RECORD: Whateley, Richard. 1829. A view of the Scripture revelations concerning a future state. London: B. Fellowes.

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed (single key) by AEL Data 7.2013. RN1

NOTE: This work formed part of the Beagle library. The Beagle Library project has been generously supported by a Singapore Ministry of Education Academic Research Fund Tier 1 grant and Charles Darwin University and the Charles Darwin University Foundation, Northern Territory, Australia.

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Richard Whately,






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This Work,








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THE following series of Lectures having proved interesting and edifying to many of those to whom they were originally addressed, the Author has been induced to publish them, in the hope that others also may derive from them a similar benefit.

He has thought it advisable to print them almost exactly as they were delivered;—in the homely and simple style which was adopted with a view to the instruction of a mixed congregation, consisting principally of the unlearned. This style has been retained, as appearing the

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voured to present to the reader as conjectural only, and not claiming unhesitating and general assent.

Two additional Lectures, on what is usually, though improperly, called preparation for death, (delivered at a different time, but before the same audience) have been introduced into the series, on account of their connexion with the subject.

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FUTURE State revealed in the Gospel alone 13
General Considerations on the Intermediate State 32
Reasons for supposing the Intermediate State one of Consciousness 48
Arguments for the Insensibility of the Soul in the Intermediate State; and Reasons for concluding that the Question was purposely left undecided by Revelation 62
The Resurrection 87
Day of Judgment 110

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Expected Restoration of the Jews; and Millennium 132
Rewards and Punishments 170
Condition of the Blest, and their Abode in Heaven 191
Occupations and State of Society of the Blest 211
Prevailing Mistakes respecting a Christian Departure 238
Preparation for Death 264

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Future State revealed in the Gospel alone.

WE are told by the apostle Paul (2 Tim. i. 10) that it is "our Saviour Jesus Christ that hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel." That it is to Him, and to Him alone, that we owe this revelation—"the bringing in of this better hope,"—(as it is expressed in the Epistle to the Hebrews,)—that neither Jew nor Gentile had, or could have, an assurance of a future state, but through the Gospel, is a truth so plainly taught in Scripture, and so fully confirmed


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by what we read in other books concerning the notions formerly entertained on the subject, that its having been doubted or denied by any Christian is to me a matter of unfeigned wonder. There are however not a few who do deny or overlook this truth;—I mean who maintain, or who take for granted, that the doctrine of a future life was revealed to the Jews, and was discovered by the ancient heathens; and consequently (for there is no avoiding that consequence) that Jesus Christ did not "bring life and immortality to light," but merely gave men an additional assurance of a truth which they already knew.

It may be worth while to take a short view of the circumstances which have led men into this opinion;—the causes which have induced them to believe that the doctrine of a future state was revealed, or clearly discovered, before our Lord's coming.

That it was made known by Moses in the Law delivered through him to the Israelites, is an error which may be traced chiefly to a misinterpretation of one of our

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Lord's expressions in speaking to the Sadducees; "Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures;" and again, "Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush,* when he calleth the Lord, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Hence it is erroneously concluded that this passage was intended by Moses as a revelation of the doctrine of the resurrection to the Israelites of his own time; though common sense might convince any one that such an allusion as that, never could have served to make known the doctrine to any one who had previously known nothing of the subject, nor was engaged in an inquiry concerning it; especially such a dull, gross-minded,

* "At the bush." These words He used, (according to the custom of the Jews), to refer his hearers to the particular passage in the Book of Exodus to which he was alluding; in the same manner as we should cite the chapter and verse. It is well known that the divisions into chapters and verses were not made by the authors of any of the books, either of the Old or New Testament, but were introduced many ages after their time, for convenience of reference. For want of this contrivance, it appears to have been the practice for any one who quoted Scripture, to point out which passage he meant, by citing some remarkable words which their hearers would be likely to recollect; sush as "Moses at the bush."

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and unthinking people as the Israelites; who appear to have been (like children) so wholly taken up with the objects present to their senses, that they could hardly be brought to think of any thing beyond the morrow. The Sadducees whom our Lord was addressing had heard of the doctrine, and were engaged in disputes concerning it with their opponents the Pharisees; and when they consulted Scripture they might have found reason to be convinced of it, in the passage to which Jesus referred them. But that is a very different thing from learning the doctrine in the first instance from that passage, as if that were designed to reveal it. It is indeed quite plain, that in fact, this passage had not revealed it to either party; for our Lord's application of the text was evidently new to both: it "put the Sadducees to silence." And it should be considered how much more familiar and easy to be taken in by the mind is the notion of temporal rewards and punishments, than that of an immortal life after death,—of judgments and blessings beyond the grave; especially to a

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rude, ignorant, and unreflecting people, occupied with what was before their eyes, like the Israelites to whom Moses wrote. One cannot but suppose therefore that had he intended to reveal to them this last doctrine—to make the rewards and punishments of a future state in any degree the sanction of his laws—and to impress their minds with the expectation of these,—one cannot, I say, but suppose that he would by no means have trusted to a few slight hints, obliquely and obscurely conveyed; but would have insisted on the doctrine even much more fully, and frequently, and clearly, than on the present rewards or judgments they were to expect in this life. Now these last he describes at great length, and insists upon with the plainest and most solemn assurances, more than a hundred times over: whereas there are, at most, but a very few passages in all his writings that have been interpreted, and that can be interpreted, to relate to the doctrine of a future state; and that in the most indirect and obscure manner. So that I am at a loss to understand how those who

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assert that Moses intended to reveal and teach this doctrine, can, if they attentively consider the subject, bring themselves seriously to believe what they maintain. Especially if they are in the habit of exhorting and instructing Christians; and consequently are aware how very difficult it is to bring even them to keep in mind that there is another life.

One of the circumstances which mislead inattentive readers into the idea, that the doctrine of a future state formed a part of the Mosaic dispensation, is, the frequent occurrence, in our translation of the Old Testament, of the word "soul:" which in the New Testament is oftener employed (as it usually is in the present day) in speaking of the condition of a man after death: when, for example, we speak of a man's saving or losing his soul, we are always alluding to the next life; in the same manner as our Lord says, "fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell:" and the like in many other passages. And hence many are led to

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understand in the same sense, a multitude of passages in the Old Testament which speak of the soul, and of the salvation of the soul; whereas, the common meaning of the word which is rendered soul in the Old Testament, is nothing more than life, or the spirit united with the body; as you may perceive from many places where it occurs: as, for example, when the destruction of any city of the Canaanites by Joshua, is recorded, we read, that "all the souls therein he utterly destroyed;" that is, all the lives.

There are, however, many parts of the Old Testament, in which the doctrine is rather less obscurely alluded to than in the books of Moses; but then these are prophetical passages, either in the prophetical Psalms of David, or in works of the other prophets; the most important office of the prophets being to prepare the way for the approach of the Messiah's kingdom, and give hints of the nature of his glorious Gospel, which "brought life and immortality to light." But this does not prove that the doctrine of a future state was revealed by Moses, or was a

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part of the sanction of his law. The Gospel and its doctrines were not a part of the Mosaic dispensation; though that was intended to prepare the way for it, and to serve as the first part of the same great scheme of Providence. Now, if Moses had taught men to hope for eternal happiness through Jesus Christ, he would not have been preparing the way for, but would have been actually preaching the Gospel before the time; if on the other hand he had taught them that they could earn eternal life by any good works of their own, he would have told them what was not true.

As for the instances recorded of Enoch, and of the prophet Elijah, who were taken up into God's immediate presence without tasting of death (which some have insisted on) these might indeed have given ground for suspecting, to one who was engaged on the subject, that a future state might be designed for all men; but if any one should have gone beyond this, and positively concluded from these instances, that there must be such a state, he would surely have been very rash in

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his conclusions; for he might as well have concluded that he himself should never die at all, because that was the case with Enoch and Elijah. And accordingly our Lord, in his argument with the Sadducees, does not allude to these cases (which were manifestly extraordinary ones, and exceptions to the general rule), but to what is said of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who were known to have died the common death of other men; so that if they were spoken of as still living, in another state, the like might be inferred of all men. We find accordingly that many pious men among the Jews, and who were doubtless well acquainted with the books of Moses, not only did not understand that a future state was revealed to them in those books, but even seem to have had no expectation of such a state. Take as an instance the Psalmist, who says, "What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? Shall it declare thy truth?" (Ps. xxx.) And again, "Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise thee? Shall thy loving-

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kindness be declared in the grave? and thy faithfulness in destruction? Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?" (Ps. lxxxviii.) The same tone prevails in the prayer of the pious King Hezekiah, when he was recovered from the sickness with which his life had been threatened: "Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast, in love to my soul, delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back. For the grave cannot praise thee; death cannot celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. The living, the living, he shall praise thee as I do this day." (Isaiah, chap. xxxviii.)

The doctrine, however, of a future state, was at the time of our Lord's coming, the belief of the greater part (the Pharisees and their followers) among the Jews; though the sect of the Sadducees rejected it. But from whatever causes it had become thus prevalent (chiefly, no doubt, from those passages in the prophetic writings above alluded to), the belief

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entertained by the Jews is nothing to the present question; which is, not what they held, but what their religion taught them;—not, what their opinions might chance to be, but what was revealed to them in their law. And surely whatever a man's conjectures may be on the subject, they can be but conjectures—there can be no certain assurance of a resurrection,—without divine revelation. As Dr. Paley remarks on this subject, "the doctrine was not discovered; it was only one guess among many; he only discovers who proves;" and this proof was furnished by Jesus Christ alone.

The same may be said of the ancient Heathens; they did but conjecture, without proof, respecting a future state. And there is this remarkable circumstance to be noticed in addition; that those who taught the doctrine (as the ancient heathen lawgivers themselves did, from a persuasion of its importance for men's conduct), do not seem themselves to have believed what they taught, but to have thought merely of the expediency of inculcating this belief on the vulgar. It does not appear,

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however, that they had much success in impressing their doctrine on the mass of the people; for though a state of future rewards and punishments was commonly talked of among them, it seems to have been regarded as little more than an amusing fable. It does not appear, from the account of their own writers, that men's lives were ever influenced by any such belief. On the contrary, we find them, in speeches publicly delivered and now extant, ridiculing the very notion of any one's seriously believing the doctrine. And when they found death seemingly unavoidable and near at hand, as in the case of a very destructive pestilence, we are told, that those of them who had been the most devout worshippers of their gods, and had applied to them with various superstitious ceremonies for deliverance from the plague, finding that the disease still raged, and that they had little chance of escaping it, at once cast off all thoughts of religion; and, resolving to enjoy life while it lasted, gave a loose to all their vicious inclinations. This shews, that even those who had the firmest faith

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in the power of their gods, looked to them for temporal deliverance only, and for their preservation in this life, and had not only no belief, but no suspicion even, that these Beings had any power to reward and punish beyond the grave;—that there was any truth in the popular tales respecting a future state.

It may be thought, however, by some, that the wisest of the heathen philosophers, though they did not hold the notions of the vulgar as to the particulars of a future state of rewards and punishments, yet had convinced themselves (as in their writings they profess) of the immortality of the soul. And it is true that they had, in a certain sense; but in such a sense as in fact makes the doctrine amount to nothing at all. They imagined that the souls of men, and of all other animals, were not created by God, but were themselves parts of the divine mind from which they were separated, when united with bodies; and to which they would return and be reunited, on quitting those bodies: so that the soul, according to this notion, was immortal both ways; that is, not only was

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to have no end, but had no beginning; and was to return after death into the same condition in which it was before our birth; a state without any distinct personal existence, or consciousness. It was the substance of which the soul is composed, that according to this doctrine was eternal, rather than the soul itself; which, as a distinct being, was swallowed up and put an end to. Now it would be ridiculous to speak of any consolation, or any moral restraint, or any other effect whatever, springing from the belief of such a future state as this, which consists in becoming, after death, the same as we were before birth. To all practical purposes, it is the same thing as annihilation.

Such was the boasted discovery of the heathen sages! which has misled many inattentive readers of their works; who, finding them often profess the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, and not being aware what sort of immortality it was that they meant, have hastily concluded that they had discovered something approaching to the truth; or at least, that their doctrine was one which might have

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some practical effect on the feelings and conduct, which it is plain it never could.* And such, very nearly, is said to be the belief entertained now by the learned among the East-Indian Bramins, though they teach a different doctrine to the vulgar.

It was then Jesus Christ, who brought "life and immortality to light," and founded the doctrine, not on ingenious philosophical arguments, nor on obscure traditions of which no one can tell the origin, but on the authority of his own assertions, established by the miracles he wrought, and especially by that splendid one, of rising himself from the dead, as the "first fruits of them that slept;"† to confirm his promise to his disciples, that he would raise up also at the last day, his faithful followers.

On the nature of that future state which he then revealed and proved, and

* On the opinions of the ancient heathen philosophers, see note at the end of the volume.

† That is, the first who rose from the dead, "to die no more." Lazarus, and the others, mentioned as raised from the dead before, were merely restored to life—to the natural, mortal life on earth—which they had before enjoyed.

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on some of the circumstances connected with the state of being we are to expect hereafter, I shall offer some remarks in the following lectures.

For it is remarkable, that interesting as the subject must needs be to all; and frequently, as it must happen, that some vague and indistinct thoughts respecting it flit through the mind of most Christians, yet there are very many, whose notions concerning a future state will be found, not only groundless, but even inconsistent with themselves, to such a degree, as to give proof that they can never have (properly speaking) reflected or inquired on the subject. I am not speaking of such as (for reasons easy to be guessed) do not like to think about the next life; but of those who profess to derive comfort from the thought, and yet whose ideas are so confused and contradictory, that it is plain how little they can have suffered their minds to dwell on it.

The subject is so hackneyed in the pulpit, that it is with difficulty a congregation can be brought to listen to it with interest; and yet, (what is peculiarly perplexing to

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the preacher,) though it wants the attraction of novelty, it has not the advantage of being fully impressed on the mind. Though trite, it is ill understood; and men are, in a certain sense, familiar with a doctrine on which, nevertheless, they are usually ignorant and in want of instruction. Thoughts which are almost strangers to their minds, they yet find stale and wearisome.

And many persons again are perplexed as to the interpretation of certain passages of scripture, or beset by some other distressing difficulties, in consequence of the notions they have formed respecting a future state; notions which they cannot perhaps reconcile with those passages of scripture, or with the conclusions which science has established: when all the while, those notions are in fact no part of the scripture-doctrine of a future state, but have been founded merely on the bold assertions of uninspired men.

It will be my endeavour to set before you what may be known on the subject, in such a form as may (not perhaps extend, but) clear, and settle, and bring into a

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consistent shape, your notions of all the points connected with it. In the meanwhile I will conclude, by entreating you to examine each one his own heart, and question himself how far his thoughts are habitually engaged with the idea of another world, and of the preparation to be made for it;—how far he likes or dislikes it as a matter of reflection; and how far his notions are (though imperfect, yet) consistent and intelligible.

You cannot for a moment doubt, that it is the most important of all the subjects that can occupy your thoughts, and ought to be the most interesting; and must, if it be not your own fault, prove the most cheering and comfortable. If, therefore, you find on examination, that it seldom comes across your mind, or seldom long remains in it: much more, if you find yourself apt to shun and drive it away—if you find your mind relieved and refreshed by turning away from the subject, and returning to the thoughts of this world;—or if the ideas on it which you have been used to entertain, and contented to entertain, are so confused and

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contradictory, as would, if distinctly stated in words, appear manifestly absurd to yourself, so as to indicate that you have not devoted your attention to it, nor employed the faculties of your mind on it; consider next, I beseech you, whether your mind can be in a sound or a safe state, when you are thus averse or indifferent to so stupendous and so glorious a truth, or so contentedly ignorant on the most important subject that can engage your thoughts; and whether, while that is the case, you can entertain any just hopes of inheriting the promises of God, and attaining to "the resurrection of the dead, and the life everlasting," in his presence, in which you so often profess your belief.

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General Considerations on the Intermediate State.

A FUTURE state which is to last for ever, every one must allow to be, in itself, a subject the most awfully interesting that can be presented to the mind of man. Many a person is conscious indeed that other subjects do, in general, interest him much more; yet every one must be also conscious that in point of real importance, all other subjects are comparatively trifles, to us. I say to us, because, though other matters of contemplation may be no less sublime and wonderful, none of them can so closely come home to ourselves. Admirable as are the works of creation, the whole of it, even if we could understand the whole, could contain nothing so interesting to us, as ourselves, and our own eternal existence hereafter.

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And yet, (as I remarked in my last Lecture,) there is hardly any subject on which it is so difficult to keep the attention awake; because, imperfect and erroneous as men's notions on it commonly are, it has lost all the attraction of novelty; and they grow weary of it, even before they understand as much concerning it as may be understood.

Sometimes one who feels, and regrets in himself this deadness of mind and indifference to such a subject, may rouse his attention to it, for a time at least, by turning his thoughts to the death of some friend or well-known neighbour which may have taken place not long before. The consolations afforded by Scripture to the survivors who are mourning any such loss, will then naturally present themselves; as, for example, that offered by the Apostle Paul to the Thessalonians; "I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others* which have no hope. For if we believe that

* The word in the original, which our translators have rendered "others," means, properly, "the rest;" that is, the rest of the Gentiles; the unbelieving idolaters amongst whom they lived.
It is worth observing, that the Apostle says of these, not merely that they had no good grounds for hope of a future life, but that they absolutely had no such hope; and, accordingly, "sorrowed" for their departed friends as for those who were to live no more. The tales of the heathen poets, therefore, and the speculations of their philosophers, about a future state of rewards and punishments, seem to have produced (if Paul is to be believed, who is likely to have known better how the case really stood than we can) no expectation at all in the hearer's mind, of any such life to come.

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Jesus died and rose again, even so also them which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." (1 Thess. iv. 13, 14.) And this may be made to lead to a train of meditations on the subject, such as these: "the time will certainly come when no subject but this will interest me at all: after I shall have left this world, and perhaps all my descendants to the last generation shall long have followed me, I shall still be living; and, ages after that, shall have as much life to look forward to as ever; being in that state of existence which is to have no end;—I shall still be as capable of enjoyment and of suffering as now, and probably much more so; I shall be occupied entirely with the objects

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and concerns of that other life, to which this is less than a drop of water compared with the ocean; and regarding the affairs of what will then be my former state, as of no consequence at all, excepting as they shall have affected my eternal condition."

And then you may perhaps contrive to detain your mind longer on this course of meditation, and to return to it oftener, by entering on the consideration of several particular points, one by one, that are connected with the subject; and which are what I propose to discuss separately and leisurely in the following Lectures.

I do not however mean to hold out the expectation that these discussions (or indeed all that are to be found in all the books that are extant) will leave you satisfied that you are well acquainted with the subject; or even contented with your own state of feelings respecting it,—with the degree of interest you take in the things of the other world. On the contrary, I have always found, as I dare say you will, that the more I inquire into these matters,

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by examining the Scriptures, and reasoning from them, even when I have succeeded in ascertaining some points, the more I am struck with the reflection how vast is the extent of man's ignorance on this awful and mysterious subject, and how unequal are his faculties, in the present state, to the full comprehension of it. And the more I endeavour (and even endeavour with some success) to fix my thoughts on the life to come, with something of that intense interest which it undeniably deserves, the more conscious I am how far my feelings fall short in liveliness and strength of being proportioned to the importance of the subject. But still the contemplation of it will afford you, I trust, both gratification and profit. The higher you ascend in knowledge and in feeling, the more you will be struck with the stupendous distance above you (as travellers have found, in climbing some of the greatest mountains) of that summit which you are not to reach in this life. But you will not therefore regret that you have ascended at all: it will be both pleasurable, and in the highest degree improving, to have

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advanced perceptibly nearer to a point which, in our present state, we cannot completely attain.

And do not suppose that, provided you see no particular ground of alarm respecting the future, you need not think about it;—that, provided you are not conscious of living a life of sin, you may rest in unthinking security, and not trouble yourself with meditating about the next life till you are on the point of departing from this. Be assured, on the contrary, that an aversion or an indifference to thinking of the next life, is, of itself, a proof that you are not in a sound or safe state of mind. For is any one contented who has nothing to hope for?—no object to look forward to? Is it not the very nature of man to dwell with delight on the expectation of any good which is likely to befall him, even when it is something quite independent of his own exertions;—some event which it is not in his power to secure or to hasten, and on which his reflections are but a mere unprofitable amusement of the mind? Now, here is an object set before us, far more interesting


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and important than all others put together; and an object too which it does depend on us to secure. If then, you have a well-grounded hope that your future state will be a happy one, (and happy it must be, to an unspeakable degree, if it be not miserable) is it not natural, so much as the human mind delights in hope, that you should cherish and continually dwell upon this brightest of hopes, with ever-new delight, and derive daily comfort from the thought, more than from all other thoughts? If on the contrary you are doubtful whether your hopes are well-founded,—or if your prospects of a future life are alarming,—it is high time for reflection on it; which, however disagreeable, you must be sure is the more necessary. You cannot avoid the danger by shutting your eyes to it; nor defer it by deferring the thoughts of it, though you may prevent it by timely care. And since, hereafter, the life that is now future must occupy all your thoughts, whether you will or not, when it will be too late to alter your condition in it, let some of your thoughts be en-

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gaged in it now, while they may be turned to a profitable purpose.

One of the chief difficulties of properly fixing the thoughts on this awful subject, is, (what I have hinted at already) that the idea of immortal existence is too vast to be, in any degree, at once embraced by the mind; so that we are apt to underrate the object, from the very circumstance of its immensity; and to form but a vague and uninteresting notion of what we cannot take in at a single glance. It is the same even with objects of sight: all, for instance, who have visited any very stupendous mountain, agree, that at the first view, their ideas fall far short of the reality; because they cannot at first duly measure it with the eye. But gradually, as they take a closer view of the several parts of it, and especially when they contemplate it from the top of some lower mountain, and observe it still towering above them, their ideas enlarge, and they form a juster notion of the vastness of the object before them. And in like manner, by dwelling separately on each of the several circumstances connected with the

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magnificent prospect of the world to come, our notions will gradually become more distinct, and more suited to the sublimity of the subject.

In the last Lecture, accordingly, I confined my attention to the first discovery of a future state; which was indeed imperfectly guessed at, though not (properly speaking) discovered, in earlier times; but the knowledge of which (for conjecture is not knowledge) was "brought to light" and revealed to mankind, as the apostle Paul assures us, by Jesus Christ. Our Lord's account, however, (as well as that of his apostles) of a future life, though most clear and positive as to the fact, is so scanty and imperfect as to the circumstances, that our curiosity is rather awakened than satisfied. We are told, indeed, as much as is sufficient for our practical use, when we have the certain assurance of future rewards and punishments, and the means set before us by which immortal life may be secured; but we are not told by any means all that we might naturally wish to know. Much is withheld from us; doubtless for good

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reasons; but for reasons which we cannot always fully perceive, though we may sometimes in part guess at them.

For instance, we are not expressly told any where in Scripture what becomes of a man immediately after death, during the interval between that and the final resurrection at the last day. There are some persons indeed who pronounce very confidently on this point; but without, I think, any sufficient grounds for that confidence. It is a more prudent, and humbler, and safer course, not to pretend to be "wise above what is written," nor to know what our great Master has not thought fit to teach. To abstain from positive assertions where there is no good foundation for them, may be, to some of my readers, unsatisfactory; but surely doubt is better than error, or the chance of error; and acknowledged ignorance is wiser than groundless presumption. Conjectures, indeed, if cautiously and reverently framed, may be allowed, in a case where there is no certain knowledge; but I dare not speak positively when the Scriptures do not.

Thus much, then, seems taught with

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sufficient clearness in Scripture; in the first place, that we shall, every one of us, in some state or other, live for ever:—that though the condition in which we exist will undergo more than one change, we shall never cease to exist. I say "more than one change," because (in the second place) we know that, to much the greater part of mankind, (to all, that is, excepting those that shall be alive on the earth at the time of their Lord's coming to judgment) there must be two changes; first the act of passing from this present life to the state, whatever it is, which immediately succeeds it; and another, from that state to the one which is to last for ever. These, it is evident, must be two very different states, because, we see the body after death lie senseless, and moulder into dust; and we know from Scripture that at the final resurrection, at the great day of judgment, we shall again have bodies.

And here it may be worth while to notice one of the prevailing inconsistencies of language, formerly alluded to, respecting this point: it is common to hear persons when speaking of those of the departed,

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of whose final salvation they are confident, speak of them as in heaven,—as admitted to that blissful state in which they are to continue for ever,—as made partakers of the kingdom of heaven, &c. And yet you are expressly told in Scripture, and profess it among the Articles of your belief, that it is at the end of the world, that Jesus Christ will come to judge all men, and pronounce their final doom;—that then, and not before, there will be a resurrection from the dead ("I will raise him up at the last day." John vi. 54), and that each will then have his just portion assigned him, whether of reward or punishment. Matt. xxv. 31—46. Now this belief is manifestly in contradiction to the language I have just been alluding to. It may be believed without an inconsistency, that those who have departed "in the Lord," are in the enjoyment of some kind of happiness; but to speak of them as having entered upon their final condition of heavenly bliss, is at least a a very inaccurate mode of speaking.

But what then (it may be asked) is this intermediate state, in which a man exists

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from the time of his death till that of the final resurrection? This is a question which it is much more natural to ask, than easy to answer decisively; but (in the third place) we know certainly, this important point, that whatever this state may be, it is not a state of trial,—not a state in which we can work out our salvation; or in which any thing can be done to further or to hinder it. The Papists indeed have invented the doctrine of Purgatory; a supposed intermediate state of suffering, from which souls may be delivered by the prayers of the survivors. But this is manifestly a device of their own minds, which they have impiously added on to the Christian faith; for not only is there no. ground for any such doctrine in Holy Scripture, but on the contrary, the Scriptures afford us in many places the most convincing proofs that this life is the whole of our state of probation,—that sentence will be pronounced on every man, according to his life here on earth,—"his deeds done in the flesh;"—and that nothing can take place after his death that can at all affect his future

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condition. Since then the intermediate state is not one of trial or preparation, it must either be a state of enjoyment and of suffering, respectively, to the faithful and the disobedient (in other words, a state of reward and punishment), or else a state of perfect insensibility—a profound sleep.

The authors of our Church Services, at least of the Burial Service, seem to have inclined to the former of these opinions; though they have no where insisted on it as an article of faith; nor is the point noticed at all in the Creed (or Symbol) of our Church which the Reformers of it drew up, and which is usually called the Thirty-nine Articles. Indeed, in the Burial Service itself, there is an expression (in which they speak of the dead as "those that are asleep")* which may be understood as favouring the other supposition.

Each of the two opinions, however, has been held by able and pious men; and I am convinced that a person may be

* On the application of the word "sleeping," to the dead, Ishall offer some remarks in one of the following Lectures.

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blameless in point of faith, whichever of them he inclines to, provided he do not speak too positively on so obscure a point, or demand the assent of others, where the Scriptures do not speak, or at least, do not speak decidedly.

I will set before you, in a future lecture, some of the arguments which have been, or may be employed on each side; and if they should not enable us to arrive at any positive conclusion, we may at least point out and avoid any manifestly mistaken notions, and ascertain how much may, and how much cannot, be pronounced Upon; and partly, perhaps, perceive for what reasons God has thought fit to reveal no more to us on these points.

Where certain knowledge cannot be attained, it is no small matter to know the extent of our own ignorance; and the next best thing to understanding the whole of any subject is, to be aware of what we do not understand. Remember, however, that even in this life, we know enough to fill us with overpowering wonder,—with care and thoughtfulness about the other world,—with the keenest apprehensions,—with the

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most sublime hopes; and that we know enough to enlighten and to guide us in this life, if we will but bring our knowledge into practice. Hereafter we shall doubtless know much more; but the time for profiting by that knowledge will be past. Our present uncertainty is that which constitutes our trial; which will be over, when that uncertainty is removed. "Walk, therefore, circumspectly" in the faint twilight now bestowed; remembering that when that shall be succeeded by the broad day-light of another state, our course will have been finished, and our condition settled for ever.

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Reasons for supposing the Intermediate State one of Consciousness.

IT appears to have been a belief or suspicion entertained by several of the earliest Christians that the end of the world was just at hand; which opinion was probably founded on a misinterpretation of our Lord's prophecies respecting the judgment about to be executed on Jerusalem; which, in a certain sense, was called "the coming of the Lord;" and which "coming" they confounded with his final coming to judge the world; a mistake the more natural, because he himself did at the same time prophesy concerning his final coming likewise; so that what related to the one, and to the other of these two events, was in some degree mixed and blended together.

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The Thessalonians moreover seem to have had an idea, that some advantages would be possessed by those of them who should be alive at the coming of Jesus Christ, over those who had died before it; and that they would be admitted to some higher privileges; which of course. increased their sorrow for their friends who were departed. This occasioned the Apostle Paul to assure them, that all Christians who had continued in the faith and fear of God, should be partakers of the same blessings, whether they should be living or dead, when the day of judgment should arrive, and should enter upon the enjoyment of those blessings at the very same time; that those "who are alive shall not prevent (that is, precede or be beforehand with) those of the faithful who are in the grave; but that "the dead in Christ shall rise first," and shall be admitted into the presence of the Lord together with those that are still living.

This is sufficient to afford comfort to all who have a lively faith in God's promises; both of the Thessalonians and of all other Christians in every age and country: with

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this the Apostle is contented; it being generally the practice of the Sacred Writers to reveal that the most distinctly which it is of the greatest practical importance to know; and to speak less frequently and more obscurely of matters, on which, however interesting to our curiosity, we may safely remain in ignorance or in doubt, during our time of trial here on earth.

The Apostle accordingly, though he has said enough to encourage his disciples not to sorrow as men without hope, for their deceased brethren, gives no account of the intermediate state which was alluded to in my last Lecture; that state in which men remain from death till the final resurrection. He merely tells them that as "Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him."

And this (the intermediate state) is a point on which, I think, nothing is so clearly revealed in any part of Scripture as to allow us to pronounce positively that such and such a belief respecting it is to be held as an essential part of the Christian faith; since if such had been the design of

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the Almighty, I cannot but think there would have been some explicit and decisive revelation given on that point.

One thing, however (I remarked to you,) is perfectly clear and certain respecting what that intermediate state is not; namely, that it is not a state of trial and probation,—a state in which any thing can take place to affect a man's final condition; (as the Romanists pretend,) since we are plainly taught in Scripture that this present life is the whole of our state of trial, and that we shall be judged at the last day according to our conduct here on earth.

Since then the intermediate state is not one of trial, it must be either one of enjoyment and suffering according to each man's character, (that is, a state of reward and punishment,) or else a state of utter insensibility and unconsciousness; either of which opinions may, I think, be safely entertained (though only one of them can be true), without failing in any part of the faith which it is essential for a Christian to hold.

It may be interesting, however, to lay

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before you some of the reasons which are urged in behalf of each of these opinions, that you may be prepared to do justice to the maintainers both of the one and the other, and that you may perceive how perfectly each supposition accords with what are the essential parts of our faith on this point, namely, a due sense of the immense value of this life considered as a preparation for eternity,—and the fullest confidence in the promises and threatenings of God with respect to the life to come.

Those then who believe that the soul when separated from the body by death, retains its activity, and consciousness, and sensibility to pleasure and pain, and that it enters immediately on a state of enjoyment or of suffering, appeal to several passages of Scripture, which appear to favour this doctrine, though without expressly declaring it; among which is the parable of the rich man and Lazarus; the former of whom is represented as being in a state of torment, although the end of the world is plainly supposed not to have arrived, since he is described as

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entreating Lazarus to warn his surviving brethren, "lest they also come into this place of torment." And if all that is here told were to be considered as a narrative of a matter of fact which actually took place, it would be perfectly decisive; but all allow that the narrative is a parable, that is, a fictitious tale framed in order to teach or illustrate some doctrine: and although such a tale may chance to agree in every point with matter of fact,—with events which actually take place,—there is no necessity that it should: the only truth that is essential in a parable, is the truth of the moral or doctrine conveyed by it. Many, accordingly, of our Lord's parables are not, though many are, exactly correspondent with facts which actually occur. For instance, in the parable of the sower, the account of the different success of the seed which fell on the trodden way-side, in the rocky ground, among thorns, and on good land, agrees literally with what actually takes place daily; though no particular sower is intended, even here: the object is to illustrate the different reception of the Gospel with men

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of different characters. On the other hand, in the parable of the good Samaritan,—in that of the king who destroyed the ungrateful guests who refused to come to his feast,—of the husbandmen who killed the servants and the son of the lord of the vineyard,—and in many others, there is no reason to believe that any such events did ever actually take place; it is enough for the object of the parable that it is conceivable that they might take place; and that we should be able to derive instruction from considering how men would be likely to act, or how they ought to act, supposing such circumstances should actually occur.

The parable therefore of the rich man and Lazarus is not, I think, decisive of the point in question: it gives us to understand indeed very plainly that there is a future state of reward and punishment; (a doctrine however, which most of Christ's hearers had no doubt of) and also that those who have been devoted to the good things and enjoyments of this world, will have no share in those of the world to come, and will regret, when it

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is too late, their not having "laid up for themselves treasure in heaven." This, and this alone, appears to have been the design of the parable; in the detail of which, many things are spoken figuratively, to give force and liveliness to the description, which are plain enough when figuratively understood, but could not have been meant, of course, to be understood literally; as, for instance, where the rich man is represented as holding discourse with Abraham, and entreating a drop of water to cool his tongue, because he is tormented in flames, which is a lively figurative description of the future misery of the wicked, and is so employed by our Lord in other places; all which corresponds exactly with what would be said and done, supposing such circumstances actually and literally to occur; but does not imply that the fact is literally such as the parable describes; indeed the very circumstance of the torturing flames, implies, literally, the presence of the body, and therefore cannot be literally true of a state in which the soul is separate from the body.

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The same view, I think, may be taken of the vision presented to the apostle John (in the Revelations) of the souls of those who had suffered martyrdom for the Christian faith, calling upon God to avenge his Church; we may collect from this, that a notice was intended to be given to John of the severe and bloody persecutions of the Christians, which took place not very long after,—and an assurance that God would give deliverance to his Church, and that those who had suffered in the cause of Christ should be highly exalted and everlastingly rewarded by Him. But many of the circumstances of the vision are evidently such as can only be understood figuratively; such as the white robes of the martyrs, which denote their being justified and accounted pure before God through the blood of Christ. So that I think we cannot from this passage conclude with any certainty that these martyrs, or any other Christians, enter into a state of reward or punishment immediately after death. Indeed if it were but recollected that nothing but material, bodily, substance can be an

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object of sight, it would be plain that all the passages in which a departed soul is spoken of as appearing to the eyes, so far from proving even the existence of the soul in a separate state from the body, and unconnected with any material substance, would, if they were to be understood literally, prove the direct contrary,—that the persons so spoken of as visibly appearing, actually had bodies at the time.

Again, the transfiguration on the mount, in which Moses and Elias appear talking with Jesus, may be brought forward as an argument for the supposition of a state of sense and consciousness after death, before the final resurrection; Moses and Elias having been dead long before: but nothing generally decisive can be concluded from any case which is manifestly an exception to general rules; as this was in every respect. The prophet Elijah (or Elias), we know, did not die at all; but was visibly, in his bodily state, taken from the earth; and in the case of Moses also, a prophet still more highly favoured of God, there appears to have been some-

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thing peculiar as to his departure; for we are told indeed that he died, and was buried in the land of Moab, but that "no man knew of his sepulchre." Whether he also, like Elijah, and like Enoch, was permitted to forestall the general resurrection, we cannot tell; but it seems clear (as I lately observed to you) that the soul separate from the body is not an object of sight; (since, at a man's death, all that was formerly visible of him remains before our eyes in the corpse,) so that nothing can be inferred respecting a separate state of the soul from the visible appearance of Moses and Elias, which the eyes of the Apostles witnessed.

The promise of our Lord to the thief on the Cross, "This day shalt thou be with me in paradise," has been urged with more reason, in favour of the opinion that man passes at once from death into a state of enjoyment or of suffering. But this also was a very peculiar case, and therefore can hardly be regarded as decisive as to what shall be the lot of other men. I mean, supposing the promise to be understood in the literal sense of the

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word to-day; which, as I shall show hereafter, is not absolutely necessary. I have dwelt at large in another Lecture (the 11th) on the remarkable circumstances (often overlooked) which make the dying thief's profession of faith most distinguished and eminent;—his acknowledging as his King, that Jesus who was at the very moment expiring on the Cross, when all his own disciples had fled in despair;—his being the first, probably, who ever perceived and acknowledged the true nature of Christ's kingdom, as being not of this world, but spiritual;—his being the only one who ever did confess this faith before the resurrection. His faith therefore was most peculiar and pre-eminent; and so also was the period of his death, at the very time of the mighty sacrifice of the Son of God; which was accompanied with many miraculous circumstances, and, among others, by the resurrection (as the Evangelists inform us) of the bodies of several holy men, who came out of their graves, and "entered into the holy city (Jerusalem) after the resurrection, and appeared unto many:"

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a kind of event which no one expects will take place with christians in general before the day of judgment.

Whether the immediate admission into paradise* of the penitent thief, supposing this to be understood literally, is to be regarded as one of the miraculous and extraordinary circumstances of that awful period, and consequently different from what takes place in other cases, or whether the same will be the lot of all Christ's faithful servants immediately on their departing this life; we are not, I think, authorized by that portion of the sacred history positively to pronounce.

I shall resume the consideration of the general question in a future Lecture; in which, though I may not be able to set before you any thing decisively convincing

* There was something remarkable and seemingly peculiar, in the very promise itself which was made to this man. The full purport of it, we cannot, I think, positively determine. If the "paradise," into which he was promised immediate admittance, be the place in which "just men made perfect," will, after the day of judgment, dwell for "ever with the Lord,"—or if it be the place or state into which good Christians pass immediately after death,—it is remarkable that the word paradise is not the one commonly used in Scripture to convey either of those meanings.

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and satisfactory as to the point now immediately before us, (which is certainly interesting to our curiosity, though not essential to a saving faith) yet I shall not have occupied your time unprofitably, if I shall but have drawn off your thoughts in any degree from the cares and concerns of the world in which we live; which being present, and the object of our senses, generally occupies far the greater part of our attention; though in comparison of that world to come, which can be viewed only with the eye of faith, it be but as a grain of sand placed beside a mountain; "For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."


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Arguments for the Insensibility of the Soul in the Intermediate State: and Reasons for concluding that the Question was purposely left undecided by Revelation.

THE error alluded to by the Apostle Paul in his first Epistle to the Corinthians (ch. xv. ver. 17.) "How say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?" seems to have prevailed, not only at Corinth, but also in the Churches of Asia; as appears from his second Epistle to Timothy, in which he particularizes Hymeneus and Philetus, as among the leaders of the sect, whose doctrine was, that the resurrection was past already. They took hold, it seems, of those figurative expressions of our Lord and his Apostles, in which they speak of the change in a converted Christian, under the figure of a "death unto sin,"—of being

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"buried with Christ"—"putting on the new man"—and being "risen with Christ," to a new life of conformity to his example, &c.; and inferred from these expressions that no other resurrection was to be expected, and that consequently, to all who had become sincere Christians, it was past already. And this, Paul designates, as a "blasphemous doctrine, overthrowing the faith;" inasmuch as it leads, he says, to the denial of Christ's resurrection, and consequently of his death, and of the redemption thereby effected. Which results indeed did actually take place; all these points having been denied by some of the ancient heretics. Some of these even went on to deny the reality of his human nature; pretending that the bodily appearance which his disciples saw, was only a phantom which deluded their eyes; an absurdity, to which the Apostle John alludes in his Epistle, when he says, "Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God."

It is to be observed, however, that there is no reason to suppose that Hymeneus

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and Philetus, and the rest to whom Paul alludes as denying the resurrection, necessarily taught that there is no future state, and that the present life is the whole of a man's existence. Some indeed, it appears, did teach this; but there is no reason to conclude that all of them did so. lt was the resurrection, namely, the resurrection of the body, that they denied; many of them teaching, doubtless, that the soul was to exist in a separate state without the body, for ever; a doctrine which many of the heathen philosophers taught, and at least professed to believe. They taught that the soul is imprisoned in the body as it were in a dungeon, and that its activity is clogged by its union with gross material flesh and blood; so that it might be expected, when this union should be dissolved by death, that the soul would act more freely, and would have all its powers more exalted.

There were other philosophers however who urged in opposition to this, that the body seems to be rather a necessary instrument of the soul, than its prison, and that it is dependent on the bodily organs,

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for the exercise of its powers. It is not, indeed, (they said) the eye itself that sees, nor the ear that hears; since as soon as life has quitted the body there is an end of seeing, and hearing, and the rest, although the organs of the senses remain, apparently, unchanged; but though it is the mind that sees and hears, it is by means of the bodily organs that it does so; for if the eyes are closed or destroyed, though the mind remains unchanged, it can receive no impression from visible objects; and the same with hearing, and the rest of the senses. If then, said they, the mind receives, as it plainly does, all its impressions through the organs of sense, which are parts of the body, and if, as seems highly probable, the brain is the organ of thought, it follows that the soul, so far from acting with more freedom and energy when parted from the body, will not be able to act at all; but will remain, if it continues to exist, in a state of utter insensibility, just as a man is in the state of insensibility to objects of sight, while his eyes are closed; though his spiritual part is not at all impaired. And hence they went on

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so far as to conclude (very rashly) that the soul cannot possibly exist in an active state separately from the body: not considering that the divine Power which gives us the use of our senses, and bodily powers, may enable us, in a separate state, to perceive, and to think, and to act, in some different way, without them. But thus much we are justified in affirming, that if we are to retain, in a separate state, the consciousness and activity of the soul, it must be in some different manner from what we have any experience of at present; and that though it cannot be concluded positively that the soul cannot be sensible and active without the body, neither can it be positively decided, from the nature of the case, without revelation, that it will.

That there is to be a resurrection of the body, and that the state in which we are to exist to all eternity is to be a state of union between soul and body, is now acknowledged by all Christians; the only question is, as to the intermediate state between death and the resurrection, in which there is no such union between the soul and the body.

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And this, (as I before observed,) some believe will be a state of consciousness, and of enjoyment or suffering. The principal reasons drawn from Scripture for the later opinion, I have already laid before you; and though some of them have been thought by learned men to have considerable weight, they none of them, I think, are sufficient to authorize a positive conclusion.

There are also other parts of Scripture which seem to favour the opposite conclusion. In the first place, the style in which Paul usually speaks of the deceased is, as of persons who are "asleep;" he speaks of some witnesses of the resurrection of Christ who were still living at the time he wrote, and some who "are fallen asleep:" even as in the Acts, the Evangelist Luke, speaking of the stoning of Stephen, says, "And when he had said this, he fell asleep." It may be said, indeed, that sleep does not imply total insensibility; but it must be allowed to be strange, that the word "sleep" should so often be applied to the condition of the departed, if they are in a state of as lively

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consciousness and sensibility as before death and in the actual perception of more unmixed pleasure of pain.

I have heard it said, that the sacred writers in this employment of the word "sleep," and also the authors of our burial service who adopted it from them, meant the "sleep of the body;" but I never could learn what is meant by that expression "sleep of the body;" for the words convey to me no distinct sense. We understand what is meant by a man or any other living creature being asleep; but we never speak of a stone or a clod of earth, or a piece of bone, or any other inanimate substance, sleeping; and to speak so, would appear quite unmeaning. Now a dead carcass is, (as far as regards the present question) nothing more than a clod of earth. If, however, a man's body at his death remained though inanimate, yet sound, entire and uncorrupt, and so continued in a torpid state, ready for the soul to reanimate it,—even as some seeds may be kept in a dry state for many years, and will be ready to vegetate as soon as exposed to moisture and warmth,—then

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indeed, by a very bold figure of speech, the body might be said to be asleep; even as we might, figuratively, speak of the seed as asleep. But we know that all this is very far from the fact; that the body decays, and is dissolved into its elements; and that the particles of which it is composed often go to make parts of vegetables and of other animals. Now to speak of a carcass thus decayed, decomposed (as the chemists call it) and dispersed in all directions, as asleep, seems to me a use of language which destroys the purposed for which language was designed; namely, to convey a meaning.

It is conceivable, however, that the whole of the body may not be dissolved that some portion of it, perhaps many times less than the smallest grain of dust, may be exempted from the general decay,—may be, however minute, very curiously organized,—(for great and small are only comparative) may be the really essential part of the body, so as to be properly called by itself the body,—and may remain in a torpid state, like a seed, ready to be again connected with the soul. All

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this however is merely a string of suppositions; of which we can only say, that there is no one of them, as far as we can judge, that is in itself impossible. For nothing of the kind is revealed; nor does it appear that the sacred writers were commissioned to make known to their converts, the conscious and happy state (supposing there is such a state) of their departed friends.

The apostle Paul, for instance, in comforting the Thessalonians concerning their deceased brethren, does not make any mention of their being at that time actually in a state of enjoyment; but alludes only to the joyful resurrection which awaited them: "I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him; for this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive, and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent

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them which are asleep; for the Lord himself shall descend from heaven,—and the dead in Christ shall rise first," &c. Now this was, to be sure, a very consolatory prospect respecting their departed friends; but. if he had known, and had been authorized to reveal, that these very persons were, at that very time, actually admitted to a state of happiness, one cannot but suppose he would have mentioned this as an additional consolation, and one more immediately striking; instead of which, he makes no mention of any such intermediate state of happiness, but merely speaks of a hope, as of something future, respecting the departed; ("Sorrow not as others which have no hope,") the hope, namely, of a glorious resurrection to them that sleep. Nor does the apostle's language of threatening or exhortation differ in this respect from that of consolation: when his purpose is to arouse and alarm men, he still points to the same object. Paul's language to the idolaters at Athens (Acts xvii. 31) is, that "God hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness, by that Man

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whom He hath ordained." Why did he not, it may be asked, instead of confining himself to the mention of the day of judgment, notice also the nearer reward and punishment which should immediately succeed each man's death, if such a doctrine were part of the revelation intrusted to him?

And this leads me to remark another circumstance which throws difficulty on the subject; namely, the perpetually repeated notices of the day of judgment and allusions to it, both in out Lord's discourses and in those of his apostles, as to the time when (the dead being raised) all mankind shall be brought to trial before their all-seeing and unerring Judge, and receive from him their final sentence. "I charge thee," says Paul to Timothy, "before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing, and in his kingdom;" and in the Epistle to the Romans, "As many as have sinned in the law, shall be judged by the law, in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my Gospel."

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What I mean is, that all these allusions to one particular day, (evidently the time of the general resurrection at the end of the world,) are such as seem to imply that it is then that every man's condition will be finally fixed. Now it is indeed very conceivable that the souls of men, in a separate state, should remain in a happy or unhappy condition till the end of the world, and should then, at the resurrection, be re-united to bodies, and enter on a different kind of enjoyment or of suffering this, I say is in itself, very conceivable; but it is hard to conceive how, supposing that to be the case; the day of judgment, at the time of the resurrection, should be spoken of as it is in Scripture since each man would (in the case just supposed) not only know his final condition, but actually enter upon his reward or punishment before the resurrection immediately on his death; so that the judgment of the last day would be in fact forestalled. It seems strange that a man should first undergo his sentence, and afterwards be brought to trial; should first enter upon his reward of punishment,

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and then (perhaps many centuries after) be tried,—and then judged, and acquitted or condemned.

Upon the whole then I think, that the notion of the soul, when separated from the body, entering immediately on a state of enjoyment or suffering, which is to last till the resurrection, has at least as many reasons against it, as for it, in Scripture.

The only alternative—(as I have before observed)—the only other possible supposition,—is, that the soul remains in a state of profound sleep,—of utter unconsciousness,—during the whole interval between its separation from the body by death, and its re-union at the resurrection. One objection to the reception of this supposition in the minds, I apprehend, of many persons,—an objection which affects the imagination, though not the understanding,—is, that it seems as if there were a tedious and dreary interval of non-existence to be passed, by such as should be supposed to sleep, perhaps for some thousands of years, which might elapse between their death and the end of the world. The imagination represents a wearisome length

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of time during which (on this supposition) those that sleep in Christ would have to wait for his final coming to reward them; we fancy it hard that they should be lost both to the world and to themselves,—destitute of the enjoyments both of this life and of the next,—and continuing for so many ages as if they had never been born. Such, I say, are the pictures which the imagination draws: but when we view things by the light of the understanding, they present a very different aspect. Reason tells us, (the moment we consider the subject) that a long and a short space of time are exaetly the same to a person who is insensible. All our notion of time is drawn from the different impressions on our minds, succeeding one another: so that when any one loses his consciousness, (as in the case of a fainting fit, or of those recovered from drowning, suffocation, or the like) he not only does not perceive the length of the interval between the loss of his consciousness and the return of it, but there is (to him) no such interval: the moment at which he totally lost his sensibility seems, (and is to him,) immediately

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succeeded by the moment in which he regains it. In the case of ordinary sleep, indeed, we are sensible, though very indistinctly; of the interval that passes; because the mind, certainly for the most part, and probably always, continues active during sleep, though in a different manner; and though the confused ideas occurring in sleep, which we call dreams, are but imperfectly remembered. Yet even in this case, it will often happen, when any one sleeps very soundly, that the moment of his awaking shall appear to him immediately to succeed that of falling asleep; although the interval may have been many hours. Something of the same kind has been observed in a few instances of madness and of apoplexy; in which all the ordinary operations of the mind having been completely suspended for several years, the patients on the recovery of their senses, have been found totally unconscious of the whole interval, and distinctly remembering and speaking of, as having happened the day before, events which occurred before the seizure; so that they could hardly be brought to

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believe that whole years had since elapsed

From considering such instances as these, as well as from the very nature of the case any one may easily convince himself that if ever a total insensibility takes place, so that all action of the mind is completely suspended, the time during which this continues, whether a single minute or a thousand years, is, to the person himself no time at all in either case the moment of his reviving, must appear to him immediately to succeed that of his sinking into unconsciousness nor could he possibly he able to tell afterwards, from his own sensation and recollections, whether this state of suspended animation had lasted an hour a day or a century.

The long and dreary interval then between death and the day of judgment, (supposing the intermediate state to be a profound sleep) does not exist at all except in the imagination to the party concerned there is no interval whatever but to each person (according to this supposition) the moment of his closing his eyes in death will be instantly succeeded

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by the sound of the last trumpet, which shall summon the dead; even though ages shall have intervened. And in this sense the faithful Christian may be, practically, in paradise the day he dies. The promise made to the penitent thief, and the apostle Paul's wish to depart and to be with Christ, which, he said, was far better than to remain any longer in this troublesome world, would each be fulfilled to all practical purposes, provided each shall have found himself in a state of happiness in the presence of his Lord, the very instant (according to his own perception) after having breathed his last in this world.

It is difficult, I acknowledge, to imagine this, but it is impossible (on the supposition of a total insensibility) not to believe it; for that in that case it would be so, is matter of absolute demonstration. Nor would there be, on this supposition, any loss of happiness that might otherwise have been enjoyed during the interval. During our abode here indeed, which is for a limited time, an interval of total insensibility would be reckoned so much taken out of your life; you would awake

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unconscious indeed, of the time that had elapsed, but so much nearer to the grave. But that which is taken from eternity, does not shorten it: such is the nature of that incomprehensible thing, eternity, which we cannot but believe, though we cannot understand it, that it is not diminished by any portion of time subtracted from it. If we are all destined, as we are, to live for ever, he that is born, for example, a thousand years earlier, cannot be said to have a longer life than he who is born a thousand years later.

Whether, however, this be the case or not,—whether the soul retains or loses its consciousness during the interval of the separation from the body, is a question which the Scriptures, I think, do not authorize us positively to determine: and if so, a man may be a good Christian, whichever of the two opinions he holds, provided he do not censure as heretical such as may differ from him on this point.

And it appears to me that good reasons may be perceived why the Scriptures have not revealed this knowledge to us; or at least, have not spoken more decidedly on

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the question than they have done. And I will, in conclusion, lay some of these reasons before you.

First, let us suppose that the soul does retain its consciousness, and remain in a state of enjoyment or suffering during the intermediate time between death and the resurrection. There seems to be good reason why this truth (supposing it a truth) should not have been distinctly revealed. In the first place, it could, be of no practical necessity. If, as is quite clear, a man's final condition depends on his conduct in this life, and cannot be altered by any thing that takes place after death, there can be no advantage in his knowing, during his life, or his surviving friends, afterwards, what the intermediate state is. If they were told that this is a state of consciousness, and of happiness or misery, the survivors would be tempted (I speak not now from conjecture, but from the experience of what takes place in the Romish Church, of which this doctrine is a received tenet) to offer up prayers for him, that if he is in a state of suffering he may be released

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from it; as is the practice of the Papists. These prayers, it has been said, are harmless, even if vain and ineffectual: in themselves they may be so: but if it should become the established practice (as with them) pray for' the souls of the deceased, and to suppose those prayers may be efficacious, (which of course is supposed by those who offer them) what is the consequence? Inevitably it follows, that men will be tempted to trust in these prayers, for their souls after death, rather than to their own exertions during life. So many as are the excuses by which Satan leads men to continue in a life of negligence or sin, trusting that all will be well at the last, such an obvious and consolatory delusion as this, we may be sure would seldom fail to take effect. And accordingly, we know how common a practice it was, (and is among the Roman Catholics) to make amends, as they thought, for an ungodly life, by leaving large sums of money to monks and others, to pray for their souls; ana founding convents for that purpose.

Another most dangerous error, which

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(I do not say might arise, but) actually has arisen in the Roman Catholic Church, much worse than that of praying for the dead, is that of praying to the dead. Believing that the souls of eminently holy men are in a state of consciousness and enjoyment in the presence of God, no one could be sure that one or more of these holy men might not be, invisibly, near at hand: thence he was tempted to address a request to them, on the chance of its being so, that they would pray to God on his behalf; as any one of us might (and might lawfully) beg some devout friend to pray for him: by degrees this grew into a custom; they addressed their petitions to those holy men (or saints) for their intercession, first with a hope, and then with a confidence, of being heard; and these prayers were and now are, offered up by thousands of persons who are in various places; and who thus blasphemously attribute to each saint the power of being, or at least knowing what passes, in many places at once,—one of the attributes of God himself; and impiously pay that worship to the creature which is due

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to the Creator alone: or to get out of that difficulty; absurdly make God reveal to the saints the prayers which they then repeat back to Him.

If we look to the Scriptures, we find no shadow of authority for all this, nor for anything that could lead to it.—It has indeed arisen in a Christian Church; but it has arisen in consequence of that Church having dared to teach as articles of faith, what Scripture has never revealed.

But if, on the other hand, we suppose the contrary opinion to be true,—that the soul is in a profound and insensible sleep during the intermediate state, there is good reason why this also should not have been clearly revealed.

It not only seems not necessary to Christian practice, but it might with some Christians have a disheartening effect. Though they might be perfectly sure of attaining, if it were not their own fault, a joyful resurrection, and though their understanding might assent (as indeed it could not but assent) to the truth, that a long or short interval of insensibility are exactly the same to the party concerned,—

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that there can be no difference between waiting one moment or ten centuries in a perfect sleep, from death to the resurrection,—yet there are many persons who could not easily bring their feelings to keep pace with their understanding in such a case: their fancy might present pictures of weariness and discomfort which their reason would not be strong enough to dispel. And as their uneasiness would answer no good purpose, it seems agreeable to divine wisdom and goodness that it should be spared them, and yet that the Scriptures should so far leave the question at large, that those whose feelings strongly biassed and inclined them to either opinion, should not be compelled to adopt the other.

One important practical conclusion from what has been said is, (as I have already observed) the duty of making allowance for difference of opinion, and judging candidly of notions opposite to our own in a case like this, where something plausible at least, may be urged on each side; and where, though only one can be right, neither need be dangerously wrong. The

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parent of this charitable candour is humility;—a due sense of the weakness of our faculties in judging by ourselves on such points;—and a disposition thankfully to accept the instruction God has given us in his written word, be it much or little.

I shall in the ensuing Lectures pursue the consideration of several other points connected with the resurrection, and the world to come: and I shall not think the time lost which is employed, in discussing any point (whether of immediate practical consequence or not,) which is connected directly with matters of such vast importance; and in presenting, in various points of view, and detaining your thoughts on, a subject which is so familiar to many, that it has almost lost the power (through long use) of affecting their minds. My labour will not have been in vain if I can have made even any one person say within himself, "Is it them really true that there is another worlds which I must shortly enter? Am I indeed destined to live for ever? Shall I have to give an account, in a few years, of all my


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life here, and, among the rest, of the words I am now listening to? Die I certainly shall:—it is an awful plunge at any rate: but what is the state I shall then be in? I shall soon know,—let me consider while I am yet able to alter that state!"

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The Resurrection.

THERE was an objection urged against the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead taught by the Apostle Paul, by some of those whom he was opposing,—" Some men will say, how are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?" And it is probable that many of these persons were not such as denied a future state altogether, but only the resurrection of the body. They had perhaps satisfied themselves of the immortality of the soul by philosophical arguments, such as are to be met with in ancient and also in modern writers, though I must say they appear to me far from satisfactory. Such as they are, however, many have been convinced by these arguments; and among others, I imagine, many of those against

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whom the Apostle is writing; who perhaps were on this account the more unwilling to receive the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, because that certainly could not be made out by any course of reasoning. For there always have been, as there are now, not a few, who seem to measure the Almighty Power of God by the standard of their own minds, and are loth to admit, even on the authority of his assurance, the truth of any thing which they cannot explain. Such persons would be very likely to start the objection—"How are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come?" "We see," they might say, "the decay and corruption of the body before our eyes; are the same particles of matter which moulder and crumble into dust, to be brought together again at the resurrection? Or if not, how can it be the same body, which a man quits at his death, and with which he is to be raised up? How, in short, are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come?" And whatever answer might be given, they thought, no doubt, that insuperable objections might be raised against it.

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The apostle reproaches them with folly in starting a difficulty no greater than lies against many of the ordinary operations of nature, which we daily witness; as, for instance, the growth of a plant from the seed.

It is not a little remarkable that the prevailing opinion should be, (as I believe it is) that the very same particles of bodily substance which are laid in the grave, or otherwise disposed of, are to be reassembled and reunited at the resurrection; so as to form, as is supposed, the same body in which the soul resided before death; and that the Scripture teaches us to believe this. Paul's words, however, express, almost as strongly as words can, the direct contrary. The illustration which he employs is that of seed sown; an illustration, which, though it cannot be required to agree in every point with the case it is brought to illustrate, yet affords a presumption at least that the two cases agree as far as there is no reason against it. Now we know that a plant raised from a seed, is a very different thing from the seed it sprung from,

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both in form, and in size, and in most of its properties; the seed itself is completely destroyed as to its structure, and, as chemists call it, decomposed; while the young plant is nourished and its substance formed, chiefly at least, from the earth, the air, and the rains: so that if any of the particles of matter which were in the seed remain in the plant when fully grown, (which is necessarily a matter of uncertainty) they must bear an immensely small proportion to the whole. We are not, indeed, authorized to conclude that all these circumstances must correspond with what shall take place at the resurrection, merely from the apostle's having used this illustration: but he himself calls our attention to that very point; "that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die." Here we have him expressly reminding us that a grain of corn, when sown, dies, that is, is dissolved, and its structure destroyed, never to be restored; which is the very illustration used by our Lord also, in speaking of the same subject: "Verily I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and

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die, it remaineth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." We are reminded also, that it is not a plant that is sown, but a seed; and that we raise from it, not the same thing which was sown, but a plant, which is very different: "thou sowest not that body that shall be; but bare grain: it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain; but God giveth it a body, as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body."

