« PreviousContinue »
ON THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY,
I. IN the sacred records I find three kinds of RESURRECTION mentioned; of which we may call one CIVIL, a second SPIRITUAL, and the third, the Resurrection of the BODY.
II. A deliverance from any dreadful calamity and peril, or a restoration from a miserable to a more prosperous state, may be styled a CIVIL Resurrection; for as a calamitous condition is called death, so a happy one is termed life. A resurrection of this sort may be experienced, either by individuals, or by an entire society or state. We have an instance of the former in David; "O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from "the grave; thou hast kept me alive, that I should "not go down to the pit:"-In Hezekiah; "So wilt "thou recover me, and make me to live:"b-And in Paul; "God who raiseth the dead, who delivered us "from so great a death, and doth deliver; in whom we
b Is. xxxviii. 16.
a Ps. xxx. 3.
“trust that he will yet deliver us." A free constitution, under a just and legitimate magistrate, whom the Israelites were accustomed to call "the breath of their “nostrils,”—is the life of a State. The loss of a free government, is death; its restoration, is a resurrection. To this may be referred the following expression in Hosea:-" He hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath "smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days " will he revive us, in the third day he will raise us up, " and we shall live in his sight." The thirty-seventh Chapter of Ezekiel, too, is particularly worthy of notice. We have there a long and elegant allegory, setting forth the deplorable condition of Israel during the Babylonish captivity under the emblem of " an open val"ley, covered with dry bones," and their happy restoration under the similitude of a resurrection. That passage, however, is also to be viewed as affording a type and a pledge of the general resurrection.
III. The SPIRITUAL Resurrection, is the raising of men from the death of sin to the life of God. This, again, is the resurrection, either of individuals, or of the Church at large. Of the former, we read in the following words: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The “hour is coming, and now is, when the dead," that is, the dead in sin, "shall hear the voice of the Son of God," to wit, the preaching of the Gospel, accompanied with the quickening energy of the Spirit of Christ, “and
they that hear," that receive the Gospel with the obedience of faith, "shall live."f Such a resurrection is ascribed to the Church at large, when she is blessed with a remarkable increase of spiritual life, as well with
e 2 Cor. i. 9, 10.
Hos. vi. 1, 2.
f John v. 25. See also Eph. ii. 5. Col. ii. 12. iii. 1.
d Lam. iv. 20.
regard to the number of her living members, as with respect to the gifts of Divine grace with which they are enriched, knowledge, holiness, joy, peace, and the like. Hence Paul informs us, that the receiving of the Jews will be to the Church as "life from the dead." And the nature of the life which the Church is then to enjoy, is explained by Isaiah.h
IV. The Resurrection of the BODY, is the raising to life of the same body which death had dissolved, by reuniting the soul to it. To this the following things are necessary. 1. The conservation in the hand of God, of the particles into which the dead body was resolved. 2. The conservation of the soul also, to be re-united to the body in due time. 3. The re-formation of the same body from those very particles of which it formerly consisted, and the preparation of it to be a suitable habitation for the soul. 4. The renewed union of the soul with the body thus prepared. 5. The life of the whole compound being, resulting from that union.
v. This resurrection of the body is that great mystery of Christianity, without which the Gospel is vain, and our faith and hope are vain, and the consolation of those who have undergone the severest sufferings for Christ, is either small indeed, or no consolation at all.i Justly does Tertullian begin his book on the Resurrection of the body with the following words: "The "Resurrection of the dead, is the support of Chris"tians." An article of our faith, therefore, so sublime and momentous, must be examined with the greatest attention. In treating it, we may observe the follow
* Resurrectio mortuorum, fiducia Christianorum.
h Ch. lix. 21. lx. 1.
Rom. xi. 15.
i 1 Cor. xv. 13-19.
ing arrangement. We shall show, First, That there will be a resurrection of bodies. Secondly, That there will be a resurrection of the same bodies, with regard to substance. Thirdly, That the resurrection will be universal, extending both to the righteous and to the wicked. Fourthly, We may inquire, further, whether the resurrection of all and of every individual is to take place at one and the same time; or whether the resurrection of believers, or at least of martyrs, is to precede the resurrection of others a thousand years. Fifthly, We shall speak, in fine, of that LIFE EVERLASTING, which will be the consequence of the blessed resurrection of the godly.
VI. In the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, the God of truth affirms, that the resurrection of the body will certainly take place; and Reason, when divinely instructed, confirms the doctrine. The passages relative to this topic in the Old Testament, in conformity to the nature of the ancient dispensation, are indeed less perspicuous; yet they are convincing, and particularly so to us, to whom they are placed in a clearer light, by the interpretations of Christ and his Apostles. Let us hear our Lord himself reasoning from Moses: "As touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not "read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, "and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the "dead, but of the living." The words quoted by our Lord, it is to be observed, were spoken by God after the patriarchs had been long dead. Hence it is inferred, in the first place, that even when dead, they were living to God, at least with regard to the soul.1
J Mat. xxii. 31, 32.
* Exod. iii. 6.
1 Luke xx. 38.
Further, that covenant of grace, by virtue of which he calls himself their God, concerns not merely their separate spirits, but their whole persons, which God required to carry about the sign of the covenant even in the body; and therefore the life promised in the covenant extends also to the body, which must consequently be re-united to the soul that is now living with God, in order to partake of the same felicity. This demonstration brought forward by the Lord Jesus, was so powerful, that the multitudes were astonished at his, doctrine, and the mouth of the Sadducees was stopped. And whatever the more ancient Hebrews may have seen, or not have seen here, the modern Rabbies, at least, acknowledge the force of this argument. Aben Ezra says that this declaration, “I am the Lord your "God," includes a promise of life in both worlds.* Manasseh Ben Israel reasons as if from the mouth of our Lord. The following expressions, too, which occur in Midras Kohelet, are not unlike his words. "The ungodly while living, are called dead; and the
righteous are spoken of as living even after death." Accordingly it is said;-"Unto the land which I "sware unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."m 78
VII. Let us next attend to the profession of Job, Chap. xix. 25, 26, 27. That some weighty topic is there treated, appears as well from the sacred magnificence of the expressions themselves, as from the preamble introducing them; in which he utters an earnest wish, that his words were not only written in a book,