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3 3433 06825043 4







Author of " Character Building," " Our Vows,
"Twentieth Century Sketches," " Studies
in Methodist Literature," etc.









R 1913 L

Copyright, 1912
vSirr.ioiAx, French 6 s Company











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- ■ *;


The doctrine of Immortality, like the poor, we
have ever with us. It is a subject of perennial
preciousness. Countless multitudes are ever on
the alert for the latest book and the last word on
the one subject that never loses its vital interest.

From the first funeral service, held as it was
over the slain body of Abel, to the latest mound
erected over the most recently departed loved one,
the human soul has pulsated with immortal in-
quiries. When Job stood down in the shadows
and propounded his momentous question, "If a
man die, shall he live again?" — he projected a
problem that has presented itself anew to every
succeeding generation.

Truth is eternal; the forms and phraseology of
its expression are temporary and must ever
change with increasing information. The same
truth may appear in a different light when seen
from a new viewpoint and from an advanced po-
sition of attainment in scholarship. A change
in viewpoint does not mean the surrender of
the essential truth, and a description of the sen-
sations of the larger vision should not be classi-
fied as heresy.

The purpose of the author of this treatise is to
present the point of contact between the real


doctrine of Immortality and modern scholarship.
How well he has succeeded the intelligent reader
must decide.

Trusting that these studies will contribute to
the strengthening of the faith of the readers in
the reality of the Life Beyond, I am,
Very sincerely,

Watson Boone Duncan.

Charleston, S. C.



I The Return to the Spiritual . . 1

II What All the World Believes . 21

III An Inherent Endowment ... 41

IV The House Not Made with Hands 61

V The Three Cosmic Spheres . . 81

VI The Great Assize 101

VII The Eternal Harvest .... 121

VIII The Father's House ..... 139

IX The Land Where We Shall Know 159

X The Disclosures of the Christ . 177



In periods which have given birth to skeptical
philosophy, one never looks in vain for the comple-
mentary phenomenon of mysticism. The stone which
is offered by doubt in place of bread is incapable of
satisfying the impulse after knowledge, and when the
intellect grows weary and despairing the heart starts
out on the quest for truth. Then the path leads in-
ward, the mind turns in upon itself, seeks to learn
the truth by inner experience and life, by inward
feeling and possession, and waits in quietude for
the divine illumination. — Falckenberg.

Professor James was happy, moreover, in the time
at which his Essays were published in permanent
form. Already the thought of the age had passed
from the stage of confident destructive activity to the
weariness of moral and even theoretical negation,
which indicates the beginning of reaction toward
more positive views of truth. In particular, a series
of notable works conceived in a spirit like that which

animates the author of The Will To Believe, if not
in every case from the same point of view, had in
Great Britain and the United States awakened new
hope concerning the fundamental elements of spirit-
ual belief. — A. C. Armstrong, in "Transitional Eras
in Thought."

It is into a very real and comprehensive world that
this pragmatic method carries us. It calls our atten-
tion, not to some phases of reality alone, but to every
aspect of it. Its theology will therefore be one that
roots itself in and grows strong on every department
of human thought and activity, that draws inspiration
from every kind of emotion, that turns its back on
nothing, despises nothing. It must be a theology that
studies reverently the deep things of God, not alone
through the utterances of seers through whom He
has unmistakably spoken, not alone in the contribu-
tions of science, but also in the common wisdom that
has been wrought out and completed in the upward
travail of the race. — Francis Howe Johnson, in "God
in Evolution."


There are indications of the dethronement of
Mammon and the trend of the age inspires
optimism. But it has not always been so.
Every age has its distinguishing characteristic
and the one through which we have passed has
experienced the blight of materialism. It has been
an age of brick and mortar. Men's idea of great-
ness has been massiveness and utilitarianism has
been the dominant philosophy. There has been
no time for the esthetic. In the bustle of the
busy age men have had no time for meditation
upon the impractical. They have scorned the
"sun's rainbows on the morning dewdrops" and
have called for it to mark time for the industrial
whistle. The babbling brook no longer affords
the pleasure resort for prattling children or lov-
ing couples, but its waters are arrested and
utilized for the purposes of manufacture. The
banks "whereon the wild thyme grows" have not
been the inspiration of our songs, for we have
been in too great a rush to reach the bank wherein
the cash deposits have been made.

Mammon has reigned in society and men and
women have bowed the knee to the god of gold.
But the hopeful sign is that men will soon cease


to worship the man of money, and they will honor
the man of character; when they will turn from
the aristocracy of cash and build one of culture
and character. Mammon's rule has been felt in
the realm of the political. We have seen men re-
ceive political preferment, not because they were
specimens of uprightness, but because they could
manipulate legislation. Hence, there has been
the political boss, and it is evident that democracy
is yet on trial. The hope of the future lies in the
disfranchisement of ignorance and moral weak-
ness. This blight of materialism has been felt in
civic life. Men have acted on the principle that
a great city was one of big buildings, immense
stores, large banks, and extensive manufactories.
But civic greatness lies in purity of citizenship.
Some one, speaking to an old Spartan and point-
ing to the barren hills of Lacedaemon, asked, in
derision, "What do you grow there?" "We
grow men," was the prompt and patriotic reply.

Education has not escaped the blight. In
many minds the purpose of education has been
thought to be to render man more valuable in the
money market.

Even the Church has felt the demoralization of

But the dethronement of Mammon draws nigh
and there are indications of the re-enthronement
of spiritual ideals in the minds and the hearts of
men. The mad rush for money, with its direful
results, has produced a failure that amounts to


a tragedy. But this object-lesson in desecrated
manhood has inaugurated a re-action in favor of
better things. Men used to tell of the wonderful
achievements of the millionaires, and cite the in-
stances of poor boys who had made fortunes as
examples for emulation. But now public opin-
ion is demanding an investigation into the meth-
ods by which these men became money kings. And
what revelations ! These hideous disclosures
would produce despair were it not for the fact
that they afford an evidence of a quickening of
the public conscience. They foretoken a better
day when the altars to Mammon will be torn
down and be superseded by the nobler ones to
manhood. We are beginning to realize the value
of the spiritual and to acknowledge the force of
the truth uttered by the Man of Galilee when He
said, "Man shall not live by bread alone." The
prosperous farmer whose fields yielded so bounti-
fully that he had to pull down his old barns and
build larger ones that he might store away his
goods for selfish purposes and who tried to feed
his soul on the perishable and material things has
become a teacher of men, more and more enforcing
the folly of such a course.

It is well that the re-enthronement of spiritual
ideals be accentuated ; for, after all, our character
is the product of our ideals and aims. They ever
form the end toward which we grow and the stand-
ard by which we measure our moral attainments.
Moses was commanded to build the tabernacle


after the pattern shown in the mount. The
great universe, about which we are beginning to
learn a few things, was constructed after the
archetypal ideal in the mind of God before the
mountains were brought forth. The rocks may
remain in heaps or placed in the gorgeous ca-
thedral, according to the ideal in the mind of the
architect. So our lives are built after the models
that dominate our mental and spiritual beings.
The badge of our superiority over the animal
creation, with which we are in many respects so
closely related, is this same ability to form ideals
and strive to realize them. Robbed of this, we
descend to the plane of the mere animal. Man's
inherent nature demands a mighty moral purpose,
as pure as heaven and as comprehensive as the
universe, in which and by which to grow.

The consequent skepticism has proven unsat-
isfactory as an atmosphere in which to develop
the highest type of manhood. The two ex-
tremes between which the pendulum of public
opinion swings are doubt and credulity. The
pendulum seems to swing with the centuries.
About the middle of the Seventeenth Century
Deism arose. It said, "There is a God, but He
makes no revelation of Himself." It reached
high-water mark about the close of the century.
Butler was the great champion of faith, but his
work was for the intellectual few ; it remained for
Wesley to take the philosophic truth of Butler's
and translate it into the language of the people.


In the next stage we strike Rationalism. This
system exalted human reason to the position of
the supreme judge of the Word of God, and de-
nied the possibility or the necessity of a mirac-
ulous revelation. Kase and Schleiermacher seem
to have struck the death blow to this system.
Following these were Neander, Ewald, and
others, whose work lifted Christianity to the
plane of the noblest science. Henceforth, rev-
erence for Christ and the Bible has been shown
to be consistent with the profoundest learning.

The attack of the Nineteenth Century was
made under the name of Science. This prepared
the way for, and led the way to, the destructive
criticism of the Bible, which spread not only into
ma.ny theological seminaries, but into many pul-
pits as well, robbing the occupants of the source
of their power. The spirit of the age became
one of disbelief rather than one of unbelief. The
ailment manifested itself also in philosophy and

But the purer science has made large contri-
butions to theology. After all, science and
theology are approaches to the truth from dif-
ferent standpoints. In Mr. Berdoe's admirable
and inspiring book, entitled "Browning and the
Christian Faith," there is a paragraph which
beautifully illustrates this proposition. It is this :

"As the great tunnel under Mount Cenis neared
completion, the French and Italian workmen on op-


posite sides were able to hear each other's voices and
the blows of their picks. Soon they met and shook
hands. They had toiled for years from opposite
sides; but their work was harmonious, and the great
international railroad under the Alps was an ac-
complished fact. Ever since the dawn of modern
science in the beginning of the Sixteenth Century two
great classes of thinkers have been engaged in the
intellectual feat of road-making on similar principles.
The men of faith and the men of science have tun-
neled their Alps from opposite points. Unlike the
engineers of Mount Cenis, they fancied themselves in
actual opposition to each other, never expecting to
meet, still less to fraternize. The conflict between
religion and science has been the theme of many a
treatise, and the necessary opposition of the two
bodies of laborers in the field of human knowledge
has been taken for granted. But already faintly yet
surely we begin to hear the voices of the workmen of
opposite sides as the roads they are making tend to
meet in one central point; they call to each other,
not in threatening tones, but as fellow-laborers on the
same path. None but the actual workmen can imagine
how nearly they approach to each other. To the
great outside world they are lost in the bowels of
the earth, are forgotten, or scarcely thought about.
Yet a few more cubic feet of rock to bore, a few more
tons of detritus to remove, and the pathmakers will
throw the road open to the world."

There are two great books — Nature and the
Bible. The scientist studies one; the theologian
the other. The effort of theology is to ascer-


tain a knowledge of God through the revelation
He has made of Himself in the Bible and to hu-
man consciousness ; the effort of science is to ob-
tain a knowledge of God through the revelation
He has made of Himself in Nature and in hu-
man life. In the sacred domain of human life
they meet, and from this common shrine they
both look up and worship the same adorable God,
the Maker and Ruler of all. Instead, therefore,
of being, as formerly thought, hostile ranks, they
form an alliance, strong and mighty, fighting for
the common cause of truth.

Professor John Fiske, in his admirable little
book, "Through Nature to God," says:

"I think it can be shown that the principles of
morality have their root in the deepest foundations
of the universe, that the cosmic process is ethical in
the profoundest sense. When the stars sang together,
and the sons of God shouted for joy, the beauty of
self-sacrifice and disinterested love formed the chief
burden of the mighty theme."

The learned author proceeds to show that the
cosmic process exists for the sake of moral ends,
believing that if we subtract from the universe its
ethical meaning there is nothing left "but an un-
real phantom, the figment of false metaphysics."

