there is scarcely a single
superhuman predicate of Christ which may not be paralleled with
striking closeness from his extant works. In all these fields are
found, in imperfect proportions and fragments, the materials which
are developed in John's belief of the Logos become flesh. To
present all these materials here would be somewhat out of place
and would require too much room. We shall, therefore, simply
state, as briefly and clearly as possible, the final conclusions
to which a thorough study has led us, drawing such illustrations
as we do advance almost entirely from Philo.1

1 The reader who wishes to see in smallest compass and most lucid
order the facts requisite for the formation of a judgment is
referred to Lucke's "Dissertation on the Logos," to Norton's
"Statement of Reasons," and to Neander's exposition of the
Johannean theology in his "Planting and Training of the Church."
Nearly every thing important, both external and internal, is
collected in these three sources taken together, and set forth
with great candor, power, and skill. Differing in their conclusions,
they supply pretty adequate means for the independent student to
conclude for himself.


In the first place, what view of the Father himself, the absolute
Deity, do these writings present? John conceives of God no one can
well collate the relevant texts in his works without perceiving
this as the one perfect and eternal Spirit, in himself invisible
to mortal eyes, the Personal Love, Life, Truth, Light, "in whom is
no darkness at all." This corresponds entirely with the purest and
highest idea the human mind can form of the one untreated infinite
God. The apostle, then, going back to the period anterior to the
material creation, and soaring to the contemplation of the sole
God, does not conceive of him as being utterly alone, but as
having a Son with him, an "only begotten Son," a beloved companion
"before the foundation of the world." "In the beginning was the
Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God. He was
in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and
without him was nothing made that was made." The true explanation
of these words, according to their undeniable historical and their
unforced grammatical. There is an English translation of it, by
Professor G. R. Noyes, in the numbers of the Christian Examiner
for March and May, 1849, meaning, is as follows. Before the
material creation, when God was yet the sole being, his first
production, the Logos, was a Son, at once the image of himself and
the idea of the yet uncreated world. By him this personal Idea,
Son, or Logos all things were afterward created; or, more exactly,
through him, by means of him, all things became, that is, were
brought, from their being in a state of conception in the mind of
God, into actual existence in space and time. Thus Philo says,
"God is the most generic; second is the Logos of God."2 "The Logos
is the first begotten Son."3 "The Logos of God is above the whole
world, and is the most ancient and generic of all that had a
beginning."4 "Nothing intervenes between the Logos and God on whom
he rests."5 "This sensible world is the junior son of God; the
Senior is the Idea,"6 or Logos. "The shadow and seeming portrait
of God is his Logos, by which, as by an assumed instrument, he
made the world. As God is the original of the image here called
shadow, so this image becomes the original of other things."7 "The
intelligible world, or world of archetypal ideas, is the Logos of
the world creating God; as an intelligible or ideal city is the
thought of the architect reflecting to build a sensible city."8
"Of the world, God is the cause by which, the four elements the
material from which, the Logos the instrument through which, the
goodness of the Creator the end for which, it was made."9 These
citations from Philo clearly show, in various stages of
development, that doctrine of the Logos which began first arguing
to the Divine Being from human analogies with separating the
conception of a plan in the mind of God from its execution in
fact; proceeded with personifying that plan, or sum of ideas, as a
mediating agent between motive and action, between impulse and
fulfilment; and ended with hypostatizing the arranging power of
the Divine thought as a separate being, his intellectual image or
Son, his first and perfect production. They unequivocally express
these thoughts: that God is the only being who was from eternity;
that the Logos was the first begotten, antemundane being, that he
was the likeness, image, immediate manifestation, of the Father;
that he was the medium of creation, the instrumental means in the
outward formation of the world. History shows us this doctrine
unfolded by minute steps, which it would be tedious to follow,
from the Book of Proverbs to Philo Judaus and John, from Plato to
Justin Martyr and Athanasius. But the rapid sketch just presented
may be sufficient now.

When it is written, "and the Logos was God," the meaning is not
strictly literal. To guard against its being so considered, the
author tautologically repeats what he had said immediately before,
"the same was in the beginning with God." Upon the supposition
that the Logos is strictly identical with God, the verses make
utter nonsense. "In the beginning was God, and God was with God,
and God was God. God was in the beginning with God." But suppose
the Logos to mean an ante mundane but subordinate being, who was a
perfect image or likeness of God, and the sense is both clear and
satisfactory, and no violence is done either to historical data or
to grammatical demands. "And the Logos was God," that is, was the
mirror or facsimile of God. So, employing the same idiom, we are
accustomed to say

2 Mangey's edition of Philo, vol. i. p. 82.

3 Ibid. p. 308.

4 Ibid. p. 121.

5 Ibid. p. 560.

6 Ibid. p. 277.

7 Ibid. p. 106.

8 Ibid. p. 5.

9 Ibid. p. 162.


of an accurate representation of a person, It is the very man
himself! Or, without the use of this idiom, we may explain the
expression "the Logos was God" thus: He stands in the place of God
to the lower creation: practically considered, he is as God to us.
As Philo writes, "To the wise and perfect the Most High is God;
but to us, imperfect beings, the Logos God's interpreter is
God."10

The inward significance of the Logos doctrine, in all its degrees
and phases, circumstantially and essentially, from first to last,
is the revelation of God. God himself, in himself, is conceived as
absolutely withdrawn beyond the apprehension of men, in boundless
immensity and inaccessible secrecy. His own nature is hidden, as a
thought is hidden in the mind; but he has the power of revealing
it, as a thought is revealed by speaking it in a word. That
uttered word is the Logos, and is afterwards conceived as a
person, and as creative, then as building and glorifying the
world. All of God that is sent forth from passive concealment into
active manifestation is the Logos. "The term Logos comprehends,"
Norton says, "all the attributes of God manifested in the creation
and government of the universe." The Logos is the hypostasis of
"the unfolded portion," "the revealing power," "the self showing
faculty," "the manifesting action," of God. The essential idea,
then, concerning the Logos is that he is the means through which
the hidden God comes to the cognizance of his creatures. In
harmony with this prevailing philosophy one who believed the Logos
to have been incarnated in Christ would suppose the purpose of his
incarnation to be the fuller revelation of God to men. And
Martineau says, "The view of revelation which is implicated in the
folds of the Logos doctrine that everywhere pervades the fourth
Gospel, is that it is the appearance to beings who have something
of a divine spirit within them, of a yet diviner without them,
leading them to the divinest of all, who embraces them both." This
is a fine statement of the practical religious aspect of John's
conception of the nature and office of the Savior.

Since he regarded God as personal love, life, truth, and light,
and Christ, the embodied Logos, as his only begotten Son, an exact
image of him in manifestation, it follows that John regarded
Christ, next in rank below God, as personal love, life, truth, and
light; and the belief that he was the necessary medium of
communicating these Divine blessings to men would naturally
result. Accordingly, we find that John repeats, as falling from
the lips of Christ, all the declarations required by and
supporting such an hypothesis. "I am the way, the truth, and the
life." "No man cometh unto the Father but by me." But Philo, too,
had written before in precisely the same strain. Witness the
correspondences between the following quotations respectively from
John and Philo. "I am the bread which came down from heaven to
give life to the world."11 Whoso eateth my body and drinketh my
blood hath eternal life."12 "Behold, I rain bread upon you from
heaven: the heavenly food of the soul is the word of God, and the
Divine Logos, from whom all eternal instructions and wisdoms
flow."13 "The bread the Lord gave us to eat was his word."14
"Except ye eat my flesh and drink my blood, ye have no life

10 Mangey's edition of Philo, vol. ii. p. 128.

11 John vi. 33. 41.

12 Ibid. 54.

13 Quoted by G. Scheffer in his Treatise "De Usu
Philonis in Interpretatione Novi Testamenti," p. 82.

14 lbid. p. 81.


in you."15 "He alone can become the heir of incorporeal and divine
things whose whole soul is filled with the salubrious Word."16
"Every one that seeth the Son and believeth on him shall have
everlasting life."17 "He strains every nerve towards the highest
Divine Logos, who is the fountain of wisdom, in order that,
drawing from that spring, he may escape death and win everlasting
life."18 "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if
any man eat of this bread he shall live forever."19 "Lifting up
his eyes to the ether, man receives manna, the Divine Logos,
heavenly and immortal nourishment for the right desiring soul."20
"God is the perennial fountain of life; God is the fountain of the
most ancient Logos."21 "As the living Father hath sent me, and I
live by the Father, so he that eateth me, even he shall live by
me."22 Does it not seem perfectly plain that John's doctrine of
the Christ is at bottom identical with Philo's doctrine of the
Logos? The difference of development in the two doctrines, so far
as there is a difference, is that the latter view is
philosophical, abstract; the former, practical, historical. Philo
describes the Logos ideally, filling the supersensible sphere,
mediating between the world and God; John presents him really,
incarnated as a man, effecting the redemption of our race. The
same dignity, the same offices, are predicated of him by both.
John declares, "In him [the Divine Logos] was life, and the life
was the light of men."23 Philo asserts, "Nothing is more luminous
and irradiating than the Divine Logos, by the participation of
whom other things expel darkness and gloom, earnestly desiring to
partake of living light."24 John speaks of Christ as "the only
begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father."25 Philo says,
"The Logos is the first begotten Son of God," "between whom and
God nothing intervenes."26 John writes, "The Son of man will give
you the food of everlasting life; for him hath God the Father
sealed."27 Philo writes, "The stamp of the seal of God is the
immortal Logos."28 We have this from John: "He was manifested to
take away our sins; and in him is no sin."29 And this from Philo:
"The Divine Logos is free from all sins, voluntary and
involuntary."30

The Johannean Christ is the Philonean Logos born into the world as
a man. "And the Logos was made flesh, and dwelt among us, full of
grace and truth." The substance of what has thus far been
established may now be concisely stated. The essential thought,
whether the subject be metaphysically or practically considered,
is this. God is the eternal, infinite personality of love and
truth, life and light. The Logos is his first born Son, his exact
image, the reproduction of his being, the next lower personality
of love and truth, life and light, the instrument for creating and
ruling the world, the revelation of God, the medium of
communication between God and his works. Christ is that Logos come
upon the earth as a man to save the perishing, proving his pre
existence and superhuman nature by his miraculous knowledge and
works. That the belief expressed in the last sentence is correctly
attributed to John will

15 John vi. 53.

16 Philo, vol. i. p. 482.

17 John vi. 40.

18 Philo, vol. i. p. 560.

19 John vi. 51.

20 Philo, vol. i. p. 498.

21 Ibid. pp. 575, 207.

22 John vi. 57.

23 John i. 4.

24 Philo, vol. i. p. 121.

25 John i. 18.

26 Philo, vol. i. pp. 427, 560.

27 John vi. 27.

28 Philo, vol. ii. p. 606.

29 1 John iii. 5.

