T H E
By J O H N.B U N Y A N,
A Servant of the Lord's Christ.
Written from Bedford Prison.
FIRST, I shall first begin with,
THE RESURRECTION OF THE JUST.
irst, The just must arise, because Christ is risen from the dead. Christ is the head of the just, and they are the members of his body; and because of this union, therefore the just must arise. This is the apostle's own argument—"If Christ," saith he, "be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen" (1 Cor 15:12,13). Now, I say, the reason why the apostle thus argueth the resurrection from the dead, by the resurrection of Christ, it is, because the saints, of whose resurrection he here chiefly discourseth, are in their bodies, as well as in their souls, the members of Christ; "Know ye not," saith he, "that your bodies are the members of Christ" (1 Cor 6:15). A very weighty argument; for if a good man be a member of Christ, then he must either be raised out of his grave, or else sin and death must have power over a member of Christ. I say again, if this body be not raised, then also Christ is not a complete conqueror over his enemies; forasmuch as death and the grave have still power over his members. "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (1 Cor 15:26). Now, though Christ in his own person hath a complete conquest over death, &c., yet death hath still power over the bodies of all that are in their graves: now, I say, Christ being considered with relation to his members, then he hath not yet a complete conquest over death, neither will he, until they every one be brought forth of their graves; for then, and not till then, shall that saying be every way fulfilled, "Death is swallowed up in victory" (1 Cor 15:53,54).
Second, As there must be a resurrection of the just, because Christ is their head, and they his members: so also, because the body of the saints, as well as their soul, is the purchase of Christ's blood. "Ye are bought with a price:" saith Paul; "therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor 6:20). Christ will not lose the purchase of his blood. O death, saith Christ, I will have them; O grave, I will make thee let them go; I will ransom them from the power of the grave, I will redeem them from death. I have bought them, and they shall be mine. "O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction" (Hosea 13:14): I say, though the power of the grave be invincible, and death be "the king of terrors" (Job 18:14), yet he who hath the keys of hell and of death at his girdle (Rev 1:18), to him belongeth the issues from death. "He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto God the Lord belong the issues from death" (Psa 68:20), and we, the price of his blood, shall be delivered.
Third, As the body is the member of Christ, and the price of his blood: so it is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in us. "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, - - and ye are not your own?" (1 Cor 6:19). The body is no such ridiculous thing in the account of Christ as it was in the account of the Sadducees. "The body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body" (verse 13), and that not only in this world, but that which is to come; wherefore he saith, "God hath both raised up the Lord [Jesus,] and will also raise us up by his own power"—that is, as he hath raised up the body of Christ, so will he raise up ours also by Christ.
Fourth, The bodies of the just must arise again, because of that similitude, that must be betwixt the body of the Lord Jesus Christ and the bodies of the saints. "When he shall appear, we shall be like him" (1 John 3:2). Now we have it abundantly manifest in scripture, that the body of the Lord Jesus, was raised out of the grave, caught up into heaven, and that it ever remaineth in the holiest of all, a glorified body (Luke 24:3-7; 36-43; John 20:24-28; Acts 1:2-11; 2:31; 17:30-32; Mark 16:6,7,19; Heb 7:24-26; 8:1-3; 10:12).
Now, I say, it would be very strange to me if Christ should be raised, ascended, and glorified in that body; and yet that his people should be with him, no otherwise than in their spirits; especially, seeing that he in his resurrection, is said to be but "the first-born from the dead, and the first-fruits of them that sleep" (Col 1:18; 1 Cor 15:23). For we know, that a first-begotten doth imply more sons, and that first-fruits do foreshew an after-crop; wherefore we conclude, that "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming" (1 Cor 15:22,23).
And hence it is that the scripture saith, He "shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body" (Phil 3:21). And hence it is again, that the day of Christ is said to be the day of the manifestation of the sons of God, and of the redemption of our body (Rome 8:21-24), for then shall the saints of God not only be, but appear as their Saviour, being delivered from their graves, as he is from his, and glorified in their bodies, as he is in his.
Fifth, There must be a resurrection of the body of the saints, because the body, as well as the mind, hath been a deep sharer in the afflictions that we meet with for the gospel's sake. Yea, the body is ofttimes the greater sufferer, in all the calamities, that for Christ's sake we here undergo; it is the body that feels the stocks, the whip, hunger and cold, the fire and rack, and a thousand calamities; it is the body in which we have the dying marks of the Lord Jesus, "that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh" (Gal 6:17; 2 Cor 4:11). God is so just a God, and so merciful to his people, that though the bodies of his saints should, through the malice of the enemy, be never so dishonourably tortured, killed, and sown in the grave: yet he will, as further will be shewn anon, raise it again in incorruption, glory, and honour: as he saith also in another place, that we who have continued with Christ in his temptations, that have for his sake underwent the reproach and malice of the world, to you, saith Christ. "I appoint a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me" (Luke 22:28,29). If we suffer, we shall also reign with him (2 Tim 2:12): "and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal" (John 12:25). All this is to be enjoyed, especially at the resurrection of the just. But,
Sixth, There must be a resurrection of the just, otherwise, there will be the greatest disappointment on all sides that ever was, since man had a being on the earth. A disappointment, I say,
1. Of the will of God—"And this is the Father's will which hath sent me," saith Christ, "that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, [not a dust,] but should raise it up again at the last day" (John 6:39).
