1. Three chief things considerable in Christ's Return to Judgment, viz. The Visibility of his Person, The Resurrection of the Dead, and the Conflagration of the World. 2. Places of Scripture to prove the Visibility of his Person. 3. That there will be then a Resurrection of the dead not in a Moral but a Natural sense, demonstrated from undeniable places of Scripture. 4. Proofs out of Scripture for the Conflagration of the world, as out of Peter, the 3 Chap. of his second Epistle. 5. An Interpretation of the 12 and 13 verses. 6. A Demonstration that the Apostle there describes the Conflagration of the World. 7. A Confutation of their opinion that would interpret the Apostle's description of the burning of Jerusalem. 8. That the coming of Christ so often mentioned in these two Epistles of Peter is to be understood of his Last coming to Judgment. 9, 10. Further confirmation of the said Assertion. 11. Other places pointed at for the proving of the Conflagration.
1. IN the Return of Christ to Judgment these Three things are to be considered as very nearly annected and comprehended in it; The Visibility of his Person and pomp of his coming, The Resurrection of the Dead, and Conflagration of the World. But because all these things are doubted by some that do not profess themselves Anti-Scripturists, I shall first produce such places of Scripture as do plainly assert these Points, and then in the next place shew how Reasonable the Assertion is.
2. The Visible or personal Return of Christ to Judgment, though it may be proved from many places, yet I shall content my self with a few. And I must confess I look upon the 24 of Matth. from the 30 to the 32 verse, (where the Son of Man is said to come in the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory, and to send out his Angels with a mighty sound of a Trumpet) to be a pregnant Testimony thereof. But the 29 verse to be a description of the state of the World, especially of the Roman Empire, till the appearance of the sign of the Son of Man. But whether this sign of the Son of Man be the same with the Son of Man coming in the clouds, or some sign in the Heavens to be given long before his coming, for the Conversion of the Jews, I take not upon me to decide. But from the 32 to the 36 verse, I think there our Saviour may reassume his first Subject, the Destruction of Jerusalem; and therefore being within the view of the Temple and of the City, he uses the pronoun ταῦτα these things, in his prophecie of them. But in the 36 verse, pursuing his prediction of the end of the World, he saies, περὶ δὲ τῆς ἡμέρας ἐκείνης, but concerning THAT day: and so he gives wholesome <213> precepts of watchfulness to his Church, to the end of this Chapter. Which sense is very agreeable to the following Chapter, which most easily and naturally is wholy to be understood of the last Judgment. But from the 31 verse of that Chapter to the end, even they that would wind the former part of the Chapter to another sense, acknowledg it to be understood of the last Day. And there the Visible Pomp of Christ coming to judge the World is plainly set down, viz. his sitting upon a throne with his holy Angels about him. To these you may add the Testimonie of the two men clothed in white shining raiments, that told the Disciples as they were gazing up into Heaven after Christ, as he ascended, that he should come down again in the same manner as they had seen him goe into Heaven: As also that of S. Paul to the Thessalonians, For the Lord himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel and with the Trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the Air, and so shall we be ever with the Lord. These places are so plain concerning the Visible Appearance of Christ's Person in his coming to Judgment, that no tolerable Allegorie can elude them.
3. That there will be a Resurrection of the dead (in a natural not a moral sense) at the same time, is as evident from the very last words I cited. For who but a mad-man will interpret the meeting of Christ in the air in a moral sense? If it had been written [in the Heavens,] they would have shuffled it off, and said, in the Heavenly being or Heavenly nature mystically understood. But will they have the impudence not to acknowledg the aieriness and phantastry of their Mysteries of Incredulity, when they must according to the same analogy be driven to say that we shall at the Resurrection meet Christ in the Aiery Being mystically understood? But it is as false a gloss to interpret the doctrine of the Resurrection 1 Cor. 15. so as to exclude the Natural and Physical sense of it, it being plain that such a Death and such a Resurrection is spoken of concerning us, as is argued from the Death and the Resurrection of Christ, who is said to die ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν, for our sins; which is impossible to be interpreted mystically. Read from the first to the eleventh verse, it is a plain History. From whence the Apostle inferres that there is a blessed Resurrection or glorious Immortality in Body and Soul which Christ will bestow on all true believers at the last day: As himself has promised over and over again in the sixth of S. John's Gospel, [and I will raise him up at the last day.] Many other places there are to this purpose in Scripture which I willingly omit.
4. The third and last is the Conflagration of the World, of which I hold that of S. Peter an undeniable Testimonie; But the Day of the Lord shall come as a thief in the night; in which the Heavens shall pass away with a noise, and the Elements shall melt with fervent heat, the Earth also and the works therein shall be burnt up. The explication of which Prophecie Mr. Jos. Mede has set down with a great deal of caution and judgment. To which I should wholy subscribe, did I not believe that this execution of Fire were the very last visible judgment God would doe upon the <214> Rebellious generations of Adam, leaving them then to tumble with the Devils in unsupportable torment and confusion.
