The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 31
I will now add a few more plain facts, and unsophisticated reasons in refutation of Messrs Stobo and Co's sophistical theology. He says, in regard to the thief on the cross, "It is quite clear that the soul of the thief was there (in Paradise) in a state of conscious happiness whilst his body was probably still hanging on the cross; and this one fact is enough to break the back of all the Christadelphian rubbish in the world." I have shown already that what Jesus and the thief said concerning themselves, the "I, me, and thou," Mr. Stobo had to metamorphose into et souls," in order to prop up his hobby of separate conscious souls apart from the body, but this is only another jugglery of his, the weapon of sophistry used by a traditional theology: which when exposed to light dashes to pieces all their air castles. I will now show what the words "death" and "to die" signify in the Bible; and what Platonian dreamers have made people to understand by it. The first time we find death mentioned in the Bible is by God himself, when he said to Adam, "The day thou eatest there of, thou shall surely die." And what did Adam understand by death? for we have to bear in mind that a penalty with which a law giver threatens any one has to be understood by the party against whom the said law was made; or else the law-giver cannot in justice exact the threatened punishment, as in the case of babes and idiots. Now Adam could not possibly in the absence of any other definition of death, have any other conception of it, but that it signified acessation of the existence of life, such as he saw when he killed a beast page 22 or a fowl. But a fool's-theology asserts "that death means to live in the torments of hell fire for ever." These hair-brained D. D's. assert besides, "that Adam did not understand the full import of what death meant." By this they say just as much as, that God could not be trusted as to what he threatened men with, but that he will punish them for the transgression of the law with a penalty millions of times worse than death. Have I said too much, that they have to defend their fables by the foulest sophistry and lies, and I add, that they utter the foulest slander against the God of the Bible when they ascribe such an act of cruelty and injustice to him. Death in the Bible is everywhere described as a state wherein no consciousness can exist: as "the dead see nothing, they hear nothing, there is no remembrance in death," &c. And in that state of unconsciousness were both Jesus and the thief when they were dead. Jesus only for part of three days; and the thief until the resurrection. This plain fact, I challenge all D. D's, with their mountains of sophistry and lies, that they will never be able to upset. Mr. Stobo's logic is unique, yea it is a philosophical curiosity, when he says, "That the doctrine of immortality of the soul is scriptural, and that is enough." How is it scriptural? seeing that such a jargon as "the immortality of the soul, and disembodied ghosts" are not even named in it. Have men ever been such fools as to write a book in which they advocate and teach a certain thing, and yet never name it? and is the Bible the only exception to this rule ? Did Plato write his Pheedo in which he advocates the immortality of the soul, and disembodied ghosts without naming them? Or did any Epicurean writers who advocated in their works a total annihilation of man's conscious state of existence after death do so and never name it ? Mr. Stobo must have smelt something of this kind, else he would not have gone to beg his crotchets from Plato, Homer's Iliad, from the North American Indians, and from the met mpsychosis (the doctrine of the migration of souls) of the East. If so be that he believes in the latter, I really pity his classical soul, for by chance it might migrate into a bullock, and the awful whipping his soul would have to endure would indeed be no joke. A gentleman on the Continent, a believer in the metempsychosis, was asked whether he ever prayed? Yes, he replied I pray every time when I see a poor bullock whipped, that my soul may not migrate into one.
