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ABE SOULS IMMOBTAL




JOHN MILLER



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ARE SOULS IMMORTAL?



BY



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PREFACE



The sole object of this book is to show that* the
immortality of the soul is not taught in God's holy
word. The impulse to conceive of such a book was
not given by science, but was bred of texts of Script-
ure. The author was not studying Materialism ;
and indeed denies that philosophy can determine
whether the soul is or is, not immortal., ,That will
appear. The surprise ','tha£./3ach ', chat/ge-H'. views
awakened, came upon him; not, ih> >thd Porch, but in
the Temple, and in his wrestlings against .them he
had to contend, not with ';sc.;eno*, but with the word
of God. To illustrate his helplessness in these
respects take this sentence, " So man lieth down,
and riseth not : till the heavens be no more, they
shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep "
(Job xiv: 12); or this, "In that very day his
thoughts perish " (Ps. cxlvi : 5) ; or Paul's very un-
observed passage, — " These all, having been attested
by faith, received not the promise, God, out of refer-



6 Are Souls Immortal?

ence to us, having looked to the future for the some-
thing better, that they without us should not be
made perfect " (Hcb. xi : 39, 40).

The manner of a book, however, needs a preface,
as well as the matter. The naked denial of the im-
mortality of the soul, without the gentleness of a
careful definition, would needlessly shock people :
and to mark upon our gate, " The Soul not Immor-
tal," when we wish to admit the guest, and lay
before his candor something entirely different from
what he would at first sight suppose, would be any-
thing but skilful.

There are two questions : Will the soul be im-
mortal ? and, Is the soul immortal now? To say
" The SoCiJ'.not Inftmortal;'-'' would needlessly jar upon
the former.' ^The immortality of the soul is one of
our sweetest .con firJqijc e5v All the ecstasies of faith
are wrap^e'd- "up in .-the very expression. It has
grown hallowed'.' "And though "The Soul not Im-
mortal " is really the correct title for the belief that
it dies between death and judgment, yet we must
really not turn faith too suddenly even out of a
heathen temple. Our doctrine is, that man dies at
death : that the body is mortal, and that the soul is
mortal : that the body will live again, and that the
soul will live again : that the body will live forever,
and that the soul will live forever : and therefore.



Preface. y

keeping them together, that the whole man will die,
sleep, rise, live again, and be immortal. This doc-
trine is taught in Scripture, and does not touch a
fibre of the tree of grace. It touches fatally the
errors of the Papacy. It is this iiteralness of the
soul's not being immortal, to which we ask the at-
tention of the church ; and we beg her to perceive,
that this is all that we attempt to teach, and that if
she considers this a wreck, we have fallen on it over
our charts and compass, and not by peering to the
land for the decoy lights of a false Materialism.

John Miller.
Princeton, Aug. 6th, 1876.



CONTENTS.



I.

PAGE

THE SOUL NOT IMMORTAL 13

CHAPTER I.
The Doctrine Stated 13



CHAPTER II.

The Doctrine Abhorrent to the Views of Christendom. 17



CHAPTER III.

The Doctrine Abhorrent to Certain Corrupt Forms of

Faith 21

•CHAPTER IV.

The Doctrine Abhorrent to Certain Prevalent Super-
stitions 23



CHAPTER V.
The Doctrine, if True, Important 24



CHAPTER VI.
The Doctrine, if Untrue, Unimportant 26



io Contents.



CHAPTER VII.

PACK

Order of Discussion 27



II.

THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUE NOT IN REA-
SON 29

CHAPTER I.
[ an Reason be Unmistakable ? 29

CHAPTER II.
Reasons in Favor of the Immortality of the Soul 34

CHAPTER II E
Reasons against the Immortality of the Soul 47

CHAPTER IV.
A Providence in this Discussion 57



III.

THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL NOT IN SCRIP-
TURE 64

CHAPTER I.
Can Scrhture be Unmistakable ? (^



Contents. I 1



CHAPTER II.

