Chapter XXX, Of the Last Things

Chapter XXX. 

Although, as we have shown, God is carrying out His purposes of saving His people in His Church, yet is this Salvation but commenced and imperfect whilst on earth, — and the believers come to a full enjoyment of their Salvation only after their souls have been separated from their bodies by means of death, to remain in this state of separation until soul and body are united again for the day of judgment, that henceforth the whole man might come to the enjoyment of eternal, unspeakable bliss. 

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866. We have now to speak of the fourth and last state of man which is:

that of consummate happiness. 

In this state God’s merciful purposes concerning men are completed; by which completion our faith also ceases, for we are told that the end of our faith is the salvation of our souls, 1. Pet. 1, 9. Concerning this we have to consider.

867. A. What it is which in this state of bliss, the ungodly have in common with the believer? — When men are about to depart from this life, there are four things that befall the good alike with the evil among them, viz:

I. The soul is separated from the body;

II. This separation lasts up to the judgement day; after which,

III. The body is raised again and united with the soul;

IV. After this union has taken place, judgement is pronounced as to the place, where this united body is to dwell for ever.

868. I. Accordingly the first thing which we have to consider, is death. This is sufficiently known among men; nevertheless we have to attend to the following inquiries:

a. what is death? It is not a state of things, whereby the body and the soul are thoroughly annihilated, as if never to exist again. Carnally minded men, have, it is true, maintained some such views of annihilation; views which we find expression given to Wisd. 2, 1: “Our life is short and tedious, and in the death of a man there is no remedy. The breath of our nostrils is as a smoke and a little spark in the moving of our heart, which being extinguished, our body shall be turned into ashes, and our spirit shall vanish like a soft air. And after our end there is no returning: for it is fast sealed, so that no man cometh again.”

But this view is entirely inconsistent with the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, which remains to be proved by the following.

869. Some say that by death the soul is entirely annihilated, and is brought again into existence on the day of judgement. This cannot be; for, in the first place, we have no intimation to this end in scripture; nor can we deduce it from nature, or from any man’s experience. — In the second place, scripture expressly teaches us, that the soul still continues to exist after the death of the body, 1. Sam. 25, 29: “A man is risen to pursue thee, and seek thy soul: but the soul of my Lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with the Lord thy God; Wisd. 3, 1: “The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and there shall no torment touch them;” Matth. 10, 28: “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul.” The Lord Jesus testifies Matth. 8, 11, that the Patriarchs are alive after their death. — In the third place, the immortality of the soul is shown in the Parable of Dives and Lazarus, of whom it said that they have been alive after their death, Luk. 16, 22. 23. 24. — In the fourth place, there are no instances wanted of certain souls having been shown to be alive after the death of the body; thus for instance, the Lord Jesus himself recommended his soul into the hands of his Father, Luk. 23, 46; or in case of the malefactor, whom the Lord gave the promise: “to day shalt thou be with me in paradise,” Luk. 23, 43; as also we read of those, whose souls St. John heard crying vengeance against their, persecutors, Rev. 6, 9, and of those, whom Christ preached in prison, 1. Pet. 3, 19; — Lastly, we read of the wishes and hopes of holy men, as follows: Stephen prays “Lord Jesus receive my spirit,” Acts. 7, 58; and Paul writes that he has “a desire to depart, and to be with Christ,” Phil. 1, 23; — All this could not take place, if the souls of the dead were annihilated, to be brought again into existence for the last judgement.

870. On the contrary, death is nothing but a separating of the soul from the body. The soul on departing from the body, ceases to animate the latter, and enters into a state different to that it had been in formerly, in which state it remains, until it is reunited to the body.

871. b. The cause of death. It is not necessary to enlarge on this; for we have proved already, that death did not exist previous to the fall, but has been brought about by sin; death Is, as the Apostle writes “the wages of sin,” Rom. 6, 23.

872. c. The universal reign of death. Death exercises its power over the good and the evil. This we are taught by our every days experience, and no man will deny, “that the covenant from the beginning is: Thou shall die the death,” Eccl. (Sirach), 14, 17.

873. d. Its arrival; by the one sooner, by the other later; the one dies in his youth, the other in old age. This difference and irregularity might be considered by many as being against nature. But we ought to remember that God has put his set time to every individual, which none ever can prolong, Job. 14, 5: “His (man’s) days are determined. Hie number of his month are with thee, thou hast appointed his hounds thai he cannot pass.”

874. In this respect God has ordained everything according to His own will and counsel. But yet in determining this point, God has nevertheless taken in consideration the behaviour of men. Thus He promises to the godly a long life, as a reward of their piety, Exod. 20, 12: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee;” Pslm. 128, 6: “The Lord shall bless thee, and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life; yea thou shalt see thy children’s children;” Pslm. 91. 16: “With long life will I satisfy him.”

875. But the life thus predetermined may also be shortened; this is done either by God himself, or by man.

In doing so, God has two different reasons. Thus, for instance, in His mercy He hastens away a godly man from the midst of this evil world, Wisd. 4, 10. 11: “He pleased God, and was beloved of him: so that living among sinners he was translated; yea speedily was he taken away, lest that wickedness should alter his understanding, or deceit beguile his soul.”

God again is shortening the life of men, in consequence of His severe indignation against wickedness. Thus Absalom, because of his being an undutiful son, was almost imperceptibly cut of from life, 2 Sam. 18, 14. — “Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord slew him,” Genes. 38, 7. In the same way it went with other; evildoers, Pslm. 55, 24: “bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days.”

Man again shortens his life either by mortally wounding his body, in consequence of which he is prevented to live any longer, as was the case with Saul, 1 Sam. 31, 4; — or by destroying bis nature in other ways, Eccl. Sirach 37, 30. 31. “Excess of meats bringeth sickness, and surfeiting will turn unto choler. By surfeiting have many perished; but he that taketh heed prolongeth his life.”