30 Philo, vol. i. p. 562.


be repeatedly substantiated before the close of this chapter: in
regard to the statements in the preceding sentences no further
proof is thought necessary.

With the aid of a little repetition, we will now attempt to make a
step of progress. The tokens of energy, order, splendor,
beneficence, in the universe, are not, according to John, as we
have seen, the effects of angelic personages, emanating gods,
Gnostic aons, but are the workings of the self revealing power of
the one true and eternal God, this power being conceived by John,
according to the philosophy of his age, as a proper person, God's
instrument in creation. Reason, life, light, love, grace,
righteousness, kindred terms so thickly scattered over his pages,
are not to him, as they were to the Gnostics, separate beings, but
are the very working of the Logos, consubstantial manifestations
of God's nature and attributes. But mankind, fallen into folly and
vice, perversity and sin, lying in darkness, were ignorant that
these Divine qualities were in reality mediate exhibitions of God,
immediate exhibitions of the Logos. "The light was shining in
darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not." Then, to reveal
to men the truth, to regenerate them and conjoin them through
himself with the Father in the experience of eternal life, the
hypostatized Logos left his transcendent glory in heaven and came
into the world in the person of Jesus. "No man hath seen God at
any time: the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father,
he hath revealed him." "I came down from heaven to do the will of
Him that sent me." This will is that all who see and believe on
the Son shall have everlasting life. "God so loved the world that
he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him
should not perish, but have everlasting life." "The bread of God
is He who cometh down from heaven and giveth life to the world."
The doctrine of the pre existence of souls, and of their being
born into the world in the flesh, was rife in Judea when this
Gospel was written, and is repeatedly alluded to in it.31 That
John applies this doctrine to Christ in the following and in other
instances is obvious. "Before Abraham was, I am." "I came forth
from the Father and am come into the world." "Father, glorify thou
me with the glory which I had with thee before the world was."
"What and if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where he was
before?" As for ourselves, we do not see how it is possible for
any unprejudiced person, after studying the fourth Gospel
faithfully with the requisite helps, to doubt that the writer of
it believed that Jesus pre existed as the Divine Logos, and that
he became incarnate to reveal the Father and to bring men into the
experience of true eternal life. John declares this, in his first
epistle, in so many words, saying, "The living Logos, the eternal
life which was with the Father from the beginning, was manifested
unto us;" and, "God sent his only begotten Son into the world that
we might live through him." Whether the doctrine thus set forth
was really entertained and taught by Jesus himself, or whether it
is the interpretation put on his language by one whose mind was
full of the notions of the age, are distinct questions. With the
settlement of these questions we are not now concerned: such a
discussion would be more appropriate when examining the genuine
meaning of the words of Christ. All that is necessary here is the
suggestion that when we show the theological system of John it
does not necessarily follow that that is the true

31 John i. 21; ix. 2.


teaching of Christ. Having adopted the Logos doctrine, it might
tinge and turn his thoughts and words when reporting from memory,
after the lapse of many years, the discourses of his Master. He
might unconsciously, under such an influence, represent literally
what was figuratively intended, and reflect from his own mind
lights and shades, associations and meanings, over all or much of
what he wrote. There are philosophical and literary peculiarities
which have forced many of the best critics to make this
distinction between the intended meaning of Christ's declarations
as he uttered them, and their received meaning as this evangelist
reported them. Norton says, "Whether St. John did or did not adopt
the Platonic conception of the Logos is a question not important
to be settled in order to determine our own judgment concerning
its truth."32 Lucke has written to the same effect, but more
fully: "We are allowed to distinguish the sense in which John
understood the words of Christ, from the original sense in which
Christ used them."33

It is to be observed that in all that has been brought forward,
thus far, there is not the faintest hint of the now current notion
of the Trinity. The idea put forth by John is not at all allied
with the idea that the infinite God himself assumed a human shape
to walk the earth and undergo mortal sufferings. It is simply said
that that manifested and revealing portion of the Divine
attributes which constituted the hypostatized Logos was incarnated
and displayed in a perfect, sinless sample of man, thus exhibiting
to the world a finite image of God. We will illustrate this
doctrine with reference to the inferences to be drawn from it in
regard to human nature. John repeatedly says, in effect, "God is
truth," "God is light," "God is love," "God is life." He likewise
says of the Savior, "In him was life, and the life was the light
of men," and reports him as saying of himself, "I am the truth,"
"I am the life," "I am the light of the world." The fundamental
meaning of these declarations so numerous, striking, and varied in
the writings of John is, that all those qualities which the
consciousness of humanity has recognised as Divine are
consubstantial with the being of God; that all the reflections of
them in nature and man belong to the Logos, the eldest Son, the
first production, of God; and that in Jesus their personality, the
very Logos himself, was consciously embodied, to be brought nearer
to men, to be exemplified and recommended to them. Reason, power,
truth, light, love, blessedness, are not individual aons, members
of a hierarchy of deities, but are the revealing elements of the
one true God. The personality of the abstract and absolute fulness
of all these substantial qualities is God. The personality of the
discerpted portion of them shown in the universe is the Logos.
Now, that latter personality Christ was. Consequently, while he
was a man, he was not merely a man, but was also a supernatural
messenger from heaven, sent into the world to impersonate the
image of God under the condition of humanity, free from every
sinful defect and spot. Thus, being the manifesting representative
of the Father, he could say, "He that hath seen me hath
[virtually] seen the Father." Not that they were identical in
person, but that they were similar in nature and character, spirit
and design: both were eternal holiness, love, truth, and life. "I
and my Father are one thing," (in essence, not in personality.)
Nothing can be more

32 Statement of Reasons, 1st ed. p. 239.

33 Christian Examiner, May, 1849, p. 431.


unequivocally pronounced than the subordination of the Son to the
Father that the Father sent him, that he could do nothing without
the Father, that his Father was greater than he, that his
testimony was confirmed by the Father's in a hundred places by
John, both as author writing his own words and as interpreter
reporting Christ's. There is not a text in the record that implies
Christ's identity with God, but only his identity with the Logos.
The identity of the Logos with God is elementary, not personal.
From this view it follows that every man who possesses, knows, and
exhibits the elements of the Divine life, the characteristics of
God, is in that degree a son of God, Christ being pre eminently
the Son on account of his pre eminent likeness, his supernatural
divinity, as the incarnate Logos.

That the apostle held and taught this conclusion appears, first,
from the fact, otherwise inexplicable, that he records the same
sublime statements concerning all good Christians, with no other
qualification than that of degree, that he does concerning Christ
himself. Was Jesus the Son of God? "To as many as received him he
gave power to become the sons of God." There is in Philo a passage
corresponding remarkably with this one from John:  "Those who have
knowledge of the truth are properly called sons of God: he who is
still unfit to be named a son of God should endeavor to fashion
himself to the first born Logos of God."34 Was Jesus "from above,"
while wicked men were "from beneath"? "They are not of the world,
even as I am not of the world." Was Jesus sent among men with a
special commission? "As thou hast sent me into the world, even so
have I also sent them into the world." Was Jesus the subject of a
peculiar glory, bestowed upon him by the Father? "The glory which
thou gavest me I have given them, that they may be one, even as we
are one." Had Jesus an inspiration and a knowledge not vouchsafed
to the princes of this world? "Ye have an unction from the Holy
One, and ye know all things." Did Jesus perform miraculous works?
"He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also."
In the light of the general principle laid down, that God is the
actual fulness of truth and love and light and blessedness; that
Christ, the Logos, is the manifested impersonation of them; and
that all men who receive him partake of their Divine substance and
enjoy their prerogative, the texts just cited, and numerous other
similar ones, are transparent. It is difficult to see how on any
other hypothesis they can be made to express an intelligible and
consistent meaning.

Secondly, we are brought to the same conclusion by the synonymous
use and frequent interchange of different terms in the Johannean
writings. Not only it is said, "Whoever is born of God cannot
sin," but it is also written, "Every one that doeth righteousness
is born of God;" and again, "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the
Christ is born of God." In other words, having a good character
and leading a just life, heartily receiving and obeying the
revelation made by Christ, are identical phrases. "He that hath
the Son hath life." "Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in
the doctrine of Christ hath not God." "This is the victory that
overcometh the world, even our faith" in the doctrine of Christ.
"He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him." "He
that keepeth the commandments dwelleth in God and God in him." "He
that confesseth that Jesus is the Son of God, God

34 Philo, vol. i. p. 427.


dwelleth in him and he in God." "He that doeth good is of God."
"God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son."
"The Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding that
we may know the true God and eternal life." From these citations,
and from other passages which will readily occur, we gather the
following pregnant results. To "do the truth," "walk in the
truth," "walk in the light," "keep the commandments," "do
righteousness," "abide in the doctrine of Christ," "do the will of
God," "do good," "dwell in love," "abide in Christ," "abide in
God," "abide in life," all are expressions meaning precisely the
same thing. They all signify essentially the conscious possession
of goodness; in other words, the practical adoption of the life
and teachings of Jesus; or, in still other terms, the personal
assimilation of the spiritual realities of the Logos, which are
love, life, truth, light. Jesus having been sent into the world to
exemplify the characteristics and claims of the Father, and to
regenerate men from unbelief and sin to faith and righteousness,
those who were walking in darkness, believers of lies and doers of
unrighteousness, those who were abiding in alienation and death,
might by receiving and following him be restored to the favor of
God and pass from darkness and death into life and light. "This is
eternal life, that they should know thee, the only true God, and
Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent."

