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sends the spirit, when separated, to its destined
"I stop for a little to remark, that when the worthy men of old perceived the period of their dissolution approaching, the situation or place of their souls engrossed less of their thoughts than the person to whose keeping they were to be entrusted. The departure of the spirit is set forth in words expressive of no particular line of direction to any quarter. There is nothing said of ascending or descending, of before or behind, of the right-hand or the left. "This day," says Christ L.k. 23.43 to the malefactor, "thou shalt be with me in Paradise." The soul of Lazarus the beggar was carried by angels into Abraham's bosom. Paul was caught away to Paradise. The particle up, in our version, is merely a supplement, and having nothing corresponding to it in the original. St. Stephen at his death prays, "Lord Acts 7.59 Jesus receive my spirit." So St. Paul; "I desire Phil. 1.23. to depart and to be with Christ." So speaks Clemens Romanus; "The apostles Peter and Paul having suffered martyrdom, under the ruling Powers, left the world and went to the holy place."
The patriarch Job beautifully illustrates how 23.8 God being a spirit, does not stand in our fancied relation of place. "Behold I go forward, but he is not there; backward, but I cannot perceive him; on the left hand where he doeth work, but I cannot behold him. He hideth himself on the Tt 2
right hand, that I cannot see him.".
Christ describing the numbers which every clime of earth was to pour forth as the future inhabitants of his kingdom, mentions no particular line of direction which their departed spirits were to take, but simply says that they were "to come Matt. 8. from every quarter of the earth, and to partake (for so the original imports) of an entertainment with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." In the disposal of the wicked, the same cautious reserve is kept up. They are thrown into darkness, but no other situation is given to that darkness than marking it to be (to exoteron) outer, that is, lying far remote from the light of the righteous. On the other hand, nothing more is said of Judas than this, that he Acts/15went to his own place. So Christ, without specifying the line of motion, tells the good and faithful servant to enter into the joy of his Lord.
In the visions and revelations with which St. Paul was favoured, the distinction between Hea
ven and Paradise is evident. That of heaven is first noticed, accompanied with a declaration of uncertainty, whether he was in the body or out of the body: then the vision of Paradise follows, with a repetition of the same doubts. These vi sions were understood, Origin alone excepted, by all the Christian fathers, as constituting two distinct events. "The consent of the fathers," says Zanchius, a commentator of considerable note, when it is not in manifest contradiction to the sense of scripture, has great weight with me."
The celestial Paradise, like the terrestial, has too its tree of life, and which in truth is the sub. stance of which that was merely the shadow. This will receive additional light, when we take a view of an expression, which in the judgment of the antient Jewish church, appears to have been synonymous with the words tree of life-length of days. Of this I have already treated in a preceding note:* it is suffered to re-appear here, for the purpose of lending its light to its synonyme, tree of life.
Moses setting before the children of Israel the importance of loving and cleaving unto God, adds, as a motive, that general principle, the
2 Cor 12.2,3,4
love of existence. "For he is thy life, and the Deut.30.20
there are numbers who live to an extreme old who yet neither love nor cleave unto God. it also be considered, that there was a life and death set by Moses before the Israelites, which were a matter of revelation. Now natural life and death could not be a matter of revelation, because they were already before the eyes of all. The antient Jewish paraphrasts were so sensible of this, that they commonly turn the first by "the life of the future age," or the hidden life; and the second by the second death, or being cast into Gehenna.
In all the passages where this phrase occurs, it appears to be solely appropriate to express the duration of the intermediate state; which duration is founded on the request of Messiah. he asked of thee, and thou gavest it him, even length of days;" and to shew that this meant the duration of the intermediate state, he adds, as explanatory of length of days, that these were to continue (Olam) through the hidden period. Psal.
This life and length of days cannot be that natural period allotted to man on earth, but something that is the prize held out, and conferred as the happy issue of the moral character. This clearly appears from what the Psalmist says, "what man is he that delights in life, and is a lover of days, keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile." Ps. xxxiv. 12, 13.