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coming in substance completely the same that we were. Which truth of all perhaps that Christianity revealed, as most new and strange, was the hardliest received, and found most opposition among
Acts xvii. heathens, especially philosophers; Hearing the resurrection of the dead, some of them mocked; others said, We will hear thee again of this matter: so was St. Paul's discourse about this point entertained at Athens: they neglected or derided it, as a thing altogether impossible, or very improbable
pan. HUt. to happen; (as Pliny somewhere counts the revocation of the dead to life impossible to be performed, otherwhere calls it, puerile deliramentum, a childish dotage, to suppose it.) But why it should be deemed either impossible to divine power, or improbable upon accounts of reason, no good argument can be assigned. To re-collect the dispersed parts of a man's body, to range and dispose them into their due situation and order; to reduce them into a temper fit to discharge vital functions; to rejoin the soul to a body so restored; why should it be impossible or seem difficult to him, who did first frame and temper our body out of the dust, and inspired the soul into it; to him, who out of mere confusion digested the whole world into so wonderful an order and harmony; to him, who into a dead lump of earth inserted such numberless varieties of life; who from seeds buried in the ground and corrupted there, doth cause so goodly plants to spring forth; who hath made all nature to subsist by continual vicissitudes of life and death; every morning, in a manner, and every spring representing a general resurrec
Jer.xxxii. tion? (Well might the prophet Jeremiah say, Ah 'Lord God! thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee: there is indeed nothing too hard for omniscient wisdom to contrive, for omnipotent strength to execute.) And what difficulties soever fancy may suggest, can we doubt of that being possible which experience attesteth done? Ezekiel saw dry bones rejointed, and E«*. reinspired with life; divers instances of dead persons restored to life are recorded in the prophetical writings; and more in the New Testament; but most remarkable is that passage at our Saviour's death, when it is said, that many tombs were opened, and Matt. xxvii many bodies of saints that had departed rose, and coming out of the tombs, after our Saviour's resurrection, entered into the holy city, and did appear to many, (or publicly to the many, To*? iroMoif;) which was a most full and manifest experiment of a miraculous resurrection, like to that which we believe: but of all, our Lord's own resurrection doth irrefragably confirm the possibility of our resurrection: so that St. Paul, with highest reason, might thus expostulate with the incredulous upon this account; And if Christ be preached (or assured by i Cor. xv. testimony) that he rose from the dead, how say some that there is no resurrection of the dead? that is, how can any man deny that to be possible which is so palpably exemplified?
Neither can the point be shewed improbable or implausible; but it is rather very consonant to the reason of the thing; and good causes may be assigned why it should be. Man, according to original design and frame, doth consist of soul and body; these parts have a natural relation, an aptitude, and an appetite (as it seems) to cohabit and cooperate with each other; many actions very proper to man's nature cannot be performed without their conjunction and concurrence; many capacities of joy and comfort (with their opposites) do result thence: the separation of them we see how unwilling, violent, and repugnant it is to nature; and we are taught that it is penal, and consequent upon sin, and therefore cannot be good and perfect: wherefore it is no wonder that God designing to restore man to his ancient integrity, yea, to a higher perfection, rewarding him with all the felicity his nature is capable of, (on the one hand, I mean, as on the other hand justly to punish and afflict him according to his demerit,) should raise the body, and rejoin it to the soul, that it might contribute its natural subserviency to such enjoyments and sufferings respectively. Not to omit the congruity in justice, that the bodies themselves, which did communicate in works of obedience and holiness, or of disloyalty and profaneness, (which, in St. Paul's language, were either servants of righteousness unto sanctity, or slaves to impurity and iniquity,) should also partake in suitable recompenses; that the body which endured grievous hardships for righteousness should enjoy comfortable refreshments; or that those which did wallow in unlawful pleasures should undergo just afflictions.
Many other things might be said to this purpose; but I pass to the next point, annexed to this, as in nature, so in order here.
€&e life (JEtierlagting;.
1 HE immediate consequent of the resurrection (common, as St. Paul expresseth, to just and un-Actsxxiv. jiist,) is, as we have it placed in the catalogue of fun- 's' damentals, set down by the apostle to the Hebrews, Kfljja aiuviov, that judgment or doom, by which the Heb. vi. 2. eternal state of every person is determined; and accordingly every man must, as St. Paul says, bear the 2 Cor.v.i0. things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or evil. Now this state generally taken, (as respecting both the righteous and blessed, the wicked and cursed persons,) for that it doth suppose a perpetual duration in being and sense, may be called everlasting life; although Ufe (as being commonly apprehended the principal good, and because all men naturally have a most strong desire to preserve it; with reference also, probably, to the law, wherein continuance of life is proposed as the main reward of obedience, is used to denote peculiarly the blessed state; and death (the most abominable and terrible thing to nature; the most extreme also of legal punishments threatened upon the transgressors of the law) is also used to signify the condition of the damned; the resurrection ofJohnv.29. life, and resurrection of damnation; everlasting life46? "V' and everlasting punishment being opposed; although, py"ixi''2" I say, life be thus commonly taken, (as also the re-Ll,kexx.35. siirrection itself, by an €t/0ij/x«7/xof, is sometimes appropriated to the righteous,) yet the reason of the case requires, that here we understand it generally,
so as to comprehend both states; both being matters of faith equally necessary, and of like fundamental consequence; both yielding the highest encouragements to good practice, and determents from bad: for, as on the one hand, what can more strongly excite us to the performance of our duty, than an assurance of obtaining hereby so happy a state? what can more efficaciously withdraw us from impiety, than being certain thereby to lose and fall short of it? so on the other hand, what can more vehemently provoke us to obedience, than being persuaded, that we shall thereby avoid eternal misery? what can more powerfully deter us from sin, than considering, that by commission of it we shall expose ourselves to that wretched state? Infinitely stupid and obdurate we must be, if the consideration what these states are doth not produce these effects.
What is the state of life? it is a state of highest dignity and glory; of sweetest comfort and joy; of joy full in measure, pure in quality, perpetual in duration, in all respects perfect to the utmost capacity of our nature; wherein all our parts and faculties shall be raised to their highest pitch of perfection, our bodies shall become free from all corruptibility and decay, all weakness and disease, all grossness and unwieldiness, all deformity and defilement: for they shall, as St. Paul teaches us, be rendered incorruptible, strong, healthful, glorious, and spiritual: our souls also shall in their faculties be advanced, in their inclinations rectified, in their appetites satisfied; the understanding becoming full of light, clear and distinct in knowledge of truth, free from ignorance, doubt, and error; the will being steadily inclined to good, ready to comply with God's will, free from all