Munsey: The Resurrection of the Human Body
The Resurrection of the Human Body
By Rev. William Elbert Munsey
A Message Preached by a Powerful Methodist Pastor. His sermons, unlike anything that had been known in the eastern portion of our work, attracted immense congregations, and the church was crowded to overflowing, whenever it was known that he was to preach. People arrived hours before he preached and then hung onto every word and thought this man presented. He captivated his audience with his wonderful word pictures of the Gospel. (July 13, 1833 — October 23, 1877)
THE RESURRECTION OF THE HUMAN BODY: How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come? Text: I Corinthians 15:35
WE are all standing upon the threshold of an awful future, replete with facts and instinct with entities, about which we know but little. Let but the heart cease its beating, or one vital function of this body cease its office, and we are gone-gone! to grapple with the stern truths of ages, at once interminable, inconceivable, unknown.
” To be or not to be,” after death, is answered, and nearly all men, though with different degrees of faith, are looking confidently to an existence beyond the grave.
The idea of immortality has descended down the stream of human generations from the first pair in Paradise, running down every branch from the central tide, disappearing in one, corrupted in another, and becoming more lucid and satisfactory in another, to the present age. It is seen in the language, literature, and manners of every age; in the history, philosophy, and poetry of every people. It is seen in the retributive horrors of Tartarus, the rich fields and streams of Elysium, the Hesperian seas and islets of the Red man, the heaven and hell of the Christians.
But the heathen apply the idea of immortality to the soul only. The ancient heathen complained that the sun went down at night, and arose in the morning, but their friends went down in the gloomy darkness of death, and rose no more. They saw upon the face of every mysterious Providence which swept the earth, in bold and living colors the pencillings of immortality: they felt the truth attested within by an instinctive shrinking back from annihilation, yet the tomb was invested with an eternal darkness, and the body surrendered to a perpetual sleep. With them the night of death was starless: there was no anticipated morning whose auroral splendors would break in upon the darkness of the grave, and hang the rainbow of hope over the dust of the dead.
The idea of the resurrection of the body does not appear to have occurred to them. To what source is the world then indebted for its existence? Not to reason, for the mind has not the requisite data; not to nature, for it is super-nature; not to science, for it is beyond the province of science; but to the Bible. It is the great fact recognized in the text, and is purely a subject of revelation. Let semi-infidel divines seek for the evidences of the resurrection elsewhere; it is only found in the Bible. I Would not exclude those rich illustrations corroborating Bible fact, which pour from every department in philosophic and material existence-no; but I appeal to the Bible, proven as it is to be the Word of God, as the highest evidence of the resurrection of the dead.
Hear with what authority it speaks: “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise” (Isa. 26:19). “Dead men”! “Dead bodies”! “They shall arise!”-”He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by His spirit that dwelleth in you”(Rom. 8:11). “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth, shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to everlasting contempt” (Dan. 12:2) “Asleep”! “Awake”! ”The hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice and come forth” (John 5:28, 29). / Such announcements, my hearers, have kindled a smile upon the brow of bereavement, and a star in the graves of the departed.
This doctrine being peculiar to Christianity and having nothing analogous in nature, has been a favorite object of attack by every school of Infidels since its announcement. It is condemned as false, because it involves a mystery. This argument is of no force unless it is true universally, unless every other thing which involves a mystery is false too. If it is true universally, if every thing which involves a mystery is false, then there is nothing true in the universe. The argument proves too much, therefore is worth nothing.
The objector confounds two things very essentially different; mystery as to fact, and mystery as to a mode. A fact may be plain, while the manner of its production may be mysterious. The doctrine of the resurrection is a doctrine of fact, and as such is clear, but its mode is mysterious. The objector confounds mystery with absurdity. An absurdity is something contradictory in its very nature to human reason and common sense, such as supposing an effect greater than its cause; a mystery is something beyond human comprehension on the account of its magnitude, or the relation it sustains to Infinite Power. The resurrection of the human body is not an absurdity, for it is not contrary to human reason; but a mystery, for it involves the agency of infinite power to accomplish it. A doctrine whose foundation stone is Omnipotence, could not from its nature be subjected to the feeble rules and restrictions of reason.
To deny the truth of the resurrection because its mode is a mystery to us, is to say that a finite mind is equal in discovering and investigating power to all difficulties involved in the existence and nature of any truth, however intimate its relations to the great infinite, either in being or principle.
Another objector says, the resurrection contradicts the great principles of science. No science is perfect: it has been the business of one age to modify and improve the science. of the past age; a future age will but expose the learned follies of this. Science is scarcely out of its swaddling-clothes. Is it entitled to more credence than the Bible? Must this old Book, hoary with the age of centuries, written by the finger of inspiration, born at Sinai, completed amid the splendors of the Apocalypse, whose footprints are seen in the crumbled dust of earth’s wrecked and mined greatness, whose teachings are Godlike, whose precepts are thunder-given, whose promises are the hope of the world, fly the stage before the gorgeous diction and sacrilegious pretensions of an ungodly and pseudo-philosophy?
But I could never see any point or relevancy in the objection. In what department of true science are those principles found and taught, conflicting with the doctrine of the resurrection? I appeal to all the tomes in the wide range of scientific lore for an answer-they are nowhere. All science is founded upon the discoveries of sense; and if it teaches such principles, it has exceeded its province, therefore it is no argument. Revelation is the only oracle of our faith, and the proper tribunal before which to refer our theological questions. It is under its potent influence alone that life and immortality become divine realities. To go to science to settle matters of faith, is like going to a dictionary to learn history, or to geology to learn mathematics.
Again, the objector says, it is contrary to our experience. But the great error in the objection is, that the objector assumes that his individual experience is the universal experience of the race. The exact and entire experience of an individual now is unlike in many respects the experience of his contemporaries; how much more is it unlike the experiences of men in different ages of the world, and in different stages of its development. It does not follow because the tawny son of the tropics has never seen the earth whitened with snow, that the Laplander has not seen. it; neither does it follow because we never saw a man raised from the dead, that the Apostles did not see it.
Again, it is urged that the resurrection is contrary to the immutability of the laws of nature. This argument is of no force, for the resurrection is not to be brought about by the regular action of the laws of cause and effect, but by a supernatural power. ”Do ye not therefore err,” said Christ to the Sadducees, “because ye know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God?” ”Why should it be thought incredible with you,” says Paul, “that God should raise the dead?” It is a provision of Redemption, hence above nature and nature’s laws, yet not contradictory to them, to either nature or its laws. It is a provision of a supernatural plan coming down upon nature, and entering in unity with it; into the unity of God’s grand system, embracing the material, immaterial, and moral.
Another objection is, the resurrection of the dead is because this body continually changes its substances, so that the bodies we now have are not the same we had a few years ago, nor will be the same a few years hence -that the bodies in which we have sinned or acted righteously may not be in many instances the same bodies as those which will be actually rewarded and punished. This argument contradicts the infidel’s own theory of the seat of personal identity, transferring the ego from the soul, the only true subject of reward and punishment, to the body, which is rewarded and punished simply as the instrument.
Such an argument would liberate in a few years every criminal in the world. Why retain a man in prison longer than the time afforded by this supposition for a perfect and entire change of the substance of his body? Know you not at the expiration of the hypothetical number of seven years that he is immaculate unless he sinned during his imprisonment? that there is not a particle of that guilty body which was incarcerated? Open your state prisons and penitentiaries, and let their hordes out upon society, they are innocent. The same argument would so affect the proceedings of our criminal courts, that judge and jury would have to exercise great care to know how much of the guilty body was arraigned at the bar, if any, in order to mete out the ends of justice.
Such an argument, though popular and common, contradicts common sense, the common consciousness and experience of mankind. Again, it would apply with equal force against the resurrection of Christ. His body, according to this hypothesis, changed several times, at least four times. Yet what body did he bring up? This brings us to the true and Scriptural answer to the objection-the same body he laid down in the grave.
