In Two Sermons, preached at a Lecture in Lime-Street.
ACTS 26:8 Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?
The doctrine of the resurrection of the body from the dead, is a doctrine of the of utmost importance; for "if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen; and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain," 1 Cor. 15:13, 14. In this lecture, the doctrines of eternal election, original sin, particular redemption, satisfaction by Christ, efficacious grace in conversion, and final perseverance, have been well explained and defended among you; and, I hope, to your great comfort and establishment: but to what purpose are these truths taught, and what avail will they be, if there is no resurrection of the dead? The part assigned to me, in this lecture, being to explain and defend this truth, I shall attempt to do it in the following method:
I. I shall observe that the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead has not been credited by some; it has been accounted incredible. II. Notwithstanding, I shall endeavour to evince both the credibility and certainty of it. III. I shall inquire who, and what that is which shall be raised. IV. I shall consider the author of this stupendous work, and the particular concern which God the Father, Son, and Spirit, have therein. V. I shall show the importance and use of this doctrine.
I. It will not be improper to observe, that the doctrine of the resurrection of the body from the dead has not been believed by some, but has been accounted absurd and incredible, though without any just reason, as will be shown hereafter, and as may be concluded from the words of my text.
This doctrine is of pure revelation, what the mere light of nature never taught men, and by which alone they being guided, have declared against. It has been denied, as Tertullian observes, by every sect of the philosophers. That the body was mortal, all agreed; that the soul was immortal, some of them asserted, though they had but dark and confused conceptions concerning its future separate existence; but that the body, when dead, should be raised again to life, was a subject of ridicule and contempt with them. Pliny calls it a childish fancy, vanity, and downright madness; as does also Caecilius, in Minucius Felix, who likewise reckons it among old wives' fables. Celsus, in Origen, represents it as exceedingly detestable and abominable; and, of all the tenets of the Christians, this was had in the greatest contempt by Julian the emperor. The maintainers and abettors of this doctrine were always accounted by the heathen vain, trifling, and babbling fellows. Thus the Athenian philosophers of the Epicurean and Stoic sects mocked at the apostle Paul, when they heard him talk of the resurrection of the dead; "And some said, What will this babbler say?" Acts 17:18, 32. "Other some, he seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods; because he preached unto them Jesus and the resurrection." They were so ignorant of this doctrine, that they took Jesus and the word used by the apostle for the resurrection, to be the names of some strange deities they had never heard of before; and therefore say, "He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods." The heathen had no knowledge of this truth, no faith in it, nor hope concerning it. Hence they are described by the apostle Paul, as those who had no hope; when writing to the Thessalonians, he says, " But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others, which have no hope," 1 Thess. 4:13, 14. By whom the apostle means not Christians, who had no hopes of the salvation of their departed friends and relations, but Pagans, who had neither faith nor hope in the resurrection of the dead, and a future state: and therefore had not that to support them under the loss of relations, which Christians had: wherefore the apostle adds, "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him." Much after the same manner the Ephesians, whilst they were in their heathenish and unconverted estate, are described, Eph. 2:12, by the same apostle; "At that time, says he, ye were without Christ:" that is, without any knowledge, promise, or expectation of the Messiah; "being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise;" i.e. ye were not so much as proselytes to the Jewish religion, nor members of the Jewish church, and were entirely destitute of divine revelation; having no hope in the resurrection and future state, and so lived without God in the world, or as atheists in it, as it is in the original. And we may be the more induced to believe this to be, at least, part of the apostle's sense in these passages; since he, in his defences before Felix and Agrippa, represents the doctrine of the resurrection as the object of hope, as in Acts 24:15: "And have hope towards God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust." And in Acts 26:6, 7: "And now I stand and am judged, for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers; unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come; for which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews." And then follow the words of my text, "Why should it he thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?"
Some, indeed, have thought that the Gentiles had knowledge of the resurrection which they collect partly from some notions and opinions of theirs, which seem to be a semblance with, and to be the broken remains of some tradition concerning it; and partly from express passages, wherein they think it is asserted. The notion of the heathen, from whence it is concluded that they had some hints of this doctrine, are these, viz. that the soul after death has a perfect human shape, and all the same parts, both external and internal, that the body has; that there is an equal duration of the soul and body after death; that there is a transmigration of souls into other bodies, especially human; that men may be translated body and soul to heaven; of which they give instances in Aristaeus, Proconnesian, Alcmena, Hercules, Helena, Romulus, Cleomedes Astypalensis, and others: and that after certain periods and revolutions, when the stars and planets are in the same configuration and respect to one another, which they formerly had, the same men shall appear in the world, and the same things in succession shall be done in it, which formerly have been. For instance: 'Socrates shall be born at Athens of the same parents, be educated after the same manner, and eat the same food, wear the same clothes, teach the same philosophy to the selfsame scholars, be accused by the same accusers, condemned by the same council, and die by the same poison. And so, my friends, according to this notion, we are all to meet together again in this place, in the same position and situation, you to hear, and I to preach; my subject is to be the doctrine of the resurrection, and I am to give you an account of the notions of the heathen with respect to it, as I now do. But this notion seems rather expressive of a regeneration, or a new birth, or a reproduction of men and things, than a resurrection of them: and, I must confess, I cannot see what likeness there is between this, or any other of the above mentioned notions, and the Christian doctrine of the resurrection from the dead.
The passages cited out of heathen authors, to show their knowledge of this doctrine, are such as the Greek verses of Phocylides; in which he expresses his hopes, that, in a very short time, the relics of the deceased should come forth out of the earth into light. But this poem is thought, by learned men, not to be the work of the heathen Phocylides, but either some anonymous Christian, or of some ancient Jewish writer. Besides, the verses referred to are not so expressed, but that it is thought they may very well be explained, so as to design the Pythagorean transmigration, and not the Christian doctrine of the resurrection. Theopompus and Eudemus Rhodius, in Diogenes Laertius, tell us that it was the opinion of the Persian Magi, that men should live again, and be immortal; this they received from their master and the founder of their sect, Zoroaster; who foretold, "that there should be a time when there would be a resurrection of all the dead." Nor need this be wondered at, since, from the best accounts of him, it appears that he was originally a Jew, both by birth and religion; was a servant to one of the prophets of Israel, and was well versed in the Holy Scriptures; out of which, without doubt, he took this doctrine, as he did some others, and which he taught his Magi, and adopted into his new religion. It may be more surprising to hear that Democritus, a corporeal philosopher, should have any notion of the resurrection of the dead; yet Pliny ascribes it to him, and derides him for it; though it has been thought by some, that he designs another Democritus, and not the philosopher, since this opinion cannot be very easily reconciled to his philosophy. But supposing that he, and not another, is meant, it is easy to observe how he came by it, seeing he not only lived in Egypt a while and conversed with the priests there, but travelled also into Persia, and learned of the Magi, theology as well as other things. The notions of several Pagan nations concerning the resurrection, are such as are either ascribed to them by authors not to be depended on, or plainly design transmigration, or are what they have borrowed from the Jews, either by conversing with them, or by reading of their writings; or else are the broken remains of some tradition, received from their ancestors, originally founded on divine revelation.
Some have argued from the Pagans' account of future punishments, to their belief of this doctrine; as when they represent Aridaeus and other tyrants in hell, bound neck and heels together, their skin flayed, and they dragged through thorns and briers; when they speak of Sisyphus rolling a stone up a hill, which, when he has got it to the top, revolves upon his hands; of Ixion; fastened to a wheel in continual motion; of Tityus having vultures always feeding upon his liver; and of Tantalus, in extreme thirst, standing in water up to his middle, with apples hanging over his head and near his mouth, and yet unable to extinguish his thirst with either. But, as a learned author observes, the reason why the heathen described the punishments of the damned after this manner, was not because they thought that their bodies were not left here on earth, but partly because it is the vulgar opinion, that the soul had all the same parts that the body has, and partly because such descriptions do more easily move and affect us; and it is not easy to describe the torments of the soul after any other manner. Our Lord, in the parable of Dives and Lazarus, adds the same author, speaks of them in the same manner, as if they had bodies; though what is related of them, is supposed to be before the resurrection, and their bodies are supposed to be yet in their graves.
As for some particular instances of persons who have been said to be raised from the dead to life, mentioned by heathen writers; as Alcestis by Hercules, Hippolytus by Aesculapius, with many others of the like kind; Acilius Aviola, Lucius Lamia, Aelius Tubero and others are said to revive on the funeral pile; Er Aramenius Pamphilius is reported to come to life, after he had been dead twelve days; Hercules is said to live after he had burnt himself; and Aesculapius to be raised after he bad been struck with thunder, and who himself is said to restore one to life that was carrying to the pile; and much such a story is told of Apollonius Tyaneus. As for these instances, I say, they seem to be fabulous stories, and undeserving of credit. It is true, indeed, they have been credited by some of the heathen, and since they have an argument from hence may be improved against them with great force, and for the doctrine of the resurrection; for if they can believe these things, "Why should it be thought a thing incredible with them that God should raise the dead ?" It may be, I have been too long on this subject; I therefore proceed to observe,
That the Jews were peculiarly blessed by God with that revelation which discovers the truth of this doctrine. In this they had the advantage of the Gentiles, "because that unto them were committed the oracles of God," Rom. iii. 1, 3; and yet there were some among them, as the sect of the Sadducees, which did not believe this truth; they said, "there was no resurrection," Mat. 22:23; Acts 23:8, though in this, as our Lord says, "they erred, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God," Mat. 22:29. In this the Hemero-baptists agreed with them; nor did the Essenes acknowledge the doctrine of the resurrection; yea, many of the Pharisees held the Pythagorean notion of the transmigration of souls into our bodies, which is asserted by Josephus, and, by learned men, collected from several passages of Scripture; which notion has been embraced by many of that people. Nor is it so astonishing, as that, whereas, in the writings of the New Testament, there is a more clear discovery made of this truth, yet it has been denied and opposed by some who have had the advantage of them. It was the error of Hymeneus and Philetus, "that the resurrection was past already," 2 Tim. 2:18. And some in the church at Corinth held "that there is no resurrection of the dead," 1 Cor. 15:12. These were followed by Simon Magus, Saturninus, Basilides, Carpocrates, Valentinus, and others, too numerous to recite; and, of late, the doctrine of the resurrection of the same body is rejected by Socinians and Quakers. But to go on,
II. I shall now endeavour to evince both the credibility and certainty of the resurrection of the dead, notwithstanding it has been accounted by many absurd and incredible.
First, I shall show the credibility of it; and that,
1. From its consistence with the nature and perfections of God. If God is omnipotent and omniscient, as he certainly is, or he would not be God, the resurrection of the dead is not incredible; it is what may be. God is omnipotent, he can do all things; what is impossible with men, is possible with him: he cannot do any thing, indeed, which argues imperfection and weakness, or implies a contradiction and falsehood: he cannot lie, or deny himself. But the resurrection of the dead is not an instance of either. It is no contradiction, that the dust, which was formed out of nothing, being reduced to dust, should again form the body which it once constituted; nor does this argue imperfection or weakness, but is a glorious instance of mighty power. A heathen once said, that it was not in the power of God to raise the dead; and to another, it seemed impossible for any to restore life to one that is dead: but if God could make all things out of nothing, as he did, and, from a dark and confused chaos, raise up such a beautiful structure as this World, and, out of the dust of the earth, form the body of man, and infuse into it, and unite it with a living and reasonable soul; then much more must he be able to raise up a dead body, the matter and substance of which now is, though in different forms and shapes, and reunite it to its soul, which still has a real existence: it is much easier to restore that which is, to its former condition; than to make to exist that which is not. God is also omniscient; he knows all things: he knows all the particles of matter, of which our bodies are composed; and, when they are dissolved into several parts, blown about by the several winds, crumbled into dust, reduced to ashes, evaporated into air, or digested into the bodies of other creatures, and have been transmuted into ten thousand forms and shapes; he knows where they are lodged, and what are the several receptacles and repositories of them, whether in the earth, air, or sea; and his all-discerning eye can distinguish those particles of matter which belong to one body, from those which belong to another; and his almighty hand can gather and unite them together in their own proper bodies, and range them in their due place and order. If God then is omnipotent and omniscient, the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead ought not to be accounted incredible.
As considering the omnipotence and omniscience of God, the resurrection of the dead may be, which also is no ways contrary to his goodness; so the justice of God makes it necessary that it should be: "God is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works:" he is the Judge of all the earth, who will do right: and it is but just with him that those bodies which Christ has purchased with his blood, and the Spirit has sanctified by his grace, and which have suffered for his name's sake, should be raised again, that they, together with their souls, may enjoy that glory which is purchased for them, and which they are made meet to be partakers of; even as it is a righteous thing with God to render tribulation to them that trouble them; and so consequently it is no act of injustice in God to raise the bodies, both of the righteous and the wicked, that they may receive the things done in the body, whether they be good, or whether they be evil. These things being considered, it may be concluded, that the resurrection of the dead is not inconsistent with the perfections of God, and so not incredible. To these considerations I add,
2. The several instances of persons who have been raised from the dead, recorded in Scripture; such as the child of the widow of Zarephath, which came to life upon Elijah's prayer; and the child of the Shunamite, upon Elisha's; as also the man that was cast into Elisha's sepulchre, who revived and stood upon his feet, upon touching the prophet's bones, mentioned in the Old Testament: likewise Jairus's daughter, the son of the widow of Nain, and Lazarus, who were raised by Christ; and not to forget to mention the saints, who came out of their graves, after our Lord's resurrection: and also Dorcas, who was raised by Peter; as was Eutychus by the apostle Paul: which instances are recorded in the New Testament. My argument upon these instances is this; that what has been, may be; and if these instances of particular resurrections are to be credited, then the doctrine of the resurrection of all the dead is not to be accounted incredible. And,
3. It may not be improper if I should just mention some typical and figurative resurrections. The Scriptures give us an account of Jonah's lying three days and three nights in the whale's belly; and his deliverance from thence was a type of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. The saving of Isaac from being sacrificed, was like a resurrection from the dead; and, indeed, "from thence Abraham received him in a figure," Heb. 11:19. The redemption of the people of Israel out of the Babylonish captivity, was a metaphorical resurrection, and signified by the reviving of dry bones; which was done by laying sinews, and bringing flesh upon them, covering them with skin, and putting breath into them. The budding and blossoming of Aaron's dry rod, is thought, by some, to be a figure of the resurrection of the dead. However, be that as it will, this may be observed, that if God could deliver Jonah out of the whale's belly, save Isaac from being sacrificed, when so near it, make dry bones to live and stand upon their feet, and cause a dry rod to bud, blossom, and bring forth almonds; then why should it be thought a thing incredible with any, that God should raise the dead? But,
Secondly, I now proceed to show, that the resurrection of the dead is not only credible, but certain; and this I shall do, partly from Scripture testimonies, and partly from other Scripture doctrines.
1st, From Scripture testimonies, which shall be taken both out of the Old and New Testament. I shall begin with producing testimonies out of the former; and,
1. With the words of God to Moses: "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob," Exod. 3:6. I choose to mention this scripture, and to begin with it, because with this our Lord confronted the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection of the dead, and put them to silence; insomuch, that, after that, no man durst ask any question at all; the account of which you have in Mat. 22:23, and some following verses; and it stands thus: the Sadducees came to him with an instance of a woman, who had had seven husbands, who were brethren; and their question upon it is, whose wife she should be in the resurrection? To which Christ replies, having observed to them their ignorance of the Scriptures, and the power of God, that "in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels of God in heaven;" and then adds, "But 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, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." But now here lies a difficulty, how this appears to be a proof of the resurrection of the dead.
Some have thought, that our Lord's design is to prove the immortality of the soul, which the Sadducees denied, as well as the resurrection of the dead; for they that deny the former, deny the latter; and some of the same arguments which prove the one, prove the other. Menasseh-ben-Israel, a learned Jew of the last century, produces this same passage of Scripture, to prove the immortality of the soul, and argues from it much in the same manner as Christ does. But it is certain, that our Lord produced this testimony as a proof of the resurrection. In one of the evangelists, it is said, "As touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God?" &c. Mat. 22:31. And in another, "Now, that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he called the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob," &c. Luke 20:37. Let it be observed, then, that it is not said, I was, or I will be, but I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; which is expressive not only of a covenant which had been made, but of one that abides and continues, which must be either the covenant of grace made with them in Christ, of which they had some glorious discoveries and manifestations, or some particular covenant respecting them and their posterity. As for the covenant of grace, this respected not their souls only, but their bodies also, even their whole persons; therefore, as their souls now live with God in the enjoyment of the promised good, it is necessary that their bodies should be raised from the dead, that, with their souls, they may enjoy the everlasting blessing of glory and happiness; otherwise, how would God's covenant be "an everlasting one, ordered in all things, and sure?" The learned Mr. Mede thinks, that Christ has respect to the covenant which God: made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in which he promised that he would give the land of Canaan to them, and to their posterity; not their posterity only, but to them also; therefore he observes, that it was necessary that they should be raised from the dead, that they, in their own persons, might enjoy the promised land. It must be acknowledged, that this is a way of arguing the Jews were used to, which may be the reason of the scribes being so well pleased with it; and therefore said, "Master, thou hast well said," Luke 20:39. Such kind of arguments as these, to prove the resurrection of the dead, are now extant in their Talmud: for instance; R. Simai said, "From whence is the resurrection of the dead to be proved out of the law? from Exod. 6:4, where it is said, And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan; it is not said to you, but to them." But, not to insist any longer on this proof, I proceed,
2. To another passage of Scripture, for the confirmation of this doctrine, which is in Job 19:25-27, "For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though, after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself; and mine eyes shall behold, and not another, though my reins be consumed within me." I shall not trouble you with the different versions of these words, some favouring, and some not, the doctrine of the resurrection: and it must be owned, that none of the Jewish writers understand the words of a real, but of a figurative or metaphorical resurrection, and suppose Job's meaning to be, that he should be delivered from the afflicted state, in which he then was, and be restored to his former health, honour, and happiness; in which sense of the words they have been followed by some learned Christian interpreters, at which the Socinians very greedily catch. Temporal afflictions are, indeed, sometimes signified by death, and a deliverance out of them must be as life from the dead; but that this cannot be Job's sense and meaning here, may be concluded from the following hints. Job was so far from having any faith in, or assurance of his restoration to his former state of health, honour, and riches, that he had no hope, no expectation of it; nay, seems entirely to despair of it, though his friends endeavoured to support him with views of it, on condition of his repentance. He declares, Job 6:11, and 7:7, 8, and 10:20, and 16:22, and 17:1, 14-16, that he had no reason to hope for life, that he should quickly be gone, and therefore had made death familiar to him; that he did not expect to see any more temporal good; yea, in this very chapter, at the tenth verse, he says of God, "He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am gone; and mine hope hath he removed like a tree," and continues his doleful moan to the very words under consideration; so that it must seem unlikely, that, on a sudden, he should have his expectations of outward prosperity raised. No; the words are rather expressive of what was his inward support and comfort under present afflictions, and in the views of approaching death and the grave. They are an answer to what Bildad had said, in the preceding chapter, ver. 12-14, concerning the wicked man; where, though he may not directly mean Job, yet he had his eye upon him, when he says, "His strength shall be hunger-bitten, and destruction shall be ready at his side. It shall devour the strength of his skin, even the first-born of death shall devour his strength. His confidence shall be rooted out of his tabernacle, and it shall bring him to the king of terrors." Well now, as if Job should say, supposing all this, yet this is my comfort, I know my interest in the living Redeemer, and am comfortably persuaded, that when he appears at the latter day, though this body of mine is now reduced to skin and bones, and will shortly be the repast of worms, yet it shall be raised again, and, in this very flesh of mine, shall I see God, and everlastingly enjoy him. The preface to the words shows, that it was something future, and at a great distance, which he had in view, even after the consumption of his own body, and at the appearance of his Redeemer in the latter day; and which was very considerable, and of moment; and therefore he says, "O! that my words were now written! O! that they were printed in a book! that they were graven with an iron pen and lead, in the rock for ever !" Besides, the vision of God with the eyes of his body, which he expected, is not suited to any state and condition in this life, but rather to the state of eternal glory and happiness, when saints shall see him in the Mediator, as he is; nor can Job's words have reference to the vision he had of God, of which he speaks, chap. 42:6, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee." Since that issued not barely in peace, joy, and comfort, but likewise, in conviction of his folly and weakness, in self-abhorrence, and deep humiliation. Add to all this, that Job, in the close of this chapter, put his friends in mind of the awful judgment: "Be ye afraid of the sword; for wrath bringeth the punishments of the sword, that ye may know there is a judgment;" between which and death, there must be a resurrection from the dead, of which he had before spoken, that so every one may come forth to judgment, and receive the things done in his body, whether they be good or evil. From the whole, we may conclude, that Job here declares his faith, concerning the resurrection of the dead at the last day, and not his own restoration, from outward misery to outward happiness. An ancient writer once thought, that nothing could be a plainer proof of this doctrine: "for," says he, "no one, since Christ, speaks so plainly of the resurrection, as this man did before Christ."
3. Another testimony I shall produce for the proof of this doctrine, shall be Isa. 26:19. "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise; awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast forth her dead." In ver. 14, the prophet says, "They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise;" the meaning of which words is either that those tyrants, who formerly had dominion over the people of Israel were dead, and should not live any more in this world, or rise again, to tyrannize over them; or that many of the people were dead, or should die by the sword, famine, &c. and not live again; which the prophet mentions by way of complaint, and as the effect of unbelief, to which these words are an answer. The person speaking is the Messiah, to whom the characters given in ver. 4, 12, 13, belong; who assures the prophet, that though his men or people were dead, yet they should live again; that they should be raised again, either at the time of his resurrection or by virtue of it. The words are literally true of Christ's resurrection, and of ours by him, who, as he was to be born, and die, and rise again, in order to be the Saviour of his people, so many of them were to rise along with him; therefore he says, "With my dead body shall they arise;" which was fulfilled at the time of Christ's resurrection, (Mat. 27:52, 53) when the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints, which slept, arose and came out of the graves after his resurrection. Though these words may be rendered either thus, As my dead body shall they arise, i. e in the same way and manner. Christ's resurrection is the exemplar of ours, our vile bodies shall be fashioned like unto his; he is risen from the dead, (1 Cor. 15:20) and become the first-fruits of them that slept; or, as sure as my dead body shall they arise. Christ's resurrection is the pledge of ours; "because he lives, we shall live also." (John 14:19; 1 Thess. 4:14) "If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." The expressions here made use of confirm this sense of the words, "Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs." To dwell in the dust, is expressive of the state of the dead; and a resurrection from thence is aptly signified by an awaking, since death is so frequently, in the sacred writings, compared to sleep. (Job 7:21, and 17:16, and 20:11, and 40:16; Dan. 3:2) The power of God, in raising the dead, is fitly expressed by the dew; for as through the virtue and influence of the dew, the grass and herbs of the field spring up and grow, so, through the wonderful power of God, "our bones," to use the prophet's phrase, (Isa. 66:14) "shall flourish like an herb," in the resurrection morn; and it is easy to observe a likeness between the last clause of this verse, "and the earth shall cast forth her dead,;" and those expressions by which the resurrection is described in Rev. 20:13, "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it: and death and hell, (or the grave,) delivered up the dead which were in them." The Jews refer this prophecy to the resurrection of the dead. But,
4. To add no more testimonies of this kind, I shall conclude the evidence of this doctrine out of the Old Testament, from the famous prophecy in Daniel 12:2, "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." These words are genera1ly understood of the resurrection of the dead, as well by Jewish as Christian interpreters. Porphyry, the acute Heathen, and sworn enemy of Christianity, would have these words design the return of some of the people of the Jews to their own cities and habitations after Antiochus's generals were cut off, who before skulked about in holes and corners, and in which sense of the text he is followed by Grotius. But surely this deliverance, or the return of this people, was not in any of them to shame and contempt, especially to everlasting shame and contempt; nor was it to everlasting life in any of them, seeing they are all since dead. Nor is it true that the doctors of the Jewish church, from that time, shone as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars of heaven; but, on the contrary, their knowledge decreased, their light grew dim, and they became vain in their imaginations. On the other hand, the whole agrees with the resurrection of the dead, when, as our Lord says, whose words are the best comment on this text, "All that are in their graves shall hear his voice, [i.e. the voice of Christ,] and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation," John 5:28, 29; and when the bodies of the saints shall be raised in incorruption, power and glory, and "shall shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father." I might have produced several other scriptures out of the Old Testament for the confirmation of this truth, such as Hosea 6:2, and 13:14, &c. But I forbear, and pass on,
To the New Testament. And here, were I to take the whole compass of proof which this will furnish out, I must transcribe a considerable part of it. I shall only observe, that this is the doctrine of Christ and his apostles; it is a doctrine which Christ himself taught; he declared himself to be "the resurrection and the life," or to be the author of the resurrection unto life; and that not only those whom the Father had given to him, should be raised by him, but that all that are in their graves; whether good or bad, should come forth from thence at his powerful all and all-commanding voice. The same doctrine was taught by his apostles, who all jointly agree, that there will be a resurrection both of the just and unjust. The arguments of the apostle Paul for the confirmation of this doctrine, are by him laid together, in the fifteenth chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthians. I do not take notice of particular passages in the New Testament, partly because they are plain and obvious proofs of this truth at first view, and partly because I shall have occasion to make particular use of them in some other parts of these discourses. I proceed,
2dly, To prove the certainty of the resurrection of the dead from other Scripture truths and doctrines, which I shall little more than name; and shall begin,
1. With the doctrine of election. That there is an eternal, personal election of some to everlasting life and salvation, the Scriptures do abundantly declare. Now, this act of election regards not their souls only, but their bodies also, even their whole persons: if then their persons, body and soul, are chosen in Christ to everlasting salvation, then their bodies must be raised from the dead, that they, united to their souls, may together "inherit the kingdom, prepared for them from the foundation of the world;" otherwise the "purpose of God, according to election," will not stand; when, on the contrary, it is certain, that "his counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure."
2. It is the doctrine of the Scriptures, that the same persons who were chosen in Christ, before the foundation of the world, were given to him by the Father, were put into his hands, and made his care and charge. They were given to him not only to be his portion and inheritance, but to be kept, preserved, and saved by him, body and soul. This was the declared will of his Father, when he gave them to him, as he himself assures us: "And this is the Father's will, which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing, (no, not even their dust,) but should raise it up again 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," John 6:39, 40. Now , if these bodies of the saints, which are given to Christ, should not be raised from the dead, the Father's will would not be fulfilled, nor Christ discharge the trust reposed in him.
3. This truth may be concluded from the redemption of our bodies, as well as of our souls, by the blood of Christ. It is true, this is sometimes called the redemption of the soul, and the salvation of the soul, but not to the exclusion of the body; for that is bought with the same price the soul is. Hence the apostle says to the saints after this manner: "Ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's," 1 Cor. 6:20. Now, if these bodies, which Christ has bought, should not be raised from the dead; he would lose part of his purchase: nor could he perfectly "see the travail of his soul and be satisfied."
4. This doctrine may be inferred from the union of the saints to Christ, body and soul. Their whole persons are united to him; "Know ye not," says the apostle, "that your bodies are the members of Christ?" ver. 15. They are part of his mystical body, they are united to him, as well as their souls, and remain in union with him after death; for, as the union of the two natures in Christ was not dissolved, when his soul and body were at death disunited, so neither is the union between Christ and his people dissolved at death: and, by virtue of this union, their bodies shall be raised from the dead; otherwise Christ must lose a constituent part of those who are his mystical body, and so the church not be "the fullness of him that filleth all in all," as she is said to be, Eph. 1:23.
5. All those who are chosen in Christ, who are given to him, who are redeemed by him, and are in union with him, are sanctified by the Spirit of God, and that not in their souls only, but in their bodies also; for as the body, as well as the soul, is defiled by sin, it also stands in need of the sanctifying influences of divine grace. Accordingly the Spirit takes up his dwelling in the bodies, as well as in the souls of men; "What! know ye not," says the apostle, "that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you?" 1 Cor. 6:19. He begins and carries on the work of sanctification in the one, as well as in the other, as is needful; and will, at last, completely finish it; for which the apostle prays, saying, "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit, soul and body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ," 1 Thess. 5:23. Now, if the bodies of these sanctified ones are not raised, the Spirit of God will not only lose that which he has taken possession of, as his dwelling-place, but also a considerable part of his glory, as a Sanctifier.
6. It will not be improper to take notice of the translations of Enoch and Elias to heaven, who were taken up thither, soul and body; nor of the saints, who came out of their graves, after our Lord's resurrection, and went with him to glory, as is very probable; nor of those who shall be alive at Christ's second coming, who shall not die, but be changed, and be caught up with the rest of the saints in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. Now, whereas it is certain, that there are some saints already in heaven with their bodies, and others that will be, it is very improbable that the rest should be without, or that there should be this difference among the spirits of just men made perfect, that some should have their bodies united to them, and others not.
7. Nothing is more certain than that there will be a general judgment. "God has appointed the day in which," and ordained the Person by whom, "he will judge the world in righteousness," when all, both great and small, shall stand before God, and the dead shall be judged according to their works. Now, in order to this, the resurrection of them is absolutely necessary, that they may "receive the things done in their body, whether good or bad."
8. Neither the happiness of the righteous will be complete, nor the misery of the wicked be proportionate to their crimes, until the resurrection. The happiness of the saints will not be complete: hence they are "waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of their body," Rom. 8:23, when that being redeemed from the grave, and united to the soul, shall, with it, enter into the joy of the Lord. Nor will the misery of the wicked be proportionate to their crimes till then, when they shall be cast, body and soul, into hell; and as the one deserves it, as well as the other, it is proper that so it should be.
9. There will be need of, and uses for bodily organs, or for some of the members of the body in heaven; as particularly the eye, the ear, and tongue. There will be the glorified body of Christ, or the glorious Mediator in human nature, for the saints to look upon with unutterable pleasure: it will be a considerable part of their happiness to "see him as he is." This is one reason why Christ would have his people with him where he is, namely, that "they may behold his glory," even this, as well as other branches of it; and it was Job's support under his afflictions, that in his "flesh he should see God;" that is, the God-man and Mediator, or "God manifest in the flesh." There will be songs of everlasting joy and praise sung in such melodious strains, as will delight the ear, and employ the tongue throughout the endless ages of eternity.
10. And lastly, and which is the apostle Paul's grand and principal argument for the resurrection of the dead, and which he uses with so much strength, and improves to so good a purpose, is the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, which you have at large in 1 Cor. 15, where he thus argues: "If there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen; and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain; yea, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God, that he raised up Christ, whom he raised not up, if the dead rise not: for if the dead rise not, then is Christ not raised; and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain, ye, are yet in your sins; then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished." The saints may comfortably conclude their resurrection from Christ's; for if the head be raised, the members shall: "Every man in his own order, Christ the first fruits; afterward, they that are Christ's, at his coming." Job was satisfied that he should rise again, because his Redeemer lived, and would appear at the latter day upon the earth; and the saints may be assured, that because "Christ lives, they shall live also." Other arguments might have been made use of; but as they will also prove that the same body shall be raised again, I shall therefore reserve them for their proper place.
ACTS 26:8 Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?
Having, in my former discourse, proved both the credibility and certainty of the resurrection of the dead, I shall now proceed,
III. To inquire who they are, and what that is, which shall be raised. This head of inquiry consists of two parts, and regards both the persons who, and what of those persons it is, which shall be the subject of the resurrection; and in this order I shall consider it.
1st. I shall inquire who they are which shall be raised from the dead. I shall not take notice of the Mahometan notion, that angels and brutes shall rise, since the former die not, and therefore cannot be said to be raised from the dead; and the spirit of the latter goeth downward to the earth, never to return more. Only men shall rise from the dead, but not all of them; for though "it is appointed unto men once to die," yet not unto all men: all men shall not die; some will be alive, and others dead, at the appearing of Christ to judge the world; when they that are alive shall, indeed, be changed from a state of mortality, to a state of immortality, but cannot be said to rise from the dead, because they die not. But then all the dead shall be raised; all that are in their graves shall come forth, whether these graves be in the earth or sea, and whether the persons be righteous or wicked. This was the generally received opinion of the Jews of old; but since, many of their greatest masters have departed from it, as in Isa. 26:14, 19 and 38:18, and Dan. 12:2, who not only exclude the Gentiles in general, but all wicked and ungodly persons whatever from having any part in the resurrection. In this they have been followed by the Socinians, though they care not to speak out their minds fully; and the Remonstrants have shown a very good liking of the same notion. I shall a little consider this, seeing the greater part of the testimonies and arguments produced in my former discourse, chiefly relate to the resurrection of the just. That the wicked shall rise, as well as the righteous, may be proved,
1. From express texts of Scripture. The prophet Daniel says, "That some of them who sleep in the dust of the earth [i.e. who are dead,] shall awake, [i.e. rise again,] to shame and everlasting contempt," Dan. 12:2; who must be the wicked, since it will never be the case of the righteous, who will awake, or rise, to everlasting life. Our Lord Jesus Christ assures us, that "they that have done evil, shall come forth to the resurrection of damnation," John 5:29, in which words he does, at once, describe the character of the wicked, asserts their resurrection, and fixes the end of it. The apostle Paul gives a full testimony to this truth, when he affirms, "that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust," Acts 24:15.
2. This doctrine may be evinced from the justice of God, which requires, that they who have sinned in the body, should be also punished in the body. The body is the seat of sin, as well as the soul, nor is any part free from it if the tongue, which is but "a little member, is a world of iniquity," James 3:5, 6, as the apostle James says it is, what a world of iniquity must be in the whole body? And, indeed, there are but few sins but what are committed in or by the body. It may be considered not only as necessary to sin, but as a partner with the soul in sinning, and as an instrument by which it is committed; and, in either respect, is deserving of punishment. Now, it is certain, that, in this life, the wicked do not receive in their bodies the full reward of punishment, since they have not greater afflictions than the righteous; nay, it is observed of them, that "they are not in trouble, as other men, neither are they plagued like other men," Psal. 73:5, wherefore it seems necessary, from the justice of God, that the bodies of the wicked should be raised, that they, with their souls, may receive the full and just recompense of reward.
3. That the wicked shall rise from the dead, may be concluded from the general judgment, when "the dead, small and great, shall stand before God, and be judged according to their works," Rev. 20:12, 15, when "whosoever is not found written in the book of life, shall be cast into the lake of fire;" which can be understood of no other than the wicked; and if all men must "appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad," 2 Cor. 5:10, then must the wicked appear, that they may receive according to the bad things which they have done in their bodies; in order to which appearance before the judgment-seat, and to the reception of their evil things, there must be a resurrection of them from the dead.
4. The account which the Scriptures give of the punishment and torments of the wicked, and also the effects thereof, manifestly supposes a resurrection of their bodies: how will every eye see Christ when he appears, and all the kindreds of the earth wail because of him? why is the place of torment signified by a furnace and lake of fire, and by outer darkness, where will be weeping and gnashing of teeth? wherefore do the Scriptures speak of being cast into hell fire, with two eyes, or two hands, or two feet, if there will be no resurrection of the wicked? If it should be said, that these expressions are either metaphorical or proverbial, there must be something literally true, to which they refer, and which is the foundation of them: besides, our Lord expressly exhorts his disciples to "fear him, which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell," Mat. 10:28.
5. This notion, that the wicked rise not, must have a tendency to licentiousness, and open a door to all manner of sin, and take off all restraints from wicked persons, and embolden them in their vicious course of life; for what the apostle says of the resurrection in general, may he said of this, "If the dead rise not, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die," 1 Cor. 15:32. But from these several hints, it may be strongly concluded, that there will be a resurrection of the wicked, as well as of the righteous .
Indeed, there will be a difference between the resurrection of the just, and the resurrection of the unjust, in many respects: there will be a difference in the time of the one and the other; the dead in Christ shall rise first; "the upright shall have the dominion over the wicked in the morning of the resurrection;" wherefore "blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power." And as they shall not rise at the same time, so neither altogether by the same means: they shall, indeed, be both raised by Christ; for "all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth," John 5:28, 29. The saints will be raised by virtue of their union to Christ; "because he lives, they shall live also;" but the wicked will be raised merely by the power of Christ, in order to appear before him, and be judged by him, who is Lord of all. Moreover, though the bodies of the wicked will be raised immortal, and in such a state as to continue under perpetual punishment, yet they will not be free from sin, nor clothed with glory; whereas the bodies of the saints will not only be raised immortal and incorruptible, but powerful, spiritual, and glorious; yea, will be fashioned like to Christ's glorious body. In fine, the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked will differ in their end; "the righteous will rise to everlasting life, the wicked to everlasting shame and contempt." Hence the resurrection of the one is called "the resurrection of life;" and the resurrection of the other, "the resurrection of damnation." But now let us attend to the arguments and objections advanced against the resurrection of the wicked, which are taken partly from Scripture, and partly from reason.
(1.) From some passages of Scripture; and the first that is objected is, Psal. 1:5: "Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous." From hence some Jewish writers have concluded, that there will be no resurrection of the wicked, their souls perishing with their bodies at death. This notion may seem to be favoured by the versions of the Septuagint and Vulgate, with some others, who read the words thus: "Therefore the ungodly shall not rise again in judgment." But supposing, and not granting, that these versions may be agreeable to the Hebrew text, it will not follow, from hence, that the wicked shall not rise again; for it is not said absolutely, that "they shall not rise again," but that "they shall not rise again in Judgment;" that is, so as to appear in the congregation of the righteous at the day of judgment, when the righteous and the wicked will be separated, the one placed at Christ's right hand, and the other at his left; they will not rise when the righteous do; for "the dead in Christ shall rise first:" the wicked, though they will rise again, yet not in the first resurrection, or in the resurrection of life, but in the resurrection of damnation. Moreover, the word here used does not intend the resurrection of the wicked, but their standing before God in a judicial sense when raised; and the meaning is, that they will not be able to stand, when the righteous Judge appears, with any degree of confidence, so as not to be ashamed, as the righteous will; but, being filled with confusion and horror of mind, will not be able to lift up their heads, or open their mouth to justify themselves, or vindicate their cause, and so consequently must fall, and not stand, in judgment.
Another scripture, which may seem to countenance this notion, that the wicked shall not rise from the dead, is Isa. 26:14: "They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise." But these words, as I have observed in my former discourse, are either to be understood of the people of Israel, and are expressive of the prophet's complaint of their present state, that they were dead, and of his distrust of their future resurrection, to which he has an answer returned in ver. 19: "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise;" or they are to be understood of those wicked lords, who had formerly had the dominion over these people, but were now dead, and should not live again on this earth, or rise again to tyrannize over them: and, if we consider the words in either sense, they cannot support an argument against the resurrection of the wicked.
The words of the prophet Daniel, "And many of them who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt," Dan. 12:2, though they are a plain and full proof of the resurrection of the wicked, as well as of the righteous, yet are made use of by some Jewish writers against it. It is observed, that the prophet does not say that all of them, but many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; yea, it is said, that these many design only a few, and these the righteous, among the children of Israel. In answer to which, let it be observed, that the word many may be understood universally of all that sleep in the dust of the earth; in which sense the word is used in Psal. 97:1: "The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice; let the multitudes of isles be glad thereof;" in the Hebrew text it is, let many isles, i.e., let all the isles be glad thereof. Or it may be considered in a comparative sense, thus: they that sleep in the dust of the earth, and shall awake, are many in comparison of those few who will be alive and remain, when the dead are to be raised; for there will be some, though but a few, when compared with others, who shall not die, but be changed: or rather the words may be taken distributively after this manner; of them that sleep in the dust of the earth, many shall awake to everlasting life, and many to everlasting shame and contempt; which is just such a division of them, who are to be raised from the dead, as is given by our Lord, when he says, "All that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation," John 5:29. Many can never design a few only, as it must, if only the Israelites, who were the fewest of all people, and the righteous among them, are the subjects of the resurrection: yea, if the righteous only of all nations should be raised, they are but a few in comparison of others. Besides, the prophet says, that "some shall awake to everlasting shame," which cannot be said of the righteous, but must design the wicked: therefore this prophecy is so far from being an argument against it, that it furnishes us with a very considerable one for the resurrection of the wicked.
There are some other passages of Scripture, besides these, which are made use of by another set of men against this truth; as Eccl. 7:10: "A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one's birth." Now, say they, if the wicked rise again, the day of their death must be worse than the day of their birth. To which it may be answered, that the wise man is not speaking of the wicked or reprobate, of whom it may be said, in some sense, that it would have been better if they had never been born, or had died immediately, rather than have lived to aggravate their condemnation by repeated iniquities, and with whom it certainly will be much worse after death, than now it is. The words respect the righteous, who are blessed in their death; for they die in the Lord, and rest from their labours, are free from sin and sorrow of every kind, and are with Christ, which is far better than to come into and be in this troublesome world.
Likewise the words of the apostle Paul, in 1 Thess. 4:16 "And the dead in Christ shall rise first," are urged against the resurrection of the wicked; from whence it is observed, that those who rise again, are such who are "dead in Christ," and that these only are believers; and therefore the wicked shall not rise. To which it may be replied, that the apostle is indeed speaking of the resurrection of the saints, and not of the wicked, though not to the exclusion of their resurrection. It is certain that they are only believers who are dead in Christ; but then it is neither here, nor elsewhere said, that only believers, or that only such who die in Christ, shall rise; yea, besides, the apostle says, "that the dead in Christ shall rise first," which supposes that the wicked shall rise afterwards; for it would be an impropriety to say, that the dead in Christ shall rise first, if those who are not dead in Christ do not rise afterwards; a first resurrection supposes a second.
I shall now proceed to consider the arguments and objections formed against the resurrection of the wicked, which are taken,
(2.) From reason. It is said that God is very merciful, and therefore if be will not eternally save the wicked, yet it is not reasonable to suppose that he will raise them from the dead merely to torment them; it will be sufficient that they do not enjoy the happiness of the saints in heaven. To which I answer it is true, that God is very merciful, yet "he will have mercy on whom he will have mercy." Though mercy is natural and essential to him, yet the blessed fruits and effects of it, as enjoyed by his creatures, are limited by, and dependent upon his sovereign will and pleasure; there are some of his creatures, of whom it is said, "He that made them will not have mercy on them; and he that formed them will show them no favour," Isa. 27:11. Besides, it ought to be observed, that God is a righteous God, as well as merciful, and that one perfection of his is not to be set against another; though he is merciful, and delights in mercy, yet he is also "the Judge of all the earth, who will do right." I have before proved, that it is necessary, from the justice of God, that the bodies of the wicked should be raised, not merely to be tormented, but that God may glorify his righteousness in their just punishment.
It is also argued, that Christ is the meritorious cause of the resurrection; and therefore the wicked, or reprobate, shall not rise again, because "Christ has merited nothing for them." To which I reply, the resurrection may be distinguished, as it is by Christ, into a resurrection of life, and a resurrection of damnation; that Christ is the meritorious cause of the former, but not of the latter. Christ is not only the exemplar, but the efficient and meritorious cause of the saints' resurrection; "he is the first-fruits of them that sleep; every one rises in his own order; Christ the first fruits, afterwards they that are Christ's at his coming." They that are Christ's, rise by virtue of their union to him, and through the power of his resurrection; not so the wicked; they shall, indeed, be raised by Christ, but not by virtue of his death and resurrection, or through any merit of his, but by his almighty power; their resurrection will not be the effect of his merit, as Mediator, but of his divine power, as Lord of the dead and living.
It is further urged, that the wicked die an eternal death, and therefore do not rise from the dead; for, say they, it implies a contradiction to say that they die an eternal death, and yet are raised from the dead. To which it may be answered, that there is a twofold death, a temporal and an eternal one. Temporal death is a separation of the soul from the body, and is what may be called the first death. Eternal death is a separation of body and soul from God, and a casting of both into hell, which is what the Scripture calls the second death. Now, this second or eternal death is consistent with the resurrection of the body; nay, the resurrection of the body is requisite unto it. If it should be said, as it is, that corporeal death is the punishment of sin, that punishment is not taken away in the wicked, and therefore corporeal death perpetually continues, and consequently there is no resurrection of the wicked from the dead. I answer, it is true that corporeal death is one part of the punishment of sin, was at first threatened against it by God, and is inflicted on the wicked, as the just wages of it. It is true also that the punishment of sin is perpetual, and is not removed, or taken away from the wicked; nor is it by the resurrection of the wicked, for their bodies will be raised by the power of God, in such a state and condition, as to bear eternal punishment, which shall be inflicted upon them, and which they shall endure both in soul and body.
It is scarcely worthy of notice what is objected by some against an universal resurrection, that the earth will not be sufficient to contain all. This objection may be startling to such as sup pose that all men, righteous and wicked, when raised, will be gathered together into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and be there judged; for if the whole earth cannot contain them, how should that valley? If it could be thought that there is any difficulty in the objection, it might be, in some measure, removed, by observing, that whereas "the dead in Christ shall rise first, they, with them that will be found alive, will be caught up together in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and shall be for ever with him;" so that the earth will be left to the wicked, and, it is to be hoped, it may be allowed there will be room enough for them. From the whole, notwithstanding all these objections, it may be strongly concluded, that there will be a general resurrection of all mankind, both Jews and Gentiles, of all the wicked, and of all the righteous, in all nations. I now proceed,
2dly. To inquire what that is of man which shall be raised from the dead. Man consists of soul and body; it is not the soul, but the body, which is raised: not the soul, for the soul dies not, and therefore cannot be said to be raised from the dead nor does it sleep with the body in the grave, and therefore needs no awakening, nor will it be awakened when the body is.
[1.] It dies not, and therefore cannot be said to rise from the dead. There were some Christians in Arabia who held that the soul died with the body, and, at the resurrection, revived and returned to its own body; but it is an immaterial and immortal substance, which never dies. I do not propose to give you an elaborate discourse on this subject, and go through the argument of the soul's immortality; this would require greater abilities than I am master of, and a larger compass than is allowed me for my subject. I shall just mention two or three things upon this head, in proof of the soul's immortality; which may be taken,
1. From the nature of the soul itself. It is of the same nature with angels, who are immaterial and incorporeal spirits, and so not subject to corruption and death; they die not: yea, the soul of man has a likeness to God; it bears a resemblance to the divine nature. The image of God in man chiefly and principally consists in the soul; it is of God's immediate creation; it comes from him and is the very breath of him. If we consider its several powers and faculties, especially the understanding and will, we may well conclude it to be an immortal and never-dying substance. The mind or understanding not only apprehends and perceives things corporeal, temporal, and corruptible, but also such things as are immaterial, incorporeal, eternal, and incorruptible; such as angels, yea, God himself, which it could not do, was it not itself an immaterial, incorporeal, and immortal substance. It is capable of considering an endless eternity, though it is easy to observe the difference there is in the mind or understanding of man, with respect to that eternity, which preceded the creation of the world, and that which is to come; when it considers the former, it is quickly overwhelmed, it flutters and hangs its wing, and is obliged to descend: but when it fixes its thoughts upon the latter, how readily does it apprehend how it shall proceed without end; and with what pleasure does it roll over the millions of ages in it! The reason of this difference is, because it is not from eternity, and has a beginning, but will continue to eternity, and have no end And, besides that large stock of knowledge of various things, which men of the greatest understandings are furnished with, there is a natural and continual desire of knowing more, which will never be satisfied in this life; and this was one of the chief arguments Socrates used when in prison, to prove to his scholars the immortality of the soul, for this desire is not implanted in vain: the soul therefore must remain after death, when it will arrive to a more perfect knowledge of things. The will has for its object universal good, and especially God, who is the chief good, which it desires to enjoy for ever: its actions are free, and cannot be forced by any creature; no creature has a power over it, to force it or destroy it; it acts independently of the body, in willing and nilling, choosing and refusing; it uses no corporeal organ: yea, when the body is sick and infirm, and ready to die, the will is then active and vigorous, and shows itself to be so, either by a willingness or unwillingness to die; nay, generally speaking, the more severe affliction is, and the nearer the approach of death, the more active is the will to be freed from agonies and pains, either by a restoration to health, or by a removal by death; which shows that the soul does not sicken and grow languid, as the body does, nor dies with it. The soul is a pure unmixed and simple substance: it is not composed of matter and form; nor is it a material form, educed out of the power of matter, as the souls of brutes, but is altogether spiritual and immaterial; it is not of a body made up of the four elements, fire, water, earth, and air, which is capable of being resolved into them again, as our bodies are; it has nothing contrary to itself, which can be destructive of it; it is neither hot nor cold, moist or dry, hard or tender: it is not as an accident in a subject, which, when the subject is destroyed, is destroyed with it; if it has any subject on which it depends, it must be the body; but it is so far from being dependent on the body, and perishing with it, that, on the contrary, when the soul departs, the body perishes. The soul has no other cause of its being but God; on him it depends, and by him it is preserved. He, indeed, could, if he would, annihilate, or reduce it to nothing; but, since it is evident he will not, we may conclude it is immortal, and will never die.
2. The immortality of the soul may be proved from the law of nature, the religion of mankind, the consciousness of sinful actions, and the fears and terrors of mind arising from thence, and also from the justice of God. "The consent of all nations," Cicero says, "is to be reckoned the law of nature;" and according to him, it is "the agreement of all nations, that the soul remains after death, and is immortal." This, in general, may be true, and deserves notice, and is no inconsiderable proof of the soul's immortality; but it must be owned, that there are many exceptions to it: some, even of the philosophers denied it, and others of them, who gave into it, spoke very doubtfully and confusedly of it, and delivered their sentiments about it, to use the words of Minutius Felix, corrupta et dimidiata fide, with a corrupt and divided faith, as though they did but half believe it.
The immortality of the soul, is no doubt, discoverable by the light of nature, and was originally the belief of men; but as this light became dim by sin, and as men departed from the true religion, and went further off from the professors of it, so they became vainer in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened, and lost not only the knowledge of this, but many other truths. Thales the Milesian is said to be the first who taught it; though others say, that Pherecydes the Scyrian was the first who asserted it. Some ascribe it to the Chaldeans and Indian Magi, and others to the Egyptians, as the first authors of it, who, perhaps, received it from the posterity of Abraham the Chaldean, who dwelt among them. However, it is certain, that there is in man a natural desire after immortality, which is not in any but immortal creatures; as it is also natural to him to he religious, hence some have chosen rather to define man a religious than a rational animal: all nations profess some religion, and keep up some kind of religious worship; the most blind and ignorant, barbarous and savage, are not without it. Now, to what purpose is their religion? and why do they worship a deity, if there is no future state? If the soul remains not after death, but at death perishes with the body, they need not be solicitous about the worship of God, and the performance of religious exercises, but say, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die;" nor be diligent in the exercise of virtue, or be concerned at the commission of sin. But, on the other hand, it is evident that there is a consciousness of sin in men, or there is in men a "conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing, or else excusing, one another." There are dreadful horrors, terrors, and stings of con-science, which wicked men are, at times, attended with; they are seized with such dread and trembling, with such panic fears, they cannot get rid of.
If these, as some say, were the effects of education, it is strange that they should be so general and extensive as they are, and more strange that none have been able to shake them off entirely; and stranger still, that those who have run the greatest lengths in infidelity and atheism, should not be able to free themselves from them. Hobbes, that bold advocate for infidelity, who endeavoured to harden himself and others, in the disbelief of a future state, would be very uneasy, if, at any time, he was alone in the dark. These things not only show that there is a divine Being, to whom men are accountable for their actions, but that there is a future state after death, in which men shall live, either in happiness or in misery. And, indeed, this is necessary from the justice of God, who is the Judge of all the earth, and will do right, in regarding the good, and punishing the wicked. It is easy to observe, that in this life, good men are afflicted, and the wicked prosper: there are innumerable instances of this kind; the veracity, justice, and faithfulness of God are not so manifestly seen in bestowing favours and blessings upon good men, according to his promises, and in punishing wicked men, according to his threatenings; it seems reasonable then to suppose, that the souls of men are immortal, that their bodies shall be raised from the dead, and that there will be a future state, in which good men shall be happy, and wicked men miserable.
3. The soul's immortality may be proved from the Scriptures which expressly declare that the body may be killed, the soul cannot; Mat. 10:28, Eccl. 12:7; and that when "the dust shall return to the earth, as it was, the Spirit shall return to God that gave it." It may be concluded, from all those scriptures, Isa. 55:3; Mat. 22:32; John 6:40, 47, which speak of an everlasting covenant which God has made with his people, "for God is not the God of the dead, but of the living;" and from all the promises of everlasting life, which he has made unto them; as also from the account it gives of the eager desires of the saints after future happiness, Phil. 1:23; 2 Cor. 5:6, 8, and of their assurance of enjoying it upon their dissolution, as well as from their particular commendation of their souls, Psal. 49:15, Acts 7:59, Luke 22:46, or spirits, into the hands of God at death, recorded in these writings. And, to add no more, we may be fully satisfied, by the sacred oracles, Luke 16:22, 23; Rev. 6:9; 1 Pet. 3:19. that the souls of men, immediately upon the dissolution of their bodies, enter upon a state either of happiness or misery; all which proves the permanency of the soul after death, its separate existence, its future state or condition, either of pleasure or pain. From the whole it follows, that if the soul dies not, it cannot be said to be raised from the dead, or be the subject of the resurrection.
[2.] The soul sleeps not with the body until the resurrection, and therefore needs no awakening, and cannot be said to be raised or awakened when the body is. The Socinians, and some of the Arminians say, that the soul, after death, is in a deep sleep, is insensible of happiness or misery, and destitute of all sense and operation. For the confutation of which sleepy notion, let the following things be considered:
1. That sleep belongs to the body, and not to the soul.
2. When the body is asleep, the soul is awake and active, as is evident in abundance of instances from dreams and visions of the night: when deep sleep falleth upon man, the soul understands and perceives, devises and contrives, reasons and discourses, chooses and refuses, grieves and rejoices, hopes and fears, loves and hates, and the like. Of like nature are ecstasies and raptures, when the body lies, as it were, dead, senseless, and void of motion: such was the apostle's case, when he says, "He knew not whether he was in the body, or out of the body," 2 Cor. 7:4, 5, and yet his soul was capable of receiving divine things, of seeing such sights, and hearing such words, which was neither lawful nor possible for him to express.
3. The soul being freed from the body, must be more active than when in it, especially as it is corrupted with sin, whereby it becomes a clog and an incumbrance to it, and a weight about it, so that it cannot, as it would, perform spiritual duties; "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak:" but now, when it is freed from the body, and joined to the spirits of just men made perfect, it must be more capable of serving God with spiritual joy and pleasure.
4. The soul separate from the body is most like to the angels, and its state, condition, and employment, much resemble theirs; now, nothing is more foreign to angels than sleep and inactivity, who always behold the face of God, stand ready to do his commandments, hearkening to the voice of his word; and no sooner do they receive orders from him, but they do his pleasure; they are continually before the throne of God, praising his name, celebrating the divine perfections, and "rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come."
5. If the souls of believers were, after death, to remain in a state of insensibility and inactivity, then the case of departed saints would be much worse than that of the living; for though the saints are now disturbed with a wicked and unbelieving heart, afflicted with Satan's temptations, and exercised with a variety of sorrows, yet at times they have communion with God through Christ, the discoveries of his love to their souls, the light of his countenance, and the comforts of his Spirit; they have the word and ordinances to refresh and support them, and are employed in the exercise of grace and discharge of duty; all which is both edifying and delightful to them, and which saints departed are deprived of, if this is their case, that their souls sleep with their bodies until the resurrection. If this be true, it would have been much better for the apostle Paul, and I am sure, more to the advantage of the churches of Christ, if he had continued upon earth to this day, than to be sleeping in his grave, senseless and inactive. Certainly this great man knew nothing of this when he said, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain: but if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour; yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait between two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better: nevertheless, to abide in the flesh, is more needful for you," Phil. 1:21-24. Had the apostle known that he must have remained in a state of inactivity and uselessness, deprived of the communion of Christ and his church, it would have been no difficulty with him to determine which was most eligible, to live or die; nor can it be imagined, that the desires of any of the saints would be so strong after a dissolution, as they sometimes are, when they say, we are "willing rather to be absent from the body," if they did not believe that they should be immediately "present with the Lord," 2 Cor. 5:8. This notion, then, makes the condition of saints departed worse than that of the living, whereas the wise man says, "I praised the dead, which are already dead, more than the living, which are yet alive," Eccl. 4:2: the reason is, because "blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth; yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, and their works do follow them," Rev. 14:13. As soon as dead, they enter upon a state of happiness and joy, and are employed in praising God, and singing the Lamb's new song.
6. This notion is contrary to many places of Scripture, Eccl. 7:7; 2 Cor. 5:1, 8, which assure us, that the soul after death returns to God that gave it, has a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, into which it is received, when dislodged from the earthly house of its tabernacle, where it is present with the Lord, enjoying uninterrupted communion with him, "in whose presence is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand are pleasures for evermore." This was what Christ promised the thief upon the cross, when he said to him, "This day thou shalt be with me in paradise," Luke 23:43, which would not have been true, if his soul slept with his body until the resurrection. The apostle John says, that he "saw under the altar, the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held," Rev. 6:9, 10, and we may be assured, that these souls were not asleep; for of them he says, "And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?"
The advocates for soul-sleeping, make use of several passages of Scripture to support their opinion; particularly such as speak of persons sleeping when they die, of which there are many instances, as 2 Sam. 7:12; 1 Kings 1:21; Job 7:21; Dan. 12:2; 1 Cor. 15:18; 1 Thess. 4:14; John 11:11, 12; 1 Cor. 15:51. This is a way of speaking which was much used in the eastern countries, and is expressive of the death of the body and its lying in the grave, because sleep is the image of death; so to sleep with the fathers, is to die as they did, and be buried where they were; and to sleep in the dust, or in the dust of the earth, or in the grave, is to die, be buried, and lie there, which can be understood of the body only, and not the soul. When we read of any who fell asleep in Christ, or that sleep in Jesus, the meaning is, that they died in the Lord. When Christ said, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth," he meant that he was dead; and when the apostle Paul says, "We shall not all sleep," he designs nothing else than that we shall not all die, for those who are alive at Christ's coming, will be changed. If this mode of expression, and the scriptural instances of it, prove any thing in this controversy, they prove too much; for if they prove that the soul sleeps with the body, they prove that the soul dies with it, since by sleep is meant no other than death.
Again, they urge all those scriptures in favour of their notion, as Mat. 8:40, 41,49, 50, and 25:46; Luke 14:14; 2 Tim. 4:8, which represent the happiness of the saints, and the misery of the wicked, as not taking place until the last day, the end of the world, the resurrection of the just, and the day of judgment, when the wicked shall go into everlasting punishment, and the righteous unto life eternal; and therefore, during that time, their souls must be asleep. To which it may be replied, that there is a twofold state of the righteous and the wicked, after death, respecting their happiness and misery; the one is inchoate (in an early stage), or but begun; the other is full, consummate and perfect. Now, it is of the latter that these scriptures speak, but not of the former; and it is allowed that the righteous will not be in the full possession of glory until the last day, when their bodies will be raised and united to their souls, and both together enter into the full joy of their Lord; nor will the wicked receive the full measure of their punishment until the judgment is over, when both soul and body shalt be cast into hell. But then immediately upon death they both enter on a state of happiness or misery; the righteous, as soon as they are absent from the body, are present with the Lord; and the wicked are no sooner dead, but in hell they lift up their eyes.
Again, they endeavour to improve all those scriptures to their advantage, as Psal. 30:9, and 88:10-12, and 115:17, 18; Isa. 38:18, which describe men, after death, as incapable of praising God; such as these, "What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? Shall it declare thy truth? Wilt thou show wonders to the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah. Shall thy loving kindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction? Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence; for the grave cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee. They that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth." From which it is inferred, that if the souls of the saints, after death, are not employed in praising God, they must be asleep, or be destitute of sense and operation; for what work else can they be employed in? To this it may be answered, that though the saints, whilst their bodies are in their graves, and before the resurrection, do not, and cannot praise God in and with their bodies, of which only these scriptures can be supposed to speak; since nothing but the body goes down into the pit, or is laid in the grave, yet their souls may and do praise God, in like manner as the angels do; with whom, in the book of the Revelation, they are sometimes joined and represented as with them, "glorifying God, praising his name, singing hallelujahs, and ascribing salvation to him that sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb, for ever and ever," Rev. 5:11-13, and 7:9-12. Likewise, though the saints, after death, do not praise God before men; and in the midst of his church militant, as they did when in the land of the living, to which these passages of Scripture refer; yet they may, and do praise him before the angels, and in the midst of the church triumphant; so that, from hence, there is no reason to conclude that the souls of believers, after death, till the resurrection, are in a state of inactivity, or sleep with their bodies. Therefore, seeing the soul sleeps not, it is not what will be awakened at the resurrection, or be the subject of it. I go on,
To prove that it is the body, which dies, that shall be raised. This is not annihilated, or reduced to nothing by death; it is not a new, airy, ethereal or celestial body, which shall be united to the soul at the resurrection, but it will be the same numerical body, which dies, that shall be raised again; all which I hope to make appear, in the following part of my discourse.
1st, The body is not annihilated, or reduced to nothing by death. This is asserted by Socinus and his followers, but is contrary both to reason and Scripture. The body is not made out of nothing, nor will it be reduced to nothing; it consists of the four elements, and will be resolved into the same; and though it may, after death, pass under many changes and alterations, yet the matter and substance will always remain in some form, and in some place or another. Death is a separation, or a disunion of soul and body, but not an annihilation of either; by death the whole compound is dissolved, but neither part of it is reduced to nothing; the dust, or the body, which is of the dust, returns to the earth, as it was, and the soul or spirit to God, that gave it. Death is sometimes expressed by returning to the dust; but to return to the dust, and be reduced to nothing, are two different things, unless it can be thought that dust is nothing. It is sometimes signified by seeing corruption; but corruption is one thing, and annihilation another; corruption supposes the thing in being, which is corrupted, annihilation takes away the being of it; notwithstanding corruption, the matter and substance may remain, though the form and quality may be altered, but annihilation leaves nothing. Death is sometimes figuratively expressed by sowing seed in the earth and its rotting and corrupting there, by pulling down a house, and putting off a tabernacle. Now, though the seed sown in the earth dies, corrupts, and rots, yet it is not reduced to nothing; it neither loses its being, nor its nature, but in due time being quickened, buds and puts forth its seminal virtue; a house may be pulled down, and a tabernacle unpinned, and the several parts be separated one from another, and yet the matter and substance of them all remain and continue. If the body is annihilated by death, Christ will lose that which is a part of his purchase, and what is united to him, and the Spirit his dwelling place; for Christ has bought the bodies of his people, as well as their souls, and which, with their souls, are the members of him, and in which the Spirit of God dwells, as in his temple. Besides, if the body was reduced to nothing by death, the resurrection of the body would not be properly a resurrection, but a creation of a new body; and, indeed, this notion of annihilation is designed to make way for the introduction of that, the truth of which I shall presently examine.
As for those scriptures which speak of the dead as though they were not; as when Rachel is represented weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted, "because they were not," Jer. 31:15, the meaning is not, that they no where existed, had no being, or were reduced to nothing, but they were not in the land of the living, existing among men, and conversing with them; seeing it is said of Enoch, that "he was not, for God took him," Gen. 5:24; though he was not on earth, yet he was in heaven with God; his body was not annihilated, but he was taken up, soul and body, to heaven. When the apostle says: "Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats; but God shall destroy both it and them," 1 Cor. 6:13; he does not design a destruction of the substance of the body, or of any part of it, but respects the use of it, which shall be no more employed in receiving meats, to supply the natural wants of the body, though it will be necessary in the resurrection, as a constituent part of the body, and for the beauty of it.
2dly, It is not a new aerial, celestial body, or a spiritual body, as to nature and substance, which shall be united to the soul at the resurrection. It is allowed that the body will be different from what it now is, as to the qualities of it, but not as to its substance, when the apostle compares the body to seed sown in the earth, 1 Cor. 15:37, 38, which is not quickened, except it die and says of it, "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." He does not design a substantial difference between the body, which is laid in the grave, and that which is raised, but only a difference of qualities, as is between the seed, which is sown in the earth, and the plant, which springs from it; which two differ not in their specific nature, but in some circumstances and accidents. That this is the apostle's meaning, is evident, when he says: "It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power, 1 Cor. 15:42, 43. The body of Christ is compared to a grain of wheat, "which is cast into the earth, and dies, an then springs up, and brings forth fruit," John 12:24, and yet it was not a spiritual body, as to substance, but a body consisting of flesh and bones, even the same he had before his death, and such will the bodies of the saints be after the resurrection. The apostle, indeed, says, that the body, which is "sown a natural body," will be "raised a spiritual one" 1 Cor. 15:44, but by a spiritual body he does not mean that the body will be changed into a spirit and lose its former nature and substance, but that it will now be subject and subservient to the spirit or soul: it will be employed in spiritual service, and be delighted with spiritual objects, and will not be supported in a natural way, and by natural helps and means; such as meat, drink, clothes, sleep, and the like, but will live in a manner as angels do. Hence the children of the resurrection are said to be like unto the angels. Again, when the apostle says, "That flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption," 1 Cor. 15:50, he does not design the human body, simply considered, but as attended with sin and corruption, or with frailty and mortality; for flesh and blood, neither as sinful nor as mortal shall enjoy the heavenly state; therefore, in order to that, "this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." If it should be a new aerial, celestial, or spiritual body, different in substance from what the body now is, which shall be united to the soul, it would not be a resurrection, but a creation; besides it is not consistent with the justice of God, that new bodies should be created, and without having ever sinned, as those must be supposed to be, which are of God's immediate creation, be united to the souls of the wicked, and be everlastingly punished with them. Nor can they be said to be truly human bodies, which are without flesh, blood, and bones; nor can they be said to he properly men, who are incorporeal; and, indeed, the same persons that have sinned, cannot be said to be punished, nor the same persons, who are redeemed, to be glorified, unless the same body be raised; which I shall,
3dly. Endeavour to prove. Job fully expresses his faith in this doctrine, when he expresses, "Though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another, though my reins be consumed within me," Job 19:26, 27. He believed that the same body, which should be destroyed by worms, should be raised again, in which he should see God, and behold him with the self-same eyes of his body he then had, and not with the eyes of another, or of a stranger; and this firmly believed, though his body would be destroyed by worms, and his reins be consumed within him. The apostle Paul strongly asserts this truth, 1 Cor. 15:53, 54, when he says, "This mortal, [this, and not another, pointing to his own mortal body,] must put on immortality, and this corruptible must put on incorruption: so when this corruption shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying which is written, death is swallowed up in victory;" which would not be true, if another, and not the same body was raised from the dead. Again, in another place, he says, Phil. 3:21, that Christ will "change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body;" but if the same body is not raised, it will not be our vile body, but another, which will be changed, and fashioned like to Christ's body. For the further confirmation of this truth, let the following things be observed:
1. The signification of the word resurrection. This properly signifies a raising up of that which is fallen; the same body, which fell by death, is raised by the power of God; this is the proper sense of the word, and the just meaning of it in this article, nor can it have any other; for if the same body is not raised, which fell, but another is given, it will not be a resurrection, but a creation.
