Gambar halaman

willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present (or conversant) with the Lord. Where two things are in the first place to be observed : 1. That the apostle doth here undeniably speak of that state of the faithful which presently commenceth after death, and not of that only which follows the resurrection. For he expressly speaks of them as in the state of separation, when they are absent from the body. 2. That the apostle speaking to the faithful of Corinth in general, joins them together with himself, speaking all along in the plural number, we are confident, &c. and thereby signifies, that he speaks not of a privilege peculiar to himself, and some few other eminent saints like himself; but of the common state and condition of the faithful presently after death. Which two things being premised, the text alleged plainly teacheth us this proposition: That the faithful when they are absent from their bodies, that is, departed this life, are present with the Lord, and that in a sense wherein, whilst they were present in their bodies, they were absent from the Lord. And what sense, I pray, can that be, unless this, that, when present in their bodies, they did not so nearly enjoy Christ, as now, when absent from their bodies, they do? No sophistry can possibly reconcile this text with their opinion who affirm, that the souls of the faithful, during the interval between death and the resurrection, are in a profound sleep, and void of all sense and perception.

But let us at length hear the Lord Jesus himself, who came down from heaven, and therefore knew most certainly the whole economy of the heavenly

f 'Eκδημούντες εκ του σώματος.

[ocr errors]

regions; and who upon the account of his omniscient and omnipresent deity, as perfectly knew the miserable state of those spirits, who dwell in the opposite regions of darkness. He, when he was dying, made this promise to the repenting thief that was crucified with him, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise, Luke xxiii. 43. where (as learned interpreters have observed) Christ promiseth more than he had been asked. The penitent thief's request was, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. To which our Saviour answers, Thou askest me to remember thee hereafter, when I come into my kingdom; but I will not put off thy request so long, but on this very day I will give thee a part and the first fruits of that hoped-for felicity; die securely, presently after death divine comforts wait for thee.

To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise. Paradise? What place is that? Surely every man that hath heard of it conceives it to be a place of pleasure. And hence it is proverbial among us to express a very pleasant and delightful place by calling it a paradise. Into this place our Saviour promiseth the thief an admission on the very day that he died and was crucified with him. Now to what purpose was it told him, that he should on that day be an inhabitant of paradise, unless then he should be capable of the joys and felicities of that delightful place? Paradise would be no paradise to him, that should have no sense or faculty to taste and perceive the delights and pleasures of it. But that we may not discourse uncertainly, let us consider, that the person to whom our Saviour spake these words was a Jew, and that our blessed Lord, speaking in kindness to him, intended to be understood by him. We are therefore


גן עדן

to inquire, what the notion of the ancient Jews was concerning paradise, and the persons inhabiting there.

Paradise among the Jews primarily signified 77 ya Gan Eden, “ the garden of Eden,” that blessed garden wherein ' Adam in his state of innocence dwelt. By which, because it was a most pleasant and delightful place, they were wont symbolically to represent the place and state of good souls separated from their bodies, and waiting for the resurrection ; whom they believed to be in a state of happiness, far exceeding all the felicities of this life, but yet inferior to that consummate bliss which follows the resurrection. For they distinguished paradise from the third heaven, as St. Paul also, being bred


in the Jewish literature, seems to do in the above-cited text, 2 Cor. xii. where he speaks of several visions and revelations that he had received, one in the third heaven, another in paradise. Hence it was the solemn good wish of the Jews (as the learned $ tell us from the Talmudists) concerning their dead friend, “ Let his soul be in the garden of Eden,” or, “ Let his soul be gathered into the garden of Eden.” And in their prayers for a dying person, they used to say, “ Let him have his portion in paradise, and 66 also in the world to come.” In which form,“ pa


“ “ radise” and “ the world to come” are plainly distinguished. . According to which notion, the meaning of our Saviour in this promise to the penitent thief is evidently this: that he should presently after his death enter with him into that place of bliss and

[ocr errors]

8 Vid. Grot, in locum.


happiness, where the souls of the righteous, separated from their bodies, inhabit, and where they wait in a joyful expectation of the resurrection, and the consummation of their bliss in the highest heaven. For that our Saviour here did not promise the thief an immediate entrance into that heaven, the ancients gathered from hence, that he himself, as man, did not ascend thither till after his resurrection, as our very creed informs us; which is also St. Austin's argument in his fifty-seventh Epistle.

The texts of Scripture hitherto alleged speak indeed only of the souls of good men : but by the rule of contraries we may gather, that the souls of the wicked also in the state of separation are sensible, sensible of great anguish and torment at present, and being in a dreadful expectation of a far greater torment yet to come.

Let us hear our Saviour again plainly describing both states of separated souls in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus the beggar, Luke xvi. 22–25. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell (in hades) he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things : but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. Here Lazarus is expressly said presently after his

death to be in Abraham's bosom, and comforted there; and the rich man immediately after his death to be tormented in hades.

It is true this is a parable, and accordingly several things in it are parabolically expressed: but though every thing in a parable be not argumentative, yet the scope of it is, as all divines acknowledge. Now it plainly belongs to the very scope and design of this parable, to shew what becomes of the souls of good and bad men after death. And we have already heard from our Saviour's own mouth, that one part of the parable concerning the comfortable state of good souls in Abraham's bosom, or paradise, immediately after death, is true and real; and therefore so is the other concerning the souls of the wicked.

Add hereunto, that our Saviour spake this parable also to the Jews; and that therefore the parable must be expounded agreeably to the ancient Cabala or tradition received among them concerning the state of separate souls. Now whereas our Saviour saith of the soul of Lazarus, that immediately after his death it was conveyed by angels into Abraham's bosom; we find it was also the belief of the Jewish church, before our Saviour's time, that the souls of the faithful, when they die, are by the ministry of angels conducted to paradise, where they are immediately placed in a blissful and happy state. For the Chaldee paraphrast on Cant. iv. 12. speaking of the garden of Eden, (that is, paradise,) saith, that thereinto “ no man hath power of entering but the

just, whose souls are carried thither by the hands “ of angels.” If this had been an erroneous opinion of the Jews, doubtless our Saviour would never have

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »