Imágenes de páginas

land of forgetfulness, or that where all things are forgotten. And in another place it is said, The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.* Surely, a plain intimation that all intercourse of praise between man and his Maker ceased on death, as well below ground as above; otherwise why did the sacred writer tell us it was the Grave which was the place of silence to the dead ? If the Answerer's interpretation be right, this world, and not the other, was the place. Had the Psalmist supposed, as the Doctor does, that the dead continued in a capacity of remembring the goodness of God, this remembrance could be no where more quickly or forceably excited than in that World where the divine goodness is clearly unveiled to the spirits of just men made perfect ? † On the contrary, the Grave is uniformly represented by all of them, as the land of darkness, silence, and forgetfulness.

But since, of all the sacred writers, the Psalmist is he who is supposed by the adversaries of the Divine Legation to have most effectually confuted the Author's system, I shall quote a passage from his hymns, which, I think, fairly enough decides the controversy.Hitherto we have only heard him say, that the dead forget God; we shall now find him go further, and say that God forgets them.-“I am counted with them that go down into the pit.-FREE amongst the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and THEY ARE CUT OFF FROM THY HAND.” I Let the serious reader take notice of the last words, they (the dead) are cut from thy hand, i. e. they are no longer the object of thy Providence or moral Government. On this account it is, that in the beginning of the sentence he calls these dead FREE ; that is, manumised, set at liberty ; in the same sense that Uzziah the leper's freedom is spoken of by the sacred historian.—And Uzziah the King was a Leper, and dwelt in a several house for, as the margin of our translation tells us, it signifies in the Hebrew, a FREE HOUSE or house of

freedom] being a Leper, for he was cut off from the house of the Lord. The phrase of cutting off, &c. signifying the same in both places, the taking away all intercourse and relation between two: And if that intercourse consisted in service on the one side, and protection on the other, as between Lord and Subject, Master and Servant, he who owed service is with great propriety of figure said to be FREE or MANUMISED. Hezekiah, as quoted above, delivers the very same sentiment, though in a different expression—they that go down into the pit cannot hope for THY TRUTH. What this truth is, the following words declare,the living, the living, they shall praise thee. THE FATHER TO THE CHILDREN SHALL MAKE KNOWN THY TRUTH. As much as to say, “the truth not to be hoped for by

• Psalm exr. 17. f. Heb. xii. 23. Psalm lxxxviii, 4, 5.

them who go down into the pit, is The nature and history of God's Dispensation to his chosen people ;” in which, by a particular precept of the Law, the Fathers were commanded to instruct their Children. Thus the Psalmist and this other Jewish Ruler agree in this principle, that the Dead are no longer the object of God's general Providence, or of his particular : which evinces what I was to prove, “THAT THE BODY OF THE EARLY JEWS HAD NO EXPECTATIONS OF A FUTURE STATE OF REWARDS AND PUNISHMENTS.” And here let me take notice of a passage which the contenders for the contrary Doctrine much confide in. It is where David, speaking of his dead child, says, I shall go to him, but he will not return to me. But whither was he to follow his departed child ? He himself tells you—into a land of darkness, silence, and forgetfulness, where he was to be no longer in a capacity of remembring the goodness and mercy of God, or even of being remembered by him ; but was to be cut off from his hand, that is, was to be no longer the object of his Providence or moral Government.

To proceed. If now we set all these passages together, we find it to be the same language throughout, and in every circumstance of life ; as well in the cool philosophy of the author of Ecclesiastes, as amidst the distresses of the Psalmist, and the exultations of good Hezekiah.

