With the earliest history of man, Satan began his efforts to deceive our race. He who had incited rebellion in Heaven desired to bring the whole creation to unite with him in his warfare against the government of God. His envy and jealousy were excited as he looked upon the beautiful home prepared for the happy, holy pair, and he immediately laid his plans to cause their fall. Had he revealed him-self in his real character, he would have been repulsed at once, for Adam and Eve had been warned against this dangerous foe; but he worked in the dark, concealing his purpose, that he might more effectually accomplish his object.Employing as his medium the serpent, then a creature of fascinating appearance, he addressed himself to Eve, “Hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Genesis 3:1. Had Eve refrained from entering into argument with the tempter, she would have been safe; but she ventured to parley with him, and fell a victim to his wiles. It is thus that many are still overcome. They doubt and argue concerning the requirements of God, and instead of obeying the divine commands, they accept human theories, which but disguise the devices of Satan.
“The woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die; for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:2-5.
Eve yielded to temptation, and through her influence Adam also was deceived. They accepted the words of the serpent, that God did not mean what He said; they distrusted their Creator, and imagined that He was restricting their liberty, and that they might obtain great light and freedom by transgressing His law. But what did Adam, after his sin, find to be the meaning of the words, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”? Did he find them to mean, as Satan had led him to believe, that he was to be ushered into a more exalted state of existence? Then indeed there was great good to be gained by transgression, and Satan was proved to be a benefactor of the race. But Adam did not so understand the divine sentence. God declared that as a penalty for his sin, man should return to the ground whence he was taken: “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Genesis 3:19. The words of Satan, “Your eyes shall be opened,” proved to be true only in this sense: After Adam and Eve had disobeyed God, their eyes were opened to discern their folly; they did know evil, and they tasted the bitter fruit of transgression.Immortality had been promised on condition of obedience to the requirements of God. It was forfeited by disobedience, and Adam became subject to death. He could not transmit to his posterity that which he did not possess; and there would have been no hope for the fallen race,had not God, by the sacrifice of His Son, brought immortality within their reach.
“The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23.
In no other way can it be obtained. But every man may come in possession of this priceless blessing if he will comply with the conditions. All “who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality,” will receive eternal life. Romans 2:7.
The one who promised Adam life in disobedience was the great deceiver. The first sermon ever preached upon the immortality of the soul was preached by the serpent to Eve in Eden,—“Ye shall not surely die;” and this declaration, resting solely upon the authority of Satan, is echoed from the pulpits of Christendom, and received by the majority of mankind as readily as it was received by our first parents. The divine sentence, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die,” (Ezekiel 18:20) is made to mean, The soul that sinneth, it shall not die, but live eternally. We cannot but wonder at the strange infatuation which renders men so credulous concerning the words of Satan, and so unbelieving in regard to the words of God.The fruit of the tree of life had the power to perpetuate life. Had man after his fall been allowed free access to that tree, he would have lived forever, and thus sin would have been immortalized. But a flaming sword was placed “to keep the way of the tree of life,” and not one of the family of Adam has been permitted to pass that barrier and partake of the life-giving fruit. Therefore there is not an immortal sinner.But after the fall, Satan bade his angels make a special effort to foster the belief in man’s natural immortality; and when they had induced the people to receive this error, they led them on to conclude that the sinner would live in eternal misery. Now the prince of darkness, working through his agents, represents God as a revenge fulty rant, declaring that He plunges into hell all those who do not please Him, and causes them ever to feel His wrath; and that while they suffer unutterable anguish, and writhe in the eternal flames, their Creator looks down upon them with sat-is faction.Thus the arch-fiend clothes with his own attributes the Creator and Benefactor of mankind. Cruelty is Satanic. God is love; and all that He created was pure, holy, and lovely, until sin was brought in by the first great rebel.Satan himself is the enemy who tempts man to sin, and then destroys him if he can; and when he has made sure of his victim, then he exults in the ruin he has wrought. If permit-ted, he would sweep the entire race into his net. Were it not for the interposition of divine power, not one son or daughter of Adam would escape.He is seeking to overcome men to-day, as he overcame our first parents, by shaking their confidence in their Creator, and leading them to doubt the wisdom of His