The Resurrection - Thomas Boston
04 Jul 2015
Now as there is a great difference between the godly and the wicked, in their life, and in their death; so will there be also in their resurrection.
The godly shall be raised out of their graves, by virtue of the Spirit of Christ, the blessed bond of their union with him (Rom 8:11), “He that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.” Jesus Christ arose from the dead, as the “first-fruits of them that slept” (1 Cor 15:20), so they that are Christ’s shall follow at His coming (verse 23). The mystical Head having got above the waters of death, He cannot but bring forth the members after Him, in due time.
They shall come forth with inexpressible joy, for then shall that passage of scripture, which, in its immediate scope, respected the Babylonish captivity, be fully accomplished in its most extensive meaning (Isa 26:19), “Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust.” As a bride adorned for her husband goes forth of her bedchamber unto the marriage: so shall the saints go forth of their graves, unto the marriage of the lamb. Joseph had a joyful coming out from the prison, Daniel from the lion’s den, and Jonah from the whale’s belly: yet these are but faint representations of the saints’ coming forth from the grave, at the resurrection. Then shall they sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb, in highest strains, death being quite followed up in victory. They had, while in this life, sometimes sung by faith the triumphant song over death and the grave, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory” (1 Cor 15:55). But then they sing the same from sight and sense; the black band of doubts and fears, which frequently disturbed them, and disquieted their minds, is for ever dispersed and driven away.
May we not suppose the soul and body of every saint, as in mutual embraces, to rejoice in each other, and triumph in their happy meeting again?
And the body to address the soul thus?
“O my soul, have we got together again, after so long a separation! Art thou come back to thine old habitation, never more to remove! O joyful meeting! How unlike is our present state to what our case was, when a separation was made between us at death! Now is our mourning turned into joy; the light and gladness sown before, are now sprung up; and there is a perpetual spring in Immanuel’s land. Blessed be the day in which I was united to thee, whose chief care was to get Christ in us the hope of glory, and to make me a temple for His Holy Spirit. O blessed soul, which in the time of our pilgrimage, kept thine eye on the land then afar off, but now near at hand! Thou tookest me into secret places, and there madest me to bow these knees before the Lord, that I might bear a part of our humiliation before Him: and now is the time that I am lifted up. Thou didst employ this tongue in confessions, petitions, and thanksgivings, which henceforth shall be employed in praising for evermore. Thou madest these sometimes weeping eyes sow that seed of tears, which is now sprung up in joy that shall never end. I was happily beat down by thee, and kept in subjection, while others pampered their flesh, and made their bellies their gods, to their own destruction; but now I gloriously arise, to take my place in the mansions of glory, whilst they are dragged out of their graves to be cast into fiery flames. Now, my soul, thou shalt complain no more of a sick and pained body; thou shalt be no more clogged with weak and weary flesh; I shall now keep pace with thee in the praises of our God for evermore.”
And may not the soul say,
“O happy day in which I return to dwell in that blessed body, which was, and is, and will be for ever, a member of Christ, a temple of the Holy Spirit! Now I shall be eternally knit to thee: the silver cord shall never be loosed more: death shall never make another separation between us. Arise then, my body, and come away! And let these eyes, which were wont to weep over my sins, behold with joy the face of our glorious Redeemer; lo! this is our God, and we have waited for Him. Let these ears, which were wont to hear the Word of life in the temple below, come and hear the hallelujahs in the temple above. Let these feet, that carried me to the congregations of saints on earth, take their place among those in heaven. And let this tongue, which confessed Christ before men, and used to be still dropping something to His commendation, join the choir of the upper house in His praises for evermore. You will fast no more, but keep an everlasting feast; you will weep no more, neither shall your countenance be overclouded; but you will shine for ever as a star in the firmament. We took part together in the fight, come, let us go together to receive and wear the crown.”
But on the other hand, the wicked shall be raised by the power of Christ, as a just Judge, who is to render vengeance to His enemies. The same divine power which shut up their souls in hell, and kept their bodies in the grave, as in the prison, shall bring them forth, that soul and body together may receive the dreadful sentence of eternal damnation, and be shut up together in the prison of hell.
