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AS TOUCHING THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD,
HAVE YE NOT READ THAT WHICH WAS SPOKEN
TO YOU BY GON, SAYING, I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, THE GOD OF ISAAC,
AND THE GOD OF JACOB ? GOD IS NOT THE GOD OF THE DEAD, BUT OF THE LIVING. MATT. XXII. 31, 32.
THE resurrection of the dead was a doctrine generally received among the Jews, and the expectation of it had supported all the faithful from the fall of Adam. That there were some in Judea who did not believe it, appears from the case before us; but these were not Jews; they were conceited philosophizing heretics, who had departed from the religion of their forefathers, and were declared by our blessed Saviour to be ignorant of the Scripture, and of the power of God; so their example is of no more weight against the general persuasion of the Jews, than that of our modern arians, socinians, quakers, and such like, against the faith of the Gospel, and the general sense of the Christian world. If we listen to such people as these, our Gospel has no atonement, our Saviour no divinity of person, our nature no need of the assistances
of divine grace. In short, Christianity will be no Christianity, if bad men, who pretend to teach it, are: allowed to be of any `authority. We shall remain, under the like uncertainty, if we ask Sadducees and Herodians, who had fallen into gross secularity, and were little better than our deists, what was the faith of the Jews under the law of Moses? Those of the Jews must have learned better, to whom our Saviour apa: pealed, when he said, Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life ; not only the promises of this world, but of the world to come. And: the same must be admitted, where he asserted against the Samaritans, that salvation, (meaning spiritual and eternal salvation) was of the Jews. John v. 29. and iv. 22.
That the resurrection of the dead was commonly believed amongst them, appears from many examples. When our Lord told Martha (speaking of Lazarus) that her brother should rise again, “ I know,” said she “ that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” She, therefore, had no doubt about this doctrine, although not so inquisitive as Mary in suba jects of divinity. St. Paul's words are much more remarkable, as being of much greater extent and application : “ For the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.". Now, if we refer backwards to his trial before king Agrippa, we shall see that this hope, which it seems was the hope of Israel, that is, of the church of the Jews at large, was the hope of the resurrection, " I stand, and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers, unto which promise, our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night; hope to come; for which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the
e another, till not because theus object of their
dead ?” This, then, was the express object of their hope : and why ? not because they had learned it of one another, till it grew into a national persuasion; but because it was promised of God unto their fathers, the Patriarchs and their posterity. Therefore, the promises made to them, however worded, and however carnally misunderstood, in ancient or modern times, were promises which included the hope of another life, and the resurrection of the dead. This agrees exactly with our Saviour's interpretation of the promise in the text. The God of life, the God of the spirits of all flesh, calls himself the God of the fathers of Israel, when they were laid in their graves; and Moses reported this to shew* that the dead are raised : in as much as the God of spirits, that is, the God of the living (for all spirits live) can have no relation with the dead, but as still living in spirit, and prea sorved unto life eternal in body also. With this text; we read that the Sadducees were put to silence, and the multitude were astonished at the doctrine. The Sadducees were impudent and obstinate; but the case was too plain to be resisted ; and the promise of life was recognized by the people with wonder and delight.
I may instance, again, in that passage of Ezekief, ehap. xxxvii. where the resurrection of dry bones into a multitude of living people, is used by the prophet, as a sign, to assure the Jews, then in captivity, that they should be restored to their own land. For this passage shews, it was a doctrine universally known to them, that the dead should be raised out of their graves. It was not written to teach them the doctrine wl the resurrection at that time, but to build upon it,
* See Luke xx. 37.
as a thing known and allowed amongst them. There is a plain reason in all language, why the sign should be better known than the thing signified. Here, the thing unknown to the poor' desponding Jews, was their deliverance from captivity; the resurrection of the dead from their graves, is the sign and pledge to assure them thereof. The God, who, according to his proinise, was engaged to bring them from the last and greatest captivity under the power of death; would bring them out of the land in which they were then held in bondage : and as they believed the one already, they might thence be induced to believe the other, when the prophet Ezechiel informed them of it, in terms borrowed from the resurrection of the body.
The hope of Israel was then in the promise of a resurrection : this was in all times the general persuasion of the Jews, to whom Moses had shewed it: and none but the worst of heretics disputed it, who disputed every thing. How comes it then to have been imagined, that the people of God, while under the law, looked only for temporal promises? The seventh article of our church is strongly pointed against this error; therefore it had made its appearance soon after the Reformation. And, I am sorry to say it, one of our most learned divines, whose sermons are deservedly in great repute, hath affirmed in plain words, that the people, and even the priests of the Jews, did not know so much of the immortality of the soul, as the heathen philosophers did *. And another of later
*“ As to evident discovery concerning the immortality of man's soul, or the future state (so material a point of religion, of 80 great moment and influence upon practice) even the Gentile theology (assisted by ancient common tradition) seems to have outgone the Jewish, grounding upon their revealed law; the Pagan priests, more expressly taught, more frequently inculcated times built a grand argument for the divine authority of Moses on the supposition, that the doctrine of a future state is not to be found in his writings ! !
Here, then, is a very strange and shocking opposition between the doctrine of Christ and his apostles, and some of our celebrated reasoners of modern times. Christ saith, Moses shewed that the dead are raised : Paul says, he taught nothing but what Moses taught *, and that the resurrection of the dead was the hope of Israel : while some of later times say, Moses has purposely omitted the doctrine of a future state; and that even the priests of the Jews knew little or nothing about the immortality of the soul and a future life. It is our misfortune, that for four generations past, a strange degree of inadvertency with respect to the sense of God's promises, and the language of his law, hath been stealing upon us; since the new schemes of human religion have been invented, and have found so many admirers. I have therefore determined to examine the Scripture by the light of the Scripture, and see what it delivers to us on the immortality of the soul, the world of spirits, the resurrection of the dead, and the rewards of the faithful after death.
Our best method will be to suppose the negative; that the immortality of the soul, and the world of spi
arguments drawn from thence, than the Hebrew prophets : a plain instance and argument of the imperfection of this religion.” See Dr. Barrow's Sermons on the imperfection of the Jewish Religion. Such a remark, from a man of such judgment and learning, and good intentions as Dr. Barrow, must be considered as a symptom, that we were falling into times, when the spirit of the Old Testament should be less understood than formerly : and accordingly it was strangely misrepresented by Spencer, Warburton, Middleton, and others: while Stanhope, and many writers of his class, asserted the doctrine which I am defending in this discourse.
* Acts xxvi. 12.