government and the justice of His laws. Satan and his emissaries represent God as even worse than themselves, in order to excuse their own malignity and rebellion. The great deceiver endeavors to shift his own horrible cruelty of character upon our heavenly Father, that he may cause himself to appear as one greatly wronged because he will not submit to so unjust a governor. He presents before the world the liberty which they may enjoy under his mild sway, in contrast with the bondage imposed by the stern decrees of Jehovah.Thus he succeeds in luring souls away from their allegiance to God.How repugnant to every emotion of love and mercy,and even to our sense of justice, is the doctrine that the wicked dead are tormented with fire and brimstone inan eternally burning hell, that for the sins of a brief earthly life they are to suffer torture as long as God shall live. Yet this doctrine has been generally embodied in the creeds of Christendom. Says a learned doctor of divinity: “The sight of hell-torments will exalt the happiness of the saints forever. When they see others who are of the same nature and born under the same circumstances, plunged in such misery, and they so distinguished, it will make them sensible of how happy they are.” Another uses these words: “While the decree of reprobation is eternally executing on the vessels of wrath, the smoke of their torment will be eternally ascending in view of the vessels of mercy, who, instead of taking the part of these miserable objects, will say, Amen, Alleluia! praise ye the Lord!” Where in the pages of God’s word are such sentiments expressed? Those who present them may be learned and even honest men; but they are deluded by the sophistry of
Satan. He leads them to misconstrue strong expressions of Scripture, giving to the language the coloring of bitterness and malignity which pertains to himself, but not to our Creator. What would be gained to God should we admit that He delights in witnessing unceasing tortures; that He is regaled with the groans and shrieks and imprecations of the suffering creatures whom He holds in the flames of hell? Can these horrid sounds be music in the ear of Infinite Love? It is urged that the infliction of endless misery upon the wicked would show God’s hatred of sin as an evil which is ruinous to the peace and order of the universe. Oh, dreadful blasphemy! As if God’s hatred of sin is the reason why He perpetuates sin. For, according to the received theology, continued torture without hope of mercy maddens its wretched victims, and as they pour out their rage in curses and blasphemy, they are forever augmenting their load of guilt. God’s glory is not enhanced by thus perpetuating continually increasing sin through ceaseless ages.It is beyond the power of the human mind to estimate the evil which has been wrought by the heresy of eternal torment. The religion of the Bible, full of love and goodness, and abounding in compassion, is darkened by superstition and clothed with terror. When we consider in what false colors Satan has painted the character of God,can we wonder that our merciful Creator is feared, dreaded,and even hated? The appalling views of God which have spread over the world from the teachings of the pulpit have made thousands, yea, millions, of skeptics and infidels. The theory of eternal torment is one of the false doctrines that constitute the wine of the abominations of Babylon, of which she makes all nations drink. That ministers of Christ should have accepted this heresy and proclaimed it from the sacred desk, is indeed a mystery. They received it from Rome, as they received the false Sabbath. True, it has been taught by great and good men; but the light on this subject had not come to them as it has come to us. They were responsible only for the light which shone in their time; we are accountable for that which shines in our day. If we turn from the testimony of God’s word, and accept false doctrines because our fathers taught them, we fall under the condemnation pronounced upon Babylon; we are drinking of the wine of her abominations. A large class to whom the doctrine of eternal torment is revolting are driven to the opposite error. They see that the Scriptures represent God as a being of love and compassion, and they cannot believe that He will consign His creatures to the fires of an eternally burning hell. But, holding that the soul is naturally immortal, they see no alternative but to conclude that all mankind will finally be saved.Many regard the threatenings of the Bible as designed merely to frighten men into obedience, and not to be literally fulfilled. Thus the sinner can live in selfish pleasure, disregarding the requirements of God, and yet expect to be finally received into His favor. Such a doctrine, presuming upon God’s mercy, but ignoring His justice, pleases the carnal heart,and emboldens the wicked in their iniquity.To show how believers in universal salvation wrest the Scriptures to sustain their soul-destroying dogmas,it is needful only to cite their own utterances. At the funeral of an irreligious young man, who was killed instantly by an accident, a Universalist minister selected as his text the Scripture statement concerning David, “He was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead.” 2 Samuel 13:39.