876. This would look at the first sight, as if the decrees of God were changeable. But this is not implied thereby. For though He has put for every man the limits of his life from all eternity, yet has He not done so merely from His own counsel and pleasure, but in determining this, He has been considering also man’s behaviour, and thereby found, that some would subsequently put ‘an end to their lives, whilst others by their evil deeds, would draw upon them His divine displeasure. And according to this He has determined the end of these different individuals to come about much sooner, as He would have done, if He had followed only His own will. Thus the death of King of Hezekiah was determined on, but God listened to his prayer and granted him other 15 years to live, 2 Kings. 20. 6. And in the same way the lives of Absalom, Achan and other evildoers would have probably been longer as they were, had their evil deeds and purposes not induced God to shorten them.

877. e. The different modes of death. These are many, of which we shall mention but three:

Man is dying a natural death, when in the course of nature his strength begins to fail, and from mere exhaustion he dies at the usual age of 70 or 80 years.

He is dying a half natural death, when in the midst of the enjoyment of life he is carried away by illness, or other natural causes.

Again he is dying an unnatural or violent death, when although in the usual course of nature he might have been living yet for a long space of time, he is bereaved of his life by weapon, poisons etc., and other unnatural and violent means. — And with respect to this, we meet with the following questions:

878. 1. How is it that some are dying a natural death, and again others’ an unnatural death. Here again we have to consider man’s behaviour. 

Thus it happened unto Saul and Judas, and still happens to those who do evil, and thereby draw dawn punishment upon them. To this also belongs a careless and precipitate exposing to dangers; carelessness in the use of meats, medicines, and innumerable other causes. — And again we have to look upon God’s judgement, which punishes sins with a fearful death. Thus for instance, in the case of Absalom, 2 Sam. 18, 14; Herod. Acts. 12, 23; Antioch, 2 Maccab. 9, 9. Many are punished in the same way as they have sinned, as for instance, Agag, 1 Sam. 15, 33; Ahab. 1 Kings. 21, 19; 22, 38; Joram, 2 Kings. 9, 25. 26; and Jezebel, 1 Kings. 21, 23; 2 Kings. 9, 36.

879. 2. Whether those who are dying of a violent death (as is also the case with criminals who have been condemned to die by the proper authorities), are for ever cast away from the grace of God, so that they never can repent and come to salvation. We answer, no! For:

i. As we do not find it anywhere stated that God has rejected them, we are not entitled to maintain such doctrines; especially since, God’s secret counsels have not been revealed unto us.

ii. God has expressly declared to cast away from his grace no repenting sinner that comes to Him, John. 6, 37: “Him that cometh to me 1 will in no wise cast out;” Matth. 11, 28: “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden” etc.; Ezek. 18, 31. 32: “Why will ye die O house of Israel? for I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves and live.”.

iii. We have in the Bible a clear instance of God’s accepting a sinner of this description, as soon as he had repented. This was the malefactor, who was crucified with the Lord Jesus, and who, when upon the cross, confessed his sins, and that he had deserved such a punishment, Luk. 23, 43. And on taking his refuge to Christ, he is answered by the Lord: “to day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

880. The state the soul is in, after having been separated from the body, is common to all. Concerning this we have to consider six different points:

I. The immortality of the soul, or its existence after this life; this can be proved by the fact:

i. that it is frequently testified in scripture, and that if the soul was not immortal the whole doctrine taught by the Bible would fall to the ground.

ii. Nature and man’s conscience testify the immortality of the soul; for they convince him, that after this life, there is a judgement which is to reward every one according to his deserts. And in this opinion he is supported by St. Paul, who writes Rom. 2, 15, 16; “Which (the Gentiles) show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing, or else excusing one another; in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men.” And consequently the heathen have always maintained the principle of the immortality of the soul, and always talked something about a heaven and a hell, in which every one was to receive according to his deeds.

iii. Divine justice makes it necessary for the soul to be immortal; for the righteous judge of the world cannot leave the godly without their reward, and the ungodly unpunished, 2 Thess. 1, 6. 7: “It is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us.” But this could not be carried into effect if, after death, body and soul did perish. Besides we find also that the godly whilst upon earth, are frequently in tribulation, whilst the evildoers are permitted to enjoy their lives, in peace; that “there be just men unto whom it happeneth according to the.work of the wicked; again there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous,” Eccl. 8, 14, And if God is to bring about an equity in this respect, then there must necessarily be another life.

881. II. The place, in which the souls dwell after having been separated from the body. They are not all to dwell in one place; for there is a difference between them; there is the number of the believers, and that of the unbelievers, in one of which they must have been in when on earth;

882. Of the souls of the just and the faithful, scripture informs us, that they lire taken into the house of the Father, John. 14. 2; into “an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens,” 2 Cor. 5. 1; into an “house which is from heaven,” V. 2; into “the heavenly Jerusalem,” Heb. 12, 22; into God’s hand, Wisd. 3, 1; into “Abraham’s bosom,” Luk. 16, 22; into “paradise,” Luk. 23, 43; into the heaven, or “the third heaven,” 2 Cor. 12, 2. 4.

883. It might be asked with reverence to this subject, whether the souls of the redeemed are retained for final judgement in a certain locality within this created world, or without the same. This question is easily replied to; since we do not find any information on this subject in scripture, we would in vain endeavour to unravel this mystery. For it is much better for us altogether to remain in ignorance with reference to matters, about which there has nothing been revealed to us, — than to make suppositions which we have no means of establishing.

884. Of the unbelievers we are told that, after their death they come into “torments,” Luk. 16, 23; into “hell,” Rev. 1, 18; into “darkness,” 2. Pet. 2, 17; into “darkness,” in which “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” Matth. 22, 13; “into everlasting fire,” Matth. 25, 41; “into hell fire,” Mark. 9, 47; into”the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone,” Rev. 21, 8. — Some there are, who have given themselves great concern as to where this hell is placed. This is an unprofitable subject, since we do not find anything about it in scripture; and we ought much rather to strive to make sure that, wherever this hell may have been placed, we on our part might be kept from being found fit to inhabit it.

