Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked him,…
I. WE WILL CONSIDER IT AS AN ARGUMENT AD HOMINEM, AND SHEW THE FITNESS AND FORCE OF IT TO CONVINCE THOSE WITH WHOM OUR SAVIOUR DISPUTED.
1. We will consider what our Saviour intended directly and immediately to prove by this argument. And that was this, That there is another state after this life, wherein men shall be happy or miserable according as they have lived in this world. And this doth not only suppose the immortality of the soul, but forasmuch as the body is an essential part of man, doth, by consequence, infer the resurrection of the body; because, otherwise, the man would not be happy or miserable in another world.
2. The force of this argument, against those with whom our Saviour disputed, will further appear, if we consider the great veneration which the Jews in general had for the writings of Moses above any other books of the Old Testament, which they (especially the Sadducees) looked upon only as explications and comments upon the law of Moses; but they esteemed nothing as a necessary article of faith, which had not some foundation in the writings of Moses. And this seems to me to be the true reason why our Saviour chose to confute them out of Moses, rather than any other part of the Old Testament.
3. If we consider further the peculiar notion which the Jews had concerning the use of this phrase or expression, of God's being any one's God. And that was this" that God is nowhere in Scripture said to be any one's God while he was alive. And, therefore, they tell us, that while Isaac lived, God is not called the God of Isaac, but the "fear of Isaac." I will not warrant this observation to be good, because I certainly know it is not true. For God doth expressly call Himself "the God of Isaac," while Isaac was yet alive (Genesis 28:10): "I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac." It is sufficient to my purpose that this was a notion anciently current among the Jews. And therefore our Saviour's argument from this expression must be so much the stronger against them: for if the souls of men be extinguished by death (as the Sadducees believed) what did it signify to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to have God called their God, after they were dead?
4. The great respect which the Jews had for these three fathers of their nation, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They, who had so superstitious a veneration for them, would easily believe anything of privilege to belong to them: so that our Saviour doth with great advantage instance in them, in favour of whom they would be inclined to extend the meaning of any promise to the utmost, and allow it to signify as much as the words could possibly bear. So that it is no wonder that the text tells us, that this argument put the Sadducees to silence. They durst not attempt a thing so odious, as to go about to take away anything of privilege from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
II. ENQUIRE WHETHER IT BE MORE THAN AN ARGUMENT AD HOMINEM. The following considerations would appear to indicate that our Lord really meant the matter to be regarded as settled fact.
1. If we consider that for God to be any one's God doth signify some very extraordinary blessing and happiness to those persons of whom this is said. It is a big word for God to declare Himself to be any one's God; and the least we can imagine to be meant by it, is that God will, in an extraordinary manner, employ His power and wisdom to do him good: that He will concern Himself more for the happiness of those whose God He declares Himself to be, than for others.
2. If we consider the eminent faith and obedience of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Abraham left his country in obedience to God, not knowing whither he was to go. And, which is one of the most unparalleled and strange instances of faith and obedience that can be almost imagined, he was willing to have sacrificed his only son at the command of God. Isaac and Jacob were also very good men, and devout worshippers of the true God, when almost the whole world was sunk into idolatry and all manner of impiety. Now what can we imagine, but that the good God did design some extraordinary reward to such faithful servants of His? especially if we consider, that He intended this gracious declaration of His concerning them, for a standing encouragement to all those who, in after ages, should follow the faith, and tread in the steps of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
3. If we consider the condition of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in this world. The Scripture tells us, that "they were pilgrims and strangers upon the earth," had no fixed and settled habitation, but were forced to wander from one kingdom and country to another; that they were exposed to many hazards and difficulties, to great troubles and afflictions in this world; so that there was no such peculiar happiness befel them, in this life, above the common rate of men, as may seem to fill up the big words of this promise, that God would be their God.
4. Then, we will consider the general importance of this promise, abstracting from the particular persons specified and named in it, viz., Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and that is, that God will make a wide and plain difference between good and bad men; He will be so the God of good men as He is not of the wicked: and some time or other put every good man into a better and happier condition than any wicked man: so that the general importance of this promise is finally resolved into the equity and justice of the Divine Providence.And now having, I hope, sufficiently cleared this matter, I shall make some improvement of this doctrine of a future state, and that to these three purposes.
1. To raise our minds above this world, and the enjoyments of this present life.
2. The consideration of another life should quicken our preparation for that blessed state which remains for us in the other world.
3. Let the consideration of that unspeakable reward which God hath promised to good men at the resurrection, encourage us to obedience and a holy life. We serve a great Prince who is able to promote us to honour; a most gracious Master who will not let the least service we do for Him pass unrewarded. This is the inference which the apostle makes from his large discourse of the doctrine of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:58). Nothing will make death more welcome to us, than a constant course of service and obedience to God. "Sleep (saith Solomon) is sweet to the labouring man": so after a great diligence and industry in " working out our own salvation," and (as it is said of David) "serving our generation according to the will of God," how pleasant will it be to fall asleep! And, as an useful and well-spent life will make our death to be sweet, so our resurrection to be glorious.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked him,