They shall come forth from their graves with unspeakable horror and consternation. They shall be dragged forth, as so many malefactors out of a dungeon, to be led to execution; crying to the mountains and to the rocks to fall on them, and hide them from the face of the Lamb. Fearful was the cry in Egypt, the night on which the destroying angel went through, and slew their firstborn. Dreadful were the shouts, at the earth opening her mouth, and swallowing up Dathan and Abiram, and all that appertained to them. What hideous crying then must there be, when at the sound of the last trumpet, the earth and sea shall open their mouths, and cast forth all the wicked world, delivering them up to the dreadful Judge! How will they cry, roar, and tear themselves! How will the jovial companions weep and howl, and curse one another! How will the earth be filled with their doleful shrieks and lamentations, while they are pulled out like sheep for the slaughter! They who, while they lived in this world, were profane, debauchees, covetous worldlings, or formal hypocrites, shall then, in anguish of mind, wring their hands, beat their breasts, and bitterly lament their case, roaring forth their complaints, and calling themselves beasts, fool, and madmen, for having acted to mad a part in this life, in not believing what they then heard. They were driven away in their wickedness, at death: and now all their sins rise with them; and, like so many serpents, twist themselves about their wretched souls, and bodies too, which have a frightful meeting, after a long separation.
Then we may suppose the miserable body thus to accost the soul,
“Hast thou found me again, O mine enemy, my worst enemy, savage soul, more cruel than a thousand tigers. Cursed be the day that ever we met. O that I had never received sense, life, and motion! O that I had rather been the body of a toad, or serpent, than thy body; for then had I lain still, and had not seen this terrible day! If I was to be necessarily thine, O that I had been thy ass, or one of thy dogs, rather than thy body; for then wouldst thou have taken more true care of me than thou didst! O cruel kindness! Hast thou thus hugged me to death, thus nourished me to the slaughter? Is this the effect of thy tenderness for me? Is this what I am to reap of thy pains and concern about me? What do riches and pleasure avail now, when this fearful reckoning is come of which thou hadst fair warning? O cruel grave! Why didst thou not close thy mouth upon me for ever? Why didst thou not hold fast thy prisoner? Why hast thou shaken me out, while I lay still and was at rest? Cursed soul, wherefore didst thou not abide in thy place, wrapped up in flames of fire? Wherefore art thou come back to take me also down to the bars of the pit? Thou madest me an instrument of unrighteousness; and now I must be thrown into the fire. This tongue was by thee employed in mocking at religion, cursing, swearing, lying, backbiting, and boasting; and withheld from glorifying God: and now it must not have so much as a drop of water to cool it in the flames. Thou didst withdraw mine ears from hearing the sermons which gave warning of this day. Thou foundest ways and means to stop them from attending to seasonable exhortations, admonitions, and reproofs. But why didst thou not stop them from hearing the sound of this dreadful trumpet? Why dost thou not rove and fly away on the wings of imagination, thereby, as it were, transporting me during these frightful transactions, as thou wast want to do, when I was set down at sermons, communions, prayers, and godly conferences; that I might now have as little sense of the one, as I formerly had of the other? But ah! I must burn for ever, for thy love to thy lusts, thy profanity, thy sensuality, thy unbelief, and hypocrisy.”
But may not the soul answer,
“Wretched and vile carcase! I am now driven back into thee. O that thou hadst lain for ever in thy grave! Had I not torment enough before? Must I be knit to thee again, that being joined together as two dry sticks for the fire, the wrath of God may burn us up? It was by caring for you, that I lost myself. It was your back and your belly, and the gratifying of your senses, which ruined me. How often was I ensnared by your ears! How often betrayed by your eyes! It was to spare you, that I neglected opportunities of making peace with God, loitered away Sabbaths, lived in the neglect of prayer; went to the house of mirth, rather than to the house of mourning; and that I chose to deny Christ, and forsake His cause and interest in the world; and so am fallen a sacrifice to your cursed ease. When at any time my conscience began to awake, and I was setting myself to think of my sins, and the misery which I have felt since we parted, and now feel, it was you that diverted me from these thoughts, and drew me off to make provision for you. O wretched flesh! By your silken cords of fleshly lusts I was drawn to destruction, in defiance of my light and conscience: but now they are turned into iron chains, with which I am to be held under wrath for evermore. Ah wretched profits! Ah cursed pleasures! for which I must lie for ever in utter darkness!”
But no complaints will then avail. O that men were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!
“The Resurrection” is from Human Nature in its Fourfold State, by Thomas Boston. First published 1720. First Banner of Truth Trust paperback edition June 1964, reprinted from the 1850 edition, pp 382-387.
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