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power, which over-ruled the spirits of darkness *.
Juvenal in his 6th Satire observes, that the Delphic oracles had terminated, and that the human race was condemned to remain in ignorance of the future, he observes that Chaldæan and astrological arts would in consequence be resorted to, with encreased eagernes, and he intimates contemptuously the pretensions of the Jews, who claimed to be considered as the faithful interpreters of the will of heaven *.
* Fontenelle Hist. des Oracles.
+ Sat. vi. 1. 541. 555. See Plutarch de Oracul. Defect.
On the General Belief in a State of future Rewards and Punishments, and the Administration of a final Judgment.
THAT the Jews, in common with all nations entertained a belief in the immortality of the soul, and a state of future rewards and punishments, there can be no doubt.
Eternal remunerations do not indeed appear to have been annexed as express sanctions to the dispensation revealed by Moses, but the temporal promises recorded by him, and confirmed by subsequent prophets, were designed to impart and were often understood to have ultimately in view, a spiritual and eternal retribution.
The Patriarchs who trusted in God were known to have died without having received the completion of what was graciously covenanted; and even Moses himself was not allowed to enter the land which was dis
closed to his view from the top of Pisgah, when he beheld the valley of Jericho, and the city of the palm-trees unto Zoar*. The very events and circumstances which were described by the Sacred Historians demonstrate, that God (as our Saviour afterwards pointed out) was "not the God of the dead, "but of the living;" and that those who had “died in the faith, not having received the "promises, but having seen them afar off, "and who being persuaded of them, confessed "that they were strangers and pilgrims on "earth," thereby declared that "they sought
a better, that is, an heavenly country."
The language and figures under which the Jews expressed their confidence in the remuneration of a future life, were of a general nature; and where they spoke of Abraham's bosom and of Paradise, it does not appear that they attempted to define the character of the happiness which they expected to enjoy, in the state thereby represented.
In the allusion to the place of torment, mentioned in our Saviour's parable, there was a reference probably to the received opinions of the intolerable flames which were
supposed to burn there. The Rabbinical descriptions divide the Sheol, or place of the dead, into Paradise, and Gehenna.
The Eastern nations in general believed in a future state, and much of the imagery and circumstances which they employed in reference to it was borrowed, by the Greeks and Romans, and was chiefly drawn from Egypt, as the existing hieroglyphics abundantly shew.
Musæus* and Orpheus recommended expiations and purifications with a view to a future state of rewards and punishments, as do Hesiod and Homer, and the poets in general. Plutarch remarks that the conviction that good men should obtain a recompence after death, was so ancient that he could not ascertain the author of it ‡.
The philosophical writers, who were distinguished among the Greeks and later nations, must have sometimes reasoned from the events of human life, on the probability of ulterior dispensations; they beheld the inequalities which prevailed, bearing little reference to moral character; they saw the
* Plato Repub. lib. ii. p. 364. Edit. Serran.
+ Plutarch Vit. Lucul.
Plut. in Consol. ad Apollon, Cicero, &c. Epist. 117.
world made as it were for bold and adventurous men, and considered a great man suffering in adversity as the noblest spectacle which the gods could behold.
Notwithstanding, however, they assented to the general position, that the wicked would seldom be finally happy, and that punishments rarely failed to overtake the guilty, yet they adopted the conviction before mentioned, which prevailed in the time of Homer, and which was strenuously maintained by the Stoics, that their deities, and Jupiter himself, were constrained by the inexorable decrees of fate, and compelled to bow to an imposed necessity, and that, if they administered occasional protection and favour, it was under the restriction of a prescribed Power.
The works of fiction might represent the heroes who were favoured by the gods as being sometimes protected by their interposition; they might exhibit Ulysses, or his son, guided by Divine Providence, and the suitors of Penelope finally destroyed; but in real life the event did not always seem to justify the appointments of Providence, and the cause that was unsuccessful, was often