Sermon 391. The First Resurrection
A SERMON DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, MAY 5, 1861,
BY REV. C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"AndIsaw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and/saw the souls of them who were beheaded forthe witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God, and who had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had receivedhis mark on their foreheads, or on their hands.And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousandyearswere finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection; on such thesecond death has nopower, but theyshall be priests of God, and of Christ and shall reign with Him a thousandyears." Revelation 20:4,5, 6.
"AndIsaw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened, and another book was opened, which is theBook of Life. And the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." Revelation 20:12.
You will bear me witness, my Friends, that it is exceedingly seldom I ever intrude into the mysteries of the future with regardeither to the Second Advent, the millennial reign, or the First and Second Resurrection. As often as we come across it inour expositions, we do not turn aside from thepoint, but if guilty at all on this point, it is rather in being too silent than saying too much. And now, in bringing forwardthis question this morning, I would say I do not do it to amuse your curiosity by novelty, or that I may pretend to have thetrue key of the prophecieswhich are as yet unfulfilled. I scarcely think it would be justifiable for me to spend my time upon prophetic studies forwhich I have not the necessary talent, nor is it the vocation to which my Master has ordained me. I think some ministers woulddo far more for the profit ofGod's people if they would preach more about the First Advent and less about the Second. But I have chosen this topic becauseI believe it has practical bearings, and may be made useful, instructive, and awakening to us all. I find that the most earnestof the Puritan preachers didnot forbear to dwell upon this mysterious subject. I turn to Charnock; and in his disquisition upon the Immutability ofGod, he does not hesitate to speak of the conflagration of the world, of the millennial reign, and the new heavens and newearth. I turn to Richard Baxter, a manwho above all other men loved the souls of men; who more, perhaps, than any man with the exception of the Apostle Paul,travailed in birth for souls; and I find him making a barbed arrow out of the Doctrine of the coming of the Lord, and thrustingthis great Truth into the veryheart and conscience of unbelievers, as though it were Heaven's own sword! And John Bunyan too-plain, honest John-he whopreached so simply that a child could comprehend him, and was certainly never guilty of having written upon his forehead theword, "Mystery"-he, too, speaksof the Advent of Christ, and of the glories which shall follow; and uses this Doctrine as a stimulus to the saints, andas a warning to the ungodly. I do not think therefore I need tremble very much if the charge should be brought against meof bringing before you an unprofitablesubject. It shall profit if God shall bless the word; and if it is God's Word, we may expect His blessing if we preach itall, but He will withdraw it if we refrain from teaching any part of His Word because in our pretended wisdom we fancy thatit would not have practical effect!
Now, my dear Friends, in introducing again these texts to you, I shall just remark that in the first text which relates tothe people of God, we have three great privileges. And in the second text, which relates to the ungodly who are not in covenantwith Christ, we have three great and terriblethings which may soon be perceived.
I. First of all, we will take the first text with its THREE PRIVILEGES. "Blessed and holy is he who has part in the firstresurrection; on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God, and of Christ and shall reign withHim a thousand years."
Before I proceed to enter into these privileges, I must remark that two modes of understanding this verse have been proposed,both of which I think are untenable. I have been reading carefully through Albert Barnes. In his opinion, the First Resurrectionhere spoken of is a resurrection ofprinciples-a resurrection of the patience, the undaunted courage, the holy boldness, and constancy of the ancient martyrs.He says these great principles have been forgotten, and, as it were, buried; and that during the spiritual reign of Christwhich is to come, these greatprinciples will have a resurrection. Now, I appeal to you, would you, in reading that passage, think this to be the meaning?Would any man believe that to be its meaning, if he had not some thesis to defend? The fact is, we sometimes read Scripturethinking of what it oughtto say,rather than what it does say. I do not hesitate to affirm that any simple-minded person who was intent upon discoveringthe mind of the Spirit, and not upon finding a method by which the words could be compelled to express his own mind, wouldsay that the resurrection of principles,or the resurrection of doctrines, does not give the fair meaning of the words here stated! Brothers and Sisters, cannotyou perceive at a glance that this is the resurrection of men? And is it not a literal resurrection, too? Does it not say,"I saw the souls of them who werebeheaded for the witness of Jesus"? Is it not written, "The rest of the dead lived not?" Does this mean the rest of thedead principles The rest of the dead doctrines You cannot so translate it! It is-we have no doubt whatever-a literal resurrectionof the saints of God, and notof principles nor of doctrines.
