Page images

pass away like a shadow.” In perfect harmony with this sentiment is that of Solomon, from Matth. * vanity of vanities, saith the preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity—One generation.'...'. passeth away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth for ever.” In allis on end, these passages (a) it is worthy of observation, that the same Greek word is, in the ver:.. o sion of the LXX, employed to express what our translators render vanity, that is used j.n. ii is to for the same purpose, by the apostle in the verse under consideration. Nay, even Adam the end. himself—then become mortal, called his second son Abel, which signifies literally such vanity as a vapour; so that the ancient interpretation of this verse receives at least as much countenance from the language of the Old Testament as the modern, whilst it receives much more from the sentiments of the heathen. That the thinking part of the heathen world, whilst they were all idolaters by choice, groaned within themselves on the prospect of death, to which they had been subjected not willingly, we are assured by the testimony of Cicero, than whom no man was ever better acquainted with the doctrines of all the schools of philosophy. That illustrious Roman, though by no means free from great weaknesses, had certainly as little reason to dread the approach of death as any of his contemporaries, whose history has come down to us; and yet in some of his most serious compositions, he writes of death as an event of which “the prospect must embitter the whole life of man” #. He asks o +—“What enjoyment there can be in life, when, day and night, we cannot but think how soon we are to die?” and exclaims f—“Who can be otherwise than miserable, dreading sorrow and death, of which the one is often present with us, and the other always impending !” Nay, when he is endeavouring to persuade his readers to despise death, one of his arguments is, that it will render them as insensible both to pain and to pleasure, as they were before they were born ( ; and surely he who reasoned thus must have considered human life as vanity indeed. Nor could the prospect of the unbelieving Jews be much brighter than that of this Roman. The Sadducees denied the existence of any immaterial principle in man, as well as the resurrection of the dead; the Pharisees indeed admitted both, but the enjoyments of that paradise, which they had provided for the children of Abraham, appear to have been very gross (b); and even to earlier Jews of much better principles than either of these sects, the prospect of death, seen through the shadows of the law, was extremely dismal and gloomy. Of this we have complete proof in the conduct of Hezekiah, one of the most pious and upright of the Jewish monarchs, when he was desired by the prophet, in the name of the Lord, to prepare himself for immediate death. He turned himself, we are told, (c) to the wall, chattered, as he says, like a crane or a swallow, prayed earnestly for longer life; “for, said he, the grave cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee; they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.” Neither St Paul nor any other real Christian, who had the first fruits of the Spirit, could think of death as it presented itself to the mind of Hezekiah among the Jews, and of Cicero among the Gentiles; but the sufferings to which, in that age, Christians were subjected for the faith, made it very natural for them “to wait with earnest expectation for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body.” The redemption of the body can mean nothing else than the resurrection of the body.

(a) Ps. Xxxix. 11. cxliv. 4. Eccles. i. 2. * Mortis enim metu omnis quietae vitae status perturbatur. Defin. lib. i. cap 15. + Quae enim potest in vita esse jucunditas, cum, dies et nocteis, cogitandum sit, jam jamque esse moriendum ? Tusc. Quest. iib. i. c. 7. f Quis, enim potest, mortem aut dolorem metuens, quorum alterum saepe adest, alterum semper impendit, esse non miser 2 Tusc. Quest. lib. 5. c. 6.

§ Natura sic se habet, ut, quomodo initium nobis rerum omnium ortus noster afferat, sic eritum mors; ut nihil pertinuit ad nos ante ortum, sic nihil post mortem pertinebit in quo quid potest esse mali, cum mors nec ad vivos pertineat, nec ad mortuos ? Alteri nulli sunt, alteras non attinget. Tusc. Quaest. lib. i. cap. 38.

(b) See St Mat. xxii. 23-34, and p. 261 of this Vol. Note +. (c) Isaiah xxxviii. passina.