5. And therefore I would expound καινοὺς δὲ οὐρανοὺς verse 13. But yet Notwithstanding, or Nevertheless, before this Conflagration of the Earth we expect a new Heaven and a new Earth, in a Political sense, in which Righteousness shall dwell. Nor does that phrase verse 12. προσδοκῶντας καὶ σπεύ δοντας looking for & hastning the coming of the Day of God warrant any one to restrain this Prophecie to a Moral meaning, as if it were only high expressions signifying something in our own power and to be done by us. For προσδοκᾷν καὶ σπεύδειν may be either an Ἓν δοχὰ δυοῖν, and denote no more then μετὰ σπουδῆς προσδοκᾷν, that is, with great earnestness and diligence to expect; or if so be you take them for two several things, and σπεὺδοντας must signifie hastning, that sense is also consistent enough with our Interpretation. For being the Day of the Lord is a day of great Joy and ample Remunerations to the Godly, as well as of Destruction to the Wicked, (and suppose it also comes not till Righteousness has had its reign upon Earth) we may well be exhorted by our prayers and conversations to hasten and accelerate as much as in us lies the coming of either.
6. But that by no such mystical Interpretation as this the Earth can be excused from being burnt by a visible and palpable Fire, is clear beyond all exception from the 5, 6 and 7 verses of this Chapter. Where the Apostle alledges against that usual Refuge and Security of Atheists, to wit, The sameness and immutableness of the Law of Nature and the order or course of things, that all things are as they were from the beginning, and ever will be so, and that therefore God will never step out in such an extraordinary way to Judgment; To this the Apostle opposes that eminent Example of God's Vengance in bringing the Floud upon the old World and drowning the Earth in an immense Deluge of Water: But the Heavens and the Earth which are now, saith he, are reserved unto fire against the day of Judgment and perdition of ungodly men. Were the Waters in Noah's time natural, when God had a controversie with all flesh, and shall the Fire that the world shall be destroyed with be spiritual? But light-minded men whose hearts are made dark with Infidelity care not what Antick Distorsions they make in interpreting Scripture, so they bring it but to any shew of compliance with their own Phansie and Incredulity.
7. I know there be that would understand by this burning of Heaven and Earth, the destruction of the City of Jerusalem. But the description is too big by far for so small a Work, and not likely to be understood of them it was intended as a comfort to, it being so exceedingly well fitted to the Conflagration of the World, and so disproportionated to the other Event. Moreover it is manifest from the Scoffer's arguing against the Promise of Christ's coming ver. 4. (That nature keeps still the same course it did since the beginning) that this Coming of Christ was not understood by them (and consequently not by S. Peter) of the burning of a City by war, (For such things have hapned often, and so they might not think it improbable Jerusalem might be burnt in due <215> time;) but of that final glorious coming of Christ to judge the World, which Judgment the Conflagration of the Earth is to attend.
8. And truly if a man will but weigh things without prejudice, he shall find the main matter of these two Epistles to be nothing else but an Exhortation to grow perfect and established in all Christian Vertues from the hope of that excellent Reward that shall be bestowed at the appearing and coming of the Lord Jesus: as you may see in this second Epistle, the first Chapter, For so an entrance shall be administred unto you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdome of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Which is parallel to that in his first, where the Promise is an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled that fadeth not away, reserved in the Heavens; and so on to the thirteenth verse. Which verses doubtless no unbiassed judgment will ever understand of a delivery from any Temporal calamity, much less the destruction of Jerusalem, from which place those dispersed Jews were far enough removed, as far as Pontus, Cappadocia, Asia, Galatia, Bithynia. To say nothing that the so-carefull an Inculcation of that sad Theam of the fatal destruction of the holy City would not so much become the pen of this venerable Apostle, nor the gust of them he wrote to, being Jews by Nation as well as Christians: to neither of which capacities could that fearfull destruction of their City be so comfortable a contemplation, whenas it drew tears from our Saviour's eyes though at a greater distance of time. And his great solicitude that they should have these things alwaies in remembrance after his death, is a sign that what he insists upon is a matter of more consequence and longer continuance then what respects the Burning of the City.
9. Furthermore, the Argument whereby he would set on these things upon the Spirits and belief of them he wrote to, that he was an Eye-witness of the glorious Transfiguration of Christ, when his person appeared in that splendour which might become a glorified body, such as himself will appear in at his return to Judgment, makes it still more reasonable that that δήναμις καὶ παραουσία, that powerful coming of Christ there mentioned, is his Final coming in Glory, when he shall change our vile bodies into the similitude of his glorious bodie according to the working of his mighty power. This chief Article therefore of the Christian Faith, in which all Christians are the most highly concerned, was that which the Apostle did press so earnestly and carefully upon them before his departure, which was the chief Prop of their Faith and Patience, and which he affirmed from a special experiment of his own in that glorious Transfiguration on the Mount, (where Moses and Elias talked with Christ, which was a most certain argument of the Soul's Immortality) to be no cunningly-contrived fiction, but a certain Truth, both from what he saw there before his eyes, and what he heard discoursed at that holy meeting. Where the Passion of Christ was treated of, and the exceeding glorious consequences of it; of which the greatest of all is his last Return to Judgment, when he shall consummate the Happiness of all Believers with everlasting glory, and so restore the Creation to a perfect recovery into what they had fallen from, and punish the <216> obstinate with eternal Fire. Which things being declared without the circumstance of the series of Time, it was easie for those three Auditors on the Mount to conceive them to be very shortly to come to pass, and therefore to make that Enquiry of Elias his coming first, according as their Scribes taught them out of Malachi; if simply the Appearance of Elias and his going away again, contrary to their expectation and desire, did not put them upon that question.
