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an authority it had before, and being reduced to an incapacity of exerting any further power*. Thus after the same apostle had been speaking of Persecution, peril, and sword, of being killed, all the day-long, as the lot of himself and his fellow-christians, he adds, nay in all these things we are more than conquerors t, complete, glorious, triumphant conquerors—and this is agreeable to what God himself declares concerning this formidable enemy, with so much grandeur and majesty. I will ransom them from the power of the grave : I will redeem them from death : 0 death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction ; repentance shall be hid from my eyesf.
For the further illustration of this comfortable truth, let us observe, that the victory is in some measure obtained in the present life--but it shall be perfected in the future.
1. The victory is in some measure obtained even in the present life.
Christ gained a victory by his own resurrection, and the revelation and promise of a happiness beyond the grave ; for he hath Abolished death, abolished its tyranny, destroyed its force, and rendered it, comparatively, of none effect, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospelg. He has assured us of the certainty and eternity of the future state, and largely explained its nature- he has not indeed removed the natural fears of death which are wrought into our very constitution, and are the springs of many of our actions ; nor is it his intention entirely to remove from the minds of good men that fear of death, which has an apparent tendency to promote seriousness and watchfulness, an heavenly disposition which keeps them always prepared for the coming of the Lord. But he has taken away the slavish apprehensions of it, and delivered them, who, Through fear of death, were, all their life long, subject to bondage. Death has now, in effect, changed its nature. It only hurts the body, not the soul. It only puts an end to those pursuits, employments, and entertainments, which are suited to the body, and this present world; but not to those, about which holy souls are engaged, and with which they are delighted and improved. Nay, it is become, on many accounts, a benefit ; as it puts an end to their temptations and conflicts, doubts and fears; as it hides their bodies in the
* Compare verse 24. where the same word is rendered, put down+ Rom. viii. 37.
Hos. xiii. 14. 8 2 Tim. i. 10. compared with Rom. ii. 7, 1 Cor. i. 28. xiii. 8. Eph. ii. 15. Heb. i, 14.
shelters them from the pains and sorrows to which they are here exposed, and transports their separate spirits to everlasting purity and peace.
A present victory is obtained by the calmness with which the saints die ; and that joy unspeakable and full of glory, with which the Spirit of Christ sometimes replenishes their hearts, when the Aesh is sinking into the dust.–Are they not conquerors, when, with smiles in their pale countenances, and songs of praise upon their quivering lips, they calınly yield to the stroke of death, and, through Christ who strengthened them, triumph over all its frightful powers, saying, O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory ? Let me add, this is death's last attack. It strikes once, but can never strike more; and “ all the hurt it can possibly do them, is to put it absolutely out of his own power ever to hurt them any more *". Which leads me to add further,
2. The victory shall be perfected in the future world.
And this will appear, when we consider, that all the faithful servants of Christ shall be raised again ; their bodies shall be transformed into the likeness of Christ's body; and they shall be fixed in a state of complete and everlasting happiness.
1. All the faithful servants of Christ shall be raised again.
They are laid in the grave, but not one of them shall be lost there. Death feeds on them, but at the great day they shall have the dominion. That there shall be a resurrection of the dead, that their bodies, which are turned to corruption, shall be redeemed, and so much of each, as shall be sufficient to denominate it their own body, collected and united by the almighty power of God, is certainly declared in the holy scriptures. We have some intimations of this in the Old Testament, upon which the Jews grounded their belief that there should be a Resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust t. But it is plainly revealed in the New. The hour is coming when all, that are in their graves, shall hear the voice of Christ, and come forth; This, says he, is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last days.
This doctrine the apostles preached ; they assured the christians, that he who raised up Christ from the dead, should quicken their mortal bodiesl. That Christ was risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept,
* Mr. How, || Rom. viii, 11.
f Acts xxiv. 15.
1 Cor. xv. 20.
# John v. 28.
§ John vi. 40.
of that plentiful harvest which should spring out of the dust, when the Lord should descend again from heaven. The resurrection of Christ, illustrated by the resurrection of other dead bodies, proves what God can do, and testifies what he will do. And this chapter alone will keep up the belief of this great event, till the trumpet shall sound, and the resurrection prove itself. Captivity shall be led captive, and death, which has triumphed over the whole human race, shall himself be triumphed over, when the earth and the sea shall give up their dead. Though we now say to corruption, thou art my father, and to the devouring worm, thou art my mother and my sister: The authority and power of Christ shall at length dissolve the disagreeable relation, and the grave claim no more acquaintance with us. But, as a bare resurrection is common to good and bad; and since, As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive ; therefore we must add,
