Billeder på siden

John v. 14.

4. It is also an engagement to obedience; Behold, said our Saviour to the diseased man, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon thee. Having obtained a cure and state of health by God's grace, we by relapsing into sin expose ourselves to greater danger, we incur deeper guilt. Our state, though not wholly desperate, becomes very Poenitentia perilous. It is better continuing in the ship, than naufragi- committing our safety to a plank.

tabula post

um. Tertul.


5. Lastly, the consideration of this point will shew us how much we are obliged (in conformity and compliance with God) to bear with and forgive the offences or injuries done against us. You know how strongly our Saviour presses the consideration of God's free pardon bestowed on us to this purpose; how he sets out the unreasonableness and disingeMatt. xviii. nuity of them which are hard-hearted toward their brethren and fellow-servants in this case; how he Matt. xviii. threatens unavoidable severity toward those who do 35. vi. 14. not from their hearts forgive their brethren their trespasses, and promises remission of sins to them who (according to what they in their prayers profess themselves to do) shall forgive to men the offences committed against them; making it not only an indispensable condition, but, as it were, a means of obtaining God's mercy and favour. But I leave it to your meditation to make further profitable deductions from this point. So I proceed:

The Resurrection of the Body.

This σapkos, of the flesh, it is in Greek; which comes to the same. The immortality or surviving of the soul after death (as being a foundation of receiving reward and punishment for men's deeds in


this life) hath been in all religions, (except, perchance, that of the ancient Jews: but they afterwards found it necessary to suppose this point— Vid. Macwhen they found the most pious obnoxious to greatest affliction, which propounded great rewards and punishments in this life, assuring that Providence which dispensed them, by sensible experiments;) hath been, I say, almost in all religions deemed a necessary principle, as the most potent excitement to virtue, the most powerful determent from wickedness, the most satisfactory ground of resolving difficulties concerning the nature and providence of God; which general consent, (running through all ancient religions,) according to that of Cicero, Permanere ani-Tusc. 1. mos arbitramur consensu nationum omnium, argueth it not anly agreeable to common reason, but deduced from original tradition; without which (considering the variable dispositions and capacities of mankind) it is hard to conceive so many nations should unanimously conspire in an opinion of that nature (so removed from sense) however reasonable. Indeed the philosophers, men affecting to soar above the pitch of vulgar apprehension, and who, perceiving the great superstition and vanity immixed with common religions, (as they had been by fraud and folly corrupted, and become degenerate from primitive tradition,) did not scruple to call any thing delivered in them to question, and to determine about them according to reasons offering themselves, did differ herein; yet so as scarce any, who acknowledged a Divinity, which (having made and governing the world, and to whom therefore reverence and service from men was due) did not approve and assert it; as indeed they must needs do in consonance to their

opinion concerning God, all arguments upon which religion is built, inferring it; which they did endeavour further to confirm by reasons, drawn from the nature of man, which you may see collected and elegantly urged by Cicero in the first of his Tusculan Questions: which arguments yet we may perceive had not so great an efficacy either upon him or upon Socrates himself, (the first great promoter of this doctrine, as deducible from reason,) that they were thoroughly confident of its truth, and freed from all doubt concerning it. The certainty thereof we owe to Christianity alone, and to his instruction 2 Tim. i.10. who brought life and immortality (that is, immortal life) to light: it plainly teaches us, that when we die, we shall not wholly perish like brute beasts, (or other natural bodies, when they are dissolved;) that our souls do not vanish into nothing, nor are resolved into invisible principles; but return into God's hand, and the place by him appointed for them, there continuing in that life which is proper to a soul. This Christianity teacheth us; and not only so, but further, that our bodies themselves shall be raised again out of their dust and corruption, and our souls shall be reunited to them, and our persons restored to their perfect integrity of nature: the bringing of which effects to pass, by the divine power, is called most commonly the resurrection of Heb. xi. 19 the dead, (or from the dead, èk veкpõv,) and simply Heb. xiii. the resurrection; sometimes, the regeneration, (or Matt. xix. iterated nativity,) and being born from the dead; Col. i. 18. which names plainly imply a respect to the body, and to the person of a man, as constituted of body and soul: the mere permanency of our souls in being and life could not be called (with any propri





Rev. i.

17. viii. 11,

2 Cor. v. 2,



ety or truth) a resurrection: that which never had fallen could not be said to be raised up; that which did never die could not be restored from death; nor could men be said to rise again, but in respect to that part, or that state, which had fallen, and ceased to be: and as to be born at first signifies the production and union of the parts essential to a man, body and soul; so to be born again implies the restitution and reunion of the same; a man becoming thereby the same entire person which he was before. The same is also sometimes signified in terms more formal and express; the quickening of the dead; Rom. iv. the vivification of our mortal bodies; the redemp-23 tion of our body; this corruptible (rò plaprov TOUTO, &c. φθαρτὸν this very same corruptible) putting on immortality; 1 Cor. xv. those which are in the graves hearing Christ's voice and proceeding forth to resurrection of life or judgment; the awaking of them which sleep in John v. 28. the dust of the earth; the sea, the death, the hell Dan. xii. 2. (or universal grave) yielding up their dead: which expressions, and the like, occurring, most clearly and fully prove the restitution of the body, and its reunion with the soul, and the person becoming in substance completely the same that he was; which truth of all perhaps which Christianity revealed, as most new and strange, was the hardliest received, and found most opposition among the heathens, especially philosophers; Hearing the resurrection Acts xvii. of the dead, some of them mocked; others said, We32. will hear thee again about this: so was St. Paul's discourse entertained among the Athenians: some derided it, as (it seems) conceiving it a thing altogether impossible, or very improbable to happen; they did not see how it could, why it should be done; F f


Rev. xx. 13.

Vid. Orig.

c. Cels. i.

[ocr errors]

There counting the revolution of the ing impossible to be performed, ildish foppery to suppose it.) But be impossible to the divine power no

be assigned. To re-collect the diss of a man's body; to dispose them into der; to reduce them unto a temper fit tal functions; to rejoin the soul unto the stored; why should it be impossible, why hard to him, who first framed and tempered y out of the dust, and inspired the soul into to him, who out of mere confusion digested whole world into so wonderful an order and thony; to him that into a dead lump of earth ted such varieties of life; that from seeds buried the ground, and corrupted there, causes such lly plants to spring forth; that hath made all ature to subsist by continual vicissitudes of life and eath; every morning (as it were) and every spring representing a general resurrection? [Ah Lord God! saith the prophet Jeremiah, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched-out arm; and there is nothing too hard for thee: (too hard for omniscient wisdom to contrive, for omnipotent strength to execute.] And what difficulties soever fancy may suggest, can we doubt of that to be possible which experience shews us to be done? Let that passage in the prophet Ezekiel suffice, concerning very dry bones scattered vii. I, about in an open field, which at God's word came together, and united in order; the sinews and the flesh coming upon them, and the skin covering them; and lastly, breath coming into them, so that they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceeding

« ForrigeFortsæt »