Imatges de pàgina
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turns to its material and corruptible principles, yet the soul, which is a particle of Divine breath, returns to it's own Divine original, where there is no death or dissolution. St. Paul's rapture into heaven is a proof that the soul can live when the body is dead; that it can subsist without the body; that there are very great glories reserved for them that serve God; that they who die in Christ shall live with him; that the body is a prison, and the soul is in fetters while we are alive ; and that when the body dies, the soul springs and leaps from her prison, and enters into the first liberty of the sons of God.

In the state of separation, the souls departed perceive the comforts and blessing of their labours; they are alive after death; and after death they immediately find great refreshments.

" The torments of death,” we read in the Book of Wisdom, “ shall not touch the souls of the righteous, because they are in the hands of God." And 1500 years after the death of Moses, we find him talking with our blessed Saviour, in his Transfiguration on Mount Tabor ; and as Moses was then, so are all the saints immediately after death, "present with the Lord;" and to be so is not a state of death; and yet of this it is, that St. Paul affirms it to be much better than to be alive. And this was the undoubted opinion of the Jews before Christ and

since; and therefore our blessed Saviour told the converted thief, “ This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” Now, without doubt, our Saviour here spoke as he was to be understood; meaning by Paradise, that which the schools and pulpits of the Rabbins did usually teach of it.

This place of separation was called Paradise by the Jews and by Christ; and after Christ's ascension, by St. John, because it signifies a place of pleasure and rest; and therefore by the same analogy the word may still be used in all periods of the world, though the circumstances or state of things be changed. It is generally supposed that this had a proper name, and in the Old Testament was called “ Abraham's Bosom," i, e, the region where Abraham and Isaac and Jacob did dwell till the coming of Christ; or to be in Abraham's bosom may signify a great eminence of place and comfort, which is indulged to the most excellent and afflicted. And as " being with Abraham" was the specification of the more general word of Paradise in the Old Testament, so “ being with Christ” is the specification of it in the New. So St. Stephen prayed, “ Lord Jesus, receive my spirit !" And St. Paul said, “ I desire to be dissolved, and to be with Christ,” which expression St. Polycarp also used in his Epistle to the Philippians: They are in the place that is due to them; they are with

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the Lord;" i. e. in the hands or the custody of the Lord Jesus. So St. Jerome, speaking of a deceased friend : “ We know that our Nepotion is

: with Christ, mingled with the choirs of saints.”

Upon this account our Church has conjectured that the state of the separate souls, since the glorification of our Lord, is much bettered, and their comforts greater. This improvement in their condition is well intimated by their being said to be “ under the altar," i. e. under the protection of Christ. Their state is also described by St. John in these words : “ Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple; and He that sits on the throne shall dwell among them.” With which general words, as being modest bounds to our enquiries ; enough to tell us it is rarely well; but enough also to chastise all curious questions, let us remain content; and labour with faith and patience, with hope and charity, to be made worthy to partake of those comforts ; after which when we have long enquired, yet when at last we come to try what they are, we shall find them much better, and much otherwise than we imagine.

I have now made it as evident as questions of this nature will bear, that in the state of separation, the spirits of good persons, shall be blessed and happy souls ;-they have an antepast or taste of their re

ward;—but their great reward itself; their crown of righteousness, shall not be yet; that shall not be until the day of judgment, and at the resurrection of the dead.

The sum of all is this. In the world, we walk and live by faith ;-in the state of separation, we shall live by hope ; and in the resurrection, we shall live by an eternal charity. Here we see God as in a glass, darkly;-in the separation we shall behold him, but still afar off; and after the resurrection we shall see him “face to face.” In this life we are warriors; in the separation we are conquerors; but we shall not triumph till after the resurrection.

CHAPTER V.

BARROW.

Dr. Isaac BARROW was born in London in 1630. Of one who was afterwards so eminent for piety and learning, the following anecdote is not a little curious; and it is a most useful encouragement to parents generally not to despair of the future good conduct of their children, however untoward may be their earlier years.

Isaac Barrow was when a boy sent to the Charter-house, where for two or three years his chief delight was in mischief and fighting with other boys; and so little appearance was there then of that comfort his parents afterwards received from him, that his father often solemnly wished, that if it pleased God to take away from him any of his children, it might be his son Isaac; so little hope had he that so wild a boy would ever have made so good a man.

The sentiments of Barrow on the doctrine we now wish to establish must surely derive very great

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