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also the end of the world, or the consummation of the age, to the Jewish Church, and to the whole remains of the Noetic Church likewise ? If the Scripture affirms that a General Judgment was to be performed by the Lord at his second coming in the spirit, it affirms, with equal positiveness, that a General Judgment was performed at his first coming in the flesh. The one rests upon the same authority as the other; and if we deny one, we must deny both.
But not only does John the Baptist announce, that He before whom he was sent was coming to perform a work of judgment; but the Lord Jesus Christ repeatedly declares the same thing: “The Father” saith he,“ judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son ;- And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of
Is this supposed only to mean, that a sort of judgment was then to be passed upon the Jews in this world, the destruction of whom, as a nation, did speedily follow? This interpretation of the words is guarded against by its being added, “ Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation.”+ These words relate, not to any resurrection of the body, f but to certain operations, attendant upon the judgment, in the spiritual world, which he was then about to perform, while, as to his natural body he was yet in the natural world : hence, he speaks of it as being just about to take place — “ the hour is coming ;" — and to prevent any from imagining, nevertheless, that it was a distant judgment of which he was speaking, he makes the declaration more explicit still two or three verses previously : for he there says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God."'S Plainly enough, then, the whole passage relates to a judgment he was then about performing : and it is here described, in such figures as are often used when this subject is treated of, as a resurrection of the good to life eternal, and of the wicked to damnation.||
But if we were to dwell particularly on all the passages in which the Lord himself speaks of the judgment which he was engaged in performing, in the spiritual world, at the same time that, as to his natural humanity, he appeared in the world of * John v. 22-27.
+ Ver. 28, 29. # As has been shown above, pp. 56-59. Ś Ver. 25.
|| See this view of the above texts fully substantiated in my 'Strictures, &c. Int. Repository for Nov. 1535, pp. 658--663.
nature, this discussion would be protracted to a great length: I will therefore only mention, very briefly one or two more. We find him, then, in another place, saying, “For judgment am I come into this world."* And again, most explicitly, “ Now is the judgment of this world : now shall the prince of this world be cast out.”+ It is acknowledged by all, that by the prince of this world is in Scripture meant the devil. Now it is very remarkable, that a casting out of Satan is elsewhere spoken of when the subject is respecting a General Judgment. Thus in reference to this very judgment performed by the Lord while in the world, the prophet speaks of the falling of Lucifer from heaven. To the same effect, in reference to the Last Judgment generally believed to be yet future. John the Rev. elator declares, that he saw a great dragon cast out of heaven, and he explains this dragon to be that old serpent, called the devil and Satan.s Just in the same manner the Lord says in Luke, when the disciples returned and told him that even the devils were subject unto them through his name, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven."|| Evidently then, the circumstance described as the falling of Satan from heaven, is a thing essentially belonging to the performance of a General Judgment. Then put these facts together. John the Rev. elator says that such an occurrence would take place at the last judgment of all : Isaiah announced that it would take place at the judgment to be performed by the Lord while in the world : and Jesus himself twice declares, that it did then actually happen; how then is it possible to retain any doubt, that the Lord Jesus Christ was actually engaged in performing a judgment in the spiritual world, while, as to his assumed human nature, he was personally present in this ?
Both parts — the latter as well as the former, — of our first proposition, may now, I trust appear sufficiently established; -namely, That the General Judgment announced in Scripture as to be performed at the Second Coming of the Lord, was not to take place in the natural world, as commonly supposed, but in the spiritual. If the Last Judgment announced in the New Testament be not the only General Judgment ever accomplished on the natives of this earth, but, on the contrary, there have been two or three such before ; then, doubtless, this would be executed in the same manner as those. It is certain that, at former judgments, particularly at the most indisputable of them, that performed by the Lord while in the world, there was no gathering together, in this world, of all who had previously * Ch. ix. 39.
† Ch. xii. 31.
|| Luke x. 18.
died, po appearing of the Judge in the clouds, and no destruction of the globe and of the visible universe : consequently, neither were such events to occur at the Last Judgment of all. All former General Judgments were executed in the spiritual world : consequently, that world must be the scene of the Last Judgment also.
An Intermediate World and State the specific Scene of all
General and Particular Judgments. The specific argument of the preceeding Part of this SECTION, That the Last Judgment was to be performed in the spiritual world, because there is evidence, that, though the last, it is not the first General Judgment on the natives of this globe, and that all former General Judgments have been performed in that world, — will be strongly corroborated if it can be shown, in what specific region of the spiritual world such an operation could be performed ; and that the existence of such a region, and of the execution in it of at least one former General Jungment, is no new invention, but, though of late lost sight of, was well known, and generally acknowledged through all Christian antiquity. Into this subject, then, we will enter here; which will afford an opportunity fully to explain the views of the New Church, both with respect to the judgment performed on resuscitated men collectively at the close of the dispensations under which they had lived, and on resuscitated men individually at the close of this mortal life.