10. But that the glorious Coming or powerfull Presence of Christ, which he so solicitously would ascertain them of, is not his coming to destroy Jerusalem, appears further from the nineteenth verse of this Chapter; where, after he has endeavoured to establish them in the belief of that main Article, from the resplendent Transfiguration of the person of Christ (of which he was an Eye-witness on mount Tabor, as also as Ear-witness of that voice from Heaven, This is my beloved Son, and of that precious Promise that he was to be the Performer of at the last day; which Transfiguration was a visible pledge of his being invested into that supereminent office of the glorious Judge of the quick and the dead) and had recommended to them also the Prophecies of the Old Testament as a light that shines in the dark to give some direction; yet he insinuates further that they shall have a more clear and firm assurance of this so concerning a Truth, the day dawning and the day-star arising at length in their hearts. Which is very harsh to applie to any thing but to the more clear conviction, by the Spirit of God in their Souls, of the truth of this Promise of an Eternal Reward, of that Crown of a blessed Immortality to be given at Christ's Return to Judgment at the last day. These and such like considerations make it seem to me utterly incredible that by this Fiery Destruction should be understood the burning of Jerusalem, and not the Conflagration of the Earth; and by the Appearing and Coming of Christ so often mentioned in these Epistles, his Vengeance on the Jewes, and not his final Return to judge the whole World: a supposition in my apprehension far more agreeable to the weight and gravity of this Apostles style.
Thus much by the way for the rescuing of these two excellent Epistles to that more natural and more solemn and useful sense they were ever understood in, till of late; though I must confess they have not depraved the meaning of the seventh verse of the last Chapter of the second Epistle, it being indeed impossible to interpret it otherwise then of the burning of the World, which alone is sufficient for our present purpose.
11. We might adde several other passages as well in the Prophets as in the Apocalypse and other places, that tend to the same purpose with this of S. Peter, for the proving of this final Judgment of God by Fire; as also such places of Scripture elsewhere as implie that there is some notorious Punishment reserved for the Devils, which shall be inflicted upon them at last. For when and upon what occasion can it begin so fitly as at the Conflagration of the World? That there is a certain horrible torment in store for them is plain from Matth. 8.29. Art thou come to torment us afore the time? and 2 Pet. 2. 4. (as also Ep. of Jude ver. 6.) where the Devils are said to be reserved in chains of Darkness unto the <217> Judgment of the great Day, σειραῖς ζόφου ταρταρώσας παρέωκε. That God has confined them to this lower Region of caliginous Air as to a dark Prison till the great Assizes, as some very judiciously expound it. With which places if you compare that last Malediction or severe sentence of our Saviour against the wicked, Goe ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his Angels, it will be very easie to infer what this final Punishment is, and when, and how it will begin. But we need not insist upon these things, we having sufficiently proved the point already.
1. The Fitness and Necessity of Christ's visible Return to Judgment. 2. Further arguments of his Return to Judgment, for the convincing of them that believe the Miraculousness of his Birth, his Transfiguration, his Ascension, &c. 3. Arguments directed to those that are more prone to Infidelitie, taken out of Historie, where such things are found to have hapned already in some measure as are expected at Christ's visible Appearance. 4. That before extraordinary Judgments there have usually strange Prodigies appeared by the Ministry of Angels, as before great Plagues or Pestilences. 5. As also before the ruine of Countries by War. 6. Before the swallowing down Antioch by an Earthquake. 7. At the firing of Sodome and Gomorrha. 8. And lastly, before the destruction of Jerusalem.
1. IT remains now that we shew, That these Three main Circumstances of Christ's coming to Judgment (which we have proved to be contained in the Mystery of our Religion) are in themselves congruous and reasonable. Which we shall first make good concerning the Visible Pomp and glorious Appearance of the person of Christ in the Air, attended by his holy Angels, he descending as it were with the noise of Battel and Alarm of War, an Archangel sounding a Trumpet before him as the Heavenly Camp marches on and moves. For he will certainly appear in an Equipage most terrible and glorious, and in this solemn and dreadful Order he will face the bold, prophane and Atheistical World, who by no other means would be convinced of either a Providence or a Deity, but with supercilious looks and scornfull speeches have contemned all the hopes of future Reward, and laught at the Religious for weak-brain'd Fools or Mad-men. But then shall the hearts of the faithfull be filled with joy, they seeing so comfortable an Appearance of him whom their Soul longed for; who will reward all their Injuries, Sorrows and Reproaches with condign Honour and Happiness. Nay I may say that Christ will then vindicate himself from all those scorns and revilements that bold and prophane Wretches out of their Sensuality and High-mindedness have cast upon him from Age to Age, pleasing themselves and gratifying other Epicurean Brutes of like impiety with themselves with their ungodly jears and scoffs against him who was the <218> highest Example of Divine Perfection that ever appeared in the World. Nay I adde further, That there is in a manner a Necessity of this Personal Return of Christ thus in glory to judge the World according to his promise, that these Blasphemers may not be encouraged to reckon him with such Impostours as David George and Mahomet, who though they prefixed a shorter time to their followers, shall not again be heard of till they appear before his Tribunal of whom we speak.
