PLACE OF DEPARTED SPIRITS,
DESCENT OF CHRIST INTO HELL.
Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the State of New-York:
PRINTED BY GEORGE LONG,
No. 71 Pearl-Street,
[Transcriber's note: the appendix is not included here, as it was reproduced in an 1825 and an 1857 reprint of this booklet under the heading 'The State of the Departed.']
A FUNERAL ADDRESS &c.
People of the congregation! There, are the remains of your Pastor--the beloved Pastor who so long fed you with the bread of life, and whose accents of persuasion you have so often heard in this sacred place.
My brethren of the Episcopal Clergy--there, is our spiritual Father--we have long mourned his living death--his sufferings are terminated--he is at rest.
When we contemplate that venerated corpse, it is natural to enquire,
What has become of the spirit which so recently inhabited it?
What will become of that tabernacle of clay which this spirit has deserted?
Christian believers, these are enquiries deeply interesting to you. Soon each one of you will be, as he whose remains are before us.
 What becomes of the spirit of the believer when it leaves its tabernacle of clay?
Does it sink into annihilation? We must subdue all those feelings which constitute the perfection and happiness of our nature before we can contemplate the extinction of being but with horror. There is not a power of his soul which man does not shudder at the thought of losing--not a virtuous enjoyment which he does not wish to carry with him beyond the grave--not an acquisition that ennobles or adorns him which he would not impress with the seal of eternity. The voice of the Creator speaks in the soul of the being whom he has made, and suggests to him that he is immortal. But alas! that voice is only faint and feeble. Immortality, an unmerited gift to a fallen creature, must be assured by the express promise of him who alone can bestow it. The word of the Author of our Being must be the pledge, that this Being shall not be extinguished.
Blessed be God--this word we have--God hath spoken--"The spirit shall return to him who gave it."
This, believer, is thy confidence and thy rejoicing--Thy spirit returns to God--to God all glorious and all good--who so loved thee as to give for thee his only begotten Son--and who in the blood of his Son hath sealed the assurance that thou shalt be ever with him. Canst thou doubt whether in his presence thou shalt be happy? [4/5] Ah--the happiness reserved for thee by thy God, believer, thine eye hath not seen, thine ear hath not heard--thy heart cannot conceive. But--When does the spirit enter on this state of complete felicity?
There cannot be a moments doubt, that departed saints do not enter on the full fruition of bliss, immediately on their release from the body. In what does this fulness of bliss consist? In the union of the purified spirit with the glorified body. But until the voice of the Son of God calls to the corruptible to put on incorruption, and the mortal immortality, that body is confined to the tomb, embraced by corruption, mingled with the dust. Admission to Heaven, the place in the vast universe of God, where the vision of his glory more immediately displayed, shall constitute the eternal felicity of the redeemed, is invariably connected in the sacred writings with the judgment at the great day; and with the reunion of the body raised incorruptible and glorious with the soul purified and happy. While the soul is separate from the body, and absent from that Heaven which is to be her eternal abode, she cannot have attained the perfection of her bliss.
Will the privileges of believers be greater than those of their divine Head? His glory in Heaven consists in the exaltation of his human nature--of his glorified body in union with his perfect spirit. But in the interval between his death and [5/6] his resurrection, his body was embalmed by his disciples, washed with their tears, and guarded in the sepulchre by his enemies. His spirit therefore was not in heaven until he ascended there after his resurrection. "Touch me not" said he to Mary Magdalen when he had risen from the dead, "for I have not yet ascended to your Father and my Father, to your God and my God." [* John xx. 17.] Our blessed Lord in his human nature was not in Heaven until after his resurrection--And will a privilege be conferred on the members which was not enjoyed by the Head? "This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise," was his language to the penitent thief associated with him at his crucifixion. In Paradise--not in Heaven--for the happiness of Heaven supposes the happiness of the whole man, of his soul united to his body--But on that day in which the Saviour assured the penitent subject of his mercy that he should be with him in Paradise, the body of the one was consigned to corruption, and the body of the other to the tomb.
What then is the state of the soul in the period between death and the resurrection--between her separation from the body and her reunion with it--between her release from this her state of exile, and her admission to final and complete felicity in her eternal home?
 Is she in a state of unconsciousness? All probability is against the supposition. Consciousness seems a necessary attribute of spirit in a disembodied state. The temporary suspension of consciousness in the present life arises from that union of the soul with the body, which in many cases controls, and changes, and suspends her operations.
