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the scattered particles may be collected again, and reunited in the former frame. It is, certainly, as easy to restore as to create ; and there is no contradiction in supposing that the Power which could form a human body, and organize it with life, can form it again after it has been dissolved, and can give it new life.
But further. We have no more reason to maintain that the body which is raised again, shall be exactly and to a particle the same that it was before, than we can prove that the truth and justice of God are concerned in its being so. To attempt to prove
the one or the other, is to perplex ourselves in vain, and would be hunting for truths, which, if they were discovered, would be no stronger incitements to faith, hope, and charity, than we already have. A change there will certainly be; and St. Paul argues strongly for it; for bodies, such as we have at present, cannot be eternally lasting. No. They will be “sown in corruption,” but “raised in incorruption ;” they will be “ sown in dishonour,” but “raised in glory;"
> they will be “ sown in weakness,” but “raised in power ;” they will be “ sown natural bodies,” but “ raised spiritual bodies.” They will no longer be of a frail and brittle composition, exposed to casualties, and liable to be hurt by a thousand accidents, but will be strong and vigorous, --incapable of disorder, or sickness, or dissolution,--and so changed as to enjoy perfect health and freshness for ever and ever ;-and, therefore, fit in all respects to receive an
immortal soul, to assist in all its refined operations, and partake with it of the exalted pleasures of God's immediate presence, and the blessed society of angels.
Secondly. Thus shall we rise in triumph from the grave, that we may be ready for a final judgment. All our actions, and the motives of them, will then be examined ; and if they are approved, and deemed worthy to be justified by Christ, we shall then be declared exempt from death eternal, and shall be placed in immediate possesion of the glories of heaven. But this is promised to those only who have “ heard the word of God, and kept it.” They only, who, by a sincere obedience to his laws, have “overcome the world," "shall not be hurt of the second death,—on them alone it shall have no power ; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him.” But it is by no means promised, that “the unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and all liars,” shall be delivered from this second death. They are exposed to all the torments that can be inflicted on sinners,' on hardened unrepenting criminals. It is the truly penitent, the sober and exemplary Christian, the irreproachable liver, the virtuous and the good, that are to partake of this deliverance, and of the benefits arising from it. To them the prize of glory will be awarded. They are to be “fed by the lamb which is in the midst of the throne ; and he shall lead them to living
fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
The inferences from this doctrine lie obvious to the meanest capacities :-and, since we “know that our labour will not be in vain in the Lord.”_since our sincere and earnest attentions to duty are to be so amply rewarded, how “ stedfast and unmoveable” ought we to be in discharging that duty ? and how diligently should we endeavour to be “always abounding in the work” that he has enjoined us? The paths of sin and unrighteousness are more toilsome and perplexing than the paths of religion and holiness. If we lead the lives of Christians here, we take the safest and the only course of ensuring our present comfort and peace ; and our deaths will be calm and composed, and made easy by faith and hope :—but if we will be obstinately wicked, our own vices will be our plagues,-our continuance here will abound in vexations,—and our deaths will be embittered with agony, horror, and despair. To cease to live will be the least part of our punishment, and to consume away in the dust of the grave will be the least affecting of all our apprehensions.
There is no armour against death ; for it will overtake and conquer, sooner or later, every one of
From the moment of birth, we hasten towards our period of life; and our bodies draw nearer to decay, even amidst the actual growth and improvement of their vigor. This thought, whenever it recurs to the mind, must excite uneasiness and pain.
Prudence, therefore, should put us upon those methods which alone can mitigate our fears, and strengthen our courage. If a good man cannot, without some uneasy apprehensions, reflect upon the separation of soul and body, what must the horrors of a wicked man be, when his thoughts are engaged upon the same subject ? How deplorable must be the case of those who never think at all ?<for vice and misery follow each other in a deluding and fatal progression ; but virtue will be an ever-living source of happiness, and happiness is the never-failing attendant of virtue.
To partake with Christ, of eternal life and felicity hereafter, we must, to the best of our power, resemble him in goodness here. We should, therefore, earnestly strive and endeavour to live in obedience and conformity to the Gospel of Christ ;—for a Christian life is that which alone can disarm death of its terrors, and blunt the sting of sin ;~it is that only which can enable us to finish our course with joy, and to repose a well-grounded hope in the mercy of the great Father of spirits.
ON THE ASCENSION.
Acts i. 11.
--this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall
so come, in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
When our blessed Lord, having completed the purposes of his earthly mission, ascended triumphantly into heaven, the Apostles, who were singled out and assembled together to be eye-witnesses of that glorious event, were wrapt in surprise and amazement. He had given them his final charge ;—and had enjoined them to remain at Jerusalem till the time, then nearly approaching, should arrive, when they were to be invested with such powers from on high as would enable them to preach the gospel throughout the world, with all the manifestation of divine authority and of truth. No sooner had he finished his address to them, than instantly the astonishing event took place, which they were assembled to behold. He began to be visibly exalted,—to be lifted up from this ter