« ÎnapoiContinuați »
promise, as the stars of heaven, or as the sand by the sea-shore, innumerable, what numbers can compute the multitudes that have sprung from all the patriarchs, the sons of Adam and Noah! But what is become of them all ? Alas! they are turned into earth, their original element; they are all imprisoned in the grave, except the present generation, and we are dropping one after another in quick succession into that place appointed for all living. There has not been perhaps a moment of time for five thousand years, but what some one or other has sunk into the mansions of the dead; and in some fatal hours, by the sword of war or the devouring jaws of earthquakes, thousands have been cut off and swept away at once, and left in one huge promiscuous carnage.
The greatest number of mankind beyond comparison are sleeping under ground. There lies beauty mouldering into dust, rotting into stench and loathsomeness, and feeding the vilest worms. There lies the head that once wore a crown, as low and con. temptible as the meanest beggar. There lie the mighty giants, the heroes and conquerors, the Samsons, the Ajaxes, the Alexanders, and the Casars of the world! there they lie stupid, senseless, and inactive, and unable to drive off the worms that riot on their marrow, and make their houses in those sockets where the eyes sparkled with living lustre. There lie the wise and the learned, as rotten, as helpless as the fool. There lie some that we once conversed with, some that were our friends, our companions; and there lie our fathers and mothers, our brothers and sisters.
And shall they lie there always ? Shall this body, this curious workmanship of Heaven, so wonderfully and fearfully made, always lie in ruins, and never be repaired? Shall the wide-extended valleys of dry bones never more live? This we know, that it is not a thing impossible with God to raise the dead. He that could first form our bodies out of nothing, is certainly able to form them anew, and repair the wastes of time and death. But what is his declared will in this case ? On this the matter turns; and this is fully revealed in my text. hour is coming, when all that are in the graves,” all that are dead, without exception, “shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and shall come forth.”
And for what end shall they come forth? O! for very different purposes ; some to the resurrection of life; and some to the resurrection of damnation.”
And what is the ground of this vast distinction ? Or what is the difference in character between those that shall receive so different a doom? It is this, “ They that have done good shall rise to life, and they that have done evil to damnation.” It is this, and this only, that will then be the rule of distinction.
I would avoid all art in my method of handling this subject, and intend only to illustrate the several parts of the text. “All that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done well, to the resurrection of life ; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation."
I. They that are in the graves shall hear his voice. The voice of the Son of God here probably means the sound of the archangel's trumpet, which is called his voice, because sounded by his orders and attended with his all-quickening power. This all-wakening call to the tenants of the grave we frequently find foretold in scripture. I shall refer you to two plain passages. Behold, says St. Paul, I show you a mystery, an important and astonishing secret, we shall not all sleep; that is mankind will not all be sleeping in death when that day comes; there will be a generation then alive upon the earth; and though they cannot have a proper resurrection, yet they shall pass through a change equivalent to it. “We ail all be changed,” says he, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, for the trumpet shall sound,” it shall give the alarm; and no sooner is the awful clangor heard than all the living shall be transformed into immortals; and the dead shall be raised incorruptible ; and we, who are then alive, shall be changed, 1 Cor. xv. 51, 52; this is all the difference, they shall be raised, and we shall be changed. This awful prelude of the trumpet is also mentioned in 1 Thess. iv. 15, 16. “ We which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them which are asleep ;” that is, we shall not be beforehand with them in meeting our descending Lord, “for the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangels, and with the trump of God;" that is, with a godlike
trump, such as it becomes his majesty to sound, and the dead in Christ shall rise first : that is, before the living shall be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and when they are risen, and the living transformed, they shall ascend together to the place of judgment.
