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practice is strongly contrasted with the over-acting which he reprobates. His public prayers were few, and confined to particular occasions; and they were always marked by the utmost humility, solemnity and brevity. Nor did he authorize his followers to deviate, in any considerable degree, from his own practice relative to this subject. Matt. vi. 7-13. With these facts before us-with the scriptures which confirm them in our hands, it is not a little extraordinary, that the example of Jesus should so often be overlooked, and the practices of the Pharisees usurp its place. But it is by no means the only instance in which this remark will apply, nor a solitary case in which error with its concomitants has been received as the truth of God. 9
9 As what follows relative to the doctrine of the Pharisees, continually refers to the resurrection, and incontrovertibly shows that Jesus and his apostles taught it as the most important of all truths; it will not be necessary to appropriate a distinct section for the purpose of refuting the doctrine of the Sadducees. The following remarks here, will not be greatly out of place.
There are two ways by which the resurrection of the dead is proved-by its authoritative assertion, and its demonstration by the actual resurrection of a human being from the dead. Both these methods have been adopted, and the ample comforts of a hope 'full of immortality' thereby secured to mankind. For Jesus, whose doctrine and miracles were proof of his divine mission, repeatedly assured his disciples and others, that the dead should be raised. The most remarkable instance in which he taught the doctrine of the resurrection, is found in Matt. xxii. 31, 32. Compare Mark_xii. 26, 37 and Luke xx. 37, 38. In this instance, the question of the Sadducees, (which, be it observed, grew out of an absurdity maintained by the Pharisees,) was evidently intended for the purpose of rendering the doctrine of a future life ridiculous. But there is every reason to believe that they were effectually silenced by the appeal to their sacred books, the authority of which they did not question.
The doctrine of future life had long been the subject of speculation and belief, both among Jews and Gentiles, before the time of our Saviour. And without here referring to the peculiarities of their views, or their express rejection by him, it may be assumed that the additional proof which his assertion furnishes of the truth of the resurrection, consists in the evidence of his being inspired. These evidences are contained in the purity of his life, the superior excellence of his doctrine, and the miraculous works which he performed. In the degree, then, that any reliance can be placed on these proofs, precisely in that ratio we must be influenced to trust in his authority.
But this doctrine was demonstrated by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. And the combined influence of these proofs, was sufficient to induce the apostles to preach 'Jesus and the resurrection,' at the sacrifice of ease, safety and life, and to leave the most unequivocal assurances of its power to subdue the fear of death.
The Sadducees were in some important respects to the Jews, what modern unbelievers are to Christians. They at least agree in this, that the whole man perishes at death. An opinion which, if not equally revolting to our better feelings with that of endless misery, is still beset with the same general objections, and wholly destitute of the means of comfort in
2. The doctrine of the transmigration of souls appears to have been settled beyond reasonable controversy, by our Saviour, in a passage already quoted: When, the disciples asked him, ' Who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' he answered, 'Neither.' It is plain, that the disciples were influenced by the views of the Pharisees, respecting the pre-existence of the soul, or they would not have asked this question. They must have supposed it possible for the soul of the blind man to have existed in previous state, and that he was sent back again into another human body with a view to his punishment. At this age of the world, and especially in an enlightened community, it will appear as probable that one body may have two or more souls, as, that one soul may successively animate more than one body. But though the doctrine of transmigration constitutes no part of the faith of Christians, in its gross and material form, still even the church is infected with its principles; as it is supposed that the spirits of the good or the bad, may leave their respective abodes of happiness or misery to revisit the earth. The belief of this has peopled the earth with an etherial creation. It has given rise to the horrid notion of the existence of vampires a species of blood-thirsty and semi-corporeal tenants of the tomb, whose cannibalism can only be satiated by the sacrifice of the dearest friends. It has filled the nursery with all the miseries of fear, and haunted the heads of grown children with innumerable hobgoblins. It has associated with darkness, a race of grave-born monsters, as unlike the living beings of the day, as their employments are dissimilar-and all this, because no saving heed has been given to the caution, 'beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.'
3. The Pharisees supposed that none but Hebrews were the subjects of the resurrection, and its attendant blessings. And what their ideas were of the resurrection, we have already seen. Dean Prideaux calls it, a Pythagorean resurrection. Its grossness is evident, from their belief that all the affinities of this life would be renewed hereafter. The exclusive character of the religious institution of the Hebrews, very naturally led its subjects to claim distinction in future, as well as at present. And they could not but observe and feel the privileges which they enjoyed above all others. It was perhaps
affliction and death. And as this cold and dreary doctrine was met and refuted by our Saviour-as he cautioned his followers against it, let men still 'beware of the leaven of the Sadducees.'
natural, therefore, that they should claim the exclusive favor of God in the next life, as they were plainly his chosen people in this. Nor did the personal ministry of Jesus remove from the minds of his followers this national and deep-rooted prejudice. Indeed, it seems that mere teaching, however sanctified by the energies of accompanying miracles, could not do it away. A special revelation seemed to be called for, as it was manifestly granted for that purpose. Till such a revelation was given, the gospel was preached to none but the children of Abraham. But when given, Peter standing in the midst of a Gentile household, became perfectly and forever satisfied that God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation, he that feareth him and worketh righteousness is accepted with him.' Acts x. 34, 35. Then, was the middle wall of partition broken down between Jew and Gentile, all discrimination with respect to privilege forever abolished, and the hopes of futurity alike presented to, and enjoyed by, the Jew and the Greek, the wise and the unwise, the bond and the free.