“I am frequently asked,” said the speaker, “what will be the fate of those who leave the world in sin, die, perhaps, in a state of inebriation, die with the scarlet stains of crime unwashed from their robes, or die as this young man died, having never made a profession or enjoyed an experience of religion. We are content with the Scriptures; their answer shall solve the awful problem. Amnon was exceedingly sinful; he was unrepentant, he was made drunk, and while drunk was killed. David was a prophet of God; he must have known whether it would be ill or well for Amnon in the world to come. What were the expressions of his heart?— ‘The soul of King David longed to go forth unto Absalom; for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead.’“And what is the inference to be deduced from this language? Is it not that endless suffering formed no part of his religious belief?—So we conceive; and here we discover a triumphant argument in support of the more pleasing, moreen lightened, more benevolent hypothesis of ultimate universal purity and peace. He was comforted, seeing his son was dead. And why so?—Because by the eye of prophecy he could look forward into the glorious future, and see that son far removed from all temptations, released from the bondage and purified from the corruptions of sin, and after being made sufficiently holy and enlightened, admitted to the assembly of ascended and rejoicing spirits. His only comfort was, that in being removed from the present state of sin and suffering, his beloved son had gone where the loftiest breathings of the Holy Spirit would be shed upon his darkened soul; where his mind would be unfolded to the wisdom of Heaven and the sweet raptures of immortal love, and thus prepared with a sanctified nature to enjoy the rest and society of the heavenly inheritance.“In these thoughts we would be understood to believe that the salvation of Heaven depends upon nothing which we can do in this life; neither upon a present change of heart, nor upon present belief, or a present profession of religion.”
Thus does the professed minister of Christ reiterate the falsehood uttered by the serpent in Eden,—“Ye shall not surely die.” “In the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods.” The vilest of sinners,—the murderer, the thief, and the adulterer,—will after death be prepared to enter into immortal bliss. And from what does this perverter of the Scriptures draw his conclusions?—From a single sentence expressing David’s submission to the dispensation of Providence.His soul “longed to go forth unto Absalom; for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead.” The poignancy of his grief having been softened by time, his thoughts turned from the dead to the living son, self-banished through fear of the just punishment of his crime. And this is the evidence that the incestuous, drunken Amnon was at death immediately transported to the abodes of bliss, there to be purified and prepared for the companionship of sinless angels!A pleasing fable indeed, well suited to gratify the carnal heart! This is Satan’s own doctrine, and it does his work effectually. Should we be surprised that, with such instruction, wickedness abounds? Is there not need of contending earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints? The course pursued by this one false teacher illustrates that of many others. A few words of Scripture are separated from the context, which would in many cases show its meaning to be exactly opposite to the interpretation put upon it; and such disjointed passages are perverted and used in proof of doctrines that have no foundation in the word of God. The testimony cited as evidence that the drunken Amnon is in Heaven, is a mere inference, directly contradicted by the plain and positive statement of the Scriptures, that no drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of God.It is thus that doubters, unbelievers, and skeptics turn the truth into a lie. And multitudes have been deceived by their sophistry, and rocked to sleep in the cradle of carnal security. If the souls of all men pass directly to Heaven at the hour of dissolution, then we may well covet death rather than life. Many have been led by this belief to put an end to their existence. When overwhelmed with trouble, perplexity, and disappointment, it seems an easy thing to break the brittle thread of life, and soar away into the bliss of the eternal world.God has given in His word abundant evidence that He will punish the transgressors of His law. Witness the visitation of His judgments upon the angels who kept not their first estate, on the inhabitants of the antediluvian world,on the people of Sodom, on unbelieving Israel. Their history is placed on record for our admonition.Let us consider what the Bible teaches further concerning the ungodly and unrepentant, whom the Universalist places in Heaven as holy, happy angels.
“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.”
This promise is only to those that thirst. None but those who feel their need of the water of life, and seek it at the loss of all things else, will be supplied.
“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God,and he shall be My son.” Revelation 21:6, 7.
Here, also, conditions are specified. To inherit all things, we must resist and overcome sin.
“No fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man,which is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” Ephesians 5:5, (Rev. Ver.).
“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall seethe Lord.” Hebrews 12:14.
“Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life,and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whore mongers, and murderers,and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” Revelation 22:14, 15.