It is indeed admitted, that according to Paul's expression, we shall all be changed; that we shall have bodies considerably different from what we now have; but still, many persons cling to the idea, that all the same particles of matter which belong to our bodies now, must be brought together and reunited: a notion not authorized by Scripture, and liable to many objections hard to be answered; which therefore are likely to be the means of shaking a man's faith in the whole doctrine. The opinion is indeed, in itself, so harmless, however groundless, that I should not have occupied your time with arguments against it, were it not that it

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leaves an opening for the cavils of irreligious scoffers. If a man who has taken up the persuasion that this notion is an essential part of the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, happens to meet with unbelievers who raise (as may easily be done) insuperable objections against it, and turn it into ridicule, the consequence will be, that he will be perplexed with doubt respecting the doctrine of the resurrection itself, and will be in danger of "making shipwreck of his faith." And thus it may chance to be of the highest practical consequence to think rightly on a point which has, in itself, no practical tendency.

Let it be remembered, then, that even for a body to be the same, it is not at all necessary that it should consist of the same particles of matter. Our bodies, we know, are undergoing a constant change of substance from continual waste and continual renewal: and anatomists, who have carefully studied the structure of the human frame, have proved that this perpetual change,—this system of constant loss and supply,—extends even to the most

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solid parts of the body, the bones; which, as well as the rest, are gradually worn away, and repaired; so that there is every reason to conclude that all the particles of matter which compose our bodies are changed several times during our life,—and that no one living body has any particle of the same substance now remaining in it, which it had several years ago. Why then should it be supposed that the same identical particles of matter, which belonged to any one's body at his death, must be brought together at his resurrection in order to make the same body; when even during his life-time the same particles did not remain, but were changed many times over?

Nor again, is it necessary, in order to constitute the same person (Whether we call it the same body or not) that the body should be the same, in form, in magnitude, or in any of its qualities. This must be evident to any one who does but reflect, that he calls himself the same person who some years ago was a child: every one who says that so many years ago he was an infant, knows well that an infant is

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extremely different, in body and in mind, from a grown man; and yet implies by the very expression, that he is the same person; since otherwise he could not say that he was that infant.

What it is that constitutes a man one and the same person, through all periods of his life, I shall not undertake to explain: but it is plain enough what it is not; it is plain that it is not resemblance of any qualities either of body or mind: likeness or unlikeness have nothing to do with it: the same person who was an infant, and is a man, is not called the same person from any resemblance between an infant and a man.

With respect to the sameness of our bodies, it seems clear enough, that a man's body is called his from its union with his soul, and the mutual influence of the one on the other. Any one of his limbs, he calls a part of his body, or a part of himself, on account of its connexion with the rest of the body, and with the mind. If the limb were cut off, he would no longer call it, properly, a part of his body; but would say, that it was so, and is, no longer.

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And his whole body is considered as the same, and as his, from year to year, not from its consisting of the same particles of matter, (which it does not) but from its belonging to the same soul,—and conveying feelings and perceptions to the same mind,—and obeying the directions of the same will. So that, if, at the resurrection, we are clothed with bodies which we, in this way, perceive to belong to us, and to be ours, it signifies nothing, of what particles of bodily substance they are composed.

In fact, if men would apply on these subjects, the same principles of common sense with which they judge of many of the affairs of human life, they would escape many difficulties, and find that there is no necessity in such a case as this, for holding a doctrine open to powerful objections. If any one's house, for instance, were destroyed, and another man promised to rebuild it for him, he would not be considered as failing in his promise because he did not put together all the former materials: if the materials were equally good, and if the man were put in possession

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of a house not less commodious and beautiful than he had before, that would be to all practical purposes sufficient. It would be thought idle cavilling to contend that this was not, strictly speaking, a rebuilding of the same house, but the building of a different one; because the materials were new; and that therefore the promise was not fulfilled. No one would attend to such a frivolous distinction, when all practical purposes were completely answered.

And the promise would be much more than fulfilled, if the materials were tenfold more durable—the building tenfold more beautiful and commodious than the former one. This will be the case of those who sleep in Christ: they will be raised up with bodies which they will feel to be their own, and which will, therefore, be their own, but which will be far different from the "earthly tabernacles" of flesh and blood in which they dwell here, and "will be made," says the Apostle, "like unto the glorious body of Christ." "All flesh," says he, "is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of beasts, another of birds, and another of fishes; there are also celestial bodies,

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and bodies terrestrial;" that is, we may well believe that the faithful will, in their glorified state, have bodies, as truly bodily as they have now, although very different from those frail and imperfect bodies in which we now dwell, and which would be even more unfit for the new and exalted state they are to enter upon, than the tender and unfinished frame of an infant is, for the actions and enjoyments of a man; for "flesh and blood," says he, (that is, such flesh and blood as we are now composed of) "cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither doth corruption" (that is, a perishable and corruptible body like ours) "inherit incorruption." A bird, a beast, and a fish, have as truly bodies, the one as the other; and each, fitted for the kind of life to which Providence has destined it, and unfitted for a different one: "all flesh," therefore, says the Apostle, "is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of beasts, and another of birds, and another of fishes:" so that, as a beast or fish, for example, must receive a different kind of body, if it were to be qualified for the life

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of a bird; so must we, if we are to enter on a new kind of existence, be qualified for it by a new kind of body.

Of this new kind of body, he tells us no more, than that it will be "incorruptible;" and that it will be (in Christ's approved followers) made after the image of his body. For as all men, being descended from Adam, bear his image, and naturally resemble him both in body and disposition, so, those who having been born anew "of water and of the Spirit," shall have laboured to "grow in grace" during this life, and to conform themselves to the pattern of their great Master, so as "to grow up into the "measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ," shall, through his unspeakable goodness, be raised up by Him, at the last day, in his likeness. Having done their utmost during this their state of trial, his mercy will do the rest, when their trial is past. The encouragement of their exertions to resemble Him, is the promise that He will complete the work for them. "We know not," says the Apostle John, "what we shall be; but we know that when He shall

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appear, we shall be like unto Him, for we shall see Him as He is; and every one that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as He is pure." "The first man," says Paul, "is of the earth, earthy, the second man is the Lord from heaven;" (in which expression he alludes to the name "Adam," which signifies "earth,") "and as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." "Behold, I shew you a mystery." (that is, I reveal to you a secret,—a truth which reason could not discover) "we shall not all sleep," (that is, all mankind will not be in the grave;—there will be one generation alive on the earth, at the time of Christ's coming to judgment,) "but we shall all be changed; in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed;"—we, that is, those who shall remain alive, shall undergo our change at the time when those asleep shall be raised; and all will together appear before their Almighty Judge.

It seems to me not improbable that the

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change which shall take place in the body, may be itself the appointed means for bringing about a change in the powers and tendencies of the mind. It is plain that the mind greatly depends on the body as its instrument; and on the several members of the body depend the exercise of several distinct powers of the mind. So that the loss or imperfection of any one particular organ,—of the eye, for instance—or of the ear,—will shut out one particular kind of knowledge and of thought from the mind;—that of colours, for instance,—or that of sounds. It is quite possible, therefore, that our minds may at this moment actually possess faculties which have never been exercised, and of which we have no notion whatever; which have lain inactive, unperceived, and undeveloped, for want of such a structure of bodily organs as is necessary to call them forth and give play to them. A familiar instance of this kind, is the case of a man born blind; whose mind or spiritual part is as perfect in itself as another man's; his mind is as capable even of receiving impressions of visible objects

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by the eyes, as if the eyes themselves (the bodily part) were perfect: for it is plainly, not eyes that see, but the mind by means of the eyes; yet through this imperfection, one whole class of ideas,—all those of objects of sight—are completely wanting in such a man. Nor could he ever even find out his imperfection, if he were not told of it: he learns from others, that there is such a thing as seeing, and as light and colours, though he cannot comprehend what they are. And if you could suppose such a case as blind persons brought up from childhood without ever being taught that others possessed a sense more than themselves, they would never suspect any thing at all on the subject: should they then obtain sight, they would be astonished at discovering that they had all along been in possession, as far as the mind is concerned, of a faculty which they had had no opportunity to exercise, and of whose very existence they had never dreamed,—the faculty of perceiving the visible objects presented to the mind by the eye. Now I think it is not unlikely,—it certainly is not impossible,—

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that the like may be our case;—that our minds may have, even now, faculties which lie dormant at present; (as the power of sight does in a blind man) and that these would be called into action by a mere change in our bodily frame, and a new system of organs; and if this should take place in a future state, we may at once be enabled to perceive, merely by means of a bodily change, whole classes of objects as new to our minds as colours are to a blindborn man; and as totally different from any we are now acquainted with, as colours are from sounds. And by some change of this kind in the brain, an equally great revolution may, for aught we can tell, be produced in our thinking faculties also,—those by which we are distinguished from brutes;—and an equal enlargement produced in our powers of reasoning and judging.

On all these points, however, the Sacred Writers have not thought fit to gratify our curiosity, but have been content to tell us generally, that we shall be greatly ehanged, without attempting to explain what that change shall be.

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And here it may be worth noticing, that the portion of Scripture we have been considering, affords an argument for the truth of our religion, that is perfectly within the reach of plain unlearned Christians;—of such persons as some pretend cannot be expected to give a reason for "the hope that is in them," but must be content to believe just what they are told. Now let such a one, if he chance to meet with an unbeliever, who treats Christianity as a series of "cunningly-devised fables," merely put before him this portion of Scripture, and ask him how it happens that neither Paul, nor any other of the sacred writers, has given a full, detailed, and captivating description of every thing that is to take place at the end of the world;—of all the interesting particulars of the glorified bodies with which the faithful will rise, and of the heavenly joys to which they will be admitted.

Nothing certainly could have been more likely to gratify the curiosity of believers, and even to attract fresh converts, than a lively and magnificent description of heavenly glories. And those

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who gave full credit to the writer, as the Corinthians evidently did to Paul, would not have hesitated to believe his account of these things. Had he been an impostor, it would not have been at all difficult for him to invent such a description; and had he been an enthusiast he could not have avoided it. One, whose imagination had got the better of his judgment, and whose wild fancies were regarded by himself as revelations, could never have treated of such a subject as this without being tempted by its mysterious and deep interest, to invent, and actually believe, a vast number of particulars respecting the other world.

Why then, you may ask, do we find nothing of this nature in the writings of the apostles? The plain answer is, because they were not either impostors or enthusiasts; but plain, simple, honest men, who taught only what had been revealed to them, and what they had been commissioned to reveal to others. You may safely defy an unbeliever to give any other answer to the question, if he can. For near eighteen centuries has this proof

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remained uncontradicted; and in all that time no one has given, or even attempted to give, any explanation of the brief, unadorned, cool, and unpretending accounts which the New-Testament-writers give of matters so interesting to man's curiosity, except by considering them as upright and sober-minded men, setting forth what they knew to be truth, just as they had received it.*

* On this subject I cannot forbear extracting a most admirable passage from the "London Review," No. II. pp. 345, 346.
"Theirs is a history of miracles, the historical picture of the scene in which the Spirit of God was poured on all flesh, and signs and wonders, visions and dreams, were part of the essentials of their narratives. How is all this related? With the same absence of high colouring and extravagant description with which other writers notice the ordinary occurrences of the world: partly no doubt for the like reason, that they were really familiar with miracles; partly too because to them these miracles had long been contemplated only as subservient measures to the great object and business of their ministry—the salvation of men's souls. On the subject of miracles, the means to this great end, they speak in calm, unimpassioned language; on man's sins, change of heart, on hope, faith, and charity; on the objects in short to be effected, they exhaust all their feelings and eloquence. Their history, from the narrative of our Lord's persecutions to those of Paul, the abomination of the Jews, embraces scenes and personages which claim from the ordinary reader a continual effusion of sorrow, or wonder, or indignation. In writers who were friends of the parties, and adherents of the cause for which they did and suffered so great things, the absence of it is on ordinary grounds inconceivable. Look at the account even of the crucifixion. Not one burst of indignation or sympathy mixes with the details of the narrative. Stephen the first martyr is stoned, and the account comprised in these few words, "They stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." The varied and immense labours and sufferings of the apostles are slightly hinted at, or else related in this dry, and frigid way: "And when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go." "And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city; and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe." Had these authors no feeling? Had their mode of life bereaved them of the common sympathies and sensibilities of human nature? Read such passages as St. Paul's parting address to the elders of Miletus; the same apostle's recommendation of the offending member of the Corinthian Church to pardon; and, more than all, the occasional bursts of conflicting feeling, in which anxious apprehension for the faith and good behaviour of his converts, is mixed with the pleasing recollection of their conversion, and the minister and the man are alike strongly displayed; and it will be plain that Christianity exercised no benumbing influence on the heart. No: their whole soul was occupied with one object, which predominated over the means subservient to it, however great those means might be. In the storm, the pilot's eye is fixed on the headland which must be weathered; in the crisis of victory or defeat the general sees only the position to be carried, and the dead and the instruments of death fall around him unheeded. On the salvation of men, on this one point, the witnesses of Christ and the ministers of his Spirit, expended all their energy of feeling and expression. All that occurred—mischance, persecution, and miracle—were glanced at by the eye of faith only in subserviency to this mark of the prize of their high calling, as working together for good, and all exempt from the associations which would attach to such events and scenes, when contemplated by themselves, and with the short-sightedness of uninspired men. Miracles were not to them objects of wonder, nor mischances a subject of sorrow and lamentation. They did all, they suffered all to the glory of God.

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I shall hereafter offer to your consideration some remarks respecting the day of judgment, and the final condition of men

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in the next world; about which also we have a clear indeed, and positive, but by no means a full and particular revelation afforded by Scripture. What it is the most important for us to know, is the most distinctly taught; and especially this, that the great day of the Lord will "come as a thief in the night," without any warning or notice whatever. What would be your sensations were I empowered to announce that it would take

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place to-morrow? Or to-day? How would you wish to have spent your time here? In what condition to be found? For aught we know it may come at any time; but if you believe the Scriptures, you are sure it must, at some time or other; and if that should not be for a thousand years hence, yet practically, to each one of us, it will take place very soon: for to each individual man, the end of his own life is as the end of the world: it is the end of his business in this world; it is his summons to meet his Judge. Consider therefore now, how you would wish to have lived if this your end were at hand. If I could reveal to you that it is so, my notice would come too late; the past cannot be altered, and there would, in that case, be no future to amend. It is precisely because I do not give this notice,—because you are still in a state of uncertainty,—that it is profitable to think on the subject, and to prepare betimes for that which cannot be prepared for when it comes; when the bridegroom knocks, it will be too late to seek oil for your lamps.

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"Watch, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of Man cometh." "Blessed is the servant, whom his Lord, when He cometh, shall find watching."


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Day of Judgment.

IN pursuing the regular course of our inquiries, we proceed naturally from the consideration of the resurrection to that of the final judgment which immediately follows. Of the many places in Scripture which relate to that event, there is one in the fifth chapter of the Apostle Paul's second Epistle to the Corinthians, to which I particularly wish to call your attention; because in studying the passage as a whole, you will perceive the importance of the rule I have so often insisted on; that of not interpreting single texts by themselves, but judging of them partly by the general drift and tenour of the whole discourse, (examining what goes before and what follows) and partly, from a comparison of one passage with another, so as to reconcile each part of Scripture with the rest. Take, for example, the

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words of the tenth verse, (which are those most frequently quoted) by themselves, and they will not only afford no indication of any such doctrine as the resurrection of the body, but would seem rather to imply the contrary: "We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in the body:" here, our present state in this world is spoken of, as "in the body;" and there is nothing in the passage to lead us to suppose that we shall have bodies when we appear before Christ's judgment-seat; the two conditions, that of being "in the body," and that in which we shall "appear before the judgment-seat of Christ," seem opposed and contrasted to one another. And if you look at some of the preceding verses, they would seem rather to imply of themselves, that the Apostle is speaking of a separate state, without a body: "knowing," says he, "that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord, we are willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord: wherefore we labour that

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whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him:" and then follow the words, "We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, to give an account of the things done in the body." This passage would, I say, of itself, seem to relate to the condition of the soul separate from the body; and indeed some commentators have referred to it as regarding the separate state; but they should have remembered that the Apostle seems to be most evidently alluding to the state, whatever it is, in which we are to appear before Christ's judgment-seat; so that if we are then to have bodies, he cannot be supposed, without a very forced and harsh interpretation, to be speaking of a separate state, in the verses immediately preceding. And if you look yet a little further back, Paul himself furnishes a ready interpretation of his own expression here: "We know," says he, "that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God,—an house not made with hands,—eternal in the heavens." That is, when the bodies in which we now dwell (which

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he calls tents or tabernacles, to indicate that they are not our lasting and final habitations; a tent being only a temporary residence, which, after a time, is taken down and removed) are destroyed, we have another dwelling provided for us,—a permanent habitation, (which may therefore be more properly styled a "house,") viz. immortal bodies, in which we shall be clothed at the resurrection. And shortly after he adds, "We, that are in this tabernacle, do groan, being burdened;" (labouring, that is, under the infirmities, temptations, and imperfections to which our earthly bodies are subject,) "not that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon; that mortality might be swallowed up of life." Here, having spoken of the burden of that corruptible body which we now inhabit, he adds this caution, on purpose, as it seems, to guard against the supposition that the deliverance he looks for from this burden, is, a separate state of the soul: what we desire, he says, is, "not to be unclothed," (namely, as in a separate state) but the hope we cherish is, he says, "to be clothed upon," that is, to have

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an addition made to what we now possess, by being placed in a far superior habitation,—by having "our vile bodies made like unto Christ's glorious body." And these our glorified bodies are to be of so refined and purified a nature, in comparison of what we now have, as to be called by him "spiritual bodies;" for "flesh and blood," says he, in the same place,* (that is, such gross materials as our present flesh and blood) "cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven. And when you observe that in that very passage where he says that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven," he is distinctly teaching, that Christians shall nevertheless, in that kingdom of heaven, have bodies, (though very different from what they have now) you may easily perceive how he comes in this place also to speak of being "absent from the body and present with the Lord," when he is speaking not of a separate state, but of absence from such a body, of gross flesh and blood, as we now dwell in. The body in which he speaks of the Christian as being "at home,"

* 1 Corinthians xv.

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whilst he is "absent from the Lord," is evidently that "earthly tabernacle" which he hast just before spoken of as a burden; and the deliverance from that burden (of which he holds out the encouraging hope) is, not of being "unclothed,"—not a separate state,—but the condition of being clothed upon, namely, with our spiritual and eternal body. If, therefore, the commentators I alluded to, had studied the whole passage as a whole, they would clearly have perceived, I think, that whatever may be the state of the soul between death and the final resurrection, nothing is here revealed concerning it; nor is the Apostle at all alluding to that, but to the state in which we shall "appear before the judgment-seat of Christ."

The Day of this final Judgment after the resurrection, whatever may, in fact, become of men in the meantime, is the only thing ever alluded to in Scripture, when the object is either to encourage, or to awaken and alarm men;—to comfort them concerning those that sleep in Christ, or on the other hand, (as the Apostle expresses it, in the very next verse to the

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one above quoted), "knowing the terrors of the Lord to persuade men." Concerning the particulars, however, of this great day, the Scriptures afford us but scanty information, though they give us the most positive assurances that it will take place, and instruct us how and when to prepare for it. Yet even the little that is revealed on the subject it would be easy to misinterpret, if any one were to take some single passage by itself, and judge from that alone without calling in the aid of Scripture to limit and modify,—to fill up and explain it. Take, for example, this text; "We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad:" what can be plainer, a man might say, (from a view of this passage alone) than a man's final salvation or condemnation at the day of judgment depends entirely upon the actions he has performed—the deeds done—in this world, without any regard to his faith,—without any consideration of the motives on which he acted, which are not mentioned here,—without

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piety or any sense of religion being taken into account at all. And thence he might infer (as some have actually done) that all kinds of faith, and all kinds of principle, are equally acceptable, or rather, equally indifferent, to the Almighty; and that all we have to do, is, to take care of the external conduct. Again, on the other hand, let any one take, by itself, our Lord's parting declaration to his disciples, after the command given them to preach the Gospel, "He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned." From this, he might say, it is evident that good works are of no consequence at all, and that every one who has belief, and is admitted into the Church by baptism, is sure of salvation, whatever kind of life he may lead. Thus you see (as I have before observed), that single texts of Scripture may be so interpreted, if not compared together, and explained by each other, as to contradict one another, and to be each one of them at variance with the truth; the Scriptures, if so studied, will no less mislead you than if they were actually

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false; for half the truth will very often amount to absolute falsehood. If Scripture be interpreted by Scripture, it will appear plainly, that Jesus is speaking of that kind of faith which shews itself in an obedience to his commands,—in believing in such a manner as to act agreeably to that belief; even as Abraham did, of whom it is recorded, that " he believed in God, and it was counted to him for righteousness," because, in conformity with his belief, he obeyed God's commands; and who is accordingly cited by Paul as an example of a man "justified by faith," and by James, of a man "justified by works;" the faith being manifested by the works, which sprung out of it. In like manner, Paul, in the passage before us, is only reminding the Corinthians, that the encouragement he has just been holding out to them, of quitting this earthly tabernacle for the immortal habitation of a glorified body, is not an encouragement held out to all, nor to all who call themselves Christians; but to those only who shall be found acceptable before their Judge at the last day; on which they will have

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to render an exact account of the life they have led. He had no need to caution them against supposing that the actual deeds performed were all that would be taken into account; no reader or hearers of this Apostle could need to be warned, that it is only for the sake of Christ's meritorious sacrifice, and through faith in Him, that our endeavours after virtue can be accepted; since that doctrine he had been inculcating in every page, and in every variety of expression.

Universally, with respect to the nature of the examination we are to undergo,—the principles on which we are to be judged,—any one may easily be misled by attending merely to any one single text. Jesus himself, who, in one place, speaks merely of "belief" in Him, and of baptism, as insuring salvation, in another place, describes the day of judgment so as to dwell entirely and exclusively on the neglect or fulfilment of the duties of benevolence; representing himself as pronouncing a blessing on those who shall have ministered to the hungry, the naked, the sick, and the prisoners, and a curse

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on those who shall have withheld their charitable offices; meaning to impress on their minds (as is evident to any who considers the general sense of Scripture), that this is one great branch of christian duty, concerning which inquiry will be made on the last day; and that although we can in reality do Him no service; yet He will, on that day, graciously consider our labour of love toward our brethren, as a benefit done to Himself, and as claiming reward at his hands. In another place, the duty of abstaining from presumptuous judgment of one another is recommended in the same manner; "Judge not, that ye be not judged;" and so also Paul, "Let no man judge his brother; for we must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ." And in another place, the government of the tongue is inculcated in like manner; "Every idle word that men speak, they shall give an account thereof at the day of judgment; for by thy words shalt thou be justified, and by thy words shalt thou be condemned;" that is, by thy words, as well as actions and thoughts. And, in short, almost every

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christian duty, in its turn, is, in some part of Scripture or other, placed in this point of view; to remind men what an awful account they must render respecting it; but without any idea of teaching that they are not to render an account of the rest also.

As for the manner in which mankind shall be tried before this awful judgment-seat, it is, of course, impossible for us to decide positively, or even conjecture clearly, respecting a transaction so totally different from all that we have experienced, or can conceive; which is not only altogether miraculous (that is, out of the common course of nature), but different even from all other miracles that are recorded.

Among the miraculous circumstances of it, is this, that it is spoken of as taking place at one and the same time. I do not mean that because it is called the day of judgment, we are necessarily to suppose it will occupy just that portion of time which we now call a day; but it must clearly be something that can be called some one time, since we are told of the dead, generally being raised, together, at

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the appointed signal, and appearing immediately, in all their countless generations, before the tribunal of their great Judge, to receive their final doom; though it would take ages even to recite the very names of all the individuals who have lived on the earth, even up to this present time: as you may easily convince yourselves if you will make even the roughest calculation. But we must remember, that as God is in all places equally at the same moment of time, and sees and knows not one thing only, at one time, as we do, but, all things, at all times, so, each one of us accordingly, is, at all times (even at the moment I am speaking), standing in the presence of God, open and unveiled; and is seen by Him,—as to his very inmost thoughts, no less than his outward actions,—as to all his past life, no less than what he now is;—as perfectly as if there were no other Being in the creation but himself;—as completely as if the same all-present Mind did not, as it does, penetrate into the secret recesses of every other human heart also, that is, or was, or will be.

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So of course will it be at the day of judgment; each man will then, as now, appear revealed in the presence of God; with this difference only, that he will then be made to know and feel that he is thus displayed before his Judge; which now, we only believe (for "we walk," says Paul, "by faith, and not by sight"), and which the greater part of mankind seldom, if ever, think about; while even the best Christians, under the burden of this their earthly tabernacle, labour hard, by earnest meditation, to fix their thoughts upon the constant presence of God: but then, all mankind, without any effort of their own, will clearly perceive the all-searching Eye, directed, each one, as full upon himself as if he stood alone; though millions upon millions of his fellow-creatures will be at the same moment, in the same condition. "Every eye shall see Him," says the Apostle John, "and they also who pierced Him,"—both those whose hands actually nailed Him to the Cross, and those who, (as Paul says), by falling away, "crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame,"—both they

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who deny, and they who disregard the Gospel,—all will be, at that day, witnesses, whether they will or not,—witnesses, together with the Apostles, of his glorious resurrection. He sees each one of us, always; but then, we shall see Him; we shall no longer be "walking by faith, and not by sight," and "seeing through a glass, darkly;"—none will then be so blinded as not to acknowledge or not to think of his immediate presence, even of those who will be ready to "call on the mountains to hide them, and on the hills to cover them" from it.

But on that great day, each man will, not only see his Judge; he will also see himself; which is what no one can do perfectly at present, and which few, I fear, endeavour to do at all. Many of our words and actions, and many more of our thoughts, have completely fled from our memory; there are even many of these that we should not know to be ours, if we were reminded of them; and what is more, a great portion of men's lives and characters, they remember, but do not rightly estimate: it is the study of a large portion

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of mankind to deceive themselves; either by silencing their conscience, or by perverting it; either by taking care to avoid judging themselves, or by aiming at, not a fair, but a favourable judgment. All self-delusion of this kind, will vanish at the last day: the register of each man's thoughts, and words, and works, is kept for him by a hand which cannot err,—which will omit nothing, and disguise nothing: and the record will on that day be presented before his eyes, complete. And to do this,—we may well believe, though we cannot comprehend it,—to set before each man this picture of himself,—may easily be the work but of a moment. In our present state indeed, to recall to mind, and reflect upon, and judge of, even a small portion of one's life, occupies much time; but then we shall be in a different state. And our experience even here, is sufficient to convince us that no bounds can be set to the possible rapidity of thought. There are some persons to whom it occasionally happens that at some particular moments, the events of many past years flash across the mind, as it were, very distinctly, in a very

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short time; though it would take many hours to record them in words: and in the case of dreaming, it must have occurred to most of you, that now and then a long series of events, such as would occupy several weeks or months, and such as could not even be described in a day's time, will be presented to the mind, and will appear to pass, during a sleep of perhaps less than an hour. And since thought is thus rapid,—and, to all appearance, much more so at some times than at others,—and since it is plain that there are no conceivable limits to its possible rapidity, we know no reason why its swiftness may not be increased ten thousand fold in a different state; it is neither impossible, nor even improbable, that in another life, a single moment may set before us a vivid, complete, distinct, recollection of all that has passed in this; and that each may thus have as sudden, as clear, and as complete a view of his own character, as he has of his person when a glass is placed before him.

It is not unlikely therefore that the only witness to be summoned at this great trial

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of each one of us, will be, his own conscience;—his conscience, not darkened as now by the imperfection of his present faculties—not perverted any longer by self-partiality—not hardened by familiarity with sin;—but a conscience frightfully true, distinct, and impartial. What a picture will this present, even to the best of us! What stains will appear even in the brightest character, when thus viewed by the individual who owns it! The testimony which this faithful witness will then bear, in each man's cause, will be such as to make him feel humbled, and awed, and unfit, of himself, to be justified before God.

Such is the representation which the true Christian's conscience makes, now; then, it will be the same with every man; and far the most with those who are now the least impressed with the thought. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us;" then, no one will be deceived. But the difference will be, that those who have carefully regulated and carefully obeyed their conscience here, will have the less ground to

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dread its testimony there; it will not testify indeed that they are meritorious in God's sight; but they will in this life have renounced their own merits, and thrown themselves entirely on the mercies of God, in Christ; they will have said, not with their lips only, but in their hearts, and in their lives, "Enter not into judgment with thy servant,? Lord, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified;" their conscience will not deceive them by telling them that they "have no sin"—but they will have confessed their, sins, in the only way that can obtain forgiveness, not in mere general, formal, words, but with deep abhorrence of them;—not, as if they were to be satisfied with the bare confession, but with hearty desire and unceasing endeavours to shake them off: their conscience will not tell them that areworthy of the mercies of Christ, in thus living and dying for them; but it will bear witness that they have " loved Him who first loved them," and have laboured in their lives to give proof of their love "by keeping his commandments." And the stains and blemishes which they will still

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have been bewailing and struggling to clear away, will be washed out before their eyes in the blood of the Lamb, "who taketh away the sins of the world,"—their "faith will make them whole." Not so, those who shall have wanted faith in Christ, or who shall have "held the truth in unrighteousness"—not so, those who will then for the first time have a faithful and a tender conscience;"who shall have put off the thoughts of the last day, till the day is come;"who shall have prided themselves in their good works, and trusted in their atoning efficacy; or who shall have been content to confess their sins in general terms, without labouring to escape from each one in particular; and trusted carelessly in the mercy of God, without thinking of the conditions of his mercy. Multitudes no doubt will then be found, even of those who are not ill-satisfied with themselves now, who will then wish that their time of trial were to come over again, even though they were to spend such lives of hardship, and die such deaths of torture, as the ancient martyrs. But wishes will then come too late; the wishes of Christ's

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faithful servants will then be fulfilled; and those of the disobedient will then be vain.

It is not however too late yet! Such thoughts as may not perhaps be pleasant to some of us, will yet be profitable; then, they will be unprofitable; though they must be present, and arrayed in tenfold terrors. Of that record of each man's life which will be completed at his death, and which will be displayed before him at his final trial,—a portion (I cannot tell how long or short) is yet unfinished: the past is out of our power; but what will the record of the remaining part of your life contain? This is no question of speculative curiosity,—for it depends on you what it shall contain. To-morrow, if you live till then, another day will have been taken from the sum of that future which is in your power, and added to the irretrievable past;—enrolled, with the rest of your life, in that unerring record, which will hereafter be placed before you. Strive therefore, earnestly, that the remainder of your life, from this moment, may be better than what has gone before, whether that be good or bad. Place God always before

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you now, since then He will be before you; and for that purpose, apply to Him constantly for the grace of his Holy Spirit, which is never sought in vain if it be sought in time; and say—(now that there is time for it)—say, not with your lips only, but with your heart, and in your future conduct, "in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment, good Lord deliver us."

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Expected Restoration of the Jews; and Millennium.

BEFORE I proceed to offer any remarks on the final condition of men in the next world, it will be necessary to say a few words relative to the events which some persons expect are to take place before the day of judgment; or during the very continuance of it. And some of you, therefore, may perhaps wonder that I should not have noticed these matters earlier, before the mention of the resurrection. My reasons, however, for not having done so, you will presently perceive.

The notions I allude to, which have been formed by some Christians from their mode of interpreting certain passages of

* For the greater part of the matter of this Lecture, the Author is indebted to a friend well known by his own publications on religious subjects.

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Scripture, are these: that before the end of the world the whole body of unbelieving Jews are to be converted to Christianity,—are to be collected in their own country,—and are there to enjoy a superior degree of divine favour, as being restored to the privileges of God's peculiar people, blest in a higher degree than ever, with wealth and temporal prosperity: that Jerusalem is to be restored to all its ancient magnificence, and even much greater; and that Jesus Christ is to reign there, in bodily presence, for, a thousand years.* Moreover, that when he shall come on earth for this purpose, he will first raise from the dead his saints; that is, all truly good Christians, who shall have died before that time; and that these, together with the converted Jews, will reign with him in great worldly splendour till the end of the thousand years, when the rest of the dead will be raised; and that the saints, together with Christ, will then pass judg-

* This period of time has hence been called the MILLENNIUM, which is a Latin word, signifying a space of one thousand years.


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ment on them. I do not mean that all who hold any of these opinions, must of coarse hold every one of them just as here stated: on the contrary, there is a great diversity of opinion as to particular points, among those who, on the whole, take some such general view of the subject as I have laid before you. It would be foreign from my purpose to enter on an examination of all these particulars, and to discuss the various interpretations which different persons have given of almost every one of the passages of Scripture that have been thought to relate to this question. The whole system, of which I have given a general sketch, the best I am able, appears to me founded on a misunderstanding of Scripture; and consequently to be erroneous throughout; otherwise, indeed, I should of course have treated of these points before I entered on the subject of the resurrection and the day of judgment.

I. I will offer some observations, first, on the last-mentioned of these points, namely, the expectation that the saints, or faithful Christians, are to take a share in the general judgment.

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This, I believe, is derived chiefly, if not entirely, from a passage in the first Epistle to the Corinthians, chap. vi. But if you will attentively consider the drift of the Apostle's words, you will see that they will not warrant such a conclusion. "Dare any of you," says he, "having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the Church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man amongst you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers." Now you may observe in this passage, 1st, that the Apostle is plainly making no revelation of a truth before hidden, but is appealing to the Corinthians themselves in respect

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of a well-known and well-understood fact; for his expression is, "do ye not know," &c.

2dly. That under the title of saints, he is speaking, as indeed he always does, of all Christians without exception, not particularizing those of them who should persevere in leading a godly life. It is very important to observe, and to keep in mind, this use of the word "saints" in Scripture; never to denote the more excellent Christians, as distinguished from the rest; but all who had embraced the christian faith; and who were therefore dedicated and consecrated to Christ by baptism into his name, as his holy and peculiar people; whether they lived afterwards such a life "as becometh saints," or, like God's peculiar people of old, the Israelites, incurred his displeasure by disobedience.

3dly. It should be observed (though the words of our translation would not lead the reader to suppose so) that the Apostle is not speaking of something that is to take place hereafter, but of something already begun and actually going on: for the sense is, (according to the

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reading of the best copies of the original) not, "the saints shall judge the world,"—"the world shall be judged by you," but "the saints judge," &c. "the world is judged—is being judged by you."

All this does not look as if the Apostle were teaching that Christians of eminent piety are, at the end of the world, to sit in judgment on the rest of mankind; especially when we consider that the same Apostle repeatedly assures us that we "must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ;" and that Christ himself, under the figure.of the sheep and the goats, (Matthew xxv.) speaks of his pronouncing sentence, on the last day, on the good and the bad. He makes no mention of any such thing (which, in itself, is surely a strange and unlikely thing) as the good, being first separated from the bad, and afterwards sitting to judge them;—to judge, that is, those whose condemnation was already pronounced by the very circumstance of the separation.

The most reasonable interpretation, therefore, of this passage seems to be that which was adopted by the most

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ancient divines;* to whom the more attention is due in a question of this kind, because they used the Greek language, in which Paul wrote, and were accustomed probably to the use of the same words in the same sense in which he employs them. They understand the Apostle to mean by the word which we translate "judge," the same as "condemn." Any one who takes the right course, by so doing, condemns,—in the New-Testament language, "judges,"—those who, with equal opportunities, choose the wrong. This was the case with the Corinthian Christians (or saints); who, by embracing the Gospel, judged (in this sense) their unbelieving neighbours, to whom it had been proposed and who rejected it; they had set these an example of faith which they had not followed; and they also, as far as they conformed their lives to the spirit of the Gospel, condemned and put to shame by their example the gross vices of those who continued pagans.

* Namely, Chrysostom and others.

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Thus our Lord, from whose expressions mauy that are used by his Apostles seem to have been borrowed, speaks of the men of. Nineveh rising in judgment against that generation and condemning it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and the Queen of the South, because she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Not that He meant, or was ever understood to mean, that these persons would themselves take a share in the final Judgment; but that their conduct would be a condemnation of the unbelieving generation who rejected one greater than Jonas, and than Solomon. Here indeed He uses the word "condemn" as well as "judge;" but this last is often employed by the sacred writers to imply the other; as for example (Romans ii. 3.) "And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?" and so in many other places. And not only had Jesus used the expression in this sense, but He had used it even with reference to the very subject the Apostle is speaking of to the

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Corinthians, the judgment of the world (that is, the sinful unbelieving world, of which Satan is called in Scripture "the Ruler") and of Angels, namely, "the Devil and his angels:" and hence it is that Paul addresses the Corinthians as knowing, from their knowledge of what Jesus himself had declared, the truth of what he is saying to them. In John xii. 31, we read that he said, "Now is the judgment of this world; now" (that is, immediately, very soon) "shall the prince of this world be judged." Chapter xvi. ver. 11, contains the fuller and more explicit statement of that promise. "The Comforter," he told his disciples, "shall convince the world …… of Judgment; because the prince of this world is judged." The Judgment of the world, or the world's Ruler then, was to be a part of the Comforter's agency; it was through the Holy Spirit's influence that the dominion of Sin and Satan was to be condemned and destroyed. And this is precisely and plainly Paul's meaning. "Know ye not," he writes, "that the saints" (that is, those who are sanctified by the Holy Spirit;—those through whom

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the Comforter was manifested—) "judge the world:" … in you (for this is precisely the sense of the original; not by you) … in you the world is judged, &c.; that is, it is by the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, and by the faith and goodness which are its fruits, shewn in your lives, that the world is judged,—the evil Spirit which dwells in it, and its unbelief and unrighteousness, condemned.

It does not appear then from this passage of the Apostle, that he was teaching the Corinthians to expect that the saints should at the last day sit in judgment on the rest of mankind. Nor is there any thing in any other part of Scripture to establish such an expectation; but rather the reverse.

II. You will find, on attentive examination, as little reason for thinking that this Apostle teaches us to expect a resurrection of pious Christians before the general resurrection.

Many mistakes as to the sense of Scripture have arisen from the reader's taking a single sentence, or even part of a sentence by itself, without any regard to the

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context, and to the general drift of the writer. Thus, in respect of the present question, there is a single clause in the first Epistle to the Thessalonians, which might of itself seem to favour the notion of two resurrections: (chap. iv. ver. 16) "the dead in Christ shall rise first." But if you examine the whole passage, you will see at once that Paul is not speaking of any precedence in resurrection which those that rise to happiness are to have over the rest of the dead; but of the dead (as opposed to the living Christians), being raised up before those faithful servants of Christ who shall be alive at his coming, shall receive their summons to meet him. The Thessalonians (as I observed in a former Lecture) seem to have had some doubts on this point, which the Apostle takes care to remove; by assuring them that they who "are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent (that is, have precedence of) them that are asleep:" on the contrary, "the dead in Christ shall rise first;" then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them," &c. He is plainly

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speaking, not of "the dead in Christ," as distinguished from those who are not in Christ; but of "the dead in Christ," as distinguished from the living.

Another text, which has perhaps gone some way to favour the same notion, is in the first Epistle to the Corinthians, chap. xv. ver. 23, 24, "Each in his own order: Christ the first-fruits; then they who are Christ's at his coming; then cometh the end," &c.

Here again, if you look to the general drift of what the Apostle is saying, you will at once see that his object was to remove any doubt as to the resurrection of Christ's faithful servants; any doubt, I mean, which might arise from our seeing that they are not, like Him, raised immediately after death. The Apostle, accordingly, illustrates the difference between the Lord's resurrection and theirs by the image of the first-fruits of the harvest, and the harvest itself. The first-fruits were indeed gathered before the rest of the corn;—but they were the pledge and earnest of a general gathering: the remaining ears were no less certainly

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reserved for one great and common reaping. This taking place, then all is over—"then cometh the end."

III. I believe, however, that it is chiefly from the twentieth and twenty-first chapters of the Book of Revelation, that the expectations have been drawn of a literal resurrection from the dead of pious Christians before the final resurrection,—their splendid reign with Christ in person for a thousand years,—the literal restoration of Jerusalem, &c.

Now, I must confess, I am very much disinclined to this interpretation of Scripture, from the nature of the case;—from finding such views as these at variance (as I shall presently show) with the general character of the Christian religion. But setting aside, for the present, all these considerations, let us look merely to the passage itself, and see whether there are not strong reasons for concluding that it is to be understood, not literally, but figuratively.

First, then, you should consider that this book is professedly, and throughout, prophetical; like those more ancient pro-

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phecies, which foretold the coming of the Christ. It is evidently fashioned on the model of the Book of Daniel.

Secondly, it should be remembered, that it is part of the character of the Scripture-prophecies not to be so framed as to be fully understood before the event. This is, I conceive, what the Apostle Peter means, when he says that prophecy is not (in the words of our translation) "of private interpretation." I am not sure what sense our translators meant to convey by those words; but the signification of the original words used by Peter seems to be, that "Prophecy is not to be its own interpreter;" that is, is not to have its full sense made out (like that of any other kind of composition) by the study of the very words of each prophecy itself; but it is to be interpreted by the event that fulfils it. When we read, in Scripture or elsewhere, a history of any past transaction, or a statement of any doctrine, we may expect, generally speaking, that it shall be its own interpreter;—that by attentively studying what the writer has said, we shall arrive at a full know-

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ledge of his meaning. But it is not so with the greater part of the Scripture-prophecies. They are mostly so drawn up, that the events which fulfil them should be also needed to explain their meaning; and more than this; that even when fulfilled, it should be possible for the uncandid, the prejudiced, and the perverse, to miss the explanation, and to be blind to the fulfilment; while those who are humble, patient, and docile, are enabled to understand it.

This you may perceive, by looking at those prophecies in the Old Testament which have been already fulfilled; for that will be the best way of guarding against mistakes as to those which have not yet been fulfilled. There are, as you know, numerous types and predictions in the Old Testament relating to the Gospel. Now, if these had been so clearly framed that every reader had understood precisely what it was that was thus foreshown, in all the particulars, and that when the events took place, no one could possibly doubt about the fulfilment; then, when Christ did come, there would have been no room

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for any exercise of faith in believing on Him, but all would have been compelled to acknowledge Him. And this does not seem to have been the design of the Almighty. He seems to have intended that the prophecies should be obscure, and imperfectly understood before their fulfilment; and that when they were fulfilled, they should be intelligible only to those who would "search the Scriptures" with a candid mind; while the perverse and obstinate might still have an opportunity left them of unbelief,—might have it in their power to shut their eyes against the evidence, and to make their "ears dull of hearing," so as not to "see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and be converted." (Matthew xiii. 15.)

Accordingly, though enough was declared to satisfy the Israelites of old that the Lord had in store some great deliverance for his people, by the hands of a Christ or Anointed King, the nature of his kingdom was not set forth in such a manner as fully to prepare them for what actually came to pass. On the contrary,

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most of the prophecies, if interpreted literally, (and this is a very important point for us to remember) led to the expectation of a Saviour who should work a great temporal deliverance for his people;—who should establish a kingdom of great worldly splendour. And such were the kind of expectations which, in consequence, were generally entertained.—When, therefore, Jesus Christ came, the uncandid and bigoted, for this reason, rejected Him; while the humble and honest-hearted were gradually brought to understand that his "kingdom is not of this world;" and the prophecies of his triumphs and dominion are to be understood figuratively and spiritually. And thus they received the reward of their Faith: by which word is to be understood, not blind credulity, but openness to rational conviction;—not, a disposition to believe without good evidence, but a readiness to weigh the evidence fairly, and decide according to it, however strange and unexpected and unwelcome may be the conclusion it leads to. Now had those predictions been fulfilled, literally, in the

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manner expected by most of the Jews, there could, as I have said, have been no trial of this faith. For example, it had been foretold by Malachi, that "Elias must come" (Malachi iv. 5.) before the Christ; and by Daniel, that the sign of the Son of Man should appear in Heaven. The Jews, naturally enough, expected that Elias (Elijah) who, they knew, had been visibly removed from the earth in a fiery chariot, (2 Kings ii.) should return in person with the same splendid appearance: (Matthew xvii. 10.) and that when the Christ should come, He should appear openly "in the clouds of Heaven," and deliver them from the Gentiles, and establish a splendid kingdom on earth. Had these things taken place, all men would have been forced into belief. But though it was necessary that these prophecies should be fulfilled, it was so provided that the uncandid and bigoted who would listen to nothing that did not agree with their own expectations, should be able so to blind themselves as not to "discern the signs of the times;" while the eye of honest and patient faith penetrated beyond

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the veil, and saw the prophecies fulfilled; though in a manner the most unexpected. "None of the wicked will understand; but the wise will understand." (Daniel xii. 10.) John the Baptist, they at length understood, had come as another Elias—"in the spirit and power of Elias," (Luke i. 17.) calling the Israelites who had sinned (like the real Elijah of old) to return to the Lord. And the Son of Man came with no visible glory, save the working of such miracles as "no man can do, except God be with him;" reserving his splendid triumph over all enemies till the final consummation of all things;—shewing Himself in.glory only to three disciples in private; submitting to indignities and to a degrading death; and establishing an humble, a despised, and persecuted kingdom,—a spiritual kingdom that "came not with observation," but was "within" the hearts of his followers. And instead of making (as many prophecies had seemed plainly to declare) the Mosaic law perpetual, in the literal observance of it, and setting the Jews above all nations of the earth, Jesus, on the contrary, changed the

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law which "had a shadow of good things to come," into the Gospel, which had been figuratively and obscurely signified by the ceremonies of the law; and "opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers," making the Gentiles "children of Abraham by faith," and the adopted "Israel of God." All this enabled and induced the perverse and self-willed to reject the Christ when he appeared.

Surely it is not too much to say "all these things happened unto them for examples, and are written for our admonition." It is declared in the Book of Revelation that certain saints shall rise before the general resurrection, &c.; but no less plainly was it declared to the Jews of old, that Elias should come before the Messiah, who should himself appear in the clouds. Is it not likely that there may be an agreement between these two prophecies? I mean, that, as the one had a figurative and spiritual signification, so also may the other; and, moreover, as the fulfilment of the former prophecy was not (by the greater part of the Jews) perceived, when it did take place, from their

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being bigoted to a literal interpretation; so also may it be with the other. It may signify, therefore, (and may be for that reason not understood by many when it comes to pass) not the literal raising of dead men, but the raising up of an increased christian zeal and holiness;—the revival in the Christian Church, or in some considerable portion of it, of the spirit and energy of the noble martyrs of old; (even as John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elias, Luke i. 17,) so that Christian principles shall be displayed in action throughout the world in an infinitely greater degree than ever before: and this, for a considerable time before the end of the world; though not perhaps for the literal and precise period of a thousand years. And that this should be called a resurrection, is not by any means a more strange and violent figure of speech than the use of the expression "new birth," or regeneration, to denote the change wrought in a Christian's heart. This metaphor was, at first, very strange and unintelligible, as we see by the perplexity it occasioned to Nicodemus.

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Again, as the literal coming of Elias in his flaming chariot would have compelled assent even in the most perverse, (which was never God's design) so, even much more, the overpowering spectacle of Christ's returning upon earth in person, and raising vast multitudes of saints from the dead, would leave no place for faith,—no room for wilful blindness; but would force belief upon all men, even the most proud and obstinate: and that, for ten centuries together; at the end of which every one would know that the end of the world was to come. If all this were to take place, that would be utterly false which is so repeatedly and earnestly declared by our Lord, that he is to come "as a thief in the night," and that the day of judgment is to come "as a snare upon all the inhabitants of the earth," even as Noah's flood did. Whereas, "if the good man of the house had known at what hour the thief would come, he would have watched," &c.

Surely the safest way of interpreting any prophecy not yet fulfilled, is to look to the case of another prophecy, which is

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already accomplished, and observe the analogy between the two cases. We should take warning by the example of the Jews; and endeavour to escape such mistakes as they fell into, in interpreting the prophecies relating to Christ, by being ourselves prepared to expect (what they would not admit) a figurative, rather than a literal sense in prophecy;—by not seeking, like them, (before the end of the world) "a sign from heaven," (Luke xi. 16, and Daniel vii. 13) of so palpable, and startling, and overpowering a character, as to leave no exercise for faith, and no room for perverse unbelief.

I think then, that even looking to these prophecies alone, without considering before-hand what is likely to be found in them, they afford no ground for expecting a literal first resurrection of saints, together with the rest of the events connected with it. It is more agreeable to the general character of the Scripture-prophecies,—(especially those relating to Christ's kingdom) to be, in their meaning, spiritual rather than earthly and carnal; in their expression figurative and obscure,

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rather than so literal and plain that no perversity could misunderstand them.

And if you look to the rest of Scripture,—to the general character of the Christian religion, you will see much stronger reasons still against those notions which I have been speaking of. And it is very important to recollect this,—that, on the one hand, the book of Revelation is confessedly the most obscure and difficult in the whole Bible; while, on the other hand, the great leading doctrines of the Gospel,—the general character and spirit of Christianity, are set forth in Scripture as most persons would allow, and, as is evidently needful, more clearly than any thing else: Now when there are two portions of Scripture which at the first glance might seem rather at variance, is it natural and reasonable to make the most obscure and doubtful portion set aside the plain and obvious meaning of the simplest and easiest? Does hot common sense dictate the very reverse? namely, to explain an obscure prophecy, such as that we have been speaking of, by the general tenor of Scripture, and

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according to the general character of the Christian religion, which is so frequently and so strongly set forth. Now nothing can be more at variance with this, than a literal reign of Christ, in bodily person, for a thousand years, at Jerusalem,—a literal restoration of the Jews to their country; and all the other circumstances of a literal and carnal Millennium.

For to say nothing of the point I have already mentioned, the assurances in Scripture that the end of the world will come as unexpectedly as a thief in the night, which are utterly inconsistent with the notion of such a plain and palpable warning, as the restoration of Jerusalem and all the other circumstances of such a Millennium, would afford,—to say nothing of this,—is it not plain that the course of the divine dispensations would be going back instead of advancing, if a worldly Kingdom of God were to succeed a spiritual one?—if temporal splendour and prosperity, the blessings promised to God's favoured people under the old covenant, were to succeed and be added on to the pure and celestial glories promised under the Gospel,—such

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as "eye hath not seefc, nor ear heard?" To the Israelites of old Moses had no commission to hold ont the hopes and fears of another world; hut only "a land flowing with milk and honey," and long life, and victory, and other temporal rewards. But "the bringing in of a better hope," (Hebrews vii. 19,) by the Gospel, taught the Christian to "set his afiection on things above, not on things on the earth," (Colossians iii. 2,) and to look for a heavenly Canaan, a land of promise beyond the grave. God's kingdom of old was a kingdom of this world; but Christ's "kingdom is not of this world." And surely it would be going back to the carnal dispensation (which the Gospel set aside) to look for the establishment of a splendid and prosperous earthly kingdom at Jerusalem, for the saints, for whom "some better thing has been provided," (Hebrews xi. 40.)

Again, the universality of Christ's kingdom forbids such a notion. God thought fit, of old, to manifest himself to one peculiar nation. His "Glory," or Shechinah, by which he manifested himself to Moses


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in the bush and at Mount Sinai, dwelt afterwards in the Temple at Jerusalem, to which all his worshippers were commanded to resort. It was the place which the Lord had chosen to set his Name there: 2 Chronicles vi. and vii. (that is, his manifestation.) Next, he was "manifest in the flesh," (1 Timothy iii. 16.) in Christ, who was the Emmanuel, "God with us." This presence or manifestation of God was no longer confined to one spot. Jesus Christ "went about doing good," (Acts x. 38.) and preaching the Gospel. This was a second stage in the gradual extension of God's presence. But as it was expedient that of the temple at Jerusalem, "not one stone should be left upon another," (Mark xiii. 2; Luke xix. 44.) so it was also "expedient" that even Jesus, (the second Temple, John ii. 19—21.) "should go away" from his disciples, (John xvi. 7.) that He might "come again unto them," (John xiv. 28.) in a third manifestation, that of the Holy Spirit, dwelling in the Church, (that is, the whole body of Christians) which is thence called "the Temple of the Holy

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Ghost." (1 Corinthians vi. 19.) Why was this "expedient?" Evidently, because an individual man, as Jesus was, could not be constantly approached by all Christians in all parts of the world. Had He remained on earth even to this hour, there must have been millions who could never have come near Him. Whereas, his presence in the Spirit renders Him universally accessible, by all alike: for He has promised, that "where two or three are gathered together in his name, there is He in the midst of them." (Matthew xviii. 20.) And thence it is that He told the woman of Samaria, that the time was at hand when men should neither at Jerusalem, nor on Mount Gerizim, worship the Father, but should worship Him in Spirit and in truth:" (John iv. 21, 22.) that is, not through the means of any outward emblem or sign of his presence, such as the sacred flame or Shechinah, but in the truth or reality of his nature, as a "Spirit," present everywhere equally in the soul or spirit of his faithful servants.

For Christ therefore to return in bodily person to the earth, and reign at Jeru-

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salem, or in any other place, would be to go back to an earlier and more imperfect stage of the divine dispensation. We ought to be satisfied, and much more than satisfied, at our Lord's presence in the Spirit; as being far more "expedient for us," than if he were present in the flesh. We have no need, and be assured Christians never will have need, to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship their Lord; for "if any man will keep his saying, He will come unto him, and make his abode with him." (John xiv. 23.)

Then again, as to the restoration of the Jews and of Jerusalem, many and glorious are the promises to this effect which are found in Scripture; but they are not so numerous, nor so strongly expressed, as the declarations of the everlasting duration of the Mosaic Law; and these, all Christians are agreed, must be understood, not literally, but figuratively and spiritually;—not of the actual typical ceremonies, the meats, and drinks, and carnal ordinances of the Law," (Hebrews ix. 10; x. 1.) which "had a shadow of good things to come," but of the glorious

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realities of the Gospel. I wonder, therefore, how any Christians can doubt that those other declarations and promises also, relate' to the "Jerusalem which is above, which is the mother of us all, (Galatians iv. 26.) and to us, the Christian Church, which is "the Israel of God;"—the adopted "sons of Abraham (Romans iv. 16.) by faith," "the children of God and heirs according to the promise." (Galatians iii. 7, 29.) The Christian Church succeeds the Jewish in the divine favour and in all its privileges, and in much greater than those. The Jews by nature are not indeed excluded from this Church; they are invited to enter it, and partake of these glorious privileges: their Heavenly Father "entreated" them, and still entreats them to come to the feast made for his prodigal son returned: (the Gentiles, who had wandered far away from God) but they are "angry, and will not come in;" (Luke xv.) they are jealous at seeing those called "at the eleventh hour" (Matthew xx.) made equal to themselves. For it is a fundamental principle of the Gospel, (and this it is that made the Jews of old

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so averse to it, and so particularly malignant against Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, Acts xxii. 21.) that in it there is no national distinction,—no "middle wall of partition" (Ephesians ii. 14;) between Jew and Gentile; but all are admitted to equal privileges: "there is neither Jew nor Greek, (1 Corinthians Xii. 13.) there is neither bond nor free; if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." (2 Corinthians v. 17.)

It is usual to speak of the restoration of "The Jews," meaning by that name the unbelieving Jews of these days: but why are they more properly "the Jews" than the Apostles and those "many thousands" who believed? (Acts xxi. 20.) And how can we suppose that any superior advantage should be reserved for those who still reject Christ over those who received Him? That would be to hold out a reward for obstinacy. The unbelievers were indeed the majority of the nation; but that dobs not more properly make them "the Jews," to whom God's promises were made, then the believers. On the contrary, God's promises are made and fulfilled to the

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obedient, whether many or few. God promised, (and fulfilled his promise) to bring the Israelites of old out of the "house of bondage" into the land promised to their Fathers: yet of that whole generation, only two men, Caleb and Joshua, entered that land, while the rest, more than six hundred thousand (Heb. iii. 19.) "entered not in, because of unbelief." But these two men, together with the children of the rest, were reckoned as the nation of Israel, and received the fulfilment of the promise.

Now the Apostles and those Jews who believed through them, answer to Caleb and Joshua. But many are apt to forget that the earliest Christian Church, by several years, and from which all other Churches were offsets, was the Church at Jerusalem, which for a considerable time consisted of Jews alone. If therefore it had been designed that Jewish Christians should enjoy any superior privileges to us Gentiles, that Church, the first-fruits of the Gospel, would surely have been so distinguished. (See Acts xv. 7—11.)

It is my earnest wish, and prayer, and hope, that, hereafter, much greater num-

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bers of the Jews may be converted, than have been hitherto. But of this you may be assured, that as soon as they are converted they will sink into the general body of Christ's flock, and be no more peculiarly God's favoured people than (blessed be his his Name!) all Christians are so. They will have no advantage over those of their forefathers (a small part indeed of the whole nation, but yet "great multitudes both of men and women") who embraced the Gospel when first preached; and who from time to time have since become Christians. And they will certainly, not be converted by any such overpowering sign from Heaven as that of Christ coming in bodily person upon earth,—recalling the "Israelites after the flesh" to Judæa, rebuilding Jerusalem, and there reigning in worldly splendour with his saints; and giving a preference and superior rank in his kingdom to those of one particular nation. Whether they will have any political distinction as a nation, (just as the English French, Dutch, &c. are politically distinct nations, with independent governments,) this we cannot, of course, determine; but

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a religious distinction between converted Jews, and Christians of any other race, we may be sure there is no ground for expecting. This is indeed the sort of expectation which the unbelieving Jews now entertain; as their fathers did, at the coming of Jesus Christ; and this it was that caused most of the nation to reject Him. They clung to the idea of the "Son of Man" coming in visible glory in the clouds of heaven, (Daniel vii. 13.) to establish a triumphant temporal kingdom: and of this kingdom (be it remembered) they believed and still believe, all nations shall be subjects;—all are to acknowledge the true God and his Anointed (or Messiah); but, still, according to them, there is to be an eternal distinction between Jew and Gentile; none are to have an equal share in the divine favour with the genuine descendants of Abraham. And this it was that hardened their hearts against their Lord when he did come. They were at that time expecting the Christ: they were many of them ready even to acknowledge Jesus when he wrought miracles among them; and

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would fain have "taken Him by force to make Him a King;" (John vi. 15.) but they could not reconcile themselves to "a kingdom not of this world,"—without any of the earthly splendour they had set their hearts on: and still less, afterwards, could they bear the admission of the Gentiles to be, in that kingdom, on a level with themselves.

Now if all these things were to come to pass, the determined expectation of which caused the Jews to reject Christ,—if He should actually appear, with miraculous splendour, as the restorer of the Jewish nation, and city, and temple, reigning over the whole world as a great earthly sovereign, and reserving peculiar privileges for his own nation,—if, I say, all these expectations should be fulfilled, to which the Jews have so long and so obstinately clung, surely this would be not so much a conversion of the Jews to Christianity, as a conversion of Christians to Judaism: it would not be bringing the Jews to the Gospel, by overcoming their national prejudices, but rather carrying back the Gospel to meet the Jewish prejudices; it would be destroying the spiritual character

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of our Religion, and establishing those erroneous views which have hitherto caused the Jews to reject it.

We may conclude then, that all the promises and predictions in Scripture relative to the future glories of the Jews and of Jerusalem, are to be understood of the Christian Church, of which the Jewish Church was a figure; and all that is said of feasting, and splendour, and wealth, and worldly greatness and enjoyment, is to be interpreted spiritually of the inward comfort and peace of mind, and "joy of the Holy Ghost" (1 Thessalonians i. 6.) which is promised to sincere Christians in this life, and the unspeakable happiness prepared for them after death.

Meanwhile, it is a great consolation to us to look forward, as I think we are authorized to do, to a time when not only the knowledge of the Gospel will be greatly extended, but also, the influence of the Gospel on Christians' hearts, and tempers, and lives, "the knowledge and love of God," and the "fruits of his Spirit," will be still much more increased;—when those who are Christians in name, will be much

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less disposed to content themselves with the name,—much more careful to be Christians in principle and in conduct, than the far greater part of them are now: when Christians, generally, will not look, as they are apt to do now, on the Apostles and others of the early Church whom it is usual to distinguish by the title of Saint, as possessing a degree and a kind of Christian excellence which it would be vain and presumptuous for ordinary Christians to think of equalling; but will consider and practically remember, that all Christians are "called to be Saints," and endued with the Holy Spirit of God; not indeed to inspire them with a new revelation, or to confer any miraculous gifts, (which do not either prove or make the possessor the more acceptable in God's sight), but to enable them to purify their own hearts and lives. The wicked Balaam was a prophet; and the traitor Judas worked miracles. These extraordinary powers therefore are neither any proof of superior personal holiness, nor any substitute for it: in God's sight. Nor is the absence of these miraculous gifts in ourselves, any argument that a less

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degree of Christian virtue will suffice for our salvation, than was required of the Apostles.

Let us hope that the time will come when Christian privileges and duties shall be generally viewed in this manner, and when such views shall be acted upon. Whether any of us shall live to see the beginning of such a change, is more than we can tell. Nay, we cannot tell whether each of us may not even be enabled, by his own example, and his own exertions in enlightening and improving others, to do something towards bringing about this change. But this we do know most certainly; that each of us is bound, in gratitude for Christ's redeeming mercy;—in prudent care for his own immortal soul, to labour earnestly after such a change in his own life and heart. We are, each of us, bound, at his own peril, to think, and live, and act, in such a manner as would, if all Christians were to do the same, bring about, and indeed constitute this Millennium of Christian zeal and holiness. And each of us who does this, whether others follow his example or not, "shall in no wise lose his own reward."

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Rewards and Punishments.

I PROCEED to offer a few remarks on the condition of men in the next world, after the final judgment;—that condition which is to last for ever.

On this point, (as well as on all others relating to the state of things after death) the accounts given by the sacred writers, though very distinct and positive in declaring the certainty of future rewards and punishments, are yet extremely brief, uncircumstantial, and unsatisfactory to curiosity. There are not wanting probable reasons which may be offered (besides others, perhaps, of which we know nothing) why they have thus abstained from giving any full and detailed account of the life to come.

In the first place, it is a general rule with the inspired writers, or rather, I

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should say, with the Holy Spirit who inspired them, to reveal nothing for the mere gratification of curiosity;—nothing that is not practically necessary to be known, with a view to its influence on our conduct; but to leave us to find out for ourselves, if we will, whatever our natural powers of reason are capable of discovering, and to remain ignorant of the rest. The doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments, and the principles on which these are to be distributed, is more than man, by his unassisted powers, is able to discover, (at least with any certainty or with any correctness,) and is also most infinitely important for him to be assured of: this knowledge therefore is revealed in a miraculous manner, that is, by immediate divine revelation. But God has not thought fit to work a miracle for the gratification of our curiosity, or to communicate by revelation any thing that we, can discover for ourselves; as, for example, all the useful arts and sciences employed in human life. The mysteries revealed in Scripture, in short, are such as are both needful to be known, and

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such as could not be known without revelation. Another reason probably for the scanty information imparted in Scripture respecting the next world is, that most likely there are many things connected with it which we could not possibly comprehend, with our present faculties, any more than a man born blind can understand the nature of colours; so that unless our powers of understanding were enlarged beyond what is fitting for our present state of existence, any attempt to explain to us such mysteries, would be likely to mislead or bewilder us.

Such a revelation, indeed, and such an enlargement of faculties to comprehend it, does seem to have been vouchsafed to the Apostle Paul, in the vision which he alludes to in his second Epistle to the Corinthians, as having taken place fourteen years before the time of his writing; in which he was caught up into Paradise, and heard "unspeakable words which it is not lawful for a man to utter;" the word which is here rendered "lawful" would be more closely translated (as you may see it in the margin of the Bible) "possible:" meaning,

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I conceive, that the ideas conveyed to him were such as he could not, by any powers of human language, convey to another. But such revelations are not needed for all.

I think there may also be perceived a third reason for the brief, dry, general language of Scripture on these points; which is what I alluded to in a former discourse; namely, that since no impostor would, and no enthusiast could, have written in such a style on such a subject, but would have been sure to enlarge on all the particulars of a future life, and give the most lively and glowing descriptions of things so interesting to curiosity; it follows, inevitably, that the Apostles who wrote of them in so plain, concise, and unpretending a manner, could not have been either impostors or enthusiasts; that is, must have been men truly inspired, saying just what they were commissioned to say. And it may have been part of the Divine design that this evidence should be afforded us.

One of the few particulars revealed to us on the subject, is mentioned by our

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Lord in the. passage in which He assures his disciples that He goes to prepare a place for them in that heavenly dwelling which He calls his Father's house; and that in that house there are many mansions; that is, that all his faithful disciples will find admittance to the heavenly glories He sets before them; and that no one of them need fear that the admission of another shall exclude himself. This circumstance He points out to their notice on account of the difference, in this respect, between the prize held out to the Christian, and all the glory and greatness of this world. The disciples had more than once been checked by Him for their spirit of rivalry, in contending and disputing among themselves which should be the greatest in his kingdom. But though He forbids them to exalt themselves one above another, or at the expense of each other, He seeks not so much to extinguish their ambition after glory and greatness, as to direct it to the proper objects, and to explain to them the peculiar character of those objects. It was not unnatural for them, unskilled as they then were in

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the nature of Christ's kingdom, to conjecture respecting the prizes held out in it, from a view of the great and desirable objects which men pursue in this world; and therefore, of course, to combine with their ideas of its grandeur and elevation, the idea of the superiority of one to another. In the present life the greatest objects of ambition, and which men most eagerly strive for, are such as, by their nature, can only be attained by a few. The high-spirited and ambitious aim at distinction of some kind or other; that is, at being set apart and distinguished from the generality: that there should be any who are wealthy, powerful, and celebrated, implies a necessity that there should be others, and those the greater part, who are poor,—who are subjects,—who are obscure. That all, or even the greater part of any community, should be rich men, or rulers, or eminent and famous, is not only impossible, but inconceivable.

In Christ's heavenly kingdom, however, the contrary is to take place: in that, the elevation of the one does not imply the

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depression of another, as is the case here: there are "many mansions" of glory in his Father's house: even as many as there may be to occupy them; and none will be excluded from this exalted state of happiness, who have duly prepared themselves for it. The power, and splendour, and riches, of that better world, not depending on the superiority of some over the rest, may be enjoyed by an unlimited number, and by each in proportion to his fitness for it. The prizes of Christ's kingdom, in short, are not to be won by a few to the exclusion of the rest; but by all, in proportion as they shall have duly striven for them. "Know ye not," says the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians, "that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? so run that ye may obtain;" that is, if you are diligent in running the race that is set before you, you cannot miss the prize from being outstripped by another; but "ye,"that is, all of who exert yourselves in the course, shall I "obtain an incorruptible crown."

It is not however to be understood from these passages, that there will be no

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inequality in the happiness of the next world; that all the mansions of heavenly bliss are alike: it is only meant that ample provision will be made for rewarding all and each, according to their absolute, not their comparative deserts; that there will be no rivalry,—no opposition of one to another,—no exclusion of any one from any degree of exaltation, on account of the worthiness of another, but only on account of his own unworthiness. But it is highly probable that different degrees of reward, and also of punishment, will be prepared for those who have approached more or less to the model which Christ set before us, or who have departed more or less from it. I do not indeed think it safe, in such a case as this, to be guided by our own conjectures as to what is reasonable; but our Lord says expressly in one place, that "the servant who knew not his Lord's will, and did commit things worthy of stripes, should be beaten with few stripes;" but he which "knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, should be beaten with many stripes." And in the parables also of the Talents

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and of the Pounds, which are evidently intended to convey to us some knowledge respecting our final judgment, we find that a higher reward is bestowed on those who had (as in the parable of the Pounds) made a greater improvement than others, of the same deposit; and again (as in the parable of the Talents) on those who had had the larger share entrusted to them, when they were found to have made a proportionably good use of it; and it is hardly possible to doubt that he meant us to understand that their punishment would have been proportionably great also, had they misapplied the greater deposit, or let it lie idle.

This consideration may afford both encouragement to the zealous Christian, and alarm to the negligent; the one is urged by this thought, to aim at continually-increasing perfection, knowing that no improvement will ever be unnoticed, or forgotten, or unrewarded by God—that every growth in grace,—every effort after increased holiness, will be as a seed sown in good ground, which brings forth a hundred-fold at the day of harvest; and

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the other,—the careless or the disobedient Christian, may, by the same thought, be alarmed and warned not to shelter himself, as men are so apt to do, under the vain protection of another's faults; flattering himself that he shall surely be saved, because he is not so bad as many of his neighbours, and much,better than some of the Worst: they may perhaps suffer a heavier judgment; but his will not on that account be the lighter. As the rewards, so also, no doubt, the punishments of the next world, will be distributed according to each man's own behaviour, not from comparison with his neighbour's: the wicked will be punished, not for being worse than others, but for being worse than they ought to have been, according to their opportunities. And the unprofitable servant, we find, who had received but one talent, and had buried it in the earth, is cast into outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth; although we cannot but suppose, the guilt, and the punishment, would have been greater, of one who should have so neglected five talents, or who should have

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misapplied or squandered away what was entrusted to him. Let no one therefore, who is persuaded that he shall not fail of a place in the mansions of bliss, imagine that any further exertions after increased virtue,—after a still nearer approach to his heavenly Master, are needless, or will do nothing towards improving his eternal condition; "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." Insatiable is the covetousness of heavenly grace and virtue,—boundless the ambition of Divine favour,—in the hearty and sincere Christian; and he who is contented to stand still where he is, from thinking that he has done enough to ensure his salvation, gives reason (by the very circumstance of his entertaining that thought) to fear, that he has done very lar too little,—that his confidence is ill-founded,—and that instead of standing still, he Will fall back. The Apostle Paul, whom none of us is likely to excel, tells us, of himself, "Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, I press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in

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Christ Jesus." And let him who is conscious of not being such as he ought to be, but consoles himself that there are many others worse, consider that it will be small consolation to him hereafter, when he is himself miserable, to know, that, those others are still more miserable. We may be sure there will be no want of mansions or of suitable variety of mansions, either in the place of reward, or of punishment.

In speaking of the rewards and punishments of the next world, I have always studiously confined myself as closely as possible to that which has been revealed to us in Scripture; for there is no subject in which it is less safe to trust to such conjectures as our own reason may lead to; being one which is the more mysteriously difficult, the more it is considered. Some, who have not observed this rule, have ventured, first, to conjecture, and afterwards confidently to teach, that the punishment of the wicked in the next world will not be eternal; which they contend is inconsistent with the goodness of God: and that all will at length be brought to immortal happiness. Now


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whether this their doctrine be true or not, I scruple not to say, that it is highly presumptuous in any one to assert it; since it is wholly unwarranted by Scripture: and therefore even if their opinion be right, they cannot possibly know it to be right. The expressions used in speaking of the rewards of the faithful, and of the punishments of the disobedient, are the very same; both are described in the like terms, denoting that they shall have no end; as, for example, Matthew xxv. "These shall go away into everlasting punishment, and the righteous into life everlasting."* Have we any warrant in Scripture for saying that the same word is to be interpreted literally in one part of the sentence, and in the other, figuratively? And again we are told, in another passage, of the place "where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." Now supposing that this and the other passages relating to future punishment may be understood, and rightly understood, as meaning only a long time,

* In our translation it is "everlasting" in the first part of the sentence, and "eternal" in the other; but in the original Greek the same word is used in both places.

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yet that the very same words, when applied to the happiness of the blest, are to be interpreted to signify "for ever and ever"—supposing, I say, this to be the true state of the case, what ground have we in Scripture for these different interpretations? The fact is, that the notion I have been speaking of is not derived from the Word of God, but from the conjectures of men, respecting the supposed nature of the Almighty: of which they can know little or nothing, except what Scripture reveals. And if such conjectures are to be indulged at all, there is no saying to what they will at length lead us. If we are to measure the dealings of God by the standard of our own reason, we shall find ourselves at a loss to explain any future punishment at all; for it is certain that the object proposed by human punishments is, the prevention of future crimes, by holding out a terror to transgressors; we punish a man, not because he has offended, but that others may be deterred from offending by his example: now how any such purpose can be answered by the future punishment of the wicked, whether for a time, or for

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ever, we can by no means conceive. And yet if there be any truth in God's word, we are sure that the wicked will not go unpunished.

The truth is, we had better abstain from conjectures on a subject manifestly beyond the reach of our present faculties. The existence of any evil at all in the creation, is a mystery we cannot explain. It is a difficulty which may perhaps be cleared up to us in a future state; but the Scriptures give us no revelation concerning it. And those who set at defiance the plain and obvious sense of Scripture, by contending (as some do) for the final admission to eternal happiness of all men, in order (as they themselves profess) to get over the difficulty by this means, and to reconcile the existence of evil with the benevolence of God, do not in fact, after all, when they have put the most forced interpretation on the words of the sacred writers, advance one single step towards their point. For the main difficulty is not the amount of the evil that exists, but the existence of any at all. Any, even the smallest portion of evil, is quite unaccountable, supposing

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that the same amount of good could he attained without that evil; and why it is not so attainable, is more than we are able to explain. And if there be some reason we cannot understand, why a small amount of evil is unavoidable, there may be, for aught we know, the same reason for a greater amount. I will undertake to explain to any one the eternal punishment of the wicked, if he will explain to me the existence of the wicked;—if he will explain why God does not cause all those to die in the cradle, of whom He foresees, that when they grow up they will lead a sinful life. The thing cannot be explained: and it is better to rest satisfied with knowing as much as God has thought fit to teach us, than to try our strength against mysteries which will but deride our weakness. We know that evil does exist; and we are taught how to escape it eternally; let us first study to make the right use of this knowledge; and hereafter, doubtless, we shall know more. Of the goodness of God we know thus much, that He has called us out of nothing into life, and has opened a way to us, through the mysterious

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sacrifice of Christ, to eternal happiness: of this goodness it is our part to avail ourselves; but not to speculate and presume on any notions of Divine Goodness which may chance to enter our minds. We know that there is evil as well as good in this present world: in the next world there is no reason to believe, if we look to Scripture only, that the proportion of evil to good,—of suffering to happiness,—will be at all less than it is now; only that they will there be regularly distributed and kept apart. In this life the best men suffer afflictions; the holiest are not exempt from "the crafts and assaults" of evil spirits. In this respect their condition resembles that of their great Master, who, in his life of humiliation, was himself tempted by the Devil, and suffered a variety of hardships and afflictions, and was scourged and nailed to the cross. Hereafter, at the end of the world, he shall "come again in his glorious majesty," and "all things shall be put under his feet;" and then shall those who have faithfully endured the temptations and trials they have been exposed to, be delivered, for

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the future, from all troubles, and "enter into the joy of their Lord;" being admitted into the company of angels, and "just men made perfect." Pain and pleasure,—vice and virtue,—good men and bad men, will then no longer be intermixed and associated together, as they are in this world: but the proportion of one to the other,—of good to evil,—we have no reason to suppose will be at all different from what it is now. Whether evil and pain will ever cease to exist, or not, we shall then perhaps be able to decide, when we have learnt why they exist at all; which no one will ever be able to explain while this world lasts. The blest in a future life will no doubt have their powers of thought enlarged, so as to be able to understand, even without an express revelation, many things that "pass man's understanding" in this life, and perhaps much that could not even be revealed to us, with our present faculties. And though they must still remain at an immeasurable distance from the great Creator, and will doubtless be still more lost in admiration of his stupendous works

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than now, (just as an unbounded prospect seems, as we view it from higher and higher spots, to grow more and more vast, the horizon widening around us in proportion to our elevation)—unable, I say, as they will still be, to fathom the depths of the Divine counsels, we cannot but suppose all uneasy doubts and difficulties will be removed; and that to be free (not indeed from all ignorance, but) from all painful perplexity, will be a part of their happiness.

On this state of happiness, and the society of those who shall partake of it, I propose to offer to you some remarks in the succeeding Lectures; in which, as in those you have hitherto heard, you will meet with no such confident assertions as some are apt to throw out, nor be entertained with fanciful theories delivered as Scripture truths; but you will meet with cautious endeavours to distinguish the certain from the doubtful; and where I cannot extend the boundaries of human knowledge, I will endeavour at least to point out where they lie. If I cannot give you such full and interesting ac-

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counts of divine mysteries as more daring inquirers pretend to do, I trust I can at least promise not to mislead you; having long bestowed especial attention on that important and much-neglected branch of learning,—the knowledge of man's ignorance.

Ignorant, however, as the wisest of us must be on these subjects, the most ignorant of us is wise enough for his own purposes, if he will but seek for the knowledge of his duty, and use what knowledge he has. Shortsighted as we are, we can see by the light of God's word that there are two paths set before us; the ends of which we cannot indeed distinctly see; but we know that the one leads to everlasting happiness, and the other to misery, and that God has offered us our choice between them, and entreated us to take the better, and promised us strength to walk in it, if we will "strive to enter in at the strait gate."

"Behold, I set before you this day good and evil; blessing and cursing; now therefore, choose blessing!" May his grace be effectual with each one of you,

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that you may spend such a life as you will wish to have lived when you reach its close, and such as you may rejoice to have lived, ten thousand ages hence, and for ever.

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Condition of the Blest, and their Abode, in Heaven.

I PROCEED to offer in this, and in another lecture, some remarks on the state, as far as it can be known, in which Christ's faithful servants are to exist to all eternity

"We, according to his promise," (says the Apostle Peter, second Epistle, ch. iii. ver. 13.) "look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." The whole passage in which these words occur, is one which illustrates very strongly an observation which I have made more than once (in the course of our present inquiry) respecting the brief, dry, unpretending, uncircumstantial manner, in which a future state is every where spoken of by the sacred writers;—a manner

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eminently unfitted to excite the passions, to amuse the imagination, or to gratify curiosity;—a manner the very opposite from what an enthusiast would have fallen into, or an impostor would have studied to assume. "The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat; the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burned up." Here we might have looked, if any where, for a detailed description of the several circumstances attending this great catastrophe,—for impassioned exclamations concerning it, and magnificent pictures of the scenes that will occur. No such thing: the Apostle immediately proceeds to a practical application of the knowledge he has imparted, to the lives of his hearers:* "When then, that all these things are being dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be found in holy manner of life and piety?" ver. 10, 11. He proceeds next to console them

* This is the exact translation of the original.

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with the assurance that though this great destruction is an event to be prepared for, there will be nothing to regret; God having provided for such as shall be approved by Him at the day of judgment, a far better habitation than the earth, (which will then be dissolved) and more suitable to the perfect and happy state they will then be in: "nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." Here, again, is an opportunity which would never have been passed over by an enthusiastic visionary, or a forger of "cunningly-devised fables," for entertaining inquisitive minds with a copious and luxuriant description of heavenly joys,—for expatiating fully on all the particulars relative to the "new heavens, and new earth" he had just mentioned; instead of which, Peter, like an Apostle of the truth, and like nothing else, stops short at the positive but brief statement of the fact; and repeats his admonition to turn the knowledge of that fact to good account in practice: "Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent

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that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless."

Of course, the conjectures which uninspired men can safely and allowably frame on such a subject, must be few and imperfect; but such as they are, they may not be either unintelligible or unprofitable, provided we are careful not to extend our inquiries to matters out of the reach of our present faculties.

The eternal habitation of the blest is described by the Apostle as "new heavens and a new earth;" meaning by "heavens" the air we breathe and sky over our heads, as he means by "earth" the place on which we dwell. And his description must be understood, in a great degree at least, literally; since the blest in the next world, having real material bodies, as now, though different from their present bodies, must inhabit some place fitted for the reception of such bodies: though exempt, of course, from the evils of the world they now dwell in, and from all temptations that could lead them into sin; "righteousness," says the Apostle, will dwell in the new heavens

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and the "new earth" which God has promised.

Whether the place of the habitation of the blest will be this present earth, renewed, and restored to such a condition as that in which it was created, when the first man was placed in Paradise, or altered in some other way; or whether they will be fixed in some other part of the universe, we have no means of ascertaining, nor is it of any consequence that we should know. It is worth observing, however, that it is common with a large proportion of Christians (and the mistake seems in itself a harmless one) to confound together in a great degree, in their thoughts and language, "heaven" when employed to signify the place of happiness, and the abode of the holy angels, with "heaven" in the other sense,—the visible heavens,—otherwise called the sky;—all, in short, that is removed from this earth, and appears above those who inhabit it; such as the clouds, the sun, moon, and stars, and the like: so that when they speak or think of "going to heaven," as to a place of happiness, they, in some degree, connect this

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in their minds with the idea of some nearer approach to those heavenly bodies as they are called, which appear over our heads. This may be considered in itself, a harmless mistake; but it is, I think, worth noticing, on account of the evil that may result from it. If a person who has such a notion as this impressed on his mind as a part of his religious belief, chance to meet with some half-learned scoffer, who has acquired a slight smattering of astronomy, and who informs him (of what is the truth) that the stars which we see are, many of them, more distant from each other, and from the sun, than they are from us,—that the sun and moon, and other heavenly bodies, are many millions of miles apart,—he will find that his former notions of heaven are quite incorrect; and yet will perhaps fail to perceive that those notions are not at all connected with the truths of his religion.

"A little learning," it has been remarked, and with truth, is often "a dangerous thing:" I do not however think ignorance at all more safe: the danger of a little learning consists in men's not being

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sensible that it is but a little. The most learned man knows but little, compared to what he is ignorant of; and if he is not aware of his ignorance, his knowledge will only mislead him.

Let it be recollected then, and carefully kept in mind, that God is in all places alike, and at once. He is here this moment, and at all times, as well as in the most remote regions of the universe. "Whither shall I go then from thy Spirit: or whither shall I go then from thy presence? If I climb up into heaven, Thou art there: if I go down to hell, Thou art there also. If I take the wings of the morning, and remain in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me." Indeed, we have no reason to suppose that that great Spirit, whom we call God, and whom we suppose not to partake at all of the nature of any material substance, has any relation to place at all, or can be properly said to be in any place. Strictly speaking, it is not, that God is every where present, but rather, that all things are present to Him; as falling

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under his perfect knowledge and complete control.

When therefore we speak of the blest as being admitted into the presence of God, we must remember, that this has not necessarily any thing to do with change of place, but implies rather a change in their condition.

All beings are constantly and equally in the presence, literally, of the God to whom the whole universe is present; but all are not equally conscious of this: the brute animals do really, as well as ourselves, "in Him, live and move, and have their being," and could not exist a moment without the care of his providence; but they cannot know of his existence. Man can, and does; and is invited to address himself to this great and inconceivable Being by prayer. Some few men, as the Apostles and Prophets, have been conscious of receiving direct and distinct communications from Him; which enabled them (in order that they might be assured they were not misled by fancy) to foretell future events, and perform other things surpassing human power. And we find Him, before the

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expulsion of our first parents from Paradise, represented as holding immediate converse with them. The like, in probably a much higher degree than all these, we may expect will take place in the case of his faithful servants hereafter: his presence to which they hope to be admitted, must mean, the more distinct perception of his presence, and more distinct communication with Him. The all-present God does not inhabit one place more than another; but He will be more manifest to his servants, in their glorified state, than now. And this, probably, through the means of a change in their powers and faculties. A blind man may be close to some goodly prospect; but since he sees nothing of it, it is the same thing to him whether he is present or absent: an infant again, or a brute beast, or an idiot, may be in the midst of a number of wise and worthy men; but cannot, properly speaking, be said to be in their company, because it wants the faculties to discern what they are, and to join their society. Let the blind man's eyes be opened, and the prospect will at once become really present to

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him; that is, present to his mind: let the infant grow up to be a man,—let the brute or the idiot be supposed to be suddenly endowed with reason,—and let them be placed in the midst of the very same persons, and they will then be, truly, in their company, from being capable of understanding them and holding converse with them. Even thus, if the eyes of our minds be opened,—if the faculties be enlarged, and the powers of reason advanced, as those of an infant when he grows up,—we shall at once, by the change wrought within us, be brought nearer to, what may be called, the presence of God; that is, to the capacity of perceiving more of his glorious perfections, than we can, in our present state, and of holding some such intercourse with Him as now we cannot.

Although, however, the All-present Spirit, which we call God, has no relation to place, nor can be said to be in one part of the universe more than in another; it must be otherwise with the bodily person of the Lord Jesus, with whom the Divine Spirit was mysteriously

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united. A body must be in some place, and cannot be in more than one at once. And the same must be the case with the bodily persons of Enoch and Elijah; and if there be any other highly favoured personages to whom it has been given to forestall the general resurrection. I allude to those saints, whose bodies, we are told, arose and "came into the holy city after the resurrection" of our Lord, and "were seen by many." Jesus Christ and Elijah were visibly removed from the earth; of Enoch's translation we have no particular account. In what place, however, these dwell, and whether it be the same that is appointed for the habitation of the faithful, we have no means of knowing. That Jesus Christ will himself come in bodily Person to judge the earth at the last day, there is no room to doubt; and we also learn from the Apostle Paul, that He will remove from the earth his faithful servants: "We which are alive, and remain, shall be caught up together with them" (that is, those raised from the dead) "in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we be ever with the

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Lord." Indeed, if Peter's account of the fire, which is to consume the earth, and all things in it, be taken literally, (which there is no reason to doubt) that would lead us to suppose that the approved servants of Christ must first be removed from it; but whether this earth will afterwards be restored and renewed, and fitted for their habitation, or whether some other place will be set apart for them, is, as I have said, a question, which neither Scripture nor reason will enable us to decide.

And with respect to the kind of life also which they are to lead, the information furnished by Scripture is, as might be expected, very scanty. We are told rather what it will not be, than what it will be. "In the resurrection," said our Lord to the Sadducees, "they neither marry nor are given in marriage, neither can they die anymore:"—that is, while in this world the human race is continued, by the birth of one generation, to succeed another that dies, in the next world, on the contrary, there is neither death, nor birth; but all are immortal. This served to confute the absurd objection brought forward by the

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Sadducees, and to correct the gross notions entertained by some, respecting a future state; but does not satisfy curiosity as to what that state is.

I cannot think, however, that there is any necessity for entertaining such, notions of the life to come (and, indeed, of several other points connected with our religion), as are to be met with in some writers. I mean those who give a more cold, uninviting, uninteresting view than is at all warranted by Scripture, of a sincere Christian's life in this world, and promised reward in the next, from overlooking, or not dwelling on, one remarkable feature of the Christian Revelation. This feature is, the continual reference made by the inspired writers to persons, rather than to mere things, or to characters in the abstract. Christ himself, that great Person, who is "the Author and Finisher of our faith,"—his life and death for us,—his example set before us,—his presence promised to us in a glorified state hereafter,—these are topics which we find continually dwelt on in the sacred books.

Compare with the language of these

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books tbat of such writers as declaim on the beauty of virtue in the abstract—on the importance of living in conformity to the dictates of conscience,—on the agreement between our true interest and our duty, &c. And again, in the same kind of style, of the immense value of eternal happiness,—of the delight of being set free from human infirmities and sufferings,—of escaping the misery of hopeless and eternal remorse,—and of being raised to a new and exalted state of being. All this is indeed perfectly true, and of incalculable importance; but such topics, when these alone are dwelt on, are certainly much less interesting,—less calculated to touch the feelings, than that perpetual reference to persons which I have mentioned as so characteristic of the Scriptures.

The Apostles tell us of "putting on Christ,"—of "walking in his steps," who "hath left us an ensample,"—of "being buried with Christ in baptism," and being risen with Him to a new and christian life;—of practising this or that duty, because "this is well-pleasing unto the Lord (Jesus Christ);" and such, in short,

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is the general tone of their exhortations to christian virtue; which they speak of, not as an abstract thing, but as set forth, portrayed, and as it were personified, in our Saviour's human and divine nature.

And again, in speaking of the hopes beyond the grave, which are held out in the Gospel, the sacred writers dwell not so much on the abstract thing,—Happiness,—as on an intimate union with our Divine Master, and enjoyment of his presence, in a more perfect manner than we can do in our present state. They speak of "departing and being with the Lord;" of "our vile bodies being made like unto his glorious body:"—"if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him," and "so shall we be ever with the Lord." "We know not," says the beloved disciple John, "what we shall be: but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as he is." And it seems to have been from the tone of Christ's own discourses that his Apostles borrowed theirs. He does not dwell on the intrinsic excellence of virtue, and on the value of happiness in the abstract; but his


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language is, "If a man love me, he will keep my saying; and my Father will love him; and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him:" "I will raise him up the last day:" "that where I am ye may be also."—"I will not leave you comfortless; I will come unto you," &c.

Such a style of exhortation and of promise is the best fitted both to touch and to improve the human heart; it is suited both to what man's nature actually is, and to what it ought to become. From our natural tendency to emulation, a good example excites the feelings more strongly,—impresses the heart more deeply,—conveys instruction more effectually, than the best general descriptions and rules. And again, a mere general account of the sort of life we are hereafter to live, would never make near so strong an impression on our mind as the thought of what sort of persons we are to live with,—what kind of society it is for which we are to qualify ourselves. Nothing, therefore, could be so interesting, so inviting, and so cheering to a sincere Christian, as the promise held out of a future enjoyment of

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happiness which is to consist in the more intimate knowledge of his Redeemer, and a more complete union with him in a better world. And the same view serves also, better than any other, to admonish and improve the more imperfect Christian, and to warn and alarm the thoughtless. This world, we know, is not only a state of trial, but also a state of preparation for another; and to be told whom we are to prepare to meet in that other world, (if we would hope for admission there) in whose company we are to fit ourselves to dwell for ever,—this, together with the example of that Person set before us for our imitation, is much more likely to forward us in the great work of making that preparation, than any number of general rules and general descriptions. Such, accordingly, is the effect which (according to the apostle John, in the passage quoted just above) arises, naturally, from the fixing of our thoughts on the Gospel promises: "We know that when he shall appear, we shall be like unto Him; for we shall see Him as He is: and every one

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that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure."

