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There are two things to be explained in the words, before we come to consider the matter of them :
First, What is meant by those that sleep in Jesus.
First, What is meant by those that sleep in Jesus. Sleep is a metaphor used for death by all sorts of writers, profane and facred; and by the ancient Christians, the place of burial was called xolentéesor, that is, a sleeping place. This metaphor is sometimes applied to the death of the wicked, but most frequently used of the death of the righteous, because to them it is truly a rest. And so the Prophet, speaking of the death of the righteous, calls it, Ifa. Ivii. 2. They shall enter into peace, they shall rest in their beds.
And the death of the righteous is very fitly called a fleep, both as it is a rest from labour and pain : blessed are the dead which die in the Lord; for they rest from their labour, Rev, xiv. 13:. And likewise, because neep is not final, but in order to waking again. The death of the righteous is not an eternal deep of the body, but that shall: be awakened in the morning of the resurrection.
But why is the death of good men called a peeping in Jefus ? did "Inoë, fór Jefus fake ; which may seem to have some particular relation to those who died martyrs. for Christ; as some likewise understand that text, Rev. xiv. 13. Blefed are the dead which die in the Lord, that, is, that suffer for his cause ; for they rest from their labours, that is, their sufferings are then at an endor Buti we shall best understand the meaning of this phrase, by comparing it with those others which seem to be equiva-i lent to it, as, i Cor, xv. '18. They also that are fallen afeep in Chrift ; ver. 23. They that are Chrift's at his; comin , that is, they that belong to him, that died in the faith of Christ. So likewise is this, 2 Theff. iv. 10. The dead in Chrift shall rise first; that is, the Christians that are dead before the coming of Christ, shall first be raised, before those that are alive shall be changed, Heb. xi. 13. All these died in faith, that is, in firm belief of God's promise of a better life. So that to sleep in Chrift, to be, Christ's, to die in Chrift, to die in the faith, do all seem to
signify the same thing, viz. to die in the state of true Chriftians. For so we understand the like expressions of being in Chrift, Rom. viii. 1. He that is in Chrift, that is, every sincere Christian ; and of abiding in Chrift, John xv: 4. He that abideth in me. So to die in Chrift, is to die a true Christian, in the faith and obedience of the gospel.
And it is observable, that in the phrase and stile of the New Testament, we are said to die all in, and with Christ; to be in him, and to live in him, and to walk in him, by our fanctification and obedience; to die with him, by the niortification of our lufts; to rise with him, by our renovation to a new life; to ascend with him into heaven, and to have our life hid with Christ in God, by our heavenly affections and hopes,' and by death to sleep in him.
But before I pass over this phrase of sleeping in Jesus, there is one difficulty more about the sleep of the soul, which seems to be countenanced from this text, those that Reep in Jesus, shall God bring with him; as if the Apostle (pake here of the souls of good men which had been alleep, and Christ should bring with him to be united to their bodies, which should be raised; as likewise from the whole tenor of the Apostle's discourse about the resurrection, 1 Cor. xv. where the Apostle says nothing of the living of the soul before the body be raised : as if the soul, separated from the body, were in a state of insensibility till the resurrection. But the true answer to this is, that neither our Saviour, in his discourse of the resurrection, nor St Paull in the xv. chapter to the Corinthians, nor here in this text, do keep closely to the proving of the resurrection of the body ; but of a blessed immortality after this life, againft the Sadducees, who said there was no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit. "But sometimes they prove that there is a life after death; and fometimes that, at the resurrection, the soul shall be joined to a spiritual and heavenly body, and that the whole man enjoy perfect bliss and happiness.
But this opinion, or rather dream, concerning the sleep of the soul from the time of death, that is, from the time of the separation of the soul from the body till the general refurrection, may be effe&tually confuted these two ways :
1. By taking away the ground of it: and,
2. By producing several texts of scripture, which are utterly inconsistent with it. And this I Mall the rather do, because some men have taken a great deal of pains to establish and prove this opinion ; though I confess I do not well understand to what end, because there is as little comfort as truth in it.