Mr. Stobo speaks of the love of God as genuine, pure, and holy." But why does he not add just? no doubt, because his eternal hell-fire butchery would contradict it. But it is "pure and holy when he sees that it has provided a hell, in which its threatenings against transgressors and rebels are to be executed," and this " hell with its untold horrors and miseries, is as real as the happiness of heaven," &c. Well, sir, I quite agree with you, that "the horrors and miseries will be real," that there will be real weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, but not of ghost men, but of real men in their material bodies, and that not in Augustine's hell, but in the lake of' fire, and not till the last and awful day of judgment. And as Tertullian has it, "it will be a real butchery," a day of slaughter. "The day of wrath and indignation which will consume all God's adversaries." But God's judgment is mixed with love and mercy, for not one shall suffer one instant longer than what his deeds deserve, page 23 and death shall free the last sufferer from all pain. And thus as he acts justly he is the God of love and mercy, otherwise he would be a cruel monster, such as the traditional god of the creeds: which of course they dare not call just. Task you, Sir, would you, if you were a judge of arbitrary power, adjudge a man whose transgression of the law deserves one day's imprisonment, sentence him to an imprisonment for life with a flogging every day? And if your sense of justice forbids you to do such a thing, tell me, how can you ascribe an act to God, which, in comparison to the former would be unjust many millions of times more than man is able even to imagine? Jesus says, that" all those who do not repent, shall perish like those eighteen on whom the tower of Siloam fell, and slew them; or like those Galileans whom Herod slew in the court of the temple, whose blood became mixed with their sacrifices." Do you mean to say, Sir, that the perishing spoken of by Jesus means, that they shall live in eternal hell-fire butchery? Do you mean to assert, Sir, that the audience to whom Jesus said this, understood him, that "the like destruction" meant to live in the torments of hell for ever? Do you mean to say that Jesus spoke of ghost men suffering in hell? and that his hearers understood him so? How do Messrs Stobo and Co. dispose of the 80 passages in the New Testament which all positively declare that, apart from faith in Jesus there is no life for men hereafter? And such as say, "The righteous man by his faith shall live again?" And what do you make of the 40 passages, "That without faith in Jesus man remains in death?" Now if these mean anything at all, they must mean that man has no innate immortality; but that it is a promised and prospective one offered to man on condition of his faith in Jesus. The Bible, the Augsburg Confession, and the 39 articles of faith of the Church of England do not require man to believe anything beside the name of Jesus as necessary for salvation. Does Mr. Stobo enquire me to believe in his hangmen, jails, the lash, in his hell of eternal butchery, to believe in his devil? And I do not know in what besides, maybe he requires me to believe in Minerva also? And as we do not believe in such crotchets, we are branded sceptics, Epicureans, infidels! A. few more proofs that neither Jesus nor Peter knew of any man to exist apart from the body either in a conscious immortal soul or ghost: such as our fool-wise theologians assert to exist. Jesus stands before the grave of Lazarus, who was a believer, whose real man, the soul, according to our traditional fables, must have been in paradise or heaven. Did Jesus call him thence to come and pick up the little earth left of Lazarus in the grave, and then come forth? Nothing of the kind! And why not? Because Jesus knew of no Lazarus in paradise nor in heaven. Where was the real man Lazarus then? You say he was in paradise. His sisters and Jesus said he was in the grave, and out of the grave Jesus calls him to come forth, and out of the grave he came alive. Peter stands before the lifeless body of Dorcas a Christian believer. Now according to a fool's theology Dorcas was in heaven singing hallelujahs, but Peter did not seek her there, nor command her to come down from heaven; he knew of no Dorcas in heaven; the real true Dorcas lay before him a dead corpse, but still to him it was the only true and real Dorcas, and as such he addressed her and commanded her to rise up, and the dead Dorcas became page 24 alive and rose up, and he took her by the hand and presented her to her friends living. And what account did these two saints bring from the ghost land of a traditional heaven or paradise? None whatever. And why not. The Bible answers it, because "The dead see nothing, they hear nothing, and in death there is no remembrance." And it is for this reason that they could not give us any information what this Platonian ghost-land was like. I will now adduce another proof, how the sentence of death as God pronounced it on Adam has to be literally executed on every one of his race, the greatest saint not excepted. John, the beloved disciple, is for the sake of his faith, the hope of eternal life, in the island of Patmos in banishment. It is in his old age a few years before his death, which he was expecting like all the sons of Adam, that it would soon overpower him, and that he would have to sleep the sleep of death. But John, like every true believer, had his faith and hope strong, that Jesus would deliver and save him from the power of death? When meditating thereon, Jesus, who was his only hope of a future immortality, appears to him, to give him a revelation of future events. And how does he comfort his beloved disciple in regard to his approaching death. Does he tell him that he will go to heaven, and that lie (Jesus) will open heaven for him? Nothing of the kind. But he informs him, that when he shall be dead, he is not to remain in death, he points to himself as an example, "I was dead" at a time, "and behold, I am alive for evermore," which means as much, thou also Mist to die under the sentence of death, but fear not, "for I have the keys of death and of bodes," i.e. just as I was dead and in the grave and in hades, and I trusted in my Father God, who raised me from the dead, so also will I bring thee forth out of death's prison, for I have the keys of death and of hades, and will open the death prison, and bring out its prisoners triumphantly. We thus see, that Jesus did not promise to open heaven for his beloved disciple when he was to die, but he promised to open the prison of death for him, in which he is yet sleeping, now nearly 1800 years. Yet to him it will not seem as much as 18 minutes, so that he as well as Abel who has slept over five thousand years, and the last saint who dies a few minutes before the resurrection, their sleep will appear all alike short, like a midday nap. Time is for the living to count, it is not wearisome for the dead—for the dead see nothing, they hear nothing, they cannot count time.
