Page images

place of final torment, but remain in a state of enjoyment or misery in the place of the departed* until the resurrection at the last day; when, their bodies being united to their souls, they are advanced to complete felicity or woe in Heaven or Hell t.

I. This is a doctrine of the Church of England, and of the Protestant Episcopal Church.

In the rubric before the Apostles' Creed, in the American Liturgy, it is stated that the words “He went into the place of departed Spirits," are considered as words of the same meaning with “He descended into Hell.

In the prayer for Christ's Church militant in the communion service, we are taught to beseech God that “we with all those who have departed this life in his faith and fear may be partakers of his heavenly kingdom.” The happiness of heaven is here considered as a future event in respect to those departed, as well as to ourselves.

In like manner, in the prayers of the burial service, we beseech Almighty God that “we with all those who are departed in the true faith of his holy name, may have our perfect consummation and bliss both in body and soul, in his eternal and everlasting glory.” The faithful who are departed have not yet their perfect consummation and bliss both in body and soul.

II. This doctrine has been maintained by a series of Protestant Divines eminent for learning and piety, and may be traced to the Apostolic age.

Dr. CAMPBELL, of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and formerly Principal of Marischal College, Aber

[ocr errors]

Styled in the New Testament ädns, hades, or Hell ; in the sense of an invisible place.

+ Styled yłevva, gehenba, also in the New Testament translated Hell, denoting a place of torment.

deen, in a very learned dissertation prefixed to his “translation of the four Gospels” on the words "cons and yeevvce," maintains and vindicates this doctrine of an intermediate state. His arguments on this point are full, clear, forcible and conclusive,

Dr. MACKNIGHT of the same Church, the Author of a Harmony of the Gospels, and of a New translation of the Epistles with a Commentary and Notes, in various parts of the latter work maintains, that the righteous do not enter on the bliss of Heaven until the final judgment, and of course that they must, in the interval, abide in a separate place. In a note on Hebrews xi. 40. he observes, “The apostle's doctrine, that believers are all to be rewarded together, and at the same time, is agreeable to Christ's declaration, who told his disciples that they “ were not to come to the place he was going away to prepare for them, till he returned from heaven" to carry them to it. John xiv. 3. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unlo myself, that where I am, there ye may be also." --Farther, that the righteous are not to be rewarded till the end of the world, is evident from Christ's words, Matth. xiii. 40. 43.- In like manner, St. Peter hath told us, that the righteous are to be made glad with their reward, at the revelation of Christ, 1 Peter iv. 13. when they are to receive a crown of glory, that fadeth not away, 1 Peter v. 4.-John also tells us, That when he shall appear, we shall be made like him, for we shall see him as he is, 1 John iii. 2. See Whitby's note on 2 Tim. iv. 8.-This determination, not to reward the ancients without us, is highly proper: because the power and veracity of God will be more illustriously displayed in the view of angels and men, by raising the whole of Abraham's seed from the dead at onoe, and by introducing them into the heavenly country in a body,

after a public acquittal at the judgment, than if each were made perfect separately at their death.

If the righteous are not to be rewarded till the end of the world with the glories of heaven, their spirits must remain before that event in some separate place.

Dr. DODDRIDGE in several passages of his commentary, shews his belief in this doctrine *. He paraphrases the text (Acts ii. 27.) “Thou wilt not leave my soul in Hell--thus—"Thou wilt not leave my soul while separated from the body, in the unseen world.And in a note observes, that "cdns, (hades) is generally put for the state of separate spirits,into which he considers that Christ descended.

In a note of Ridgeley's body of Divinity, the American Editor, the Rev. Dr. James P. WILSON, of the Presbyterian Church states, very correctly, that the Hebrew and Greek words translated Hell in the passage, “thou wilt not leave my soul in Hell” (Ps. xvi. Acts ii.) " are each taken for the invisible world or separate state of the good as well as evil both in the Old and New Testaments; and this was thought by Jews and Gentiles to be under the surface." Christ's descent into Hell, he observes, therefore, means that “ his soul when separated from his body, was immediately with the separate spirits who are happy, and so said to be in Paradise. But whether above or below the surface is unimportantt."