He illustrates the "omnipresent ethical trend"
by the developments of civilization shown in the
progress from the primitive canoe to the Cunard
steamer, from the hieroglyphic battle sketch to


sublime epics and dramas, from the sun-catcher
myths to the Newtonian theory of astronomy,
from the wandering tribes to the mighty nations,
from the simple ethics of the tribe to the moral
law for all men. "The story," he adds, "shows
us man more and more clearly becoming the image
of God, exercising creative attributes, trans-
forming his physical environments, incarnating
his thoughts in visible and tangible shapes all
over the world, and extorting from the abysses of
space the secrets of vanished ages."

Thus science and theology, while differing in
many of their theories and interpretations, are in
fundamental principles and ultimate designs har-
monious, being complementary in nature and sup-
plementary in operation.

As the handmaid of theology, true science has
rendered excellent service in the cause of truth,
having made valuable and permanent contribu-
tions to revealed and discovered intellectual and
spiritual possessions.

Science has greatly aided theology in under-
standing the doctrine of Divine Immanence.
God's relation to the world has been one of the
perplexing problems of the ages. The medita-
tions in reference to the Creator's relation to the
world may be reduced to three theories: First,
That He created the world and turned it loose
to work out its own destiny, and this irrespec-
tively of His presence or power. Such a relation
is similar to that sustained by the boy who makes


his kite, throws it to the wind, and then snaps the
string. Or that of the watch-maker, who, having
made the time-piece, turns it over to another.
Or the architect who plans and builds the house,
but, after having built it, lets it pass into other
hands for occupancy and control. Second, That
God made the world and still controls it, but it is
by a set of fixed laws under which he has placed
it. His only connection with the world, accord-
ing to this theory, is the authorship of the laws
and the holding of these laws, as the lad makes
his kite, throws it to the wind, but still holds the
string. Third, That He is still in the world, con-
trolling every movement manifested by every throb
of life. As the life blood fills and thrills every part
of the human body, so the Divine Life throbs in
every part of the world. This is Divine Im-
manence. To fully grasp it without the loss of
the Divine Transcendence is the problem of the
hour. The great book of the future will be
written on the harmony of Immanence and Tran-
scendence. It is said that error is but perverted
truth. It seems at least probable that Pan-
theism is but a distorted view of Immanence.
God's government of the world is both provi-
dential and moral — the former including all
creatures, the latter only intelligent beings. The
providential is always subordinate to the moral,
the very words "providence" and "providential"
meaning to look beyond the physical to the moral
and spiritual.


Science has helped theologians to realize the
real purpose of the Bible, namely, to reveal God's
relation to man and to human history. It is a
reasonable hypothesis that every book should be
judged by the object held in view by the writer.
It is perfectly legitimate to apply this to the
Bible. It is not the purpose of the Scriptures to
furnish men with scientific knowledge — this they
can discover for themselves. Much precious time
that might have been used to better advantage in
other directions has been wasted in the vain ef-
fort to harmonize supposed conflicts between
theories in the realm of theology and the realm
of science. If we desire to know the age of the
earth, we go to geology, not to Genesis. If we
seek to ascertain the relation the earth sustains
to the sun, moon, and stars, we go to astronomy,
not to the Pentateuch. God endowed man with
the ability to discover scientific truth, historical
information, and many of the facts of human re-
lations ; but Divine truth must be revealed. In
order to be a medium for the revelation of spirit-
ual truth, it was not necessary that a man should
have absolute knowledge in all realms. The
Bible is the story of human redemption and the
moral education of the race. In this realm it is
supreme and absolute.

Some of the most brilliant illustrations for the
illumination of theology have been furnished by
science. Take the great law of service — one of
the fundamental laws of the Kingdom of Heaven.