God has given to men a declaration of His character:
“The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thou-sands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.” Exodus 34:6, 7.
The power and authority of the divine government will be employed to put down rebellion; yet all the manifestations of retributive justice will be perfectly consistent with the character of God as a merciful, long-suffering, benevolent being.God does not force the will or judgment of any. He takes no pleasure in a slavish obedience. He desires that the creatures of His hands shall love Him because He is worthy of love. He would have them obey Him because they have an intelligent appreciation of His wisdom, justice, and benevolence. And all who have a just conception of these qualities will love Him because they are drawn toward Him in admiration of His attributes. The principles of kindness, mercy, and love taught and exemplified by our Saviour, are a copy of the will and character of God. Christ declared that He taught nothing except that which He had received from His Father. The principles of the divine government are in perfect harmony with the Saviour’s precept, “Love your enemies.” God executes justice upon the wicked, for the good of the universe, and even of those upon whom His judgments are visited. He would make them happy if He could do so in accordance with the laws of His government and the justice of His character. He surrounds them with the tokens of His love, He grants them a knowledge of His law, and follows them with the offers of His mercy; but they despise His love, make void His law, and reject His mercy. While constantly receiving His gifts, they dishonor the Giver; they hate God be-cause they know that He abhors their sins. The Lord bears long with their perversity; but the decisive hour will come at last, when their destiny is to be decided. Will He then chain these rebels to His side? Will He force them to do His will?Those who have chosen Satan as their leader, and have been controlled by his power, are not prepared to enter the presence of God. Pride, deception, licentiousness, cruelty, have become fixed in their characters. Can they enter Heaven to dwell forever with those whom they despised and hated on earth? Truth will never be agreeable to a liar; meekness will not satisfy self-esteem and pride; purity is not acceptable to the corrupt; disinterested love does not appear attractive to the selfish. The destiny of the wicked is fixed by their own choice. Their exclusion from Heaven is voluntary; it is just.Like the waters of the flood, the fires of the great day declare God’s verdict that the wicked are incurable. They have no disposition to submit to divine authority. Their will has been exercised in revolt; and when life is ended, it is too late to turn the current of their thoughts in the opposite direction,—too late to turn from transgression to obedience,from hatred to love.In mercy to the world, God blotted out its wicked inhabitants in Noah’s time. In mercy He destroyed the corrupt dwellers in Sodom. Through the deceptive power of Satan, the workers of iniquity obtain sympathy and admiration, and are thus constantly leading others to rebellion. It was so in Noah’s day, and in the time of Abraham and Lot; it is so in our time. It is in mercy to the universe that God will finally destroy the rejecters of His grace.But the doctrine of never-ending torment has no sanction in the Bible. John in the Revelation, describing the future joy and glory of the redeemed, declares that He heard every voice in Heaven and earth, and under the earth, ascribing praise to God. There will be no lost beings in hell to mingle their shrieks with the songs of the saved.
“The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23.
While life is the inheritance of the righteous, death is the portion of the wicked. The penalty threatened is not merely temporal death, for all must suffer this. It is the second death,the opposite of everlasting life. God cannot save the sinner in his sins; but He declares that the wicked, having suffered the punishment of their guilt, shall be as though they had not been. Says an inspired writer,
“Thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.” Psalm 37:10.
In consequence of Adam’s sin, death passed upon all mankind. All alike go down into the grave. But through the provisions of the plan of salvation, all are to be brought forth from their graves. Then those who have not secured the pardon of their sins must receive the penalty of transgression. They suffer punishment varying in duration and intensity according to their works, but finally ending in the second death. Covered with infamy, they sink into hopeless, eternal oblivion. Upon the fundamental error of natural immortality rests the doctrine of consciousness in death, a doctrine,like eternal torment, opposed to the teachings of the Scriptures, to the dictates of reason, and to our feelings of humanity. According to the popular belief, the redeemed in Heaven are acquainted with all that takes place on the earth, and especially with the lives of the friends whom they have left behind. But how could it be a source of happiness to the dead to know the troubles of the living, to witness the sins committed by their own loved ones, and to see them enduring all the sorrows, disappointments, and anguish of life? How much of Heaven’s bliss would be enjoyed by those who were hovering over their friends on earth? And how utterly revolting is the belief that as soon as the breath leaves the body, the soul of the impenitent is consigned to the flames of hell! To what depths of anguish must those be plunged who see their friends passing to the grave unprepared, to enter upon an eternity of woe and sin! Many have been driven to insanity by this harrowing thought.What say the Scriptures concerning these things? David declares that man is not conscious in death.
“His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” Psalm 146:4.
Solomon bears the same testimony: “The living know that they shall die; but the dead know not anything.” “Their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion forever in anything that is done under the sun.” “There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave,whither thou goest.” Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6. 10.
When, in answer to his prayer, Hezekiah’s life was pro-longed fifteen years, the grateful king rendered to God a tribute of praise for His great mercy. In this song he tells the reason why he thus rejoices: “The grave cannot praise thee;death cannot celebrate thee; they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day. The father to the children shall make known thy truth.” Isaiah 38:18, 19. Popular theology represents the righteous dead as in Heaven, entered into bliss,and praising God with an immortal tongue; but Hezekiah could see no such glorious prospect in death. With his words agrees the testimony of the psalmist:
“In death there is no remembrance of Thee; in the grave who shall give Thee thanks?” “The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.” Psalm 6:5; 115:17.
Peter, speaking through the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, said:
“Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried,and his sepulcher is with us unto this day.” “For David is not ascended into the heavens.” Acts 2:29, 34.
The fact that David remains in the grave until the resurrection proves that the righteous do not go to Heaven at death. It is only through the resurrection, and by virtue of the fact that Christ has risen,that David can at last sit at the right hand of God.Paul declares:
“If the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised. And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” 1 Corinthians 15:16-18.
If for four thousand years the righteous had gone directly to Heaven at death, how could they be said to perish, even though there should never be a resurrection?When about to leave His disciples, Jesus did not tell them that they would soon come to Him. “I go to prepare a place for you,” He said.
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself.” John 14:2, 3.
And Paul tells us, further, that “the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” And he adds, “Comfort one another with these words.” 1Thessalonians 4:16-18.
How wide the contrast between these words of comfort and those of the minister previously quoted.The latter consoled the bereaved friends with the assurance,that, however sinful the dead might have been, he was received among the angels as soon as he breathed out his life here. Paul points his brethren to the future coming of the Lord, when the fetters of the tomb shall be broken, and the“dead in Christ” shall be raised to eternal life.Before any can enter the mansions of the blest, their cases must be investigated, and their characters and their deeds must pass in review before God. All are to be judged according to the things written in the books, and to be rewarded as their works have been. This Judgment does not take place at death. Mark the words of Paul:
“He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised him from the dead.”
Here the apostle plainly stated that a specified time, then future, had been fixed upon for the Judgment of the world.Jude refers to the same period: “The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the Judgment of the great day.” And again he quotes the words of Enoch:
“Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment upon all.” Jude 6, 14, 15.
John declares that he “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.” Revelation 20:12.
But if the dead are already enjoying the bliss of Heaven or writhing in the flames of hell, what need of a future Judgment? The teachings of God’s word on these important points are neither obscure nor contradictory; they maybe understood by common minds. But what candid mind can see either wisdom or justice in the current theory? Will the righteous, after the investigation of their cases at the Judgment, receive the commendation, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord,” when they have been dwelling in His presence, perhaps for long ages? Are the wicked summoned from the place of torment to receive the sentence from the Judge of all the earth, “Depart,ye cursed, into everlasting fire”? Oh, solemn mockery! shameful impeachment of the wisdom and justice of God! Nowhere in the Sacred Scriptures is found the statement that the righteous go to their reward or the wicked to their punishment at death. The patriarchs and prophets have left no such assurance. Christ and His apostles have given no hint of it. The Bible clearly teaches that the dead do not go immediately to Heaven. They are represented as sleeping until the resurrection. In the very day that the silver cord is loosed and the golden bowl broken, man’s thoughts perish. They that go down to the grave are in silence. They know no more of anything that is done under the sun. Blessed rest for the weary righteous! Time, be it long or short, is but a moment to them. They sleep, they are awakened by the trump of God to a glorious immortality. As they are called forth from their deep slumber, they begin to think just where they ceased. The last sensation was the pang of death,the last thought that they were falling beneath the power of the grave. When they arise from the tomb, their first glad thought will be echoed in the triumphal shout, “O death,where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
CHAPTER SUPPLEMENT: ETERNAL LIFE ONLY IN CHRIST “The wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23. “Neither is there salvation in anyother: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby wemust be saved.” Acts 4:12. “That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, buthave everlasting life.” John 3:16. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, andthey follow Me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish.” John10:27-28. “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath notlife.” 1 John 5:12.“His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughtsperish.” Psalm 146:4. “His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they arebrought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.” Job 14:21. “For the living know thatthey shall die: but the dead know not anything.” Ecclesiastes 9:5. “For in death thereis no remembrance of Thee.” Psalm 6:5.“Our friend Lazarus sleepeth . . Then said Jesus to them plainly, Lazarus is dead.”John 11:11, 14. “For David is not ascended into the heavens.” Acts 2:34. “The deadpraise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.” Psalm 115:17.“All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.” Ecclesiastes3:20. “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which areasleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13 (1 Corinthians 15:18, 20; John 11:11-14). “For the Lord Himself shall descendfrom heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God:and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16.“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nordevice, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” Ecclesiastes9:10. “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection from thedead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” 1 Corinthians15:21-22. “I will ransom them from the power of the grave.” Hosea 13:14.
The doctrine of natural immortality has prepared the way for modern Spiritualism. If the dead are admitted to the presence of God and holy angels, and privileged with knowledge far exceeding what they before possessed, why should they not return to the earth to enlighten and instruct the living? How can those who believe in man’s consciousness in death reject what comes to them as divine light communicated by glorified spir-its? Here is a channel regarded as sacred, through which Satan works for the accomplishment of his purposes. The fallen angels who do his bidding appear as messengers from the spirit world. While professing to bring the living into communication with the dead, Satan exercises his bewitching influence upon their minds. He has power even to bring before men the appearance of their departed friends. The counterfeit is perfect; the familiar look, the words, the tone, are reproduced with marvelous distinctness. Many are comforted with the assurance that their loved ones are enjoying the bliss of Heaven; and without suspicion of danger, they give ear to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. When they have been led to believe that the dead actually return to communicate with them, Satan causes those to appear who went into the grave unprepared. They claim to be happy in Heaven, and even to occupy exalted positions there; and thus the error is widely taught, that no difference is made between the righteous and the wicked. The pretended visitants from the world of spirits sometimes utter
cautions and warnings which prove to be correct. Then, as confidence is gained, they present doctrines which directly undermine faith in the Scriptures.With an appearance of deep interest in the well-being of their friends on earth, they insinuate the most dangerous errors.The fact that they state some truths, and are able at times to foretell future events, gives to their statements an appearance of reliability; and their false teachings are accepted by the multitudes as readily, and believed as implicitly, as if they were the most sacred truths of the Bible. The law of God is set aside, the Spirit of grace despised, the blood of the covenant counted an unholy thing. The spirits deny the divinity of Christ, and place even the Creator on a level with themselves. Thus under a new disguise the great rebel still carries forward his warfare against God, begun in Heaven, and for nearly six thousand years continued upon the earth. Many endeavor to account for spiritual manifestations by attributing them wholly to fraud and sleight of hand on the part of the medium. But while it is true that the results of trickery have often been palmed off as genuine manifestations, there have been, also, marked exhibitions of supernatural power. The mysterious rapping with which modern Spiritualism began was not the result of human trickery or cunning, but the direct work of evil angels, who thus introduced one of the most successful of soul-destroying delusions. Many will be ensnared through the belief that Spiritualism is a merely human imposture; when brought face to face with manifestations which they cannot but regard as supernatural, they will be deceived, and will be led to accept them as the great power of God.These persons overlook the testimony of the Scriptures concerning the wonders wrought by Satan and hisagents. It was by Satanic aid that Pharaoh’s magicians were enabled to counterfeit the work of God. The apostle John, describing the miracle-working power that will be manifested in the last days, declares:
“He doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do.”
Revelation 13:13, 14.