These considerations bring us to the resurrection. Every believer in God's promises, who looks for the salvation and redemption from the power of death to Jesus as the cause of his future life, has the lull assurance by his faith and hope, that he who has the keys of death and hades will bring them forth body and soul, and change their mortal bodies of Adam's sin's flesh into immortal spirit bodies to become like his own glorified body. And then we shall be for ever with Christ. But quite different must be the procectura with our friends the saints of the traditional creeds, who are not found sleeping in the graves; but have merely lett the little earth therein, whilst they themselves, the real ghost men, have enjoyed their own heaven with their own traditional Jesus for different lengths of time. These ghost men cannot possibly rise from true dead, they will needs have to come down from their heaven; just contrary to what we read concerning the resurrection of the dead scripture page 25 insists upon it that the real men who shall be raised up are the dead in the graves, in the sea, &c. But a fool's theology asserts that they are alive in heaven. Well, for the sake of argument we will for this time allow it to be so. Yet they must allow that they will have to come down front heaven to pick up the little earth they left behind them in the graves. And this will indeed be a pitiable sight, to see Our Rd's. glorified and classical ghosts in their white surplices burrow like badgers in the mouldy graves among the worms and maggots, struggling and wrangling hard to get their little earth. But to return to the Bible in which we do not find one word of any glorified saints coming down to judgment, but where we read everywhere that they come out of the graves: so that if we believe what a fool's theology teaches, and as we have needs to believe the Bible also, it follows that death has made two persons out of one. The one in the traditional heaven, and the other in the grave: from whence, as we read it in the Bible he comes out to judgment. And as we do not read one word in the Bible that these come down from their heaven to judgment, we have to suppose that they will be allowed to stay there and enjoy their bliss: while the other real man of whom the Bible says that he is in the grave will be brought forth and judged. And this man in the grave not having believed in the promised prospective immortality offered him on condition of faith in Jesus, he will according to his own dogma have to be cast into his traditional hell of eternal butchery, where in his moral pollution he will curse God and blaspheme his name to all eternity; while the other duplicate of him, the man produced by the juggling of a traditional theology, will be in heaven singing praises to his god. Thus we see that a fool's theology has made two men out of one, and all the ratiocination to this day has not been able to unite them into one again. I have for years in vain endeavoured to solve this problem, but have utterly failed can Messrs Stobo and Co solve it for me? And what has caused all these absurdities? Nothing else, but that our D. D's. have learned their theology from Plato, instead of from the Bible. Poor Plato! he had no Bible from which he could learn that there was a resurrection and a God able to raise the dead; he knew well that his Jupiter could not do it. But like all mortals, his human nature yearned after immortality which he thought might be found in the soul surviving the body—yet was he totally at a loss to account for how the soul by itself became immortal; as it existed as he fancied it from all eternity, long before his god Jupiter had any existence. And it is this fable which a fool's philosophy has foisted upon the Bible doctrine and supplanted the prospective immortality promised to man, which has turned the whole Bible doctrine topsy-turvy. And in order to uphold and defend such fool's theology, the defenders thereof have to do it by the foulest sophistry, and have to lie high and low, till they turn black in the face. Having now finished the dissection and analyzation of one of these traditional ghost men, I hereby certify that I have not found one particle of immortality in him. No, no more than in a horse ghost.
J. A. Richter.