FAGB

The Fourteenth Chapter of Job 69





CHAPTER III.
The Fifteenth Chapter of First Corinthians. 73

CHAPTER IV.
The Two Adverse Passages. . .' 7 s

CHAPTER V.
The Spirits in Prison 93

CHAPTER VI.
What might we Expect of Scripture ? 98

CHAPTER VII.
The Whole Man, Body 105

CHAPTER VIII.
The Whole Man Dead 109

CHAPTER IX.
The Whole Man Buried 113

CHAPTER X.
The Whole Man Raised from the Dead 128



1 2 Co?iteuts.

CHAPTER XI.

PAGB

The Whole of Man, Soul 136

CHAPTER XII.
Spirit 158



IV.



THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL A RELIC OF

PAGANISM 167



THE SOUL NOT IMMORTAL.



CHAPTER I.



The Doctrine Stated.



He who wishes to propound a doctrine, and has in
view any conscientious object, will discover it to be
discreet not to define as far as he is able, but only
so far as his conscientious object obliges him to do.

It is like ship-building. The packet has to meet
the billows. The wily draughtsman will curve its
lines as crank as he dare. If he satisfies the great
need of carrying the freight, he will make the resist-
ance of the sea the slightest possible.

We have our own theory of the soul, and that
theory will incontinently appear as we complete our
book. But that theory is not necessary to our pur-
pose. We think it is hinted at in the word of God ;
but it is not vital. And as we wish the greatest
number of adherents, it is obviously discreet to de-
fine as little as will barely meet our end.

We may mention for example three hypotheses :



14 The Soul not Immortal.

First, the hypothesis of those who think that
thought is an attribute of matter. They think that
Abraham is nothing but carbon and phosphorus and
other elements, and that Abraham's faith will phys-
ically follow when these are felicitously combined.
We scout anything so rude as this; but still, let us
not exclude its advocates. We find in the word of
God that the soul dies. These men think so. Let
us not haggle at the specific form, since qua essentia
we agree, — that Abraham passes from life when his
body is struck with dissolution.

Again, there is another school. They would
treat matter like the orders of Masonry. They
would speak of different endowments. First there
are the brute molecules. Then a different endow-
ment makes them grow, and we have the bean
stalk ; or a different endowment makes them feel,
and we have the calf or the elephant. Incident to
this feeling is thought, and it is the direct gift of
the Most High. Then we have another endow-
ment that is necessary to man. The question
whether these endowments are simply matter would
be answered by asking, What do you call matter?
It would soon be found that these men think matter
itself an endowment ; that is, that it moves and
acts ; that it is forceful, and is all in motion ; and
therefore that matter is not life, because life is an
additional gift of motion ; and that life is not
thought, because thought is another dose, so to
speak, from the same Efficiency ; and that, therefore,
thought is not life, yet added, and inseparable from
it ; and life is not matter — the doctrine of this school



The Doctrine Stated. 15

being, that the first dust of earth is a divine efficien-
cy, and then life another, and then thought another,
and then conscience more; all bred of God, and yet
dependant back the one upon the other; dust hav-
ing this supremacy, that it appears to abide, the con-
science and the thought and the life following the
fortunes of the dust, so that when that is disorgan-
ized, its endowments fail, and the bean-growth and
the calf-life and Abraham's faith perish and become
extinct together. This is another theory. We
might subdivide with lesser shades, but we will deal
generically.

We will give now another. It is that of the
Soul-Sleepers whom Calvin attacked. They had not
reached modern notions of the restlessness of mat-
ter. Boscovitch had not lived. They were ready
to admit substantial spirit. They therefore thought
matter one thing, and soul another — I mean in esse.
And reasoning just as we do, I mean from Scripture,
they argued out a common history ; that is, admitting
that the soul had essence, and the body also, and
that they existed permanently, they affirmed a par-
ticipated lot, and that the soul sank into unconscious-
ness the moment it was driven forth from the refuge
of the body.

Now we will enforce neither of these theories.
We believe the second ; with the added proviso,
however, of appeal to . the unknowable. There is
more than can be possibly conceived in both soul
and body. When we speak of efficiency therefore,
we are merely giving our last idea, and when we say
that thought is but an added efficiency, it is rather



1 6 The Soul ?iot Immortal.

giving an apology for a truth. We only mean that
the mind, as a separate substance, has not a thing
to show for itself in the world's analogies.