A. M. 4031, The redemption obscurely promised to Adam was from that death which, by his fall, he *. : had brought not only on himself, but also on all his posterity; to that death Jews and vulg. Ær. 83, Gentiles were unquestionably subjected, “not willingly” or by themselves, but “by ano*** ther who had subjected them in hope; but, according to St Paul, if there be no reTsurrection of the dead,” then they who are “fallen asleep in Christ can have no hope; for they are perished (Gräxxorro), are lost,” and become as if they had never been. The resurrection of the dead therefore is unquestionably the completion of that redemption which was promised to Adam from the consequences of his fall; and as such it is described in the plainest terms by St Paul (a). “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits, afterwards they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the (Mediatorial) kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed, is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, who did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself (as man, and Mediator between God and man) be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God—the ever Blessed Trinity—may be all in all.” That this redemption—the only redemption which in strictness of speech was promised to our first parents—will be universal is certain; for “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all,” without exception, “be made alive.” Such is the express doctrine of St Paul; and it is likewise the doctrine of his Divine Master. “As the Father, said our Lord, (b) hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of Man,”— the son promised to our first parents. “Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” From which last words it is evident that multitudes, who have been actually redeemed from the consequences of Adam's fall, will yet be found not meet to be “partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light;" and in all probability such unworthy persons would have been found among the descendants of Adam, though the first covenant of life had never been broken. As this redemption comprehends all men—Heathens, Jews, Christians, and Mahometans, so has it likewise been wholly of grace and without conditions; for though “death is the wages of sin,” eternal life is not the wages of righteousness, but “the free gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (c) “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” (d) before we had done either good or evil. Redemption therefore, in its original sense, as promised to the fallen parents of the human race, has been, or rather will be, universal and unconditional. The stupendous plan, into which even the angels desired to look, was formed by the Divine wisdom and goodness, and carried into complete effect without any co-operation of ours; “but not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For, if through the offence of (the) one, (the) many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by (the) grace, which is by (the) one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto (the) many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift; for the judgment was of one (offence) (e) to condemnation; but the free gift is of many offences unto justification (Śikaiaaz). For if by the offence of the one man, death reigned by (the) one; much more, they who receive (the) abundance of the grace, and of the gift of (the) righteousness—ri, Şı

(a) 1 Cor. xv. 22–29. (b) St John v. 26–30. (c) Rom. vi. 28. (d) 1 John iv. 10. (e) See vol. i. of this Work, p. 86, &c.

—shall reign in life by the one Jesus Christ. Therefore, as by one offence judgment From Matth. came upon all men to condemnation; even so, by one righteousness—or to: Sizzouare: ...'...". (a), the free gift came upon all men to justification of life—to maiwan (25; (b).” Through 15 to the end, the whole of this passage our loss by the fall of our first father is contrasted with our...a gain by the cross of Christ; and as we were subjected to the consequences of Adam's John xii. 19, to sin not willingly or by ourselves, so have we contributed, and can contribute, nothing ". to that justification of life, which hath come upon all men by the free gift of God; for as Christ was freely “delivered” by the compassionate goodness of God “for our offences, so was he raised again for our justification.” With respect to this redemption, and the bondage from which we are redeemed, we are therefore justified, i. e. treated as if we had never come under any condemnation—neither for our faith nor for our works, but by the free grace of God, who sent his Son into the world to take upon him our nature, and in that nature to die as a Lamb to take away the sin (ror Gazproxy) not sins— but that sin, of which the consequences have fallen on the whole world “. It is evident, likewise, from the contrast made by the apostle of our gain in Christ with what we had lost in Adam, that in his estimation we have gained more than we had lost; and that this is really the case will appear incontrovertible from the view which, in the course of this Work, hath been taken of the consequences of the fall compared with the effects of the atonement. The free gift, as immortality is here with . great propriety called, is now conferred on all men in such a manner as renders it impossible to be again forfeited. It is not held under the Christian dispensation, as it was under the paradisaical, on the precarious tenure of any mere man's obedience to any law, whether positive or moral, but is the “gift of God” once for all bestowed on the human race, “through Jesus Christ our Lord,” who having made atonement by his blood, or, as the apostle expresses it, “ died unto sin once,” “is risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that sleep. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (c).” This covenant therefore, if such it can with propriety be called, is wholly of grace, as indeed the first was likewise; but the terms of the second having been fulfilled, not by us, but by our Divine Redeemer, it can never, like the first, be violated ; for “ the free gift of immortality hath,” as the apostle says, “actually come upon all men unto