Some further, particulars relative to the life which will be led by Christ's followers, in the "new earth" prepared for them, I shall reserve for further consideration; and shall then point out some other circumstances in which the future condition of the blessed has been rendered, through the injudicious views that have been taken of it, a less interesting and less agreeable object of contemplation than it ought to be. At present I will conclude by entreating you to lay to heart, especially at this season,* the remark just made respecting the preparation for admission into the presence of Christ, which it is our business to make here on earth. Great indeed must the change be which the best Christian must undergo, before he can be qualified for the society of heaven: but the change must be begun and be carried on, as far as possible, here, or it never will be completed there. Hereafter, says the

* This Lecture was delivered at the beginning of a new year.

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Apostle John, we shall be like unto our great Master, "when He shall appear, and when we shall see Him as He is;" but "every one," he adds, "who hath this hope in him, purifieth himself even as He is pure." Every one who is really full of this expectation, and practically acts upon it, aims continually, by the imitation of Him, to qualify himself, as far as can be done in this world, for seeing his great Master revealed to him, and for being "ever with the Lord."

And every year, every day, and hour, brings us nearer to Christ, or carries us farther from him. The stream of human passions and worldly cares is ever flowing against our exertions, so as to make it next to impossible to stand still. He who is not advancing, is in reality going back. What then has the year just past done for each one of us in this respect? It has brought us so much nearer to death; has it brought us so much nearer to heaven? Has it advanced us in our christian course? And what will this present year have done for those of you who shall be permitted to see the end of it? It will have

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been one of the talents intrusted to you: shall it be buried in the earth? Or abused and squandered? Or put out to interest? These last questions it now depends on each of you how he shall answer. Resolve therefore at this moment (and pray for God's grace to keep your resolution) to endeavour that each succeeding day and year may find you a better Christian than the last,—more advanced towards preparation for that state in which you hope to dwell "for ever with the Lord,"—more fitted for entering on the beginning of that Great New Year which shall never have an end.

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Occupations and State of Society of the Blest.

BEFORE I dismiss the present branch of my subject, I shall lay before you a few further observations on the kind of life to be expected by Christ's faithful followers in the next world, which was touched upon in my last Lecture. The scantiness of the knowledge which Revelation furnishes on this subject, increases the difficulty of steadfastly and habitually fixing the mind on it: but for this very reason it is the more important that we should endeavour so to dwell on it as to make the most of what little knowledge we have, and accustom ourselves to reason from that knowledge, with due reverence and caution, as far as our reasoning powers will safely carry us. It is a subject which of itself should appear likely to be interesting and agreeable to a sincere Christian; who would naturally,

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one might think, dwell on the thoughts of that state in which he hopes to continue for ever. But many well disposed persons are, I believe, little inclined to do so; partly from despair of forming any satisfactory notions on the subject, and partly, from not finding the notions they do form of heavenly bliss so pleasurable to their mind as they think that they ought to find them. For, (as was remarked in the last Lecture) the views which many writers present of the eternal state of the heirs of salvation, are more uninteresting to our feelings than there is any need to make them, from their dwelling so little on the personal nature of the whole of our religion; and among the rest, of the rewards held out by it. The Scriptures are indeed (as I before observed) very brief and scanty in their accounts of heavenly happiness: partly, no doubt, on account of the imperfection of our present faculties; which would be as incapable of comprehending many of the things that will take place, as a blind man is, of understanding the nature of colours. Nor can our own reason of course lead us to understand,

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without a revelation, such things as we might have understood if they had been revealed. But still I am inclined to think that more is revealed to us on this subject, than many persons suppose;—so far at least, revealed, that reason aided by Scripture may attain, if not certainty, yet strong probability on many points concerning which some men think it vain to inquire. And views, I think, both clearer and more pleasing than some people entertain, respecting the state of the blest, may thus be gained, without indulging in any presumptuous speculations. Vast as must be the difference, in many respects, between the glorified condition of the Saints, and every thing they have experienced here; yet I doubt whether there may not be more resemblance between the two states,—the earthly and the heavenly,—than some suppose. Sins and infirmities will of course be excluded from that better world,—the enjoyments and perfections of sincere Christians will be immensely heightened; but if we look on the brightest and purest spots of human nature and human life, as it is here, we may be led to form, I

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think, no unreasonable conjectures as to some things that will be hereafter. For, we should rememer, that both worlds are the work of the same Author;—this present world of trial, and the eternal world,—"the new heavens and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness." All that is suitable to this world alone, will be removed from that other: what is evil will be taken away;—what is imperfect will be made complete;—what is good will be extended and exalted;—but there is no reason to suppose that any further change will be made than is necessary to qualify the faithful for that improved state;—that their human character will be altered, any further than it wants altering, and its dipositions and whole constitution unnecessarily reversed. And a strong confirmation of these views is, that this life (as I have before remarked) is plainly represented in Scripture as not only a state of trial, but of preparation also, for a better world; now this last circumstance surely implies that the condition into which the Christian is required to bring himself in this life, must

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bear some degree of resemblance to that which is promised in the next: or else, there could be nothing of preparation in the case. And this is accordingly expressly asserted by the Apostle John, who exhorts his hearers to imitate the example of Jesus, and to become as like Him as possible, on the very ground, that hereafter they may hope for a greater degree of resemblance to Him. "We know not what we shall be: but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like unto Him; for we shall see Him as He is; and every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as He is pure."

With this foundation then for our reasoning; namely, the knowledge that the state of future happiness prepared for the faithful, will be one of a certain degree of resemblance to the Lord Jesus Christ, and also, that it will in some degree resemble that state of purity which they are directed to aim at in this world, in order to prepare and fit themselves for the joys that await them,—with this foundation I say, to stand on, in the outset, we may surely form some reasonable conjectures

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as to heavenly happiness: for we have certainly some knowledge of a thing when we know what it is like.

Our Lord, in a discourse addressed to the Sadducees, mentions one particular in which the next life will be unlike this: "in the resurrection," He says, "they neither marry nor are given in marriage: neither can they die any more; for they are equal unto the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection:" the reason for his mentioning this circumstance was, to silence a silly cavil brought forward by the Sadducees. And there is an obvious reason why there should be this difference between the two states;—that of mortal beings here below, of whom one generation must be born to supply the place of another that dies,—and that of the immortal beings in the next world; those who, says He, cannot "die any more." But according to the views which some entertain of the next world, many additional circumstances of difference are introduced, for which I can perceive no such reason. For example, it has been asserted by some, and is, I believe,

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taken for granted by others, that in that heavenly society, their will be no mutual knowledge between those who had been friends on earth; nor even any such thing as friendship towards one person more than another; but that all such narrow feelings (as some represent them) will be swallowed up in universal and undistinguishing good-will towards the whole body of glorified saints. Now, this view of the world to come, be it true or not, certainly is not the most alluring to the minds of men, such as even the best men new are.

Again, it is not indeed expressly asserted, but seems rather to be supposed and implied, in the expressions and thoughts of most persons on this subject, that the heavenly life will be one of inactivity, and perfectly stationary—that there will be nothing to be done,—nothing to be learnt,—no advances to be made;—nothing to be hoped for,—nothing to look forward to, except a continuance in the very state in which the blest will be placed at once. Now this also, is far from being an alluring view, to minds constituted as ours are.

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It is impossible for us to contemplate such a state,—even with the most perfect assent of the understanding to the assertion, that it will be exquisively happy;—still, I say, it is impossible for such minds as ours, to contemplate such a state, without an idea of tediousness and wearisomeness forcing itself upon them. The ideas of change,—hope,—progress,—improvement,—acquirement,—action,—are so intimately connected with all our conceptions of happiness,—so interwoven with the very thought of all enjoyment,—that it is next to impossible for us to separate them. We can indeed easily enter into the idea of heaven's being a place of "rest," as we are assured it is; that is, of rest from all toilsome, painful, distressingly anxious exertions: and we can also very well understand the enjoyment of rest in itself (that is, the mere absence of all exertion,) for a time, and as a change. But it is the contrast with exertion that alone makes rest agreeable. Take away all exertion, and rest (or rather inactivity, for it can no longer be called rest,) becomes so intolerably tedious to us, that even toilsome

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labour would at length be chosen by almost every one in preference.

Perfect security again from all danger of a change for the worse, is a highly gratifying idea; but the expectation of a change for the betteris an essential ingredient in all our present notions of happiness: no good is fullyenjoyed, unless it hold out a hope of some greater, at least some different good to succeed it. The idea, therefore, of a state perfectly stationary and unchangeable to all eternity, and known to be so, although the understanding may be convinced of its happiness, never can be interesting to our feelings as they now are.

And it is in great measure, I think, in consequence of the prevalence of such notions that so little interest is usually felt, even by the best Christians, in the future state held out to them. They believeindeed that it will be a happy state; but they do not feel any relish for such a kind of happiness as they suppose it to be. They believe that their nature will be so far changed that such things will then be the most highly gratifying, as now present

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to their thoughts no alluring picture. But the very idea that this change will be so total as to reverse every point in their nature, whether good or bad, necessarily takes away their interest in the reward promised; because they cannot bring themselves to feel (though they may to believe) that it is they themselves,—the very persons they now are,—that will obtain those rewards. You may be convinced that you shall hereafter be so totally altered as neither to wish for, nor to enjoy, any thing of the same kind that you do now; but you can never completely bring yourself to feel that this totally different being will be yourself, or to take much interest in what shall befall you in such a state.

The ancient heathens had many fables of men being transformed into brutes of different kinds, by the power of their gods; and some seem to have firmly believed in such occurrences: now I cannot think that any one of them who had this belief, if he imagined to himself the case of his being thus changed into an animal of some other species, could take any lively interest in the thought of what should

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then befall him. And even so it is in this case: if any one imagines himself undergoing a change into a Being as totally different from what he now is in every disposition, wish, faculty, and enjoyment, as a brute is from a man, though he may firmly believe, he cannot conceive and feel, that this new Being is himself.

If, therefore, I could see any sufficient reason for entertaining such notions of a future state as those I have been mentioning, I should not deem it expedient to dwell habitually on the subject; since it would be one which, after all, could never be rendered attractive.

But as it is, I not only can see nothing, either in reason or Scripture, that compels us to take this uninteresting and repulsive view of a future state; but, on the contrary, I see strong reasons for entertaining quite opposite notions.

The foundation, as you may remember, on which to build our conjectures, was laid down to be, the resemblance between the glorified state of the faithful, and that into which they are continually striving to bring themselves;—a resemblance

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between heaven and every thing most pure and virtuous, noblest and greatest in the true sense,—most sublimely good and happy, most heavenly, in short,—on earth; and a resemblance between Christ's sincere followers and Himself; "who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the mighty working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto Himself." This, together with the exclusion of all evil and imperfection,—all that is suitable only to a world of trial, like the present,—and the addition of such "good things as," the Apostle says, "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive," make up the general notion we are to entertain of the new world provided for the faithful. Now, according to these principles, it will be found that such notions of a future state as I have been just describing, have not even any probability on their side. It is supposed, for example, that particular friendship will be swallowed up in universal charity; and that any partial regard towards one good man more

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than another is too narrow a feeling, and unworthy of a saint made perfect. Do we then find any approach towards this supposed perfection in the best Christians on earth? Do we find that in proportion as they improve in charity towards all mankind they become less and less capable of friendship,—less affectionate to their relations and connexions, and to the intimate companions whom they have selected from among their christian brethren? Far from it: it is generally observed, on the contrary, that the best Christians, and the fullest both of brotherly love towards all "who are of the household of faith," and of universal charity and benevolence towards all their fellow creatures, are also the warmest and steadiest in their friendships. Why then should it be otherwise hereafter? Why should private friendship interfere with universal benevolence in heaven more than it does on earth! But there is a more decisive proof than this: no one can suppose that a Christian in his glorified state will be more exalted than his great Master here on earth; from Him we must ever remain at an

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immeasurable distance: we hope, indeed, to be free from the sufferings of our blessed Lord in his state of humiliation here below; but never to equal his perfections. Yet He was not incapable of friendship. He certainly loved indeed all mankind, more than any other man ever did; since (as St. Paul says) "while we were yet enemies, He died for us:" He loved especially the disciples who constantly followed Him; but even among the Apostles He distinguished one as more peculiarly and privately his friend—John was "the disciple whom Jesus loved." Can we then ever be too highly exalted to be capable of friendship?

I am convinced, on the contrary, that the extension and perfection of friendship will constitute great part of the future happiness of the blest. Many have lived in various and distant ages and countries, who have been in their characters, (I mean not merely in their being generally estimable,) but in the agreement of their tastes, and suitableness of dispositions, perfectly adapted for friendship with each other, but who of course could never meet

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in this world. Many a one selects, w hen he is reading history,—a truly pious Christian most especially in reading Sacred history,—some one or two favourite characters, with whom he feels that a personal acquaintance would have been peculiarly delightful to him. Why should not such a desire be realized in a future state? A wish to see and personally know, for example, the Apostle Paul, or John, is the most likely to arise in the noblest and purest mind; I should be sorry to think such a wish absurd and presumptuous, or unlikely ever to be gratified. The highest enjoyment doubtless to the blest, will be the personal knowledge of their great and beloved Master; yet I cannot but think that some part of their happiness will consist in ah intimate knowledge of the greatest of his followers also; and of those of them in particular, whose peculiar qualities are, to each, the most peculiarly attractive. In this world again, our friendships are limited not only to those who live in the same age and country, but to a small portion even of them;—to a small portion even of those

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who are not unknown to us, and whom we know to be estimable and amiable, and who, we feel, might have been among our dearest friends. Our command of time and leisure to cultivate friendships, impose a limit to their extent: they are bounded rather by the occupation of our thoughts, than of our affections. And the removal of such impediments in a better world, seems to me a most desirable, and a most probable change. I see no reason again why those who have been dearest friends on earth, should not, when admitted to that happy state, continue to be so, with full knowledge and recollection of their former friendship. If a man is still to continue, (as there is every reason to suppose) a social being, and capable of friendship, it seems contrary to all probability that he should cast off or forget his former friends, who are partakers with him of the like exaltation. He will indeed be greatly changed from what he was on earth, and unfitted perhaps for friendship with such a Being as one of us is now; but his friend will have undergone (by supposition) a

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corresponding change.* And as we have seen those who have been loving play-fellows in childhood, grow up, if they grow up with good and with like dispositions, into still closer friendship in riper years, so also it is probable that when this our state of childhood shall be perfected in the maturity of a better world, the like attachment will continue between those companions who have trod together the christian path to glory, and have "walked in the house of God as friends." A change to indifference towards those who have fixed their hearts on the same objects with ourselves, during this earthly pilgrimage, and hare given and received mutual aid during their course, is a change as little, I trust, to be expected as it is to be desired. It certainly is not such a change as the Scriptures teach us to prepare for. And

* The same thought is beautifully expressed by one of the most excellent of sacred poets, the author of the "Christian Year."
"That so, before the judgment-seat,
Tho' changed and glorified each face,
Not unremembered we may meet,
For endless ages to embrace."

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a belief that, under such circumstances, our earthly attachments will remain, is as beneficial as it is reasonable. It is likely very greatly to influence our choice of friends, which surely is no small matter. A sincere Christian would not indeed be, at any rate, utterly careless whether those were sincere Christians also, with whom he connected himself: but this care is likely to be much greater, if he hopes, that, provided he shall have selected such as are treading the same path, and if he shall have studied to promote their eternal welfare, he shall meet again, never to part more, those to whom his heart is most engaged here below. The hope also of rejoining in a better state the friend whom he sees advancing towards that state, is an additional spur to his own virtuous exertions. Every thing which can make heaven appear more desirable, is a help towards his progress in christian excellence; and as one of the greatest of earthly enjoyments to the best and most exalted Christian, is to witness the happiness of a friend, so, one of the brightest of his hopes will be, that of exulting in the

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most perfect happiness of those most dear to him.

As for the grief which a man may be supposed to feel, for the loss,—the total and final loss—of some who may have been dear to him on earth, as well as of vast multitudes, I fear, of his fellow-creatures, I have only this to remark; that a wise and good man in this life, though he never ceases to use his endeavours to reclaim the wicked and to diminish every kind of evil and suffering, yet, in cases where it is clear that no good can be done by him, strives, as far as possible, (though often without much success) to withdraw his thoughts from evil which he cannot lessen, but which still, in spite of his efforts, will often cloud his mind. We cannot at pleasure draw off our thoughts entirely from painful subjects, which it is in vain to think of. The power to do this completely, when we will, would be a great increase of happiness: and this power therefore it is reasonable to suppose the blest will possess in the world to come:—that they will occupy their minds entirely with the thought of things agreeable, and


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in which their exertions can be of service; and will be able by an effort of the will completely to banish and exclude every idea that might alloy their happiness.

With respect, lastly, to the state of rest which the faithful are to hope for in the next world, although, as I have said, it must imply the absence of all painful toil,—the exclusion of all danger and distressing anxiety,—there seems not the least reason to suppose that it implies an inactive or a stationary state. The desire of some kind of employment,—the desire of improvement and advancement of some kind or other,—and among the rest the desire of advancement in the acquisition of knowledge,—are, all, natural to man; and not the least, but rather the most so, to the best men. And that the blest in the next world will not be changed in these respects, this alone I think affords a strong presumption;—that there is no need they should. These propensities are by no means evils, or faults, or weaknesses of our nature: therefore there is no reason that the purification, and perfection, and exaltation of our, nature, should extinguish them. Nor is

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any such change by any means what the Christian is directed to prepare himself for in this life: he is not called upon to check these propensities, but to direct them to right objects; to employ himself actively in promoting God's glory and the happiness of his brethren; and a very delightful employment it is, when it pleases God to crown his benevolent efforts with success, and remove in part those troubles and hindrances, which in a happier world will be removed entirely. He is encouraged also to keep continually advancing in knowledge and in goodness;—to improve in acquaintance with the written word of God, and in wisdom and virtue of every kind:—"to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ:" and the perception of this improvement is one of the highest enjoyments of the best men. Is it then likely that all this advancement should be totally stopped,—that all this activity should be quenched,—that all these dispositions should be changed,—in a glorified state? This indeed is what we might well believe, unwelcome though the belief would be, if we were assured of it in God's

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word, or found any other good reason for it; but on the contrary, every thing seems to favour the opposite supposition; and if the wishes and inclinations of the blest still remain, in these respects, similar to what they are now, of course the life they lead (since it cannot be supposed their wishes will be vain,—their desires ungratified) must be of a corresponding nature. That the blest in heaven shall be in some way actively employed in fulfilling God's will, and promoting the happiness of each other, and that their happiness, and knowledge of God's glorious works, shall be continually advancing, seems as reasonable a hope, as it must be, to a right minded Christian, a fervent wish;—a hope as well founded, as it is cheering and delightful. To be ever advancing nearer and nearer to the nature of our Great Master, though we can never reach it,—to gaze ever closer and closer on those glorious and lovely qualities of which we can never understand the full perfection,—to advance ever further and further into the inexhaustible treasury of the knowledge of God's mighty works,—seems one of the sublimest, and most

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interesting, and most encouraging, and at the same time one of the most rational expectations that a zealous Christian can form, respecting the blissful state prepared for him.

There is this additional reason for such a belief; that the holy angels, whom we are assured the glorified saints will in some respects resemble, are active employed (as we read in Scripture) in messages of love, and other services to man; as indeed the name Angel (that is, messenger) signifies; and we are told by the Apostle Peter that they "desire ('stoop down' in the original) to look into" the mysterious dealings of God in the redemption of man.—To be employed then in such angelic occupations and thoughts as these, and to be continually advancing in this kind of life, without being troubled with any of those low earthly cares—those bodily and mental infirmities, which tend to draw off the attention, here below, even of the best Christians, from heavenly things, is just the sort of life which such Christians are actually preparing themselves for,—which they would look forward to with the most satisfaction,—

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and which I think they may look forward to with the most reason.

As for those who are engrossed with the things that pertain to this life alone,—who are devoted to sensual pleasures,—to worldly gain,—honour or power,—or to trifling pursuits, gaiety and amusements,—theyof course can have no relish for such a kind of life as I have been describing: heaven would be no heaven to them, if they were placed there; because they have not prepared themselves for it, nor cultivated any taste for its occupations. They can hardly be said even to desire it, except as the next bestthing to the present life, which they would prefer, if they had the choice; but which must, they know come to an end. Their world which they have set their hearts on, is in the earth: they have not laid up for themselves treasure in heaven:—they have evidently been preparing and qualifying themselves for the pursuits and enjoyments of this world alone; and therefore cannot complain at having no share in the good things of the next world. "Remember (said Abraham to the rich man in the parable) that thou,

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in thy life-time, receivedst thy good things;"—those, that is, which thy heart was set upon.

And as for those who live in strife or malice,—the envious, the revengeful, the liars, the slanderers, the profane, and such as these,—they, it is plain, are fitting themselves for the society of evil spirits, even the Devil, who is the father of lies, and his malignant angels. The change which could qualify these last, and the others just mentioned, for admittance into heavenly bliss, or even for enjoyment of it, if they were in the midst of it, is one which must be begun in the appointed place, here on earth; as they may be well assured that, if not, it will never take place after death. And it must be begun speedily; for it is plainly impossible that such a total change of heart,—of desires,—wishes,—tastes,—thoughts,—dispositions, can be accomplished on a death-bed; or even during a few weeks of feeble and decaying health.

Consider, therefore, I entreat you, now that there is time, what it is you have to hope, for;—what sort of life it is that is held

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out to the Christian in a better world,—and of which if he fails, there is nothing for him but a "fearful looking forward to of judgment to come;" even the curse pronounced on the disobedient; and strive, since such a prospect of heaven is set before you, "in heart and mind thither to ascend," as for as possible, while you remain here: prepare yourself in short for the heavenly happiness which you hope is prepared for you. Hold frequent intercourse in public and private worship with the Lord, with whom you hope "ever to dwell" in the next world, and who hath promised that in this world, "where two or three are gathered together in his name, He will be in the midst of them;" and attend frequently at his holy table, according to his commandment, to commemorate his infinite love towards you, and, as the Apostle Paul expresses it, "to shew the Lord's death until he come." And remember, that one great object in the appointment of that ordinance was to remind Christians that they are fellow-members of Christ's body,—branches of "the true vine," from which they derive

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all the nourishment of their souls,—"living stones" of what the Apostle calls "the temple of the Holy Ghost," namely, the Christian Church,—the society in which Christians are united with, and under, Christ, the "chief corner stone." And strive to impress it habitually on your mind, especially whenever you partake of the Lord's Supper, which is the appointed means of imparting to you "the Spirit of Christ,"—that this mystical temple is to endure for ever,—that this spiritual union of faithful Christians with their Lord, and with each other, will never come to an end, but on the contrary will be improved and perfected in a better world.

Your christian path will thus become smoother, and brighter, and more cheering, the further you advance in it; and when your course on earth is finished, you may trust confidently that it will be continued in a better state, to all eternity; you may trust that God will have "laid up for you"(as Paul says) "a crown of glory," which is promised also to "all those who love his appearing." (2 Tim.)

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Prevailing Mistakes respecting a Christian Departure.

IF it were fixed that you must before long leave your home, never to return, and set sail for a distant and unknown land, you would natually be anxious in the first place to learn as many particulars as possible respecting this country where you were to settle;—you would wish to know what accounts of it might be believed on good authority,—and what were to be rejected as idle tales,—and what points again were doubtful, so that nothing could be certainly known about them, till you should arrive there. And when you should have learnt all that could be known on thissubject, you would be anxious to inquire in the next place into the particulars of your departure from

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home: how soon you were required to hold yourself in readiness to set sail, what provisions and other stores were to be laid in,—and what other preparations to be made for your voyage, and for your final settlement; and how, and when, these preparations were to be begun.

Now such is actually the situation of all of us: we are all to launch forth in a short time from the shore of this present life into the regions of eternity. I have been discussing with you the subject of the country whither you are bound;—collecting as many particulars respecting it as we have any means of knowing; and proposing conjectures respecting some others; and pointing out what things there are so completely hidden that we cannot form even a reasonable conjecture about them. I proceed now to call your attention to some circumstances connected with our setting out on this great voyage,—our departure from this world to enter the other.

For I have found that respecting this departure,—respecting the change itself from our present state to that which succeeds it,—there prevail many opinions and

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habits of thinking and of feeling, which appear to me very erroneous; and which, if they are erroneous, are likely to produce mischievous effects.

I. In the first place most persons consider it as highly important that a man should have ample time allowed him to prepare for death; meaning by that phrase, to prepare for the next life;—to make his peace with God, as they sometimes express it;—to repent of his sins;—to learn any thing he may have been ignorant of relative to his religion;—to put on a pious and devout frame of mind,—and to embrace by faith the offer of salvation through Christ. And by the time allowed for making this preparation for death, they usually mean, not the whole space of each man's life but a certain number of weeks, days, or at least hours, after he shall have received distinct warning that his end is approaching.

II. Hence, it is of course considered as a most dreadful thing to die suddenly; that is, without having had notice, some time before, that death was just at hand. And this, not only in the case of such as

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have been leading a careless or wicked life: it is thought a calamity even for a good Christian to be cut off unexpectedly, by a fit for instance, or by some accident, without having had, the hour before, any expectation of speedy death, and without having been enabled to make any such preparation as I have been speaking of.

III. Accordingly when any one is labouring under a dangerous illness, and is suspected not to be aware of his danger, it is usually reckoned a point of duty in those near him to warn him that in all likelihood he is about to die; not merely when there are any worldly affaire for him to settle, but even when that is not the case, in order that he may have the more space to prepare for death. And this is considered so essential, that I have known the sick man's friends insist on giving him this warning, even in spite of the remonstrances of the physician, who has declared (when there is yet a possibility of recovery) that the agitation thus produced in the patient's mind may destroy the remaining chance of life.

IV. Again, it is considered as a most

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important part of this preparation, that the party should have had the advantage of the attendance of a clergyman, and should, on his death-bed, have received what is commonly called the Sacrament; (meaning, the communion of the Lord's Supper) as if there were but one sacrament; that of baptism being commonly regarded with very little serious reverence. And if the person be one who has absented himself from the Lord's supper all his life before, it is considered as peculiarly important and most efficacious towards his salvation, that he should communicate in his last moments: many persons even considering the duty as completely fulfilled, if a man has once partaken of the Lord's supper. And many, for this reason, purposely defer receiving it till their last illness, from a belief that after having received this sacrament, a man is more bound to lead a christian life than he was before; while others again, though they would censure the imprudence of thus deferring this duty, on account of the danger that a man may change to leave the wbrld without having performed it at all, yet seem to think that

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if any one is so fortunate as to have the opportunity, on his death-bed, he at least has escaped the dangerous consequences of his past neglect.

If again any one has been a constant communicant during his hours of health, still it is considered by many as a deplorable circumstance if he should have been deprived of the opportunity of privately communicating, just before his death.

V. As for those who have lived in irreligion or in sin, there are differences of opinion as to the efficacy of this preparation for death in their case. Most persons, I believe, think it a great advantage to a condemaed criminal, for example, or one struck with a mortal disease to have several days allowed him, after sentence is past, or the warning given, to attend to the concerns of his soul; but some do not venture to pronounce positively how far a dying repentance will avail to the salvation of the soul: while others maintain that repentance and faith, even at the last hour,—at the close of the most reprobate life,—are an infallible passport

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to heaven. And some consider the case of the penitent thief on the cross, and that of the labourers (in the parable) who came to work in the vineyard at the eleventh hour, and received the sarne wages with the rest, as affording scriptural authority for this doctrine.

VI. Again, it is usually considered as a circumstance of vast importance, that the dying man should have expressed the fullest confidence of his own salvation, and should have departed with a triumphant assurance of being admitted into the regions of eternal joy. The surviving relatives of one about whose future condition there might seem good reason to feel much dread, are in general perfectly at their ease, provided he has appeared so. If he shall have died with calm and confident trust of being on his way to a better world, it seldom occurs to them to inquire as to (what one would think the most important question) whether he was likely to have good or ill grounds for his confidence; or, rather they seem to suppose it impossible that he should be mistaken in this point, and that one who has been

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perhaps deceiving himself all his life, should deceive himself on his death-bed: as if in short a special revelation were bestowed on each man just at the point of death, to let him know with infallible certainty whether he was going to heaven of not.

VII. Another point about which surviving relatives are in general very solicitous, and which therefore they may be supposed to regard as of great consequence in their own case, is whether the dying man departed easily, without any violent struggle or agonizing pain, just at last. I say "just at last," because I have always found that it is not so much concerning the sufferings of a friend during the whole of his past life, or even during the illness of which he dies, that this peculiar anxiety exists. Provided they are but assured that, just at last, he was calm and easy, and expired without a struggle, they are pretty well reconciled to the knowledge of his having suffered severe pain before; and sometimes even seem to think the more favourably of his prospect of salvation on that very account, as if his

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sufferings might have gone some way at least towards expiating his sins, and making atonement for him, and might have contributed to exempt him from suffering in the other world. But to be relieved from suffering just at the last, and to die easily, is regarded either as a mark of acceptance with God, or for some either reason, as far more important than any other exemption from suffering through life.

VII. Lastly, it is considered as of great importance that a man's remains should have been interred in consecrated ground, (especially if it be within the walls of the Church) after having had the Church-sevice pronounced over them, and that his bones should remain secure and unmolested.

