Page images
PDF
EPUB

ing any subject for boasting. Deut. xxx. 19. " choose life that both thou and thy seed may live.” Psal. lxxviii. 8. “ generation that set not their heart aright.” Jer. vii. 13—16. " because I spake unto you, rising up early, and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; therefore,” &c., which language would not have been applied to mere senseless stocks. xxxi. 18.“ turn thou me, and I shall be turned.” Zech. i. 3. “turn ye unto me, and I will turn unto you.”

Mark ix. 23, 24. “if thou canst believe .... and straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief.' Rom. ii. 14. “when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law.” vi. 16. “know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey ; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness ?” vii. 18. “to will is present with me;" and v. 21. “when I would do good :" which words appear to be spoken in the person of one not yet fully re. newed, and who, if he had experienced God's grace in vocation, was still destitute of his regenerating influence. See v. 14.“ I am carnal, sold under sin.” For as to the expression in v. 25. “I thank God through Jesus Christ,” this, and similar language and conduct, are not inconsistent with the character of one who is as yet only called. ix. 31. “ Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.” x. 2. “ they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.” 1 Cor. ix. 17. " if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward, but if against my will—” Philipp. iii. 6. “concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless."

1 Pet. v. 2. “ feed the flock of God. ... not by constraint, but willingly." Hence almost all mankind profess some desire of virtue, and turn with abhorrence from some of the more atrocious crimes. 1 Cor. v. 1. “such fornication as is not so much as mentioned among the Gentiles.” There can be no doubt that for the

purpose

of vindicating? | Ad asserendam justitiam Dei. Milton introduces the Latinism in hu Paradise Lost;

That to the height of this great argument
I may assert eternal Providence,
And justify the ways of God to men. 1. 24.

the justice of God, especially in his calling of mankind, it is much better to allow to man, (whether as a remnant of his primitive state, or as restored through the operation of the grace whereby he is called) some portion of free will in respect of good works, or at least of good endeavours, rather than in respect of things which are indifferent. For if God be conceived to rule with absolute disposal all the actions of men, natural as well as civil, he appears to do nothing which is not his right, neither will any one murmur against such a procedure. But if he inclines the will of man to moral good or evil according to his own pleasure, and then rewards the good, and punishes the wicked, the course of equity seems to. be disturbed ; and it is entirely on this supposition that the outcry against divine justice is founded. It would appear, therefore, that God's general government of the universe, to which such frequent allusion is made, should be understood as relating to natural and civil concerns, to things indifferent and fortuitous, in a word, to anything rather than to matters of morality and religion. And this is confirmed by many passages of Scripture. 2 Chron. xv. 12, 14. “ they entered into a covenant to seek Jehovah the God of their fathers with all their heart, and with all their soul : and they sware unto Jehovah.” Psal. cxix. 106. “I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments.” For if our personal religion were not in some degree dependent on ourselves, and in our own power, God could not properly enter into a covenant with us ; neither could we perform, much less swear to perform, the conditions of that covenant.

CHAP. XIII.-OF THE DEATH OF THE BODY. The third degree of death is what is called THE DEATH OF THE BODY. To this all the labours, sorrows, and diseases which afflict the body, are nothing but the prelude. Gen. ii. 16. "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow. v. 17. “in sorrow shalt thou eat of it.” v. 19. “in the sweat of thy face skalt ? The classification of things indifferent is well put Du Bartas.

Sole vice is ill, sole virtue good : and all
Besides the same, is selfly, simply, had
And held in different

p. 52.

thou eat bread.” Job. v. 7. “ man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” Deut. xxviii. 22. “Jehovala slall smite thee with a consumption.” Hos. ü. 18. "in that day wil I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field," Rom. i. 9. “tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil.” All nature is likewise subject to mortality and a curse on account of man. Gen. iii. 17. “ cursed is the ground for thy sake.” Rom. viii. 20, 21. “ the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly.” Even the beasts are not exempt, Gen. ii. 14. vi. 7. So the first-born of beasts in the land of Egypt perished for the sins of their masters, Exod. xi. 5

The death of the body is to be considered in the light of a punishment for sin, no less than the other degrees of death, notwithstanding the contrary opinion entertained by some.. Rom. v. 13, 14. “ until the law sin was in the world... death reigned from Adam to Moses." 1 Cor. xv. 21. “ since by man came death ;" that is to say, temporal as well as eternal death ; as is clear from the corresponding member of the sentence, “by man came alan the resurrection from the dead;" therefore that bodily death from which we are to rise again originated in sin, and not in nature ; contrary to the opinion of those who maintain that temporal death is the re

3

*

*

*

Else had the spring
Perpetual smil'd on earth with vernant flowers ;

*

At that tasted fruit
The sun as from Thyestean banquet, turn'd
His course intended; else how had the world
Inhabited, though sinless, more than now,
Avoided pinching cold and scorching heat ?
These changes in the heavens, though slow, produc'd
Like change on sea and land, sideral blast,
Vapour and mist, and exhalation hot,

Corrupt and pestilent. Paradise Lost, X. 678–695. • Pelagius, Socinus, Crellius, &c. • That Adam should not have died if he had not sinned, is so manifestly the doctrine of the Scriptures, and of the church of God, both before and since Christ our Saviour's appearance in the flesh, that Pelagius of old, and Socinus in this latter age, are justly to be esteemed the most impudent of mortals for daring to call it into question.' Bp. Bull's Drscourse on the State of Man before the Fall. See also Hopkins On the Two Covenants.

sult of natural causes, and that eternal death alone is due to sin.

