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Ps. Ixxiii. 24, 26. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory: Aly flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. In these verses, receiving to glory, seems inmediately to follow a guidance through this world ; and when the flesh and heart of the Psalmist should fail him in death, God continued to be bis portion for ever, God would receive him to himself as such a portion, and thereby he gave strength, or courage to his heart, even in a dying hour. It would be a very odd and unnatural exposition of this text, to interpret it only of the resurrection, thus,
thou shalt guide me, by thy counsel, through this life, and, after the long interval of some thousand years, thou wilt receive me to glory.'
Ec. xii. 7. “ Then shall the dust return to the earth, as it was, and the spirit to God that gave it.” It is confessed, the word spirit, in the Hebrew, is the same with breath, and is represented, in some places of scripture, as the spring of animal life to the body : Yet it is evident, in many other places, the word spirit signifies the conscious principle in man, or the intelligent being, which knows and reasons, perceives and acts. The scripture speaks of being grieved in spirit ; Is. liv. 6. of rejoicing in spirit ; Luke x. 21. The spirit of a man knoweth the things of a man; 1 Cor. ii. 11. There is a spirit in man; that is, a principle of upderstanding ; Job xxxii. 8. And this spirit, both of the wicked and the righteous, at death, returns to God; Ec. xii. 7. to God, who, as I hinted before, is the judge of all the world of spirits, probably to be further deterınined and disposed of, as to its state of reward or punishment.
Is. lvii. 2. The righteous is taken away from the evil to some, he shall enter into peace, they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.
The soul of every one, that walketh uprightly, shall, at death, enter into a state of peace, wbile their body rests io the bed of dust.
Luke ix. 30, 31. And behold there talked with him; that is, with Jesus, two men, which were Moses and Elias, who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease, which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. I grant it possible, that these might be but inere visions, which appeared to our blessed Saviour, and his apostles. But it is a much more natural and obvious interpretation, to suppose, that the spirits of these two great men, whereof one was the institutor, and the other the reformer of the Jewish cburch, did really appear to Christ, who was the reformer of the world, and the institutor of the christian church, and converse with him about the important event of his death, and his return to heaven. Perhaps, the spirit of Elijah had his heavonly body with him there, since he never died, but was carried alive to heaven ; but Moses gave up his soul, at the call of
God, when no man was near him, and his body was buried by God himself. See 2 Kings ii. 11. and Deut. xxxiv. 1, 5, 6. and his spirit was probably made visible only by an assuined vehicle for that purpose. Jolin v. 24. " Whoso heareth
my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, is passed from death to life :" John vi. 47, 50, 51. “ This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever.” John xi. 28. « Whoso liveth, and believeth in me, shall never die :" To
be added the words of Christ to the woman of Samaria ; John iv. 14. “ The water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life." I John v. 12. “ He that hath the Son, hath life, &c.” The argument I draw from these scriptures, is this. It is hardly to be supposed, that our Saviour, in this gospel, and John, in his first epistle, imitating him, should speak such strong language concerning eternal life, actually given to, and possessed by the believers of that day, if there must be an interruption of it by total death, or sleep, both of soul and body, for almost two thousand years, that is, till the resurrection.
Acts vii. 9. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Those who deny a separate state, suppose that Stephen, here, commits his spirit, or principle of human life, into the hands or care of Christ, bea cause the life of a saint is said to be hid with Christ in God: Col. iii. 3, 4, that he might restore it at the resurrection, and raise him to life again. But, I think, this is an unnatural force put upon these words, contrary to their most obvious meaning, if we consider the context: for Stephen here had a vision of the Son of man, or Christ Jesus, standing at the right hand of God, and the glory of God near him: see verses 55, 56. Whereupoo Stephen, being conscious of the existence of Christ in that glorious state, desired, that he would receive his spirit, and take it to dwell with him in his Father's house : not to lie and sleep in heaven, for there is no night there, but to behold the glory of Christ, according to the many promises that Christ had made to his disciples, that he would go and prepare a place for them in his Father's house, and that they should be with him there to behold his glory; John xiv. 3. and xvii. 24. which I shall have occasion to speak of afterward.
