THE GENERAL RESURRECTION
Samuel Davies (1723-1761)
My brethren, realize the majesty and terror of this universal alarm. When the dead are sleeping in the silent grave; when the living are thoughtless and unapprehensive of the grand event or intent on other pursuits—some of them asleep in the dead of night, some of them dissolved in sensual pleasures: eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, some of them planning or executing schemes for riches or honors, some in the very act of sin—the generality stupid and careless about the concerns of eternity and the dreadful Day just at hand, and a few here and there conversing with their God and "looking for the glorious appearance of their Lord and Saviour" (Ti 2:14); when the course of nature runs on uniform and regular as usual and infidel scoffers are taking umbrage from thence to ask, "Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation" (2Pe 3:4)—in short, when there are no more visible appearances of this approaching Day than of the destruction of Sodom on that fine clear morning in which Lot fled away, or of the deluge, when Noah entered into the ark—then in that hour of unapprehensive security, then suddenly shall the heavens open over the astonished world; then shall the all alarming clangor break over their heads like a clap of thunder in a clear sky! Immediately the living turn their gazing eyes upon the amazing phenomenon: a few hear the long-expected sound with rapture and lift up their heads with joy, assured that the day of their redemption is come, while the thoughtless world is struck with the wild est horror and consternation.
In the same instant, the sound reaches all the mansions of the dead. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, they are raised and the living are changed! This call will be as animating to all the sons of men as that call to a single person, "Lazarus, come forth" (John 11:43). Oh, what a surprise will this be to a thoughtless world! Should this alarm burst over our heads this moment, into what a terror would it strike many!...Such will be the terror, such the consternation, when it actually comes to pass. Sinners will be the same timorous, self-condemned creatures then as they are now. Then, they who are deaf to all the gentler calls of the Gospel now will not be able to stop their ears. Then, the trump of God will constrain the—to whom the ministers of Christ now preach in vain—to hear and fear. Then they must all hear, for
MY TEXT TELLS YOU: ALL THAT ARE IN THE GRAVES, ALL WITHOUT EXCEPTION, SHALL HEAR HIS VOICE. Now the voice of mercy calls, reason pleads, conscience warns—but multitudes will not hear. But this is a voice that shall, that must reach every one of the millions of mankind, and not one of them will be able to stop his ears. Infants and giants, kings and subjects, all ranks, all ages of mankind shall hear the call. The living shall start and be changed, and the dead rise at the sound! The dust that was once alive and formed a human body, whether it flies in the air, floats in [the] ocean, or vegetates on earth, shall hear the new-creating fiat. Wherever the fragments of the hu man frame are scattered, this all-penetrating call shall reach and speak them into life. We may consider this voice as a summons, not only to dead bodies to rise, but to the souls that once animated them to appear and be reunited to them, whether in heaven or hell. To the grave, the call will be, "Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment!" To heaven, "Ye spirits of just men made perfect, descend to the world whence you originally came, and assume your new-formed bodies!" To hell, "Come forth and appear, ye damned ghosts, ye prisoners of darkness, and be again united to the bodies in which you once sinned, that in them ye may now suffer!" Thus will this summons spread through every corner of the universe. Heaven, earth, hell, and all their inhabitants shall hear and obey. Devils, as well as sinners of our race, will tremble at the sound: for now they know they can plead no more as they once did, "Torment us not before the time" (cf. Mat 8:29). For the time is come, and they must mingle with the prisoners at the bar.