« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
and power." So long "he must reign," as a spiritual1 king in the gospel kingdom, till "he hath put all” spiritual "enemies under his feet;" and "the last enemy that shall be destroyed, is death. For He," God the Father, "hath put all things under his feet"," the feet of his Son Jesus Christ: one only being excepted, even the Father. And "it is manifest that He is excepted," which, having by his own word given unto the Son all power both in heaven and earth,” himself, “did put all things under him." So when at the last great day the Gospel dispensation shall finally close; death and the grave be conquered by the Redeemer, and thereby "all things subdued unto him;" then shall He lay aside his mediatorial office, and having fulfilled all his Father's good pleasure, and done all his will, shall shine resplendent in the Godhead; "being, as the Son, subject unto him that put all things under him; that God may be all in all,” -that, his mediation no longer required, He may be revealed One with Jehovah; himself the everlasting God.
Do the faithful fear lest the hope which springs from these truths bear them too high for all their fond anticipations to be realized? Let them remember that unto this glorious hope they were baptized; therein made children of God through Christ, and fellow-heirs with Christ, as inheritors of the kingdom of heaven3. But how can they inherit with Christ, unless they rise with Him? Vainly indeed have you been baptized in Christ, if there be no resurrection! What, then, shall they do, who in baptism make profession of this very faith;
1 John xviii. 36.
3 Refer to page 132.
2 Psalm viii. 6.
being "baptized for the dead"-for the hope which the dead have in Christ? Why else are they baptized? Why else wait we our time; and tarry, watching; and every hour standing in jeopardy of our lives, till the Lord come? St. Paul declares that spiritually, "he dies daily '. He declares that he is unceasingly and strenuously contending with evil from within and from without; with his own infirmities, with the temptations of the world, with the rulers of the darkness of this world, and with evil men which like wild beasts assault and harm him. But all this his spiritual strife and death unto sin-"what advantageth it him, if the dead rise not??" If we die with Christ,
1 We have a striking practical view of this spiritual death, in the affecting but high-couraged reflection of a captive, who had drunk the cup of sorrow to its dregs-'I am so afflicted, as might make me sometimes even desire to die; if I did not consider, that it is the greatest glory of a Christian's life to die daily; in conquering by a lively faith and patient hope of a better life those partial and quo'tidian deaths, which kill us as it were by piecemeal, and make us 'overlive our own fates."-Such was the Christian sufferer's daily death; the spirit of Christ being his strength thereto.
2 Some of the ancient fathers of the Church, Chrysostom and others, think that this passage is to be taken literally; as though St. Paul had been actually exposed to a real contest with wild beasts in the amphitheatre of Ephesus. Others consider the words to be metaphorical, indicating that, as the manner of men was to expose Christians to the ferocious attacks of wild beasts, so he had been the victim of the wild and furious passion of his persecutors. Perhaps the latter is more in harmony both with the facts to which the passage alludes, and to the usual mode in which St. Paul himself, and the earlier Christian writers who lived in his days, were accustomed to express themselves when speaking of their persecutors and other enemies of the Gospel. Of the Cretians he speaks to Titus, as being "evil beasts"-fierce, and grovelling *. And Ignatius, who was
* Titus i. 12.
with Christ we hope to live; and to live with him, now that He is risen with his body, we must rise also. If this world were man's all, this mortal state his final existence-why not at once adopt the course of the unbeliever, who, in his cold and cruel philosophy, would persuade himself and others that no after-life awaits men; and therefore that they are wise who "eat and drink" while they may, "for to-morrow they die." This would be wisdom, if with death, according to their awful view of man, all ends! O, "be not deceived," adds the Apostle; "evil communications corrupt good manners "—thus intimating that all this dreadful fallacy springs from an evil and darkened heart, not from a darkened mind. Unholiness of conduct cannot bear the light of holy truth. The Gospel, which tells that after death comes the judgment, when the risen body shall share with the soul, either its punishment for sin, or its recompense of reward for holiness" the Gospel, which declares such a truth,
appointed to his bishopric by St. Paul, and lived much with that Apostle, describing the persecuting spirit by which he was pursued in his long journey from Antioch to Rome as a prisoner condemned to be devoured by lions-expressly says, that he was "bitten, not by brute beasts, but by savage creatures in the shape of men *." Besides, when once exposed to the wild beasts in the amphitheatre, there was no escape for the victim―to meet the lions was to perish. No contest ever there. The roar which met the victim, was the roar of death.
Either way, however, the Apostle's argument is equally instructive; teaching us, that as in every trial, bodily and spiritual, he could never have sustained his faith triumphantly, but for the assured hope of the resurrection of the dead unto life eternal, so faith in the same truth is at hand to sustain us in our trials.
Ignatius suffered at Rome, being rather more than eighty years old, and was torn to pieces by lions in the amphitheatre, A.D. 107.
declares also that a holy life is required in those who would gain such bliss; for "without holiness no man shall see the Lord'." Hence, it finds no welcome: it suiteth not worldliness, pride, profligacy; and therefore it is not believed. Nor does the evil stop here. Unbelievers, with devilish malice, would fain lure others into this snare. Be thou on thy guard! heed none of their questioning as to "what the rising from the dead should mean "?" The word of God declares the fact; the resurrection of Christ proves its truth: and Christ by raising himself from the grave by his own power, has evidenced that He can raise us also. Shun then those wicked ones: danger is in their presence; for "evil communications corrupt good manners." "My "soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their as"sembly, mine honour, be not thou united"." If, however, thou art one of those who have been sleeping in sin-and the experience of life too surely proves "that some have not the knowledge of God;" though where the Gospel light shineth, this ignorance must be
spoken to their shame,"-if thou hast been of those miserable sleepers, "awake to righteousness." The very scene before thee might well startle the sleeper from his fearful dream. Lo! the dead! the dead are before thee! The silence of thy loved one in that stilly death, and the agony of thine own grief, unite in appealing to the heart with a stirring eloquence, mute but importunate; arousing thee with deep and earnest love,-Art thou ready? art thou prepared for that hour, when thou shalt be the dead; and others shall mourn thee. O, "awake to righteousness," and so awake to hope even in thy death; to peace even in
1 Heb. xii. 14.
2 Mark ix. 10.
3 Gen. xlix. 6.
sorrow, to joy even in thy mourning! Jesus is risen. Thy beloved ones shall rise. Thou shalt rise to meet them, and part no more. There are, however, those who, because they see men to die, but see them not to rise again, are ready to ask how can the wonder be? "How are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come?" They foolishly think by such cavilling to deceive the unwary, alarm the timid, and win over the wavering. Yet can aught be stamped with greater folly than doubts like these? Behold the husbandman, as he placeth in the earth a seed; "bare grain; wheat, or some other grain." Till that seed die and turn to corruption, no plant springs up; but when that which is sown hath died, then it soon quickens; and, marvellous to behold! there ariseth from the corrupted mass a plant so towering, so beautiful, so full of design in itself, so wondrous in its several parts, so utterly different from the substance sown; that nothing but the evidence of our senses could satisfy the mind, that it sprang from the dry and withered bare grain so lately committed to the ground. Who confesseth not that God giveth it this new body of wonder and beauty? and cannot the same God give to man's body—when having been turned to corruption and dust, it hath passed its mortality-like change from death to life, from earthly dross and loathsomeness, to heavenly glory and beauty! And what if, though raised from earth to heaven, man be "made equal unto the angels," he
1 The conviction of this truth leads us naturally to fulfil those pious offices to the inanimate dead, which testify that we hallow that for which Christ died: that for which He rose again; and which also He will raise, that it may be His for ever.
2 Luke xx. 36.