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dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by his spirit that dwelleth in you. Did the apostle separate the names Jesus, and Christ, and then speak of the resurrection of the same glorious being, first under one name, and then under the other, without having any thing in view in this mode of speaking? God is called by many names and Christ is called by many names. Why is it so unless these several names have their uses, conveying each, some idea, not to be found in the rest? Though we are told therefore, that the Lord himself shall descend, we may learn something more about him, by being informed that his voice shall be that of the Archangel. If from the change of terms we derive no advantage in considering the descent of the same glorious Lord; perhaps, the apostle did; and perhaps all do, who have a large share of the same faith which he possessed.
Fourth, What is the trump of God which is to be sounded when the Lord shall descend, and the Archangel's voice shall be heard? No visible, and material trumpet will be sounded. The language is figurative; but something will take place, of which the sounding of such a trumpet would be an apt similitude. Trumpets, by divine appointment, were much used among the Jews, to direct their marches; and to collect their solemn assemblies; and they were blown by the priests over their burning sacrifices, especially at the solemn festivals. When the Lord came down upon mount Sinai, and called Moses up to meet him, the scene was most terrific; and in addition to the thunders, and the lightning, and the smoke which rose like the smoke of a furnace; the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder, and louder. But nothing that ever was, will bear to be compared with what is here called the trump of God. Other trumpets if made by the direction of God, were made by the hands of men; and men were employed in sounding them. Their sound though sufficient to answer the purpose for which it was intended, was a limited sound; extending over but a small surface; and heard by but a small number of people. The trump of God, will not only call to attention the inhabitants of the earth; the living, whether righteous or wicked; and the devils, wherever they may be found carrying on their work of mischief; but it will sound distinctly, through all the glooiny regions of the dead; and awaken every particle of sleeping dust, whether on the land, or in the sea. Who can form any conception of that trump compared with whose blast, the loudest thunder is even less than a whisper; which will make not only the hills, and the mountains tremble, but the whole earth; and break the slumbers of all the dead, from Abel to the last lifeless body. When the omnipotent voice said, Lazarus come forth, he obeyed the order immediately, and took his place again among the living; and when the trump of God shall give the summons upon the day of the resurrection, he will rise to die no more; and with him will rise the great congregation of the dead.
Fifth, We are informed that the dead in Christ shall rise first; that is, before the living believers shall ascend to heaven. By these we are to understand departed belivers. They who are united to Christ, are frequently spoken of as dead, even while living in this world. It is a faithful saying; For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. St. Paul particularly describes his own case: For I was alive, without the law, once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God. Connecting himself with the Roman brethren, to whom he was writing, he says, Therefore we are buried with him by baptism unto death, that like as Christ was raised from the dead, by the glory of the Father, even so we also, should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together, in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. Here the idea is extended: the persons are considered as not only dead but buried also; or in the situation of the seed when it is planted in the ground, and covered.
The meaning of this language is sufficiently obvious. Every one who is a subject of grace may be viewed as dead, because old things have passed away, and all things have become new with him, as really as if he had exchanged
worlds. He sees God, and himself, and his duty, and his interest, and his privileges, and his dangers, as he never saw them before; and now he loves what he formerly hated; and hates what he formerly loved; seeks what he once shunned; and shuns what he once sought. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.
But the language in our text leads us to consider the persons spoken of, not only as they appear living, and acting their part upon the stage of life; but also, with reference to their death, and the manner of it. Those who are here called the dead in Christ are referred to, where it is said, Blessed are the dead, that die in the Lord. Those who die, believing in Christ, as the Lord, may be said to die in the Lord, and when dead, it may be said they are dead in Christ. Jesus Christ, when considered only as the name of a man, may point out that man, the Son of David, who according to prophecy, was to be born into the world; but when no other meaning is attached to it, is it of any more importance than Peter, or any other name? Can those be said to be dead in Christ who were acquainted with him while he was here upon earth; and on that account merely, died with the firm persuasion of the reality of such a per
To acknowledge the name can be of no use, if we deny what is signified by it. Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God. This, certainly, could not be true, if nothing more were intended than the belief that a person once existed, bearing such a name; for every person who ever saw him, doubtless had this belief; and every person now who credits testimony, must be possessed of the same belief.
But are all born of God? Do the scriptures warrant such a supposition; and particularly does the passage here cited? If they are designated as born of God, who believe that Jesus is the Christ; is not the inference unavoidable, that some are not born of God; and that some do not believe that Jesus is the Christ? Upon any other supposition has the passage any meaning? As Christ is the Anointed of God, to believe that Jesus is the Christ, is to believe all fundamental truths: the being of a God; the apostacy of man; and the wonderful things that have been done for his redemption.
It is essential to the efficacy of this faith, that it be in the heart, as well as in the understanding; for those who cannot trust might as well be without faith. Indeed the more there is of light, where there is no love, the worse is the condition. Those who can adopt St. Paul's language, as descriptive of their own case are prepared both for life, and death: For I know I have believed; and am persuaded, that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. There can be no doubt, that they are dead in Christ who die as St. Stephen did. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God; or invoking; and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
We are informed that the dead in Christ shall rise first. All speculation with respect to this matter is useless, and improper. But some men will say how are the dead raised up; and with what body do they come! The apostle's reply is, Thou fool; that which thou sowest, is not quickened except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain. Heaven is so different a world from this, that we ought not to expect the same appearances there that are exhibited here. The bodies of the saints, when they shall be raised, will differ one from another, as one star differeth from another star in glory. God's people may leave the world in infancy; or in age; with the dropsy; or with the consumption; but when they shall rise from the dead, they will not be attended with similar circumstances. We can form some idea how Eli looked when he died; but we know not how he will look when he shall rise. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. This we know; and with this we should be satisfied. As Eli was not always aged, and corpulent, while he was in this world; age, and corpulence, will be no more essential to his identity hereafter, than they were here. That which is sown in corruption, will be raised in incorruption; but notwithstanding the amazing alteration each one will have his own body, and the probability is, that all will remember their former acquaintances.
Nothing is said in the passage we are considering, relative to the resurrection of the wicked; nor do we know from any communication, with what bodies they will appear; though we are told, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust. That the wicked will not have glorified bodies like the saints, is certain; and that they will not have such bodies as they have in this world, seems to be equally certain; because mortal bodies must be dissolved. As the bodies, as well as the souls, of the wicked, will be destroyed with an everlasting destruction; their bodies must be susceptible of pain; and continue so through eternity; and we may conclude, that their susterings will be productive of much distortion, and deformity in their appearance. Whatever change may take place in the wicked, we may suppose, that those who were quainted, will not be strangers to each other.
The resemblance will be sufficiently strong to keep up the recoilection.
Sixth, Having spoken of the resurrection of the dead in Christ, as departed believers; the apostle proceeds to tell what will become of the Lord's people, who will be alive when he shall come. Then we, which are alive, and remain, shall be caught up together with them, in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. The resurrection of the dead must be a spectacle astonishingly grand, and interesting to all the inhabitants of the earth who shall be called to behold it; and not more dreadful, and appalling, to the ungodiy, than welcome, and enlivening, to the righteous.
Some have supposed, because the apostle speaks in the first person plural, that he expected, himself, to live until these great events should take place. But this supposition cannot be admitted, because it is inconsistent with what he says in other places. Ile could not upon any principles, of common calculation, have concluded, that his life would be very greatly protracted; and, that he was not looking for the Lord to come, immediately, may be en in a passage in his second epistle to the Thessalonians. Now we beseech you brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus ('hrist; and by our gathering together unto him; That ye be not soon