885. The Popish Church has found it convenient to fable something of the existence of three other hells besides that mentioned already; viz: one, in which the souls of those children are said to be retained, which have died previous to receiving baptism; one in which the souls of those holy fathers reside, who have died before the resurrection of Christ had been accomplished, and lastly the purgatory.

Of those souls pointed out as being retained in the two first mentioned dwellings, the papists teach, that, though they are not suffering any torments, they ^ are yet not permitted to come before the presence of the Lord. But of this assertion nothing is to be found in scripture. On the contrary, we are informed by the latter, that every man either dies in the saving faith of the Gospel, and is carried into Abraham’s bosom, Luk. 16, 25; — or he dies in unbelief, and is thereby for ever condemned, Mark. 15, 16. And we know with certainty, that those who, previous to Christ’s coming, have died in faith, have come to the immediate enjoyment of their bliss, as is evident from the examples of Moses and Elijah, Matth. 17, 3. — Which proves this Popish doctrine to be erroneous.

886. Of purgatory that Church maintains the following doctrine. There are some, they say, who though they have died in the faith, have yet not done penance for every sin which they had committed during their lifetime; such are bound, after their death, to be purified by a fire which is as powerful as hellfire, and in which they are tormented until every sin is washed away, and they are made fit for eternal salvation. Such a state of things cannot only not be established from scripture, but its existence can be disproved from the word of God, as follows:

887. 1. It is this doctrine opposed to the priestly office of the Lord Jesus. For, according to scripture, remission of sin is only through Christ, Acts. 4, 12; 1. John. 1, 7: “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sins.” Through Christ we have perfect remission of sin and punishment, Isai. 53, 6: “The chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed;” through Christ we are freed from every apprehension with reference to the judgement of God, Rom. 8, 1: ” There is no condemnation to them, which are in Christ Jesus.” All believers are in Christ, Ephes. 3, 17: ” Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” — Which proves, that after his departing from this life, the believer cannot be said to be visited by the judgement of God.

888. 2. It is contrary to the happy state the believers are declared to be in after their death; Rom. 6, 7: “He that is dead (in Christ) is freed from sin;” Wisd. 3, 1: “The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and there shall no torment touch them;” Rev. 14, 13: “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: yea saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” —

It is evident that these statements with regard to the state of the souls of the redeemed, are not consistent with the doctrine of purgatory.

889. 3. Even those who come to eternal salvation, being redeemed without having done penance for their sins, need not go into any sort of purgatory or the like. Thus we read that Lazarus, immediately after his death, was carried by the Angels into Abraham’s bosom, Luk. 16, 22; and that the Lord Jesus gave to the malefactor the promise: “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise,” Luk. 23, 43. And it might be asked, in what way were all those to do penance, of whom we read that in the last day they should be caught up alive? — And if the latter mentioned are riot required to pass through this process, why should it be requisite for others?

890. 4. It is contrary to the manner in which according to scripture, we are said to be saved, viz: not by means of our own works, but by faith in Christ; John. 3, 18: “He that believeth on him (the Son), is not condemned;” Rom. 3, 24: “We are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus;” v. 28: “We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” — Accordingly, if the believer is to be saved only by faith, and not by his own works or any other means, it is evident, that no purgatory is necessary for cleansing him from his sins.

891. c. The different apparitions etc., with which the Souls of the dead are said to have frequently favoured some living mortal, have not only no foundation in scripture, but are also contrary to scripture. They may be contradicted by the following: St. Paul has given us a description of Satan (2. Cor. 11, 14); there is therefore great danger that Satan might be in some way or other concerned in the apparitions spoken of above. In scripture we have no instance of it given us, much less are we told to inquire anything of these spirits. And the news which these spirit in general bring, very much testify that the whole is evil, and these things have done a great deal to aid the coming in of the Antichrist. Remember, Lazarus was not to be sent again to the world (as he wished it), in order to warn the rich man’s brothers, Luk. 16, 17. We are also forbidden in such cases to listen to them, Isai. 8, 19: “should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead.” There should be none to be found in Israel who was a consultor of the dead, Deut. 18, 11.

892. d. How much the souls of the dead know about things from without them. The soul on being separated from the body, undoubtedly gets a clearer insight in every thing; which is the case more especially with the souls of the saints after their having been freed from that body of sin. But in spite of this, we are not entitled to ascribe to these souls the attribute of Omniscience. This is a property, to which no creature has a right to lay claim, 1.’ Kings. 8, 39: “For thou, even thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men.” It is therefore erroneous to imagine that the saints in heaven have a knowledge of every thing that concerns man, and that they are able to hear man’s prayers.

893. For no man is able to discern the things of God as they pass within His holy mind. Nor have we any information to the end that the saints know every thing concerning man; on the contrary such a notion is disproved, Isai. 63, 16: “Doubtless thou art our father though Abraham be ignorant of us.” — In general it is said of the dead that “they know not anything;” and “his (the dead man’s) sons come, to honour, and he knoweth it not, and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them,” Job. 14, 21.

894. e. The occupation of the departed souls; concerning this we have to inquire,

Whether they he occupied at all? We answer in the affirmative, for we learn from scripture, that the elect are continually engaged in glorifying God, as is shown in the figure of the twenty four elders, Rev. 4, 18; 5, 18 ff. They call down vengeance upon their adversaries, Rev. 6, 9. 10: “I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held; and they cried with a loud voice, saying: how long, “O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on earth?” ~ And knowing the many trials a believer has to endure upon earth, the souls of the saints also make intercession for them. Rev. 5,8: “The twenty four elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints.”

895. A second question is, whether the souls of the departed saints are making especial intercession for those, who address themselves to them in their distress. It is to be supposed, that the departed saints are making intercession for the church and her sufferings. For the wickedness of the world and the devil are well known to them, since they have experienced them themselves; for which reason their take also a certain interest in those christians who are still engaged in this warfare. Still there is but one such case mentioned in scripture, viz: that of Judas Maccabaeus who in a vision, saw the highpriest Onias and the prophet Jeremiah (which both were then dead) making prayers for the whole nation of Israel, 2 Maccab. 15, 12. 14. But that all saints are doing so, — or that they are doing so for those who turn to them in their distresses, is quite uncertain. From scripture we are not able to learn anything about it, nor from the report of any one who returned from the grave to tell us all about it, — nor is such done Luk. 16, 27. Whosoever therefore is resting his hope upon this intercession, is sure to deceive himself, is taking the shadow for the substance and will find no rest for his soul.

896. The souls of the condemned also have their occupation, but it is one of a different and painful nature. They are said to be groaning for anguish and spirit, Wisd. 5, 3. ff.: “When they see it they shall be troubled with terrible fear, and shall be amazed at the strangeness of his salvation, so far beyond all that they looked for” etc. — They are said to be mourning over their pains, and the unsupportable wrath of God, Rev. 6, 16. 17: “They said to the mountains and rocks, fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” — They blaspheme the Majesty on high. Rev. 16, 10. 11: “They gnawed their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and sores.”

897. f. Some souls are in the state of Salvation, and others not. The last judgement has, as we know, not yet come to pass; and accordingly some are of opinion, that the souls of the dead have not yet entered either of the abovementioned two estates; maintaining that all the while the souls of the redeemed are looking forward with delight to being brought into the full enjoyment of salvation by the last judgement, — whilst the souls of the evildoers are awaiting with terror the judgement to be pronounced upon them. But inquires of this nature are of little importance, It seems to be more conformable to scripture that, after being separated from the body, the souls of the just come to salvation, and those of the damned to condemnation. This seems to be clearly expressed by the Lord Jesus himself, Luk. 16, 22. 23, and can also be established by other testimonies from scripture, John. 5, 24: “He that heareth my word, etc. hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life;” Rev. 14, 13: “blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth.” To which also may be added the example of the malefactor, whom the Lord Jesus promised that he was to be with him in paradise on that very day. — It is of no importance that the final judgement has not yet been held, for those who do not believe, are condemned already, John. 3, 18; and in this judgement not only the soul, but also the body is to be judged. This suspense of a looking forward for a coming judgment, would fill the hearts of many with unspeakable pain. — But one thing we know to remain true and established, and that is: “if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth there it shall be,” Eccl. 11, 3.

898. III. Again it is common to all men, that they rise from their graves, or the resurrection from the dead. Concerning this we have to consider:

1. Whether the dead really do rise, and whereby this is to be known? Unreasonable animals, after having once died, do not return again to life; but man is superior to the latter in that he is rising from the grave, to have bis body and soul united again, thereby constituting again an entire individual, as has been the case previous to his death. But this it is not easy to believe for a carnal mind, which if it does not deny this truth with words, is yet doing so in his works. Thus for instance understood Alexander and Hymenaeus the resurrection of the dead only in a spiritual sense, 2 Tim. 2, 18. But that the body is to rise,again, can be proved:

899. From scripture, which teaches, and frequently refers to the doctrine of the resurrection of the body; Job. 19, 25. 26: “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand on the latter day upon earth: and though after my skin, worms destroy my body, yet in my flesh shall I see God;” Psl. 34, 21: “He (the Lord) keepeth all his (the righteous} bones: not one of them is broken;” Isa. 25, 7. 8: “He (the Lord) will destroy in this mountain the lace of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death in victory;” ibid. Chap. 26, 19: “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of, herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” Dan. 12, 2: “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt;” Hos. 6, 2: ” After two days will he revive us, in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight;” Mace. 7, 9:.”the Kings of the world shall raise us up, who have died for his laws, unto everlasting life.” John. 5, 28. 29: “The hour is cording, in the which all that are in the grave shall hear his (the Son’s) voice, and shall come forth” etc.; ibid. Chap. 6. 40: “This is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” This subject has also been spoken of bv St.’ Paul, 1 Cor. 15, 10, ff.

900. The Bible also teaches us the resurrection by means of certain very beautiful figures. Thus Ezekiel (37, 1 ff.) saw in a vision a “valley which was full of bones,” and which on the Holy Ghost’s breathing on them, “the sinews and the flesh came upon them and the skin covered them above;” cf. John. 12, 24 ff.; 1. Cor. 15, 37. 38. 43. And like as the seed is put into the ground and withers to rise again in beauty, — so man is is sown in dishonour, and rises again in honour etc.; cf. also the vision. Rev. 20, 13: “The sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them.”

901. The Bible also tells us of some instances of the dead having been brought to life again. Thus the son of the widow at Zarpath was Raised again by Elijah, 1. Kings. 17, 22; the son of the Shunamite by Elisha, 2. Kings. 4, 35; cf. also 2. Kings. 13, 21. — Similar instances are to be found in the New testament; as for instance the Lord’s raising up the daughter of Jairi, Matth. 9, 25; and the son of the widow at Nain, Luk. 7, 15; Lazarus, John. 11, 44; again Peter’s miraculously raising Tabitha, 9, 40; and Paul’s raising Eutychus, Acts. 20, 10. 12. Amongst those who have risen again after their death are also to be counted Enoch and Elias, whom God has taken up alive, Gen. 5, 24; 2. Kings. 2, 11; as also the saints that have risen with Christ, Matth. 27, 52. 53. All which is told us to the end that we might believe the resurrection to be a divine doctrine. But it is more especially from the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, that the doctrine of our resurrection is sufficiently established, 1 Cor. 15, 22 ff.

902. The resurrection can also be proved by necessary deductions. As for instance God declares Himself to be the God of Abraham, of Isaac and Jacob, Exod. 3, 6. To which the Lord Jesus adds “God is not the God of the dead but of the living,” drawing from this the conclusion, that the patriarchs were to rise again, Matth. 22, 32. — Again, if we consider the many promises which God has given unto man, we must conclude that there must “be a life in which these promises are to be carried into effect.

903. But more especially the resurrection may be proved from the nature of man. For he is created in such a manner, that his conscience tells him of a reward that is to be given to the good and the evil, in consequence of which even many of the learned heathens have been of opinion that there must be a resurrection after death.

904. 2. Which creatures are destined to partake of the resurrection. In this respect we have to inquire:

Whether unreasonable beings are also to rise again. Of this we find nothing in scripture; and we have therefore no right to exercise our own fancies on this head. That they do not rise again, can be proved from the fact, that in the whole range of scripture no other, but the resurrection of man is taken notice of. Besides we know that in the last day every creature, with the exception of man, is to perish.

905. Whether monsters, and such like axe to rise again. –

Answer: as long as they are to be looked upon as human beings, they are not to be considered as being excluded from the resurrection; but if it should happen that in shape, feature etc., such an unfortunate creature cannot be considered as a human being, — then we leave it in the hand of God to do as He pleases, since nothing has been revealed to about it in scripture.

906. Whether little children, that have died after their having been conceived in the mother’s womb, or immediately after their birth, previous to baptism having been conferred upon them, are to rise also. We answer: every human being is to partake of the resurrection. It is true that some are of the opinion that the soul is joining the Phoetus only after the fourtieth day of its having been conceived, and that it is by this occurrence that the human being takes a beginning. But as the soul takes its existence contemporary with the conceived fruit, building up the body for a fit vessel unto himself; it is more probable that the soul is beginning to exist at the moment of conception. This consideration makes it probable that the beings in question do rise on the last day.

907. Whether the ungodly also are to rise again? There can be no doubt about that. It is true that there are some, who are of opinion, that the eternal death with which the ungodly are threatened, do not admit of their resurrection. But their resurrection is expressly taught in scripture; Dan. 12,2: “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt;” John. 5, 28. 29: “An that are in the grave shall hear his voice and shall come forth: they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.” This can also be proved from what we learn concerning the last judgement; for in this judgement all human beings, consequently also the evildoers, are to be judged, Matth. 25, 31. And as the final judgement is to take place subsequent to the resurrection, it follows, that the ungodly also shall be required to rise. In short every human being, whatever be his state, circumstance etc., is to rise again on the last day, Rev. 20, 12: “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened” etc.

908. The state in which the human body is to be in, by his resurrection. Here again we have to observe:

i. Are they to rise again with substantially the same bodies as they died. We are to rise with precisely the same bodies, for in the first place, this we are expressly taught in scripture. Job. 19, 25. — Secondly, because our frail bodies (and, not other bodies) are to be glorified and “fashioned like unto Christ’s glorious body,” Philip. 3, 21. — Thirdly, because in all the instances recorded to us in scripture, all have risen again with the same bodies they had previous to their death; such was the case with Lazarus, Tabetha etc. We are, more especially supported in our conclusion by the resurrection of Christ himself; for he brought from his grave a glorified body, though it contained the marks of the spear with which he had been pierced, John. 20, 27, proving this glorified body to be the same which had been nailed to the cross. And thus it will he with the rest of men. — In the last place, because there can be no single proof adduced from scripture, that there is to rise a body different from that which has been put into the grave, and this notion is therefore to be rejected as erroneous.

909. ii. Are the bodies to rise again in the shape etc. and with the same infirmities they happened to have upon them? With regard to the shape, the frame etc. of the body, we are not able to make any assertions — though some froward people have endeavoured to. do so, — because we are told nothing about it in scripture. Nor is this point of any importance. It, is most probable that children and others, which have not arrived at their proper growth, are to rise in the full growth they would have arrived at, if they had lived long enough. For thereby their nature had been imperfect, and in the resurrection every imperfection is to be done away with. Nevertheless we ought not to overlook what we read Rev. 20, 12, and on other places. — With regard to the infirmities, they are doubtlessly to be removed, for we know that our frail bodies are to be glorified, Phil. 3, 21. Paul also testifies that our body “is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised, in power,” 1. Cor. 15, 43.

910. iii. Whereby are the souls of the redeemed to be distinguished from those of the condemned? We are told in general, that in the resurrection the body of the saints is to be like that of God’s Angels, Matth. 22, 30; — Phil. 3, 21: “The Lord Jesus Christ shall change our vile, body” etc. — This change manifests itself in that these bodies are made to be:

911. Spiritual. 1. Cor. 15, 44: “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.” Not as if thereby the body was changed into a spirit, — for it has been proved already that a spirit cannot have flesh and blood. The spirituality here intended is to be observed on Christ’s body, that had also flesh and blood, Luk. 24, 39. It is called a spiritual body because of the spiritual gifts and properties with which it has been endued.

912. To shine in brightness, Daniel. 12,3: “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of a firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever;” Matth. 13, 43: “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. — This same property is also spoken of with reference to the Lord Jesus, for we are told that “he was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.” And we read that the children of Israel “could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance,” 2. Cor. 3, 7; Exod. 34, 30; and if this shining brightness has been observed with some, we may be sure that it shall be found upon all the saints.

913. Invisible. Not as if thereby they could not be seen wherever they are, but so that it is in their opinion to allow themselves to be seen or hot. It was in this manner that the Lord Jesus appeared unto his disciples, Mrk. 16, 14. He came upon them unawares so that they “supposed that they had seen a spirit,” Luk. 24, 37; and he “vanished” (ceased to be seen) again out of their sight, Luk. 24, 31. The saints that had risen with Christ, were not seen of all, but they only “appeared unto many,” Matth. 27, 53. This proves that it is in the option of these glorified bodies to allow themselves to be seen or not; as is the case with God, Genes. 12. 7; — with the Angels, Judg. 13, 3. 21; — and with the saints in heaven, Matth. 17, 3.

914. Again these glorified bodies are endowed with the power of penetrating every thing, even those to which a human body has no access. On the occasion of the Angel appearing unto the virgin, he had not need to open a door etc. in order to be seen by her, and accordingly on seeing him she was frightened, Luis. 1, 29. In the same way the Lord Jesus appeared unto the disciples, being then assembled “the doors being shut,” so that they were “terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit,” Luk. 24, 37; John. 20, 19. 26. The same state of things was manifested on the occasion of Christ’s walking on the water, and which he bid Peter to do likewise, Matth. 24, 25. 29.

915. Immortal and incorruptible, 1 Cor. 15, 42: “it is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption;” v. 53: “this corruptible must put on incorruption;” and this mortal must put on immortality.” For we are called “to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away,” one “which is reserved for us in heaven,” 1 Pet. 1, 4. We know also, that “Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over him,” Rom. 6, 9, and that “if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him,” Rom. 6, 8.

916. Perfect in their powers, Isa. 40, 31: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint.” — More especially their powers of visions and perception are to be made perfect, which are in our present state so imperfect, that we cannot see God, Exod. 32, 20; Job. 19, 26. 27; 1 Cor. 13, 12: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face;” 1 John. 3, 2: “We shall see him as he is;” Matth. 5, 8: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”

917. Perfect in their strength, so that they shall not want food for the sustenance of the body; Isa. 49, 10: “They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor the sun smite them;” Rev. 7, 16.,.They are before the judgements seat of God; they shall not any more hunger nor thirst” etc. Thus much concerning the properties of the glorified bodies.

918. Is there to be a distinction between these bodies with reference to the degree of glorification? — Decidedly: for we are promised, that on the day of resurrection God will reward our good deeds, Luk. 14, 13. 14: “When thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee; for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” But salvation is not to be looked upon as such a reward, since it is not to come by our own works, Ephes..2,8. 9. This reward is therefore dealt out in different proportions, as St. Paul writes: 1 Cor. 15, 40. 41: “There are celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another; there is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from the other in glory, so also is the resurrection of the dead.” 

919. The distinguishing marks of the bodies of the wicked. They are to be deprived of all the glorious gifts mentioned as being granted to the saints; a state of things that is to tend to their eternal destruction, Isa. 66, 24: “their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched.” Of this subsequently.

920. e. At what time this resurrection is to take place. Some are of opinion, that the Lord Jesus intends to, raise up a kingdom after the resurrection from the dead, when all wickedness shall have been destroyed. This kingdom they maintain, is to be a spiritual kingdom, — but yet one that is on this earth; and is to last for the space of a thousand years, after which the world is to be consumed, and the condemnation of the wicked and the Salvation of the redeemed to commence. To this we cannot assent, for:

1. The resurrection and the last judgement are to take place at one and the same day, John. 6, 40: “I will raise him up at the last day;” Chap. 11, 24: “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

2. In the resurrection the elect are not to remain on this earth, but they are to be taken up, to meet the Lord, and to be with him, not only, for the space of a thousand years, but for ever, 1 Thess. 4, 16. 17: “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout etc. and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we be ever with the Lord.”

921. It is true that we are told Rev. 20, 4: that “the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus,” were to “reign with Christ a thousand years.” ‘ But this refers only to the circumstances the Church militant is to be in, whilst upon this earth, and the persecutions which it is to experience. That this prediction in reality is not referring to a millennium, can be proved by the following:

i. We have shown already, that the dead are not to rise before the day of judgement;

ii. The last times are said to be evil, and not very prosperous days, 2 Tim, 3, 1. — “The love of many shall wax cold,” Matth. 24, 12; “the harvest is the end of the world; as therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of the world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity,” Matth. 13,139. ff. — The devil also is to mnnifest himself in his most heinous shape at the approach of the last day, Rev. 12, 12: “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth he has but a short time.”

iii. At the end of the thousand years, Gog and Magog are to commence a severe war against the saints, besides the many temptations with which Satan is to be busy, as is shown v. 9 of the same Chapter. But this cannot agree with the supposed kingdom which Christ is said to erect upon earth.

922. Again to all men is in common:

IV. the last judgment. Of this we have to observe:

1. Are we to expect a final judgment. About this there cannot be a doubt maintained by any Christian, for it is frequently referred to and taught in scripture. Nor ought any reasonable being to have any hesitation to admit this, since he finds it written in his heart and conscience; Rom. 2, 15. 16 we are told of the Gentiles that “their (the Gentile’s) conscience also (is) bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another; in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my Gospel 

2. Who is to be the Judge? The scriptures mention different names, viz:

i. God; God is the judge of all the world, Pslm. 9, 8. 9: “the Lord shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment to the people in uprightness. The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble;” Isai. 3, 13. 14: “The Lord standeth up to plead, and standeth up to judge the people; the Lord will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people.”

ii. Jesus Christ; John. 5, 22: “The father hath committed all judgment unto the Son; Rom. 14, 10: “We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” Now we know that there are two natures in Christ, viz: the human nature, and the divine nature; thus constituted he is to be the judge the world. John. 5, 27 (The Father) “hath given him (the Son) authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man;” Matth. 25, 31: “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy Angels with him” etc.

iii. The saints; 1. Cor. 6, 2: “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world;” Matth. 19, 28: “When the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” — Scripture moreover maintains that difference, that God the Holy Trinity is to be the sole and principle judge, but that Christ the Lord, as a Person is to execute that judgment as the visible representative of the Trinity. God has, according to Acts. 17,31 “appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he has ordained.” Whilst the saints are to act as witnesses to the fact, that God has offered unto all those men, who are now about to be condemned the means of Salvation, but that they had rejected the same, Mrk. 6, 11; Acts. 13, 46. 51.

