Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XXXVIII.: of the signification in scripture of eternal life, hell, salvation, the world to come, and redemption. - The English Works, vol. III (Leviathan)
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CHAPTER XXXVIII.: of the signification in scripture of eternal life, hell, salvation, the world to come, and redemption. - Thomas Hobbes, The English Works, vol. III (Leviathan) 
The English Works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury; Now First Collected and Edited by Sir William Molesworth, Bart., (London: Bohn, 1839-45). 11 vols. Vol. 3.
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of the signification in scripture of eternal life, hell, salvation, the world to come, and redemption.
The maintenance of civil society depending on justice, and justice on the power of life and death, and other less rewards and punishments, residing in them that have the sovereignty of the commonwealth; it is impossible a commonwealth should stand, where any other than the sovereign hath a power of giving greater rewards than life, and of inflicting greater punishments than death. Now seeing eternal life is a greater reward than the life present; and eternal torment a greater punishment than the death of nature; it is a thing worthy to be well considered of all men that desire, by obeying authority, to avoid the calamities of confusion and civil war, what is meant in Holy Scripture, by life eternal, and torment eternal; and for what offences, and against whom committed, men are to be eternally tormented; and for what actions they are to obtain eternal life.
The place of Adam’s eternity, if he had not sinned, had been the terrestrial Paradise.
And first we find that Adam was created in such a condition of life, as had he not broken the commandment of God, he had enjoyed it in the paradise of Eden everlastingly. For there was the tree of life, whereof he was so long allowed to eat, as he should forbear to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; which was not allowed him. And therefore as soon as he had eaten of it, God thrust him out of Paradise, (Gen. iii.22) lest he should put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life and live for ever. By which it seemeth to me, (with submission nevertheless both in this, and in all questions whereof the determination dependeth on the Scriptures, to the interpretation of the Bible authorized by the commonwealth, whose subject I am), that Adam, if he had not sinned, had had an eternal life on earth, and that mortality entered upon himself and his posterity by his first sin. Not that actual death then entered; for Adam then could never have had children; whereas he lived long after, and saw a numerous posterity ere he died. But where it is said, (Gen.ii.17) In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die, it must needs be meant of his mortality, and certitude of death. Seeing then eternal life was lost by Adam’s forfeiture in committing sin, he that should cancel that forfeiture, was to recover thereby that life again. Now Jesus Christ hath satisfied for the sins of all that believe in him; and therefore recovered to all believers, that eternal life which was lost by the sin of Adam. And in this sense it is that the comparison of St. Paul holdeth, (Rom. v. 18, 19) As by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one, thefree gift came upon all men to justification of life; which is again (1 Cor. xv. 21, 22) more perspicuously delivered in these words, For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
Texts concerning the place of life eternal, for believers.
Concerning the place wherein men shall enjoy that eternal life which Christ hath obtained for them, the texts next before alleged seem to make it on earth. For if as in Adam all die, that is, have forfeited paradise and eternal life on earth, even so in Christ all shall be made alive; then all men shall be made to live on earth; for else the comparison were not proper. Hereunto seemeth to agree that of the psalmist (Psalm. cxxxiii. 3) upon Zion God commanded the blessing, even life for evermore: for Zion is in Jerusalem upon earth: as also that of St. John (Rev. ii. 7) To him that overcometh I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. This was the tree of Adam’s eternal life; but his life was to have been on earth. The same seemeth to be confirmed again by St. John (Rev. xxi. 2), where he saith, I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband: and again (verse 10) to the same effect: as if he should say, the new Jerusalem, the paradise of God, at the coming again of Christ, should come down to God’s people from heaven, and not they go up to it from earth. And this differs nothing from that, which the two men in white clothing, that is the two angels, said to the apostles that were looking upon Christ ascending (Acts i. 11) This sameJesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, as you have seen him go up into heaven. Which soundeth as if they had said he should come down to govern them under his Father eternally here, and not take them up to govern them in heaven; and is conformable to the restoration of the kingdom of God instituted under Moses, which was a political government of the Jews on earth. Again, that saying of our Saviour (Matth. xxii. 30), that in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven, is a description of an eternal life, resembling that which we lost in Adam in the point of marriage. For seeing Adam and Eve, if they had not sinned, had lived on earth eternally in their individual persons; it is manifest, they should not continually have procreated their kind; for if immortals should have generated as mankind doth now, the earth in a small time would not have been able to afford them place to stand on. The Jews that asked our Saviour the question, whose wife the woman that had married many brothers should be in the resurrection, knew not what were the consequences of life eternal: and therefore our Saviour puts them in mind of this consequence of immortality; that there shall be no generation, and consequently no marriage, no more than there is marriage or generation among the angels. The comparison between that eternal life which Adam lost, and our Saviour by his victory over death hath recovered, holdeth also in this; that as Adam lost eternal life by his sin, and yet lived after it for a time, so the faithful Christian hath recovered eternal life by Christ’s passion, though he die a natural death, and remain dead for a time, namely, till the resurrection. For as death is reckoned from the condemnation of Adam, not from the execution; so life is reckoned from the absolution, not from the resurrection of them that are elected in Christ.