(a) Perhaps one judicial act. See Schleusner. (b) Rom. v. 15–19. * Bishop Bull, treating of justification, and comparing Scripture with Scripture to ascertain the import of the word in the New Testament, having quoted the 18th verse of the fifth chapter of the epistle to the Romans, says—“ Apprimé notandum est, Apostolum versu praecedente ex professo celebrare valuisse roy origizztuay ris zagore; zai ro; 2agia; rā; *a•rvyn; erundantiam gratiae et doni justitiae, sive justificationis per Christum; nempe, quod donum illud justificationis non consistit vel subsistit in sola liberatione a morte, quam peccato meriti sumus, sed ulterius progreditur, et nobis dat, uti, Čao 8arixivator— in vita regnemus per Jesum Christum. “Firmum quoque pro nostra sententia argumentum peti potest ab is Scripturae locis, ubi haeredem fieri–nempe regni coelestis, et justificari pro eodem nuntur, ut Rom. iv. 13, 14. Gal. iii. 18. coll. v. 21. Col. iii. 24. Istis vero addi possunt textus omnes, in quibus Justificatio, vita, et Salus, promiscuè usurpantur, Quae enim aliu ratio hujus promiscui usus as

signari potest praeter hanc, quod in justificatione jus
ad salutem vitamgue aeternam nobis conferatur 2 Uni-
cum locum adferam, nempe. Gal. iii. 11. Neminen au-
tem per legem justificari apud Deum, manifestum est;
quoniam Justus er side vivet. Ubi probat Apostolus
justificari hominem non ex lege, sed ex fide, hoc
testimonio, quod homo er side vivit. Argumen-
tum autem. Apostoli scopae essent dissolutae, nisi vera
esset hypothesis nostra, nempe justificari, et jus ad
vitam, nempe aeternam habere irovnaucorra esse.”
Bulli Opera, Examen Censurae, pp. 13, i4. Ed. 1703.
It is evident, therefore, that when St Paul says that
“ the free gift came upon all men to justification of
life,” he means by the word justification, according
to this most eminent Divine, the restoration to men
of that title to immortality, which had been forfeit-
ed by the fall of Adam; and such must likewise be
the meaning of the word, where it is said that Christ
“was delivered for our offences, and raised again
for our justification.”
(c) Rom. vi. 9, 1 Cor. xv. 20.

A. M. 1037, justification of life;” so that with equal elegance and truth he adds, that “they who *...* receive the abundance of the grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life” ... ." §, (being perfectly secure) “by the one Jesus Christ.” ** 8. Of the tenure by which life and immortality were held under the first covenant or dispensation this could never have been said. Whether the immortality of the whole race was to depend for ever on Adam's continued obedience to the positive command on which life was suspended, or the immortality of each individual, supposing Adam to have had children in his state of innocence, was to depend on his own personal obedience to that command, are questions, which in this world can never be answered; but it is obvious, that on either supposition (and one or other of them must be true) the immortality of mankind at large would have been held by a tenure too precarious to give them a right to reign in life, either by the personal obedience of each individual, or by the obedience of their common ancestor. In this point of view, therefore, the only point in which the two dispensations of eternal life ought to be compared, it is evident that the second is much more favourable to man than was the first. It is true that we must quit the present stage of our existence by passing through the valley and shadow of death, instead of being translated from earth into the celestial paradise, as were Enoch and Elias; as all virtuous and holy men would have been if the first covenant of life had not been violated; and as those shall be, who at our Lord's second coming to judgment shall be found alive : but this circumstance of the Christian dispensation probably contributes much to wean our affections from this world, and to render us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. If the great longevity of mankind before the flood contributed, as it certainly did, to the extreme corruption of that race; if, as appears to have been the case, the period of human life was repeatedly shortened after the flood, to give a check to the again growing corruption, it is not to be easily conceived to what excess of wickedness and depravity mankind might have degenerated, had they been translated from this world to another without tasting death at all". They would undoubtedly have thought no more of such an exit, than men do now of undertaking a voyage to a strange and far distant country, from which they know that to the place of their nativity they are never to return. Besides all this, let it be remembered, that the Son of God condescended to submit in our nature to temporal death, in order to redeem us from death eternal; and surely it will not be thought hard, that we are, in this respect, placed on a level with him. His body indeed saw no corruption in the grave, because a dissolution of it could serve no purpose whatever; but with respect to our's the case may be very different. “It may be necessary for such disordered and corrupt bodies as we bear about us, to be totally dissolved, in order to eradicate those traces which may have been formed by irregular and inveterate associations and habits, and which could not perhaps have been

