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part of our existence is the work of dissolution: we must necessarily be dissolved and released from the present state, in order to be resubstantiated and naturalized as it were in the state to come. "For we know, (says the same eloquent apostle,) that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens." (Cor. II. v. 1.)
There would seem to be a difference between the royal Psalmist's idea of human dissolution, and that of his famous successor; inasmuch as the latter imputes a double tendency or direction to the members of the parting subject, one upward towards Heaven, and the other downward to the earth; "then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it," (Eccles. xii. 7,) instead of that simple return to dust which the former speaks of in the passage before cited. But this apparent difference is shewn to be merely accidental by other sayings of the Psalmist; as for example, "Thou shalt not leave my soul in hell: (or the grave :) neither shalt thou suffer thy Holy One (the Spirit descending from thee) to see (or be present with) corruption." (Ps. xvi. 11.) And let me suggest, whether the expression of taking away the breath of the creatures may not signify somewhat like the spirit returning unto God who gave it: while on the other hand the Preacher would seem to avow the Psalmist's simple sentiment in another saying, "All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again:" (Eccles. iii. 20:) but the same parting or separation of soul and body, or of our invisible and visible constituents in that dissolution which I have mentioned as the first act, preparatory step, or beginning of the resurrection, is evidently the meaning of both these eminent authorities, David and Solomon; as well as of our Lord and his apostles, Paul especially. We see how it happens with other natural compounds on their dissolution, how each of their constituents on being disengaged
from the rest will make immediately for its proper sphere or element: and so it will be with compositions, like ours, of materials between Heaven and earth; which upon their dissolution will immediately depart from the mode that united them in two opposite directions, all of one sort to one side, and all of the other sort to the other, according to their respective derivations, and continue so divided until it shall please the First Cause to let his Breath and Word go forth again for the purpose of an universal restoration or SECOND creation, supposing there to have been but one before.
2, But previously, or, if at the same time, in order to this restoration, our apostle supposes another act attendant on dissolution; which is a Change: "We shall all be changed (says he, and that very suddenly) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." There has been a prevailing, and, I believe, hitherto uncontroverted opinion, among those who believe in the resurrection, that men will rise again in their own bodies, or with the same essential properties with which they die and without these at least they could not be properly said to rise again. Christians believe, that themselves shall also rise again with some properties which other men do not consider essential. And upon this difference there has risen a vulgar error, which I have been grieved to hear vented before now in as vulgar a saying from the pulpit; namely, that as a tree falls it must lie. For (to continue the allegory) let us hope, that after a tree is fallen, and burnt to ashes, and dispersed-given to the wind, gone-God only knows where it will come again in all its essential properties, and NOT IN ONE UNREFOrmed. And what would such persons as these; namely, what would the unhappy maniac, or what would a weak mind, or a poor petulant soul-to say nothing of one who had wilfully abused his own body, do among the angels of light and ministers of grace in that blessed state to which we aspire without such reformation? I am not now to speak of that state;
I am only speaking of the change or adaptation necessary for its possession and enjoyment: which, beginning in baptism, must proceed through our present life, and beyond that in the grave from a single impulse, like the other works of the Creator, by one man, our Lord, Jesus Christ. "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." But we might as well think of Lazarus lying in Heaven, as he lay at the rich man's gate, all "full of sores," (Luke xvi. 20,) or every man in his clothes, which our Saviour rose without, (John xx. 5,)-as the ancient Arabs believed, and with money too in his pockets-which others seem to expect; as of any one rising unchanged, and consequently unreformed, to that blessed state.
It would appear from St. Paul's account, as if the very sluggish exterior of the soul,-its shell, its tabernacle, its material surface must be changed as well as its noblest constituents, and its noblest constituents as well as its vilest, "that there should be no schism in the body," (Cor. I. xii. 25,)-(I wish every one would mind it!) in order to its resurrection. And it seems a very strong argument in favour of the doctrine of regeneration by death, which our baptism adumbrates, or of a posthumous continuation of amendment, instead of the tree lying as it falls, that men always talk of going to Heaven after they die, and not before: and as going to Heaven will appear by many tokens to be the assumption of an heavenly, that is righteous nature or disposition, with its consequent honour and happiness; of course going to Heaven, or being preferred to an higher state after death must signify this posthumous improvement. So a corn of wheat is going to great preferment, when it falls into its grave and dies. (John xii. 24.)-We shall not rightly comprehend this change, as it must needs have an object, except we regard it specifically as
3, A Subjugation, annexation or conversion of the
changed subject to God in Christ; being buried and also risen with him in baptism "through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead." (Col. ii. 12.) For every change of a subject being a change from somewhat to somewhat, this is a real change from frailty to perfection by the perfection to which it is changed; as in the fictitious transmutation of metals there might be a change apparently, of some base metal to gold, but really by gold. It was intimated by St. Peter in a fit of inspiration, that while God is the First, or efficient cause of every resurrection without excepting the first, there will also be another, without any division either of virtue or operation, in what is called the meritorious cause; "the same God which worketh all in all," (Cor. I. xii. 6,) operating irresistibly in the First risen: "Whom God hath raised up, (says the apostle,) having loosed the pains of death; because it was not possible, that he should be holden of it." (Acts ii. 24.) And as the First Fruits rose himself by an innate virtue, an irresistible power, a sort of inevitable necessity, so he necessarily draws on others who are given, or added to him, as it is said, (Ib. xi. 24,) by the Father; (John xvii. 9, 11, 12;) and as St. Paul would signify where he tells professors, "If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." (Rom. viii. 10, 11.) Therefore if Jesus himself never baptized personally, he still does spiritually (thank God!) with the Holy Ghost and with celestial fire: (Matt. iii. 11:) as it is said; and all from the Father, as we understand it.
By Christ being in us is meant his spirit or essence; and Christ and the Spirit of Christ are the same with God and the Spirit of God. The human perfections of Christ we partly comprehend by reading of them in the Gospel : and if we have these, there can be no doubt of their
drawing on others; indeed it is necessary and unavoidable that we must also partake of their source, and especially in the great resurrection, being necessarily drawn up after him, that where he is, there we may be also. (John xiv. 3.) Referring perhaps to this necessary accompaniment or annexation, St. Paul demands likewise in one place, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature." (Rom. viii. 35, 38, 39.) So we have it likewise directly from himself, 66 My sheep hear my voice; and I know them, and THEY FOLLOW ME: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand." (John x. 27, 28.)
We may have a sort of experimental perception of the manner of our rising hereafter by the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelling in us, if we will consider how our mortal bodies are daily raised from sleep by the action of our returning spirit on the powers of the body. For our resurrection from the dead by the divine Spirit, when it begins to stir in our elements will be nearly after the same manner as we are naturally raised from sleep. As men are raised from sleep by their returning recollection and accordingly qualified for their daily avocations; so are we quickened and translated to God entirely by the operation of his Holy Spirit; and that according to Scripture in two ways, which deserve to be remarked; namely by the conformity or conversion, first of our souls, and next of our bodies to the pattern of each in our Lord, Jesus Christ. Which is a wonderful change from their natural state; and yet, not unaccountable.
For most of our present corruption proceeds from the effect of evanescent causes and influences: which most likely will be removed by death: and these being removed, a moral as well as physical improvement must necessarily