« السابقةمتابعة »
must have known, and especially he by whom “the Spirit of the Lord spake,” 2 Sam. xxiii. 2; Ps. vi. 5; xxx. 9; 1xxxviii. 11-13; cxv. 17; Job iv. 20, 21; xiv. 10; Eccl. ix. 5, 10; Is. xxxviii. 18. Had the soul enjoyed a separate state of existence after death, these inspired men could never have given such a joyless, hopeless, and deplorable account of it as they have done, but would have rather revelled in the joyous anticipations of a Paul, 1 Thess, v. 9, 10; 2 Cor. v. 6, 8, 9; Rom. xiv. 7, 8,9; Phil. i. 21--24, or have depicted the blessed state of the departed in the language of St. John's Revelations, v. 9, 10; vi. 10, 11; vii. 9–17; xiv. 1-5; xv. 2–4. But the truth is, it was Christ who “abolished death," and the saints only then believed, that he was “able to keep that which they had committed to him against that day,” viz. of judgment, 2 Tim. i. 10–12. For the fathers “received not the promises," of which the eternalizing Spirit of promise was one, 1 John ii. 25; Eph. i. 13, 14, “ God having provided some better thing for
us, that they without us should not be made perfect,” Heb. xi. 13, 39, 40; John vi. 49–63 ; viii. 51–53; Matt. xvi. 24–28. Christ, therefore had to go to proclaim the Gospel to souls in reserve which had been before extinct, that they might live till the day of judgment, as God does, in disembodied spirit, when they should be judged in the flesh by the resurrection of their bodies, 1 Pet. iii. 19; iv. 9; John v. 24, 25, 26; xi. 23—26, which action, He, as the Sun of Righteousness rising from the East, is represented, under the figure of sealing, as performing, when he makes up the number of his Firstfruits, Rev. vii. 2 ; xiv. 145. It has indeed been imagined, that our Lord has given the strongest sanction that could be desired to the doctrine of an intermediate state as existing before his coming, in bis celebrated
answer to the Sadducees concerning the resurrection, Matt. xxii. 23–33; Luke xx. 27–38; Mark xii. 18– 27; but it will be clearly seen, that his answer did not in the least allude to it. The Sadducees appear evidently to have denied not only the fact, but the bare possibility, not of an intermediate state, but of the resurrection, and they attempted to shew its impossibility by its improbability. Our Lord refutes them on the score of improbability, and proceeds to shew its possibility from a simple text of one of the Books of Moses, “ Ye do err," says he, “not knowing the Scriptures, nor the POWER of God—Now that the dead are," i, e, can be “raised," as POWER evidently implies, “even Moses shewed at the bush,when he calleth the LORD, the God of Abrahan, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not the God of the dead but of the living; for all live by him (aŭrq)” i. e. “ for God does not consist in being God of men, when they are dead, but when they are alive, as he is their Creator and Preserver, for all live by him, and consequently can live again by him,” which instead of proving the reality of an intermediate state would rather disprove it, as God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, i.e. has nothing more to do with them when they are no longer alive, the very sentiment which the Psalmist long ago gave utterance to, Ps. lxxxviii. 4, 5. But to say that Moses taught the doctrine of an intermediate state is to contradict the Scriptures, which affirm that “ life and immortality were brought to light by the Gospel,” 2 Tim. i. 10, that “the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did." Heb. vii, 19. It is true that the Jews believed in an intermediate state before Christ came; but it was not the evangelical but the heathen doctrine, or a vague tradition improved by their Babylonish captivity; and this,
from being nearly universally prevalent at the time of our Lord's coming, has ever since swallowed up the evangelical and true doctrine. The Heathens believed that the immortality of the soul was natural and necessary, whereas the Scripture doctrine is, that the soul lost its immortality by the Fall, and regained it entirely through Christ's merits. For “this is the record, that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath Strange would it have been if the curse of death fell only upon the body of man, the mere instrument of his disobedience, while the soul, the agent, escaped, on repentance, in endless felicity. And inconceivable would it have been, that if the soul could have preserved its immortality in anticipation of Christ's atonement, the body could not have preserved its immortality as well, and the payment of the debt by our Lord be removed at an infinite distance of time, i.e. never payed. But God, willing to shew bis power, may possibly have thought fit to recreate the soul in a separate state,as well as afterwards to unite it to a recreated body. The translation of Enoch and Elias to heaven indeed might afford an indirect objection to the above views, if we were certain, that their ascent was any thing more than a symbolical prophecy of a future state and resurrection, and that their bodies did not dissolve after they had answered this purpose. And the appearance of Moses and Elias on the mount of transfiguration would also afford perhaps another objection, if we were certain that those glorious personages were literally Moses and Elias, or only after a figurative sense in somewhat the same way as John the Baptist was Elias. The apparition of Samuel to Saul also, if we were certain
that it was any thing more than a phantom of the imagination, would prove another objection. That the ancient Jews had an idea of an intermediate state, and perhaps, a popular belief ofone, may be safely admitted without detriment to the argument; because neither the idea nor the popular belief could of themselves prove the reality, when not sanctioned by the inspired writers. It may be granted too that the prophets might have adorned their inspired poems with the popular belief, as in the case of Isaiah in his poetical fiction of the meeting of the King of Babylon in Hades with the mighty dead; for this was the manner of our Lord himself who also made use of the popular belief, as for instance, in his parable in which Abraham's bosom is introduced, where the Jews fabled all the good were laid. But in all these cases we adhere to the Scripture testimony, that Jesus Christ alone“ abolished death," which according to the context plainly alludes to the soul's immortality, and that “ life and immortality were brought to light by the Gospel.” Some may pretend that the texts, we have adduced in support of the position, that the soul's immortality in an intermediate state was the consequence of, and subsequent to our Lord's coming, allude only to the soul's immortality on the resurrection of the body, or the immortal state of both body and soul at the resurrection; but the bare reading of the texts already quoted will shew that immortality, and the resurrection are both new and distinct gifts, and that the former precedes the latter, John vi. 27, 54, 40; v. 24–29; xi. 23-26; viii. 51– 53; xii. 25; Matth. xvi. 24-28; in the second of which passages the distinction between the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body to eternal life, as new gifts arising from a belief in Christ, is vividly
marked, and in the fifth the keeping of one's life unto life eternal in consequence of hating it for the Lord's sake, which explains the fourth and the sixth, is very strong.
6. The Second Death. I do not wish to be wise above what is written, for the secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but I wish to be wise in what is written, and those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children for ever. And from what is written, it appears exceedingly strange to me, that the doctrine of eternal torments, which seems to be expressed in such strong and unequivocal language in the Gospel, Mark ix. 43–48; Luke xvi. 23; Matt. xxv. 41, should be suffered to be so materially weakened in the Revelations as to signify nothing more than an eternal destruction.
yet the Revelations, contain the last inspired charge of our Lord to his church, when it might be supposed, that his true sentiments upon the subject would be distinctly and strongly stated. In the Revelations two symbolical characters, the Beast and the False Prophet,which rather represent systems or offices than persons, are consigned to a lake of fire, and they are there tormented for ever and ever, Rev. xix. 20; xx. 10. What can be the meaning of an office, or system, or a character being tormented for ever and ever? If by being cast into a lake of fire, is meant their being put an end to, and their being tormented for ever and ever, that their memory is branded with everlasting infamy, the phrase may be intelligible. Death and Hades too, which represent states, meet their fate also in the lake of fire. They are then put an end to, and the memory of them also must then be stamped with everlasting infamy. But shall we also in such excessively metaphorical company as this, cast those not written in the book of life into the same lake of destruction, as though they also were put an end