But there is one further foothold for the disbeliever in the historic resurrection of Christ. He may say, "I confess the witnesses were capable of knowing, and undoubtedly did know, the truth; but, for some reason, they suppressed it, and proclaimed a deception." As to this charge, we not only deny the actuality, but even the possibility, of its truth. The narratives of the evangelists contain the strongest evidences of their honesty. The many little unaccountable circumstances they recount, which are so many difficulties in the way of critical belief, the real and the apparent inconsistencies, none of these would have been permitted by fraudulent authors. They are the most natural things in the world, supposing their writers unsuspiciously honest. They also frankly confess their own and each others' errors, ignorance, prejudices, and faults. Would they have done this save from simple hearted truthfulness? Would a designing knave voluntarily reveal to a suspicious scrutiny actions and traits naturally subversive of confidence in him? The conduct of the disciples under the circumstances, through all the scenes of their after lives, proves their undivided and earnest honesty. The cause they had espoused was, if we deny its truth, to the last degree repulsive in itself and in its concomitants, and they were surrounded with allurements to desert it. Yet how unyielding, wonderful, was their disinterested devotedness to it, without exception! Not one, overcome by terror or bowed by strong anguish, shrank from his self imposed task and cried out, "I confess!" No; but when they, and their first followers who knew what they knew, were laid upon racks and torn, when they were mangled and devoured alive by wild beasts, when they were manacled fast amidst the flames till their souls rode forth into heaven in chariots of fire, amidst all this, not one of them ever acknowledged fraud or renounced his belief in the resurrection of Jesus. Were they not honest? Others have died in support of theories and opinions with which their convictions and passions had become interwoven: they died rather than deny facts which were within the cognizance of their senses. Could any man, however firm and dauntless, under the circumstances, go through the trials they bore, without a feeling of truth and of God to support him?
These remarks are particularly forcible in connection with the career of Paul. Endowed with brilliant talents, learned, living at the time and place, he must have been able to form a reliable opinion. And yet, while all the motives that commonly actuate men loudmouthed consistency, fame, wealth, pride, pleasure, the rooted force of inveterate prejudices all were beckoning to him from the temples and palaces of the Pharisaic establishment, he spurned the glowing visions of his ambition and dashed to earth the bright dreams of his youth. He ranged himself among the Christians, the feeble, despised, persecuted Christians; and, after having suffered every thing humanity could bear, having preached the resurrection everywhere with unflinching power, he was at last crucified, or beheaded, by Nero; and there, expiring among the seven hills of Rome, he gave the resistless testimony of his death to the resurrection of Jesus, gasping, as it were, with his last breath, "It is true." Granting the honesty of these men, we could not have any greater proof of it than we have now.
But dishonesty in this matter was not merely untrue; it was also impossible. If fraud is admitted, a conspiracy must have been formed among the witnesses. But that a conspiracy of such a character should have been entered into by such men is in itself incredible, in the outset. And then, if it had been entered into, it must infallibly have broken through, been found out, or been betrayed, in the course of the disasters, perils, terrible trials, to which it and its fabricators were afterwards exposed. Prove that a body of from twelve to five hundred men could form a plan to palm off a gross falsehood upon the world, and could then adhere to it unfalteringly through the severest disappointments, dangers, sufferings, differences of opinion, dissension of feeling and action, without retiring from the undertaking, letting out the secret, or betraying each other in a single instance in the course of years, prove this, and you prove that men may do and dare, deny and suffer, not only without motives, but in direct opposition to their duty, interest, desire, prejudice, and passion. The disciples could not have pretended the resurrection from sensitiveness to the probable charge that they had been miserably deceived; for they did not understand their Master to predict any such event, nor had they the slightest expectation of it. They could not have pretended it for the sake of establishing and giving authority to the good precepts and doctrines Jesus taught; because such a course would have been in the plainest antagonism to all those principles themselves, and because, too, they must have known both the utter wickedness and the desperate hazards and forlornness of such an attempt to give a fictitious sanction to moral truths. In such an enterprise there was before them not the faintest probability of even the slightest success. Every selfish motive would tend to deter them; for poverty, hatred, disgrace, stripes, imprisonment, contempt, and death stared in their faces from the first step that way. Dishonesty, deliberate fraud, then, in this matter, was not merely untrue, but was impossible. The conclusion from the whole view is, therefore, the conviction that the evidence of the witnesses for the resurrection of Jesus is worthy of credence.
There are three considerations, further, worthy of notice in estimating the strength of the historic argument for the resurrection. First, the conduct of the Savior himself in relation to the subject. The charge of unbalanced enthusiasm is inconsistent with the whole character and life of Jesus; but suppose on this point he was an enthusiast, and really believed that three days after his death he would rise again. In that case, would not his mind have dwelt upon the wonderful anticipated phenomenon? Would not his whole soul have been wrapped up in it, and his speech have been almost incessantly about it? Yet he spoke of it only three or four times, and then with obscurity. Again: suppose he was an impostor. An impostor would hardly have risked his reputation voluntarily on what he knew could never take place. Had he done so, his only reliance must have been upon the credulous enthusiasm of his followers. He would then have made it the chief topic, would have striven strenuously to make it a living and intense hope, an immovable, all controlling faith, concentrating on it their desires and expectations, heart and soul. But he really did not do this at all. He did not even make them understand what his vaticinations of the resurrection meant. And when they saw his untenanted body hanging on the cross, they slunk away in confusion and despair. Admit, again, that Christ was enthusiast, or impostor, or both: these qualities exist not in the grave. Here was their end. They could neither raise him from the dead nor move him from the tomb. No considerations in any way connected with Christ himself, therefore, can account for the occurrences that succeeded his death.
Secondly, if the resurrection did not take place, what became of the Savior's body? We have already given reasons why the disciples could not have falsely pretended the resurrection. It is also impossible that they obtained, or surreptitiously disposed of, the dead and interred body; because it was in a tomb of rock securely sealed against them, and watched by a guard which they could neither bribe nor overpower; because they were too much disheartened and alarmed to try to get it; because they could not possibly want it, since they expected a temporal Messiah, and had no hope of a resurrection like that which they soon began proclaiming to the world. And as for the story told by the watch, or rather by the chief priests and Pharisees, it has not consistency enough to hold together. Its foolish unlikelihood has always been transparent. It is unreasonable to suppose that fresh guards would slumber at a post where the penalty of slumbering was death. And, if one or two did sleep, it is absurd to think all would do so. Besides, if they slept, how knew they what transpired in the mean time? Could they have dreamed it? Dreams are not taken in legal depositions; and, furthermore, it would be an astounding, gratuitous miracle if they all dreamed the same thing at the same time.
Finally, a powerful collateral argument in proof of the resurrection of Christ is furnished by the conduct of the Jews. It might seem that if the guards told the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees, of the miracles which occurred at the sepulchre, they must immediately have believed and proclaimed their belief in the Messiahship and resurrection of the crucified Savior. But they had previously remained invulnerable to as cogent proof as this would afford. They had acknowledged the miracles wrought by him when he was alive, but attributed them even his works of beneficence to demoniacal power. They said, "He casteth out devils by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of devils." So they acted in the present case, and, notwithstanding the peerless miracle related by the sentinels, still persisted in their alienation from the Christian faith. Their intensely cherished preconceptions respecting the Messiah, their persecution and crucifixion of Jesus, the glaring inconsistency of his teachings and experience with most that they expected, these things compelled their incredulity to every proof of the Messiahship of the contemned and murdered Nazarene. For, if they admitted the facts on which such proof was based, they would misinterpret them and deny the inferences justly drawn from them. This was plainly the case. It may be affirmed that the Jews believed the resurrection, because they took no fair measures to disprove it, but threatened those who declared it. Since they had every inducement to demonstrate its falsity, and might, it seems, have done so had it been false, and yet never made the feeblest effort to unmask the alleged fraud, we must suspect that they were themselves secretly convinced of its truth, but dared not let it be known, for fear it would prevail, become mighty in the earth, and push them from their seats. In the rage and blindness of their prejudices, they cried, "His blood be on us and on our children!" And from that generation to our own, their history has afforded a living proof of the historic truth of the gospel, and of the stability of its chief corner stone, the resurrection of Christ. The triumphal progress of Christianity from conquering to conquering, together with the baffled plans and complete subjection of the Jews, show that their providential preparatory mission has been fulfilled. If God is in history, guiding the moral drift of human affairs, then the dazzling success of the proclamation of the risen Redeemer is the Divine seal upon the truth of his mission and the reality of his apotheosis. Planting himself on this ground, surrounding himself with these evidences, the reverential Christian will at least for a long time to come cling firmly to the accepted fact of the resurrection of Christ, regardless of whatever misgivings and perplexities may trouble the mind of the iconoclastic and critical truth seeker.
The Christian Scriptures, assuming the resurrection of Christ as a fact, describe it as a fulfilment of prophecy. Luke reports from the risen Savior the words, "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?" "Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day." Peter declares that the patriarch David before "spake of the resurrection of Christ." And Paul also affirms, "That the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again." One can scarcely hesitate in deciding the meaning of these words as they were used by the apostles. The unanimous opinion and interpretation of the Christians of the first centuries, and of all the Church Fathers, leave no shadow of a doubt that it was believed that the resurrection of Jesus was repeatedly foretold in the Old Testament, expected by the prophets, and fulfilled in the event as a seal of the inspired prophecy. Furthermore, Jesus himself repeatedly prophesied his own resurrection from the dead, though his disciples did not understand his meaning until the event put a clear comment on the words. He charged those who saw his transfiguration on the mount, "Tell it to no man until the Son of Man be risen again from the dead." The chief priests told Pilate that they remembered that Jesus said, while he was yet alive, "After three days I will rise again." Standing in the temple at Jerusalem, Jesus said once, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." "When, therefore, he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them;" and then they understood that "he had spoken of the temple of his body." It is perfectly plain that the New Testament represents the resurrection of Christ as the fulfilment of prophecies, those prophecies having been so expounded by him.
There are few problems presented to the candid Christian scholar of to day more perplexing than the one involved in the subject of these prophecies. Paul declares to King Agrippa, "I say none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead and should show light unto the Gentiles." It is vain to attempt to disguise the fact that the ingenuous student cannot find these prophecies in the Old Testament as we now have it. He will search it through in vain, unless his eyes create what they see. Let any man endeavor to discover a passage in the Hebrew Scriptures which, taken with its context, can fairly bear such a sense. There is not a shadow of valid evidence of any kind to support the merely traditional notions on this subject. The only way of discerning predictions of a death, descent, and ascent, of the Messiah, in the law and the prophets, is by the application of Cabalistic methods of interpretation, theories of occult types, double senses, methods which now are not tolerable to intelligent men. That Rabbinical interpretation which made the story of Ishmael and Isaac, the two children borne to Abraham by Hagar and Sarah, an allegory referring to the two covenants of Judaism and Christianity, could easily extract any desired meaning from any given text. Bearing in mind the prevalence of this kind of exegesis among the Jews, and remembering also that they possessed in the times of Jesus a vast body of oral law, to which they attributed as great authority as to the written, there are two possible ways of honestly meeting the difficulty before us.
First: in God's counsels it was determined that a Messiah should afterwards arise among the Jews. The revealed hope of this stirred the prophets and the popular heart. It became variously and vaguely hinted in their writings, still more variously and copiously unfolded in their traditions. The conception of him gradually took form; and they began to look for a warrior prophet, a national deliverer, a theocratic king. Jesus, being the true Messiah, though a very different personage from the one meant by the writers and understood by the people, yet being the Messiah foreordained by God, applied these Messianic passages to himself, and explained them according to his experience and fate. This will satisfactorily clear up the application of some texts. And others may be truly explained as poetical illustrations, rhetorical accommodations, as when he applies to Judas, at the Last Supper, the words of the Psalm, "He that eateth with me lifteth up his heel against me;" and when he refers to Jonah's tarry in the whale's belly as a symbol of his own destined stay beneath the grave for a similar length of time. Or, secondly, we may conclude that the prophecies under consideration, referred to in the New Testament, were not derived from any sacred documents now in our possession, but either from perished writings, or from oral sources, which we know were abundant then. Justin Martyr says there was formerly a passage in Jeremiah to this effect: "The Lord remembered the dead who were sleeping in the earth, and went down to them to preach salvation to them." 4 There were floating in the Jewish mind, at the time of Christ, at least some fragmentary traditions, vague expectations, that the Messiah was to die, descend to Sheol, rescue some of the captives, and triumphantly ascend. It is true, this statement is denied by some; but the weight of critical authorities seems to us to preponderate in its favor, and the intrinsic historical probabilities leave hardly a doubt of it in our own minds.5 Now, three alternatives are offered us. Either Jesus interpreted Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophets, on the Rabbinical ground of a double sense, with mystic applications; or he accepted the prophecies referred to, from oral traditions held by his countrymen; or the apostles misunderstood, and in consequence partially misreported, him. All we can positively say is that these precise predictions are plainly not in the Jewish Scriptures, undoubtedly were in the oral law, and were certainly received by the apostles as authoritative.
Continuing our inquiry into the apostolic view of the resurrection of Christ, we shall perceive that it is most prominently set forth as the certificate of our redemption from the
4 Dial. cum Tryph. sect. lxxii.
5 Discussed, with full list of references, in Strauss's Life of Jesus, part iii. cap. i. sect. 112.
kingdom of death to the same glorious destiny which awaited him upon his ascension into heaven. The apostles regarded his resurrection as a supernatural seal set on his mission, warranting his claims as an inspired deliverer and teacher. Thereby, they thought, God openly sanctioned and confirmed his promises. Thereby, they considered, was shown to men God's blessed grace, freely forgiving their sins, and securing to them, by this pledge, a deliverance from the doom of sin as he had risen from it, and an acceptance to a heavenly immortality as he had ascended to it. The resurrection of Christ, then, and not his death, was to them the point of vital interest, the hinge on which all hung. Does not the record plainly show this to an impartial reader? Wherever the apostles preach, whenever they write, they appeal not to the death of a veiled Deity, but to the resurrection of an appointed messenger; not to a vicarious atonement or purchase effected by the mortal sufferings of Jesus, but to the confirmation of the good tidings he brought, afforded by the Father's raising him from the dead. "Whereof he hath given assurance unto all, in that he hath raised him from the dead," Paul proclaimed on Mars Hill. In the discourses of the apostles recorded in the Book of Acts, we find that, when they preached the new religion to new audiences, the great doctrine in all cases set forth as fundamental and absorbing is the resurrection; not an atoning death, but a justifying resurrection. "He died for our sins, and rose for our justification." Some of the Athenians thought Paul "a setter forth of two strange gods, Jesus and Resurrection." And when they desire to characterize Christ, the distinguishing culminating phrase which they invariably select shows on what their minds rested as of chief import: they describe him as the one "whom God hath raised from the dead." "If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." "That ye may know what is the exceeding greatness of God's power toward us who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead and set him at his own right hand in heaven." It is plain here that the dying of Christ is regarded merely as preliminary to his rising, and that his resurrection and entrance into heaven are received as an assurance that faithful disciples, too, shall obtain admission into the heavenly kingdom.
The Calvinistic doctrine is that the unutterable vicarious agonies of the death of Christ placated the wrath of God, satisfied his justice, and ransomed the souls of the elect from the tortures of hell, and that his resurrection was simply his victorious return from a penal conflict with the powers of Satan. The Unitarian doctrine is that the violent death of Christ was an expression of self sacrificing love, to exert a moral power on the hearts of men, and that his resurrection was a miraculous proof of the authority and truth of his teachings, a demonstration of human immortality. We maintain that neither of these views fully contains the true representation of the New Testament. The artificial horrors of the former cannot be forced into nor wrung out of the written words; while the natural simplicity and meagerness of the latter cannot be made to fill up the written words with adequate significance. There is a medium doctrine, based on the conceptions prevalent at the time the Christian system was constructed and written; a doctrine which equally avoids the credulous excess of the Calvinistic interpretation and the skeptical poverty of the Unitarian; a doctrine which fully explains all the relevant language of the New Testament without violence; a doctrine which, for our own part, we feel sure accurately represents the ideas meant to be conveyed by the Scripture authors. We will state it, and then quote, for its illustration and for their own explanation, the principal texts relating to the resurrection of Jesus.
On account of sin, which had alienated man from God and unfitted him for heaven, he was condemned after death to descend as a disembodied soul into the dark kingdom of the grave, the under world. In that cheerless realm of helpless shades and stillness all departed human spirits were prisoners, and must be, until the advent of the Messiah, when they, or a part of them, should rise. This was the Jewish belief. Now, the apostles were Jews, who had the ideas of their countrymen, to which, upon becoming Christians, they added the new conceptions formed in their minds by the teachings, character, deeds, death, resurrection, of Christ, mixed with their own meditations and experience. Accepting, with these previous notions, the resurrection of Christ as a fact and a fulfilment of prophecy, they immediately supposed that his triumphant exit from the prison of the dead and return to heaven were the prefiguration of the similar deliverance of others and their entrance into heaven. They considered him as "the first born from the dead," "the first fruits of the dead." They emphatically characterize his return to life as a "resurrection out from among the dead," "[non-ASCII characters], plainly implying that the rest of the dead still remained below.6 They received his experience in this respect as the revealing type of that which was awaiting his followers. So far as relates to the separate existence of the soul, the restoration of the widow's son by Elijah, or the resurrection of Lazarus, logically implies all that is implied in the mere resurrection of Christ. But certain notions of localities, of a redemptive ascent, and an opening of heaven for the redeemed spirits of men to ascend thither, were associated exclusively with the last. When, through the will of God, Christ rose, "then first humanity triumphant passed the crystal ports of light, and seized eternal youth!" Their view was not that Christ effected all this by means of his own; but that the free grace of God decreed it, and that Christ came to carry the plan into execution. "God, for his great love to us, even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ." This was effected as in dramatic show: Christ died, which was suffering the fate of a sinner; he went in spirit to the subterranean abode of spirits, which was bearing the penalty of sin; he rose again, which was showing the penalty of sin removed by Divine forgiveness; he ascended into heaven, which was revealing the way for our ascent thrown open. Such is the general scope of thought in close and vital connection with which the doctrine of the resurrection of Christ stands. We shall spare enlarging on those parts of it which have been sufficiently proved and illustrated in preceding chapters, and confine our attention as much as may be to those portions which have direct relations with the resurrection of Christ. It is our object, then, to show what we think will plainly appear in the light of the above general statement that, to the New Testament writers, the resurrection, and not the death, of Christ is the fact of central moment, is the assuring seal of our forgiveness, reconciliation, and heavenly adoption.
