The Soul's Resurrection

Eph. 2:1.---' And you [lit. 'you too,'] did he quicken.'

'And you, too'---such is the meaning of the Greek phrase. To get the connection we have to skip back over the ecstatic digression into which Paul is led by his thought of the risen and enthroned Lord and to pick up the thread of the argument at the twentieth verse of the previous chapter. There the writer is speaking of the power which raised Jesus from the dead; and the idea persists through the digression and emerges again here. The power which raised Jesus from the dead is also the power which raises men from the death of sin.

'And you, too . . .'. This is no mere analogy, as though the Resurrection of Jesus were only a type or illustration of what God does for men's souls. It is another characteristic manifestation of the same power, which quickens into life in whatever sphere it acts. The God with whom we have to do is a God of resurrections. That is His peculiar quality.

At first sight it does not appear as though there were a real parity between the case of Jesus and that of the soul. Jesus was raised from actual physical death; but to speak of death in relation to the ingenerate soul is surely only a figure of speech. St. Paul uses the word 'dead' bluntly and without qualification. He does not mince matters, and he was really transcribing his own experience. He remembered what he had been; he knew what he had become; and the only sufficient way of describing the difference was by saying that once he was dead and now he was alive. Men who fear being buried alive often insert in their wills a provision that their dead bodies shall be subjected to certain tests before interment. They prescribe the application of certain stimuli; and if the body does not react to these, then it is known to be truly dead. That is how death is known---it is a condition in which the body has ceased to react to the ordinary stimuli of life; and when Paul describes the state of the unregenerate soul as death, he means that it is insensible to what he had come to know to be the true stimuli of real life.

And, properly understood, the resurrection of a dead soul is no smaller marvel than the Resurrection of Jesus. It does at least require the exercise of the same power to accomplish it. It belongs to the same cycle of miracle. Easter in the soul is as Divine a work as Easter in Joseph's garden. It seems a curious anomaly that men should doubt the Resurrection when they may see around them at any time a succession of no less authentic resurrection in the conversion of men. That men's lives should be turned upside down so that they come to hate the things they loved, and to love what once they hated, is a phenomenon not to be explained by the subtlety of psychological analysis. It would be a thing by itself, if we did not know what happened in a garden tomb on an Easter morning. That is the class to which it belongs. The characteristic process of Nature may be creative evolution; the primary process of grace is creative revolution.

Nor is this miracle of resurrection performed once for all; He who raised us from the dead is continually raising us. It is one of the astonishing attributes of the Christian life that it is amenable to endless renewal; and it is well for us that it is so. The life of the Christian is not a steady ascent; it is---if it could be reduced to a graph---more like an average barometric chart, a thing of ups and downs. The saints and geniuses of the spiritual life have a great deal to say about what some of the call "dry seasons." All alike they tell us of periods in which God's face seemed to be withdrawn from them, when their spirits were arid and sterile, their spiritual impulses flickering and uncertain, when they had lost all sensitiveness to the normal stimuli of the spiritual life. For these times of depression there are many reasons---partly within us, partly without. They vary in intensity and in duration; and none of us ever escapes them. Not the saintliest soul has ever remained unbroken; the best of us make not infrequent and always unwelcome excursions into the valleys of twilight and despondency. But there is one thing which is universally true concerning the "dry season"---it always comes to an end. Easter comes round again to the soul; and the dark clouds disappear. New hope, new joy, new triumph, come to it---as it stands renewed and transfigured in the vivifying light of grace. And surely this is what we should expect, since the God we trust is a God of resurrection.

And even when the soul's declension has been voluntary, it is still within the range of this renovating grace if it but return to God; and in some ways the backslider's welcome is the most amazing turn in the workings of God's love. That one who of his own choice has put his light out should be permitted to rekindle it, no, should be invited to rekindle it in the flame that he had spurned is surely the supreme triumph of mercy. But the genius of God's love is that it will not let us go, and God is ready, even longs, to exercise His power of renewal on any object that comes within its reach. Renewal is the joy of God.

In Christ. timothy. maranatha