The death of the body is the loss or extinction of life. The common definition, which supposes it to consist in the separation of soul and body, is inadmissible. For what part of man is it that dies when this separation takes place? Is it the soul? This will not be admitted by the supporters of the above definition. Is it then the body? But how can that be said to die, which never had any life of itself ? Therefore the separation of soul and body cannot be called the death of man.

Here then arises an important question, which, owing to the prejudice of divines in behalf of their preconceived opinions, has usually been dismissed without examination, instead of being treated with the attention it deserves. Is it the whole man, or the body alone, that is deprived of vitality? And as this is a subject which may be discussed without endangering our faith or devotion, whichever side of the controversy we espouse, I shall declare freely what seems to me the true doctrine, as collected from numberless passages of Scripture; without regarding the opinion of those, who think that truth is to be sought in the schools of philosophy, rather than in the sacred writings.

5 This opinion is maintained by Curcellæus, Instit. III. 13—21. See also his second dissertation De Peccato Originis, 56.

6 • Mors secessio quædam est animæ et corporis. Ambros. Tom. 4. De Cain et Abel. l. c. 2. And Athanasius calls death puxñs årò osporos xwprouós. Tom. I. De Salut. Advent. Jes. Christ. Similar definitions are given by Tertullian, De Anima, c.51. Clemens Alexandrinus Stromat. 7. p. 741. Isidore Pelusiota, Epist. 248. lib. 3. Pachymeres in cap. 2. Dionysii Areopagitæ, De Eccles. Hierarch. p. 239. Gregory of Nyssen, Orat. 8. Contra Enaom. Tom. 2. Ames, who was one of Milton's favourite systematic divines, makes death to consist in the dissolving or loosing of that band wherewith the soul was joined with the body.' •The royal preacher in my text, assuming that man is a compound of an organized body and an immaterial soul, places the formality and essence of death in the disunion and final separation of these two constituent parts: Death is when the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.' Horsley's Sermons, III. 189. The whole of the masterly discourse from which the preceding extract is taken, deserves to be compared with this chapter, as containing in a small compass the most philosophical, as well as scriptural refutation of its arguments. See also the end of the Sermuu on John xi. 25, 26. vol. III. p. 131.

Inasmuch then as the whole man is uniformly said to con. sist of body, spirit, and soul, (whatever may be the distinct provinces severally assigned to these divisions, I shall first shew that the whole man dies, and, secondly, that each component part suffers privation of life. It is to be observed, first of all, that God denounced the punishment of death against the whole man that sinned, without excepting any part. For what could be more just, than that he who had sinned in his whole person, should die in his whole

person? Or, on the other hand, what could be more absurd than that the mind, which is the part principally offending, should escape the threatened death ; and that the body alone, to which immortality was equally allotted, before death came into the world by sin,? should pay the penalty of sin by undergoing death, though not implicated in the transgression ?

It is evident that the saints and believers of old, the patriarchs, prophets and apostles, without exception, held this doctrine. Jacob. Gen. xxxvii. 35. "I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning." xli. 36. "Joseph is not.” Šo also Job, ch. ii. 12–18. * as an hidden untimely birth I had not been ; as infants which never saw light.” Compare X. 21. xiv. 10. “man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?v. 13. “so man lieth down, and riseth not, till the heavens be no more.” xvii. 13. “if I wait, the grave is mine house." v. 15, 16.“where is now my hope ?.... they shall go down to the bars of the pit.” See also many other passages. The belief of David was the same, as is evident from the reason so often given by him for deprecating the approach of death. Psal. vi. 5. “in death there is no remembrance of thee; in

grave who shall give thee thanks ?” See also lxxxviii.

the

? See Bp. Bull's Discourse on the State of Man before the Fall, where this opinion is illustrated. Milton introduces it in the mouth of Raphael in Paradise Lost:

Time may come when men
With angels may participate, and find
No inconvenient diet, nor too light fare ;
And from these corporal nutriments perhaps
Your bodies may at last turn all to spirit,
Improv'd by tract of time, and wing'd ascend
Ethereal as we; or may, at choice,
Here or in heavenly Paradises dwell.

V 493

« PreviousContinue »