TWENTY-FIRST LORD S DAY.
Question. 57. What comfort doth the “resurrection of the body” afford thee?
Answer. That not only my soul, after this life, shall be immediately taken up to Christ, its head, but also that this my body, being raised, by the power of Christ, shall be reunited with my soul, and made like unto the glorious body of Christ!
The questions which properly belong to this Article of the Creed are such as the following:
The question of the immortality of the soul belongs properly to this Article; for the resurrection presupposes death. We must, therefore, inquire, does “the soul die, and rise again as the body? Nor will the discussion of this question be unprofitable and vain, for it will be calculated to lead us to a proper understanding of many passages of Scripture, which seem to speak of the soul of man as though it were mortal; and will also be a refutation of the errors of the Epicureans and Sadducees, who already in former times denied the immortality of the soul, and the resurrection of the body; as also those, who said that the resurrection of believers was Already past, and who would admit of no other resurrection but that which is spiritual. And even at this day, it is argued by some Anabaptists that the soul after it is separated from the body, lies dormant until the future resurrection, when it will again be reunited to the body. Paul the third. Pope of Rome, when he was at the point of death said; “now he would find out the truth of three questions, concerning which he had doubts during the whole of his life; whether the soul be immortal whether there be a hell^ and whether there be a God” There are also in the Psalms, and in the writings of Solomon a number of declarations of a somewhat similar character to the following: “Man dieth as a beast.” “The dead praise not the Lord.” (Eccl. 3:19: Ps. 115:17.) Hence there is a propriety in the discussion of this subject.
The doctrine of the immortality of the soul is established by such declarations of the word of God as these: “For when he dieth, he shall carry nothing away; his glory shall not descend after him. Though, while he lived, he blessed his soul.” “As thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing.” “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul.” “As touching the dead, that they rise, have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living.” (Ps. 49:17, 18. 2 Sam. 1:11. Matt. 10:28. Mark 12:26; 27.) Christ when hanging upon the cross said to the thief, “To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43.) But he could not be there in his body r because that was dead, and buried. Therefore his soul was brought with Christ into Paradise, and hence the soul must live after death. Paul said; “I have a desire to depart and be with Christ.” (Phil. 1:23.) He spoke this in reference to the rest, and joy which he would have with Christ after death. But what can be the joy or blessedness of those, who are in a state of unconsciousness? Hence those who imagine that the soul sleeps after death, and so deny its immortality, are refuted by this passage of Scripture. “Father into thy hands, I commend my spirit.” “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” “I am the Resurrection and the Life; he that belie veth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live.” “We are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (Luke 23:46. Acts 7:59. John 11:25. 2 Cor. 5:8.) The soul therefore, does not sleep after death, but enjoys immortal life, and heavenly glory with the Lord. In the Revelation of St. John (Joh. 6:10) chap. 6: v. 10, the souls of the martyrs are said to cry under the altar with a loud voice saying. “How long, Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth.” Hence they must be alive. In the gospel of Luke 16:22, Lazarus is said to have been carried after his death to Abraham s bosom, whilst the rich man, on the other hand, was sent to hell, the place of torment. These and similar passages of Scripture teach and prove most conclusively, that the soul, not only in the body before death, and after the resurrection of the body from the dead, but also during the whole space that intervenes between death, and the resurrection, exists, lives, feels, and understands without the body, although the manner of its operation without the body is altogether unknown to us. Lastly the resurrection of the body presupposes the immortality of the soul, so that believing in the one we also believe in the other. For as it is the same body which shall rise again, it id necessary that it should be fashioned by the same substantial form which it formerly had, which is the soul. Not every change of an accidental form constitutes another individual; the individual remains the same as long as the same matter is quickened with the same substantial form. But if the soul die, and God were to create another soul, and infuse it into the body, then it would not be the same, but a different form that would quicken and fashion the body; and so it would not be the same individual. But it will be the same body which shall rise in the resurrection, as we shall show when we come to discuss the fifth question under this article.
