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.
Having thus in few words, shewed you the truth of the resurrection of the dead, I now come,
SECOND—To the manner of their rising.
THE MANNER OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE JUST.
And FIRST of the just.
he apostle, when he had in the fifteenth of the 1st of the Corinthians proved the truth and certainty of the resurrection, he descends to the discovery of the manner of it; and to the end, he might remove those foolish scruples that attend the hearts of the ignorant, he begins with one of their questions—"But some man will say," saith he, "How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?" (verse 35). To which he answereth,
First, By a similitude of seed, that is sown in the earth. In which similitude, he inserteth three things—
1. That our reviving or rising, must be after death—"That which thou sowest is not quickened except it die" (verse 36).
2. That at our rising, we shall not only revive and live, but be changed into a far more glorious state than when we were sown. "That which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be," &c. "But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him" (verse 38)— that is, he giveth the body more splendour, lustre, and beauty at its resurrection. But,
3. Neither its quickening, not yet its transcendent splendour, shall hinder it from being the same body—as to the nature of it—that was sown in the earth; for as God giveth it a body, for honour and splendour as it pleaseth him, so "to every seed his own body" (verse 38).
And, indeed, this similitude by which he here reasoneth the manner of the resurrection of the just, is very natural, and fitly suiteth each particular; for, as to its burial—(1.) The corn of wheat is first dead, and after sown and buried in the earth; and so is the body of man. (2.) After the corn is thus dead and buried, then it quickeneth and reviveth to life: so also shall it be with our body; for after it is laid in the grave and buried, it shall then quicken, rise, and revive.
Again, as to the manner of its change in its rising, this similitude also doth fitly suit; as,
It is sown a dead corn; it is raised a living one. It is sown dry, and without comeliness; it riseth green and beautiful. It is sown a single corn; it riseth a full ear. It is sown in its husk; but in its rising it leaveth that husk behind it.
Further, though the kernel thus die, be buried, and meet with all this change and alteration in these things, yet none of them can cause the nature of the kernel to cease—it is wheat still. Wheat was sown and wheat ariseth; only it was sown dead, dry, and barren wheat; and riseth living, beautiful, and fruitful wheat. It hath this alteration, then, that it doth greatly change its resemblance, though yet it hath this power, as still to retain its own nature. God giveth it a body as it pleaseth him, "but to every seed his own body."
The apostle having thus presented the manner of the resurrection of the saints by the nature of seed sown and rising again; he proceedeth,
Second, for further illustration, to three more similitudes—The first is, to shew us the variety and glory of flesh. The second is, to shew us the difference of glory that is between heavenly bodies, and those that are earthy. The third is, to shew us the difference that is between the glory of the light of the sun, from that of the moon; and also how one star differeth from another in glory: and then concludeth, "so is the resurrection of the dead" (1 Cor 15:39-43). As who should say, at the resurrection of the bodies, they will be abundantly more altered and changed, than if the flesh of beasts and fowls were made as noble as the flesh of men; or the bodies of earth, were made as excellent as the heavenly bodies, or as if the glory of the moon should be made as bright, and as clear as the glory of the sun; or as if the glory of the least star was as glorious, and as shining, as the biggest in the firmament of heaven.
It is a resurrection indeed, a resurrection every way. The body ariseth, as to the nature of it, the self-same nature; but as to the manner of it; how far transcendent is it! There is a poor, dry, wrinkled kernel cast into the ground, and there it lieth, and swelleth, breaketh, and, one would think, perisheth; but behold, it receiveth life, it chitteth, it putteth forth a blade, and groweth into a stalk, there also appeareth an ear; it also sweetly blossoms, with a full kernel in the ear: it is the same wheat, yet behold how the form and fashion of that which now ariseth, doth differ from that which then was sown; its glory also when 'twas sown, is no glory, when compared with that in which it riseth. And yet it is the same that riseth that was sown, and no other; though the same after a far more glorious manner; not the same with its husk, but without it. Our bran shall be left behind us when we rise again. The comparison also between the bodies heavenly and bodies earthly holds forth the same—"The glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another." Now mark it; he doth not speak here of the natures of each of these bodies; but of the transcendent glory of one above another. "The glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another." Wherefore I say, at our rising, we shall not change our nature, but our glory; we shall be equal to the angels (Luke 20:36), not with respect to their nature, but glory. The nature also of the moon is one thing, and the glory of the moon is another; and so one star also differeth from another in glory.
