Page images

He for us, and we in him; that 'the same Spirit which raised the Lord Jesus from the dead, may also quicken our mortal bodies." [Rom. viii. 11.] For who amongst us ever heard of a living head joined to dead members? Now that he is joined to us, is most certain. For when the foot was bruised on earth, the head from heaven cried out, as sensible of the pain, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou ME.' The Apostle observes, that "if any one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.' [John xii. 32.] How much more must this be the case when the head is become as the most fine gold, and on it are many crowns; when all the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ;' which Christ is the head of the church, and he is the Saviour of the body.' It is an acknowledged axiom, that as is the root, such are the branches. If then the root, though set in dry ground, yet through the influences of heaven, and the water of life, became full of immortality, how shall not the branches partake of that immortality which the root receives only to bestow it upon them? as it is written; The Father hath given to the Son to have life in himself, that he should give eternal life to as many as he has given him.' [John xvii. 2.] He is the root, we are the branches. He is the first-begotten from the dead: therefore others, whom he is not ashamed to call brethren,' shall be begotten from the dead, and declared the Sons of God, as he was, by their resurrection, and the power of the Almighty. Many other Scriptural illustrations of the same point might be adduced; but these are sufficient. Well then might the apostle argue, as he does, in that truly irrefragable manner; Now, if Christ be preached, that he arose from the dead, how say some among you, that there is no resurrection of the dead! But 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 so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ 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. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that

slept.' The first-fruits are presented by the great High-priest. 'On the morning after the Sabbath, he waved them before Jehovah.' Then the heavens were bowed, and the earth shook. And meet it was, when the sheaf of Joseph thus arose and stood upright, that every sheaf in the field should make obeisance; [Gen. xxxvii. 7.] that every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord;' [Phil. ii. 10.] that he is the first-fruits, foreshewing, sanctifying, and ensuring that future harvest, which will be at the end of the world; that he is the first-fruits of them that slept, and therefore that they who are in the graves, 'are not dead, but sleep;' and 'if they sleep in him, they shall do well.' For yet a little while, and he will call from heaven to his people, saying in the words of his prophets' Awake, and sing, ye that dwell in the dust, and let the voice of melody be heard through all the chambers of the grave. Awake up, my glory; awake, lute and harp; awake, thou that sleepest; shake thyself from the dust: awake, awake, utter a song; break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem, for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. Hath he said, and shall he not do it? I will redeem them from death, I will ransom them from the power of the grave. O death, I will be thy plagues: O grave, I will be thy destruction. Repentance shall be hid from mine eyes. I am Jehovah, and change not.'

But how is this salvation to be effected? The text expresses it by a change; Who shall change our vile body:' therefore the vile body must be there to be changed. Otherwise it would not be a change; a transformation, or transfiguration, of vile into glorious, but a substitution of glorious for vile. It is this mortal, and this corruptible; this very mass of mortality and corruption. It is sown, it is raised.'-To those who object against the possibility of raising from the grave the identical body which had been laid in it, the same answer may be urged, which Christ said to the Sadducees upon a like occasion; 'ye do greatly err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For if you knew the power of God, you would know that he can do it; and if you knew the scriptures, you would know that he will do it. And if they say he will do it, all the objections in the world show but one thing, namely, an evil heart of unbelief' in the objectors. For since the scriptures

(and particularly the process in Ezekiel's vision of the resurrection) plainly show, that the body is first to be raised, and all the parts of it put together, before the change takes place, nothing remains, but an atheistical denial of the power of God to collect the parts, and put them together; a denial that he, who made all the things of impalpable dust, and beheld the substance of the world, before two atoms of it were joined; who formed the body of man out of those created for that purpose, and dissolves and disperses them at pleasure; a denial that he can collect them again when dispersed; a denial that the Almighty can do this. Only suppose a man not ignorant of the power of God, and all difficulties vanish. For then, whether the dust lie quiet in the grave, or be blown to the four winds, or be entombed in a whale, or buried in the great deep, it is equally under the eye of the Omniscient, and the power of the Omnipotent. These are all the store-houses and repositories, to be opened by him who has the keys of hell and death, when the sea shall deliver up the dead that are in it, and death and hell shall deliver up the dead that are in them: when, as the same Jonas came out of the whale, and the same from the heart of the earth, so the same bodies of lay down at night, shall arise in the morning. unrighteous, that he should forget the body's work and labour of love. From those eyes, which have poured forth tears of repentance, shall all tears be wiped, and they shall be blessed with the vision of the Almighty. Those hands which have been lifted up in prayer, and stretched out to the poor, shall hold the palm of victory, and harp of joy. Those feet which have wearied themselves in going about to do good, shall stand in the courts of the Lord, and walk in the garden of God, and in the streets of the new Jerusalem. That flesh which has been chastised and mortified, shall be rewarded for what it has suffered; nay, the very hairs of our head are all numbered; how much more, then, the parts of our bodies? This (says the Resurrection himself) is my Father's will that has sent me, that of all which he has given me, I should lose nothing, but raise it up at the last day.' [John vi. 39.]