When we turn to science we find that all nature
abounds in thrilling illustrations of this law. We
find that every object, animate and inanimate,
was created for a specific purpose — that of serv-
ice. The very dust, commonly considered a
nuisance, and one against which the housewife
must wage continual battle, renders an important
service. Science tells us that it is dust that gives
us the beautiful blue of the sky and of the sea.
Without it there would be no diffused daylight ;
we would have either unbearable glare or total
darkness. It is said that it is due to dust in the
upper atmosphere that we have mists and gentle
showers instead of cloud-bursts and torrents. In
the three kingdoms we have a perfect circle of
service, the mineral serving the vegetable, and the
vegetable serving the animal, while the animal
finally returns to the mineral. The different
forms of life also serve each other. The vege-
table furnishes oxygen for the animal, receiving
in return carbonic gas. The bee and the butter-
fly get their honey from the flowers, while in turn
they bear the fructifying pollen from petal to
petal. Or take the law of sacrifice, another of
the fundamental laws of the Kingdom. Science
also shows here that everything surrenders its
own life in order to serve others. It gives us the
facts by which we may illustrate the great para-
dox of Christ — man finds by losing; he obtains
by giving; he develops by renouncing; he lives by
dying. Here we are encouraged in self-sacrifice


by the fact that in nature every force expended
is recovered in new relations and for new service.
The expended sunshine is recovered in the coal ;
the grain in the stalk ; the acorn in the oak.

And then science has, especially within recent
years, rendered valuable contributions to the phe-
nomena of the future life. It has enforced the
fact that man is the highest order of being that
has come into existence in the development of the
universe. Though implanted in the physical by
means of his body, he is endowed with reason,
with free will self-determining and self-exerting,
and with great susceptibilities to rational and
spiritual motives and incentives. Man is con-
scious of his ability to rise above mere animal in-
stinct, sensual appetite, and selfish desire, to a
life which is under the control of reason and love.
Thus he manifests the essential characteristics of
a personal spirit as distinguished from mere ani-
mal instinct and life. Professor Harris says :

"Man is immortal. In the progress of evolution in
the physical system mechanical force is transcended
but not abolished by chemical; both are transcended
but not abolished by life, vegetable and animal ; all
are transcended but not abolished by rational life com-
ing from the living God, in whom life is underived
and eternal. The ultimate atoms are the indivisible
units in the physical system, and not one of them ever
ceases to exist. Every physical force is persistent,
perpetuated forever. Much more may we expect ra-
tional, self-determining persons, who are the indivisi-


ble units in the moral or spiritual system and are in
the likeness of God. to live forever. Death is an
epoch in which the spiritual life in the Christian will
be; more fully developed, and he will come into more
vivid consciousness of God and his spirtual environ-
ment as the fundamental reality."

Immortality is involved in man's personality,
his attributes and aspirations. It is inseparable
from the consciousness of the likeness to God, of
communion and co-operation with Him. When
this consciousness is awakened in any man and
he sees the ideal made possible in the Divine plan
and purpose, he is fully convinced of the ab-
surdity of any theory that would confine or limit
such to a life shut up to sensual and temporal

Science has been diligently searching the whole
field of psychic phenomena, and from hypnotism,
mesmerism, spiritualism, mental therapeutics,
and kindred studies, has gathered a valuable ar-
ray of facts from the border-line of the unseen
that throws much light upon the study of the life
beyond. One of the leaders in this field of inves-
tigation has systematized the results in this in-
teresting realm in a valuable book, entitled "A
Scientific Demonstration of the Future Life."
The author has endeavored to observe the strict-
est rules of scientific induction, taking nothing
for granted that is not axiomatic. He holds
that there is nothing worthy of belief that is not
sustained by well-authenticated facts.


So theolog3 T and science have not only become
allied in the cause of temporal and earthly things,
but, uniting their faith and their facts, they have
climbed together to those sublime heights from
which they have caught glimpses of the eternal,
and from these lofty peaks of thought and vision
have brought us satisfying assurances of the
reality of the spiritual and of the life beyond.
Spirituality may be defined as the consciousness
of the Divine presence in the human soul. The
spiritual man is the man filled with a sense of the
presence of God and of the force of spiritual
laws, here and now; one convinced of the imme-
diate relations between himself and God, accom-

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Online LibraryWatson Boone DuncanImmortality and modern thought → online text (page 1 of 11)