924. 3. Who is to be judged?: All human beings that ever have existed, Matth. 25, 31: “before him shall be gathered all nations;” Isai. 45, 23; Rom. 14, 11: “Every knee shall bow to me and every tongue shall confess to God;” 2. Cor. 5,10; “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” 

925. 4. At what time is this judgment to take place? At the end of the world, Matth. 13, 40 ff.: “So shall it be in the end of this world; the Son of man shall send forth his Angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire.” —

It is here the place to speak of the consummation of the whole world.

i. Is this world to last for ever; or is it to pass away one day? That this world is one day to pass away, we find frequently testified in Scripture; Pslm. 102, 26. 27: “The heavens are the work of thy hands; they shall perish, but thou shalt endure, yea all of them shall wax old like a garment, as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed;” Luk. 21, 33: “heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away;” 2. Pet. 3, 10: “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”

927. ii. Is the world, in its substance to pass away, or is it merely to be renewed? Like as the world has been made out of nothing, so also is to pass again away into nothing. This is clear from the evidences adduced already, and agrees also with what we read, Rev. 21, 1: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea;’‘ Isai. 65, 17: “I create new ‘heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.”

928. iv. At what time is this to take place? If we inquire after the month, day or hour — this is not revealed unto us; Mrk. 13,22: “Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son (that is, in his state of humiliation) but the Father.” — If we look at the state of things in the world, we may rest assured that the end of the world is not far of, inasmuch as all the signs which were to mark its approach are almost all fulfilled. As such signs are pointed out to us: “Wars and rumors of war,” Matth. 24, 6; “the love of many shall wax cold,” v. 12. (false) “security,” Luk. 17, 26 ff.; 1. Thess. 5, 3: “the appearance of false Christs and false prophets,” Matth. 24, 23 ff; the man of sin “is to he revealed,” 2. Thess. 2, 2. 3; “signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars,” Luk. 21, 25; distress of nations and perplexity, “man’s hearts failing them for fear,” v. 25, 26,; “all Israel shall be saved,” as announced by Paul, Eom. 11, 25. 26: “I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, that blindness in part is happened Unto Israel, until the fulness of the ‘Gentiles come in; and so shall all Israel be saved.” — This is also prophecied by Moses, Deut. 4, 30: “When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn unto the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient to his voice.” This can properly be understood to imply nothing else, than that, before the coming of the last day, the Jewish people is to be converted in large numbers to the Lord. — Another characteristic of these times is “the sign of the Son of man,” Matth. 24, 30. It is uncertain, whether this sign is to appear on heaven, or any where else. If it should refer to the signs stated above, then we shall have plenty opportunity of seeing them; or if it intends anything else, we shall be permitted to observe the same in due time; but in the meantime we ought not to imagine that the end of the world is not to come, unless it is preceded by some signal and wonderful token. — Another sign again is the preaching of the Gospel in the whole world, Matth. 24, 14. This is carried into effect either in the way the Apostles used to do; or it it refers to the revealing of the Antichrist, for thereby the Gospel is preached all over the world.

These signs — with the exception of the conversion of the Jews, and the preaching of the Gospel to every creature having been fulfilled, they must be looked upon as the sure messengers of the approaching consummation of all things’; though they do not enable us to point out the month, the day, or the hour of its finally taking effect. Just as a high age is the sure messenger of a man’s approaching end, though it does not point out the day or the hour of his ultimate death.

929. v. The business of this judgement. Before this court every thing that men ever have done, be they evil or good: or whatever good they have omitted to do, is to be judged; 2. Cor. 5,10: “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or evil;” Eccl. 12, 14: “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” — There is nothing hid that is not to be brought to light in this judgment; cf. Eccl. 12, 14 and Rom. 2, 16: “God shall judge the secrets of men;” 1. Cor. 4, 5: “The Lord will bring to light the hidden things of darkness,” and man’s deeds, Matth. 25, 35. 42; ibid. 12, 36. 37: “Every idle word that man shall speak, they shall have to give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned;” 1. Cor. 4, 5: The Lord will also on that occasion “make manifest the counsels of the heart.”

930. vi. The nature of the judgment, that is to be pronounced. It is to be a judgment for eternity, which is never to be retracted, and the effect of which shall last for ever; for thereby men are either to come to the enjoyment of eternal salvation, or of eternal condemnation. Of which two kinds of judgment the Lord Jesus has made special mention, Matth. 25, 34: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;” v. 41: “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

931. vii. The execution of this judgment. This is to take effect as follows: Matth. 25, 46: “These (the condemned) shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into eternal life.” Thus much with reference to that which is common (though with a different effect) to all mortals.

932. The distinguishing marks which are to exist in the future life between the godly and the ungodly. These are to be salvation and eternal condemnation. We have proved already, that the souls of the departed are conscious of the state they are ultimately to be brought in in the last judgment, even before this takes place. — We have now to consider these two different conditions more especially, and what is to become of men after the dissolution of the world.

933. a. Eternal life. In the preceding parts of this work we have shown how that before God all men are found to be sinners, — and by what means it pleases Him, to convert them from their sins, and in which way, after having justified them, He preserves them in their new estate. And that although God is redeeming men in His Church, this blessed state is yet imperfect, and mixed up with many troubles, but not without the comforting assurance that this state is to be improved and made perfect in the state of eternal salvation. — Concerning this we have to keep in mind three things:

i. In the state of salvation all evil is to he done away with, with which man has ever been troubled, Isai. 25, 8: “The Lord God will wipe away tears from off all the faces;” Rev. 21, 4: “And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.” — But more especially all the viles and the lusts of the devil are to be done away with and vanquished; and according to Rom. 16, 20, also the death; Isai. 25, 8: “The Lord God will swallow up death in victory;” 1. Cor. 15, 26: “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death;”- Rev. 21, 4: “There shall be no more death.” — Again there are to be done away the outrages of the mighty of this earth, Wisd. 5, 1: “Then shall the righteous man stand in great boldness before the face of such as have afflicted him, and made no account of his labours;” — anxiety and labor. Rev. 14, 13: “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord,… they may rest from their labours;” Isai. 66, 23: “From one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.” — Poverty and other misfortune; Lazarus had no more complaints, after he had been carried into Abraham’s bosom, Luk. 16, 25, for there God is to be “all in all,” 1. Cor. 15, 28. The saints have, even in this life already, the comforting assurance, and the satisfaction., that they have a merciful God, Pslm. 73, 25. 26, Moses was able to remain with the Lord upon the mountain, for the space of fourty days and fourty nights, without his tasting any food, Exod. 34, 28. How much more shall the saints find satisfaction in gloriously viewing the divine Being, His Majesty and His Glory, so as never to perceive hunger or thirst, Rev. 7, 16.