The next chief point in the doctrine of John is his belief in an
evil being, the personality of wickedness, and the relation
between him and bad men. There have been, from the early
centuries, keen disputes on the question whether this apostle uses
the terms devil and evil one with literal belief or with
figurative accommodation. We have not a doubt that the former is
the true view. The popular denial of the existence of evil
spirits, with an arch demon over them, is the birth of a
philosophy much later than the apostolic age. The use of the term
"devil" merely as the poetic or ethical personification of the
seductive influences of the world is the fruit of theological
speculation neither originated nor adopted by the Jewish prophets
or by the Christian apostles. Whoso will remember the prevailing
faith of the Jews at that time, and the general state of
speculative opinion, and will recollect the education of John, and
notice the particular manner in which he alludes to the subject
throughout his epistles and in his reports of the discourses of
Jesus, we think will be convinced that the Johannean system
includes a belief in the actual existence of Satan according to
the current Pharisaic dogma of that age. It is not to be
disguised, either, that the investigations of the ablest critics
have led an overwhelming majority of them to this interpretation.
"I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the evil
one." "He that is begotten of God guardeth himself, and the evil
one toucheth him not." "He that committeth sin is of the devil,
for the devil sinneth from the beginning." "Whosoever is born of
God cannot sin. In this the children of God are manifest, and the
children of the devil." "Ye are of your father the devil, and his
lusts ye will do." There can be no doubt that these, and other
passages of a kindred and complementary nature, yield the
following view. Good men are allied to God, because their
characteristics are the same as his, truth, light, love, life,
righteousness. "As he is, so are we in this world." Bad men are
allied to the devil, because their characteristics are the same as
his, falsehood, darkness, hatred, death, sin. "Cain, who slew his
brother, was of the evil one." The facts, then, of the great moral
problem of the world, according to John, were these. God is the
infinite Father, whose nature and attributes comprehend all holy,
beautiful, desirable realities, and who would draw mankind to his
blessed embrace forever. The goodness, illumination, and joy of
holy souls reflect his holiness and display his reign. The devil
is the great spirit of wickedness, whose attributes comprehend all
evil, dark, fearful realities, and who entices mankind to sin. The
wickedness, gloom, and misery of corrupt souls reveal his likeness
and his kingdom.

The former manifests himself in the glories of the world and in
the divine qualities of the soul. The latter manifests himself in
the whole history of temptation and sin and in the vicious
tendencies of the heart. Good men, those possessing pre eminently
the moral qualities of God, are his children, are born of him,
that is, are inspired and led by him. Bad men, those possessing in
a ruling degree the qualities of the devil, are his children, are
born of him, that is, are animated and governed by his spirit.

Whether the evangelist gave to his own mind any philosophical
account of the origin and destiny of the devil or not is a
question concerning which his writings are not explicit enough for
us to determine. In the beginning he represents God as making, by
means of the Logos, all things that were made, and his light as
shining in darkness that comprehended it not. Now, he may have
conceived of matter as uncreated, eternally existing in formless
night, the ground of the devil's being, and may have limited the
work of creation to breaking up the sightless chaos, defining it
into orderly shapes, filling it with light and motion, and
peopling it with children of heaven. Such was the Persian faith,
familiar at that time to the Jews. Neander, with others, objects
to this view that it would destroy John's monotheism and make him
a dualist, a believer in two self existents, aboriginal and
everlasting antagonists. It only needs to be observed, in reply,
that John was not a philosopher of such thorough dialectic
training as to render it impossible for inconsistencies to coexist
in his thoughts. In fact, any one who will examine the beliefs of
even such men as Origen and Augustine will perceive that such an
objection is not valid. Some writers of ability and eminence have
tried to maintain that the Johannean conception of Satan was of
some exalted archangel who apostatized from the law of God and
fell from heaven into the abyss of night, sin, and woe. They could
have been led to such an hypothesis only by preconceived notions
and prejudices, because there is not in John's writings even the
obscurest intimation of such a doctrine. On the contrary, it is
written that the devil is a liar and the father of lies from the
beginning, the same phrase used to denote the primitive
companionship of God and his Logos anterior to the creation. The
devil is spoken of by John, with prominent consistency, as bearing
the same relation to darkness, falsehood, sin, and death that God
bears to light, truth, righteousness, and life, that is, as being
their original personality and source. Whether the belief itself
be true or not, be reconcilable with pure Christianity or not, in
our opinion John undoubtedly held the belief of the personality of
the source of wickedness, and supposed that the great body of
mankind had been seduced by him from the free service of heaven,
and had become infatuated in his bondage.

Just here in the scheme of Christianity arises the necessity,
appears the profound significance in the apostolic belief, of that
disinterested interference of God through his revelation in Christ
which aimed to break the reigning power of sin and redeem lost
men from the tyranny of Satan. "For this purpose the Son of God
was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil."

That is to say, the revelation of the nature and will of God in
the works of the creation and in the human soul was not enough,
even when aided by the law of Moses, to preserve men in the
truth and the life. They had been seduced by the evil one into
sin, alienated from the Divine favor, and plunged in darkness
and death. A fuller, more powerful manifestation of the
character, claims, attractions of the Father was necessary to
recall the benighted wanderers from their lost state and restore
them to those right relations and to that conscious communion with
God in which alone true life consists. Then, and for that purpose,
Jesus Christ was commissioned to appear, a pre existent being of
most exalted rank, migrating from the super stellar sphere into
this world, to embody and mirror forth through the flesh those
characteristics which are the natural attributes of God the Father
and the essential conditions of heaven the home. In him the
glorious features of the Divinity were miniatured on a finite
scale and perfectly exhibited, "thus revealing," (as Neander says,
in his exposition of John's doctrine,) "for the first time, in a
comprehensible manner, what a being that God is whose holy
personality man was created to represent." So Philo says, "The
Logos is the image of God, and man is the image of the Logos."35
Therefore, according to this view, man is the image of the image
of God. The dimmed, imperfect reflection of the Father, originally
shining in nature and the soul, would enable all who had not
suppressed it and lost the knowledge of it, to recognise at once
and adore the illuminated image of Him manifested and moving
before them in the person of the Son; the faint gleams of Divine
qualities yet left within their souls would spontaneously blend
with the full splendors irradiating the form of the inspired and
immaculate Christ. Thus they would enter into a new and
intensified communion with God, and experience an unparalleled
depth of peace and joy, an inspired assurance of eternal life. But
those who, by worldliness and wickedness, had obscured and
destroyed all their natural knowledge of God and their affinities
to him, being without the inward preparation and susceptibility
for the Divine which the Savior embodied and manifested, would not
be able to receive it, and thus would pass an infallible sentence
upon themselves. "When the Comforter is come, he will convict the
world of sin, because they believe not on me." "He that believeth
on the Son hath eternal life; but he that believeth not is
condemned already, in that he loveth darkness rather than light."
"Hereby know we the spirit of truth and the spirit of error: he
that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not
us." "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?"
The idea is, that such a denial must be caused by inward
depravity, could only spring from an evil character.

In the ground thought just presented we may find the explanation
of the seemingly obscure and confused use of terms in the
following instances, and learn to understand more fully John's
idea of the effect of spiritual contact with Christ. "He that
doeth righteousness is born of God." "He that believeth Jesus to
be the Christ is born of God." "He that denieth the Son, the same
hath not the Father." "He that hath the Son hath life." These
passages all become perspicuous and concordant in view of John's
conception of the inward unity of

35 Philo, vol. i. p. 106.


truth, or the universal oneness of the Divine life, in God, in
Christ, in all souls that partake of it. A character in harmony
with the character of God will, by virtue of its inherent light
and affinity, recognise the kindred attributes or characteristics
of God, wherever manifested. He who perceives and embraces the
Divinity in the character of Christ proves thereby that he was
prepared to receive it by kindred qualities residing in himself,
proves that he was distinctively of God. He who fails to perceive
the peculiar glory of Christ proves thereby that he was alienated
and blinded by sin and darkness, distinctively of the evil one.
Varying the expression to illustrate the thought, if the light and
warmth of a living love of God were in a soul, it would
necessarily, when brought into contact with the concentrated
radiance of Divinity incarnated and beaming in Christ, effect a
more fervent, conscious, and abiding union with the Father than
could be known before he was thus revealed. But if iniquities,
sinful lusts, possessing the soul, had made it hard and cold, even
the blaze of spotless virtues and miraculous endowments in the
manifesting Messiah would be the radiation of light upon darkness
insensible to it. Therefore, the presentation of the Divine
contents of the soul or character of Jesus to different persons
was an unerring test of their previous moral state: the good would
apprehend him with a thrill of unison, the bad would not. To have
the Son, to have the Father, to have the truth, to have eternal
life, all are the same thing: hence, where one is predicated or
denied all are predicated or denied.

Continuing our investigation, we shall find the distinction drawn
of a sensual or perishing life and a spiritual or eternal life.
The term world (kosmos) is used by John apparently in two
different senses. First, it seems to signify all mankind, divided
sometimes into the unbelievers and the Christians. "Christ is the
propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the
sins of the whole world." "God sent not his Son to condemn the
world, but that the world through him might be saved." It is
undeniable that "world" here means not the earth, but the men on
the earth. Secondly, "world" in the dialect of John means all the
evil, all the vitiating power, of the material creation. "Now
shall the Prince of this world be cast out." It is not meant that
this is the devil's world, because John declares in the beginning
that God made it; but he means that all diabolic influence comes
from the darkness of matter fighting against the light of
Divinity, and by a figure he says "world," meaning the evils in
the world, meaning all the follies, vanities, sins, seductive
influences, of the dark and earthy, the temporal and sensual. In
this case the love of the world means almost precisely what is
expressed by the modern word worldliness. "Love not the world,
neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the
world, the love of the Father is not in him."

In a vein strikingly similar, Philo writes, "It is impossible for
the love of the world and the love of God to coexist, as it is
impossible for light and darkness to coexist."36 "For all that is
in the world," says John, "the lust of the flesh, and the greed of
the eyes, and the pomp of living, is not of the Father, but is of
the world. And the world passes away, with the lust thereof: but
he that does the will of God abides forever." He who is taken up
and absorbed in the gauds and pleasures of time and sense has no
deep spring of religious experience:

36 Philo, vol. ii. p. 649.


his enjoyments are of the decaying body; his heart and his thoughts
are set on things which soon fly away. But the earnest believer in
God pierces through all these superficial and transitory objects
and pursuits, and fastens his affections to imperishable verities:
he feels, far down in his soul, the living well of faith and
fruition, the cool fresh fountain of spiritual hope and joy, whose
stream of life flows unto eternity. The vain sensualist and hollow
worldling has no true life in him: his love reaches not beyond the
grave. The loyal servant of duty and devout worshipper of God has
a spirit of conscious superiority to death and oblivion: though
the sky fall, and the mountains melt, and the seas fade, he knows
he shall survive, because immaterial truth and love are deathless.
The whole thought contained in the texts we are considering is
embodied with singular force and beauty in the following passage
from one of the sacred books of the Hindus: "Who would have
immortal life must beware of outward things, and seek inward
truth, purity, and faith; for the treacherous and evanescent world
flies from its votaries, like the mirage, or devil car, which
moves so swiftly that one cannot ascend it." The mere negation of
real life or blessedness is predicated of the careless worldling;
positive death or miserable condemned unrest is predicated of the
bad hearted sinner. Both these classes of men, upon accepting
Christ, that is, upon owning the Divine characteristics incarnate
in him, enter upon a purified, exalted, and new experience. "He
that hates his brother is a murderer and abides in death." "We
know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the
brethren." This new experience is distinctively, emphatically,
life; it is spiritual peace, joy, trust, communion with God, and
therefore immortal. It brings with it its own sufficient evidence,
leaving its possessor free from misgiving doubts, conscious of his
eternity. "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in
himself." "Hereby know we that we dwell in him and he in us,
because he hath given us of his spirit." "That ye may know that ye
have eternal life."