Obj. 1. But it is said in Eccl. 3:19, that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast, that as the one doeth, so does the other. Therefore the soul is not immortal. Ans. There is here an incorrect conclusion, by inferring that to be similar in all respects, which is so only in certain particulars. The condition of both man and beast is the same, as to the necessity of death; for men, as well as beasts, must necessarily die at some time, and depart out of this life; because it is appointed unto men once to die, so that no one has here a permanent abiding place. But the condition of man and beasts is not the same in the event of death and the state which follows; for whilst the existence of the brute becomes extinct and vanishes away, the soul of man, on the other hand, remains alive and active after death, as has just been shown. We also deny the antecedent; for the Preacher does not speak of the death of man, according to his own, but according to the sentiment and opinion of the great mass of men, based upon the apparent similarity of events, which happen both to the good and the evil. He joins this complaint of the judgment of man to the doctrine of the providence and judgment of God, by which good will at length be conferred upon the righteous, and evil upon the wicked.
Obj. 2. But it is also said, (Ps. 115:17,) “The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.” Ans. They do not so praise the Lord as we do in this life; but it does not follow from this, that they shall not praise the Lord at all, after they have once departed this life.
The Papists imagine that the souls of men, at the time they are separated from their bodies, pass into the fire of purgatory, that they may there be purified from sin, some sooner, and others later, according as they, during the period of life, loved to a greater or less extent, the perishing things of this world, as Lombard says. The Scriptures teach, on the contrary, that no fire after death, but that the blood of Christ, purifies our souls in this life from all sin. They also teach that the souls of the faithful, when they die, are not cast into the place of torments, there to be purified by fire, but that they are gathered to Christ in Abraham s bosom, whilst the souls of the wicked are cast into hell, from which there is no way of escape, and where they are now tormented with hellish agonies, being at the same time reserved for the more intolerable torments of that eternal fire which the wrath of God will kindle in the judgment, which Christ will execute at the end of the world.
The Scriptures, in many places, speak of the state and condition of the souls of the faithful after death in the following manner: “Father into thy hands I commend my spirit.” “Lord Jesus receive my spirit.” And it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by the angel into Abraham s bosom.” (Luke 23:46. Acts 7:59. Luke 16:22.) From what is here said, it is plain that the souls of the pious dead are not in purgatory. Paul says, (Phil. 1:23) “I have a desire to depart, and be with Christ.” He did not, therefore, have any fears of purgatory. The godly are “willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:8.) They do not, therefore, pass through purgatory before they come into the presence of the Lord.
The following passages of the word of God speak of the condition of the wicked after death. “The wages of sin is death.” “Fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Rom. 6:23. Matt. 10:28.) The rich man, immediately after his burial, was in hell in torments, and exclaimed: “I am tormented in this flame.” (Luke 16:23.) A deliverance thence will for ever be denied him. He also feared, lest his five brethren would soon come to the same place of torment. The souls of the wicked, therefore, when leaving their bodies, are not carried into purgatory, where a way of escape may open itself to them, but they are cast into the unquenchable fire of hell.
The word resurrection sometimes signifies in the Scriptures man s con version, or his resurrection from sin, as, “This is the first resurrection.” (Rev. 20:5.) But in this Article the resurrection of the body means the restitution of the substance of our bodies after death out of the very same matter of which they now consist, and the re-animating, or quickening of the same bodies with an incorruptible and immortal life by the same immortal soul, by which they now subsist; which God will effect through Christ at the end of the world, by his divine power and virtue, and which will result in the eternal glory of the elect, and the eternal punishment of the reprobate.
The resurrection, then, will consist, first, in the restoration of the same body, or the bringing together the mass or matter which now constitutes our bodies, but which, after death, is scattered, and dissolved in the differ ent elements. Secondly, it will consist in the re-union of the body with the same soul which it had at first, by which it will also be quickened, and be made immortal. The resurrection will, in the last place, consist in the glorification of the elect, and the eternal banishment of the wicked from the presence of God.
There are three great errors in relation to the doctrine of the resurrection: 1. There are some who deny it altogether, and affirm that the soul dies with the body. This was the view which the Sadducees entertained, as is evident from what is said of them in Acts 23:8. u For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor Spirit.” 2. There are others who have admitted the immortality of the soul, but understand by the resurrection nothing more than regeneration. They deny that the bodies of the saints will rise, although their souls enjoy eternal felicity after death. The authors of this heresy seem to have been Hymeneus and Philetus, of whom Paul speaks: (2 Tim. 2:17, 18,) “Who concerning the truth have erred, saying, That the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.” 3. Others again, as the Anabaptists, deny that the very same bodies which we now have will rise again, and contend that God will create new bodies at the second coming of Christ. In opposition to all these errors, it becomes us to believe what the Scriptures affirm in relation to this subject, that the dead will most certainly rise again.