My brethren, realize the majesty and terror of this universal alarm. When the dead are sleeping in the silent grave; when the living are thoughtless and unapprehensive of the grand event, or intent on other pur. suits ; some of them asleep in the dead of night ; some of them dissolved in sensual pleasures, eating and drinke ing, marrying and giving in marriage ; some of them planning or executing schemes for riches or honors; some in the very act of sin ; the generality stupid and careless about the concerns of eternity, and the dreadful day just at hand; and a few here and there conversing with their God, and “looking for the glorious appearance of their Lord and Savior;" when the course of nature runs on uniform and regular as usual, and infidel scoffers are taking umbrage from thence to ask, “Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” 2 Pet. iii. 4. In short, when there are no more visible appearances of this approaching day, than of the destruction of Sodom on that fine clear morning in which Lot fled away; or of the deluge, when Noah entered into the ark; then in that hour of unapprehensive security, then suddenly shall the heavens open over the astonished world; then shall the all-alarming clangor break over their heads like a clap of thunder in a clear sky. Immediately the living turn their gazing eyes upon the amazing phenomenon; a few hear the long-expected sound with rapture, and lift up their heads with joy, assured that the day of their redemption is come, while the thoughtless world are struck with the wildest horror and consternation. In the same instant the sound reaches all the mansions of the dead, and in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, they are raised, and the living are changed. This call will be as animating to all the sons of men, as that call to a single person, Lazarus, come forth. 'O what a surprise will this be to a thoughtless world! Should this alarm burst over our heads this moment, into what a terror would it strike many in this assembly? Such will be the terror, such the consternation, when it actually comes to pass. Sinners will be the same timorous, self-condemned creatures then, as they are now. And then they will not be able to stop their ears, who are deaf to all the gentler calls of the gospel now. Then the trump of God will constrain them to hear and fear, to whom the ministers of Christ now preach in vain. Then they must all hear, for,
II. My text tells you, all that are in the graves, all without exception, shall hear his voice. Now the voice of mercy calls, reason pleads, conscience warns, but mul. titudes will not hear. But this is a voice which shall, which must reach every one of the millions of mankind, and not one of them will be able to stop his ears. Infants and giants, kings and subjects, all ranks, all ages of mankind shall hear the call
. The living shall start and be changed, and the dead rise at the sound. The dust that was once alive and formed a human body, whether it flies in the air, floats in the ocean, or vegetates on earth, shall hear the new-creating fiat. Wherever the fragments of the human frame are scattered, this all-penetrating call shall reach and speak them into life. We may consider this voice as a summons not only to dead bodies to rise, but to the souls that once animated them, to appear and be re-united to them, whether in heaven or hell. To the grave, the call will be, Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment; to heaven, ye spirits of just men made perfect; "descend to the world whence you originally came ; and assume your new-formed bodies : to hell, “Come forth and appear, ye damned ghosts, ye prisoners of darkness, and be again united to the bodies in which you once sinned, that in them ye may now suffer." Thus will this summons spread through every corner of the universe ; and heaven, earth and hell, and all their inhabitants, shall hear and obey. Devils, as well as sinners of our race, will tremble at the sound; for now they know they can plead no more as they once did, Torment not before the time ; for the time is come, and they must mingle with the prisoners at the bar. And now when all that are in the graves hear this all-quickening voice,
III. They shall come forth. Now methinks I see, I hear the earth heaving, charnel-houses rattling, tombs burst
ing, graves opening. Now the nations under ground begin to stir. There is a noise and a shaking among
the dry bones. The dust is all alive, and in motion, and the globe breaks and trembles, as with an earthquake, while this vast army is working its way through and bursting into life. The ruins of human bodies are scattered far and wide, and have passed through many and surprising transformations. A limb in one country, and another in another; here the head and there the trunk, and the ocean rolling between. Multitudes have sunk in a watery grave, been swallowed up by the monsters of the deep, and transformed into a part of their flesh. Multitudes have been eaten by beasts and birds of prey, and incorporated with them; and some have been devoured by their fellow-men in the rage of a desperate hunger, or of unnatural cannibal appetite, and digested into a part of them. Multitudes have mouldered into dust, and this dust has been blown about by winds, and washed away with water, or it has petrified into stone, or been burnt into brick to form dwellings for their posterity; or it has grown up in grain, trees, plants, and other vegetables, which are the support of man and beast, and are transformed into their flesh and blood. But through all these various transformations and changes, not a particle that was essential to one human body has been lost, or incorporated with another human body, so as to become an essential part of it. And as to those particles that were not essential, they are not necessary to the identity of the body or of the person ; and therefore we need not think they will be raised again. The omniscient God knows how to collect, distinguish, and compound all those scattered and mingled seeds of our mortal bodies. And now at the sound of the trumpet, they shall all be collected, wherever they were scattered; all properly sorted and united, however they were confused ; atom to its fellow-atom, bone to its fellow-bone. Now methinks you may see the air darkened with fragments of bodies flying from country to country, to meet and join their proper parts:
This was the fate of Pompey, who was slain on the African shore. His body was left there, and his head carried over the Mediterranean to Julius Cæsar.