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Thus also the righteous Abel, before he fell a sacrifice to the bloody rage of his impious brother, declared his full persuasion of an immortal state: “There is,” says he, " a future judg: " ment, and a judge, and a life to come: there " is both a reward for the just, and a punish
ment for the unjust; for 'the world was cre“ ated and is governed by the mercy of God.”
It is indeed true, that neither of these passages are in our translation of the Bible; but as the former is found in the Greek version, and the latter in two very antient* Hebrew writings, they sufficiently answer the present design of proving the great antiquity of this opinion
among the Jews.
This persuasion of the resurrection of the dead and a future judgment is no less strongly declared in the book of Maccabees, by the unhappy Jewish mother and her sons, whom the
* The Jerusalem Targum and that of Jonathan Ben Uzziel. And indeed what we translate “ Cain talked with Abel,” is, in the Hebrew'" Cain said unto Abel;" after which is a vacant space in the MS. which may reasonably be supposed to have contained the conversation of the two brothers, which preceded, and probably hastened, the murder of Abel. Vide Univ. Hist. Vol. I. p. 74. Ed. Folio.
fury of an oppressive tyrant had devoted to torments and death for the cause of their religion. Thus the second son, at his last moments, addresses his murderer, in full confidence of immortality; “Thou like a fury takest us out of “ this present life; but the King of the world « shall raise up us, who have died for his laws, “ to everlasting life.” In the same manner the third said ; “ These hands I had from hea
ven, and for his laws I despise them, and “ from him I hope to receive thein again. Thus also the fourth said; “ It is good, being
put to death by men, to look for hope from “ God, to be raised up again by him: as for " thee, who thus triumphest in our destruction, " thou shalt have no resurrection to life.”
Afterwards it is said, that the afflicted mother bore the death of her seven sons with a good courage, because of the hope she had in the Lord; and she said to them, “ Doubtless the " Creator of the world, who formed the genera“ tion of man, and found out the beginning of “ all things, will also of his mercy give you “ breath and life again.”
These declarations, I should apprehend, are abundantly sufficient to establish the point in question. For, however we may doubt or disVOL. III.
pute about the causes of it, we cannot but be as sured, that an opinion thus confidently delivered amidst the agonies of death itself, was both certainly believed, and had also some adequate foundation.
Such then was the light which God communicated to his favourite people in antient times ; dim indeed, but yet visible; obscured by the mists of ignorance and prejudice, yet full, evident, and satisfactory to the eye of faith.
But in the later revelation of his will, the doctrine of the resurrection is declared in terms so strong and expressive, as must remove every doubt, silence every objection, and fill every breast with awe and reverence. We are there not only assured, that God will judge the world in righteousness, but even the very circumstances of that judgment are described to us in the most lively colours. The heavens above, the earth beneath, the elements around us shall dissolve, to prepare the way for that tremendous solemnity. Amidst this universal consternation of nature, the shouts of angels and the trump of the archangel shall proclaim the approach of the eternal Jehovah. The graves shall hear his voice; the deep shall give up her dead; and all the generations of men shall stand before him.
Amidst this august assembly none shall escape the pervading eye of his omnipotence. “Say not " thou,” says the son of Sirach, “I will hide.
myself from the Lord; I shall not be remem“ bered among so many people ; what is my " soul amongst such an infinite number of crea“tures? For, behold the heaven of heavens, “ the deep, the earth and all that therein is, “shall be moved, when he shall visit,” and none
Vain will be the strength of the warrior or the power of the mighty before Him who is greater than all, and in whose sight the whole world is but as the dust of the balance. In vain shall the public sinner call upon the rocks and mountains to cover his crimes from the sight of Him to whom all hearts are open; and as vainly will the secret hypocrite in that day hope to conceal his undivulged guilt from his eyes, from whom no secrets are hid. There shall riches find no place for corruption, or learning for evasion: there the titles and pageantry of the great, those glittering bubbles of a moment, shall vanish and be forgotten : the charms of polluted beauty shall there excite no admiration, the wanton follies of youth shåll meet with no applause, the deliberate villanies of hoary age shall find no reverenée: for God seeth
not as man seeth, neither are his ways as our ways.
Thus, then, in every view, we see the certainty of a future judgment established on the firm foundations of reason and religion. This alone, one would imagine, would be sufficient to put a reasonable being for ever upon his guard against the dangerous blandishments of sin. But I must be permitted to add another consideration, which ought to give double force to our care and circumspection:--This day of judgment is not more certain than the time of it is uncertain. We know not but the almighty Judge may at this very moment be preparing to summon the quick and the dead before his tribunal. Should this not be the case, he may... command the angel of death to smite the strongest of us, before to-morrow's sun arise. And should either of these possible events hap-; pen, who sees, not the dreadful certaintyof: being instantaneously plunged into the gulph of, eternity!
How just, then, and, on every occasion, how proper is the exhortation of the Prophet to the sons of men; O Israel, prepare to meet thy, God! · As if he had said, “ Remember, man, " that thou art no other than a stranger and