We have an evidence of the resurrection of the human body in the resurrection of Christ. ”Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.” ”If Christ 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 not Christ risen.” (I Cor. 15:12,13). The resurrection of the race follows naturally from the resurrection of Christ. This is clear from the federal representative nature of Christ. The relations he sustains from his federal representative nature to Adam proves it. If Adam in his representative character brought death into the world by his fall, and died himself, it is reasonable that Christ, in his representative character, should by his life, death, and resurrection bring life into the world. The relation he sustains from his federal representative nature to us proves it. Being our second federal Head, and Heaven-appointed Proto-
type, and that he did take upon himself a human body, and resumed that body after it had lain in the grave, exalted it to heaven, changed and glorified, is powerful evidence that our bodies too shall be raised, changed, and glorified, and dwell with His forever.
Again, if it was necessary for Christ, to complete the plan of salvation, to be raised from the dead, it is also necessary, to complete the execution of the plan, that man also should be raised, and furthermore if he was able to raise himself, he is able to raise others. Such is the argument of Paul, hence he adduces as his principal evidence the fact, that Jesus rose from the dead. His resurrection is the type of ours. Part of our nature is in heaven ; the exaltation of a part argues the exaltation of the whole. The Great Head of the church has gone up, and the body must follow. He is, as the Apostle expresses it, “The first fruits-of them that slept.”
The Jews were commanded to cut the first ripening grain in their fields and take it to Jerusalem, and lay it upon the altar as a pledge of the coming harvest and as a thank offering to God. At the end of the harvest they all again met at Jerusalem to celebrate the harvest feast; which they did with sacrifices and thanksgiving for many days. Now Christ the “first fruits” lays upon God’s altar in heaven, as a pledge of that glorious harvest at the end of the world, which will leave every old tomb tenantless, and gather us all, soul and body both, redeemed and glorified into heaven.
The scheme of human redemption necessarily embraces the resurrection of the human body. Its provisions extend to the body, as well as to the soul. Hear the Scriptures: “Ye are not your own, but are bought with a price; therefore glorify God with your body and your spirit, which are God’s.” (I Cor. 6:19, 20). Both body and soul are God’s. both bought by the blood of Jesus. Surely a body bought by the blood of Christ, especially when that body has been the sanctified temple of the Holy Ghost, cannot perish forever. ”We wait for the adoption, to wit, the ‘redemption of the body.” (Rom. 8:23). “I am the resurrection and the life,” Christ exclaims. No mistaking his meaning, for he is speaking with reference to Lazarus. Peter and John “preached through Jesus the resurrection of the dead.” (Acts 4:2). If through Christ, it is embraced in Redemption. ”Christ bath abolished death and both brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel” (2 Tim.1:10).
The seat of self-consciousness, or personal identity, is in the soul, yet the body is an integral and essential part of the constitution of man. God doubtlessly designed in the creation of man the blending of the two great elements of His universe, the spiritual and material, into one creature. This is clear from the very facts of the case; the creation of pure spirits, the creation of simple matter, and the creation of the dual nature of man, compounded of both. Man appears to be the central link, uniting the spiritual and material, in the grand chain of life and existence, sweeping from the throne of God down through every rank and order of beings, by regular gradations to the passive sod upon which we walk. This being true, it follows naturally that the body is an as essential part of man’s constitution as is his soul-that he would not be man without a body. If this conclusion be true again it follows, if man is redeemed, the plan affecting such work must include the body as well as the soul, or man is but half redeemed, and the plan is but half a plan.
Again, God’s whole system, spiritual and material, embracing His government of both, is a unity-a well-balanced, symmetrical, magnificent unity. The creation of a bifold being, possessing in unity in his constitution the two prime elements of God’s grand system, appears to be necessary to the unity of the whole. Now such a creature was man, for he is both spiritual and material. Such being his nature, it is presumptive that as a compound, God intended he should be immortal. In fact, such is the teaching of the Scriptures. Now sin entered the world, a foreign element in the Divine system, and being a violation of law, the basis of all order, naturally produced disorganization and death. It naturally destroyed the compound nature of man by separating his soul and body. Man was destroyed; the design of God was thwarted; and His system lost its unity–results not obviated by the salvation of every disembodied soul in heaven.
