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Man’s Nature and Destiny

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    Having thus shown that a future resurrection is an event of the most absolute necessity, inasmuch as without it there is no future existence for the human race (a fact which entirely destroys at one blow the doctrine of the immortality of the soul), we now propose to notice the prominence given to this event in the sacred writings, and some of the plain declarations that it will surely take place.MND 218.2

    l. The resurrection is the great event to which the sacred writers looked forward as the object of their hope. In the far distant ages, a day rose to their view in which the dead came forth from their graves, and stood before God; and before the coming of that day, they did not expect eternal life.MND 218.3

    So Job testifies: “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he will 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.” Job 19:25, 26.MND 219.1

    David entertained the same satisfactory hope. “As for me,” he says, “I shall be satisfied when I “awake with Thy likeness.” Psalm 17:15.MND 219.2

    Isaiah struck some thrilling notes on the same theme: “Thy dead men 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.” Isaiah 26:19.MND 219.3

    It was the hope of Paul, that eminent apostle, through all his sufferings and toils. For this he could sacrifice any temporal good, and take up any cross. He assures us that he considered his afflictions, his troubles on every side, his perplexities, persecutions, stripes, imprisonments, and perils, but light afflictions; yea, he could utterly lose sight of them; and then he tells us why he could do it: it was in view of “the glory which “shall be revealed in us,” “knowing,” says he, “that He which raised up the Lord Jesus, shallraise us up also by Jesus, and shall present us “with you.” 2 Corinthians 4:14. The assurance that he should be raised up at the last day, and be presented with the rest of the saints, when the Lord shall present to his Father a church without spot or wrinkle or any such thing (Ephesians 5:27), sustained him under all his burdens. The resurrection was the staff of his hope. Again he says that he could count all things loss, if by any means he might attain to a resurrection exanastasis out from among the dead. Philippians 3:8-11.MND 219.4

    We refer to one more passage, which expresses, as clearly as language can do it, the apostle’s hope. 2 Corinthians 1:8, 9: “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life. But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead.” Paul here gives us to understand that he could not trust in himself, because he was mortal. He must therefore put his trust in God; and he tells us why he does this: not because he was mortal. He must therefore put his trust in God; and he tells us why he does this: not because God had promised him any happiness as a disembodied soul; but because he was able and willing to raise him from the dead. Paul “kept back nothing that was profitable,” and did not shun “to declare all the counsel of God;” yet he never once endeavored to console himself or his brethren by any allusion to a disembodied state of existence, but passed over this as if it were not at all to be taken into the account, and fixed all his hope on the resurrection. Why this, if going to heaven or hell at death be gospel doctrine?MND 219.5

    2. The resurrection is the time to which prophets and apostles looked forward as the day of their reward. Should any one carefully search the Bible to ascertain the time which it designates as the time of reward to the righteous, and punishment to the wicked, he would find it to be, not at death, but at the resurrection. Our Saviour clearly sets forth this fact in Luke 14:13, 14: “But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind; and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee; for thou shalt be recompensed,” not at death, but “at the resurrection of the just.”MND 220.1

    Mark also the language by which the Lord would restrain that voice of weeping which was heard in Ramah. When Herod sent forth and slew all the children in Bethlehem from two years old and under, in hopes thereby to put to death the infant Saviour, then was fulfilled, says Matthew, what was spoken by the prophet, “In Ramah was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they were not.” But what said the Lord to Rachel? See the original prophecy, Jeremiah 31:15-17: “Thus saith the Lord, Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears; for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border.”MND 220.2

    Not thus would the mourning Rachels of the 19th century be comforted by the professed shepherds of the flock of Christ. They would tell them, “Refrain thy voice from weeping; for thy sons are now angel cherubs chanting their joyful anthems in their heavenly Father’s home.” But the Lord points the mourners in Ramah forward to the resurrection for their hope; and though till that time their children “were not,” or were out of existence, in the land of death, the great enemy of our race, yet, says the Lord, they shall come again from the land of the enemy, they shall come again from the land of the enemy, they shall come again from the land of the enemy, they shall return again to their own border, and thy work shall be rewarded; and he bids them refrain their voices from weeping, and he bids them refrain their voices from weeping, their eyes from tears, and their hearts from sorrow, in view of that glorious event.MND 221.1

