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would the apostles have returned to and remained at their old occupations on their Master's crucifixion if He were only a mad enthusiast. We say that if His claims to supernatural power were as unfounded as those of Cervantes' knight to be the divinely appointed redresser of all wrongs, He would have failed as completely to impress the human mind with faith in His claims as Don Quixote failed to impress that of Spain in Cervantes' famous romance. Supposing the miracles of Jesus Christ not to have been really wrought, or to have been only ordinary works within the power of man or nature to perform, let us ask ourselves what possible motives they could have had to persuade themselves to the contrary? What motives could they have had in this life ? None, anless it is a motive to a line of conduct to gain thereby persecution, poverty, or death! What motives could they have had in a future life ? None; but the very strongest the other way. They could not hope that advocating the cause of a deceiver could win them anything good in a life to come.
If, indeed, their Master's claims were true--and to be true they must have rested on the reality of that miraculous power to which they bore witness-in that case we fully admit, nay, we must strongly insist, that they had the strongest motives both to believe in Him themselves and to persuade others to do the same. But those motives had reference to another life. Here they were to expect their Master's treatment. In the life to come, indeed, glorious visions were opened out to them. A new heavens and a new earth were their expectation. An everlasting life was their faith, in which to enjoy their portion with Christ. A sense of duty, a sense of love for God and for the souls of their fellows, would lead them to propagate their own faith. But all this rested absolutely upon the reality of that miraculous power to which they bore witness. If it were real, they had the strongest motives to be its bold and constant witnesses. If it were not real,-if there were the smallest grounds for rejecting it-none were so deeply interested as they in discovering its falsehood. And yet these were the men who bore a lifelong testimony to the miracles of Christ.
MAN'S ONLY HOPE OF IMMORTALITY. An Exposition of Christ's Argument Against the Sadducees.
BY WILLIAM GLEN MONCRIEFF.
THE conversation, or discussion, between our Lord and the THE
Sadducees is recorded by the first three Evangelists only, and while the respective narrations are substantially the same, slight
variations may be detected in the reports. The most important differences from Luke are appended to his text, quoted below, in order to present the historic incident in its complete form by a collated exhibition of the whole particulars.
Luke xx. 27-384" There came to Him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked Him, saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us, If any man's brother die, having a wife, and he die without children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. There were therefore seven brethren : and the first took a wife, and died without children. And the second took her to wife, and he died childless. And the third took her; and in like manner the seven also : and they left no children, and died. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife. (Matt. xx. 28—“ Whose wife shall she be of the seven ?" Mark xii. 23—“Whose wife shall she be of them ?") And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage. (Matt. xxii. 29– “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God." Mark xii. 24—“Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the Scripture, neither the power of God ?") But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage : neither can they die any more : for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. (Matt. xxii. 30—“For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” Mark xii. 25—" For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.'') Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he called the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For He is not a God of the dead, but of the living : for all live unto Him.” (Matt. xxii. 31–“But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you, by God, saying (v. 32), I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." Mark xii. 26—same as Matt., except that instead of “ touching the resurrection of the dead," it is—"touching the dead, that they rise." Ver. 27-He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living : ye therefore do greatly err.”)
For the sake of distinctness and perspicuity, let us divide the narrative under the following heads: first, The Sadducees and their opinions; second, The question they proposed to our Lord; and third, His reply to their question, which was partly (1) authoritative, and partly (2) argumentative.
1.—THE SADDUCEES AND THEIR OPINIONS.
As the Christian church in our day has resolved itself into a diversity of sects, so was it with the Jewish at the dawn of what is commonly known as the New Dispensation. None of them, however, are mentioned in the more ancient Scriptures, because they all sprang into existence during the 400 years which intervened between the close of that volume and the commencement of the Gospel era. The leading Hebrew sects were the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes; besides these there was another division, the Herodiens, essentially political in its character, the members being partisans of the infamous Herodian house, truckling courtiers of the world, about which nothing more need be said on this occasion. As to numbers, the first and second far exceeded the third, that of the Essenes, composed of monks, spending their simple and contemplative lives in retirement. The Sadducees, in the matter of adherents, were inferior on the census roll to the Pharisees—the really dominant and most pretentious order of the day. Our concern at present is with the Sadducees; and what is known of them may be presented in a few lines. “ They are supposed,” says Barnes, the commentator, in animadverting on Natthew, 3rd chapter, “ to have taken their name from Sadock, who flourished about 260 years before the Christian era. He was a pupil of Antigonus Sochaeus, president of the Sanhedrim, or Great Council of the nation. He had taught the duty of serving God disinterestedly, without the hope of reward or fear of punishment. Sadock, not properly understanding the doctrine of his master, drew the inference that there was no future state of rewards or punishments; and on this belief founded the sect." Now whether the disciple understood or misunderstood his master's teaching is a matter of little importance; the sect entertained the dogma imputed to it, as we discover from a source that leaves no room for doubt.
That source is the New Testament. They excluded a resurrection from their confession, as is shown in the narrative before us; and according to Acts xxiii. 8, they were sceptical not merely as to that, but also on the existence of angels and spirits.
