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nal judgments cannot be on satisfactory grounds believed, with. out an antecedent acknowledgment of the resurrection of the dead. For what justice is it, that the whole of blessedness or misery should fall on the soul only, where the body hath had a great share in the procurement of the one, or the other? or that, whereas both concur to the doing of good or evil, the soul only should be rewarded or punished ? especially considering what influence the body hath into all that is evil, how the satisfaction of the flesh is the great inducement to sin on the one hand ; and what it often undergoeth and suffereth for that which is good ? Shall we think that God gave bodies to the holy martyrs, only to endure inexpressible tortures and miseries to death for the sake of Christ, and then to perish for ever? And this manifesteth the great degeneracy into which the Jewish church had now fallen. For a great number of them had apostatized into the atheism of denying the resurrection of the dead. And so confident were they in their infidelity, that they would needs argue and dispute with our Saviour about it, by whom they were confounded; but after the manner of obstinate infidels, not converted, Mat. xxii. 23, 24, &c.
This was the principal heresy of the Sadducees, which drew along with it those other foolish opinions, of denying angels and spirits, or the subsistence of the souls of men in a separate condition, Acts xxiii. s. For they concluded well enough, that the continuance of the souls of men would answer no design of providence or justice, if their bodies were not raised again. And whereas God had now given the most illustrious testimony to this truth, in the resurrection of Christ himself, the Sadducees became the most inveterate enemies to him and opposers of him. For they not only acted against him, and those who professed to believe in him, from that infidelity which was common to them with most of their countrymen, but also because their peculiar heresy was everted and condemned thereby. And it is usual with men of corrupt minds, to prefer such peculiar errors above all other concerns of religion whatever, and to have their lusts in flamed by them into the utmost intemperance. They therefore were the first stirrers up and fiercest pursuers of the primitive persecutions, Acts iv. 1, 2. “ The Sadducees came upon the apostles, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead." The overthrow of their private heresy was that which enraged them, chap. v. 17, 18. “ Then the high priest rose up, and all that were with him, which is the sect of the Sadducees, and were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison.” And the Pharisees were put in. io a similar rage about their ceremonies, wherein they placed their especial interest and glory. And our apostle did wisely
make an advantage of this difference about the resurrection, between those two great sects, to divide them in their counseis and actings, who were before agreed on his destruction on the common account of his preaching Jesus Christ, Acts xxiii. 9.
This principle, therefore, both upon the account of its importance in itself, as also of the opposition made unto it among the Jews by the Sadducees, the apostle took care to settle and establish in the first place, as those truths are in an especial manner to be confirmed, which are at any time peculiarly opposed. And they had reason thus to do; for all they had to preach unto the world turned on this hinge, that Christ was raised from the dead, whereon our resurrection doth unavoid. ably follow, so as that they confessed, that without an eviction and acknowledgment hereof, all their preaching was in vain, and all their faith who believed therein, was so also, 1 Cor. xv.
This, therefore, was always one of the first princi. ples which our apostle insisted on in the preaching of the gospel; a signal instance whereof, we have in his discourse, at his first coming unto Athens. First, he reproves their sins and idolatries, declaring that God by him called them to repentance from tkose dead works. Then taught them faith in that God who so called them by Jesus Christ; confirming the necessity of both, by the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead. and ture judgment, Acts xvii. 16. 23, 24. 30, 31. He seems, therefore, here, directly and summarily to lay down those principles in the order in which he constantly preached them, in his first declaration of the gospel. And this was necessary to be spoken concerning the nature and neeessity of this principle.
Ardrratis sexgøy, the resurrection of the dead.' It is usual. ly expressed by evertaris, the resurrection only, Mark xii. 18. Luke xx. 27. 33. John xi. 24. Matt. xxii. 23. 28. For by this single expression, the whole was sufficiently known and apprehended. And so we commonly call it the resurrection, without any addition. Sometimes it is termed svartANS EX rexeges, Acts iv. 2. the “resurrection from the dead,' that is, the state of the dead. Our apostle hath a peculiar expression, chap. xi 35. ελαβον εξ αναστασίας τους νεκρους αυτων, “ they received their deal from the resurrection ;' that is, by virtue thereof, they being raised to life again. And sometimes it is distinguished with respect unto its consequents, in different persons, the good and the bad. The resurrection ot' the former is called AVULSTCOIS (ons, John v. 29. the resurrection of life;' that is, which is upto lite eternal, the means of entrance into it. This is called kvæotasis direiw, the resurrection of the just,' Luke xiv. 14. Ind so ona "on, the life of the dead,' or the resurrection of the dead,' was used to express the whole blessed estate which ensued thereon to believers.
" If by any means I might attain, es tro e caractuou two rexqwy, the resurrection of the dead," Phil. iii. 11. This is ux3.wois, a living again;' as it is said of the Lord Christ distinctly, arcta xat are noiv, Rom. xiv. 9. • he rose and lived again, or he arose to life.