Philosophy may demonstrate the probability of a resurrection at some future time; but cannot establish the certainty of it; for the knowledge which we derive from philosophy of the justice and truth of God is partial and incomplete. The reasons, however, which the holy Scriptures adduce in support of the doctrine of the resurrection are solid and convincing; and it is from divine revelation alone, that the certainty of a future resurrection is demonstrated. In speaking upon this subject it is proper, therefore, that we should first adduce some of the passages of Scripture which affirm the certainty of the resurrection, and then present those arguments which may be drawn from the Scriptures in confirmation of the truth of this doc trine.
The Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testaments, clearly reveal the doctrine of a future resurrection. “I know that my 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.” “I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves.” “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some to ever lasting life, arid some to shame and everlasting contempt.” u The hour is coming, in which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.” “I will raise him up at the last day.” “If there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen; and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God,” &c. “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them.” (Job 19:25, 26. Ez. 37:12. Dari. 12:2. John o:28; 6:40. 1 Cor. 15:13, 14. 1 Thes. 4:14. Rev. 20:12, 13.) To these testimonies, which the Scriptures furnish in support of the doctrine of a future resurrection, Ave may also add a number of arguments which are drawn from the word of God.
1. “God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and is the God of the living and not of the dead.” (Matt. 22:23.) But he would not be the God of Abraham as a whole, nor the God of the living, unless the body of Abraham should at some future time be raised from the dead. God is the God of man as a whole, and not merely of a part of his being. If the body, however, should never rise again he would be the God, not of the whole man, but only of a part. This is the argument which Christ employs against the Sadducees.
2. God promises eternal life to the righteous in respect both to the body and the soul; as he, on the other hand, threatens the wicked with eternal punishment, which in like manner has respect both to the soul and the body*. These promises and threatenings of God must be fulfilled; for their certainty is unchangeable. But they will not be fulfilled if the dead rise not seeing, therefore, that God does most assuredly, in his own time, effect what he promises to the righteous, and threatens to the wicked, it follows that the dead must necessarily rise.
3. Rewards and punishments extend to the whole man, because the whole man has sinned. Therefore the bodies of all shall rise the righteous that they may enjoy that glory and felicity which God freely gives; and the wicked that they may endure punishment according to their deserts.
4. The mercy of God is perfect, and extends to the whole man, and desires that we should be wholly saved. Hence our bodies shall also rise again.
5. The love and mercy of God towards the righteous is constant and unchangeable, so that what he once wills to do for them out of his fatherly love, that he wills for ever. But he wills that the righteous shall be saved both in soul and body. Hence there is a necessity, that they should be saved under this form, which requires that they should rise again.
6. The perfect justice of God requires that the ungodly be punished according to the form under which they sin. But they sin in soul and body at the same time. It is necessary, therefore, that their bodies should also rise again, that they may be punished both in soul and body.
7. Christ has risen; therefore we also shall rise. This conclusion is proper and forcible:1. Because Christ rose, that he might raise us, 2. Because Christ is the head, and we are his members. Inasmuch, there fore, as Christ our head has risen, we also who are his members shall, without doubt, rise again; because the glory of the head demands that the members be in the same condition with himself. If the members were to remain in a state of corruption the head would not, in this case, be glorious. 3. The same Spirit which dwells in Christ, dwells also in us: he joins and unites us with Christ, and works the same in us, which he does in Christ, because he is always the same. But he raised Christ; therefore he will also raise us.
8. It is declared that Christ shall have an everlasting kingdom. But this he would not have if our bodies were to remain for ever under the power of death. It would not be sufficient in this case, that our souls should be immortal; for that the kingdom of Christ might be everlasting, he must have subjects that are eternal in respect both to body and soul; from which we may again infer the necessity of the resurrection of the body.
9. Christ is a perfect Saviour; because he has saved, and reconciled the whole man to God. Hence our corrupt bodies will also be raised through Christ.
10. Christ is not less able to save, than Adam was to destroy; yea, he has by his death restored all, and more than that which was lost through the sin of Adam; for he has merited for us greater felicity than we should ever have had, if we had not sinned. Now Adam lost for us, the eternal life and salvation of the body with certain other gifts. Hence Christ has restored this unto us, from which it may be concluded that our bodies shall without doubt rise again.
