After Death for Believers
Chapter 44: The Resurrection
Syllabus for Lecture 70:
1. What were the opinions of the ancient Heathens, and what of the Jews, on this subject? Does nature furnish any analogy in favor of it?
Dr. Christian Knapp, 151. Hodge Theol., pt. 4., 1, 2. Dick, Lect. 82.
2. State the precise meaning of the Scripture doctrine. What will be the qualities of our resurrection bodies?
Turrettin, Loc. 20., Qu. 1, 2, 9. Knapp, 152, 153. Dick, Lect. 82.
3. Will the resurrection bodies be the same which men have now? In what sense the same? Discuss objections.
Turrettin Qu. 1. Dick, Lect. 82. Watson’s Theol. Inst., ch. 29.
4. Prove the doctrine of the Resurrection, from the Old Testament; from the New.
Turrettin, Qu. 1. Dick, Lect. 82.
5. How is the resurrection of the Saints, and how is that of sinners, related to the resurrection of Christ?
Dick, Lect. 82. Breckinridge Theol., Vol. 1., bk, 1., ch. 6.
6. What will be the time? Will there he a double resurrection?
Turrettin, Qu. 3. Dick. Lect. 82. Scott, Com. on Rev., ch. 20. Brown’s Second Advent. Knapp, 154. Hedge, as above, chs. 3, 4. See on whole, Ridgley, Qu. 87. Geo. Bush on the Resurrection. Davies’ Sermons. Young’s Last Day.
1. Pagan Theories Embrace no Resurrection.
definite philosophic speculations among the ancient heathen all discarded the doctrine of a proper resurrection; so that the Bible stands alone in acknowledging the share of the body in man’s immortality. It is true that the poets (Hesiod, Homer, Virgil) expressing the popular and traditionary belief, (in this case, as in that of the soul’s immortality, less incorrect than the philosopher’s speculations), speak of the future life as a bodily one, of members, food, labors, etc., in Tartarus and Elysium. But it is difficult to say how Or these sensuous representations of the future existence were due to mere inaccuracy and grossness of conception, or how far to perspicuous ideas of a bodily existence conjoined with the spiritual. The Brahmins speak of many transmigrations and incarnations, of their deified men; but none of them are resurrections proper. The Pythagoreans and Platonists dreamed of an oxhma, an ethereal, semi–spiritual investment, which the glorified spirit, after its metempsychoses are finished, develops for itself. The pantheistic sects, whether Buddhists or Stoics, of course utterly rejected the idea of a bodily existence after death, when they denied even a personal existence of the soul.
What Jews Believed it.
But the Jews, with the exception of the Sadducees and Essenses, seem to have held firmly to the doctrine. Nor can I see any evidence, except the prejudice of hypothesis and fancy, for the notion of Knapp, and many Germans, that their belief in this doctrine dated only from the time of the Babylonish captivity. There is no historical evidence. If the proof texts of the earlier Hebrew Scriptures are perversely explained away, and those of the Maccabees, etc., admitted, there is some show of plausibility. But it is far better reasoning to say that this unquestioning belief in the doctrine by the Jews, is evidence that they understood their earlier as well as their later Scriptures to teach it. The evidence of the state of opinion among them, and especially among the Pharisees, is found in their uninspired writings: 2 Mac. 7:9, etc., 12:43, 45; Josephus and Philo, and in New Testament allusions to their ideas. See Matt. 22.; Luke 20.; John 11:24; Acts 23:6, 8; Heb. 11:35. But the doctrine was a subject of mocking skepticism to most of the speculative Pagans; as the interlocutor in Minutius Felix, Octavius, Pliny, jr., Lucian, Celsus, etc. See Acts 17:32; 26:8, 24.
No Natural Proofs of it.
