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once followed by a condition of conscious comfort and torment, respectively, to the persons who are in the end to be made partakers of one or the other of those two conditions ; for it should be observed that the parable supposes the continuance upon earth of the “ five brethren” of the rich man, in a state of prolonged trial and responsibility, at the same time that it represents Lazarus as “comforted," and the rich man as “tormented ;” and it is therefore to be understood as describing, on the part of those who were dead, the condition which they were allotted before the day of judgment.
The language of our blessed Redeemer to the dying malefactor on the cross appears to recognize the same notion. To the supplication of the penitent, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom,” Jesus answered, “Verily I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” 1 “Paradise” was the name of that place of happiness, to which the Jews supposed the souls of the pious to be conveyed on their separation from their bodies. To be admitted into that place, to be received withal into the society of the Redeemer, cannot but signify an admission to a state of enjoyment; and the period assigned for admission to it, “ To-day,” or “this day," "shalt thou be with me,' ”
” intimates an immediate transition from the sufferings of this life to the enjoyments of another.
1 Luke xxii. 43.
We are led to the same conclusion, by the declarations of St. Paul to the Corinthians and the Philippians. In the fifth chapter of his second epistle to the former, the Apostle draws a comparison between the two conditions of life and death, wherein he respectively describes himself, as being on the one hand “at home in the body, and absent from the Lord,” and on the other, as being “absent from the body and present with the Lord ;" ? and of his own feelings concerning them he says, “We are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord; (for we walk by faith, not by sight;) we are confident, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” Thus he speaks of death, or “absence from the body," as immediately leading to a condition of being “present with the Lord;" and the condition of being
“ present with the Lord” can hardly be understood, but as conveying the idea of enjoyment on the part of him who should be the subject of it.
Again, and agreeably to this, to the Philippians the Apostle says, “ To me to live is Christ, and to
, die is gain .... what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better; nevertheless, to abide in the flesh is more needful for you."? Here also “to depart from this life,"
3 Phil. i. 21-24.
1 2 Cor. V. 8.
and “to be with Christ,” are brought into immediate connexion with each other; and the latter is affirmed to be “ far better," or, by a very emphatical phrase in the original, “by much far better,” for the Apostle, whom we can hardly imagine therefore to have looked forward to it, but with anticipations of positive enjoyment and delight. It may be added, that he did not herein contemplate, as the prominent object of his desire, the final state of happiness and glory, consequent on the resurrection and the day of judgment, when the souls of the righteous shall be re-united to their bodies; for he speaks of a state of separation and absence from the body, or the flesh; and whereas he is here speaking of a state, immediately consequent on death, he elsewhere speaks of the other as a remote condition, consequent on the appearance of the Lord at the great day. “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand ... ... Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day.” 1
From the foregoing passages we collect, that the intermediate state of the souls of the righteous is one of rest and repose: not however of insensibility, but of consciousness, and of positive and great enjoyment: still that it will be succeeded by another state of yet superior happiness, when “ the trumpet
1 2 Tim. iv. 8.
shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed;"1 and when “the crown of righteousness," heretofore “laid up" for “ all those who love the Lord's appearing,” shall be “ given to them by the Lord, the righteous Judge,” in the presence of assembled men and angels, “ on that day.” 2
This view of the intermediate state of the righteous, altogether at variance as it is with the doctrine of purgatory, one of the gratuitous assumptions and unscriptural tenets of the Romish Church, is well represented by our own scriptural Church ; whose words, in the last Collect but one of her “ Order for the Burial of the Dead,” may be here conveniently cited, as containing an excellent exposition of the doctrine of Holy Writ on the subject of the present section. “ Almighty God, with whom do live the spirits of them that depart hence in the Lord, and with whom the souls of the faithful, after they are delivered from the burden of the flesh, are in joy and felicity; we give thee hearty thanks, for that it hath pleased thee to deliver this our brother out of the miseries of this sinful world; beseeching thee, that it may please thee of thy gracious goodness, shortly to accomplish the number of thine elect, and to hasten thy kingdom; that we with all those that are departed in the true faith of thy holy name, may have our perfect consummation
11 Cor. xv. 52.
2 Tim. iv. 8.
ind bliss, both in body and soul, in thy eternal and everlasting glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
REST IN CHRIST.
Hail, heavenly voice, once heard in Patmos ! Write,
Henceforth the dead who die in Christ are blest :
Yea, saith the Spirit, for they now shall rest From all their labors !” But no dull dark night That rest o'ershadows : 'tis the day-spring bright
Of bliss; the foretaste of a richer feast;
A sleep, if sleep it be, of lively zest,
The soul imbodied knows not; yet she knows,
To stint his love no purgatorial woes ; Her dross is left behind, nor mixture base
Mars the pure stream of her serene repose.
THE FUTURE STATE OF THE BLESSED_THEIR PLACE OF
We enter now on our proposed consideration of the future state of the blessed, following the day of judgment. And the first particular to which I would direct the attention of the reader, is the
PLACE OF THEIR ABODE.