Ascension into heaven.
That the place wherein men are to live eternally, after the resurrection, is the heavens, (meaning by heaven, those parts of the world, which are the most remote from earth, as where the stars are, or above the stars, in another higher heaven, called cœlum empyreum, whereof there is no mention in Scripture, nor ground in reason), is not easily to be drawn from any text that I can find. By the Kingdom of Heaven, is meant the kingdom of the King that dwelleth in heaven; and his kingdom was the people of Israel, whom he ruled by the prophets, his lieutenants; first Moses, and after him Eleazar, and the sovereign priests, till in the days of Samuel they rebelled, and would have a mortal man for their king, after the manner of other nations. And when our Saviour Christ, by the preaching of his ministers, shall have persuaded the Jews to return, and called the Gentiles to his obedience, then shall there be a new kingdom of heaven; because our king shall then be God, whose throne is heaven: without any necessity evident in the Scripture, that man shall ascend to his happiness any higher than God’s footstool the earth. On the contrary, we find written (John iii. 13) that no man hath ascended into heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the son of man, that is in heaven. Where I observe by the way, that these words are not, as those which go immediately before, the words of our Saviour, but of St. John himself; for Christ was then not in heaven, but upon the earth. The like is said of David (Acts ii. 34) where St. Peter, to prove the ascension of Christ, using the words of the Psalmist (Psalm xvi. 10), Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, nor suffer thine holy one to see corruption, saith, they were spoken, not of David, but of Christ; and to prove it, addeth this reason, For David is not ascended into heaven. But to this a man may easily answer, and say, that though their bodies were not to ascend till the general day of judgment, yet their souls were in heaven as soon as they were departed from their bodies; which also seemeth to be confirmed by the words of our Saviour (Luke xx. 37, 38), who proving the resurrection out of the words of Moses, saith thus, That the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living; for they all live to him. But if these words be to be understood only of the immortality of the soul, they prove not at all that which our Saviour intended to prove, which was the resurrection of the body, that is to say, the immortality of the man. Therefore our Saviour meaneth, that those patriarchs were immortal; not by a property consequent to the essence and nature of mankind; but by the will of God, that was pleased of his mere grace, to bestow eternal life upon the faithful. And though at that time the patriarchs and many other faithful men were dead, yet as it is in the text, they lived to God; that is, they were written in the Book of Life with them that were absolved of their sins, and ordained to life eternal at the resurrection. That the soul of man is in its own nature eternal, and a living creature independent on the body, or that any mere man is immortal, otherwise than by the resurrection in the last day, except Enoch and Elias, is a doctrine not apparent in Scripture. The whole of the xivth chapter of Job, which is the speech not of his friends, but of himself, is a complaint of this mortality of nature; and yet no contradiction of the immortality at the resurrection. There is hope of a tree, saith he, (verse 7) if it be cast down. Though the root thereof wax old, and the stock thereof die in the ground, yet when it scenteth the water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant. But man dieth and wasteth away, yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? And (verse 12) Man lieth down, and riseth not, till the heavens be no more. But when is it, that the heavens shall be no more? St. Peter tells us, that it is at the general resurrection. For in his 2nd Epistle, chap. iii. verse 7, he saith, that the heavens and the earth that are now, are reserved unto fire against the day of judgment, and perdition of ungodly men, and (v. 12) looking for, and hasting to the coming of God, wherein the heavens shall be on fire and shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat. Nevertheless, we according to the promise look for new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Therefore where Job saith, man riseth not till the heavens be no more; it is all one, as if he had said, the immortal life, (and soul and life in the Scripture do usually signify the same thing,) beginneth not in man, till the resurrection and day of judgment; and hath for cause, not his specifical nature and generation, but the promise. For St. Peter says, not We look for new heavens and a new earth, from nature, but from promise.