With respect unto wicked men, it is called avartacis xpirews, the “ resurrection of judgment,' or unto judgment, John v. 29. Some shall be raised again to have judgment pronounced against them, to be sentenced unto punishment. “ Reserve the unjust against the day of judgment to be punished," 2 Pet. ii. 9. And both these are put together, Dan. xii. 2. “ And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth, shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
This truth being of so great importance, as that nothing in religion can subsist without it, the apostles very diligently confirmed it in the first churches. And for the same cause, it was early assaulted by Satan, denied and opposed by many. And this was done two ways. 1. By an open denial of any such thing, 1 Cor. xv. 12. “ How say some among you, that there is no resurrection of the dead ?" They wholly denied it, as a thing improbable and impossible, as is evident from the whole ensuing disputation of the apostle on that subject. 2. Others there were, who, not daring to oppose themselves directly unto a principle so generally received in the church, they would still allow the expression, but put an allegorical exposition upon it, wbereby they plainly overthrew the thing intended. They said, the “ resurrection was past already,” 2 Tim. ii. 18. It is geHerally thought that these men, Hymeneus and Philetus, placed the resurrection in conversion or reformation of life, as the Marcionites did afterwards. What some imagine about the Gnostics, is vain. And that the reviving of a new light in us, is the resurrection intended in the Scripture, some begin to mutter among ourselves. But, that as death is a separation or sejunction of the soul and the body, so that the resurrection is a re-union of them, in and unto life, the Scripture is too express for any one to deny, and not virtually to reject it wholly, And it may be observed, that our apostle in both these cases, doth not only condemn these errors as false, but declares positively, that their admission overthrows the faith, and renders the preaching of the gospel, vain and useless.
Now, this resurrection of the dead, is the restoration by the power of God, of the same numerical body which died, in all the essential and integral parts of it, rendering it, in a re-union of, or with the soul, immortal, or of an eternal duration in blessedness or misery. And,
Obs. IV. The doctrine of this resurrection is a fundamental principle of the gospel, the faith whereof, is indispensably necessary unto the obedience and consolation of all that profess it. I call it a principle of the gospel, not because it was absolutely first revealed therein. It was made known under the Old Testament, and was virtually included in the first promise. In the faith of it, the patriarchs lived and died, and it is testified unto, in the psalms and prophets. With respect hereunto did the ancients confess that they were strangers and pilgrims in this world, seeking another city and country, wherein they should live with God for ever; they desired and looked for a heavenly country, wherein their persons should dwell, Heb. xi. 16. And this was with relation to God's covenant with them, wherein, as it follows, God was “ not ashamed to be called their God." That is, their God in covenant, which relation could never be broken ; and therefore, our Saviour proves the resurrection from thence, because, if the dead rise not again, the covenant relation between God and his people, must cease, Matt. xxii. 31, 32. Hence, also did they take especial care about their dead bodies and their burial, not merely out of respect unto natural order and decency, but to express their faith of the resurrection. So our apostle says, that by faith, Joseph gave commandment concerning his bones," chap. xi. 12. And their disposal into a burying place is rehearsed by Stephen, as one fruit of their faith, Acts vii. 15, 16. Job gives testimony unto his faith herein, chap. xix. 25, 26. So doth David also, Psal. xvi. 9, 10. and in sundry other places. And Isaiah is express to the same purpose, chap. xxvi. 19. “ Thy dead shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise: awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” This God proposeth for the comfort of the prophet, and of all those who were either persecuted or slain in those days for righteousness sake. Their resurrection is both directly and emphatically expressed. And whereas, some would wrest the words, to signify no more but the deliverance and exaltation of those who were in great distress, yet they must acknowledge that it is expressed in allusion to the resurrection of the dead, which is, Therefore, asserted in the words, and was believed in the church. The same also is taught in Ezekiel's vision of the vivification of dry bones, chap. xxxvii. which, although it declared the restoration of Israel from their distressed condition, yet it did so, with allusion to the resurrection at the last day, without a supposition of the faith whereof, the vision had not been in structive. And many other testimonies to the same purpose, might be insisted on. I do not, therefore, reckon this a principle of the doctrine of the gospel, absolutely and exclusively unto the revelations of the Old Testament, but on three other reasons
1. Because it is most clearly, evidently and fully taught and declared therein. It was, as sundry other important truths, made known under the Old Testament, sparingly and obscurely. But life and immortality, with this great means of them both, were brought to light by tbe gospel, 2 Tim. i. 10. all things concerning them being made plain, clear and evident.
2. Because of that solemn confirmation and pledge of it which was given in the resurrection of Christ from the dead. This was wanting under the Old Testament, and therefore the faith of men might oft-times be greatly shaken about it. For whereas death seized on all men, and that penally in the execution of the sentence of the law, whence they were, for fear of it, obnoxious to bondage all their days, Heb. ii. 14, 15. they had not received any pledge or instance of a recovery from its power, or the taking off that sentence and penalty. But Christ dying for us, and that directly under the sentence and curse of the law, yet conquering both death and law, being raised again, the pains or bonds of death being loosed, hath given a full confirmation and absolute assurance of our resurrection. And thus it is said, that be brought life and immortality to light by abolishing of death, 2 Tim. i. 10. that is, the power of it, that it should not hold us for. ever under its dominion, 1 Cor. xv. 54-57.
3. Because it hath a peculiar influence into our obedience under the gospel. Under the Old Testament, the church had sundry motives unto obedience taken from temporal things, namely, prosperity and peace in the land of Canaan, with deli verance out of troubles and distresses. Promises hereof made unto them, the Scripture abounds withal, and thereon presseth them unto obedience, and diligence in the worship of God. But we are now left unto promises of invisible and eternal things, which cannot be fully enjoyed but by virtue of the resurrection from the dead. And therefore these promises are made unspeakably more clear and evident, as also the things promised unto us, than they were unto them, and so our motives and encouragements unto obedience, are unspeakably advanced above theirs. This may well therefore be esteemed as an especial principle of the doctrine of the gospel. And,
1. It is an animating principle of gospel obedience, because we are assured thereby that nothing we do therein shall be lost. In general, the apostle proposeth this as our great encouragement, that “God is not unrightevus to forget our work and labour of love," ver. 10. and shews us the especial way whereby it shall be remembered. Nothing is more fatal unto any endeavours, than an apprehension that men do in them spend their strength in vain, and their labour for nought. This makes the hands of men weak, their knees feeble, and their hearts