Behold, therefore, our doctrine. It is not to be
encompassed by any one of these theories. We
believe that Scripture inclines to one of them ; and
we may be often tempted to use its language. But
if we do, we are earnest to warn our readers that it
is illustrative rather than enjoined. The whole doc-
trine that we plead for is, that the soul dies at death.

If Abraham lie in the grave, Abraham will think
and act again no sooner than I. It was so with
Christ. These simple inferences will shed light over
all our purposes of teaching. When our Saviour
died, He was out of being, qua Jwmo, till the day He
rose again. There is abundant sense in His descend-
ing into hell (hades). Adam is still extinct ; and if
the judgment should be after millions of years, you
and I will wait for it. My brother who dies to-night,
sinks into his original nothingness, with nothing to
show for it that he be raised again, except his dust
that is sleeping in the grave, and his spirit, if you
choose to think so, existing in its dreamless essence.

We take in all the consequences. But we con-
sider it honoring our Master to believe that our life
is hid with Christ in God; that our souls, if they
rest, rest as in John's vision (Rev. vi : 9) under the
altar of our blessed Redeemer ; that we have a life
in court ; that justice will call up the lost (Jo. v :
29) ; that the thousands of years that intervene shall
be to us as they are to the Lord but as one day
(2 Pet. iii : 8) ; and " that He which raised up the



Abhorrent to Prevailing Views. iy

Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus and shall
present us with you "(2 Cor. iv : 14).



CHAPTER II.
The Doctrine Abhorrent to the Views of Christendom.

THE view of the immortality of the soul in which
we have been brought up is, that the soul is inde-
pendent of the body. I mean by that that it lives
with it on earth, but that it will soar away from it
when the body arrives at dissolution. This pictures
two essences, the one divisible and organized into
life; the other one ; and this one essence incapable
of death, and held back from sleep by the necessities
of its being.

Now arrayed about this queen-cell, as though it
were the centre of the hive, will be all the faith of
nearly all believers. I cannot attack it without in-
jury. It is not a vital doctrine. In fact it is a very
incredible doctrine, if we think of it as a new thing
as it would first strike us when we heard it for the
first time promulgated,— that there is a floating spirit
that is nested in us like a bird, and which a bullet
crushing our brain would set flying at once as we
scare an eaglet from his rock ! But I may impair
half the catechism, suspect the covenant of grace,
doubt the atonement, deny the imputation of Adam's
sin, and advance a creed that will shake all the doc-
trines of the Gospel, and it will not meet so sharp a
recoil as a denial of existence between death and
Judgment.



1 8 The Soul not Immortal.

Now why is this ?

i. Partly perhaps from the innocence of the doc-
trine. Men's hearts have fiercely grappled with the
doctrines of grace, and the church has been obliged
to become aware of subsisting differences. But
death — whether it be a sleep or a change, — or indeed
which is to be preferred, whether a sleep till we are
judged, or a state in which we cannot be tormented
in the body, — these are vague questions ; and there-
fore sinners have not thrown themselves upon them
with opposing force. At any rate, the doctrine be-
ing rarely called into doubt, has giant hold. The
immortality of the soul has so thoroughly pervaded
thought that the man who challenges it throws the
glove into nearly all the camps of believers.

2. Again, it has scenic force. The heavier doc-
trines, like the sumpter wagons of a pilgrimage,
travel slowly. Immortality is every where. It fills
all our visions. If we threaten, we call this up. If
we soothe, we use this. And marvellous as is the
thought itself that when I die I live still, it is not so
marvellous as the feeling of certainty with which I
administer to the dying so wonderful a consolation.
It is so detailed. ' You are not dying : you are going
on to live. Your body is sinking in decay: but your
soul will free itself. You will be in the higher world
to-night.' There is something startling in the
scenic vividness with which these things are offered ;
as though there had been historic search, and as
though men had come back as from Spain or Pales-
tine and reported the things that are to be wit-
nessed. Death, a weird spectre in itself, is made



Abhorrent to Prevailing Views. 19

more startling ; for we tell men without a moment's
hesitation that dear friends whom they have lost will
be in their embrace the next moment. We shrink
not from sending messages to them. And we let
the brother launch out into the dark with as strong
a conviction as we can make that he is going among
friends, and that a message to Christ Himself would
reach Him the next hour, warm from the lips of those
who stand round the bed.

