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age, who sunk in death. It was the selfsame individual who now blazed in all the lustre of talents, station and success, who strutted the envy and wonder of mankind, and who now moped and blinked in premature second childishness, the pity and scorn of the world. Explain to me wherein consisted the sameness which ran through all the successive changes of a short and transitory life of threescore years and ten, and you will teach yourself to conceive what it is that constitutes the identity of that which was sown“ a natural body," and which shall be raised "a spiritual body."
Instead of vainly attempting to account for the sameness, is it not rather the part of wisdom to contemplate, and endeavour to improve the difference of the one from the other, as it stands displayed in the person of Christ the firstfruits, on the hallowed page of inspiration! The temple of his body was both before and after his passion free from stain and blemish; but every other human frame has in it radical pollution and corruption. It is earthly, a mass of clay, taken from the earth, dependant upon it, chained down to it, and ready to be swallowed up of it again. It shall be heavenly, spiritual, impassive; endowed with the capacity of moving with the expedition of thought, the celestial vehicle of an immortal spirit adapted to the vigour and activity of that spirit, subservient to its will, on the wing at pleasure up to its native seat, with the velocity of lightning in the east, at the west, according as the command of the Most High, or the desire of surveying his ways and his works may determine the choice. Roused by that voice which awakens the dead, behold the human body arrayed in light; it attempts a region, it mingles with elements untried before ; it spurns the tomb, it mounts on high, it springs up" to meet the Lord in the air,” it mixes with angels, it checks the aspiring flight, and presents the first-fruits of eternal bliss before the throne, it joins with adoration, love and joy in the song of the Lamb: 6 Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests; worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing:" “ blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever."
It is now a vile body; composed of gross elements, subsisting on gross aliment, subjected to the same laws which govern the beasts that perish. It may be rendered loathsome by sloth, by infirmity, by disease, by vice, by death. The loveliest form is in one hour so altered, so disfigured, that we are obliged to turn from it with horror and aversion. Abraham must hasten to bury his Sarah out of his sight. Remove that transparent veil of skin which the hand of nature has so curiously spread over the sinews and the flesh, and what a frightful spectre instantly appears! Imagination shrinks from the hideous apparition. It shall rise a glorious body composed of the purer elements which fly upward, living on incorruptible food, a pellucid wall of fire through which every emotion of the soul is distinctly visible but which no sword of the adversary can penetrate, unsusceptible of wound, unsusceptible of depression, of weariness, of pain, of decay. In this world of wo the body has a glory not belonging to it, a glory that is its disgrace, its misery; the unnatural, ruinous glory of holding the immortal spirit in thraldom, of. leading its sovereign, captive at its will
, of bending the heaven-born mind to the ignominious drudgery of the flesh. In the world of bliss, the real order of nature shall be restored, the spirit shall resume its just empire, the body shall be invested with its proper glory, shall descend into its subordinate station; shall feel its highest gratification in becoming the ministering servant of intelligence, of rectitude, of benignity. That we may not seem all this while to have been retailing a fond man's
dream, we recur to the history of the wonderful changes which the bodies of some men have already undergone, and from which we may conclude what future changes, through the almighty power of God, the human frame is capable of undergoing. “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death: and was not found, because God hath translated him :" his body, without being resolved into its principles, without tasting death, was quickened into newness of life, and entered into the kingdom of heaven without passing through the grave. Moses subsisted for forty days together in the mount with God, and neither did eat nor drink. On his descent, the skin of his face shone, so as to dazzle the eyes of the beholder, and to render the interposition of a veil necessary. At the age of one hundred and twenty years, - bis eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.” After a lapse of fifteen centuries he revisited our earth in a glorious form, to do homage on the mount of transfiguration. Elijah undismayed mounts on fiery wheels to meet his God. His body, in an instant of time, acquires the power of resisting, of repelling the flame, or becomes assimilated to it, and burns unconsumed.
The three children of the captivity fall down bound in the midst of the burning fiery furnace, but arise and walk through the flames uninjured. Paul is “ caught up to the third heaven,” carried out of himself, transported into Paradise, and made to hear “ unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter."