To sum up then in a few words the circumstances in which most people seem to think a happy death consists,—which they inquire about with the most anxiety, in the case of their friends,—and about which, it may be supposed, they care the most in their own case;—if a man has had distinct notice some considerable time

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before hand that his end was approching, and has thus been enabled to occupy that interval in what is usually termed, preparation for death:—if he has been attended by a minister, and has received the sacrament of the Lord's Supper a little before his departure:—if, though he may have suffered considerably in the course of the disease, he at last dies calm and easy both in body and mind, in full possession of his faculties, and professing the most perfect confidence of his acceptance with God; and finally, if his body receives what is called christian burial in consecrated ground, and especially if a handsome monument is erected over it;—this person's death is thought to combine all the circumstances which are usually reckoned the most desirable, important, and satisfactory.

Now if such opinions, such cases, and such feelings as I have been describing, are rational and christian, we may expect to find them agreeable to the christian Scriptures; if otherwise, they cannot be unattended with danger. Whatever tends to draw off our attention from that which

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is undeniably, and beyond all comparison, the most important business of a man's life—a right preparation for eternity,—and to fix our minds on matters which are either of no consequence at all, or at least, comparatively trifling, cannot but lead to the most mischievous consequences. And such, you will find on reflection, taking the Scriptures for your guide, is the case with all those circumstances which are usually considered as making the difference between a happy and a deplorable end. They are things either totally insignificant, or such as have so little weight in comparison of others, as hardly to be worth a thought, when we are reflecting on so momentous a subject as eternal happiness or misery.

It is certainly very natural and unblameable to desire, for ourselves and our friends, a death without pain, because no pain is in itself desirable. It is equally natural also to wish that our bodies may be decently buried, and may be laid beside those of our christian brethren. But what grounds are there, in reason or in Scripture, for supposing that any thing of

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this kind can make any difference in a man's final doom,—in his condition for eternity? And how infinitely insignificant in comparison is every thing which does not make this difference! All the sufferings and enjoyments which end with this life, are, if placed beside a happy or miserable eternity, less than a grain of sand compared with a mountain. And when a man is dead, if he retains any recollection of his having suffered much or little pain while on earth—if he has any knowledge how his corpse was disposed of, we may be sure he neither grieves nor rejoices at any thing of the kind, nor cares at all about it. Some of the early christian martyrs, after a life spent in sufferings for righteousness' sake, were delivered by their persecutors to be devoured by wild beasts, or were burnt alive, and their ashes scattered to the winds. All this they endured firmly in Christ's cause, knowing that their "light affliction, which was but for a moment, wrought for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." But still, if they had had their choice, they would have avoided all these

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things, if they could have done so without shrinking from their duty. But now that they are dead, and their sufferings all past, we may be sure (supposing them to be in a state of consciousness, and to remember what is past) that they can feel no regret whatever on that account, nor would wish that any of these things had happened otherwise. Engrossed as men are apt to be with the concerns of this world while they remain in it, we cannot suppose they continue to be so after they have left it. Even during the continuance of life, we are not apt to grieve at any past sufferings we may have undergone, if we are tolerably secure that the like will not take place again. Indeed to many persons the remembrance of what they have gone through even affords much pleasure, when they contrast these evils with their present ease and security. And little as we are apt to think of the concerns of eternity while this life lasts, we cannot doubt that in the next world we shall think of nothing else. We shall think of this life, if we have any thought of it at all, merely with a view to the opportunities employed or lost for

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working out our salvation,—the duties fulfilled or omitted,—the temptations we shall have yielded to or withstood. Again, I need hardly to point out to you a that there is no reason to suppose that any sufferings from disease, poverty, or other worldly affliction, can be in themselves meritorious, and likely to entiltle any one to acceptance with God. If indeed any person supports such trials with christian patience and fortitude, that will doubtless make him an object of God's favour: but the same may be said of any other tiral. Health, and power, and wealth, are also great trials; as our Lord implied when he said, "how hardly shall a rich man enter into the kingdom of heaven:" and any one who withstands such a temptation, and makes a christian use of those advantages, will doubtless be rewarded no less than one who had equally well encountered trials of a different kind. No man of sense can suppose that the rich man in the parable is described as punished merely because he had been rich, or Lazarus as rewarded, merely because he had been a beggar full of sores. But if we suppose

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the beggar humbly and patiently submitting to his lot, and the rich man, as setting his heart on the glories and the indulgences of the present life (as seems to be implied in the expression, "thou in thy life-time receivedst thy good things) this will sufficiently account for the difference in their future conditions. And that man must be sadly ignorant of the christian religion, who can think that his sins can be atoned for by his own sufferings, either from sickness or any other cause. That would be making himself his own Redeemer, instead of Jesus Christ, "who suffered on the cross," the "just for the unjust," and by whose "stripes we are healed." Equally unsupported by Scripture is the prevailing notion which attaches so much importance to the dying man's own hopes and feelings respecting the salvation of his soul. For where are we told in Scripture that howmuch-soever a man may have deceived himself all his life, respecting his own character and spiritual condition, it will be distinctly revealed to him, just at the point of death, whether he is accepted with God or not? Where is it promised that every

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man shall be saved who feels and professes on his death-bed a confidence that he shall be saved? Our Lord himself speaks of some as even coming forward to claim his favour "on that day," (the day of judgement,) "saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; we have prophesied in thy name, and in thy name done many mighty works;" to whom He will reply, "I never knew you." It does indeed sometimes happen that the veil of self-deceit, which has long kept a man in ignorance of the condition of his soul, is removed just at last, and the delusion being at an end, the sinner becomes conscience-stricken and terrified. But it would be most extravagant to infer from these cases, that no different cases can ever occur;—that because some men are undeceived just at the last, therefore none can continue deceived. This I say, would be a moat extravagant conclusion, even if we had no proof to the contrary. But we have, unhappily, the most abundant proofs; we see the instances every day of men dying in the errors in which they have lived. A Roman Catholic, for example, trusts for salvation, in a great


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measure, to his prayers to saints, who, he fancies, are his intercessors with God,—to various superstitious ceremonies—to sacred relics, as they are called, hung about his body, such as pieces of wood, supposed to be of the cross on which Christ suffered; bones, or locks of hair of dead men, and the like;—to masses sung for him by the priests; and perhaps he trusts to have earned God's highest favour by persecuting and burning other Christians, whom he calls heretics. What multitudes have died as well as lived in these frightful errors, with a full confidence of salvation built on this miserable foundation! I am not saying that no Roman Catholic can be saved, supposing him not to have had sufficient opportunities of learning the truth; but it is quite plain that he cannot be saved by any of these things, in which he puts his trust: and therefore his continuing to trust in them to the last, as so many do, proves that a man may be most grossly deceived to the last, in matters pertaining to the state of his soul. And if the Papist is deceived in one way, others may be no less deceived, in other ways.

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It is, indeed, to be expected, generally speaking, that a sincere Christian will depart with a joyful confidence of a happy immortality. His trust in God's promises, and his own consciousness of having sincerely laboured to "walk worthy of his christian calling," naturally lead to such a departure. But even this we have no right to regard as a rule without any exceptions. There are some diseases of which the natural effect is to produce unreasonable despondency, groundless apprehensions, and agitation of mind; and if a man chance to die under the influence of such a disease, and to have, in consequence, no cheering ray of hope shed over his death-bed, it would be most rash and uncharitable to conclude that he has lost God's favour, and is doomed to eternal perdition. But even if it were universally true that whoever really is accepted of God must die with a triumphant assurance of it,—even if this, I say, were universally true, it would not at all follow that no one can have the same assurance without having equally good grounds for it;—that all who have this confident expectation of

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going to heaven, will actually be received there. A man's own expectations, in short, whether favourable or unfavourable, afford us grounds for judging of his future condition, as far, and only as far, as we have good reason for believing that those expectations are well-founded.

I have said that it is unreasonable for any one who has been sincerely endeavouring to lead a christian life, to suppose himself rejected of God, from his not feeling, on the approach of death, that exalting confidence and holy joy, of which perhaps the nature of his disease deprives him; and that as this would be, for him, unreasonable, so for any one else to judge hardly of his condition on this account would be highly uncharitable. It may be added that if it happen to one who has been a regular attendant at the Lord's table to have no opportunity of receiving that holy communion in his last illness, it would be unreasonable for him to be thence troubled in mind, and distrustful of God's favour; and most unjustifiable for another to think the worse of his prospect of acceptance. Nay, supposing such

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a Christian (I mean a regular and devout communicant) should himself decline receiving the Lord's Supper in a private room, from feeling that this is less conformable to the original institution by Christ himself, which was designed to be (as the name implies) a communion, or common participation, by a whole christian congregation, of the symbols of Christ's mystical body and blood, by which is represented his Holy Spirit;—should such, I say, be the feeling and the decision of any pious Christian on his death-bed, no one would have any right to censure him for it.

As for any one who does wish to receive the Lord's Supper privately in his sick-room, even though he may have been guilty of neglecting this ordinance hitherto, we have no right to refuse to administer it to him, provided he appear to be in a fit state of mind for receiving it. But no one can be in a fit state, or can derive any "inward spiritual grace" from "the outward and visible sign," who mistakes altogether the nature and intent of the Lord's Supper. And this is the

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case with every one who considers it not as a duty habitually to celebrate this sacred ordinance, but thinks it sufficient to defer it till his last illness, and that it will then operate as a charm (like the extreme unction of the Papists) to secure his salvation; who desires to receive this sacrament because he thinks himself dying, and would not do so if he expected to recover, lest he should thus have bound himself (as he imagines) to a stricter observance of God's laws than would otherwise be required of him; and who does not sincerely and deeply bewail, among his other sins, his past neglect (if he have been guilty of such neglect) of this duty, during the time of his health; steadfastly purposing, should his life be spared, to be henceforth a regular attendant at the Lord's table. A man, I say, who thus misapprehends the whole character of this ordinance, knows not what he is about when he celebrates it, and cannot therefore derive any spiritual benefit from so doing.

As for the efficacy of a death-bed repentance, in the case of one whose life has been spent in sin or in thoughtlessness,

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different opinions, as I have said, are entertained by different persons. But this, I suppose, will be admitted by all; that when (as is too often the case) a man who supposes himself dying, mistakes remorse and terror for a truly christian state of mind, when his religious impressions (at least what he calls, and believes to be so) are merely the effect of present pain and danger, and are such as would immediately evaporate and come to nothing if he were unexpectedly to recover,—when in short, his state is such that in case of restoration to health and security, he would immediately relapse into his former irreligion or sin, which is found to be the case with a large proportion of those supposed penitents, when they are thus unexpectedly relieved;—when, I say, a sinner's repentance is of this character, all I suppose would allow that it must be unavailing.

If, on the other hand, the dying sinner be in such a frame of mind that he would, if his life were spared, devote the whole of it sincerely to God's service, and if the all-knowing Searcher of hearts foresees,

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what he alone can foresee, (for neither the penitent himself, nor any other, can, in such a case, have any certain knowledge of the future) that this person would so live if his life were prolonged, we certainly cannot pronounce that in such a case his repentance will not be accepted; though he has lost the opportunity of "bringing forth fruits meet for repentance." It is not for man to set bounds to the Divine mercy; but, on the other hand, it is no less rash for man to presume to extend it beyond what God has distinctly promised, and to hold out a confident assurance that such a repentance will be accepted, if we have not scripture-authority for that confidence. And that there is no such scripture authority seems sufficiently plain from this; that all the passages of Scripture which are referred to with this view are most grossly and palpably perverted and misrepresented. For example, the one I lately mentioned, the parable of the labourers in the vineyard, will appear, if studied with even a moderate degree of attention, to be totally foreign from the purpose.

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"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder; who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a-day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right ye shall receive. So when it was evening, the roaster of the vineyard saith unto his servants, Call the labourers and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came they expected to receive more;

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and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it they murmured against the master, saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, who have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take what is thine and go thy way; it is my will to give unto this last even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Art thou envious at my being bountiful?"*

Now you should observe that the labourers who did not begin to work till the eleventh hour gave as a reason for their standing idle, "because no man hath hired us." It does not appear that they had been offered employment before, and had refused it: no blame whatever was imputed to them; and accordingly the lord of the vineyard was graciously pleased

* This, and the other passages, quoted from Scripture, I have translated exactly from the original; retaining, however, the words of our translation, except where, from being somewhat obsolete, they did not so clearly express the sense to readers of the present day.

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to take the will for the deed, and to pay them a whole day's wages, because it was not through any fault of their's that they had not done the whole day's work. The case of these labourers evidently is designed to represent that of the Gentiles to whom the knowledge of the true God was then about to be revealed, many ages later than it had been taught to the Jews. It is of these our Lord was speaking when he said, "They shall come from the east, and from the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." They were left uncalled, as it were, till the eleventh hour, and were then put on a level with the Jews; who were on that account disposed to murmur, and regard them with an evil eye. The Gentile nations, I say, and those individuals of the Gentiles, who did not hear the glad tidings of Christ's kingdom till late in their lives, are plainly the persons denoted by the labourers in the parable. It can have no reference whatever to the case of those Christians who have had and have resisted God's gracious invitations, every day of their lives, and have refused

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to think of the next world till they are just about leaving this. Whatever excuse they may plead for such conduct, at least they cannot plead with any truth "because no man hath hired us."

Equally foreign from the question is the case so often appealed to, of the penitent thief* on the cross. What his former sins had been,—how long before-hand he had repented of them,—and how long he had been a believer in Jesus,—are points on which we must remain ignorant, because the Scriptures give us no information. It is usually taken for granted that his contrition for his sins, and his faith in Christ, took place, for the first time, just at the moment when he uttered those words which are recorded of him. The circumstances of the case prove (as I shall presently show) the impossibility of this. But even supposing it possible, it would not be the less rash for any one to assume that this was the fact: because it is what, even if true, we could not possibly know. Even on that supposition, however, the

* He was what we call a robber; for that is the proper sense of the original word.

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case of the penitent thief must still be quite unlike any that can possibly occur in the present day. The faith which he displayed is the most extraordinary of any that is recorded.

To understand this fully, you should recollect that the Jews universally expected their Christ or Messiah to appear as a great temporal prince, to deliver their nation from the dominion of the Romans—to overthrow all their enemies—and to make them the greatest people of the earth. Many accordingly were disgusted (offended, or scandalized, as the sacred historians express it) at the humble station in which Jesus appeared, while he proclaimed the kingdom of Heaven as at hand. And even those who believed on Him were so strongly impressed with the same expectation, that they endeavoured "to take Him by force to make Him a king." His very apostles partook of these feelings; for we find Peter rebuking Him when he spoke of his being scourged and crucified, "saying, Be it far from thee, Lord; there shall no such thing happen unto thee." And it is likely that Judas

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Iscariot, in betraying Him, did not meditate his destruction, but thought He would be forced into some display of miraculous power to save himself from his enemies, and that thus he would at once be acknowledged as King of the Jews. For Judas must have known that Jesus had such power, and could (as He himself expresses it) "pray to the Father, and He would send Him more than twelve legions of angels." But when his enemies, to all appearance, prevailed,—when He submitted to stripes, insults, and finally, the most ignominious kind of death, the triumph of the unbelievers was complete, and the last hopes of his followers seem to have faded away. They were as little prepared as his adversaries for such a strange and unexpected doctrine as that of a suffering Messiah, who should through death "enter into his glory." One of them had betrayed Him; another, who had boasted of the most courageous attachment, repeatedly denied Him; the rest "forsook Him and fled." His enemies exulted in the proof which, to their minds, his degrading death afforded, that He

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could not be the anointed of God; saying, "If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross, and we will believe:" that He should "save Himself," was the only way they could imagine of his making good his pretensions. And accordingly one of his fellow-sufferers reviled Him in the same terms; "If thou be the Son of God, save thvself and us." Then it was that the other malefactor not only rebuked his companion, and bore witness to the innocence of Jesus, (saying, "This man hath done nothing amiss;" which proves, by the way, that he must have known a good deal about Him before), but acknowledged Him as a triumphant sovereign about to enter into his kingdom. He does not merely acknowledge his divine power: he does not ask to be saved from death; but to be saved after death;—to be remembered when Jesus should "enter into his kingdom." He therefore appears to have understood, or at least suspected what none of the disciples themselves at that time had any idea of, the spiritual nature of Christ's kingdom;—that it was "not of this world;" and that the rewards

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and glories reserved for his followers were those of the world beyond the grave. We are not sure indeed that the dying malefactor was quite so far enlightened as fully to take in this view: but at any rate he did look for a kingdom of God which the death of Jesus was not to destroy but to complete; he understood that, in some way or other, "the Christ must suffer these things and enter into his glory."

This was surely a most extraordinary instance of faith; especially considering how strongly all the deep-rooted prejudices of the Jews respecting the promised Messiah, set the other way;—how completely wedded they were to the expectation of a temporal Deliverer. And whether this man were himself a Jew or a Gentile, he must have known that these were the expectations entertained by all parties. Yet in opposition to all these prejudices, this man acknowledged as his Lord and King,—as the Supreme Ruler of the unseen world, a person who was nailed to a cross beside him, derided by his enemies, deserted by his friends, and about to conclude a persecuted life by the most

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ignominious death. Such was the faith of the penitent thief. Yet it is worth while to observe that his was not a blind belief without evidence. Such is hot that "faith without which it is impossible to please God;" but would rather be foolish credulity. That faith which is "counted for righteousness," consists, not, in believing without evidence, but in being open to evidence; in candidly and patiently weighing the reasons; and in resolving to receive and acknowledge whatever there is good ground for believing, however contrary it may be to our expectations, wishes, and prejudices.

The many mighty works which Jesus had done afforded a very sufficient proof that He must have come from God. And these miraculous works must have been well known to this man; not only because they had been openly displayed and were generally talked of in all parts of that country, but because, moreover, it plainly appears, from the very words recorded, that he must have known Jesus and been known by Him, (in all likelihood as his disciple) some considerable time before. The

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words,—the only ones recorded,—in which he addresses our Lord on the cross, are such as no one would ever have used in addressing for the first time one to whom he was personally a stranger. "Lord, remember me!" You observe he does not even confess his sins, and implore forgiveness;—he does not say, like the publican in the parable, "God be merciful to me a sinner." The only allusion he makes to his sins is in a sharp rebuke to his fellow-sufferer, "we receive the due reward of our deeds;" but to Jesus he addresses nothing but a petition to be remembered in his approaching kingdom. Nor does Jesus say to him, as He was used to do to repentant offenders, "thy sins are forgiven thee." A penitent, he doubtless was; because otherwise he would not have been accepted; but his penitence evidently did not take place on the cross; and therefore we may be sure that his penitence and pardon had taken place sometime before. In short the words recorded as exchanged between him and the Saviour, are such as show by the very form of expression, that they must have had intercourse before,

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and by the matter and sense of them, that he must have been before, a believer in Jesus, and an accepted follower. But his faith stood a trial before which that of all the other disciples was shaken. Having once, on good and sufficient grounds, believed in Jesus as the Christ,* he remained unshaken in his trust, even at the moment when the enemies of the crucified King were filled with triumph, and his disciples with doubt, or despair. However strange, unexpected, and hard to be explained, his present situation might be, that was no reason against acknowledging Him as the Son of God, and trusting that God would bring about his own ends in the way man would least expect or comprehend. The commendable faith of the penitent thief consisted not in believing without good reason, but in listening to reason, notwithstanding all the strange and revolting circumstances which tended to bias the mind the other way; and which in fact did bias the mind,

* The reader should never fail to recollect that "the Christ," or "Messias," is the title, not the name, of Jesus, denoting that He was the "anointed" Priest and King.

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and overcome the faith, of every one besides.

Whether any one of us does actually possess equal faith with this man, can be known only to the all-wise God. But we may be sure that no one of us can display equal faith with his, because the circumstances are such as can never occur again.

I am not saying, you will observe, that no dying penitent in the present day, can be accepted; but only, that if he is, it cannot be from his case being at all like that of the thief on the cross, to which it must be totally unlike. The instance is nothing to the present purpose; but is important to us, as showing how highly acceptable in the sight of our Master is an extraordinary degree of well-grounded, rational, and truly Christian faith.

There is an expression of an ancient writer, relative to this transaction, which I have heard quoted with great approbation; that "one was saved, that none might despair; and only one, that none might presume." To me it appears utterly incorrect. If it had been recorded that the two thieves behaved exactly alike,—that

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both were penitent, or both hardened; and that one was accepted, and the other rejected, the remark would have been reasonable; and on that very account it is altogether unreasonable, seeing that the very reverse is recorded. Is there not enough to account for the acceptance of the one and not the other? One was hardened, unbelieving, impenitent; the other, humble, repentant, and full of the most extraordinary faith. The whole history leads us to suppose that if both had acted like the one, both would have obtained favour; and that if both had acted like the other, neither would have obtained it. What is there in the rejection of a hardened unbeliever, to check the hopes, nay, the confident trust, of those "who with hearty repentance, and true faith, turn to God?" What is there, in the acceptance of such a penitent, to encourage hope, in hardened sinners, or in any whose repentance is not hearty, or whose faith is not sincere?

It seems to me that one might as well speak in the same manner respecting the parable of the man who built his house on

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the sand (in consequence of which it was destroyed by a flood), and of the other, who founded his house on a rock. Now every one would perceive the absurdity of saying, "one house stood firm, that none might despair; and one was washed away, that none might presume;" as if the different foundations on which they were built, did not account for the difference of their fates.

There are however, as I have said, many persons who do not venture to express confidence as to the efficacy of a death-bed repentance, who yet insist much on the importance in all cases of what is called, preparation for death; and who in their views on that subject do not avail themselves of the instruction they might derive from our Lord's own discourses.

One of the most important for the present purpose is the parable of the ten virgins; which therefore I propose to explain to you, and to comment on at some length, in the concluding Lecture.

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Preparation for Death.

I PROCEED to make some observations on the Parable, of the wise and the foolish virgins, which is particularly well suited, and I think must have been designed, to prevent such mistakes as commonly prevail, respecting a Christian's preparation for death.

I will set before you our Lord's parable, together with the passage immediately before it, which unluckily is placed in another chapter, (Matthew xxiv.) though it is not only a part of the same discourse, but is particularly connected with this parable. The divisions into chapters and verses often obscure the sense of Scripture to those who do not know or do not recollect that these divisions were not made nor thought of by the Sacred Writers, but

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were added long after their time. St. Matthew xxiv. 42.*

"Watch, therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But be assured of this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken open. Therefore be ye also ready: for in an hour when ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his Master hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his Master, when he cometh, shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all his goods. But if that evil servant say in his heart, My Master delayeth his coming; and begin to beat his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the Master of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him asunder, and appoint

* See Note in the preceding Lecture, p. 262.

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him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Chap. xxv. "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise and five foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are going out.* But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in to him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Master, master, open to us. But he answered and

* This is the marginal reading in our bibles.


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said. Verily I say unto yon, I know you not. Watch, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh."

Now in order to take in the full force of this most awfully important parable, you should recollect that the marriage-feasts among the Jews were among their richest and most splendid festivals; in which they delighted to display the utmost magnificence, and the most imposing solemnity. And the same custom is said by travellers to prevail in those regions of the East, even to this day. The savings of many years, it is said, are often reserved expressly to be laid out on such an occasion, on which they spare no expense that comes within the compass of their means, and vie with each other in the multitude of guests invited, and in the pomp and costliness of the entertainment. It was at a wedding, accordingly, in Cana of Galilee that our Lord thought fit (on account of the concourse of people whom such a festival was sure to draw together) to make the first display of his miraculous power, and thus, publicly, to open his ministry.

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And as these splendid solemnities were, of course, very striking, and likely to make a strong impression on all who witnessed them, He, for that reason, more than once illustrates some circumstance relating to his religion, by some allusion to the well-known ceremonies of a marriage feast.

On the occasion now before us he alludes to that part of the accustomed solemnity which consisted in receiving the bride-groom, on his triumphant arrival at his own house, with music, and a great assemblage of attendants, bearing torches and lamps, (their marriages being always celebrated at night) to lead the way to the feast prepared.

The virgins, of whom our Lord speaks, are to be understood as the attendants appointed to wait for, and to receive the bridal party, and to conduct them to the wedding-feast. Of these virgins, he tells us, five were wise, and five foolish; And the foolish ones, neglecting to bring their oil with them, found themselves at a loss when their master's coming was announced; and while they were gone to buy oil, the door was shut against them.

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The same precept as that which is inculcated in this parable, He had enforced, in the passage immediately preceding it, (which I have just set before you) by the illustration of a master of a house which was broken open, because he did not watch; which, of course, he would have done, if he had known at what hour the thief would come.

The application of the parable is sufficiently plain, and is distinctly made by our Lord himself; who, in both instances, repeats the precept, "Watch, therefore—be ye also ready—for ye know not in what hour your Lord doth come;"to explain, and to impress on the minds of the hearers, that He has in view the case of his disciples, that is, of all Christians; who are exhorted to hold themselves prepared for their Lord's coming, that whenever that may take place, He may find them occupied in doing his will, and discharging the duties of faithful and diligent servants. "Blessed," says He, "is that servant whom his lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing." And on the other hand He denounces a most fearful judgment on

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those who shall be taken unawares,—who shall be found to have neglected their duty, and not prepared for his coming. And that He is addressing his precepts not to his disciples then present only, but "even unto all," we have his own express assurance, "What I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch."

Now to any one who believes what Jesus Christ has said, and expects that He will do as He has promised, it is a most interesting inquiry whether he himself is likely to obtain the blessing or the curse here held out; whether he is to consider himself as represented by the wise or by the foolish virgins.

In order then to make this inquiry the easier, I will endeavour to explain to you, first, what is meant by our Lord's "coming," for which we are to prepare; 2dly, how we are to prepare for it; and, 3dly, when we are to prepare.

By our Lord's "coming," is plainly meant (as far, that is, as the parable applies to Christians generally) His coming to judge the world at the last day. But you are to observe that though there is no

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precise time fixed for the general judgment of all men, both of those who shall then be living, and of those who shall have died, either lately, or long before, in all ages of the world; yet practically, to each particular person, the time of his death, is the time of his Lord's coming.

Those who shall have died at times I the most distant from each other, some a thousand years ago, and some yesterday, and some perhaps many years hence, all agree in this, that their respective times of trial come to an end at their respective deaths: and, therefore, whether the interval of time be long or short between any one's death and the day of judgment, is a circumstance that makes no difference in this point of view; since his doom, on that day, is to depend on the life he has led in this world. As to what the state of the departed is during that interval, we know little or nothing; since the Scriptures say little on the subject; and our own reason, as I pointed out to you in the foregoing Lectures; can furnish us with but faint conjectures. But thus far we do know most assuredly, what that state is

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not; namely, that it is not a state of trial; since nothing can be plainer than the declarations of Scripture, that our sentence at the day of judgment depends on our conduct in this present life. I say then, that practically, the coming of Christ to judgment, is, at the close of our life on earth.

Our next point is to consider in what manner it is, that we are required to prepare for death. The answer seems abundantly plain from Scripture, that it is by diligently devoting ourselves to Christ's service; by acting with a constant reference to His will; by seeking every opportunity of testifying our love, and gratitude, and reverence for Him, our faith in Him, and our hope of His promises; even as a faithful and affectionately attached servant, zealously studies to show his obedience to his master, and care for his service. And even thus does our Lord himself illustrate the Christian's duty, in the exhortation He gives his disciples; "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning, and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for

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their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately: blessed are those servants whom their lord, when he cometh, shall find watching."

Now this being the manner in which we are required to prepare for death,

The third point proposed, namely, the time when we are to prepare, seems to be settled along with the foregoing; for it is manifest, that the whole of our life is the very time appointed for this purpose,—being the period of trial allotted to us, to prove whether we will thus diligently comply with our Lord's commands or not.

But, if this be the case, which you may plainly see it must be, if there be truth in God's word, how great must be the mistake of those who speak of preparing for death as a distinct and separate business, proper to be undertaken when we believe death to be just at hand; and who of course think it unnecessary, till that time comes, and while they are in the enjoyment of youth and health, and have no

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particular reason to suppose their life near an end: whereas, our Lord plainly tells you, that that is not only a proper time, but is just the very time,—the only time for making such a preparation; saying, "Watch, therefore, for ye know not at what hour your Lord cometh."

There are many, I am well aware, who do not like to think about death; and would, therefore, willingly, put off such uncomfortable thoughts till the occasion calls for them. In the case of those who are leading a christian life, I have done my best, in the foregoing Lectures, to lessen the gloomy feelings accompanying the thought of death, by endeavouring to excite an interest in the things of the next world, and presenting a less cheerless idea of that world than many have done. But as for those of a different character,—who know, or who suspect, that they are not living as they will wish to have lived when they come to die, I am setting before these the right method to deprive death of its terrors. And I entreat them to remember that death is neither the less certain, nor the further off, for their not choosing to

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think about it; and if the occasion for thinking about it, and preparing for it, be, (as I trust I have clearly explained to you) now, while they are in the full enjoyment of life and health and youth, it is surely better to think of it while the thought may be productive of some benefit, than when it can produce only unavailing regret. When we shall die, does not depend upon ourselves; but how we shall die, does; since it depends on how we shall have lived.

When I object to the use of the phrase "preparing for death," as denoting something that is to be done, when we believe death to be approaching, I allude, (as was observed in the last Lecture), not merely to those who indulge in a careless and irreligious life, and who think it will be time enough to repent on their death-bed, but also, to many sincere Christians;—to many, who are far from thinking that old age or sickness are the only proper time to think of the next world, but who still think that there is a certain preparation for death requisite, over and above the leading of a christian life, or what they

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regard as such, and that it is a most desirable thing to have warning given them of their approaching end, some time before-hand, that they may have leisure allowed them to make their peace with God; and they are, I believe, confirmed in this notion by the prayer in the Litany against "sudden death;" considering it as a great evil to be called away without having any previous warning.