    The apostles represent the day of Christ’s coming and the resurrection as the time when the saints will receive their crowns of glory. Says Peter, “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” 1 Peter 5:4. And Paul says that there is laid up for him a crown of righteousness, and not for him only, but for all those also that love his appearing, and which shall be given him in that day (the day of Christ’s appearing). These holy apostles were not expecting their crowns of reward sooner than this.MND 221.2

    All this is utterly inconsistent with the idea of a conscious intermediate state, and rewards or punishments at death. But the word of God must stand, and the theories of men must bow to its authority, and be made to harmonize with its teaching.MND 222.1

    In 1 Corinthians 15:32 Paul further tells us when he expected to reap advantage or reward for all the dangers he incurred here in behalf of the truth: “If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die.” If without a resurrection he would receive no reward, it is evident that he expected his reward at that time, but not before. His language here is, moreover, a reiteration of verse 18, that if there is no resurrection, they which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.MND 222.2

    Our Lord testifies that of all which the Father had given him he should lose nothing, but would raise it up at the last day. This language is also at once a positive declaration that the resurrection shall take place, and that without this event all is lost. To the same effect is 1 Corinthians 15:52, 53: “The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this “corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” Here is a plain announcement that the resurrection will take place; that the change mentioned will be wrought at that time; and that this change must take place, or we cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Verse 50. Therefore, without a resurrection, none who have fallen in death will ever behold the kingdom of God.MND 222.3

    3. The resurrection is made the basis of many of the comforting promises of Scripture. 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” Although we have already referred to this passage in this chapter on the “Resurrection,” we quote it again, to show that God designed that from these promises we should comfort ourselves and one another in that keenest of all our afflictions, and the darkest of all our hours, - the hour of bereavement. For the apostle immediately adds, “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” Is it to such facts as these-the second coming of Christ, and the resurrection of the dead-that the theology of our day appeals to alleviate the sorrow which the human heart will feel for the loss of departed loved ones? Here, if anywhere, and on this subject, if on any that the apostle has anywhere taken up, should come in the modern doctrine of uninterrupted consciousness in the intermediate state, if this doctrine is true, and the one from which we are to derive consolation in the hour of bereavement. But Paul was evidently against any such doctrine, and so denies it a place on the page of truth, but passes right over to the resurrection as the place where comfort is to be found for the mourners.MND 223.1

    As the resurrection is inseparably connected with the second coming of Christ, the words of Christ in John 14:1-3 are equally in point on this question. When he was about to leave his sorrowing disciples, he told them that he was going to prepare a place for them; he informed them, moreover, of his design, that they should ultimately be with himself. But how was this to be accomplished? Was it through death, by which a deathless spirit would be released to soar away to meet its Saviour?-No; but says he, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there ye may be also. Should any say that this coming of the Saviour is at death, we reply that the disciples of our Lord did not so understand it. See John 21:22, 23. Jesus incidentally remarked concerning one of his followers, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me:” and the saying went immediately abroad among the disciples, on the strength of these words, that that disciple should not die. So death was not to the disciples the coming of Christ.MND 224.1

    The eminent and pious Joseph Alleine also testifies:-MND 224.2

    “But we shall lift up our heads, because the day of our redemption draweth night. This is the day I look, for and wait for, and have laid up all my hopes in. If the Lord return not, I profess myself undone; my preaching is vain, and my suffering is vain. The thing, you see, is established, and every circumstance is determined. How sweet are the words that dropped from the precious lips of our departing Lord! What generous cordials hath he left us in his parting sermon and his last prayer! And yet of all the rest, these are the sweetest: ‘I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.’ “MND 224.3

