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but their condition, and the circumstances in which they shall appear will be very different, according to their different characters while in this world.
The bodies of the saints shall rise glorious, incorruptible, immortal, powerful, and spiritual. They shall rise glorious. 1 Cor. xv. 43. “It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory." And Phil. iii. 21. “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body." The bodies of the saints, which in this life were the prey of disease, and defiled by sin, and which at death sunk into corruption and dust, shall when raised again be free from loathsome disease, from moral pollution, and from death. They shall appear all over beautiful and glorious like the glorified body of the Saviour, which shall be the pattern after which they shall be formed. They shall be raised incorruptible. 1 Cor. xv. 42, 52, 53, 54.“ It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. The dead shall be used incorruptible. For this corruptible must put incorruption. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption.” Now the body is liable to corruption, and at death soon corrupts; but after the resurrection, it shall no more be liable to decay or dissolution. The bodies of the saints shall also be raised immortal. 1 Cor. xv. 53. “ This mortal must put on immortality.” Now their bodies are liable to death, and they carry within them the principles of dissolution; but after the resurrection, they shall no more be liable to death, and shall no more die Again, they shall be raised in power. 1 Cor. xv. 43. is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.” The bodies of the saints which are now weak, shall then be endued with strength, far surpassing our present imaginations. They shall then be strengthened to behold the glory of the Saviour, which in their present state they could not sustain, and one view of which caused John in the Isle of Patmos to fall down as one dead. They shall be strengthened to bear up under that exceeding and eternal weight of glory, which awaits them, and which they could not now possibly bear. And they shall be rendered capable of performing motions and producing actions, far surpassing anything of which we now have any knowledge.Once more, we are informed that the bodies of the saints shall be raised spiritual. 1 Cor. xv. 44. “ It is sown a
natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." By this we are not to understand that the bodies of the saints will be immaterial. Spiritual here is not opposed to material. But we are to understand by it, that the bodies of the saints shall be greatly refined, and be fitted for the pure region of heaven, and to move perhaps with swiftness from one place to another, like spirits; and moreover that they shall be freed from their present wants and appetites, and have no more need of food, rest, sleep, or recreation; and also be fitted for spiritual exercises, and no more be clogs to their souls in the performance of duty, but helpers.
Far different will be the condition, in which the bodies of the wicked shall be raised. The qualities of their bodies also, will at the resurrection be very different, from what they now are. They will be raised in power, incorruptible, and immortal; but these qualities will be their curse. They will be strengthened to bear misery, which in their present state would soon, and immediately, terminate their lives. And they will be raised incorruptible and immortal, that they may never die; but forever endure the heavy wrath of God. They shall also be raised in dishonour; for they shall awake Dan. 12. 2. “ to shame and everlasting contempt.” As the bodies of the righteous will be raised beautiful and glorious, so we have reason to believe that the wicked will come forth of their graves, deformed, hideous, and contemptible in their appearance.
To the bodies both of the righteous and the wicked, thus raised, as we have described, shall the souls which once animated them, be again united. This is necessarily included in the doctrine of the resurrection; for it is certain that the body will not be raised, to continue a lifeless and inactive lump; but to be animated, and to act, and enjoy happiness or endure misery, according to its character in this life. The object of the resurrection is to bring the whole man to judgment, and to reward or punish the whole man; and therefore the soul and body must and will again be united. “The spirits of just men made perfect” (Heb. xii. 33.) shall descend from heaven, and again enter into the bodies with which they were once united. This will be an inexpressibly joyful meeting. The love of the soul to the body is, in this life, very strong. What an unspeakable source of joy, may we suppose it will therefore be to the soul, to re-enter its old. habitation, highly improved, and beautified, freed from frailty, mortality, and sin, and fitted to be a help in the business of heaven, and to participate in its joys! Then will be sung that song of triumph. i Cor. xv. 54, 55, 57. “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory ? Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
And as the souls of the saints shall again be united to their bodies ; so also shall the souls of the wicked. Hell shall deliver up its dead. The souls of the wicked, which ever since their death, have been in the bottomless pit enduring the second death, shall come forth and be re-united to their respective bodies. This will be a dreadful meeting to the soul, to be compelled again to be united to that body, the lusts and appetites of which helped destroy the soul, and which shall now increase its torment forever.