A beggar hath the same nature as a king, and gold in the ore, the same nature with that which is best refined; but the beggar hath not the same glory with the king, nor yet the gold in ore, the same glory with that which is refined. But our state will be far more altered than any of these in the days when we, like so many suns in the firmament of heaven, arise out of the heart and bowels of the earth.
These things thus considered do shew you how vainly they argue, that say, our human nature consisting of body and soul, shall not inherit the kingdom of God, and also how far from their purpose, that saying of the apostle is, which saith, that "flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God." And now also, because I am fallen upon the objection itself, I shall not pass it, but with a short dash at it. Wherefore reader, whoever thou art, consider that frequently in scripture the words "flesh" and "blood," as also in the place alleged, are not to be understood of that matter which God made; which flesh cleaveth to our bones, and blood runs in our veins: but is taken for that corruption, weakness, mortality, and evil that cleaveth to it; which weakness and corruption, because it possesseth all men, and also wholly ruleth where the soul is unconverted; therefore it beareth the name of that which is ruled and acted by it—to wit, our whole man, consisting of body and soul; yet, I say, is a thing distinct from that flesh and blood which is essential to our being, and without which we are no men. As, for instance, he that is Christ's, saith Paul, "hath crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts" (Gal 5:24), Who is so vain as to think that the apostle by these words, should mean our material flesh that hangeth on our bones, and that is mixed with our natural blood, sinews, and veins; and not rather of that inward fountain of sin, corruption, and wickedness, which in another place he calleth "the old man," with his "deceitful lusts" (Eph 4:22). Again, "The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh." Is it our flesh that hangeth on our bones, which lusteth against the spirit? and that also against which the spirit lusteth? Certainly, if the spirit lusteth against our material flesh, then it is our duty not to nourish it at all, because, by nourishing of it we nourish that against which the Spirit of God fighteth, and warreth. Nay, if the spirit lust against the flesh on our bones simply considered as flesh; and if it be our duty to follow the Spirit, as it is, then we must needs kill ourselves, or cut our flesh from our bones. For whatever the Spirit of God lusteth against, it must be destroyed; yea, it is our duty with all speed to destroy it. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that by flesh here is to be understood, not the nature that God hath made, but the corrupt apprehension, and wisdom, with those inclinations to evil, that lodge within us, which in another place are called the "wisdom of the flesh," yea, in plain terms, "flesh and blood," where Christ saith, "Flesh and blood hath not revealed [this] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven" (Matt 16:17).
Nay, observe it, all these places, with many others, do rather point at a corrupt soul, than a corrupt body; for, indeed, sin and all spiritual wickedness, they have their seat in the heart and soul of a man, and by their using this or that member of the body, so defile the man; the weaknesses of the body, or that attend our material flesh and blood, they are weaknesses of another kind, as sickness, aches, pains, sores, wounds, defection of members, &c. Wherefore, where you read of flesh and blood, as rejected of God; especially, when it speaks of the flesh and blood of saints, you are not to understand it as meant of the flesh, which is their proper human nature, but of that weakness which cleaveth to it.
Paul in another place, reckoneth up the works of the flesh, in many things, as in witchcraft, hatred, variance, strife, emulation, fornication, and many others. But can any imagine, that he there should strike at that flesh which hangeth on our bones, or rather at that malignity and rebellion that is in the mind of man against the Lord, by reason of which the members of the body are used this way, and also sometimes that, to accomplish its most filthy and abusive deeds (Gal 5:17-21). "They were - - enemies in [their] mind by wicked works" (Col 1:21).
Thus you see that "flesh and blood" is not to be taken always for the flesh that is upon our hands, and feet, and other parts of our body; but for that sin, weakness, and infirmity, that cleaveth to our whole man.