It is evident from his commentary on Matth. xi. 23, and on Acts ii. 27. that Dr. Adam Clarke considers that there is a separate place of departed spirits.

There is no doubt that the Rev.John Wesley, the founder of the sect of which Dr. Clarke is so distinguished a Cergyman, maintains this opinion. In his “ Notes upon the New Testament," on Acts ii. 27. Rev. i. 18. vi. 8. Rev. xx. 13, 14. he unequivocally avows it. On Rev. i. 18. “I have the keys of hell and of death,” he observes “that is, the invisible world ; the body abides in death, and the soul in hades." Rev. xx. 14. “And death and Hell gave up the dead that were in them ” he explains “Death gave up all the bodies of men, and hades (hell) the receptacle of separate souls, gave them up to be reunited to their bodies."

* Notes on Heb. xi. 40. 2 Tim. iv. 8.

Ridgeley's Body of Divinity, Am. Ed. Vol. ii. p. 440, 441. note.

Of the Protestant Episcopal Church-there is a mon of the late Bishop SEABURY, of Connecticutt, on “ Christ's descent into Hell,” in which the principal arguments in support of the existence of a separate place of departed spirits are clearly and concisely exbibited.

In his lectures on the Catechism (page 36) Bishop White, of Pennsylvania, observes, “ It comes in the way in this place to notice a very common error which has even crept into the public confessions of some churches ; as if the beatific vision of holy persons, or their being in heaven, took place on the dissolution of the body. This is not scriptural. Doubtless such persons are in peace, in some state answering to the figurative terms of 'Paradise,' and Abraham's bosom ;' with a measure of bliss, answering to what St. Paul must have implied, when he spoke of the spirits of just men made perfect.' Still, they have not yet reached the state intimated by the same Apostle, where he speaks of being clothed opon with our house which is from heaven.' And the sentiment here expressed is sustained by our Church, as in many places, so especially when she prays in the burial service, for perfect consummation and bliss both in body and soul.' But she no where speaks of passing immediately from this world to Heaven.”

Of the Church of England, the present Bishop of Lincoln“, Dr. TOMLINE (formerly Pretyman) in his exposition of the 3d article concerning Christ's descent into Hell, considers that by this is meant “ that in the intermediate time" between his death and his resurrection “ his soul went into the common receptacle of departed spirits."

Dr. SCOTT in his Family Bible, in his commentary on the 16th Psalm, verse 10. and on Acts ii. 27. speaks without hesitation of a separate place of departed spirits between death and the resurrection.

Dr. MAGEB, the celebrated author of “Discourses and Dissertations on the Doctrines of Atonement and Sacrifice," in a very learned note (p. 346, &e.) of that work, maintains the existence of a region of departed spirits-of an intermediate state of the soul between its departure from this world and some future state of its being.

This doctrine is maintained with his usual acumen, force and erudition by Bishop HORSLEY, in the sermon quoted in the preceding address, on Christ's descent into Hell. In this sermon he maintains the position that Christ“ descended to Hell properly so called, to the invisible mansion of departed spirits, and to that part of it where the souls of the faithful after they are delivered from the burden of the flesh are in joy and felicity 7." In the notes on bis commentary on Hosea, the same doctrine is advanced.

The eloquent and pious Bishop Home in his commentary on the 10th verse of the 16th Psalm, maintains the doctrine of the place of departed spirits. “Although our mortal part must see corruption, yet it shall not be finally left under the power of the enemy but shall be raised

* Now Bishop of Winchester, 1824. † Now Archbishop of Dublin, 1824.

Ser. vol. ii. p. 91.

« PreviousContinue »