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Charles Buck Theological Dictionary

Future State

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A term made us of in relation to the existence of the soul after death. That there is such a state of existence, we have every reason to believe; "for if we suppose, " says a good writer, "the events of this life to have no reference to another, the whole state of man becomes not only inexplicable, but contradictory and inconsistent. The powers of the inferior animals are perfectly suited to their station. They know nothing higher than their present condition. In gratifying their appetites, they fulfil their destiny, and pass away.

Man, alone, comes forth to act a part which carries no meaning, and tends to no end. Endowed with capacities which extend far beyond his present sphere, fitted by his rational nature for running the race of immortality, he is stopped short in the very entrance of his course. He squanders his activity on pursuits which he discerns to be vain. He languishes for knowledge which is placed beyond his reach. He thirsts after a happiness which he is doomed never to enjoy. He sees and laments the disasters of his state, and yet, upon this supposition, can find nothing to remedy them. Has the eternal God any pleasure in sporting himself with such a scene of misery and folly as this life (if it had no connection with another) must exhibit to his eye? Did he call into existence this magnificent universe, adorn it with so much beauty and splendour, and surround it with those glorious luminaries which we behold in the heavens, only that some generations of mortal men might arise to behold these wonders, and then disappear for ever?

How unsuitable in this case were the habitation to the wretched inhabitant! How inconsistent the commencement of his being, and the mighty preparation of his powers and faculties, with his despicable end! How contradictory, in fine, were every thing which concerns the state of man, to the wisdom and perfections of his Maker!" But that there is such a state is clear from many passages of the New Testament, John 5:24 . Acts 7:1-60 . Romans 8:10-11 . 2 Corinthians 5:1-2 . Philippians 1:21 . 1 Thess. iv 14. 1 Thessalonians 5:10 . Luke 16:22 . &c. But, though these texts prove the point, yet some have doubted whether there be any where in the Old Testament any reference to a future state at all. The case, it is said, appears to be this: the Mosaic covenant contained no promises directly relating to a future state; probably, as Dr. Warburton asserts, and argues at large, because Moses was secure of an equal providence, and therefore needed not subsidiary sanctions taken from a future state, without the belief of which the doctrine of an universal providence cannot ordinarily be vindicated, nor the general sanctions of religion secured. But, in opposition to this sentiment, as Doddridge observes, "it is evident that good men, even before Moses, were animated by views of a future state, Hebrews 11:13; Hebrews 11:16 , as he himself plainly was, 24 to 26 verse; and that the promises of heavenly felicity were contained even in the covenant made with Abraham, which the Mosaic could not disannul.

Succeeding providences also confirmed the natural arguments in its favour, as every remarkable interposition would do: and when general promises were made to the obedient, and an equal providence relating to the nation established on national conformity to the Mosaic institution, and not merely to the general precepts of virtue; as such an equal providence would necessarily involve many of the best men in national ruin, at a time when, by preserving their integrity in the midst of general apostase, their virtue was most conspicuous; such good men, in such a state, would have vast additional reasons for expecting future rewards, beyond what could arise from principles common to the rest of mankind; so that we cannot wonder that we find in the writings of the prophets many strong expressions of such an expectation, particularly Ten. 49: 18. Psalms 16:9-11 . Psalms 17:1-15 : last ver. Psalms 73:17; Psalms 73:27 . Ecclesiastes 3:15-16 &c. Ecclesiastes 7:12; Ecclesiastes 7:15 . Is. 3: 10, 11. Ezekiel 18:19; Ezekiel 18:21 . Job 19: 23, 37. Daniel 12:2 . Is. 35: 8. Is. 26: 19.

The same thing may also be inferred from the particular promises made to Daniel, Daniel 12:13 . to Zerubbabel, Haggai 2:23 , and to Joshua, the high priest, Zechariah 3:7 . as well as from those historical facts recorded in the Old Testament of the murder of Abel, the translation of Enoch and Elijah, the death of Moses, and the story of the witch of Endor, and from what is said of the appearance of angels to, and their converse with good men."

See articles INTERMEDIATE STATE, RESURRECTION, and SOUL; also Doddridge's Lectures, lect. 216; Warburton's Divine Legation of Moses, vol. 2: p. 553-568; De. Addington's Dissertations on the Religious Knowledge of the ancient Jews and Patriarchs, containing an enquiry into the evidences of their belief and expectation of a future state; Blair's Sermons, ser. 15. vol. 1:; Robinson's Claude, vol. 1: p. 132; W. Jones's Works, vol. 6: ere. 12; Logan's Sermons, vol. 2: p. 413.

Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Future State'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary.​dictionaries/​eng/​cbd/​f/future-state.html. 1802.