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OF BENEFITS AT THE RESURRECTION.
Heb. xi. 35.--That they might obtain a better resurrection,
N this chapter the apossle brings in a cloud of witnesses
to the truth and excellency of religion, and the power of faith, shewing the great things faith can do, and also can suffer. In this verse we have an instance of each kind. (1). Faith got back the dead, in the case of Elijah and the widow of Sarepta's dead son, 1 Kings xvii. 22, 23. and of Elisha and the Shunamite's son, 2 Kings iv. 35, 36. Herein the faith of the prophets, and the faith of the women too, was active, though the former was more strong than the latter. (2.) Faith made constant martyrs, helped them to bear most eruel tortures even to death, refusing deliverance on sinful terms; which seems to respect the martyrs of the Jewish church under Antiochus Epiphanes. What carried them up was the faith of a better resurrection. Hence two things they had the faith of.
2. Of a resurrection, that there would be a resurrection of the body; that they and their enemies, and all mankind, after death, would rise again.
2. Of a resurrection for themselves, better than that deliverance from death which their enemies offered them.They saw by an eye of faith a glorious resurrection abiding them and all the people of God, attended with so many glorious benefits as might counterbalance their heaviest sufferings.
The text affords this doctrine, viz. Doct. Believers shall obtain a resurrection from the dead,
attended with such glorious benefits, as the faith of the same may animate them to endure the most cruel sufferings for Christ.'
Here I shall, 1. Touch a little on the doctrine of the resurrection in general.
II. Consider the resurrection of believers, that better and glorious resurrection.
I. I shall touch a little on the doctrine of the resurrection in general. And I shall shew,
1. That there shall be a resurrection of the dead.
First, I am to shew, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead. This is a fundamental article of the Christian faith, the denying whereof is subversive of the foundation of Christianity, 1 Cor. xv. 13, 14. ' But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen. And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.' It is a point of faith which we owe to revelation, that reason must assent to as highly reasonable when proposed, Acts xxvi. 8. Two things are the causes
of men's disbelieving it, ignorance of the scriptures, and E the power of God, Matt.
. 29. Accordingly there are two things that will clear it.
1. God is able to raise the dead; the resurrection is with, in the compass of the almighty arm. Man dying, his soul does not die ; and though his body be dissolved, it is not reduced to nothing ; if it were, God could make it over again. But the particles which make up the body do re. main. And,
(1.) Omniscience knows what they are, and where they are. If the dust of a thousand generations were jumbled together, Omniscience can separate them. An expert gardener having a hundred different seeds in his hand, can distinguish betwixt seed and seed; and why not an omni. scient God betwixt dust and dust.
(2.) Infinite power can join them altogether which belong to one man's body, and so make it up what it was, and join the soul again to the body raised up, Luke i. 37. He made the world of nothing, and he can reform man's body of pre-existent matter. As the watchmaker takes down the watch, ond sets every piece in its proper place, so can God mar.'s body.
3. God has positively told us, that he will do it, John v. 28, 29, and vi. 39. Acts iv. 2.
Secondly, I proceed to shew, who shall be raised. Here two things are to be observed.
1. Those who shall be alive at the coming of Christ, as they shall not die, so they cannot rise from the dead. They
shall undergo a sudden change, whereby the qualities of their bodies shall be altered, so as it shall be to them instead of death and resurrection, i Cor. xv. 51, 52.
2. All that ever had life and died, men and women, old and young, godly and ungodly, shall rise again, Acts xxiv. 15. Rev. xx. 12. If they once had a soul united to their body, though the belly was their grave, they shall partake of this resurrection. The sea and the earth are God's stewards, which shall then be called to give back what they got a-keeping
Thirdly, I shall shew, what shall be raised. The self-same bodies for substance that died, shall be raised again, though with very different qualities; yet it shall be the veay same body that was laid in the grave, and not another. For,
1. The scripture is very plain for this. It is this corruptible that puts on incorruption, and this mortal that puts on immortality,' Cor. xv. 53. Though after my skin (says Job), worms destroy this body, yet in my
flesh shall I see God, Job xix. 26.
2. The equity of the Judge requires it. An equitable judge does not suffer one to fight and another to get the reward ; and therefore he will make those bodies which are the temples of grace, the temples of glory. Nay, they are Christ's members, and so cannot perish. Neither can it be that one body sin, and another suffer in hell.
