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dead, then it is morally certain that the gospel, with all its precepts, promises and threatenings, is infallibly true. And upon this foundation, it has stood the test of ages, and been mighty through God, to the pulling down of the strong holds, and to the resisting of the most powerful attacks, of its most inveterate and subtile enemies.
2. If God raised Christ from the dead, then we may justly conclude that he made a complete and satisfactory atonement for sin, by his sufferings and death on the cross. If he had not been perfectly obedient to his Father's will, and faithfully performed every part of the work which he gave him to do, he would not have manifested his approbation of him by raising him from the dead. Christ requested his Father, before he died, that he would give him a peculiar mark of his approbation, on account of his fidelity in performing his mediatorial work. He goes to him and says, “I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory I had with thee before the world was.” Such a mark of his approbation his Father gave him by raising him from the dead, as well as by receiving him to heaven. Hence says the apostle, Christ was “declared to be the son of God, with power according to the spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead." Again, he represents the Father as exalting him to his own right hand, as a mark of approbation on account of what he did and suffered on the cross. " Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God. But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore, God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow — and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." This was the highest possible mark of approbation that the Father could give him, on account of his dying the just for the unjust, making his soul a sacrifice for sin, and giving his life a ransom for many. When Christ had drunk the last drop of suffering on the cross, he cried, " It is finished!” The atonement for the sins of the world is made. And the truth of this declaration, God the Father sealed, by raising him from the dead.
3. Since God has raised Christ from the dead, we may be assured that he will completely accomplish the whole work of redemption. He has begun this great and arduous work, and performed the most difficult parts of it. He has come into the world, and taken upon him human nature. He has lived a life of universal obedience and self-denial. He has died a painful and meritorious death, and he has risen triumphant from the grave. These were the most formidable evils and difficulties he had to meet and surmount in performing the great work of man's redemption. If he had fainted in the garden, or if he had been confined in the grave, he would have failed in his whole design. This his friends feared, and his enemies hoped, from the time of his death to the time of his resurrection. Then he soon removed the fears of his friends, and destroyed the hopes of his enemies. He first appeared to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary; then to Peter, then to the twelve; and after that he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once. Having completely convinced his friends of his resurrection to life, just before he left the world he called his eleven disciples together, and assured them that he had power, and was determined, to pursue the work he had undertaken, and would employ and assist them in carrying it into effect. “ And Jesus came, and spake unto them, saying, all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Since God has raised Christ from the dead, given him all power in heaven and earth, and made him to be head over all things to the church, we may confidently believe that he will continue to carry on, until he has finished, the whole work of man's redemption. His resurrection is a solid foundation to expect that he will do all the great and good things which he has promised to do for the salvation of those whom the Father has given him. Accordingly, when he was about to reveal to his beloved disciple John the future glory and prosperity of his kingdom, he mentions his death, resurrection, and supreme authority, as the infallible evidence of the full accomplishment of all his predictions. John says, “I was in the spirit on the Lord's day; and heard behind me a great voice, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last; and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks, one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot. And when I saw him I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, fear not; I am the first and the last; I am he that liveth and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Write the
things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter." The resurrection of Christ is the primary and principal ground we have to believe that he will fully accomplish the whole work of redemption. Since he has risen from the dead, and holds the reigns of universal government, we may confidently expect that he will go on conquering and to conquer, until all his enemies are made his footstool, all the elect are called in, and all the promises and predictions of the gospel are fulfilled. Thus the resurrection of Christ is the richest source of divine consolation to all true believers. “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," says the apostle Peter," who according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time."
4. If Christ was literally raised from the dead, there is reason to believe that there will be a literal and general resurrection of the dead at the last day. Christ was literally raised from the dead. He arose in the same body in which he was laid in the tomb. Not only Thomas, but all the disciples, had a full belief of his body's being the same after his resurrection that it was before. And from Christ's literal resurrection, the apostle conclusively argues a literal and general resurrection of the dead.
“now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” The first fruits are always of the same nature as the future harvest. This was exemplified in respect to Christ's resurrection, by those who rose from the dead just after it. We are told that when he expired on the cross, “the vail of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened ; and many bodies of saints who slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." The bodies of these persons were certainly raised out of the graves in which they had been laid. Their resurrection was as literal as the resurrection of Christ. Our Saviour himself expressly declared that he would literally raise the dead at the last day. “ Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the
shall hear his voice, and shall come forth : they that have done good unto the resurrection of life ; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation." Mr. Locke and many others have supposed that not the bodies, but the souls of men will be raised at the general resurrection.
Their opinion however, upon this subject, appears quite unscriptural. The Bible leads us to believe that the bodies, and not the souls of men, will be raised at the general resurrection. We are expressly told that the graves shall give up their dead, the seas shall give up their dead, and death and hell shall give up their dead. This representation implies that the bodies of men shall be raised from the places where they were at first laid, or where they shall be found at the last day. And the doctrine of a literal resurrection is corroborated by the account we have of Enoch and Elijah, who were translated both soul and body to heaven. Nor is there any weight in the philosophical objection against a literal resurrection, drawn from the great change of particles in the human body while alive, and the vast distance they may be scattered from one another after death. For God who formed the bodies of men, has knowledge, and power, and wisdom enough to find, collect, and unite them together, ages and ages after death. Our bodies are called tabernacles, in allusion to that in the wilderness; and that we know was so framed, that every joint and socket and pin, could be taken apart, and perfectly put together again. Why then should it be thought incredible that God should literally raise the dead at the general resurrection? The whole current of scripture ought to remove all objections and doubts respecting the doctrine of a general and literal resurrection of the body at the great and last day.
5. If God has raised Christ from the dead, invested him with supreme authority, and given him divine power to complete the great work of redemption, then we may be sure that he is preparing all things for a general judgment. The general resurrection and the general judgment are inseparably connected, and will take place together at the end of the world. The former is preparatory to the latter. The apostle founds the certainty of the general judgment upon the certainty of God's raising Christ from the dead, and appointing him to the government of the universe. Speaking of the wretched state of the heathen, he says, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent; because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained ; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead." The same apostle also declares that Christ must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet, and then cometh the end when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to the Father. Christ cannot finish the work which his Father gave him to do, before he has raised mankind from the dead, called them together, judged them according to their works, and fixed them in their final and interminable state of complete blessedness, or complete guilt and despair. Though more than seventeen hundred years have rolled away since the resurrection of Christ, and though as many more years may roll away before the general resurrection and general judgment, yet it is as certain that they will sooner or later come, as that Christ rose from the dead, and now lives to govern the world. And we are all as deeply interested in these solemn and important events now, as if they were to take place to-morrow. Though we all know this, yet we need to be repeatedly and solemnly reminded of it. The apostle Peter supposed that those who had heard and understood and believed (as well as others) the doctrine of Christ's resurrection, and the future and eternal consequences of it, were liable to forget their relation to and connection with those important and invisible realities, and he wrote a whole epistle on purpose to impress them deeply and lastingly upon their minds." “ This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance ; that ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour; knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. But the heavens and earth which are now, by the same word, kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment, and perdition of ungodly
But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promişe, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burnt up. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent, that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless." Nothing can be added to the weight and solemnity of this exhortation. But I may conclude the subject, by saying to every one present, “ If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Amen. VOL. IV.