The objects of Christ's mission, so far as they refer to the
twofold purpose of revealing the Father by an impersonation of his
image, and giving new moral life to men by awakening within them a
conscious fellowship with Divine truth and goodness, have already
been unfolded. But this does not include the whole: all this might
have been accomplished by his appearance, authoritative teachings,
miracles, and return to heaven, without dying. Why, then, did he
die? What was the meaning or aim of his death and resurrection?
The apostle conceives that he came not only to reveal God and to
regenerate men, but also to be a "propitiation" for men's sins, to
redeem them from the penalty of their sins; and it was for this
end that he must suffer the doom of physical death. "Ye know that
he was manifested to take away our sins." It is the more difficult
to tell exactly what thoughts this language was intended by John
to convey, because his writings are so brief and miscellaneous, so
unsystematic and incomplete. He does not explain his own terms,
but writes as if addressing those who had previously received such
oral instruction as would make the obscurities clear, the hints
complete, and the fragments whole. We will first quote from John
all the important texts bearing on the point before us, and then
endeavor to discern and explain their sense. "If we walk in the
light as God is in the light, the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son,
cleanseth us from all sin." "He is the propitiation for our sins."
"Your sins are forgiven through his name."

"The whole world is subject to the evil one." These texts, few and
vague as they are, comprise every thing directly said by John upon
the atonement and redemption: other relevant passages merely
repeat the same substance. Certainly these statements do not of
themselves teach any thing like the Augustinian doctrine of
expiatory sufferings to placate the Father's indignation at sin
and sinners, or to remove, by paying the awful debt of justice,
the insuperable bars to forgiveness. Nothing of that sort is
anywhere intimated in the Johannean documents, even in the
faintest manner. So far from saying that there was unwillingness
or inability in the Father to take the initiative for our ransom
and pardon, he expressly avows, "Herein is love, not that we loved
God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation
for our sins." Instead of exclaiming, with the majority of modern
theologians, "Believe in the atoning death, the substitutional
sufferings, of Christ, and your sins shall then all be washed
away, and you shall be saved," he explicitly says, "If we confess
our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins." And
again: "Whosoever believeth in him" not in his death, but in him
"shall have eternal life." The allusions in John to the doctrine
of redemption and reconciliation do not mean, it is plain enough,
the buying off of the victims of eternal condemnation by the
vicarious pains of Jesus. What, then, do they mean? They are too
few, short, and obscure for us to decide this question
conclusively by their own light alone. We must get assistance from
abroad.

The reader will remember that it was the Jewish belief, and the
retained belief of the converts to Christianity, at that time,
that men's souls, in consequence of sin, were doomed upon leaving
the body to descend into the under world. This was the objective
penalty of sin, inherited from Adam. Now, Christ in his
superangelic state in heaven was not involved in sin or in its
doom of death and subterranean banishment. Yet at the will of the
Father he became a man, went through our earthly experiences, died
like a sinner, and after death descended into the prison of
disembodied souls below, then rose again and ascended into heaven
to the Father, to show men that their sins were forgiven, the
penalty taken away, and the path opened for them too to rise to
eternal life in the celestial mansions with Christ "and be with
him where he is." Christ's death, then, cleanses men from sin, he
is a propitiation for their sins, in two ways. First, by his
resurrection from the power of death and his ascent to heaven he
showed men that God had removed the great penalty of sin: by his
death and ascension he was the medium of giving them this
knowledge. Secondly, the joy, gratitude, love to God, awakened in
them by such glorious tidings, would purify their natures, exalt
their souls into spiritual freedom and virtue, into a blessed and
Divine life. According to this view, Christ was a vicarious
sacrifice, not in the sense that he suffered instead of the
guilty, to purchase their redemption from the iron justice of God,
but in the sense that, when he was personally free from any need
to suffer, he died for the sake of others, to reveal to them the
mighty boon of God's free grace, assuring them of the wondrous
gift of a heavenly immortality. This representation perfectly
fills and explains the language, without violence or arbitrary
suppositions, does it in harmony with all the exegetical
considerations, historical and grammatical; which no other view
that we know of can do.

There are several independent facts which lend strong confirmation
to the correctness of the exposition now given. We know that we
have not directly proved the justice of that exposition, only
constructively, inferentially, established it; not shown it to be
true, only made it appear plausible. But that plausibility becomes
an extreme probability nay, shall we not say certainty? when we
weigh the following testimonies for it. First, this precise
doctrine is unquestionably contained in other parts of the New
Testament. We have in preceding chapters demonstrated its
existence in Paul's epistles, in Peter's, in the Epistle to the
Hebrews, and in the Apocalypse. Therefore, since John's
phraseology is better explained by it than by any other
hypothesis, it is altogether likely that his real meaning was the
same.

Secondly, the terms "light" and "darkness," so frequent in this
evangelist, were not originated by him, but adopted. They were
regarded by the Persian theology, by Plato, by Philo, by the
Gnostics, as having a physical basis as well as a spiritual
significance. In their conceptions, physical light, as well as
spiritual holiness, was an efflux or manifestation from the
supernal God; physical darkness, as well as spiritual depravity,
was an emanation or effect from the infernal Satan, or principle
of evil. Is it not so in the usage of John? He uses the terms, it
is true, prevailingly in a moral sense: still, there is much in
his statements that looks as if he supposed they had a physical
ground. If so, then how natural is this connection of thought! All
good comes from the dazzling world of God beyond the sky; all evil
comes from the nether world of his adversary, the prince of
darkness. That John believed in a local heaven on high, the
residence of God, is made certain by scores of texts too plain to
be evaded. Would he not, then, in all probability, believe in a
local hell? Believing, as he certainly did, in a devil, the author
and lord of darkness, falsehood, and death, would he not conceive
a kingdom for him? In the development of ideas reached at that
time, it is evident that the conception of God implied an upper
world, his resplendent abode, and that the conception of Satan
equally implied an under world, his gloomy realm. To the latter
human souls were doomed by sin. From the former Christ came, and
returned to it again, to show that the Father would forgive our
sins and take us there.

Thirdly, John expected that Christ, after death, would return to
the Father in heaven. This appears from clear and reiterated
statements in his reports of the Savior's words. But after the
resurrection he tells us that Jesus had not yet ascended to the
Father, but was just on the point of going. "Touch 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." Where, then, did he suppose
the soul of his crucified Master had been during the interval
between his death and his resurrection? Dormant in the body, dead
with the body, laid in the tomb? That is opposed to the doctrine
of uninterrupted life which pervades his writings. Besides, such a
belief was held only by the Sadducees, whom the New Testament
stigmatizes. To assume that such was John's conception of the fact
is an arbitrary supposition, without the least warrant from any
source whatever. If he imagined the soul of Jesus during that time
to have been neither in heaven nor in the sepulchre, is it not
pretty sure that he supposed it was in the under world, the common
receptacle of souls, where, according to the belief of that age,
every man went after death?

Fourthly, it is to be observed, in favor of this general
interpretation, that the doctrine it unfolds is in harmony with
the contemporary opinions, a natural development from them, a
development which would be forced upon the mind of a Jewish
Christian accepting the resurrection of Christ as a fact. It was
the Jewish opinion that God dwelt with his holy angels in a world
of everlasting light above the firmament. It was the Jewish
opinion that the departed souls of men, on account of sin, were
confined beneath the earth in Satan's and death's dark and
slumberous cavern of shadows. It was the Jewish opinion that the
Messiah would raise the righteous dead and reign with them on
earth. Now, the first Christians clung to the Jewish creed and
expectations, with such modifications merely as the variation of
the actual Jesus and his deeds from the theoretical Messiah and
his anticipated achievements compelled. Then, when Christ having
been received as the bringer of glad tidings from the Father died,
and after three days rose from the dead and ascended to God,
promising his brethren that where he was they should come, must
they not have regarded it all as a dramatic exemplification of the
fact that the region of death was no longer a hopeless dungeon,
since one mighty enough to solve its chains and burst its gates
had returned from it? must they not have considered him as a
pledge that their sins were forgiven, their doom reversed, and
heaven attainable?

John, in common with all the first Christians, evidently expected
that the second advent of the Lord would soon take place, to
consummate the objects he had left unfinished, to raise the dead
and judge them, justifying the worthy and condemning the unworthy.
There was a well known Jewish tradition that the appearance of
Antichrist would immediately precede the triumphant coming of the
Messiah. John says, "Even now are there many Antichrists: thereby
we know that it is the last hour."37 "Abide in him, that, when he
shall appear, we may not be ashamed before him at his coming."
"That we may have boldness in the day of judgment." The
evangelist's outlook for the return of the Savior is also shown at
the end of his Gospel. "Jesus said not unto him, 'He shall not
die;' but, 'If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to
thee?'" That the doctrine of a universal resurrection which the
Jews probably derived, through their communication with the
Persians, from the Zoroastrian system, and, with various
modifications, adopted is embodied in the following passage, who
can doubt? "The hour is coming when all that are in the graves
shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and shall come forth." That
a general resurrection would literally occur under the auspices of
Jesus was surely the meaning of the writer of those words. Whether
that thought was intended to be conveyed by Christ in the exact
terms he really used or not is a separate question, with which we
are not now concerned, our object being simply to set forth John's
views. Some commentators, seizing the letter and neglecting the
spirit, have inferred from various texts that John expected that
the resurrection would be limited to faithful Christians, just as
the more rigid of the Pharisees confined it to the righteous Jews.
"Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, ye
have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood
hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

37 See the able and impartial discussion of John's belief on this
subject contained in Lucke's Commentary on the First Epistle of
John, i. 18-28.


