« VorigeDoorgaan »
one we are discussing as follows :-“In the explanation of a parable, we are not indeed warranted to run the parallel too minutely between the literal and figurative senses, or to conceive that every recorded circumstance has some latent and moral meaning attached to it; for it is apparent, that many things may be introduced into a parabolic picture merely to fill up the outline, and to give consistency and proper colouring to the entire scene. But the essential or fundamental parts of a Scripture parable never embody any ideas which are opposed to truth, otherwise it would be fitted to mislead us, and thus be manifestly repugnant to the character and objects of the true and faithful Witness. The expositions which our Saviour has given of his own parables fully show the truth of this remark; and, in many instances, favour a more circumstantial application of figurative language than we might have been led to expect. And if, in the interpretation of the passage before us, we are guided by these obvious principles, there is no avoiding the conclusion, that the consciousness of individuals, and of things known to us in the present life, will accompany us into a future world, and contribute, in no small degree, to our happiness or misery. For this is a leading sentiment pressed in every part of the parable upon our attention. The rich man dies, and his punishment is aggravated by the recollection of his past conduct, and the knowledge of his relative circumstances. He distinctly recognizes Lazarus, and is perfectly aware of his happiness. Abraham, too, he discovers; and is conscious of his relation to the Jewish people. It is taken for granted by the patriarch, that he possessed the full power of calling to mind the wide difference in point of character and circumstances which subsisted on earth between himself and the despised and indigent Lazarus.
“ The rest of the parable rests on the same sentiment. It supposes the rich man to be acquainted with the impenitent condition of his brethren, with the necessity of repentance; and with the writings of Moses and the prophets. And, in short, the whole parable is so constructed, that it may, we conceive, be considered as containing the plain declaration of our Saviour's mind on the important subject before us.”*
Mr. Muston, in the above, appears to speak generally of the circumstances as referable to what shall be in “a future world ;” but, founded as they entirely are in the parable as relative to the soul immediately after death, it will be seen to allude solely to the Middle State ; or, in the words of the same writer, in another passage,-to“ the mansion or state of disembodied spirits,” (p. 95.) Although there was a great gulf or chasm between Lazarus and Dives, yet they are represented as being in the same general place or world, and perfectly within view and hearing of each other. Can it be thought even probable, that one of the pleasures of heaven will be that of seeing and hearing the damned tormented, or, that the place where Dives was in was the lake of fire reserved for the devil and his angels when their time is come: when compassion towards our fellow-creatures is so much inculcated here, surely the constant sight of their torments would make us in some degree unhappy even in heaven?
According to the Rev. Mr. Polwhele's understanding of the parable (which must also be that of every impartial person who considers it)—"If our Saviour had any design in the parable of the rich man, it was certainly meant to suggest to us that the souls of men after death exist in distinct habitations—that they are in a state of happiness or misery, as resulting from the unalterable nature of their moral characters,—that, with their moral characters, they possess their discriminating sentiments and passions, and they retain the memory of their earthly transactions and connections.”+ Both the situations for the good and the bad, while in a disembodied state, are spoken of as in Hades. “Though they
* Recognition in the world to come.
† An Essay on the Evidence from Scripture, that the soul, immediately after the death of the body, is not in a state of sleep or insensibility, but of happiness or misery, &c. printed at the request of the Church Union Society, being their Prize Essay of 1818.
are said to be at a great distance from each other, they are still within sight and hearing, so as to be able to converse together. This would have been too gross a violation of probability, if the one was considered as inhabiting the highest heavens, and the other placed in the infernal regions. Again, the expressions used are such as entirely to suit this explanation, and no other ; for, 1st, The distance from each other is mentioned, but no hint that the one was higher in situation than the other. 2dly, The terms whereby motion from the one to the other is expressed, are such as are never employed in expressing motion to, or from heaven, but always when the places are on a level, or nearly so. Thus Lazarus, when dead, is said to be carried away, not to be carried up, by angels into Abraham's bosom, whereas it is the latter of these expressions, or a similar one, as taken up, that is always used when an assumption into heaven is spoken of, or whenever one is said to be conveyed from a lower to a higher situation. But, what is still more decisive in this way, where mention is made of passing from Abraham to the rich man, and inversely, the Greek verbs employed are words which always denote motion on the same ground or level.”*
These explanations of the text by Dr. Campbell, agreeing so exactly with the circumstances of the story, must be true, if, as the Rev. Dr. observes, the sacred penmen wrote to be understood, when they must have employed words and phrases in conformity to the current usage of those for whom they wrote.
