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EXTRAORDINARY PROVIDENCE. But this last fault, though the most inexcusable of all, they all have in common with the late Jewish Writers; who, considering only the Dispensation under which themselves lived, thought it harsh and unnatural to interpret these Texts with reference to worldly good and evil which they saw unequally distributed.
On the whole therefore it appears, that all these passages, in their obvious and primary sense, relate to the things of this life; and that some of them are expressed by the Holy Spirit in such a manner, as makes it now evident, they had likewise a spiritual and sublimer meaning, and do indeed refer to the completion of the Law, by the Gospel.
The Texts here examined are urged in common both by Jews and Christians. But, besides these, the Jews have a set of Texts peculiar to themselves; which the Christians have never yet ventured to put upon Duty. As they are most of them of the nature of Riddles, Riddles, for me, they shall remain: only, for the curious Reader's satisfaction, I shall mark out what the Rabbins bring from the PENTATEUCH to prove the immortality of the soul, and the resurrection of the body, as they are collected by the learned Manasseh Ben-Israel, in his tract De Resurrectione Mortuorum. For the IMMORTALITY, 1 Kings i. 31. Psalm cxvi. 7, 8, 9. Exod. xix. 6. chap. xxxiii. ver. 20. Levit. vii. 25. Deut. xiv. 1, 2. chap. xxii. ver. 7. chap. xxxii. ver. 47. For the RESURRECTION, Gen. iii. 19. chap. xxxvii. ver. 10. Exod xv. 6. Levit. xxv. Numb. xv. 30. chap. xyiii. ver. 28. Deut. iv. 4. chap. xxxii. ver. 39. chap. xxxiii. ver. 6. But though the reader will find many diverting things on this head in Manasseh Ben-Israel, yet they must all give place to the curious comment of Rabbi Tanchum on the following words of 1 Sam. xxv. 29. The soul of my Lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with the LORD thy GOD: and the souls of thine enemies, them shall he sling out, as out of the middle of a sling. "Sententia est omnium Interpretum" (says this profound Rabbi) "quod ad hunc textum, esse ipsum per modum commonitionis [quâ declaratur] quisnam futurus sit animæ status, et ad quid tandem deventura sit, postquam à corpore separata fuerit; atque ostendere duplicem esse ipsi statum, viz. quibusdam animabus esse gradum sublimem et locum stabilem, apud Dominum suum, dum vitâ immortali fruantur, nec morti nec perditioni obnoxiæ: aliis autem ludere fluctus naturæ, adeo ut requiem et consistendi locum non inveniant, verum dolores perpetuos et cruciatus continuos, cum æterna duratione, instar lapidis, qui è fundâ projectus circumrotatur in aëre pro ratione virium jacientis, dein vi sua naturali gravitate in terram decidit. Animæ vero nec inest gravitas quæ ipsam deorsum, nec levitas quæ sursum ferat; ideoque in perpetua est confusione, perturbatione,
tristitia, et dolore usque in æternum. Atque hæc reverâ sententia est SAPIENTUM et PHILOSOPHORUM."-How profound a Doctrine! and how noble an original! But this is not the first, by a thousand, which has been raised from a Metaphor, out of the hot-bed of theologic wisdom and philosophy. An abuse, that some cooler thinkers of late have fancied they could never get well rid of, till they had turned the few Doctrines of true Christianity back again into Metaphors. And they have succeeded to admiration.
WE come at length to the texts of the NEW TESTAMENT, which are urged to prove, against itself, that Life and Immortality was brought to light by the OLD.