To those who recollect, that most of the life of Paul was spent in preaching Jesus and the resurrection' to the Gentiles, and that nearly all the Epistles of the New Testament were addressed to Greeks who had embraced the gospel, and who were ready to confirm the hope of immortality by submitting to the most cruel and painful death,-to those, it will not be necessary to produce proof, that Jesus and his followers taught the resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.' Yet, it is no less extraordinary than true, that many professing Christians hold the doctrine which we are examining, with only trifling modifications. Some believe, that none but those they are pleased to call good, will be raised from the dead. So did the Pharisees believe. Others maintain, that those only who are distinguished as the friends and favorites of God in this world, will be blessed with a happy immortality. True, they do not confine these immensely high privileges to the Israelites; but it remains to be shown, why they might not do so with equal propriety. For it will not be doubted, that the distinction was as strongly marked between the ancient people of God and the Gentiles, as between his more modern avowed followers and the veriest subject of moral darkness. There seems to be no reason, therefore, why the Hebrews might not claim an exclusive eternity of blessedness, if those with similar pretensions to the favor of heaven now, are entitled to that distinction. And on the contrary, if the Jews
were palpably mistaken-if it was Pharisaism alone which inspired an expectation so unfounded, what is it now? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.'
4. They believed in the endless misery of the wicked, that is, of all the Gentiles. This is plainly the most important doctrine of the Pharisees, as it involves the most tremendous consequences. Nor can there ever come a period with men on earth, when it will not be equally momentous; because, to be endlessly happy or miserable must forever be matter of the deepest, as it is of the most lasting interest. To be indifferent respecting it, is to sleep over a volcano-it is to run the hazard of imbibing the most fatal errors, or of neglecting to receive the most important truths.
Respecting this dreadful doctrine, the great question which should be answered is this: Is there any evidence that the Saviour disavowed it, and consequently intended to bid his disciples beware of its adoption? It is believed, that a careful examination of the answer, given by our Saviour to the captious question of the Sadducees, will perfectly satisfy any person, that he intended to reject the doctrine of endless torments. It is not easy to perceive what he could mean by some of his expressions, unless this was his object. These are his words: Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God; for in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels of God in heaven.' Matt. xxii. 29, 30. That he designed to correct the doctrine on which the question of the Sadducees was founded-that the relationships of this life will be renewed hereafter,―will not be disputed. And it was only necessary to use the identical terms which Jesus employed, to correct the further error-that by far the greater proportion of mankind would be miserable to all eternity. For he asserts that in the resurrection, the dead not only become as, or like the angels, but as the angels of God in heaven.' It is indeed, true, that in the parallel place in Luke xx. 35, the expression is qualified by the words, they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead.' But this neither restricts the meaning to the views entertained by the Pharisees,-that the wicked would not be raised out of their supposed subterranean prison,-nor gives, on the contrary, the least encouragement to the doctrine of endless sufferings. The most that can be inferred from it, is, that our Lord did not choose to inform his Jewish hearers, who would be
raised from the dead, but that all who were to be raised, would be as the angels of God.
It should also be recollected, that the Gospel according to Luke was written for the use of Gentiles; and that the Gentiles were those who by the Pharisees were supposed to be unworthy of the resurrection from the dead; but who, from the fact that they believed the gospel, were in no danger of imbibing this opinion of the Jews. By the gospel, they had been taught to believe in the resurrection of all mankind, as is abundantly evident from the book of Acts, and from the apostolical epistles. When, therefore, they are assured that those worthy to be raised from the dead shall be as the angels of God, they must be satisfied that in Christ, all shall be made alive. On the other hand, the Gospel of Matthew is supposed to have been written for the use of Jewish Christians. Here the qualification does not occur, so that the disciple whose previous prejudices had denied a resurrection to the Gentiles, might be in no danger of cherishing them under the profession of Christianity. Thus, the Jew and the Greek, respectively guarded against error by the Evangelical historians, are mutually taught by our Saviour to reject the awful and revolting doctrine of endless misery, and to believe in, and hope for the deliverance of the whole creation from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.'
The admonition given to the disciples, to beware of the doctrine of the Pharisees, and even the actual refutation of the most odious and important item it comprised, have had but little influence in preventing its adoption by professing Christians. And it has been the misfortune of the only men on earth, who could plead the authority of a revelation from God which authorized them to reject the doctrine of endless misery, to believe and maintain it with a zeal and an obstinacy unknown to any other class of mankind. That this doctrine was generally disbelieved, during the first ages of the Christian church is abundantly evident. The first direct avowal of the doctrine of endless sufferings, found on the pages of Christian history, is believed to have been made by Tertullian, about two hundred years after Christ. The great and benevolent doctrine of the restitution, had been asserted by names as respectable at least, before this time; and for some ages afterwards it continued to be the comfort and the praise of most of the eminent fathers of the Christian church. As the reign of intellectual darkness and religious corruption spread over the