We may infer therefore that the doctrine of the resurrection is unprecedented, and founded in divine revelation. Analogies and probable arguments have been sought in favor of it, as by the early fathers and later writers; but while some rise in dignity above the fable of the Phoenix, there are no pagan myths that can claim to amply demonstrate the wholeness of the doctrine. The fact that all nature moves in cycles, restoring a state of things again which had passed away; that the trees bud after the sterility and mimic death of winter; that moons wax again after they have waned; that sun and stars, after setting in the west, rise again in the east; that seeds germinate and reproduce their kind; can scarcely be called a proper analogy; for in all these cases, there is no proper destruction, by a disorganization of atoms, but a mere return of the same complex body, without a moment’s breach of its organic unity, into the same state in which it had previously been, If we were perfectly honest, we should rather admit that the proper analogies of nature are against the doctrine; for when a seed germinates that particular seed is produced no more; there is, in what comes from it, only a generic, not a numerical identity. When the tree really perishes, its mold and moisture and gases are never reconstructed into that same tree, but pass irrevocably into other vegetable forms. Dick supposes that the argument said to have been stated BC 450, by Phocylides, the Milesian, is more plausible; that inasmuch as God’s wisdom led Him to introduce a genus of rational beings, of body and spirit combined, the same wisdom will always lead him to perpetuate that kind. But if, after the soul’s departure, the body were never reanimated, man would become simply an inferior angel, and the genus would be obliterated. To this, also, we may reply; that this argument is not valid until it is also shown that the wisdom, which called this genus of complex beings into existence, will not be satisfied by its temporary continuance as a separate genus . But this we can never prove by mere reason. For instance: the same reasoning would prove equally well, both an immortality and a bodily resurrection, for any of the genera of brutes! Another argument is presented by Turrettin from the justice of God, which, if possessed of feeble weight by itself, at least has the advantage of harmonizing with Bible representations. It is, that the justice of God is more appropriately satisfied, by punishing and rewarding souls in the very bodies, and with the whole personal identity, with which they sinned (Comp. 2 Cor. 5:10) or obeyed.
2. True Meaning of Resurrection.
In Scripture the image of a resurrection, anastasi", is undoubtedly used sometimes in a figurative sense, to describe regeneration, (John 5:25; Eph. 5:14) and sometimes, restoration from calamity and captivity to prosperity and joy. (Ezek. 37:12: Is. 26:19). But it is equally certain that the words are intended to be used in a literal sense, of the restoration of the same body that dies to life, by its reunion to the soul. This then is the doctrine. For when the resurrection of the dead, (nekrwn) of those that are in their graves, of those that sleep in the dust of the earth, is declared, the sense is unequivocal. Without at this time particularizing Scripture proofs, we assert that they mean to describe a bodily existence as literally as when they speak of man’s soul in this life, as residing in a body; and this, though wonderfully changed in qualities, the same body, in the proper, honest sense of the word same, which the soul laid down at death. This resurrection will embrace all the individuals of the human race, good and bad, except those whose bodies have already passed into heaven, and those of the last generation, who will be alive on the earth at the last trump. But on the bodies of these the resurrection change will pass, though they do not die. The signal of this resurrection is to be the "last trump," an expression probably taken from the transactions at Sinai; (Ex. 19:16, 19; cf. Heb. 12:26), which may, very possibly, be some literal, audible summons, sounded through the whole atmosphere of the world. But the agent will be Christ, by His direct and almighty power, with the Holy Spirit.
Qualities of Resurrection Bodies.
The qualities of the resurrection bodies of the saints are described in 1 Cor. 15:42, 50, with as much particularity, probably, as we can comprehend. Whereas the body is buried in a state of dissolution; it is raised indissoluble, no longer liable to disorganization, by separation of particles, either because protected therefrom by the special power of God, or by the absence of assailing chemical forces. It is buried, disfigured and loathsome. It will be raised beautiful. Since it is a literal material body that is raised, it is far the most natural to suppose that the glory predicated of it, is literal, material beauty. As to its kind, see Matt. 13:43; Phil. 3:21, with Rev. 1:13, 14. Some may think that it is unworthy of God’s redemption to suppose it conferring an advantage so trivial and sensuous as personal beauty. But is not this a remnant of that Gnostic or Neo–Platonic asceticism, which cast off the body itself as too worthless to be an object of redeeming power? We know that sanctified affections now always beautify and ennoble the countenance. See Ex. 34:29, 30. And if God did not deem it too trivial for His attention, to clothe the landscape with verdure, to cast every form of nature in lines of grace, to dye the skies with purest azure, and to paint the sun and stars with splendor, in order to gratify the eyes of His children here, we may assume that He will condescend to beautify even the bodies of His saints, in that world where all is made perfect. Next, the body is buried in weakness; it has just given the crowning evidence of feebleness, by yielding to death. It will be raised in immortal vigor, so as to perform its functions with perfect facility, and without fatigue.
"Natural Body" and "Spiritual Body;" What?