2. The resurrection of the body is expressed by such figurative and metaphorical phrases, which manifestly show that it will be the same body which will be raised that dies; as when it is expressed by the quickening of seed, which is sown in the earth, and by an awaking out of sleep. Now, as it is the same seed that is sown in the earth, and dies, that springs up, and shows itself in stalk, blade, and ear: the same, I say, as to the nature and substance; for wheat produces wheat, and not any other grain, though with some additional beauty, verdure, and greenness; it loses nothing that it had, though it grows up with that it had not before: so the same body that dies, is quickened and raised, though with additional glories and excellencies; the very same it that is sown in corruption, is raised in incorruption: and the very same it that is sown in dishonour, is raised in glory; the very same it that is sown in weakness, is raised in power; and the very same it that is sown a natural body, is raised a spiritual body; or else there is no meaning in the apostle's words. Likewise, as death is compared to a sleep, so the resurrection is expressed by an awaking out of it. Now, as it is the same body that sleeps that is awaked out of it, so it is the same body that falls asleep by death, that will be awaked in the resurrection.
3. The places from whence the dead will be raised, and which will be summoned to deliver them up, and out of which they will come, deserve our notice. Our Lord says, John 5:28, 29, "All that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth." Every one that reads those words, will easily conceive that the meaning of our Lord is, that the same bodies which are in the graves shall come forth out of them. If other bodies should be produced by God from other matter, and united to souls, they cannot, with truth, be said to come forth from the graves; none but the same bodies, which are there laid, can be supposed to come forth from thence at the resurrection. It is a trifling objection to this doctrine, made by a late writer, that word bodies is not used in the text. What of men is laid in the graves but their bodies? And what can be expected to come forth from thence but their bodies? And what but the same bodies? It is a very silly question that is put by the same writer, when he asks, "Would a well-meaning searcher of the Scriptures be apt to think, that if the thing here intended by our Saviour, were to teach and propose it as an article of faith, necessary to be believed by every one, that the very same bodies of the dead should be raised; would not, I say, any one be apt to think, that if our Saviour meant so, the words should rather have been all the bodies that are in the graves, rather than all who are in the graves; which must denote persons, and not precisely bodies?" To which I reply, that supposing it our Lord's design, as I verily believe it was, to express this article of our faith, that the same bodies of the dead shall be raised, there was no need that the word bodies should be expressed; it was enough to say, that all that are in their graves shall come forth; and every well meaning searcher of the Scriptures will be easily induced to think, that our Lord designs that the same bodies of men that are laid in the graves shall come forth; nor is any thing more usual in common speech, than to denominate men sometimes from one part, and sometimes from another; as when we say, they are mortal, or wise, or foolish. Again, we are told, in the sacred writings, that "the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them." Now, if the grave and sea, at the awful summons, shall deliver up the dead which are in them, they must deliver the very same which are laid in them; for what else can such expressions design?
4. The subject of the resurrection is the body, and that such as it is in this life, vile and mortal. Christ will "change our vile body, and fashion it like unto his glorious body;" and "he that raised up Christ his Son from the dead, shall quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit, that dwelleth in you." These bodies must be the same we carry about with us now; for what else can be called vile and mortal? Surely not bodies a-new created, which are said to be spiritual and celestial, and which never sinned, and so not subject to mortality. This also destroys an observation of a writer of great note, that the word, bodies, is not used through the New Testament, when mention is made of the resurrection of the dead. His words are these: "He Who reads with attention this discourse of St. Paul's, (meaning 1 Cor. 15) where he discourses of the resurrection, will see, that he plainly distinguishes between the dead that shall be raised, and the bodies of the dead; for it is the nominative cases to all along, and not bodies: which one may, with reason, think, would some where or other be expressed, if all this had been to propose it as an article of faith, that the very same bodies shall be raised. The same manner of speaking the Spirit of God observes, all through the New Testament, where it is said, raise the dead, quicken or make alive the dead, the resurrection of the dead." Now, not to take notice of the dead bodies of the saints, who were raised after the resurrection of Christ, of whom it is said, Mat. 27:52, "And many bodies of the saints which slept arose;" the observation will appear to be wrong, if we consider the passages now mentioned, where Christ is said "to change our vile body," Phil. 3:21; Rom. 8:11, or "the body of our humility," which belongs to, and is expressive of the resurrection of the dead; and where God is said to "quicken your mortal bodies:" besides, in the discourse of the apostle Paul, concerning the resurrection, in 1 Cor. 15, a question is asked, "How are the dead raised? and with what body do they come?" And an answer is given, "It is sown a natural body, and it is raised a spiritual body." Besides, how can the apostle plainly distinguish, as this author says he does in this discourse, between the dead that shall be raised, and the bodies of the dead, if the bodies of the dead all along are not mentioned?
5. The instances of resurrections that are already past, prove that it will be the same body which will be raised at the general resurrection. The saints which arose at the resurrection of Christ, rose with the same bodies which were laid in the graves; for it is said, that "the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose." Our Lord Jesus Christ arose from the dead with the same body which hung upon the cross, and was laid in the grave as is evident, from the print of the nails in his hands and feet; nor was it an aerial or spiritual body, as to its substance, for it consisted of flesh and bones, which a spirit does not, and might be felt and handled. Now, Christ's resurrection was an exemplar of the saints; their bodies shall be changed and fashioned like unto his glorious body. Enoch and Elijah were translated into heaven in the very same bodies they had when here on earth; and those which will be alive at Christ's second coming, will be changed, and caught up, in the very same bodies in which they will be found, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall be for ever with him. Now, it is not reasonable to suppose, that our Lord, who partook of the same flesh and blood with the children of God, should be raised and glorified in the same body, and not they in their same bodies, for whose sake he assumed his; or that some of the saints should have the same bodies they had whilst here, and others not.
6. If the same body is not raised, how will the end of the resurrection be answered, which is the glorifying of God's grace, in the salvation of his people, and of his justice in the damnation of the wicked? Hence the one is said to "come forth to the resurrection of life," and "the other to the resurrection of damnation." How shall every one "receive the things done in his body," according to that he hath done, "whether it be good or bad," if the same bodies are not raised, who have done good or evil? Where would be the justice of God , if other bodies, and not those which Christ has purchased with his blood, the Spirit has sanctified by his grace, and which have suffered for the name of Christ, should be glorified? as also if other bodies, and not those which have sinned against God, blasphemed the name of Christ, and have persecuted his saints, should suffer eternal vengeance, and be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his power? Where would be the veracity of God, either in his promises or threatenings, if the good things he has promised, are not bestowed upon the same persons to whom he has promised them, and if the punishment he has threatened, is not inflicted on the same persons to whom he had threatened it? For how they can be the same persons, without having the same bodies, I do not understand. Besides, what a disappointment will it be to the saints, who are waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of their body, from all weakness and corruption, if not that, but another body, shall be given them, and be united to their souls, and be glorified with them!
In fine, if the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, which the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament hold forth, does not intend the resurrection of the same body; it is no other, nor better, than a transmigration of souls into other bodies, which was the old Pythagorean notion.
It is a low and mean quibble, that a man has not the same body at one time as at another, because he may be taller or bigger, fatter or leaner at one time than at another. It is true, that the body has not always the same fleeting particles, which are continually changing and altering, but it has always the same constituent parts; so that a man may be always said to have the same body, and to be the same man; it is the same body that is born that dies, and the same that dies that shall rise again. The several alterations and changes it undergoes, with respect to tallness or largeness, fatness or leanness, do not destroy the identity of the body. If this quibble would hold good in theological controversies, and in philosophical disputes, it might also in political affairs; and so one that owes another a sum of money, and has given his note or bond for it, after a term of time, may deny that he owes the other any thing, or that he ever borrowed any thing of him, and that it is not his hand writing, since he has not the same body he had before. A murderer, taken up some years after the murder is committed, may plead he is not the same man, and that it was not done with the same hands he has now, and therefore, in justice he ought not to suffer. And the same may be observed in ten thousand other instances, whereby confusion must be introduced into commonwealths, and justice and order subverted in governments. This observation may be sufficient to stop the mouths of such impertinent cavillers, who are ready to ask such questions as these; whether the body, at the resurrection, will have all the individual particles of matter it ever had? or whether it will be raised, as when it was at such an age, or in such a plight? or as it was emaciated by distempers, or as laid in the grave? It is enough that it will have the constituent parts it ever had, which is sufficient to support the identity of it. I shall now proceed,
IV. To consider the particular concern which God the Father, Son and Spirit have in this stupendous work. It is a work that a creature is unequal to, and incapable of. It is always ascribed to God; it is God that raises and quickens the dead. If it was ever referred to a creature, it might well be judged incredible; but it need not be thought incredible that God should raise the dead. Now, as all God's works, ad extra, are common to all the three Persons, and this being such an one, they are all three concerned in it. And,
1. God the Father is concerned herein. The resurrection of Christ is frequently attributed to him, and so is the resurrection of the saints, and they are sometimes mentioned together; the former as the pledge and earnest of the latter, as saith the apostle, 1 Cor. 6:14, "And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power;" that is, God the Father has raised up the Lord Jesus, and we may be assured that he will also raise up us, since as he is able to raise the one, he is able to raise the other, and that by his own absolute, original, and underived power; which assurance of faith, in the doctrine of the resurrection, the apostle expresses in another place, in stronger terms, "We having the same Spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak, knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus, shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you," 2 Cor. 4:14, where also the resurrection of the saints is ascribed to God the Father, who is manifestly distinguished from the Lord Jesus, whom he raised up, and by whom he will raise up the saints; not that Christ is the Father's instrument, or medium of operation, by which he will raise the dead; for,
2. Christ, as God, being equal with the Father, is a coefficient cause of the resurrection; "As the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will," John 5:22. He is "the resurrection and the life," i.e., the Author of the resurrection unto life; he is the Prince of life, has the keys of hell and death in his hands, and can open the grave at his pleasure, and call forth the dead; at whose all-powerful and commanding voice, all that are in the graves shall come forth; which will be a further proof both of his omnipotence and omniscience; this will show that he is the Almighty, since he can "change our vile body, that it may he fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working, whereby he is able even to subdue all things to himself;" and that he knows all things, and is that living Word, before whom every creature is made manifest, and all things are naked and open; for if he was not omniscient, he could not know where every particle of matter is lodged; and, if he was not omnipotent, he could not collect them, range them in their proper places, and unite them together. That he is equal to this work, we may conclude from the resurrection of his own body; he had power to lay down his life, and take it up again; he raised up the temple of his body, after it had been destroyed three days, and so was "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." As he is the Mediator, he is the meritorious and procuring cause of the resurrection; there is an influential virtue in his resurrection, not only on the justification and regeneration of his people, but also upon their resurrection from the dead. He is the "first fruits of them that slept;" the pledge and earnest of the saints' resurrection; they are, in a sense, risen with him, and shall certainly be raised by him, in virtue of their union to him, as their risen Lord. As man, his resurrection is the pattern and exemplar of the saints; their bodies shall be fashioned like to his; as his body was raised incorruptible and immortal, powerful and glorious, so shall theirs, in such manner, as never to die more, or see corruption, or be attended with distempers and death.
