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have resorted to the latter mode: indeed the Sadducèan heresy would not have had a single foot to stand upon, if any express declaration in so many words could have been found in the Pentateuch. Hence, so far as the Pentateuch is concerned, we may be morally certain, that the doctrine can only be established in the way of inference either from peculiar expressions or from peculiar ceremonies.
I. With respect to peculiar expressions, I have already had occasion to notice some of them; such as the earliest promise made to our first parents after the fall, and the marked phraseological difference between the divine abreption of Enoch, and the ordinary death of every other patriarch. On these I need therefore only once more remark, that Bishop Warburton himself virtually acknowledges the promise of the woman's seed to involve the promise of recovered immortality': and, however he may contrast the brevity of Enoch's history with the copiousness of Elijah's, he does not pretend to deny the inference which may be fairly drawn from that marked phraseological difference which I have just noticed. These expressions then having been thus previously disposed of, I may proceed to notice certain others, which lead to precisely the same conclusion.
1. When the death of the holy patriarchs is
1 See above book i. chap. 5. § I. 2.
mentioned, the inspired historian frequently uses the phrase: he died, and was gathered to his people'.
Bishop Warburton contends, that the latter clause in the phrase is a mere pleonasm; so that the whole is simply equivalent to an assertion of the death of the patriarch spoken of: yet does he profess himself ready to allow, that the expression, he was gathered to his people, originally arose (whatever nation first employed it) from the notion of some common receptacle of souls.
This acknowledgment is a little unfortunate, under whatever aspect it may be viewed.
The expression itself must clearly be of the most remote antiquity; otherwise Moses could not have used it during the very infancy of the Hebrew republic. Whence then did he receive it? Notwithstanding the bishop's cautious parenthesis, whatever people first employed it, which was evidently designed to guard his acknowledgement from being turned against himself; we may be tolerably sure, that Moses had it from his patriarchal ancestors, and that he used an expression perfectly familiar to his countrymen, who had derived it from the same source as himself.
But in what sense would the patriarchs use it, who all confessedly knew and believed the
1 Gen. xxv. 8, 17. xxxv. 29. xlix. 29, 33. Numb. xx. 24, 26, 28. xxvii. 13.
doctrine of a future state? The bishop allows, that it originated from the notion of some common receptacle of souls: and we are certain that the patriarchs held this identical notion. Hence we may be tolerably sure, both that the patriarchs from generation to generation used the phrase in that sense, and that Moses and the people to whom he wrote alike continued to understand it in that sense. The common receptacle of souls, to which the expression once at least confessedly alluded, is generally thought to be described by the Hebrew word Sheo!, which the Greeks explain by the term Hades: but this, for obvious reasons, the bishop is pledged to deny. Hence, without a shadow of argument, he roundly and peremptorily declares, that in the Old Testament Sheol or Hades denotes, not the common receptacle of living souls, but the common receptacle of dead bodies. On this principle he would of course deny, that the being gathered to a man's people, in the original acceptation of the phrase (which it had quite lost, we are assured, even so early as the time of Moses), is equivalent to a man's descending into Sheol or Hades: though he would readily allow, that the two phrases were latterly (that is to say, since the time of Moses) quite equivalent, each denoting nothing more than a man's death. Now, if this be the case, we may be sure, that the one phrase must have lost its original meaning as well as the other phrase for the being gathered to a man's people,
and a man's descending into Sheol, are plainly equipollent in the Hebrew scriptures: hence, if the former expression (as the bishop allows) originated from the notion of some common recep¬ tacle of souls, the latter expression must once have described the entrance of any individual soul into that common receptacle. The meaning in short of the one expression, and the meaning of the other expression, stand or fall together they either both import the death of the body, or they both import the entrance of the separated soul into the invisible state. But we have already had a most pregnant demonstration from the book of Job, that Sheol denotes the common receptacle of living souls'. Whence it will follow, not only that the phrase, he was gathered to his people, involves a direct assertion of a future state; but likewise, that whenever the word Sheol is employed, the same doctrine is unequivocally set forth for, if Sheol mean (as it assuredly does mean) the common receptacle of souls after the death of the body; then, whenever a man is said to descend into Sheol, his soul is in effect said to exist in a separate state after death.
Accordingly, we have proof positive of both these positions from the peculiar mode in which each expression is applied to Jacob.
I am to be gathered to my people, says the aged
See above book ii. chap. 3. sect. 2. § I. 1. (2.)
patriarch upon his death-bed': I will go down to Sheol to my son mourning, says the same patriarch when afflicted by the supposed intelligence of the death of Joseph'. Doubtless the phrases are equipollent, as Bishop Warburton will readily allow the only question therefore is, whether they mean the death and burial of the body or the descent of the separated soul into the common receptacle. That they cannot mean the first, is clear from the manner in which Jacob speaks, when he was informed of the death of Joseph. I will go down to Sheol to my son mourning. In this passage, Sheol cannot mean the grave, which is the common receptacle of dead bodies; because, in the apprehension of Jacob, his son had not been buried, but had been devoured by wild beasts. Yet Jacob, who had not the slightest expectation that his fate would ever resemble the supposed fate of Joseph, professes his belief, that he himself should go down to Sheol where his son then actually was. Hence, if Sheol cannot here denote the common receptacle of dead bodies, it must denote the common receptacle of separate living souls: and, consequently, since the two expressions, I am to be gathered to my people and I will go down to Sheol, are equipollent; Jacob must in each be understood, as professing his full assurance of a future state of existence'.
1 Gen. xlix. 29.