But another interpretation has been proposed. I once had the misfortune to listen to an excellent friend of mine who was preachingupon this very text, and I must confess I did not attend with very great patience to his exposition. He said it meant blessedand holy is he who has been born-again,who has been regenerated, and so has had a resurrection from dead works by the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Allthe while he was preaching, I could not help but wish that I could propose to him the difficulty to make this metaphoricalinterpretation agree with the literalfact-that the rest of the dead lived not till the thousand years were finished! For if the First Resurrection here spokenof is a metaphorical, or spiritual, or typical resurrection-why the next, where it speaks of the resurrection of the dead,must be spiritual, and mystical,and metaphorical too! Now, no one would agree with this. When you read a Chapter, you are not to say, "This part is a symbol,and is to be read so, and the next part is to be read literally." Brothers and Sisters, the Holy Spirit does not jumble metaphorsand facts together! Atypical Book has plain indications that it is so intended, and when you come upon a literal passage in a typical Chapter,it is always attached to something else which is distinctly literal so that you cannot, without violence to common sense,make a typical meaning out of it! Thefact is, in reading this passage with an unbiased judgment-having no purpose whatever to serve, having no theory to defend-andI confess I have none, for I know but very little about mysteries to come-I could not help seeing there are two literal resurrectionshere spokenof-one of the spirits of the just, and the other of the bodies of the wicked; one of the saints who sleep in Jesus, whomGod shall bring with Him, and another of those who live and die impenitent, who perish in their sins.
But this by way of preface to this first text. Let me now proceed. There are three privileges in the text.
1. Now as to the first privilege, the priority of resurrection. I think Scripture is exceedingly plain and explicit upon thispoint. You have perhaps imagined that all men will rise at the same moment-that the trumpet of the archangel will break openevery grave at the same instant, and sound inthe ear of every sleeper at the identical moment. Such I do not think is the testimony of the Word of God! I think the Wordof God teaches, and teaches indisputably, that the saints shall rise first. And be the interval of time whatever it may, whetherthe thousand years are literalyears, or a very long period of time, I am not now about to determine! I have nothing to do except with the fact that thereare two resurrections, a resurrection of the just, and afterwards of the unjust-a time when the saints of God shall rise,and a later time when the wickedshall rise to the resurrection of damnation. I shall now refer you to one or two passages in Scripture, and you will useyour Bibles and follow me. First, let us look at the words of the Apostle in that Chapter which we use generally as a burialservice, the First Epistle to theCorinthians, 15:20-24: "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them who slept. For sinceby man came death, by Man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be madealive. But every man in his ownorder: Christ the first fruits; afterward they who are Christ's at His coming. Then comes the end, when He shall have deliveredup the kingdom to God, even the Father, when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power." There has beenan interval of two thousand yearsbetween "Christ the first fruits," and the "afterward they who are Christ's at His coming." Why not then a thousand yearsbetween that First Resurrection and "the end"? Here is a resurrection of those who are Christ's, and of them only. As forthe wicked, one would scarcely knowthat they would rise at all from this passage, if it were not for the general statement, "All shall be made alive." Andeven this may not be so comprehensive as at first sight it seems. It is enough for me that there is here a particular andexclusive resurrection of those who areChrist's.
Turn to another passage, which is perhaps still more plain, the First Epistle to the Thessalonians, 4:13-17- "But I wouldnot have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others who haveno hope. For if we believe that Jesus died, androse again, even so they also who sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord,that we who are alive, and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent"-or have a preference beyond-"those who areasleep. For the Lord Himselfshall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God: and the dead in Christshall rise first: then we who are alive, and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lordin the air-and so shall we everbe with the Lord." Here is nothing said whatever about the resurrection of the wicked-it is only stated that the dead inChrist shall rise first. Our Apostle is evidently speaking of a first resurrection; and since we know that a first resurrectionimplies a second, and since weknow that the wicked dead are to rise as well as the righteous dead, we draft the inference that the wicked dead shall riseat the Second Resurrection, after the interval between the two resurrections shall have been accomplished.