But could this language have been used by a People instructed in the doctrine of life and immortality? or do we find one word of it, on any occasion whatever, in the Writers of the New Testament, but where it is brought in to be confuted and condemned ? *

All this, to thoughtful men, will, I suppose, be deemed convincing. Whence it follows that their subterfuge is quite cut off, who pretend, that Moses did not indeed propagate the Doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments in writing, but that he delivered it to TRADITION, which conveyed it safely down through all the ages of the Jewish Dispensation, from one end of it to the other. For we see, he was so far from teaching it, that he studiously contrived to keep it out of sight; nay provided for the want of it: and the people were so far from being influenced by it, that they had not even the idea of it. Yet the writers of the Church of Rome have taken advantage of this silence in the Law of Moses concerning a future state, to advance the honour of TRADITION: For, not seeing the doctrine in the WRITTEN LAW, and fancying they saw a necessity that the Jews should have it, they concluded (to save the credit of the Jewish Church and to advance the credit of their own) that Moses had carefully inculcated it, in the TRADITIONAL. This weighty point, Father Simon proves by the second book of Maccabees ; and triumphs over

• “ Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die. Be pot deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners," &c. (1 Cor. xv. 32, 33.)

the Protestants and Socinians (as he calls them) for their folly in throwing that book out of the Canon, and thereby disabling themselves from proving a future state, from the Old Testament.*

A very worthy protestant Bishop does as much honour to Tradition, in his way. In some Miscellanies of the Bishop of Cloyne, published in 1752, we find these words —“Moses, indeed, doth not insist on a future state, THE COMMON BASIS OF ALL POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS. -The belief of a future state (which it is manifest the Jews were possessed of long before the coming of Christ) seems to have obtained amongst the Hebrews from primæval TRADITION, which might render it unnecessary for Moses to insist on that article.”+ Though the Bishop has not the merit of saying this with a professed design, like Father Simon, pour appuyer la Tradition, yet the Church of Rome has not the less obligation to him for assigning so much virtue to this their powerful assistant, which has conveyed to them all they want ; and indeed most of what they have. But if the traditional doctrine of a future state prevailed amongst the Jews, in the time of Moses, and that he would trust to the same conveyance for the safe delivery of it down to the times of Christ, how came it to pass that he did his. best to weaken the efficacy, by studiously contriving to draw men off, as it were, from the Doctrine, and always representing it under the impenetrable cover of temporal rewards and punishments ?

2. If a future state obtained by Tradition, What occasion was there for the Law of punishing the transgression of the parent upon the children?

3. If it obtained by Tradition, How happened it that the Jews are not represented in their History sometimes at least, as acting on the motives, and influenced by the prospect of a future state, and expressing their hopes concerning it like the rest of mankind, who had it by Tradition, or otherwise ?

4. If it obtained by Tradition, How came HEZEKIAH to say, that they who go down into the pit cannot hope for the truth : and David, to represent the dead as going into the place of silence and forgetfulness, where they were no longer to praise and celebrate the goodness of God? On the contrary, are there not passages in the books of Solomon and Job, which plainly shew that no such tradition obtained in their respective times?

5. If it obtained by Tradition, What occasion for the administration

• “Mons. Simon avoit dit, pour appuyer la Tradition, que la resurrection des corps De peut se demontrer par le Vieux Testament-ces expressions plus claires de la resurrection et da siecle à venir, qui se trouvent dans le second Livre des Maccabees, sont une preuve evidente que les Juifs avoient une Tradition touchant la Resurrection, dont ils n'est fait aucune mention dans les anciens livres de l'Ecriture. Les Protestans et les Sociniens qui ne reçoivent point les Maccabees ne pourront pas la prouver solidement par le Vieux Testament.” -- Pere Simon, Reponse au Sentimens de quelques Theologiens de Hollande, &c. p. 39. Page 68.


many thing can of none effect theral, when he

of an extraordinary Providence under the Law? Or from whence arose the embarras of David and JEREMIAH (not to speak of the disputants in the book of Job) to account for the prosperity of some wicked Individuals, in the present life? In a word, to the maintainers of this Tradition may be very appositely applied the words of Jesus to the Traditionists in general, when he told them, they made the word of God of none effect through their traditions. For certainly, if any thing can render that word of God which brought life and immortality to light by the Gospel, of none effect, it is the pretended PRIMÆVAL TRADITion which the good Bishop so much insists upon.