11. God published his law to man after the fall. He, therefore, wills that man should at some time observe it. But this is not done in this life Hence it shall be done in the life to come, so that there must be a resurrection of the dead.
12. The wages of sin is death. When sin, therefore, is once abolished, death will also be abolished, which will result in the restoration of life.
13. Our bodies were made for this end, that the Holy Ghost might for ever dwell in them, and that they might be his temples. Hence they shall rise again and live for ever.
The bodies with which we shall rise in the resurrection, will not only be human bodies, but also the very same which we now have, and not other and different bodies created by Christ, as the Anabaptists affirm. Job says, “In my flesh shall I see God.” (Job 19:26.) The apostle Paul says, “Every one shall receive in his body according to that he hath done;” “and this mortal shall put on immortality.” (Eph. 6:8. 1 Cor. 15:53.) It was, therefore, taught in the African churches: I believe in the resurrection of this flesh. The same thing may be argued from the import of the word resurrection: for nothing can rise again, except that which has fallen. “This is the resurrection” said Ambrose, “as may be inferred from the import of the word itself, that that which fell may rise, and that what was dead may revive” The justice of God also establishes the same thing. “For this” said Ambrose, “is the order and course of justice, that since every action is common both to the body and the soul, the body executing that to which the soul prompts, it is proper that both should come into judgment, and that both should either be given over to punishment, or crowned with glory “The justice of God demands that the bodies of the saints which have fought, should also be crowned; and that the wicked be punished in the same bodies in which they have blasphemed, and opposed God. Wherefore, there will be restored, in the resurrection, to every soul, not a strange and different body, but its own proper body that which it here had and shall thus be crowned with glory, or punished with shame. Finally, as Christ rose with the same body which he had when he died, so shall we also rise with the very body which we now have.
Obj. 1. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. These bodies of ours consist of flesh and blood. Therefore they cannot inherit the kingdom of God; consequently not these, but other bodies shall rise in the resurrection. Ans. There are here four terms; for flesh and blood as used by the Apostle, (1. Cor. 15:50,) and understood in the first proposition of this syllogism, signify some evil quality adhering to the substance of the body, or the substance in respect to this quality; and in the second proposition these terms, signify the very substance of our bodies, from which the Anabaptists draw their conclusions, in relation to this subject. Or we may reply, that there is an incorrect chain of reasoning, in as much as this argument proceeds from a corrupt substance, to that which is pure, simple substance, in this manner; Flesh and blood being mortal and corrupt, as it now is, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Therefore flesh and blood, simply such, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. But this does not legitimately follow. Hence flesh and blood, understanding by this, that which is sinful, and corrupt, cannot inherit the kingdom of God; but as glorified and immortal it shall obtain an entrance there. The Apostle expressly teaches this when he says, “It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” (1. Cor. 15:44.)
Obj. 2. The bodies with which we shall rise will be according to the Apostle, spiritual. Therefore they will not then have the properties of flesh. Ans. The apostle means by a spiritual body, not that which is changed into the Spirit, or which is in all its properties equal to the Spirit , but that which is ruled by the Spirit of God, which is immortal and free from all misery, adorned with heavenly splendor, glory, activity, strength and holiness. So he also calls a natural body, not that which is changed into the soul, or which is equal to it in all its properties; but that which in this mortal state is quickened, controlled, and directed by the soul. That this is the meaning of what Paul calls a spiritual body, is proven. 1. Because he says it is raised a spiritual body; but a spirit is no body. 2. He also adds, “this corruptible (body) must put on incorruption.” 3. The body of Christ after his resurrection, had flesh and bones; and yet it was spiritual and glorious in the highest degree. Therefore, much more shall our spiritual Bodies have flesh and bones. The interpretation which Augustin gives to these words of the Apostle is this, “We must not imagine that because the Apostle says that the body which we shall have in the resurrection will be spiritual, that it will be purely spiritual without any body. But he calls that a spiritual body, which is wholly subject to the Spirit, and which is free from corruption and death; For whom he calls the body which we now have, a natural body, we must not suppose that it is not a body, but a soul Therefore as the body which we now have is called natural, because it is subject to the soul, and cannot be called spiritual, because it is not yet fully subject to the Spirit, as long as it may be corrupted, so it will then be called spiritual, when it will not be able with any corruption to resist the Spirit.
