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of the gods, placed the souls of the departed in the same abode.
With regard to these fond hopes and imaginations, all we can say is that they may be true, that they may all be fulfilled, but that we are no better off than the Vedic poets or the lowest of savages for pronouncing a definite opinion.
So, also, with regard to the how of the soul's future existence: after reciting the various notions that have prevailed, including "the more philosophical theory that by a succession of new births the soul would assume new bodies, having thus an opportunity given it for rising to higher and higher perfection, and reaching in the end the supreme goal," he says, "that, however convinced of the soul's eternal existence, we shall always remain ignorant as to how it existed."
Professor Miiller expresses further the opinion that a belief in immortality does not appear on the surface of the Old Testament; only in hidden germ3, and that it is in the New Testament that life and immortality are brought to light.
Upon this subject of the where and the how of the soul's future, we have to say:
1. That the scientific study of man gives us here no light.
2. The comparative study of religions as Professor Miiller tells us, yields nothing definite.
3. The Old Testament makes no positive statements; it gives only hints.
4. The New Testament gives the first explicit teaching, but it is explicit only in respect to the nature and the employments of the future life of a special class of men whom it calls " saints." It presents the first instance of a man who was known to be alive after death, who was seen by and who conversed with other men, and who has reached the true goal of manhood as the representative of God, and the inheritor of His estate. It affirms that this "Son of Man" imparts to other, sons the power to triumph over death and to become the sons of God. As to the place of their abode, it is said to be a " house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." It is "with Christ," as a sharer in His priesthood toward humanity, and in His dominion over God's works.
But with regard to the future existence of the mass of mankind who are not saints, neither the Old or New Testament give us anything but hints.
What are those hints?
It has been assumed that the New Testament gives us something much plainer than hints; that we have there positive descriptions. From the words of Jesus concerning hell, a doctrine has been drawn of the future existence of these souls in a place prepared for their torment, and that into this pit of fire are to be cast their bodies, hereafter to be raised and united to their souls, and that there the whole restored man will be punished with unspeakable torments forever.
A closer examination of these passages, however, shows that they teach no such monstrous doctrine. Instead of describing what befalls unjust men after their resurrection from the dead, tht-y relate to a destruction to be visited upon them as now existent. The members to be mortified were their present members, and the "whole body" in danger of being cast into hell was the embodied personality of the men to whom the words were spoken. They were not addressed as subjects of a future resurrection, but as men in flesh and blood exposed to a present danger. So that these words, rightly interpreted, give us no clue to the where and the how of the future being of this class.
The few passages which declare their resurrection give us more of a clue, but then we ask, what, after all, is that resurrection which is not one "of life," but "of judgment"? We must find some clue more radical, more pervasive, more applicable to the whole of Scripture than these passages afford.
Certainly no clue to this mystery is so satisfactory as that furnished by the uniform Scripture teaching concerning the organic unity of the race. One who has learned to read the Old Testament aright discovers that the life, the being, and destiny of the generations who have gone down to death are preserved and carried on to completion in the living. There is no salvation for the dead which does not reach them through the virtues and triumphs of those who come after them. What is called the plan of redemption is all based upon this principle. A chosen seed, of which Christ is the Head, become the channel of life and blessing to "all the families of the earth." It is through them that sinful lives are to be purified from the dross of evil, that the dead are to be restored to life.
It is of course impossible for us to know how the vanished lives of the sinful dead are grafted into those of the living in order that they may be preserved from extinction and finally perfected. This view sheds light rather upon the where of their future being than the how. We have only skimmed as yet the surface of this mystery of man's being. We have not begun to sound all its depths and heights. Man is the microcosm of the universe, and the atomic depths in his own nature beneath are as unmeasurable as are the starry heights he scales. It is within these heights and depths that lie concealed the mysteries of heaven and of hell. As united to God, he is one with the Maker of heaven and of earth. Those of the human race who have become one with Him in His eternal life are the builders of that new and heavenly manhood in which God shall make His tabernacle forever. These risen saints are now at work in and among men, in ways unknown to us, building this temple of humanity for God. This makes the heaven to which they have gone near to us, around us and within us. And the hades in which the sinful dead are retained as captives is also concealed in these human depths. The lower strata of every man's being is made up of materials which these dead wrpught out in their lives. And here they find their lurking places after they are gone. In the acknowledgment of this mystery in the constitution of humanity lies the coming reconciliation between Science and Religion. The unbelief and the agnosticism of science in regard to a future life for man will lose the ground which now furnishes their excuse, when it is found that the perpetuation of the race through a seed that treasures up the progress of the past carries with it the conservation of the individual lives that have contributed to that progress, while the general beneficence that pervades the whole realm of life and provides for its progress will afford presumptive proof, even to science, that the Christian doctrine that these imperfect lives are to be hereafter restored and perfected by means of a selected and perfected seed is true.
And so also will the Scripture doctrine of retribution appear to be both true and scientific. For this view presupposes that behind all evanescent forma of life there is an ideal perfect type that is seeking to perfectly express itself. It can carry on, therefore, to this goal of perfect expression only those features of the individual lives behind it which are suited to its end and are worth preserving. The personal traits, therefore, and even the identity of each human personage in this chain of progress can be retained, only so far as they are capable of being wrought into the final and immortal structure. All else must be burnt up in the eternal fire which destroys from the presence of the Lord whatever is unfit for His abode.
The chief reason therefore why so little is known of the where and the how of the future of the unjust dead is to be found in the fact that we have regarded the spirits of the dead as severed by death from the mass of humanity now living. The plan of redemption is based upon the fact that a connection between these two portions of the race is still preserved. The place of the dead is not lost in the great human organism. Both heaven and hell are therefore much nearer to us than we have imagined. It is therefore in the more complete knowledge of man himself, and of the constitution of the human race, that the key will be found which opens all these mysteries.