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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Intermediate State

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Beside questions concerning the nature of the happiness of heaven, there have also arisen questions concerning the state of the soul in the interval between death and the general resurrection. If we believe, with Dr. Priestly, that the soul is not a substance distinct from the body, we must believe with him that the whole of the human machine is at rest after death, till it be restored to its functions at the last day; but if we are convinced of the immateriality of the soul, we shall not think it so entirely dependent in all its operations upon its present companion, but that it may exist and act in an unembodied state. And if once we are satisfied that a state of separate existence is possible, we shall easily attach credit to the interpretation commonly given of the various expressions in Scripture, which intimate that the souls of good men are admitted to the presence of God immediately after death, although we soon find that a bound is set to our speculations concerning the nature of this intermediate state. But when we leave philosophical probability, and come to the doctrine of Scripture, the only ground of certainty on all such subjects, a great number of passages are so explicit, that no ingenuity of interpretation has been sufficient to weaken their evidence on this point. One branch of the opinions that have been held concerning an intermediate state is the Popish doctrine of purgatory; a doctrine which appears upon the slightest inspection of the texts that have been adduced in support of it to derive no evidence from Scripture; which originated in the error of the church of Rome in assigning to personal suffering a place in the justification of a sinner; and which is completely overturned by the doctrine of justification by faith, and by the general strain of Scripture, which represents this life as a state of probation, upon our conduct during which our everlasting condition depends. The holy Lazarus is carried by angels into Abraham's bosom; and the rich and careless sinner lifts up his eyes in hell, and is separated from the place of bliss by an impassable gulf. This at once disproves the doctrine of purgatory, and demonstrates an intermediate conscious state of happiness and misery.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Intermediate State'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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