The resurrection will be accomplished openly, and gloriously, and not secretly, nor hastily. It will be far different from that which occurred in relation to certain persons, when Christ rose from the dead. It will take place in the sight of angels, men and devils, and will be a scene of inexpressible joy to the righteous, but of unutterable anguish, and horror to the wicked. Christ shall descend from heaven, accompanied by the angels, with a shout, with the voice of the Arch-angel, and with the trumpet of God, at whose sound ali the dead shall awake and come forth from their graves, and stand before the judgement seat of Jesus Christ. Those who will remain alive until the coming of Christ shall be suddenly changed from a state of mortality to immortality, which change will be to them in the place of death and the resurrection. (Thes. 4:14, 18. 1. Cor. 15:50, 55.)
The resurrection will take place at the end of the world, in the last day, according as it is said, “I will raise him up at the last day.” “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” (John 6:44; 11, 24.) But when the last day will arrive no one knows, but God alone. The chief benefit of this question is to restrain us from imagining to ourselves any time, when the resurrection will take place, that so we may not disturb our faith, and begin to doubt when we find ourselves deceived in our vain conjectures.
The resurrection of the dead will be effected by the power of Christ as the mediator. “I will raise him up at the last day.” This declaration of Christ must be understood of the body: because he will not raise up the soul, for this does not die. The man Christ will raise us by his human voice, and divine power, according as it is said, The hour is coming in which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice.” “God hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assurance unto all men in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (John 5:28. Acts 17:31.) The use of this question is that our faith may be established in regard to this Article, from this, that he by whom the resurrection will be effected is possessed of sufficient power, seeing that he is the Almighty God, and also willing, in as much as he is our head. It is also a source of great comfort, from the fact that he will not be unmindful of his own flesh, and members, but will raise them up to eternal life, for which cause he assumed our nature and redeemed us.
Obj. But the Father is said to raise us; yea, he raised Christ himself: “He that raised up Christ from the . dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Rom. 8:11.) Therefore the dead shall neither be raised by Christ, nor by his power. Ans. The works of the Trinity which are external, being such as are performed upon creatures are common to all the persons of the Godhead, observing the order in which they operate. As the Father is, therefore, not excluded when the resurrection is ascribed to the Son, so the Son is not excluded when the Father, or the Holy Ghost are said to raise the dead. The Father shall raise us mediately through the Son. The Son shall raise us immediately by his Spirit, as our redeemer and judge. “We look for the Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” “As the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.” (Phil. 3:20; 21. John 5:21.) The Holy Spirit shall raise us immediately by himself. “If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead,” &c. (Rom. 8:11.)
The ultimate end of the resurrection of the dead is the glory of God; for he will then manifest and exercise his mercy in its highest form in the glorification of the faithful, whilst his justice will be displayed in the damnation of the reprobate; and thus he will declare the certainty of his promises and threatenings in relation to both. The next end, and the one that is subordinate to the former, is the salvation and glory of the elect; and on the other hand the punishment and rejection of the reprobate: for the former shall be raised to eternal life, whilst the latter shall come forth to everlasting punishment according as it is said: “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” “And shall come forth, they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.” “I will grant to sit with me on my throne.” “They are arrayed in white robes.” “The righteous shall shine forth as the sun.” “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels, &c.; and these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal.” (Dan. 12:2. John 5:28. Rev. 3:21; 7:13. Matt. 13:43; 25:41, 46.) This will lo the state and condition to which the dead will be raised.
Obj. The resurrection of Christ is declared by the Apostle to be the cause of our resurrection, and our resurrection is the effect, or benefit of Christ s resurrection. But this cause does not extend to the wicked. Therefore they will not rise. Ans. Although the wicked will not rise because of the resurrection of Christ, yet they shall, nevertheless, be raised on account of the just judgment of God. by which they shall be consigned to everlasting punishment. For there may be many and different causes, (if not in number, at least in kind,) especially in different subjects, of one and the same effect. The cause of the resurrection of the godly is, therefore, the resurrection of Christ as of the head. But the resurrection of Christ is not the cause of the resurrection of the wicked, because they are not members of Christ, but the justice of God, and the truth of his threatening Briefly; the wicked shall rise from the dead, not because Christ rose, but on account of the justice of God, that they may be punished. There is indeed but one end of the resurrection of all in respect to God, which is his glory; but the manner in which this end is reached is different.
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