2. And as for those that do believe that the Person of Christ does still subsist, that he was so miraculously born, so gloriously transfigured on the Mount, so wonderfully raised up from the dead, and did so conspicuously ascend into Heaven, two Angels in bright garments affirming to them that beheld him, that he would thus return again, viz. in a personal Visibility; what stranger thing is it that he should return, then that which they acknowledge to be true of him already? And how fit is it that he should still retain this Supremacy over the World, none else having bought it so dearly as himself did by his most bitter Death and Passion? and he that is so compassionate a Mediatour by reason of his Humane nature, will prove the more fit and equal Judge. And that there will be a Period and full pause of the Generations of men upon earth, I have already little less then demonstrated, though it be enough to shew there is no incongruity nor inconvenience in it. For that is sufficient to stop modest men from either inventing or embracing such evasive Allegories as do elude the Testimony of the Scripture in an Article of so weighty a concernment as this.
3. And as for those that are greater Infidels, and look upon the above-framed description of Christ's coming to Judgement to be exceeding improbable, if not impossible, I say, nothing but the very dulness of Atheisme it self can make them conceit thus. For it being once admitted, That there are Angels as well as men, this glorious Appearance of Christ with the holy Angels is as easie and natural to admit, as the Martial Pomp of a mighty Army, or the Solemnity of a great Assize. But that there are Spirits or Angels, and that they can appear to men in what Region of the Aire they please, History affords innumerable instances. And how much for the miraculousness of it does this pompous Approach of Christ in the clouds differ from those fightings and skirmishings of whole Armies in the Aire, of which all Ages almost and all Historians ring, as well sacred as prophane? The clattering also of Armour and the sound of the Trumpet have been very frequently heard from the Heavens, as Plinie and other Historians do report. Virgil and Ovid record these things with verses sutable to the solemnity of the Prodigies. Armorum sonitum toto Germania cœlo Audiit.— Georgic. lib. 1. All o're the Heavens the noise of Armes was heard In Germanie. And Ovid concerning the same matter; Arma ferunt inter nigras crepitantia nubes Terribilesque tubas auditaque cornua cœlo. <219> Clashing of Armes amidst black pitchy clouds Was heard, with Trumpets hoarse and Cornets loud. So that the Apostles prediction of Christ's coming thus visibly to judge the world, attended with the heavenly Hosts, and the Archangel sounding a Trumpet before him, is so far from being impossible, that it has in some manner and measure been already in the World, though those astonishing Prodigies fall infinitly short of the Glory and Terrour of the Day of Judgement.
4. Besides, if we may compare small things with great, as certainly we may, the analogy being so conspicuous, what particular judgement and vengeance of note has God done in the World, wherein there has not been a sensible administration of Angels forerunning it? I might make a very copious induction, but I will keep my self within measure. Before sweeping Plagues and Warrs how frequent are these Apparitions! Cardan makes mention of several of the first kind. Before the plague at Galaratum there appeared to a young man, as he was riding thither in a rainy Night, a Cart all covered with fire, which, gallop he as fast as he would, was ever over against him: he heard the voice also of Rusticks saying, Cave, Cave, Take heed, Take heed. This Spectre attended him till he got to the Temple of St. Laurence, which was without the town gate, and there sunk into the ground both Cart, Oxen, Rusticks, and Fire and all.
The same Author relates also of a stranger prodigie of a Pestilence in Peru upon the banks of the river Consote near Carthage, where there appeared to certain women washing there, as their custome was, a man of a huge stature with his belly cut up and exenterated, and two children in his armes: he spoke to them, and told them that all the Christian women should die, and the greatest part of them also. This Spectre was also seen on horse-back on the side of the Hills, running swifter then the wind. A mighty Plague followed, that destroied almost all the Inhabitants of the place.
That also out of Fincelius is very remarkable, The appearing of twelve or fifteen men in Marchia of huge and horrid statures in the corn field with sithes in their hands, mowing down Oates with might and main, so that the very hitting of the sithes was plainly heard afarre off, but in the mean time no Oates were cut down. People endeavoured to apprehend them, but they ran too swift for them, and yet they nevertheless mowed as laboriously in their flight as before. A great Plague ensued thereupon. I could adde to these what I have been credibly informed has hapned in England.
5. But I shall rather pass to the other Prodigies of Warre; concerning which Machiavel does plainly confess as well as Cardan, that before great Commotions, Warrs, and sacking of Cities, there have often appeared strange Prodigies, and particularly the skirmishing of Armies in the Aire, such as was seen over Aretium before the coming of the French King into Italy, as Machiavel himself testifies. And Cardan also doth furnish us with farther examples, as <220> that of Mexico before it was destroyed, where the like Prodigies hapned. A Cross also was seen by the Mexicans in the East, and a man of so high stature, that his head seemed to touch the Heavens, which much terrified them. He writes also of the Picts in England, that before their destruction there were seen fiery Armies in Heaven fighting with one another; and that in the confines betwixt the Picts and Scots at mid-day there was so great a noise of armed horsemen that encountred one another, that it almost frighted the poor countrymen out of their wits.
6. That was also a terrible Prodigie that preceded that hideous ruine of Antioch by an Earthquake. There was seen over that great City a Spectrum in the Aire of a vast stature in the habit of a Woman, but with an horrid countenance, so that she frighted all that looked on her, but especially when she slash'd a whip which she had in her hand, the cracks thereof were so loud and dreadful. This continued for fifteen nights together, from two a clock till four, in the month of May, Anno 349.
