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“ them that flept. Every man in his own order : “ Christ the first fruits ; afterwards they who are “ Christ's at his coming.” He abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light.
The resurrection of the body was wholly unknown to the heathen: It is declared but in a few passages of the Jewish scriptures, and but obfcurely in fome of these. By the first Adam came death; by the second, the resurrection from the dead. He is able to quicken the mortal bodies of those who sleep in him. They “ have borne the image of the earthly, and shall allo “ bear the image of the heavenly. It does not yet ap
pear” what this means. But while they abode in the flesh; their “ conversation was in heaven, from * whence also they looked for the Saviour, the Lord “ Jesus Christ; who shall change their vile body, that “ it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, ac“ cording to the mighty working, whereby he is able
even to subdue all things to himself.” In this hope, they sleep in him, waiting for the redemption of the body.The Lord Jesus will come to be admired and
glorified in all them that believe.”
From the 15th verse of the context we learn, that those who shall be “ alive at the coming of the Lord, “ shall not prevent them that sleep.” The next verse explains this : The dead in Christ shall rise forst. “ Then
they who are alive shall be caught up with” the raif. ed saints, “ to meet the Lord in the air. We shall not “ all deep,” says the same apostle ; " but we shall all be “ changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, “ at the last trump; and the dead shall be raised incor
ruptible.” The mortal bodies of the living saints will, at the appointed time, be instantly changed, and put on immortality.
Do you enquire, What body will the faints affume at the coming of the Lord? We can answer you only in the words of our apostle : “ It is sown in corrup“ tion, it is raised in incorruption : It is sown in dif“ honour, it is raised in glory : It is fown in weakness, “ it is raised in power : It is fown a natural body, it “ is raised a spiritual body.”
St. Peter exhorts believers, “ Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end, for the
grace that is to be brought unto you at the revela“ tion of Jesus Chrift.” St. Paul, speaking of this grace, describes it as a crown of righteousness, which the Redeemer, on his throne of judgment, shall affign, “ at that day unto all them who love his appearing.” That day will be the manifestation of the fons of God their deliverance from the bondage of corruption into glorious liberty. The second death hath no power over them. How changed at the resurrection! What great alterations of the body of fin and death are necessary to fit it for the residence of a spirit no longer subject unto fin?
Whatever the blessedness of believers, as soon as they sleep in Jesus, and during the separate state of existence, additional perfection and glory await them when they shall rise in his image. “When his glory “ shall be revealed, they shall appear with him in glo
ry. The children of the resurrection are as the an.
gels of God in heaven.” What new sources of information! what extended capacities of enjoyment and improvement, when associated with angelic hofts, who never revolted-united in worship-afsimilated in holiness and bliss ! “ To him that overcometh, will " I grant to sit with me in my throne. The Lord, “ the righteous Judge, will, at that day, give a crown « of righteousness unto all them that love his appear" ing; and they shall reign as kings for ever and ever.” The redeemed from among men, with thousands of thousands of angels, have one heart. Their worship is one: It hath no languor or intermiffion. Perfect love cafts out fear, exempts from all doubts, and makes the bliss of each the bliss of all. In the presence and enjoyment of Him“ who only hath immor
*« tality, who dwelleth in the light unto which no “ man can approach, whom no man hath seen or can “ see, there is fulness of joy. There is no night there, unor any need of the fun. The glory of God and is the Lamb is the light of” that world. « There is « a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, pro
ceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb. " There is the tree of life, bearing twelve manner of “ fruit, and yielding her fruit every month ; and the “ leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” But who can speak of these things worthily? Were we to dwell on the subject, we could speak only as children. It satisfies the Christian, that he knows whom he hath believed; and is persuaded that he is able to keep what is committed to him. Hope unto the end for the expected grace at the revelation of Jesus Christ, who endured the cross for our fakes. Therefore " God raised him from the dead, and gave s him glory, that our faith and hope might be in God" through him: “ Which hope we have as an anchor to " the foul, fure and stedfast; and which entereth into " that within the vail ; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus."
The heathen, entirely ignorant of the doctrine of the resurrection, and in great darkness with respect to the immortality of the foul, were without God, and without hope. They sorrowed for deceased friends, as though death had blotted them from existence. Even the wiser and better part of the pagans had many doubts as to any future existence. Those whose minds preponderated in the belief of the soul's immortality, seem to have limited it to a few great and good men. Or if they spake of the future existence of the generality of mankind, they assigned them a transmigration into various kinds of animals, and thus brutalized the rational nature. This confufion and uncertainty respecting a future life accounts for their wild lamentation over the dead-making themselves bald-cutting themselves with lancets-ascending the funeral pilementombing the living with the dead-embalming, &c. Some, with philofophic apathy, resigned themselves to their fate, affecting a total indifference to the forrows, miseries and enjoyments of life, and to its cloting scene. The desire of fame after death proved an incentive to some laudable deeds. How precarious are fuch motives ? how vain such pretences ?
The Christian, with clear and inconteftible proof of eternal retributions, looks for the blessed hope, and endures to the end of life, whatever its croffes. His work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope bear witness to his superior principles, motives and maxims of conduct. Affliction is not joyous, but grievous. At the same time,“ the work of righteoul“ ness is peace; and the effect of righteousness is quiet“ ness and assurance forever.” He believes that all pain, forrow, darkness and temptation will be succeeded by eternal rest, joy, light, and exemption from fin and temptation. He believes that his friends, who sleep in Jesus, are now reaping the harvest of their labours and sufferings—that in a little time he shall be with them, never to be separated, in the world of endless joy. What abundant confolation does his faith yield him concerning pious friends removed from him, never to return? They are not dead, but feep-fleep in Jesus, who is the resurrection and the life. The believer in Jesus is not at the mercy of chance or fatality: He is in the hands of an all-wise, powerful, holy and merciful God, the rewarder of them who diligently seek him—a God who will not suffer him to be tempted above that he is able. The gospel of Christ, elevating our prospects above earth and time, teaches to rejoice as though we rejoiced not, and to weep as though we wept not-to let our moderation be known ; because the Lord is at hand : It recommends a life of faith,
hope and charity; of acquiescence in the will of our heavenly Father, whose good pleasure it is to give the kingdom to all of this character. “If ye then be risen “ with Christ, seek those things which are above, “ where Christ is at the right hand of God. Set your “ affection on things above, not on things on the earth. “ For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in
' 6 God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, " then shall
with him in glory." The gospel is the charter of all our privileges and hopes as fallen creatures. The counsel of peace there- . in revealed is immutable as the promise and oath of the God of truth-immutable as Jesus Christ, “ the “ faithful and true witness, the same yesterday, to-day, « and forever.” Compare the immortality brought to light by him, with the uncertainty and darkness, in which the heathen nations ever have been and are involved respecting a future ftate. We may be said to have received ten talents, and they but one. Had it not been for the light of the gospel, what would have prevented our embracing the doctrine of transmigration, or of annihilation? Either of these overcasts the mind with impenetrable gloom. The moral character and
government of God will eternally remain inexplicable, if these doctrines are true. We might as well worship the vanities of the pagans, as the only true and living God.
It belongs not to us to enquire why the idolatrous nations were, in times past, or now are, left to walk in
" We thank thee, O Father, Lord " of heaven and earth, that thou hast revealed unto “ us the things hid” from them—the redemption of the body—the immortality of soul and body in re-union ; and that, as a pledge of the glorious truth, Jesus died, revived and afcended; and is Lord of the living and the dead.
We have been also called out of the darkness of Romith superstition. Hence we do not embrace their
their own ways.