Of course such scenic certainties are not to be
displaced like colder thinkings.

3. And then the rhetoric of such thoughts.
They have pervaded language. What chance for
different reasonings when each man in the tongue in
which he was born finds immortal life imbedded ?
This is the unfair difficulty. The flight to heaven,
the parting with the vesture of the body, the advent
among the blest, are beautiful words with which we
comfort children ; and we mix into their very souls
the tender conviction that lost relatives are waiting
for them beyond the tomb.

And the people's literature ! What hope is there
that we can bend the current of universal thought ?
and what comfort can there be, through one life-
time at least, for any school who shall so thwart
common speech as that Shakspeare shall have to be
emended on every page, or allowed for, at least, in
beautiful but obsolete conceits, where he permits
himself to travel in the customary path in speaking
of immortality?

4. Warning, too, — what must become of that ?
How can we afford to relax anything, and to give



20 The Soul not Immortal.

up the idea that the sinner will go down quick into
hell ?

5. It is precisely here that the fifth difficulty will
appear most pressing. ' How can you imagine that
you are right when the whole world is so continually
against you ? Almost anything can be thrown in
doubt ; but when man, with singular harmony, has
almost every where adopted this doctrine of the dis-
embodied state, why do you disturb the preaching
to the impenitent ?'

6. Particularly, as men will say, ' If this doc-
trine be not true, how can we be sure of anything ?
If a teaching can lie quiet a thousand years, and
then the Bible itself be suddenly found to undo it —
then what next?' This is indeed our sad circum-
stance. We find the Bible squarely denying immor-
tality. Almost the whole of our race squarely as-
sert it. Quixote and his wind-mills will in spite of
ourselves heave into view — nay Hobbes, and his bad
skepticism. What are we to do? We have kept
these Scriptures long enough for motives of pru-
dence. May we repress them altogether ? W r e
think deliberately not. Though the church is in
one sense infallible ; that is, has never been de-
serted by the doctrines of the truth, — yet in single
ones it has ; in Christ's time, as to His temporal
reign ; in Paul's time, as to salvation being for the
Jews ; in Calvin's time, as to the use of the sword ;
and in Cranmer's time, as to the right of kings;
and though it seems baseless to say so, yet we be-
lieve that scores of errors are sleeping unwatched
under the cloak of Christendom.



Abhorrent to Catholic Corruptions. 2 1

Let each man light his farthing candle. If it be
a folly, it will go out. If it be a shame, it will be
his. If it be a mischief, it will not be to the Church ;
for all things will work together for her good. If it
have a particle of truth, it will help even the light of
the sun. And if it be fetid error, it will help the
triumph of truth ; for truth, like a horse's hoof upon
the pavement, is kept only healthy by being beaten
to the earth, and made ceaselessly to put in practice
its wonderful defences.



CHAPTER III.

The Doctrine Abhorrent to Certain Corrupt Forms of Faith.

The doctrine that souls live in a disembodied
state has been made the vehicle of the chief curses
of the Papacy.

I. The Papacy, like many another creed, exposes
us to the unwarranted dream that all men may finally
be saved. The theatre of uneasiness, certainly, is
moved back just beyond the grave. The great doc-
trine of Purgatory becomes a paramount one with
the saint, and a means of influence in extorting from
the people.

This doctrine builds itself upon the fact of im
mortality. If we were mortal like the body, Purga-
tory would be a phantom like the spirit. Rome
takes the passage, " Went and preached unto the
spirits in prison " (i Pet. iii : 19), a passage that we
shall explain hereafter; or she takes the pasrage,
" For for this cause was the gospel preached also to



22 The Soul not Immortal.

them that arc dead " (i Pet. iv : 6) ; or the passage,
" Else what shall they do which are baptized for the
dead, if the dead rise not"? (i Cor. xv : 29), and
building equally upon the general belief that we are
immortal, they erect the great fabric of purgatorial
devotion.

