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1849.]
Summary of Ancient Belief.

489 Ps. 49: 15, where the whole context impels us to regard it as spoken of a state after death, in which there shall be some deliverance peculiar to the righteous, and not of a mere temporal salvation : surely God will redeem my soul from the hand (or power) of Sheol, for He will receive me. Compare also Ps. 16: 10, Thou wilt not leave

my

soul in Sheol.

The reader will pardon us here, in making a summary review of the probable state of this ancient belief in a future life, the modified aspects under which it may have been held, at different times, in different nations, or in different states of individual souls, and of the circumstances to which may be ascribed its growth and development in the world. There may be traced, we think, two several kinds or rather grades of belief. There was, first, the common creed, or rather sentiment; of which we have spoken as being universal in the age of Job. It was the bare notion of a continued spiritual existence after the dissolution of the body. This was in some unknown though generally imagined subterranean locality. It was thought of by means of conceptions derived, in a great measure, from the impressive phenomena of the dying hour, and of the grave or funereal rites, and therefore tinged with many sombre and fear inspiring shades. To this extent, at least, the dogma of a ghostly world seems to have been held, semper, ubique, et ab omnibus. Pages of antiquarian research could produce no surer conviction of its universality than the repeated Homeric expression, xavrà i Oved vexpôv, The renowned, the far-famed nations of the dead of whom all have heard-who were everywhere the subjects of religious rites, and addressed with sacrifices and supplications.

Again, there was, in the second place, what may be styled the occasional or individual belief, brought out by peculiar circumstances, and though naturally connected with the first, yet still held as a matter of experience or personal interest, rather than as part of some universal tradition, which the individual soul holds, not so much of itself, as through its participation in the common mind of the nation or period. This more personal belief, thus manifesting itself in occasional hopes and fears, brought out by inward workings, or prompted by outward suggestions, may be the commencement of a new modification which becomes afterwards more and more common among reflecting souls, and in this way finally assumes the form of a settled and universal creed. It is first the strong desire, having its birth in their souls, and then the incipient belief, then from the prison of Hades, undesirable even for the good, there would yet be a deliverance to some better state. In minds of a certain cast, this might give rise to the idea of a metempsychosis, or a continual transition to a higher and still higher

condition of corporeal being. In others it would assume a more spiritual or transcendental aspect; as in the Platonic idea of an existence, which although not wholly disembodied, recedes more and more from matter, in its approach to a reunion with the universal mind. Others again, possessing more of the devout than the philosophical temperament, and living nearer to the stream of primitive revelation, would give this hope more of a moral aspect ; they would connect it with the idea of a general future judgment. The death of the body and the imprisonment in Sheol being regarded mainly as a moral penalty, their hope of deliverance from it would assume the form of a new life, to be shared by the body, in some unknown isles of the blest, or in some celestial region, or in some future renovation of the earth on which we dwell.1

Such prayers, and hopes, and ejaculations, as these of Job, may have been the germ of what afterwards became a common idea, assuming a statement more and more definite, until finally it grew into that doctrine of a resurrection which is obscurely hinted at in some of the Psalms and in Isaiah, which is so manifestly taught by Daniel, which undoubtedly existed among the Jews at the coming of our Saviour, and to which, finally, Christ gave his sanction, as to a truth, not then first taught by him, but which had for ages been known in the Eastern world.

Mr. Barnes asks, Can we believe that God would reveal such a doctrine to an Arabian sage? Why not? Although his question, we think, is an absurd one, yet sull we say, Why not? Why not to an Arabian, as well as to some Babylonian or Chaldeau sage or sages,

1

Along with this, and probably of prior birth, as being more strongly demanded by the moral sense, was the idea of a final judgment of the incorrigibly wicked ;a judgment as to which they were to be brought forth (see Job 21:31), from the same unseen world of imperfect and unblessed existence. This idea of judgment for the wicked, became sooner an article of common belief, than the hope of deliverance for the righteous. The inference is derived not only from historical traces of the doctrine among other nations, but from the most unforced exegesis of Job 21: 28, where the idea is treated as common to all reflecting men, as carried by wayfarers from land to land, and which, therefore, every one had heard of-Wilt thou not ask them who go by the way, and recognize their tokens ; that the wicked are reserved (held back) for the evil day; in the day of wrath shall they be brought out, 5535" brought out in a solemn public procession. The attempt of some to give up here the contrary sense of being rescued, would have been pronounced most forced and uncritical, had it been employed in favor of any evangelical interpretation. Mr. Barnes, although generally inclined to follow Rosenmüller, is here compelled to abandon his track. The allusion to some great period of signal retribution is too plain to be mistaken ; and the demand of the argument shows, that this must be referred to some period connected with the winding up of the present drama.

1849.)

Truths revealed in the Old Testament.

491

from whom the unevangelical commentators contend the Jews derived the doctrines of a future life and of the resurrection of the body? The important question is not, to whom God first revealed it, or whether he ever expressly revealed it at all to certain individuals, but how we are to account for its being in our world as a fact which revelation acknowledges when it comes to speak in the most direct terms about it, and on which acknowledged fact its subsequent communications do seem most evidently to proceed. The truth must have had a beginning somewhere and at some time. It requires no very profound rationalizing to show that it must have been small before it was large; and if the Chaldeans generally, or even the Chaldean sages, had it as an acknowledged dogma at the time of the captivity, it must certainly have been growing for many centuries at least. It must have been gathering strength from those more remote periods when it had its origin perhaps in ejaculations, and sighs, and hopes, and prayers brought out by peculiar circumstances in God's providence, such as now surrounded Job, and which may have been designed for the very purpose of thus giving the initiative to this great doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. Or it may have been the result of some early special inspiration ; and this term may be used of just such a state of things as we have supposed in the other case. It

may not have been by way of a formal dogma historically viewed, or regarded as oracularly announced. Athough not revealed in any prophetic ecstasy, or in any vision of the seer, or by any voice from the shrine, yet may it have been truly inspired by being gently breathed into the souls of tried and suffering saints, in the sore travail of whose earth wearied spirits it was born into the world ; not in the form of a dogma, precise and well defined, but rather as an embryo or germinal sentiment, at first faint and obscure, though afterwards unfolded more and more until it became part of the common mind, and grew up into an established and universal article of faith.

