Page images

be heavenly, spiritual, intellectual, incorruptible, and
immortal. Oglorious state of unchangeable, unmixed
felicity. When shall we enter into it and see the joys
of our Lord! Rejoice, believers. Rejoice in the
Lord, his beloved disciple informs you, when Jesus
appears, you shall be like him, i. e. he shall change
your vile body, and fashion it like to his glorious bo-
dy, by that power by which he is able to subdue all
things to himself-Phil. 3: 21. Jesus, the faithful
and the true witness, testifies, that in the resurrection,
men shall be as the angels of God! Luke 20: 36.
Blessed Saviour, never did the base notions of the
resurrection proclaimed by pretended orthodoxy, en-
ter thy mind; nor were they known to thine apostles.
On the contrary, they proclaim glory, honour, and
immortality to every soul of man, every son and
daughter of Adam without distinction, as God's free
gift to the whole human race.
See Rom. 2: 9.

No rational man could ever have indulged in opposite sentiments, had not his mind been abased by superstition and dishonourable views of God. There could be no proportion between the finite feeble acts of men, and interminable pain or bliss-for the evil or good which man may perform in this life, is abundantly recompensed. The future state of existence is entirely of free, sovereign, and unmerited favour; and as God is impartial, he bestows it on all his intelligent offspring indiscriminately. In this appears the character and conduct of a truly benevolent father; he was able to impart blessings and happiness to all his offspring, he showed his impartiality and wisdom in doing so. The Diatheke, testament, or will which he made, bequeathed eternal felicity and immortal happiness to all the legatees; and his wisdom and power provided the means, as Omniscience saw necessary, to place every one in full possession of the inheritance.-O how inexpressibly better are the

promises of the new covenant, than those of the old. These were conditional and temporal, but eternal and universal honour to the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth; the promises of the new and well ordered covenant are absolute and eternal. The crown is incorruptible, and fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us. All the men in earth, or devils in hell, if such beings and place exist, could never touch that crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge will give in the day of the resurrection and restitution. Gospel hearers, the heavens must retain Jesus till the time of the restitution of all things, but the apostle tells you that he expected the Lord Jesus from heaven to change our vile bodies and make them like his glorious body. The change and restitution are the same. At that.happy period, foretold by the prophet,

[merged small][ocr errors]


Further remarks on the words Sheol and Hades. Reasons for disbelieving in the modern use of these terms, urged from scripture usage.


That Sheol, Shaal, Shaul, or Saul, which is the same word in a different dress, should signify a place of never-ending torment, requires proof. Inference, unless the grounds of inference are immutable, amounts to little. Where the importance of inference relates to the greatest possible consequence, analogy must be obvious, and the conclusion irresistible, ere we can

give it credence. We hardly need repeat that Saul, the very word in question, was a common name in Judea where the import of the word Sheol was well understood. Let us then ask, if the word conveyed to the minds of the Jewish people, the same idea which is attached to it in modern days, would they have adopted it as an appellative? Has any one professing the Christian name, and believing in the horrid doctrine of endless misery, ever brought his child to the altar, requesting it to be named Hell? You must answer, instinctively, No. But do we learn by the scripture, that those to whom were committed the oracles of God, believed in a future, interminable punishment? Not a word in scripture appears like it. Nay, the use of the term in most, if not all instances, utterly forbids the idea. The meaning in nearly every instance, is fixed by the context, and the known usages of the people. None but a mad man, or an infuriated fanatic, would contend that the patriarch Jacob expected to go to his son Joseph in the hell of modern christendom; nor would any man in his senses contend, that Job would request to be hidden in the Christian hell, from the wrath of Jehovah. For, if the wrath of God be exhibited in more dreadfuls terrors out of hell, than in it, those who would drive sinners into heaven by the terrors of hell, have not given the most terrible description with which they are threatened in scripture.

But a previous question remains to be settled. Did the Jews believe in the immortality of the spirit? The question is important. If we have no evidence that they did, the use of any words found in their scriptures cannot be a foundation for giving credit to the dogma of endless misery. Suffering may be commensurate with existence, but cannot exceed it. Ergo-those who did not believe in endless existence, cannot believe in endless torment. Consciousness is

necessary to suffering, or more philosophically speaking, to misery. But on what authority are we to pronounce that the Jews believed in future, fixed state, of interminable duration? It is utterly opposed by their history, and even the Pharisees who are supposed to have believed in such a state of being, are far from stating the fact. That they believed in the Pythagorean philosophy is pretty evident. That allusion is made to this philosophy in the ninth chapter of John, no less than twice, can easily be seen. "And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man that was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Is it possible to refer this simple question to any other source than the Pythagorean philosophy? How could the disciples, or any others, suppose that nonentity could offend? The question suggests the answer. They supposed a previous state of existence, in which crimes were committed, which were to be punished in this state of existence. And the question most evidently includes the principle of the transmigration of spirits into different bodies. True, indeed, the idea of identity is necessary to understand the justice of punishing a spirit and body in connexion, the latter of which had no previous existence, and could not therefore stand connected in a relation to the spirit which ought to render it liable to misery, as a consequence of transgression. Some might indeed object, that to punish a spirit which had previously animated another body, but had lost its consciousness, is not according to our ideas of divine rectitude. And the argument is strengthened, when we reflect, that no human being, has the least recollection of any previous state of being. But, perhaps the fallacy of all this singular jargon is supposed to be justified by the doctrine of original sin, as holden by our doctors of divinity. We grant, indeed, that the

moderns are not a whit behind their progenitors in certain points of mystery, but we are not therefore ready to justify the follies of one generation, by the fashionable frailties of another.

But the reply of the self-righteous Pharisees, to him who had received his sight by the instrumentality of Jesus, leaves no doubt that the metempsychosis, more properly than the resurrection, was the principle held by the Pharisees. "Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us ?"" That this is a proof of the prevalence of the Pythagorean philosophy, is gathered from the preceding question of Christ's disciples. If they gave credit to such fancies, no wonder those who were less conversant with the master of assemblies, should support so unfounded a theorem. But the supposition is strengthened, when we perceive that the Scribes and Sadducees, who had equal opportunities with the Pharisees, believed in neither angel nor spirit. This is certainly strong circumstantial evidence, that neither the law nor the prophets reveal a future state of being But the fact may easily be settled. If the law, or the prophetical writings, intimated in undisguised language, a state of immortal being beyond the grave, how can we maintain the integrity of that scripture which declares that Jesus brought life and immortality to light through the gospel? When others can settle this question to their own satisfaction, we shall be induced to hear with complacency, any arguments which they may use for our conversion. At present, we believe that a state of immortality was not known under the Mosaic dispensation. Our readers are in possession of the facts from which we thus judge. To their own good sense we leave the subject.

Hades, is most evidently the word used by the Seventy in translating the Hebrew word Sheol. By what means the sense of a passage is altered in a fair

« PreviousContinue »