But a state of unconsciousness is a state of oblivion--and this must be an object of aversion to the happy spirit. Sweet indeed often in the present life is this temporary oblivion. It is an oblivion of care that corrodes, of adversity that wounds the spirit--or it is that oblivion which, from the connection of the body with the soul, is necessary to the renewed exertion of its powers, and to renewed enjoyment. But when the soul, with her mortal tabernacle, has shaken off her sins and sorrows, this oblivion cannot be necessary; it must interrupt her enjoyment--it cannot therefore be assigned her in a state which, her probation being finished, is a state of reward and of bliss.
But, on this as on every other point connected with our spiritual interests, we are not left to speculation, and to a balance of probabilities. What was the language of our blessed Lord to his penitent companion on the cross?--"This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise." But would this have been the language of consolation, of hope, [7/8] of triumph, if Paradise be a state of oblivion? Or can we for a moment indulge the idea, that the human soul of the blessed Jesus, sunk at death into a state of forgetfulness, which reduced it to a level with the body that was sleeping in the sepulchre? No--His soul was actively engaged--engaged in prosecuting that gracious scheme of redemption which occupied his life, which engrossed his last moments of agony, and which he relinquished not even with death. He "went" says the apostle [* 2 Pet. iii. 18, 19, 20.] "and preached to the spirits in prison," to the spirits in safe keeping, "to the sometime disobedient," but finally penitent antediluvians "in the days of Noah" who, tho' they were swept off in the deluge of waters, found, through the merits of the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world, a refuge from the flames of Tophet, from the surges of the burning Lake. While his body was reposing in the grave, he went in his spirit and preached, or (as the word signifies) proclaimed, the glad tidings, to the souls of the departed saints, of that victory over death which the Messiah in whom they trusted was to achieve; and of that final redemption of the body and resurrection to glory, the hope of which constituted their enjoyment in the place of the departed.
[* The above is the interpretation of this very obscure passage which is advanced and maintained with great ingenuity, [8/9] force and erudition by Bishop Horseley in his Sermon on "Christ's descent into Hell." This interpretation gives no sanction, as Bishop Horseley justly observes, to the doctrine of purgatory. Purgatory is considered as a place of punishment and purification for those who die under the guilt of sins of infirmity, from which they are delivered either when they have been sufficiently purified by suffering purgatorial pains, or by the efficacy of the masses which are said for them. There is no foundation for this doctrine in Scripture. At death the souls of the righteous and of the wicked go to a state the one of happiness and the other of misery in the place of the departed; and there is no change in their state except what arises from the complete consummation, in body as well as soul, of the happiness of the one in Heaven, and the misery of the other, in Hell.
Christ proclaimed, to the spirits in prison, in a state of seclusion and separation, or as the word may be translated in safe keeping, the glad tidings of his victory over death, of their final resurrection to glory. Were they previously in doubt as to these events--a doubt which must have been incompatible with their happiness? By no means. They died in the faith that the Messiah was to achieve this victory; and in this faith their spirits rejoiced. But Christ when he descended to them changed their faith in this event as future, into faith in it as actually accomplished--and he thus confirmed the glorious hopes which they already enjoyed.
But why are the antediluvians, those who were "sometime disobedient" but afterwards became penitent "in the days of Noah" selected as the peculiar objects of the Saviour's [9/10] preaching? "To this I can only answer (says Bishop Horseley,) that I think I have observed in some parts of Scripture an anxiety, if the expression may be allowed, to convey distinct intimations, that the antediluvian soul is not uninterested in the redemption and the final retribution."
But for full answer on this point and on many other enquiries connected with this subject, the reader is referred to Bishop Horseley's sermon on Christ's descent into Hell, published at the end of his new translation of Hosea, and in the volumes of his Sermons.]
Could God who is "the God of the living" only, be stiled emphatically "the God of Abraham of Isaac and of Jacob," if their departed spirits did not live to him in a state of consciousness and enjoyment? [* Matt. xxii. 32.] Did the Holy Apostle, who in labours, and in sufferings died daily, and who daily was renewed by the hope of the glory prepared for him, look forward to a state of unconsciousness after death, when he desired to "depart and to be with Christ," to be "absent from the body and present with the Lord"?
No--believer--when thy soul departs from the body she does not pass into that state of utter forgetfulness, which, even in the present scene of sin and woe, thou dost dread as the greatest evil with which thou canst be visited. Thou wilt go to a place of enjoyment--characterised as the bosom of Abraham; because there thou wilt be blessed with the company of this Father of the Faithful, of Patriarchs and Prophets who are all waiting their consummation, the redemption of the body--Thou wilt go to Paradise--to that place separate and invisible--but where thou [10/11] shalt be with Christ, and be present with the Lord; anticipating in constant desire, in rapturous hope, the resurrection at the last day. Then he who holds the keys of death and Hell shall say to thy spirit--Go forth--Be clothed upon with an house that is from Heaven--Enter into the joy of thy Lord--inherit a kingdom prepared for thee from the foundation of the world.
Yes--my fellow Christians--this is the joyful confidence with which we can meet the interesting enquiry--
What will become of the body when it is deserted by the spirit that animates it?
Ah--What can Reason teach us here.--She may indeed by analogy illustrate and confirm the doctrine of the resurrection when it is revealed--But as an original truth, she knew nothing of it. The tomb received, in its dark embrace, the mouldering body; and there was no light that dawned on the night of the grave. "Blessed then be the God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who hath begotten us to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." He is "the first fruits of them that sleep"--and at the great harvest at the last day, "those who sleep in Jesus will God bring with him"--The body sown in corruption, shall be raised in incorruption--sown in dishonour, it shall be raised in glory--sown in weakness it shall be raised in [11/12] power--sown a natural body, it shall be raised a spiritual body--Blessed, blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who hath begotten us to this lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
How is all this to be effected? By that mighty power which raised up Christ from the dead. Here we take our stand--on the omnipotence of God--and defy every attack against the doctrine of the resurrection. We laugh to scorn all attempts to wrest from us our hope, through a supposed impossibility of the resurrection, as puny struggles against the omnipotence of God. Did he not at first construct a human form from the dust of the earth? Did he not breathe into a vessel of clay the breath of life? And when he again speaks, shall it not be done? Can he not again bring bone to its bone, sinew to its sinew, flesh to its flesh? Fear not, Christian! thy dust may be scattered to the winds of Heaven--But thy God is there. It may repose in the lowest abysses of the grave--He is there. It may dwell in the uttermost part of the sea--Even there his hand shall lead thee, his right hand shall hold thee, and bring thee forth, incorruptible and glorious, like unto that body which now receives the homage of the angels around the throne. Fear not--thy Redeemer is Almighty; and thou shalt lie raised at the last day.
 Let us comfort another with these words.
Our venerable Father has gone--In the bosom of Abraham, in the paradise of God, in the custody of the Lord Jesus, his soul reposes; waiting in peace and joy its "perfect consummation and bliss in God's eternal and everlasting glory." Soon the sentence that sin has brought on the whole human race is to be pronounced on the revered remains before us--"Earth to Earth--Ashes to Ashes--Dust to Dust--"
My brethren--he lives with us in the memory of his virtues--Let us recall and cherish them--Let us keep him a little longer with us--not as of late when languishing under disease he gradually lost that engaging expression which had so eminently characterised him, until he at last sunk in the darkness of death--But let us view him such as you, people of the congregation, beheld him, when he appeared among you as your Pastor--such as we, my brethren, beheld him, when he exercised over us his paternal authority.
I should indeed violate that simplicity which in a high degree adorned him, if I were to indulge in the language of inflated panegyric. Simplicity was his distinguishing virtue. He was unaffected--in his tempers, in his actions, in every gesture, and look. Simplicity that throws such a charm over talents, such a lustre over station, and even a celestial loveliness over [13/14] piety itself--simplicity gave her insinuating coloring to the talents, the station and the piety of our venerable Father. But it was a simplicity accompanied with uniform prudence, and with an accurate knowledge of human nature.
A grace allied to simplicity, was the meekness that adorned him--a meekness that was "not easily provoked"--that never made an oppressive display of talents, or learning or of station--a meekness that condescended to the most ignorant and humble, and won their confidence; while associated with dignity, it commanded respect and excited affection, in the circles of rank and affluence. And it was a meekness that pursued the dictates of duty, with firmness and perseverance.
His piety, arising from a lively faith in the Redeemer whom he served, and whose grace he was commissioned to deliver, warmed as it was by his feelings, was ever under the control of sober judgment. A strong evidence of its sincerity was, its entire freedom from every thing like ostentation. It did not proclaim itself at the corners of the streets--it did not make boastful pretensions, or obtrude itself on the public gaze--but it was displayed in every domestic, every social, every public relation. It was not the irregular meteor, glittering for a moment, and then sinking in the darkness from which it was [14/15] elicited; but the serene and steady light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
He rose to public confidence and respect, and to general esteem solely by the force of talents and worth. In the retirement of a country village the place of his nativity, he commenced his literary career, and he prosecuted it in the public seminary of this city, and subsequently in his private studies, until he became the finished Scholar and the well furnished Divine.
