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“ all shall awake in the morning of the resurrection? “ The dead do not perish; they only fall asleep; and “ as the Sleep of the night delivers men up to the “ light of the succeeding day, so the rest of Death “ is but a prelude to immortality.” The expression ought not to have been unintelligible nor even strange to those, who had been accustomed to the language of the scriptures; where it was said of David, of Solomon, and of other kings of Israel, that when they died they slept with their fathers. The prophet Daniel had warned them, that they who “sleep in “ the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting
life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt *. Such was the style of the Old Testament: and being so agreeable to the nature of things, it is adopted and used more familiarly by the writers in the New Testament. St. Paul speaks of departed christians, as of those who sleep in Jesus t; and where he enlarges on the great topic of the resurrection, he describes our Redeemer to us as the first fruits of them that slept $; opening it as a new mystery, that we shall not all sleep; that is, we shall not all die, or be laid in the grave; inasmuch as many shall be alive at the Lord's coming, and undergo that blessed change instantaneously, the usual passage to which is through the dark valley and shadow of Death.
The general design of the foregoing expressions being too plain to be farther insisted upon, we must now consider the propriety with which they are applied to the subjects of Death and the resurrection: in doing which, I shall follow the steps of a learned writer of the last century; departing from his plan occasionally, where it seems to be capable of improvement.
* Dan, xii. 2.
t i Thess, iv. 14. | 1 Cor. xv. 20.
VI. When Sleep and Death are compared, the likeness holds through every member of the subject, and is agreeable to the soundest doctrines of the Scripture, in which every mind that is well informed and not ill disposed, would wish to be confirmed.
In Sleep, the senses of the body are under a temporary suspension; the ear heareth not, the eye seeth not; and the whole body is in appearance so lifeless, that it has been doubtful to a spectator in many instances, whether a person were asleep or dead.
But then, in the case of natural rest, it is not the whole inan, it is only the earthly part that falleth asleep: the mind is generally then most active and awake. It has a faculty of transporting itself to the most remote places in a moment; can be present with those whose absence it lamented in the day-time; and being as it were taken out of the body into the world of spirits, it can converse in imagination with those who have long since departed from this world, without being sensible that they are numbered among the dead. It is observed by most men, that in the time of Sleep they can think with more freedom, reason with more clearness, compose with greater readiness, and deliver themselves, upon any subject they are acquainted with, without that embarrassment to which the mind is subject, when it is weighed towards the earth by its attendance upon the functions of the body.
Thus also in the other Sleep of Death, the whole man dies not. The body indeed is dead because of sin, but the soul, which according to the promise of Christ can never die*, is more free and active than when it is present in the flesh. From that plain and positive assurance given to the penitent thief-this day shalt thou be with me in Paradise--thus much may certainly be inferred, that the souls of the faithful when disengaged from the body, are admitted to a region of felicity, (for such was Paradise ;) that they are nearer to God the fountain of life than while they are in this earthly state; and also as others are members of the same society, that they are in the company of the blessed, who with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob live unto God; particularly, that being absent from the body, they are present with the Lord, whom a cloud too thick for a mortal eye to penetrate, hath received out of the sight of the living.
* Sec. John xi. 25, 26.
VII. When a man sleeps, it is a matter of indifference whether he is in a palace or a prison. His mind receives no comfort from the magnificence which surrounds his body, neither can it be confined by the walls and bars of a dungeon. If he is rich, he has then no confidence in his wealth; and if he is
poor, he suffers nothing from his poverty. The case is the same with him in the Sleep of Death. He
be lodged under a tomb on which the sculptor hath exerted the utmost of his skill, in adorning it with trophies, and inscribing it with titles of honour; yet he is insensible of all these distinctions, which can serve only to feed the vanity of the living. On the other hand, it may be his lot to rest in a common grave covered with a turf, and that turf may be overgrown with the vilest weeds, yet these are defects which will give hiin no disquiet. The pomp
of life may attempt to follow us into the
grave; and riches must part with us at the edge of it, and deliver us all to a state of parity, where “ The pri"s soners rest together without hearing the voice of
but poverty e the oppressor: the small and the great are there, " and the servant is freed from his master *."
VIII. The preparation for Sleep is nearly the same with the preparation for Death: and it is reasonable it should be so; because he that goes to sleep takes his leave of the world, without any absolute assurance that he shall see it again. When we go to take our natural rest, we enter into our chambers, and shut the doors. The grave is such another place of retirement, and is spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, with allusion to a bed-chamber-" Thy dead men shall “ live, together with my dead body shall they arise : “ awake and sing ye that are in the dust; for thy vs dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast
out her dead. Come my people enter thou into thy $ chambers and shut thy doors about thee; hide thyself
as it were for a little moment, until the indigna« tion be overpast t.” Hence the people of God were to learn, that the grave is but the same thing in effect with a bedchamber: and though nature will always conclude it far more terrible to be inclosed by the door of a vault than by that of a bedchamber; yet faith assures us we need not fear to be thus shut
up, since he who liveth and was dead, und is alive for evermore, hath the keys of Hell and of Death to release us: with which hope, the saints may be joyful with glory, they may rejoice in their beds; or, as the
prophet otherwise expresses it, when they “enter into
peace, they may rest in their beds, each one walk
ing in his uprightness 1.” From which words it follows (by the way) that as walking is a state of action, the intermediate state of Death, here signi
.. Job iii. 18.
+ Isa. xxvi. 19, 20.
1 lb. lvii. 2.
fied, cannot be a state wherein the soul is neither active nor sensible*
Having entered into our chamber and shut the door, our next step is to recommend ourselves by prayer into the hands of God; as the martyr Stephen, when he was falling into that other Sleep, first said his prayers-Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit. And lastly, as he that prepares for Sleep puts off his cloaths ; 80, naked came we into this world, and naked shall we go out: But with this difference, that the nakedness of Death extends to the soul as well as to the body. For as the body is the clothing of the soul, he that is separated from the body is stripped of his raiment; whence we are said in St. Peter's language, to put off this tabernaclet; as in St. Paul's, when we rise again, we are said to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven I. And it is observable that the body perishes after the example of the garment that is worn upon it; for when it is become useless, worms eat that, as moths eat the other.
IX. All these things being considered, the similitude between Sleep and Death appears to be easy, natural, and very extensive: therefore the metaphor was elegantly and properly applied by those, who called a burying-place or church yard, Cæmeterium, a sleeping place or dormitory, wherein the dead which die in the Lord rest from their labours.
* If the reader is inclined to examine the doctrine of the Scripture and of the primitive church on this subject, I would advise bim to consult Archibald Campbell's treatise on the Middle State ; wherein, besides many other interesting particulars, he will meet with the curious Prælectiones Academicæ of bishop Overal, de anima Patrum et Christi, in opposition to the popish traditions concerning the same argument. + 2 Pet. i. 14.
% Cor. v. 2.