7. But there is nothing more accommodate to our purpose then the destruction of Sodome and Gomorrha with fire from Heaven, a compendious representation of the final burning of the World. For before that vengeance was done upon those two wicked Cities, three Angels appeared to Abraham, and revealed that design to him: two also visited Lot, and by a main hand drew him out of the Fearful destruction.
8. I might adde many more Examples, but I shall content my self with the superaddition onely of that one and most eminent instance of the destruction of Jerusalem, wherein the invisible Powers, I mean the Angels, were discerned to act in a sensible and palpable manner. Which is deprehended not onely by that flaming sword that hung over the City for a whole year together, and a sudden light in the night-time that shone about the Altar and the Temple, so that it made it as light as day; as also the spontaneous opening of the East gate of the Temple, which was so heavy and massy, as being made of brass, that it was as much as twenty men could do to shut it, (to which you may adde the Voice that was heard by the Priests, as they went into the Temple by night at the time of Pentecost, μεταβαίνωμεν ἐντεῦθεν Let us go hence:) but mainly, and what is most of all to my purpose, by those ἅρματα καὶ φάλαγγους ἔνοπλοι διάττουσαι τῶν νεφῶν, those chariots and armed companies of Souldiers which were seen round about in the Aire before Sun-set to sally out of the clouds, and to fill all with the numerosity of their troups. Wherefore if such particular Judgements were executed with a visible attendance of the Angels of God; when he shall execute Vengeance on the whole World, can we think it strange if he then shall appear more then ordinarily glorious in his Heavenly Retinue, thousand thousands ministring unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand standing before him, as the Prophet speaks? Which Prophecy if it could respect shorter Periods of time, yet certainly the fullest and most proper Completion of it will be at the last Judgement.
1. The Resurrection of the dead by how much more rigidly defined, according to every circumstance and punctilio delivered by Theologers, by so much the more pleasant to the ears of the Atheists. 2. That the Resurrection in the Scholastick Notion thereof was in all likelihood the great Stone of offence to those two Enthusiasts of Delph and Amsterdam, and emboldened them to turn the whole Gospel into an Allegorie. 3. The incurable condition of Enthusiasts. 4. The Atheists first Objection against the Scholastick Resurrection proposed. 5. His second Objection. 6. His third and last Objection. 7. That his Objections do not demonstrate an absolute impossibility of the Scholastick Resurrection, with the Author's purpose of answering them upon other Grounds.
1. WE come now to the second particular propounded, The Resurrection of the dead, which I dare say the Atheist will listen to with more then ordinary attention, and greedily suck in the Doctrine, provided it be stated with the most curious circumstances that the rigidest of Theologers will describe it by, and mainly by these two; That we shall have the same Numerical Bodies in which we lived here on Earth, and That those very bodies, the molds being turned aside, shall start out of the Grave. This doctrine the Atheist very dearly hugs as a pledge, in his bold conceit, of the falseness and vanity of all the other Articles of Religion. Wherefore he phansying the upshot of Christianity to be so groundless and incredible, he fairly quits himself of the trouble of all, and yields himself up wholly to the pleasures of this present World.
2. And I question not but that this is the great Stone of offence upon which those two blind Enthusiasts of Delph and Amsterdam (of whom I have so often spoken) fell and split themselves; the Rock which made them suffer the Shipwrack of their faith, in allegorizing the Resurrection of the dead and the last Judgment into a mere Moral sense, and in conceiting the last Trump to be only their doctrine, and that Christ was come in them to judge the quick and the dead; and that the happy Resurrection so much talked of and so long expected, was nothing else but to be raised up into the like life and belief with these Fanaticks, as I must call them: and I would ask them, what is meant by the Resurrection of the unjust, if this be the Resurrection of the just? or if this be the Resurrection to life, what is meant by the Resurrection to condemnation?
3. But in truth it is scarce fit to ask Enthusiasts any questions at all, they, under pretence of inspiration, wholy disclaiming the use of Reason, and imperiously dictating their own wilfull Imaginations to the World for certain and undisputable Revelations: And therefore in this regard there is more hope of the Atheists then of them, who by propounding their Objections put men in a capacity of finding out an An <222> swer; but when men will haughtily and superciliously deny a Truth under the pretence of the Spirit, without rendring a reason, this Ignorance or rather Madness is utterly incurable.
4. Leaving therefore these men to the full enjoyment of their own phansies, let us hear the Objections of the Atheists against this Article so stated as has been above defined; which are chiefly Three.
First, against the numerical Identity of our Bodies in the Resurrection: Because, say they, the Anthropophagi or Cannibals are continually fed with mans flesh, as also they feed one upon another. To give therefore the highest instance against this Assertion; How can that man, say they, that has been fed with mans flesh in a manner perpetually, and at last himself fed upon by men, have the same Body at the Resurrection? For he will be left as bare of flesh, as the Crow was of feathers when every bird had pecked away what belonged unto themselves. Besides the hazard of losing that flesh that was his own, (if any was his own) by being himself devoured and digested into the flesh and body of others.
