« PreviousContinue »
atchieve; were we even to admit, as true history, the feats of the Titans who heaped Ossa upon Pelion. “God is À SPIRIT.”_When your correspondent sball tell me how the ALMIGHTY SPIRIT acts," whether by its own powers, or (Oh Blasphemy !)' by subtle material organs and instruments fitted to its” incorporeal state ;---I will tell him how the spirits of men act after they have left the body. But although he may find himself unable to tell me how the ALMIGHTY MIND acts upon matter;- it does not follow but that it acts nevertheless; and by parity of reason, although I may not be able to tell him in what manner the soul acts when stripped of the body ;this inability of mine proves nothing against the soul's being possessed of faculties of some kind or other. Of what kind, let them declare who affect to be wise above what is written, and beyond what is revealed. The soul of man can exist separate from the body, in an active, intelligent state; this we may fairly deduce from these facts, viz, that God, who is incorporcal exists in an active and intelligent state; that Christ before his incarnation so existed, that the HOLY GHOST so exists, and that the Angels so exist. This too is the judgment of our Church, which supposes, in the commendatory prayer in the office for the visitation of the sick, that " the spirits of just men made perfect, after they are delivered from their earthly prisons, do live with God.”
I conclude that the intermediate state between death and the resurrec, țion is not a state of sleep, but a state of perfect intelligence, and une ceasing consciousness; that scripture supports this doctrine and reason too; that it agrees with the nature of the human soul, which can as truly exist, and perceive, and think, and act without a body, as God, as CHRIST, as the Holy Spirit and the Angels ;--and that the Church so far from denying this to be orthodox doctrine “ takes it for granted ; as does the least, the humblest of the Church's sons,
Your most obedient Servant, : Aug. 11, 1803,
A LONDON CURATE.
TO THE EDITORS OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S MA G'AZINE:
GENTLEMEN, THE observations I read some time ago in your prospectus concerning
the policy of our Romish enemies at home, brought to my mind the recollection of two letters, transcripts of which I made a few years back in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. One of then concerns the death of the celebrated Thomas Hearne; and the other is a comment on it; both confirming in the strongest manner possible the truth of the remarks I allude to: and proving bevond a doubt that the spirit of Popery has been ever vigilant to take advantage of our supineness, and glories in drawing us aside even in the last helpless moments of existence. . . X 2
Extract of a Letter from Bishop Turner, to Dr. Richard Rawlinsoni, dated
August 5, 1735. • " My old acquaintance, T. Hearne had his death-stroke the day I left Oxford; I visited him in his illness, and sent often to him what I thought might be agreeable to one in his condition, and he could not con veniently have at Edmund Hall. I never entered into any discourse with him about his temporal affairs, or making his will, which I thought he was so considerate as to settle before his decline. I was in hopes that he had saved, out of the kindness of his benefactors and the profit of his printing, some little matters; but was surprised to hear of the great sum found upon his decease. I am glad to hear that his M. S. Collections are fallen into the hands of a prudent gentleman; for, though I doubt not but that among them there are many useful memoTandums and historical notes, yet you know that friend of ours had some peculiarities, all which would not be perhaps greatly to his credit to be made public. I am truly concerned for the loss his friends and the public have in the death of so industrious a man, and faithful editor, I am glad that he has ordered some of his curiosities for the place he once loved, the Bodleian Library. I would willingly have offered him the best of my assistance as a minister during his decline; but, knowing his way of thinking, thought I should not have been accepted ; however, was sorry to hear that he declined the prayers of a Nonjuring clergyman; and, by allowing a Popish priest to be with him three or four days before he died, has given occasion for talk. My old friend, Anthony Wood, how much soever some counted him a Papist, had the prayers of our Church read to him by me and another clergyman twice a day, and received the Sacrament on his death-bed with seemingly great devotion.".