No mere impostures are here brought to view. Men are deceived by the miracles which Satan’s agents have power to do, not which they pretend to do.The very name of witchcraft is now held in contempt.The claim that men can hold intercourse with evil spirits is regarded as a fable of the Dark Ages. But Spiritualism, which numbers its converts by hundreds of thousands, yea, by millions, which has made its way into scientific circles, which has invaded churches, and has found favor in legislative bodies, and even in the courts of kings—this mammoth deception is but a revival in a new disguise of the witchcraft condemned and prohibited of old. Satan beguiles men now, as he beguiled Eve in Eden, by exciting a desire to obtain forbidden knowledge. “Ye shall be as gods,” he declares, “knowing good and evil.” But the wisdom which Spiritualism imparts is that described by the apostle James, which “descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.” James 3:15. The prince of darkness has a masterly mind, and he skillfully adapts his temptations to men of every variety of condition and culture. He works “with all deceivableness of unrighteousness” to gain control of the children of men; but he can accomplish his object only as they voluntarily yield to his temptations. Those who place themselves in his power by indulging their evil traits of character, little realize where their course will end. The tempter accomplishes their ruin, and then employs them to ruin others. To those who regard themselves as educated and re-fined, Satan addresses himself by exciting the imagination to lofty flights in forbidden fields, leading them to take so great pride in their superior wisdom that in their hearts they despise the Eternal One. To this class the great deceiver presents Spiritualism in its more refined and intellectual aspects, and he thus succeeds in drawing many into his snare. He who could appear clothed with the brightness of the heavenly seraphs before Christ in the wilderness of temptation, comes to men in the most attractive manner, as an angel of light. He appeals to the reason by the presentation of elevating themes, he delights the fancy with enrapturing scenes, and he enlists the affections by his eloquent portrayals of love and charity. That mighty being who could take the world’s Redeemer to an exceedingly high mountain, and bring before Him all the kingdoms of the earth and the glory of them, will present his temptations to men in a manner to pervert the senses of all who are not shielded by divine power.To the self-indulgent, the pleasure-loving, the sensual,the grosser forms of Spiritualism are adapted; and multitudes eagerly accept teachings that leave them at liberty to follow the inclinations of the carnal heart. Satan studies every indication of the frailty of human nature, he marks the sins which each individual is inclined to commit,and then he takes care that opportunities shall not be wanting to gratify the tendency to evil. He tempts men to excess in that which is in itself lawful, causing them through intemperance to weaken physical, mental, and moral power. He has destroyed and is destroying thousands through the in-dulgence of the passions, thus brutalizing the entire nature of man. When the people are led to believe that de-sire is the highest law, that liberty is license, and that man is accountable only to himself, who can wonder that corruption and depravity teem on every hand?The reins of self-control are laid upon the neck of lust, the powers of mind and soul are made subject to the animal propensities, and Satan exultingly sweeps into his net thousands who profess to be followers of Christ.But none need be deceived by the lying claims of Spiritualism. God has given the world sufficient light to enable them to discover the snare. If there were no other evidence, it should be enough for the Christian that the spirits make no difference between righteousness and sin, between the noblest and purest of the apostles of Christ and the most corrupt of the servants of Satan. By representing the basest of men as in Heaven,and highly exalted there, Satan virtually declares to the world,No matter how wicked you are; no matter whether you believe or disbelieve God and the Bible. Live as you please;Heaven is your home.Moreover, the apostles, as personated by these lying spirits, are made to contradict what they wrote at the dictation of the Holy Spirit when on earth. They deny the divine origin of the Bible, and thus tear away the foundation of the Christian’s hope, and put out the light that reveals the way to Heaven.Satan is making the world believe that the Bible is a mere fiction, or at least a book suited to the infancy of the race, but now to be lightly regarded, or cast aside as obsolete. And to take the place of the word of God he holds out spiritual manifestations. Here is a channel wholly under his control; by this means he can make the world believe what he will. The book that is to judge him and his followers he puts into the shade, just where he wants it; the Saviour of the world he makes to be no more than a common man. And as the Romish guard that watched the tomb of Jesus spread the lying report which the priests and elders put into their mouths to disprove His resurrection, so do the believers in spiritual manifestations try to make it appear that there is nothing miraculous in the circumstances of our Saviour’s life. After thus seeking to put Jesus in the back-ground, they call attention to their own miracles, declaring that these far exceed the works of Christ. Says the prophet Isaiah:
“When they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony. If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:19, 20.
If men had been willing to receive the truth so plainly stated in the Scriptures, that the dead know not anything,they would see in the claims and manifestations of Spiritualism the working of Satan with power and signs and lying wonders. But rather than yield the liberty so agreeable to the carnal heart, and renounce the sins which they love, the multitudes close their eyes to the light, and walk straight on, regardless of warnings, while Satan weaves his snares about them, and they become his prey.
“Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved,” therefore “God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.”
2 Thessalonians 2:10, 11.
Those who oppose the teachings of Spiritualism are assailing, not men alone, but Satan and his angels. They have entered upon a contest against principalities and powers and wicked spirits in high places. Satan will not yield one inch of ground except as he is driven back by the power of heavenly messengers. The people of God should be able to meet him, as did our Saviour, with the words, “It is written.” Satan can quote Scripture now as in the days of Christ, and he will pervert its teachings to sustain his delu-sions. But the plain statements of the Bible will furnish weapons powerful in every conflict.Those who would stand in this time of peril must un-derstand the testimony of the Scriptures concerning the nature of man and the state of the dead; for in the near future many will be confronted by the spirits of devils personating beloved relatives or friends, and declaring the most dangerous heresies. These visitants will appeal to our tenderest sympathies, and will work miracles to sustain their pretensions. We must be prepared to withstand them with the Bible truth that the dead know not anything, and that they who thus appear are the spirits of devils. Just before us is the “hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” Revelation 3:10. All whose faith is not firmly established upon the word of God will be deceived and overcome. But to those who earnestly seek a knowledge of the truth, thus doing what they can to prepare for the conflict, the God of truth will be a sure defense. “Be-cause thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee,” is the Saviour’s promise. He would sooner send every angel out of Heaven to protect His people, than leave one soul that trusts in Him to be overcome by Satan. The prophet Isaiah brings to view the fearful deception which will come upon the wicked, causing them to count themselves secure from the judgments of God:
“We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement. When the overflowing scourge shall pass through,it shall not come unto us; for we have made lies our refuge,and under falsehood have we hid ourselves.”
In the class here described are included those who in their stubborn impenitence comfort themselves with the assurance that there is to be no punishment for the sinner; that all man-kind, it matters not how corrupt, are to be exalted to Heaven to become as the angels of God. But still more emphatically are those making a covenant with death and an agreement with hell, who renounce the truths which Heaven has provided as a defense for the righteous in the day of trouble, and accept the refuge of lies offered by Satan in its stead,—the delusive pretensions of Spiritualism. Marvelous beyond expression is the blindness of the people of this generation. Thousands reject the word of God as unworthy of belief, and with eager confidence receive the deceptions of Satan. Skeptics and scoffers with great clamor denounce the bigotry of those who contend for the faith of prophets and apostles, and they divert themselves by holding up to ridicule the solemn declarations of the Scriptures concerning Christ and the plan of salvation, and there tribution to be visited upon the rejecters of the truth. They affect great pity for minds so narrow, weak, and superstitious as to acknowledge the claims of God, and obey the requirements of His law. They manifest as much assurance as if, indeed, they had made a covenant with death and an agreement with hell,—as if they had erected an impassable, impenetrable barrier between themselves and the vengeance of God. Nothing canarouse their fears. So fully have they yielded to the tempter, so closely are they united with him, and so thor-oughly imbued with his spirit, that they have no power and no inclination to break away from his snare. Long has Satan been preparing for his final effort to deceive the world. The foundation of his work was laid by the assurance given to Eve in Eden, “Ye shall not surely die.” “In the day that ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Little by little he has prepared the way for his master-piece of deception in the development of Spiritualism. He has not yet reached the full accomplishment of his designs; but it will be reached in the last remnant of time, and the world will be swept into the ranks of this delusion. They are fast being lulled into a fatal security, to be awakened only by the outpouring of the wrath of God. Saith the Lord God:
“Judgment also will I lay to the line,and righteousness to the plummet; and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand. When the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall betrodden down by it.” Isaiah 28:17,18.
These two chapters have been taken from the book Controversy between Christ and Satan. Read the full book here.