This city was the only scene of his parochial labors. Here he commenced and here he has closed his ministerial life.
[* Bishop Moore was born Oct. 5, 1748, at Newtown, Long Island. He went to school in Newtown and afterwards in New-York in order to prepare for entering King's, (now Columbia) College, where he graduated.
He pursued his studies, after he graduated, at Newtown, under the direction of Dr. Auchmuty Rector of Trinity Church; and he was engaged some years in teaching Latin and Greek to the sons of several gentlemen in New-York.
He went to England in May 1774; was ordained Deacon Friday June 24, 1774 in the chapel of the Episcopal palace at Fulham by Richard Terrick, Bishop of London, and Priest Wednesday, June 29, 1774 in the same place by the same Bishop.
After his return from England he officiated in Trinity Church and its Chapels, and was appointed with the Rev. Mr. Bowden (now Dr. Bowden, of Columbia College) an Assistant Minister of Trinity Church; Dr. Auchmuty being Rector, and afterwards, Dr. Inglis since Bishop of Nova Scotia.
 On the resignation of Bishop Provoost, Dr. Moore was appointed Rector of Trinity Church Dec. 22, 1800. He was unanimously elected Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the state of New-York, at a special Convention, in the city of New-York, Sept. 5, 1801; and was consecrated Bishop at Trenton, New-Jersey, in St. Michael's Church, Friday Sep. 11, 1801, by the Rt. Rev. Bp. White of Pennsylvania, Presiding Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Bp. Clagget of Maryland, and the Rt. Rev. Bp. Jarvis of Connecticut.
He was attacked by a Paralysis, in Feb. 1811; and for the last two or three years repeated attacks gradually weakened and disabled him, until he expired, at his residence at Greenwich, near New York, on Tuesday evening, the 27th of Feb. 1816, in the 60th year of his age. The duties of the episcopal office in this diocess have been discharged by the Author of this Address as Assistant Bishop, since his consecration in May, 1811.]
People of the congregation--You have seen him, regular and fervent, yet modest and humble, in performing the services of the sanctuary.--You cannot have forgotten that voice of sweetness, and of melody, yet of gravity and solemnity, with which he excited while he chastened your devotions, nor that evangelical eloquence which, gentle as the dew of Hermon, insinuated itself into your hearts.
His love for the Church was the paramount principle that animated him--He entered on her service in the time of trouble.--Steady in his principles yet mild and prudent in advocating them, while he never sacrificed consistency, he [16/17] never provoked resentment. In proportion as adversity pressed upon the Church, was the firmness of the affection with which he clung to her--And he lived until he saw her, in no inconsiderable degree by his counsel and exertions, raised from the dust and putting on the garments of glory and beauty.
It was this affection for the Church which animated his episcopal labours--which led him to leave that family whom he so tenderly loved, and that retirement which was so dear to him and where he found while he conferred enjoyment, and to seek in remote parts of the diocess for the sheep of Christ's fold. I know that his memory lives where I have traced the fruits of his labors.
My brethren of the Episcopal Clergy--I need not tell you, how much prudence, gentleness and affection distinguished his episcopal relation to you.
We are not without many recent monitions of that summons which we shall all receive--Give an account of thy stewardship. A Presbyter whose worth and usefulness, from his vicinity to us, were particularly known, and highly valued by us, has been recently taken from us. [* The Rev. Elias Cooper, Rector of St. John's Church, Yonkers.] But a few months since and this temple witnessed your attendance on the last solemn offices to a venerable [17/18] Father. [* The Rt. Rev. Bishop Provoost.] The remains of another are now before us. With the exception of one [* The Rev. Dr. Bowden.] to whom we still look with reverence, who was the companion of his youth, the associate of his early labors, and the sympathising friend of his old age, he is the last in this diocess of those venerable men who derived their ordination from the Parent Church, and whose characters are marked by attachment to evangelical truth in connection with primitive order. My brethren--let not their principles descend with them to the grave. Soon our course will be finished; our account will at the great day be demanded. How awful--how awful, the account of those to whom Christ hath entrusted the charge of "the sheep for whom he shed his blood, of the congregation which is his spouse and body."
People whom I see before me--you have an account to render--an account of the use which you have made of your talents, your time, your privileges; of the means of grace and salvation. Animating is the reflection that to the servant who faithfully employs the talents entrusted to him, there is a resurrection of life. But let us remember--Blessed Jesus--let us remember, and by a living faith lay hold on thee as our refuge--there is the resurrection of damnation.