Lastly, it is buried an animal body, as this is the character up to this point it has possessed. The swma yucikon is unfortunately translated "natural body" in the English version. The Apostle here evidently avails himself of the popular Greek distinction, growing out of the currency of Pythagorean and Platonic philosophy, to express his distinction, without meaning to endorse their psychology. The swma yucikon is evidently the body as characterized chiefly by its animal functions. What these are, there can be little doubt, if we keep in mind the established Greek sense of the yuch, viz: the functions of the appetite and sense. Then the swma pneumatikon must mean not a body now material, as the Swedenborgians, etc., claim (a positive contradiction and impossibility), but a body actuated only by processes of intellection and moral affection; for these, Paul’s readers supposed were the proper processes of the pneuma or nou". But the Apostle vs. 44, 50, defines his own meaning. To show that "there is an animal body, and a spiritual body ;" that it is no fancy nor impossibility, he points to the fact that such have already existed, in the case of Adam and his natural seed, and of Christ. And as we were federally connected, first with Adam, and then with Christ, we bear first the animal body, (Adam’s) and then the spiritual (Christ’s ). And Christ’s humanity also, during His humiliation, passed through that first stage, to the second; because he assumed all the innocent weaknesses and affections of a literal man. Our swma pneumatikon, then, is defined to be what Christ’s glorified body now in Heaven is. Complete this definition by what we find in Matt. 22:30. The spiritual body then, is one occupied and actuated only by the spiritual processes of a sanctified soul; but which neither smarts with pain, nor feels fatigue, nor has appetites, nor takes any literal, material supplies therefore.
Resurrection Bodies of Sinners.
It seems every way reasonable to suppose that while the bodies of the wicked will be raised without the glory or splendor of the saints, they also will be no longer animal bodies, and will be endued with immortal vigor to endure.
3. Identity of the Bodies Rasied, Proofs.
The Scriptures teach plainly that our resurrection bodies will be substanitally identical to the bodies we now possess, only modified in terms of sinlessness and incorruptibility.. This follows from the divine justice, so far as it prompts God to work a resurrection. For if we have not the very body in which we sinned, when called to judgment, that "every man may receive the things done in the body," there will be no relevancy in the punishment, so far as it falls on the body. The same truth follows from the believer’s union to Christ. If He redeemed our bodies, must they not be the very ones we have here? (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:15) It appears evidently, from Christ’s resurrection, which is the earnest, exemplar, and pledge of ours. For in His case, the body that was raised was the very one that died and was buried. But if, in our case, the body that dies is finally dissipated, and another is reconstructed, there is small resemblance indeed to our Saviour’s resurrection. This leads us to remark, fourth, that the very words anisthmi, anastasi" plainly imply the rearing of the same thing that fell; otherwise there is an abuse of language in applying them to a proper creation. Last, the language of Scripture in Dan. 12:2; John 5:28, 29, Cor. 15:21, 53, 54; 1 Thess. 4:16; it is that which is "in the dust of the earth," "in the mnhmeia" the nekroi; corpses, which is raised. It is "this mortal" which "puts on immortality." From the days of the Latin Fathers, and their speculative Pagan opposers, certain objections have been pompously raised against such a resurrection, as though t were intrinsically absurd. They may be found reproduced by Geo. Bush on the Resurrection.
Objection From Wonderfulness, Answered.
The general objection is from the incredible greatness of the work; that since the particles that composed human bodies are scattered asunder by almost every conceivable agency, fire, winds, waters, birds and beasts of prey, mingled with the soil of the fields, and dissolved in the waters of the ocean, it is unreasonable to expect they will be assembled again. We reply, (reserving the question whether a proper corporeal identity implies the presence of all the constituent particles; of which more anon) that this objection is founded only on a denial of God’s omnipotence, omniscience, and almighty power. The work of the resurrection does indeed present a most wondrous and glorious display of divine power. But to God all things are easy. We may briefly reply, that to all who believe in a special Providence, there is a standing and triumphant answer visible to our eyes. It is in the existence of our present bodies. Are they not formed by God? Are they not also formed from "the dust of the earth?" And it is not any one hundred and fifty pounds of earth, which God molds into a body of that weight; but there is a most wonderful, extensive, and nice selection of particles, where a million of atoms are assorted over and rejected, for one that is selected; and that from thousands of miles. In my body there are atoms, probably, that came from Java (in coffee), and from Cuba or Manilla (in sugar), and from the western prairies (in pork), and from the savannahs of Carolina (in rice), and from the green hills of Western Virginia (in beef and butter), and from our own fields (in fruits). Do you say, the selection and aggregation have been accomplished gradually, by sundry natural laws of vegetation and nutrition? Yea, but what are natural laws? Only regular modes of God’s working through matter, which He has in His wisdom proposed to Himself? If God actually does this thing now, why may He not do another thing just like it, only more quickly?