I. The first is that famous argument of JESUS against the Sadducees:-Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.—But as touching the Resurrection of the dead, Have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.* Now this very Text, had it been impartially considered, would alone have been sufficient to convince these Answerers of the truth here contended for. At least it convinced a much wiser man, the excellent HUGO GROTIUS, whose words to his friend Ger. Vossius are as follow: "In Mosis lege (non dico in veteri Testamento: nam de Prophetis, præsertim posterioribus, res longe alia est) æternæ vitæ non fieri mentionem nisi per umbras, aut rationis consequentiam, certissimum mihi videtur, Christi autoritate, qui Sadducæos non verbis directis, sed ratiocinando refellit."+ There is not, I repeat it, any plain Text in the whole Bible (and this is amongst the plainest) so strangely mistaken and perverted: For, 1. The appellation of the GOD of Abraham, &c. is generally understood to be quoted by our blessed Lord, as a direct proof of the Resurrection of the dead body,
• Matt. xxii. 29, 31, 32. † Ep. 130, ed. Am. 1687. EPISCOPIUS had the very same idea of this argument." Et sane opinionum, quæ inter Judæos erat, circa vitam faturi sæculi discrepantia arguit promissiones Lege factas tales esse ut ex iis certi quid de vita futuri sæculi non possit colligi. Quod et Servator noster non obscure innuit, cum resurrectionem mortuorum colligit, Matt. xxii. non ex promisso aliquo Legi addito, sed ex generali tantum illo promisso Dei, quo se Deum Abrahami, Isaaci, et Jacobi futurum spoponderat : quæ tamen illa collectio magis nititur cognitione intentionis divinæ sub generalibus istis verbis occultatæ aut comprehensæ, de qua Christo certo constabat, quam necessaria consequentia sive verborum vi ac virtute manifestà, qualis nunc et in verbis Novi Testamenti, ubi vita æterna et resurrectio mortuorum proram et puppim faciunt totius Religionis Christianæ, et tam clare ac diserte promittuntur ut ne hiscere quidem contra quis possit."-Institut. Theol. lib. iii. § 1, cap. 2. Mr. Le Clerc, in his Defense des Sentimens sur l'Histoire Critique, has fallen into this mistake:"Notre Seigneur presse ces termes, en sorte qu'il suppose qu'il ne faut qu'entendre la langue dans laquelle l'Ecriture parle pour reconnoitre la Resurrection, Matt. xxii. 31. — Il ne faut que lire ce raisonnement de Jesus Christ, pour sentir qu'il est tiré de cette expression, étre le Dieu de quelqu'un, que l'on ne pourroit appliquer à Dieu, si celui, dont on dit qu'il est le Dieu, etoit mort sans devoir jamais resusciter.”—Pp. 102, 103.
in the same manner that St. Paul urges the case of JESUS:—but now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.* But can any thing be more irrational or absurd? The bodies of Abraham and the Patriarchs were yet in dust, and reduced to their primitive earth. So that in this sense, the reasoning is so far from proving that God was NOT the God of the dead, that it proves, he was. For Abraham's body continued yet lifeless at the very time when God was called his God: Whatsoever was to be the future condition of it, that could not influence the present appellation of the God of Israel. What hath led men into this mistake is the introduction to the argument,—But as touching the resurrection of the dead,-which they supposed an exordium to a direct proof: Whereas it is an intimation only, to what an indirect proof tended; namely, that the Resurrection of the body might be inferred through the medium of the separate existence of the soul; which was the only point Jesus proposed to prove directly to them. The case stood thus: He was here arguing against the SADDUCEES. Now these supported their opinion, of no resurrection of the body, on a principle that the soul had no separate existence, but fell into nothing at the dissolution of its union with the body; which Principle once overthrown, they had nothing left to oppose to the writings of the Prophets, or the preaching of JESUS. Against this principle therefore our blessed Lord thus divinely argues :-" But as concerning the Resurrection of the dead, You ground your denial of it on this supposition, that the soul dies with the body; but you err as much in not knowing the Scriptures, as in not rightly conceiving of the power of God. the words of the Law, which you allow to be a good authority, directly prove that the soul doth not die with the body, but hath a separate existence. Now Moses tells us, that God, long after the death of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, called himself their God: But God is not the God of the dead, but of the living; therefore the souls of those Patriarchs are yet existing in a separate state."—This is the force of the argument.†
2. The second mistake is, that JESUS, by these words, insinuates that Moses CULTIVATED the Doctrine of a Resurrection, or a Future state. But here again the Objectors seem to forget, against whom the argument is addressed, the SADDUCEES. Now these not only held that Moses did not teach, but that he did NOT BELIEVE that Doctrine. This was the error JESUS aimed to confute; and only this ; because the opinion that Moses did not teach or cultivate it, was no error at all, as appears, amongst many other reasons, even from hence: that the Jews might reasonably understand the title of the God of Abraham, &c. to mean the peculiar tutelary God of Abraham's Family; † See note HH, at the end of this book.
1 Cor. xv. 20.
for the terms Jacob and Israel are frequently used in Scripture for the whole nation of the Jews; Aaron for the whole order of the priesthood; Dan, Judah, &c. for the whole body of each tribe: And, as in reason they might, so by the History of the early Jews, we find in fact, they did understand it in this sense.
