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die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. The first man is of the earth, earthy ; the second man is the Lord from heaven. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory.
My christian friends, if we may safely believe what we have quoted from Solomon, from the testimony of of our divine Redeemer, and from his eminent servant St. Paul, concerning them that are asleep, we have every consolation that we could reasonably require. If we believe that the spirit goes to God who gave it, that the dead are better off than the living, that all live unto God in the resurrection, and are equal to angels, that they die no more, that they are freed from sin, are raised in power, in glory, and in immortality, in the image of the heavenly man, what more could we ask concerning our dear connexions which have gone before us, or what more can we require in order to tranquilize our minds in the hour of death?
On the other hand, let us ask how we could enjoy any reasonable consolation concerning them which are asleep, if what we have proved from scripture be not believed ?
It is true that many are earnestly contending that the doctrine which we have so clearly pointed out from the faithful word of truth, is a doctrine dangerous to the eternal welfare of immortal souls, and calculated to lead those who believe it into every kind of sin. But how can this be the case ? Is it supposable that a revelation from God would in plain terms declare that which is dangerous to our eternal welfare, and calculated to lead us into sin ? This is a reflection against God. Will any one come forward and acknowledge that a belief in all this grace and goodness of God
would lead them into sin ? For instance, take this passage; “He that is dead is freed from sin.” Suppose a person believes this divine truth, would this belief induce him to sin now ? St. Paul, no doubt believed it; did it lead him into sin ? Suppose the following case. One of you, my hearers, have unhappily imbibed a strong antipathy, even to hatred, against your neighbor; a friend of yours comes to you and tells you he has something of importance to communicate to you. You accommodate him with a convenient opportunity, and he says, I have come to tell you that in one week from now, you and your neighbor, whom you now so much dislike, will be on terms of perfect amity and peace, he has always been your friend and will certainly convince you, that in room of ever having injured you, he has been the means of all your prosperities. Suppose you believe this statement, would your belief lead you to hate your neighbor more than ever? No, it would have a directly contrary effect; you would love him the moment you believed it, and would long for the time to come that you might embrace him.
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When Samuel told Saul that he should meet a company of prophets, and that the spirit of the Lord would come upon him that he should be turned to another man, and prophecy with the prophets, this did not lead the young man into sin. Did the whole of this assembly really believe, that in a short time they should be in a state of immortal holiness and felicity, filled with the love of their heavenly Father, and employed in songs of everlasting praise to God and the lamb, such a belief, my friends, would now work by love and purify our hearts.
But the wisdom of this world has contrived a different way to make inen love God, which is by threatening them with his everlasting displeasure. It has invented the most horrible reports and representations that imagination can possibly reach, concerning them that are asleep, by which sorrow is augmented to despair. Sermons full of the terror of eternal misery, and the representations of the dismal state of the dead
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are delivered to enhance the sorrows of the bereaved. Little tracts are sent to people gratis, to inform them that the probability is, that their friends, who have left this world are in a state of torment. It is impossible, on considering such inventions and practices, not to think of the torn, the bloody coat presented to Jacob, accompanied with these words; “ This have we found; know now. whether it be thy son's coat or no.” How many bereaved, afflicted mothers have read these tracts, and almost desparingly exclaimed, “It is my son's coat,” without doubt my departed child is miserable.
Never did our blessed Saviour manifest such a spirit, never did he inculcate such doctrine. by the tomb of Lazarus, in sympathy with mourning sisters, who declared himself the resurrection and the life, hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. His doctrine is full of consolation, it is full of that hope which is an anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast, entering into that within the vail, where our forerunner hath for us entered.
My friends, while looking round on perishable nature, while contemplating the loss of our dear connexions who have gone from this mortal state, let us “lay hold on this hope which is set before us,” that we may not sorrow concerning them which are asleep, even as those who have no hope. But let us, with confidence in God our Father, and in Christ our Saviour, sing, with solemn joy in the words of Dr. Watts ;
“Why do we mourn departing friends
THE RESURRECTION OF LIFE ; AND
RECTION OF DAMNATION."
JOHN v. 28, 29.
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall corne forth: they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life ; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.
Though I have once spoken on these words in this place, and likewise been induced to explain them in a controversy that was published, it is still requested by some of the readers of these lectures that this passage should be noticed before the volume is completed. And as the common use of this text is in opposition to the doctrine set forth in these sermons, and especially to the use we made of the scriptures in our last
, it is thought necessary that a discourse on this subject should be placed next in order.
This passage is one of a number which the popular doctrine of the church has applied to a future state of condemnation and misery. It has been used to set forth and maintain that those who do good in this world will be raised from the dead hereafter and be justified unto life in an immortal constitution, for the good works which they did in this world; and that those who do evil in this mortal state will be raised, at the same time, into an immortal constitution, and condemned to everlasting misery for the evil they did in this mortal constitution.
In the first place we shall suggest some arguments against the doctrine, for the support of which this text has been used.
In this doctrine there is a manifest want of that due
connexion between cause and effect, which is so wonderfully displayed in the natural order of things. While we are here in the body, if we feed on wholesome and nourishing food the natural effects are strength and health of body; but if we, from whatever cause, feed on that which is unwholesome or poisonous, consequences are the reverse of the former, and sickness and weakness are sure to follow. But it would be evidently absurd to attempt to argue, on physical principles, that these effects, either health or sickness, strength or weakness will be experienced in a state of immortality after this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality. Now it is plain from the scriptures, that all sin, all wickedness, and all evil doings are the works of the flesh; and there appears no more reason for supposing that the effects of these works are to extend into the immortal state, than for supposing that the effects of wholesome or unwholesome food are to extend to that state.
If one sow grain in a field in New-England, it follows of natural consequence that the harvest will be gathered from the same field; but there appears no natural connexion, as between cause and effect, between sowing grain in this country and gathering a harvest from it in Europe. St. Paul says; “He that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption." This seems perfectly natural, because i whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” But to argue that corruption may be gathered from an incorrutible state is to argue against the very nature of things.
The apostle to the Romans is explicit on this subject, where he says; “ There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.”
By this it is evident that condemnation cannot exist any longer than men walk after the flesh. But none pretend that any of the human family will walk after the flesh in that incorruptible state of which the apostle speaks, where he says; “ This corruptible shall put