Further then, touching our real substantial flesh, it may be either considered as God's creature purely, or as corrupted with sin and infirmity. Now if you consider it as corrupted, so it shall not inherit the kingdom of God: but yet consider it as God's creature, and so all that God hath converted to himself, through Jesus Christ, shall, even with that body when changed, inherit the kingdom of God. The woman whose clothes are foul, can yet distinguish between the dirt and the cloth on which it hangeth; and so deals God with us. 'Tis true, there is not one saint, but while he liveth here, his body is arrayed and infected with many corrupt and filthy things, as touching bodily weaknesses; yea, and also with many sinful infirmities, by reason of that body of sin and death that yet remains in us: but yet God, I say, distinguisheth between our weaknesses, and his workmanship, and can tell how to save the whole man of his people, while he is destroying the corruption and weakness that cleaveth to them.
And now to return to the place objected—"Flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God." It cannot be truly understood, that that flesh which is man's nature shall not enter the kingdom; for then, as I said before, Christ must lose his members, the purchase of his blood, the vessels and temples of his Spirit; for all this is our body. Again, then Christ also, in that his body, which is also our flesh and blood, is not in glory, contrary to the whole current of the New Testament (Heb 2:14,15; 7:24,25; 8;3,4; 10:10-12; Rev 1:18; 2:8).
Yea, it would be nonsense to say, there should be a resurrection, and that our vile body shall be changed, "and made like to the glorious body of the Son of God;" if this body do not at all rise again, but some other thing, which is not in us, and our nature. But to be short; the apostle here, when he saith, "Flesh and blood cannot inherit," &c., speaks properly of that mortality and weakness, that now attends our whole man, and not of our real substantial body itself. For after he had said, "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God," he adds, "neither doth corruption inherit incorruption," which two sayings are answerable to what he presently adds, saying, "Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead"—mark, "the dead shall be raised incorruptible"—that is, the dead shall be so raised as that in their rising, incorruption shall possess them instead of corruption, and immortality instead of that mortality that descended to the grave with them,—"for this corruptible"—mark, this corruptible—"must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." Mark, I say, it is this corruptible, and this mortal, that must be raised, though not corruptible and mortal, as it was buried; but immortal and incorruptible; it shall leave its grave- clothes of corruption and mortality behind it (1 Cor 15:50-53).
THIRD. The manner of which their rising, the apostle doth more distinctly branch out a little above in four particulars, which particulars are these that follow—1. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. 2. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. 3. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 4. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body (1 Cor 15).
1. It is raised in incorruption. We are brought into this world by sin and corruption; corruption is our father, and in sin did our mother conceive us (Job 17:14; Psa 51:5). And hence it is that we have our life, not only like a span, shadow, or post, for shortness, but also, that it is attended with so much vanity and vexation of spirit. But now being raised from the dead incorruptible, which is also called a begetting and birth, these things that now in our life annoy us, and at last take away our life, are effectually destroyed; and therefore we live for ever, as saith the Spirit—"And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things," that is, all our corruptibleness, "are passed away" (Rev 21:4).
There shall be in our resurrection no corruption, either of body or of soul; no weakness, nor sickness, nor anything tending that way; as he saith, He will present us "to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing" (Eph 5:27). Therefore, when he saith it is raised in incorruption, it is as if he had said, It is impossible that they should ever sin more, be sick more, sorrow more, or die more. "They which shall be counted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage;" though 'twas thus with them in this world; "neither can they die any more, for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection" (Luke 20:35, 36).
2. It is raised in glory. The dishonour that doth attend the saint at his departing this world, it is very great—"he is sown in dishonour;" he is so loathsome at his death, that his dearest friends are weary of him, stop their noses at him, see no beauty in him, nor set any price upon him, (I speak nothing here how some of them are hanged, starved, banished, and so die, torn to pieces, and not suffered to be put into graves,) but it is raised in glory. Glory is the sweetness, comeliness, purity, and perfection of a thing. The light is the glory of the sun, strength is the glory of youth, and grey hairs are the glory of old age—that is, it is the excellency of these things, and that which makes them shine (1 Cor 15:40,41; Prov 20:29).
