Imatges de pÓgina

V. Another elementary doctrine mentioned in the text is the Resurrection of the dead." Upon this christianity mainly depends for its significance. It lies at the foundation of all our hopes. The Scriptures speak of a first and second resurrection. But as the two are only distinguished as regards the time of their accomplishment, we may comprehend them both under the same view.

That there will be a resurrection of all, including the righteous and the wicked, the Scriptures the most clearly teach. The Savior himself has pointedly declared, that “the time is coming in the which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth--they that have done good to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation.” The Scriptures also teach us that, though precisely the same particles of the dead body be not raised, there is to be an identity of the risen body with the one that was deposited in the grave. Death is to bring about an important change to subserve the important ends of our future existence; yet in the great and mysterious transition, it is still true, that “this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality.” The same man who dies shall live again.

And in what an imposing manner do the Scriptures present this subject. What awful interest and what joyful hopes mingle in the thought of the resurrection! How awful to contemplate the angelic mission to sound the trump of God as the general signal for the sleeping millions to awake; and to follow its alarming clangor from continent to continent and from zone to zone, everywhere dropping its dread peals upon the startled ear of death, and everywhere causing the graves and charnel-houses to rattle with the stirring dead! The widespread occan, convulsed to its deepest caverns at that sound shall cast forth the millions who sleep beneath its crested waves, Vaults and sepulchres shall burst, and every massive tower and marble pillar which the hand of friendship reared to the memory of the departed, down even to the rudely sculptured sandstone which marks the humblest peasant's grave, shall fall, and uncounted multitudes shall rise up shaking their deathclothes from their freshning limbs to sleep and die no more. Egyptian pyramids, painted catacombs, and patriarchal dormitories shall swarm with the re-animated legions of their nameless dead. Cities long forgotten shall be convulsed through all their desolate ruins by


the life-thrill of their dishonored hosts. The whole earth shall be ploughed by the opening of graves to set their tenants free!

And though the learned sages of Athens pronounce it childish “babbling,” Saddusees—Stoics—Epicureans hold it as a lie, and others regard it with contempt and stigmatize it as “the hope of worms;" yet, what is all our religion without the doctrine of the resurrection and a future life! The great province and intent of christianity, is to school and discipline us for a future existence. But where is its significancy if there be no resurrection ? For “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 also is vain.” Yea, we are yet in our sins and in our blood, and they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished! But why should it be thought a thing incredible that God should raise the dead? Cannot that Omnipotence which first fashioned us from the dust of the earth again build up the decayed tenement out of its constituent materials ? Surely he can. The Scriptures declare that he can. The resurrection of Christ has demonstrated that he


And that he will is the immutable decree of his council. “For we know that our Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth, and though worms destroy these bodies, yet in our flesh we shall see God.

VI. To the resurrection of the dead is to succeed the “ eternal judgment.” This is another fundamental doctrine of christianity. Judgment here refers to the administration of rewards and punishments. It is called eternal to designate the final and unchangeable character of those administrations. The necessity of such a final adjudication of human affairs may be very clearly shown.

The very nature and circumstances of the case require it. We are all rational and moral beings, and as such placed under a moral government. But how unequal is the present dispensation of things in relation to the merits and demerits of mankind ? How often is virtue left unrewarded, and vice unpunished? How often are the guilty promoted, and the innocent made to suffer? And if there is to be no future retribution, where shall the injured be avenged, or the bloody criminal arrested in the triumph of his wickedness? If then God's moral character is to remain unimpeached, and the pillars of his throne kept up by an unswerving observance of the laws

which were published under its authority, it is plain that there will be—must be a future judgment.

Conscience too still lingering round her throne, shocked and outraged with the injustice of the world, points distinctly to a future judgment. Men may argue and equivocate on this subject as they please, and form whatever skeptical conclusions they please; but low in the secret chambers of every soul there is an indelible impression of the real truth. There is a voice in the heart which cannot be hushed, and which causes all the wily sophistry of the intellect to blush and cower. The fact is founded in the very laws of nature, interwoven with the very framework of our being, and predetermined in the eternal arrangements of Deity—there must be a reckoning between every rational creature and its Creator.

Nor has Jehovah failed to declare it in his word. Long before the dawn of the christian era was it said by the sacred preacher, “God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be bad.” Paul, as he thundered the revelations of the Gospel into the ears of the Athenian philosophers and judges, declared, “God hath appointed a day, in the 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.” And as the last tones of the Spirit's voice were dying on mortal ears, were not these words among the last and most solemn to which it gave utterance“Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to render unto every man according as his work shall be !" Yea, already the streaming glory of his approach has shot across the deep darkness of our world; and already the thunder of his charriot wheels is echoing over the distant spheres! The time is at hand when it shall be said, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” The «sixth seal” is already opening; soon the mighty earthquake shall be felt,” the sun become black as sackcloth of bair, and the moon become as blood, and the stars of heaven fall unto the earth, and the heaven depart as a scroll when it is rolled together, and every mountain and island be moved out of their places, and the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bond-man, and every freeman hide them

selves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains, and say to the rocks and mountains, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of his wrath has come, and who shall be able to stand!”

And what a day of awful revelations will that be! What secret sins, and midnight plots of undeveloped wickedness will then be brought to light. Hypocritic masks, and the dazzling flare of false pretences will then all vanish; and many a soul now reckoned as a saint-honest, and holy, and fit for heaven, will stand in the open view of all, covered and deformed by all the hideous ugliness of hell. From the hidden chambers of many an unsuspected heart, will be searched out the evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies,” &c., which lurked there in close seclusion from the gaze of men, and be published in the audience of the universe. The secrets of every character will be revealed, and histories of men reputed wise and good exhibited, which will look like the biographies of devils !

And what a day of confusion and dismay for the guilty. The conviction then of a Savior slighted-salvation spurned-time wasted-talents abused-heaven contemned -and the soul neglected—will transpierce the unregenerate with untold agony; whilst the contempt of the entire universe is heaped upon them in all its intolerable weight. Driven away in their wickedness, they then shall have

“No patron! intercessor, none !-Now past
The sweet, the clement, mediatorial hour!
For guilt no plea! To pain no pause no bound !
Inexorable all! And all extreme !

And what a day of bitter separation will that be. Often have tearfully thought upon the final division of the righteous and the wicked of the tender ties which will then be riven—and the bitter tears which will then be shed. A noble poet exclaims

“Strange parting ! not for hours, nor days, nor months,
Nor for ten thousand times ten thousand years ;
But for a whole eternity!—though fit,
And pleasant to the righteous, yet to all
Strange, and most strangely felt! The sire, to right
Retiring, sees the son-sprung from his loins,
Beloved how dearly once! but who forgot

Too soon in sins intoxicating cup
The father's warnings and the mother's tears—
Fall to the left among the reprobate ;
And sons ređeemed, behold the fathers whom
They loved and honored once, gathering among
The wicked. Brothers, sisters, kinsmen, friends;
Husband and wife who ate at the same board,
And under the same roof united dwelt
From youth to hoary hairs, bearing the chance
And change of Time together, part then

Forevermore!" And are there not some who hear me now, whose most cherished ties will then be broken by an eternal separation from the object of your love? Are there none present who will there take the last lingering look at the countenance of parting friendship—there print the last affectionate kiss-and there take the last leave of the loved forever! The Lord save us all from the shame and anguish of the day of judgment!

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