Turn to Philippians 3, verses 8 and 10-11 and compare them. "Yes doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledgeof Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.""That I may know Him, and thepower of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death, if by any meansI might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." What does he mean there? Everyone will rise, no orthodox Christian doubtsthat! The Doctrine of a GeneralResurrection is received by all the Christian Church. What, then, is this resurrection after which Paul was exerting himself,if by any means he might attain unto it? It could not be the general resurrection; he would attain unto that, live as he wish!It must have been somesuperior resurrection of which only those shall be partakers who have known Christ and the power of His resurrection, havingbeen made conformable unto His death. I think you cannot interpret this passage or give it any force of meaning, unless youadmit that there is to be a priorresurrection of the just before the resurrection of the unjust. If you will turn to a passage in Luke 20:35-36, which probably is fresh upon your memories, you will find there something which I will venture to call a clear proof ofa special resurrection! The Sadducees had proposeda difficulty as to the relationship of men and women in the future state and Jesus here says, "But they who shall be accountedworthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: neither can theydie any more, for they are equalunto the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection." Now, Brothers and Sisters, thereis some worthiness necessary for this resurrection! Do you not perceive it? There is some distinction involved in being calledthe children of the resurrection.Now, again I say, you do not doubt but that all shall rise. In that sense, then, every man would be one of the childrenof the resurrection. In thatsense, no worthiness would be required for resurrection at all! There must be, then, a resurrectionfor which worthiness is needed, aresurrection which shall be a distinguished privilege, which, being obtained, shall confer upon its possessor the distinguishedand honorable title of a "child of the resurrection." It seems to me that this is plain enough and can be put beyond all dispute.
In Chapter 14 of the same Gospel, in verse 13-14, you have a promise made to those who, when they make a feast, do not doit with the intention of getting anything in return. "When you make a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind,and you shall be blessed, for they cannot recompenseyou; for you shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just." I would not insist upon it, that this would prove thatthe just rose at a different time; but still there is to be a resurrection of the just, and on the other hand, there is tobe a resurrection of the unjust; andthe time of recompense for the righteous is to be the resurrection of the just, which is spoken of as being a particularperiod. He might just as well have said, "You shall be recompensed at the general resurrection." There was no need to havesaid, "At the resurrection of thejust," if the two are to happen at the same time! The words "of the just" are superfluous in the passage unless they dorefer to some era distinguished and distinct from the resurrection of the unjust. I will not say that this is any clear proof,but still, all these things puttogether, with other passages I might quote if time did not fail me, would, I think, establish upon a Scriptural basis thedoctrine of the two resurrections. But I would refer to one more, which seems to me to be exceedingly clear, in John 6:39, 40, 44, 54. In these verses theSavior four times over speaks of His own believing people, and promises them a resurrection. "I will raise him up at thelast day." Now, is there any joy or beauty in this, to the people of God in particular, unless there is a specialty in itfor them? It is the lot of all to rise,and yet we have here a privilege for the elect! Surely, Brothers and Sisters, there is a different resurrection. Besides,there is yet a passage which now springs to my memory in Hebrews 11:35, where the Apostle, speaking of the trials of the godly, and their noble endurance, speaksof them as, "not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection." The betterness was not in the laterresults of resurrection, but in the resurrection itself. How, then, could it be a better resurrection, unless there is somedistinction between the resurrectionof the saint, and the resurrection of the sinner? Let the one be a resurrection of splendor-let the other be a resurrectionof gloom and horror-and let there be a marked division between the two, that as it was in the beginning it may be even tothe end, the Lord has put adifference between him who fears God, and him who fears Him not.
I am well aware that I have not been able to put the argument so well but that any antagonist may cavil at it. But I havebeen preaching to my own congregation rather than fighting with opponents, and I hope you will take these passages and weighthem for yourselves. If they do not teach you thatthe dead in Christ shall rise first, do not believe me if I say they do. If you cannot perceive the fact yourself, if theHoly Spirit does not show it to you, why then, read the passage again, and then find if you can find another and a bettermeaning. I have no purpose to serveexcept to make the Scripture as plain to you as possible. And I say it yet again-I have not a shadow of a doubt in my ownsoul that these passages do teach us that there shall first of all be a resurrection concerning which it shall be said, "Blessedand holy is he who has part inthe first resurrection, on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shallreign with Him a thousand years."
