Imatges de pÓgina
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alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. And St. Paul (1 Cor. xv. 36, and following verses) employs the same image to describe the nature of the resurrection: But some man will say, How are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come ? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die; but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him. And to assure us of our rising with essentially the same body, he adds, And to every seed its own body—that is, the good man shall have the body fitted for glory (his former body having been employed in godly works); the wicked shall have that same body, in which he committed all manner of wickedness, and capable, of course, of the punishment due to it. So the numberless signs of God's power in the works of returning nature, flowers and fruits, in their due season, instruct us how easily he can make those that are in the dust to awake, and return unto life.

But let us now inquire more closely, how this rising again from the dead is a privilege or peculiar benefit of those who are faithful members of Christ's church, since it is revealed, that all men shall be raised--all that are in the graves shall come forth. Of these several particulars the Scriptures do abundantly satisfy us; for, though it is true, that all men shall be raised at the last day, yet it shall not happen to all men in the same manner: the bodies of the

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faithful shall be raised in a most blessed and glorious state, which doubtless was the Apostle's meaning in 1 Cor. xv. 38, by saying, But to every seed its own body; which does not only prove what was just now advanced, as to the identity. or sameness of the body to be raised, but implies such a body as belongs to it in its new state, and as expressed in the 42d verse: It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body; that is, the bodies of the righteous shall be perfected in all their parts and qualities, shall be rendered an habitation fit for a redeemed and glorified soul to dwell in for evermore; in short, shall be prepared for endless happiness and, therefore, thus to rise, is surely a very great benefit, and a peculiar privilege of Christ's holy church. If you desire the positive words of Scripture in proof of this, look to Phil. iii. 21, where the Apostle assures us, that at the coming of the Lord Jesus, he shall change our vile bodies, that they may be like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself.-As he had once a body on earth, which is now purified and glorified in heaven, so also shall we, who are now corruptible, be made incorruptible: and, as the Prophet Daniel asserts, chap. xii. ver. 3, Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of the Father. They that be

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wise (i. e. holy, good) shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

And that all shall not be raised in the same manner, the state of the ungodly proves clearly; for, as the Apostle assures us, there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust; the bodies of the latter shall be truly restored to them, but in that state as to be capable of undergoing for ever those torments which God hath prepared for them. It cannot be in the same manner, because it will be to shame and misery. Nay (as I observed in my introduction of this subject), what will prove the blessing of the righteous, shall, to the wicked, be the means of increas ing their distress, and enlarging their punish

'ment.

Having now briefly shown you (my, brethren) the possibility of this object of our faith, from reason; the certainty of it from revelation; and the sufficiency of the arguments for our coming again with the same body we carry to the grave, as to such essential properties as may admit of the 'reward or punishment we are to receive; there remains only one point to be mentioned, and that of considerable conse-, quence, in order to complete this division of my Discourse; and, indeed, as it has in a manner

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been answered before, in a former Lecture upon the Creed, it therefore will require but a slight repetition at present. shall be raised; for we must

the judgment-seat of Christ.

All that ever died,

all appear before

But many will be

found at the last day alive upon earth: now, the question is, whether they shall die; for, if they do not, they of course cannot be truly said to rise from the dead. And this the Apostle most clearly answers, to our utmost satisfaction (1 Cor. xv. 51): Behold, I show you a mystery (that is, a secret revelation or discovery from God): we shall not all sleep (or die), but we shall all be CHANGED. And, again, in 1 Thess. iv. 15, he still further removes every doubt on the subject in these words: For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them which are asleep; that is, that portion of the quick, or those good Christians which shall be alive on the earth at our Lord's appearance, shall not prevent, shall not go before, or receive their happy change and glorious reward till all those that died in his true faith be first raised from their grave, to receive it along with them. In other words, the persons then alive, however righteous and secure of glory, shall have no advantage above, shall not get the start of them that sleep (i. e. of them who died in the

Lord). So far from it, saith the Apostle (ver. 16), that the dead in Christ shall rise first. How then shall it be with all those, good and bad, who are then alive? They shall both be changed; that is to say, the men of that age, whenever it happens, shall by the same mighty power of God be put into their respective states, prepared for immortality, with those who being dead were raised from the dead, and so be brought with them before the judgment-seat of Christ; and that as instantly as Omnipotence said, Let there be light, and there was light. It shall be done in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised, and we shall be changed.

I come now, in the second place, to consider the evidence for this article of our faith, as supported by the resurrection of Christ. This is, indeed, the special argument, the claim and assurance of the resurrection of believers to glory, because God chose Christ, and appointed him to be an example and principle, from whom all divine blessings should be derived to them. In short, in all things he is the end of our faith: accordingly, 1 Cor. xv. 20, he is called the FIRST FRUITS of them that slept; the pledge, earnest, or proof, that the bodies of men should rise again. And if you attend to the strictest closeness of the figure employed by

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