The real force therefore of the Text, here urged, amounts to this, From JESUS's argument it appears, that the separate existence of the soul might be fairly inferred from the writings of Moses: Which inference I not only grant some early Jews did make, but have proved likewise; though not indeed from these words, for the reason given above. And so much my Answerers might have understood, had they only observed that this has all the marks of a new Argument,* unknown to the Pharisees; as indeed both the dignity of our Lord's character, and the impression he would make on his Opposers, seemed to require it should be. Accordingly we find they are struck dumb; and the multitude that heard this, astonished at his doctrine.† But would Either of them have been so affected with an old foundered argument, long hacknied in the Schools and Synagogues of the Pharisees? Nay, how should it be otherwise than NEW? for the words, I am the God of Abraham, &c. as delivered by Moses, were supposed, both by Pharisees and Sadducees, to be spoken of a NATIONAL GOD; as in Gen. xvii. 8, 9. xxvi. 3. xxviii. 13. They therefore could not see how it implied the continued existence of the Patriarch Abraham, &c. But Jesus, in using the word GOD, to signify the Maker and Lord of all things, rightly inferred that the Patriarchs still continued to exist. I am not ignorant, that the modern Rabbins employed this argument very familiarly for a Resurrection; but they borrowed it from the GOSPEL, as they have done many other things; the reason of which, our rabbinical Commentators, such as Lightfoot, not apprehending, have supposed the borrowing to be all on the side of the lenders but more of this matter in its place.
Thus much for this celebrated Text. In which, however, the learned Dr. Sherlock, the late Bishop of London, finds enough to support himself in his own opinion, That the Law of Moses afforded a good proof of a future state to the ancient Jews.§ But to whom did it afford this proof? To the ancient Jews, who understood the words in the text, in question, to relate to a national God; or to us Christians, who understand them of the Creator of the Universe? Now though I cannot agree with his Lordship in this conclusion, yet I with him in a better thing, which is, That the Law of Moses
† Matt. xxii. 33.
See note II, at the end of this book. Pocock, speaking of this Argument, says, "His e Lege depromptis cum Sadducæos ad silentium adegisset Christus, dicitur perculsam fuisse turbam doctrinâ ejus. Unde patet luculentiori ipsum contra eos argumento usum, quam ullo quo adhuc usi fuerant Pharisæi.” -Nota miscell. ad Portam Mosis, cap. vi. "Sermons" by the Bishop of London.
affords a good proof of its own divinity; indeed, by a medium his Lordship never thought of, namely, That it afforded no proof of a future state at all. But what if his Lordship meant no more than what his respectable Father endeavoured to prove, *viz. that the EXTRAORDINARY PROVIDENCE (which I hold to be the very circumstance which kept the Jews from the knowledge of a future state) indeed shows that they had the knowledge of it? If this be the case, all I have to say is, that Their proof of a future state from the LAW, begins just where my proof of its divinity ends.
II. We come next to the Parable of the rich Man and Lazarus; where the former, being in Hell, desires Abraham, whom he saw afar off in Paradise, to send Lazarus to his father's house, to testify to his Brethren, and to lead them to repentance, lest they too should come into that place of torment: To which Abraham replies: If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead. Hence it is inferred, that both Moses and the Prophets taught a future state of Rewards and Punishments. But, here again, the Objectors are quite beside the matter. As, in the former case, they would not see, the argument was directed against the SADDUCEES; so here, by as perverse a connivance, they will not reflect, that this Parable is addressed to the PHARISEES. It is certain we must judge of the drift and design of every rational discourse from the character of those to whom it is addressed. Now had this Parable been told to the Sadducees, whose grand error it was, to deny a future state of rewards and punishments; and had the rich man been represented as a Sadducee, who was too late convinced of his mistake, and wanted to undeceive his father's house, which his evil DOCTRINES had perverted; had this, I say, been the case, there might have been some ground for the Objectors' inference, which I suppose to be this, That "it appears as plainly from Moses and the Prophets, that there is a future state of rewards and punishments, as if one came back from that state to tell us so." On the contrary, the Parable was particularly addressed to the Pharisees, the great patrons of a future state, and who sedulously taught it in opposition to the Sadducees. It is introduced in this manner: And the PHARISEES also, who were COVETOUS [λápyvpos], heard all these things: and they derided him. For which they are thus reproved: Ye are they which justify yourselves before men: but God knoweth your hearts.§ And then presently follows the Parable. Their capital errors therefore were errors of PRACTICE, Avarice and Luxury. And it was to reform these, that a rich Pharisee is represented as without any compassion for the poor, living in all kind of delicacy, and dying impenitent. This man,
• "Sermons" by the Dean of St. Paul's, "On the Immortality of the Soul and a Future State," p. 141. † Luke xvi. 31. ↑ Verse 14. § Verse 15.