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iv. 2. The Sadducees, "being grieved that they" (the Apostles) "taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection, that from the dead.” την αναστασιν την εκ νεκρών. Here again a speciality is implied. It was the Gospel which the Apostles were especially commissioned to proclaim; one part of which was the glad tidings of a resurrection from the dead, a special privilege to those in Jesus Christ. If it should be contended that it is the general resurrection which the Apostles are here said to have preached, we reply, in the first place, That a general resurrection was not a peculiarity of the Gospel; it was generally believed by far the greater number of the Jews before Christ's coming; for the Sadducees, who denied it, were comparatively a small sect: And in the second place, we maintain that the double article in the original precludes the possibility of such an application. The phrase, "the resurrection that of the dead," Tηy TV DEKOWY, is one which never occurs in Scripture, or which would be manifestly inaccurate.
The next passage is Acts xvii. 30, 31: "He hath given assurance unto all, in that he hath raised him [Jesus] from the dead. And when they heard of the resurrection of dead [ones] avaσradiv vekpwv, some mocked." Here it was the seeming absurdity of any dead thing being raised to life that offended them the expression therefore is quite general, and there is a propriety in the omission of the article.
The next is Acts xxiii. 6: "But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee of the hope and resurrection of the dead, avaσraσiv vekρwv, I am called in question." Here St. Paul is speaking of his belief as a Pharisee, in opposition to that of the Sadducees. The point of controversy between them was, whether there was any resurrection at all. Hence the expres sion which he uses is quite general.
The next occasion on which the expression occurs is in St. Paul's memorable defence before Felix, Acts xxiv. 15, 21: "And have hope toward God, which they also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust." Here again he is speaking generally of the resurrection of all. As he was addressing an audience the greater part of whom were heathen or unconverted Jews, he warns them of a resurrection of the wicked, as well as of the righteous. The expression avaσтaσly ek veкρwy, "from the dead," would have αναστασιν εκ νεκρών, been manifestly inconclusive to his argument, and could not be substituted for that which he has used. It is worthy of remark also, that, the more to distinguish the resurrection of the just from that of the unjust, he uses the double copulative: dikawy TE
kai adikov: which rather more favours a separation between the two, than if he had written αδικαιων και αδικῶν.
In Rom. i. 4 we have the term applied to Christ: "Declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead,” εξ-αναστασεως νεκρων. And here we may observe, once for all, that wherever the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is named, a similar expression is used. We always have ε either simply or in composition preceding the genitive plural vεкρwv; implying, not merely a resurrection from the state of death, but from out of those that are dead-literally, from "dead ones."
The next passage we notice is 1 Cor. xv. 12, &c.: "If Christ be preached that he is raised from [the] dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of dead? But if there be no resurrection of dead, then is Christ not raised; and if Christ be not raised, 'our preaching is vain, and your faith also is vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ, whom he raised not up, if so be that dead are not raised for if dead are not raised, neither is Christ raised; and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then also they which have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ raised from the dead, a first-fruits of them that slept for since through man is death, through man also is a resurrection of dead; for as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own band: Christ a first-fruits; then they that are Christ's at his coming." Throughout this passage the resurrection of Christ is said to be, ε vɛкρwy, "from out of dead ones." The other term, avaσraσis vɛkρWV, and not τwv vɛкρwv, is used exclusively neither of the resurrection of the saints nor of the general resurrection, but of the doctrine of the resurrection in the abstract. This the Apostle's argument seems absolutely to require. For the fact of a resurrection at some future time cannot be adduced as a proof that Christ is already risen, which would be no argument at all. Nor, on the other hand, if it could be shewn that there will be no such resurrection, would that be a proof that Christ is not risen; for it is at least within the verge of possibilities that he should be the only one raised. The Corinthians seem to have been staggered by the unreasonableness and supposed impossibility of a resurrection of the body. The Apostle assumes the fact of Christ's resurrection: and hence argues, first the possibility, and then the certainty, of a resurrection of all. His argument may be put in a syllogistic form :
1. Christ was raised from the dead. 2. Christ had a body.
3. Therefore a body may be raised from the dead. Therefore there is no absurdity or impossibility in the doctrine of the resurrection of dead.
The next passage which occurs, is one in which our translators are inaccurate. It is the only place in which they have not preserved the distinction which we are contending for. We allude to Phil. iii. 11: "If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." E. T. It ought to have been rendered "FROM the dead." The original is εις την εξαναστασιν των VEKOV. St. Paul expresses his desire to attain, not to the general resurrection, of which all were to be partakers, and which he certainly would have attained to without any effort at all, but he desires to have a share in the special blessing of the life-resurrection. He presses forward, straining every nerve, if by any means he might attain to this peculiar privilege of the saints. Here, therefore, avaσтaσiç тwy vɛкow, the "resurrection of the dead," would not have expressed the Apostle's meaning, and could not be substituted for the words which he has adopted.
The last passage we have to notice, is Heb. vi. 2: "Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, and of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment." Here it is the general doctrine of a resurrection, one with which the Jews were perfectly familiar, and not that of the resurrection of the saints, which the Apostle enumerates amongst the subjects which he was going to leave. The propriety of the expression is also shewn by its being immediately followed by "eternal judg
These are all the places in the New Testament in which either of the expressions "resurrection from the dead," or "resurrection of the dead," occurs; and in no instance do we find that they are confounded by the inspired writers; and in no instance could one expression be substituted for another, without destroying, or at least injuring, the sense. Are we then to suppose that such use of them is merely accidental? If the terms are, as most modern commentators expound them, strictly synonymous, and both express the same thing, how are we to account for the fact of the distinction above noticed holding through all the passages in which they are used? How does it come to pass that the use of them invariably supports the doctrine of two resurrections? To us this appears the strongest presumptive evidence in favour of the doctrine that the case will admit of.
But we are prepared to go a step further, and maintain, that the phrase η αναστασις εκ των νεκρων, Οι εκ νεκρων, from its usage in the New Testament, can mean nothing else than the resur
rection of a part of the dead, leaving another part unraised. The only method by which resurrection from the dead can be understood to mean the resurrection of all the dead, is by supposing that "the dead" is put for "the state of the dead." But in that case the expression in the original would have been different: αναστασις εκ των νεκρων, or εκ νεκρων, is literally, a surrection from dead bodies," and cannot by any ingenuity be rendered a resurrection from the state of the dead.
Thus, then, we find ample testimony for the doctrine of two resurrections, without having recourse to the passage in the Apocalypse. We do not indeed discover, in the preceding inquiry, what period of time is to intervene between the two; but as the life-resurrection is set before the children of God as the great object of attainment, and as a blessing belonging exclusively to them, we may at least infer, that it is in itself separated by great distinctions, and probably by long distance of time, from that of the wicked. On the contrary, the general resurrection, according to the common view of it, is an event in which all mankind are equally implicated, and of no special or peculiar interest to the people of God.
Having gained thus much, then, from other Scriptures, we come to the examination of the Apocalypse; and there we find the two resurrections revealed in the most explicit terms. Rev. xx. 4, 5: "I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them; and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again, until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection."-Now, we appeal to the candour and honesty of every sincere inquirer into Divine truth, whether there is any reason for our resorting to a figu rative interpretation of this passage? Our best and most judicious divines have always held, that the literal interpretation of Scripture is never to be departed from, except where absolute necessity requires. "I hold it," says Hooker, "for a most infallible rule in expositions of sacred Scripture, that where a literal construction will stand, the furthest from the letter is commonly the worst." (Ecc. Pol. b. v. §. 59.) "No trope or metaphor in Scripture," says Luther, "save where the figureless interpretation involves a palpable contradiction." Following the safe and wise counsel of these divines, what ground have we in this case for figurative interpretation? So far from there being any difficulty in reconciling its literal meaning with other Scriptures, we find it most consistent with all the passages in which the subject is mentioned: so far from its involving a " palpable
contradiction," in no one instance does it involve the slightest discrepancy. Is it not, then, the most unjustifiable tampering with God's holy word, to alter its plain literal sense, because it is above our reason to conceive the mode of its accomplishment, and because it appears inconsistent with some of our preconceived notions? On the same ground many of the most indubitable facts in sacred history, facts upon which all our hopes and dependence are built, might be explained away. There are insuperable difficulties to reason in the birth of Jesus of a pure virgin; in the crucifixion of the person of the Godman; in his resurrection; in the descent of the Holy Ghost; and many other events, on which the whole scheme of salvation depends.
We fear that many of our spiritualizers are altogether unconscious of the tendency of their own system of interpretation. When once we admit this licence of trope or figure wherever the seeming difficulties of the passage to our comprehension may appear to require it, we relinquish the only strong-hold in which we can maintain ourselves against the sceptic and the infidel. We cannot, in fairness, refuse to an adversary the licence which we freely use ourselves; and the unbeliever will not fail to avail himself of it, in order to fritter away by some figurative application all those doctrines on which we build our faith and hope for eternity. It is a most wise remark of Bishop Newton on the passage in question, "If the martyrs rise only in a spiritual sense, then the rest of the dead rise only in a spiritual sense; but if the rest of the dead really rise, the martyrs rise in the same manner. There is no difference between them; and we should be cautious and tender of making the first resurrection an allegory, lest others should reduce the second into an allegory too: like those whom St. Paul mentions, 2 Tim. ii. 17, 18; Hymeneus and Philetus, who concerning the truth have erred, saying, The resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some."-Mede also has a passage to the same effect: "I cannot be persuaded to forsake the proper and usual import of Scripture language, where neither the insinuation of the text itself, nor manifest tokens of allegory, nor the necessity and nature of the things spoken of (which will bear no other sense), do warrant it. For to do so were to lose all footing of Divine testimony, and, instead of Scripture, to believe mine own imaginations. Now, the xxth of the Apocalypse, of all the narrations of that book, seems to be the most plain and simple; most free of allegory, and of the involution of prophetical figures; only here and there sprinkled with such metaphors as the use of speech makes equipollent to vulgar expressions; or the former narrations in that book had made to be as words personal, or proper names are in the plainest histories; as old serpent, beast,