Rom. viii. 10, 11. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteous. ness ; that is, if Christ dwell in you, by the sanctifying influences of his spirit ; it is true indeed, your body is mortal, and must die, because it is doomed to death, from the fall of Adam, on the account of sin, and because sinful principles still dwell in this fleshly body; but your soul or spirit is life, or, as some copies read (on instead of Sun, your spirit lives when the body is dead, and enjoys a life of tappiness, because of the righteousness imputed to you; that is, your justification unto life; Rom. v. 17, 18, 21. I know there are several other ways of construing the words of this verse by metaphors ; but the plain and most natural antithesis, which appears here between the death of the body of a saint, because of sin or guilt, and the continuance of the spirit, or soul, in a life of peace, because of justification, or righteousness, and that even when the body is dead, gives a pretty clear proof, that this is the sense of the apostle. This is also further confirmed by the next verse, which promises the resurrection of the dead body in due time. If the Spirit of hin, that raised up Christ from the dead, dwell in you; he that raised up Christ from the dead, that is, God the Father, shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by his Spirit, that dwelleth in you. The spirit, or soul of the saint, lives without dying, because of its pardon of sin, and justification, and sanctification, in the tenth verse; and the body, not the spirit or soul, shall be quickened, or raised to life again, by the blessed Spirit of God, which dwells in the saints, verse 11.
2 Cor. v. 1, 2. “ For we know, that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we huve a building of God, a house, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan earnestly, desiring to be clothed upon with our house, which is from heaven. Verse 4. Ile, in this tabernacle, groun being burdened, not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.” It is evident, that this house from heaven, this building of God, is something, which is like the clothing of a soul divested of this earthly tabernacle, verses 1, 2. or it is the clothing of the whole person, body and soul, which would abrogate the state of mortality, and swallow it up in life, verse 4. For though in verse 4. the apostle supposcs, that the soul doth not desire the death of the body, or that itself should be unclothed, and, therefore, be would rather chuse to have this state of blessed immortality superinduced on his body and soul, at once, without dying ; yet, in the first versc, he plainly means such a bouse in, or from heaven, or such a clothing, which may come upon the soul iin. mediately, as soon as the earthly house, or tabernacle of his body is dissolved. And how dubious soever this may appear to those, who read the chapter only thus far, yet the 8th verse, which supposes good men to be present with Christ, when abscot froin the body, determines the sense of it, as I have explained it; of which hereafter.
Perhaps, it is hard to determine, whether this superinduced clothing be like the shekinah, or visible glory, in which Christ,
Moses, and Elias appeared at the transfiguration, and which some suppose to have belonged to Adam in innocency; or whether it signify only a state of happy immortality, superinduced, or brought in upon the departing soul at death, or upon the soul and body united, as in this life, and with which those saints shall be clothed, who are found alive at the coming of Christ, according to 1 Cor. xv. 52–54. which will not kill the body, but swallow up
its mortal state in immortal life.
Let this matter, I say, be determined either way, yet the great point seems to be evident, even beyond probability, that there is a couscious being spoken of, which is very distinct from its tabernacle, or house, or clothing, and which exists still, whaterer its clothing, or its dwelling be, or whether it be put off, or put on; and that when the earthly house, or vesture, is dissolved, or put off, the heavenly house, or clothing, is ready at hand to be put on immediately, to render the soul of the christian fit to be present with the Lord.
2 Cor. xii. 2, 3. “I knew a man in Christ, above fourteen years ago, whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell, God knoweth : how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words.” I grant, this ecstasy of the apostle, does not actually shew the existence of a separate state, after death, till the resurrection; yet it plainly manifests St. Paul's belief, that there might be such a state, and that the soul might be separated from the body, and might exist, and think, and know, and act in paradise, in a state of separation, and hear, and perhaps, converse in the unspeakable language of that world, while it was absent from the body.
