Page images

In that state, the expectation formed by the departed spirits, of a superior glory yet to come, was termed in the most eminent sense, the hope of Israel; and this arose from the promise of God made while life was. In death this hope lived, and went with the soul to the invisible state. This the apostle Paul asserts in the most express manner, when he says, "that it enters within the veil." The object of this hope, as being future, and not yet obtained, is said to lie in full prospect before them. Heb. vi. 18.

This state, the schoolmen consider as only a step towards perfection, and a part of the way already gone over. In the journey to immortality, it is one advance or stage gained; but that height of glory to which man is destined to arise, is when the individual is made complete at the resurrection.

[ocr errors]

Human nature created by God, and consisting of two parts, had happiness proposed as its chief end. The end, however, of one of the two, is not the end of the whole, but God created the whole man. The resurrection is the period when God will fully justify to man the appellation of calling himself his God. Hence it is, that Christ refers his disciples to the resurrection, as the period of reward; and St. Paul says, that "we must all be made manifest before the judgment.

[blocks in formation]

seat of Christ, in order to receive,* through the medium of the body, the following (ta) whether happiness or misery, according to the life led upon earth." So it is expressed in the Revelations, Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead that they should be raised, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants, the prophets and to the saints." Hence the apostle just now mentioned, speaks of the crown of righteousness as being, at death, laid up for him.

It is not given us to know what plan infinite wisdom would have pursued in its provision for human happiness, had man stood his time of probation. There would have been no diminishing of the species by death. In this way, by the addition of generation to generation, the world would soon have been overstocked, and the Deity must have taken some other method to dispose of them who were seniors upon earth, in order that the latter classes might have scope to pass their earthly day, until they, like those who preceded them, should, in their turn, be moved to another region; for some have been of opinion, that in this state of things, men would have been translated visibly from this lower to a higher abode. Friends would

*"Through the medium of the body," a phrase expressive of the resurrection. That each one may receive these through the medium of the body, in proportion to what he hath done, whether it be happiness, or whether it be misery. 2 Cor. v. 10.



have been then summoned to take the pleasant farewell: no tear would fall, but the tear of joy; and the language would have been, "in a little we will see you again."

The Jewish Rabbins have a conceit that Adam, before he fell, had not given him that immortality, which, after the resurrection, renders the body incapable of death: that the food which he took implied this, in as much as it was intended to supply the daily waste to which his body was subjected; but that God had blessed him with such an equal temperature of constitution, that while he made the will of his Creator his rule of life, life was continued; that after he rebelled, by indulging the bodily appetites, beyond the limits appointed, and was entangled in the things of earth, he departed from that equality of temperament, and became obnoxious to death.*

When death, by sin, entered into the world, the cunning tempter might flatter himself that the disappearing of the human species from the face of the earth, was a blotting out for ever from the book of existence, the fairest part of this lower creation, but the intermediate state swallows up this flood which the dragon threw out of his mouth. What he might deem annihilation, is only a tem

* At postquam rebellasset, affectibus corporeis indulgens, rebusque materialibus implicitus fuisset, exiisse à temperamenti equalitate morti facile obnoxium factum. Pocockii Miscel. p. 200.

[blocks in formation]

porary separation of the two constituent parts of


From the page of inspiration we learn, that this enemy of man, and his fellow spirits, are kept in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day. Now, interpreting this darkness in analogy to the nature of spirit, we may view it as expressive of that profound ignorance in which they are kept with respect to the works of God- their progress and final tendency; and that the little which they are permitted to know, cannot so far alter their state, but that they are still in darkness. To spirits of a superior nature, this situation must be very painful, in as much as we find that the happiness of the blessed angels consists in comprehending the works of the Creator; every new display filling them with joy, and alJuring them on to make farther discoveries. On the other hand, the apostate angels might, on the subject of man, search and reason, and “find no end in wandering mazes lost." Ignorant of those refreshments and comforts which await happy souls in Paradise, they might imagine that death, instead of being, as in fact it is, the gate of life, is a termination of existence. Sin then, as originating from the advice they suggested, was the root of death; and death gave rise to the intermediate state, or the shadow of the hand of God, the temporary retreat of happy souls, out of which


they are to come at the period of manifestation, when their righteousness shall appear as the light, and their judgment as the noon day."

By the introduction of sin into the world, the whole creation was subjected to vanity; and this, of whatever inconveniences it might be the occasion to various orders of beings, contributed its share in ripening things, and preparing them for the final result intended by eternal wisdom. The creature, or rather creation (ktisis) we are told, Roma 58.19-23 did not willingly submit to this arrangement, but was forced to bend its neck to the yoke. To an eye confined merely to earth, all things were to ap'pear to be vain. By vanity, understanding, in general, such a change in the state of the world, as that things in their duration and purposes are detorted from their primary end, and sunk to some degrading and inferior use. While the period of mortality lasts, it is, abstracted from eternal concerns, to be the period of shadows; when vegetables and animals, the instant they appear, are to hasten back to the womb from whence they sprung, and when the noblest exertions of man, eternity out of the question, are to resemble the coruscations of the lightening-meeting the view with their momentary brightness, and then are gone for ever. Such a state, Solomon calls vanity; and St. Paul, the bondage of corruption.

« PreviousContinue »