Son of man

saints, that

God is not

The greatness of the change appears from this, that our vile body is to be fashioned like unto Christ's glorious body. Of this he was pleased to give a specimen to Peter, and James, and John, and in them to all his disciples, who by faith and

the body of his

devotion, will accompany their master, in humiliation,' to the top of mount Tabor. There they may behold an ensample of this most amazing change; the power of the Highest, which dwelt in Christ diffusing itself outwardly, till he appeared all over exceeding glorious; his face shining like the sun, and his raiment becoming white as the light. Who is not ready to say, 'It is good for us to be here, to behold the fair beauty of the Lord, even the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ?' But here we must not stay, because he did not. For though, at the brightness before him, the cloud passed, and the sun for a little while appeared in his strength, the cloud soon returned and overshadowed him, and he entered into it. He descended from the mount of transfiguration to the heart of the earth, and then there was darkness over all the land:' but he soon went up to a higher mountain than Tabor, was again transfigured, and introduced a day, which no cloud shall ever overcast more. He became, as it was foretold that he should do, as the light of the morning when the sun arises, even a morning without clouds.' [2 Sam. xxiii. 4.] The world indeed sees him not; but to us, who believe, a door is opened in heaven, and behold a throne set, like the fiery flame, and its wheels as burning fire, and one sits on it, to look upon like a jasper, and a sardine stone; his garment white as snow, and the hairs of his head like the pure wool; his eyes as a flame of fire, and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace, and his countenance as the sun shineth in his strength.' [Dan. vii. 9.] 'Beloved, (says St. John) it does not yet appear what we shall be ;' but this we know, that when, we shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is, and, by seeing him, be transformed into the same image, from glory to glory.' He has power, as the text informs us, to subdue all things to himself, because he is the Almighty God, and this power he will exert on our bodies. Yet a little while and he will rend the heavens, and come down; and heaven and earth will be filled with the overflowing flood of the majesty of his glory, as the waters cover the sea;' the heavens over our heads melting away before it, and the mountains flowing down, in liquid fire, at its presence. At that instant, when the shriek of millions, fearfully crying out, shall mingle with the trumpet of the arch

angel, with the thunders of the departing heavens, and the noise of a world shaking into dissolution,' at that instant, the dead shall be raised, and we shall be changed:-Changed--not by the corruptible's being taken away, and the incorruptible's being introduced in its room, but by a super-induction of the incorruptible upon the corruptible. For thus says the apostle -We that are in this tabernacle, do groan earnestly, desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.' 'Not for that we should be unclothed,' or lose the earthly body, but clothed upon,' with a superinvestiture of the house from heaven, namely, the divine light, which is to enwrap and invest the mortal body, as a garment. And not only invest it outwardly as a garment, but, by the divine energy of its Almighty power, penetrate and pierce through and through its most intimate substance, till it has converted, subdued, worked and changed it all into itself, so that mortality is swallowed up of life, and corruption quite absorbed and lost in the ocean of the all-encircling glory. Then shall the righteous be seen standing, victorious, through faith in Jesus, transformed (to compare the things of this world with those of another) from the darkness of dust and ashes, to the clear transparency of glass, the pure lustre of diamonds, the inconceivable agility of light, and the perfect impassibility of heaven.-No reasonable man can complain, that the scriptures are not explicit enough upon the subject. But the transformation of mortality into glory is one of those things of God, which the natural man never will know, or discern. Though surely, if nature teach any religion, it is the Christian; if she preach any doctrine, it is this resurrection and change. And were not the book of nature, as well as that of grace, become a sealed book, what man, that ever travelled with the earth, through the vicissitudes of a year, could deny a resurrection? Ask the furrows of the field, and they shall tell thee. For except a corn of wheat fall into the ground, and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.' The parts of the seed cannot spring afresh, till they have been first dissolved. It is true, the husbandman soweth only the bare grain; but it arises, clothed upon' with a beautiful verdure. And if God so clothe the grass of the field,' how much more shall he clothe your mortal bodies with a glorious immortality, O ye of little faith!' But

« PreviousContinue »