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1, As Protestants, whatever opinion they may have of their own infallibility, do not acknowledge any writing for Authority in matters of faith beside that of the Old and New Testament, we may see herein the limits of our inquiry on this head. It has been questioned by some whether there was any positive authority for expecting a general resurrection to be found in the Old Testament; as many in our Saviour's time who professed to receive that authority did not however receive the doctrine of the resurrection, to wit,“ the Sadducees which say, that there is no resurrection :” (Matt. xxii. 23 :) but there are those also, and many of them, I fear, who admit the authority of the New Testament as well as of the Old, and yet do not seem to pay any more deference than the ancient Sadducees, their predecessors, did to either in this respect. Wherefore the evidence must be judged by the letter, and not by its acceptance in either case. It may be replied by these partial acquiescents in the authority of divine revelation, that they believe what they read, and are not obliged to read with other men's eyes : which is very certain. But let them read carefully, and judge impartially for themselves—let them search the Scriptures, as our Saviour says; and come to him, that they might have eternal life, (John v. 39, &c.) and they shall find authorities enough for the doctrine in both parts, that is to say in both the Old and New Testament: as for example,
-1, In the Old: where, besides authorities already mentioned, we have one recurring continually in the repeated promise of life to the righteous in contradistinction or preference to the wicked: which could not be meant of the present life for several reasons; 1, because we see it is not,—the worst sort of men living here generally as long as the best, and naturally longer; 2, because we hope it is not,-since, as St. Paul says, “if our only hope was in this life, we should be of all men most miserable ;" and that is not likely ; 3, because there are none absolutely righteous here upon earth to claim the promise: "but they are all
gone out of the way, they are altogether become abominable, there is none that doeth good-no, not one;" (Ps. xiv. 4;) therefore it can only relate to the evangelical blessing of life for imputed righteousness; which we shall enjoy hereafter with Christ, and purely for his sake.'
Literally taken, the promises and encouragements of the Old Testament relate chiefly to the present life, and in this instance as much as in any; but spiritually taken), and iii the only way in which they can be taken or reconciled, they will seem to regard futurity ; serving in this respect like an index to the promises of the New Testament, as these to them like a comment. Thus it is said in the Psalms, “ The kivg shall rejoice in thy strength, O Lord ; exceeding glad shall he be of thy salvation-He asked life of thee; and thou gavest him a long life, even FOR EVER AND EVER:” (Ps. xxi. 1, 4 :) also in Ezekiel, “ When the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.” (Ezek. xviii. 27.) And inany promises of mere longevity in appearance will not serve to explain away authorities like these only, to go no farther. Add to which ; the First-risen himself has also cited the Old Testament in favour of the doctrine of the resurrec. tion : which must be deemed a sufficient proof of its asser* tion there by all at least who regard the authority of the New: as for example, according to a passage of St. Luke ; where in reply to the Sadducees above mentioned denying that doctrine, he cites the authority of Moses ; " when he calleth the Lord-the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, aud the God of Jacob. For he is not the God of the dead, but of the living :” (Luke xx. 37,38:) a reply which the Sadducees who were present, though they were no friends to him, any more than to the doctrine, could not but approve.
But the most decided authority for this doctrine in the Old Testament is the First-risen's own predicted resurrecVOL. II.
tion in different passages; as in that of Job, “I know that MY Redeemer liveth,” (Job xix. 25,) — the Psalmist's, "Thou shalt not suffer THY HOLY ONE lo see corruption," (Ps. xvi. 11,) – Isaiah's, “ Thy dead men shall live, together with MY DEAD BODY shall they arise;" (Isai. xxvi. 19 ;) alluding to the partial resurrection of“ many bodies of the saints" with which his was accompanied; (Matt. xxvii. 52, 53;) and others that might be gleaned to the end of the prophets, only on this case ; not to mention more general predictions of the same event, or predictions of its general occurrence; as that of the ungodly not being able to stand in the judgment, neither the sinners in the congregation of the righteous,” (Ps. i. 6,)-of the dissolution of the earth, and the host of the high ones including even kings, being “ gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit”-shut up in the prison, and visited after
many days: “ Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously:" (Isai. xxiv. 20, &c. :) which I only mention for a specimen or sample of such prophecies.
- 2, As to the authorities for the doctrine of the Resurrection in the New Testament, they are so many and obvious as hardly to need a quotation; yet I am loath to omit one of them, which is the authentic record of the single resurrection before mentioned occurring as it was predicted, and adding in itself at the same time another authority to the former volume. For what greater evidence might we require that God would raise the dead by his Spirit in Christ than a credible record that God did so raise him? as Paul observed to the Athenians, “Whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, (said he,) in that he hath raised him from the dead." (Acts xvii. 31.) Therefore, admitting this particular resurrection to be only a sample or first fruits, as it is stated,- the evidences of this must likewise by inference become so many evidences of others to
follow. I shall not now repeat some of them which I have had occasion to notice before now*; but observe that they present such a body upon the whole as might be enough to cou found almost the very old spirit of scepticism himself: him I mean, who raised the first doubt of future con. tingencies. (Gen. iii. 1, &c.) Let us now consider
2, The proper authorities for a general resurrection accruing from Reason and Inference in other words, the reasons and inferences for a general resurrection, and not for one only as in the forecited example. Now the way that reason or inference advances its authority in behalf of any fact not admitting of an immediate demonstration is gradual; shewing 1, the Possibility ; 2, the Probability of the same : which two particulars it may be well to consider and examine in succession : and first
-1, With regard to the Possibility of a general resurrection ; shewing how it may be ; as Nicodemus asked our Saviour, “ How can these things be?” (John iii. 9.) Here is a creature (meaning man) that was originally taken from the earth and has now the privilege of moving on its surface for a time which cannot be lengthened, and subject to certain restrictions which all the world cannot remove. It can neither soar in the air like some, nor exist like others in the deep; but must be content to move on the surface of the earth as long as it has any motion, and to be fed with it too, as the young pelicans are sometimes with their mother's blood. His primogenitor was produced from the earth by a scintillation of divine love, in form and consti. tution agreeing with the divine image, pattern, or conception by which he was produced. (Gen. i. 27.) His next ancestor was born, not of God, but“ of the will of man, and of the will of the flesh;" being the fruit of rebellion, an evil seed conceived in an evil hour at the expense of his father's immortality, and after the heavenly spark was flown, and his parents were spiritually dead. Such was the second original of this dependent, short-lived crea* In Kingdom Sermons, Ist series.
ture: and such were all that have come between us and him,-the offspring all of sin and mortality. Of such a stock what can be expected, but a poor sinful ephemeron? He only comes into the world, to flutter awhile and depart. He feeds on the fruits of the earth, or on those whom they feed: and is in fact earth-fed, however it may be ; that is, however daintily, or however sparingly. Having an appetite for almost every thing, he draws his food from far and near: the earth, the air, the water are taxed for his subsistence: and there is hardly a corner of the globe that does not contribute something at almost every distance to the stomach of this voluptuous creature : the same passing from the stomach into the blood, the bones, and the marrow which it replenishes and recruits : in short the bulk of the creature is formed or stuffed with it-with particles sent from all quarters; which it arranges and assimilates, as an insect its shell or covering, but more closely, by the plastic or animal impulse received at its birth.
But this impulse has its bounds, like every thing in pature. It is communicable to a certain number of succes. sions settled by the Creator, and extends to a certain point in each succession, contracting perhaps as the impulse descends from one generation to another: but beyond that settled point it cannot extend. Then the creature goes back; his plumpness is changed into wrinkles, his bones become hollow, his juices dry up; the process of life is now soon at an end: in a few years after the multifarious particles of which this highly compounded creature was made up shall be scattered even wider than they were before: and who is he that shall bring them together again? For that must needs be done, before the identity of the body can be reestablished, or animation restored, and the thinking substance reunited to the material ; without which there is no resurrection of the dead. It will be further said the case of a seed dying in succession, or as we may say in reproduction, like a woman in childbirth, is no parallel for this case : here is a total destruction and disso