All these notions are founded in mistake; and if any one, who is leading a christian life, is distressed by any anxieties on this head, he may find a cure for them in the right interpretation of Scripture. It is indeed in any one's power to secure himself against the possibility of sudden death; at least of such sudden death as the Christian should pray to be delivered from. For, sudden death, in that sense, means, unprepared death; and if any man will but live during the period of his youth, and health, and security, with that constant watchfulness which our Lord exhorts us to, he will always be prepared for his coming. This indeed the greater part would be willing to admit; the generality would not

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doubt that a man who is, while in a state of ordinary health and security, constantly leading a life of christian watchfulness, is well-prepared for death. But what is not so generally understood, is, that no one else is well-prepared;—that death not only cannot be frightfully sudden to the constantly-watchful Christian, but cannot fail to be sudden to all who have not been thus watchful, however long a notice they may afterwards have; since (as our Lord expressly teaches us) the time for making that preparation is, not after, but before we have received the warning; before, not after his coming is announced. Look but at the passage now before us. When the Bridegroom's coming was announced, the foolish virgins, as well as the wise, bethought themselves of preparing to receive him; they then asked for oil to supply their lamps, and finding that the others had none to spare, they went out at once to buy some. You observe they are quite in earnest now;—as soon as ever they have warning of the Bridegroom's coming, they are all diligence to get themselves ready to meet him; but their diligence comes

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too late: they find, on returning, that the door is shut against them, and they are disowned. They ought to have thought of these things sooner, and brought oil with them; the time for making preparation was, not after, but before they had received the warning.

In setting before men the danger of trusting to a death-bed repentance, it is not uncommon for preachers to urge strongly the uncertainty of life, and the probability of being hurried out of the world suddenly, by some disease or accident, without having time to repent. And these exhortations, I believe, generally fail of their effect, from the disposition men have to trust in their own good fortune, and to flatter themselves, each one for himself, that he shall be exempt from such sudden seizures of disease,—such fatal accidents; and that he shall have time to repent. My reason, however, for abstaining from such topics, is, that I conceive they are nothing to the purpose. I cannot bring myself to think that it makes any difference with respect to a man's salvation, whether he be struck dead by a flash of lightning, or die of a

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lingering and incurable disease. Sudden death, (in the sense in which it is to be prayed against and dreaded) sudden death must be, as I have explained to you, unprepared death. And since it plainly appears from our Lord's own words that the time for preparing is the time of our health and security, when we have no distinct warning of its approach, it follows inevitably, that he who does thus employ that time,—he, in short, who is a sincere Christian, never can die suddenly; and that he who lives otherwise, necessarily must die suddenly.

Both reason and Scripture teach us to believe that our appointed trial on earth consists in the experiment how we shall conduct ourselves with the knowledge that we certainly shall die, but without the knowledge when. Now, if this be the case, it follows inevitably, that this our trial is at an end, as soon as ever this uncertainty is at an end; that is, as soon as ever we do know that our death approaches.

It is an awful and a painful thought, that so many, who are not without a

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sense of religion, should reserve the care of their souls till the time appointed for that care is over;—should begin to think of their state of trial, and to prepare for death, when the season for that trial, and for that preparation is at end,—when (as from our Lord's parable, we have every reason to suppose) THE DOOR IS SHUT! Christ's ministers, however, are bound to describe things not as we may wish them to be, but as the Scriptures tell us they really are. To disguise the truth could only lull men into a false security,—to declare it, as our Lord Himself has declared it, may lead you, through his grace, to consider it and lay it to heart in the time that the preparation is to be made; namely, not after, but before, you are warned of approaching death.

In truth, however, nothing can appear more fair and reasonable than the system which our Lord declares He will pursue. If two men have both been equally leading a christian life, and have both devoted themselves to Christ's service while they were in health and security, it does not seem agreeable to God's justice, that, if

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one of them be cut off by a sudden accident, it should be imputed to him as a fault, that he should not have been particularly occupied with the thought of death an hour before it happened, or that he should fare worse at the day of judgment than the other, supposing that other to have warning given him, by a long illness, of his approaching end. The death of each was such as God appointed, and did not depend on themselves; and it is to be concluded that if they had changed places, each would have acted as the other did.

On the other hand, if two persons have each been leading an equally careless or wicked life, and one dies unexpectedly, and the other has warning, and is struck with terror and remorse when he perceives his end approaching, is it reasonable to expect any difference will be made between these? They also, it is probable, would have changed conduct with each other, had they changed conditions; nor is either of them the better or the worse for having received, or not received, a precise warning of the approach of death. The general

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warning, to be always ready, they had both alike neglected: in the trial how they would behave themselves under the certainty of dying and the uncertainty when, they have both alike failed. One has not shown more vigilance than the other; it seems unreasonable, therefore, to make any difference between them.

It is precisely on this principle that every one of us acts in his own concerns. If any of you found, on returning unexpectedly home, that the servants, whom he had intrusted with his business and his property, had been wasteful and negligent, because they did not think of their master's coming, you would justly condemn those servants; and if one of them had received, a few hours before, private notice of his master's approach, and, though he had hitherto behaved as ill as the rest, should endeavour, just at last, to save appearances, and to set himself about the business which he ought to have been engaged in all along, you would (if you knew this) not regard him as more excusable than the others, since they would all have done the same had they received the

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same notice. You would tell him, that if hie fidelity and zeal had been real, they would have been shown before he had any warning of his master's approach, instead of being put on for the occasion; you would, in short, "appoint him his portion with the hypocrites," as our Lord declares He will do to such servants. No one, in short, can have any credit for the care and vigilance he may show, after he has had notice of the danger being just at hand; because every one is careful then. "If the good man of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also." And "the foolish virgins," in like manner were thoughtful and alert, when the coming of the Bridegroom was announced; but they then found the door shut against them.

I remarked, in the last Lecture, that the friends of a sick man, who is likely to die, often consider it a duty of the highest importance to give him notice of his situation, if he is supposed not to be aware of his danger: I mean even when

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there are no worldly affairs for him to settle; but merely with a view to afford him as much time as possible to prepare for death.

Now it is plain from what has been just said, that the giving of this notice, instead of lengthening, does, in fact, shorten his time for preparation. For since it has been shown that the appointed time for preparing is while we have no warning of the immediate approach of death; our trial on earth being how we shall behave in a state of uncertainty as to the time of our death,—it follows inevitably that a man's trial is at an end (at least that particular kind of trial on which, we have every reason to suppose, our final doom chiefly depends) as soon as that uncertainty is at an end. The warning given,—the knowledge conveyed to the man of his approaching death, by putting an end to his uncertainty, shortens, by just so much, that trial which is appointed to be made in a state of uncertainty. And the case of a man whose life had hitherto been irreligious or careless, which is just the one in which most persons would be

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particularly anxious to warn him of the approach of death, is the very case in which I should he most desirous to keep back such warning. I should be aiming, though by contrary means, at the very same end as they; namely, to give him as much time as possible for repentance. I should therefore be especially anxious to bring him to a right sense of religion before he was aware that his life was drawing to a close. For his repentance would then be of quite a different character, and, one may hope, might be accepted, when it was not extorted by the mere dread of approaching death, and when it was accompanied with an earnest resolution to amend his life, and to devote to God the remainder of it; which he himself might expect to be, possibly, many years. This at least would be far different from that sort of resolution which many a one makes on his death-bed, to reform his life if it should be spared; though he had not entered on any such reform till he found that his life would most likely not be spared. It is true, in the case supposed just above, we are sure that the sick man

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has but a few days or hours to live; butr since he (we are supposing) does not know but that he may live many years, his good thoughts, and resolutions, and efforts are not the less commendable: which they would be, if he knew his situation. His life, it is true, is not actually lengthened; he will not have, in fact, any opportunity of "bringing forth fruits meet for repentance;" but so long as he is not himself aware of this, there is something of virtue even in virtuous efforts and resolutions.

Suppose now the case of a man in full health and security, who has been leading hitherto an unchristian life, coming to a sense of his sin, and resolving at once to turn to God with all his heart from this time, and beginning immediately to reform whatever is amiss, and setting about to "strive to enter the strait gate;" and suppose him the day after this cut off suddenly by some accident; and suppose again another man who has lived in the same irreligious state, up to the moment when he was struck with some disorder which he knew must carry him off in a month,—beginning then, and continuing during that interval,

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to profess penitence, to pray for pardon, to listen to the instructions of a minister, and the like; is it not quite plain, according to the view we have been taking, that though we have no right to pronounce positively concerning either of these persons, the former case affords incomparably better grounds for hope than the other? We cannot be sure, indeed, whether either of them would, in the event of his life being prolonged, have kept to his resolutions; but he surely was the more likely of the two to do so, whose good resolutions were not the effect of pressing terror, but were formed when he had a prospect of putting them into effect. The repentance which has never appeared till called forth by immediate danger, it may be at least the more reasonably suspected, would soon have vanished away, if the danger had been removed. And yet I believe many persons would, while they shuddered at the awfully sudden death of the former of these men, be rather disposed to congratulate the other on having such ample time allowed him for preparation; because the repentance of the one

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had lasted a month, and that of the other, only a day! As if the important point were the length of time that the religious feeling had lasted, rather than the character of that feeling, and the motives from which it sprung.

But no one would reason thus in his worldly affairs. Supposing a man's servants (to return to the comparison I lately employed) were, in his absence, neglecting their work, and wasting his goods; and one of them, being struck with remorse for his misconduct, should immediately discontinue all his evil practices, and set himself diligently to his proper employments: and suppose his master should the very next hour, unexpectedly come home, having a perfect knowledge of every particular of what had passed; he would surely judge more favourably of this servant, who had reformed his conduct while he supposed his master far away, than of another who had made a like reform, and set himself diligently to work, perhaps the day before; but who had done so, because he had had private notice of his master's coming. And yet

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he would have been behaving well for a day, and the other only for an hour. But every master would, in such a case, perceive that it is the motive that makes the difference.

But, it may be said, if a man should chance to have warning of the near approach of death, should he make no use of it? Is there not some preparation suitable at such a time, even to the best Christian? Or should he act and feel as if he had no particular expectation of speedy death? Doubtless a man should think and act in a manner suitable to the occasion; because he should always think and act in a manner suitable to every occasion; only, let not the feelings and behaviour of a sincere Christian at such a time, be called, preparation for death;—at least not in the sense in which that phrase is commonly used, which is to signify in fact, preparation for another life. In this sense a death-bed is not the time for a preparation for death, but only for a preparation for the act of dying. Such an one has been preparing for death all through his life. He does not consider

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his death-bed as the proper time for thinking of "working out his salvation," when "the night cometh when no man can work;"—he does not think that a proper time for resolving to forsake the sins and vanities of the world, when the sins and vanities of the world are forsaking him;—he does not wait till then for setting about to amend his future life, when there is no future to amend; for sowing the seed, just as the harvest is beginning. But when he perceives death to be near at hand, he will bring all his worldly business to a close, and prepare his friends for parting with him: if he were about setting out on a journey, or engaging in any work, or learning any art, science, or language, he will desist from his purpose, and he will pray,—not then for the first time,—but because he has been accustomed to call on God on every emergency,—he will pray that the same Holy Spirit which has supported him hitherto in all the trials of life, may support him in this last trial, and enable him to close life with resignation. And he will thank his Maker, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, not for the first


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time, but for the last, for all the blessings he has received through life, and far more for those beyond it. In short, he will "arise and trim his lamp;" but he will not have then to "seek for oil."

It is a melancholy task for us, the ministers of the Gospel, to be so often applied to, on the approach of death, by those who have not prepared for the great change during their lives; whose seed-time has been delayed till harvest, and who flatter themselves that there will be a saving efficacy in our speaking and reading to them, and praying over them, and interceding for them on their death-bed: "give us of your oil" (they seem to say) "for our lamps are going out."

And one circumstance which often makes the attendance of a minister in a sick room the more distressing to him, is, that he is sometimes even blamed as hard-hearted and unfeeling, if he refuse to hold out a confident hope of the dying man's acceptance with God, in a case where he perhaps can find nothing in Scripture to warrant such confidence: he is blamed for not presuming to take on

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himself the office of the Almighty; for "who can forgive sins but God only?" And how can his ministers dare to pronounce that He has pardoned and accepted any one, except where his written Word affords ground for believing it? And yet if some ignorant and presumptuous fanatic chance to be present, and boldly declare that the dying man will undoubtedly be saved, such a person is usually considered as more kind-hearted and compassionate; as if the other did not wish the sinner to be saved, and would not save him if he could! Surely it would be thought unreasonable to tax with unkindness an experienced physician, who pronounced his patient to be in great danger; as if he wished him to die; and to attribute greater humanity to an ignorant quack, who should confidently promise recovery. I believe, indeed, such cases as this which I have just alluded to by way of illustration, do sometimes occur: but there is this difference in them from the other case; if the patient dies, after his recovery has been boldly warranted, the rashness and ignorance of the

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pretender, who made the promise, are exposed; every one sees the result. But groundless confidence, in the other case, remains unknown till the great day of Judgment: false hopes, and false fears, are alike hidden by the grave; and hence it may be supposed many are the less cautious about making such promises, because their rashness can never be detected.

Some, I believe, are even tempted by this circumstance, and by the desire of being thought good-natured, and by a really humane wish to soothe at least the last hours of a dying man, whose terrors could produce no good effect in him, because they would come too late,—some, I say, are tempted in this way, into holding out delusive hopes even against their own judgment, and when they themselves believe them to be delusive; and sometimes they consent to administer the sacrament of the Lord's Supper to one whom they perceive to be totally unfit to partake of it, from being (in the way I described in the last Lecture) totally mistaken as to the whole nature and design of the ordinance,—unrepentant of the sin of having

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hitherto neglected it,—and full of a superstitious trust that it will operate as a kind of magical charm to insure the Salvation of any one who receives it just before his death.

They plead perhaps that it is a harmless deceit; which gives a little present comfort, where nothing else can be done. A real lover of truth however would not resort to deceit, even if he thought that, in this or that case, it did no harm. But in fact it hardly ever is the case that any deceit is harmless: it is not harmless to him who practises it; for when he has once become familiar with falsehood in slighter cases, he will gradually learn to depart from truth in weightier matters; and it is not harmless to others; for though the dying man himself may be in such a state that nothing can harm or benefit him, his surviving friends, may be, and I fear often are, encouraged to go on in a course of sin or of carelessness, by seeing one who has so lived, departing in triumphant confidence of salvation, with a positive assurance from some one who professes to be a Minister of the Gospel, that

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he is accepted with God. What can be more natural than that they also should listen to the delusions of Satan, who whispers to them, as to our first parents, "ye shall not surely die;"—that they should wait for a death-bed repentance, and propose to themselves, when the time shall arrive, to send for the same Minister who has spoken such words of comfort?

If we were disposed to magnify our office, we should, like the Priests of the Romish Church, pretend to be able to insure any one's salvation by our mediation, and by the superstitious ceremonies of their extreme unction, and by singing masses after his death for the repose of his soul. God knows, they do too often procure the repose of the soul! But it is only in this life. They lull the sinner into a false and fatal security; they quiet for the present the upbraiding of conscience, which would now rouse him by its goads to know "the things that belong unto his peace before they are hid from his eyes," but which will hereafter be changed into "the worm that dieth not:" they administer a deadly opiate, which relieves immediate

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pain, and lets the disease gain ground unresisted.

But honest Ministers (be assured) who "watch over your souk, as they that must give an account," and who are sensible what a fearful account it will be, for those who shall have "loved the praise of men more than the praise of God," will always be more afraid of displeasing their Master, than of displeasing you;—more anxious for your eternal welfare, than for your present ease; and more ready to warn those in health and security, according to what the Scriptures teach and warrant, than to encourage presumptuous confidence in the dying, by pretending to be "wise above that which is written." We are bound to speak "the truth, as it is in Christ Jesus;" we are bound to confess that we have not oil "enough for you and for us;" though we instruct you how to trim and to kindle those lamps that are well supplied. We warn you that the time to prepare for the Lord's coming, is now, and at every time when you least expect it; and we are ready to teach you how that preparation should be conducted. But we can afford

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you no substitute for it at the hour of death; nor dare we "speak peace, when there is no peace."

Be ye therefore ready, that you may inherit the blessing promised to those faithful servants "whom their Lord, when He cometh, shall find watching." "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night….. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief,… therefore let us not sleep, as do the rest, but let us watch, and be sober." (1 Thessalonians, chap. v.)

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PAGE 27.

I HAVE been a good deal surprised to meet with a remark, intended to prove that Plato believed in a future state of reward and punishment; namely, that the passages in his works in which he inculcates the doctrine, are much more numerous than those in which he expresses hie doubts of it. I cannot undertake to say that such is not the case; for this arithmetical mode (as it may be called) of ascertaining a writer's sentiments, by counting the passages on opposite sides, is one which had never occurred to me: not do I think it is likely to be generally adopted. If for instance an author were to write ten volumes in defence of Christianity, and two or three times to express his suspicion that the whole is a tissue of fables, I believe few of his readers would feel any doubt as to his real sentiments. When a writer is at variance with himself, it is usual to judge from the nature of the subject, and the circumstances of the case, which is likely to be his real persuasion, and which, the one, he may think it politically expedient, or decorous, to profess.

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Now in the present case, if the ancient writers disbelieved in a future state of reward and punishment, one can easily understand why they should nevertheless occasionally speak as if they did believe it; since the doctrine, they all agreed, was useful in keeping the multitude in awe. On the other hand would they, if they did believe it, ever deny its truth? or rather (which is more commonly the case in their works) would they allude to it as a fable so notoriously and completely disbelieved by all enlightened people as not to be worth denying, much less refuting, any more than tales of fairies are by modern writers?

I have been still more surprised to find Aristotle appealed to as teaching (in the first book of the Nichomachean Ethics) the doctrine of a future state of enjoyment or suffering; though it is admitted by all that, within a few pages, he speaks of death as the complete and final extinction of existence, "beyond which there is neither good nor evil to be expected." He does not even assert this as a thing to be proved, or which might be doubted, but alludes to it merely, as unquestioned and unquestionable. The other passage (in which he is supposed to speak of a state of consciousness after death) has been entirely mistaken by those who have so understood it. He expressly speaks of the dead in that very passage, as "having no perception;" and all along proceeds on that supposition.

But many things appear good or evil to a person who has no perception of them at the time they exist. For example, many have undergone

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great toils for the sake of leaving behind them an illustrious name, or of bequeathing a large fortune to their children: almost every one dislikes the idea of having his character branded with infamy after his death, or of his children coming to poverty or disgrace; many are pleased with the thought of a splendid funeral and stately monuments; or of their bones reposing beside those of their forefathers, or of their beloved friends; and many dread the idea of their bodies being disinterred and dissected, or torn by dogs. Now no one, I suppose, would maintain that all who partake of such feelings, expect that they shall be conscious, at the time, of what is befalling their bodies, their reputation, or their families, after death; much less, that they expect that their happiness will, at that time, be affected by it.

In fact, such feelings as I have been speaking of, seem to have always prevailed, even the more strongly, in those who expected no future state. It is of these posthumous occurrences that Aristotle is speaking, in the passage in question. But he expressly says in that very passage, that "it would be absurd to speak of a man's actually enjoying happiness after he is dead;" evidently proceeding (as he always does) on the supposition that the dead have ceased to exist.

I will add what I think cannot but be interesting to some of my readers, two letters, (as translated by Mr. Melmoth) one, addressed to Cicero, (a philosopher often appealed to as maintaining the soul's immortality) by his friend Sulpicius, to console him

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for the loss of a beloved daughter; and the other, Cicero's answer; each furnishing a melancholy and instructive comment on the Apostle's expression relative to the heathen "who sorrowed as having no hope."


"I RECEIVED the news of your daughter's death, with all the concern it so justly deserves; and, indeed, I cannot but consider it as a misfortune in which I bear an equal share with yourself. If I had been near you when this fatal accident happened, I should not only have mingled my tears with yours, but assisted you with all the consolation in my power. I am sensible, at the same time, that offices of this kind afford, at best, but a wretched relief: for as none are qualified to perform them, but those who stand near to us by the ties either of blood or affection, such persons are generally too much afflicted themselves, to be capable of administering comfort to others. Nevertheless, I thought proper to suggest a few reflections which occurred to me upon this occasion: not as imagining they would be new to you, but believing that, in your present discomposure of mind, they might possibly have escaped your attention. Tell me then, my friend, wherefore do you indulge this excess of sorrow? Reflect, I entreat you, in what manner fortune has dealt with every one of us: that she has deprived us of what ought to be no less dear to us than our children, and

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overwhelmed, in one general ruin, our honours, our liberties, and our country. And, after these losses, is it possible that any other should increase our tears? Is it possible that a mind long exercised in calamities so truly severe, should not become totally callous and indifferent to every event? But you will tell me, perhaps, that your grief arises not so much on your own account, as on that of Tullia. Yet, surely, you must often, as well as myself, have had occasion, in these wretched times, to reflect, that their condition by no means deserves to be regretted, whom death has gently removed from this unhappy scene. What is there, let me ask, in the present circumstances of our country, that could have rendered life greatly desirable to your daughter? What pleasing hopes, what agreeable views, what rational satisfaction could she possibly have proposed to herself, from a more extended period? Was it in the prospect of conjugal happiness, in the society of some distinguished youth? as if, indeed, you could have found a son-in-law, amongst our present set of young men, worthy of being intrusted with the care of your daughter! Or was it in the expectation of being the joyful mother of a flourishing race, who might possess their patrimony with independence, who might gradually rise through the several dignities of the state, and exert the liberty to which they were born, in the service and defence of their friends and country? But is there one amongst all these desirable privileges, of which we were not deprived, before she was in a capacity of transmitting them to her descendants? Yet, after all, you may still allege, perhaps, that the

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loss of our children is a severe affliction; and unquestionably it would be so, if it were not a much greater to see them live to endure those indignities which their parents suffer.

"I lately fell into a reflection, which, as it afforded great relief to the disquietude of my own heart, it may possibly contribute, likewise, to assuage the anguish of yours. In my return out of Asia, as I was sailing from Ægina* towards Megara, I amused myself with contemplating the circumjacent countries. Behind me lay Ægina, before me Megara; on my right I saw Piræeus,† and on my left Corinth.‡ These cities, once so flourishing and magnificent, now presented nothing to my view but a sad spectacle of desolation. 'Alas,' I said to myself, 'shall such a short-lived creature as man complain, when one of his species falls either by the hand of violence, or by the common course of nature; whilst in this narrow compass, so many great and glorious cities, formed for a much longer duration, thus lie extended in ruins? Remember then, oh my heart! the general lot to which man is born, and let that thought suppress thy unreasonable murmurs.' Believe me, I found my mind greatly refreshed and, comforted by these reflections. Let me advise you, in the same manner, to represent to yourself what numbers§ of

* Ægina, now called Engia, is an island situated in the gulf that runs between Peloponnesus and Attica, to which it gives its name. Megara was a city near the isthmus of Corinth.

† Piræeus, a celebrated sea-port at a small distance from Athens, now called Port-Lion.

‡ Corinth, a city in the Peloponnesus.

§ In the civil wars.

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our illustrious countrymen have lately been cut off at once, how much the strength of the Roman republic is impaired, and what dreadful devastation has gone forth throughout all its provinces! And can you, with the impression of these greater calamities upon your mind, be so immoderately afflicted for the loss of a single individual, a poor, little, tender woman? who, if she had not died at this time, must, in a few fleeting years more, have inevitably undergone that common fate to which she was born.

"Reasonable, however, as these reflections are, I would call you from them a while, in order to lead your thoughts to others more peculiarly suitable to your circumstances and character. Remember, then, that your daughter lived as long as life was worth possessing; that is, till liberty was no more; that she lived to see you in the illustrious office of prætor, consul, and augur; to be married* to some of the noblest youths in Rome; to be blessed with almost every valuable enjoyment; and at length to expire with the republic itself. Tell me now, what is there in this view of her fate, that could give either her or yourself just reason to complain? In fine, do not forget that you are Cicero; the wise, the philosophical Cicero, who were wont to give advice to others; nor resemble those unskilful empirics, who, at the same time that they pretend to be furnished with remedies for other men's disorders, are altogether incapable of finding a cure for their own. On the contrary, apply to your private use those

* To Piso, Crassipes, and Dolabella.

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judicious precepts you have administered to the public. Time necessarily weakens the strongest impressions of sorrow; but it would be a reproach to your character not to anticipate this its certain effect, by the force of your own good sense and judgment. If the dead retain any consciousness of what is here transacted, your daughter's affection, I am sure, was such, both to you and all her relations, that she can by no means desire you should abandon yourself to this excess of grief. Restrain it then, I conjure you, for her sake, and for the sake of the rest of your family and friends, who lament to see you thus afflicted. Restrain it too, I beseech you, for the sake of your country; that whenever the opportunity shall serve, it may reap the benefit of your counsels and assistance. In short, since such is our fortune, that we must necessarily submit to the present system of public affairs; suffer it not to be suspected, that it is not so much the death of your daughter, as the fate of the republic, and the success of our victors, that you deplore.

"But it would be ill manners to dwell any longer upon the subject, as I should seem to question the efficacy of your own good sense. I will only add, therefore, that as we have often seen you bear prosperity in the noblest manner, and with the highest applause; show us, likewise, that you are not too sensible of adversity, but know how to support it with the same advantage to your character. In a word, let it not be said, that fortitude is the single virtue to which my friend is a stranger.

"As for what concerns myself, I will send you an

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account of the state of this province, and of what is transacting in this part of the world, as soon as I shall hear that you are sufficiently composed to receive the information. Farewell."


"I JOIN with you, my dear Sulpicius, in wishing that you had been in Rome when this most severe calamity befel me. I am sensible of the advantage I should have received from your presence, and I had almost said your equal participation of my grief, by having found myself somewhat more composed after I had read your letter. It furnished me, indeed, with arguments extremely proper to sooth the anguish of affliction; and evidently flowed from a heart that sympathized with the sorrows it endeavoured to assuage. But, although I could not enjoy the benefit of your own good offices in person, I had the advantage, however, of your son's; who gave me a proof, by every tender assistance that could be contributed upon so melancholy an occasion, how much he imagined that he was acting agreeably to your sentiments, when he thus discovered the affection of his own. More pleasing instances of his friendship, I have frequently received; but never any that were more obliging. As to those for which I am indebted to yourself, it is not only the force of your reasonings, and the very considerable share you take in my afflictions, that have contributed to compose my mind; it is the deference, likewise, which I always pay to the authority of your sentiments. For knowing, as I perfectly do, the superior wisdom with which you

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are enlightened, I should be ashamed not to support my distresses in the manner you think I ought. I will acknowledge, nevertheless, that they sometimes almost entirely overcome me; and I am scarce able to resist the force of my grief when I reflect, that I am destitute of those consolations which attended others, whose examples I propose to my imitation. Thus Quintus Maximus* lost a son of consular rank, and distinguished by many brave and illustrious actions; Lucius Paulus† was deprived of two sons in the space of a single week; and your relation Galus,‡ together with Marcus Cato,§ had both of them the unhappiness to survive their respective sons, who were endowed with the highest abilities and virtues.

* Quintus Fabius Maximus, so well known for his brave and judicious conduct in opposing the progress of Hannibal's arms in Italy, was five times advanced to the Consular office; the last of which was in the year of Rome 545. At the expiration of his fourth Consulate, he was succeeded in that office by his son, Marcus Fabius, who likewise distinguished himself by his military achievements. It does not appear when, or by what accident, Marcus died; but his illustrious father was so much master of his grief upon that occasion as to pronounce a funeral eulogy in honour of his son, before a general assembly of the people.

† A very few days before Paulus Æmilius made his public entry into Rome in the year 585, on occasion of his victory over Perseus, he had the misfortune to lose one of his sons, and this calamity was succeeded by another of the same kind, which befel him about as many days after his triumph.

‡ Manutius conjectures that the person here mentioned, is Caius Sulpicius Gallus, who was Consul in the year 586.

§ The Censor. His son was Prætor in the year of Rome 638, and died whilst he was in the administration of that office.

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Yet these unfortunate parents lived in times when the honours they derived from the republic might, in some measure, alleviate the weight of their domestic misfortunes. But as for myself, after having been stripped of those dignities you mention, and which I had acquired by the most laborious exertion of my abilities, I had one only consolation remaining; and of that I am now bereaved! I could no longer divert the disquietude of my thoughts, by employing myself in the causes of my friends, or the business of the state: for I could no longer, with any satisfaction appear either in the forum or the senate. In short, I justly considered myself as cut off from the benefit of all those alleviating occupations in which fortune and industry had qualified me to engage. But I considered too, that this was a deprivation which I suffered in common with yourself and some others: and whilst I was endeavouring to reconcile my mind to a patient endurance of those ills, there was one to whose tender offices I could have recourse, and in the sweetness of whose conversation I could discharge all the cares and anxiety of my heart. But this last fatal stab to my peace, has torn open those wounds which seemed in some measure to have been tolerably healed. For I can now no longer lose my private sorrows in the prosperity of the commonwealth; as I was wont to dispel the uneasiness I suffered upon the public account, in the happiness I received at home. Accordingly, I have equally banished myself from my house,* and from the public;

* Cicero, upon the death of his daughter, retired from his own house, to one belonging to Atticus, near Rome, from which perhaps this letter was written.

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as finding no relief in either, from the calamities I lament in both. It is this, therefore, that heightens my desire of seeing you here; as nothing can afford me a more effectual consolation than the renewal of our friendly intercourse: a happiness which I hope, and am informed indeed, that I shall shortly enjoy. Among the many reasons I have for impatiently wishing your arrival, one is, that we may previously concert together our scheme of conduct in the present conjuncture; which, however, must now be entirely accommodated to another's will. This person,* it is true, is a man of great abilities and generosity; and one, if I mistake not, who is by no means my enemy; as I am sure he is extremely your friend. Nevertheless, it requires much consideration, I do not say in what manner we shall act with respect to public affairs, but by what methods we may best obtain his permission to retire from them. Farewell."

* Cæsar.


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Citation: John van Wyhe, editor. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

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