On this Letter, Mr. Brome, in another to Thomas Rawlins, Esg. of Pophills, dated August 20, 1735, thus comments :
“ It may seem, perhaps, extraordinary that our friend should refuse one of N. J. clergy; but I am well satisfied he had objections against that clergy man for some compliances; and I really believe he adhered to the last to the strict Cyprianick principles. His many favourable expressions as to the Church of England, its Bishops, &c. incline me to judge thus charitably of him. The emissaries of the Church of Rome are very busy when our senses and faculties decline ; and it was Sir Roger L'Estrange's desire (after his daughter had been seduced into that Communion) that all those gentry should be kept from his dying bed; he being no stranger to their compassing sea and land to gain proselytes."
ON THE WORD SHEOL.
TO THE EDITORS OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S MAGAZINE,
. GENTLEMEN, I NOW proceed agreeable to my promise to settle the meaning of
sheol, by selecting a few passages from Scriptures. The first place, where the word sheol occurs is, I think Gen. xxxvii. 33. where Jacob infuses comfort upon the supposed loss of his son Joseph, saying, I will ar shall go down to my son weeping, or mourning- sheol. Now if Jacob relied on finding his son though dead in sheol, this could not be the grave, because he was thought to be devoured by wild beasts, and therefore had no proper place of interment.
The same tender parent uses the same word, where he savs: Then shall ye cause my hoạry head, i. e. me, an old man, to descend to sheol. There can be no mourning in what is called the grave, where there can be neither joy nor grief: whereas Jacob says, he should be there, with, or in grief. 'Is not the doctrine of a future state, or another state of existence, here plainly revealed to the church and people of this age? .
Shent in the translations, Jewish writings, and divers places, is named inferus, infernus, hades, the infernal region, the hidden land, and terra riventium.' · Num. xvi. 30. where the rebels against Moses, are threatened with that new, but terrible, destruction of being swallowed up, or buried alive; they went down alive into sheol. We may suppose, that soon after the pit had shut her mouth upon these wretches, there must have been a separation of soul and body, and that the adamah would retain its part, and the unbodied part would hasten to obey the first order of the Creator, immediately descending to the place prepared for it, where it would abide in safe custody, for its future trial.
Deut. xxxii. 22. A fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall, burn into the lowest hell. The Jews might found upon this their superior and inferior sheol, called Gehenna, and from thence the Elysium and Tartarus of the poets were copied.
Job xi. 8. Deeper than hell, sheol, in opposition to heaven.
Chap. xiv. 13. O that thou wouldest lide me in SHEOL, that thou wouldest keep me secret, till thy wrath be past. This must refer to a particular place, appointed to receive and protect the good, when they shall be taken out of the reach of evil men, or evil times, coming upon them.
i Sam, ii. 6. He the Lord killeth and maketh alive, he bringeth down to sheol, and causetli to ascend from SHEOL, English, BRINGETH UP. The Seventy render sheol in many places HADES, which is by us commonly called hell, though the meaning be contrary to the vulgar sense imposed on that word. For the superior sheol is really the place of the happy only, where good spirits are kept, viz. the spirits of just men, in order 10 be perfected at the final judgment.
2 Sam. xxii. 6. The sorrows of hell (sheol) compassed me round about. This is a prophetic declaration of our Lord's descent into sheol, which was done immediately upon the separation of soul and body, whither all
- of us must go at our dissolution. This was the Paradise, or the separate
place of the happy, departed this life ; where the thief on the cross was promised by our Lord to be with him, the very day of their suffering, when our Lord preached to the saints there, according to St. Petar, and from whence it is supposed they were delivered, that they might be per. fected in order to attend upon, and accompany him in his triumphant resurrection and ascension.
Ps. xxx. 3. O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave. The passage as here rendered is absurd. Whereas the true rendering that God brought his soul from sheol (the word here used) is a clear prediction of our Saviour's descent into hell, or hades.
