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Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."
In the fifth and last division of our subject, to which we will now attend, we were to no tice the following question: Are we to consider physical operations, though exercised by divine power, ever to be made the exclu sive cause of moral effects?
Perhaps this question may appear at first hearing foreign to our subject, but it is conceived it embraces a very important part. That the resurrection of the dead is a physi cal operation, is evident from the similitude St. Paul used to describe it. Yet it is evidently performed by a peculiar energy of divine power. Our question then is, whether the idea of man's being cleansed from all moral defilement, is necessarily embraced in the resurrection from the dead. On the affirmative of this question is urged the supposed purity of spiritual bodies, of incorruptibility and immortality. On the side of the negative are considered the scriptures which are discussed in the two first of these Lectures, treating of future judgment and punishment, besides a variety of others. I shall endeavor to maintain the negative of this question in opposition to the affirmative.
Let us now carefully attend to the meaning of the words incorruptible and immortal. If
we examine almost any English dictionary, we shall find the meaning of the first incapable to be corrupted; the second, exempt from death. Now does it follow of necessity that á being who possesses these properties must without exception be holy, virtuous, and happy? There is nothing in the definition of the words of which I have any knowledge, that necessarily embraces such a thing; and as to the nature of the case, it is what human experience has not attained. Can any person des cide that it would be impossible for God to have immortalized earthly bodies if he pleased, and continued them with the sensitive faculties that they now possess? The lives of the antediluvians may be mentioned as an example, whose earthly constitutions would hold out eight or nine hundred years. He who extended their lives so much beyond ours, could have extended them, without doubt, six or seven times as long, on the same principles as those by which their lives were continued. Such a life would be thought almost an approximation to immortality. If then at the close, they were to be changed and not die, could they ever with propriety have been cal led mortal?
It is commonly held that man possesses an immortal soul, yet it is thought to be morally corrupted, and of course must receive a change. There is nothing of an earthly nature that we believe is capable of conversion to heavenly principles. These must be de
stroyed, not saved. If every thing that may be styled immortal is pure from moral defilement, all men must be alike holy and happy in this life at all times; for if they have immortal souls they are incapable of a moral change, or regeneration; and if they have not, they possess nothing but earthy principles.
In some passages before us, we find a distinction of character in the resurrection. "Marvel not at this," says our Lord; "for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the 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." The only way to avoid considering this text a clear proof of future punishment, is to give it a moral or spiritual interpretation. It is difficult to conceive how this can be done, in perfect consistency with those scriptures that speak of a spiritual resurrection. Those that are quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins, are brought from a sinful state to a righteous one. In this we always find a change of character. But in the resurrection described in this text, we find no moral or spiritual change. They that have done good come forth to life; and they that have done evil, to condemnation. The application of this passage to the Jews of our Savior's day, never appeared to me according to its natural import. It must receive a very forced construction to be thus accommodated,
As for instance, how shall we understand, the coming forth of those that have done evil, to condemnation? Was it their being brought to a state of conviction for sin? If any say it was, I ask what propriety there would be in calling such a state a resurrection? Would it not be rather a sinking than a rising? And besides, have the Jews by the voice of Christ, since his day, been called to a greater sense of their sins, than in their former captivities? If we consider them more sunk in moral depravity and darkness, how have they been raised and come forth from their graves? Let those that are able inform us.
Concerning them that have done good, and come forth to the resurrection of life, I would likewise ask how this describes a moral work? They are not brought from a state of sin to holiness; but from doing good works to the resurrection of life. This resurrection is far from describing that process of the divine energy of gospel grace that translates from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. Though it be an act of divine power, it gives no change of moral condition or character. What then can the passage describe, but the resurrection of the body? If it describe this, it answers our general question in the negative, that physical operations, though exercised by divine. power, are not made the exclusive cause of moral effects.
Some have undertaken to urge a spiritual
interpretation of the passage from its connexion with the 25th verse of the same chapter. But if they both be intended to describe one event, there is a plain contradiction. One 21 says, "The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live." The other makes a part only to come to the - resurrection of life. To say they that hear shall live, and they that have done evil, shall hear his voice and come forth to the resurrection of damnation, are not reconcilable descriptions of the same event. Nor is there Į any thing in the connexion of the two passages, that makes it necessary to interpret them alike. The 28th and 29th verses seem to express their own meaning, without any par4ticular assistance from the context.
In our fourth passage at the head of this Lecture, we have the same sentiment expressed. "And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust." The Apostle here mentions the distinction of just and unjust in connexion with the resurrection. The passage clearly carries the idea, that among the dead are the unjust as well as the just. All do not, therefore, experience a saving change at or before death. Some are found unjust at the time of the resurrection. And unless the resurrection effect a moral change as well as physical, they must be unjust, when raised from the dead. If this moral change be effected by