« VorigeDoorgaan »
tal Bride, the Body, consoles herself with the assu. rance that the separation will be but for a short time, a moment as it were, compared to endless Duration; and that, in the meanwhile the Body shall not be injured by its sleep in the dust, but shall come forth again, new-clothed and dressed in the rich embroi. deries of Heaven and Immortality; more beautiful and refulgent by absence; “ being like unto that lai
Chrystal, which purifying in its Bed of Dust, after “ the Revolution of many Ages, is said to be turned “ into the brightest Diamond.” Nevertheless, the Soul, now left alone and without a Body, becomes greatly anxious, and inquisitive, concerning what may be its own Fate and Fortunes, during the mean or middle period, between Death and the Resurrection (the length of which it is not given man to know) for we must not believe in the Doctrine too commonly received, “ of our Going Post from the Grave “ to Heaven, because it is contrary to the Notion of " a Resurrection, and to the concurrent opinion of 6 all the Fathers; who, from Tradition, and from the 6. Conversation some of them had with our Saviour's “ disciples, must have preserved some shadow of “ this Doctrine, in their Writings, if it had been " spoken of or any way current, in their day
This intermediate space of time, between the Grave and the Resurrection, when the Soul is to exist separate from its inhumed body, being allowed on all hands, the employment and place of abode of Souls during that Time can only admit of Two opinions, and be regulated by two kinds of Learning First, of those who are guided by the Light of Nature,
and the Strength of their own Reason, commonly called the Heathen or Gentile Nations; and secondly, of those called Christians, who seek to derive Aid from divine Revelation.
Among the former, I consider the ancient Romans as the chief, and their great Poet Virgil kas pointed out, and described, fit mansions, and proper Employments for them, in what are called the Elysian Fields, (Eneid, book VI;) and Monsieur Simon, (in a memoir, read before the French Academy of Sciences, under the title, Dissertation sur les Lemures), tells us, that “ the Romans, according to Ovid and Apuleius, gave the general name of Lemures to departed Souls of every degree; but that they were distinguished into two different Species; the one harmless, benevolent, innocent and joyous; taking Pleasure in their Services to good men, and especially to the surviving Families of those who had been their Friends and Benefactors in Life ;--whose houses they took under their Protection, and watched or guarded with particular care, by the name of Lares, or household Gods: The others were called Larva, a troublesome and mischievous kind of Sprites, who return from the grave only to make disturbances and excite quarrels among the Living.
As to the second, or more modern Class of Men, who seek aid from Divine Revelation, (and are generally called Christians), they are not very well agreed among themselves, and are also again subdivided into modern Romans, commonly called Catholics, and those called Protestants. The former have devised a place named Purgatory 66 for the departed Spirits, or Souls of their Dead; where they are to remain in a further state of Probation and Purification, till the Day of the Lord comes! They hold further, that the Prayers of good men upon Earth, as well as the Intercessions of Saints and Angels in Heaven, are effectual at the Throne of God, towards the Perfection of their Nature, and preparing them for Consummation in Glory and Happiness!”
The Abuse of this Doctrine, the gainful trade instituted, or engrafted upon it, by Deceivers, and those willing to be deceived, as I never thought it much worthy of an earlier attention in Life, I shall not think it worthy of a present discussion*, in a Sermon; or to detain such an enlightened Audience as is now before me on this occasion. It is enough for me in this Sermon, to leave the Souls of the de. parted “ Righteous (while their Bodies sleep in the Grave), in the Hand or holy keeping of God; and there shall no Torment touch them: In the sight of the Unwise, (and of them only), they seemed to
said to prove.
The notes to my Sermons in general arise out of the texts, and contain illustrations which could not properly be delivered from the Pul. pit, but are intended for the Closet. For example, the following notes to this Sermon, are only further illustrations of the main subject of it....the state of the Soul after its Separation from the Body by Death; till their Re-union at the Resurrection, and passing together through Judgment, to the untried and unexplored scenes of an Eternal World. That there is an intermediate space of time, between Death and the Resurrection, more than enough has been
It was the old Pythagorean doctrine taught the Philosophers of many ancient Nations. It seems to be countenanced also by an authority older and more sacred still ; I mean the Bible History, or story of the Woman, or Witch of Endor, (1 Sam. Chap. XXVIII), who had a familiar Spirit, that was permitted to wander in the night, betwixt Hades, the place of Departed Spirits, and this world. Moses, much older still, (Deut. XVIII, 10,) mentions them among the Jews.But we will now go to the Gentiles, and particularly Pagan Rome; whose great Poet or Prophet, Virgil, (as hinted before), hath provided Elysian Fields, or places of abode and employment, for the Good among them; not neglecting places for the Bad also. Let us take a trip, or short tour, with him through those beautiful Fields. Plutarch says, it will
take but two nights and one day, and we shall have his Hero, ÆNEAS, for our Companion or Fellow-traveller, and a Sibyll or Prophetess for our Leader and Guide. She first shews him the place where the Path leading to the Mansions of the Good and Happy, divides from that leading to the abodes of the Unhappy and Miserable.
Hic locus est, partes ubi se via findit in ambas :
Hic iter Elysium nobis.-Lib. VI, 1 540—42. Virgil then first describes the crimes and various cases of the mise. rable, that nothing might remain to cloud our Joy, when we come to his beautiful description of the happy places of Elysium, and the characters of those Heroes and Worthies whom he places there. The period which he assigns to them in passing from the Grave to their Consummation in Happiness, is a Thousand Years, a period not different from that asserted by other writers, sacred and profane ; if some of those writers did not take their hint from him, especially the Millenarians.
Has omnes, ubi Mille rotam volvere per Annos
Rursus, et incipiant in Corpora velle reverti.—Lib. VI. 1. 748, &c. Virgil first speaks of infants, those supposed newly Dead, “ deprived “ of sweet Life, out of the Course of Nature, snatched from the Breast, " and buried in an untimely Grave;" who, though they never actually sinned, and are not mentioned as the objects of Rewards or Punishments, are properly disposed of, at the entrance of those Mansions which he is about to describe, till their places within be assigned them. It also casts a Melancholy Solemnity over the scene, and interests the Mind in pre. paring for so grave a representation as he is to give, and for relishing its innumerable Beauties.
“ Continuo auditve voces, vagitus et ingens,
Quos dulcis vitæ exortes, et ab Ubere raptos,
“ Abstulit atra dies, et fumere mersit acerbo.--. 426_429. Next to those, he mentions“ such as had been condemned to Death " by False Accusations.” --Falso damnati crimine mortis.--1. 430; for which some of our Critics, with the learned Dr. Warburton at their head, have VOL. I.
Die, and their Departure is taken for Misery, and their going from us to be Utter Destruction; but they are in Peace; for though they be punished in the sight and estimation of men, yet is their Hope full of Immortality; and having been a little Chas
censured him, as having given a place, in his Hades, or Mansions of the
“ Proxima deinde tenent moesti loca, qui sibi letkum
Projicere Animas.--1. 434, &c.
-Quos durus Amor crudeli tabe peredit, .
Siiva tegit. Cure non ipsa in Morte relinquunt.--. 442, &c. Virgil then sinks the Abodes of the Miserable twice as deep towards the Shades downwards, as the Prospect from the earth upwards to the ethereal Throne of Heaven, was before.
" Tuin Tartarus ipse
Quantus ad atherium cæli suspectus Olympum.”—1. 577, &c. And this he did to fill it with those who were Guilty indeed! And here we cannot but think we find the Model or Description, which warmed and expanded Milton's Imagination in his sublimely poetical account of the Fall and Fate of Lucifer and his associates, in his Para. dise Lost, after their Rebellion against the Almighty God of Heaven and Earth. Here we refer to what Virgil writesc oncerning Earth's ancient Progeny-the Giants and young Titanian Brood, cast down with thunderbolts, to the profoundest depths of the new Abyss. The two sons of Aloeus, Otus and Ephialtes, whom Homer makes nine cubits broad, and nine ells high, when they were but in the ninth year of their age; and who attempted with impious hands to overturn the spacious Heavens; and thrust down Jove from his exalted Throne.
Qui manibus magnuin rescindere cælum