And, as I acknowledge, I am one of those persons, who do not believe, that the intellectual spirit, or mind of man, is the proper principle of animal life to the body, but that it is another distinct conscious being, that generally uses the body as a habitation, engine, or instrument, while its animal life remains; so I am of opinion it is a possible thing, for the intellectual spirit, in a miraculous manner, by the special order of God, to act, in a state of separation, without the death of the animal body, since the life of the body depends upon breath, and air, and the regular temper and motion of the solids and fluids of which it is composed*. And St. Paul seems here to be of the same mind, by his doubting, whether his spirit was in the body, or out of the body, while it was rapt into the third heaven, and enjoyed this vision, his body being yet alive.
* It would be thought, perlaps, a litele foreign to my present purpose, if I should stay here to prove, that it is not the conscious principle in man that gives or maintains the animal lite of his body. It is granted, that, according to the course of oature, and the general appointment of God therein, this conscious principle, or spirit, continues its communicatiocs with the body, while the body has animal life, or is capable of its natural motions, and able to obey the volitions of the spirit; and on this account, the upion of a rational spirit to the body, and the animal life of the body, are often represented as one and the same thing.
But if we enter into a philosophical consideration of things, we should respember, that animals of every kind, in earth, air, and sea, and even the minu. test ipsects, which swarm in millions, and worlds of them, which are invisible to the oaked eye, have all ao animal life, but no such couscious or thinking prip'ciples as is in map : Aod why may not the body of man hare the same sort of apimal life quite distinct from the conscious spirit ?
Phil. i. 21. “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." The apostle, whilst he was here upon earth, spent his life in the service of Christ, and enjoyed many glorious commu. nications from him. “ For him to live was Christ.” And, on this account, he was contented to continue here in life longer: yet he is well satisfied, that death would be an advantage or gain to him. Now we can hardly suppose, what gain it would be for St. Paul to die, if his soul immediately went to sleep, and became, unactive and unconscious, while his body lay in the grave, and neither soul nor body could do any service for Christ, or receive any communications from him till the great risingday. This text seems to carry the argument above a mere probability.
1 Thess. iv. 14. “ For if we believe, that Jesus died, and rose again, even so them also, which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him.” The most natural and evident sense of these words, is this, that when the man Jesus Christ, in whom dwells the fulness of the godhead, shall descend from heaven, in order to raise the dead bodies of those that died, or went to sleep in the faith of Christ, God dwelling in him will bring with him the souls of his saints, who were in paradise, down to earth, to be re-united to their bodies, when Jesus raises them from the dead, of which the apostle speaks in the 6th verse: This, I say, is the most natural and obvious sense; other paraphrases of the words seem strained and upnatural.
1 Thess. v. 10.“ Jesus Christ, who died for us, that when ther we wake or sleep, we should live together with him." Sleep is the death of good men, in the language of the apostle, in chapter iv. verses 13-15. and sleep, in this verse, can neither signify natural sleep, as verse 7. nor spiritual sloth, as verse 6. therefore it must signify death here. Now they, who are asleep in Christ, in this sense, do still live together with himn in their
Besides, if this cooscious principle give life to the body, medicines and phy. sicians, whose power reaches only to rectify the disordered solids or fluids of the body, would not be so necessary to preserve life, as an orator to persuade the spirit to coptioue in the body, and preserve its life. And, accordingly, we read of foreign ignorant aations, where the kindred persuade the dying person to live, and tarry with them, and not to forsake them ; and, when the person is dead, they mours and reprove bim, “Why were ye so unkind to leave and forsake us ?is And icdeed tbis conduct of those poor savages is a very vatural inference from their supposition of the intelligent spirit giving animal life to the body.