But even those illustrious instances have no glory, by reason of the glory that excelleth.” The glory to be conferred on every believer's vile body is, that it “ shall be fashioned like unto his glorious body according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” Let us, therefore, take our ideas of the future “exceeding and eternal weight of glory,” from what we know it was in him. What must have been the majesty of his person, and the dignity of his deportment when he expelled the profaners of the temple, and they answered him never a word? With what energy and eloquence must he have expressed himself, when a multitude under the influence of violent prejudice against him, overcome by force of truth, exclaimed, “Never man spake like this man." Behold him in the midst of the sea ; the yielding waves become a pavement of adamant under his feet. He speaks the word, and the wind ceases to rage, and the tempest subsides into a calm. Moses endured, supported a fast of forty days and forty nights in communion with God; Jesus underwent a similar period of abstinence in the wilderness, being tempted of the devil. Mark that band of ruffians, assembled to apprehend him in the garden : they are lost to decency, lost to shame; they are ready to rush upon their prey: He arrays himself in mildness, he simply demands, “Whom seek ye?" They instantly feel how awful goodness is, they shrink from the lustre of his eye. When with native, irresistible majesty he meets the inquiry, “I am he,” they went backward, and fell to the ground:
Such was the glory of that sacred body while as yet it had not invested itself with immortality ; while as yet it was liable to pain, and sorrow, and death. But he displayed an anticipated view, even in a state of humiliation, of that splendour which he could assume and lay down at pleasure. On Tabor his whole form was altered; "his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.” This however was to undergo an eclipse. The scripture must be fulfilled which saith, “ His visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.” But after the resurrection from the dead, this occasional and transient glory, became permapent and immutable. Behold, he bursts asunder the bars of the grave. On the third day he raises up again the temple which the hands of wicked men had destroyed. Earth and heaven feel and acknowledge a present Deity.
The sons of light descend from their thrones to announce his revival, to minister at his feet. The solid globe is thrown into convulsions.
" There was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.” Early in the morn. ing of the first day, he appears unto Mary, but “ her eyes were holden that she should not know him ;" she supposes him to be the gardener, and in the bitterness of her soul exclaims: “Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away." In the twinkling of an eye, his voice, his appearance changes, and as his lips pronounce, in their well-known accent, the name of Mary, he stands confessed to the astonished mourner as her Lord and her God.
At a more advanced period of that same day, we behold him on the road which leadeth from Jerusalem to Emmaus, on which he found two of his disciples, "talking together of all these things which had happened." He joins himself to them, as they walked on their way in sadness. He enters into conversation with them; he expounds to them the Scriptures concerning himself. They are deeply affected, they are edified, their hearts burn within them, as he talks with them by the way, and while he opens to them the Scriptures. But all the while his body is concealed under a veil through which their eyes cannot pierce. In a moment the veil is withdrawn, as he blesses the bread, breaks it, and gives it to them; they recognize their much-lamented, greatly-beloved Master, he has resumed his form, and in an instant disappears: Their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of iheir sight.
In the evening of that same memorable first day of the week, the eleven and their companions being assembled to worship, and the doors carefully shut for fear of the Jews, lo, he is in the midst of them speaking and dispensing peace. And yet it is the same body which was crucified. It bears the print of the nails which pierced his hands and his feet. His side presents the scar of the wound inflicted by the soldier's spear. But that celestial body is no longer subject to the laws of matter. Walls of stone can neither exclude nor confine a spiritual substance. Gates and bars have no power of coercion, they are passed without being opened. Behold the first-fruits of them that sleep. Behold the proof, the pledge, the model of the resurrection from the dead. Behold the glory which awaits all the redeemed of the Lord, in that day when he taketh up his jewels.
Let us take one glimpse more of the Saviour's glorified body. See, he leads out his wondering, delighted train as far as to Bethany, “ seen of above five hundred brethren at once;" he lifts up his hands and blesses them;" and it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.” Into this blessed image, Believer in Christ Jesus, thou art going to be transformed. That feeble body which sometimes can with difficulty creep to the house of prayer, to a communion table, “shall mount up with wings as eagles,” shall behold the stars under its feet, shall range through unbounded space, shall ascend into the heaven of heavens, shall associate with the Cherubim and with the Seraphim, with the bodies and spirits of just men made perfect, “shall with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, be changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord.” Such, Christian, is the end of thy faith, the salvation of the soul, the redemption of the body from the grave. Such is the fruit of the love of God, the effect of Christ's death, the operation of the Holy Spirit. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him ; for we shall see him as he is."
