« PreviousContinue »
laws in the sight of the whole creation.
We consider things in too narrow and confined a view, if we imagine, that the inhabitants of this earth alone are interested in this important issue. All creatures, however exalted their spheres and capacities, are dependent, standing only by a voluntary obedience. And who can say, but that there are innumerable inhabitants of other worlds, who have their eyes fixed upon the transactions of this, whose happiness and obedience may depend upon a righteous descrimination between those, who obey or disobey the divine will here on earth? The angels are certainly mentioned in scripture as speStators of this most important solemnity — it is to be in the sight of angels as well as men— Had the scene no reference to them, by way of moral motive or example, it is hard to assign any reason, why they should be witnesses of the transaction.
As an universal judgment is thus necessary cessary to support the authority of the divine laws, so it is necessary that man should then appear in his full capacity as consisting of body as well as soul.
We see an obvious and necessary connexion between these two parts in our present state. * Unbelievers have carried it so far, as to infer the mortality of the soul from this single circumstance.
But it is demonstrable that matter is incapable of thought and voluntary motion, and that there must be an immaterial principle within us, to actuate this bodily machine. At the same time, as God forms created spirits more or less limited in their powers according to his own good pleasure, so it is plain, from what we see, that he has formed the human spirit so far dependent, that a
* Præterea, gigni parker cum corpore, et una
Lucr. L. 3. 446.
C 3 matematerial instrument is necessary to its operations and enjoyments. Its sensations, we see, are languid or vigorous, according to the tone of the bodily frame: they grow, decay, and fluctuate, according to its temperament in the different stages of life. And from this appearance we may justly infer, that its reunion to the body is necessary to make it capable of exerting its full powers and capacities; and, consequently, if virtue is to be rewarded, and vice punished at all^ there must be a restoration of the whole man, that he may receive his proper allotment.
In this state indeed, the body, through the corruption of the fall, is at once the soul's assistant and incumbrance. Its parts are at present mouldering, gross, and corruptible. But the same Being, that originally made both parts necessary to one another, will prepare hereafter a better body,
suitable to the grandeur of his designs in favour of man.
For when the souls of the pious are cleansed, by the blood of Christ, from all those smaller stains, which adhere to the best in this state of frailty, the body, to heighten their enjoyments, will be raised to a suitable degree of purity and perfection. This corruptible must put on incorrupt ion, and this mortal must put on immortality, i. Cor. xv. 53.. Then Jhall they hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither foall the fun light upon them, nor any heat: Jor the lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, Jhall feed them, and Jfoall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God fiall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Rev. vii. 16.
What a spiritual body is, we cannot indeed conceive; but the power of God is able to execute whatever his goodness contrives for the happiness of his creatures.
He has given us wondrous proofs of this attribute in the active swiftness of light and the lustre of colours, and in several other parts of this material world.
He can do as much more as he pleases, in the future resurrection. He has promised a change, great and glorious, beyond our comprehension. Christ has died to bring about this amazing issue from the present ruined state of this corrupt system.
Let Us now lay these things together; and we shall (as far as we have a right to look into the ways of God) see the reasons and propriety of a future resurrection.
Man, originally created upright and immortal, having fallen from his perfect state, the Son of God undertook the office of restoring him to his former, or rather indeed to a greater degree of happiness. The body, which in the present state is mortal, is a necessary