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opened, and their bodies quickened : as he said when he raised Lazarus, "I am the resurrection and the life.” John, 11:25.
4. It may therefore be truly affirmed, that though some dead saints were raised to life before the resurrection of Christ, yet Christ is "the First-born from the dead," as he is called, Col. 1: 18. For though Lazarus and others were raised, yet it was not by themselves, but by Christ. It was by his virtue and power, not their own. And though they were raised to life, yet they died again; but Christ dieth no more. " Death hath no dominion over him.” He was the first-born from the dead, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence. 5. Christ rose as a public person ;
the first-fruits of them that slept.” 1 Cor. 15 : 20. I desire that this may be well understood; for upon this account it is that our resurrection is secured to us by the resurrection of Christ; and not a resurrection only, but a blessed and happy one, for the first-fruits both assured and sanctified the whole harvest.
Now that Christ did rise as a public person, representing and comprehending all the elect, who were called the children of the resurrection, is plain from Eph. 2:6, where we are said to be risen with, or in him. So that, as we are said to die in Adam, as the branches die in the death of the root; so we are said to be raised from death in Christ, who is the Head, Root, and Representative of all his spiritual seed. And why is he called the First-born, and First-begotten from the dead, but with respect to the whole of those that are also to be born from the dead in their time and order? As sure as the whole harvest follows the first-fruits, so shall the general resurrection of the saints to life eternal follow this birth of the first-born from the dead. It shall surely follow it, and that not only as a consequent follows an antecedent, but as an effect follows its proper cause.
There is a three-fold influence of Christ's resurrection upon the resurrection of the saints, as at once its meritorious, efficient, and exemplary cause:
The resurrection of Christ is a meritorious cause of the saints' resurrection, as it completed his satisfaction, and so our justification is properly assigned to it. Rom. 4 : 25.
It is also the efficient cause of it. For when the saints shall rise, they shall be raised by Christ as their Head, in whom is the effective principle of their life. Your life is "hid with Christ in God.” Col. 3 : 3. So Rom. 8:10. "And if Christ be in you, the body indeed is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness :" that is, though you are really united to Christ by the Spirit, yet your bodies must die as well as other men's; but your souls shall be immediately, upon your dissolution, swallowed up in life. And then it follows, verse 11, "But if the Spirit of him that raised up
Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised
Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you;" that is, though your bodies must die, yet they shall live again in the resurrection; and that by virtue of the Spirit of Christ which dwelleth in you, and is the bond of your mystical union with him your Head. You shall not be raised as others are, by a mere word of power, but by the Spirit of life dwelling in Christ your Head, which is a choice prerogative indeed.
Christ's resurrection is also the exemplary cause or pattern of our resurrection. "He being the first and best, is therefore the pattern and measure of all the rest.” " Who shall change our vile body that it may be fa. shioned like unto his glorious body." Phil. 3:21. Now the conformity of our resurrection to Christ's
may ticed in the following particulars :
Christ's body was raised substantially the same that it
was before ; and so will ours be. Not another, but the same body. "This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal, immortality.” 1 Cor. 15 : 53. It will be the same body, not another body in its stead. Should God prepare another body to be raised instead of this, it would not be a resurrection, but a creation.
His body was raised, not by a word of power from the Father, but by his own Spirit. So the resurrection of the saints is to be effected, as already said, by his Spirit which now dwelleth in them. That very Spirit of Christ which effected their spiritual resurrection from sin, shall also effect their corporeal resurrection from
His body was raised first: he had in this, as well as in other things, the pre-eminence; so shall the saints, in respect to the wicked, have the pre-eminence in the resurrection, ." The dead in Christ shall rise first.” 1 Thess. 4 : 16. They are to attend the Lord at his coming, and will be brought forth sooner than the rest of the world to attend on that service.
Christ's body was marvellously improved by the resurrection; and so will ours be. It fell in weakness, but was raised in power, no more capable of sorrow, pain, and dishonor. In like manner our bodies are
sown in weakness, but raised in strength; sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown natural bodies, raised spiritual bodies," 1 Cor. 15:43, 44. No infirmities attend glorified bodies, nor are they henceforth subject to any of those natural necessities by which they are now bound. There are no defects or deformities in the children of the resurrection. What members are now defective or deformed, will then be restored to their perfect being and beauty; "for," as Tertullian says, "if the universal death of all parts be rescinded by the resurrection, how much more the partial death of any single member !" From thenceforth they are free from the law of mortality,
" They can die no more." Luke, 20:35, 36. Thus shall they be improved by their resurrection.
Again, Christ's body was raised from the dead to be glorified and crowned with honor. Oh it was a joyful day to him; and so will the resurrection of the saints be to them the day of the gladness of their hearts. It will be said to them in that morning, "Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust.” Isa. 26 : 19. Oh how comfortable will be the meeting between the glorified soul and its new-raised body. Three things will make it so.
The gratification of the soul's natural desire of union with its own body. For even glorified souls in heaven have such a desire of re-union. We are all sensible of the soul's affection to the body now, its sympathy with it, and unwillingness to be separated from it. It is said to be " at home in the body.” 2 Cor. 5 : 6. This inclination remains in heaven, it reckons not itself completely happy till its older dear companion and partner be with it. Now, when this inclination to its own body, its longings after it, are gratified with the sight and enjoyment of it again, what a joyful meeting will this be! especially if we consider,
The excellent temper and state in which they shall meet each other. For, as the body shall be raised with all the improvements and endowments imaginable which may render it every way desirable, so the soul comes down immediately from God out of heaven, shining in its holiness and glory. And thus it re-enters its body, and animates it again.
But that wherein the chief joy of this meeting consists, is the end for which the glorified soul comes down to quicken and repossess it, namely, to meet the Lord, and ever to be with the Lord; to receive a full reward for all the labors and services it performed for God in this world. This must make that day a day of triumph and exaltation. It comes out of the grave, as Joseph
out of prison, to be advanced to the highest honor. Oh do but imagine with what an ecstasy of joy the soul will thus resume its own body, and say, as it were, unto it, Come away, my dear, my ancient friend, who servedst and sufferedst with me in the world; come along with me to meet the Lord, in whose presence I have been ever since I parted with thee. Now thy bountiful Lord hath remembered thee also, and the day of thy glorification is come. Surely it will be a joyful meeting. What a joy is it for dear friends to meet after long separation; how they usually give demonstrations of their love and delight in each other by embraces, kisses, and tears. And frame to yourselves the idea of perfect health, when a sprightly vivacity runs through every part, and the spirits, as it were, overflow as we go about any business; especially such as the business of that day will be, to receive a crown and a kingdom. Do but imagine what a bright morning this will be, and how the pains and agonies, cold sweats and bitter groans at parting will be recompensed by the joy of such a meeting!
INFERENCE 1. If Christ was thus raised from the dead, then death is overcome, and swallowed up in victory: were it not so, it had never let Christ escape out of the grave. Death is a dreadful enemy, it defies all the sons and daughters of Adam. None but Christ dared cope with this king of terrors, and he, by dying, foiled it in its own territories and dominions, and came off conqueror. For, as the apostle says, it was impossible it should hold or detain him. Acts, 2 : 24. Never did death meet with its over-match before, and Christ conquering it for us, and in our names rising as our representative, now every single saint triumphs over it as a vanquished enemy: "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory ? Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor. 15 : 55, 57. Thus, like Joshua, they set the foot of faith upon the neck of this king of terrors.