6 Wood, The Last Things, pp. 31-44.
They saw two antithetical starting points in the history of mankind: a career of ruin, beginning with condemned Adam in the garden of Eden at the foot of the forbidden tree, dragging a fleshly race down into Sheol; a career of remedy, beginning with victorious Christ in the garden of Joseph at the mouth of the rent sepulchre, guiding a spiritual race up into heaven.
The Savior himself is reported as saying, "I lay down my life that I may take it again:" the dying was not for the sake of substitutional suffering, but for the sake of a resurrection. "Except a corn of wheat die, it abideth alone; but, if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." "A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow; but as soon as she is delivered of the child she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world." The context here shows the Savior's meaning to be that the woe of his death would soon be lost in the weal of his resurrection. The death was merely the necessary antecedent to the significant resurrection. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead unto an inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed." "Him hath God raised on high by his right hand, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins." How clear it is here that not the vicarious death of Christ buys off sinners, but his resurrection shows sins to be freely forgiven, the penalty remitted! "Remember that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, according to my gospel: therefore I endure all things for the elect's sake, that they may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." "Be it known unto you, therefore, men, brethren, that through Him whom God raised again is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins." The passage in the Epistle to the Hebrews, ninth chapter, from the twenty third verse to the twenty seventh, most emphatically connects the annulling of sin through the sacrifice of Christ with his ascended appearance in heaven. "Jesus who was delivered for our offences and was raised again for our justification:" that is, Jesus died because he had entered the condition of sinful humanity, the penalty of which was death; he was raised to show that God had forgiven us our sins and would receive us to heaven instead of banishing us to the under world. "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Belief in the resurrection of Christ is here undeniably made the great condition of salvation. No text can be found in which belief in the death, or blood, or atoning merits, of Christ is made that condition. And yet nine tenths of Christendom by their creeds are to day proclaiming, "Believe in the vicarious sufferings of Christ, and thou shalt be saved; believe not in them, and thou shalt be damned!" "God hath both raised up the Lord and will also raise up us." "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain: ye are yet in your sins." This text cannot be explained upon the common Calvinistic or Unitarian theories. Whether Christ was risen or not made no difference in their justification before God if his death had atoned for them, made no difference in their moral condition, which was as it was; but if Christ had not risen, then they were mistaken in supposing that heaven had been opened for them: they were yet held in the necessity of descending to the under world, the penalty of their sins. The careful reader will observe that, in many places in the Scriptures where a burden and stress of importance seem laid upon the death of Christ, there immediately follows a reference to his resurrection, showing that the dying is only referred to as the preparatory step to the rising, the resurrection being the essential thing. "The Apostle Paul scarcely speaks of the death of the Savior except in connection with his resurrection," Bleek says, in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews. "It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again and is now at the right hand of God."
"If we believe that Jesus died and rose again." "To this end Christ both died, and rose and lived again." "He died for them and rose again." We confidently avow, therefore, that the Christian Scriptures concentrate the most essential significance and value of the mission of Jesus in his resurrection, describing it as the Divine seal of his claims, the visible proof and pledge of our redemption, by God's freely forgiving grace, from the fatal bondage of death's sepulchral domain to the blessed splendors of heaven's immortal life.
There remain a class of passages to be particularly noticed, in which an extraordinary emphasis seems to be laid on Christ's sufferings, Christ's blood, Christ's death, three phrases that mean virtually the same thing and are used interchangeably. The peculiar prominence given to the idea of the sacrifice of Christ in the instances now referred to is such as might lead one to suppose that some mysterious efficacy was meant to be attributed to it. But we think an accurate examination of the subject will show that these texts are really in full harmony with the view we have been maintaining. Admitting that the resurrection of Christ was the sole circumstance of ultimate meaning and importance, still, his violent and painful death would naturally be spoken of as often and strongly as it is, for two reasons. First, the chief ground of wonder and claim for gratitude to him was that he should have left his pre existent state of undisturbed bliss and glory, and submitted to such humiliation and anguish for others, for sinners. Secondly, it was the prerequisite to his resurrection, the same, in effect, with it, since the former must lead to the latter; for, as the foremost apostle said, "It was not possible that he should be holden in death."
The apostolical writers do not speak of salvation by the blood of Christ any more plainly than they do of salvation by the name of Christ, salvation by grace, and salvation by faith. If at one time they identify him with the sacrificial "lamb," at another time they as distinctively identify him with the "high priest offering himself," and again with "the great Shepherd of the sheep," and again with "the mediator of the new covenant," and again with "the second Adam." These are all figures of speech, and, taken superficially, they determine nothing as to doctrine. The propriety and the genuine character and force of the metaphor are in each case to be carefully sought with the lights of learning and under the guidance of a docile candor. The thoughts that, in consequence of transmitted sin, all departed souls of men were confined in the under world that Christ, to carry out and revealingly exemplify the free grace of the Father, came into the world, died a cruel death, descended to the prison world of the dead, declared there the glad tidings, rose thence and ascended into heaven, the forerunner of the ransomed hosts to follow, these thoughts enable us to explain, in a natural, forcible, and satisfactory manner, the peculiar phraseology of the New Testament in regard to the death of Christ, without having recourse to the arbitrary conceptions and mystical horror usually associated with it now.
For instance, consider the passage in the second chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians, from the eleventh verse to the nineteenth. The writer here says that "the Gentiles, who formerly were far off, strangers from the covenants of promise, are now made nigh by the blood of Christ." This language he clearly explains as meaning that through the death and resurrection of Christ "the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles was broken down" and a universal religion inaugurated, free from all invidious distinctions and carnal ordinances. In his bodily death and spiritual ascension the Jewish ritual law was abolished and the world wide moral law alone installed. From his spirit, rising into heaven, all national peculiarities fell away, and through him Jews and Gentiles both had access, by communion with his ascended and cosmopolitan soul, unto the Father. A careful study of all the passages in the New Testament which speak of Christ as delivering men from the wrath of God will lead, it seems to us, almost every unprejudiced person to agree with one of the ablest German critics, who says that "the technical phrase 'wrath of God' here means, historically, banishment of souls into the under world, and that the fact of Christ's triumph and ascent was a precious pledge showing to the Christians that they too should ascend to eternal life in heaven."7 The doctrine of the descent of Christ among the dead and of his redemptive mission there has of late wellnigh faded from notice; but if any one wishes to see the evidence of its universal reception and unparalleled importance in the Christian Church for fifteen hundred years, presented in overwhelming quantity and irresistible array, let him read the learned work devoted to this subject recently published in Germany.8 He can hardly peruse this work and follow up its references without seeing that, almost without an exception, from the days of Peter and Paul to those of Martin Luther, it has been held that "the death and resurrection of Christ are the two poles between which," as Guder says, "his descent into the under world lies." The phrase "blood of Christ" is often used in Scripture in a pregnant sense, including the force of meaning that would be expressed by his death, descent, resurrection, and ascension, with all their concomitants. As a specimen of innumerable passages of like import which might be cited, we will quote a single expression from Epiphanius, showing that the orthodox teachers in the fourth century attributed redeeming efficacy to Christ's resurrection rather than to his death." As the pelican restores its dead offspring by dropping its own blood upon their wounds, so our Lord Jesus Christ dropped his blood upon Adam, Eve, and all the dead, and gave them life by his burial and resurrection." 9
It was a part of the Mosaic ritual, laid down in the sixteenth chapter of Leviticus, that on the great annual day of expiation there should be two goats chosen by lot, one for the Lord and one for Azazel. The former the high priest was to slay, and with his blood sprinkle
7 Bretschneider, Religiose Glaubenslehre, sect. 59: Christus der Erloser vom Tode.
8 Guder, Die Lehre von der Erscheinung Jesu Christi unter den Todten: In ihrem Zusammenhange mit der Lehre von den Letzten Dingen.