The apostle suggests another very interesting idea on the subject of the resurrection. The children of the resurrection shall all be glorious, but the glory of all is not the same: for as in the natural world,“ there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds ;" as there are bodies celestial and bodies terrestrial, each invested with its peculiar and appropriate glory and excellency, as "there is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead.” Next to the uniformity and regularity which pervade the system of the universe, the diversity and variety of the productions of nature, and of the ways of Providence claim our attention and excite our admiration. To this diversity the field and the forest, the fragrant earth and the starry heavens are indebted for all their beauty. Hence the brute creation derives utility and importance, and human society its being and comfort. Under the addition of another orb similar to that which illumines and animates the world, nature would be oppressed, and mourn, and expire. Withdraw that single little moon, that speck in creation, that mere attendant minister on our globe, and what a blank is left in the system, what myriads are rendered comfortless, how the harmony is destroyed Countless as various are the stars in the firmament; but the subtraction, the transposition, the accelerated or retarded motion of one of the least of them would unhinge the general frame, unsettle the balance, and introduce confusion. But arranged as they are, counterpoised, sustained by the arm of Omnipotence, every one lends its portion of strength, beauty and stability to the whole. Each orb reflects lustre on its opposite ; an harmonious discord becomes productive of perfect union; every thing differs, and yet every thing agrees. In the present imperfect state of the moral world, we must not look for the harmonious variety which reigns in the kingdom of nature. Society presents not only variety of rank, of talents, of possessions, but differences of opinion, oppositions of interest, the fermentation of passions. Offences will come, peace must be disturbed, blood must flow. But in the resurrection of the dead the harmonies of grace shall correspond to those of nature, for universal nature shall be under the dominion of love. “Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word ; that - he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish.” From what has been said, let us,
1. Bless God for the clear light in which this all-important doctrine is placed. The evidence of it pours into the eye, rushes into the heart every step we take. As often as we walk out into the corn-field, we have the image of death and of the resurrection of the dead. The husbandman cast in the seed that it might die, that it might see corruption. The sight of the springing grain assures us that he sowed in hope, and that his hope maketh him not ashamed. “So also is the resurrection of the dead.” Every time the epicure sits down to a feast, he has in the dainties of his table a representation of the varieties which the day of the renovation of all things shall display. Every time that the contemplative man “considers the heavens, the work of God's fingers, the moon and the stars which he hath ordained,” he perceives an image of the future glory of the redeemed. “As one star differeth from another star in glory, so also is the resurrection of the dead.” The weariness and wasting of the bodily vigour throws the human frame night by night into the semblance of death; the freshness of the dawn restores it to newness of life; "so also is the resurrection of the dead," " them that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him," “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead ?" Was not that stately oak once a dry acorn? Was not that gorgeous bird of a thousand radiant colours enclosed
in a putrid shell ? Did not that wonder of every eye, of every ear, once crawl a poor helpless reptile ? How grievously do nien err, “not knowing the Scriptures and the power of God.”
2. The doctrine has a happy tendency to reconcile the mind to the prospect of our own dissolution. The body, the object of so much anxiety and attention, is after all but a flimsy garment, of feeble texture, and of perishable materials. And is it indeed such a mortification to lay down an old, rusty, galling armour, and go to rest at ease, when the labours and dangers of a hard warfare are at an end? Is it so very humiliating to part with worn out raiment, with filthy rags, to exchange them for robes of immortality? This is the prospect which the resurrection opens to the Christian's hope. This is the change which passed upon Joshua the high-priest in prophetic vision, the emblem of final deliverance, of unfading glory. “ Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. And I said, let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by.” These are words which deserve to be written, to be printed in a book, to be graven with an iron pen and lead, in the rock for ever: "I know that iny redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me."
3. “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” You have been called, it may be, to bury out of your sight what was once youth and beauty, talents and virtue, wisdom and piety. But these were, on earth, necessarily blended with weakness and imperfection. That weakness and imperfection remain in the grave, never to rise again. What are the transient youth and fading beauty of this world? What are the talents and the virtues of the wisest and the best of men, compared to the celestial radiance, the immortal vigour, the unsullied purity, the sublime wisdom of beings shining in their Redeemer's likeness ! Were it in your power, could you find in your heart, to bring back a beloved child, a friend dear to you as your own soul, to a state of depression, and pain, and sorrow? No, the bitterness of death is past. The last enemy hath done his worst. They were first ready; They have reached home before us. Therefore,
4. “Be ye not slothful, but followers of them who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises.” Be constantly aiming at higher degrees of moral and intellectual excellence ; at those qualities which, though of little estimation in the eyes of men, are in the sight of God of great price, and constitute the glory of the kingdom of heaven. Be silently, unostentatiously adding, “ with all diligence, to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness, and to godliness, brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness, charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things :"
Seeing that in the resurrection, those“ who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,-and they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever.”