Page images

until God's justice is satisfied, or they are freed from these pains by the masses said for their souls. These tenets, it must be apparent, are in no degree, sanctioned by the doctrine advanced in the preceding pages, with respect to departed spirits. The eternal destiny of the individual is anchangeably fixed at death. His condition in the place of the departed is an unchangeable condition of happiness or misery, until the day of judgment; when this happiness or misery is consummated in body and soul.

The Papal doctrine with respect to Christ's descent into Hell is, that he went not into the place of departed spirits, as is believed by those who maintain the existence of this place, but into a region called Limbus Patrum, to manifest his glory to the holy saints, who had departed before his advent, and to release them from their confinement, and take them to Heaven.

There is thus a total dissimilarity between the Papaj doctrine of purgatory and the doctrine of the descent into hell, and the state of the departed, advanced in the preceding pages.

The Sermon of Bishop BULL, (from which Dr. DoD. DRIDGE quotes with approbation *,) in' which he establishes this doctrine of a place of departed spirits, contains a refutation of the Papal doctrine of pargatory, and shews the entire difference between it and the doctrine which he advocates of an intermediate state. After ex. hibiting the faith of the primitive Church on this point, he

See p. 59.

observes *. “ From what hath been said, it appears, that the doctrine of the distinction of the joys of Paradise, the portion of good souls in that state of separation, from that yet fuller and most complete beatitude of the kingdom of Heaven after the resurrection, consisting in that clearest vision of God, which the holy Scriptures call seeing him face to face, is far from being Popery, as some have ignorantly censured it; for we see it was the current doctrine of the first and purest ages of the Church. I add, that it is so far from being Popery, that it is directly the contrary. For it was the Popish convention at Florence t, that first boldly defined against the sense of the primitive Christians-That those souls, which having contracted the blemish of sin, are either in their bodies or out of them purged from it, do presently go into Heaven, and there clearly behold God himself, one God in three Persons, as he is. And this decree they made, partly to establish their superstition of prayer to the saints deceased, whom they would needs make us believe to see and know all our necessities and concerns in speculo Trinitatis, in the glass of the Trinity, as they call it, and so to be fit objects of our religious invocation; but chiefly to introduce their purgatory, and that the prayers of the ancient Church for the dead might be thought to be founded on a supposition, that the souls of some faithful persons after death, go into a place of grievous torment.”

: This doctrine of the separate existence of the soul in the place of the departed between death and the resurrection, being expressly revealed, should be an object of faith.

* Bull's ser. Vol. i. p. 114.

+ In the 15th Century.

1. It resolves all doubts with respect to the condition of the soul after her departure from the body, and before her reunion to it at the resurrection. The soul during this period is in a state of consciousness; either enjoying a foretaste of future bliss, or tormented by the anticipated pangs of future woe, after the judgment of the great day.

2. It is thus calculated to fill the wicked with dismay. It cuts off the hope of a moment's intermission of torment after death. The worm that never dies immediately begins to gnaw. In the company of spirits wretched like themselves, they dwell in the dark region of the departed, anticipating the summons which uniting them to incorruptible bodies, will bring them to the judgment seat, and also the more dread sentence that will consign them to gehenna, to the hell of torment, the “ lake of fire,” that “ burneth for ever and ever."

3. But this doctrine of the place of the departed is full of consolation to the faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus. It assures them that, in the long interval between death and the resurrection, while detained from heaven, they shall not be deprived of a foretaste of its glories. In the bosom of Abraham, in the enjoyment of his society, and of the blessed fellowship of all the departed saints, they shall experience the most exalted delights. “Delivered from the burden of the flesh," their souls shall be with the Lord Jesus, the rays of whose glory sanctify and cheer the paradise of his saints. Here they shall enjoy perpetual peace and felicity; anticipating their “ consummation both in body and soul in God's eternal and everlasting glory.”

Why then, Christian, shouldest thou fear to die? Thy soul is not, for a moment, to lose that consciousness which is dear to her as her existence. The darkness of death is not, for a moment, to cover tby spirit. The instant thou dost close thine eyes on the world, thy soul opens her joyful vision on the delights of Paradise. And Paradise is but the introduction to that Heaven, where, thy whole nature perfected and glorified, thou shalt taste the fulness of joy, and " be for ever with the Lord.”


Printed by R. Gilbert, St. John's-square, London.

« PreviousContinue »