« AnteriorContinuar »
God turneth man to destruction; again He faith, “ Come again, ye children of men.” He is taught so to number his days, that he may apply his heart unto wisdom. He is taught that a voice from Heaven hath
proclaimed, “ Blessed are the dead, which die in : “ the Lord: even fo, faith the Spirit ; for they rest from their labours.
He is taught not to be sorry as men without hope, for them who sleep in Chrift. He is taught that the souls of the faithful, after they are delivered from the burden of the flesh, are with Christ in joy and felicity. He is taught that though earth be committed to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust : it is in sure and certain hope of the resurrection of the just to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body that it may be like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able to subdue all things to Himself; and shall then pronounce that benediction to all that love and fear God, Come, ye blessed children of my Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you
from the beginning of the world. In the pailage from the first Epistle to the Corinthians appointed to form a part of the funeral service, this fundamental doctrine of our faith, this glorious and inestimable hope, this unfailing support to the
righteous under all the labours and afflictions of mortality, is established by irresistible argaments; guarded against cavils and misconceptions ; displayed under the most animating representations; and practically applied to purposes the most noble.
Let us proceed, in reliance on the blessing of Him under the guidance of whose Spirit all Scripture has been recorded, to the full confideration of this portion of holy writ.
In the earlier part of the chapter the apostle discloses the circumstance, which had conyinced him of the necessity of the lesson which he was about to inculcate. If Chrift, faith he, be preached that he rose from the dead: bow say fome among you that there is no refurrection of the dead? Though the Old Testament contains, especially in the writings of the prophets, many forcible intimations of a. future existence: the Sadducees, a powerful and numerous sect among the Jews, denied that there remained a life beyond the grave. Among the heathens, all was obscurity and doubt, or darkness and unbelief. When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, fome listened with prejudice, contempt, and reluctance: others openly fcoffed and mocked at the novelty and strangeness of the doctrine.
Hence among the early Christians, whether of Jewish or of Gentile race, there was found a favourable opening for false teachers, who were adventurous enough to undermine and oppose the hope of a future life. Two' heretical declaimers of this description, Hymeneus and Philetús, are specified by St. Paul in his second Epistle to Timnothy as having erred concerning the truth, saying'that the resurrection is pas already : affirming the promised resur. rection to be of a figurative nature; a resurrection to be accomplished in the present world; a resurrection, as they probably explained themselves, from a state of vice to a state of virtue. Though Hymeneus, according to the positive declaration of the fame apostle, had, in this fundamental point made Shipwreck concerning faith, because he had firit put away a good conscience: though both these corrupters
of the truth as it is in fefus, having emancipated themselves from the dread of a judgement to come, would 'naturally plunge with little restraint into flagitiousness, and might thus have been expected to bring general discredit on their opinions even in the eyes of common observers: yet their word did eat as doth a canker, and over-threw the faith of fome. Teachers infected with the same senseless and pernicious prin
ciples had insinuated themselves and acquired influence among the Christians of Corinth. Well aware that the admission of such principles in any degree tended in an equal degree to uproot Christianity from its foundations, the apostle strenuously advances forward to contend for the genuine faith, the faith originally delivered to the faints. He recalls to the remembrance of his converts that gospel which he had preached to them at the beginning; that gospel which they had embraced ; that gospel by which they were to be saved : a gospel, built on the ground-work of Christ's resurrection from the dead; and establishing, by infallible proofs his repeated appearances after his return from the grave, separately to St. Peter, afterwards to St. James, more than once to all the apostles collected together, then to an assembly of above five hundred disciples, most of whom were still alive, and, last of all, to St. Paul himself. He warns them that the reality of the resurrection of Christ was infeparably connected with the assurance of their own future resurrection: that if the dead were not to rise, Christ was not risen; that if Christ were not risen, the apostles who had promulgated a gospel proclaiming His resurrection had teftified falsely concerning
God; that their preaching had in that case been in vain, an imposture and a delufion that the Corinthians had believed in vain, and were yet in their sins, had placed reliance on a falsehood, and were deftitute of pardon and without a poflibility of salvation; and that all who had fallen asleep in Chrif, all who for His fake had encountered persecution and misery, all who had died in His faith and in full assurance of life eternal through Him, had perished. Having thus fully set before them the consequences which would necefsarily, ensue, if the pestilent do&rine with which they were affailed were founded in truth: a doctrine which would prove that Christ had not risen from the dead; that He had wrought no atonement for sin; that He was unable to perform his promises; that no hope remained for the righteous; that the whole fabric of the Christian religion was a human contrivance, the production of deliberate fraud and unexampled hypocrisy: he cheers them in the words of the text with a folemn statement of the real fact as to the resurrection of their Lord, and the blessed result of His resurrection with regard to all those who trusted in Him.. But now is Chrift risen from the dead and become the first fruits of them that piept. “Be not shaken in mind,” ?