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tween them are innumerable. There is, therefore, an infinity of things, whereon to employ their thoughts, if not with advantage to the world, at least with amusement to themselves, and without offence or prejudice to other people. If they proceed to exert their talent of freethinking in this way, they may be innocently dull, and no one take any notice of it.
But to see men without either wit or argument pretend to run down divine and human laws, and treat their fellow-subjects with contempt for professing a belief of those points, on which the present as well as future interest of mankind depends, is not to be endured. For my own
. part, I shall omit no endeavours to render their persons as despicable, and their practices as odious, in the eye of the world, as they deserve.
The next writer I shall bring forward to give his testimony to what may fairly be pronounced to be the only true scriptural view of this subject, shall be Calvin. This celebrated Reformer was born in the year 1509, at Noyon, in Picardy. His proper
. name was Chauvin, which he changed to Calvinus, upon his writing a commentary upon Seneca's Treatise de Clementia, when he was about fourand-twenty.
It has happened unfortunately for the reputation of Calvin, that he has been almost exclusively known as the author of those very reprehensible doctrines which constitute what is commonly called 66 Calvinism.” Yet he was
a man of eminent talents and extensive learning; insomuch that he has been considered by many competent judges an admirable commentator on the Holy Scriptures, with the exception of the peculiar view he took of some particular subjects.
In the fifteenth chapter of the first Book of his Institutions he speaks thus :—“ There can be no doubt but that man consists of soul and body. By soul I mean an immortal essence, and yet created, which is the nobler part of man. Solomon, speaking of death, says, that then the Spirit returns to God who gave it. And when Christ commends his soul to the Father, and when St. Stephen commends his soul to Christ, they both mean, that when the soul is delivered from the prison of the flesh, God is the perpetual keeper of it. True it is, whilst men are tied down to the earth more than they ought to be, they become dull in their apprehension of these things; so that they do not sufficiently remember this fact, that they shall remain alive after death.
“ If the soul were not a certain thing, in it's nature distinct from the body, the Scripture would not tell us, that we dwell in houses of clay; that by death we remove out of the tabernacle of the flesh; that we put off that which is corruptible, that finally at the last day we may receive reward, every man according to the deeds done in the body.
“ When the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews distinguishes the fathers of our flesh from God, who is the only Father of Spirits, he could not more plainly have affirmed the essence of souls. Neither, if souls remained not alive after being delivered from the prisons of their bodies, could Christ with propriety have introduced the soul of Lazarus lying in Abraham's bosom, and the soul of the rich man subject to horrible torments. And the same thing St. Paul confirms, when he teaches that we wander abroad from God, so long as we live in the flesh, but that we enjoy his presence when we are out of the flesh."
In his third Book this writer reprobates the heretical notion that the whole man is to die, and the soul to be raised again with the body." How brutal an error,” says he, “it is, to make of a spirit fashioned after the image of God, a vanishing blast, of no service but just to quicken the body in this frail life! to bring the temple of the Holy Ghost to nothing ! to spoil and deprive the spiritual part of us, of that very gift of immortality in which its very essence consists ! Far different is the doctrine of Scripture, which compares the body to a cottage, out of which it
we remove when we die; meaning by we, that part of us which constitutes the difference between us and the brutes. Thus St. Peter being near his death says, that “ he must lay aside this tabernacle." And St. Paul, speaking of the faithful, after he had said, • That when our earthly house shall be dissolved, there is a building for us in heaven,' adds, that we are absent from the Lord so long as we abide
in the body, but desire to be present with the Lord when we are absent from the body.' Now if the soul does not survive the body, what is it that can be present with God, when it is separated from the body?
“ But the apostle takes away all doubt when he says, that we are joined in fellowship with the souls of the righteous.' Unless also the soul, being removed from the body, did still retain its consciousness, and was able to receive glory, Christ would not have said to the penitent thief, . This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.'
Having such clear evidence given us in Holy Scripture, let us not doubt to commend our souls to God, when we are dying, after the example of Christ, or to commit them to Christ to preserve and keep, after the example of St. Stephen. With regard to their intermediate state, when the Scripture has said, that Christ is present with them, and receiveth them into Paradise, that they may enjoy comfort; and, on the other hand, that the souls of the reprobate do suffer such pains as they deserve, we need go no farther. Of the exact place where they are, it is needless to inquire. And whereas the blessed gathering together of holy spirits is called the 'Bosom of Abraham,' it is enough for us, after our sojourning here, to be received of the common Father of the faithful,