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CHAP. accounts of the Egyptian dogma, as presented to


The Egyptian dogma.

Not sanc

tioned in

by its warm admirers, are we justified in treating it as something either special or abnormal. The Egyptian seems to have imagined, when he introduced the custom of embalming, that the progress of death itself might finally be arrested and the past condition of the man be closely imitated in all future time; and when with this idea of simple prolongation, and the offerings to the dead as prompted by it, was connected the more ethical doctrine of a future judgment, for the grosser crimes which man had perpetrated in his previous life-time, the acquitted spirit, freed at length from the necessity of migrating to other animals, attained no higher destination than was commonly awarded to her by the wild tribes of America1; her heaven was the resplendent sun himself, conceived of, it may be, as personal, but certainly as undistinguished from the centre of physical illumination.

Now, I grant, that these conceptions of futurity the Bible. have no existence in the Books of Moses. They are foreign to the genius of revealed religion2, and accordingly when urged in a malignant spirit by the later Hebrew sceptics they were all repudiated by our blessed Lord Himself as proving ignorance

dermine the cavils of the older race
of Deists, who attempted to degrade
the Mosaic religion below all forms
of heathenism whatever.

1 Part III. pp. 129, 130.

2 It has been reserved for Mr D. I. Heath to discover (Exodus Papyri, p. 203) that 'with respect to the great subject of man's futurity, our present views in Europe are identical in principle, though

not in detail, with those which were held by the actual opponents of Moses'! The true doctrine, according to Mr Heath, (and here, he avers, is the one really distinguishing feature of Christianity') consists in proclaiming 'the human resurrection of each human being to a human kingdom of mutual human remission of sins'! (p. 103).


'of the Scriptures and the power of God' (Matt. CHAP. xxii. 29). He told the captious Sadducee how some conditions and relations of the present life would not be simply and at once transferred into the future stage of being: just as the Apostle in discussing the objections of Hellenic sophists has proceeded to throw further light upon the mystery of our constitution and has taught us how the resurrection-body will be very different from a bare resuscitation of the body once committed to the ground. It is sown a natural, it is raised a spiritual body' (1 Cor. xv. 44).

doctrine of

Part, indeed, of the transcendant excellence of Christian Christianity, as compared not only with all heathen a future systems, but with Hebraism itself, consisted in the life: deep reality which it alone has given to both worlds. It never leads man to disparage his position and neglect his duties here, by preaching that the visible world is empty and illusive. Neither does it fashion for him a new sphere of being, modelled on the present life and reproducing all his animal enjoyments. Neither does it, in the third place, so restrain the human soul within the limits of the mundane as to shade off many a motive to exertion which is furnished by our clearer knowledge of the things invisible. The Gospel has brought life and immortality to light; and blessedness, as there revealed, is both the prolongation and transfiguration of our present blessedness. How just soever be the statement that the germ of man's future self is lying in his present self, the ripening and unfolding of that germ so far exceeds our comprehension that we measure it only by reflecting on the way in which the Gospel has in fact transcended the best


based on

the revealed idea of


CHAP. visions of the old œconomy, or by noting how the Pattern-Man Himself received unspeakable accessions to His human dignity when, rising from the lowliness of earth, He was 'crowned with glory and honour.' But as life with Christ in glory must have always for its precondition the accordance and assimilation of the human will to God's, the training of that will must also be the first necessity in the education of mankind. To walk with God' is that which ever constitutes the basis of translation to God (Gen. v. 24). The true value, therefore, of belief in immortality arises from the ethical spirit of the system upon which it is engrafted, and the nature of the Person in whom it has subsistence. Where that Person is the living, loving and Almighty God, there is revealed in every glimpse of His exalted character a strong assurance of continuous being to His genuine worshippers. As many as believe that God truly is, believe that He is also a rewarder of them who diligently seek Him.' They must repose their confidence in Him for present and for future. Unto such He never can have been 'the God of the dead, but of the living.'

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Now it was the primary aim of the religion of

1 That the Sadducees did not recognise this [the almightiness of God], our Lord marks as the root of their unbelief in the resurrection. In the theology of the Pentateuch this hindrance is fully overcome. He who created the world out of nothing for whom nothing is too wonderful-death cannot obstruct Him, if He wills to preserve the soul. But in the theology of the Pentateuch, His will is pledged

equally with His power. The God of the Pentateuch is love; He who reveals Himself so full of grace to His people, and enters into the most intimate communion with them, in doing so declares that He will preserve them to eternal life. To this foundation of the doctrine of the resurrection in the Pentateuch our Lord Himself refers (Matt. xxii. 31, 32).' Hengstenberg, Ibid. p. 469: cf. Part I. p. 95, n. I.



brews, as

the way in

in the Old

the Hebrews to plant deeply in man's heart, and CHAP. that by painful and protracted discipline, the grand conception of God's perfect truthfulness and the condition unswerving justice of His rule; and never till this of the Heobject was attained could faith in immortality, as explaining now unveiled to us by Christ and the Apostles, which the future life have been fostered in the Church of God to any is treated salutary purpose. The Hebrews, it is true, like Testament. other nations of antiquity, were never left in total darkness with respect to the existence of the human spirit after death. Some intimations of their knowledge1 on that subject are discovered even in the earliest of their sacred writings; and accordingly the absence of allusion to a future stage of being where as Christians we should have expected such allusion, or the vague and joyless terms in which a future life is sometimes mentioned, where as Christians we should use a more explicit phraseology, can only be adduced to shew that Hades was to them more shadowy than to us, or that ideas of immortality had been remanded to the background in the admonitions of the Hebrew doctors. And the explanation of this difference, as of others like it, will be found in what has been already more than once suggested, the elementary condition of the people. Their chief thoughts must all be concentrated for a time upon the law of temporal, visible retribution, as dispensed through the arrangements of a theocratic system, in order that when this idea was deeply rooted, faith in the invisible and future retribution might spontane

1 For some valuable remarks on this point, I would refer inquirers to a recent Essay by Mr T. T. Pe

rowne, The Essential Coherence of the
Old and New Testaments, pp. 84 sq.
Camb. 1858.


CHAP. ously grow up. The Israelitish worthy, confident that God was with him, had been meanwhile going forward on his earthly pilgrimage, in a condition, as to intellectual certainty, like that of Abraham himself, who, under the immediate eye of an unfailing Benefactor, started on his journey to the land of Canaan, 'not knowing whither he went.'

The Baby

lonish exile

ing hea thenish notions.

Before I bring these observations to a close, it the penalty may be well to glance a moment down the stream of indulg of Hebrew history and ascertain the feelings of the sacred writers at the period of the Babylonish exile with regard to the admissibility of foreign notions into their hereditary creed. An apt example may be found among the visions of Ezekiel, who more than other prophets was accustomed to revert for imagery to the days of the Exodus and to events which followed closely in its train. He thus becomes a species of transition-link from Egypt to Babylon. The flower of the two tribes who had been rescued from the scourge of the Assyrian spoiler were now smitten by a like calamity; and, refusing to be comforted, had hung their harps upon the trees that lined the banks of the Chebar, when a prophet, the partaker of their sad mischances, was commissioned to point out the moral agencies which had precipitated this catastrophe. How dark the contrast to a mind like his, between the coming up from Egypt and the going down to Babylon! There he saw a youthful people full of hope and ardour, marching with the Lord Jehovah at their head to occupy the soil which He had promised to their fathers. Here he sees them broken, joyless and forlorn, a nation of mourners and of

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