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vain. There, in the appointed channel, that Holy Spirit shall dispense to every humble and obedient soul, light, knowledge, repentance, faith, love, peace, and joy in this life; but eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived the felicity and glory of that state which God hath prepared for his redeemed children in the life to come.
May that Gracious Being, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy, vouchsafe to us all the sanctifying influence of his grace, the continual dew of his blessing. May he grant us the prayer of the Psalmist, and keep us from presumptuous sins, lest they get the dominion over us, that so we may be innocent of the great offence, the awful sin against the Holy Ghost which hath never forgiveness, either in this world, or in the world to come. May he pardon, my beloved brethren, your thoughtlessness and insensibility for the time that is past, and enable you all, with one heart and one mind, to seek the forgiveness of your sins by a thankful and a zealous use of the appointed means, in the communion of his saints, in the bosom of his Church, and in the unity of his Holy Spirit. Thus may ignorance and prejudice, coldness and neglect, dissipation and folly, intemperance and vice, be banished from amongst us, and every soul be taught to pursue that only object worthy of the true dignity of an immortal being—the sharing the favor of Christ here, that we may share his happiness hereafter.
Acts Xxiv. 15. There Shall Be A Resurrectton Of The Dead, Both Of The Just And
In the eventful destiny of our race, my brethren, two great changes await us all,—the separation of the spirit from the body at the hour of death, and the re-union of the same spirit to the same body at the day of judgment. We purpose, chiefly, to consider this last topic in the present discourse, as clearly announced by the Apostle in the text, and forming an important branch of the Christian faith in the ancient formulary of our profession, where we say, ' I believe in the resurrection of the body.'
That we may examine this interesting subject with the greater clearness, we shall inquire, first, into the justice and propriety of the body's immortality; secondly, why death is necessary to this immortality; thirdly, what evidence we possess of the resurrection of the body; and lastly, what practical effect this article of our faith should produce upon the Christian.
i. The general agreement of all countries, all ages, and all conditions of mankind, concurs with the positive assertions of Scripture in the proposition, that we consist of two principles or natures united, the one spiritual, which is the soul, the other material, which is the body, and both of these together form the man, in the original constitution of his being. Where the precise line of division between the properties and powers of these two great principles ought to be drawn, it is difficult to decide; but so far as our self-examination has been able to extend, there seems to be an union of both in all the actions of the mind and in most if not all of those belonging to the body. No pleasure can be presented to the soul, but through the avenue of the body. No pain can be inflicted on the body which is not felt by the soul, and nothing but the stroke of death can separate them from each other.
Now it would be rather an anomaly in the works of the great Creator, if principles so closely conjoined in the beginning, should not have been designed to continue united to the end, and if that wonderful adaptation to each other which obtains in this world, were not calculated to last through every subsequent stage of their being. Hence reason readily assents to the opinion, that the body, as well as the soul, was originally made immortal, and that any violent separation of the two must be owing to some disorder, some convulsion of the primary elements of their nature. Again, if, as is universally admitted, the future destiny of the soul depends on the actions of this life, and if in those actions the body has its full share, it seems reasonable that the body should be immortal as well as the soul, for, otherwise, the whole man would be employed in preparing for a state which only a part of the man can inherit. If goodness has been the characteristic of this life, then the body should be immortal in order to share in the reward; if evil, still the body should be immortal to partake in the punishment; so that on the ground of analogy, and on those of justice, it would seem at least highly probable that the body must have been created coexistent and immortal with the soul.
2. But we leave the mere probabilities of human reason,
and turn for our only perfect evidence to the book of God. And here we learn that the Separation o fthe soul and body, which we call death, was one of the awful effects of transgression. 'By one man,' saith the Apostle, 'sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death hath passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.' Now this death became necessary not only as a punishment,—not only as carrying with it those appendages of sorrow and of trial through which the sinner is led to repent and return to his offended God, but it was even necessary in order to restore mankind to their original immortality. Stained and degraded through his whole nature, the transgressor could not inherit eternal life without a thorough change. His soul was to be regenerated through the Holy Spirit, because being already spiritual, a spiritual change would suffice it, but the body was to be changed through death, corruption, and a subsequent reorganization, because being in its nature material, the change must be material too. Hence the introduction of sin seems to have rendered death necessary even to the immortality of the body itself, nor can we imagine how this single purpose could have been accomplished in any other mode so wisely and beneficently calculated for a general system as Universal Death, followed by an Universal Resurrection.
3. We are next, however, to consider the proofs of this doctrine,—the resurrection of the body,—in which branch of our subject we shall confine ourselves to the evidence of revelation, and afterwards show from the analogy of nature, how futile are the objections of the infidel, when urged against it.
The evidence of Scripture is to be considered, first, as respects the Old Testament, in which we have many passages of considerable force. Thus the Prophet Isaiah declares, 'Thy dead shall live, togetherwith my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust, for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.' So Ezekiel saw a vision in which a valley full of bones appeared to him, and, at the word of the Lord, 'the bones came together, bone to his bone, and sinews and flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them, and the breath came into them, and they arose and stood upon their feet.' Again, Daniel prophesies, that 'Many of them that sleep in the dust shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt;' and perhaps with still greater clearness, Job declares, ' I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth, and though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.' Notwithstanding . these passages, however, a large majority of the Jews in the time of our Saviour appear to have had very confused and imperfect notions upon the subject, and although one sect amongst them—the Pharisees—believed the doctrine, yet another—the Sadducees—rejected it altogether. , But in the New Testament it is set forth with great force and clearness. 'Since by man,' saith St. Paul,' came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.' 'The last enemy that shall be destroyed,' saith he elsewhere, 'is death;' but death cannot be said to be destroyed until all the dead are delivered from his power. Again saith the same great teacher,' He that raised Christ from the dead, shall also quicken our mortal bodies.' They that are in the graves,' saith our Lord himself, ' shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and live.' \ The sea,' saith St, John, 'shall give up the dead which are in it, and death and the grave shall deliver up the dead which are in them;' ftnd again saith St. Paul, 'We must all appear before the