5. Their second Objection is against mens Bodies rising out of their graves, and runs thus; It implies, say they, that all men were buried: whenas Myriads have been drowned in the seas and eaten by fishes. Besides infinite numbers that have had the usual burial of their Nations, have had a very inconsiderable part of their bodies committed to the ground; only a few ashes in an Urn; the rest of their body, in the burning, vanishing into Air. Which in some sort comes to pass in them that are wholy buried in the Earth. For the Body rots and melts away there into fume and vapours, which the heat of the Sun exhales and draws into the Air. Some it may be shoot up into the blades of Grass, which either rots upon the ground, or is food for horses, to whose shares it doth not fall to have honest burial, but lie to rot also in the open fields, or else are eaten by those Creatures that at length doe so. So that the Soul, if she were to seek for her Body, would hear more likely news of it in the Air then in the Earth. So incredible is it, that it is kept circumscribed in so particular a part of the Earth as the Grave.
6. And lastly, to make all sure, They endeavour to enervate the very grounds and dig down the deepest foundation of this Assertion of Identity of bodies at the Resurrection, by alledging that the very end thereof implies a contradiction. For whereas the reason is given, That the Body that was partner either in unlawfull pleasures or the laudable pains and labours of the Soul, might partake also of her Punishment or Reward: here they pretend that the Bodie is not the same numerical body throughout the whole life of a man, no more then a river is the same river, but that the Bodie wasts and is restored, that the present Spirits, Bloud and Flesh are passing, ποταμοῦ δίκην, as Heraclitus speaks, and new supplies are perpetually made by food; and that therefore we have no more the same numerical body always then the same numerical cloaths, but that in both we wear out the old and get new, but in our cloaths at once, in our Bodies by degrees. Wherefore to contend that the same numerical body shall rise that was buried, and that upon point of Justice, is to contend for the greatest piece of Injustice that may be: <223> For so shall the Body of an old man be punished for the sins of that Body he had when he was young.
7. These and such like are the Arguments of those that would overthrow Religion upon this advange, as they deem it; and something they drive at that seems to tend to a perswasion of some kind of incongruity and incredibility in the matter, but it will not all amount to an utter Impossibility. But to me it seems so inconsiderable, that I shall not vouchsafe it an Answer upon those terms and that Hypothesis they goe upon. I shall soar a little higher, that my way being aloft, as the Wise man speaks, I may be free from the snares beneath.
But what I answer I would be understood to direct to the Atheist and the Infidel, permitting them that already believe the substance, to vary their phansies with what circumstances they please. But for these others I must hold them to hard meat, and cut my skirts as short as I can, that they sit not upon them.
1. An Answer to their first and last Cavil, from those Principles of Plato's School, That the Soul is the Man, and That the Bodie perceives nothing. 2. An Answer to their second, by rightly interpreting what is meant by Rising out of the grave in the general notion thereof. 3. That there is no warrant out of Scripture for the same numerical bodie, but rather the contrary. 4. The Atheists Objection from the word Resurrectio answered, whose sense is explained out of the Hebrew and Greek. 5. תקומה and תחיה, what the meaning of them is in that general sense which is applicable as well to the Resurrection of the unjust as of the just.
1. I Answer therefore first out of the best sort of Philosophers, That Animus cujusque is est quisque, and Νοῦς ἐφορᾷ καὶ νοῦς ἐπακούει. That the Soul of every man is his individual Person, and That she alone it is that hears, that sees, that enjoies pleasure and undergoes pain; and That the Body is not sensible of any thing, no more then a mans doublet when he is well bastinado'd. And this Answer takes away all occasion of the First and Last Cavil. For why are men solicitous of the same numerical body, but that they may be sure to find themselves the same numerical persons? But it being most certain there is no stable Personality of a man but what is in his Soul, (for if the Body be Essential to this numerical Identity, a grown man has not the same individuation he had when he was Christned;) it is manifest, that if there be the same Soul, there is exactly the same Person; and that the change of the Body causes no more real difference of Personality then the change of cloaths. And why do men plead for the consociation of the Soul's numerical body in Reward or Punishment, but that they phansie the Body ca <224> pable of pleasure and pain? But they erre, not knowing the nature of things, the Body being utterly uncapable of all sense and cogitation, as not only the best of the Platonists, but also that excellent Philosopher Des-cartes has determined, and is abundantly demonstrated in my Treatise of the Immortality of the Soul.
2. This therefore being cleared, I answer also to their second Cavil, concerning mens rising out of the very graves they wery buried in, That the expression is only Prophetical and Symbolical, (though I do not deny but that in some it may happen literally to be true) and that it signifies no more then thus, That the same men that die and are buried, shall as truly appear in their own persons at the Day of Judgment, as if those Bodies that were interred should be presently actuated by their Souls again, and should start out of their graves; and to give an instance, they shall be as truly the same persons as Lazarus, when he rose body and soul out of the Grave, after he had lien there four daies together. But that universal expression of mens rising out of the Grave is but a Prophetical Scheme of Speech the more strongly to strike our senses, as I have already intimated in my exposition of the 15 of 1 Cor. against the Psychopannychites. And therefore the greater accumulation of absurdities that can be made against that circumstance, it will the more confirm that usefull Interpretation of mine.
