« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
mortal put on immortality ? Can the silver cord, once untwisted, be joined again? Can the golden bowl, once broken and its contents spilled, be repaired? Can the vessel of frail human clay, once shattered in death, be ever again made whole? If a man die, shall he live again ?
Now, brethren, to this sad searching of our human hearts — for who is there to whom the inquiry of the Patriarch has not suggested itself?
- I purpose to offer the best answer that I can today. I trust it may be for our profit, and for our comfort, to have placed before us the grounds on which, in common with the Church of Christ throughout the world, we rise above all doubt on this most momentous question, and hold, as did our forefathers, the great tenet of a future life after death,- of a resurrection both of the just and of the unjust.
And, first, we maintain that the resurrection is not impossible. For can anything be too hard for Him who made us ? Why, said St. Paul, pleading before King Agrippa,— Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead? And still we ask of any scepticWhy? Is not God Almighty? Cannot He who called this world and all the things on it into existence out of nothing-cannot He remake man, yea, out of his dust ? Surely, He who said,
Let there be light, and there was light, has but to speak the word,— has but to say, Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust! and He must be obeyed. He has but to bid the dry bones live, and lo! the prophet's vision is fulfilled. Behold, a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone . . . the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them. and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army!
All objection then to the rising of the dead, on the score of its impossibility, may be set aside. Granted that we are not here by chance, that the great God made us, and not we ourselves; that He sustains us, and keeps us alive; that in Him we live, and move, and have our being,—and we must also grant that He can save us from annihilation,- can restore us to life, can continue to us, or renew our being.
But, in the second place, we may contend that this is to be expected — that it is in keeping with the instinct implanted in us by our Maker. How comes it that man, wherever he is found, both before, and since the birth of Jesus Christ, has a yearning after immortality? Why has he those thoughts that wander through eternity, except it be that he is destined to survive the grave—that his present life is only one part of his mysterious being?
And then, consider this - the place man holds here on earth amongst God's creatures. He alone is a responsible creature. He alone has reason and conscience. And because he has these to guide him and control him, he is subject to reward and punishment.
But reward and punishment, as we all know, are not always meted out according to a man's doings at present. There are many persons guilty of great wickedness, who come into no condemnation in this world, who go on to the end of their days unvisited by any visible punishment. And, on the other hand, there are many whose life on earth is one long day of misery; who have nothing here but evil things,-sorrow, loss, suffering, misrepresentation, persecution, for no fault or offence of theirs — who endure grief suffering wrongfully.
And while such is the case, does it not seem a denial of God's justice to say that this life is all ? Surely our own sense of right and wrong, given us by our Creator, had we no better warrant, would teach'us to expect that there will be a life beyond the present,-a resurrection of the dead; were it but for this end, to justify the ways of God with man that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad !
But once more. To pass from what is possible, and probable, to the firm ground of certain truth, we maintain that, though a man die, he shall live again, because we have God's word of promise for it; and this not in one place, but in many places in the Bible.
Thus, to recall some of the most striking, I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the carth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. (Job, xix, 25, &c.) And not less clear is this out of Daniel, Many of them that sleep in the dust shall awake : some to everlasting life, and some to shame and contempt: while, if we turn to the New Testament, we find the same great truth yet more prominent. The resurrection of man is repeatedly asserted by our Lord and His Apostles. They appeal to it, as to a doctrine commonly received among the Jews. The one class who denied it,— the Sadducees, on a notable occasion, argued the matter with our Lord, and were signally defeated. Jesus showed them by their own acknowledged scriptures that they were wrong. He proved to them out of those scriptures, as touching the dead, that they rise,—that God is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living !
We have then some good ground for our belief in a resurrection. We have the word of God, Who cannot lie nor deceive, to assure us of
it. But more than all, to make us doubly sure, to enable us perfectly and without all doubt to believe, to put the truth beyond all reach of cavil, we have the resurrection of God's own Son, Jesus Christ, for our Example. He both died and was buried, and rose again. He went down into the grave, and the pit shut her mouth upon Him, and He came out of it alive!
This is that which gives us the victory over our doubts and fears. This is the rock, on which we build our hope of rising again. As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive. Christ the firstfruits ; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming. Because He liveth we shall live also!
Such, brethren, are some of the chief grounds on which we are emboldened to make answer to the anxious question,—If a man die, shall he live again? We maintain that he shall. We maintain, nay, we feel sure, that death is not the end of life—that though our frail bodies crumble to the dust, we shall live again,- a life subject to no second death, a life everlasting !
I do not purpose to enter now into that other question, akin to the one before us,- How are the
lead raised up, and with what body do they come ? Besides, it is fully met by St. Paul in that celebrated passage in which it occurs,— Thou fool,