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God turneth man to deftruction; 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 "reft from their labours." He is taught not to be forry as men without hope, for them who fleep in Chrift. He is taught that the fouls of the faithful, after they are delivered from the burden of the flesh, are with Chrift in joy and felicity. He is taught that though earth be committed to earth, afhes to afhes, duft to duft it is in fure and certain hope of the refurrection of the juft to eternal life, through our Lord Jefus Chrift, who fhall change our vile body that it may be like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able to fubdue all things to Himfelf; and fhall then pronounce that benediction to all that love and fear God, Come, ye bleffed children of my Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world. In the paffage from the first Epiftle to the Corinthians appointed to form a part of the funeral fervice, this fundamental doctrine of our faith, this glorious and in-. eftimable hope, this unfailing fupport to the Cc4 righteous

righteous under all the labours and afflictions of mortality, is established by irresistible arguments; guarded against cavils and misconceptions; difplayed 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 whofe Spirit all Scripture has been recorded, to the full confideration of this portion of holy writ.

In the earlier part of the chapter the apoftle discloses the circumftance, which had convinced him of the neceffity of the leffon which he was about to inculcate. If Christ, faith he, be preached that he rofe from the dead: how fay fome among you that there is no refurrection of the dead? Though the Old Teftament contains, especially in the writings of the prophets, many forcible intimations of a. future existence: the Sadducees, a powerful and numerous fect among the Jews, denied that there remained a life beyond the grave. Among the heathens, all was obfcurity and doubt, or darknefs and unbelief. When they heard of the refurrection of the dead, fome liftened with prejudice, contempt, and reluctance: others openly fcoffed and mocked at the novelty and strangeness of the doctrine.


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Hence among the early Chriftians, whether of Jewish or of Gentile race, there was found a favourable opening for falfe teachers, who were adventurous enough to undermine and oppofe the hope of a future life. Two heretical declaimers of this defcription, Hymeneus and Philetus, are fpecified by St. Paul in his fecond Epiftle to Timothy as having erred concerning the truth, faying that the refurrection is paft already: affirming the promised refurrection to be of a figurative nature; a resurrection to be accomplished in the prefent world; a refurrection, as they probably explained themselves, from a ftate of vice to a flate of virtue. Though Hymeneus, according to the pofitive declaration of the fame apofile, had, in this fundamental point made Shipwreck concerning faith, because he had firit put away a good confcience: though both thefe corrupters of the truth as it is in Jefus, having emancipated themselves from the dread of a judgement to come, would naturally plunge with little reftraint into flagitiousness, and might thus have been expected to bring general difcredit on their opinions even in the eyes of common obfervers: yet their word did eat as doth a canker, and overthrew the faith of fome. Teachers infected with the fame fenfelefs and pernicious prin



ciples had infinuated themselves and acquired influence among the Chriftians of Corinth. Well aware that the admiffion of fuch principles in any degree tended in an equal degree to uproot Chriftianity from its foundations, the apoftle ftrenuously 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 gofpel which they had embraced; that gospel by which they were to be faved: a gofpel, built on the ground-work of Chrift's refurrection from the dead; and establishing by infallible proofs his repeated appearances after his return from the grave, feparately to St. Peter, afterwards to St. James, more than once to all the apoftles collected together, then to an affembly of above five hundred difciples, most of whom were ftill alive, and, last of all, to St. Paul himself. He warns them that the reality of the refurrection of Christ was infeparably connected with the affurance of their own future refurrection: that if the dead were not to rife, Chrift was not rifen; that if Chrift were not risen, the apostles who had promulgated a gofpel proclaiming His refurrection had teftified falfely concerning



God; that their preaching had in that cafe been in vain, an impofture and a delufion; that the Corinthians had believed in vain, and were yet in their fins, had placed reliance on a falfehood, and were deftitute of pardon and without a poffibility of falvation; and that all who had fallen afleep in Chrift, all who for His fake had encountered perfecution and mifery, all who had died in His faith and in full affurance of life eternal through Him, had perished. Having thus fully fet before them the confequences which would neceffarily enfue, if the peftilent doctrine with which they were affailed were founded in truth: a doctrine which would prove that Chrift had not rifen from, the dead; that He had wrought no atonement for fin; that He was unable to perform his promises; that no hope remained for the righteous; that the whole fabric of the Chriftian religion was a human contrivance, the production of deliberate fraud and unexampled hypocrify: he cheers them in the words of the text with a folemn statement of the real fact as to the refurrection of their Lord, and the bleffed refult of His refurrection with regard to all those who trusted in Him. But now is Chrift rifen from the dead and become the first fruits of them that Лlept. "Be not fhaken in mind,"


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