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1. IT hath been universally allowed, that there is a natural resemblance between Sleep and Death. The Roman orator observes, that Sleep is the image and figure of Death*; and one of their poets, lamenting a friend who died in his youth, complains that a perpetual Sleep † had seized upon him. Stobæus, in his Moral Collections, teils us of one, who when he lay in a drowsy state upon his death-bed, and was asked by a friend how he did, made answer,“ Sleep is going to deliver me up to his brother I.”
But the relation between Sleep and Death must needs have been very imperfectly traced by those, who could view the subject only on the darker side. The Egyptians indeed seem to have applied the dormant state of some insects to the survival of the soul after the death of the body; and the allusion, if I understand it rightly, was ingenious and elegant; though I have met with no authority whereby it might be shewn how far they carried it.
* Cic. Tusc. I. 38. † Ergo Quintilium perpetuus sopor urget. Hor. Od. I. 24. I Stob. Ecl.
II. The transformation of the several species of Caterpillars, through their intermediate state of sleep to that of their splendid investiture in the spring, when they come forth from their winter-quarters in the condition of flies, is a fact well known to every observer of nature. It is worthy of admiration, that a creature, still preserving its identity, should pass from the baseness of the worm to the agility of a bird; one while crawling upon the ground, and presently traversing the air in a form which is dazzling to the eyes. But it is yet more remarkable, that, in the interval before this change is brought to pass, there should be a middle state of Sleep, in which the bodily powers are suspended, while a principle of animation is continued. It is thought the Egyptians had an eye to this middle state and the change which follows it, in the configuration of their Mummies. The Caterpillar of the Silkworm-moth, and of many other like insects, passes into an Eruca or Chrysalis *, which is swathed about the body and filleted about the upper parts so exactly after the fashion of the bodies anciently embalmed in Egypt, that the resemblance could not be accidental. There is no natural similitude in the lineaments betwixt a Man and an Eruca; but the art of the Egyptians effected a very striking one: and they must have been strange philosophers if their art fell to work so uniformly without any design. The sages of that country, who expressed all their notions by symbols, acted agreeable to the plan of their whole system, when they signified the transmigration of the human soul by the transformation of an insect.
* These are the terms used by Pliny. Lib. xi. cap. 32.
A Christian, instructed in the doctrine of the resurrection, may make a much better use of the figure and complete the parallel in a satisfactory manner* : but the Egyptian philosopher could apply it only to his fancitul doctrine of the metempsychosis: and to this it could not be accommodated without violence: for the change of the Eruca into a feathered fly, is not a transfusion of the same life into a different substance, but an actual regeneration of the same body into a more glorious shape.
III. Natural history hath some other appearances nearly related to this and equally unaccountable: but our design at present is to consider the figurative acceptation of Sleep in the scripture; which is consistent with itself, and delivers such doctrines as are more worthy of our attention, and more agrecable to the order of nature, than the fables of Egypt.
IV. When our blessed Saviour went into the house of the ruler of the Synagogue, with the design of raising up his daughter to life, he said to those who were assembled on the occasion, "Why make ye
this ado and weep, the damsel is not dead but sleepeth 7." The people who were present, taking his words in the literal sense laughed him to scorn. Their laughter proceeded, as laughter generally doth, from a consciousness of superior knowledge: but the scorn was to themselves; for they laughed only because they were not wise enough to comprehend the meaning of his language. Neither was it much better understood by his own disciples, though it was received with more decency. The death of Lazarus gave him an oppor.
* This is elegantly done by the author of Deism reveuled, in a work intitled Truth in a Mask. See Allusion the first. + Mark v. 39. VOL. II.
tunity of using the same expression; “Our friend La
zarus sleepeth, but I go that I may awake him out " of Sleep*.” Nothing can be plainer than that Christ, by the Sleep of Lazarus, signified his Death ; and by his awaking, his resurrection which was shortly to follow. How mean and irrational was it to imagine, that the Saviour of the world should solemnly enter upon a dangerous journey (for such it was) only to disturb a sick friend in that Sleep, which might contribute much to his recovery! Yet such was the mistake of his disciples: they answered “ Lord, if he sleep he shall do well; thinking that he spake of taking rest in Sleep.” They had been habituated, as Jews, to rest in the bare literal sense of the scripture, and therefore listened to the discourses of their master with Jewish prejudice and ignorance. When he delivered to them that figurative admonition, “Be
ware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the “ Sadducees,” we find them applying it to the insignificant occasion of their own improvidence, because they, had omitted to lay in a proper store of bread. On which occasion he thus appealed to them; “ Oye * of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves be
cause ye have brought no bread? --how is it, that ye do not yet understand, that I spake it not to
you concerning bread, that ye should beware of " the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Saddu
cees 7?" Their error being corrected, and their attention excited by this rebuke, they discovered at length, that leaven signified false doctrine. The same persons, who were thus slow of apprehension, had received ocular demonstration, that a divine power was present with Christ to supply all their necessities.
# Johu xi. 11.
+ Matth. xvi. 11.
They had seen a few loaves of bread, by passing through his hands, become sufficient to feed a vast multitude in the wilderness. But they had either forgot the miracle, or knew not how to apply the remembrance of it. Their faith had forsaken them, and therefore their senses were deficient; for faith would have instructed them, that the literal sense of the expression was mean in itself, and injurious to the speaker; and thence they might have collected, that the leaven of the Pharisees, against which they had frequently been cautioned in plainer language, was that hypocrisy and pride which had inflated that class of men with error, and spoiled the whole mass of their doctrines.
V. When the death of Lazarus was spoken of under a like figure, the expression was misunderstood for want of a proper degree of faith in the hearers. It is observed of the inhabitants of the East, that they were accustomed from time immemorial to figurative and elevated language, even in their common discourse. This might be true: yet there were cases, in which this practice, however common, gave very little help to the understanding. The reception which the discourses of Christ so frequently met with from those of his own time, is sufficient to convince us, that when the figures of his speech were pointed toward spiritual and invisible objects, a principle of faith was wanting; without which the men of Palestine were no better prepared to discern his meaning, than if they had been born under the frigid
So that this instance of slowness of apprehension in the disciples might have been rebuked, (as that other was) in such words as these; “O “ little faith; how is it that ye do not understand, " that I spake it not of Sleep but of Death; since