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holy character,-a resurrection of sterling and eminent piety. It must be a state of things, wherein the religion of Christ, in all its simplicity, purity, and power, shall gloriously prevail, and wherein the spirit of those who have been the most illustrious examples of its nature and tendency, shall again be abroad in the earth, and mightily predominate over every other spirit.
Such, brethren, is the light wherein we view this popular and much-agitated question. Such are our modes of interpreting Scripture so as, we conceive, to bring out the real meaning of its announcements, and at the same time to preserve the consistency and harmony of its several parts. Such are the considerations which induce us to anticipate the resurrection of the righteous and the resurrection of the wicked, as concurrent events.
6. “ But some man will say, How are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come ?” This question was frequently put to the friends of Christianity in primitive times; and if asked in a becoming spirit, and with a
6 For more extended discussions of this subject, see an excellent Sermon on the Millennium, recently published, by the Rev. John Morison, of Chelsea, and an admirable “ Defence of the Scriptural Doctrine concerning the Second Advent of Christ, from the erroneous representations of Modern Millenarians,” by Dr. Hamilton, of Strathblane. To the latter work the author has been considerably indebted in the preparation of this part of the discourse.
sincere desire to obtain satisfaction, it deserves a serious and candid reply. Accordingly, the Scriptures furnish us with a variety of interesting particulars, illustrative of the subject to which it refers.
The grand difficulty with regard to the doctrine of the resurrection, appears to have been always occasioned by the felt necessity of identifying the raised body with the body of the present state. In what personal identity consists, we are unable to determine; and how it is preserved through the various known changes which the human frame undergoes, even in this world, no philosopher has yet ascertained. It is probable, therefore, that the difficulty alluded to arises, for the most part, from unsettled or mistaken views respecting the nature of the property itself, coupled with the neglect of divine testimony; and we apprehend that it would be far less formidable and perplexing, and soon come to be regarded as of little consequence, were persons to acquaint themselves correctly with the disclosures of the inspired volume, and instead of obstinately keeping to some positive and favorite theory, to reflect as they ought upon what identity does not consist in, or upon what is not indispensable to constitute sameness. For although, in reference to this matter, we cannot arrive at any satisfaction positively, we may conclude many things concerning it negatively. If it be inquired, whether precisely the same particles or atoms which shall have composed our bodies in the present state, are to compose them when restored to life at the final day? We do not for a moment hesitate to reply, unquestionably not. Revelation discountenances the idea, and reason assures us, that whatever personal identity consists in, there may be personal identity without such a resurrection. Methuselah at the age of nine hundred years, was the same person with Methuselah at the age of four hundred years; and Methuselah at the age of four hundred years, was the same person with Methuselah a child; and yet at the age of nine hundred years, the body of Methuselah must have undergone a complete change of all its component particles many times over. If it be inquired, whether our future bodies are to have the same mode of being, the same arrangement of parts, or exactly the same natural properties, characteristic of our bodies now ?-we are again prepared with a negative reply. The doctrine of Scripture is, that “ flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” and that “neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” And the slightest reflection will suffice to convince us, that a constitution carrying in its nature the seeds of decay, and liable to terminate, cannot be the constitution of a body destined for the immortal residence of a mind always vigorous and always active. If it be inquired whether any of the particles belonging to our earthly bodies, will be transferred into our bodies formed at the resurrection ?--we readily confess we cannot tell. It is a point quite out of the reach of philosophical determinations, and concerning which the sacred records develop nothing. Of thus much we may feel perfectly assured, that in whatever may be essential to the feelings and aspects of personal identity, the body restored to existence at the resurrection, will be the same body which lived and died and was buried here; but that, as to its adventitious qualities, it will be in various respects greatly changed, and very differently modified. “That which thou sowest is not quickened except it die; and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain; it may chance of wheat or of some other grain. But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.”? As there is unquestionably a sense, in which the full-grown ear, though per: haps not containing a single atom of the grain previously deposited in the earth, must, nevertheless, be regarded as identical with it, and a peculiar, reference to that individual grain as its proper seed, which another ear of the same species cannot be said to have,-so in a sense and reference analogous, shall each body produced at the resurrection, be identical with a body previously consigned to the grave. And as there are many and obvious changes in the full-grown ear, from what it was at the time of its being sown,-in like manner shall there be many and obvious changes in the future bodies of mankind from what they were prior to their dissolution. Wherein these changes will consist, we are not distinctly informed, and cannot fully comprehend; but from the general announcements of Scripture respecting them, especially as affecting the bodies of believers, we may conclude they will be such as to give those bodies, in many particulars, an entirely new character.
The future body of the saint, we are told, is to be an incorruptible and immortal body. It will be subject neither to decay nor dissolution. The various evils and accidents, to which it is exposed in the present state, will have lost their power over it. Unassailable by distress, it will be a stranger to the shocks of disappointment, and the corrosions of sorrow and anxiety. Incapable of sickness, it will never be enfeebled or impaired by disease. And proof against the undermining progress of years, it will continue firm and indestructible through a never-ending succession of ages, and realize the enchanting descriptions of ancient song, in the bloom and beauty of eternal youth.
The future body of the saint, we are told, is to be a glorious body. It will be so transformed, as not to retain a single vestige of its former debasement. It will be so covered with splendour,