We will first notice the necessity for such an intermediate world and state, and the Scripture-proof of its existence : and we will then advert to the knowledge anciently possessed on the subiect, with various particulars respecting it.
İ. We are, first, to notice the necessity for such an interme. doite world and state, and the Scripture-proof of its existence.
Where, then, could any General Judgment be performed, but in some common receptacle, open to every spirit the moment he quits the body, and which, without being, itself, either heaven or hell, constitutes a world between both, and may
serve as an introduction to either? Where, indeed, can any individual of the human race receive his judgment, either, to heaven or to hell, but in some intermediate region, distinct both from the one and from the other?
The Roman Catholics, it is well known, hold a kind of intermediate state, which they call purgatory. This they feign to be a place of severe torment, destined for purifying the souls of the good from the defilements adhering to the fleshly nature : and in which it is pretended, they are liable to remain for thousands of years, unless delivered through the efficacy of the prayers of the saints and the papal indulgencies, which are purchased by the credulous for that purpose. Upon a certain fact has thus been founded an extravagant fiction : hence Protestants have for the most part, rejected the doctrine of an intermediate state altogether, discarding the truth along with the perversion. As observed by the accomplished Dr. T. Burnet, in his work, quoted in Sect. III., On the State of the dead, 6 the reformed divines, to avoid the terrors of purgatory, have entirely taken away the intermediate state ; as we are too apt, in avoiding one folly, to run into another." " It is
well known,” he continues, " that the Roman purgatory is adapted to the humors of the people and the gains of the priest : but why should these phantoms fright us away from the search of truth, and the opinions of the ancients, concerning the hitherto unfulfilled state of misery and happiness, before the day of judgment?” Why, indeed! when it is an unquestionable fact, that the belief of an intermediate state of deparfed spirits, and of a world appropriated to their reception, was universal among Christians, as shall be shown presently, long before the Romish purgatory was ever thought of. Is it not then the extreme of rashness to abolish the belief of an intermediate state, because, under the reign of Romish corruption, it had been changed into purgatory? And is it not the extreme of injustice to charge the illustrious Swedenborg, as some of his opponents have done, with reviving the Romish purgatory, because he restores the older Christian and Scriptural doctrine of an intermediate state ?
To avoid confusion it may here be necessary to observe, that most Christians admit the doctrine of an intermediate state in one sense, meaning by it the state of the soul, after death, before it is reunited to the body ; whence they also call it the separate state : But not looking for any resurrection of the body, we mean by the phrase, the state of man after death, before he is received into heaven or plunged into hell : consequently, our idea of it supposes an intermediate spiritual world, or region of the spiritual world at large, as being, in that state, the scene
of his existence; which also results from our idea, that the spirit, separate from the body of clay, is not a mere vapor or puff of breath, but as a substantial body of its own, though, as consisting of spiritual and not of material substances, is not perceptible to the senses of men in this world.
Our idea of this intermediate world is, that it is situated in the middle between heaven and hell. To those who are in it, heaven appears above, over their heads, and hell beneath, under their feet. Hence, the common forms of speaking of heaven and hell as being respectively above and below, which are completely void of meaning in reference to the natural world, are perfectly true in regard to the appearances of things in the spiritual world ; and from knowledge respecting this, either intuitively perceived or traditionally retained, all such forms of speech derive their origin. Into this intermediate world, then, every one, we conceive, first enters after death, and makes a longer or a shorter stay in it, according to the conformity between his internal and his external state ; though, from the moment of his leaving the body, his final doom is fixed irreversibly. Since the Last Judgment, this stay in the intermediate world is in no case very extensively protracted: but prior thereto, the case was different, and many even remained there during the whole period that intervened between one General Judgment and another. Thus a General Judgment consists in the removal of the wicked from the stations they had there acquired to their abodes in hell ; and in the elevation to heaven of certain of the good, who had been reserved, in the meantime, in places of safety, but who could not be taken up into heaven, till the wicked, who occupied the intermediate sphere, had been thence removed.
These three propositions then, - 1. That there is such an intermediate region of the spiritual world : 2. That at the time of the Judgment the wicked are removed from the stations they had there usurped ; and, 3. That the good, having been previously reserved in places of safety, are then elevated into heaven; may be clearly proved by the testimony of the Scriptures.
That such an intermediate state and world are supposed through the whole of the Old Testament is generally acknowledged by men of learning ; though, forgetting that the writers of those books were guided by inspiration, it is but too common to imagine that they herein only followed their predjudices, and wrote in compliance with the vulgar belief of the Jewish nation. However, explain it away as they may, learned men are constrained to acknowledge, that the Hebrew word Sheol does not properly mean hell (in the common sense of that word), as it is translated in some passages of the English Bible, nor yet