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The Sabbatism of the People of God.
Therefore there remaineth (Sabbatismos) a rest for the people of God. Heb. iv. 9.
IN shewing that this sabbatism, or rest, refers entirely to the intermediate abode of souls, it will be necessary to take a view of the different senses which are usually affixed to the word. Some viewing it as expressing a rest here; some, as taking place in a state of glory. These two opinions claim a separate discussion.
From the second, as denoting that rest which is to succeed to the resurrection, the worthy and learned Dr. Owen dissents, and for this dissent he assigns the following reasons: 1st. That the rest here set forth is peculiar to the times of the gospel. 2d. That here is an antithesis, not between the rest to be enjoyed by the Israelites in Canaan, and that in the supreme state of glory, but between the former and that which is now enjoyed under the times of the gospel. 3dly. That the apostle's words evince that this rest was a thing to be enjoyed at present. In support of these positions, he quotes a variety of passages from both testaments, and to the whole subjoins the following
temark: "The rest here intended, is that whereof the land of Canaan was a type: but there were no types of heaven absolutely as a future state of glory, but both the land and all the institutions to be observed in it were types of Christ. Our apostle, indeed, declares, that the most holy place in the tabernacle and temple did represent and figure out heaven itself, or the holy places not made with hands. But then heaven is not considered as the place of eternal happiness and glory to them that die in the Lord, but as the place where the gospel worship of believers is celebrated and accepted, under the conduct and ministration of our high Priest, which office ceaseth when his saints are brought into glory."
We now attend to the second opinion, which is, that this rest is the state which succeeds to the resurrection.
Three considerations utterly forbid understanding it in this sense; the original word sabbatismos; the nature of the intermediate typical rests; and the future condition of the glorified body.
1st. The original term denotes an entire cessation or suspension of certain acts, which, after a limited interval, are to be entered upon again. Cessation is a relative term, and while it expresses a period of intermittency, tacitly intimates a season approaching, when powers and faculties that have lain dormant, are to be resuscitated, and of a new brought
brought into action. It cannot extend through an endless state of being, because the very term, rest from, is, in its signification, linked to exertions which are to be taken up again, although on a vastly superior scale. Evidence of this arises from the very nature of the antient types. A sabbath, a year of jubilee, had their known period when they terminated, and when labours from which men had ceased, were to be re-assumed.
Disciplinary labours, such as repentance, mortification, self-denial, will never be re-assumed, because men will for ever be freed from that which rendered these labours disciplinary; i.e. the body mortal, obnoxious to sin, and loaded with infirmities. The resurrection will completely extirpate from the body the law of sin, as implying desires in opposition to the will of the Creator, and establish on an eternal basis the law of the mind.
The very bodies which are then to be giventheir matter and structure, all bespeak a state of the utmost activity. Unquestionably the different functions of that sublime and glorious state of existence, will be performed with inconceivable ease and agility; nevertheless this cannot be termed rest, or cessation, but to the total subversion of all meaning in language. Even on earth, happiness, such as it is, springs not from rest, but from action. The former, indeed, is sweet to the wearied
wearied out body, and necessary to recruit the exhausted spirits; but no sooner is this accomplished, than the Being pines to be in action again. This is the very constitution of nature. Life and action pervade the whole universe. The heavenly bodies are perpetually revolving. The seasons are unceasing in their succession. Day and night mutually protrude each other. On earth there is no space unoccupied. Myriads of inhabitants glide through the waters, people the sun-beams, or fill the green leaf. The winter is the sabbath of the year, when the seeds of things lie inactive, and the juices of the tree sleep in the root. The approach of spring proclaims a termination of this rest, when bodies, according to their different natures, awake to their several energies. In all bodies, full of life and health, the pleasure arising from action greatly transcends that which is experienced in a state of cessation. To this every living creature will give testimony, from the scarce visible insect, to the bright seraph of heaven.
In conducting to perfection the race of man, eternal Wisdom, it would seem, has appointed three œconomies. The first, the œconomy of sense and external organs, with a scanty, yet, for the present state, sufficient measure of light and knowledge. The second, that of affection and the intellectual life, with much superior light
light and knowledge, yet still imperfect and incomplete. The third, that which is to take place at the last day, and which will embrace the two former œconomies of external organs and inward affections, but these now raised to the highest pitch of their destined perfection.
At the resurrection, the body will be raised in power, in contradistinction to its having been laid down in weakness, and this pro suo modulo will resemble Christ's glorious body; and, for any thing we know, may be formed of matter, lucid, vivid, volatile, obedient to the command of the soul, pervading other bodies, capable of being expanded or condensed, of being made visible or invisible at pleasure.
That hitherto unknown happiness, which is to commence upon the resurrection of the body, will not be rest or cessation, but will arise from the sublime and perfect exertions of the glorified body, and from the powers of mind exercising their endless energies on every object which infinite Wisdom may see meet to bring within the reach.
The very term body in itself implies action, and not rest. For what is body but a system of organs, fitly framed together, in order to be applied to a variety of acts? Admitting that all these may be done without any thing like lassitude or weariness, still it would be a contradiction in terms to