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could be made out of it, the whole revelation of the future must be as indistinct and profitless as a dream and vision of the night. But upon approaching the subject, I found that all which could be made of the intermediate state, was a guess or conjecture from what we behold upon the removal of this and that object of sense, as to what might be the case when they were all removed away.
“So much for the very article of death, which I assert every one will shrink from, till, by the doctrine of the second advent and the first resurrection, he has been taught to triumph over it. But you say, we look to the paradise which is immediately beyond. And I ask you, what you know of that paradise ? of that separate state of the soul? or what can the finest imaginations make you to know concerning it? Just nothing at all; it is airy, it is shadowy, it is fantastical. I have laboured myself to gather fruit in this field, but found it labour in vain.
“ But in plain speech, I ask, if so much use was intended to be made of this intermediate state, why was not more revealed about it? It could never have been intended of the Lord to be the great object of hope, else it would have been more defined; it cannot be the great object of hope, for hope cannot seize hold upon it. It is inert, it is shadowy, it is unworldly. It hath no relation to the present world, that it should lift us above it. It seizeth not hold on the affections, to raise them above the earth ; upon the understanding, to fill and possess it; upon the feelings, to ravish and refine them; upon the interests, to purify and enrich them. It is a mere negation of this evil, and that suffering; it hath no positive compensation to any suffering, nor real satisfaction to any desire, nor occupation to any faculty, nor occasion for any junction of man ; seeing it is not man, but a part of man, concerning which, in its severed state, nothing can be predicated or understood, hoped, or feared ; and I boldly aver, that the continual turning of the church's eye to this undefined and undefinable estate, has paralyzed hope and quenched desire, crippled all the energies of the spiritual man, and impoverished every field of spiritual life.”—Pref. to Ben Ezra, pp. lv. lix. Ix.
I apprehend that most readers of the fifth chapter of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, will be of opinion that Paul's views of the intermediate state, and the influence of those views upon him were of a very different nature from those expressed by Mr. Irving in the preceding passages. The assertion that exceeding little is said about it, I conceive to be altogether incorrect. In the passage above referred to there is as clear and full a revelation of the doctrine, and of the delightful influence of the doctrine as there is in the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle, of the resurrection of the body. As to there being no material habitation for the body after the resurrection, I should think this as foolish an opinion as the denial of the resurrection itself. Yet Mr. Irving thinks all who deny the first resurrection, and who hold the belief of the soul's repose and enjoyment of Christ, in the separate state, do injustice to the ulterior hope of the gospel. In this he is altogether mistaken. But it is not my intention to reply to Mr. Irying's views on this subject; the object of the note is only to justify the statement in the discourse of the tendency of certain views of the future state of the kingdom of Christ in this world, to affect subjects of the most momentous importance.
Since the discourse was put to press, I have perused with great satisfaction a work just published —the production of no ordinary mind—“ The Natural History of Enthusiasm.” The section on the Enthusiasm of Prophetical Interpretation is replete with important and enlightened discussion, which I beg most earnestly to recommend to all prophetic inquirers.