2. Their bodies shall be transformed into the image of Christ's body.
This is their peculiar honour; and the apostle Paul asserts it in very strong terms; Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself*. The doctrine of the resurrection was ridiculed by the weaker heathens as impossible, and represented by the wiser as undesirable ; turning the soul again into a prison, and laying upon it an insupportable burden : But the account the apostle gives us in this chapter, of the great alteration which shall be made in the bodies of the saints, answers their objections. He assures us, that weakness, corruption, and dishonour shall be left in the grave ; and the body be raised in incorruption, glory and power ; a spiritual body, not an animal one. And as we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. The body shall be quite refined from gross matter, be more active and sprightly, and more easily moved from place to place, than it now is, in its utmost flow of health and spirits. It shall have no gross organs to obscure the faculties of the soul, or clog its operations. It shall need no such supports as it now does, nor feel any of those appetites, which are often temptations to sin, and which, without resolute government, injure the health, and prevent the serviceableness of the body, as well as interrupt the tranquility and peace of the mind. It shall bave no corrupt blood, or sour juices to oc
* Phil, -iü. 21.
casion irregular ferments, to excite the angry passions, or produce a melancholy, or a fretful disposition. There will be no law in the members warring against the law of the mind, and bringing it into captivity. It will exert itself with the utmost vigour in God's service, without being wearied with it, or worn out by it. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. The place, the company, the work of heaven, will all tend to increase their lustre and activity. If Moses's converse with God for a few days left such a brightness on his countenance, that the Israelites could not bear to behold it, it is very natural to infer, that dwelling in the presence
of God, the fountain of light, beholding the glory of Christ for years and ages, will improve the splendor of pure, spiritual, incorruptible bodies. And, it is probable, a covering of effulgent glory will be thrown over them, as there was over Christ's body when he was transfigured, And his face shone as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light *; and make them shine as the brightness of the firmament. And the more they resemble Christ in moral excellency, the more will their spiritual bodies resemble bis, and the more illustrious be this mark of distinction and dignity. But what is the precise nature of these bodies; how they will move and act; whether new organs will be added, or the present altered ; in what manner the soul will act, and be influenced by them; are questions which we cannot solve, while we dwell in Houses of clay. It is sufficient for us to know, that every thing, which was an imperfection or a mark of the divine displeasure against sin, shall be entirely removed ; that the body shall be so changed and new moulded, as to be every way suited to assist the holy and happy spirit to which it is re-united, in the noblest services and enjoyments. Thus when Christ appears, every saint shall awake in his likeness, and appear with him in glory. What a noble triumph over death will this be, when every captive shall be released, and every one clothed with the robes of glory? Especially when we consider,
3. They shall be fixed in a state of complete and everlasting happiness.
Of this also the scriptures of truth assure us: They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, cannot die any more ; for they are like the angels t. Mortality or that which is mortal shall be swallowed up of life f, and no traces of it left. It is a very considerable
Mat. xvii. 2. + Luke xx. 35, 36. Mat. xxii. 30. 2 Cor. 5. 46
part of the glory of the heavenly world, that There shall be no more death*. Some noted commentatorst would interpret the words, here rendered, in victory, for ever, as denoting the utter destruction of death. The idea is plainly suggested in the phrase, swallowed up; and this truth is confirmed by the passages already mentioned, and many more in the scriptures, that not one true christian shall be liable to the attack of death any more.
There shall be no fear of death remaining. A conquered enemy may recover his strength, assault us again, and prevail, at least so far as to alarm and terrify us; but death is swallowed up, and has no more power to overcome, or disturb the exalted, glorified servants of Christ for ever ; not so much as one of the harbingers, or attendants of death, shall ever incommode them. There is no fear of the return of acute pains or pining sickness; which are often so grievous, as to dispose the heart
to Long for death, as a relief, and be glad to find the grave I. Their bodies are not varnished over with an outward lustre, but perfectly free from all principles of decay. They are not only secure from external violence, but full of unfading, immortal vigour. Death has no power to take away, to molest, or even alarm any one of their friends and associates in that better country; but because Christ lives, they shall also live, and their duration be equal to his.-Finally, There shall be no painful remembrance of death. A recollection of violent pains and cutting sorrows often gives uneasiness: When, as Jeremiah expresseth it, concerning his own misery, the soul hath the Wormwood and gall still in remembrance, it embitters present enjoyments. But the remembrance of death shall not be terrifying, but agreeable. A comparison of the present with the former state, will only tend to enhance their pleasure ; to excite high admiration of that power, which produced the surprising change, and give peculiar ardour to their adorations of that grace which prepared them for it.-In short, the Lord of life shall so entirely change the scene, that all remainders of death shall be done away, and nothing shall appear by which it might be known, that it ever had the least dominion over any of his faithful servants. I shall sum up all in the striking words of the apostle; It doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for. we shall see him as he is ll. It doth not yet appear what we shall be! No, not yet, what we shall be then: For although our understanding is the distinction of our
* Rev. xxi. 4. + Vid. Grot. & Whitby in loc. † Job iii. 21, 22. f Lam. iii. 19. 1 1 John iii. 2.