2. I now pass on to the second privilege here promised to the godly. The second death on them has no power This, too, is aliteral death-none the less literal because its main terror is spiritual-for a spiritual death is as literal as a carnal death!The death which shall come upon the ungodlywithout exception can never touch the righteous. Oh, Brothers and Sisters, this is the best of all! As for the first resurrection,if Christ has granted that to His people, there must be something glorious in it if we cannot perceive it. "It does not yetappear what we shall be, butwe know when He shall appear, we shall be like Hm." I think the glories of the first resurrection belong to the glorieswhich shall be revealed in us rather than the glories that are revealed to us. What shall be the majesty of that form in whichwe shall rise? What is thedistinguished happiness we shall then enjoy? We can but guess at a distance-we cannot know it fully. But on this point wecan understand what Scripture states, and understand this much well-that damnation, the second death- shall have no poweron those who rise at the firstresurrection! How could it? How can damnation fall on any but those who are sinners and are guilty of sin? And the saintsare not guilty of sin. They have sinned like others, and they were by nature the children of wrath even as others. But theirsin has been lifted from them-itwas laid upon the Scapegoats' head of old! He, the Eternal Substitute, even our Lord Jesus, carried all their guilt andtheir iniquity into the wilderness of forgetfulness where it shall never be found against them forever! They wear the Savior'srighteousness, even as they havebeen washed in His blood; and what wrath can lie on the man who is not only guiltless through the blood, but is meritoriousthrough Imputed Righteousness? Oh, arm of Justice, you are nerveless to smite the blood-washed! Oh, you flames of Hell, howcould even so much as the breath ofyour heat pass upon the man who is safely covered in the Savior's wounds? How is it possible for you, O Deaths, Destructions,Horrors, Glooms, Plagues, and Terrors, so much as to flit like a cloud over the serene sky of the spirit which has found peacewith God through the blood ofChrist? No, Brothers and Sisters-
"Bold shall I stand in that great day! For who anything to my charge shall lay? While, through Your blood, absolved I am Fromsin's tremendous curse and shame."
There shall be a second death; but over us it shall have no power. Do you understand the beauty of the picture? As if we mightwalk through the flames of Hell, and they should have no power t o devour us any more than when the holy children paced withease over the hot coals of Nebuchadnezzar'sseven-times heated furnace! Death may bend his bow and fit the arrow to the string-but we laugh at you, O Death! And you,O Hell, we will despise, for over both of you, enemies of man, we shall be more than conquerors through Him who has lovedus! We shall stand invulnerable andinvincible, defying and laughing to scorn our every foe. And all this because we are washed from sin, and covered with aspotless righteousness!
But there is another reason why the second death can have no power on the Believer; because when the prince of this worldcomes against us, we shall be able to say what our Master did, "He has nothing in Me." When we shall rise again, we shallbe freed from all corruption-no evil tendencies shallremain in us. "I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed; for the Lord dwells in Zion." "Without spot or wrinkle,or any such thing"-without even the shadow of a spot which the eyes of Omniscience could discover, we shall be as pure asAdam before his fall, as holy asthe immaculate manhood when it first came from the Divine Hand! We shall be better than Adam, for Adam might sin, but weshall be so established in goodness, in truth, and in righteousness, that we shall not even be tempted again, much less shallwe have any fear of falling! Weshall stand spotless and faultless at the Last Great Day. Brothers and Sisters, lift up your heads- contending with sin,cast down with doubts-lift up your heads and wipe the tears from your eyes! There are days coming, the like of which angelshave not seen-but you shall seethem! There are times coming when your spirits shall no more fear the chain, nor shall you even remember the wormwood andthe gall-
"What, though your inbred sins require Your flesh to see the dust- Yet as the Lord your Savior rose So all His followers must!"
And when they rise they shall leave the old Adam behind them. Blessed day! One of the most blessed parts of Heaven-of Heavenabove or of Heaven below-will be freedom from the tendency to sin-a total death to that old nature which has been our plagueand woe!