1. By taking away the only ground, that I know of, of this opinion ; and that is, from the frequent metaphor and resemblance in fcripture of death to Neep. And, indeed, those which are dead, are frequently, in scripture, said to sleep, or to be fallen asleep: But then (which falls out very cross to this opinion this metaphor of neep is no where in fcripture applied to the soul, but to the body resting in the grave, in order to its being awakened and raised out of this sleep at the resurrection. And thus it is frequently used, with express reference 10 the body : Dan. xii. 2. Many of them that seep in the duft of the earth shall awake ; and, surely, peeping in the duft of the earth, can only be applied to the body. And more expresly yet, Matth. xxvii. 52. And the graves were opened, and many bodies of saints which pept arose. Ads xiii. 36. David, after he had ferved his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and faw corruption : but he whom God raised again, faw no corruption, Now that of David which fell asleep and was buried with his fathers, and faw corruption, was certaioly his body, and that of our Saviour, which was raised again, and saw no corruption, was likewise his body, according to that predi&tion concerning him, Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, in Hades, by which is plainly meant the ftate and place of fouls feparated from the body; nor suffer thy holy one to fee corruption, that is the body of our blessed Lord to rot in the grave. 1 Cor. xv. 20. But now is Chrift risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that sept; that is, the resurrection of his body out of the grave, is an earnest and assurance, that our bodies also shall be raised, And, ver. 51. We shall not all Neep, but we shall all he changed; where the A
postle undoubtedly speaks both of the death and change of these corruptible bodies. And so likewise the text is to be understood of the resurrection of the bodies of the Saints, which shall be raised up by the sound of the great trumpet, and re-united to their souls, that they may in person accompany Christ at his coming. So that it is the body, which is every where said in scripture to sleep, and not the soul, and if so, then the only foundation of this opinion is taken away.
2. I fhall shew, that this opinion of the sleep of the foul is utterly inconsistent with several passages of scripture, which plàinly suppose the contrary; as Luke xvi. 22, 23. where, in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the different states of good and bad men, immediately after their departure out of this life, are described; but they are so described, that it is evident that the souls of neither of them are asleep. It is said of Lazarus, that he was caried by the Angels into Abrahani's bofom, and that there he was comforted; and of the rich man, that he was in hell, and there tormented in flames. This was not like to be a state of sleep and insensibility, and the rich man cries out of his torment; and that we may be sure he was awake, he is said to lift up his eyes. And there is all the reason that can be to conclude, that Lazarus was every whit as sensible of the comfort and happiness that he was in, as the rich man was of his torment. where our Saviour says to the penitent thief, this day shalt thou be with me in paradise : but not surely to sleep there till the resurrection. Though some have endeavoured to avoid the force of this text, by referring this day to what goes before, and not to what follows after; as if our Saviour had said; I say unto thee this day; and not, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise : which is a foolish evasion, because, I say unto thee, necessarily implies the present time, and there is no need to add, this day; belules that there is no such phrase any where used, as I say unto thee this day, Phil. i. 23. I am in a firait between two, having a defire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better. But if to be with Christ, be to be in a ftate of fleep and insensibility, how is that so much better than to be in the body, serving God and his church? 2 Cor. Vol. VIII.
Luke xxiii. 43. ther
5. 6. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that while we sojourn in the body, we are absent from the Lord; we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord. But certainly, to be present with the Lord, which the Apostle here affirms that good men are, fo soon as they depari,out of the body, mult needs fignify a ftate of happiness; which fleep is not, but only of insensibility. Besides that the Apostle's argument would be very fat, and but a cold encouragement to Christians against the fears of death, that, as soon as we are dead, we shall fall asleep and become insensible. But the Apostle useth it as an argument why we should be willing to die as soon as God pleaseth, and the sooner the better ; because so soon as ever we quit these bodies, we Mall be present with the Lord : that is, shall be admitted to the blissful fight and enjoyment of him; and that whilst we abide in the body, we are detained from our happiness. But if our souls sleep as well as our bodies, till the general resurrection, it is all one whether we continue in the body or not, as to any happiness we shall enjoy in the mean time; which is directly contrary to the main scope of the Apostle's argument,
Secondly, What is here meant by God's bringing with him those that feep in Jesus? In general, these words signify a blessed resurrection, as may be seen by the opposition : If we believe that Jesus died, and rose again; even so them also that seep in Jesus, Shall God bring with him.' Where to Christ's death is opposed our sleeping in
Jesus; and to his resurrection, God's bringing us with him; that is, his raising us out of the grave to accompany him at his coming. But the meaning of this expresfion will best appear, by considering what follows after the text: For this we say by the word of the Lord, that is, by special revelation, that we that are alive, and remain at the coming of the Lord Mall not prevent them that are aDeep; that is, we shall not be taken up into heaven, before the saints who are already dead shall be raised : but thus it shall be, the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a sout, and the voice of an Archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ sall rise first: then we which are alive, and remain, fall be caught up toge