To force this figure into a literal meaning is a mistake; for in
the preceding chapter it is expressly said that "They that have
done good shall come forth unto the resurrection of life; they
that have done evil unto the resurrection of condemnation." Both
shall rise to be judged; but as we conceive the most probable
sense of the phrases the good shall be received to heaven, the bad
shall be remanded to the under world. "Has no life in him" of
course cannot mean is absolutely dead, annihilated, but means has
not faith and virtue, the elements of blessedness, the
qualifications for heaven. The particular figurative use of words
in these texts may be illustrated by parallel idioms from Philo,
who says, "Of the living some are dead; on the contrary, the dead
live. For those lost from the life of virtue are dead, though they
reach the extreme of old age; while the good, though they are
disjoined from the body, live immortally."38 Again he writes,
"Deathless life delivers the dying pious; but the dying impious
everlasting death seizes."39 And a great many passages plainly
show that one element of Philo's meaning, in such phrases as
these, is, that he believed that, upon their leaving the body, the
souls of the good would ascend to heaven, while the souls of the
bad would descend to Hades. These discriminated events he supposed
would follow death at once. His thorough Platonism had weaned him
from the Persian Pharisaic doctrine of a common intermediate state
detaining the dead below until the triumphant advent of a Redeemer
should usher in the great resurrection and final judgment.40

John declares salvation to be conditional. "The blood of Christ"
that is, his death and what followed "cleanses us from all sin, if
we walk in the light as he is in the light;" not otherwise. "He
that believeth not the Son shall not see eternal life, but the
wrath of God abideth on him." "If any man see his brother commit a
sin which is not unto death, he shall pray, and shall receive life
for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do
not say that he shall pray for it." "Beloved, now are we the sons
of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know
that when he [Christ] shall appear we shall be like him, for we
shall see him as he is. Every man that hath this hope in him
purifieth himself, even as he is pure." The heads of the doctrine
which seems to underlie these statements are as follow. Christ
shall come again. All the dead shall rise for judicial ordeal.
Those counted worthy shall be accepted, be transfigured into the
resemblance of the glorious Redeemer and enter into eternal
blessedness in heaven. The rest shall be doomed to the dark
kingdom of death in the under world, to remain there for aught
that is hinted to the contrary forever. From these premises two
practical inferences are drawn in exhortations. First, we should
earnestly strive to fit ourselves for acceptance by moral purity,
brotherly love, and pious faith. Secondly, we should seek pardon
for our sins by confession and prayer, and take heed lest by
aggravated sin we deprave our souls beyond recovery. There are
those who sin unto death, for whom it is hopeless to pray. Light,
truth, and the divine life of heaven can never receive them;
darkness, falsehood, and the deep realm of death irrevocably
swallow them.

And now we may sum up in a few words the essential results of this
whole inquiry into the principles of John's theology, especially
as composing and shown in his doctrine of a

38 Vol. i. p. 554.

39 Ibid. p. 233.

40 See vol. i. pp. 139, 416, 417, 555, 643, 648; vol. ii. pp. 178,
433.


future life. First, God is personal love, truth, light, holiness,
blessedness. These realities, as concentrated in their
incomprehensible absoluteness, are the elements of his infinite
being. Secondly, these spiritual substances, as diffused through
the worlds of the universe and experienced in the souls of moral
creatures, are the medium of God's revelation of himself, the
direct presence and working of his Logos. Thirdly, the persons who
prevailingly partake of these qualities are God's loyal subjects
and approved children, in peaceful communion with the Father,
through the Son, possessing eternal life. Fourthly, Satan is
personal hatred, falsehood, darkness, sin, misery. These
realities, in their abstract nature and source, are his being; in
their special manifestations they are his efflux and power.
Fifthly, the persons who partake rulingly of these qualities are
the devil's enslaved subjects and lineal children: in sinful
bondage to him, in depraved communion with him, they dwell in a
state of hostile banishment and unhappiness, which is moral death.
Sixthly, Christ was the Logos who, descending from his anterior
glory in heaven, and appearing in mortal flesh, embodied all the
Divine qualities in an unflawed model of humanity, gathered up and
exhibited all the spiritual characteristics of the Father in a
stainless and perfect soul supernaturally filled and illumined,
thus to bear into the world a more intelligible and effective
revelation of God the Father than nature or common humanity
yielded, to shine with regenerating radiance upon the deadly
darkness of those who were groping in lying sins, "that they might
have life and that they might have it more abundantly." Seventhly,
the fickle and perishing experience of unbelieving and wicked men,
the vagrant life of sensuality and worldliness, the shallow life
in vain and transitory things, gives place in the soul of a
Christian to a profoundly earnest, unchanging experience of truth
and love, a steady and everlasting life in Divine and everlasting
things. Eighthly, the experimental reception of the revealed grace
and verity by faith and discipleship in Jesus is accompanied by
internal convincing proofs and seals of their genuineness,
validity, and immortality. They awaken a new consciousness, a new
life, inherently Divine and self warranting. Ninthly, Christ, by
his incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension, was a
propitiation for our sins, a mercy seat pledging forgiveness; that
is, he was the medium of showing us that mercy of God which
annulled the penalty of sin, the descent of souls to the gloomy
under world, and opened the celestial domains for the ransomed
children of earth to join the sinless angels of heaven. Tenthly,
Christ was speedily to make a second advent. In that last day the
dead should come forth for judgment, the good be exalted to
unfading glory with the Father and the Son, and the bad be left in
the lower region of noiseless shadows and dreams. These ten points
of view, we believe, command all the principal features of the
theological landscape which occupied the mental vision of the
writer of the Gospel and epistles bearing the superscription,
John.

CHAPTER VI.

CHRIST'S TEACHINGS CONCERNING THE FUTURE LIFE.

IN approaching the teachings of the Savior himself concerning the
future fate of man, we should throw off the weight of creeds and
prejudices, and, by the aid of all the appliances in our power,
endeavor to reach beneath the imagery and unessential particulars
of his instructions to learn their bare significance in truth.
This is made difficult by the singular perversions his religion
has undergone; by the loss of a complete knowledge of the
peculiarities of the Messianic age in the lapse of the ages since;
by the almost universal change in our associations, modes of
feeling and thought, and styles of speech; and by the gradual
accretion and hardening of false doctrines and sectarian biases
and wilfulness. As we examine the words of Christ to find their
real meaning, there are four prominent considerations to be
especially weighed and borne in mind.

First, we must not forget the poetic Eastern style common to the
Jewish prophets; their symbolic enunciations in bold figures of
speech: "I am the door;" "I am the bread of life;" "I am the
vine;" "My sheep hear my voice;" "If these should hold their
peace, the stones would immediately cry out." This daring
emblematic language was natural to the Oriental nations; and the
Bible is full of it. Is the overthrow of a country foretold? It is
not said, "Babylon shall be destroyed," but "The sun shall be
darkened at his going forth, the moon shall be as blood, the stars
shall fall from heaven, and the earth shall stagger to and fro as
a drunken man." If we would truly understand Christ's
declarations, we must not overlook the characteristics of
figurative language. For "he spake to the multitude in parables,
and without a parable spake he not unto them;" and a parable, of
course, is not to be taken literally, but holds a latent sense and
purpose which are to be sought out. The greatest injustice is done
to the teachings of Christ when his words are studied as those of
a dry scholastic, a metaphysical moralist, not as those of a
profound poet, a master in the spiritual realm.

Secondly, we must remember that we have but fragmentary reports of
a small part of the teachings of Christ. He was engaged in the
active prosecution of his mission probably about three years, at
the shortest over one year; while all the different words of his
recorded in the New Testament would not occupy more than five
hours. Only a little fraction of what he said has been transmitted
to us; and though this part may contain the essence of the whole,
yet it must naturally in some instances be obscure and difficult
of apprehension. We must therefore compare different passages with
each other, carefully probe them all, and explain, so far as
possible, those whose meaning is recondite by those whose meaning
is obvious. Some persons may be surprised to think that we have
but a small portion of the sayings of Jesus. The fact, however, is
unquestionable. And perhaps there is no more reason that we should
have a full report of his words than there is that we should have
a complete account of his doings; and the evangelist declares,
"There are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if
they should every one be written, I suppose that even the world
itself could not contain the books."

Thirdly, when examining the instructions of Jesus, we should
recollect that he adopted, and applied to himself and to his
kingdom, the common Jewish phraseology concerning the Messiah and
the events that were expected to attend his advent and reign. But
he did not take up these phrases in the perverted sense held in
the corrupt opinions and earthly hopes of the Jews: he used them
spiritually, in the sense which accorded with the true Messianic
dispensation as it was arranged in the forecasting providence of
God. No investigation of the New Testament should be unaccompanied
by an observance of the fundamental rule of interpretation,
namely, that the strident of a book, especially of an ancient,
obscure, and fragmentary book, should imbue himself as thoroughly
as he can with the knowledge and spirit of the opinions, events,
influences, circumstances, of the time when the document was
written, and of the persons who wrote it. The inquirer must be
equipped for his task by a mastery of the Rabbinism of Gamaliel,
at whose feet Paul was brought up; for the Jewish mind of that age
was filled, and its religious language directed, by this
Rabbinism. Guided by this principle, furnished with the necessary
information, in the helpful light of the best results of modern
critical scholarship, we shall be able to explain many dark texts,
and to satisfy ourselves, at least in a degree, as to the genuine
substance of Christ's declarations touching the future destinies
of men.

