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seven is symbolical of perfection and of universality. you signifies both seven and perfection, and that because God concluded all his works in six days, and rested on the seventh. Cicero says of the number seven, that it is Rerum cunctarum fere nodus. (Somnium Scipionis.) These seven thunders (the voices of heaven) may well denote, 1. the inspiring calls of the Holy Ghost; 2. his written words; 3. his preached words. See John xii, , Acts ii. and Rev. v. vi. i. At the Reformation the seven spirits of God uttered their manifold languages, and assigned their seven diversified offices to the ministry (Rev. v. 12.) as on the day of Pentecost, and confounded the tongues of the Latins. Of Luther with truth it may be said, Ερραπ’, εύροντα, Ξυνεκικα την Βαβελα.
The written oracles were at the same time translated and expounded, Leo Jude particularly illustrated the Old Testament, (see i Cor. xiv. 10.) as a token that all nations (the relative Gentiles opposed to the Waldenses and Albigenses the relative Jews) were now to be called, and Babylon confounded, (John xii. 20 to 34. Acts ii. 17). The inspired word was at the same time thundered with a sound which went forth unto the ends of the earth, more alarming than the thunders of the Vatican. Luther, like another son of thunder, seems to have been called to his ministry
by the thunder of this lower heaven. He had been car· ried by the Spirit (if I may so say) to Rome, and had personally seen the abomination of desolation, and detected the modern Babylon. He pronounced that great city to be Babylon, (Rev. xvii. 1.) and the royal pen in vain was employed against his déclaration. Seven nations, says Daubuz, were to receive the Reformation, and perhaps this was the seventh attempt to reform the church. Still these general preachings, like those on the day of Pentecost, were effectual only to the elect, i.e. tò the 144,000 relative Jews dispersed over Europe, the disciples of the Waldenses and Albigenses. The mystery of the old covenant made to them was to be opened by steps and degrees, the last of which was to be an ejectual writing of the gospel. The gospel is the Old Testament stripped of its external vail of allegories and scals, and reduced to a little book by the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the first of the living creatures. Thus, (to use the words of Mosheim, vol.iv. p. 11.) “ from this áreadful cloud which hung over Europe şome rays of light seemed to break forth, that promised a better state
of things.” Even as early as the year 1516, Zuinglius held that remarkable conference with the Bishop of Syon, in the allied country of the Valais, concerning the abuses which had crept into the church, and the way to work a reformation. But as yet no man could learn that reformed doctrine but the hundred and forty-four thousand which had been redeemed from the earth," (xiv. 3). If we calculate the years which intervened from this second day of Pentecost (if I may so call it) to the ruin of Rome in December, 1797, (Memoirs of Pius VI.) we shall find that they were 280, and that the same number of years intervened between the first day of Pentecost and the fall of Heathen Rome: (Rev. xii. 5.)
JUVENIS, (To be continued.)
ON A FUTURE STATE,
TO THE EDITORS OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S
DESIRE of information respecting the immortality A
of the soul would naturally arise from that fear of death which is so strongly implanted in human nature. In no part of our existence do we cheerfully submit to the king of terrors: at no period of our lives do we willingly quit the busy scenes of this world, to retire “ into the land where all things are forgotten.” In youth, indeed, we can plead many excuses for this attachment to life. Pleasure invites on all sides; and health and spirits stimulate to enjoyment. A more advanced period has also its attractions. So far from parting at this stage of our journey, we think the rapid hours, as they pass, too short for the execution of all our projects. Besides, we are then reaping the labours of our youth: our early plans are nearly completed, and those affections which were planted in the spring of life are now grown to maturity; and it is hard to resign the fruits of many an anxious day when we are just beginning to enjoy them. At the close of life the mind may indeed lose its relish for those busy scenes which once gave pleasure. “ That
time and chance which happeneth to all men,” has ge-' nerally long before the close of our “ threescore years and ten,” removed one by one, the friends of our youth; and the cold hand of age, by long and slow degrees, chilled the warmer feelings of the heart. Yet even then, though the substance be fled, we are still unwilling to resign the shadow, and from the very brink of the grave turn back to cast“ a lingering look behind." . As Gray tenderly expresses it,
For who to dumb forgetfulness a prey
This pleasing, anxious, being e'er resign'u;
Nor cast one longing, lingering look behind?