Physical Objection Answered.
But an objection supposed to be still more formidable, is derived from the supposed flux of particles in the human body, and the cases in which particles which belonged to one man at his death, become parts of the structure of another man’s body, through cannibalism, or the derivation by beasts from the mold enriched with human dust, which beasts are in turn consumed by men, etc., etc. Now, since one material atom cannot be in two places at the same time, the resurrection of the same bodies, say they, is a physical impossibility. And if the flux of particles be admitted, which shall the man claim, as composing his bodily identity; those he had first, or those he had last: or all he ever had? To the first of these questions, we reply, that there is no evidence that a particle of matter composing a portion of a human corpse, has ever been assimilated by another human body. It is only assumed that it may be so. But now, inasmuch as the truth of Scripture has been demonstrated by an independent course of moral evidences, and it asserts the same body shall be raised, if there is, indeed, any difficulty about this question of the atoms, the burden of proof lies upon the objector; and he must demonstrate that the difficulty exists, and is insuperable. It is not sufficient merely to surmise that it may exist. Now, I repeat, a surmise is good enough to meet a surmise. Let me assume this hypothesis, that it may be a physiological law, that a molecule, once assimilated and vitalized by a man (or other animal), undergoes an influence which renders it afterwards incapable of assimilation by another being of the same species. This, indeed, is not without plausible evidence from analogy: witness, for instance, the fertility of a soil to another crop, when a proper rotation is pursued, which had become barren as to the first crop too long repeated. But, if there is any such law, the case supposed by the objector against the resurrection, never occurs. But, second: in answer to both objections, it can never be shown that the numerical identity of all the constituent atoms is necessary to that bodily sameness, which is asserted by the Bible of our resurrection bodies. We are under no forensic obligation whatever, to define precisely in what that sameness consists, but take our stand here, that the Bible, being written in popular language, when it says our resurrection bodies will be the same, it means precisely what popular consciousness and common language apprehend, when it is said my body at forty is the same body grown stronger, which I had at fifteen. Let that meaning be whatever it may be, if this doctrine of the flux of particles, and this possibility of a particle that once belonged to one man becoming a part of another, prove that our resurrection bodies cannot be the same that died, they equally prove that my body cannot now be the body I had some years ago, for that flux, if there is any truth in it, has already occurred; and there I; just as much probability that I have been nourished with a few particles from a potato, manured with the hair of some man who is still living, as that two men will both claim the same particles at the resurrection. But my consciousness tells me (the most demonstrative of all proof), that I have had the same body all the time, so that, if these famous objections disprove a resurrection, they equally contradict consciousness. You will notice that I propound no theory as to what constitutes precisely our consciousness of bodily identity, as it is wholly unnecessary to our argument that I should; and that I do not undertake to define precisely how the resurrection body will be constituted in this particular; and this is most proper for me, because the Bible propounds no theory on this point.
Bodily Identity During Life, What?
But if curiosity leads you to inquire, I answer that it appears to me our consciousness of bodily identity (as to a limb, or member, or organ of sense, for instance) does not include an apprehension of the numerical identify of all the constituent atoms all the while, but that it consists of an apprehension of a continued relation of the organism of the limb or organ to our mental consciousness all the time, implying also that there is no sudden change of a majority, or even any large fraction of the constituent atoms thereof at any one time.
4. Proofs that Bodies Will Rise.
In presenting the Bible–proof, nothing more will be done, than to cite the passages, with such word of explanation as may be necessary to show their application. If we believe our Saviour, implications of this doctrine appear at a very early stage of the Old Testament Scriptures; for indeed the sort of immortality implied all along, is the immortality of man, body and soul. (See then Ex. 3:6, as explained in Matt. 22:31, 32; Mark 12:26, 27). The next passage is Job 19:26, which I claim quicunque vult , as containing a clear assertion of a resurrection. In Ps. 26:9, 11, (expounded Acts 2:29, 32; 13:36, 37) David is made by the Holy Spirit to foretell Christ’s resurrection. Doubtless, the Psalmist. if he distinctly knew that he was personating Christ in this language, apprehended his own resurrection as a corollary of Christ’s. Ps. 17:15 probably alludes also to a resurrection in the phrase: "awake in thy likeness;" for what awakes, except the body? Nothing else sleeps. So Is. 25:8, may be seen interpreted in 1 Cor. 15:54; Dan. 12:2. Both teach the same doctrine.