Such were the effects of sin, and the nature of God, and the nature of things required that it should be expunged out of His entire system. He could have destroyed sin by the destruction of everything which it had effected. He could have hurled His unbalanced system into nihilism. He had the power to do both, and His nature would have justified the action. But He of His own free will and grace chose to establish a redemptive and compensatory dispensation, according to the laws of His system itself, extending its provisions throughout the entire system, and touching with its restoring power everything which sin had touched-restoring man, establishing and perfecting His original designs, and readjusting the disturbed relations of universal being-He chose to establish a redemptive and compensatory dispensation constituting within itself a complete remedy for the evils of sin.
A dispensation countervailing the influences of sin; one which would neutralize its poison and destroy the mephitic exhalations in man’s moral atmosphere; one which would track with angel wing and purifying power the paths of its corruption, and extract the cancerous fibres of the deadly phagedena from the system and government of God, and cast it, its author, and children into Topher, and wall it up and arch it over, to rankle in its own corruption in eternal isolation.
Now I ask you, is man restored to his original position as man, is the apparent design of God in man’s creation maintained, and the unity of His system restored, if the body, one of the essentials of man’s constitution, one of the essentials of God’s original design, one of the essentials to the unity of His system, is never to be raised from the dead and united with the soul? No; Christ Must save man in all the elements of which man’s is compounded, or His mission is a failure. The objector is driven to the alternative of impeaching the remedial character and perfection of the atonement, or contradicting the Bible and the philosophy of the case, deny that death came by sin. Which choose ye?
Christ himself taught by words and actions that the resurrection of the body was included in the great work of which he was the subject. There was a pleasant little family in the town of Bethany, nearly two miles from Jerusalem, which Jesus loved-two sisters, and one brother-Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. In Jesus’ absence Lazarus died, and was buried in a cave, and covered with a stone. Jesus heard of it, and he and his disciples started for the scene of mourning, and arrived at Bethany four days after the burial. Before he entered the town, Martha heard of his coming and went to meet him: “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” ”Thy brother shall rise again.” “I know he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day,” says Martha. “I am the resurrection and the life,” says Christ.
Martha runs and tells Mary, for many Jews were, present, “The Master is come and calleth for thee.” Mary rose up hastily and ran to meet him, and fell down at his feet: “Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother had not died.” Mary wept, the Jews who had followed her wept, and “Jesus wept.” ”Where have ye laid him?” ”Come and see.” They went to the cave: “Take ye away the stone,” and Jesus prayed: ”Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me; and I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by, I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.”
Then Jesus cried with a voice, which one day will pour its trumpet thunders throughout the vast charnel-house of the dead and bid us all live, “Lazarus, come forth,”-and the pulse of immortality began its vibrations in the grave, and the sheeted dead came forth alive. That one dead man arose, is presumptive that all dead men shall be raised; that Jesus raised him from the dead during his redemptive mission on earth, is conclusive that the resurrection is embraced in the work of redemption; and that Death heard and obeyed Him once, argues that he will hear and obey Him again. This conclusion is clear from the fact that when Jesus was completing Redemption’s plan the graves were opened, and as he completed it by his resurrection, ”many bodies of the saints which slept, arose, and came out of the graves.” And as his resurrection was necessary to complete the work of redemption he came to perform, and did complete it; so by a parity of reason our resurrection is necessary to complete the work with reference to us; and will complete it.
Glorious hope!– a remedy as universal as the disease. Our bodies may be dead for centuries. The Erica heather of Scotland, or the cactus of South America, may bloom .over our graves; the chilly mists of the North may sheet our tombstones in eternal ice, or the encroachments of the Southern desert may bury them in sand ; marts of trade may be built over our resting-places, and the busy whirl of the world’s commerce may ring over our sleeping dust; the ploughboy may sing his merry song, and dance upon our long-lost graves; corals may incrust our bones in solid rock and rear up continents upon them; or the wings of the tempest may fan our dust all around the world, yet the resurrection trump will find us, and we shall live again.
