Imágenes de páginas

d&ad?" This, then, was the express object of their hope: and why? not because they had learned it of one another, till it grew into a national persuasion; but because it was promised} of God unto their fathers, the Patriarchs and their posterity. Therefore, the promises made to them, however worded, and however carnally misunderstood, in ancient or modern times, •were promises which included the hope of another life, and the resurrection of the dead. This agrees exactly with our Saviour's interpretation of the promise in the text. The God of life, the God of the spirits of all flesh, calls himself the God of the father* of Israel, when they were laid in their graves.; and Moses reported this to shew* that the dead are raised: in as much as the God of spirits, that is, the God of the living (for all spirits live) can have no relation with the dead, but as still living in spirit, and preserved unto life eternal in body also. With this text^ we read that the Sadducees were put to silence, and the multitude were astonished at the doctrine. The Sadducees were impudent and obstinate; but the case was too plain to be resisted; and the promise of life was recognized by the people with wonder and delight.

I may instance, again, in that passage of Ezekiet, chap, xxxvii. where the resurrection of dry bones into a multitude of living people, is used by the prophet, as a sign, to assure the Jews, then in captivity, that they should be restored to their own land. For this passage shews, it was a doctrine universally known to them, that the dead should be raised out of their graves. It was not written to teach them the doctrine of the resurrection at that time, but to build upon it, as a thing known and allowed amongst them. There is a plain reason in all language, why the sign should be better known than the thing signified. Here, the thing unknown to the poor desponding Jews, was their deliverance from captivity; the resurrection of the dead from their graves, is the sign and pledge to assure them thereof. The God, who, according to his promise, was engaged to bring them from the last and greatest captivity under the power of death, would bring them out of the land in which they were then held in bondage: and as they believed the one already, they might thence be induced to believe the other, when the prophet Ezechiel informed them of it, in terms borrowed from the resurrection of the body. The hope of Israel was then in the promise of a resurrection : this was in all times the general persuasion of the Jews, to whom Moses had shewed it: and none but the worst of heretics disputed it, who disputed every thing. How comes it then to have been imagined, that the people of God, while under the law, looked only for temporal promises 2 The seventh article of our church is strongly pointed against this error; therefore it had made its appearance soon after the Reformation. And, I am sorry to say it, one of our most learned divines, whose sermons are deservedly in great repute, hath affirmed in plain words, that the people, and even the priests of the Jews, did not know so much of the immortality of the soul, as the heathen philosophers did *. And another of later

* See Luke x.%, 37.

* “As to evident discovery concerning the immortality of man's soul, or the future state (so material a point of religion, of so great moment and influence upon practice) even the Gentile theology (assisted by ancient common tradition) seems to have outgone the Jewish, grounding upon their revealed law; the Pagan priests, more expressly taught, inore frequently inculcated


times built a grand argument for the divine authority of Moses on the supposition, that the doctrine of a future state is not to be found in his writings!

Here, then, is a very strange and shocking opposition between the doctrine of Christ and his apostles, and some of our celebrated reasoners of modern times. Christ saith, Moses shewed that the dead are raised: Paul say3, he taught nothing but what Moses taught *, and that the resurrection of the dead was the hope of Israel: while some of later times say, Moses has purposely omitted the doctrine of a future state; and that even the priests of the Jews knew little or nothing about the immortality of the soul and a future life. It is our misfortune, that for four generations past, a.strange degree of inadvertency with respect to the -sense of God's promises, and the language of his law, hath been stealing upon us; since the new schemes of human religion have been invented, and have found so many admirers. I have therefore determined to examine the Scripture by the light of the Scripture, and see what it delivers to us on the immortality of the soul, the world of spirits, the resurrection of the dead, and the rewards of the faithful after death.

Our best method will be to suppose the negative; that the immortality of the soul, and the world of spirits, and a reward after death, were not taught in the law of Moses, and then to compare this with the Scripture. .,

arguments drawn from thence, than the Hebrew prophets: a plain instance and argument of the imperfection of this religion." See Dr. Barrow's Sermons on the imperfection of the Jewish Religion. Such a remark, from a man of such judgment and learning, and good intentions as Dr. Barrow, must be considered as a symptom, that we were falling into times, when the spirit of the Old Testament should be less understood than formerly: and accordmgly it was strangely misrepresented by Spencer, Warbiirton, Middleton, and others: while Stanhope, and many writers of his class, asserted the doctrine which I am defending in this discourse. * Acts xxvi. 12.

Is it not then very strange, to say, that the immortality of the soul is not taught in the law of Moses, when the Bible begins with it? what was the tree of life in Paradise? It was not the tree of natural life; for this man had already; and every other tree in the garden would support it; therefore it was the tree of spiritual life; that is, of a sort of life which admits of no death: and when man was debarred from the use of it, the reason given is, lest he should take of it and live for ever. What is it to live for ever? it is to be immortal: therefore, the immortality of the soul is one of the first doctrines of the Scripture. What did man gain by eating the forbidden fruit! Mortality. What then did he lose? Immortality. Therefore it is the doctrine of Moses that man was intended for immortality; and that his mortality was an accident, occasioned by the entrance of sin. The word life, in many places of the law, can mean nothing but eternal life. What else can it signify, when it is applied to God? '"as I live, saith the Lord."'—And when it is told the people by Moses that God is their life, and the length of their days, (Deut. xxx. 20.) nothing can be understood but a divine life, no days but the days of eternity; as when it is said, that Christ is our life (in the other Testament) it means, according to his own sense, I am the resurrection and the life—and again, because I live, ye shall live also. The reason of the thing is the same in both Testaments, for the life of God must be eternal; and there is to mortal man, whose life here is a shadow, no length of days but by the resurrection from the dead. VOL. iv. N

Let us next suppose, that the Jews under the law had no knowledge of another invisible world of spirits. How could this possibly be, when people, in the times described in the historical part of the law, had a nearer intercourse with heaven than we have now? God himself, the head and father of the world of spirits, was visibly known to Adam, to Abraham, to Jlfoses. The host of angels, the inhabitants of the invisible world, were personally revealed to the Holy Patriarchs. We read, {Gen. xxxii.) that Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him: and when Jacob saw them, he said, this is God's host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim: which means the encampment of an army, on account of their number. Before this, a visionary ladder was shewn to the same Patriarch, on which angels ascended and descended, to signify that there is a communication between heaven and earth. This was the immediate sense of the vision; and must have been inferred from it: hut its full accomplishment is in the Person of the Son of God, the living way, on whom hereafter the angels of God will be seen ascending and descending as in Jacob's vision.

That there is in this world of spirits an evil being, the enemy of God and man, is taught in the history of the fall; and the name of a serpent is given to him; a name much more instructive than that of the devil or sat an; because the name of a serpent gives us his whole character at once. That the serpent was not a real, but a figurative one, is evident from his having the gift of speech: as from his argument, it appears, that he was a Iyer; and from his act, that he was a murderer from the beginning.

Let us next suppose, that the rewards of faith and obedience, promised in the law of Moses, were merely

« AnteriorContinuar »