In the New Testament the proofs of bodily resurrection are still more numerous and explicit. The following are the chief; Matt. 22:31, etc.; Mark 12:26, 27; John 5:21, 29; 6:39, 40; 11:24; Acts as above; 1 Cor. 15.; 1 Thess. 4:13 to end; 2 Tim. 2:8; Phil. 3:21; Heb. 6:2; 11:35.
Other strong Scriptural proofs are urged by the Reformed divines, which need little more than a mere statement here. The resurrection of Christ is both the example and proof of ours. 1 Cor. 15:20; 1 Peter 1:3. First, it demonstrates that the work is feasible for God. Second, it demonstrates the sufficiency and acceptance of Christ’s satisfaction for His people’s guilt: but bodily death is a part of our penalty therefore: and must be repaired when we are fully invested with the avails of that purchase. Third: Scripture shows such a union between Christ, the Head) and His members; that our glorification must result as His does. 1 Cor. 6:15.
The exposition given of the Covenant of Grace, by our Saviour Himself in Matt. 22: 31, etc., shows that it includes a resurrection for the body. This covenant, Christ there teaches us, is first, perpetual: death does not sever it. But second, it was a covenant not between God and angels or ghosts; but between Him and the incorporate men, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Then, its consummation must restore them to their incorporate state.
The inhabitation of our bodies by the Holy Spirit implies the redemption of the body also. Although not the primary seat of sanctification, the body, thus closely dedicated to the Spirit’s indwelling, will not be left in the dust. Rom. 8:11.
Last, we have seen Turrettin unfold the reasonableness of men’s being judged in the bodies in which they have lived. The rewards and penalties cannot, in any other way, be so appropriate, as when God makes the bodily members which were abused or consecrated, the inlets of the deserved penalties, or the free rewards. See 1 Cor. 5:10.
5. Reprobate not raised in Christ, but by Christ.
Some divines, as e.g. Breckinridge, say that the resurrection of both saints and sinners is of Christ’s purchase quoting 1 Cor. 15:22, making the "all" mean the whole human race. But we teach, that while Christ, as King in Zion, commands the resurrection of both, it is in different relations. The resurrection of His people being a gift of His purchase, is effectuated in them by the union to Him, and is one result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The resurrection of the evil is an act of pure dominion, effected in them by His avenging sovereignty. The other idea would represent the wicked also, as vitally connected with Christ, by a mystical union. But if so, why does not that union sanctify and save? Are we authorized to say that, had Christ not come, there would have been no resurrection unto damnation for Adam’s fallen race at all? Moreover, that opinion puts an unauthorized and dangerous sense upon 1 Cor. 15:22, et sim.
6. Millennium and Second Advent.
The wisdom and modesty of the Westminster Assembly are displayed in the caution with which they speak on these difficult subjects. Their full discussion would lead into a thorough investigation of that vast and intricate subject, unfulfilled prophecy. Nothing more can be attempted here, than a brief statement of competing schemes. They each embrace, and attempt to adjust, the following points: The millennium, or thousand years’ reign of Christ on earth: Christ’s second advent: The destruction of the Kingdom of Satan among men: The resurrection of the righteous and the wicked: and the general judgment and final consummation. That doctrine which we hold, and which we assert to be the Apostolic and Church doctrine, teaches, just as much as the pre–Adventists, the literal and personal second advent of Christ, and we hold, with the Apostolic Christians, that it is, next to heaven, the dearest and most glorious of the believer’s hopes: as bringing the epoch of his full deliverance from death, and full introduction into the society of his adored Saviour. This hope of a literal second advent we base on such Scriptures as these: Acts 1:11: 3:20, 21; Heb. 9:28; 1 Thess. 4:15, 16; Phil. 3:20; Matt. 26:64, etc., etc. Before this second advent, the following events must have occurred. The development and secular overthrow of Antichrist, (2 Thess. 2:3 to 9; Dan. 7:24–26; Rev. 17:, 18:) which is the Papacy. The proclamation of the Gospel to all nations, and the general triumph of Christianity over all false religions, in all nations. (Ps. 72:8–11; Is. 2:2–4; Dan. 2:44, 45; 7:14; Matt. 28:19, 20; Rom. 11:12, 15, 25; Mark 13:10; Matt. 24:14). The general and national return of the Jews to the Christian Church. (Rom. 11:25, 26). And then a partial relapse from this state of high prosperity, into unbelief and sin. (Rev. 20:7, 8). During this partial decline, at a time unexpected to formal Christians and the profane, and not to be expressly foreknown by any true saint on earth, the second Advent of Christ will take place, in the manner described in 1 Thess. It will be immediately followed by the resurrection of all the dead, the redeemed dead taking the precedence. Then the generation of men living at the time will be changed (without dying) into their immortal bodies, the world will undergo its great change by fire, the general judgment will be held; and last, the saved and the lost will severally depart to their final abodes, the former to be forever with the Lord, the latter with Satan and his angels.