The inspired penmen so understood it. Acting and living under the influence of this doctrine, they lose all terror of death. Hear how they term it: ”Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake.” “Stephen fell asleep.” “Them that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” How appropriate! How expressive! for them who sleep shall awake. Death is not annihilation, but simply a change. It is sleep. To the energies of the laboring, sleep is rest and recuperation. Death is rest to the good man from all his toils, where he gathers new vigor for an eternity of action. Pageantries of golden dreams pass before the mind of the sleeper; the beauties of Heaven flash with more beaming splendor before the enraptured vision of the disembodied spirits. The overpowering joys of the better world will so soften the tread of cycles, and deaden the grating thunders of revolving ages, that the resurrection will take the sainted spirit with surprise.
The promised and kingly triumphs of our Lord Jesus Christ are proofs of this doctrine, “He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death; 0 death, I will be thy plague: 0 grave, I will be thy destruction.” Jesus announced Himself as the Saviour and King of the world. If He is our Saviour, he must save us from sin and its results. Death is the result of sin, and if He delivers us not from its’ power, the whole is a failure–He is not our Saviour, the One promised us by the prophets, and the One the necessities of the case demanded.
If he is our King, and His kingdom is to be supreme, universal, and absolute according to promise, He must rule over us, over his enemies, and over ours. Death is His enemy, and our enemy, and if He conquer not it, again the whole is a failure-He is not our King-our preaching is vain and your faith is vain.
Death and the grave are our foes. Death’s ghastly and shadowy form rises to Heaven and, throws its awful shadow upon all our hopes. The grave darkly gapes at our feet every step of life’s journey. But Christ our federal representative is conqueror. He was taken down from the cross a bloody corpse, and borne off to the grave. Hell exulted. Death waved his black banner in triumph. The light of immortality leaped up in one exhilarating flash, then sank to a waning spark; sighs ran along amid the bones of the patriarchs, and a wail of woe rang in the sepulchers of the dead. Had He never left Death’s dreary domain, the grave would have devoured all the race, and retained them. in its horrid jaws forever. The scepter of Death would have been universal, and He King without a rival. No ray of light would ever have broken into the arcana of the lonely tomb to tell of coming day. No welcome voice would ever have rung along its damp and dismal galleries, and pealed in joyful echoes amid its mouldy arches to break the eternal slumber of its sleepers.
The dying Christian might turn his eyes and look out of the window of his chamber upon the sunshine, the old familiar jar landscape skirting his home, and lift his withered arm and point his livid and chilled finger, and say, “Farewell forever.” He might gaze with hollow and dimming eye upon the faces of loved ones, fast receding from his vision, standing around his bed, whose recollections are rapidly paling upon his memory, and say, “Farewell forever.” He might reach out his cold and trembling hand and grasp the hand of her who has traveled by his side from vigorous youth till both are old and gray,-not as the pledge of a coming union for one now breaking, but to feel its pressure for the last time, and to repeat in sepulchral whispers of saddest woe, “My wife, farewell forever.”
But Jesus met Death in Death’s own territory, and permitted Himself to be captured, that He might lead captivity captive. He went with the Pale Monarch to the silent darkness of the tomb, but it was to undermine its strongholds, and kindle the star of resurrection in its murky vaults -to cement the past to the future and pledge Omnipotence for a reunion. He plucked the sting from Death, took his keys, broke his crown, chained the monster to his chariot wheels, and mounted aloft to Heaven a Conqueror. My hearers, the keys of the grave are in higher hands.
If there be no resurrection, Christianity is not adapted to all our wants. It fails to meet the aspirations and desires of our constitutional being, therefore has not all the elements necessary to make us happy. And if it is not grounded upon the wants of universal human nature, it is a failure. Can the best of you look upon your death as an eternal sleep? your grave as an eternal resting-place? can you bid without regret the bodies in which you have tabernacled so long an eternal farewell? Can you bid the bodies of your friends an eternal adieu, without the pangs of the keenest sorrow?
Tell the young wife, widowed by this terrible war, as she rushes with disheveled tresses amid the promiscuous ditches of the battlefield, crammed with mutilated dead, that her husband will never rise, and her heart is saddened for life. Tell the sister, as she gazes upon the shattered body and obliterated features of a brother beloved, that that form and face will never be restored to happy recognition again. Tell the mother, who baptized her boy with blessings and sent him to the bloody “front,” where he fell and was buried, uncoffined, in some unknown grave, with no block, stone, or vine to mark his resting-place, that he never will come to her arms again.