    Dr. Clarke, in his general remarks on 1 Corinthians 15, says:- “The doctrine of the resurrection appears to have been thought of much more consequence among the primitive Christians that it is now. How it this? The apostles were continually insisting on it, and exciting the followers of God to diligence, obedience, and cheerfulness through it. And their successors in the present day seldom mention it.... There is not a doctrine in the gospel on which more stress is laid; and there is not a doctrine in the present system of preaching which is treated with more neglect.”MND 225.1

    Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones (chapter 37) is entitled to a prominent place in the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, as it not only affirms in the most positive manner such an event as the literal resurrection of the body, but also sets forth the manner of its accomplishment.MND 225.2

    The prophet was set down in a valley full of bones which were very dry; and the question was asked him whether these bones could live. He was then commanded to prophesy upon them, and the command was accompanied with marvelous promises of what God would do for them. He prophesied, and there was a stir among the bones; each sought its requisite place; flesh and sinews came upon them, and skin covered them. But as yet they were lifeless; for no breath was imparted to them. Being commanded, he prophesied again; and when he did so, breath was imparted to them. Being commanded, he prophesied again; and when he did so, breath came from the four winds, and entered into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.MND 225.3

    The Lord then explained to the prophet the meaning of the vision. The bones, he said, represented “the whole house of Israel;” and it was designed as a visible representation of a promise which he was commanded to give them in these words: “Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land; then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it and performed it, saith the Lord.” Ezekiel 37:11-14.MND 226.1

    It is sometimes said that this representation was simply a figure to show to Israel that they would be rescued from their captivity; that while they were bondage, they might well be compared to men buried in the grave, and the opening of the grave and bringing them forth and causing them to live, simply represented the fact that they were to be in due time released from their captivity, and again established in the land of their fathers. We reply that, even if this is the correct view of it, it is equally to our purpose in the present argument; for it must still be admitted that dead men are taken to represent the house of Israel in captivity; and the bringing of these dead men to life is made to represent the restoration of Israel to the land of their nativity. But it would be most manifestly improper to represent anything as transpiring in reference to the dead (excepting, of course, in a parable, which this is not), no matter what it was to illustrate, which never was to transpire in their cases. If the bones of dead men are never to come to their places, and no sinews, flesh, and skin are ever to cover them, and breath enter into them, and they live, such a representation could not truthfully be made, and hence certainly could not truthfully be made, and hence certainly never would have been used on the inspired page. Therefore the very use of such a representation, no matter what we may consider it to illustrate, is proof positive that the dead will live again, and will live in the manner and by the means there set forth. Should we admit that the prophecy may refer primarily to temporal blessings upon the literal Israel, we still think it must have broad and ultimate application including the “whole” house of Israel, even the patriarchs who died without receiving the promise, and all the “seed of Abraham,” even those who become such through Christ (Galatians 3:29); and that it sets forth the literal resurrection of the dead, that being the means by which the true Israel are to be brought to their promised heavenly inheritance (Acts 26:6-8), and the only means by which this can be secured.MND 226.2

    The manner of the resurrection of the dead seems also to be clearly taught by implication in 1 Corinthians 15:29: “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” What connection has baptism with the resurrection of the dead?-Just this: by baptism we show our faith in the burial and resurrection of Christ. As Christ was buried in the sepulcher, so the believer is buried in the water; and he is raised up out of his temporary tomb as Christ was raised from the dead. By this act he illustrates, and manifests faith in, these great events in the life of Christ; But if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not raised, and these events have never occurred in his experience; and why, then, do we perform an act which shows our faith in them, and subject ourselves to all the inconvenience and jeopardy involved in a profession of his name? Why are we then “baptized [huper, on account of] “the dead,” a dead man, a dead Saviour?MND 227.1