Such questions as this of Mr. Barnes seem to proceed from what we must deem erroneous views, both of the matter and manner of revelation. No one can produce a passage from the Scriptures (the challenge is made in reference to the New Testament as well as the Old), in which the resurrection, or even the future life, is presented as a newly announced truth, then formally proclaimed, and treated as something unknown before. The same may be said of almost all the great truths of religion. They have either been in the world from the beginning, or they have thus come into it in the course of the providence of God introducing them historically in some known or unknown way, and then treating them as known grounds of appeal in the written word. This is certainly true of the great and fundamental articles of the divine existence, of the divine moral government, and of the general doctrine of a separate spiritual life of the dead. The first two are assumed throughout the Scriptures. The third, if it did not exist from the beginning, is at least presented in the Old Testament in its incipient growth, in the hopes of the pilgrim patriarchs in the common popular language respecting the dead who are gathered to the congregation of the Fathers, in the apparently casual, yet on that account the more significant mention of the popular belief of some kind of intercourse with departed spirits; and in the superstitious regard for a certain class by whom it was supposed such intercourse could be maintained. To one who views this doctrine from a still higher ground, it manifests itself in those highly spiritual ideas of the divine moral government, and in those sublime expressions of faith in the eternal righteousness, which have no meaning when the rationalist forces them down to a connection with the idea of a mere animal existence of the briefest kind for man. And finally, it reveals itself in the praises and prayers of God's beloved saints, growing clearer, and loftier, and more animated, until we come down to the manifestation of the Desire of all nations, and to those teachings of the New Testament in which the spiritual life is everywhere assyined as something long previously maintained, whilst it is nowhere announced as that which was utterly unknown before.

We may say the same of the primitive dogma of sacrifice, and of the need of some form of expiation for acceptance with God. So also of that most solemn of all doctrines, without which all the rest, even the being of God, and the question of a future life, lose all their interest for the soul,-we mean the fundamental truth that man, frail and finite as he is, is the subject of a moral law connecting him with the infinite and eternal Justice, and imparting to his actions an incalculable importance, which must extend far beyond the brief period of his present phenomenal existence.

What then, it may be asked, does the Bible most truly reveal? We answer-Jesus Christ and him crucified, as the great fact which gives its highest meaning to every other fact and doctrine. It was not the knowledge of sin, of wrath, of the need of expiation. It was not the atonement as a doctrine, nor the redemption, nor the moral law, nor the resurrection, nor the life to come. It was no one of these as an abstract dogma. It was the person and life of the incarnate Redeemer -He of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, and of whom evangelists and apostles testified. It was Jesus the Messiah, the Expiator, the Mediator, the Redeemer, and who embraces all these

1849.]
Sheol a State of Wrath.

493 doctrines in himself, when he is called the Peace, the Redemption, the Way, the Truth, the Resurrection, and the Life.

108 370075, Until thy wrath be past. The Jews and Arabians, as we have remarked, regarded Sheol as an undesirable state or place, drepnéa yopov, “a joyless region," as Homer styles it. This we have spoken of as arising, in a great measure, from the physical conceptions of vastness and desolateness, and sepulchral gloom in which the imagination was first led to invest it. But this was not all. The feeling had much of its force from a moral sentiment, if not a moral doctrine, connected with it; and which affected especially those who were nearest to the stream of primeval revelation. Among such as had preserved, inore or less distinctly, the traditional story of the fall, Sheol was regarded as, in some respects, a state of wrath. It was such, in some degree, to all our race; to the comparatively good as well as to the bad. This unnatural existence of soul or shade, separate froin its former body, and inhabiting a subterranean region, was a part of the penal death which had come upon all the sons of the covenant-breaking Adam. It was ever felt as a penalty, and no effort of naturalism could ever wholly divest it of this aspect. Even the righteous, then, although dwelling there as in some secret place of the Almighty, and existing apart from the wicked, as in the covert of his pavilion, might still be supposed to sigh for deliverance. It might be preferred to a condition of exquisite misery on earth; yet still it was an imperfect state, and therefore not to be desired as the final and permanent abode of the soul. The departed shade was not wholly man. It was only a marred relic of our former being. It was regarded as not capable of exercising the functions of the fully organized humanity, and hence the language respecting it ever tended to the style of impersonal expression.

On this account, along with the hope, there would most naturally arise the idea of deliverance to a new and more glorious condition, after the wrath had passed away; and how strikingly is this confirmed in those passages of the New Testament which not obscurely intimate that, for this very purpose, Christ himself went down to Hades. It was to preach deliverance to the captive, the opening of the prison to them who were bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and to announce the finished ransom to those believing spirits, who, as we are told, Heb. 11: 40, were waiting for this perfect redemption, “ until God should have provided some better thing for us.”

We would not, of course, maintain that Job looked definitely to this period, or to the general resurrection, or to any definite time or manner of deliverance, or that he exercised any very strong assurance in Vol. VI. No. 23.

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