Tell the bereaved-fathers, mothers, widows, children-that there will be no resurrection, and a universal shriek will rend the air and crack the vault of heaven, till God hears and feels, and angels weep. Earth will put on weeds of mourning, and like Rachel of old go down to the judgment weeping for her children.
“With what body do they come?” The same body which dies. I assume the bold Scriptural ground that every essential element of it will be raised though its particles be scattered over earth and sea. Hear the evidence of the mighty Paul, the chiefest of the Apostles: “It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” (I Cor. 15:42-44). The conclusion is clear: the same body which is sown in corruption, dishonor, and weakness will be raised in incorruption, glory, and power. The same body which is sown a natural body, will be raised a spiritual body. Not a similar body but the same body. Again: “This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” “This corruptible” -as strong as words can make it. The Lord “shall change our vile body.” (Phil. 3: 21). “All that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shalt come forth.” On any other hypothesis there is no resurrection at all.
Is Christ’s body to be the model? The ineffable–brightness of His glory shone above the noonday sun and blinded Saul of Tarsus. Saint John saw Him in the midst of seven golden lamps, “clothed with a garment down to His foot,” girded with “a golden girdle,” His head environed with a radiating aureola, His eyes ablaze with Omniscience, His feet glowing like a furnace, His voice as the sound of many’ waters. The inimitable Prototype of celestial glory and regal magnificence, whose lightest shades defy the painter’s pencil, were the painter an angel. Like Him? 0 God! shall we ever attain to such perfection? me? you? Like Him “Christ shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.”
Finally, “How are the dead raised up?” Inquiring humanity asks the question, doubting philosophy asks it, infidelity asks it, Christianity asks it. Paul answers it: “According to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” God’s power is pledged for its performance. That Power which made systems, and holds them in awful and perpetual balance. That Power which confounded chaos with order, and laid the foundations of the universe deep down upon nothing, and reared up its columns, towering into empty space, wreathed them with constellations of worlds, and propped against the throne of God. That Power which carpeted creation’s temple with emerald, roofed it with azure, and lit it up with ten thousand suns. That Power Which drives planets along their orbits and hurls the erratic comet to kindle its fires upon the black altars of night where suns never shine. That Power which shakes the earth, shivers its granite, ruptures its strata, overturns its mountains, and up heaves its valleys. That Power which binds lightnings to its chariot and rides upon the tempest. -That Power is pledged to raise me from the dead. Can it do it?
Ah! angels could have philosophically descanted with more apparent reason upon the impossibility of creation before the fiat of God peopled immensity with worlds and intelligences, than you can philosophize against the resurrection of the dead. Are there mysteries ? Are there difficulties? Paul refers them all to the power of God for an ample solution. You see as great wonders every day. Cast a seed in the ground; it enlarges: in a few days the germ sends up a stem and down a root: the radicals imbibe the nutriment, and the stem enlarges and mounts upward as if by magic: soon its long conical blades droop in verdant curves to the earth, and the flower upon its top drops a dust upon the silken flower on its side, and a long ear of golden corn rewards the farmer’s toil-every grain of which possesses the same reproductive power of the first. An acorn bursts, and a deep-rooted, gnarled, and knotted giant, who rears his trunk to ‘heaven, whose mossy limbs and crested foliage nod majestically among the clouds, is the result. Vegetable life and existence are crowded with wonders.
