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and the Strength of their own Reason, commonly called the Heathen or Gentile Nations; and secondly, of those called Christians, who seek to derive Aid from divine Revelation.
Among the former, I consider the ancient Romans as the chief, and their great Poet Virgil has pointed out, and described, fit mansions, and proper Employments for them, in what are called the Elysian Fields, (Æneid, book VI;) and Monsieur Simon, (in a memoir, read before the French Academy of Sciences, under the title, Dissertation sur les Lemures), tells us, that "the Romans, according to Ovid and Apuleius, gave the general name of Lemures to departed Souls of every degree; but that they were distinguished into two different Species; the one harmless, benevolent, innocent and joyous; taking Pleasure in their Services to good men, and especially to the surviving Families of those who had been their Friends and Benefactors in Life;-whose houses they took under their Protection, and watched or guarded with particular care, by the name of Lares, or household Gods: The others were called Larva, a troublesome and mischievous kind of Sprites, who return from the grave only to make disturbances and excite quarrels among the Living.
As to the second, or more modern Class of Men, who seek aid from Divine Revelation, (and are generally called Christians), they are not very well agreed among themselves, and are also again subdivided into modern Romans, commonly called Catholics, and those called Protestants. The former have devised a place named Purgatory" for the
departed Spirits, or Souls of their Dead; where they are to remain in a further state of Probation and Purification, till the Day of the Lord comes! They hold further, that the Prayers of good men upon Earth, as well as the Intercessions of Saints and Angels in Heaven, are effectual at the Throne of God, towards the Perfection of their Nature, and preparing them for Consummation in Glory and Happiness!"
The Abuse of this Doctrine, the gainful trade instituted, or engrafted upon it, by Deceivers, and those willing to be deceived, as I never thought it much worthy of an earlier attention in Life, I shall not think it worthy of a present discussion*, in a Sermon or to detain such an enlightened Audience as is now before me on this occasion. It is enough
The notes to my Sermons in general arise out of the texts, and contain illustrations which could not properly be delivered from the Pulpit, but are intended for the Closet. For example, the following notes to this Sermon, are only further illustrations of the main subject of it....the state of the Soul after its Separation from the Body by Death; till their Re-union at the Resurrection, and passing together through Judgment, to the untried and unexplored scenes of an Eternal World. That there is an intermediate space of time, between Death and the Resurrection, more than enough has been said to prove. It was the old Pythagorean doctrine taught by the Philosophers of many ancient Nations. It seems to be countenanced also by an authority older and more sacred still; I mean the Bible History, or story of the Woman, or Witch of Endor, (1 Sam. Chap. XXVIII), who had a familiar Spirit, that was permitted to wander in the night, betwixt Hades, the place of Departed Spirits, and this world. Moses, much older still, (Deut. XVIII, 10,) mentions them among the Jews.But we will now go to the Gentiles, and particularly Pagan Rome; whose great Poet or Prophet, Virgil, (as hinted before), hath provided Elysian Fields, or places of abode and employment, for the Good among them; not neglecting places for the Bad also. Let us take a trip, or short tour, with him through those beautiful Fields. Plutarch says, it will
for me in this Sermon, to leave the Souls of the departed "Righteous (while their Bodies sleep in the Grave), in the Hand or holy keeping of God; and there shall no Torment touch them: In the sight of the Unwise, (and of them only), they seemed to
take but two nights and one day, and we shall have his Hero, ÆNEAS, for our Companion or Fellow-traveller, and a Sibyll or Prophetess for our Leader and Guide. She first shews him the place where the Path leading to the Mansions of the Good and Happy, divides from that leading to the abodes of the Unhappy and Miserable.—
Hic locus est, partes ubi se via findit in ambas :
Dextera que Ditis, magni sub Moenia tendit,
Hic iter Elysium nobis.-Lib. VI, 1 540—42.
Virgil then first describes the crimes and various cases of the miserable, that nothing might remain to cloud our Joy, when we come to his beautiful description of the happy places of Elysium, and the characters of those Heroes and Worthies whom he places there. The period which he assigns to them in passing from the Grave to their Consummation in Happiness, is a Thousand Years, a period not different from that asserted by other writers, sacred and profane; if some of those writers did not take their hint from him, especially the Millenarians.
ubi Mille rotam volvere per Annos Lethæum ad Fluvium Deus evocat agmine magno;
Scilicet immemores supera ut convexa revisant
Rursus, et incipiant in Corpora velle reverti.—Lib. VI. 1. 748, &c. Virgil first speaks of infants, those supposed newly Dead, "deprived "of sweet Life, out of the Course of Nature, snatched from the Breast, "and buried in an untimely Grave;" who, though they never actually sinned, and are not mentioned as the objects of Rewards or Punishments, are properly disposed of, at the entrance of those Mansions which he is about to describe, till their places within be assigned them. It also casts a Melancholy Solemnity over the scene, and interests the Mind in preparing for so grave a representation as he is to give, and for relishing its innumerable Beauties.
