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ON THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD.
WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1732.
1 CORINTHIANS XV. 35.
"But some Man will say, How are the Dead raised up? and with what Body do they come ?"
THE Apostle having, in the beginning of this chapter, firmly settled the truth of our Saviour's Resurrection, adds, "Now, if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you, that there is no resurrection of the dead?" It cannot now any longer seem impossible to you that God should raise the dead, since you have so plain an example of it in our Lord, who was dead and is alive, and the same power which raised Christ, must also be able to quicken our mortal bodies.
"But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?" How can these things be? How is it possible that these bodies should be raised again, and joined to their several souls, which many thousands of years ago were either buried in the earth, or swallowed up in the sea, or devoured by fire ?—which have mouldered into the finest dust,-that dust scattered over the face of the earth, dispersed as far as the heavens are wide;-nay, which has undergone ten thousand changes, has fattened the earth, become the food of other creatures, and these again the food of other men? How is it possible
that all these little parts, which made up the body of Abraham, should be again ranged together, and unmixed with the dust of other bodies, be all placed in the same order and posture that they were before, so as to make up the very self-same body, which his soul at his death forsook? Ezekiel was indeed in a vision, set down in a valley full of dry bones, "and he heard a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone; the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them above, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet." This might be in a vision. But that all this, and much more, should in time come to pass; that our bones after they are crumbled into dust, should really become living men ;-that all the little parts whereof our bodies were made, should immediately, at a general summons, meet again, and every one challenge and possess its own place, till at last the whole be perfectly rebuilt;-that this, I say, should be done,-is so incredible a thing, that we cannot so much as have any notion of it. And we may observe, that the Gentiles were most displeased with this article of the Christian faith: it was one of the last things the Heathens believed; and it is to this day the chief objection to Christianity, "How are the dead raised up? With what body do they come?" In my discourse on these words, I shall do three things:
I. I shall show, that the Resurrection of the self-same Body that died and was buried, contains nothing in it incredible, or impossible.
II. I shall describe the difference which our Saviour makes between the qualities of a glorified, and a mortal body.
III. I shall draw some inferences from the whole.
I. I shall show, That the Resurrection of the self-same Body that died, contains nothing in it incredible, or impossible.
But before I do this, it may be proper to mention some of the reasons upon which this article of our faith is built.
And 1. The plain notion of a resurrection, requires that the self-same body that died should rise again. Nothing can be said to be raised again, but that very body that died. If God give to our souls at the last day a new body, this cannot be called the resurrection of our body, because that word plainly implies the fresh production of what was before.
2. There are many places of Scripture that plainly declare it. St. Paul, in the 53d verse of this chapter, tells us, that "this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." Now by this mortal, and this corruptible, can only be meant, that body which we now carry about with us, and shall one day lay down in the dust.
The mention which the Scripture makes of the places where the dead shall rise, further shews, that the same body which died shall rise. Thus we read in Daniel, "Those that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." And, we may likewise observe, that the very phrase-of sleep and awake, implies, that when we rise again from the dead, our bodies will be as much the same as they are when we awake from sleep. Thus again our Lord affirms, John v. 28, "The hour is coming in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation." Now if the same body do not rise again, what need is there of opening the graves at the end of the world? The graves can give up no bodies, but those which were laid in them. If we were not to rise with the very same bodies that died, then they might rest for ever. To this we need only add that of St. Paul, "The Lord shall change this vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body." Now this vile body, can be no other than that with which we are now clothed, which must be restored to life again..
That in all this, there is nothing incredible or impos
sible, I shall shew, by proving these three things. 1. That it is possible for God to keep and preserve unmixed, from all other bodies, the particular dust into which our several bodies are dissolved, and can gather and join it again, how far soever dispersed asunder. 2. That God can form that dust so gathered together, into the same body it was before. 3. That when he hath formed this body, he can enliven it with the same soul that before inhabited it.
1. God can distinguish and keep unmixed from all other bodies, the particular dust into which our several bodies are dissolved, and can gather it together and join it again, how far soever dispersed asunder. God is infinite both in knowledge and power. He knoweth the number of the stars, and calleth them all by their names: he can tell the number of the sands on the sea shore: and is it at all incredible, that he should distinctly know the several particles of dust into which the bodies of men are mouldered, and plainly discern to whom they belong, and the various changes they have undergone? Why should it be thought strange, that he, who at the first formed us, whose eyes saw our substance yet being imperfect, from whom we were not hid when we were made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth, should know every part of our bodies, and every particle of dust whereof we were composed? The artist knows every part of the watch which he frames, and if it should fall in pieces, and the various parts of it lie in the greatest disorder and confusion, yet he can soon gather them together, and as easily distinguish one from another as if every one had its particular mark. He knows the use of each, and can readily give it its proper place, and put them all exactly in the same figure and order they were before. And can we think that the Almighty Builder of the World, whose workmanship we are, does not know whereof we are made, or is not acquainted with the several parts of which this earthly tabernacle is composed? All these lay in one vast heap at the creation, till he separated them one from another, and framed them into those distinct bodies, whereof this beau
tiful world consists. And why may not the same Power collect the ruins of our corrupted bodies, and restore them to their former condition? All the parts into which men's bodies are dissolved, however they seem to us carelessly scattered over the face of the earth, are yet carefully laid up by God's wise disposal till the day of the restoration of all things. They are preserved in the waters and fires, in the birds and beasts, till the last trumpet shall summon them to their former habitation.
But, say they, "It may sometimes happen that several men's bodies may consist of the self same matter. For the bodies of men are often devoured by other animals, which are eaten by other men. Nay, there are nations which feed upon human flesh, consequently they borrow a great part of their bodies from other men. And if that which was part of one man's body, becomes afterwards part of another man's, how can both rise at the last day with the same bodies they had before?" To this it may easily be replied, That a very small part of what is eaten turns to nourishment, the far greater part goes away according to the order of nature. So that it is not at all impossible for God, who watches over and governs all this, so to order things, that what is part of one man's body, though eaten by another, `shall never turn to his nourishment, or if it does, that it shall wear off again, and some time before his death be separated from him, so that it may remain in a capacity of being restored at the last day to its former owner.
2. God can form this dust, so gathered together, into the same body it was before. And that it is possible all must own, who believe that God made Adam out of the dust of the earth. Therefore the bodies of men being dust after death, it is no other than it was before; and the same power that at the first made it of dust, may as easily re-make it, when it is turned into dust again. Nay, it is no more wonderful, than the forming a human body in the womb, which is a thing we have daily experience of, and is doubtless as strange an instance of divine power as the resurrection of it can possibly be. And were it not so