3. There is yet a third privilege in the text, upon which I shall speak but briefly. I believe this to be also one of theglories that shall be revealed. The third privilege of the text is, "They shall reign with Him a thousand years.''" Here isanother point upon which there has been a long andvery vigorous contention. It was believed in the early Church-I do not know whether there is any Scriptural foundation forthe precise date they fixed-that the seventh thousand years of the world's history would be a Sabbath; that as there weresix days of toil in the week, andthe seventh was a day of rest, so the world would have six thousand years of toil and sorrow, and the seventh thousand wouldbe a thousand years of rest. I say I do not know that there is any Scripture for that; I do know that there is none againstit. I believe the Lord Himselfshall come, "but of that day, and of that hour knows no man, no not even the angels of God." And I think it is idle to attemptto fix the year or even the century when Christ shall come! Our business is to always expect Him, to be always looking forHis appearing, watching for Hiscoming; that whether He comes at cock-crow, or midnight, or at morning watch, we need be ready to go in with the wise virginsinto the marriage feast, and to rejoice with our Beloved! If there have been any dates given, I am not able at present tofind them. All these dates andmysteries I can leave to much more learned men, and men who give their whole time to it. The book of Revelation needs anotherexpounder besides those who have loaded our shelves until they groan, for they have generally made confusion worse confounded!Their expositions have beenrather "an obviation" than a revelation; they have rather darkened counsel by words without knowledge, than made the darkthings plain. I am prepared to go about as far as my predecessor Dr. Gill went-as far as the old fathers of the Church went,as far as Baxter and Bunyan wouldhave gone-but to go no further than that! Yet I think we may say this morning, there it in our text a distinct promise thatthe saints are to reign with Christ a thousand years, and I believe they are to reign with Him upon this earth.
There are some passages which I think obtain a singular fullness of meaning if this is true. Turn to Psalm 37:10, 11. It is that Psalm where David has been fretting himself, because of the evildoers and their prosperity upon the earth. Hesays, "For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be:yes, you shall diligently consider his place and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delightthemselves in the abundance of peace." You can interpret that to mean that the meek man shall enjoy much more of this world'sgoods than the sinner, and that heshall have abundance of peace. But I think you have given it a lean meaning, a very lean meaning, indeed. If it is truethat these meek ones shall yet possess this very earth, and that here, in the abundance of peace through the Messiah's reign,they shall rejoice in it, I think youhave found a fuller meaning, and one which has a God-like meaning. So it is that God's promises always have a wider meaningthan we can conceive; now, in this case, if it only means that the meek are to have what they gain in this life, which isvery little, indeed; if they are onlyto have what they enjoy here upon earth, which is so little, that I think if in this life only they have hope, they areof men the most miserable! If it only means that, then the promise means less than we might conceive it to mean! But if itmeans that they shall have glory evenhere, then you have given to it one of the widest meanings you can conceive-a meaning like the meanings usually given tothe promises of God-wide, large, extensive, and worthy of Himself! Brothers and Sisters, the meek do not inherit the earthto any great degree at present, andwe look for this in another age. Let me quote the language of Christ, lest you should think this passage peculiar to theOld Testament dispensation, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." How? Where? When? Not now, certainly,not in Christ's days, not in Apostolictimes by any means. What did the meek inherit, Brothers and Sisters? The stake, flames, racks, pincers, dungeons. Theirinheritance indeed, was nothing! They were destitute, addicted, tormented. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins,and if the meek are ever to inherit theearth, certainly it must be in some age to come, for they have never inherited it yet!
Turn again to a passage in Revelation 5:9, 10-"And they sung a new song." It is the very song we sang this morning, and it runs thus, "You are worthy to take the Book,and to open the seals thereof: for You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every kindred and tongue,andpeople and nation; and have made us unto our God, kings and priests-and we shall reign on the earth." Whether anyone disputesthe genuineness of these words, I do not know; but if they mean anything at all-if the Holy Spirit meant to set forth anymeaning-surely it must havebeen that the people of Christ shall reign on the earth. Besides, remember our Savior's words in Matthew 19:28-29, where in answer to a question which had been put by Peter as to what His saints should have as the result of their lossesfor His sake, He said unto them, "Verily I sayunto you, that you which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit in the Throne of His Glory,you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has forsaken houses, or brothers,or sisters, or father, or mother,or wife, or children, or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life." Itseems that Christ here is to come in the regeneration, when in a newborn world there shall be joys fitted for the newbornspirits-and then there shall besplendors and glories for the Apostles first, and for all those who by any means have suffered any losses for Christ Jesus.You find such passages as these in the Word of God, "The Lord of Hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and beforeHis ancients gloriously." Youfind another like this in Zachariah, "My God shall come with the multitude of His saints." Indeed, I could not now takeup your time by quoting many passages in which it seems to me that nothing but the triumph on the very spot where they havefought the battle, nothing but theglory in the very place where they have had the tug of war, will meet the meaning of God's Word. I do look forward to thiswith joy, that though I may sleep in Christ before my Master comes, and I know not whether that shall be or not, yet I shallrise at the day of His appearing,and shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just if I have truly and faithfully served Him; and that recompenseshall be to be made like unto Him, and to partake of His glories before the eyes of men, and to reign with Him during thethousand years! Dr. Watts, I believe,understood that Christ is to come literally, for he says-
"Nor does it yet appear How great we must be made; But when we see our Savior here, We shall be like our Head! A hope so much divine May trials well endure, May purge our souls from sense and sin As Christ the Lord is pure."