    But this affirmation that baptism is a figure of the resurrection through which faith is expressed in that great event, shows that the resurrection of all believers is to be like that of Christ, a bodily resurrection out from an opened grave.MND 228.1

    Before dismissing the subject of the resurrection, a few collateral thoughts may be entitled to a passing notice. We have not maintained the necessity of identity of matter in the resurrection; that is, that the same identical particles of matter which composed any body when it went into the grave, must be brought up again from the grave to constitute a resurrection of that body. On the other hand, we have shown how identity could be preserved by an identical re-organization, not of the same matter of the body, but of the essential elements, even if only chemically considered, of which that body was composed. But we wish it distinctly understood that this position is not taken as in any sense a concession to that blear-eyed cavil, which, creeping up out of the bogs of atheism and infidelity, arrays itself in the pretentious mantle of philosophy, and claims that the resurrection of the dead is an impossibility because the matter of the deceased body may be scattered to the ends of the earth, and be indistinguishably lost, or it may, in the process of years and the course of its mutations, compose half a dozen different bodies; and as they cannot each have these same particles, the doctrine of the resurrection must be discarded. We have seen how extremely improbable it is that any one body would ever become, under any circumstances, an essential part of any other body, and how easily possible it is that it should never be so. Hence we may set this down as an opposition of science, falsely so called.MND 228.2

    The poet wrote of Wycliffe, whose bones the papists, with their accustomed fiendish malignity, dug out of the grave, burned in the fire, and then scattered the ashes into a neighboring brook, the Avon,MND 229.1

    “The Avon to the Severn runs,
    The Severn to the sea;
    And Wycliffe’s dust shall spread abroad,
    Wide as the waters be.”
    MND 229.2

    And suppose that the dust of all the bodies of the dead was scattered to the ends of the earth, is it not all still in the world? And what is the world itself in God’s sight? A mote in the sunbeam, a single grain of the small dust of the balance. It is not possible for the denizens of this little world to scatter the dust of God’s people a great ways from his presence; and we imagine he could easily find it all again, and gather it together, if such an act were necessary.MND 229.3

    Take the mature man of thirty years. From whence have come the particles which compose that full robust body? They have come, through the workings of God’s providence and the operation of his laws, from every land, and every wind, and every sea, under the canopy of heaven. How long has it taken to gather them? On the ground that every living body passes through an entire physiological change every seven years, it has taken but seven years to gather and build up that body. All that the doctrine of the resurrection requires, is that God should do in a moment what he ordinarily does in a little space of time. And shall we deny that he can do this? Cannot He who can build up a human body in seven years with matter gathered from all over the world, do the same thing, if he so chooses in seven thousandths of a second? Cannot he who with a word brought into existence the matter of the world itself, also with a word gather together the scattered dust of any of its inhabitants from any part of its surface? To deny this is blank atheism; and we wish the objection to stand in its true light.MND 229.4

    The resurrection is simply a question of God’s promise and his power. Whatever he has said he will do, he can and will do. Into this field, philosophy with its rush-light has no right to come. We may not be able to see how a thing can be done, nor explain the modus operandi of his work; but it is neither piety nor philosophy to make the limits of our finite powers the measure of his might.MND 230.1

    Again, as to the nature of the matter of the immortal body beyond the resurrection, our conceptions must be exceedingly imperfect and obscure. “It is raised,” says the apostle, “in glory.” “It is raised a spiritual body.” “Changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” “Fashioned like unto his glorious body.” 1 Corinthians 15:43, 44, 51-53; Philippians 3:21. Of the nature of this change we can form no adequate conception. What the constitution of our bodies will be, or the nature of the matter that will compose them, we cannot tell. We have only these expressions to guide us: “in glory, in power, in incorruption, spiritual.” If any one should say that the change is so radical and complete that it will not be the same matter that it was before, even that could not be disputed. Chemists tell us that charcoal and diamonds consist of the same element - pure carbon. Yet to all outward appearance, how different their substance and properties!MND 230.2

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