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This subjection of the creation to vanity, is the will of the superior Lord, and a prosecution of his plan, in order to answer the purpose which he has in view, namely, to pave the way for a universal emancipation; when creation itself is to be freed from that bondage of corruption which at present pervades every part of it. To the human eye, the children of God, in their several generations, drop out of the world and are heard of no more. In their restoration, creation is represented as being peculiarly interested, as itself expecting to be a future participant of that glorious liberty with which the children of God are to be invested at the period in which they are to be revealed. To creation this hope is given, that a general restitution will take place, and all things become new. The heavens have received Messiah, until this glorious period roll round, when the sons of God being separated from the general mass, and arrayed in robes of light, shall meet the view of all generations. The quantity of time flowing on till then, may be considered as forming the exact duration of this state, into which the souls of the righteous are gathering, and where they rest from their labours till the day of retribution.
The admission of the creature into the liberty of the children of God, may denote, that in the new world, which is, as it were, to arise from the ashes of the former, there will be no tendency in
any thing to decay, no divulsion of the parts of any being, so as that it should cease to be what it is: but that a perfection of beauty, and a permanence of duration, will now be the happy lot of all existences; when there will be a return in every part of nature to the primary purpose for which it was created, and instead of being subservient to sin and vanity, reflect the Creator's glory.
Whether the creature is said to look out for this (apocaradokia) by the figure prosopopeia, by which human actions and affections are given to inanimate objects; or whether there be really in nature a latent resistance to this corruption, termed by St. Paulgroaning and travelling, and a bending toward their original and primary constitution, cannot by any investigation of man be satisfactorily ascertained. Something, however, indicating this, may, in some small degree, be discerned. The grass, when trampled down, seeks its first and erect position, and animals struggle to preserve their existence.
It then appears, so far as we are permitted to understand a little, to be the plan of heaven, that the whole of the human existence should extend through the three following states. The first, the time of their earthly sojourn ; the second, that interval that takes place during the separation of the soul from the body; the third commence with the
resurrection, when body and soul being re-united, the whole man is advanced to glory, honour, and immortality. The first period is that from which the two following periods take their direction, and terminate in happiness or misery: for as a man sows, so shall he reap, and in proportion as the things pertaining to his peace, have been attended to or neglected, so shall his future states be. The first state is of a few days, and short and brittle is the thread of life. The second is the period of rest and comfort, and awaiting for the “ sonship, even the redemption of the body.” The third is peculiarly the period of light and gladness, when what was sown in time is fully grown up and matured to its appointed perfection.
During the period of mortality, man converses with shadows, himself a shadow, all visible things being in a perpetual Aux. To this law, he, however dignified his nature, is subject, as well as the insect or the vegetable. At his best estate he is but vanity, and however vigorous his health today, or comely his port, or high his reputation, to-morrow he is gone, and the very things which have been the object of the world's admiration and esteem, like the gilded clouds of the west, are now for ever faded from the view.
We now turn to investigate that mutual dependence which soul and body have upon each other. This, it is apprehended, may tend to un
fold, more clearly, the wisdom and end of the in, termediate state, till the time of the resurrection.
The body may be viewed as the instrument or organ of the soul. It is only through the medium of the former, that the latter can have
any connec. tion with, or knowledge of the material world. The senses are its instruments of perception, to convey to it information with respect to the figure, size, quality, and distance of objects. However near any object may be, yet if not in contact with any of the senses, it is to the soul as if it did not exist at all. Death seals up the senses, and cuts off the soul entirely from any communication with the world of matter. The instant a person dies, all on that quarter is one universal blank. We have, indeed, a prejudice which we very early imbibe, that of imagining that the soul, in its state of separation, still has a view of the visible creation, and is capable of various functions and operations. This is not the soul, but a creature of our own formation. Influenced by this prejudice, there is one sect among Christians who deny, in the proper sense, the resurrection altogether. Regarding the soul as an independent and unfettered existence, they declare that they cannot see what end a resurrection would serve, and that by this, to re-immerse the soul into the body, would be to bring it under subjection a second time. But it may be asked, in what sense could death
be termed an enemy, 'if the soul were not hurt by it? Death undoubtedly is a punishment, and such, that from it, in its temporary effects, God will not exempt even the righteous. This act of dissolution is a breaking down of the human existence, an event reluctantly submitted to, and in the hope that the “ fallen tabernacle will be reared again." Death then is an enemy, so far as it is to man an interruption of being ; understanding by the term man, his two constituent parts united. By this we may learn, that every Christian who passes through death into the invisible state, enters into that state mutilated, and subject to certain disabilities; that is, so far as he is cut off from certain acts and enjoyments which can take place only through the medium of the body: still, however, his present lot is rest and comfort, under the shadow of the divine Majesty. Now death becomes an enemy to the soul, in this way: it strips it of its organ, the body, by which it could exert itself in a variety of ways upon matter. It shuts up for a season the channel through which many an enjoyment was wont to flow : it makes it an exile from the mundus aspectabilis, or visible creation, and keeps it in a state in which it cannot, till the resurrection, enjoy the crown of righteousness. Such is this state, that the detainer is termed the last enemy that is to be destroyed, and to deliver from which, requires a ransom.
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