Imágenes de páginas

I doubt not they may be so they
are both revealed, and I heartily be-
lieve them both. It may please
God to give to another greater light
on this subject than to myself.*
III. Let us now inquire, concern-
ing the resurrection saints,
what body do they come ?”


Our body at present is a great hindrance to our spiritual enjoyment. Even though the spirit be willing, the flesh is weak; and it has to be denied and carefully watched in order to subject it to the spirit; and to the last “ we groan in it being burdened." But the power of God will be so exerted in the resurrection, that we shall possess a spiritual body; which will assist, instead of retarding, the motions of the spirit; so that our very flesh may then be said to be athirst for the living God. But I cannot do better in regard to this point, than request the Reader's attention to St. Paul's plain and clear argumentation on this subject, contained in 1 Cor. xv. Having shewn, by an appeal to the analogies in nature,

that the corruption and dissolution
of the body in the earth, must not
be considered any impediment to
the power of God to raise it up
in a different form, since the same
may be observed in regard to every
grain of corn cast into the earth;
(vv. 36-38) he continues to illus-
trate the subject by noticing the
different kinds of flesh which al-
ready exist; (as the flesh of men,
of fishes, of birds, &c. v. 39;) and
also the fact that we already see
both heavenly and earthly bodies, and
these with various degrees of glory;
(vv. 40, 41;) and he then proceeds
to apply the subject to the human
body. It is placed in the grave
under circumstances of corruption,
dishonor, and weakness, a merely
natural or animal body; (vxikov)
but it is raised up a spiritual body,
incapable of corruption or death,
and possessing power and glory.
(vv. 42-46 and 53.) Our Lord
himself declares the immortality of
the resurrection saints, when he
neither can they die any

more "th so that whatsoever we


* It is however worthy of observation, that the body in which Jesus was seen by his disciples after his resurrection, and in which he ascended, (as likewise the bodies in which we presume the saints, raised after his resurrection, appeared unto many,) was not such as he appeared in, when, together with Moses and Elijah, he was transfigured in the mount. And therefore these passages of Scripture may allude to the greatly different circumstances and character in which the saints will behold the Lord at his advent, compared with that appearance in which he condescends to be seen by them in their separate state. This notion is the more reconcileable with Scripture, if we consider, that when the Lord bid the disciples pray, (Luke xxi, 36,) that they might be counted worthy to stand before the Son of Man, they were at that very time enjoythe privilege of standing, or possibly sitting, in his presence: yet he evidently makes no account of his presence under the circumstances in which he then was, compared with the period to which he adverts. So Justyn Martyr, in his Dialogue with Trypho, having noticed the power manifested by Christ, whereby devils were cast out in his name, considers it as nothing, compared with the glory and majesty and power to be assumed by him, when Daniel vii, 9 and following verses are fulfilled. See the passage beginning Ει δε τη τε παθες αυτε οικονομια τοσαυτη δυναμις δεικνυται παρακολεθήσασα και παρακολέθεσα, ποση ή εν τη ενδοξῳ γινομενη αυτε παρεσια; &c.

It is worthy of remark, in regard to the power and immortality of the body, that Jesus during his ministry gave a power to his disciples for a season, which, if held in perpetuity, would confer immortality on the possessor: viz. power over all manner of sickness and disease, and over all the power of the enemy,-the greatest and last enemy being death. See Matt. x, 1-8; Luke x, 18, 19.

h Luke xx, 36.

are to understand of "the second death,i" we have this blessed assurance, He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death."j Thus, though the body is to rise, it will undergo such a change, as shall render it flesh of a very different kind from that which we now possess.

We must notice likewise the resplendent glory of the body at this time. We have a description of it in the account of the transfiguration, when the Lord appeared in glory together with Moses and Elijah. The fashion of his countenance was altered,”k—“ and his face did shine as the sun,"l and his raiment was white as the light," "shining exceeding white, so as no fuller on earth can white them."m This particular description is not indeed expressly concerning the glory in which Moses and Elijah appeared, but of the body of Jesus: nevertheless, we have decided assurance, that the glorified saints will be exactly conformed to their Lord. Did the face of Jesus shine as the sun?-so also shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father."n Was his raiment white as the light? -SO they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, ' and as the stars for ever and ever."o Thus the Apostle argues, in the chapter of Corinthians before quoted, that as we have borne the image of the earthy [man,] we shall also bear the image of the heavenly:

[merged small][ocr errors]