The learned Prelate indeed observes, that the Jews were possessed of a future state long before the coming of Christ. But what is this to the purpose, if it can be shewn, that the knowledge of it might be obtained from a quarter very distant from the old Hebrew Traditions ; and especially if from the colour and complexion of the Doctrine, it can be shewn, that it did, in fact, come from a distant quarter? namely, from their Pagan neighbours ; patched up out of some dark and scattered insinuations of their own Prophets, and varnished over with the metaphorical expressions employed to convey them. But not to anticipate what I have to say on this head in the last volume, I proceed in the course of my argument.

SECTION VI. What is yet of greatest weight, the inspired writers of the New Testament expressly assure us that the doctrine of a future State of reward and punishment did not make part of the Mosaic Dispensation.

Their evidence may be divided into two parts. In the first, they prove that temporal Rewards and Punishments were the sanction of the Mosaic Dispensation : and in the second, that it had no OTHER.

I. St. Paul, in his epistle to Timothy, enforcing, against certain judaizing Christians, the advantages of moral above ritual observances, says, “ Bodily, exercise profiteth little ; but godliness is profitable unto all things; having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”* That is, though numerous ritual observances were enjoined by the Law, and some there must needs be under the Gospel wherever there is a Christian Church, yet they are of little advantage in comparison of moral virtue ; for that, under both Religions, the rewards proper to each were annexed only to godliness : that is to say, under the Jewish, the reward of the life that now is ; under the Christian, of that which is to come. This interpretation, which shews temporal rewards to be foreign to the nature of the Christian Oeconomy, I support, 1. From other passages of the same Writer, where he expressly

• 1 Tim. ir. 8.

informs us that Christians have not the promise of the life that now is. For to the Corinthians he says, speaking of the condition of the followers of Christ, if in this life only we have hope in CHRIST, we are of all men most miserable.* To understand the force of which words, we must consider, that they were addressed to Jewish Converts tainted with Sadducism, who argued from the Mosaic Dispensation to the Christian : And holding that there was no future state in the former, concluded by analogy, that there was none in the latter. The argument on which they built their first Position was, that the sanctions of the Law were temporal rewards and punishments. Our Apostle therefore argues with them, as is his usual way, on their own principles. “You deny," says he, “a resurrection from the dead, or a future state of reward and punishment. And why? Because there is no such doctrine in the Law. How do you prove it? Because the sanctions of the Law are temporal rewards and punishments. Agreed. And now on your own principle I confute your conclusion. You own that the Jews had an equivalent for future rewards and punishments, namely the present. But Christians have no equivalent. So far from that, they are, with regard to this world only, of all men most miserable ; having therefore no equivalent for the rewards of a future state, they must needs be entitled to them.” This shews the superior force of the Apostle's reasoning. And from hence it appears not only that Christians HAD NOT, but that the Jews had the promise of the life that now is.

2. If we understand the promise of the life that now is to extend to the Christian Dispensation, we destroy the strength and integrity of St. Paul's argument. He is here reasoning against judaizing Christians. So that his business is to shew, that godliness, in every state, and under every Dispensation unto which they imagined themselves bound, had the advantage of bodily exercise.t

The author of the epistle to the Hebrews, speaking of Jesus, says : After the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another Priest, who is made not after the Law of A CARNAL COMMANDMENT, but after the power of an endless life. I The Jewish Religion, called a carnal commandment, is here opposed to the Christian, called the power of an endless life. By carnal commandment then must needs be understood a Law promising carnal things, or the things of this life.

II. That the Mosaic Dispensation had only the sanction of temporal rewards and punishments, or that it taught not future, let us hear St. John; who in the beginning of his Gospel assures us, that the Law was given by Moses, but that GRACE and Truth came by Jesus Christ.§ As certain then as the Law did not come by Jesus

• 1 Cor. xv. 19. See note RR, at the end of this book. 15, 16.

John i, 17.

1 Heb. vii.

« AnteriorContinuar »