"Continuo audite voces, vagitus et ingens,
Infantumque animæ flentes in limine primo;
Quos dulcis vitæ exortes, et ab Ubere raptos,
“ Abstulit atra dies, et funere mersit acerbo.-—1. 426–429.
Next to those, he mentions "such as had been condemned to Death "by False Accusations.”—Falso damnati crimine mortis.—1. 430; for which some of our Critics, with the learned Dr. Warburton at their head, have
Die, and their Departure is taken for Misery, and their going from us to be Utter Destruction; but they are in Peace; for though they be punished in the sight and estimation of men, yet is their Hope full of Immortality; and having been a little Chas
censured him, as having given a place, in his Hades, or Mansions of the Dead, among other Sufferers, for innocent persons unjustly oppressed by Calumny and Slander. In the next ranks are placed Suicides, who although, free from Crimes, justly deserving death; yet, becoming sick of the Light, threw away their own lives, as Arrant Cowards.
"Proxima deinde tenent moesti loca, qui sibi lethum
"Insontes peperere manu, Lucemque perosi,
Near to the abodes of those, he places the Fields of Mourning, (properly so called), where, hid in remote by-paths, and covered in Myrtlegroves, those wander, whom Cruel Love, with his envenomed darts, consumes away, and whose cares Death itself could not relieve." -Quos durus Amor crudeli tabe peredit,
Secreti celant calles, et myrtea circum
Silva tegit. Curæ non ipsa in Morte relinquunt.-1. 442, &c. Virgil then sinks the Abodes of the Miserable twice as deep towards the Shades downwards, as the Prospect from the earth upwards to the ethereal Throne of Heaven, was before.
"Bis patet in præceps tantum, tenditque sub umbras,
Quantus ad ætherium cæli suspectus Olympum."—1. 577, &c. And this he did to fill it with those who were Guilty indeed! And here we cannot but think we find the Model or Description, which warmed and expanded Milton's Imagination in his sublimely poetical account of the Fall and Fate of Lucifer and his associates, in his Paradise Lost, after their Rebellion against the Almighty God of Heaven and Earth. Here we refer to what Virgil writesc oncerning Earth's ancient Progeny-the Giants and young Titanian Brood, cast down with thunderbolts, to the profoundest depths of the new Abyss. The two sons of Aloeus, Otus and Ephialtes, whom Homer makes nine cubits broad, and nine ells high, when they were but in the ninth year of their age; and who attempted with impious hands to overturn the spacious Heavens ; and thrust down Jove from his exalted Throne.
Qui manibus magnum rescindere cælum
Aggressi, superisque Jovem detrudere regnis.-1. 583, &c.
tized, they shall be a great deal Rewarded; for God proved them, and found them worthy for Himself;" (as it is set forth in the Book of Wisdom, Chap. III. Ver. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)
Thus likewise St. Paul, (2 Tim. Chap. I. Ver. 12)," I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed; and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him, against that Day. The crown promised to the Faithful Pastors is not to be bestowed on their separate Spirits, (1 Pet. Chap. V. Ver. 4.), until the Chief Shepherd shall appear, or until the Redemption of the
Here young Tityus, the foster son of the Earth, also lay overthrown, or cast down, whose body extended over Nine whole Acres of Space, and a huge Vultur, with her tortuous Beak, pouncing his immortal Liver and Bowels, as a fruitful source for unceasing punishments.
"Nec non et Tityon. Terrae omniparentis alumnum
"Cernere erat; per tota novem cui jugera corpus
Porrigitur; rostroque immanis Vultur obunco
"Immortale jecur tondens, foecundaque poenis
"Viscera, rimaturque epulis, habitatque sub alto
"Pectore: nec fibris requies datur ulla renatis.-1. 595, &c.
He next touches on other Crimes and other Punishments; such as of those slain for Adultery, and who joined in impious Wars against their Country; who, while life remained, had been at enmity against a Brother; had lifted a parricidal Hand, against a Father; who had wrought Deceit against a Client; or who heaped up their own ill-acquired Wealth, for self-enjoyment, without feeling for others.
"Hic, quibus invisi Fratres, dum vita manebat
"Pulsatusve Parens, et fraus innexa Clienti;
"Aut qui divitiis soli incubuere repertis,
"Nec partem posuere suis
Quique ob Adulterium cæsi: quique arma secuti
Impia, nec veriti dominorum fallere dextras;
"Inclusi poenam expectant.-1. 608, &c.
Virgil lastly, wearied as it were with enumeration, lumps his Guilty, or takes them in the gross; mentioning only a few for the rest; as Sisyphus doomed, with perpetual Labour, to heave a huge and unwieldy Stone against the rising mount; Ixion bound to his ever-rolling wheel, stuck