3. God the Holy Ghost has a joint and equal concern with the Father and the Son in this amazing work. The resurrection of Christ, is the act of all the three Persons: the Father glorified his Son by raising him from the dead: he "raised him from the dead, and gave him glory." Christ of himself took up the life, which he had laid down; and though he was "put to death in the flesh," yet he "was quickened by the Spirit." So the resurrection of the saints from the dead, will be the act of all the three Persons, not only of the Father and the Son, but also of the Spirit; for "if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you," Rom. 8:11. The bodies, as well as the souls of the saints, are united to Christ, by virtue of which union the Spirit of Christ dwells in them; not in their souls only, but in their bodies also; "What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you?" 1 Cor. 6:19. Now, as the union between Christ and his people is not dissolved by death, so neither does the Spirit of God forsake the dead bodies of the saints, or neglect to take care of them; the dust of the saints is under his peculiar care and guardianship; and, at the last day, the Spirit of life from God, shall enter into them, and they shall live and stand upon their feet. Thus all the three divine Persons, Father, Son, and Spirit, will be concerned in the resurrection of the just.
The means by which God will do this great work, and the time when he will do it, the Scriptures are not altogether silent about. As to the means, we are told, that "all that are in the graves shall hear his (i.e., Christ's) voice, and shall come forth," John 5:28 29, "that the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise;" and that the "trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible;" but whether by the voice of Christ and the archangel, the shout, and the trumpet of God, we are to understand' so many several distinct things, or one and the same thing, is not easy to determine. The voice of the archangel, who shall descend with Christ, may be called the voice of Christ, because formed at his command; the same may be signified by the trumpet of God, which shall be sounded, and that may be signified by the shout which shall be made, either by the archangel alone, or by all the angels with him, and this shout no other than some violent claps of thunder, which are the voice of God; like those which were heard when God descended on Mount Sinai, and gave the law from thence, which, perhaps, were formed by the ministry of angels; and this the apostle Peter may design, when he says: "The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat," 2 Pet. 3:10. Or by the voice of Christ, may be meant an audible and inarticulate voice of his, so powerful, as to reach all that are in their graves, such as that was which was heard at the grave of Lazarus, where "he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth;" or as that which Saul heard from heaven, saying "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" or as John heard, which he says, "was as the voice of many waters." Or, perhaps, the voice of Christ may design the power of Christ, which shall be exerted upon, and shall be felt and perceived by all that are in their graves, when the archangel shall sound the last trumpet, attended with the shout of all the rest of the angelic host.
As for the time, when the dead shall be raised, it cannot be exactly fixed, nor does it become us curiously to inquire into it; "It is not for us to know the times and the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power," Acts 1:7 As no man knows the day and hour of judgment, so no man knows the day when the dead wilt be raised. In general, it is said, that "it will be in the last day, and at the coming of Christ," John 6:39, 40, 44, 54, and 11:24; 1 Cor. 15:27, at which time the dead in Christ shall rise first; that is, they shall rise before the wicked, which will be the first resurrection. Not that the martyrs shall rise before the rest of the righteous, but all the righteous shall rise at Christ's coming; but whether, their rising will be successive, or be at once, in a moment, is not very material. The change that will be made on the living, will be in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye; but it is not so manifest, that the resurrection of the dead will be so quick and sudden, but rather that it will be successive; since it is said, "Every man in his own order shall be raised," 1 Cor. 15:23, which may be understood either of order of time, so that they that died first, shall be first raised; or of dignity, so that those who has been the most eminent for gifts, grace, usefulness, &c. shall be first called forth out of their graves, which, perhaps, may be the differing glory that will be upon the saints at the resurrection, of which the apostle speaks, saying, "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." 1 Cor. 15:41, 42.
There are many curious and needless questions which are asked concerning the resurrection, and the state of those who are raised; as, whether abortions, or untimely births, shall be raised? at what age, and in what stature the dead shall rise? whether with their present deformities or not? whether there will be any distinction of sexes? and whether persons shall know one another? But these I shall not give myself the trouble to answer, but pass on to that which will be more useful; which is,
V. And lastly, To show the importance and use of this doctrine. .
1st, I shall consider the importance of it. It is a fundamental article of the Christian faith; it is called "the foundation of God, which stands sure," 2 Tim. 2:10, though some deny it, and others endeavour to sap it, but none can destroy it: it is reckoned among the first principles of the doctrines of Christ, Heb. 6:1, 2, and is joined with eternal judgment, which it precedes, and in order to which it is absolutely requisite. The resurrection of Christ stands and falls with it; for, "if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen; and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain," 1 Cor. 15:13, 14. The whole gospel is connected with it; if there is no truth in this, there is none in that. As the doctrine of the resurrection receives confirmation from the doctrines of personal election, the gift of the persons of the elect to Christ, the covenant of grace, redemption by Christ, union with him, and the sanctification of the Spirit, so these can have no subsistence without supposing that. If the dead rise not, there can be no expectation of a future state "Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished," 1 Cor. 15:18 And so there is no difference between them and the brutes, as the one dieth, so dieth the other; and if this be the case, "if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable," verse 19. Besides, as has been observed, the resurrection is absolutely necessary to eternal judgment: without it the judgment cannot proceed; for, how should "every one receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad," if his body is not raised? To say no more, practical religion much depends upon the truth of this doctrine; the denial of it must open a door to all manner of licentiousness. The opposers of this doctrine have been observed, in all ages, to be very bad livers; and, indeed, it need not be wondered at; it is a natural consequence, "If the dead rise not, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die," 1 Cor. 15:32. On the other hand, where this doctrine is firmly believed, and strictly attended to, there will be a studious concern to glorify God, by a becoming life and conversation. This may be observed in the experience and practice of the apostle Paul, which he delivers in these words, "And have hope towards God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the just and unjust; and herein (says he,) upon this account, do I exercise myself to have a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men," Acts 24:15, 16.
2dly, I shall now consider the use of this doctrine; whatever is important, and of moment, must be useful. This doctrine is of use,
1. For instruction. It serves to enlarge our views of the divine perfections; as the immutability of God in his purposes; his Faithfulness in his promises; his omniscience, which extends to all creatures, and every thing that belongs to them; and his omnipotence, which nothing can withstand. Those who deny the resurrection, must not only be ignorant of the Scriptures but of the power of God, as the Sadducees were. This doctrine teaches us to think highly of Jesus Christ, as God over all, blessed for ever, as possessed of all divine perfections; since he is the resurrection and the life, the first-fruits of them that slept; he is the efficient cause by whom, and the meritorious cause through whom, and the exemplar according to whom the resurrection of the saints will be. The concern which the Holy Spirit has in our resurrection, may serve to endear him to us, and teach us not to grieve him, by whom we are "sealed unto the day of redemption," i.e. of our bodies from corruption and death; he not only sanctifies our bodies, and dwells in them, but has the care of our dust, and will quicken it at the last day. What an instruction is this doctrine to faith and trust in God, Father, Son, and Spirit? If God can and will raise the dead, what is it he cannot do? Faith should not stagger at any thing which God has promised to perform, or be discouraged at any difficulties in its way, or at any trials and afflictions it meets with. The consideration of this, that God quickens the dead, Rom. 4:17-20, quickened Abraham's faith, so that he "staggered not at the promise through unbelief," though there were difficulties attending it insuperable to nature. And when the apostles had the sentence of death in themselves, they were directed not to trust in themselves, "but in God, which raiseth the dead, who, (say they,) delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver; in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us," 2 Cor. 1:9, 10. Moreover, this doctrine may teach us, that all due and proper care ought to be taken of our bodies, both whilst living, and when dead. All proper care ought to be taken of them whilst living; though they are not to be pampered, they are not to be starved: they are to be fed and clothed, according to the blessings of life, which God bestows upon men, provided the bounds of moderation and decency be observed; for to transgress these by luxury and intemperance, is not to use our bodies well, but to abuse them: and when the body is dead, care ought to be taken that it be decently interred, which may be confirmed by the examples of Abraham, Joseph of Arimathea, and others.
2. This doctrine is of use for consolation. The day of the resurrection will be a day of consolation to the saints. Hence the Syriac version reads those words of Martha, "I know that he shall rise again, in the resurrection at the last day," John 11:24, thus: "I know that he shall rise again, in the consolation at the last day." Then will be the consummation of the saints' joy and comfort, and a believing view of it now must be very delightful to them; as they are waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body, so they may lift up their heads with joy, because this their redemption draweth near. The consideration of this doctrine must be a great support to saints under trials and afflictions, under diseases and distempers of body, in the views of death, and the several changes the body shall undergo after death; I say, it must be a very comfortable consideration, that, in a little time, all these trials will be ended; there will he no more diseases, nor death: and though the body, for a while, shall be the food of worms, and return to its original dust, yet it shall be raised immortal and incorruptible, powerful and glorious: "This mortal must put on immortality, and this corruption must put on incorruption;" and in our flesh shall we see God, and enjoy the company of angels and saints. To conclude: this doctrine must be of great use to support persons under the loss of near relations; when they consider, that though they are dead, they shall rise again; though they have parted with them, it is but for a time; and therefore they should not "sorrow, even as others, which have no hope," 1 Thess. 4:14, 17, 18, "for if we believe that Jesus died, and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him; wherefore we may comfort one another with these words, and so shall we be ever with the Lord."