Finally, he who studies the New Testament with patient
thoroughness and with honest sharpness will arrive at a
distinction most important to be made and to be kept in view,
namely, a distinction between the real meaning of Christ's words
in his own mind and the actual meaning understood in them by his
auditors and reporters.1 Here we approach a most delicate and
vital point, hitherto too little noticed, but destined yet to
become prominent and fruitful. A large number of religious phrases
were in common use among the Jews at the time of Jesus. He adopted
them, but infused into them a deeper, a correct meaning, as
Copernicus did into the old astronomic formulas. But the
bystanders who listened to his discourses, hearing the familiar
terms, seized the familiar meaning, and erroneously attributed it
to him. It is certain that the Savior was often misunderstood and
often not understood at all. When he declared himself the Messiah,
the people would have made him a king by force! Even the apostles
frequently grossly failed to appreciate his spirit and aims,
wrenched unwarrantable inferences from his words, and quarrelled
for the precedency in his coming kingdom and for seats at his
right hand. In numerous cases it is glaringly plain that his ideas
were far from their conceptions of them. We have no doubt the same
was true in many other instances where it is not so clear. He
repeatedly reproves them for folly and slowness because they did
not perceive the sense of his instructions. Perhaps there was a
slight impatience in his tones when he said, "How is it that ye do
not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that
ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the
Sadducees?" Jesus uttered in established phrases new and
profoundly spiritual thoughts. The apostles educated in, and full
of, as they evidently were, the dogmas, prejudices, and

1 See this distinction affirmed by De Wette, in the preface to his
Commentatio de Morte Jesus Christi Expiatoria. See also Thurn,
Jesus und seine Apostel in Widerspruch in Ansehung der Lehre von
der Ewigcn Verdamnniss. In Scherer's Schriftforsch. sect. i. nr.
4.


hopes of their age and land would naturally, to some extent,
misapprehend his meaning. Then, after a tumultuous interval,
writing out his instructions from memory, how perfectly natural
that their own convictions and sentiments would have a powerful
influence in modifying and shaping the animus and the verbal
expressions in their reports! Under the circumstances, that we
should now possess the very equivalents of his words with strict
literalness, and conveying his very intentions perfectly
translated from the Aramaan into the Greek tongue, would imply the
most sustained and amazing of all miracles. There is nothing
whatever that indicates any such miraculous intervention. There is
nothing to discredit the fair presumption that the writers were
left to their own abilities, under the inspiration of an earnest
consecrating love and truthfulness. And we must, with due
limitations, distinguish between the original words and conscious
meaning of the sublime Master, illustrated by the emphasis and
discrimination of his looks, tones, and gestures, and the
apprehended meaning recorded long afterwards, shaped and colored
by passing through the minds and pens of the sometimes dissentient
and always imperfect disciples. He once declared to them, "I have
many things to say unto you, but ye are not able to bear them."
Admitting his infallibility, as we may, yet asserting their
fallibility, as we must, and accompanied, too, as his words now
are by many very obscuring circumstances, it is extremely
difficult to lay the hand on discriminated texts and say,
"[non ASCII characters]"

The Messianic doctrine prevalent among the Jews in the time of
Jesus appears to have been built up little by little, by religious
faith, national pride, and priestly desire, out of literal
interpretations of figurative prophecy, and Cabalistic
interpretations of plain language, and Rabbinical traditions and
speculations, additionally corrupted in some particulars by
intercourse with the Persians. Under all this was a central
spiritual germ of a Divine promise and plan. A Messiah was really
to come. It was in answering the questions, what kind of a king he
was to be, and over what sort of a kingdom he was to reign, that
the errors crept in. The Messianic conceptions which have come
down to us through the Prophets, the Targums, incidental allusions
in the New Testament, the Talmud, and the few other traditions and
records yet in existence, are very diverse and sometimes
contradictory. They agreed in ardently looking for an earthly
sovereign in the Messiah, one who would rise up in the line of
David and by the power of Jehovah deliver his people, punish their
enemies, subdue the world to his sceptre, and reign with Divine
auspices of beneficence and splendor. They also expected that then
a portion of the dead would rise from the under world and assume
their bodies again, to participate in the triumphs and blessings
of his earthly kingdom. His personal reign in Judea was what they
usually meant by the phrases "the kingdom of heaven," "the kingdom
of God." The apostles cherished these ideas, and expressed them in
the terms common to their countrymen. But we cannot doubt that
Jesus employed this and kindred language in a purer and deeper
sense, which we must take pains to distinguish from the early and
lingering errors associated with it.

Upon the threshold of our subject we meet with predictions of a
second coming of Christ from heaven, with power and glory, to sit
on his throne and judge the world. The portentous imagery in which
these prophecies are clothed is taken from the old prophets; and
to them

we must turn to learn its usage and force. The Hebrews called any
signal manifestation of power especially any dreadful calamity a
coming of the Lord. It was a coming of Jehovah when his vengeance
strewed the ground with the corpses of Sennacherib's host; when
its storm swept Jerusalem as with fire, and bore Israel into
bondage; when its sword came down upon Idumea and was bathed in
blood upon Edom. "The day of the Lord" is another term of
precisely similar import. It occurs in the Old Testament about
fifteen times. In every instance it means some mighty
manifestation of God's power in calamity. These occasions are
pictured forth with the most astounding figures of speech. Isaiah
describes the approaching destruction of Babylon in these terms:
"The stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall give no
light; the sun shall be darkened, the moon shall not shine, the
heavens shall shake, and the earth shall remove out of her place
and be as a frightened sheep that no man taketh up." The Jews
expected that the coming of the Messiah would be preceded by many
fearful woes, in the midst of which he would appear with peerless
pomp and might. The day of his coming they named emphatically the
day of the Lord. Jesus actually appeared, not, as they expected, a
warrior travelling in the greatness of his strength, with dyed
garments from Bozrah, staining his raiment with blood as he
trampled in the wine vat of vengeance, but the true Messiah, God's
foreordained and anointed Son, despised and rejected of men,
bringing good tidings, publishing peace. It must have been
impossible for the Jews to receive such a Messiah without
explanations. Those few who became converts apprehended his
Messianic language, at least to some extent, in the sense which
previously occupied their minds. He knew that often he was not
understood; and he frequently said to his followers, "Who hath
ears to hear, let him hear." His disciples once asked him, "What
shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" He
replied, substantially, "There shall be wars, famines, and
unheard of trials; and immediately after the sun shall be
darkened, the moon shall not give her light, the stars shall fall
from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. Then
shall they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with
great power. And he shall sit upon the throne of his glory, and
all nations shall be gathered before him, and he shall separate
them one from another." That this language was understood by the
evangelists and the early Christians, in accordance with their
Pharisaic notions, as teaching literally a physical reappearance
of Christ on the earth, a resurrection, and a general judgment, we
fully believe. Those ideas were prevalent at the time, are
expressed in scores of places in the New Testament, and are the
direct strong assertion of the words themselves. But that such was
the meaning of Christ himself we much more than doubt.

In the first place, in his own language in regard to his second
coming there is not the least hint of a resurrection of the dead:
the scene is confined to the living, and to the earth. Secondly,
the figures which he employs in this connection are the same as
those used by the Jewish prophets to denote great and signal
events on the earth, and may be so taken here without violence to
the idiom. Thirdly, he expressly fixed the date of the events he
referred to within that generation; and if, therefore, he spoke
literally, he was grossly in error, and his prophecies failed of
fulfilment, a conclusion which we cannot adopt. To suppose that he
partook in the false, mechanical dogmas of the carnal Jews would
be equally irreconcilable with the common idea of his Divine
inspiration, and with the profound penetration and spirituality
of his own mind.

He certainly used much of the phraseology of his contemporary
countrymen, metaphorically, to convey his own purer thoughts. We
have no doubt he did so in regard to the descriptions of his
second coming. Let us state in a form of paraphrase what his real
instructions on this point seem to us to have been: "You cannot
believe that I am the Messiah, because I do not deliver you from
your oppressors and trample on the Gentiles. Your minds are
clouded with errors. The Father hath sent me to found the kingdom
of peace and righteousness, and hath given me all power to reward
and punish. By my word shall the nations of the earth be honored
and blessed, or be overwhelmed with fire; and every man must stand
before my judgment seat. The end of the world is at the doors. The
Mosaic dispensation is about to be closed in the fearful
tribulations of the day of the Lord, and my dispensation to be set
up. When you see Jerusalem encompassed with armies, know that the
day is at hand, and flee to the mountains; for not one stone shall
be left upon another. Then the power of God will be shown on my
behalf, and the sign of the Son of Man be seen in heaven. My
truths shall prevail, and shall be owned as the criteria of Divine
judgment. According to them, all the righteous shall be
distinguished as my subjects, and all the iniquitous shall be
separated from my kingdom. Some of those standing here shall not
taste death till all these things be fulfilled. Then it will be
seen that I am the Messiah, and that through the eternal
principles of truth which I have proclaimed I shall sit upon a
throne of glory, not literally, in person, as you thought,
blessing the Jews and cursing the Gentiles, but spiritually, in
the truth, dispensing joy to good men and woe to bad men,
according to their deserts." Such we believe to be the meaning of
Christ's own predictions of his second coming. He figuratively
identifies himself with his religion according to that idiom by
which it is written, "Moses hath in every city them that read him,
being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day." His figure of
himself as the universal judge is a bold personification; for he
elsewhere says, "He that believeth in me believeth not in me, but
in Him that sent me." And again, "He that rejecteth me, I judge
him not: the word that I have spoken, that shall judge him." His
coming in the clouds of heaven with great power and glory was
when, at the destruction of Jerusalem, the old age closed and the
new began, the obstacles to his religion were removed and his
throne established on the earth.2 The apostles undoubtedly
understood the doctrine differently; but that such was his own
thought we conclude, because he did sometimes undeniably use
figurative language in that way, and because the other meaning is
an error, not in harmony either with his character, his mind, or
his mission.

This interpretation is so important that it may need to be
illustrated and confirmed by further instances: "When the Son of
Man sits on the throne of his glory, and all nations are gathered
before him, his angels shall sever the wicked from among the just,
and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be weeping
and gnashing of teeth." A few such picturesque phrases have led to
the general belief in a great world judgment at the end of the

2 Norton, Statement of Reasons, Appendix.


appointed time, after which the condemned are to be thrown into
the tortures of an unquenchable world of flame. How arbitrary and
violent a conclusion this is, how unwarranted and gross a
perversion of the language of Christ it is, we may easily see. The
fact that the old prophets often described fearful misfortunes and
woes in images of clouds and flame and falling stars, and other
portentous symbols, and that this style was therefore familiar to
the Jews, would make it very natural for Jesus, in foretelling
such an event as the coming destruction of Jerusalem, in
conflagration and massacre, with the irretrievable subversion of
the old dispensation, to picture it forth in a similar way. Fire
was to the Jews a common emblem of calamity and devastation; and
judgments incomparably less momentous than those gathered about
the fall of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the self boasted
favorites of Jehovah were often described by the prophets in
appalling images of darkened planets, shaking heavens, clouds,
fire, and blackness. Joel, speaking of a "day of the Lord," when
there should be famine and drought, and a horrid army of
destroying insects, "before whom a fire devoureth, and behind them
a flame burneth," draws the scene in these terrific colors: "The
earth shall quake before them; the sun and moon shall be dark, and
the stars shall withdraw their shining; and the Lord shall utter
his voice before his terrible army of locusts, caterpillars, and
destroying worms:" Ezekiel represents God as saying, "The house of
Israel is to me become dross: therefore I will gather you into the
midst of Jerusalem: as they gather silver, brass, iron, tin, and
lead into the midst of the furnace to blow the fire upon it, so
will I gather you, and blow upon you in the fire of my wrath, and
ye shall be melted in the midst thereof." We read in Isaiah, "The
Assyrian shall flee, and his princes shall be afraid, saith the
Lord, whose fire is in Zion and his furnace in Jerusalem." Malachi
also says, "The day cometh that shall burn as a furnace, and all
that do wickedly shall be stubble, and shall be burned up root and
branch. They shall be trodden as ashes beneath the feet of the
righteous." The meaning of these passages, and of many other
similar ones, is, in every instance, some severe temporal
calamity, some dire example of Jehovah's retributions among the
nations of the earth. Their authors never dreamed of teaching that
there is a place of fire beyond the grave in which the wicked dead
shall be tormented, or that the natural creation is finally to be
devoured by flame. It is perfectly certain that not a single text
in the Old Testament was meant to teach any such doctrine as that.
The judgments shadowed forth in kindred metaphors by Christ are to
be understood in the light of this fact. Their meaning is, that
all unjust, cruel, false, impure men shall endure severe
punishments. This general thought is fearfully distinct; but every
thing beyond all details are left in utter obscurity.