2. There comes in logically Prayer to the
Saints.

3. There comes in with equal consistency of
course, Prayers for the Saints :

4. Then Masses for the dead :

5. Then direct gifts to pray the departed out of
Purgatory :

6. Then Indulgences :

7. Of course Canonization of Saints :

8. And then, lastly, Mariolatry, with all its ac-
cursed rites, preferring a sinner to the Almighty.

Of course Papists would abhor our work more
poisonously than the tenderest believer. Protestants
are not affected by what we advocate. The doc-
trines of grace, like the works of a scratched watch,
are not entered. But Romanism would be struck
with death. Grant the infallibility of the Popes, and
the scores of them who have pronounced for Purga-
tory become testifiers against the system.

The pence that built St. Peter's were for a mis-
take. Indulgence had a theatre the whole dream
of- which was a fable. Purgatory aimed at that
which was the dust of sepulchres. Mary was sleep-
ing in her grave. And masses for the dead, and in-
toned prayers, and millions of consecrated gold, were
lavished upon that which is as senseless as a clod, or



Abhorrent to Certain Superstitions. 23

upon saints whose tutelar watch was about as pre-
cious as of the vanes above their resting place.



CHAPTER IV.
The Doctrine Abhorrent to Certain Prevalent Superstitions.

Nor would what we are convinced of be less
fatal to certain prevalent superstitions.

1. This ghastly Spiritualism which has been
stalking out of its grave ever since the Witch of
Endor,* if men would quit reading in their Bible
reports of spirits, would appear in its naked foolish-
ness. Clairvoyance and mesmeric utterances and
supernatural feats and inspirations would come down
to their natural Christian measure, either as, in ex-
cessively rare instances, by demon spirits, or as legit-
imate plagues to the church for having mistaken the
teaching of the Bible, and taught men about these
disembodied sprites in derogation to the doctrine of
a blessed resurrection.

2. Of course all crhost stories would become
child's reading at once.

3. And, thirdly, all Schleiermacherism and Swe-
den.borgian conceit, and spiritual-body dogma which
seems to be coming up again with renewed vigor in
our day — a doctrine that would give Dives an actual

* We do not doubt that the witch summoned Samuel ; and we do
not deny that among the endless juggles of necromancy, the devil may
have been allowed to work occasional miracle : but if our doctrine be
proved, of course ghosts as ghosts must disappear from the imagina-
tions of men.



24 The Soul not Immortal.

" tongue " (Lu. xvi : 24) the day he was buried, — all
this would have to be disowned at once; and we
must teach the doctrine, not that a finer frame sails
off from this at the moment of dissolution, but that
all life extinguishes itself in dying, and that the gra-
cious gospel truth is, "that all that are in the graves
shall hear his voice, and shall come forth, they that
have done good unto the resurrection of life ; and
they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of
damnation " (Jo. v: 28, 29).



CHAPTER V.
The Doctrine, if True, Important.

So that the doctrine, if true, is important.

We wish we could present it as it lies in our
mind. We wish we could present it better than it
lies in our mind. For the doctrine is of so radical
a nature, that so full a book as the Bible ought to
determine whether we have a separate soul or not.
We wish we could exhaust the evidence, and like
some fine judge in the Supreme Court, lay the testi-
mony on both sides so deftly that the case could be
determined, —

1. For how grand if this could be found to be
the Providential method for cleansing the Augean
stable of the Papacy.

I do not know that the polarity of the magnet
raises bread or cooks victuals. I do not know. It
may operate in these things : but I cannot see it.



Doctrine, if True, Important. 25

I do not see that the immortality of the soul does
much for our Saviour's doctrine.

But I do see that its not being immortal corrects
a host of errors.

I do not see that my soul's perishing at death
obscures redemption, or affects in the least degree
inability, the soul's depravity, the saints' persever-
ance, imputation, expiation, or any of the decrees
of grace.

But I do see that if you will " hide me in the
grave" (Job xiv : 13), I sleep over the time, that
the Papist has polluted with his myths. And as I
see nothing but resurrection in the Bible, I am de-
termined to strike at immortality; and who knows


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