Therefore, to arise in glory, it is first to arise in all the beauty, and utmost completeness that is possible to possess a human creature; I say, in all its features and members, inconceivably beautiful. Sin and corruption have made mad work in our bodies as well as in our souls. 'Tis sin commonly that is the cause of all the deformity and ill- favouredness that now cleaveth to us, and that also rendereth us so dishonourable at our death; but now at our rising, we being raised incorruptible, we shall appear in such perfections, and that of all sorts, belonging to the body, that all the beauty and comeliness, sweetness and amiableness, that hath at any time been in this world, it shall be swallowed up a thousand times told with this glory. The Psalmist saith of Christ that "he was fairer than the children of men" (Psa 45:2), and that, as I believe, in his outward man, as well as in his inward part. He was the exactest, purest, completest, and beautifulest creature that ever God made, till his visage was so marred by his persecutions; for in all things he had and shall have the pre-eminence (Isa 52:14; Col 1:18). Why, our bodies at our resurrection will not only be as free from sin, as his was before he died, but also as free from all other infirmities as he was after he was raised again. In a word, if incorruptibleness can put a beauty upon our bodies when they arise, we shall have it. There shall be no lame legs, nor crump shoulders, no bleared eyes, nor yet wrinkled faces—He "shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body" (Phil 3:21).
Again, all the glory that a glorified soul can help this body to, it at this day shall enjoy. That soul that hath been these hundreds or thousands of years in the heavens, soaking in the bosom of Christ, it shall in a moment come spangling into the body again, and inhabit every member and vein of the body, as it did before its departure. That Spirit of God also that took its leave of the body when it went to the grave, shall now in all perfection dwell in this body again; I tell you, the body at this day will shine brighter than the face of Moses or Stephen, even as bright as the sun, the stars, and angels. "When Christ who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory" (Exo 34:29,35; Acts 6:15; Dan 12:3; Matt 13:43; Luke 20:36; Col 3:3,4).
3. It is raised in power. While we are here, we are attended with so many weaknesses and infirmities, that in time the least sin or sickness is too hard for us, and taketh away both our strength, our beauty, our days, our breath, and life, and all (Job 38:17). But behold, we are raised in power, in that power that all these things are as far below us as a grasshopper is below a giant; at the first appearance of us the world will tremble.
Behold, the gates of death and the bars of the grave are now carried away on our shoulders, as Samson carried away the gates of the city (Judg 16:3). Death quaketh, and destruction falleth down dead at our feet: What, then, can stand before us? We shall then carry that grace, majesty, terror, and commanding power in our souls that our countenances shall be like lightning (Compare Luke 20:16 with Matthew 28:2,3). "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory" (1 Cor 15:53,54).
4. It is raised a spiritual body. This is the last particular, and is indeed the reason of the other three; it is an incorruptible body, because it is a spiritual one; it is a glorious body, because it is a spiritual one; it doth rise in power, because it is a spiritual body. When the body is buried, or sown in the earth, it is a body corruptible, dishonourable, weak, and natural; but when it ariseth, it doth rise incorruptible, glorious, powerful, and spiritual; so that so far as incorruption is above corruption, glory above dishonour, power above weakness, and spiritual above natural; so great an alteration will there be in our body, when raised again. And yet it is this body and not another; this in nature, though changed into a far more glorious state, a thousand times further than if a hoggard was changed to be an emperor. Mark, "it is sown a natural body;" a very fit word; for though there dwell never so much of the Spirit and grace of God in it while it liveth, yet so soon as the soul is separate from it, so soon also doth the Spirit of God separate from it, and so will continue while the day of its rising be come. Therefore, it is laid into the earth a mere lump of man's nature—"It is sown a natural body;" but now at the day when "the heavens be no more," as Job saith (14:12), then the trump shall sound, even the trump of God, and, in a moment, the dead shall be raised incorruptible, glorious, and spiritual (1 Cor 15:52; 1 Thess 4:16,17). So that I say, the body when it ariseth, will be so swallowed up of life and immortality, that it will be, as if it had lost its own human nature; though, in truth, the same substantial real nature is every whit there still. 'Tis the same it that riseth, that was sown; "It is sown," "it is raised;" "it is sown," "it is raised," saith the apostle. You know, that things which are candied, by the art of the apothecary, they are so swallowed up with the sweetness and virtue of that in which they are candied, that they are now, as though they had no other nature, than that in which they are boiled: when yet, in truth, the thing candied doth still retain its own proper nature and essence; though by virtue of its being candied, it loseth its former sourness, bitterness, stinking, smell, or the like. Just thus, at the last day, it will be with our bodies: we shall be so candied, by being swallowed up of life, as before is shewed, that we shall be, as if we were all spirit, when in truth, it is but this body that is swallowed up of life. And it must needs be, that our nature still remain, otherwise it cannot be us that shall be in heaven, but something besides us. Let us lose our proper human nature, and we lose absolutely our being, and so are annihilated into nothing. Wherefore it, the same it, that is sown a natural body, it shall rise a spiritual body.