In the august scene of the King in judgment, when the sentence has
been pronounced on those at the left hand, "Depart from me, ye
cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his
angels," it is written, "and they shall go away into everlasting
punishment." It is obvious to remark that the imagery of a fiery
prison built for Satan and the fallen angels, and into which the
bad shall be finally doomed, is poetical language, or language of
accommodation to the current notions of the time. These startling
Oriental figures are used to wrap and convey the assertion that
the wicked shall be severely punished according to their deserts.
No literal reference seems to be made either to the particular
time, to the

special place, or to the distinctive character, of the punishment;
but the mere fact is stated in a manner to fill the conscience
with awe and to stamp the practical lesson vividly on the memory.
But admitting the clauses apparently descriptive of the nature of
this retribution to be metaphorical, yet what shall we think of
its duration? Is it absolutely unending? There is nothing in the
record to enable a candid inquirer to answer that question
decisively. So far as the letter of Scripture is concerned, there
are no data to give an indubitable solution to the problem. It is
true the word "everlasting" is repeated; but, when impartially
weighed, it seems a sudden rhetorical expression, of indefinite
force, used to heighten the impressiveness of a sublime dramatic
representation, rather than a cautious philosophical term employed
to convey an abstract conception. There is no reason whatever for
supposing that Christ's mind was particularly directed to the
metaphysical idea of endlessness, or to the much more metaphysical
idea of timelessness. The presumptive evidence is that he spoke
popularly. Had he been charged to reveal a doctrine so tremendous,
so awful, so unutterably momentous in its practical relations, as
that of the endless close of all probation at death, is it
conceivable that he would merely have couched it in a few
figurative expressions and left it as a matter of obscure
inference and uncertainty? No: in that case, he would have
iterated and reiterated it, defined, guarded, illustrated it, and
have left no possibility of honest mistake or doubt of it.

The Greek word [non-ASCII characters], and the same is true of the
corresponding Hebrew word, translated "everlasting" in the English
Bible, has not in its popular usage the rigid force of eternal
duration, but varies, is now applied to objects as evanescent as
man's earthly life, now to objects as lasting as eternity.3
Its power in any given case is to be sought from the context and
the reason of the thing.

Isaiah, having threatened the unrighteous nations that they
"should conceive chaff and bring forth stubble, that their own
breath should be fire to devour them, and that they should be
burnt like lime, like thorns cut up in the fire," makes the
terror smitten sinners and hypocrites cry, "Who among us can dwell
in devouring fire? Who among us can dwell in everlasting
burnings?" Yet his reference is solely to an outward, temporal
judgment in this world. The Greek adjective rendered "everlasting"
is etymologically, and by universal usage, a term of duration, but
indefinite, its extent of meaning depending on the subjects of
which it is predicated. Therefore, when Christ connects this word
with the punishment of the wicked, it is impossible to say with
any certainty, judging from the language itself, whether he
implies that those who die in their sins are hopelessly lost,
perfectly irredeemable forever, or not, though the probabilities
are very strongly in the latter direction. "Everlasting
punishment" may mean, in philosophical strictness, a punishment
absolutely eternal, or may be a popular expression denoting, with
general indefiniteness, a very long duration. Since in all Greek
literature, sacred and profane, [non-ASCII characters] is applied
to things that end, ten times as often as it is to things immortal,
no fair critic can assert positively that when it is connected
with future punishment it has the stringent meaning of
metaphysical endlessness. On the other hand, no one has any
critical

3 See Christian Examiner for March, 1854, pp. 280-297.


right to say positively that in such cases it has not that
meaning. The Master has not explained his words on this point, but
has left them veiled. We can settle the question itself concerning
the limitedness or the unlimitedness of future punishment only on
other grounds than those of textual criticism, even on grounds of
enlightened reason postulating the cardinal principles of
Christianity and of ethics. Will not the unimpeded Spirit of
Christ lead all free minds and loving hearts to one conclusion?
But that conclusion is to be held modestly as a trusted inference,
not dogmatically as a received revelation.

Another point in the Savior's teachings which it is of the utmost
importance to understand is the sense in which he used the Jewish
phrases "Resurrection of the Dead" and "Resurrection at the Last
Day." The Pharisees looked for a restoration of the righteous from
their graves to a bodily life. This event they supposed would take
place at the appearance of the Messiah; and the time of his coming
they called "the last day." So the Apostle John says, "Already are
there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time."
Now, Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, clothed in his functions,
though he interpreted those functions as carrying an interior and
moral, not an outward and physical, force. "This is the will of
Him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son and believeth
on him should have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at
the last day." Again, when Martha told Jesus that "she knew her
brother Lazarus would rise again in the resurrection at the last
day," he replied, "I am the resurrection and the life: he that
believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and
whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." This
utterance is surely metaphorical; for belief in Jesus does not
prevent physical dissolution. The thoughts contained in the
various passages belonging to this subject, when drawn out,
compared, and stated in general terms, seem to us to be as
follows: "You suppose that in the last day your Messiah will
restore the dead to live again upon the earth. I am the Messiah,
and the last days have therefore arrived. I am commissioned by the
Father to bestow eternal life upon all who believe on me; but not
in the manner you have anticipated. The true resurrection is not
calling the body from the tomb, but opening the fountains of
eternal life in the soul. I am come to open the spiritual world to
your faith. He that believeth in me and keepeth my commandments
has passed from death unto life, become conscious that though
seemingly he passes into the grave, yet really he shall live with
God forever. The true resurrection is, to come into the experience
of the truth that 'God is not the God of the dead, but of the
living; for all live unto him.' Over the soul that is filled with
such an experience, death has no power. Verily, I say unto, you,
the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead, the ignorant and
guilty, buried in trespasses and sins, shall hear these truths
declared, and they that believe shall lay hold of the life thus
offered and be blessed. The Father hath given me authority to
execute judgment, that is, to lay down the principles by which men
shall be judged according to their deserts. All mankind shall be
judged in the spiritual state by the spirit and precepts of my
religion as veritably as if in their graves the generations of the
dead heard my voice and came forth, the good to blessedness, the
evil to misery. The judgment which is, as it were, committed unto
me, is not really committed unto me, but unto the truth which I
declare; for of mine own self I can do nothing." We believe this
paraphrase expresses the essential meaning of Christ's own
declarations concerning a resurrection and an associated judgment.
Coming to bring from the Father authenticated tidings of
immortality, and to reveal the laws of the Divine judgment,
he declared that those who believed and kept his words were
delivered from the terror of death, and, knowing that an endless
life of blessedness was awaiting them, immediately entered upon
its experience. He did not teach the doctrine of a bodily
restoration, but said, "In the resurrection," that is, in the
spiritual state succeeding death, "they neither marry nor are
given in marriage, but are as the angels of heaven."

He did not teach the doctrine of a temporary sleep in the grave,
but said to the penitent thief on the cross, "This day shalt thou
be with me in Paradise:" instantly upon leaving the body their
souls would be together in the state of the blessed.

It is often said that the words of Jesus in relation to the dead
hearing his voice and coming forth must be taken literally; for
the metaphor is of too extreme violence. But it is in keeping with
his usage. He says, "Let the dead bury their dead." It is far less
bold than "This is my body; this is my blood." It is not nearly so
strong as Paul's adjuration, "Awake, thou that sleepest, and rise
from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." It is not more
daringly imaginative than the assertion that "the heroes sleeping
in Marathon's gory bed stirred in their graves when Leonidas
fought at Thermopyla; or than Christ's own words, "If thou hadst
faith like a grain of mustard seed, thou couldst say to this
mountain, Be thou cast into yonder sea, and it should obey you."
So one might say,

"Where'er the gospel comes,
It spreads diviner light;
It calls dead sinners from their tombs
And gives the blind their sight."

And in the latter days, when it has done its work, and the
glorious measure of human redemption is full, liberty,
intelligence, and love shall stand hand in hand on the mountain
summits and raise up the long generations of the dead to behold
the completed fruits of their toils. In this figurative moral
sense Jesus probably spoke when he said, "Thou shalt be
recompensed at the resurrection of the just." He referred simply
to the rewards of the virtuous in the state beyond the grave. The
phraseology in which he clothed the thought he accommodatingly
adopted from the current speech of the Pharisees. They
unquestionably meant by it the group of notions contained in their
dogma of the destined physical restoration of the dead from their
sepulchres at the advent of the Messiah. And it seems perfectly
plain to us, on an impartial study of the record, that the
evangelist, in reporting his words, took the Pharisaic dogma, and
not merely the Christian truth, with them. But that Jesus himself
modified and spiritualized the meaning of the phrase when he
employed it, even as he did the other contemporaneous language
descriptive of the Messianic offices and times, we conclude for
two reasons. First, he certainly did often use language in that
spiritual way, dressing in bold metaphors moral thoughts of
inspired insight and truth. Secondly, the moral doctrine is the
only one that is true, or that is in keeping with his penetrative
thought. The notion of a physical resurrection is an error
borrowed most likely from the Persians by the Pharisees, and not
belonging to the essential elements of Christianity. The notion
being prevalent at the time in Judea, and being usually expressed
in certain appropriated phrases, when Christ used those phrases in
a true spiritual sense the apostles would naturally apprehend from
them the carnal meaning which already filled their minds in common
with the minds of their countrymen.

