Imatges de pÓgina
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the Apostle in this expression, it will render it much clearer to your understanding. ́ For, as the first fruits were a pledge, or sign, and assurance of the following harvest; and as, from the condition of the first fruits being offered to God, the whole harvest was entitled to his blessing; so, our Saviour's resurrection from the dead to a life of glory, is the earnest and assurance of our own. He is the head; believers are his members, and therefore shall partake with him in eternal life. It is to strengthen and confirm the hope of all believers, that his power was so early and effectually shown in forcing the grave to release its prisoners, as we read, Matt. xxvii. 52, 53: And many bodies of the saints which slept, arose, and came out of the graves, AFTER the resurrection (because He was to rise first), and went into the city, and appeared unto many; and, doubtless, it must have been with the same bodies which were laid in the graves, or they could not have been known again. If, then, they were to us an example of the resurrection to come (as certainly they were), then must they have been the same in their substance, after they lived again, as that in which all the rest shall rise.

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Notwithstanding, therefore, there is a pecuJiar difference in one respect, between Christ's resurrection and ours, in that it was expressly

foretold that God would not suffer his Holy One® to see corruption; because, as the Apostle saith (Acts, ii. 24), Him hath God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible he should be holden of it; whereas, every mortal man not only dies, but actually in time dissolves, as to every part of his bodily composition; so that, in the expressive language of Job (xvii. 14-16), we may say to corruption, Thou art my Father, and to the worm, Thou art my mother and my sister; yet, still, the rising of Christ, having been an actual resurrection from the dead, as was fully proved to you in that article of the Creed concerning this particular point, it becomes the most important article in the whole Gospel, and the demonstration of all the rest. And that it is that fact which is superior to all reasoning, and which confirms every other revelation on the subject, is proved past contradiction, by those remarkable words of St. Paul (1 Cor. xv. 14), If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is vain: and, again, at the 17th verse, If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain, ye are yet in your sins. It became, therefore, absolutely necessary that Christ should rise without seeing corruption; both to fulfil his own prophecy of rising within three days, and to afford a foundation of neverfailing hope to those who believe, which is

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established by his own conclusive assurance to his disciples in John, xiv. 19, Because I live, ye shall live also. This, then, was the convincing principle the Apostles had to encourage their preaching of faith in Christ Jesus. The foundation-stone, on which they built the conversion of the world, was, that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, that all might yield faith and obedience to him. By this they support all they advance on the subject of Christian faith, Acts, i. 21, 22: Wherefore, of these men that have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto the same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness of his resurrection. For, by the resurrection of Christ, the dependence on his power was confirmed to Christians; he being thereby declared to be the Son of God with power. Though he was really the Son of God from all eternity, as being the eternal Word, and also from the first moment of his coming in the flesh as God man; yet, the apparent dignity of this relation being much obscured by his poverty of life, and disgraceful death, therefore his resurrection was necessary to show that God did publicly own him, in the face of the world, and accordingly he declared the same from heaven in these words; Thou art my Son, this day have I be

gotten thee: that is, Spite of all the trials, temptations, sufferings, and cruel mockings laid upon thee, as a sacrifice for sin, in human nature, I do now acknowledge thee the triumphant Conqueror over sin and death, the everlasting Son of my love. Again, the resurrection of Christ was the most effectual proof of the all-sufficiency of his satisfaction. The curse of the law accompanied his death, and was as a weight on his grave; but, by his rising again, the value and virtue of his sufferings were fully declared; he being delivered (as the Apostle saith) for our offences, but raised again for our justification. (Rom. iv. 25.) All our faith in the promises is therefore built on the resurrection of Christ. By this we have hope of glory, and that life is in store for his servants; for, had he remained under the power of death, we could not have believed him to be the author of life from the dead. If he had been confined to the grave, our hopes had been buried with him; but the certainty of his glorious resurrection becomes at once the cause, pattern, and argument of ours: so that Christ may be truly said, not only to have raised his body from the grave, but also his church with him at the same time.

There remains, then, only to review briefly what is required of us to be believed in this article, and to conclude with a becoming appli

cation of the subject to our own lives and practice.

Having shown you that the will of God hath been revealed, that there should be a resurrection, a rising again of the body-that the bodies that are to be raised are the same which are already dead, or shall hereafter die-that this resurrection is not past, but that we which live, shall hereafter attain unto it; I think I have declared all that is necessary by way of explanation and confirming of the truth of the article; for hereby we, who profess to believe therein, do declare, that we are fully persuaded that, as it is appointed unto all men once to die, so it is determined, in the counsel, and by the revelation of God, that all men shall rise from the deadthat our souls, when separated from the body, are at the disposal of God, and live-that the bodies, which they once inhabited, though they shall be dissolved into dust, or scattered into ashes, shall be re-collected in themselves, and joined again to their own souls-that the same flesh which lived before, shall be revived-that the same actual bodies, which fell, through the mortality of nature, shall arise-that this rising again shall be universal, no person excepted, no flesh left in the grave—that all the just shall be raised to a resurrection of life, all the unjust to a resurrection of damnation-and that this shall come to pass at the last day, when the trumpet

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