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Of the State after Death, the Resurrection, and the last Judgment.
When the sentence of mortality to which the sin of Adam subjected himself and his posterity, is executed on us; and our bodies, which during the present life are in the power of the soul that animates them, return unto the dust from which they sprung;-when death has put a period to the first state of our existence, which, though enduring only for a short, uncertain time, is that on which eternity depends;-when all the aids and privileges and blessings which we have derived from the free grace of God, from our election into the number of his favoured children, are now to be consummated, if we have employed them in working out our own salvation, or to be withdrawn, if they have been so abused, as to aggravate the guilt they were mercifully intended to remove;—when we have arrived at the end of that conflict in which we were to strive for the mastery, and of that course in which we were to run the race that was set before us;-when
death has closed upon us the scene of our probation, and the prospect beyond the grave is opened to our view;-when the day of repentance and good works is for ever passed, the night come in which no man can work, and our fate in futurity irrevocably fixed: -then our disembodied souls shall live in a state of consciousness and perception, of enjoyment, or of suffering, subject neither to a temporary annihilation nor oblivious sleep, nor to penal inflictions as preparatory to a state of happiness and perfection, after the restoration of the body. According to the revelation afforded us in Scripture on this subject, the intermediate state of existence commencing at the moment of dissolution, and continuing till the great and terrible day of the Lord come, shall be either happy or miserable in proportion as the life we have led has been righteous or wicked, and in the measure in which we have proved ourselves to be true disciples of the Saviour of the world, or have by our words and works denied the Lord who bought us. The souls of those who are the heirs of salvation shall go at once into heaven-an abode of blessed spirits,-into Paradise, and be with Christ; and the souls of the reprobate, of those who have been faithless and disobedient, shall remain in hell, a place of torment, with the devil and his angels, till the appointed time arrive for their bodies to be restored to existence, in order that both soul and body may from thenceforth endure the threatened penalties of obduracy and impenitence.
§ 2. On a day known only to God, and fore-ordained by him for the accomplishment of his righteous purposes, the end of the world shall come-and time shall be no more. Then shall be effected a General Resur
rection of the dead, and a re-union of the bodies of those who have lived and died since the creation of the world, with the souls which tenanted them in this mortal life. The wicked, no less than the just, shall rise again; though the consequences of their resurrection shall be widely different.
3. To establish the certainty of the general Resurrection at the last day,—an article of the Christian's faith and hope not inferior in importance to any other tenet of his creed, it is necessary to have recourse to Scripture; for though reason acknowledge its probability, she does not by any means instruct us clearly in this mysterious fact. It is a doctrine, properly, of revelation, alluded to, and occasionally asserted, in the Old Testament, but expressly and authoritatively affirmed in the New.
From Scripture we learn the nature of the primeval promise, which would be nugatory unless death were utterly abolished;-from Scripture we gain a knowledge of the covenant of God, which stipulates, that whosoever believeth in the Son shall be raised up at the last day and have eternal life;-from Scripture we obtain the assurance, that Christ is the Redeemer of the body as well as of the soul, even as he is Lord of both;-from Scripture we receive the record of Jesus having himself broken the bonds of death, thereby affording us, in his own resurrection, a pledge of his power and will to accomplish ours, and actually becoming the first fruits of them that sleep;-in Scripture we contemplate the justice of God, which requires that the rewards of the good, and the punishments of the bad, should affect the body as well as the soul in a future life;-by Scripture we are convinced
that since the just judgments denounced against iniquity are not uniformly inflicted on the body here, the justice and veracity of God must be vindicated hereafter;-from Scripture we know, that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost, and being consecrated to God by the indwelling of the Spirit and the efficacy of the sacraments, cannot be supposed liable to annihilation;--in Scripture we see, that examples are not wanting of restoration to life by the divine energy, which confirms and completes all other demonstrations of the certainty of a general Resurrection.
§ 4. Those who shall rise again for the re-union of their bodies and souls, are all of the human race who shall have suffered death; and the quick, those who shall be alive when the great event takes place, shall be so transformed as to be made like unto the subjects of the resurrection. The real and substantial human body shall rise again from the dust-that body which was made mortal in consequence of sin, shall be restored to the glory and immortality which it possessed before the fall in Eden. Whatever may appear to finite understandings to be the difficulties attending this resuscitation of the innumerable and scattered dead, we may rest assured, that the dispersed dust of the human frame, wherever it may subsist in any portion of the universe, is still subject to the omniscience and omnipotence of the Creator, is still capable of being collected and revivified by Him who first formed the wondrous fabric of the form of man, and by breathing into his nostrils imparted to him a living soul. It is not necessary to the identity of a body that all its atoms should be replaced and re
united; for the human body, during the common course of life, is continually changing its constituent parts, and yet is in all essential qualities the same. All supposed difficulties in this, as in other mysterious matters, must be referred for their solution to the all-efficacious will and infinite power of God, to the absolute controul which he must necessarily be able to exercise over the works of his own hands.
§ 5. The bodies with which the dead shall rise, and the quick at the last day shall be endowed, shall be, indeed, the same bodies as to identity of character and personal qualities, as those which invested them on earth; but yet shall experience a certain change, the exact nature of which is not revealed, to fit them for incorruption, and glory, and immortality: they shall resemble the glorified body of the Saviour after his resurrection;-they shall be spiri tual, not as being destitute of substance, or aerial, but as wholly under the dominion of the spirit, untempted by the allurements, and unoppressed by the burthen of fleshly organs. The pious thus purified from the corruptions of the flesh, shall be prepared for celestial blessedness; the wicked deprived of the principles of dissolution, shall be fitted for endless misery.
§ 6. The Author of the Resurrection is God alone; and especially the eternal Son, to whom, in his divine nature, not only is the power of effecting it ascribed, but also to his merits in the human nature, as to Jesus Christ, is the divine work expressly attributed. It appertains to his office as Mediator, to deliver his elect from the tyranny of Satan, and