But to gather up what I have said, and to make one other observation. This Doctrine which I have preached just now is notan unpractical one. For throughout the New Testament, whenever the Apostle wants to stir up men to patience, to labor, tohope, to endurance, to holiness-he generally sayssomething about the Advent of Christ. "Be patient, Brethren," he says, "for the coming of the Lord draws near." "Let yourmoderation be known unto all men, the Lord is at hand." "Judge nothing before the time, till the Lord come." "When the greatShepherd shall appear, you alsoshall appear with Him in glory." Brothers and Sisters, I think we shall do wrong if we make too much of this; but we shalldo equally wrong if we make too little of it! Let us give it a fair place in our thoughts, and especially let those of uswho fear
God, and believe in Jesus take this to be a window through which we can look when the house is dark, and our home is fullof misery. Let us look to the time when we shall rise among the first, following Christ the First Fruits-when we shall reignwith Christ, sharing in His glories-and when weshall know that the second death over us has no power.
II. I shall now turn to the second part of the discourse briefly. To the ungodly THREE THINGS IN SIMPLICITY.
Sinner, you have heard us speak of the resurrection of the righteous. To you the word "resurrection" has no music. There isno flash ofjoy in your spirit when you hear that the dead shall rise again. But oh, I pray you lend me your ears while I assureyou in God's name that you shall rise! Not onlyshall your soul live-you have perhaps become so brutish that you forget you have a soul-but your body itself shall live!Those eyes that have been full of lust shall see sights of horror! Those ears which have listened to the temptations of theEvil One, shall hear the thundersof the Day of Judgment! Those very feet that bare you to the theater, shall attempt, but utterly fail to sustain you whenChrist shall sit in judgment! Think not when your body is put into the soil, that you have done with it! It has been partnerwith your soul in sin; it shall besharer with your soul in the punishment! He is able to cast both body and soul into Hell! The heathens believe in the immortalityof the soul. We need not therefore prove what a heathen could conceive. It is the Doctrine of the Resurrection of the bodywhich is peculiar toChristianity. I know you are not prepared to cast away the Revelation of God,. You receive that Book as being God's Book,and it tells me that the dead, both small and great, shall rise. When the archangel's trumpet shall sound, the whole of theold inhabitants of the world beforethe Flood shall rise out of the ocean! The buried palaces, the sunken homes shall all give up the multitude who once married,and were given in marriage until Noah entered into the ark. Up shall rise from the great deeps of the fathomless sea, thousandsupon thousands of bodiesofmen and women who have slept now these three and four thousand years! Every churchyard, too, where men have been quietlyburied with Christian rites, but yet were still unchristian, shall yield up its dead. The battlefield shall yield a mightyharvest-a harvest which was sown inblood-which shall be reaped in tempest. Every place where man has lived, and man has died shall see the dying quickenedonce again, and flesh and blood once more instinct with life! But the main thing with you is that you will be there. Livingand dying as you now are, ungodly andunconverted, the most awful curse that could fall on you-with the exception of the damnation of your soul-is the sure andcertain resurrection of your body!
Go, now, and paint it if you will, and seek a beauty which the worm shall loathe. Go and pamper your body-drink the sweet,and eat the fat. Go and luxuriate and indulge it in ease. Oh, Sir, you may well pamper your bodies, for there is short enoughtime for your body to have mirth in; and whenthat short time is over, you shall drink another wine-the dregs of the cup of God's wrath which the wicked shall drain tothe last drop! Satisfy your ears with music now-you shall soon hear nothing but the howling of the damned! Go your way-eat,drink and be merry; but for allthese, the Lord shall bring you into judgment-sevenfold for all your sinful pleasures-yes, seventy times seven, for allyour joys of lust and wickedness, and crime shall the Lord be avenged on you in the great and terrible day of His wrath! Sinner,think of this, and when yousin, think of the resurrection!