. - - - - - * “If after a long time spent idly in this world, such as may in general be sufficient to constitute a each of us were sure of being lightly removed into real character, and lay a just foundation for eternity.

some other region, we should, in all probability, be Then the scene closes in so severe and solemn a man

no more concerned about it than at taking a journey ner, as must, if any thing can possibly, alarm him, into some foreign country. Or could we at any time, and excite some more than ordinary vigorous endea- without either pain, or the apprehension of any, quit vours to prepare for his appearance in the next, which our abode here, and convey ourselves into the realms is of infinite consequence, and opens with a public above, how ready, on every slight occasion, would trial; when all persons shall be gathered from all quaro each of us be to dispatch himself or others thither! ters of the world, and stand together before the judgehow rashly would men rush into their Maker's pre- ment seat of Christ, at once to receive their doom for sence, however unqualified or unprepared to meet all things done in the body, at what distance of time him —Here man is produced, and formed to act a soever.” Law's Considerations on the Theory of Repart upon the present stage; a short one indeed, but ligion, part iii. 2

otherwise reversed, even on the most sincere repentance (a).” If something of this from Matth. kind be necessary, as St Paul seems to teach (b), that our bodies, being changed from ...; natural to spiritual, may be rendered more commodious habitations for the spirits of justi’, to the end, men made perfect, the dissolution of the natural body must be considered as an essential. part of the scheme of redemption; and it is reasonable to believe that the change to be joi. i. i. effected on those who shall be alive at Christ's coming to judgment, will amount to the theena. same thing with temporal death, succeeded by an immediate resurrection. The death, therefore, to which all men are subjected by the sin of Adam, when considered in connection with the resurrection of all at the end of the world, is very far from being an evil; and as the gift of eternal life is held by a much surer tenure under the Christian dispensation, than it was, or could have been, held under the paradisaical, it follows that, in this point of view, the second or Christian covenant of life possesses in fact all that superiority over the first or paradisaical covenant, which St Paul, on every occasion, attributes to it. It hath been elsewhere observed (c), that mankind were originally, as they are now, placed on this earth as in a state of probation; and that the Scriptures afford no ground for the very general supposition, that, had Adam and Eve abstained from eating the forbidden fruit, both they and all their posterity would have, even in this world, been forever beyond the reach of moral evil. This is a groundless dream wholly inconsistent with a state of probation, which may be compared to a school or seminary, where youth are taught such knowledge and principles as are necessary to qualify them for moving in a higher sphere than that in which they were born. Such was the paradisaical state to Adam and Eve; such was the Mosaic law to the ancient Jews; and such is the Christian Church and Gospel to us Christians. Whosoever is placed in such a state is supposed to be far from the perfection to which he is intended ultimately to arrive, but at the same time to be capable of making daily advances towards it by the improvement of all his faculties. There is indeed but one Being incapable of improvement, because there is only one Being absolutely perfect; but every rational and free agent, who is not incapable of improvement, must, in a greater or less degree, be liable to error and to sin; for he who cannot err, is already perfect, and has nothing to acquire in a school or state of probation. Under the first covenant of life therefore, as well as under the second, mankind, had they lived to multiply in that state, must have been liable to violations of the moral law; though, for the reasons assigned elsewhere (d), they would probably have been much less liable to them, had our first parents continued longer under the immediate tuition of God. The first covenant of life was soon broken by the parents of the human race, who were, in consequence, immediately turned out of the garden of Eden; and since they had rejected the instruction prepared for them in that paradise, they might thenceforth have been left entirely to themselves to regulate their conduct by their own judgment. There is indeed reason to believe, that if their merciful Creator had not still had a heavenly inheritance in reversion for them, they would, like the beasts that perish, have been actually left to themselves; and that by an equal Providence they would have been rendered happy or miserable, according to their virtue or vice in this world; when death would have been the end of them all—the righteous as well as the wicked. But being received into a new covenant of life, and the instituted worship by sacrifices being appointed to prefigure the means by which they were to be restored to that heavenly inheritance which had been forfeited by their first father, it appears that the allgracious God, whom they had so grievously offended, though he saw it not fit to take them again under that constant and immediate tuition which they had despised in pa

(a) Law's Considerations on the Theory of Religion, part iii. (b) 1 Cor. xv. 35–45, (c) Appendix to Dissert. iii. book i. (d) Vol. i. p. 101, &c.

Vol. III. 3 A

« PreviousContinue »