But again, as I said, concerning things that are candied; our body, when thus risen, it shall lose all that sourness and stink, that now, by reason of sin and infirmity, cleaveth to it: neither shall its lumpishness, or unwieldiness, be any impediment to its acting after the manner of angels. Christ hath shewed us, what our body at our resurrection shall be, by shewing of us, in his word, what his body was, at and after, his resurrection. We read, that his body, after he was risen from the dead, though it yet retained the very same flesh and bones that did hang upon the cross, yet how angelical was it at all times, upon all occasions! He could come in to his disciples with that very body, when the doors were shut upon them: He could, at pleasure, to their amazement, appear in the twinkling of an eye, in the midst of them: he could be visible and invisible as he pleased, when he sat at meat with them: in a word, he could pass and repass, ascend and descend in that body, with far more pleasure and ease, than the bird by the art of her wing (Luke 24:31,32,36-42,50,51; John 20:19,24-26; Acts 1:1-12; Mark 16:19; Eph 4:7-10).
Now, I say, as we have in this world borne the image of our first father; so, at that day, we shall have the image of Jesus Christ, and be as he is—"As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also, (at our resurrection,) bear the image of the heavenly" (1 Cor 15:48,49). It is so in part now, but shall so be in perfection then.
To mount up to heaven, and to descend again at pleasure, shall, with us, in that day, be ordinary. If there were ten thousand bars of iron, or walls of brass, to separate between us, and our pleasure and desire, at that day, they should as easily be pierced by us, as is the cobweb, or air by the beams of the sun: And the reason is, because to the Spirit, wherewith we shall be inconceivably filled at that day, nothing is impossible (Matt 17:20); and the working of it at that day, shall be in that nature and measure as to swallow up all impossibilities. He "shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body,"—now mark, "according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself" (Phil 3:21). As who should say, I know that there are many things, that in this world hinder us from having our bodies like the body of Christ; but when God shall raise us from the dead, because he will then have our body like the body of his Son; He will stretch forth such a power to work upon, and in our body, that he will remove all impossibilities and hindrances.
Nay, further, we do not only see what operation the Spirit will have in our body, by the carriage of Christ, after his resurrection; but even by many a saint before their death. The Spirit used to catch Elijah away, no man could tell whither. It carried Ezekiel hither and thither: It carried Christ from the top of the pinnacle of the temple into Galilee; through it he walked on the sea; the Spirit caught away Philip from the eunuch, and carried him as far as Azotus (1 Kings 18:11,12; 2 Kings 2:11; Eze 3:14; Luke 4:14; Matt 14:25; Acts 8:39,40).
Thus the great God hath given us a taste of the power and glory that is in himself, and how easily it will help us, by its possessing  of us at the resurrection, to act and do like angels; as Christ saith, They that shall be counted worthy of that world, and of the resurrection from the dead, they shall not die, but be equal to the angels (Luke 21:36).
