Page images

indeed a state of blessed sweet repose, in which the saints rest, until the morning of the resurrection, like unto the fondly cherished infants, who sleep in the mothers' bosom, fostered with tender care, and

me for thy mercies sake, for in death there is no remembrance of thee; in the grave, who shall give thee thanks!" Psalm vi. 4, 5.-" Lord, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands: wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah! shall thy loving kindness be declared in the grave, or thy faithfulness in destruction? Shall thy wonders be known in the dark, and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?" Psalm lxxxviii. 9-12.-" The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down to the grave." Psalm cxv. 17.-" The grave cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee; they that go down to the grave cannot hope for thy truth." Isaiah xxxviii. 18.

These scriptures, when taken together, seem hardly to be reconciled with the opinion entertained by many, that when death takes place, the soul passes into a state of conscious existence, separate from the body; and enters into the joy of its Lord, to pass the interval of time until the resurrection of the body, in a state of blessedness, and in praises, and in thanksgivings unto Him, who is the God of the spirits of all flesh. But there seems rather a plain declaration that when the spirit of life from God, returneth unto him, the soul is left in rest, and will so remain, until the resurrection, when the spirit from God shall again enter in to give it life, that it may rise again as a spiritual and immortal body. Thus, like the seed of corn, the natural body is sown in corruption; but it is not quickened except it die, and fall to decay in the earth. When it has thus perished, God giveth a body as it pleaseth him, and it is raised up a spiritual body.

The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, appears to be a principal authority, from which is deduced the soul's separate state of conscious existence, between the time of death and the resurrection. But this parable, like the two others which precede it, treats of the rejection of the Jews, and calling of the Gentiles: and it may be very easily explained, without any reference whatever to the things of the resurrection. It cannot, therefore, be admitted as bearing strongly upon the present question, however it may seem othewise at first sight.

guarded with parental watchfulness-they could hardly be represented as crying unto the Lord, and receiving white robes at his hand. But even in this view of the subject, the interpretation of the passage might remain the same; for, according to other Scriptures, many of those who have died in Christ, appear to have been already raised from the dead. It will be seen from Matthew xxvii. that when the Lord "yielded up the ghost, the earth did quake, and the rocks rent, and the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept, arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared to many." These saints, having died before the coming of Christ in the flesh, can have been no others than they of whom the Apostle Paul speaks in Heb. xi. and xii. as being a cloud of witnesses, who compass about the saints of the gospel dispensation; and who, notwithstanding they have died in the faith, and have also risen from the dead, have not yet received the promise, God having provided some better thing for us of the gospel-day, that they, without us, should not be made perfect in glory. The apostle says of these saints, that they were. they of whom the world was not worthy-that they wrought righteousness, and that they endured as seeing him who is invisible-that they had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings; yea, moreover of

[ocr errors]

bonds and imprisonments that they were stoned, sawn asunder, tempted, and slain by the sword: and that, being destitute, afflicted, and tormented, they wandered about in sheeps'-skins and goats'-skins, in deserts, and mountains, and dens, and caves of the earth. When the Lord Jesus rose from the dead, these rose with him, as the first-fruits unto God and the Lamb. And when he shall come in glory, to raise his gospel saints, according to 1 Cor. xv. 51-54. (if the gospel saints do in point of fact still remain asleep in him,) these of the Old Testament dispensation, coming in the clouds of heaven, shall attend and minister unto him, as described in Dan. vii. 10. and Jude 14, 15. In this view of the subject, the fifth seal might represent the risen saints of the Old Testament, beseeching the Lord to hasten his kingdom; whereupon he clothes them with a change of raiment, as described by the prophet Zechariah iii. 4. according to the vision there related; and he gives them the sweet assurance, that the saints who have been so long afflicted, shall at the appointed time be all glorified together, and that their persecutors shall be brought to judgment, in the day when the Son of Man cometh. And if also, on the other hand, the souls of the gospel martyrs be already in personal communion with the Lord, as many pious men believe, the passage may be

[ocr errors]

explained in a similar manner with reference to them; but, whatever may be the true interpretation of this mysterious portion of the Apocalypse, it is, perhaps, not too much to assert, that if it be of the kind which has been suggested, it is not to be expected that it should be generally understood and acknowledged, until the millennial dispensation shall arrive.

The relation of the sixth seal runs thus:

Rev. vi. 12. "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo! there was a great earthquake: and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood. And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig-tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll, when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens, and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks; Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand ?"

The events of this seal are future. It represents the great judgment upon the nations, which shall take place at the coming of Messiah. The sublimity of the language, the power of the imagery, and the majesty of the expressions used, forbid the idea of referring this symbol to any less important event, than that which the words.

declare" the great day of the wrath of the Lamb." The events of that day, and the signs by which it is preceded, will be considered in a future stage of this inquiry: for the present, it may be sufficient to remark, that there are here set forth the effects of that judgment, which shall fall upon the ungodly, when the Son of Man cometh with power and great glory, to take possession of his kingdom. The astonishment of all the dwellers upon earth, when they see the manifestation of his power, is described in awful terms; the convulsions of nature strike their hearts with terror and amazement; and they fly from before his face with a fearful looking for of fiery indignation; seeking, if possible, that they may contrive to hide themselves from his presence.

The judgment, however, is not described in this part of the prophecy, nor does it take place immediately, for the Church must be first gathered from out of the nations. The righteous must be separated, and led into a place of safety; and until this is accomplished, the judgments upon the ungodly are stayed, as the vision proceeds to shew.

Rev. vii. 1.—" And after these things, I saw four angels standing upon the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And




« EelmineJätka »