« AnteriorContinuar »
concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." No argument can add force to inspired statements like these. There is, then, to be a resurrection of the body. It is possible-it is probable-it is certain. We pass
Fourthly: To the purpose, or object of the resurrection. One object may be, to make a signal exhibition of Jehovah's power. This globe is emphatically a field of death-a place of sculls. From the time that death entered it by sin, the earth has been arched with the graves of men, and the ocean paved with their bones. Generation after generation of mankind-the infant, the youth, the middle-aged, and the gray-headed-have marched rapidly to the tomb, and now lie mouldering in dust. What an exhibition of divine power, to behold these, in obedience to a voice pealing and echoing where they lie, starting into life!—these myriads upon myriads, all collected, distinguished, and compoundedatom united to its fellow atom, and bone to its fellow bone, in bonds never more to be dissolved! Another object of the resurrection may be, to perpetuate the human species. The human race composed of matter and mind-blending together the material and spiritual, form, as we may believe, a distinct class of beings. It is hardly consistent with the wisdom of God to destroy such a class. But were the bodies of men not raised, men would be pure spirits like angels. There would then be no peculiar race connecting worlds visible and invisible, and thus a link in the chain of intelligent existences would be sundered. But the great object of the resurrection-paramount to all others, and which may be called the object-is to bring the united body and soul, the entire man, before the judgment seat of Christ. It is, that the actions of all the actors that have ever lived may be manifested, and their final allotments determined; that sentence may be pronounced upon every action, every family, and every individual of all the posterity of Adam, according to their works.
Fifthly:-The time and mode of the resurrection.
The precise hour, or day, of this sublime occurrence, we cannot tell. Nor we only. No angel can mark it with certainty. It is not for them, any more than for ourselves, to know the times and seasons which Jehovah has reserved to himself. We only know that it is not a final act, but immediately precedes the judgment; and that it will come unexpectedly, as a thief in the night. The mode, or manner, will be inconceivably amazing and glorious. There will be a visible appearance of Jesus Christ. With a power and glory worthy his dignity and office, he will come, borne upon the clouds. The Lord shall descend from heaven with a
shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God. And as at the sound of the silver trumpet in the Jewish jubilee, the dungeons were opened, and the captives came out in possession of their freedom; so the archangel's trump ringing through the caverns of the earth and the caverns of the deep,-ringing through all the dark domains of death, shall open all, and pour out an ocean of living forms! "The dead in Christ shall rise first." The tombs and sepulchres which have closed over the dust of the saints, will first be opened, and then all the dust which has ever been animated, being animated again, the spacious earth will wave with a dense harvest of life! Those who remain and are alive at this coming of our Lord, will be suddenly transformed. "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, they shall be changed, and caught up together with the other redeemed ones, in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air." We come now,
Sixthly:-To the character of the bodies raised.
As this is a matter of pure revelation, we must keep close to the inspired word. This is very copious and clear. The qualities of the glorified bodies of believers are drawn out with minuteness in the following verses-(1 Cor. xv. 35-44)—by a running commentary on which, we may obtain distinct conceptions of their organization:-"Some will say, How are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come? Thou fool! that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die. And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat or of some other grain. But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh; but there is one kind of flesh of men, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. 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. There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body." We will attempt a brief commentary on these verses. "Some will say, how are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come?" In what way is this effected? What are the characteristics of the bodies which shall be raised up? "Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die." Thoughtless, unobserving man, you behold an analogous process constantly going on around you. You cast seed into the earth, and it springs not up fresh and green, till it decays and dies in the earth. Now there is no more difficulty in the rising of the body than there is in the springing up
of that seed. The body is indeed decomposed and dissolved by death, but so is the seed; yet as that rises after apparently perishing, so may the body. "And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat or of some other grain." And, then, when you put seed or grain into the earth, the product, though in substance, and kind, the same as the grain or seed sown, is yet different in figure. You sow wheat, and it rises wheat; you sow corn, and it rises corn;-yet the product springing from the seed sown differs in form from the kernels put in the earth; for the product has roots, and stalks, and beard, and leaves. These last appear in the process of reproduction. So may it be with the raised body. It may have features and appendages, which the buried body had not. "But God hath given it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body." It is because he chooses it, that the root, and stalk, and leaves differ from the kernel that died; and he gives to different kernels of grain appropriate qualities. Such facts in vegetation which you witness, should prevent you from discrediting analogous facts in connection with the resurrection. As to the bodies raised: "All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another of fishes, and another of birds." There is no necessity that the raised body should have the same figure and qualities with the body laid in the grave; for there are a great variety of bodies, and we have no reason to believe that these varieties are exhausted. You see a difference in bodies here upon the earth; some more, and some less excellent. There is the flesh of men, and the flesh of fishes, and the flesh of birds; all different. And if, not confining your view to earth, you look above earth, you will see that the same is true there. "There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial, but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory." Bodies on the earth differ from heavenly bodies, and heavenly bodies differ among themselves. Here on the earth, the bodies of men differ from that of beasts, and these, in their turn, from trees and vegetables; and all these, from the beauty and brilliancy of those bodies set in the firmament of heaven. So these last bodies differ from each other in magnificence. The splendor of the sun exceeds that of the moon, and the splendor of the moon is superior to that of the stars; and the stars, either from their different magnitudes, or comparative distance from our earth, twinkle with various degrees of brightness. "So, also, is the resurrection of the dead." The bodies of the dead, though they shall all be raised immortal, will possess beauty and excellence, be endowed with perfections with which the human body was never before invested. "It is sown in corruption." In its present state, the human body is a
frail, mortal body. There is a tendency to decay in its very organization. The teeth decay, the eyes grow dim, the limbs grow feeble, the joints relax, and age stamps her white impress of decay upon the hair. So it is subject to diseases acute and chronic, and even to putrefaction. But it will not be so raised: "It is raised in incorruption." It will be no longer susceptible of waste and disorders. There shall be no more hunger, no more thirst, no more languor, no more pain, no more death. They shall be more durable than any material objects, for they shall abide for ever, unassailable, indestructible. "It is sown in dishonor.” Now it is a vile body, often unlovely and deformed. No sooner is the flame of life within it quenched, than it is too offensive to be kept in sight, and is fed upon by crawling reptiles. "But it is raised in glory." Every thing vile about it will be taken away. It will be like Christ's glorious body. "Who shall change," says this same apostle, "our bodies, that they may be likened unto Christ's glorious body." What that was, at his transfiguration, we know. "His face shone as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light;" and when the disciple John, who then saw him, saw him afterwards in Patmos, he tells us his face was as the mid-day sun, and his eyes as a flame of fire, and his feet as burning brass." If there is symmetry, and dignity, and finish, about any of the handy works of God, we may confidently look for it in those bodies which his dear Son has ransomed by his blood, and modelled after his own perfect person. "It is sown in weakness." It is now but a brittle piece of clay. Its faculties have little vigor,-are soon fatigued, and require repose. "It is raised in power." It will rise with renovated physical energies -energies not soon impaired, and demanding neither food nor rest. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body." "There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body." The word natural might be translated more properly animal. The present body depends for its continuance on the laws of the animal economy, and originates the propensities and passions. It communicates with the world without, through sensual organs. Not so with the body raised. Though this is also a body, it is a spiritual body. Its functions are not performed by a union of flesh and blood, of arteries and nerves, but its attributes will be so like the mind, so refined and spiritualized, as to be perfectly suited to mental perceptions and enjoyments. The original grossness of its materiality will be purged away; it will be etherealized into spirit; a robe of light, rivaling the invisible essence of the soul itself. Such is the destination of the Christian's earthly, frail, perishable body;-such the lovely and effulgent characteristics with which it shall be stamped. I say the Christian's body, for this description has reference to no other. We know not what odious deformities the bodies of the wicked will bear,-what hideous expressions the curse of sin will give them. We only know that
they will be so disfigured as to "rise to shame and everlasting contempt." This is the language which inspiration employs with reference to them, and there leaves them! Such is the Scriptural account of the resurrection of the body. Marvel not at it. Jehovah has pledged his word that it shall be, and the hour is rapidly hastening on, when it will be all real.
In application of the subject, we observe, that it is extremely consoling to all the true friends of the Redeemer. Are their present bodies fatigued by toil, or racked by pain, or prostrate by sickness? Are base passions awakened through the senses, which passions they lament and struggle to overcome? This fatigue, and pain, and sickness, and conflict, will soon be over. These frail, disordered tabernacles, will shortly be taken down, and once down, will not be so constructed again. Such have but to exercise fortitude and resignation, till the body drops into its resting place, when they will eternally rest from distress and trouble. Have they Christian friends who have died away from their kindred, whose bones lie in a land of strangers? or have they one such, over whose grave the blue wave ripples? Jehovah watches that, to Him precious dust. It is not a stranger to Him, though it is among strangers. From Him it is not concealed, though it lies in the ocean cave, with the sea-weed wrapped closely around it, and it shall rise again, ennobled and glorious. "The sea is his," and so is the body, though the ship which paused to leave it in the deep has sailed on, and "no man knoweth the place of its sepulchre.
"Asleep in Jesus! time nor space
Debars this precious hiding-place;'
Perhaps, Christian, you have seen disease attacking and gaining daily victory over the form you loved. You may, "at the painful post of observation," have beheld beauty fading like a moth,the clear skin drying and wrinkling, the cheerful expressive face growing haggard and ghastly, and the symmetrically proportioned body reduced to a skeleton. O what a wreck of what that one, to whom your soul is allied, once was! Where is now that beauty and elegance, at which your heart once thrilled with rapture? It is indeed gone, but not forever gone. The palid face will bloom again, the sunken glazed eye sparkle, and your pious friend be clothed with far lovelier graces; when, through "Him who is the resurrection and the life," she springs from corruption to immortality.
We cannot conceive the felicity of a soul reunited to a body thus improved. How different from the body laid down, which was fragile, and tainted with sin, will this glorified body be! A proper instrument for the exalted services and bliss of the heavenly state, it will be thus employed. The eyes, here moist