But after the resurrection, according to the text, comes the judgment. You have cursed God. The oath died away. No, Sir, itdid not-it imprinted itself upon the great Book of God's remembrance! You have entered the chamber of wantonness, or the hallof infidelity; you have walked through thestews of grime, and through the stench and filth of the brothel; you have wandered into sin, and plunged into it, thinkingit would all die with the day-that as the night covers up the sights of the day, so the night of death should cover up thedeeds of your day of life. Not so!The books shall be opened. I think I see your blanching cheeks-closing your eyes because you dare not look upon the Judgewhen He opens that page where stands your history! I hear yon sinner, boldest among you all! He is crying, "You rocks, fallon me." There they stand, sublimeand dread, those granite rocks; he would rather be crushed than stand there before the avenging Eyes; but the mountainswill not loosen, their flinty bowels feel no pangs of sympathy, they will not move! You stand while the fiery Eyes look youthrough and through, and the dreadVoice reads on, and on, your every act, and word, and thought! I see you as the shameful crimes are read, and men and angelshear. I see your horror as a nameless deed is told in explicit terms, which none can misunderstand! I hear your thoughts broughtout-that lust, that murderwhich was in the thought, but never grew into the deed. And you are all this while astonished like Belshazzar when he sawthe writing on the wall, and his loins were loose, and he was terribly afraid. So shall it be with you; and yet again, andagain, and again, shall you send upthat awful shriek, "Hide us! Hide us from the face of Him who sits upon the Throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb!"
But then comes the end, the last of all. After death the judgment; after judgment the damnation. If it is a dreadful thingto live again; if it is a still more dreadful thing to spend the first day of that life in the grand assize of God, how muchmore awful shall it be when the sentence ispronounced, and the terror of punishment shall begin! We believe that the soulsof the wicked are already tormented, butthis judgment will cast both body andsoulinto the Lake of Fire! Men and women, you who fear not God, and have no faith inJesus, I cannot picture to you thedamnation! Across it let me draw a curtain. But though we must not picture it, I pray you realize it. When Martin has paintedsome of his sublime pictures, he has generally heightened the effect by masses of darkness. Surely this is the way in whichGod has painted Hell-rather bymasses of darkness than by definiteness of light! This much we know-Hell is a place of absence from God-a place for thedevelopment of sin, where every passion is unbridled, every lust unrestrained; a place where God punishes night and day thosewho sin night and day-a placewhere there is never sleep, or rest or hope-a place where a drop of water is denied, though thirst shall burn the tongue!It is a place where pleasure never breathed, where light never dawned, where anything like consolation was never heard of-aplace where the Gospel is denied,where mercy droops her wings and dies! Hell is a place where vengeance reigns, and shakes his head, and brandishes his sword-aplace of fury, and of burning-a place, the like of which, imagination has not pictured! May God grant it may be a place whichyou shall never see, andwhose dread you shall never feel. Sinner, instead of preaching it to you, let me bid you fly from it. Die, Sinner, and flightfrom Hell becomes impossible-you are lost eternally! Oh, while yet you are on praying ground, I pray you, think on your end."Because she remembered nother latter end, she came down terribly." Let it not be said thus of you. Think! Think! This warning may be the last youshall ever hear. You may never be spared to come to a place of worship again. Perhaps, while you sit here, the last sandsare dropping from the hour glass-andthen no more warning can be given-because Redemption and escape shall be impossible to you!
Soul, I lift up before you now, Christ the Crucified One-"Whoever believes on Him shall never perish, but have eternal life."As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so this morning the Son of Man is lifted up! Sinner, see His wounds. Lookto His thorn-crowned head. See the nails of Hishands, and of His feet. Do you perceive Him? Listen while He cries, "Why have you forsaken Me?" Listen again while He says,"It is finished! It is finished!" Salvation finished! And now, salvation is freely preached to you. Believe on Christ, andyou shall be saved! Trust Him, andall the horrors of the future shall have no power over you; but the splendors of this prophecy shall be fulfilled, be theywhat they may! Oh that this morning some of you may trust my Master for the first time in your lives! And this done, you neednot curiously enquire what thefuture shall be, but you may sit down calmly, and say, "Come when it will, my soul is on the Rock of Ages. It fears no ill;it fears no tempest; it defies all pain. Come quickly! Come quickly! Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!"