The doctrine of the resurrection, however questioned by heretics and erroneous persons, yet is such a truth, that almost all the holy scriptures of God point at and centre in it.
There is a poor dry and wrinkled kernel cast into the ground; and there it lieth, swelleth, breaketh, and, one would think, perisheth. But behold, it receiveth life, it chippeth, it putteth forth a blade, and groweth into a stalk. There also appeareth an ear; it also sweetly blossoms, with a full kernel in the ear. It is the same wheat; yet behold how the fashion doth differ from what was sown. And our BRAN will be left behind, when we rise again. The body ariseth, as to the nature of it, the self-same nature; but as to the manner of it, how far transcendent! The glory of the terrestrial is one, and the glory of the celestial is another.
|It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.| At our first appearance, the world will tremble. Behold, the gates of death and the bars of the grave are now carried away on our shoulders, as Sampson carried away the gates of the city. Death quaketh, and destruction falleth down dead at our feet. What then can stand before us? We shall then carry such grace, majesty, terror, and commanding power in our souls, that our countenances shall be as lightning. Then shall death be swallowed up of victory.
Glory is the sweetness, comeliness, purity, and perfection of a thing. The light is the glory of the sun, strength is the glory of youth, and gray hairs are the glory of old age. That is, it is the excellency of these things and that which makes them shine. Therefore to arise in glory, it is to arise in all the beauty and utmost completeness that is possible for a human creature to possess, in all its features and members inconceivably beautiful. Sin and corruption have made mad work in our bodies as well as in our souls; 'tis sin commonly that is the cause of all that deformity and ill-favoredness that now cleaveth to us, and that rendereth us so dishonorable at our death. But now at our rising, we shall be raised incorruptible; we shall appear in such perfection that all the beauty and comeliness, sweetness and amiableness that hath at any time been in this world, it shall be swallowed up a thousand times told with this glory.
The body when it ariseth will be so swallowed up of life and immortality, that it will be as if it had lost its own human nature. You know that things which are candied by the art of the apothecary, are so swallowed up with the sweetness and virtue of that in which they are candied, that they are now as though they had no other nature than that in which they are boiled. Just thus, at the last day, it will be with our bodies. We shall be so candied by being swallowed up of life, that we shall be as if we were all spirit; when in truth, it is but this body that is swallowed up of life.
The body is also gathered up into glory, but not simply for its own sake, or because it is capable of itself to know and understand the glories of its Maker, but that it has been a companion with the soul in this world, and has also been its house, its mantle, its cabinet, and tabernacle here: it has also been that by which the soul hath acted, in which it hath wrought, and by which its excellent appearances have been manifested; and it shall also there be its copartner and sharer in its glory.
In this world the soul of the regenerate is a gracious soul; and in that world it shall be a glorious one. In this world the body was conformable to the soul as it was gracious, and in that world it shall be conformable to it as it is glorious. Yea, it shall have an additional glory to adorn and make it yet the more capable of being serviceable to and with the soul in its great acts before God in eternal glory.
If a man receive the mercy of the resurrection of the body, what a bundle of mercies will be received as wrapt up in that. He will receive perfection, immortality, heaven, and glory. And what is folded up in these things, who can tell?
As to the manner of the change of the body in its rising, this similitude also doth fitly suit: as, 1. It is sown a dead corn, it is raised a living one.2. It is sown dry, and without comeliness; it riseth green and beautiful.3. It is sown a single corn, it riseth a full ear.4. It is sown in the husk, but in its rising it leaveth that husk behind it.
Further, though the kernel thus die, be buried, and meet with all this change in these things, yet none of them can cause the nature of the kernel to cease; it is wheat still. Wheat was sown, and wheat arises; only it was sown dead, dry, and barren wheat, and riseth living, beautiful, and fruitful wheat. |God giveth it a body as it pleaseth him; but to every seed his own body.|
All the glory that a glorified soul can help this body to, it at this day shall enjoy. That soul that has been these hundreds or thousands of years in the heavens, in the bosom of Christ, it shall in a moment come spangling into the body again, and inhabit every member and vein of the body, as it did before its departure. That Spirit of God also, that took its leave of the body when it went to the grave, shall now in all perfection dwell in the body again. I tell you, the body at this day will shine brighter than the face of Moses or Stephen, even as bright as the sun, the stars and angels. |When Christ who is our life shall appear, we shall appear with him in glory.|
Christ has showed us what our body at the resurrection shall be, by showing us in his word what his body was at and after his resurrection. We read that his body after he was risen from the dead, though it yet retained the very same flesh and bones that did hang upon the cross, yet how angelical was it at all times, upon all occasions! He could come in to his disciples with that very body, when the doors were shut upon them. He could at pleasure, to their amazement, appear in the twinkling of an eye in the midst of them. He could be visible and invisible, as he pleased, when he sat at meat with them. In a word, he could pass and repass, ascend and descend in that body with far more pleasure and ease than the bird by the art of her wing.
