Imatges de pÓgina


weight from the fact, that he was not only an accomplished scholar and profound divine, but also the immediate predecessor of Newton in the Mathematical Chair at Cambridge ; and it is not to be supposed that a man so eminent in this science would form an opinion upon any subject till he had subjected it to a close and minute investigation.

In any point connected with the doctrines of our religion the authority of Barrow must therefore stand very high. We will see then what his thoughts were upon the subject now under consideration.

Speaking of our Lord's resurrection he says :-By our Lord's resurrection, the verity of his doctrines, and the validity of his promises concerning the future state of man, are demonstrated; and in a way most cogent and pertinent. Any miracle notoriously true, does, indeed, suffice to confirm any point of good doctrine ;--but a miracle in kind, or involving the matter contested, hath a peculiar efficacy to that purpose ;-so did our Lord's resurrection in way of palpable instance, with all possible evidence to sense, directly prove the possibility of our resurrection, together with all points of doctrine coherent thereto; the substantial distinction of our soul from the body; it's separate existence after the dissolution of the body; and consequently its immortal nature; God's wise and just providence over human affairs in this state ;


the scrutiny and judgment of our actions hereafter, with dispensation of recompences answerable ; those fundamental ingredients of religion; most powerful incentives to virtue, and most effectual discouragements from vice. The which (before much liable to dispute and doubt; little seen in the darkness of natural reason, and greatly clouded in the uncertainty of common tradition) as our Lord, by His doctrine, first brought into clear light, so by His resurrection he fully shewed that light to be sincere and certain. For if our Lord, a man as ourselves, did rise from the dead, (his soul, which from the cross descended into the invisible mansions, returning into his body), then evidently our souls are distinct from our bodies, and capable of subsistence by themselves.

The doctrine of the immortality of the soul, (whereby men are capable of rewards and punishments, according to their doings in this life,) hath in all religions been deemed a necessary principle ; and for such (as Cicero and Seneca expressly tell us) hath been embraced by all nations ;-having, indeed, probably from original tradition, been conveyed over all the world. The same also divers philosophers (Socrates especially and his followers) did by natural reason strive to evince true. But tradition being too slippery, and reason too feeble thoroughly to persuade it, Christianity by a clear and full proof, (of miraculous works and sensible experiments) doth assure us of it;-the certainty thereof we owe to his instruction, who brought life and immortality to light by the Gospel. It plainly shews that when we die, we do not, (like brute beasts and other natural bodies, when they appear dissolved), wholly perish ;—that our souls do not vanish into nothing, nor are resolved into invisible principles : but do return into God's hands; or into a place by him appointed for them, there continuing in that life which is proper to a soul. Neither only thus much doth it teach us concerning our state after this life; but it farther informs us, that our bodies themselves shall be raised again out of their dust and corruption; that our souls shall be re-united to them; and that our persons shall be restored to their perfect integrity of nature; the bringing of which effects to pass, by Divine power, is commonly called, the resurrection from the dead.



[ocr errors]

PERHAPS one of the most remarkable men this country ever produced was Sir Matthew Hale *. And he was remarkable in this, that whereas few men ever excelled him in the ability and integrity with which he was distinguished in his own profession; so also few, even of those who have made Theology the main study of their lives, ever surpassed him in the learning and exemplary piety with which he treated subjects connected with the principles and practice of our most holy religion. In one of his treatises he speaks thus of the future state of man.

The state of a Christian after death, and the privilege that with and by Christ he shall then re

* Sir Matthew Hale was born in 1609, and was first raised to the Bench by Oliver Cromwell, who admired his profound knowledge and incorruptible integrity, though so strongly opposed to him both in politics and religion,


ceive, these are secrets that never lay within the reach or discovery of the light of nature. No more is discovered or discoverable unto us than what it hath pleased the God of Nature, in the Scriptures, to reveal and discover to us. So far we may go; farther than that we may not, cannot

This is a learning that no other means can teach us than Divine Revelation; a continent that no other map can describe; nor any other light discover to us, but the Word of God himself. If we guide not ourselves by this thread, we lose ourselves in the discourse or contemplation of it.

Therefore, as to the state of body and soul after death, till the re-union of both in the resurrection; - First, the Word of God shews us the principles of man, his body and soul. Gen. ii. 7. “ He formed man of the dust of the ground; and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” These two pieces of different extraction he so closely and wisely united together, that they made but one piece, and so advanced the corruptible part, the body, that it was endued with an actual incorruption, subject indeed to a translation, but not to a dissolution, corruption, or separation, but only by the means of sin. But sin entered into the world, and death by sin; natural death as well as eternal death. It deprived the body of that incorruption which the power of God

« AnteriorContinua »