9 Physiol., cap. 8: De Pelecano.
the mercy seat. The latter, when the high priest's hands had been laid on his head and all the iniquities of the children of Israel confessed over him, was to be sent into the wilderness and loosed. The former goat is called "a sin offering for the people." The latter is called "a scape goat to make an atonement with the Lord." The blood of the sin offering could not have been supposed to be a substitute purchasing the pardon of men's offences, because there is no hint of any such idea in the record, and because it was offered to reconcile "houses," "tabernacles," "altars," as well as to reconcile men. It had simply a ceremonial significance. Such rites were common in many of the early religions. They were not the efficient cause of pardon, but were the formal condition of reconciliation. And then, in regard to the scapegoat, it was not sacrificed as an expiation for sinners; it merely symbolically carried off the sins already freely forgiven. All these forms and phrases were inwrought with the whole national life and religious language of the Jews. Now, when Jesus appeared, a messenger from God, to redeem men from their sins and to promise them pardon and heaven, and when he died a martyr's death in the fulfilment of his mission, how perfectly natural that this sacrificial imagery these figures of blood, propitiation, sprinkling the mercy seat should be applied to him, and to his work and fate! The burden of sins forgiven by God's grace in the old covenant the scape goat emblematically bore away, and the people went free. So if the words must be supposed to have an objective and not merely a moral sense when the Baptist cried, "Behold the Lamb of God, that beareth off the sin of the world," his meaning was that Jesus was to bear off the penalty of sin that is, the Hadean doom which God's free grace had annulled and open heaven to the ranks of reconciled souls. There is not the least shadow of proof that the sacrifices in the Mosaic ritual were Divinely ordained as types pre figuring the great sacrifice of Christ. There is no such pretence in the record, no such tradition among the people, not the slightest foundation whatever of any sort to warrant that arbitrary presumption. All such applications of them are rhetorical; and their historical force and moral meaning are clearly explicable on the views which we have presented in the foregoing pages, but are most violently strained and twisted by the Calvinistic theory to meet the severe exigencies of a theoretical dogma.
If any one, granting that the central efficacy of the mission of Christ, dogmatically and objectively considered, lay in his descent into Hades and in his resurrection, maintains that still certain passages in the New Testament do ascribe an expiatory effect directly to his death as such, we reply that this interpretation is quite likely to be correct. And we can easily trace the conception to its origin beyond the pale of revelation. It was an idea prevalent among the Jews in the time of the apostles, and before, that death was an atonement for all sins, and that the death of the righteous atoned for the sins of others.10 Now, the apostles might adopt this view and apply it pre eminently to the case of Christ. This is the very explanation given by Origen.11 De Wette quotes the following sentence, and many others of the same purport,
10 Gfrorer, Gesehichte des Urchristenthums, abth. ii. pp. 187 190.
11 Mosheim, Commentaries on Christianity in the First Three Centuries, Eng. trans., vol. ii. pp. 162-163.
from the Talmud: "The death of the just is the redemption of sinners."12 The blood of any righteous man was a little atonement; that of Christ was a vast one. The former all Protestants call a heathen error. So they should the latter, because it sprung from the same source and is the same in principle. If, then, there are any scriptural texts which imply that the mere death of Christ had a vicarious, expiatory efficacy, they are, so far forth, the reflection of heathen and Jewish errors yet lingering in the minds of the writers, and not the inspired revelation of an isolated, arbitrary after expedient contrived in the secret counsels of God and wonderfully interpolated into the providential history of the world. But, if there are any such passages, they are few and unimportant. The great mass of the scriptural language on this subject is fairly and fully explained by the historical theory whose outlines we have sketched. The root of the matter is the resurrection of Christ out from among the dead and his ascent into heaven.
It has not been our purpose in this chapter, or in the preceding chapters, to present the history of the Christian doctrine of the atonement, either in its intrinsic significance or in its relations to subjective religious experience. We have only sought to explain it, according to the original understanding of it, in its objective relations to the fate of men in the future life. The importance of the subject, its difficulty, and the profound prejudices connected with it, are so great as not only to excuse, but even to require, much explanatory repetition to make the truth clear and to recommend it, in many lights, with various methods, and by accumulated authorities. Those who wish to see the whole subject of the atonement treated with consummate fulness and ability, leaving nothing to be desired from the historical point of view, have only to read the masterly work of Baur.13
In leaving this part of our subject here, we would submit the following considerations to the candid judgment of the reader. Admitting the truth of the common doctrine of the atonement, why did Christ die? It does not appear how there could be any particular efficacy in mere death. The expiation of sin which he had undertaken required only a certain amount of suffering. It did not as far as we can see on the theory of satisfaction by an equivalent substituted suffering require death. It seems as if local and physical ideas must have been associated with the thought of his death. And we find the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews thus replying to the question, Why did Christ die? "That through death he might destroy him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." Now, plainly, this end was accomplished by his resurrection bursting asunder the bonds of Hades and showing that it was no longer the hopeless prison of the dead. The justice of this explanation appears from the logical necessity of the series of ideas, the internal coherence and harmony of thought. It has been ably shown that substantially this view is the accurate interpretation of the New Testament doctrine by
12 Comm. de Morte Christi Expiatoria, cap. iii.: Qua Judaorum Recentiorum Christologia de Passione ac Morte Messia docet.
13 Die Christliche Lehre von der Versohnung in ihrer Geschichtlichen Entwicklung von der Alteaten Zeit bis auf die Neueste.
Steinbart,14 Schott,15 Bretschneider,16 Klaiber,17 and others. The gradual deviations from this early view can be historically traced, step by step, through the refining speculations of theologians. First, in ecclesiastical history, after the New Testament times, it is thought the devil has a right over all souls in consequence of sin. Christ is a ransom offered to the devil to offset his claim. Sometimes this is represented as a fair bargain, sometimes as a deception practised on the devil, sometimes as a battle waged with him. Next, it is conceived that the devil has no right over human souls, that it is God who has doomed them to the infernal prison and holds them there for their sin. Accordingly, the sacrifice of Christ for their ransom is offered not to the tyrannical devil but to the offended God. Finally, in the progress of culture, the satisfaction theory appears; and now the suffering of Christ is neither to buy souls from the devil nor to appease God and soften his anger into forgiveness; but it is to meet the inexorable exigencies of the abstract law of infinite justice and deliver sinners by bearing for them the penalty of sin. The whole course of thought, once commenced, is natural, inevitable; but the starting point is from an error, and the pausing places are at false goals.
The view which we have asserted to be the scriptural view prevailed as the orthodox doctrine of the Church throughout the first three centuries, as Bahr has proved in his valuable treatise on the subject.18 He shows that during that period Christ's death was regarded as a revelation of God's love, a victory over the devil, (through his resurrection,) a means of obtaining salvation for men, but not as a punitive sacrifice, not as a vindication of God's justice, not as a vicarious satisfaction of the law.19 If the leading theologians of Christendom, such as Anselm, Calvin, and Grotius, have so thoroughly repudiated the original Christian and patristic doctrine of the atonement, and built another doctrine upon their own uninspired speculations, why should our modern sects defer so slavishly to them, and, instead of freely investigating the subject for themselves from the first sources of Scripture and spiritual philosophy, timidly cling to the results reached by these biassed, morbid, and over sharp thinkers? In proportion as scholarly, unfettered minds engage in such a criticism, we believe the exposition given in the foregoing pages will be recognised as scriptural. Without involving this whole theory, how can any one explain the unquestionable fact that during the first four centuries the entire orthodox Church believed that Christ at his resurrection from the under world delivered Adam from his imprisonment there?20 All acknowledge that the phrase "redemption by the blood of Christ" is a metaphor. The only question is, what meaning was it intended to convey? We maintain its meaning to be that
14 System der Reinen Philosophie, oder Gluckseligkeitslehre des Christenthums, u.s.f.
15 Epitome Theologia Christiana Dogmatica.
16 Die Lehren von Adam's Fall, der Erbsunde, und dem Opfer Christi.
17 Studien der Evang. Geietlichkeit Wurtemburgs, viii. 1, 2. Doederlein, Morus, Knapp, Schwarze, and Reinhard affirm that the death of Christ was not the price of our pardon, but the confirming declaration of free pardon from God. Hagenbach, Dogmengeschichte, sect. 297, note 5.
18 Die Lehre der Kirche vom Tode Jesu in den Ersten Drei Jahrhunderteu.
19 Die Lehre der Kirche vom Tode Jesu in den Ersten Drei Jahrhunderten, ss. 176-180.
20 Augustine, Epist. ad Evodium 99. Op. Imp. vi. 22, 30. Epist. 164. Dante makes Adam say he had been 4302 years in Limbo when Christ, at his descent, rescued him. Paradise, canto xxvi.
through all the events and forces associated with the death of Christ, including his descent to Hades and his resurrection, men are delivered from the doom of the under world. The common theology explains it as teaching that there was an expiatory efficacy in the unmerited sufferings of Christ. The system known as Unitarianism says it denotes merely the exertion of a saving spiritual power on the hearts of men. The first interpretation charges the figure of speech with a dramatic revelation of the love of God freely rescuing men from their inherited fate. The second seems to make it a tank of gore, where Divine vengeance legally laps to appease its otherwise insatiable appetite. The third fills it with a regenerative moral influence to be distributed upon the characters of believers. The two former also include the last; but it excludes them. Now, as it seems to us, the first is the form of mistake in which the early Church, including the apostles, embodied the true significance of the mission of Christ. Owing to the circle of ideas in which they lived, this was the only possible form in which the disciples of Jesus could receive the new doctrine of a blessed immortality brought to light by Christianity.21 The second is the form of false theory in which a few scholastic brains elaborated the cruel results of their diseased metaphysical speculations. The third is the dry, meager, inadequate statement of the most essential truth in the case.
There is one more point of view in which the New Testament holds up the resurrection of Christ. It is regarded as a summons to a moral and spiritual resurrection within the breast of the believer. As the great Forerunner had ascended to a spiritual and immortal life in the heavens, so his followers should be inspired with such a realizing sense of heavenly things, with such Divine faith and fellowship, as would lift them above the world, with all its evanescent cares, and fix their hearts with God. This high communion with Christ, and intense assurance of a destined speedy inheritance with him, should render the disciple insensible to the clamorous distractions of earth, invulnerable to the open and secret assaults of sin, as if in the body he were already dead, and only alive in the spirit to the obligations of holiness, the attractions of piety, and the promises of heaven. "When we were dead in trespasses and sins, God loved us, and hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places." "If ye, then, be risen with Christ, set your affection on things above, not on earthly things; for ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." This moral symbolic application of the resurrection is most beautiful and effective. Christ has risen, immaculate and immortal, into the pure and holy heaven: then live virtuously and piously, that you may be found worthy to be received unto him. "He that hath this hope purifieth himself, even as He is pure." Paul enforces this thought through the striking figure that, since "we are freed from the law through the death of Christ, we should be married to his risen spirit and bring forth fruit unto God." And again, when he speaks in these words, "Christ in you the hope of glory," we suppose he refers to the spiritual image of the risen Redeemer formed in the disciples' imagination and heart, the prefiguring and witnessing pledge of their ascension also to heaven. The same practical use is made of the doctrine through the rite and sign of baptism. "Ye are buried with Christ in
21 Bretschneider forcibly illustrates this in his Handbuch der Dogmatik der Evang. Luther. Kirche, sects. 156-158, band ii.
baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through faith in the working of God, who hath raised him from the dead." "Wherefore, if ye be dead with Christ, why are ye subject to worldly ordinances? and if ye be risen with him, seek those things which are above." When the disciple sunk beneath the baptizing waters, he was typically dead and buried, as Jesus was in the tomb; when he rose from the waters into the air again, he figuratively represented Christ rising from the dead into heaven. Henceforth, therefore, he was to consider himself as dead to all worldly sins and lusts, alive to all heavenly virtues and aspirations. "Therefore," the apostle says, "we are buried with Christ by baptism unto death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead, even so we should walk in newness of life." "In that Christ died, he died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God." "Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." This was strictly true to the immediate disciples of Jesus. When he died, their hearts died within them; they shrank away in hopeless confusion and gloom. When he returned to life and ascended to heaven, in feeling and imagination they went with him. Every moral power and motive started into new life and energy.
"The day when from the dead Our Lord arose, then everywhere, Out of their darkness and despair, Triumphant over fears and foes, The souls of his disciples rose."
An unheard of assurance of the Father's love and of their eternal inheritance flooded their being with its regenerating, uplifting power. To their absorbing anticipations the mighty consummation of all was at hand. In reflective imagination it was already past, and they, dead to the world, only lived to God. The material world and the lust thereof had sunk beneath them and vanished. They were moving in the universe of imperishable realities unseen by the fleshly eye. To their faith already was unrolled over them that new firmament in whose spanless welkin no cloudy tempests ever gather and break, and the serene lights never fade nor go down. This experience of a spiritual exaltation above the sins and degrading turmoils of passion, above the perishing baubles of the earth, into the religious principles which are independent and assured, peace, and bliss, and eternity, is attainable by all who with the earnestness of their souls assimilate the moral truths of Christianity, pressing in pious trust after the steps of the risen Master. And this, after all, is the vital essence of the doctrine of the resurrection as it makes practical appeal to us. This will stand, though gnawing time and hostile criticism should assail and shake all the rest. It is something not to be mechanically wrought upon us from without, but to be done within by our own voluntary effort and prayer, by God's help. To rise from sloth, unbelief, sin, from moral death, to earnestness, faith, beneficence, to eternal life in the breast, is a real and most sublime resurrection, the indispensable preparation for that other and final one which shall raise us from the sepulchre to the sky. When, on Easter morning, Christian disciples throughout the world hear the joyous cry, "Christ is risen," and their own hearts instinctively respond, with an unquenchable persuasion that he is now alive somewhere in the heights of the universe, "Christ is risen indeed," they should endeavor in spirit to rise too, rise from the deadly bondage and corruption of vice and indifference. While the earth remains, and men survive, and the evils which alienate them from God and his blessedness retain any sway over them, so oft as that hallowed day comes round, this is the kindling message of Divine authority ever fresh, and of transcendent import never old, that it bears through all the borders of Christendom to every responsible soul: "Awake from your sleep, arise from your death, lift up your eyes to heaven, and the risen Redeemer will give you the light of immortal life!" Have this awakening and deathless experience in the soul, and you will be troubled by no doubts about an everlasting life succeeding the close of the world. But so long as this spiritual resurrection in the breast is unknown, you can have no knowledge of eternal life, no experimental faith in a future entrance from the grave into heaven, no, not though millions of resurrections had crowded the interstellar space with ascending shapes. Rise, then, from your moral graves, and already, by faith and imagination, sit in heavenly places with Christ Jesus.
Before leaving this subject, it belongs to us to look at it as a theory; that is, to consider with critical scrutiny the conclusions which are supposed to flow from its central fact. We must regard it from three distinct points of view, seeking its meaning in sound logic, its force in past history, its value in present experience. First, then, we are to inquire what really is the logical significance of the resurrection of Christ. The looseness and confusion of thought prevailing in relation to this point are amazing. It seems as if mankind were contented with investigations careless, reasonings incoherent, and inferences arbitrary, in proportion to the momentousness of the matter in hand. In regard to little details of sensible fact and daily business their observation is sharp, their analysis careful, their reflection patient; but when they approach the great problems of morality, God, immortality, they shrink from commensurate efforts to master those mighty questions with stern honesty, and remain satisfied with fanciful methods and vague results. The resurrection of Christ is generally regarded as a direct demonstration of the immortality of man, an argument of irrefragable validity. But this is an astonishing mistake. The argument was not so constructed by Paul. He did not seek directly to prove the immortality of the soul, but the resurrection of the dead. He took for granted the Pharisaic doctrine that all souls on leaving their bodies descended to Sheol, where they darkly survived, waiting to be summoned forth at the arrival of the Messianic epoch. Assuming the further premise that Christ after death went down among these imprisoned souls, and then rose thence again, Paul infers, by a logical process strictly valid and irresistible to one holding those premises, that the general doctrine of a resurrection from the dead is true, and that by this visible pledge we may expect it soon, since the Messiah, who is to usher in its execution, has already come and finished the preliminary stages of his work. The apostle's own words plainly show this to be his meaning. "If there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen. But now is Christ risen from the dead, become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. Every man shall be made alive in his own order: Christ the first fruits; then they that are Christ's, at his coming; then the last remnant, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God." The notions of a universal imprisonment of souls in the intermediate state, and of a universal raising of them thence at an appointed time, having faded from a deep and vivid belief into a cold traditional dogma, ridiculed by many, cared for at all by few, realizingly held by almost none, Paul's argument has been perverted and misinterpreted, until it is now commonly supposed to mean this: Christ has risen from the dead: therefore the soul of man is immortal. Whereas the argument really existed in his mind in the reverse form, thus: The souls of men are immortal and are hereafter to be raised up: therefore Christ has risen as an example and illustration thereof. It is singular to notice that he has himself clearly stated the argument in this form three times within the space of four consecutive verses, as follows: "If there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:" "God raised Christ not up, if so be that the dead rise not." "For if the dead rise not, then is Christ not raised." The fact of the resurrection of Christ, taken in connection with the related notions previously held in the mind of Paul, formed the complement of an irresistible argument to prove the impending resurrection of the dead, But if it be now perceived that those other notions were Pharisaic errors, the argument, as he employed it, falls to the ground.
Taken by itself and analyzed by a severe logic, the resurrection of Christ proves nothing conclusively in regard to our immortality. If it did of itself prove any thing, the direct logical inference from it would be that henceforth all men, three days after death, would rise bodily from the dead, appear for a season on earth as before, and then ascend visibly into the sky. If at the present time a man who had been put to death and entombed three days should openly come forth alive, considered as an isolated fact, what would it prove? It would merely prove that a wonderful event had occurred. It would show that either by some mysterious means he had escaped death, or else that by some apparently preternatural agency he had been restored to life from the dead. Taken by itself, it could not prove whether the occurrence was caused by a demoniacal or by a Divine power, or by some occult force of nature developed by a peculiar combination of conditions. The strange event would stand clear to our senses; but all beyond that would be but an hypothesis of our own, and liable to mistake. Consequently, we say, the resurrection, taken by itself, proves no doctrine. But we may so suppose the case that such an event would, from its relation to something else, acquire logical meaning. For instance, if Christ had taught that he had supernatural knowledge of truth, a Divine commission to reveal a future life, and said that, after he should have been dead and buried three days, God would restore him to life to authenticate his words, and if, then, so stupendous a miracle occurred in accordance with his prediction, it would prove that his claims and doctrine were true, because God is no accomplice in deception. Such was the case with Jesus as narrated; and thus his resurrection appears, not as having doctrinal significance and demonstrative validity in itself, but as a miraculous authentication of his mission. That is to say, the Christian's faith in immortality rests not directly on the resurrection of Christ, but on his teachings, which were confirmed and sealed by his resurrection. It is true that, even in this modified form, some persons of dialectical minds will deny all validity to the argument. What necessary connection is there, they will ask, between the exhibition of mechanico chemical wonders, physical feats, however abnormal and inexplicable, and the possession of infallibility of intellectual insight and moral utterance? If a man should say, God is falsehood and hatred, and in evidence of his declaration should make a whole cemetery disembogue its dead alive, or cause the sun suddenly to sink from its station at noon and return again, would his wonderful performance prove his horrible doctrine? Why, or how, then, would a similar feat prove the opposite doctrine? Plainly, there is not, on rigid logical principles, any connecting tie or evidencing coherence between a physical miracle and a moral doctrine.22 We admit the correctness of this, on philosophical grounds. But the validity of a miracle as proof of a doctrine rests on the spontaneous assumption that no man can work a miracle unless God specially delegate him the power: thereby God becomes the voucher of his envoy. And when a person claiming to be a messenger from God appears, saying, "The Father hath commanded me to declare that in the many mansions of his house there is a blessed life for men after the close of this life," and when he promises that, in confirmation of his claim, God will restore him to life after he shall have been three days dead, and when he returns accordingly triumphant from the sepulchre, the argument will be unquestioningly received as valid by the instinctive common sense of all who are convinced of the facts.
We next pass from the meaning of the resurrection in logic to its force and working in history. When Jesus hung on the cross, and the scornful shouts of the multitude murmured in his ears, the disciples had fled away, disappointed, terror stricken, despairing. His star seemed set in a hopeless night of shame and defeat. The new religion appeared a failure. But in three days affairs had taken a new aspect. He that was crucified had risen, and the scattered disciples rallied from every quarter, and, animated by faith and zeal, went forth to convert the world. As an organic centre of thought and belief, as a fervid and enduring incitement to action, in the apostolic times and all through the early centuries, the received fact of the resurrection of Christ wielded an incomparable influence and produced incalculable results. Christianity indeed rose upon it, and, to a great extent, flourished through it. The principal effect which the gospel has had in bringing life and immortality to light throughout a large part of the world is to be referred to the proclaimed resurrection of Christ. For without the latter the former would not have been. Its historical value has therefore been immense. More than nine tenths of the dormant common faith of Christendom in a future life now outwardly reposes on it from tradition and custom. The great majority of Christians grow up, by education and habit, without any sharp conscientious investigation of their own, to an undisturbed belief in immortality, a belief passively resting on the demonstration of the doctrine supposed to have been furnished by the resurrection of Christ in Judea two thousand years ago. The historical power of that fact has therefore been inexpressibly important; and its vast and happy consequences as food and basis of faith still remain. But this historic force is no longer what it once was as a living and present cause. It now operates mostly through traditional reception as an established doctrine to be taken
22 J. Blanco White, Letter on Miracles, in appendix to Martineau's Rationale of Religious Inquiry.
for granted, without fresh individual inquiry. Education and custom use it as an unexamined but trusted foundation to build on by common assumptions. And so the historic impetus is not yet spent. But it certainly has diminished; and it will diminish more. When faced with dauntless eyes and approached by skeptical methods, it of course cannot have the silencing, all sufficient authority, now that it is buried in the dim remoteness of nineteen centuries and surrounded by obscuring accompaniments, that it had when its light blazed close at hand. The historical force of the alleged resurrection of Christ must evidently, other things being equal, lessen to an unprejudiced inquirer in some proportion to the lengthening distance of the event from him in time, and the growing difficulties of ignorance, perplexity, doubt, manifold uncertainty, deficiency, infidel suggestions, and naturalistic possibilities, intervening between it and him. The shock of faith given by the miracle is dissipated in coming through such an abyss of time. The farther off and the longer ago it was, the more chances for error and the more circumstances of obscurity there are, and so much the worth and force of the historical belief in it will naturally become fainter, till they will finally fade away. An honest student may bow humbly before the august front of Christian history and join with the millions around in acknowledging the fact of the resurrection of Christ. But we maintain that the essential fact in this historic act is not the visible resuscitation of the dead body, but the celestial reception of the deathless spirit. So Paul evidently thought; for he had never seen Christ in the flesh, yet he places himself, as a witness to the resurrection of Christ, in the same rank with those who had seen him on his reappearance in the body: "Last of all he was seen of me also." Paul had only seen him in vision as a glorified spirit of heaven.
We know that our belief in the fleshly resurrection of Jesus rests on education and habit, on cherished associations of reverence and attachment, rather than on sifted testimony and convincing proof. It is plain, too, that if a person takes the attitude, not of piety and receptive trust, but of skeptical antagonism, it is impossible, as the facts within our reach are to day, to convince him of the asserted reality in question. An unprejudiced mind competently taught and trained for the inquiry, but whose attitude towards the declared fact is that of distrust, a mind which will admit nothing but what is conclusively proved, cannot be driven from its position by all the extant material of evidence. Education, associations, hopes, affections, leaning that way, he may be convinced; but leaning the other way, or poised in indifference on a severe logical ground, he will honestly remain in his unbelief despite of all the arguments that can be presented. In the first place, he will say, "The only history we have of the resurrection is in the New Testament; and the testimony of witnesses in their own cause is always suspicious; and it is wholly impossible now really to prove who wrote those documents, or precisely when and how they originated: besides that, the obvious discrepancies in the accounts, and the utterly uncritical credulity and unscientific modes of investigation which satisfied the writers, destroy their value as witnesses in any severe court of reason." And in reply, although we may claim that there is sufficient evidence to satisfy an humble Christian, previously inclined to such a faith, that the New Testament documents were written by the persons whose names they bear, and that their accounts are true, yet we cannot pretend that there is sufficient evidence effectually to convince a critical inquirer that there is no possibility of ungenuineness and unauthenticity. In the second place, such a person will say, "Many fabulous miracles have been eagerly credited by contemporaries of their professed authors, and handed down to the credulity of after times; many actual events, honestly, interpreted as miracles, without fraud in any party concerned, have been so accepted and testified to.
Roman Catholic Christendom claims to this day the performance of miracles within the Church; while all Protestant Christendom scouts them as ridiculous tales: and this may be one of them. How can we demonstrate that it does not fall within the same class on the laws of evidence?" And although our own moral beliefs and sympathies may force upon us the most profound conviction to the contrary, it is plainly out of our power to disprove the possibility of this hypothesis being true. In the third place, he will say, "Of all who testify to the resurrection, there is nothing in the record admitting its entire reliableness as an ingenuous statement of the facts as apprehended by the authors to show that any one of them knew that Jesus was actually dead, or that any one of them made any real search into that point. He may have revived from a long insensibility, wandered forth in his grave clothes, mingled afterwards with his disciples, and at last have died from his wounds and exhaustion, in solitude, as he was used to spend seasons in lonely prayer by night. Then, with perfectly good faith, his disciples, involving no collusion or deceit anywhere, may have put a miraculous interpretation upon it all, such additional particulars as his visible ascension into the sky being a later mythical accretion." This view may well seem offensive, even shocking, to the pious believer; but it is plainly possible. It is intrinsically more easily conceivable than the accredited miracle. It is impossible positively to refute it: the available data do not exist. Upon the whole, then, we conclude that the time is coming when the basis of faith in immortality, in order to stand the tests of independent scrutiny, must be historically as well as logically shifted from a blind dependence on the miraculous resurrection of Christ to a wise reliance on insight into the supernatural capacity and destiny of man, on the deductions of moral reason and the prophecies of religious trust.
Finally, we pause a moment, in closing this discussion, to weigh the practical value of the resurrection of Christ as acknowledged in the experience of the present time. How does that event, admitted as a fact, rest in the average personal experience of Christians now? We shall provoke no intelligent contradiction when we say that it certainly does not often rest on laborious research and rigorous testing of evidence. We surely risk nothing in saying that with the multitude of believers it rests on a docile reception of tradition, an unquestioning conformity to the established doctrine. And that reception and conformity in the present instance depend, we shall find by going a step further back, upon a deep a priori faith in God and immortality. When Paul reasons that, if the dead are not to rise, Christ is not risen, but that the dead are to rise, and therefore Christ is risen, his argument reposes on a spontaneous practical method of moral assumption, not on a judicial process of logical proof. So is it with Christians now. The intense moral conviction that God is good, and that there is another life, and that it would be supremely worthy of God to send a messenger to teach that doctrine and to rise from the dead in proof of it, it is this earnest previous faith that gives plausibility, vitality, and power to the preserved tradition of the actual event. If we trace the case home to the last resort, as it really lies in the experience developed in us by Christianity, we shall find that a deep faith in God is the basis of our belief, first in general immortality, and secondly in the special resurrection of Christ as related thereto. But, by a confusion, or a want, of thought, the former is mistakenly supposed to rest directly and solely on the latter. The doctrinal inferences built up around the resurrection of Christ fall within the province of faith, resting on moral grounds, not within that of knowledge, resting on logical grounds. For example: what direct proof is there that Christ, when he vanished from the disciples, went to the presence of God in heaven, to die no more? It was only seen that he disappeared: all beyond that except as it rests on belief in the previous words of Christ himself is an inference of faith, a faith kindled in the soul by God and not created by the miracle of the resurrection.
