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    HISTORICAL TESTIMONY

    Neander says, in his church history: “It was an old Jewish notion that immortality was not founded upon the nature of the soul, but a peculiar gift of divine grace; a representation which had been transferred from Judaism to Christianity.”HPGO 66.2

    It seems also from the controversy in the times of the Reformers that many of them stoutly contended against the doctrine of the natural immortality. Archdeacon Blackburne, who wrote upon this subject over one hundred years since, said: “Those we call Reformers, in the days of Queen Elizabeth, sufficiently expressed their scruples concerning the state of the soul after death, by expunging an article of religion which condemned the opinion espoused by Mr. Layton and others.” In Mr. Henry Layton’s own work, part ii. pp.21-23, he states his doctrine as follows: “True it is, that our churches, for about the last twelve hundred years, have been so possessed with the conceit of a separately subsisting soul, that they have made little use of the resurrection in their exhortations. And, in truth, if the soul, parting from the body, goes presently to Heaven or hell, our article of the resurrection can be but of small use in the church. If souls get amongst blessed angels in Heaven, what need can there be to them of a resurrection?”HPGO 67.1

    Blackburne himself says of the Reformers:—HPGO 67.2

    “I have little doubt but they saw that the separate existence of the soul, being one of those doctrines which popery borrowed from paganism, and also so necessary to support so great a part of the impious and absurd superstitions of the church of Rome, should have been discarded among other errors of the same tendency, and that it was to little purpose to set about demolishing the superstructure while the foundation was acknowledged to be sound and orthodox. They little dreamt that, by this oversight, they would give their posterity the trouble of fighting the papistical battle over again with some of their nominal Protestant successors, who have found their temporal account in building again many things which these reformers thought, in the simplicity of their hearts, they had sufficiently destroyed.” Chap. xxii.HPGO 67.3

    Again, he says of this doctrine:—HPGO 67.4

    “The Scripture system of immortality supposes that man had forfeited his original title to immortality, and would never have recovered it but for the interposition of a Redeemer. The consequence of this doctrine is, that between the time of the forfeiture and the actual appearing of the Redeemer, the dead could have life in no sense at all, and that neither before nor after the appearance of the Redeemer, dead men were, or would be, restored to life, otherwise than in the way revealed by the Redeemer, namely, by a resurrection of the dead. Hence, to suppose the souls of dead men to be alive, conscious, and active, and capable of happiness and misery, from the death of the first man to the resurrection of the very last, and to pretend to demonstrate this by reason and philosophy, is plainly to overturn the whole Christian system.” Chap. xx. last part.HPGO 68.1

    The Puritans, in the time of Edward viii., 1543, said in their creed respecting departed souls, and praying for them, “It is good and charitable to do it; but because ‘tis not known what condition departed souls are in, we ought only to recommend them to the mercy of God.”-Hist. of Puritans, pp. 464, 465.HPGO 68.2

    When we go still farther back, to the days of the English and German Reformers, Tyndale and Luther, we shall find them speaking very pointedly upon this subject. Wm. Tyndale, the great English Reformer, who first translated and published the Bible in the English language, had a written controversy, in 1530, with Thomas More, called his “Answer to Thomas More’s Dialogue.” More objected to Luther, and plead for papal ideas of going to Heaven at death, purgatory, prayers for the dead, etc. Tyndale says of him:—HPGO 68.3

    “And when he proveth that the saints be in Heaven in glory with Christ already, saying: If God be their God they be in Heaven; for he is not the God of the dead: there he stealeth away Christ’s argument wherewith he proveth the resurrection, that Abraham and all the saints should rise again, and not that their souls were in Heaven, which doctrine was not yet in the world. And with that doctrine he taketh away the resurrection quite, and maketh Christ’s argument of none effect. For when Christ allegeth the scripture that God is Abraham’s God, and addeth, too, that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, and so proveth that Abraham must rise again: I deny Christ’s argument, and say with Master More, that Abraham is yet alive, not because of the resurrection, but because his soul is in Heaven. And in like manner, Paul’s argument to the Corinthians is naught worth. For where he saith, If there be no resurrection, we be of all wretches the miserablest: here we have no pleasure, but sorrow, care, and oppression. And therefore, if we rise not again, all our suffering is in vain. Nay, Paul, thou art unlearned, go to Master More and learn a new way. We be not most miserable, though we rise not again; for our souls go to Heaven as soon as we be dead, and are there in as great joy as Christ that is risen again. And I marvel that Paul had not comforted the Thessalonians with that doctrine, if he had wist it, that the souls of their dead had been in joy, as he did with the resurrection, that their dead should rise again. If the souls be in Heaven in as great glory as the angels, after your doctrine, show me what cause should be of the resurrection?”-Works of William Tyndale, vol.ii. p.123.HPGO 68.4

    Again, More objected to Luther that he taught that “all souls lie and sleep till doomsday.”HPGO 69.1

    Tyndale answers:—HPGO 69.2

    “And ye, in putting them in Heaven, hell, and purgatory, destroy the arguments wherewith Christ and Paul proved the resurrection. What God doth with them, that shall we know when we come to them. The true faith putteth the resurrection which we be warned to look for every hour. The heathen philosophers denying that, did put that the souls did ever live. And the pope joineth the spiritual doctrine of Christ, and the fleshly doctrine of philosophers together, things so contrary that they cannot agree, no more than the spirit and the flesh do in a Christian man. And because the fleshly minded pope consenteth unto heathen doctrine, therefore he corrupteth the Scripture to stablish it. Moses saith in Deuteronomy, The secret things pertain unto the Lord, and the things that be opened pertain unto us, that we do all that is written in the book. Wherefore, sir, if we loved the laws of God, and would occupy ourselves to fulfill them, and would, on the other side, be meek, and let God alone with his secrets, and suffer him to be wiser than we, we should make none article of faith of this or that. And again, if the souls be in Heaven, tell me why they be not in as good case as the angels be? And then what cause is there of the resurrection?”-Tyndale’s Works, vol.ii. pp.188,189.HPGO 69.3

    Again, More objected to Luther:—HPGO 70.1

    “What shall he care how long he live in sin, that believeth Luther, that he shall after this life feel neither good nor evil, in body nor soul, until the day of doom?”HPGO 70.2

    Tyndale answers:—HPGO 70.3

    “Christ and his apostles taught no other, but warned to look for Christ’s coming again every hour. Which coming again, because ye believe will never be, therefore ye have feigned that other merchandise.”-Tyndale’s Works, vol.ii. p.196.HPGO 70.4

    To go back ten years earlier, 1520, we find Luther saying:—HPGO 70.5

    “But I permit the pope to make articles of faith for himself and his faithful, such as ... the pope is the emperor of the world, and the king of Heaven, and God upon earth, the soul is immortal, with all those monstrous opinions found in the Roman dunghill of decretals.”HPGO 70.6

    Archdeacon Blackburne says of Luther, after speaking of this sentiment above, “Afterwards, indeed, Luther espoused the doctrine of the sleep of the soul, upon a Scripture foundation, and then he made use of it as a confutation of purgatory and saint-worship, and continued in that belief to the last moment of his life.” “In his commentary upon Ecclesiastes, which was published in 1553, he was clearly and indisputably on the side of those who maintain the sleep of the soul.”-Blackburne’s Hist. of the Controversy, p.15.HPGO 70.7

    In 1516, Peter Pompanatius, a philosopher of Mantua, wrote against the followers of Aristotle, who held to the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. In this work he said: “Whoever goes about to prove the immortality of the soul by philosophical arguments, does not deserve the name of a Christian.”-Bayle’s Pompanatius, cit.62. Quoted in Blackburne, chap 20. last clause.HPGO 70.8

    Blackburne says of the introduction of the doctrine of purgatory into the Romish church, that it was done “by the council of Florence, called by Pope Eugenius IV., in 1439. Before this, they taught that the dead were ‘in abditis receptaculis, where they expected the resurrection, they believed they were happy, but not fully rewarded.’ At the above council, they adopted and established the doctrine of purgatory, “in which souls were prepared for a full reward in Heaven; and after passing through which, they would go into the felicities of the fully blessed.”HPGO 71.1

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