Lastly, seeing it hath been already proved out of divers evident places of Scripture, in chap. XXXV. of this book, that the kingdom of God is a civil commonwealth, where God himself is sovereign, by virtue first of the old, and since of the new covenant, wherein he reigneth by his vicar or lieutenant; the same places do therefore also prove, that after the coming again of our Saviour in his majesty and glory, to reign actually and eternally, the kingdom of God is to be on earth. But because this doctrine, though proved out of places of Scripture not few nor obscure, will appear to most men a novelty, I do but propound it; maintaining nothing in this, or any other paradox of religion; but attending the end of that dispute of the sword, concerning the authority, not yet amongst my countrymen decided, by which all sorts of doctrine are to be approved or rejected; and whose commands, both in speech and writing, whatsoever be the opinions of private men, must by all men, that mean to be protected by their laws, be obeyed. For the points of doctrine concerning the kingdom of God, have so great influence on the kingdom of man, as not to be determined, but by them, that under God have the sovereign power.
The place after judgment of those who were never in the kingdom of God, or having been in, are cast out.Tartarus.
As the kingdom of God, and eternal life, so also God’s enemies, and their torments after judgment, appear by the Scripture to have their place on earth. The name of the place, where all men remain till the resurrection, that were either buried, or swallowed up of the earth, is usually called in Scripture, by words that signify under ground; which the Latins read generally infernus, and inferi, and the Greek ἃδηϛ, that is to say, a place where men cannot see; and containeth as well the grave, as any any other deeper place. But for the place of the damned after the resurrection, it is not determined, neither in the Old nor New Testament, by any note of situation; but only by the company: as that it shall be, where such wicked men were, as God in former times, in extraordinary and miraculous manner, had destroyed from off the face of the earth: as for example, that they are in Inferno, in Tartarus, or in the bottomless pit; because Corah, Dathan, and Abiron, were swallowed up alive into the earth. Not that the writers of the Scripture would have us believe, there could be in the globe of the earth, which is not only finite, but also, compared to the height of the stars, of no considerable magnitude, a pit without a bottom, that is, a hole of infinite depth, such as the Greeks in their demonology, (that is to say, in their doctrine concerning demons), and after them the Romans, called Tartarus; of which Virgil (Æn. VI. 578, 579) says,
for that is a thing the proportion of earth to heaven cannot bear: but that we should believe them there, indefinitely, where those men are, on whom God inflicted that exemplary punishment.
The congregation of giants.Lake of fire.
Again, because those mighty men of the earth, that lived in the time of Noah, before the flood, (which the Greeks call heroes, and the Scripture giants, and both say were begotten by copulation of the children of God with the children of men,) were for their wicked life destroyed by the general deluge; the place of the damned, is therefore also sometimes marked out, by the company of those deceased giants; as Proverbs xxi. 16, The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding, shall remain in the congregation of the giants; and Job xxvi. 5, Behold the giants groan under water, and they that dwell with them. Here the place of the damned is under the water. And Isaiah xiv. 9, Hell is troubled how to meet thee (that is, the King of Babylon) and will displace the giants for thee: and here again the place of the damned, if the sense be literal, is to be under water. Thirdly, because the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, by the extraordinary wrath of God, were consumed for their wickedness with fire and brimstone, and together with them the country about made a stinking bituminous lake: the place of the damned is sometimes expressed by fire, and a fiery lake, as in the Apocalypse, xxi. 8, But the timorous, incredulous, and abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death. So that it is manifest, that hell fire, which is here expressed by metaphor from the real fire of Sodom, signifieth not any certain kind or place of torment; but is to be taken indefinitely, for destruction, as it is in Rev. xx. 14, where it is said, that death and hell were cast into the lake of fire; that is to say, were abolished and destroyed; as if after the day of judgment, there shall be no more dying, nor no more going into hell; that is, no more going to Hades, (from which word perhaps our word Hell is derived,) which is the same with no more dying.
Fourthly, from the plague of darkness inflicted on the Egyptians, of which it is written (Exod. x. 23) They saw not one another, neither rose any man from his place for three days; but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings; the place of the wicked after judgment, is called utter darkness, or, as it is in the original, darkness without. And so it is expressed (Matth. xxii. 13) where the king commanded his servants, to bind hand and foot the man that had not on his wedding garment, and to cast him out, εὶϛ τὸ σκοτοϛ τὸ ἐξώτερον, into external darkness, or darkness without: which though translated utter darkness, does not signify how great, but where that darkness is to be; namely, without the habitation of God’s elect.
Gehenna, and Tophet.
Lastly, whereas there was a place near Jerusalem, called the Valley of the Children of Hinnon; in a part whereof, called Tophet, the Jews had committed most grievous idolatry, sacrificing their children to the idol Moloch; and wherein also God had afflicted his enemies with most grievous punishments; and wherein Josiah had burned the priests of Moloch upon their own altars, as appeareth at large in the 2nd of Kings, chap. xxiii.: the place served afterwards to receive the filth and garbage which was carried thither out of the city; and there used to be fires made from time to time, to purify the air, and take away the stench of carrion. From this abominable place, the Jews used ever after to call the place of the damned, by the name of Gehenna, or Valley of Hinnon. And this Gehenna, is that word which is usually now translated hell; and from the fires from time to time there burning, we have the notion of everlasting and unquenchable fire.
Of the literal sense of the Scripture concerning hell.
Seeing now there is none, that so interprets the Scripture, as that after the day of judgment, the wicked are all eternally to be punished in the Valley of Hinnon; or that they shall so rise again, as to be ever after under ground or under water; or that after the resurrection, they shall no more see one another, nor stir from one place to another: it followeth, methinks, very necessarily, that that which is thus said concerning hell fire, is spoken metaphorically; and that therefore there is a proper sense to be enquired after, (for of all metaphors there is some real ground, that may be expressed in proper words,) both of the place of hell, and the nature of hellish torments, and tormenters.
Satan, Devil, not proper names, but appellatives.
And first for the tormenters, we have their nature and properties, exactly and properly delivered by the names of, the Enemy, or Satan; the Accuser, or Diabolus; the Destroyer, or Abaddon. Which significant names, Satan, Devil, Abaddon, set not forth to us any individual person, as proper names use to do; but only an office, or quality; and are therefore appellatives; which ought not to have been left untranslated, as they are in the Latin and modern Bibles; because thereby they seem to be proper names of demons; and men are the more easily seduced to believe the doctrine of devils; which at that time was the religion of the Gentiles, and contrary to that of Moses and of Christ.
And because by the Enemy, the Accuser, and Destroyer, is meant the enemy of them that shall be in the kingdom of God; therefore if the kingdom of God after the resurrection, be upon the earth, as in the former chapter I have shown by Scripture it seems to be, the Enemy and his kingdom must be on earth also. For so also was it, in the time before the Jews had deposed God. For God’s kingdom was in Palestine; and the nations round about, were the kingdoms of the Enemy; and consequently by Satan, is meant any earthly enemy of the Church.
Torments of hell.
The torments of hell, are expressed sometimes, by weeping, and gnashing of teeth, as Matth. viii. 12. Sometimes by the worm of conscience; as Isaiah lxvi. 24, and Mark ix. 44, 46, 48: sometimes, by fire, as in the place now quoted, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, and many places beside: sometimes by shame and contempt, as Dan. xii. 2, And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth, shall awake; some to everlasting life; and some to shame, and everlasting contempt. All which places design metaphorically a grief and discontent of mind, from the sight of that eternal felicity in others, which they themselves through their own incredulity and disobedience have lost. And because such felicity in others, is not sensible but by comparison with their own actual miseries; it followeth that they are to suffer such bodily pains, and calamities, as are incident to those, who not only live under evil and cruel governors, but have also for enemy the eternal king of the saints, God Almighty. And amongst these bodily pains, is to be reckoned also to every one of the wicked a second death. For though the Scripture be clear for an universal resurrection; yet we do not read, that to any of the reprobate is promised an eternal life. For whereas St. Paul (1 Cor. xv. 42, 43) to the question concerning what bodies men shall rise with again, saith, that The body is sown in corruption, and is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. Glory and power cannot be applied to the bodies of the wicked: nor can the name of second death be applied to those that can never die but once: and although in metaphorical speech, a calamitous life everlasting, may be called an everlasting death, yet it cannot well be understood of a second death.