That imagination, tradition, feeling, and faith, have much more to do with the inferences commonly drawn from the resurrection of Christ than any strict investigation of its logical contents has, appears clearly enough from the universal neglect to draw any inferences from, or to attribute any didactic importance to, the other resurrections recorded in the New Testament. We refer especially to the resurrection narrated in the twenty seventh chapter of Matthew, "the most stupendous miracle ever wrought upon earth," it has been termed; and yet hardly any one ever deigns to notice it. Thus the evangelist writes: "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." Nothing is inferred from this alleged event but the power of God. Yet logically what separates it from the resurrection of Christ? In Greece there was the accredited account of the resurrection of Er, in Persia that of Viraf, in Judea that of Lazarus, in other nations those of other persons. None of these ever produced great results. Yet the resurrection of one individual from the dead logically contains all that that of any other individual can. Why, then, has that of Christ alone made such a change in the faith of the world? Because, through a combination of causes, it has appealed to the imagination and heart of the world and stirred their believing activity, because the thought was here connected with a person, a history, a moral force, and a providential interposition, fit for the grandest deductions and equal to the mightiest effects. It is not accurate philosophical criticism that has done this, but humble love and faith.
In the experience of earnest Christians, a personal belief in the resurrection of Christ, vividly conceived in the imagination and taken home to the heart, is chiefly effective in its spiritual, not in its argumentative, results. It stirs up the powers and awakens the yearnings of the soul, opens heaven to the gaze, locates there, as it were visibly, a glorious ideal, and thus helps one to enter upon an inward realization of the immortal world. The one essential thing is not that Jesus appeared alive in the flesh after his physical death, the revealer of superhuman power and possessor of infallibility, but that he divinely lives now, the forerunner and type of our immortality.
ESSENTIAL CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE OF DEATH AND LIFE.
LET US first notice the uncommon amount of meaning which Christ and the apostolic writers usually put into the words "death," "life," and other kindred terms. These words are scarcely ever used in their merely literal sense, but are charged with a vivid fulness of significance not to be fathomed without especial attention. "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." Obviously this means more than simple life; because those who neglect the laws of virtue may live. It signifies, distinctively, true life, the experience of inward peace and of Divine favor. "Whosoever hateth his brother hath not eternal life abiding in him, but abideth in death;" that is to say, a soul rankling with bad passions is "in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity," but, when converted from hatred to love, it passes from wretchedness to blessedness. "Let the dead bury their dead." No one reading this passage with its context can fail to perceive that it means, substantially, "Let those who are absorbed in the affairs of this world, and indifferent to the revelation I have brought from heaven, attend to the interment of the dead; but delay not thou, who art kindled with a lively interest in the truth, to proclaim the kingdom of God." When the returning prodigal had been joyfully received, the father said, in reply to the murmurs of the elder son, "Thy brother was dead and is alive again;" he was lost in sin and misery, he is found in penitence and happiness. Paul writes to the Romans, "Without the law sin was dead, and I was alive; but when the law was made known, sin came to life, and I died." In other words, when a man is ignorant of the moral law, immoral conduct does not prevent him from feeling innocent and being at peace; but when a knowledge of the law shows the wickedness of that conduct, he becomes conscious of guilt, and is unhappy. For instance, to state the thought a little differently, to a child knowing nothing of the law, the law, or its purposed violation, sin, does not exist, is dead: he therefore enjoys peace of conscience; but when he becomes aware of the law and its authority, if he then break it, sin is generated and immediately stings, and spiritual happiness dies.
These passages are sufficient to show that Christianity uses the words "death" and "life" in a spiritual sense, penetrating to the hidden realities of the soul. To speak thus of the guilty, unbelieving man as dead, and only of the virtuous, believing man as truly alive, may seem at first a startling use of figurative language. It will not appear so when we notice its appropriateness to the case, or remember the imaginative nature of Oriental speech and recollect how often we employ the same terms in the same way at the present time. We will give a few examples of a similar use of language outside of the Scriptures. That which threatens or produces death is sometimes, by a figure, identified with death. Orpheus, in the Argonautika, speaks of "a terrible serpent whose yawning jaw is full of death." So Paul says he was "in deaths oft." Ovid says, "The priests poured out a dog's hot life on the altar of Hecate at the crossing of two roads." The Pythagoreans, when one of their number became impious and abandoned, were accustomed to consider him dead, and to erect a tomb to him, on which his name and his age at the time of his moral decease were engraved. The Roman law regarded an excommunicated citizen as civilis mortuus, legally dead. Fenelon writes, "God has kindled a flame at the bottom of every heart, which should always burn as a lamp for him who hath lighted it; and all other life is as death." Chaucer says, in one of his Canterbury Tales, referring to a man enslaved by dissolute habits,
"But certes, he that haunteth swiche delices Is ded while that he liveth in tho' vices."
And in a recent poem the following lines occur:
"From his great eyes The light has fled: When faith departs, when honor dies, The man is dead."
To be subjected to the lower impulses of our nature by degraded habits of vice and criminality is wretchedness and death. The true life of man consists, the Great Teacher declared, "not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth, but rather in his being rich toward God," in conscious purity of heart, energy of faith, and union with the Holy Spirit. "He that lives in sensual pleasure is dead while he lives," Paul asserts; but he that lives in spiritual righteousness has already risen from the dead. To sum up the whole in a single sentence, the service and the fruits of sin form an experience which Christianity calls death, because it is a state of insensibility to the elements and results of true life, in the adequate sense of that term, meaning the serene activity and religious joy of the soul.
The second particular in the essential doctrine of Christianity concerning the states of human experience which it entitles death and life is their inherent, enduring nature, their independence on the objects and changes of this world. The gospel teaches that the elements of our being and experience are transferred from the life that now is into the life that is to come, or, rather, that we exist continuously forever, uninterrupted by the event of physical dissolution. "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him," Jesus declares, "shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." John affirms, "The world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever." Paul writes to the Christians at Rome, "In that Christ died, he died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God." Numerous additional texts of kindred import might be cited. They announce the immortality of man, the unending continuance of the Christian consciousness, unless forfeited by voluntary defection. They show that sin and woe are not arbitrarily bounded by the limits of time and sense in the grave, and that nothing can ever exhaust or destroy the satisfaction of true life, faith in the love of God: it abides, blessed and eternal, in the uninterrupted blessedness and eternity of its Object. The revelation and offer of all this to the acceptance of men, its conditions, claims, and alternative sanctions, were first divinely made known and planted in the heart of the world, as the Scriptures assert, by Jesus Christ, who promulgated them by his preaching, illustrated them by his example, proved them by his works, attested them by his blood, and crowned them by his resurrection.
And now there is opened for all of us, through him, that is to say, through belief and obedience of what he taught and exemplified, an access unto the Father, an assurance of his forgiveness of us and of our reconciliation with him. We thus enter upon the experience of that true life which is "joy and peace in believing," and which remains indestructible through all the vanishing vagrancy of sin, misery, and the world. "This is eternal life, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent:" that is, imperishable life is to be obtained by union with God in faith and love, through a hearty acceptance of the instructions of Christ.
The two points thus far considered are, first, that the sinful, unbelieving, wretched man abides in virtual death, while the righteous, happy believer in the gospel has the experience of genuine life; and, secondly, that these essential elements of human character and experience survive all events of time and place in everlasting continuance.
The next consideration prominent in the Christian doctrine of death and life is the distinction continually made between the body and the soul. Man is regarded under a twofold aspect, as flesh and spirit, the one a temporal accompaniment and dependent medium, the other an immortal being in itself. The distinction is a fundamental one, and runs through nearly all philosophy and religion in their reference to man. In the Christian Scriptures it is not sharply drawn, with logical precision, nor always accurately maintained, but is loosely defined, with waving outlines, is often employed carelessly, and sometimes, if strictly taken, inconsistently. Let us first note a few examples of the distinction itself in the instructions of the Savior and of the different New Testament writers.
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit." "Fear not them which kill the body but are not able to kill the soul." "Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed." "He that soweth to his flesh shall reap corruption; he that soweth to the spirit shall reap life everlasting." "Being put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the spirit." "Knowing that I must shortly put off this tabernacle." "The body without the spirit is dead." It would be useless to accumulate examples. It is plain that these authors distinguish the body and the soul as two things conjoined for a season, the latter of which will continue to live when the other has mixed with the dust. The facts and phenomena of our being from which this distinction springs are so numerous and so influential, so profound and so obvious, that it is impossible they should escape the knowledge of any thinking person. Indeed, the distinction has found a recognition everywhere among men, from the ignorant savage, whose instincts and imagination shadow forth a dim world in which the impalpable images of the departed dwell, to the philosopher of piercing intellect and universal culture,
"Whose lore detects beneath our crumbling clay A soul, exiled, and journeying back to day."
