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النشر الإلكتروني

in the Unseen World

AN INQUIRY INTO THE DOCTRINE OF

THE INTERMEDIATE STATE

BY

R. E. HUTTON

CHAPLAIN OF ST. MARGARET's, EAST GRINSTEAD

AUTHOR OF “THE CROWN OF Christ,” ETC.

“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not
seen : for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things

which are not seen are eternal."-St. Paul

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PREFACE

THE

as

HE Shadow of Death falls so frequently across

the pathway of life that the thought of “the things that are to come hereafter” is one from which

ter” is there is no escape.

St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Thessalonians, says, “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even others which have no hope.” The Apostle then dwells

. upon the Second Advent, and the rising again of those who sleep in the dust of the earth. He briefly sums up the joy of the new life in the words, “so shall we ever be with the Lord," and adds, “wherefore comfort one another" (i.e. exhort or strengthen one another) “with these words."1 St. Paul might have dwelt upon other aspects of the life hereafter, such as the meeting again with those whom we have "loved long since, and lost awhile," but he does not do so. He has a profound sense that the Presence of Christ is the supreme need of the soul. Thus he speaks of the soul of the sincere Christian as finding, even before the resurrection, its beatitude "with Christ,”? and seeing Him no

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"2

longer “through a glass darkly, but face to face."1 To be "absent from the body," i.e. in the intermediate or disembodied state, is to be "present with the Lord.”2 It is undoubtedly true that in Holy Scripture our thoughts are usually directed toward the life after the resurrection, rather than to the life of the disembodied soul. It is from no forgetfulness of this fact that in the following pages I have endeavoured to trace the growth of belief as to the soul in its intermediate state-between the death and resurrection of the body. The resurrection may be yet far off, the day of death is near at hand, and before many years are gone we must all pass into that Unseen World where so many we have lost sight of are awaiting the end. This certainly makes the subject of the intermediate state to be one of the deepest interest.

If, as Tennyson said, “Knowledge is of things we see," then it is plain we can have no knowledge of the Unseen World. But what the poet said is only true if he allows that the eye of the soul can see and perceive as well as the eye of the body. It has been well said that “we have an organ or faculty for the discernment of spiritual truth, which, in its proper sphere, is as much to be trusted as the organs of sensation in theirs."3 The vision of the mind-the

rational soul-we call "reason," and the illumination

soul by the revelation of God bestows the light

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1

1 Cor. xiii. 12.

2 Cor. v. 8.
3 Christian Mysticism, p. 6, W. R. INGE, M.A.

of faith. Reason and faith each enable a man to attain to knowledge. Reason is not contradicted, but illuminated, by what we call revelation. The one prepares the way for the other; reason is perfected by faith. By the light of reason the Gentile religions of antiquity were able to arrive at some of the truths of what is called Natural Theology. They believed very generally in the existence of an Intelligent First Cause. This knowledge was not despised by St. Paul, but when he addressed the Gentiles he referred to it, and built upon it. To the Romans he said, “The invisible things of God from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse,"1 who do not glorify God. Reason had taught men the existence of God; revelation made Him known as Triune. Reason had led the Greeks to the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God, as St. Paul reminded them, when he quoted certain of their own poets who had confessed, “we are also His offspring.”2

" . Revelation did but make known how this relationship was perfected in Jesus Christ.

Something of the same sort is true as to the life after death. Reason had led many to the conviction that as there is a God, so in Him all live—not only here, but hereafter. This conclusion of Natural Theology was confirmed and illuminated by the revelation which came through Jesus Christ, “Who hath brought life

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1 Rom. i. 20.

2 Acts xvii. 28.

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