Urged by the strong desire of life, and aided as we may suppose by the glimmering light of tradition, mankind, in the ages preceding Christianity, had extended their thoughts beyond the grave, and formed some visionary conjectures of a future state. Conjectures visionary indeed. For one of the wisest, and perhaps the best of Heathen philosophers, though he did not entirely forego the belief of the immortality of the soul, plainly indicated, a little before his death, that on this subject all human knowledge was, at best, but conjecture; this is indeed a subject, though not contrary to, yet beyond the reach of reason. When at this day we would reason from the light of nature merely, it is difficult to exclude what we have received from revelation. The human mind, unassisted by revelation, could never have brought life and immortaliiy to light.
But the imagination of man ventured to pierce that dark boundary which reason had found impenetrable. With the traditionary account of a paradise for the good, and a place of torment for the wicked, as a foundation, fancy built a thousand fables that appear to us, at this day, too fantastical and absurd to be received by the weakest minds. But in those ages of religious error, the slightest hopes of immortality were encouraged with avidity.
Since then reason could not furnish man with a certain knowledge of a future state, we may conclude that Almighty God originally vouclisated a communication of it to our first parents, and through them to their posterity. The tradition would naturally be more strong and clear among those who adhered to the worship of the true God, and the more corrupted the more it deviated from that course. But however pure this tradition might be upon the ininds of prophets and inspired persons, tradition itself soon became insufficient fully to support the doctrine of a future state, even among the Children of Israel. The Sadducees totally rejected it; and they who admitted the truth of this doctrine, seemed to have changed it from its original use and intention. To abolish death, to bring life and immortality fully to light, was therefore reserved for the Saviour of mankind. And through him, death is abolished. Our mortal nature is indeed still under his dominion ; but our immortal nature is now free from all apprehensions of extinction, and we can now look forward with 56 a sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life.” Death being now made the gate of life, the true Christian may press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. To that period the holy children of affection may now look forward in hope“ for rest from their labours.”
As the gospel of Christ has abolished death, it has also brought to light, in a sufficient degree, the nature of that life and immortality which are to succeed it. It will consist of a state of happiness or misery. So far indeed it agrees with the heathen accounts of a future state. But the martial genius of the Heathen world induced men to place personal valour foremost in the rank of virtues. Consequently we find that their paradise was to receive the shades of those departed heroes, who too often obtained that specious and fascinating title by shedding the blood of their fellow creatures merely to display a ferocious courage, and satiate their thirsi of glory. But in the warfare of Christ, worldly honours are but too often an incu:nbrance. The kingdom of heaven is reserved for the meek, the peaceable Christian of every rank and station in life, who has fought the good fight of faith, and has subdued, as far as he was able, the corrupt passions of his mortal nature; who by patient continuance in well doing, has sought for honour and glory and immortality. He whose conduct is the reverse of this, will have his portion appointed in a very different region.
Reflections on the subject of a future state, though they may be more naturally suggested by the late festival of Easter, must be at all times salutary and seasonable. Our nature is too cold and too frail to be always actuated
by by the pure love of God. Therefore a full conviction of the certainty of future rewards and punishments, will greatly assist us in the two great branches of our conduct-cour duty to God and to man.
We have long enjoyed the benefit of religious knowledge. The truths of revelation have been long habituated to our minds. But this familiarity not unfrequently produces both inattention and ingratitude. When novelty ceases, our hearts are apt to glow cold and negligent. To rouse our attention to that lie and immortality which are brought to light by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as displayed in the gospel, let us revert to the ages of ignorance, Let us again introduce those doubts respecting the future destination of man, which for centuries agitated the wisest of mankind. Let us again consider the approach of death as the final close of all things; as that everlasting night in which the human soul, with all its acquired splendour of learning and virtue, is shortly to set, never to rise again; where all the ties of virtuous friendship sink into oblivion, and all the warm and noble feelings of the heart cease for ever. Then, how grateful will it be to human nature to be convinced, by ihe most indisputable proofs, “ that man, though he die, yet shall he live again”--that death shali not destroy the cultivation of the soul; but that the buds and blossoms which it puts forth in this world, shall, in the next, bear fruit unto eternal life; that all its heavenly feelings shall be again renewed; and all the sacred bonds of virtuous friendship and affection be reunited, never to undergo a separation. For,
-The wintry blast of death
I remain, Gentlemen,
Your sincere friend,
* Thompson's Summer, 1. 580.