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shall cease," until prophecies “shall fail" and knowledge "shall vanish away." 1 Cor. xiii, 8.
8. That tongues are given for a sign to unbelievers, and were never (unless interpreted) intended for the edification of the Church. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not." 1 Cor. xiv, 19, 22.
9. That the gift of prophecy is very superior to the gift of tongues; and should be earnestly sought, because it tends to edification. "I Ι
Since my mind has been turned to the consideration of the doctrines commonly termed · Millennarian,' I have frequently had occasion to notice the extreme inaccuracy and vagueness with which I had previously received a great number of passages of Scripture; and, at the same time, to remark the light which is thrown upon them by a simple reference to those doctrines. Nor is it in my private experience alone that I have been led to attribute this advantage to a Millennarian interpretation. I have sometimes inquired of persons thoroughly conversant with the Bible, what meaning they attached to several
WHAT AND WHERE IS HEAVEN?
texts which they had read a thousand times without, I believe, suspecting that they did not understand them; and I have found a similar want of precision in their case, and a corresponding surprise and pleasure at the discovery that such passages admitted a very clear and determinate sense, when viewed under the light of a Millennarian construction.
I apprehend it would be of great advantage to many readers of the Holy Scriptures to follow up the idea suggested by this remark; by endeavouring, as far as possible, to substitute definiteness for vagueness in their manner of reading what
is set before them in the sacred Volume. In truth it is incumbent upon those who are familiar with the Scriptures to impose upon themselves a much severer caution in this respect, than it would be upon persons, who, for the first time in their lives, were to look into the sacred oracles. For the very familiarity which subsists between scriptural sounds and the ears of those who are accustomed to them, beguiles them into a sort of indolent acquiescence which conceals their own ignorance of the proper bearing, intention, and force of the expressions employed. On the other hand, a person who should read the Scriptures for the first time, would be apt to stop continually, surprised and startled at the strangeness of the propositions he met with; like the prophets of old, he would find himself " searching what, or what
manner of time the Spirit which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow."a
There is no portion of Scripture with which we are all more familiar than the Psalms; and perhaps there is none in the perusal of which the generality of readers have more confused and indistinct ideas. But, let any such reader take upon his mind the notion of Christ's premillennial advent to execute judgement upon his enemies, and to set up in the world a kingdom of righteousness, with all the prosperity and happiness attendant upon it; and let him keep applying this notion as he goes through the book of Psalms; and I will be bold to say, that he will soon find that it furnishes a key to unlock a great multitude of expressions, the meaning of which had always escaped him before.
But besides the advantage of more general satisfaction in reading the word of God, the habit of aiming at precision in the understanding of scriptural expressions, will conduce much to the settlement of several important questions, concerning which, even those who adopt
Millennarian views feel considerable difficulty.
Among the terms to which it is exceedingly desirable to annex, upon solid grounds, a more distinct tinct apprehension than it has usually received, is the very common and familiar word, HEAVEN." I should be rejoiced if some of your correspondents, who are competent to the task, would take up the investigation suggested at the head of this paper; and, by a scriptural analysis and induction, instruct us "what and where is heaven." For myself, I must acknowledge that, (while I feel the importance with which these questions bear upon several points of prophetical inquiry quiry; and that, moreover, they are in themselves most deeply interesting,) I am unable to arrive at any very positive conclusions respecting them: still less can I pretend to offer a satisfactory solulution of them to your readers. A few remarks may, notwithstanding, be useful in suggesting hints for examination to more learned and profound correspondents.