2. A disappointment of the power of God; for he that hath raised up the Lord Jesus, doth also intend to raise us up by his power, even our bodies; as Paul saith, "The body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his power" (1 Cor 6:13,14).
3. If there should be no resurrection of the just, Christ also would be wonderfully disappointed of the fruits of all his sufferings. As I told you before, his people are the price of his blood, and the members of his body, and he is now at the right hand of God, "far above all principalities and powers, and every name that is named," expecting till his enemies be made his footstool (Heb 1:13), and brought under the foot of the weakest saint; which will not be, until the last enemy death is destroyed. We know that he said, when he went away, that he would come again, and fetch all his people to himself, even up into heaven, that where he is, there we may be also (John 12:26; 14:1-3; 17:24). But, I say, how will he be disappointed, if when he comes, the grave and death should prevent and hinder him, and with its bars, keep down those, whom he hath ransomed with his blood, from the power thereof.
4. If the bodies of the just arise [not] from the dead, then they also will be disappointed. 'Tis true, the saints departed, have far more fellowship and communion with God and the Lord Jesus, than we have, or are not yet capable of having, they being in paradise, and we in this world (Luke 23:43); but yet, I say for all that, they are, though there, very much longing for the day of the Lord's vengeance, which will be the day in which they will, and must arise from the dead. This, I say, is the time that they long for, when they cry under the altar, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" (Rev 6:10,11). When they died, they died in hope to "obtain a better resurrection" (Heb 11:35), and now they are gone, they long till that day be come; till the day come, I say, when the dead, even all the enemies of Christ, shall be judged; for then will he give rewards to his servants the prophets, and to his saints, and to all that fear his name, small and great (Rev 11:18).
5. If the just arise not, great disappointment also will be to the saints yet alive in this world; for, notwithstanding they have already received the first-fruits of the Spirit, yet they wait, not only for more of that, but also for the resurrection, redemption, and changing of this vile body. "For our conversation is in heaven," saith Paul, "from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like to his glorious body" (Rom 8:20-23; Phil 3:20,21). But now, I say, if the body riseth not, then how can it be made like to the glorious body of Christ Jesus: yea, what a sad disappointment, infatuation, and delusion, are those poor creatures under, that look, and that by scripture warrant, for such a thing? They look for good, but behold evil; they expect to be delivered in their whole man from every enemy; but lo, both death and the grave, their great enemies, do swallow them up for ever. But, beloved, be not deceived. "The needy shall not always be forgotten, the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever" (Psa 9:18). Saith Christ, He that seeth the Son, and believeth on him that sent him, hath everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:40).
6. If the just arise not out of their graves, then also is every grace of God in our souls defeated; for though the spirit of devotion can put forth a feigned show of holiness with the denial of the resurrection, yet every grace of God in the elect doth prompt them forward to live as becomes the gospel, by pointing at this day; as, (1.) 'Tis this that faith looks at, according as it is written, "I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you" (2 Cor 4:13,14). (2.) Hope looks at this. "We," saith Paul, "which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body"—that is, we expect this by hope; "but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth," or hath in present possession, "why doth he yet hope for?" (Rom 8:23,24). (3.) The grace of self-denial also worketh by this doctrine—"If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not?" (1 Cor 15:32). As who should say, Wherefore do I deny myself of those mercies and privileges that the men of this world enjoy? Why do not I also, as well as they, shun persecution for the cross of Christ? If the dead rise not, what shall I be the better for all my trouble that here I meet with for the gospel of Christ? (4.) Both zeal and patience, with all other the graces of the Spirit of God in our hearts, are much, yea, chiefly encouraged, animated, and supported by this doctrine; as James saith, "Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord," for then shall the dead be raised (1 Thess 4:16,17). "Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh" (James 5:7,8).
Seventh, The doctrine of the resurrection of the just, must needs be a certain truth of God, if we consider the devilish, and satanical errors and absurdities that must unavoidably follow the denial thereof; as, he that holdeth no resurrection of our body, he denieth the resurrection of the body of Christ. This is the Spirit's own doctrine—"For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised" (1 Cor 15:16). He that denieth the resurrection of the members, denieth the resurrection of the head; for seeing the resurrection of the saints is proved by the resurrection of Christ, he that doth deny the resurrection of the saints, must needs deny the resurrection of Christ, that proves it. Now this error, as it is in itself destructive to all Christian religion: so it, like an adder, carrieth within its bowels, many other alike devilish and filthy; as,
1. He that denieth the resurrection of the saints, he concludeth, that to preach deliverance from sin and death, it is vain preaching; for how can he be freed of sin, that is swallowed up for ever of death and the grave? as he most certainly is, that is always contained therein, as Paul saith, "If Christ be not risen," whose resurrection is the ground of ours, "then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain" (1 Cor 15:14), then we preach fables, and you receive them for truth.
2. This error, casteth the lie in the face of God, of Christ, and the Scriptures—"Yea, and we," saith Paul, "are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: - - - if so be that the dead rise not" (1 Cor 15:15). Mark, before he said, Christ in his resurrection, doth prove our resurrection; but now he saith, that our resurrection will prove the truth of his; and indeed both are true; for as by Christ's rising, ours is affirmed; so by ours, his is demonstrated.
3. The denial of the resurrection, it also damneth all those that have departed this world in the faith of this doctrine. "If Christ be not raised," (as if he is not, we rise not, then is not only) your faith vain, ye are yet in your sins (that are alive,) but "then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished" (1 Cor 15:17,18).
4. He that denieth the resurrection of the just, he concludeth, that the Christian is of all men the most miserable. Mark the words: "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable" (1 Cor 15:19). First of all, men the most miserable, because we let go present enjoyments for those that will never come, "if the dead rise not." Of all men most miserable, because our faith, our hope, our joy, and peace, are all but a lie, "if the dead rise not." But you will say, he that giveth up himself to God shall have comfort in this life. Ah! but "if the dead rise not," all our comfort that now we think we have from God, will then be found presumption and madness, because we believe, that God hath so loved us, as to have us in his day, in body and soul, to heaven: which will be nothing so, if the dead rise not. If in this life only, we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. Poor Christian! thou that lookest for the blessed hope of the resurrection of the body, at the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ, how wilt thou be deceived, if the dead rise not! "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first- fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead" (1 Cor 15:20,21).
5. But again; he that denieth the resurrection of the dead, he setteth open a flood-gate to all manner of impiety; he cutteth the throat of a truly holy life, and layeth the reins upon the neck of the most outrageous lusts; for if the dead rise not, let us eat and drink; that is, do anything, though never so diabolical and hellish; "let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die" (1 Cor 15:32), and there is an end of us; we shall not arise again, to receive either evil or good.
6. To deny this resurrection, nay, if a man do but say, it is past either with him or any Christian: his so saying tendeth directly to the destruction and overthrow of the faith of them that hear him; and is so far from being according to the doctrine of God, that it eateth out good and wholesome doctrine even as cankers eat the face and flesh of a man. How ill-favouredly do they look, that have their nose and lips eaten off with the canker? Even so badly doth the doctrine of no resurrection of the dead, look in the eyes of God, Christ, saints, and scripture (2 Tim 2:18).
7. I conclude then, that to deny the resurrection of the bodies of the just, it argueth,
(1.) Great ignorance of God, ignorant of his power to raise, ignorant of his promise to raise, ignorant of his faithfulness to raise; and that both to himself, Son, and saints, as I shewed before. Therefore saith Paul to those that were thus deluded, "Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame" (1 Cor 15:34). As if he had said, Do you profess Christianity? and do you question the resurrection of the body? Do you now know, that the resurrection of the body, and glory to follow, is the very quintessence of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Are you ignorant of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and do you question the power and faithfulness of God, both to his Son and his saints; because you say, there shall be no resurrection of the dead? You are ignorant of God; of what he can do, of what he will do, and of what he will by doing glorify himself.
(2.) As it argueth very great ignorance of God's power, faithfulness, &c., so it argueth gross ignorance of the tenor and current of the scriptures; for "as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses [saith Christ] how in the bush, God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err" (Mark 12:26,27).
To be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, it is to be understood of his being their God under a new covenant consideration; as he saith, "I will be their God, and they shall be my people." Now, thus he is not the God of the dead—that is, of those that perish, whether they be angels or men (Heb 8:10,11; John 8:42; 1 John 3:8-10; Hosea 6:2; Col 3:4; Eph 1:4).
Now, I say, they that are the children of God, as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they are counted the living under a threefold consideration— (a.) In their Lord and head, and thus all the elect may be said to live; for they are from eternity chosen in him, who also is their life, though possibly many of them yet unconverted. I say, yet Christ is their life, by the eternal purpose of God. (b.) The children of the new covenant, do live both in their spirits in glory, by open vision, and here by faith and the continual communication of grace from Christ into their souls (Gal 2:20). (c.) They live also with respect to their rising again; for God "calleth those things which be not as though they were" (Rom 4:17). To be born, dead, buried, risen, and ascended, are all present with God, he liveth not by time, as we do—a thousand years to him are but as the day that is past. And again, "One day is as a thousand years" (2 Peter 3:8). Eternity, which is God himself, admitteth of no first, second, and third; all things are naked and bare before him, and present with him (Heb 4:13; Isa 46:9,10); all his live unto him. There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust (Rom 8:29-34).
A resurrection—of what? Of that which is sown, or of that which was never sown? If of that which is sown, then it must be either of that nature that was sown, or else of the corruption that cleaveth to it; but it is the nature, and not the corruption that cleaveth unto it, that riseth again. And verily, the very term "resurrection" is a forcible argument to prove the dead shall come forth of their graves; for the Holy Ghost hath always spoken more properly than to say, "There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust;" when yet neither the good nor the bad shall come forth of their graves, but rather something else to delude the world withal.