It is not easy to state the scheme of the pre–Adventists, because they are so inconsistent with each other, that a part of their company wile disclaim some points of any statement which is made for them. The following propositions, however, are held by the most of pre–Adventists. The present dispensation of the Gospel is neither sufficient nor designed for the general conversion of the world. Missionary efforts can only prepare the way for Christ’s coming, by gathering out of the doomed mass the elect scattered among them. For, Christ’s advent may be at any time, before any general evangelization of either Jews or Gentiles; and when He comes, the wicked will be destroyed by it, and not converted. At this advent, the saints, or the more illustrious of them, at least, will be raised from the dead. The converted Jews will return to Canaan, the temple will be rebuilt and its service restored; and the incarnate Messiah will reign a thousand years, (or a long cycle symbolized by a thousand years,) on earth, with the risen saints. This will be the millennium of Rev. xxth. At the end of this time, the general resurrection of the wicked will take place, and be followed by the general judgment and final consummation.
The boast is: that they are the only faithful party in expounding prophecy according to its literal meaning: and that the daily expectation of this advent is exceedingly promotive of faith and holy living. I can attempt no more than to set down for you a few leading remarks.
Their Scheme Heterodox, by Confession.
Of these the first is: that though it is now the fashion for these pre–Adventists to claim the special honors of orthodoxy, their system is distinctly against that of the Westminster Confession. Not only does that standard ignore it totally: it expressly asserts the contrary: Ch. 8: 4. "Christ shall return to judge men and angels at the end of the world." (Ch. 32: 2). "At the last day...all the dead shall be raised up." (Chap. 33: 3). "So will He have that day unknown to men," etc. (Larger Cat. Qu. 56). "Christ shall come again at the last day," etc., Qu. 86, 87. "The members of the invisible Church...wait for the full redemption of their bodies...till at the last day they be again united to their souls." "We are to believe that at the last day there shall be a general resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust."
The Scheme Suggested by Mistrust.
2nd. To me it appears that the temper which secretly prompts this scheme is one of unbelief. Overweening and egotistical hopes of the early evangelizing of the whole world, fostered by partial considerations, meet with disappointment. Hence results a feeling of skepticism; and they are heard pronouncing the present agencies committed to the Church, as manifestly inadequate. But the temper which Christ enjoins on us is one of humble, faithful, believing diligence in the use of those agencies, relying on His faithfulness and power to make them do their glorious work. He commands us also to remember how much they have already accomplished, when energized by His grace, and to take courage. The tendencies of the pre–Advent scheme are unwholesome, though it has been held by some spiritually minded men.
Their Exegesis no more Faithful.
Its advocates boast that they alone interpret the symbols of prophecy faithfully. But when we examine, we find that they make no nearer approach to an exact system of exposition; and that they can take as wild figurative licenses when it suits their purposes, as any others. The new interpretations are usually but violations of the familiar and well–established canon, that the prophets represent the evangelical blessings under the tropes of the Jewish usages known to themselves.
