And besides all this
The different circumstances of each, both past and present, which should be observed and considered:
between us and you there is a great gulf fixed;
as this may regard the state of the Pharisees after death, it intends not the natural distance between heaven and hell; though there may be an allusion to the notions of the Jews concerning that, who on those words in ( Ecclesiastes 7:14 ) . "God hath set the one over against the other", say F6,
``this is hell and paradise, what space is there between them? an hand's breadth; R. Jochanan says a wall, but the Rabbans say, they are both of them even, so that they may look out of one into another.''Which passage is cited a little differently F7, thus;
``wherefore did the holy blessed God create hell and paradise? that they might be one against another; what space is there between them? R. Jochanan says, a wall, and R. Acha says an hand's breadth: but the Rabbans say, two fingers.''And elsewhere it F8 is said,
``know that hell and paradise are near to one another, and one house separates between them; and paradise is on the north east side---and hell on the north west.''Mahomet seems to have borrowed this notion from them, who says F9,
``between the blessed and the damned, there shall be a vail; and men shall stand on "Al Araf", (the name of the wall or partition, that shall separate paradise from hell,) who shall know every one of them by their mouths.''But not this natural space, be it what it will, but the immutable decree of God is intended here, which has unalterably fixed the state of the damned, and of the blessed:
so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot, neither
can they pass to us that would come from thence;
not that those in heaven can desire to go to those in hell; though those in hell, may wish to be in heaven; but the sense is, that by this irrevocable decree of God, the saints in heaven are eternally happy, and the wicked in hell eternally miserable: and this also agrees with the notions of the Jews F11, who represent it impossible: for a man, after he has descended into hell, to come up from thence any more: but as this may regard the Jews state of captivity and affliction, since the destruction of their city and temple, upon, and for their rejection of the Messiah; it may denote the impossibility of Christ's coming again upon the same errand he came on before, to be a Saviour of sinners, and a sacrifice for sin; and of the Jews believing in him, so long as they lie under the spirit of slumber, and are given up to judicial blindness and hardness of heart.
F6 Midrash Kohelet, fol 76. 1.
F7 Nishmat Chayim Orat. 1. sect. 12. fol. 31. 1.
F8 Raziel, fol. 15. 1.
F9 Koran, c. 7. p. 120.
F11 Caphtor, fol. 70. 2.