"Labor not for the meat which perisheth," Jesus exhorts his followers, "but labor for the meat which endureth unto everlasting life." The body and the luxury that pampers it shall perish, but the spirit and the love that feeds it shall abide forever.
We now pass to examine some metaphorical terms often erroneously interpreted as conveying merely their literal force. Every one familiar with the language of the New Testament must remember how repeatedly the body and the soul, or the flesh and the spirit, are set in direct opposition to each other, sin being referred to the former, righteousness to the latter. "I know that in my flesh there is no good thing; but with my mind I delight in the law of God." "The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit lusteth against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other." All this language and it is extensively used in the epistles is quite generally understood in a fixed, literal sense; whereas it was employed by its authors in a fluctuating, figurative sense, as the critical student can hardly help perceiving. We will state the real substance of Christian teaching and phraseology on this point in two general formulas, and then proceed to illustrate them. First, both the body and the soul may be corrupt, lawless, empty of Divine belief, full of restlessness and suffering, in a state of moral death; or both may be pure, obedient, acceptable in the sight of God, full of faith, peace, and joy, in a state of genuine life. Secondly, whatever tends in any way to the former result to make man guilty, feeble, and wretched, to deaden his spiritual sensibilities, to keep him from union with God and from immortal reliances is variously personified as "the Flesh," "Sin," "Death," "Mammon," "the World," "the Law of the Members," "the Law of Sin and Death;" whatever, on the contrary, tends in any way to the latter result to purify man, to intensify his moral powers, to exalt and quicken his consciousness in the assurance of the favor of God and of eternal being is personified as "the Spirit," "Life," "Righteousness," "the Law of God," "the Law of the Inward Man," "Christ," "the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ." Under the first class of terms are included all the temptations and agencies by which man is led to sin, and the results of misery they effect; under the second class are included all the aspirations and influences by which he is led to righteousness, and the results of happiness they insure. For example, it is written, in the Epistle to the Galatians, that "the manifest works of the flesh are excessive sensuality, idolatry, hatred, emulations, quarrels, heresies, murders, and such like." Certainly some of these evils are more closely connected with the mind than with the body. The term "flesh" is obviously used in a sense coextensive with the tendencies and means by which we are exposed to guilt and degradation. These personifications, it will therefore be seen, are employed with general rhetorical looseness, not with definite logical exactness.
It is self evident that the mind is the actual agent and author of all sins and virtues, and that the body in itself is unconscious, irresponsible, incapable of guilt. "Every sin that man doeth is without the body." In illustration of this point Chrysostom says, "If a tyrant or robber were to seize some royal mansion, it would not be the fault of the house." And how greatly they err who think that any of the New Testament writers mean to represent the flesh as necessarily sinful and the spirit as always pure, the following cases to the contrary from Paul, whose speech seems most to lean that way, will abundantly show. "Glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are his." "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?" "Yield not your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but as instruments of righteousness unto God." "That the life of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh." "Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God." It is clear that the author of these sentences did not regard the body, or literal flesh, as necessarily unholy, but as capable of being used by the man himself in fulfilling the will of God. Texts that appear to contradict this must be held as figures, or as impassioned rhetorical exclamations. We also read of "the lusts of the mind," the "fleshly mind," "filthiness of the spirit," "seducing spirits," "corrupt minds," "mind and conscience defiled," "reprobate mind," showing plainly that the spirit was sometimes regarded as guilty and morally dead. The apostle writes, "I pray that your whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless." The scriptural declarations now cited teach explicitly that both the body and the soul may be subjected to the perfect law of God, or that both may abide in rebellion and wickedness, the latter state being called, metaphorically, "walking after the flesh," the former "walking after the spirit," that being sin and death, this being righteousness and life.
An explanation of the origin of these metaphors will cast further light upon the subject. The use of a portion of them arose from the fact that many of the most easily besetting and pernicious vices, conditions and allurements of sin, defilements and clogs of the spirit, come through the body, which, while it is itself evidently fated to perish, does by its earthly solicitations entice, contaminate, and debase the soul that by itself is invited to better things and seems destined to immortality. Not that these evils originate in the body, of course, all the doings of a man spring from the spirit of man which is in him, but that the body is the occasion and the aggravating medium of their manifestation. This thought is not contradicted, it is only omitted, in the words of Peter: "I beseech you, as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul." For such language would be spontaneously suggested by the fact that to be in bondage to the baser nature is hostile alike to spiritual dignity and peace, and to physical health and strength. The principles of the moral nature are at war with the passions of the animal nature; the goading vices of the mind are at war with the organic harmonies of the body; and on the issues of these conflicts hang all the interests of life and death, in every sense the words can be made to bear.
Another reason for the use of these figures of speech, undoubtedly, was the philosophy of the ineradicable hostility of matter and spirit, the doctrine, so prevalent in the East from the earliest times, that matter is wholly corrupt and evil, the essential root and source of all vileness. An old, unknown Greek poet embodies the very soul of this faith in a few verses which we find in the Anthology. Literally rendered, they run thus:
"The body is the torment, hell, fate, load, tyrant, Dreadful pest, and punishing trial, of the soul Which, when it quits the body, flies, as from the bonds Of death, to immortal God."
It was this idea that produced the wild asceticism prevalent in the Christian Church during the Middle Age and previously, the fearful macerations, scourgings, crucifixions of the flesh. It should be understood that, though some of the phraseology of the Scriptures is tinged by the influence of this doctrine, the doctrine itself is foreign to Christianity. Christ came eating and drinking, not abjuring nature, but adopting its teachings, viewing it as a Divine work through which the providence of God is displayed and his glory gleams. He was no more of a Pharisee than nature is. As corn grows on the Sabbath, so it may be plucked and eaten on the Sabbath. The apostles never recommend self inflicted torments. The ascetic expressions found in their letters grew directly out of the perils besetting them and their expectation of the speedy end of the world. Christianity, rightly understood, renders even the body of a good man sacred and precious, through the indwelling of the Infinite. "We have this treasure in earthen vessels," and the poor, dying tenement of flesh is hallowed as "A vase of earth, a trembling clod, Constrain'd to hold the breath of God."
The chief secret, however, of the origin of the peculiar phrases under consideration consisted in their striking fitness to the nature and facts of the case, their adaptedness to express these facts in a bold and vivid manner. The revelation of the transcendent claims of holiness, of the pardoning love of God, of the splendid boon of immortality, made by Christ and enforced by the miraculous sanctions and the kindling motives presented in his example, thrilled the souls of the first converts, shamed them of their degrading sins, opened before their imaginations a vision that paled the glories of the world, and regenerated them, stirring up the depths of their religious sensibilities, and flooding their whole being with a warmth, an energy, a spirituality, that made their previous experience seem a gross carnal slumber, a virtual death. "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins." They were animated and raised to a new, pure, glad life, through the feeling of the hopes and the practice of the virtues of the gospel of Christ. Unto those who "were formerly in the flesh, the servants of sin, bringing forth fruit unto death," but now obeying the new form of doctrine delivered unto them, with renewed hearts and changed conduct, it is written, "If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness;" that is, If Christian truth reign in you, the body may still be tormented, or powerless, owing to your previous bad habits; but the soul will be redeemed from its abandonment to error and vice, and be assured of pardon and immortal life by the witnessing spirit of God.
The apostle likewise says unto them, "If the Spirit of God dwell in you, it shall also quicken your mortal bodies." This remarkable expression was meant to convey a thought which the observation of common facts approves and explains. If the love of the pure principles of the gospel was established in them, their bodies, debilitated and deadened by former abandonment to their lusts, should be freed and reanimated by its influence. The body to a great extent reflects the permanent mind and life of a man. It is an aphorism of Solomon that "a sound heart is the life of the flesh." And Plotinus declares, "Temperance and justice are the saviors of the body so far as they are received by it." Deficiency of thought and knowledge, laziness of spirit, animality of habits, betray themselves plainly enough in the state and expression of the physical frame: they render it coarse, dim, and insensible; the person verges towards the condition of a clod; spiritual things are clouded, the beacon fire of his destiny wanes, the possibilities of Christian faith lessen, "the external and the insensate creep in on his organized clay," he feels the chain of the brute earth more and more, and finally gives himself up to utter death. On the other hand, the assimilation of Divine truth and goodness by a man, the cherishing love of all high duties and aspirations, exert a purifying, energizing power both on the flesh and the mind, animate and strengthen them, like a heavenly flame burn away the defiling entanglements and spiritual fogs that fill and hang around the wicked and sensual, increasingly pervade his consciousness with an inspired force and freedom, illuminate his face, touch the magnetic springs of health and healthful sympathy, make him completely alive, and bring him into living connection with the Omnipresent Life, so that he perceives the full testimony that he shall never die. For, when brought into such a state by the experience of live spirits in live frames, "We feel through all this fleshly dresse Bright shootes of everlastingnesse."