Further, as the body by being thus spiritualized, shall be as I have said; so again it must needs be, that hereby all the service of the body, and faculties of the soul, must be infinitely enlarged also. Now "we shall see him as he is," and now we shall know even as we are known (1 John 3:2; 1 Cor 13:12).
First, Now we shall see him; to wit, Christ in his glory; not by revelation only, as we do now, but then face to face; and he will have us with him to this very end (John 17:24). Though John was in the Spirit when he had the vision of Christ, yet it made him fall at his feet as dead (Rev 1:17); and also turned Daniels' beauty into corruption (Dan 10:8). It was so glorious, and so overweighing a glory, that he appeared in; but we shall, at the day of our resurrection, be so furnished, that we shall with the eagle, be able to look upon the sun in his strength: we shall then, I say, "see Him as he is," who now is in the light, that no eye hath seen, nor any man can see till that day (1 Tim 6:16).
Now we shall see into all things; there shall not be anything hid from us; there shall not be a saint, a prophet, or saved soul, small or great, but we shall then perfectly know them. Also, all the works of creation, election, and redemption, and shall see and know as thoroughly, all the things of heaven, and earth, and hell, even as perfectly, as now we know our A, B, C. For the Spirit, with which we shall in every cranny of soul and body be filled, I say, "searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God" (1 Cor 2:10). We see what strange things have been known by the prophets and saints of God, and that when they knew but "in part."
Abraham could, by it, tell to a day, how long his seed should be under persecution in Egypt (Gen 15:13); Elisha, by it, could tell what was done in the king of Assyria's bed-chamber (2 Kings 6:12); Ahijah could know by this, Jeroboam's wife, so soon, yea before her feet entered within his door, though he saw her not (1 Kings 14:1-6).
The prophet of Judah could tell by this, what God would do to Bethel, for the idolatry there committed; and could also point out the man by name that should do the execution, long before he was born (1 Kings 13:2). What shall I say, Enoch by it could tell what should be done at the end of the world (Jude 14,15). How did the prophets, to a circumstance, prophesy of Christ's birth, his death, his burial, of their giving him gall and vinegar, of their parting his raiment, and piercing his hands and feet! (Isa 53). Of his riding on an ass also; all this they saw, when they spake of him (John 12:41). Peter also, though half asleep, could at the very first word, call Moses and Elias by their names, when they appeared to Christ in the holy mount (Luke 9:33). He is very ignorant of the operation of the Spirit of God, that scrupleth these things. But now, I say, if these things have been done, seen, and known, by spiritual men, while their knowledge hath been but in part, how shall we know, see, and discern, when that which is perfect is come? Which will be at the resurrection; "It is raised a spiritual body."
Thus, in few words, have I shewed you the truth of the resurrection of the just, and also the manner of their rising. Had I judged it convenient, I might have much enlarged on each particular, and have added many more; for the doctrine of the resurrection, however questioned by heretics, and erroneous persons; yet is such a truth, that almost all the holy scriptures of God point at, and centre in it.
God hath, from the beginning of the world, shewed to us, that our body must be with him, as well as our soul, in the kingdom of heaven. I say, he hath shewed us, how he will deal with those that are alive at Christ's coming, by his translating of Enoch (Gen 5:24), and by taking him body and soul to himself (Heb 11:5); As also, by his catching of Elias up body and soul into heaven, in a fiery chariot (2 Kings 2:11), and,
Secondly He hath often put us in remembrance of the rising of those that are dead, at that day, as, (1.) By the faith he gave Abraham, concerning the offering of his son: for when he offered him, he accounted "that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure" (Heb 11:19). In a figure of the resurrection of Christ, for Abraham's justification; and of Abraham's resurrection by Christ at the last day, for his glorification. (2.) By the faith he gave Joseph concerning his bones; which charge, the godly in Egypt, did diligently observe, and to that end, did keep them four hundred years; and at length, carried them, I say, from Egypt to Canaan, which was a type of our being carried in our body, from this world to heaven (Heb 11:22).
