Billeder på siden

souls, and shall live with him in their bodies also, when raised from the dead. This exposition arises near to a certainty of evidence.

1 Pet. iii. 18-20. “ Christ was put to death in the flesi, but quickened by the Spirit, by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison, which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Nouh.I confess this is a text that has much puzzled interpreters, in what sense Christ may be said to go and preach to those ancient rebels, who were destroyed by the flood; whether he did it by his Spirit working in Nosh, the preacher of righteousness, io those days; or whether in the three days in which the body of Christ lay dead, his soul visited the spirits of those rebels, in their separate state of imprisonment, on which some ground the notion of his descent into hell : But, let this be determined as it will, the most clear and easy sense of the apostle, when he speaks of the spirits in prison is, that the souls of those rebels, after their bodies were destroyed by the flood, were reserved in prison for some special and future design : And this is very parallel to the present circumstances of fallen angels in Jude, verse 6. “ 'The angels, that kept pot their first estate, he hath reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day:" And why may not the spirits of men be as well kept, in such a prison, as angelic spirits ?

Jude, verse 7. “ Sodom and Gomorrah are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.It is evident, that the material fire, which destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, was not eternal; for a great lake of water quickly overflowed, and now covers all that plain, where the fire was kindled, which burned down those cities. It is manifest also, that the day of resurrection, and future punishment, being not yet come, they do not, at this time, suffer the vengeance of eternal fire in their bodies : Nor can this verse, I think, be well explained, to make Sodom and Gomorrah an example to deter pre

, sent singers from uncleanness, but by allowing, that the spirits of those lewd persons are now suffering a degree of vengeance, or punishment, from the justice of God, which is compared to that fire. whereby their cities and their bodies were burned, and which vengeance, at the last great day, shall continue their punishment, and pronounce it eternal, or kindle material fire, which shall never be quenched.

The last text I shall mention is ; Rev. vi. 9." I saw under the altar, the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.” I confess this is a book of visions, and this place, amongst others, might be explained as a mere vision of the apostle, if there were no other text, which confirmed the doctrine of a separate state : But; since I

think, there are some solid proofs of it in otber parts of the New Testament, I know not why this may not be explained, at least, something nearer to the literal sense of it, than those will allow who suppose the soul to sleep from death to the resurrection. Why inay not the spirits of the martyrs, which are now with God, pray him to hasten the accomplishment of his promises made to his church, and the day of vengeance upon his irreconcileable enemies? Sect. III.-Some firmer or more evident Proofs of a Separate

State. I come now to consider those texts, which do more expressly and certainly discover the separate state, and which, I ihink, cannot, with any tolerable appearance of reason, be turned aside from their plain and obvious intention, to reveal and declare, that there is a separate state of souls. And such, in my opinion, are these that follow.

1. Matt. x. 28. " Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him, who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.Every common reader, as well as every man of learning, who reads this text with a sincere mind, and without prejudice, I think, will acknowledge at Jeast, that the most obvious and easy sense of the words implies, that there is a soul in man, which men cannot kill, even though they kill the body.

It is to very little purpose of writers to say, that the Greek word fuxn, which we translate soul here, doth, in other places in scripture, and even in the 39th verse of this very chapter, signify life, and consequently here it may also signify the animal life, or the person of the man; for it is manifest, that in this place it must signify some immortal principle i man that cannot die; whereas, when the body is killed, the animal life dies too, and does not exist till the body is 'raised again : But the soul is a principle in this place, which men cannot kill, even though they destroy the life of the body : Anđ whatsoever other senses the word Iuxn, may obtain in other texts, that cannot preclude such a sense of it in this text, as is most usual in itself, and which the context makes necessary in this place.

Nor will it avail the supporters of the mortality of the soul to

say that this scripture means only, that men cannot kill the soul for ever so that it shall for ever perish, and have no future life hereafter by a resurrection : for, in this sense, men cannot kill the body, so that it shall never revive, or rise again : But here, is a plain distinction in the text, that the body may be killed, but the soul cannot. And I think this scripture proves also, that, though the body may be laid to sleep in the grave, yet the soul cannot be laid to sleep ; for the substance of the body still exists, and is not utterly destroyed by killing it, but only laid to sleep

for a time, as the scripture often describes death : But the soul cannot be thus laid to sleep for a time, with its substance still existing, for that would be to have no pre-eminence above the body, which is contrrry to this assertion of our Saviour.

II. Luke xvi. 22–28. The beggar died, and was carried by angels into Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died, and was buried, and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and said, father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to my fai her's house,—that he may testify to my brethren, lest they come also into this place of torment." I grant that this account of the rich man and the beggar, is but a parable, and yet it may prove the existence of the rich man's soul, in a place of torment, before the resurrection of the body.

1. Because the existence of souls, in a separate state, whilst other inen dwell here on earth, is the very foundation of the whole parable, and runs through the whole of it. The poor man died, and his soul was in paradise. The rich man's body was buried, and his soul was io liell, while his five brethren were here on earth, in a state of probation, and would not hearken to Moses and the prophets.