3. The nature of resurrection requires it; for that would not be a rising again, but a new creation. Death is sleep to the godly, the resurrection an awaking, a change of the vile body, Phil. iii. 21.
Fourthly, I come now to shew, who is the author of the resurrection. It is the work of God alone, and above the
any creature whatsoever. It is one of those works that are common to the Trinity. To the Father, 1 Cor. vi. 14. "God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power;' The Son, John v. 28. The hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his [,Christ's] voice.' The Holy Spirit, Rom. viii. 11. • If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in he that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.'
II. The second general head is, to consider the resurrection
of believers, that better and glorious resurrection. And this I shall do, 1. In itself. 2. In its consequents.
FIRST, I shall consider the resurrection of believers in itself, and here I shall shew,
1. Şome things that ensure the blessed resurrection of be. lievers.
2. How they shall be raised.
4. The particular qualities of their bodies at the resurrec. tion.
First, I shall take notice of some things that ensure the blessed resurrection of believers.
1. God's covenant with believers, which is with their whole uian, comprehending their bodiesas well as their souls, which by virtue thereof are temples of the Holy Ghost, Matth. xxii. 82. God is not the God of the dead but of the living.'
2. The end of Christ's death, which was to destroy death, Hos. xiii. 14. O death, I will be thy plauges ; O grave, ! will be thy destruction. How else would be accomplished his swallowing up death in victory, if death kept those that are his for ever? No; this is the last enemy, 1 Cor. xy. 25, 26. And when the resurrection coines, and not till then, will that victory be complete, ver. 54.
3. The resurrection of Christ. He was the first-fruits from death, his people the harvest that must follow, 1 Cor. xv. 22, 23. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order : Christ the first-fruits, afterward they that are Christ's at his coining.' He rose as a public person, and so has got up above death in their name, Eph. ii. 6. ' Hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.'
4. Their union with Christ, Rom, viii. 11. forecited. He has redeemed their bodies as well as their souls, and therefore they expect the redemption of their bodies, Rom. viii, 23; and has united them to himself, Eph. v. 30, Now, since the head liveth, the members shall live too; as when the head gets above the waters, the members follow.
Secondly, I am to shew, how believers shall be raised. The wicked shall be raised by the power of Christ as a just Judge. The divine power that shut them up in the grave as in a prison, will bring them out, in order to their receiving the last sentence, to enter into the prison of hell.
: But the godly shall be raised by virtue of the Spirit of Christ, that bond of union betwixt Christ and those blessed bodies; so that it shall be to them as a pleasant awakening out of sleep. As an awakening man draws his limbs to him, so will their raised head draw them to bim out of their
graves, Com. viii. 11.
Thirdly, I shall shew, in what case they shall rise.
2. Happily, as rising to life, eternal life, when others rise to their eternal ruin, Dan. xii. 2. That will be the happiest day that ever their eyes saw. The day of their death was better than that of their birth ; but they of their resurrection will be the best of all.
2. Joyfully, Isa. xxvi. 19. 'Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust, That is the day wherein Christ's bride rises out of her bed for the marriage. Jonah had a joyful outgoing from the whale's belly, Daniel out of the den, and Pharaoh's butler out of the prison : but what are all these to the joys at the resurrection of believers? Their doubts and fears died, and lay down with them, but they shall not rise with them. When the soul comes out of heaven, and the body out of the
grave, what a joyful meeting will there be of the blessed couple !
3. Gloriously, being made like unto Christ's glorious body, Phil. iii. 21. However mean they were while in the world, or ignominously treated in life or in death, they shall bave a glorious resurection.
Fourthly, I shall shew, what shall be the particular qualities of the bodies of believers at the resurrection. The bodies of the saints shall be raised.
1. Incorruptible, i Cor. xv. 42. Now the members of their living bodies, are liable to corruption, when they die all putrefying together; but then they will never more be liable to putrefaction; never more liable to sickness, death, nor the least pain, to wearing or wearying. There will then be no outward violence, no inward cause of uneasiness.
2. Gloricus, ver. 43. The most hard favoured saint will outstrip the now greatest beauty. The seat of that beauty will not be the face only but the whole body, Matth. xiii
. 43. There shall be no defects nor deformities in those bodies; Isaac shall no more be blind, nor Jacob halt; Leah shall not be tender eyed, nor Mephibosheth lame of his legs
. As the artificer melts down the mishapen vessel, and casts