Though I fear to enter into an inquiry on any subject, when we have no word from the Lord; yet I consider it equally reprehensible. to be afraid of inquiry, when we have any light to guide us therefore I would notice two or three other particulars revealed, concerning our bodily state. The first is, that there will be no marriage among the risen saints; which our Lord plainly declares in Luke xx, 35. And St. Paul seems to teach, that the distinction of sex will be done away; declaring "that there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female; but that all are one in Christ Jesus; and if Christ's, then Abraham's seed, and 'heirs according to the promise."r It may be questioned, however, whether the latter passage does strictly refer to the resurrection


Another particular is, that the saints will have the power of conveying themselves, in the manner of angels, through the heavenly regions. This is evident, first, from the circumstance, that they will rise to meet the Lord in the air.s And secondly, it may be clearly gathered from the assurance, that they are to

* It would seem to be owing to the sun-like splendor of the Lord and his saint, that it is said of the New Jerusalem," there was no need of the sun there, because the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." (Rev. xxi, 23.) When Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus, it was with a glory ABOVE (or exceeding) the brightness of the sun." (Acts xxvi, 13.) Isaiah iv, 5 may may also relate to the shining of the saints in their new tabernacles or dwelling places," their heavenly tabernacle being evidently their heavenly body. See 2 Cor. v, 1, 2.

i Rev. xx, 14. j Ibid. ii, 11. Mark ix, 3. n Matt. xiii, 43. r Gal. iii, 28, 29. s 1 Thess. iv,

k Luke ix, 29.
o Dan. xii, 3.

1 Matt. xvii, 2. P Verses 47-49.

m Ibid. and q l'hil. iii, 21,

be ισαγγελοι, equal to the angels; whose bodies, however fashioned, unquestionably possess this loco motive power.

The last particular I shall notice is, that they will possess the sense or faculty of taste, -or at least that they will eat and drink. To some this will appear a gross and carnal view of our angelic state : but this, I am persuaded, arises from the carnal state of our own minds, which cannot distinguish between the holy use and the abuse of a good thing. Wide is the difference between painting painting heaven like a Mahometan's paradise, (as if it consisted only in meats and drinks and sensual enjoyments,) and denying to the saints and angels those faculties, by which they are better enabled to appreciate the goodness of God. The man who can see the beauty of creation in fruits and flowers may be enabled to praise God accordingly; but he cannot understand so much of his power and goodness, as the man who discovers a fragrance and a flavor in those fruits. "To the pure all things are pure."

But let us come to the Scripture testimony on this head; for on this we may safely rely, however human prejudice may be opposed to it. Did not our Lord eat and drink with his disciples, after his resurrection from the dead ?t and did he not promise his apostles, as the recompense for their continuing with him in his temptations, that they

should eat and drink at his table in his kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." The heavenly messengers who visited Abraham, before the destruction of Sodom, ate with him and are we to suppose that it


[blocks in formation]

was not a reality; or that they were
destitute of any faculty whereby to
appreciate the food they apparently
consumed? The Lord Jesus on
one occasion purposely demanded
food, that he might convince his
disciples of the reality of his re-
surrection :w but it were absurd to
view it as a proof at all, if we must
suppose the act of eating to have
been itself only an illusion. Once
more, the manna which fell in the
wilderness, and which was different
from any thing ever witnessed before
or since, is called in Scripture “ the
bread of heaven;" and it is declared
by the Psalmist, that man did eat
angel's food."x
angel's food."x We may really just
as well deny to the angels the sense
of sight or hearing, as of taste; and
suppose that, when they sang to-
gether at the creation and at the
birth of our Saviour, they understood
not their own melody.

IV. I shall next briefly notice a few particulars concerning the intellectual faculties of the saints.


The memory will necessarily be wonderfully improved; decided indications of which are already afforded to spiritual persons. example, the apostles of our Lord, whilst under training for the ministry, betrayed repeated instances of forgetfulness, in regard to the things which they had both seen and heard from their divine Master: but he promised, "that the Holy Ghost should bring all things to 'their remembrance, whatsoever he had said to them."y And we have now frequent instances of persons, who, when led to repentance, have sins brought by the Spirit to their recollection, which previously seemed to have been clean forgotten.

In the same manner I might dwell upon the want of understanding

Gen. xviii, 8. w Luke xxiv, 41-43.

which men betray in their natural state; and shew how the Lord opened the understandings of his disciples, that they might understand the Scriptures.z For I For I apprehend, that every instance, in which we may perceive that our human faculties have been improved by the power of the Lord Jesus and the Spirit of our God, is a pledge and earnest of the fulness of that which shall be wrought in us, when we are altogether conformed in body and spirit to his glorious image.

