Imágenes de páginas

The Resurređion of the Body, or fflesh.

THE do&trine of the immortality of the soul (whereby men are capable of rewards or punishments, according to their doings in this life) hath, in all religions, been deemed a necessary principle, and for fuch (as Cicero and Seneca expressly tell us) hath been embraced by all nations ; having indeed, probably from original tradition, been conveyed over all the world. The fame also divers philofophers (Socrates especially, and his followers) did by natural reason strive to evince true. But tradition being too lippery, and reason too feeble thoroughly to persuade it, Christianity, by a clear and full proof, (of miraculous works and sensible experiments,) doth assure us of it; the certainty thereof we owe to his instruction, who brought life 2 Tim. i. and immortality to light by the Gospel. It plainly shews, 10. that when we die, we do not like brute beasts, or other natural bodies, when they appear diffolved) wholly perish; that our fouls do not vanish into nothing, nor are resolved into invisible principles; but do return into God's hand, or into the place by him appointed for them, there continuing in that life which is proper to a soul. Neither only thus much doth it teach us concerning our state after this life, but it farther informs us, that our bodies themselves Thall be raised again out of their dust and corruption, that our souls shall be reunited to them, and that our persons shall be restored into their perfect integrity of nature; the bringing of which effects to pass, by divine power, is commonly called, the resurrection of the dead, or, from the dead, (ix yexpūv,) and Amply the resurrection ; as also, being raised, being reduced from the dead: sometimes also it is called, the regeneration, (or iterated nativity,) and being born from the dead; which terms imply a respect to

the body, and to the person of a man, as constituted of
body and soul : for the mere permanency of our souls in
being and life could not (with any propriety or truth) bę
called a resurrection : that which never had fallen could
not be said to be raised again; that which did never die
could not be restored from death; nor could men be said
to rise again, but in respect to that part which had fallen,
or that state which had ceased to be. And as to be born
at first doth fignify the production and union of the parts
essential to a man; so to be born again implies the restitu-
tion and reunion of the same; a man thereby becoming
entirely the same person that he was before. The same is
also signified in terms more formal and directly expressive;
the quickening of the dead ; the vivification of our mortal
bodies; the redemption of our body; the corruptible (
Pfaptòn tôto, this very same corruptible body) putting on
incorruption, and this mortal putting on immortality; those
who are in the graves hearing Christ's voice, and proceeding
forth to resurrection, either of life or judgment; the
awaking of them which seep in the dust of the earth;
the sea, the death, the hell, (or universal grave,) resigning
their dead; which expressions and the like occurring, do
clearly and fully prove the reparation of our bodies, and
their reunion to our souls, and our persons becoming in
substance completely the same that we were. Which
truth of all perhaps that Christianity revealed, as moft •
new and strange, was the hardliest received, and found

most opposition among heathens, especially philosophers; A&s xvii. 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 im, Plin. Hift. possible, or very improbable to happen; (as Pliny some

"where counts the revocation of the dead to life impoffible 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 afligned. To re-collect the dispersed parts of a man's body,


11. 7. Vi1.5

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 in{pired the soul into it; to him, who out of mere confusion digested the whole world into fo 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 subfift by continual vicissitudes of life and death ; every morning, in a manner, and every spring representing a general resurrection? (Well might the Prophet Jeremiah say, Ah Jer. xxxii. Lord God! thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy "7. 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 foever fancy may suggeft, can we doubt of that being possible which experience attefteth done? Ezekiel saw dry bones rejointed, Ezek. and reinspired with life ; divers instances of dead persons *xxvii. restored to life are recorded in the prophetical writings; and more in the New Testament; but most remarkable is that paffage at our Saviour's death, when it is said, that many tombs were opened, and many bodies of saints that Matt. xxvii. had departed rose, and coming out of the tombs, after our 56. Saviour's refurrection, entered into the holy city, and did appear to many, (or publicly to the many, tois wordois;) 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 le preached (or i Cor, xv. assured by testimony) that he rose from the dead, how fay 12. 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 feparation of them we see how unwilling, violent, and repugnant it is to nature ; and we are taught that it is penal, and consequent upon fin, 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 subferviency 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 san&ity, or Naves to impurity and iniquity,) should also partake in fuitable 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.

The Life Everlaging.

THE immediate consequent of the resurrection (common, as St. Paul expresseth, to just and unjust,) is, as we have Aēts xxiv. it placed in the catalogue of fundamentals, set down by "S. the Apostle to the Hebrews, xpiua aivov, that judginent Heb. vi. 2. or doom, by which the eternal state of every person is determined'; and accordingly every man must, as St. Paul lays, bear the things done in the body, according to what 2 Cor.v, 10. 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 fuppose a perpetual duration in being and sense, may be called everlasting life; although life (as being commonly apprehended the principal good, and because all men naturally have a most strong desire to preserve it; with reference alfo, 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 of life, and resurrection of John v. 29. damnation ; everlasting life and everlasting punishment Ma being opposed; although, I say, life be thus commonly Dan. xii. 2.

Phil. iji. 11. taken, (as also the resurrection itself, by an cúpnusomós, is Luke xx.35. 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 pra&ice, and determents from bad : for, as on the one hand, what can more strongly excite us to the per

Matt. xxv. 46.

« AnteriorContinuar »