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National Council, and officials in the Jewish Church who wore the most sacred vestments; here were very grave and learned citizens, holding by the Bible of their age, and wisely doing so, yet in some respects lamentably ignorant of its contents. Jesus Christ says so, and to us His testimony is final.
But not satisfied with holding their own opinions in peace, they were amongst the most inveterate persecutors of the Gospel; and the reason of their hostility is not difficult to find. The testimony from the Acts, quoted a few lines above, establishes this charge. So does Matt. xvi. 12" The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired Him that He would show them a sign from heaven ; ” likewise Acts iv. 1, 3,—" And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day." This grief, we suspect, was very much akin to the "indignation” mentioned in the 5th chapter, already transcribed, and the arresting of the speakers as evil-doers shows very distinctly the temper of the zealots who deemed their own opinions so far above suspicion and dispute. No wonder they were angry, taking frail humanity as it is. They were ready for cruel deeds against those who preached “the resurrection," and we may suppose had a shower of opprobrious epithets to pour upon their heads, and fiery verbal stimulants wherewith to inflame the passions of the more servile and imbruted adherents of their cause. They would, we may be sure, denounce the innovaters as perverters of the truth, fanatics, dangerous characters, madmen, and deceivers of the people, for whom they were burdened with such a virtuous excess of sympathy. What ! a "carpenter's son," a band of " fishermen ” from Galilee, who never sat at the feet of a Gamaliel, teach our Doctors ! call in question our wisdom! dare to hint that
till now we have misunderstood the Sacred Volume! It was there-deep down into the pride of their hearts—the sharp point of the iron entered, and incensed by the shock and the pain they selected once more the ignoble and cheap defence of per
persecution. Of the Sadducees as a class, John, the herald of the Messiah, entertained a low opinion, and he expressed it on one occasion in no gentle terms (Matt. iii. 7), “ When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers”-malignant and wicked men—" who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come ? " Once when they arrived to tempt and snare Him, our Lord spoke words that indicated His knowledge of their character (Matt. xvi. 3, 4), “Oye hypocrites ! ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times ? A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.” They were benighted, immoral,
and insincere. To the Son of God their enmity was unrelenting, and His alarms and Gospel tidings fell on their hardened hearts as powerless as the breeze that strikes a granite cliff.
We must not be so uncharitable as to suppose that their unbelief of a future left every one of them reprobate and vile. There would be—and why should we think otherwise ?-many fine specimens of the race amongst them, in spite of their dismal and unrestraining creed,-good fathers, good husbands, good friends, good officials, and good neighbours. Sometimes, we may conjecture, individuals in their ranks may have taken a higher type, and resembled the young man who was so tenderly regarded by the Saviour of the world, but over whom the Divine charm of the Gospel could not be thrown.
Though their future was clouded by despair, they still, be it recollected, had faith in the God of their fathers; and the consciousness of His holy and all-seeing inspection could not but influence their hearts and lives more or less. Their religion, whatever else it inculcated, had made them familiar with His awful name, and with present rewards and present punishments; and that knowledge could not fail to affect their conduct, though nothing beyond the tomb spoke to them of danger or of hope. Many of the Stoics, -" those stoutest apostles of the manliest manhood,” according to a distinguished scholar,-like many of the Buddhists in India at a still more ancient date, who regarded this transient scene as the “ be-all and the end-all,” spent pure and noble lives, and reckoned virtuo its own reward, professing even to be satisfied with the meagre terms. And in our day it would be monstrous to affirm that where the true God is equally unknown as in those distant lands and epochs, the order of things is vice, treachery, and open crime. There have been fair spots in every land and in every age, however benighted, - men who, as a great preacher has finely said, “were yet not disobedient to the Eternal Voice speaking in their hearts, and who by means of that lived above their generations, penetrating into the invisible ;” and, like Him who loveth righteousness, though it may be ignorant of Christian motives and Christian hope, why should we not frankly acknowledge it, and rejoice over its fruits ? “God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him” (Acts x. 35, 36).
A creed similar to that of the Sadducees-nay, a creed of negation more tremendous and dreary-is embraced by many in this boasted epoch of science and civilisation, against whom, on the score of morals and sincerity, it would be shameful to whisper one syllable of reproach. Such characters, in ancient or modern times, are a law unto themselves, and never sink into the slums of vice and debasement, nor brandish the weapons of slander and violence.
But while many of the Sadducees bore, as in fairness we may imagine, an excellent reputation, and were governed by an innate
force of virtuous restraint, we more than suspect the preponderating mass, who had no fear of God before their eyes, though ready to fight for their traditional opinions and their idolised teachers, found a licenge for wicked behaviour in the creed of denial in which they were reared. The words of the Baptist, and of the “ Master "
. Himself, lately quoted, are too pregnant with meaning to be explained away. Their guiding maxim was: “Let us eat and drink”-gratify our animal instincts—" for to-morrow we die”to-morrow, it is done with us for ever! Nothing is to be gained in the future, nothing to be dreaded in its awful depths; and with human nature as it is ordinarily constructed, having a balance so disproportionate between its controlling forces and selfish desires, we can predict, without aspiring to the character of seers, what indulging the animal desires in too many cases would mean.
Such being the moral photograph of the Sadducees, we are unable to avoid the conclusion that when those accustomed to push themselves, or to be pushed, into the foreground, addressed their question to our Lord, they were not without guile. All the evidence conflicts with the supposition that they were really wanting to have a difficulty removed from their minds. The narrative before us, we grant, leaves this uncertain ; though, had we seen the airs they assumed, and heard the tone of their speech, and watched the play of their countenances, we might have required no other testimony against them. The proof, however, from other sources is too strong. They came to perplex Jesus—to turn the laugh against Him; and a multitude of spectators being in attendance with open ears, they naturally looked upon it as a choice opportunity to win a triumph at His expense. They knew “a resurrection " formed one of His conspicuous doctrines, and as it struck at the root of Sadducism, they rose full armed to save their system ere it was overthrown and cut in pieces before their eyes.
II.-THE QUESTION OF THE SADDUCEES. The narrative on which the question was based need not be repeated, though it ought to be called to mind at this stage of our progress. According to it, the husbands in succession died, and is last of all the woman died also." Already has it been explained that the Sadducees accepted death in the most literal signification of the term, as involving nothing less than a return to perfect insensibility. We do not intermeddle exactly here with the appended notion that this state of non-being was to continue during ceaseless ages. We can make no advance till the words employed in their narration are comprehended; that is, till we understand their estimate of death, for thereby we possess the surest guide and only key to the exact and underlying meaning of the question which the domestic story introduces. The same term, death, for example, may hold a different idea, as used by one speaker, from what it contains or represents when employed by a second. Hence the importance of having language precisely defined, especially in such a momentous interview as the one we are attempting to understand. Let us pursue this thought for a moment longer.
When the Sadducees affirmed the persons alluded to DIED, we have a distinct conception of their meaning. But when one educated in the now prevailing opinion informs us a certain individual is dead, would not the idea embodied in the phrase be widely different from the Sadducean doctrine ? When analysed, it would be resolved partly into literal death-that is, of the body; and partly into a liberation—that is, of the soul from the corruptible organism, permitting the mysterious essence, supposed to be the seat of human identity and personality, to remain still conscious of itself, and observant of outward things, pleasant or the reverse. Nay, it would take this vastly heightened significance, that in certain circumstances the soul has departed to the acme of bliss, and in other conditions to the most tragic intensity of woe. Verily, to & Sadducee, a strange picture of death! How different from his own conception, that the man, the soul, has gone down to “Sheol," the abode of silence and night! He had no thought of liberation in his mind. To him, death was expulsion from life in a complete and melancholy sense : and this we gather, not from the word death alone, but from the circumstance of his denying a resurrection ; his denying also the existence of angel and spirit, and from accounts of the tenets of the sect furnished by history, quite reliable, though uninspired. Right or wrong, such, without an atom of misrepresentation, was his faith. So you gather that the term DEATH may express your ideas, if you side with the popular theology, and the Sadducean one likewise ; and though covered and enclosed by the same word, they are confessedly at a long distance from being identical.
And now we beg to remark, that so far as DEATH is concerned their notion bore a striking resemblance, to say the least of it, to the teaching of the Bible in their possession. A rapid survey of quotations from the Old Testament will make this apparent, and our only request of the reader is patience and candour while they are brought forward.
(To be continued.)
THE END OF ALL EVIL.* “ And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain : for the former things are passed away."—Rev. xxi. 4.
the beginning of the Mosaic cosmography, the revelation which * A Sermon by the Editor. From the Reporter's manuscript.
God gave to Moses in order that he might give it to the world. You must have observed that almost every successive act of creative power is followed by this verdict: “And God saw that it
: was good.” Six times that verdict is given; and then the seventh includes them all, thus: “And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.”
Now, a thinking man must make something out of that. Is it possible, let us ask, before turning to our Scriptural proofs, is it possible that the Almighty and Omniscient Creator could have borne such testimony to His own creative acts separately, and then as an emphatic approval to His creative acts collectively, if He had seen (and He could not but see), that this world, which pleased Him so exceedingly, should be the scene of interminable woe-that man, the grand monarch of all other creatures in the world, should be an immortal sufferer and an immortal sinner? Could He build such a house, knowing that such would be the issue throughout the countless ages of eternity ?
Brethren, the question is one of profound importance, and carries its logical issues through the whole thing from beginning to end. Could He see that that splendid dwelling-place, created purposely for the human race, should be the cradle of woe, the home of grief, the sport of devils, the prison-house of endless agony ? Could He have made man if He intended that the vast majority of the race should be black and bad as the very Satan that spoiled the paradise where our first parents were placed ? I, for one, cannot entertain the thought for a single moment; to my mind it amounts to open blasphemy. “Very good,” and yet the devil to triumph, man to be a follower of Satan, law to be a mockery, the Gospel to be rejected, and Christ crucified !
“ Christ!” Here we arrive at the grand remedy; this is the name of the glorious One who was to take up
very good” world and make it vastly better, who was to lay hold of the heart of man and bring him into subjection to the authority of God, and by-and-bye so work out His scheme that one of His apostles in vision should say, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth.” All tears wiped away, death destroyed, absence of all sorrow, no crying, neither pain for ever. Why? “For the former things are passed away.” The intermediate times have gone; the preparatory processes have been completed, and now the issue is before us. There have been two worlds: there will be a third. The first world was that before the flood; it was not destroyed, but renewed by the flood, the material remaining as it was, leaving marks of the great cataclysm which we find in thousands of spots upon the surface and in the crust of the earth to this day. This in which we now dwell, therefore, is the second world, and this world is ant in store for the action of purifying fires-probably only over
urface, so as to purify it—and then there will be the new i. The heavens and the earth which are now are kept in store