The fire prepared for the wicked, is an everlasting fire: that is to say, the estate wherein no man can be without torture, both of body and mind, after the resurrection, shall endure for ever; and in that sense the fire shall be unquenchable, and the torments everlasting: but it cannot thence be inferred, that he who shall be cast into that fire, or be tormented with those torments, shall endure and resist them so as to be eternally burnt, and tortured, and yet never be destroyed, nor die. And though there be many places that affirm everlasting fire and torments, into which men may be cast successively one after another as long as the world lasts, yet I find none that affirm there shall be an eternal life therein of any individual person; but to the contrary, an everlasting death, which is the second death: (Rev. xx. 13, 14) For after death and the grave shallhave delivered up the dead which were in them, and every man be judged according to his works; death and the grave shall also be cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. Whereby it is evident that there is to be a second death of every one that shall be condemned at the day of judgment, after which he shall die no more.
The joys of life eternal, and salvation, the same thing.Salvation from sin, and from misery, all one.
The joys of life eternal, are in Scripture comprehended all under the name of salvation, or being saved. To be saved, is to be secured, either respectively, against special evils, or absolutely, against all evils, comprehending want, sickness, and death itself. And because man was created in a condition immortal, not subject to corruption, and consequently to nothing that tendeth to the dissolution of his nature; and fell from that happiness by the sin of Adam; it followeth, that to be saved from sin, is to be saved from all the evil and calamities that sin hath brought upon us. And therefore in the holy Scripture, remission of sin, and salvation from death and misery, is the same thing, as it appears by the words of our Saviour, who having cured a man sick of the palsy, by saying, (Matth. ix. 2) Son be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee; and knowing that the Scribes took for blasphemy, that a man should pretend to forgive sins, asked them (verse 5) whether it were easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee, or, Arise and walk; signifying thereby, that it was all one, as to the saving of the sick, to say, Thy sins are forgiven, and Arise and walk; and that he used that form of speech, only to shew he had power to forgive sins. And it is besides evident in reason, that since death and misery were the punishments of sin, the discharge of sin must also be a discharge of death and misery; that is to say, salvation absolute, such as the faithful are to enjoy after the day of judgment, by the power and favour of Jesus Christ, who for that cause is called our Saviour.
Concerning particular salvations, such as are understood, (1 Sam. xiv. 39) as the Lord liveth that saveth Israel, that is, from their temporary enemies, and (2 Sam. xxii. 3) Thou art my Saviour, thou savest me from violence; and, (2 Kings xiii. 5) God gave the Israelites a Saviour, and so they were delivered from the hand of the Assyrians, and the like, I need say nothing; there being neither difficulty, nor interest to corrupt the interpretation of texts of that kind.
The place of eternal salvation.
But concerning the general salvation, because it must be in the kingdom of heaven, there is great difficulty concerning the place. On one side, by kingdom, which is an estate ordained by men for their perpetual security against enemies and want, it seemeth that this salvation should be on earth. For by salvation is set forth unto us, a glorious reign of our king, by conquest; not a safety by escape: and therefore there where we look for salvation, we must look also for triumph; and before triumph, for victory; and before victory, for battle; which cannot well be supposed, shall be in heaven. But how good soever this reason may be, I will not trust to it, without very evident places of Scripture. The state of salvation is described at large, Isaiah xxxiii. 20, 21, 22, 23, 24:
Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities; thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken.
But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby.
For the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our law-giver, the Lord is our king, he will save us.
Thy tacklings are loosed; they could not well strengthen their mast; they could not spread the sail: then is the prey of a great spoil divided; the lame take the prey:
And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick; the people that shall dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.
