Imatges de pàgina
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" them one from another, as a shepherd divideth « his sheep from the goats :" when he will say to the righteous, “ Come, ye blessed of my Father, « inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the “ foundation of the world ; ” but to the wicked he will say, “ Depart from me, ye cursed, into " everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his 66 angels."

The reason why Christ should be appointed by God to act this illustrious part, is pretty clearly intimated to be his being a man, viz. of the same rank and species with ourselves, John v. 22. “The “ Father judgeth no man; but hath committed « all judgment unto the Son.”. And, v. 27. “ he “ hath given him authority to execute judgment “ also, because he is the son of man;" so that being, with respect to his nature, in all respects, like ourselves, subject to the same infirmities and passions, we may be well assured, that he will feel for us, and be disposed to make all the reasonable allowances that our situation and circumstances Thall require; so that we can have no reason to complain, or be apprehensive of unjust severity from our judge. For this reason, among others. the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews observes, chap ii. 10. that “it became him, for whom are « all things, and by whom are all things, to « make the captain of our salvation perfect through 66 sufferings;” ver. 17. . That in all things it

“ behoved

- behoved him to be made like unto his bre. " thren;" that he should not be an angel, but " of the seed of Abraham, that he might be a “ merciful and faithful high-priest for us.”

We are informed that, at the second coming of Christ, the virtuous shall be raised first, and immediately after that, a change, which shall supersede death, will take place upon all who are alive; in consequence of which, their bodies, as well as those which are raised from the dead, will become incorruptible, and not subject to die any more. These particulars we are informed of in the following passages of scripture. 1 Theff. iv. 13. “I " would not have you to be ignorant, brethren,

concerning them who are alleep, that ye sorrow “6 not, even as others who have no hope. For if " we believe that Jesus died, and rose again, even “ so them also who sleep in Jesus, will God bring as with him. For this we say unto you, by the « word of the Lord, that we who are alive and re“ main unto the coming of the Lord, shall not “ prevent them who are afleep. For the Lord « himself thall descend from heaven with a shout, " with the voice of the archangel, and with the 66 trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise « first: then we who are alive, and remain, shall “ be caught up together with them in the clouds, 66 to meet the Lord in the air : and so shall we 66 ever be with the Lord.” i Cor. xv. 42. “SO “ also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown “ in corruption, it is raised in incorruption: it " is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory : - it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power : it " is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual " body.” Ver. 50. “ Now this I say, brethren, " that flesh and blood cannot inherit the king“ dom of God; neither doth corruption inherit “ incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery ; “ We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be « changed, in a monient, in the twinkling of an « eye, at the last trump (for the trumpet shall « found) and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, "s and we shall be changed. For this corruptible " must put on incorruption, and this mortal must " put on immortality.” Hence we may clearly infer, that all bodily imperfections will be removed, so that every person will appear with his full powers of body and mind; but whether any will rise in the state of infancy, we are not informed.

SEC,

SECTION II.

Of the nature of future rewards and punishments.

THE happiness of the righteous, after the re

surrection, is expressed in such terms as makes it appear to be the most desirable thing that can be conceived by man; but still the terms are general, and give us no distinct idea of the nature of it. Nor, indeed, was this at all neceffary : nay, our hopes and wishes are, perhaps, more strongly engaged without that circumstance.

Sometimes the future happiness is described as a State of reft. Rev. xiv. 13. “ Blessed are the dead " that die in the Lord, for they rest from their <labours; and their works do follow them.”

But most frequently it is spoken of as a state of indefinite and positive happiness. It is said of the vir-' tuous, in the book of Revelation, ch. vii. 16. that " they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any " more, neither shall the sun light on them, nor o any heat. For the lamb which is in the midst of " the throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them 66 unto living fountains of waters : and God shall · " wipe away all tears from their eyes." Rev. xxi. 3. “ And I heard a great voice out of heaven, " saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with

somen,

« men, and he will dwell with them, and be their « God. And God shall wipe away all tears from " their eyes; and there shall be no more death, “ neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there “ be any more pain: for the former things are “ passed away.”

The happiness of the righteous is also represented as a state of glory, and honourable distinction, and that of the wicked as a state of infamy and disgrace, The angel informs Daniel, ch xii. 2. that “ many w of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall “ awake, fome to everlasting life, and some to 6 shame and everlasting contempt. And they that “ be wise shall shine as the brightness of the fir“ mament, and they that turn many to righteos ousness, as the stars for ever and ever.” To this passage our Lord probably alluded, when he faid, Matt. xiii. 43. " Then shall the righteous « shine forth as the sun, in the kingdom of their 66 Father.”

There can be no doubt but that, as moral excellence is the only preparative to future happiness, so it will be a necessary ingredient in it. And every truly good man will look forward, with joy, to the time when all fin, and every propensity to it, shall be no more, and when his nature will be as excellent as it is capable of being. : The happiness of heaven, like the happiness of generous virtue in this life, we have reason to

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