Page images

“ scared with dreams, and terrified with visions, and “ be full of tossings to and fro till the dawning of “ the day *.” But he who hath employed himself in the preceding day by working out his Salvation, will rest the better for it in the night; for the Sleep of a labouring man is sweet t.

Extremes are here to be avoided as upon other occasions. It is agreed that the most comfortable rest is preceded by moderate eating; and that absolute emptiness may breed as much disquiet as surfeiting and excess.

The hungry man dreameth and behold he eateth, but he awaketh and his soul is empty. No man therefore should depart from this world, till he hath first sat down to the supper of the Lamb; for this is the pledge of his future resurrection; the viaticum, in the strength of which he is to pass through the shadow of death. If God is pleased to grant the opportunity upon a death-bed, this last duty should never be neglected. Then we may “lay ourselves “ down in peace and take our rest, for the Lord will 16 make us to dwell in safety;" or, as the discipleş said to Christ concerning Lazarus," If thus we sleep, " we shall do well." "

XV. The uniformity of expression concerning our present subject, which is so observable in the Old and New Testament, must necessarily imply an uniformity of doctrine. The gospel hath illustrated the doctrine of a resurrection by a metaphorical allusion to sleeping and waking; but in so doing it hath only adopted the language of the Law and the Prophets, As the same mode of expression, so the same doctrine is common to the two Revelations of Moses and of Jesus Christ. The Patriarchs and Kings under the Old Law went to sleep with their fathers in the same hope, which was afterwards more clearly published and defined by the gospel. St. Paul, before the writing of the books of the New Testament, calls the resurrection of the dead the hope of Israel*; and whence could the church collect that hope in old time, but from the Law and the Prophets? Our Saviour himself established the notion of a resurrection against the Sadducees, by appealing to a single passage in the writings of Moses; against which, impudent as they were, they had nothing to answert. The passage itself was indirect; but the inference from it was so obvious and natural, that it could not be evaded. The same doctrine is intimated in many other passages; not by literal expression, but by inference and similitude, the usual modes of instruction throughout the whole Old Testament. And though the carnal Jews were little the wiser for the information thus communicated (as many christians are not much the wiser now) yet the intention and meaning of similitudes so universally introduced, must have been obvious to those who were spiritually minded, and took the pains to compare the language of the Scripture with itself. It would be very imprudent to judge of the Law and its contents by what the Sadducee found there. He could discern neither the Resurrection nor any thing else that was of a spiritual nature. And who will wonder at it, when his younger brother the Socinian can read the New Testament without discerning the doctrine of the christian Redemption, or the divinity of the Redeemer? The Pharisee is said to have despised other men, presuming on his own righteousness; and the Sadducee in all

* Job, vii. 4.

+ Eccl. v. 18.

Acts xxviii. 20. compared with ch. xxiij. 6. and xxvi. 6, 7, 8. + Matth. xxii. 31, &c.

among other

probability despised them much more, presuming on his own wisdom; while in fact he knew neither the Scriptures nor the Power of God. Manasseh Ben Israel, a learned Jew, who wrote on the Creation and Resurrection, produces this

arguments, that Abraham, Jacob, and Moses, are said to sleep and be gathered to their fathers: “the Patriarch Jacob

(says he) preparing for death, used those words, I shall sleep with my fathers*; in the first of which “ he gives us a sign of the Resurrection ; for he who sleeps awakes naturally. In the remaining part of “ the sentence, with my fathers, lie shews the immor“ tality of the soul; because the dead, with respect " to their bodies, are nothing. The Scripture hath “ the same meaning where it saith of Abraham, that “ he was gathered to his people; signifying to us by " this expression, that their souls had survived the " death of their bodies. It would be absurd to un« derstand it of their bodies; for Moses was com“ manded of God to go up into mount Abarim, and “ to die there and be gathered to his people : but the “ fathers of Moses were not in Mount Abarim t. So reasons this Jew, with a sagacity not unworthy of a christian. And those of his fathers who had their eyes open, could see through the temporal economy of the law, and distinguish those eternal rewards of faith, which were offered to the Patriarchs before the civil establishment of their nation in the land of Canaan, when the favourites of God were led about from place to place as pilgrims and strangers upon earth.

in Gen, xlvii. 30.

+ Jacobus Patriarcha accingens se ad mortem, ait, Dormiam cum patribus meis. Hic primâ voce innuit resurrectionem : nam qui dor. mit, naturaliter expergiscitur. Cum autem inquit, cum patribus meis, eo ostendit animam esse immortalem: nam mortui, ratione corporis, nihil sunt.

Hoc ipsum scriptura indicatum vult, cum de Abrahamo ait, quod sese ad populum suum collegerit. Eo ipso loquendi modo significat, animam eorum post mortem superstitem manere. Neque vero istud intelligi potest de corpore. Nam Deus dicit Mosi, ascende in montem Abarim istum, & morieris in monte in quem tu ascendens ibi. Et collegeris ad populum tuum. At Patres Mosis non erant in monte Abarim. De Resurrect. Mart. cap. 9. VI.

If by the Laws of Moses we understand the whole revelation in the Pentateuch, it certainly presents us with two different forms of theological polity; under the former of which, the servants of God were trained up to a spiritual life of faith and hope, through a course of peregrination and persecution: but under the latter, they were exercised with a temporal settlement and a ceremonial ritual. The former law of faith, as the apostle argues *, could not be made of none effect by the law of ceremonies which came after: and the Jew who did not understand both, and think himself bound to follow both, had no right to call himself a disciple of Moses.

It was therefore an hope common to all the Jews, except the Sadducees, who perversely took advantage of the worldly Elements in the ceremonial law, and were but little better than Deists, that there would be a resurrection of the dead at the coming of the Messiah: and though the general accomplishment of this hope was reserved for his second coming, a foretaste of it was given at his first, when the bodies of saints which slept arose and appeared untó many t. It was then made evident, that his sufferings and merits had overcome the sharpness of Death, and purchased a release for the prisoners of hope. That earthquake, which rent the rocks, did also


graves of the


to Gal, ii, 17.

** Matth, xxvii. 5?, 53. 2


dead, and many of the faithful, who had rested under the old dispensation, were awakened at the departure of that supernatural darkness, which had covered the earth during the time of our Saviour's passion *.

XVI. I cannot leave this subject without observing, that the images of sleeping and waking are also applied in a moral sense to the mind and understanding. The mind hath a figurative sleep as well as the body; but with this difference, that the scripture which signifies the Death of the body by a state of Sleep, speaks of this Sleep of the mind as a state of Death. It denotes that stupidity of ignorant and careless men, who are dead to truth, to religion, to virtue, to immortality, and all other objects, for the sake of which, life and sense are conferred upon rational beings. So long as they are asleep to all those things, for which they ought to live and act, they are not reckoned to be alive, but dead. That expression of our Saviour-Let the dead bury their deadt, ---belongs to persons in this state; and though it may be found like a contradiction, it is useful and important when properly understood. To such the apostle calls, alluding to a passage in the prophet Isaiah, “ Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from .66 the dead, and Christ shall give thee light .” The dead are called upon to awake out of Sleep; but the spiritual sluggard is commanded to arise from Death; his sleep being as much more dangerous than Death, as Death is more terrible in appearance than common Sleep. If a christian relapses into this state after

[ocr errors]

* There is a difficulty here in the Text, which commentators remove, by supposing that the saints were awakened at the death of Christ during the earthquake, and that they appeared in the holy City after his resurrection. In this sense it is taken by the author. + Matth. viii. 22.

Eph. v. 14.

« PreviousContinue »