« AnteriorContinuar »
than it was at sirst to make them all out of nothing? Indeed if this were ascrib'd to any limited or sinite Agents, either Angels or Mtn, it might then well enough seem incredible, for they can neither preserve nor restore a thing from Corruption; they neither know where the Parts are, nor how to put them together. But why should it be thought incredible for a God of insinire Power and Wisdom, to whom nothing is impossible, to do this? Is it harder to restore Life, than it was at sirst to give it? Or is the Task greater to reunite something, than to make all things out of: nothing?
2. But our Bodies (fay others) both before and after the Dissolution, undergo many Changes and Alterations; one Man eats and devours another, whereby the fame Substance belongs to and compofes many Bodies, and the Parts of one Man become successively the Parts of another: and how can every one at the Resurrection have his own Body? To which I answer,
1. That whatever Changes or Transmutations our Bodies may undergo, the several Parts, of particular Bodies do not
ijerish, or come to nothing by the Change, but are preerv'd and laid up in the Repositories of Nature: and an All-seeing Eye that knows and discerns "all things, and an Almighty Hand that can do whatever pleases him, can easily discover and rally these things at pleasure. And therefore our Saviour told the Sadduces, that they err'd in this point, by not knowing the Scriptures, nor the Tower of God; Mat^ 22. 29. They consider'd not that he who made all things, was able to direct, separate,and call all things together, when it pleaseth him; they measur'd the Divine Power by their own Weakness, and by that means ignorantly concluded a thing impossible to God, because it was beyond their Sphere to effect or comprehend it. Whereas a due Consideration of the Omniscient and Omnipotent Power of God, to whom nothing is impossible, would scatter all these Doubts, and make these seeming Difficulties vanish.
2. Beside, To the Resurrection os the same Body, 'tis not necessary that all the Parts of the fame Matter, but that the same Person should arise. Now you know a Man is the fame Person from his Infancy to old Age, and even to the hour of his Dissolution, tho the Matter of which he Consists hath admitted of many Changes and Alterations; for many parts of that continually fly off by Excretion, Sweat, Perspiration, and other natural Evacuations; which
Y 4 arc
are again supply'd by the accession os new Nourishment and DigelHon: and these make no alteration of the Person, tho they make some change in the Addition or Diminution of the Matter. 'Tjs the Soul and the Body that individuate the Person ; and in the Union of these two essential Parts does Life consist; which Union is dissolv'd by Death, and is reftor'd again by the Resurrection. So that we may easily conceive a rising again ip the same Body, tho not in all the same Matter: whereby we are numerically the same Persons far substance, tho some accidental Parts may vary: which is sufsicient to all the Ends of the Resurrection, and likewise to all the Rewards and Punishments that follpwf after it. From whence I proceed,
'thirdly, To consider the Certainty of it, notwithstanding any seeming Incredibility. Now this Certainty is sounded chiefly on Divine Revelation, back'd with many Arguments from Reason, and other Instances in Nature to consirm it.'
As for Revelation, 'tis abundantly consirm'd to us by Divine Authority, bpth jn the Old and New Testament. Our Blessed Saviour silene'd the Sadduces who deny'd this. Article, with thofe words of God Almighty 3 lam the God cf Abraham, the God ofIsaac, and the God of Jacob: God is not the God cf the Dead, but efthe Living. The Force of which Argument lay in the Promise made to those Fathers, which being not made good in their Life time, they were to be rais'd to another Life, in which they fliould receive it. Holy r/ob declares his Assurance of a Resurrection, in those words; J know that my Redeemer liveth, and tho after my Skin Worms destroy this Bcdy, yet in my Flesh shall I see God; whom I shall fie for myself a?id not another. In the New Testament we sind our Saviour declaring himself tq be the ResurretJicn and the Life, and that he that believetb in him, tho he were dead, shall yet live again ; John 11. 25. In the 5th of John, ver. 28, 29. he tells us, that the hour is coming, in which all that are in the Grave shall hear his foice and come forth; they that they have done Good to the Resurrection of Life, and they that have done Boil to the Resurrection of'Damnation. By this means our last Enemy wilj be destroy'd5 and Death, which swallows up all other things, Jhall itself beswallow'd up in Viblory; 1 Cor. 1 l. 53, 54.
But beside the ample Testimony of Holy Scripture, Reason itself may teach us this Truth 3 for since the Rewards of Virtue, and the Punishments of Vice, ate not distributed in this Life, where good Men are afflicted, and the Ungodly prosper; it follows that there must be another, in which these things will be set right, and Justice done to both. Ifea, all these Arguments before alledg'd for a suture Judgment, plainly suppofe and prove a Resurrection.
Furthermore, the daily Course of Nature affords us many Instances and Resemblances of the Resurrection. The Day dies away into Night, and revives again the next Morning: The Summer dies into Winter, and revives again in the Spring: The Corn that sustains us is sirst buried, and then rises again ; and thatwhich thou so-west, is not quicken d except it die. Thus all things are continu'd by corrupting, and revive by dying. And therefore we may safely conclude, that Man, the noblest of all Creatures, for whom all things else were made, shall not perish by Death, but be renew'd by a Resurrection.