3. This succour we have against the Atheists out of Philosophy; but I answer further as concerning the Scripture it self, (which is the only certain measure of the truth of our Religion, and to which alone I dare finally stand, not thinking my self bound to make good every conceit that either the Pride, Precipitancie, Inadvertencie or Ignorance of fallible Teachers have obtruded upon the World,) That I dare challenge him to produce any place of Scripture out of which he can make it appear, That the Mysterie of the Resurrection implies the resuscitation of the same numerical body. The most pregnant of all is Job 19, which later Interpreters are now so wise as not to understand at all of the Resurrection. The 1 Cor. 15. that Chapter is so far from asserting this curiosity, that it plainly saies it is not the same body; but that as God gives to the blades of corn grains quite distinct from that which was sown, so at the Resurrection he will give the Soul a Body quite different from that which was buried. Now if it be not the same Body that was buried, what need it run into the Earth to come out again? Wherefore it is plain that the Apostle there writes, as I said before, in a Prophetical and Symbolical style.
4. But the Atheist will still hang on and object further, That the very term Resurrectio implies that the same body shall rise again, for that only that falls can be said properly to rise again. But the Answer will be easie, the Objection being grounded merely upon a mistake of the sense of the word, which is to be interpreted out of those higher Originals the Greek and Hebrew, and not out of the Latine, though the word in Latin does not alwaies implie an individual Restitution of what is gone or fallen: as in that verse in Ovid, Victa tamen vinces subversaque Troja resurges. <225> But this is not so near to our purpose; let us rather consider the Greek word ἀνάστασις which Resurrectio supplies in Latin, and therefore must be made to be of as large a sense as it. Now ἀνάστασις is so far from signifying (in some places) the Reproduction or Recuperation of the same thing that was before, that it bears no sense at all of Reiteration in it. As Matth. 22.24. καὶ ἀναστήσει σπέρμα τῷ ἀδελφῷ ἀυτου· and Genes. 7. there ἐξανάστασις and ἐξανάστασις signifie merely a living subsistence: and therefore ἀνάστασις in an active signification according to this sense will be nothing else but a giving or continuing life and subsistence to a thing. The word in the Hebrew that answers to ἀνάστημα is יקום, which Translators interpret a Living substance: whence תקומה according to this analogie may very well bear the same latitude of sense that תחיה, they being both words that are rendred Resurrectio, but simply of themselves signifie only Vivification or erection unto life, or the being made a living Creature.
But seeing that men are Creatures that have been once alive, and are to be made alive again, and to become sensible and visible ἀναστήματα at the day of Judgment; therefore תקומה and תחיה are ordinarily translated Revivificatio, and ἔγερσις and ἀνάστασις are to be understood in the same sense that implies a Recuperation of life.
5. Now the Jewish Rabbins, as Buxtorf has noted, are very critical in these words, appropriating תחיה to the Resurrection of the just, but the other to the Revivification of the wicked; though they sometimes again confound them. But that which is nearest to our purpose is to consider in what signification of the words the thing signified is competible to the unjust as well as to the just. And I conceive it is that which the Apostle Paul speaks, 2 Cor. 5.10. For we must all appear before the Tribunal of Christ, that every man may receive according to what he has done in his body, whether good or evil. But as well the wicked as the just, before they thus appear, are really in life and Being; though to us they be ἐν ᾅδου, dead, vanisht and invisible. Πάντες δὲ Θεῷ ζῶσιν, Luke 20. But all are alive and visible to God, even the bad as well as the good. Therefore the Resurrection or Revivification (for the word signifies no more then so) that is common to both, is this; That they become palpable and visible ἀναστήματα, and appear at that general Assizes at the last Day. For then all the World good and bad shall not only be alive to God, but also alive and visible to one another. And this is that ἀναστασις or Revivificatio that is common to all. And that this notion is solid appears from hence, in that Luke by saying, For they all live to God, implies that they are dead in reference to men. Wherefore so far forth as they are said to be dead, so far forth may they be said to be revived or to be raised from the dead; as the Ghosts of men are said to be by art Magick, because they are made to appear. But the Devil is not said to be raised from the dead, because he was never properly said to be alive amongst us, or to live amongst us.
1. An Objection against the Resurrection, from the Activity of the Soul out of her Body, with the first Answer thereto. 2. The second Answer. 3. The special significations of תקומה and תחיה, the first belonging to the unjust, the latter to the just. 4. That the life that is led on the Earth or in this lower Region of the Air is more truly a Death then a Life. 5. The manner of our recovering our Celestial Body at the last Day. 6. And of the accomplishment of the Promise of Christ therein.
1. I Should proceed, but that I must be contented to be interrupted by one Objection more, which is this; If the Souls of men live and act out of their Bodies before the Resurrection, what need is there of any Resurrection of the Body? For what want have they of any Bodies at all, if their Soul can live and act without them? But I answer,
First, That we are not infallibly assured but that the Souls as well of the Good as the Bad after Death have an Aereal Body, in which, if Stories be true, they have sometimes appeared after their decease. And that they may act, think and understand in these Aiery vehicles, as well as other Spirits doe, is not at all incredible nor improbable; the Faculties of an humane Soul being not inferiour to the Faculties of some Orders of Spirits, whose Understandings are not so clear but that they are divided in their judgments, some being of one Sect of Philosophers, some of another, as those that appeared to Cardan's father professed themselves Avenroists.