The word Hades, translated in the English New Testament by the
word "hell," a word of nearly the same etymological force, but now
conveying a quite different meaning, occurs in the discourses of
Jesus only three several times. The other instances of its use are
repetitions or parallels. First, "And thou, Capernaum, which art
exalted to heaven, shalt be brought down to the under world;" that
is, the great and proud city shall become powerless, a heap of
ruins. Second, "Upon this rock I will found my Church, and the
gates of the under world shall not prevail against it;" that is,
the powers of darkness, the opposition of the wicked, the strength
of evil, shall not destroy my religion; in spite of them it shall
assert its organization and overcome all obstacles.

The remaining example of the Savior's use of this word is in the
parable of Dives and Lazarus. The rich man is described, after
death, as suffering in the under world. Seeing the beggar afar off
in Abraham's bosom, he cries, "Father Abraham, pity me, and send
Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool
my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame." Well known fancies
and opinions are here wrought up in scenic form to convey certain
moral impressions. It will be noticed that the implied division of
the under world into two parts, with a gulf between them,
corresponds to the common Gentile notion of an Elysian region of
delightful meadows for the good and a Tartarean region of
blackness and fire for the bad, both included in one subterranean
kingdom, but divided by an interval. 4

The dramatic details of the account Lazarus being borne into bliss
by angels, Dives asking to have a messenger sent from bale to warn
his surviving brothers rest on opinions afloat among the Jews of
that age, derived from the Persian theology. Zoroaster prays,
"When I shall die, let Aban and Bahman carry me to the bosom of
joy."5 And it was a common belief among the Persians that souls
were at seasons permitted to leave purgatory and visit their
relatives on earth.6 It is evident that the narrative before us is
not a history to be literally construed, but a parable to be
carefully analyzed. The imagery and the particulars are to be laid
aside, and the central thoughts to be drawn forth. Take the words
literally, that the rich man's immaterial soul, writhing in
flames, wished the tip of a finger dipped in water to cool his
tongue, and they are ridiculous. Take them figuratively, as a type
of unknown spiritual anguish, and they are awful. Besides, had
Christ intended to teach the doctrine of a local burning hell, he
surely would have enunciated it in plain words, with solemn
iteration and explanatory amplifications, instead of merely
insinuating it incidentally, in metaphorical

4 See copious illustrations by Rosenmuller, in Luc. cap. xvi. 22,
23.
"Hic locus est partes ubi se via findit in ambas:
Dextera, qua Ditis magni sub moenia tendit;
Hac iter Elysium nobis: at lava malorum
Exercet poenas, et ad impia Tartara mittit."

5 Rhode, Heilige Sage des Zendvolks, s. 408.

6 Ibid. s. 410.


terms, in a professed parable. The sense of the parable is, that
the formal distinctions of this world will have no influence in
the allotments of the future state, but will often be reversed
there; that a righteous Providence, knowing every thing here,
rules hereafter, and will dispense compensating justice to all;
that men should not wait for a herald to rise from the dead to
warn them, but should heed the instructions they already have, and
so live in the life that now is, as to avoid a miserable
condemnation, and secure a blessed acceptance, in the life that is
to come. By inculcating these truths in a striking manner, through
the aid of a parable based on the familiar poetical conceptions of
the future world and its scenery, Christ no more endorses those
conceptions than by using the Messianic phrases of the Jews he
approves the false carnal views which they joined with that
language. To interpret the parable literally, then, and suppose it
meant to teach the actual existence of a located hell of fire for
sinners after death, is to disregard the proprieties of criticism.

"Gehenna," or the equivalent phrase, "Gehenna of fire,"
unfortunately translated into our tongue by the word "hell," is to
be found in the teachings of Christ in only five independent
instances, each of which, after tracing the original Jewish usage
of the term, we will briefly examine. Gehenna, or the Vale of
Hinnom, is derived from two Hebrew words, the first meaning a
vale, the second being the name of its owner. The place thus
called was the eastern part of the beautiful valley that forms the
southern boundary of Jerusalem. Here Moloch, the horrid idol god
worshipped by the Ammonites, and by the Israelites during their
idolatrous lapses, was set up. This monstrous idol had the head of
an ox and the body of a man. It was hollow; and, being filled with
fire, children were laid in its arms and devoured alive by the
heat. This explains the terrific denunciations uttered by the
prophets against those who made their children pass through the
fire to Moloch. The spot was sometimes entitled Tophet, a place of
abhorrence; its name being derived, as some think, from a word
meaning to vomit with loathing, or, as others suppose, from a word
signifying drum, because drums were beaten to drown the shrieks of
the burning children. After these horrible rites were abolished by
Josiah, the place became an utter abomination. All filth, the
offal of the city, the carcasses of beasts, the bodies of executed
criminals, were cast indiscriminately into Gehenna. Fires were
kept constantly burning to prevent the infection of the atmosphere
from the putrifying mass. Worms were to be seen preying on the
relics. The primary meaning, then, of Gehenna, is a valley outside
of Jerusalem, a place of corruption and fire, only to be thought
of with execration and shuddering.

Now, it was not only in keeping with Oriental rhetoric, but also
natural in itself, that figures of speech should be taken from
these obvious and dreadful facts to symbolize any dire evil. For
example, how naturally might a Jew, speaking of some foul wretch,
and standing, perhaps, within sight of the place, exclaim, "He
deserves to be hurled into the fires of Gehenna!" So the term
would gradually become an accepted emblem of abominable
punishment. Such was the fact; and this gives a perspicuous
meaning to the word without supposing it to imply a fiery prison
house of anguish in the future world. Isaiah threatens the King of
Assyria with ruin in these terms: "Tophet is ordained of old, and
prepared for the king: it is made deep and large; the pile thereof
is fire and much wood; the breath of Jehovah, like a stream of
brimstone, doth kindle it." The prophet thus portrays, with the
dread imagery of Gehenna, approaching disaster and overthrow. A
thorough study of the Old Testament shows that the Jews, during
the period which it covers, did not believe in future rewards and
punishments, but expected that all souls without discrimination
would pass their shadowy dream lives in the silence of Sheol.

Between the termination of the Old Testament history and the
commencement of the New, various forms of the doctrine of future
retribution had been introduced or developed among the Jews. But
during this period few, if any, decisive instances can be found in
which the image of penal fire is connected with the future state.
On the contrary, "darkness," "gloom," "blackness," "profound and
perpetual night," are the terms employed to characterize the abode
and fate of the wicked.

Josephus says that, in the faith of the Pharisees, "the worst
criminals were banished to the darkest part of the under world."
Philo represents the depraved and condemned as "groping in the
lowest and darkest part of the creation. The word Gehenna is
rarely found in the literature of this time, and when it is it
commonly seems to be used either simply to denote the detestable
Vale of Hinnom, or else plainly as a general symbol of calamity
and horror, as in the elder prophets.

But in some of the Targums, or Chaldee paraphrases of the Hebrew
Scriptures,  especially in the Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel, we
meet repeated applications of the word Gehenna to signify a
punishment by fire in the future state.7 This is a fact about
which there can be no question. And to the documents showing such
a usage of the word, the best scholars are pretty well agreed in
assigning a date as early as the days of Christ. The evidence
afforded by these Targums, together with the marked application of
the term by Jesus himself, and the similar general use of it
immediately after both by Christians and Jews, render it not
improbable that Gehenna was known to the contemporaries of the
Savior as the metaphorical name of hell, a region of fire, in the
under world, where the reprobate were supposed to be punished
after death. But admitting that, before Christ began to teach, the
Jews had modified their early conception of the under world as the
silent and sombre abode of all the dead in common, and had divided
it into two parts, one where the wicked suffer, called Gehenna,
one where the righteous rest, called Paradise, still, that
modification having been borrowed, as is historically evident,
from the Gentiles, or, if developed among themselves, at all
events unconnected with revelation, of course Christianity is not
involved with the truth or falsity of it, is not responsible for
it. It does not necessarily follow that Jesus gave precisely the
same meaning to the word Gehenna that his contemporaries or
successors did. He may have used it in a modified emblematic
sense, as he did many other current terms. In studying his
language, we should especially free our minds both from the
tyranny of pre Christian notions and dogmas and from the
associations and influences of modern creeds, and seek to
interpret it in the light of his own instructions and in the
spirit of his own mind.

We will now examine the cases in which Christ uses the term
Gehenna, and ask what it means.

First: "Whosoever shall say to his brother, Thou vile wretch!
shall be in danger of the fiery Gehenna." Interpret this
literally, and it teaches that whosoever calls his brother a

7 Gesenius, Hebrew Thesaurus, Ge Hinnom.


wicked apostate is in danger of being thrown into the filthy
flames in the Vale of Hinnom. But no one supposes that such was
its meaning. Jesus would say, as we understand him, "I am not come
to destroy, but to fulfil, the law; to show how at the culmination
of the old dispensation a higher and stricter one opens. I say
unto you, that, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the
Pharisees, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. The conditions
of acceptance under the new order are far more profound and
difficult than under the old. That said, Whosoever commits murder
shall be exposed to legal punishment from the public tribunal.
This says, An invisible inward punishment, as much to be dreaded
as the judgments of the Sanhedrim, shall be inflicted upon those
who harbor the secret passions that lead to crime; whosoever, out
of an angry heart, insults his brother, shall be exposed to
spiritual retributions typified by the horrors of yon flaming
valley. They of old time took cognizance of outward crimes by
outward penalties. I take cognizance of inward sins by inward
returns more sure and more fearful."

Second: "If thy right eye be a source of temptation to thee, pluck
it out and fling it away; for it is better for thee that one of
thy members perish than that thy whole body should be cast into
Gehenna." Give these words a literal interpretation, and they
mean, "If your eyes or your hands are the occasions of crime, if
they tempt you to commit offences which will expose you to public
execution, to the ignominy and torture heaped upon felons put to a
shameful death and then flung among the burning filth of Gehenna,
pluck them out, cut them off betimes, and save yourself from such
a frightful end; for it is better to live even thus maimed than,
having a whole body, to be put to a violent death." No one can
suppose that Jesus meant to convey such an idea as that when he
uttered these words. We must, then, attribute a deeper, an
exclusively moral, significance to the passage. It means, "If you
have some bosom sin, to deny and root out which is like tearing
out an eye or cutting off a hand, pause not, but overcome and
destroy it immediately, at whatever cost of effort and suffering;
for it is better to endure the pain of fighting and smothering a
bad passion than to submit to it and allow it to rule until it
acquires complete control over you, pervades your whole nature
with its miserable unrest, and brings you at last into a state of
woe of which Gehenna and its dreadful associations are a fit
emblem." A verse spoken, according to Mark, in immediate
connection with the present passage, confirms the figurative sense
we have attributed to it: "Whosoever shall cause one of these
little ones that believe in me to fa