It has been already shown, that the Jewish writers in the Old Testament used the word Sheol to express that general region where all departed souls went to, and that the more modern Jews translated it by the term Hades, which they borrowed from the Greeks. Although they did not adopt the heathen fables on the subject, they believed, as many of the heathens did, that this place included different sorts of habitations, for ghosts of different characters, and though they did not also receive the terms Elysian fields, and Elysium, as suitable appellations for the regions peopled by good spirits, they took instead of them, as better adapted to their own theology, the designations of the garden of Eden, Paradise, or Abraham's bosom. But, on the other hand, to express the unhappy situation of the wicked, in that intermediate state, they do not seem to have declined the use of the word Tartarus. The Apostle Peter says, of evil angels, that God cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment. So it stands in the common versions, though neither Gehenna nor Hades are in the original. The word is Tartarus, which is, as it were, the prison of Hades, wherein criminals are kept till the general judgment. The whole of Hades, indeed, is a place where all the souls in it may be said to be more or less in strict custody, but from the similitude of chains being used in the Scriptures as applicable to those in Tartarus, we may infer that their confinement is much more severe to themof a more stern and distressing nature than is exercised over the good. Both Elysium and Tartarus were comprehended by the Greeks under the name of Hades; and in like manner Paradise and Tartarus were so by the Jews, and they ought therefore, in our interpretations of Scripture, to be always so considered. There is, then, no inconsistency in maintaining that the rich man, though in torments, was not in Gehenna, (or the hell of final punishment,) but in that part of Hades called Tartarus, where the spirits of the impenitent are reserved for judgment and detained in dark
* Dr. Campbell's 6th Diss.
The above is principally abridged from Dr. Campbell's Sixth Dissertation. It ought to be remarked, at the same time, that Taptapos does not occur in the New Testament, but simply in 2 Pet. ii. 4, where raptapwoas will be found, being the participle of the verb taptapow, and seems to be equivalent to the Homeric expression PINTTELV ELS Taprapov. This is, however, sufficient scriptural authority for naming one part of Hudes Tartarus. That there is a region in the general place for human spirits, where they are miserable or unhappy, is indeed most fully established in Scripture by many passages, and a mere name to it, therefore, is of but little importance.
From the anxious appeal on the part of the rich man, we must infer his consciousness of the felicity of Lazarus, else he could not suppose him capable of rendering assistance ; and increased faculties or power of the understanding in a being capable of discerning Abraham and Lazarus at a great distance ; the power of reflection on the folly of his own past conduct, and the exerciseof affection for his brethren that they might escape his mental agony of remorse and apprehension. On the part of Abraham,—the impassable gulf forms an obstacle to the relief prayed for ; thus seeming to admit the inference that although the miserable are, in the separate state, excluded from the kind offices of happier beings, yet that this may not be the case with the righteous themselves, over whom, we are told, God has given his angels charge.
If it be allowed that these were sources of anguish to the unhappy spirit, and that their exercise under different circumstances, might augment the felicity of the just, it surely will not be asserted that these additions of happiness are denied to the blessed spirits. Hence it is presumed that the powers of the soul are engaged on objects of affection still left behind on the earth, and derive pleasure from being so engaged ; and therefore, unless by some subsequent change, (which is quite inconceivable and unrevealed,) these powers may have been extinguished, there will be a continuance of their exercise, when the happy spirits shall be reunited in realms of bliss. There can be nothing improbable in this supposition, and there appears to be strong grounds for believing its reality ; for, if the spirit, in its separated state, be allowed to exercise purified affection towards the relations it has left behind, such as, when united to the body, would have been termed social, why may not the same principles continue in action, and form part of the happiness of the blest when reunited in the region of both souls and bodies after the judgment? The soul of the rich man is represented as knowing that of Abraham, although he could not possibly have been acquainted with his appearance in this life, and if he did so of himself, (as James and John also seemed to know Moses and Elias at the transfiguration,) it would