« ПредишнаНапред »
bour as yourself ; to love the whole creation of God ; and so far as your influence can extend, must endeavour to make it happy.' Brethren, When we see all above and below, and all around us, proclaiming with eloquent tongues, Thou, Lord, art good! And, more especially, when we feel a spirit within us crying, Thou, Lord, art good! we should lay aside, not only all private jealousies, but all sectional differences, and sectarian prejudices; and ever seek to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. Christians, says Bishop Taylor, should not be like the thorn and bramble, endeavouring which shall tear and wound each other the most ; but like the vine and olive, striving which shall bear the most and the best fruit.
Finally. If we thus love God, and lead virtuous lives, and love the brotherhood, in this short and passing world; we shall be enabled, through divine mercy, and divine aid, when we are called to leave the scenes of time, to cry in holy rapture of soul, throughout ages after ages, even forever and forevermore, in the world of glory, Thou, Lord, art good! Thou, Lord, art good!
RESURRECTION OF THE BODY.
1 Cor. xv, 35. HOW ARIC
DEAD RAISED, UP?. AND WITHI WHAT BODY DO THEY COME ?
This is a very natural, as well as very solemn question, which arises in the mind of every reflecting person. When we look abroad, we behold a vast world of men, women, and children ; of various nations, climates, and languages; of different ages, constitutions, and characters; all now busily employed in their peculiar vocations; the most of them full of life, and gladness, and hope: and the heart is pained, that, in a few years, all these people will cease from their activity and enterprises; their enjoyments and anticipations; and be returned to their original earth, dust to dust, ashes to ashes. This truth also comes nearer home. When we look around in our own towns, among our own relations and acquaintances, we find, here and there, one and another, gone from the family circle, and the meeting of friends ; some bosom companion, or some kind neighbour, whom we used to visit; gone from our reach, carried away, and laid where they are no more
From these affecting truths, does not the mind often turn to the promised resurrection of the body, when the bereaved heart hopes again to meet its departed friends ? But here the mind is sometimes saddened by its own inquiry, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? As if it asks, Can this body, which is all decayed into dust, and perhaps disappeared into nothing, be again raised into life ? And will the future body
be such, that we may again know our dear friends? An answer to this inquiry is the subject of this sermon.
I. Notwithstanding the denial, and objections, of the ancient Sadducees, the Athenian philosophers, and modern Infidels, I shall take for granted, that there will be a future resurrection of the human body, as it is abundantly revealed in the Gospel. For if the dead rise not, argues St Paul, then is not Christ raised. Here all Sadducism is removed. Here, the resurrection of the body is asserted, and proved. The proof alleged, is the resurrection of Christ; and the argument may be advantageously exhibited in the following manner. Christ
predicted his own resurrection, and actually rose in the manner predicted. He thus proved both his power to do every thing, and his veracity in all his declarations. But he has declared, that he will raise up, at the last day, all that are in their graves. Thus his own resurrection is a complete proof of the general resurrection of mankind.'
II. 1. But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what bodies do they come? That is, in what sense will the same body be raised? Will it be composed of all the particles that ever formed a part of the body during life ? or will it be the same body as that in which we died? To these queries, both reason and revelation answer, No. The whole number of atoms, which have during life served to compose the body, would be sufficient to form many similar bodies. And the bodies in which persons die are frequently emaciated, and loathsome. In St Paul's simile of the grain of wheat, which is not quickened except it die; he says, thou sowest not that body which shall be, but God giveth it a body, as it hath pleased him. So also is the resurrection of the dead. Again he says, flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. If it now be asked, what will be the precise nature of the raised body? We answer, we know not. It is not revealed. Neither did St John, the most beloved and intimate disciple of our Lord know. He says, it doth not yet appear what we shall be. This should teach us not
to be too curious about what is unnecessary for us to know, and is perhaps above our present comprehension.
2. But with whatever body the dead shall arise, it is evident, that there will be a great change. Christ, says St Paul, shall change our vile body. It is agreeable to the order of nature, that the body of every being is adapted to its state; and when a being changes its state, it changes its body. This rule holds throughout the universe, in every region of nature. Against the human change itself therefore, there is no argument; but, on the contrary, a striking one in its favour, from analogy. A tree dies in winter; its leaves fall, its circulation stops. In the spring, it has its revivification; it again lives in new verdure and bloom. The same is true of some animals, which remain torpid, as if dead, during a part of the year, and yet revive. There are also some animals, which begin their lives under the water, and afterwards live upon the earth. But there is a wonderful change in the order of insects, which seems as if designed to typify the glorious resurrection of man. Look at the humble caterpillar, crawling upon the low ground. In a few weeks, see him die, and dissolve, as it were, in his own tomb.
What can you see here, in this shapeless, unorganized mass, that promises a future revival ? Yet, in a little time, behold the sepulchre is opened, and a new creature, of a new and superior form, of new and more elevated powers and instincts, a beautiful butterfly bursts forth, and delights, and expatiates in a new element. Hence it was with a delicate propriety, that the Ancients, considering this ethereal insect a type of the human soul, painted one issuing from the lips of a dying person. These, we acknowledge, are but analogies; but they serve to prove, that the new body will be adapted to its new state of existence.
3. But whether our bodies, at the resurrection, will be strictly new bodies, or the same bodies under a new form, is of little importance, provided we remain conscious that we are the same persons.
Consciousness is what constitutes personal identity. In this life, our bodies are continually changing, yet all the alterations in size, or feature, caused by time or sickness, do not prevent us from feeling, and knowing, that we are the same persons.
With this consciousness we shall rise from the grave. And that the body will hereafter be the same, in such a sense as to be known, appears strongly intimated in Revelation. Departed spirits, in their intermediate state, are represented as known to each other. Many, says the Saviour, shall come from the east, and from the west,
and shall sit down, in the kingdom of God, with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. Here it seems implied, that these spirits should know these Patriarchs. King David, when he had lost his child, said, I shall go to him, but he shall not return unto me. Again, in the parable, Lazarus, Abraham, and Dives, are exhibited as known to each other. Likewise, on the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses, and Elias, although disembodied spirits, were known by the disciples, while yet in the flesh. St Paul, also, speaks of presenting his converts, at the last day, perfect in Christ Jesus ; from which we infer that he expected to know them, in their new and glorious state. And when Christ declares, that at that time the secrets of the heart shall be disclosed; it seems to import, that they shall be disclosed to those, who were before the witnesses of our actions. From these passages, and from the suggestions of reason, it appears sufficiently evident, that mankind will know each other in the future world, and that their bodies will be so far the same, as to become the means of this knowledge.
III. Let us now examine more particularly the nature of the change in our bodies, at the resurrection, as it is specified, in many sublime particulars, by the revelation of St Paul.
1. The body will be raised incorruptible. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. In the present life, the human body has the seeds of decay within it, as soon as it is born. The body of man does not last so long, as the house he builds to live in. The strength of health yields to the stronger power of disease. Even little babes, innocent and fresh from the hand of their Maker, fade and wither away, like the blossom before the mildew. The robust soldier, the active citizen, and the delicate female, no less than the venerable elder, soon cease from