Ps. xxxi. 18. Let the lying lips be put to silence ; the original says the wicked shall be silent in sheol, viz. that sheol where such are kept in safe custody. This is a most remarkable passage, deserving a particular attention. In the superior sheol the souls there deposited, instead of being silent, are incessantly crying, “How long O Lord,” impatiently expecting their Lord and Judge to come and release them, and afler sentence of absolution and approbation, to perfect and reward them. But in the other sheol, there is sullenness and silence, they care nol how long it is before they are called to appear before the Judge, to receive sentence of condemnation, and to be consigped over to their dreadful punishment and endless misery. Hence the old Jews called this inferior sheol, dumah, silence. It is fairly to be supposed that our Lord went into both sheols, into the former, as a Deliverer and Com, forter ; into the latter, as a Conqueror and Avenger.
The New Testament, indeeil, occasionally confirms what we find in the Old. What is said about the two sheols is plainly alluded to by St, Luke, where the upper, or place where the saints are detained, is called Abraham's bosom ; and what is the parable of Dives and Lazarus, but an allusion to that doctrine concerning a superior and inferior shcol, which must otherwise have been an idle tale, which they must have passed by, without notice for want of proper ideas, or knowing any real foundation, whereupon it may be built?
Does nut the phrase outer darkness, in St. Matthew, seem to be taken from the notion then current in the Jewish church, of the inferior sheol, called as above the lowest heil? It may be considered whether that circle of thick darkness which surrounds the six days work of the creation, and was possibly ordered thither upon the first creation of light, Gen, i. 4. or, however, after the second division or expansion, mentioned at the 14th versé, and when the luminaries were formed, and appointed for a divider between day and night, as well as for other great purposes, may not be the inferior sheol.
What has been extracted from scripture suggests the following brief remarks: -l. We may from hence account for the origin of many notions and opinions concerning a future state which prevailed within or near to the pale of the church from the first ages of the world. The romances of the poets were built upon the foundations of scripture, which they distorted and perverted.' False religion is a corruption of the true. The latter preceded the former.'
2. The compilers of our articles asserted with good reason, That they are not to be heard, which feign that the Old Fathers did look only for transitory promises. The belief of a future state is not originally a gospel doctrine. Abraham and Jacob professed this faith, the vital principle. of all true religion.
** IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS FOR THE PEOPLE OF THIS KINGDOM;
Delivered to a Country Congregation, Aug. 28, 1803. My dear fellow Christians and Parishioners, AS my unceasing exertions, ever since I have been your Pastor, have n been pointed to the promotion of your temporal and eternal welfare by every means in my power; as my addresses to you from the pulpit have been solely directed to the well-being of your immortal souls, and the furthering you in the road to everlasting life; as I have faithfully endeavoured to preach unto you“ Jesus Christ, and him crucified;" I feel persuaded that you will give me credit for the goodness of my intentions, and the sincerity of my zeal to discharge the important duty committed to me by God's Providence according to the best of my abilities, how. ever in some instances my power may have fallen short of my sincere. desire to be of service to you. I also feel convinced, from the experi, ence I have had of your candour and liberality on former occasions, that you will believe my omitting at this time to deliver you a Sermon after prayers, as heretofore hath been my invariable custom, did not proceed from any intention on my part to debar you from that spiritual instruction which on the Lord's Day especially you are intitled to receive at my hands. And I am the rather inclined to this opinion because you may have heard from some of the present congregation, who formed a part of my audience last Sunday at a neighbouring congregation where I officiated, that I then delivered a Sermon expressly calculated for the circumstances of the Kingdom at the present awful crisis of our national affairs, when we are threatened with Invasion by a fierce und haughty Foe, who aims at our destruction by every means in his power. The discourse above alluded to was I hope calculated to strengthen the sensation of loyalty and patriotism which hath so happily been excited at the present awful moment throughout the United Kingdom * : but as it was com
* It is a matter of deep regret to every sincere lover of his country that “any thing should occur to check the spirit of patriotism which has already armed so many gallant men in the defence of their country." Since this address was written and delivered it hath appeared necessary, I find from the public papers, to his majesty's ministers, (who without great necessity would not take such a step at the present moment) to decline accepting any more offers of voluntary service, and even "to reduce in a considerable degree the numbers of many in an advanced state of discipline." As this step hath “ caused much dissatisfaction,” no doubt ministers will early inform the public mind on this important point!