In which words we have the place from whence salvation is to proceed, Jerusalem, a quiet habitation; the eternity of it, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down, &c; the Saviour of it, the Lord, their judge, their law-giver, their king, he will save us; the salvation, the Lord shall be to them as a broad moat of swift waters, &c; the condition of their enemies, their tacklings are loose, their masts weak, the lame shall take the spoil of them; the condition of the saved, the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: and lastly, all this is comprehended in forgiveness of sin, the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity. By which it is evident, that salvation shall be on earth, then, when God shall reign, at the coming again of Christ, in Jerusalem; and from Jerusalem shall proceed the salvation of the Gentiles that shall be received into God’s kingdom: as is also more expressly declared by the same prophet, (Isaiah lxvi. 20, 21), And they (that is the Gentiles who had any Jew in bondage) shall bring all your brethren, for an offering to the Lord, out of all nations, upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain, Jerusalem, saith the Lord, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord. And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, saith the Lord. Whereby it is manifest, that the chief seat of God’s kingdom, which is the place from whence the salvation of us that were Gentiles shall proceed, shall be Jerusalem: and the same is also confirmed by our Saviour in his discourse with the woman of Samaria, concerning the place of God’s worship; to whom he saith (John iv. 22) that the Samaritans worshipped they knew not what, but the Jews worshipped what they knew, for salvation is of the Jews (ex Judæis, that is, begins at the Jews): as if he should say, you worship God, but know not by whom he will save you, as we do, that know it shall be by one of the tribe of Judah; a Jew, not a Samaritan. And therefore also the woman not impertinently answered him again, We know the Messias shall come. So that which our Saviour saith, Salvation is from the Jews, is the same that Paul says (Rom. i. 16, 17) The Gospel is the power of God to salvation to every one that believeth: to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; from the faith of the Jew to the faith of the Gentile. In the like sense the prophet Joel describing the day of Judgment, (chap. ii. 30, 31) that God would shew wonders in heaven, and in earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come: he addeth, (verse 32) and it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be salvation. And Obadiah, (verse 17) saith the same, Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance; and there shall be holiness, and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions, that is the possessions of the heathen, which possessions, he expresseth more particularly in the following verses, by the mount of Esau, the Land of the Philistines, the fields of Ephraim, of Samaria, Gilead, and the cities of the south, and concludes with these words, the kingdom shall be the Lord’s. All these places are for salvation, and the kingdom of God, after the day of judgment, upon earth. On the other side, I have not found any text that can probably be drawn, to prove any ascension of the saints into heaven; that is to say, into any cœlum empyreum, or other ætherial region; saving that it is called the kingdom of Heaven: which name it may have, because God, that was king of the Jews, governed them by his commands, sent to Moses by angels from heaven; and after the revolt, sent his Son from heaven to reduce them to their obedience; and shall send him thence again to rule both them, and all other faithful men, from the day of judgment, everlastingly: or from that, that the throne of this our great king is in heaven; whereas the earth is but his footstool. But that the subjects of God should have any place as high as his throne, or higher than his footstool, it seemeth not suitable to the dignity of a king, nor can I find any evident text for it in Holy Scripture.
The world to come.
From this that hath been said of the kingdom of God, and of salvation, it is not hard to interpret what is meant by the world to come. There are three worlds mentioned in Scripture, the old world, the present world, and the world to come. Of the first, St. Peter speaks, (2 Pet. ii. 5) If God spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing the flood upon the world of the ungodly, &c. So the first world, was from Adam to the general flood. Of the present world, our Saviour speaks (John xviii. 36) My kingdom is not of this world. For he came only to teach men the way of salvation, and to renew the kingdom of his Father, by his doctrine. Of the world to come, St. Peter speaks (2 Pet. iii. 13) Nevertheless we according to his promise look for new heavens, and a new earth. This is that world, wherein Christ coming down from heaven in the clouds, with great power, and glory, shall send his angels, and shall gather together his elect, from the four winds, and from the uttermost parts of the earth, and thenceforth reign over them, under his Father, everlastingly.
Salvation of a sinner, supposeth a precedent redemption; for he that is once guilty of sin, is obnoxious to the penalty of the same; and must pay, or some other for him, such ransom as he that is offended, and has him in his power, shall require. And seeing the person offended, is Almighty God, in whose power are all things; such ransom is to be paid before salvation can be acquired, as God hath been pleased to require. By this ransom, is not intended a satisfaction for sin, equivalent to the offence; which no sinner for himself, nor righteous man can ever be able to make for another: the damage a man does to another, he may make amends for by restitution or recompense; but sin cannot be taken away by recompense; for that were to make the liberty to sin, a thing vendible. But sins may be pardoned to the repentant, either gratis, or upon such penalty as God is pleased to accept. That which God usually accepted in the Old Testament, was some sacrifice or oblation. To forgive sin is not an act of injustice, though the punishment have been threatened. Even amongst men, though the promise of good, bind the promiser; yet threats, that is to say, promises of evil, bind them not; much less shall they bind God, who is infinitely more merciful than men. Our Saviour Christ therefore to redeem us, did not in that sense satisfy for the sins of men, as that his death, of its own virtue, could make it unjust in God to punish sinners with eternal death; but did make that sacrifice and oblation of himself, at his first coming, which God was pleased to require for the salvation, at his second coming, of such as in the meantime should repent, and believe in him. And though this act of our redemption, be not always in Scripture called a sacrifice, and oblation, but sometimes a price; yet by price we are not to understand anything, by the value whereof, he could claim right to a pardon for us, from his offended Father; but that price which God the Father was pleased in mercy to demand.