The souls and bodies, both of the righteous and the wicked, being united, the judgment shall succeed. Of this we shall treat in another discourse. When this important day shall come we know not. It is wisely hidden from us, that we may always be ready, and watch for the coming of the Lord. With respect to the generation which shall at that day be found living upon the earth, the Scriptures teach us there will be but few pious among them. After the thousand years of great prosperity which has been promised to the church, Satan is to be loosed again. Our Saviour speaking of the signs of the last day saith. Mat. xxiv. 12. “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” And Luk. xvii. 8. 6 When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth ?" It will also be a day of great security. Mankind generally will be pursuing their business and pleasures, thoughtless about the future, and as little expecting this day as they now are.
Luk. xvii. 26-30. 6 As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark; and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise also, as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded: but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all; even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” They will then be saying to themselves “peace and safety.” 1 Thes. v. 3. Yea many will then be scoffing and deriding the doctrine of the resurrection. 2 Pet. ii. 3, 4. “ There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”
In the midst of this general security and impiety will that day come.
And it will suddenly burst forth, upon a careless and wicked world; as did the flood of waters in the days of Noah; and as did that dreadful storm of fire and brimstone upon the cities of the plain, on the morning that Lot went out of Sodom. Mat. xxiv. 44. “In such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." Mat. xxiv. 27. " For as the lightning cometh out of the East, and shineth even unto the West; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Luk. xxi. 35. “ As a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth." 1 Thes. v. 2, 3. “ The day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they
say peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them."
This great—this dreadful—this delightful day, will be ushered in with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God. Thus we read i Cor. xv. 52. “ In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound.” And i Thes. iv. 16. “ For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God.” The sound of the last trump, which shall then be made will be awfully loud_far louder than ten thousand thunders. It will extend from one end of our world to the other; it will reach the deepest caverns of the grave throughout the vast regions of the dead; it will resound through heaven, and pierce the deepest recesses of the bottomless pit; it will move heaven, earth, and hell-all will be in commotion at the sound. Heaven will rejoice and shout for joy; for the day of the redemption
of the bodies of the saints, and the day of the manifestation of the glory of the Saviour has come. Hell will tremble; for the day of complete vengeance has arrived. And Oh! what surprize and consternation will seize our guilty world at that moment. Some will be engaged in the busy pursuits of life, laying and executing plans, for future wealth and honour, unapprehensive of the approach of this day, and unmindful of their eternal concerns. Some will be drowned in sinful pleasures.Some will be scoffing; and some sleeping. On a sudden the trumpet sounds—the earth is shaken—the heavens open--the Saviour appears. What inexpressible consternation and horror will in that moment seize a thoughtless' world! Suppose the trumpet should this moment sound-What an awful consternation would it excite! It will be as much unexpected when it does sound. Terror inexpressible, and wild dismay will then seize our world in general; while a few here and there who have been looking for this glorious appearance of their Lord and Saviour, will hear the sound with joy.
Seeing then brethren that such scenes are before us, what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness? We now hear the gentle and inviting sound of the gospel trump, proclaiming salvation to a ruined world. Let us listen to this sound and obey its call that we may be prepared to hear the sound of the last trumpet. Let us inquire of ourselves whether we are prepared to hear this solemn sound, and pass the test of that solemn day which it will introduce. Should the trumpet now sound, how would it find us? If we do not hear this call in our day, remember death is approaching. The call to die will soon be given; and it may be given as unexpectedly as the resurrection call. And as the call to return unto the dust finds us, so will the last trump
Let us all therefore continually watch, and be ready for the coming of the Lord.AMEN.