Page images
PDF
EPUB

ed with new accommodations, and finding a new sphere of action assigned them. The states of life, in which we ourselves existed formerly in the womb and our infancy, are almost as different from our present, in mature age, as it is possible to conceive any two states of life can be. Therefore, that we are to exist hereafter, in a state as different from our present as this is from our former, is but according to the analogy of nature; according to a natural order or appointment of the very same kind, with what we have already experienced.*

It is true that, with respect to the continued existence of the soul, the patriarch JOB is silent. So in a verse of twofold meaning, at once expressive of the Jews' restoration from captivity, and of a life after death, Isaiah thus asserts the resurrection of the body: "Thy dead men shall live; together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake, and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs; and the earth shall cast out her dead.†

* See Bishop Butler's Analogy. + Isaiah xxvi. 19.

In a similar sublime strain, and in words of a similar two-fold meaning, the prophet Hosea exclaims, "I will ransom them from the power of the grave,-I will redeem them from death. O death! I will be thy plague, O grave! I will be thy destruction." Other extracts might be made from the Old Testament, to the same purport: and, with all of them, the materialist will readily accord, as not asserting the vitality of any part of man, after death has obtained the dominion over him.

But the non-assertion of a doctrine, and the denial of a doctrine, are two very different things. The writers in the Old Testament asserted or revealed all that was permitted them to know, under the degree of illumination that was vouchsafed them: a brighter light, " a more excellent way," a fuller manifestation of divine truth, being promised when they wrote. And what was thus promised, appeared afterwards in the world, even that "Sun of Righteousness,' whose glorious rising they predicted, and

ance that is incorruptible and undefiled. and that fadeth not away; which God has prepared for them that love him. To this consoling view of the subject, we shall soon turn; when it is to be hoped, refreshing thoughts, like summer rain on the dry ground, will revive every fainting heart. For the present let us remember that an eternity of bliss is offered to us by a gracious God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. May, therefore, the sure and certain hope of possessing a boon so transcendently glorious, animate us to a perseverance in faith and pureness of living, by which alone it can be attained, and call forth from our gladdened bosoms this ardent and devout exclamation of the apostle, "Thanks be to God, for his unspeakable gift!"

SECTION III.

Concerning the great fundamental doctrine of Christianity-a resurrection from the dead-it is not now requisite, in pursuing the present argument, fully to speak; that being admitted by the materialist: nor is it denied by any but by an atheist, who is an isolated kind of mortal, a cheerless Saducëan, who, having forsaken God, brings himself as last to deny His existence. Such an unhappy being maintains, of course, "that there is no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit;" and therefore, on these grounds, necessarily asserts his belief, "that death is an eternal sleep."

But if we may credit the sages of every age and every clime, such a man is what I have termed him, an isolated being. Plutarch declares the opinion of rewards and punishments after death

B

to be so ancient, that he could not trace the author or origin of it: and that, though cities may be found without bulwarks, without learning, without a king, without public buildings, and without property or a circulating medium of wealth, yet no city, no whole people, could ever be found without some knowledge or profession of God.*

A learned and powerful writer of our own country thus asserts the same thing : "Look through all Greek, Roman, and barbarous antiquity, and it will appear that not one single lawgiver ever found a people, how wild and unimproved soever, without a religion, when he undertook to civilize them. On the contrary, we see them addressing the savage tribes with the credentials of that God, who was there professedly acknowledged and adored. They found religion, and did not make it. +

The atheist, therefore, when discovered to exist, unfortunately, among any peo

* Consol. ad Apollonium.

+ Bishop Warburton's Divine Legation. Book iii.

« PreviousContinue »