Having seen the Certainty, let us observe the Manner of the Resurrection: and this, we are told, will be effected wholly by the Power of God, and the Influence of his Holy Spirit; for nothing less than a Divine and Omnipotent Power is sufficient for this Work, and that is abundantly able to effect it. And therefore the Apostle would have none think it incredible that God Jhould raise the Dead; for he that gave Life at sirst, can easily restore it; and our Bodies may be as well repair'd out of the former Materials, as at sirst form'd out of Nothing. He that breath'd Life into all Things, can easily inspire our scatter'd Dust; and the Spirit that rais'd up Christ from the Dead, can also quicken our mortal Bodies. If that Spirit of God dwell in us, we have the Seed and Power of the Resurrection, which will in time come into Act, and spring up into Immortality. Our Bodies being made the Temples of the Holy Ghost, are become the Seat of God, and the Residence of a Divine Spirit; and therefore tho they be destroy'd awhile, they will in a little time be rais'd and rebuilt again.
But what will be the Effect and Issue of the Resurrection? Why, the Apostle tells us, that Christ will change our vile Bodies, that they may be like unto his glorious Body, according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself. Meaning, that our Bodies shall receive a most blessed Change, and from crazy, frail and imperfect Bodies, become like the glorify'd Body of Christ. St. Pattl in 1 Cor. 15. hath given us some Particulars of this happy Change, telling us, j. That
I. That our Bodies, which by Death are sown in Corruption, shall be rais'd again in Incorruftion, and this Mortal jball put on Immortality, ver 42, 53. that is, Tho ou* Bodies here consist of those jarring and contrary Qualities, which naturally draw on Death and Dissolution, and after that have nothing but the Seeds and Principles of Corruption; yet they shall be rais'd to an Immortal State, in which all corruptible Principles (hall be done away, and they shall suffer, grieve, and die no more; Luke 20. 36. Again,
2. The Body that is by Death sown in 'Dishonour, will be rais'd in Glory, ver. 43. that is, Tho it be put into the Grave as a vile abject thing, not to be endur'd above-ground, yet at the Resurrection it shall come forth a Glorious Body, and appear in a bright, beautiful and splendid Form: for so we read, that the Righteous shallfoine forth as the Sun in the Kingdom of the Father; Mat. 13. 43. Moreover,
3. The Body that is Jown in Weakness, will be rais'd in tPoiver, ver. 43. meaning, That whereas we are liable here to many Sicknesses and Insirmities, our Constitution being so frail and crazy, that every thing we receive or meet with, is apt to annoy and offend us; we shall hereafter be rais'd impassible, and nothing shall ail us any more.
Lastly, What is sown a Natural,shall be rais'd a Spiritual Body, ver. 44. by which we are to understand, not that our Bodies shall be divested of all Matter, and chang'd into Spirits, but that they shall in a great measure be freed from the burdensome clog and dulness of Matter, and attain to the perfections ofa spiritual Substance; that is, they shall be above the Pleasures of Sense, and be like the Angels in Heaven, Matth. 22. 30. fasting for ever without Hunger, and watching without any need or desire of Refreshment. Again, they shall be vigorous and active, sitted to the quick and nimble Motions of glorify'd Souls, like them living for ever without decay, and acting for ever without weariness. In a word, the Body shall be perfectly releas'd from all dolorous Pain and P-ffions, and continue in perfect Health, Strength and Vigour for ever.
Now the Belief of such a Resurrection may teach us, 1. To live in a continual expectation and preparation for it, by avoiding all the Pollution of sinful Lust, and preserving all manner of Purity both of Body and Mind; for be that hath this Hose, must purify himself even as God is pure.
2. The Belief of a Resurrection may serve to arm us against Sickness, and the Fear of Death; for what tho our Bodies are beset hare with divers Diseases, and sundry kinds of Death, it will not be long ere they shall be plac'd out of the reach, and advanc'd above the assaults of both: We know (fays the Apostle) that -when the Earthly House of this Tabernacle shall le diffblv'd, ire have a "Building of God, a House not made with hands, but eternal in the Heavens; 2 Cor. 5. 1, 2. This made that great Apostle so far from being afraid, that he dejir'dto be dissolv'd; and even long'd to be uncloth'd of this mortal Body, that he might put on Glory and Incorruption: and if we weigh the Pains and Miseries of this Life, with the Joys and Glories of the next, we may easily learn to do the lame.
a. The Belief of a Resurrection may comfort us upon the Death of Friends and Relations; for their Bodies do not
J>erish, but only sleep in the Dust, and shall shortly awake ar more perfect and glorious than they were before. When la-wake (fays the Psalmist) I shall be satisfy'd ivitb thy Likeness: and 'twill be no small Pleasure and Satisfaction to sind ourselves and Friends transform'd into it. And therefore the Apostle would not have us ignorant concerning them that are asleep, nor sorrow for them as those that have no Hope ; for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him: I Thess. 4. 15, 14. The Grave is only become the Repository of our Bodies, where we retire a-while to put off the Rags of sinful Flefli, to be cloth'd upon with the Robes of Immortality: And shall we mourn at our Friends withdrawing awhile to this noble purpofe? This is to repine at their Happiness, and to grieve they had not always continu'd miserable: Which being the murmuring Language of all immoderate Sorrow, let us, by a stedfast Belief of a Resurrection, learn to hush and silence it.