Besides, how oft did God give power to his prophets, servants, and Christ Jesus, to raise some that were now dead, and some that had been long so; and all, no doubt, to put the present generations, as also the generations yet unborn, in mind of the resurrection of the dead. To this end, I say, how was the Shunammite's son raised from the dead? (2 Kings 4). The man also at the touching of the bones of Elisha? (2 Kings 13:20,21). Together with the body of Lazarus, with Jairus's daughter, and Tabitha, and many others, who, after their souls were departed from them, Lazarus lying in his grave four days, were all raised to life again, and lived with that very body out of which the soul, at their death, had departed (Luke 8:53-56; John 11:43,44; Acts 9:40,41). But above all, that notable place in Matthew, at the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, gives us a notable fore-word of the resurrection of the just. Saith the text, "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many" (Matt 27:52,53).
When the author to the Hebrews had given us a catalogue of the worthies of the Old Testament, he saith at last, "These all died in faith." In the faith of what? That they should lie and rot in their grave eternally? No, verily; this is the faith of Ranters, not of Christians. They all died in faith, that they should rise again; and therefore counted this world not worth the living in, upon unworthy terms, that after death "they might obtain a better resurrection" (Heb 11:13,35).
It is also worth the considering, that of Paul to the Philippians, where he saith that he was confident that that God that had begun a good work in them would "perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil 1:6). Which day of Christ, was not the day of their conversion, for that was passed with them already, they were now the children of God; but this day of Christ, it is the same which in other places is called the day when he shall come with the sound of the last trump to raise the dead. For you must know, that the work of salvation is not at an end with them that are now in heaven; no, nor ever will, until (as I shewed you before) their bodies be raised again. God, as I have told you, hath made our bodies the members of Christ, and God doth not count us thoroughly saved, until our bodies be as well redeemed and ransomed out of the grave and death, as our souls from the curse of the law, and dominion of sin.
Though God's saints have felt the power of much of his grace, and have had many a sweet word fulfilled on them; yet one word will be unfulfilled on their particular person, so long as the grave can shut her mouth upon them: but, as I said before, when the gates of death do open before them, and the bars of the grave do fall asunder; then shall be brought to pass that saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up of victory;" and then will they hear that most pleasant voice, "Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead" (Isa 26:19). Thus much touching the truth of the resurrection of the just, with the manner of their rising.
Now you must know, that the time of the rising of these just, will be at the coming of the Lord: for when they arise, nay, just before they are raised, the Lord Jesus Christ will appear in the clouds in flaming fire, with all his mighty angels; the effect of which appearing will be the rising of the dead, &c. "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout," saith Paul, "and with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead shall rise" (2 Thess 1:8; 1 Thess 4:16; 1 Cor 15:52).
Now at the time of the Lord's coming, there will be found in the world alive both saints and sinners. As for the saints that then shall be found alive, they shall, so soon as all the saints are raised out of their graves, not die, but be changed, and swallowed up of incorruption, immortality, and glory; and have the soul-spiritual translation, as the raised saints shall have; as he saith, "We shall not all [die, or] sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, - - for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (1 Cor 15:51,52). And again, "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 ever be with the Lord" (1 Thess 4:16,17). As he saith also in another place, he "shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom" (2 Tim 4:1).
Now when the saints that sleep shall be raised thus incorruptible, powerful, glorious, and spiritual; and also those that then shall be found alive, made like them: then forthwith, before the unjust are raised, the saints shall appear before the judgment-seat of the Lord Jesus Christ, there to give an account to their Lord the Judge, of all things they have done; and to receive a reward for their good according to their labour.
They shall rise, I say, before the wicked, they being themselves the proper children of the resurrection; that is, Those that must have all the glory of it, both as to pre-eminency and sweetness; and therefore they are said, when they rise, to rise from the dead; that is, in their rising, they leave the reprobate world behind them (Luke 20:35,36; Acts 3:15; 4:10; 13:30; John 12:1,9,17). And it must be so, because also the saints will have done their account, and be set upon the throne with Christ, as kings and princes with him, to judge the world, when the wicked world are raised. The saints shall judge the world; they shall judge angels; yea, they shall sit upon the thrones of judgment to do it (1 Cor 6:2,3; Psa 122:5).