The words' heaven and earth' do, both of them, unquestionably admit. of several different significations in Scripture. Thus the earth sometimes means this terrestrial globe; sometimes, the Roman empire; sometimes, the land of Canaan ; &c. But, in speaking of heaven and earth together, and, in the way of contradistinction to each other, I apprehend it will be allowed that we are frequently to
a 1 Pet. i, 11.
regard them as jointly making up the universe. For example in this For example in this sentence-" Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord." According to this view, the earth' will be understood to mean our planet, and heaven' will mean 'heaven' will mean the residue of the creation, consisting of innumerable worlds. Adverting then to the blissful condition of angels, or to the future happy state of redeemed men, it should seem that their having their happiness in heaven means no more than their enjoying it in some one or more of the celestial globes, according to the wise and gracious appointment of God, who, undoubtedly, assigns to His creatures the abodes which are suited
to their several capacities. But although the earth is thus spoken of in distinction from the heaven, (that is, from the remainder of the universe,) such distinction may be grounded solely on the circumstance of its being our proper habitation, and so demanding, in our regard, a more distinct reference than any other single world; or else, on its being at present, through man's sin, a degraded and inferior orb, as compared with the rest. Considered in a more general view,-regarded, asit were, from some point in pure space, in common with the other worlds, and having the curse removed from it,-what reason is there to conclude that it may not be as well entitled to be numbered among the celestial spheres as any other planet in the universe ? And does not the visit of the Son of God, and the assumption of man's nature by Him who made all worlds, con
fer an honor upon the earth and its inhabitants, which renders this notion extremely probable? In this view, the earth would no longer be contrasted with and opposed to heaven; but be considered as forming a part of what is contemplated under that blissful appellation. And is it not possible, that it is regarded in this light in several passages which seem to confound heaven and and earth, earth, by speaking of the kingdom of heaven under such conditions as inevitably force us to consider this earth as the seat of that kingdom? It is a question, I think, whether the word heaven is not, in many places, another name for happiness; and whether, when that idea is applied to it, the term is not absolved of all further meaning. On the other hand, earth is contrasted with heaven in an odious sense; and we have therefore imbibed very contemptuous notions of this portion of the Creator's work: but I would ask, wherefore is it that the earth is thus spoken of? Was it created so worthless as to warrant our scorn, and to appear unworthy of man? No: for " God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.' "b But, when man fell, the sentence was pronounced, "cursed is the ground for thy sake :" and this was a token and part of the curse,"thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee." But whereas sin was the occasion of the curse, we are taught to look forward to
a new earth," (that is, a new state of this earth,*)" wherein dwelleth righteousness:" and is there not a
b Gen. i, 31.
c Gen. iii, 18.
* An attentive perusal of the passage in 2 Peter iii, wherein this doctrine is laid down, will convince any intelligent reader, that the expression new heavens and a new earth" means only an altered and improved state of the world, to be effected by the operation of fire. For the Apostle draws a parallel between the deluge and this
clear intimation, that then it shall be no longer accursed, but blesscd? for, as truly as I live," saith the saith the Lord, "all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord."'d And, as sin shall give place to righteousness, and the curse be supplanted by a blessing, so Isaiah teaches us that the token and part of the curse above alluded to shall be removed; for, instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not cut off."e In his sermon on the mount, our Saviour uses very remarkable language, which may be applied to this subject. He says, Blessed are the poor in spirit; for their's is the kingdom of heaven:" and again, "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth."f According to the vulgar notion, he refers, in the former of these promises, to a state of future happiness in heaven; that is to say, not in any of the stars, neither in this world, but in some other region to which the word heaven is vaguely applied. But if this be the sense of the former, by the latter it is hard to say what is meant. Now, I conceive, the poor in spirit and the meek are here taught to anticipate the same state of happiness; not that one is
to inherit heaven, and the other to two inherit earth, considered as distinct places: they are evidently the same place; and from thence it follows, either that earth is heaven, or that heaven is earth. The notion of this earth being classed amongst the heavenly and happy spheres, when Messiah comes reign in it, will reconcile the two passages, and remove the whole difficulty. Possibly, by the same method of interpretation, we may understand Moses, when he predicts the blessedness of God's people in a state of holy obedience by saying, "That your days may be multipled, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord sware ' unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon earth.”g* To the same purpose it is promised to the true David, Messiah the King, that his throne shall be as the days of heaven.h
I believe some persons harbour a great prejudice against any doctrines which appear to substitute happiness on earth for happiness in heaven. That such doctrines are inconsistent with the indeterminate and incomprehensible fancies commonly entertained respecting heaven, its occupations and enjoyments, I am willing to admit; but that it should be inconsistent with any just and rational anticipations
fiery judgement, and the changes thereby produced. He tells us the effect of the deluge: :-"The world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished;" evidently meaning that it underwent a wonderful alteration, and not that it was literally destroyed and another planet substituted in its room. The world having, in this sense, perished, he talks of the heaven and the earth which are now,—that is, the same globe changed; and tells us that they are reserved unto fire, and that when that fire shall have done its work, we are to "look for" new heavens and a new earth; that is, in like manner, the same globe greatly altered.
