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hear his voice.” If we read these words literally we must believe that the entire man, body and soul, is in the grave, which is more than can be claimed by any. The very absurdity drives us to another conception, — that of Christ's assertion of his power over both worlds, the living and the dead.
Again Christ said repeatedly: “I will raise him up at the last day,” but we must not read these words as an endorsement of a far-off resurrection but rather as a pledge of help to the end, and of final victory. He adopted a current phrase because any other would have diverted the mind from the main thought.
Christ's own resurrection yields a proof of the immediate resurrection of all. He was the Son of Man, and as He fulfilled all the righteousness of humanity, so He illustrated the life of humanity. He lived and died as a man, He rose and ascended into heaven as a man. Why should we assert a part of this and not the whole ? Why die as a man, but rise as God? We have no authority for drawing such a line of demarcation between these two phases of his career. Instead, the whole significance of his relation to humanity demands that no such line shall be drawn. He would not be the Son of man, nor the Saviour of mankind, if his resurrection had been immediate, and mankind's were to be delayed for ages. To every believer who closes his eyes in death trusting in Him, He says “To-day thou shalt be with me.”
We cannot enter upon a full examination of St. Paul's great chapter on the subject, but will only say, read it, with the points already discussed in view, and you will find verse after verse ranging itself naturally under them. “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” “If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body,” — one succeeding the other. We have borne the image of the earthly, we shall bear the image of the heavenly; but there is no hint that countless ages intervene between them. The whole drift of the triumphant words is towards an immediate exchange of one image for the other. There are words in this chapter that are hard to understand. It is not easy to get a clear conception of what St. Paul means when he says: “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” There is often an element of futurity in his references to the resurrection seemingly at variance with other references. But St. Paul used all his great words — faith, justification, death, resurrection — in different senses. Thus he says: “If ye then be risen with Christ,” - meaning a spiritual resurrection already accomplished. But the great fifteenth chapter is aimed directly at those who held this view of it; the difference being that St. Paul held both views, and his opponents but one. Doubtless in some sense the resurrection will be future and far off, and perhaps simultaneous for all, but it will not be the resurrection from the dead. The death of man, and his assumption of a spiritual body, is not the whole of the resurrection. It stands for “the finished condition of humanity,” and its final presentation to God as the work of Christ. “ What mysteries lie beyond the mark” of death we know not. St. Paul may have had glimpses that he could not wholly express. But when he said that he was willing to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord ; and that he desired to depart and to be with Christ, he had no thought of a resurrection that would put a moment between the death of his body and his presence with the Lord.
And this may be our faith. Having life in its abundance, there is no break in its current at death ; there is no waste of even endless ages. If joined to the divine Life, every change must be to more life. If one with Christ, how can it be that we shall not share his destiny, and go from world to world in his company? Because we are one with the Life, death has no more any dominion over us. With such hopes let us await our time of departure. With such hopes let us lay our dead in the grave, - not dead, not here, for they are risen.