Concerning the increase of our knowledge wonderful and glorious things are spoken! The knowledge of the most spiritually minded, and intellectual, and learned man, is now, comparatively speaking, as nothing. St. Paul compares the present knowledge, even of the Church, to the understanding and thoughts and prattling of children; and says, that what we see of divine things are presented to the mind as through a glass, shrouded in comparative obscurity; (εv artyμari,) being only partially known. But hereafter we are to see face to face,' without any veil, either on those things now hidden from us, or on our own powers of perception. Then we shall know EVEN AS WE ARE KNOWN !a How we are known is plainly declared: "THE WORD OF GOD is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword ;-piercing, even 'to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and of the joints and marrow; and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart;

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


-neither is there any creature 'that is not manifest in His sight, but all things are naked and opened ' unto the eyes of HIM with whom we have to do."b Hereafter then shall we be admitted to as intimate a

z Luke xxiv, 45. d Gen. xviii, 17.

knowledge of the Deity! Nothing will be withheld from us of his purposes, his counsels, his mysteries, his attributes. his attributes. This would be inconsistent with our privilege, as the friends and brethren of Jesus; and as the sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty. For Abraham is called is called "the friend of God;"'e and mark how the Lord accordingly treats him treats him :-" Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?"d And And Jesus decidedly encourages the same inference from the term friend :-" Henceforth I call you not

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

servants, for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends: for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.


I conceive however, that this wonderful increase of knowledge will be gradually acquired. All that can be known will not burst upon us at once, and be immediately understood in its height and depth and length and breadth. Concerning the sufferings and future glory of Christ it is written,—“ which things the angels desire to look into;"f which expression implies, that their knowledge of them is progressive; since they could not, were it otherwise, experience for moment the unfulfilled desire. Nor is such a gradual and continual increase of the knowledge of God at all incompatible with the promises, that we shall see face to face, and know even


[blocks in formation]

b Heb. iv, 12, 13. f 1 Pet. i, 11. 12.

a 1 Cor. xiii, 9, 12. e John xv, 15.

c James ii, 23.

was lovely and admirable be known at one interview. The great merit in such characters is, when fresh graces of the mind and disposition and affections are continually to be discovered. Not that their chosen friends are in the mean while prohibited from seeing and conversing with them; but circumstances and occasions elicit their character and talent, and cause it to be displayed. And thus it is with God; of whom we have previously observed, that the work of redemption is one of those occasions which afford a more glorious display of his attributes. And throughout the ages to come, I doubt not but men and angels will be continually discovering fresh excellencies; even as St. Paul when he prays that the Ephesian christians might be enabled to comprehend with all saints the breadth and length and depth and height of God's love, declares nevertheless, that it "passeth knowledge."g

Connected with this consideration is a point, which has ever greatly interested Christians; viz. -the mutual recognition of the saints. "Shall we know each other in the heavenly state ?”—is a question frequently asked; though the Scripture testimony is so clear on this head, that a question on the subject from an intelligent believer is somewhat surprising. For St. Paul, in his first Epistle to the Thessalonians, gives us express instruction concerning them that sleep in Jesus, that we sorrow not, even as others which have no hope."-No hope of what? evidently, from the context, no hope of seeing them again. The heathen around them

[ocr errors]

were indeed without hope in this respect; and therefore, when they lost their relatives and friends, sorrowed immeasureably and without consolation. consolation. But to the saints the Apostle says, that if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, (thus returning again to be seen and known by his friends,) even 'so them also which believe in Jesus, will God bring with him." And then, explaining under what circumstances Christ will bring them with him, he adds, "Wherefore, comfort one another with these words."h But there would be no peculiar and suitable comfort in them to a person sorrowing under a bereavement, unless they teach, that there is to be a recognition of the person.*

[ocr errors]

But besides this, we have evidence in Scripture of a faculty, occasionally communicated to man, something like the gift of discerning spirits; which enabled its possessors not only to recognise those whom they had previously known in the flesh, however changed the fashion of the countenance, but also to identify individuals whom they never could have seen before. Of this there are many instances. Such a power was apparently communicated to Peter, James and John, when they saw Moses and Elijah in glory on the mount. They had never seen them previously, and therefore could not have known them personally; yet Peter evidently discerns them and mentions them by name. saints likewise, who rose again after the resurrection of Christ, and went into the holy city and appeared unto many,k must have been identified by those to whom they appeared,


* How very few, either of pious ministers or laymen, do really comfort the afflicted "with these words." Though the instruction is so plain and express, and the time of the saints' reappearance so much nearer, the generality do nevertheless view 1 Thess. iv, 13-18 as a dead letter, and prefer to offer consolation of human suggestion.

8 Ephes. iii, 18, 19. h 1 Thess. iv, 13-18. i Matt. xvii, 4. k Matt. xxvii, 53.

« AnteriorContinuar »