Now I say, as we have in this world borne the image of our first father; so at that day we shall have the image of Jesus Christ, and be as he is.1 Cor.15:49.
To mount up to heaven, and to descend again with pleasure, shall with us in that day be ordinary. If there were ten thousand bars of iron, or walls of brass, to separate between us and our pleasure and desire at that day, they should as easily be pierced by us as is the cobweb, or as air by the beams of the sun. And the reason is, because to the Spirit, wherewith we shall be inconceivably filled at that day, nothing is impossible; and the working of it at that day shall be in such nature and measure as to swallow up all impossibilities. |Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body| -- now mark -- |according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.|
Nay further, we do not only see what operation the Spirit will have in our body by the carriage of Christ after his resurrection, but even by many a saint before his death. The Spirit used to catch Elijah away, no man could tell whither. It carried Ezekiel hither and thither. It carried Christ from the top of the pinnacle of the temple into Galilee; through it he walked on the sea. The Spirit caught away Philip from the eunuch, and carried him as far as Azotus.
Thus the great God has given us a taste of the power and glory that are in himself, and how easily they will help us, by possessing us at the resurrection, to act and to do like angels; as Christ saith, |They that shall be counted worthy of that world and of the resurrection from the dead, they shall not die, but be equal to the angels.|
SALVATION COMPLETE AT THE RESURRECTION.
|Now we shall see him,| to wit, Christ in his glory. Not by revelation only, as we do now, but then face to face; and he will have us with him to this very end. Though John was in the Spirit when he had the vision of Christ, yet it made him fall at his feet as dead; and also turned Daniel's beauty into corruption, it was so glorious and so overweighing a glory that he appeared in. But we shall at the day of our resurrection be so furnished, that we shall with the eagle be able to look upon the sun in his strength. We shall then |see Him as he is,| who now is in the light that no eye hath seen, nor any man can see till that day.
Now we shall see into all things; there shall not be any thing hid from us. For the Spirit, with which we shall in every cranny of soul and body be filled, |searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.| We see what strange things have been known by the prophets and saints of God; and that when they knew but in part. Abraham could by it tell to a day how long his seed should be under persecution in Egypt. Elisha by it could tell what was done in the king of Assyria's bedchamber. Abijah by this could know Jeroboam's wife so soon as, yea, before her feet entered within his door, though he saw her not. The prophet of Judah could tell by this what God would do to Bethel for the idolatry there committed, and could also point out the man by name that should do the execution, long before he was born.
What shall I say? Enoch by it could tell what should be done at the end of the world. How did the prophets circumstantially prophesy of Christ's birth, his death, his burial, of their giving him gall and vinegar, of their parting his raiment and piercing his hands and feet, of his riding on an ass also. All this they saw when they spake of him. Peter also, though half asleep, could at the very first word call Moses and Elias by their names, when they appeared to Christ in the holy mount. He is very ignorant of the operation of the Spirit that scrupleth these things.
But now, I say, if these things have been done, seen, and known by spiritual men while their knowledge has been but |in part,| how shall we know, see, and discern, when |that which is perfect is come!| which will be at the resurrection: |It is raised a spiritual body.|
Paul said to the Philippians that he was confident that he who had begun a good work in them, would perform it until |the day of Christ.| Which day of Christ was not the day of their conversion, for that day was past with them already, they were now the children of God; but this day of Christ is the same which in other places is called the day when he shall come with the sound of the last trump to raise the dead. For you must know that the work of salvation is not at an end with them that are now in heaven; no, nor ever will be until their bodies be raised again. God has made our bodies the members of Christ, and God does not count us thoroughly saved, until our bodies be as well redeemed and ransomed out of the grave and death, as our soul from the curse of the law and dominion of sin.
Though God's saints have felt the power of much of his grace, and have had many a secret word fulfilled on them, yet one word will be unfulfilled on their particular person, so long as the grave can shut her mouth upon them. But when the gates of death do open before them, and the bars of the grave do fall asunder, then shall be brought to pass that saying which is written, |Death is swallowed up of victory.| And then will they hear that most pleasant voice, |Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast forth her dead.|
The body is no such ridiculous thing in the account of Christ as it was in the account of the Sadducees. |The body is not for fornication, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body;| and that not only in this world, but in that which is to come.