Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.
I. Consider some of the grounds for believing that the soul of man is immortal. (1) The main current of human opinion sets strongly and steadily towards belief in immortality. (2) The master-minds have been strongest in their affirmation of it. (3) The longing of the soul for life and its horror at the thought of extinction. There must be correlation between desire and fulfilment. (4) The action of the mind in thought begets a sense of continuous life. All things are linked together, and the chain stretches either way into infinity. It is unreasonable to suppose that we are admitted to this infinite feast only to be thrust away before we have well tasted it. (5) A parallel argument is found in the nature of love. It cannot tolerate the thought of its own end. Love has but one symbol—For ever! its logic is, There is no death. (6) There are in man latent powers, and others half revealed, for which human life offers no adequate explanation. There is within us a strange sense of expectancy. A Divine discontent is wrought into us—Divine because it attends our highest faculties. (7) The imagination carries with it a plain intimation of a larger sphere than the present. The same course of thought applies to the moral nature.
II. If we turn from human nature to the Divine nature, we shall find a like, but immeasurably clearer, group of intimations. (1) Without immortality there is failure in the higher purposes of God respecting the race; God's ends are indicated, but not reached. (2) The fact that justice is not done upon the earth involves us in the same conclusion. (3) Man is less perfect than the rest of creation, and, relatively to himself, is less perfect in his higher than in his lower faculties. (4) As love is the strongest proof of immortality on the manward side of the argument, so is it on the Godward side. Divine, as well as human, love has but one symbol in language—For ever!
T. T. Munger, The Freedom of Faith, p. 237.
There is no distinct answer to be had to this question apart from God's word. The inquiry may be presented as a twofold one: Is the soul immortal? Will the body be raised again?
I. As to the immortality of the soul, revelation alone can give a satisfactory answer. We may reason from the mind's faculties, we may talk of its powers, and we may know the analogies that abound in nature. Still the doubt comes back again—a doubt so strong that it never dispelled the fears of antiquity. In Holy Writ alone we find that man is immortal, and that the breath which the eternal Jehovah breathed into man shall last as long as eternity.
II. In answering the second question, too, we must appeal to the declarations of Holy Writ, for if it occur, it is beyond the power of nature, and must be by supernatural power, and hence God alone can give the answer whether or not a resurrection of the dead can take place. In the New Testament the resurrection of the body is not only explicitly declared, but the doctrine of it is recognised as being the foundation of Christian faith. It is also made clear to our comprehension by the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
III. The Christian faith stands on the word of God. But while we rest it there, there are analogies in nature to help our minds, and, if possible, to impress more clearly this doctrine upon us. There is the sleep of winter, the reawakening in spring. There are the strange transformations in animal life, which, though analogies, are not proofs, for even these creatures shall die and be no more. They are not proofs, but they are illustrations of what almighty power can do.
IV. Without the resurrection God's plan would be incomplete. If death were to reign, there would be no need of resurrection, but Christ was revealed "to destroy the works of the devil;" He became life to man; He became the second Adam to restore us. There needs to be a reunion, in order that the triumph through Christ shall be complete. Christ came to be a perfect Conqueror, to make no compromise with the enemy, to release man from under the curse of the Law, and as such He restores the soul to fellowship with God here, and by-and-bye He will call to the grave, and it shall give up its prey.
Bishop Matthew Simpson, Sermons, p. 331.
References: Job 14:14.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vi., No. 432, and vol. xiii., No. 764; Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 127; R. D. B. Rawnsley, Sermons in Country Churches, 2nd series, p. 208.
Job 14:14-15It was one of the accurate adjustments of God's dealings that the man whose body was the most humiliated by suffering of all mankind was also the man who of all the Old Testament saints received the clearest revelation of the body's future beauty and loftiness.
I. Job considered that even in its intermediate state the body would be precious to God. "Thou wilt have a desire to the work of Thine hands." Of that separate state we know but little. (1) That it will be a state of consciousness is evident, both from universal instinct and from the nature of spirit. Spirit can only exist in motion, and therefore the ancients called spirit perpetual motion. It is evident also from the general necessity that a creature once made to glorify God can never cease to glorify Him. (2) In the intermediate state the spirit must be happy. How can it be conscious and with Christ, and not happy? So that our Saviour doubly proves it when He says, "To-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise."
II. Consider that broad foundation thought on which the patriarchs rested for everything, having the resurrection as its base, "Thou wilt have a desire to the work of Thine hands." It is upon this principle that we at once see the unspeakable comfort there is in the full, simple recognition of the doctrines of grace. Once let any part of the work of grace have man in it, and in the same degree it has uncertainty in it. Man does not return to his own designs. Man does not finish his own work. But God does. If therefore the beginnings are entirely God's, "the ends" are perfectly sure.
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 10th series, p. 265.
Reference: Job 14:15.—H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 2161.
Job 14:19I. As "the waters wear the stones," they teach us a lesson of perseverance. They write upon the rocks a parable of patient diligence. There are some things which must be done at a stroke, on the spur of the moment, or the opportunity is gone for ever. But the eye to see what is to be done, the skill to aim the stroke, the strength to give it, the coolness and courage to be as steady and self-possessed at the moment as if you had plenty of time to spare—these can come only by slow, patient, persevering work, like that with which "the waters wear the stones."
II. The waters as they wear the stones may teach us a parable of life. They may remind us what little things may in time do great mischief. Not a few homes could be found in which it would pay to have this motto put up in golden letters, if only everybody would learn its lessons. They seem to lack nothing that is needed for a happy home. What is amiss? Only this, that no one has learned how much both the happiness and the unhappiness of life depend on little things. Little opportunities for a kind action, a kind word, a kind look, slip by continually. And so, because life is mostly made up of little things, the happiness of home is bit by bit destroyed, even as "the waters wear the stones."
III. The water-worn rock teaches us another parable—a parable of character. Our character depends chiefly on the habits we form. There are good habits and bad habits. And how do these habits grow? Little by little, as "the waters wear the stones." The Bible speaks of a "stony heart"—that is, a heart hardened in sinful habits, in unbelief and forgetfulness of God. We cannot change the past, but God can forgive it. Tears of repentance cannot wash away one sin, but the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin.
E. R. Conder, Drops and Rocks, p. 1.
He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.
And dost thou open thine eyes upon such an one, and bringest me into judgment with thee?
Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.
Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;
Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day.
For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease.
Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground;
Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.
But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?
As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up:
So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.
O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!
If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.
Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.
For now thou numberest my steps: dost thou not watch over my sin?
My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity.
And surely the mountain falling cometh to nought, and the rock is removed out of his place.
The waters wear the stones: thou washest away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth; and thou destroyest the hope of man.
Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth: thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away.
His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.
But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn.