« PrécédentContinuer »
hell.”—Matt. x. 28. It is evident that our Saviour represents the body and soul as entirely distinct, that the power of man can reach the one, so as to take away its life; but cannot affect the life of the other. Now, supposing according to the system of Materialism, that the soul arises from the organization of the brain, he who kills the body kills the soul likewise, which is a direct contradiction to our Saviour's affirmation. “ We are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord,” says the Apostle Paul.--2 Cor. v. 8. This Scripture teaches, in the most forcible manner, an intermediate state of bliss to be enjoyed by Christians before the resurrection : for the happiness to be enjoyed after it, is in the body, and not out of it. It is exceedingly to be lamented that so learned, so amiable, and, in many respects, so respectable a writer as Dr. Law, Bishop of Carlisle, should have lent his name to the support of a theory so absurd as that of Materialism, by denying the doctrine of an intermediate state. In his Appendix to his Theory of Religion, he endeavours to obriate the arguments for an intermediate state, taken from the two texts we have just mentioned, as well as from various others. 66 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."
Eccles. xi. 7. It is of no use to say, as Bishop Law does, that “ By spirit the preacher can only mean life, in allusion to Gen. iii. 8.” If this life, which the preacher evidently distinguishes from the dust that returns to the earth, ceases to exist, how can it be said to return to God. If it be nothing but refined matter, it goes to the grave, and no more returns to God than the grosser parts of the system.-- Luke, xvi. 19, &c.
The parable of the rich man and Lazarus, in which our Saviour re
presents the one as happy in Abraham's bosom, immediately after his death, and the other upon the conclusion of his life, opening his eyes in hell, teaches in the clearest manner an intermediate state, both of bliss and of misery. The happiness and misery there represented, were enjoyed and suffered, not at the end of the world, but while the business of the world was going on, and the crimes of wicked men were ripening them for future punishments. Bishop Law is obliged to confess that this description is “adapted (as usual in such discourses) to the inconsistent notions of the vulgar on this subject.” By this confession he allows, that our Saviour's representation agrees with the idea entertained by the vulgar, with respect to an intermediate state; that is to say, our Saviour taught that doctrine. The hopes and fears of the vulgar are certainly as much interested in the doctrine of a future state, whatever that state is, as those of philosophers; and to represent our Saviour as confirming the mistaken notions of the former, instead of correcting them, by teaching them to believe in what had no existence, was certainly unworthy of such a prelate as Dr. Law. It cannot be expected that the vulgar should seek the correction of their mistakes in the systems of philosophy; and where but in the Gospel can they hope to have them rectified ? But if our Saviour or his Apostles reasoned in such a manner as to give ight to the in. consistent notions of the vulgar, the language of the Scriptures must be rather calculated to rivet the chains of their prejudices, than to break them. But says this respectable writer, “ The tormented person is at the same time supposed to be both in and out of the body, (v. 21)Send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue.” Do we not read in Scripture of the hand and finger of God ? But this will not prove that the Father of Spirits acts in a body. We read of the tongues of Angels, but who will infer from such an expression that they possess bodily organs ? Metaphorical expressions must be used when we speak of Spirits, otherwise we cannot speak of them at all.
Luke, xxiii. 43.—To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”—Bishop Law struggles hard to escape from the force of this text. The question is not what an ingenious writer can contrive to make of the words, when he sits down at his ease to bend them to a particular system; but what is the meaning which the penitent malefactor, who was in the most excruciating torments, and who had neither leisure nor capacity for such criticisms, would most naturally affix to them? This is certainly the best clue to the proper interpretation of them. Is it not most natural to suppose that he would thus under. stand them : “ This day shall finish thy sufferings on earth, and begin thy everlasting happiness with me in heaven." Let any man suppose himself to be in the same circumstances, and to be addressed in the same words, and we think he would interpret them in no other sense. Dr. Taylor thus renders the words—" I say unto thee this day, thou shalt be with me in paradise,” and so makes this day to refer to our Saviour's declaration, and not to the happiness of the penitent, which he supposes was to take place, only at the end of the world. Our Savi. our's words were, we doubt not, much more intelligible, as well as comfortable, to the thief on the cross, than Dr. Taylor's commentary would have been. The one brought the cup of bliss to his lips, while the other would have removed it to a great distance. Besides, from the prayer of this penitent, “ Lord remember me, when thou comest
to thy kingdom,” we are led to infer, that though he be. lieved in our Saviour's future glory, and humbly asked for a share of the blessings, which in that kingdom he would bestow, yet he supposed some considerable portion of time might intervene, before our Saviour should enter into the full possession of it. To strengthen his faith our Saviour replied, “ Thou shalt not only be remembered, but this very day be in possession of the bliss for which thou hast petitioned. To day thou shalt be with me in paradise.”
2 Cor. xii. 2.-" I knew a man in Christ-(whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell,) such an one caught up to the third heaven.” Let us suppose the Apostle to have been a Materialist, or even to have believed that the soul cannot act without the body,-is it possible, upon this supposition, that reflecting on a vision he had seen fourteen years before, he should not be able to determine whether he had seen it in the body. or out of the body? He must have been certain, upon his own principles, that it was in the body, because it was a doctrine which he had received, that the soul could neither see, nor act, nor exist, independently of the body. A folio volume could not more decidedly determine the Apostle's belief on this subject.
Matthew, xxii. 31, 32.-“ But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." Our Saviour's argument against the Sadducees proves the doctrine of a Resurrection, through the medium, as Bishop Warburton observes, of the separate existence of the soul. “He was here arguing against the Sadducees. Now these supportVOL. I.
ed their opinion, of no resurrection of the body, on a principle that the soul had no separate existence, but fell into nothing at the dissolution of its union with the body; which principle once overthrown, they had nothing left to oppose to the writings of the Prophets, or the preaching of Jesus. Against this principle, therefore, our blessed Lord thus divinely argues :--- But as concerning the resurrection of the dead, you ground your denial of it on this supposition, that the soul dies with the body; but you err as much in not knowing the Scriptures, as in not rightly conceiving of the power of God. For the words of the Law, which you allow to be a good authority, directly prove that the soul doth not die with the body, but hath a separate existence. Now Moses tells us, that God long after the death of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, called himself their God. But God is not the God of the dead, but of the living; therefore the souls of these Patriarchs are yet existing in a separate state.' This is the force of the argument."*
Acts, vii. 59.—« Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Surely this first Christian martyr did not believe that his spirit was to descend into the grave, and to sleep in the dust, when he recommended it to the immediate reception of his blessed Lord. Many other proofs of an intermediate state are presented to us in the Scripture, but these are sufficient.
Bishop Law has collected from the Scriptures a great many texts to show, that the words translated soul, or spirit, denote persons, people, the man himself, &c. By this we suppose he means to show, that they are often ap
• Divine Legation, Book vi, Sec. 4.