« السابقةمتابعة »
knowledge, nor wisdom,in the grave, whither thougoest. And if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north; in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be?". Ecol. ix. 10. xi. 3.
Minister. No; I have not forgot that such passages are found in the Bible; and I believe they were written with a design to make us diligent, and wisely to improve our time and talents; and that we should be liberal in giving alms, which seems especially to be the meaning of the last, if we may judge by the connexion in which it is found, and without which I am not able to say what it intends: But, in this case, they do not appear to me to be any thing to the purpose, one way or the other; and yet no Scriptures are more frequently brought than these against the doctrine of the Restoration of all things; but commonly accompanied with some additions; such as"There is no repentance in the grave; nor pardon offered to the dead."—" And as death leaves us, so judgment finds us."-Words that I have never found in the Bible; but were they repeated ever so often, could not affect this argument; since the general Restoration cannot happen till long after the last judgment, and will not be wholly compleated till the time of the creation of the new heavens and earth, wherein righteousness alone shall dwell.
We all know, that the grave is a place of inactivity, where there is no work, device, knowledge, nor wisdom; and it is a state to which we shall soon be brought; and, therefore, we ought to be diligent and industrious now: But those who believe in the immortality of the soul, will not undertake to prove from these words, that it has no knowledge, or wisdom, after it leaves the body; since many of them say, that the soul knows much more in one hour after that event takes place, than in the whole period of its existence before. And as for those who believe that \man dies wholly, and sleeps in the grave until the resurrection, they can never bring this text with any.
consistency against the final Restoration of all men; because, let what will be the state of things in the grave, nothing can prevent our Savior from raising all at last, and changing them finally for the better, if such be his pleasure. I might, therefore, just as well attempt, from the vii and xiv chapters of Job, to prove, that there shall be no resurrection of the dead from their graves, notwithstanding the numerous promises of that grand event; as any person to prove, from these and similar passages, that all men shall not not be finally restored; since what is said in those chapters seems ten times more against the former, than any thing that can be urged from these is against the latter. The doctrine of the general resurrection of the just and unjust; and a state of rewards for the former, and punishments for the latter, according to their works; and also the subjection, final reconciliation, and reunion of ALL things in CHRIST, are all expressly revealed, and are made the subject of prophecies, threatenings, and promises; and are all truths, that cannot be overthrown by any reasonings, as they are plainly declared by GGD himself.
The Scripture, in abundance of places, highly recommends liberality; and, in the most positive manner, assures the bounteous, that they shall be blessed : I need not recite passages to prove, what is so universally known and confessed. Solomon, therefore, having given many excellent precepts to direct us in other matters, comes to exhort us to be bountiful and liberal, in distributing to the necessities of others what God has blessed us withal; saying, "Cast thy bread upon the waters; for thou shalt find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, and also sto eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth. If the clouds be full of rain, they empy themselves upon the earth ; and if the tree fall towards the south, or toward the north; in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be." Thereby intimating to us, that as certainly as these plain com1 bi
mon observations are true, (than which nothing can be more so) shall they who bestow liberally upon the poor and needy, be rewarded; since God has promised, and he will perform: See, upon this subject, Deut. xv. 10, 11.-Psal. xli. 1, 2, 3. cxii.-Prov. xi. 24, 25, 26. xiv. 31. xix. 17. xxii. 9.-St. Matth. vi. 3. 4, x. 42.--St. Luke vi. 38. xii. 33. xiv. 12, 13, 14.-2 Cor. vii. 9.--1 Tim. vi. 17, 18, 19--and many other pla
Solomon then goes on upon the same subject, an intimates to us, by two striking metaphors, that if we wait till no difficulties appear in our way to hinder us from performing our duty, we shall never reap the blessing; and after giving us to understand that God has many secret ways of working, far above our comprehension, and can therefore bless and reward us in many ways out of our own sight, or the - view of others, and yet no less certainly than children are conceived, nourished, and receive life in the womb, though we know not how; he comes to give us a warm and pressing exhortation, to be constant in doing good to all, according to our power; and to be so far from concluding that to be lost that we thus bestow, that we ought to consider alms as seed sown in a fruitful soil, and should, with patience, wait for the glorious harvest, when, through the divine blessing, we may expect to reap an hundred fold.
All this is plain and easy: But how any text in this beautiful chain, should ever have been thought to ✓ have any allusion to the state of souls departed, or brought as a proof that no alteration can take place after death, I cannot conceive. But, allowing it to have any relation at all to a future state, it cannot then in the least disapprove, that very material changes may happen to souls in the spiritual world; since a tree cut down by its owner, lies not long in the same position in which it falls, but is applied to vari⚫ous uses, according to its fitness and his pleasure.But as this is nothing to the purpose, I think I have
taken too much pains here already; and I should have said little or nothing upon this part of the objection, were it not continually urged, as though the whole controversy turned and terminated upon this allusion, than which nothing seems farther from the meaning of the text; which, in its true sense, appears to be this-That as certainly as full clouds ust empty themselves upon the terraqueous globe, and that every thing is what it is, and where it is, and no where else; and as a tree falling to the south, does not fall and lie to the north; and, vice versa, so, with the same certainty, shall liberality be blest and rewarded.
Friend. I have nothing to object to what you have said upon the text; it appears natural. I formerly thought it intended, that as persons were laid in the grave, so they should rise, and that there could be no change after death; but I am fully convinced, that this belongs not to the subject. But there is another passage, in the book of Ecclesiastes, (chap. ix. 4, 5, 6,) that I should be glad to hear your opinion of: For to him that is joined to all the living, there is hope; for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know, that they must die; but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also, their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever, in any thing that is done under the sun."
Minister. It is evident that the wise man, in this and many other of his observations, only considered things with respect to the present life, without any regard to a future state. In this view, bis declarations are consistent with truth; but in no other. Let the following serve as a specimen :-"No man knoweth either love or hatred, by all that is before them. things come alike to all; there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked; to the good, and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not; as is
and he that swear
the good, so is the sinner; eth, as he that feareth an oath," ver. 1, 2.—Nothing could possibly be more false than these observations, applied to a future state, though they are generally true in this life; for if there are no future rewards and punishments, no state of retribution hereBut he does after, there is an end to all religion.
not finally leave the matter so; but makes a most excellent conclusion to this book; saying
"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear (or revere) GOD, and keep his commandments; For GoD shall for this is the whole duty of man. bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing whether it be good, or whether it be evil, chap. xii. 13, 14.
Thus it is plain, that a living dog is better, (more useful in this world)than a dead lion; which is no longer capable of doing good or evil; that a man when he dies, loses all hopes of enjoyment in this life, and is rendered incapable of exercising the functions of it any longer; has no more a portion in any thing belonging thereto. Thus, in fine, all the observations that can be fairly made, upon this and similar passages, belong entirely to the present state of things; and therefore, do not at all affect the argument, either one way or the other.
Friend. This is so plain, that nothing can be more so; but our Saviour's wards (St. John ix. 4.) deserve particular consideration: "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day; the night cometh when no man can work ;"-which is explained commonly of the night of death, when no more works can be wrought.
Minister. Our Lord was diligent in his labour; he constantly went about doing good; he was never idle ; he was in haste, till he had finished the work which In this he was-as his father had given him to do. in every thing else-a glorious pattern and example