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life with God after death. He looks on death as his end. If he dies, he says, he will not see the Lord in the land of the living, any more than he will see man with the inhabitants of the world. God's mercies, he thinks, will end with his death. God can only show his mercy and truth by saving him from death. For the grave cannot praise God, death cannot celebrate him ; those who go down into the pit cannot hope for his truth. The living, the living, shall praise God; as Hezekiah praises him that day, because God has cured him of his sickness, and added fifteen years to his life.
No language can be plainer than this. A man who had believed that he would go to heaven when he died could not have used it.
In many of the Psalms, likewise, you will find words of exactly the same kind, which show that the men who wrote them had no clear conception, if any conception at all, of a life after death.
Solomon's words about death are utterly awful from their sadness. With him, that which be‘falleth the sons of men befalleth beasts ; as one dieth so dieth the other. Yea, they have all 'one breath, so that a man hath no pre-eminence ‘over a beast, and all is vanity. All go to one
place, all are of the dust, and all turn to dust "again. Who knoweth the spirit of man that ‘goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast, that ‘goeth downward to the earth ?'
He knows nothing about it. All he knows is, that the spirit shall return to God who gave it,and that a man will surely find, in this life, a recompense for all his deeds, whether good or evil.
Remember therefore thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor 'the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I ' have no pleasure in them. ... Fear God, and keep his commandments : for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work 'into judgment, with every secret thing, whe'ther it be good, or whether it be evil.'
This is the doctrine of the Old Testament; that God judges and rewards and punishes men in this life: but as for death, it is a great black cloud into which all men must enter, and see and be seen no more. Only twice or thrice,
perhaps, a gleam of light from beyond breaks through the dark. David, the noblest and wisest of all the Jews, can say once that God will not leave his soul in hell, neither suffer his holy one to see corruption; Job says that, though after his skin worms destroy his body, yet in his flesh he shall see God; and Isaiah again, when he sees his countrymen slaughtered, and his nation all but destroyed, can say, '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 “the morning, which brings the parched herbs to * life and freshness again.'—Great and glorious sayings, all of them : but we cannot tell how far either David, or Job, or Isaiah, were thinking of a life after death. We can think of a life after death when we use them; for we know how they have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ our Lord ; and we can see in them more than the Jews of old could do ; for, like all inspired words, they mean more than the men who wrote them thought of; but we have no right to impute our Christianity to them.
The only undoubted picture, perhaps, of the next life to be found in the Old Testament, is that grand one in Isaiah xiv., where he paints to us the tyrant king of Babylon going down into hell :
'Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet 'thee at thy coming; it stirreth up the dead for 'thee, even all the chief ones of the earth ; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All they shall speak and say ‘unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? ‘art thou become like unto us? Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the 'worms cover thee. How art thou fallen from 'heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art
thou cut down to the ground, which didst 'weaken the nations !'- Awful and grand enough : but quite different, you will observe from the notions of hell which are common now-a-days; and much more like those which we read in the old Greek poets, and especially, in the Necyomanteia of the Odyssey.
When it was that the Jews gained any fuller notions about the next life, it is very difficult to say. Certainly not before they were carried away captive to Babylon. After that they began to mix much with the great nations of the East: with Greeks, Persians, and Indians ; and from them, most probably, they learned to believe in a heaven after death, to which good men would go, and a fiery hell to which bad men would go. At least, the heathen nations round them, and our forefathers likewise, believed in some sort of heaven and hell, hundreds of years before the coming of our blessed Lord.
The Jews had learned, also—at least the Pharisees—to believe in the resurrection of the dead. Martha speaks of it; and St. Paul, when he tells the Pharisees that having been brought up a Pharisee, he was on their side against the Sadducees.—'I am a Pharisee,' he says, the son of a Pharisee. For the hope of 'the resurrection of the dead I am called in question.'
But if it be so,-if St. Paul and the Apostles believed in heaven and hell, and the resurrection