Imágenes de páginas

$scheolo is Thou wilt show me the path of life.' In thy pre44 sence is fulness of joy; and at thy right hand are pleasures (5 for evermore. And again,

And again, “ As for me I will behold thy # face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with

thy likeness.” It is unnecessary to multiply quotations of this nature any farther; these passages are, perhaps, the most explicit of those which are occupied by this subject.

The same doctrine is also taught in the Old Testament by facts. Of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Aaron, and Moses, it is said, that they were gathered unto their people. This phrase has been frequently, perhaps commonly, supposed to mean, that the persons spoken of were buried with their kindred or ancestors. The supposition, however, is plainly erroneous. Neither Abraham, Ishmael, Aaron, nor Moses, weré buried with any of their kindred. Isaac and Jacob were buried with Abraham ; but it would be unintelligible language to say they were buried with their people. The word gathered in these passages, denotes being conveyed to the assembly of the bless edor In this manner it is used Job xxvii. 19.-" The rich man “shall lie down, but he shall not be gathered." In Psalm xxvi. 9.-"Gather not my soul with sinners ;” and probably in several other places. Of these persons, then, it is directly declared, that God conveyed them after death to the assembly of the blessed.

Of Enoch and Elijah it is also declared, that they did not die, but were translated while living to another and better world

Second, The doctrine of immortal life is, nevertheless, disclosed imperfectly even in these passages.

We, who are in full possession of the New Testament, look at the Old with eyes very different from those by which it was seen by the Jews. Enlightened, concerning this subject, by the very numerous and explicit declarations of the evangelical writers, we understand many passages, probably most, much more clearly than the Jews could understand them. A Jew; reading the passage quoted by our Saviour from the third chapter of Exodus, as a decisive proof of a future state; might, nei,

[ocr errors]

۰( و 5

11 ر 41

ther unnaturally nor improbably, have supposed it to mean thus : “ I am the God who revealed himself to Abraham, Isaac, “ and Jacob, and who, while they were living in this world, “ blessed them with many and extraordinary blessings.” In a manner not very dissimilar, might glosses be put upon the other passages which I have quoted in immediate connection with this, of such a nature, as to render the meaning, which seems to us so clear, much less obvious and certain · than it now seems, and in the end doubtful and indecisive. Perhaps, few of us would have thought this doctrine alleged by Christ in the passage quoted, had we not found it thus explained by this divine commentator.

Of the declarations concerning Enoch and Elijah it might be said, not unnaturally, that the manner of their exit from this world was a dispensation granted to them as a peculiar favour, on account of their pre-eminent piety. It might, therefore, be easily concluded, that, although they existed in a future state of being, other men, who were consigned to the grave, and became the prey of worms and corruption, would not be admitted to the same existence.

Probably the Sadducees and their followers, who constituted a considerable part of the Jewish nation, and were often men of high distinction for their understanding, construed these and other similar passages of the Old Testament in a manner not very unlike that which I have suggested. However this may have been; we know that all these Jews, although universally acknowledging the Scriptures of the Old Testament to be the Word of God, absolutely denied that they contained any evidence of a future state. It must undoubtedly be conceded, that such a fact would have been impossible, had the doctrine of immortal life been clearly contained in this part of divine revelation.

On the same grounds the celebrated Dr. Warburton has supposed, and laboriously endeavoured to prove, that the doctrine of a future state is not contained in the Old Testament. Had the revelation of this doctrine been as explicit in the Jewish as in the Christian Scriptures, it is unnecessary to say, this learned divine would never have even thought of such an opinion.

From these facts it must undoubtedly be conceded, that the disclosures concerning the future existence of mankind made in the Old Testament, were so far obscure and imperfect, as abundantly to vindicate the declaration of the text.

[blocks in formation]





2 TIMOTHY 1. 10.

But it is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour

Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.

From this passage of Scripture, after having endeavoured to settle the meaning of its terms, I asserted the following doctrine:

That Christ has, through the Gospel, clearly and strongly exhibited to mankind, in a manner unknown before, a future immortal life.

This doctrine I proposed to illustrate by a series of observations, under these three heads :

I. Immortal life was unknown to mankind by the investigations of reason.

II. It was imperfectly revealed in the Jewish Scriptures.

III. It is completely revealed, proved, and explained by Christ in the Gospel.

Under the first of these heads I observed

First, That in most countries the common people have believed the soul to be immortal, and to be rewarded or punished beyond the grave.

Second, That this doctrine has also been admitted by some philosophers.

Third, That these philosophers held very defective, and very erroneous opinions concerning this doctrine.

Under this head I particularly recited the opinions of Pythagoras, Plato, Socrates, and Cicero.

Fourth, That these philosophers supported their opinions on this subject with arguments which were unsatisfactory, even to themselves.

Fifth, That many sects of philosophers denied a future existence altogether.

Of these I mentioned Aristotle, and many of his followers ; the Stoics, Democritus, and Epicurus, and their followers; the Pyrrhonists; the New Academics ; Confucius, the Chinese philosopher, and his followers.

Sixth, That the reception of the doctrine, so far as it extended, was, in all probability derived from tradition, and not from philosophy.

Seventh, That the immortality which was actually believed was, in most respects, merely fanciful, and incapable of being received in the exercise of sober thought.

Eighth, That at the present time such a state, independently of revelation, is felt to be uncertain.

Under the second general head, viz. That the doctrine of immortal life was imperfectly revealed in the Jewish Scriptures, I observed

First, That this doctrine was actually revealed in these Scriptures.

In support of this assertion I quoted several passages from the Old Testament, in which I supposed to be as decisively, and probably more decisively, exhibited than in any other, Yet I observed

Second, And endeavoured to prove, that even in these passages it is imperfectly disclosed.

I will now proceed to the consideration of the third general head of discourse, proposed at that time, viz. That immortal life is completely revealed, proved, and explained by Christ in

the Gospel.

On this subject I observe-
First, This doctrine is declared, without any obscurity, in

« AnteriorContinuar »