* And may we not, by the same method of interpretation, understand Moses as predicting a state of misery and oppression to the people when he says, "Thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass ?” Deut. xxviii, 23. ED.
d Numb. xiv, 21.
e Isa. lv, 13.
8 Deut. xi, 21.
of man's future state to suppose that God, who originally made the earth and man for each other, and who cursed the earth for man's sin, should, after restoring man to righteousness, re-establish the earth in such a condition of blessedness as to enable man to find in it a suitability to his nature and faculties, and a happiness worthy of being styled celestial-is what I am yet to learn. When it is objected to persons who hold the expectation of a purely spiritual, and, as I may say, mystical, sort of bliss in some unknown region which they call heaven, that such an expectation does not present any distinct or intelligible notions of enjoyment to such a being as man, it is readily answered, that it is the business of faith to credit God's assurance that heaven is a happy place, and that man, redeemed and renovated, shall (however unintelligible the 'sort of pleasure may now appear) really find unutterable satisfaction 'there." It is obvious that the same answer is applicable to their own objections to the possibility of finding happiness on earth for certainly, it is as much within God's power to make us happy in this planet, as in that region beyond the planets and the stars usually thought to be the proper heaven. The question is not, which theory is the most consonant to those preconceptions which we imbibe in infancy respecting the identity of heaven. and the blue sky;' but, which is the most agreeable to reason and to Scripture.
As to reason, I think that upon the supposition of a resurrection and of the redintegration of this world, reason would prompt us to conclude, that the risen creatures should be placed upon it. Reason revolts
from the idea of this glorious sphere that the learned writer had illustrated
i Eph. vi, 12. See Mede's works, fol. 614.
being blotted out of the creation. Reason infers, from a variety of comparisons, that the earth is the proper dwelling of man; the earth accursed, for fallen man; the earth restored, and blessed, and rendered very good,' for man redeemed and risen.
Reason, however, can go but a very little way: come we therefore to Revelation. I have observed already, that the Scriptures, in the view of future happiness, seem to confound earth with heaven: that they also speak of the kingdom of heaven as a kingdom to be set up on the earth: that they speak of the days days of heaven upon the earth. Yet, as such passages do not stand alone, but are mixed up with multitudes which apparently suggest a different doctrine, they are far from determining the point.
It is the observation of Joseph Mede, that the Scriptures make three heavens: first, the air or sublunary heaven; second, the ethereal or starry heaven; third, the heaven of glory, or empyreal heaven.
"Each of these heavens have their
ven, are the angels and blessed spirits the host of the ethereal heaven are the stars and planets: the host of the aerial, or sublunary 'heaven, are either visible, as the
clouds of heaven and other me
the sublunary world,) and “ wick
ed spirits in heavenly places," namely, in the lowest or sublu
nary heavens." It is to be wished
teors, and also the rest of the crea
tures mansioning therein, as the
fowls of heaven; or invisible, viz.
the wicked spirits and devils,
whose prince, Satan, is called," the prince of the power of the air," and
his host, "rulers of the world," (i. e.