2. But secondly, if it were granted that the Souls of the deceased were stript of all Corporeity, and yet could act, we may nothwithstanding very well conceive that that which once had so intimate union with the grossest of Bodies, has certainly a very strong propension, natural complacency or essential aptitude alwaies to join with some Body or other. Which power if we may not infallibly affirm to be so catching, that the Soul is never disappointed of some kinde of Vehicle, yet we may safely pronounce, that when that natural capacity is satisfied, there accrues a greater accomplishment and more vigorous enjoiment to the Soul, her Operations thereby being made more sensible and vivid. And therefore that great Reward of an Heavenly, Æthereal or Immortal body, which shall be given at the last day, is of very high concernment for the compleating of the happiness of the Souls of the faithfull, whether we suppose them in the mean time to live without Bodies, or to be alive only in Aiery vehicles; the latter whereof if examined to the bottome, will appear the most unexceptionable opinion, and least liable to the Cavils of Gainsaiers. But whether of them be most true I leave to the grave and wise to determine.
3. This Rub being thus removed out of the way, we now proceed to the special significations of תקומה and תחיה. The former of which is called ἀνάστασις κρίσεως, the Resurrection to Condemnation; the latter <227> ἀνάστασις ζωῆς, ἀνάστασις δικαίων, and simply ἀνάστασις, the Resurrection to life, the Resurrection of the just, and simply the Resurrection, as it is 1 Cor. 15. and elsewhere. Wherefore תקומה or ἀνάστασις as they belong to the wicked, have no further sense of Revivification then in that general way we have explained, Ἀνάστασις κρίσεως implying that they were raised and made to appear at this day of general Summons, merely to receive the sentence of Eternal Death, Goe ye accursed into everlasting fire, &c. But now תחיה as it is appropriated to the Resurrection of the just, and is termed ἀνάστασις ζωῆς, implies in it a further and more peculiar Revivification or Re-enlivening, viz. into that life which was lost by the first Fall, that Paradisiacal life, that Æthereal and Heavenly life, which is unrecoverable unless we recover those Heavenly glorified bodies which are promised to us by Christ at his coming.
4. For this muddy Earth, and vaporous polluted Air which is the very Region of Death, wherein all the Pleasures, Joyes and Triumphs of this Present Life are but like the grinning laughter of Ghosts or the dance of dead men, these foul Elements, I say, can afford no such commodious habitation for the Soul, as to arrive any thing near to the height of that Happiness which she shall be possessed of when Christ shall be pleased to change these our vile bodies into the similitude of his glorious bodie, and so to recover us into the enjoiment of that Heavenly Life which we unhappily forfeited by our first Fall. For which purpose he came into the world, as himself professes John 6. v. 40. This is the will of him that sent me, that whosoever sees me and believes in me, should have everlasting life, and that I should raise him up at the last day.
5. And so certainly it will be at his coming to Judgment, that they that then see him and firmly believe on him, ardently loved him and vehemently desired his Appearing, shall find such a warming change in themselves, partly by the glorious approach of his Person and Lustre of his numerous Retinue, partly by the wonderfull secret workings of the Divine Presence in their very Bodies and Souls, that at last there will be kindled such an irresistible Faith, so rapturous a Joy and transportant Love, that breaking out upon the Body, be it what it will, it will turn all into a pure Aethereal flame; and so Elias-like in those Celestial chariots shall they ascend up to Christ, and meet him in the Air, and join with his Armie whereever it moves, as becoming then ἰσάγγελοι, their Vehicles being transformed by the power and presence of Christ, and the working of his Divinity, into a pure Paradisiacal and Angelical nature.
6. And thus shall he make his word good of raising us up at the last day, in that he does re-enliven us, and restore us to that Life and Joy which we had fallen from, re-enthrone us into that Glory we had defaced in our selves and was lost in these dark Bodies of ours, and raise us up to that pristine state of Happiness and that superiour Paradise, which we could not re-enter into, or be re-estated in, but by becoming wholly Æthereal or Celestial.
 Matth. 25. 31.
 Acts 1. v. 11.
 1 Thess. 4.16, 17.
 2 Pet. 3. 10.
 2 Pet. 1. 11.
 1 Pet. 1. 4.
 2 Pet. 1. 12, 13, 14, 15. & Chap. 3.1.
 2 Pet. 1. 16, 17, 18.
 2 Pet. 1. 19.
 See Book 2. chap. 5. sect. 3. and ch. 6. sect. 1.
 Act. 1. v. 10.
 See Book 2. ch. 6. sect. 2.
 Cardan de Rerum varietate lib. 14. cap. 69.
 Idem lib. 15. cap. 81.
 See Henningus Grosius his Magica de Spectris, lib. 1. Sect. 124.
 See Machiavel de Republica, lib. 1. cap. 56.
 Cardan de Rerum varietate, lib. 15. cap. 78.
 See Joan. Garibus, de Phænomenis System. 2.
 Joseph. de bello Judaico, lib: 7. cap. 12.
 Dan. 7.
 after the manner of a river.
 See Book 2. ch. 2. of that Treatise, as also chap. 4, 5, 6.
 See Book 1. ch. 6. sect. 3.
 See my Treatise of The Immorality of the Soul, Book 3. ch. 17.
 Ibid. Book 3. chap. 1.
Cite as: Henry More, An Explanation of the Grand Mystery of Godliness (1660), pp. 212-227, https://www.cambridge-platonism.divinity.cam.ac.uk/view/texts/diplomatic/More1660-excerpt004, accessed 2023-12-01.