What distinction is to be drawn between “angel " and "spirit” in the historical passage in Acts is by no means obvious. “Spirit," one of the rejected articles of faith, is not defined by any such word as human, which would have removed the difficulty at once. But there is no qualifying term, and it would be rash and hazardous to place the one just mentioned before the noun "spirit,” though many English readers will, as it were instinctively, supply it in a moment. This thing is somewhat apparent from the next verse,
. that the beings represented by “ spirit” were, to the mind of the scribes, who attached themselves to the Pharisees' “part,” not necessarily bad, and that they were even employed on God's errands, like the angels; since, alluding to Paul, they say: “ if a spirit or
an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God;" that is, by resisting the prisoner's testimony. At any rate, they seem to have viewed the spirits referred to in their Council in this way; though of necessity what they believed on that or on any other subject has from their authority alone no claim upon our faith. Nor do we refuse to admit a distinction between “angel ” and “spirit,” for the inspired writer teaches us to distinguish them, by explaining the creed of the Sadducees thus: “ The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit, but the Pharisees confess both” (Acts xxiii. 8). The Pharisees, then, were not to be
” blamed for accepting testimony regarding what seems to be a second class of extra-mundane existences; and yet they may have erred, and we suspect did greatly err, in maintaining that the voice of any "spirit,” distinguishing that order from the angelic, was entitled to reverence, in virtue of its being a message from Heaven ; as angelic communications were justly and ever held to be. In that case there would be introduced a distinction without a difference, for both would be messengers in God's service, in other words, His angels, and both would by right insist on obedience to their instructions. Now the speakers on this occasion might have known better than that supposes, and still have believed in the two orders of supernatural beings in a more Scriptural manner; that is to say, they might have understood the character and functions of the two classes of invisible agents more properly. And why do we say so ? Because the Jewish Bible, as all are aware, contains manifold references to both; and does not the New Testament assure us that when the Son of God was manifested in the flesh, the unseen spirits of evil-powers of darkness, demons, principalities, with Satan, god of this world, prince and power of the air, as their chief-put forth strenuous and malignant exertions to defeat His mission ? However, be the distinction what it may, we are safe in accepting this as the doctrine of the Sadducees, they believed in the existence of neither "
angel " nor spirit,” good or bad ; agent or antagonist of the Divine Will.
And now we return to their view of man and of death. Substantially, then, they held by the unity of individual man; at all events, their faith amounted to this, that nothing survived the crushing blow of death. According to their conception, the drama of life ended in a sleep, an eternal sleep. In another's language, they “looked into the abyss without trembling. There is no phantom there! There is neither angel, spirit, nor life to come.'
Why did they conclude that each little human history was everlastingly closed when the heart ceased to throb ? Perhaps—and we can use no positive language-perhaps, being what may be called the free-thinking philosophical party of the day, death was regarded by them as a perpetual slumber by the ordination of nature; or it may be some of the more serious amongst them, knowing the penalty of sin to be death, as it is written, the soul
that sinneth, it shall die ” (Ezek. xviii. 20), and discerning no efficacious provision, for there could be none, in the observances imposed on Hebrew worshippers, to cleanse the conscience or obtain pardon of moral guilt, assumed that none was foreshadowed by their complex system of ordinances, none contemplated in the counsels of Heaven, and so advanced with resignation or indifference to their fate, death, without hope of ultimate reanimation. Their conclusion as to death being inevitably eternal, was wrong; yet, if they explained their sacrificial rites to themselves in that way, the view so far was correct, but only so far. “The law”—ceremonial -"made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did;
a by the which we draw nigh unto God” (Heb. vii. 19). “ The first tabernacle. was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience,” that is, cleansing the adoring attendant at the altar from spiritual defilement. Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by HIS OWN BLOOD, He entered in once into the holy place, having OBTANIED ETERNAL REDEMPTION for us " (Heb. ix. 8, 9, 12).
There is some reason to think they went so far as to assert that life and sensibility not only never would, but never could, be restored. Be that as it may, they contended for this at all events, that when dead a man was in the most complete or absolute sense as if he had never breathed ; and that the long night of insensibility would never never be disturbed in any instance by a resurrection to intelligent consciousness; in a word, that the doctrine of a future state of existence was a bubble and a dream.
Though professing these tenets, justice requires the acknowledgment that they were not avowed infidels, as we understand the word. On the contrary, they held their Bible in professedly devout esteem, having special regard for the writings of Moses. Jesus does not charge them, and at no time are they charged, with rebellion against the supreme authority of Holy Writ. Our Lord addresses them in this manner : “ Ye do err, not knowing,”—not understanding_"the Scriptures.” Strange as it may appear to us, with not a particle of faith in an after world, content to be only the heirs of time, they were nevertheless a religious party, and it was not unusual for members of their sect to occupy the highest positions in the church. In Acts v. 17, 18, we are informed, -" Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the Apostles, and put them in the common prison." And not merely were dignified ecclesiastics numbered among them, but according to Horne in his “Introduction to the Study of the Holy Scriptures,” (vol. ii., p. 197), “the Sadducean error prevailed among the principal men both of rank and learning in those days;" the days when Christianity first began to be promulgated. Here, then, were members of the Sanhedrim,