3d. The pre–Advent scheme disparages the present, the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, and the means committed to the Church for the conversion of sinners. It thus tends to discourage faith and missionary effort. ’Whereas Christ represents the presence of the Holy Spirit, and this His dispensation, as so desirable, that it was expedient for Him to go away that the Paraclete might come. John 16:7. Pre–Adventism represents it as so undesirable that every saint ought to pray for its immediate abrogation. Incredulity as to the conversion of the world by the "means of grace," is hotly, and even scornfully, Inferred from visible results and experiences, in a temper which we confess appears to us the same with that of unbelievers in 2 Peter 3:4: "Where is the promise of his coming?" etc. They seem to us to "judge the Lord by feeble sense," instead of "trusting Him for His grace." Thus it is unfavorable to a faithful performance of ecclesiastical duties. If no visible Church, however orthodox, is to be Christ’s instrument for overthrowing Satan’s kingdom here—if Christ is to sweep the best of them away as so much rubbish, along with all "world–powers," at His Advent—if it is our duty to expect and desire this catastrophe daily; who does not see that we shall feel very slight value for ecclesiastical ties and duties? And should we differ unpleasantly from our Church courts, we shall be tempted to feel that it is pious to spurn them. Are we not daily praying for an event which will render them useless lumber?
Collides with Scriptural Facts.
4th. Their scheme is obnoxious to fatal Scriptural objections: That Christ comes but twice, to atone and to judge; (Heb. 9:28). That the heavens must receive Christ until the times of the restitution of all things. (Acts 3:21). That the blessedness of the saints is always placed by Scripture in "those new heavens and new earth," which succeed the judgment. That on this scheme the date of the world’s end will be known long before it comes; whereas the Scripture represents it as wholly unexpected to all when it comes: That only one resurrection is anywhere mentioned in the most express didactic passages, so that it behooves us to explain the symbolical passage in Rev. 20:4–6Revelation 20:4 to 6, in consistency with them: That the Scriptures say, (e. g.,1 Cor. 15:23; 2 Thess. 1:10; 1 Thess. 3:13), that the whole Church will be complete at Christ’s next coming. And that then the sacraments, and other "means of grace," will cease finally. The opinion is also beset by insuperable difficulties, such as these: whether these resurrected martyrs will die again; whether they will enjoy innocent corporeal pleasures; whether (if the affirmative be taken) their children will be born with original sin; if not, whence those apostate men are to come, who make the final brief falling away just before the second resurrection, etc. On all these points the pre–Adventists make the wildest and most contradictory surmises.
5th. Thus, the scheme tends towards the Rabbinical view of the present state of departed saints. All admit, that their condition is not equal in blessedness and glory, to that upon which they will enter after the resurrection of the body. In the view of the pre–Adventist, it must be also lower than the millennial state; because they hold that Christ’s advent, and the "first resurrection," is a promotion much to be desired by them.
But pre–Adventists confess, with us, that the final state, after "the marriage supper of the Lamb," will be highest of all. Then the present condition of the sainted dead is, according to this doctrine, lower than another mid–way state, which in turn, is lower than the highest. May not the present state then, be quite low indeed? May it not be almost as irksome as that of souls in the Rabbinical Hades? So some pre–Adventists do not stickle to intimate.
6th. Pre–Adventists usually claim that their expectation of the Lord’s coming is peculiarly promotive of spiritual–mindedness, strong faith, and close walking with God. A Christian who had not adopted their scheme, is represented as exclaiming, when it was unfolded: "If I believed so, I must live near my Saviour indeed!" If he did, he exclaimed foolishly. For first, did not God give one and the same system of sanctification to us and to primitive Christians? But these could not have cherished the expectation of seeing the "personal advent" before death; for stubborn facts have proved that it was not less than 1800 years distant. Second, every Christian, even if he is a pre–Adventist, must know that it is far more probable his body will die before the "advent," than that he will live to see it. All admit that in a few years the body must die. Then the season of repentance will be done, the spiritual state of our souls decided forever, and our spirits reunited to a glorified Redeemer in a better world than this. Now, if there is faith, these certainties contain more wholesome stimulus for it, than can possibly be presented in the surmises of any pre–Adventist theory. The only reason the latter is to any persons more exciting, is the romance attaching to it; the same reason which enabled the false prophet, Miller, to drive multitudes into wild alarm by the dream of approaching judgment, who were unmoved by the sober certainty of approaching death. The hope of us common Christians is to meet our glorified Lord very certainly and very soon (when our bodies die) in the other world. It passes our wits to see how a less certain hope of meeting Him in this world (a worse one) can evince more "love for His appearing."