Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

Kings under the Old Law went to sleep with their fathers in the same hope, which was afterwards more clearly published and defined by the gospel. St. Paul, before the writing of the books of the New Testament, calls the resurrection of the dead the hope of Israel; and whence could the church collect that hope in old time, but from the Law and the Prophets? Our Saviour himself established the notion of a resurrection against the Sadducees, by appealing to a single passage in the writings of Moses ; against which, impudent as they were, they had nothing to answer The passage itself was indirect; but the inference from it was so obvious and natural, that it could not be evaded. The same doctrine is intimated in many other passages; not by literal expression, but by inference and similitude, the usual modes of instruction throughout the whole Old Testament. And though the carnal Jews were little the wiser for the information thus communicated (as many christians are not much the wiser

• Acts xxviii. 20. compared with ch. xxiii. 6. and xxyi. 6, 7, 8.

b Matth. xxii. 31, &c.
z 4

now)

[ocr errors]

now) yet the intention and meaning of similitudes so universally introduced, must have been obvious to those who spiritually minded, and took the pains to compare the language of the Scripture with itself. It would be very imprudent to judge of the Law and its contents by what the Sadducee found there. He could discern neither the Resurrection nor any thing else that was of a spiritual nature. And who will wonder at it, when his younger brother the Socinian can read the New Testament without discerning the doctrine of the christian Redemption, or the divinity of the Redeemer? The Pharisee is said to have despised other men, presuming on his own righteousness; and the Sadducee in all probability despised them much more, presuming on his own wisdom; while in fact he knew neither the Scriptures nor the Power of God. Manasseh Ben Israel, a learned Jew, who wrote on the Creation and Resurrection, produces this among other arguments, that Abraham, Jacob, and Moses, are said to sleep and be gathered to their fathers: “ the “ Patriarch Jacob (says he) preparing for " death, used those words, I shall sleep " with my fathers *; in the first of which “ he gives us a sign of the Resurrection; “ for he who sleeps awakes naturally. In “ the remaining part of the sentence, with

were

66 with

my fathers, he shews the immortality of “ the soul; because the dead, with respect to their bodies, are nothing. The Scrip“ ture hath the same meaning where it saith “ of Abraham, that he was gathered to his sons this Jew, with a sagacity not unworthy of a christian. And those of his fathers who had their eyes open, could see through the temporal economy of the law, and distinguish those eternal rewards of faith, which were offered to the Patriarchs before the civil establishment of their nation in the land of Canaan, when the favourites of God were led about from place to place as pilgrims and strangers upon earth.

people ; signifying to us by this expression, " that their souls had survived the death of " their bodies. It would be absurd to un" derstand it of their bodies; for Moses was “ commanded of God to go up into mount Abarim, and to die there and be gathered to his people : but the fathers of Moses " were not in Mount Abarim!." So rea

sons

a Gen. xlvii. 30. • Jacobus Patriarcha accingens se ad mortem, ait, Dor. miam cum patribus meis. Hic primâ voce innuit resurreca tionem: nam qui dormit, naturaliter expergiscitur. Cum autem inquit, cun patribus meis, eo ostendit animam esse ipimortalem : nam mortui, ratione corporis, nihil sunt. Hoc ipsum scriptura indicatum vult, cum de Abrahamo ait, quod sese ad populum suum collegerit. Eo ipso lo. quendi modo significat, animam eorum post mortem superstitem manere. Neque vero istud intelligi potest de

corpore,

If by the Laws of Moses we understand the whole revelation in the Pentateuch, it certainly presents us with two different forms of theological polity; under the former of which, the servants of God were trained up to a spiritual life of faith and hope, through a course of peregrination and persecution: but under the latter, they were exercised with a temporal settlement and a ceremonial ritual. The former law of faith, as the apostle argues“, could not be made of none effect by the law of ceremonies, which came after : and the Jew who did not understand both, and

corpore. Nam Deus dicit Mosi, ascende in montem Abarim istum, & morieris in monte in quem tu ascendens ibi. Et collegeris ad populum tuum. At Patres Mosis non erant in monte Abarim. De Resurrect, Mort, cap. 9. VI.

a Gal, iii. 17.

think himself bound to follow both, had no right to call himself a disciple of Moses.

It was therefore an hope common to all the Jews, except the Sadducees, who perversely took advantage of the worldly Elements in the ceremonial law, and were but little better than Deists, that there would be a resurrection of the dead at the coming of the Messiah: and though the general accomplishment of this hope was reserved for his second coming, a foretaste of it was given at his first, when the bodies of saints which slept arose and appeared unto many". It was then made evident, that his sufferings and merits had overcome the sharpness of Death, and purchased a release for the prisoners of hope. That earthquake, which rent the rocks, did also open the graves of the dead, and many of the faithful, who had rested under the old dispensation, were awakened at the departure of that supernatural darkness, which had covered the earth during the time of our Sariour's passion

• Matth, xxvii. 52, 53.

b There is a difficulty here in the Text, which commen, tators remove, by supposing that the saints were awakened at the death of Christ during the earthquake, and that they appeared in the holy City after his resurrection. In this sense it is taken by the author. 1

XVI. I canshivern Spiration

t

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »