« PreviousContinue »
person believing in the inspiration of the Scriptures. The New Testament treats upon the subject under a variety of features and circumstances. Christ himself expounded the doctrine on different occasions, before different classes of people, proving by his works, and, finally in his own person, the reality of a resurrection from the dead. The apostles and primitive Christians believed the doctrine, and Paul proclaimed it in Athens to the philosophers, and alluded to it in his defence before Agrippa. In the fifteenth chapter of his first Epistle to the Corinthians, he treats the subject by a power of argument not excelled.
Second, the Scriptures teach that the same body, though greatly changed, will be raised from the dead.
From the account given by the evangelists, it is certain that the body of Christ was raised. It was identified by his disciples, bearing the marks caused by the nails and the spear. In order to remove their doubts and quiet their fears, he says, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.” As Thomas was not present on this occasion, and was unbelieving, Christ, wishing to remove every doubt, even from the most faithless, bade Thomas behold his hands and thrust his hand into his side. In the whole transaction relating to the resurrection of Christ, there is not the least indication of deception practised, either by Christ or his disciples. As the body of Christ died and rose again, so will the bodies of the dead arise, and those of the saints “ be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”
As a further proof that the body will be raised is John 5 : 28. “ All that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth.” God, in the creation of man, formed him of “the dust of the earth,” which undoubtedly means his body. Now Solomon says,
" Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” From this we learn that the spirit does not, as some contend, go down into the grave—it is the body. And it is the body that comes forth, as alluded to in the passage, not the spirit. Paul says,
we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our bodies." “ He that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies by the spirit that dwelleth in you.” “It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body."
These quotations fully affirm the resurrection of the body. Still, with all the light that the Scriptures furnish on this subject, which is not a little, there are doubts expressed and objections made to the doctrine of the resurrection of the body. But these objections are generally made by those who are skeptical concerning the Scriptures, to convince whom it would be quite difficult. Among the objections the most prominent is, that the body, in this life, undergoes many changes, and is, every few years, composed of different particles of matter, and, hence, cannot be the same body at a later period in life. Besides, when life becomes extinct, the body is decomposed, and the particles of matter enter other bodies and become subservient to other uses and purposes, and therefore a literal resurrection of the same body is impossible. Now to the believer in revelation this is no objection, because the resurrection is regarded in the light of a miracle, as was Christ's own resurrection. He who made the body is abundantly able to restore it to life, notwithstanding the changes of the material organism previous to and after death. The Christian confides in the power of Omnipotence. Though skeptics may deny everything in the natural and moral world, yet the true disciple of Christ is unmovable, having built upon the rock, the sure foundation, against which the tempest has no effect.
Still this objection is not so formidable as it at first appears. Can not physical identity be preserved without identity of matter ? Let us examine a little further. Does not a person retain his personal identity from youth to old age? Does not the person who is emaciated almost to a skeleton, by a protracted illness, retain his personal identity? Yes, even admitting that identity of matter is lost. No one would pretend to say that the man who lives to-day is not the man who lived ten, twenty, thirty, or forty years ago? Even if his body had undergone a thousand changes, it would not destroy his identity; and, if this be preserved, of what consequence are the particles of matter which originally composed his body? If he has a body which the mind recognizes, this is sufficient. He knows it to be his body, while he may be unconscious of the waste and renewal of the floating particles of matter. He has a body, and this he retains until he enters the grave, and in the resurrection his spirit will be re-united with what he recognized as his body on earth. Yet the Scriptures admit that the body undergoes certain changes, as stated in the fifteenth chapter of first Corinthians. Here we learn that this mortal body is sown in corruption, is sown in dishonor, is sown in weakness, is sown a natural body; but that it is raised in incorruption, raised in glory, raised in power, raised a spiritual body—the very elements necessary to its admittance into heaven. The apostle does not deny its identity, and why need those with less of reason, discernment and inspiration attempt to do so ?
Third, the Scriptures teach that the resurrection is to take place in the future.
On this subject there is a variety of opinions. Some contend that the resurrection takes place immediately after death. But this theory is not consistent with revelation, which teaches that the resurrection will be at the the last day, or at the end of the world. Daniel, in speaking of the resurrection, evidently means the end of time. Christ says that “the hour is coming," meaning a future period, when all that are in their graves, the good and bad, “shall come forth,” some unto the resurrection of life, and some unto the resurrection of damnation. Paul declares “ that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust, agreeing with the Saviour that it is a future event, to be taken in its most unlimited sense.
To make it more conclusive, as an event in the future, Paul said concerning Hymeneus and Philetus, who declared that the resurrection was past already, that concerning the truth they erred.
" And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day.' « Jesus said unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” In these passages it is not difficult to understand what is meant by “the last day.” It evidently means the end of the world, placing the resurrection at that period.
“ And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat upon it, from whose face the heaven and the earth fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened ; and another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them; and they were judged every man according to their works.” This quotation plainly shows the universality of the resurrection, the end of the world, and the day of judgment
, when the dead will be judged, “every man according to his works.”
The Bible teaches that the resurrection will take place at the close of Christ's mediatorial reign, or second coming.
« Then cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father ; when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body,” &c. “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we
which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 66 We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised,” &c. “Seeing that it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us; when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,' in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe.”
These passages plainly show that there will be an end of the gospel dispensation, and an end of Christ's mediatorial kingdom, at which time Christ is to make his second appearance, and the dead will be raised and judged. As to the precise time when this sublime and glorious event will take place, it is not for us to know with certainty, as some have supposed. But all may rest assured, from Scripture, that it is yet in the future, “at the last day," when time shall be no longer.
ART. VII.-PERSONAL CHRISTIAN DEVELOPMENT.
We sometimes hear persons speak of childhood as if it were the happiest period of human life; and they intimate or declare, that in that portion of our sojourn on earth, there is more real enjoyment, and less of care and trouble, than at any subsequent time. But, on reflection, every intelligent man must see that