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ON THE TWO RESURRECTIONS.
Dan, xii. 2. Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall
awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
When thou, my righteous Judge, shalt come
Shall I among them stand?
Be found at thy right hand!
THERE are a few arguments arising from natural religion, which may be sufficient to induce us to believe the probability of a resurrection from the dead. But, it is one of the peculiarities of the Bible to instruct us into the nature and certainty of so great an event. This subject is confessedly one of the most interesting and solemn that can claim our attention. In this Lecture we will, therefore, attempt to state the difference which the sacred writings inform us will take place between the resurrection of the righteous and of the wicked.
1. The first distinction is in order of TIME. The dead in Christ shall rise first. And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But, the rest of the dead lived not again, until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Thus, agreeable to the sentiment of David, the upright shall have dominion over the wicked in the morning :-Leaving the unrighteous among the congregation of the dead, until the pe. riod of the Millennium shall be accomplished. We cannot but perceive an admirable justness in this Divine procedure, that the wicked should be excluded from that most delightful state where Jesus shall reign before his ancient gloriously. Such persons lived under the power of spiritual death : God was not in all their thoughts, neither did they desire the knowledge of his ways. So far from their having any pleasure in the assemblies of the righteous, they pursued such paths as were contrary to virtue and offensive to God. No wonder, therefore, we should find such solemn orders from heaven, that such should remain under the powers of death and the grave, while the followers of Jesus partake of a thousand years pleasure in the new Jerusalem, wherein dwelleth righteousness, and where the risen throng of the redeemed shall sing Hallelujah! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. May we not then say, Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection ? on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ. Nevertheless, at the expiration of the thousand years the wicked shall be raised and come forth to judgment.
2. We shall next show the MANNER how the two resurrections shall be accomplished. Bcth shall be performed by Christ; yet, by his power exercised upon two very different principles, and with equally different designs.
The resurrection of the righteous will be performed by Christ as their Lord and Redeemer, under the administration of his grace. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. Such were not under the law, but under grace; united to Jesus, they loved and served him : when flesh and heart failed, the Lord was the strength of their
heart and their portion for ever. In the prospect of death they could say, with Job, I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall-stand at the latter day upon the carth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. Now arrives the blissful morning; the sun of righteousness arises with such healing in his beams, that the dust of his saints which hath lain for ages in the grave shall arise. It is the voice of Jesus! It speaks, Arise, my fair one, and come away, come from the dust of death to die no more; come to enjoy thy kindred spirits, and live and reign with me; come to my arms, and be for ever blessed!
O solemn reverse! The resurrection of the wicked shall be raised by the same Christ, yet under the administration of justice, as JUDGE of all. The wicked go down to the grave with the sins of their youth ; they die in their blood, and death receiveth them as prisoners of justice, in charge, bound over to the judgment of the great day, to receive the tremenduous execution; for, as many as are under the law, are under its curse. Solemn state! truly affecting, even in anticipation! How awful then must be the scene! The millions of the wicked dead awoke from their state by the sound of the last trump, brought forth from their graves as malefactors from their cells, laden with the ponderous fetters of their iniquities, to stand before the Lord and receive the final doom!
What heart but must sensibly feel on contemplation of this difference between the two resurrections! Some to be raised by the thunders of vindictive justice from the hand of Jesus, ordained Judge of all; others awoke from their gentle sleep of death as by the voice of Jesus, the sweet bridegroom of his Church, to receive his bride to his bosom for evermore !
3. Some men will say, How are the dead raised up, and with what bodies do they come? This important question, introduced by Paul, will assist us to observe another material difference between the resurrection of the righteous and of the wicked. This relates to their BODIES; the one raised in honour, the other in disa honour.
The Apostle, on the resurrection of the righteous, in this chapter (for I presume he speaks of no other), most justly and eloquently declares of the body, It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It it sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. The same writer, in his Epistle to the Philippians, ascribing the resurrection to the power of Jesus, saith, 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. Our blessed Saviour, in his answer to the Sadducees, taught this most charming lese". son, that in the resurrection they would neither marry, nor be given in marriage: neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the Angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. That is, I presume, in the resurrection the saints of God, like the holy Angels, shall be free from desires and appetites incident to humanity in its present state; chase' tity and spirituality shall be in the highest degree perfect, and evince that the children of the resurrection are indeed the children of God.,
From these observations upon the words of Christ and his apostle, what a charming view may we take of the glory of the resurrection of the bodies of the righteous ! They shall be like Christ's glorious body, in which he arose from the dead, conversed with his disciples forty days, ascended to heaven with a cloud of Angels, and is now set down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, as a certain pledge of the resurrection of all his saints. It cannot be otherwise ; such is the union between Christ and his Church; he is flesh of their flesh, and bone of their bone; he is their head, and will never suffer the members of his body to remain in oblivion ! The morning shall arrive when the ancient promise shall be accomplished: Tky dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake ana' sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. Then lift your heads, ye righteous, for your redemption draweth nigh!
Ah ! how different the raised bodies of the finally impenitent and unbelieving! Here the dictate of kindred clay, and compassion to fellow men, would call for softness of expression; but truth is solemn, and must be heard. The bodies of the wicked must rise in corruption. That which is of the flesh, is flesh still. He that soweth to the flesh, must of the flesh reap corruption. That which is unholy and filthy, let it be unholy and filthy still. Such unhappy persons lived under the curse ; they died under the curse; and under the curse they must arise from the grave. As all the diseases, and pains, and corruptions of body are the effect of sin, and a part of the curse denounced against sinners, and that curse never having been removed from them; of