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THE SOULS OF SAINTS SURVIVE THEIR BODIES, AND
GO DIRECTLY TO HEAVEN.
AND Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in
Paradise. - LUKE, xxiii, 43.
After Christ had been tried and condemned at Pilate's bar, and conducted to Calvary, and nailed to the cross between two malefactors, the immense multitude who came together to witness the solemn scene, were deeply but differently affected. His mother, his brethren, his disciples, and all his friends, sympathized with him in his sufferings ; but the Scribes and Pharisees, and Jews in general, reviled him in his agonies, and so did both the malefactors at first. But the views and feelings of one of them were soon entirely changed. Instead of reviling Christ, he condemned himself and the other malefactor, accepted the punishment of his iniquity, and cast himself upon the sovereign mercy of the Saviour, while he was actually making his soul a sacrifice for sin. The conversion of this penitent malefactor was sudden and signal. He remained stout hearted until the miraculous darkness, which overspread the earth at that time, alarmed his fears, awakened his conscience, and brought him penitently to cry for mercy. So Luke relates the astonishing fact. “ And one of the malefactors which were hanged, railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering, rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deedş; but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” Christ undoubtedly fulfilled his promise to this penitent believer, and carried his soul directly to the mansions of the blessed. This instance naturally leads us to conclude,
That the souls of saints survive their bodies, and go directly to heaven. I shall show,
I. That the souls of saints survive their bodies. And,
I. We are to consider, that the souls of saints survive their bodies. Death consists in the dissolution of the connection between the soul and body. It appears from the account given of the crucifixion of Christ and the malefactors, that they all properly died, or their spirits were separated from their bodies, and actually survived them. “The Jews, therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs. But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.” Though none have denied that the malefactors died a proper, natural death, yet some have denied that Christ did; but we have more evidence that he died, than that the malefactors died. For God ordered it that one of the soldiers should pierce his side, even to his heart, from which issued blood and water, the certain symptom of death. This was of great importance to be known and believed; for if it had not been proved to the conviction and satisfaction of his enemies that he really died, they might have denied, with some plausibility, that he ever rose from the dead, upon the truth of which the whole gospel is founded. As it is evident that Christ and the two that were crucified with him actually died, so it is equally evident that their souls survived their bodies after death. The souls of Christ and the penitent malefactor certainly went directly to heaven; and the soul of the other, like that of Judas, went to its own place. Since the soul of Christ and that of the believing malefactor survived their bodies, it seems as though there were no room to doubt that the souls of all saints survive their bodies and retain their sensibility and activity after death ; but there are both philosophers and divines who call this truth in question. I therefore proceed to adduce some plain and conclusive arguments to support it.
1. The scripture plainly represents the soul to be different and distinct from the body. It appears from the first formation of man, that his body and soul were distinct and essentially different in their original qualities. “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life ; and man became a living soul." Solomon gives a similar representation of the body and soul of man, as distinct and essentially different in their original qualities. Speaking of death, he says, “ Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” “Farthermore," says the apostle Paul, “we have had fathers of our flesh, which corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” In these passages, the body and soul are represented as very distinct and different. And this representation is agreeable to sound reason and philosophy. The body is material, but the soul is immaterial or spiritual. The qualities of matter are divisibility, extension, figure, motion, attraction and repulsion. But the qualities of spirit
are invisibility, sensation, perception, reason, conscience and volition. The qualities of spirit cannot be made material, nor the qualities of matter made spiritual. The body of man may exist without the soul, and the soul of man may exist without the body. Hence the soul may be separated from the body at death, and exist in a state of sensibility and activity, while the body crumbles to its original dust. Elijah cried unto the Lord for the widow's son that was dead, and said, “O Lord my God, I pray thee let this child's soul come into him again. And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived." Christ reunited the soul of Lazarus with his body, after it had lain four days corrupting in the grave. In a resurrection from the dead there is no new soul created, but only the soul that had been separated from the body reunited to it. At death, the soul is separated from the body, and not destroyed. Hence Solomon asks, “ Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” that is, at death. Now, since the scripture represents the soul as distinct and different from it, as separated from it at death, and as capable of existing in a state of separation, there is good reason to suppose that it does survive the body, and exist in its full vigor, activity and sensibility in another world. In this belief we shall be farther confirmed if we consider,
2. That the death of the body has no tendency to destroy the life of the soul. This is a plain inference from the foregoing particular. Since the soul is distinct from the body, and