2. Because the very design of the parable is to shew, that a ghost sent from the other world, whether heaven or hell, to wicked men, who are here in a state of trial, will not be sufficient to convert them to holiness, if they reject the means of grace, and the ministers of the word. The very design of our Saviour seems to be lost, if there be no souls existing in a separate state. A ghost, sent from the other world, could never be supposed to bave any

influence to convert sinners in this world, even in a parable, if there were no such things as ghosts there. The rich man's five brethren could have no motive to hearken to a ghost, pretending to come from heaven or hell, if there were no such things as ghosts, or separate couls, either happy or miserable. Now, surely, if parables can prove any thing at all, they must prove these propositions, which are both the foundation, and the design of the whole parable.

3. I might add yet further, that it is strange, that our Sa. viour should should so particularly speak of angels carrying the soul of a man, whose body was just dead, ioto heaven, or paradise, which he calls Abraham's bosom ; if there were no such state, or place, as a heaven, for separate souls ; if Abraham's soal had no residence there, no existence in that state; if angels had never any thing to do in such an office. What would the Jews have said, or thought of a prophet come from God, who had taught his doctrines to the people in such parables, as had scarce any sort of foundation in the reality, or nature of things.

But you will say, the Jews had such an opinion current
Vol. VII.


among them, though it was a very false one, and that this was enough to support a parable: I answer, what could Christ, who is truth itself, have said more, or plainer, to confirm the Jews in this gross error of a separate state of souls, than to form a parable, which supposes this doctrine, in the very design and moral of it, as well as io tbe foundation and matter of it?

III. Luke xx. 37, 38. Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the buski, when he calleth the Lord, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, for he is not a God of the dead, but of the living; for all live unto him: Some learned men suppose, that the controversy between Christ and the Sadducees, in this place, was about the “ anastasis," which implies the whole state of existence after death, including both the separate state and the resurrection, because the Sadducees denied both these at once, and believed, that death finished the whole existence of the man. They denied angels and spirits ; Acts xxili. 8. that is, separate souls of men, and thought the rewards and pumishmenis mentioned in scripture related only to this life. Upon this account they suppose our Saviour's design is to prove the existence of persons or spirits in the separate state, as much as the resurrection of the body.

And when he says, that the Lord, or Jehovah, is described as the God of Abraham, &c. it supposes Abraham at the same time, to have actually some life and existence, in some state or other, for God is not a God of the dead, but of the living, for all that are dead; anid gone out of this world, still live unto God; that is, they have a present life, in the invisible world of spirits, as God is an invisible spirit, as well as they expect a resurrection of their body in due time. How could God, in the days of Moses, be called actually the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who were long since dead, if there was no sense in which they were now alive to God, since our Saviour declares, God is properly the God only of the living, and not of the dead? This part of the argument holds good, in whatsoever sense you construe the whole debate, and by whatsoever medium or connexion you prove the doctrine of the resurrection of the body; and this is obvious to the honest and unlearned reader, as well as to the Teu of learning

IV. Luke xxiii. 42, 43. And he, that is, the penitent thief upon the cross, said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom: And Jesus said unto him, verily I say unto thee, to-duy shalt thou be with me in paradise. The thief upon

the cross believed that Christ would enter into paradise, which he supposed to be Christ's kingdom, when he departed from this world, which was not his kingdom : And this he believed, partly according to the common sentiment of the Jews, colicerning good men at their death, as well as it is agree

able to our Saviour's own expressions to God ; John xvii. 11. Holy Father, I am no more in the world, and I come unto thee ; or, as lie said to his disciples ; Jolin xvi. 28. I leave the world, and go to the Father. ,

And, according to these expressions; Luke xxiii. 46. Christ dies with these words on his lips, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. Our Saviour taking notice of the repentance of the thief, acknowledging his own guilt, thus, We are justly under this condemnation, and receive the reward of our deeds, and taking notice also of his faith in the Messiah, as a king whose kingdom was not of this world, when he prayed, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. Christ, I say, taking notice of both these, answers him with a promise of much grace, Verily, I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in paradise. The use of the word paradise in scripture and amongst ancient writers, Jewish and christian, is to signify the happiness of holy souls in a separate state: And our Saviour entering into that state, at his death, declared to the dying penitent, that he should be, with him there imniediately. It is certain that by the word. paradise, St. Paul means the place of happy spirits, into which he was transported ; 2 Cor. xii. 4. And this sense is very accommodate, and proper to this expression of our Saviour, and to the prayer of the penitent thief, and it is as suitable to the design of Christ, in bis epistle to the church of Ephesus Rev. ii. 7. The tree of life in the midst of the paradise of God, which are the only three places where the New Testament uses this word.

I know there have been great pains taken to shew that the stops should be altered, and the comma should be placed after the word to-day, thus, I say unto thee to-day, thou shalt be with me in paradise, that is, some time or other hereafter. As though Christ meant no more than this, viz. “ Hiou askost me to renzember thee when I come into my kingdom: And I declare unto thee truly this very day, that some long time bereafter thou shalt be with me in happiness at thy resurrection, when my kingdom shall be just at an end, and I shall give it all up to the Father," as in 1 Cor. xv. 24. Can any one imagine this to be the meaning of oor blessed Saviour, in answer to this prayer of the dying penitent? I know also there are other laborious criticisnis to represent these words, to-duy, in other places of scripture as referring to some distant time, and not io incan that very day of twenty-four bours: But rather than enter into a long and critical die aie upon all those texts, I will venture to trust the sense of it in this place, with any sincere and unlearned reader.

But, if we consult the learner'. Dr. Vbitby will tell us, that it was a familiar phrase of the Jews, 10 xay on a just mau's

« ForrigeFortsæt »