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time, in all probability derive their source from Eden.
The Greek and Latin fathers come last of all, as being posterior in point of time. They appear for the purpose of shewing how harmonious they are in understanding rightly those notices which are given of the invisible state in the writings of the Old and New Testament.
In prosecution of this subject, the following plan is proposed to be adopted:
1st. To premise some considerations on the design or end of the intermediate state, and the mutual relation to each other of soul and body...
2dly. To discuss such passages of Scripture, in which are given indirect or undesigned notices of the intermediate state; and to throw such together from both Testaments, for the purpose of mutual illustration.
3dly. To investigate what opinion the antient Hebrews entertained relative to the place of departed spirits, under the direct terms of Sheol in the Old Testament, and Hades in the New.
4thly. To take a view of the progress which this opinion made, and the distinctive terms that were given to the mansions of the righteous and the wicked, during the period that intervened between the last of the prophets, and the coming of Messiah. 5thly. To inquire what opinions the heathen
world entertained on this subject, and how far they coincide with, or may be supposed to have been derived from revelation.
6thly. To set forth the opinions of some of the fathers of the Greek and Latin churches, of the three first centuries after Christ, as understanding Sheol and Hades to denote the place, or what the Jewish writers term, the world of souls; and never confounding these terms with that which in these respective languages is employed to denote the gravë.
This, I would hope, will not be deemed labour misemployed, as this is a region, whatever it may be, or wherever situated, that we are all some time or other to visit. Of this we are concerned to obtain, in a practical view, what information we can, that the time of our departure from earth may not take us by surprise.
In this work I profess not to meet the curiosity of mankind, but rather to point to the light which Scripture affords, and to lead the way to others, who, bringing to the task superior talents, may apply with greater success to investigations of this nature.
The state of souls, after death, has been a matter of anxious inquiry among all nations. That dark unknown, which is beyond the grave, presented something awful to the human contemplation : like the thick cloud which precedes the
thunder clap, a dread still hung over them, that the dissolution of the body was not a termination of existence. In the dying soliliquy of the Emperor Adrian, we see how loath the soul was to part with its help mate, the body. The land of darkness and shadow of death presented their interminable gloom, and made it ask in a tone of the fondest endearment upon what coast it expected to land. Human reasonings, on this important subject, unless directed by the light of revelation, will be vague, erroneous, and vain. In whatever way men may point their researches, they possess, independent of Scripture, no means of penetrating into the invisible state.
To premise some Considerations on the Design or
End of the Intermediate State.
I HAVE put my words in thy mouth, and in the shadow of my hand (be-tzel-jadi) have I hid thee, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say to Zion, thou art my people. Isaiah, li.16,
This passage may be viewed as holding forth the end or design of the intermediate state, termed in the New Testament, Paradise, and what is to follow upon the conclusion of this state--the creation of the new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, and the public and solemn avowal of his people, in the face of all generations,
"An analysis of the original will shew, that this putting words in the mouth, and hiding in the shadow of the hard, is expressed as being preparatory to the two following acts, the new creation, and the visible selection of the people of God into one body. In the original, the former is expressly said to be for the planting of the heavens. The one goes before, and the other comes after, as its intended consequent.
While here, the people of God who fear him, and who think upon his name, are not by him publicly distinguished. Like the wheat and the tares, growing in one common field, they live blended in the common mass of mankind. As the leaf drops in silence from the tree, so they disappear in their several generations, unobserved, and are heard of no more. Their names are not fated to glitter on the historic page; “ the boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,” is not theirs ; but, instead of this, there is with Jehovah a book of remembrance for them, and the solemn declaration awaiting them, “that on that day in which he makes up his jewels, they shall be his.” Agreeable to the expectations of the people of the Old Testament times, Christ promises to those of the New, that he, on that day, will confess them in presence of his father, and in presence of the holy angels. Their re-emerging from their long invisibility, St. Paul terms the revelation of the children of God. Rom. viii. 9.