The phenomena of animal life, its causes, productions, nature, maintenance, reproduction, are full of mysteries and difficulties solving and unfolding every hour. Earth, air, and water are replete with mysteries, and instinct with difficulties. Every moment is a seeming eternity of impossibilities; every atom a universe of overwhelming difficulties. For man, who is himself a microcosm of wonders, standing amid a world of wonders, profound and confounding, to present the difficulties involved in the resurrection of the body as an insuperable obstacle to its accomplishment, is at once preposterous. Though your bones may lie bleaching in the bottom of– the sea, or fossilized be deeply imbedded in rock; though your dust may be scattered over continents, transmuted into animals or plants, diffused in the air, diffused in the water, or mingled with clay, God’s power is able to raise you from the dead, and is pledged to do it. That Power sooner or later will be exercised. The last day will come. The sun unwheeled will drag along the jarring heavens and refuse to shine. The stars will hide their
faces, and the moon will roll up in the heavens red as blood, and hang her crimson livery upon the wing of the night. Earth will tremble upon her axis, and huge mountains of woe will drift and lodge upon her heart. A mighty angel with a face like the sun, clothed with clouds, and crowned with a rainbow, and shod with wings of fire, will cleave the heavens in his lightning track, and descending with his right foot upon the troubled sea, and his left foot upon the quaking earth, lift his hand to heaven, and swear by the Judge of the quick and the dead that time shall be no longer. Old Time, the father of centuries and the tomb-builder of generations, will drop his broken scythe and break his glass, careen and fall a giant in ruins.
The trump of God will then sound. Its resonant thunders will roll through all the lengths and breadths of Death’s vast empire, and its old walls and arches crammed with buried millions will fall in crashing ruins. The dingy king will drop his scepter ringing in fragments upon the damp pavements of the grave, and fly howling from his tottering throne down, down to Erebus. The antiquated dead will start into life from their ashy urns and funeral pyres. Pyramids of granite and crypts of marble will he rent in twain to let the rising bodies come. Mummies will fling off the trappings of centuries, and pour from their vaulted chambers. Inquisitions will rock upon their foundations and revivified dead will stream from their dungeons. Abbeys, cathedrals, grottoes, and caverns will be vocal with life. Wanderers will shake off their winding sheets of sand, and rise from the face of the desert. Human bones will break away from their coral fastenings; mermaids draped in dripping weeds will mourn the evacuation of all their caves; old ocean will heave and swell with teeming millions.
The battlefields of the world: Troy and Thermopylae, Talavera and Marengo, Austerlitz and Waterloo, Marathon and MissoIonghi; the battlefields of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, will reproduce their armies, and crowd the world with revivified legions. Indian maidens will leap from the dust of our streets, and our houses overturning will let their chiefs to Judgment. Abraham will shake off the dust of Machpelah, and arise with Sarah by his side. David will come with harp in hand. The reformer of Geneva and the apostle of Methodism will come side by side.
Our village church yards and family burial grounds will be deserted. All will come: patriarchs, prophets, Jews and Gentiles, Christians and heathens, bond and free, rich and poor-fathers, mothers, children, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives-all from Adam down will come forth. And all the good all around the world all together will hail this redemption’s grand consummation, with one proud anthem, whose choral thunders, rolling along all the paths of space, will shake the universe with its bursting chorus: “0 death, where is thy sting? 0 grave, where is thy victory”?
EDITOR’S NOTE: Special thanks to my former association with Dr. John R. Rice and the paper he founded, The Sword of the Lord, for introducing me to the messages of Dr. William Elbert Munsey. Munsey was a popular Methodist minister, born on July 13, 1833 and died October 3, 1877 (44 years). He was converted to Christ at age 17 during a Methodist camp meeting. He taught school and served a number of small churches before his well-prepared and powerful sermons were discovered by greater numbers. His church services were packed and people crowded his meetings two hours before he would speak. Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. asked Dr. Rice to publish a book of sermons by Dr. Munsey. That book, Eternal Retribution!, was first published in 1951. In his remarks, Dr. Jones reported that the sermons in this book were taken from a two-volume set (I believe the only books credited to Dr. Munsey) of remarkable sermons. I searched the Internet for the books and found a used book store offering them in their original covers. I purchased them; amazingly at a very low cost. It appears that everything Dr. Jones and Dr. Rice knew about Mr. Munsey was taken from those two volumes. I am happy to own them and pleased to present the sermon you have read on this blog, The Resurrection of the Human Body.
http://salvationlinks.com/?page_id=207 This should be a link to a page featuring a marker placed in honor of Mr. Munsey.