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separation of the soul and body by death, and the subsequent dissolution of the component parts of the body are branches of natural evil, which must perish when moral evil is done away; we are furnished with all the evidence which the subject itself seems capable of admitting, that the bodies of all the righteous shall come forth in a glorious resurrection.
That the arguments adduced in this section, are partial in their application, I am well aware. They have been advanced in favour of the resurrection of the righteous only; and if their validity in this partial application be admitted, I ask for nothing more. The righteous and the wicked comprehend the whole of the human race.
In proof that the bodies of the unrighteous shall rise again, some arguments will be adduced hereafter, from that immutable justice which is inseparable from God. It is of no inconsiderable importance in the present stage of my discussion, for us to know, that moral evil and natural evil, are so intimately connected together, that when the former is done away, the latter must expire; and that from hence the reverse may with justice be inferred.
Natural evil may, in the progress of its continuance, be changed in the modes of its application, and existence; but, as it is naturally dependent upon moral evil for its being, we may rest assured, that while moral evil continues in existence, natural evil, in some or other of its modes, must continue undestroyed.
But, in the righteous, all natural evil must be yvercome, before they can inherit the kingdom pre.
pared for them before the foundation of the world. Nevertheless, for the accomplishment of these vast and all-important realities, we must direct our views to that eventful æra, when death shall be for ever slain, or swallowed up in eternal victory. Then, when natural evil shall be removed, when dissolution shall be destroyed, and the will of man shall be lost in the will of God; the bodies of all his saints shall come forth in glory and immortality, and every vestige of human degradation shall be for ever done away.
Arguments tending to prove, that the Annihila
tion of moral Evil, can only be effected by a Vicarious Sacrifice
It has been observed in the preceding section, that no effect can either commence existence, or continue it when begun, without a cause. And that this cause, to which any effect is justly ascribed, , must be adequate to the production of it, may be reasonably esteemed as first principles of philosophy, I presume no one will dispute. To deny either of these points, will involve us in absurdities and contradictions, which it is useless to name.
The arguments which have hitherto been advanced in favour of the resurrection, have been chiefly founded upon the annihilation of death; and the annihilation of death has been inferred from the presumed annihilation of moral evil. But, as the cause through which moral evil can alone be destroyed, has been hitherto unexplored ; even the conclusions which we have drawn will be found inconclusive and abortive, and all our former reasonings must fall to the ground, unless we can be satisfied of this primary foundation, namely, that moral evil shall be actually done away.
The various branches of evidence which conspire to establish the resurrection of the human body, have a mutual dependence upon one another; and such is the nature of this dependence, that if only one link be broken, the whole chain inust be destroyed. But, how closely soever the various parts, which constitute the general chain of argumentation, may adhere together; there must be some permanent rock to which the first link must be united. It is on the stability of this rock that the permanency of the connective links must depend, to reach those remote conclusions which result from this harmony of parts; and which, I have presumed in the case before us, to issue in the final resurrection of the human body from the dead.
That moral evil does exist, is a fact too obvious to require any proof; and that it could not have existed in the primeval state of things, is a necessary consequence which results from the nature and attributes of God. And certain it is, in order to the attainment of true felicity, that moral evil must be done away from man.
The destruction of moral evil, is however, a point which has rather been assumed than proved; and it has been assumed, from the state of heaven,
and the nature of those rewards which await the righteous in a future state of being. But, how the destruction of moral evil is to be effected, reinains vet to be considered ; and the great question now before us is, To what cause can we attribute an effect so important? On this cause must depend the happiness which awaits inankind beyond the grave; and upon this cause must ultip mately depend many of the principal proofs which we can adduce in favour of the resurrection of the body from the grave. It is a question, in which the Christian and the unbeliever are alike interested ; and which involves difficulties which Christianity alone can solve, and solve only by admitting the vicarious sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
That man in a state of innocency must have been entitled to the protection of God, cannot with any pretence of justice be denied: because the reverse will involve the conduct of God in absurdities and contradictions. And it is equally certain, that when moral evil entered into the world and took possession of the human heart; the relative situation of man to God, must have been considerably changed. The justice which was before engaged in this protection and preservation, now enforced a claim of an opposite nature and demanded that satisfaction which culprits are obliged to make to a violated law.
Under these circumstances, all hopes of future felicity must have abandoned the human bosom; and man must have been placed at an infinite distance from its possession, unless his hopes had been founded upon some principle distinct from that inexorable justice, to which he had forfeited both his freedom and his life. For, since the utmost of his exertions could only have been available for the pre sent moment, in his primeval state; it is absurd to suppose, that in his lapsed condition, he could have acquired any additional qualifications, or new powers to exert in the cause of virtue. Were we to adipit this, we should be driven to this strange conclusion, that man, immediately after the introduction of moral evil, was a lapsed being and not a lapsed being at the same time. But, as such contradiction never can be admitted, it plainly follows that all human claims to protection were forfeited to divine justice; the relative situation of man as to his maker must therefore have undergone a considerable change.
If, however, on the contrary, while we admit the existence of moral evil; we suppose that the relative situation of man was not changed by its introduction; we reduce moral evil to a nonentity. And, from admitting its existence, while we exclude that change in man, which is essential to its being, and by which its existence can be known; we are forced to suppose that moral evil exists and does not exist at the same time. And, as all those principles which involve contradictions must necessarily be false ; it plainly follows that the relative situation of man must have been considerably changed by the introduction of moral evil into the world, since the reverse includes a contradiction. And, as his lapsed state could not possibly have conferred upon him any new powers of exertion in the