935. ii. In the state of salvation there is to be an abundance of every good. This state is liked to a marriage feast, in which everything is ready, Matth. 8, 11ff.: “Many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven;” Luk. 22, 29. 30: “I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me, that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom;” Pslm. 36, 9:. “‘They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.” — Again the state of salvation is described as one of great glory, Coloss. 3, 4: “When Christ who is your life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” 2. Cor. 4, 17: “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;” — Another appellation for this state is also “unceasing Joy” John. 16, 22: “I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you;” a joy not to be comprehended, 1. Cor. 2, 9: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things; which God hath prepared for them that love him;” — a joy unspeakable, 1, Pet. 1, 8: “ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” — This joy is designated by Abraham as a comfort, Luk. 16, 25: “Lazarus received evil things, but now he is comforted.” It is a delightful viewing of the divine Being and His Glory, Job. 19, 26. 27: “In my flesh shall I see God;” Matth. 5, 8; “Blessed are the pure in heart” etc.; Ps. 42, 2: “My soul thirsteth after God: when shall I come and appear before God?” 1. Cor. 13,12: “Now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known;” 1. John. 3, 2: “Now are we the sons of God and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” — The state of Salvation is likewise one of sweet communion with the holy Angels, the Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs and the rest of the elect, whose remembrance is also dear to us in this life, Heb. 12, 22: “But ye are come unto mount Sion, unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly of the Church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.’*

936. iii. In the state of salvation the redeemed have no other occupation, than unceasingly to sing praises unto God. The occupation of the holy Angels is that they continually exclaim one to another, Isai. 6, 3: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth, is full of his glory.” A more well pleasing service the elect are not able to render unto God, when enjoying eternal life, than to sing His praises, Rev. 4, 8: “they rest not day and night, saying. Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come;” Chap. 5, 8 ff.: “four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints; and they sung a new song, saying, thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;” Chap, 7, 11. 12: “the elders fell before the throne on their faces and worshipped God, saying, Amen: Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving, and honour and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.” Chap. 22, 10: “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them.”

937. b. The miserable state of the condemned in hell; concerning this we have to consider:

i. That in hell there is nothing to be found of all the good a man is able to enjoy, and part of which has been stated in the preceding paragraph. The condemned are not to enjoy these blessings, because they are entirely excluded from the kingdom of God, Rev. 22, 15: “For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie;” 2. Thess. 1, 9: “Who (the wicked) shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” — They are also to be denied the light which gladdens the heart of every man, Pslm. 49, 20: “They shall never see light;” to them “is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever,” Jud. 13; “Bind him hand and foot and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” Matth. 22, 13. — The weary and thirtsty traveller is enlivened by the cooling draught; but to those condemned to hell fire, this benefit is to be denied, as we see exemplified in the case of the rich man’, Luk. 16, 24. 25. The weary is rejoicing in his rest; but those worn out by the anxieties of hell are to find no such rest. Rev. 14, 11: “They have no rest day and night.”

983. ii. The condemned are to experience all that is calculated to give to man trouble, pain and anxiety. More especially the fearful consciousness of God’s wrath, Rev. 6, 16. 17: “They said to the mountains and rocks, fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?” — The painful society of the spirits of the hell and of those of all the condemned. Hellfire is prepared for the devil and his Angels, Matth. 25, 41. As also unspeakable pain in body and soul, such as the pangs of an evil conscience, remorse for having rejected the grace of God, and not listened to the divine warnings etc. This state of things is called “everlasting punishment,” Matth. 25, 46; — “a torment,” Luk. 16, 23; Rev. 20, 10: they “shall be tormented day and night;” — “wailing and gnashing of teeth,” Matth. 13, 42; — “everlasting destruction,” 2. Thess. 1, 9. This anguish of soul is prefigured, by the use of the term “fire,” since it is fire only that can inflict upon man the most intense pain. Thus the rich man says, Luk. 16, 24: “I am tormented in this flame;” Matth. 25, 41: “Depart from me, ye cursed into everlasting fire;” Chapt. 3, 12: “He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire;” Rev. 14, 11: “the smoke of their torment ascended up for ever and ever;” Chap. 20, 15: “Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire;” Chap. 21, 8: “But the fearful, the unbelieving etc. shall have their part in the lake which bumeth with fire and brimstone.” “Fire” signifies the fierce and insupportable wrath of God; Deut. 32, 22: “for a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell;” Isai. 30, 33: “Tophet is ordained of old; yea for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord shall kindle it;” Chap. 65, 5: “These (the idolaters) are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all day.” — Finally the state of the condemned is compared to a worm within the heart that never dies, Isa. 66, 24; Mrk. 9, 44: “Their worm dieth not, and fire is not quenched.” 

With the perfecting of the enjoyment of eternal salvation, God’s merciful works are concluded, and with the final condemnation His eternal wrath and anger are for ever determined to take effect, so that after the last judgement men have neither to work out, nor to expect any change in their condition. For after this nobody can go void of his salvation, as little as anybody can be redeemed from hell. Each is to remain for ever in the state he was put in on that occasion. — And, accordingly, it is here the proper place to conclude our work, which has been undertaken for the purpose of pointing out to man, what he has to know and to believe, in order that he might avoid condemnation, and come to eternal salvation.

The Author’s concluding Prayer. 

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O holy and blessed Trinity, the only source and fountain of all our temporal and eternal welfare, enable us, we beseech thee, so to live, that whilst the day of mercy is still open to us, we may escape all the evils which are to befall the wicked and the unbelievers, and grant that, when the last day arrives, we may be able appear with joy before the judgment seat of the Son of man. Amen! Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is our Mediator, our Redeemer, our help in time of need, and the Author and Finisher of our faith, in whom all promises of God are yea and amen!

Amen.