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Providence to attest a fact, which lies at the foundation of christian hope.* We know that the
* The resurrection of Christ is obviously the central point of the evidence on which christianity rests its claims; and is a demonstration founded upon fact of every thing relating to a future state, which is of vital importance to us. It will not be expected that the author should enter into the argument which, he conceives, establishes beyond all rational doubt the authenticity of this miraculous event. Yet he cannot forbear introducing here a quotation on the subject, from the writings of a distinguished prelate, which contains at once so concise and forcible a statement, that it cannot be too well known, and which, familiar as it must be to most readers, may possibly meet the eye of some who have never seen it. “ It is," says Bishop Horsely, a very singular circumstance in this testimony” [of the apostle's concerning the resurrection of Christ],“ that it is such as no length of time can diminish. It is founded upon the universal principles of human nature, upon maxims which are the same in all ages, and operate with equal strength on all mankind, under all varieties of temper, and habit of constitution. So long as it shall be contrary to the first principles of the human mind to delight in falsehood for its own sake; so long as it shall be true that no man willingly propagates a lie to his own detriment, and to no purpose; so long it will be certain that the apostles were serious and sin. cere in the assertion of our Lord's resurrection. So long as it shall be absurd to suppose that twelve men could all be deceived in the person of a friend with whom they had all lived three years ; so long it will be certain that the apostles were competent to judge of the truth and reality of the fact which they asserted. So long as it shall be in the nature of man for his own interest and ease, to be dearer than that of another to himself, so long it will be an absurdity to suppose that twelve
testimony of the apostles, concerning this extraordinary and triumphant event, is not a cunningly devised fable ; and “if we believe that Jesus died, and rose again, even so them also that sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him.” “Blessed,” therefore, “be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away.
men would persevere for years in the joint attestation of a lie, to the great detriment of every individual of the conspiracy, and without any joint or separate advantage, when any of them had it in his power, by a discovery of the fraud, to advance his own fame and fortune by the sacrifice of nothing more dear to him than the reputation of the rest; and so long will it be incredible that the story of our Lord's resurrection was a fiction which the twelve men (to mention no greater number), with onparalleled fortitude and equal folly, conspired to support; so long, therefore, as the evangelical history shall be preserved entire—that is, so long as the historical books of the New Tes. tament shall be extant in the world, so long the credibility of of the apostles' testimony will remain whole and unimpaired."
ON THE LOCAL AND COMMON DESTINATION OF THE
In forming our conceptions of heaven, it must be of great importance to remember, that it is a state of perfect rectitude, and that the felicity of the redeemed will spring chiefly from their communion with God, for which they will be fitted by a conformity to his holy image. Whatever external magnificence might surround them in the celestial paradise, and whatever combinations of material beauty might rise up to their view, all would amount to no more than heartless pageantry, without that capacity of enjoyment, which is included in moral as well as physical perfection of nature. Inattention to this essential and main ingredient, appertainivg to future blessedness, has been a fruitful source of error, and has given rise to opinions and descriptions, which would better apply to the Elysium of the pagans than to that pure and spiritual region, in which dwells the high. and lofty One who inhabits eternity, and whose name is Holy. But that heaven is, at the same time, a local and common mansion provided for the final residence of the just, is a fact which has
always been admitted, with the exception of a few individuals, who have so attempted to refine their notions of future happiness, as to render them no less visionary and unintelligible, than repugnant to the evidence of reason and scripture.* What particular part of creation is assigned for this purpose is an inquiry which, as it is rather a matter of curiosity than of real importance, revelation does not attempt to satisfy. It is enough for us to know, that in some distant region of the universe there is a material heaven prepared for the faithful; and to assure us of this, we have a variety of clear and indubitable evidence. There must of necessity be a place which contains the bodies of Enoch and Elijah, and the glorified person of the Saviour, who ascended into heaven in visible grandeur. And though the bodies in which the souls of believers will be clothed on the morning of the resurrection, will be purified from every element of grossness, and seed of corruption, which may enter into the constitution of the mortal tabernacle, and will be so refined as to justify the figurative application of the epithet “spiritual,” in the description given concerning them, yet they will still be material and organized structures, and will require some depositary or local habitation in which they may dwell. In accordance with this general argument are the representations of Scripture. The language which is employed to describe the final abode of the righteous, not only gives us the most exalted views of its beauty and grandeur, but conveys to our minds the notion of place in the strict sense of the word. Our Lord himself, in his last address to his disciples, assured them that he was going to prepare a place for them, and spoke of it in terms at once sublime and unspeakably endearing, when he called it his “Father's house,” containing many or various mansions; and heaven is declared to be a paradise, a
* It has, it is well known, been maintained by some individuals, that heaven, as it respects at least disembodied spirits, is nothing more than a state-a mode of being, respecting which it is impossible for us to form any distinct conception. Place, in the strict sense of the word, is, indeed, the relative attribute of matter, as it seems necessarily to imply extension and form, which cannot belong to that which possesses a purely spiritual nature. But supposing the soul of man after death to exist in a disembodied condition, it must still, we conceive, have to place the relation of power or consciousness, and must, in this view, be limited to some part of the material universe ; unless we suppose it to have the property of omnipresence, which is one of the exclusive attributes of the Supreme Intelligence. Yet, after every thing that can be said, this is probably all we can know concerning the relation in which pure spirits stand to the material world, and we know absolutely nothing concerning the mode of their communion with it. These, however, are happily matters of mere curiosity and unprofitable speculation. It is sufficient for us to be assured, on the authority of revelation, that there is a local heaven, into which the righteous will all at last be brought, and placed beyond the reach of sin and sorrow.