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Letter on Immortality.

Letter on Immortality.

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Published by glennpease

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Published by: glennpease on Jun 26, 2013
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LETTER O IMMORTALITY.BY I . L. MOCATTA.DEAR , In fulfilment of my promise, I gladlyplace before you some of the numerous Biblical quotationswhich refer to the all-important subject of immortality.They are culled from the various books of the Old Testament,and directly or indirectly bear testimony that belief thereinhas ever been the very essence of the Jewish Faith.Referring, firstly, to the Five Books of Moses, we find thatalmost all relating to a future state is of a practical charac-ter; thus the death of the righteous Abel by the hand of hisguilty brother, when considered in connection with thegoodness of the Deity, affords ample evidence that this lifeis but the prelude to another and a better world. If'deathbe annihilation, where was AbeFs merited reward ? God hadno sooner testified His pleasure with the conduct of Hispious servant than death befel him ! Surely, were there nofuture state, this untimely fate must be considered a chas-tisement, and certainly not a recompense for his past vir-tuous life, thence we must believe in immortality if we be-lieve in the justice and goodness of God. The death of Moses speaks no less forcibly to the same effect. For one in-considerate act he was not only denied the privilege of en-tering the land of promise, but had to yield up his life at thevery moment that his hopes were about to meet their frui-tion ! If dissolution of the mortal frame were indeed syn-onymous with extinction of the soul or spirit, breathed byGod into man, we should assuredly be unable to reconcilethe fact of his departure from this world at such a momentwith the gracious attributes of the Lord. Truly the greatlaw-giver Moses in his death added to his other valuable* See note p. 421.
LETTER O IMM011TALITY. 439teachings the all-important lesson that at the very gates of death lies life everlasting. The translation of Enoch to hea-ven without dying is not without its significance ; indeed, itgoes far to prove that another habitation does exist for thesons of men, and is reserved for the faithful servants of theLord. Other practical examples might be adduced, but wewill now select some quotations from the same five bookswhich are scarcely less conclusive. Take the sentence," Thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace";* also, chap, xxv,'' He was gathered unto his people"; and what meaning maywe attach to such words but the assurance of a future state ?Indeed, when applied to Abraham, Moses, Aaron, Samuel,Jeremiah, and various others, it is evident that the soul, andnot the body, is referred to, since not one of these wasburied near his fathers, but in distant sepulchres, and inmore than one instance lonely solitudes, far, far from thehaunts of men. These words would otherwise be worsethan meaningless ; they would not even bear the high stampof truth, in itself an utter impossibility, proceeding as theydid from the God of truth. Again, in Gen. xlvii, we findJacob alluding to the length of his pilgrimage, and averringbefore Pharaoh that the years of his life had been ' ' few andevil". ow, the very word pilgrimage betokened his belief that this world was but a preparation for another, free fromthose trials which beset his path here on earth. Then amongthe divers laws given by Moses to the Israelites, we may notesuch expressions as these, Gen., " He who doeth this wrongshall be utterly destroyed", "that soul shall be cut off"; andagain in Lev., " that soul shall be utterly cut off". Heredeath of the soul is threatened as a punishment, therebyclearly implying that a future world is reserved as a rewardfor the pious and virtuous. Then what is more significantand expressive of the belief in immortality among the Israel-ites than their impassioned words to Moses, " Behold, wedie, we perish" ,-\ implying utter annihilation. Again, Moses* Gen. xv, 11. t umbers xvii, 12.
440 LETTER O IMMORTALITY.thus addresses the people,* " I call heaven and earth to re-cord this day against you that I have set before you life anddeath, therefore choose life", &c. ow, since death befallsthe virtuous no less than the evil-disposed and vicious," life" evidently here implies life everlasting. Further, bythe light of immortality alone could the people have under-stood the promised reward of Moses that " their days shouldbe as the days of heaven upon the earth" would they butact in obedience to the Holy Law. And again, did notMoses clearly allude to a future life when, after imploringforgiveness for his people, he added, " Yet now if Thou wiltnot forgive their sin, then blot me, I pray Thee, out of ThyBook". Surely, such words must convince us that a belief in immortality as well as future rewards and punishment wasentertained both by the law-giver and his people.It is true, however, that the Five Books of Moses speak less plainly and touch more lightly on this subject, this be-lief, than the Psalms or the prophets, but the reason is ob-vious ; like prayer, it is an instinct, a craving of the humanheart, and therefore, like it, was never especially "com-manded". Further, Moses could not consistently set him-self to impress a people, but lately emancipated from slavery,leading a wandering life and deeply engrossed in every-daycares, with the doctrine of prospective advantages in a fu-ture life, but this he knew full well, that when their mindsbecame enlightened they would not only comprehend it, butwould even grasp its full and high import. It sufficed thathe had laid a foundation with ample materials to develop thesuperstructure into a fundamental principle in future gener-ations. And as we pass onwards reviewing the various por-tions of Scripture, this truth openly reveals itself. We findthat when once the Israelites had freed themselves fromtheir enemies and established a powerful kingdom, then, andthen only, were they enabled to dismiss the overwhelmingcares of the moment, and turn their thoughts into loftier

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