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light could not teach.

The occasion was this:

These christians of Thessalonica, in Greece, where some few of their descendants still remain, had been brought by bim to the knowledge of the one true God, and of the way to his favour for ever, as discovered by Jesus Christ; and on this account were greatly attached to him, and no less beloved by him in return for their ready acceptance of the truth. And being exceedingly anxious for their

perseverance in it, especially on account of the

persecutions to which they were exposed, and which had driven him away from them, he sends his favourite Timothy with this letter to inquire after and to be helpful to them.

The heathens were wont to make prodigious howlings and lamentations at the death of their friends and relations; which well they might, as they had nothing solid to rest upon that all was not then over with them. St. Paul perhaps had heard by some channel or other, that his new christian converts at Thessalonica continued still to give into these unseemly excesses at the funeral of their friends; he therefore judged it needful to correct their error, and to teach them better.

« But

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren,” says he, "concerning them which are asleep ; that ye sorrow not even as others which have no hope. For as we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you, by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent (or have the precedence of) those that are dead. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we, which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we be ever with the Lord.”

Of the several curious circumstances which the apostle discovers here to us, relating to the virtuous and approved of God in the future world at the resurrection, I shall select only the first, which concerns our knowledge of each other hereafter.

And the apostle's argument stands thus :

He entreats them not to abandon themselves to frantic extravagant grief for those who were


snatched away by death, as if, like the heathens, they had nothing to look to with respect to them in another world:

For that he could say to them with authority from God, that, as surely as Christ himself was raised from the dead, and was now alive, as he had taught them, who with others had seen him alive, they might in like manner depend upon his word, that at his second coming, Jesus, their exalted Lord, would bring with him all their dead friends raised to life to meet them, should it be the lot of any of them to have their life prolonged to that awful day: which, by the way, you will observe, he only puts as a supposition, but does not assert it. So that from the consolation which the

apostle ministers to these persons for their dear friends and relations taken away from them, that they must not mourn for them without hope, it is plain that he means, without hope of seeing and conversing with them again.

For though it might be some alleviation of sorrow to know that those we love were to live again and be happy, though we were to be bereaved of their loved society; yet never to see more for ever the beloved parent, child, husband, wife, friend, would cause us

pain, whilst memory held its place within


The apostle, therefore, assuredly would give them to understand that they would have a mutual personal knowledge of each other in the next state, because otherwise their happiness would be less complete.

The like inference of the christian's mutual knowledge of each other hereafter, is to be drawn from what our apostle a little before says to these his new converts, in a strain of devout exultation, to encourage them to go on as they had begun unto the end.

“ For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing ? are not even ye in the presence

of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming ? For ye are our glory and joy.” (ii. 19, 20.) 9. d. My happiness, my reward, my future satisfaction and pleasure, will all arise from your virtuous improvements and constancy in the truth, and from my having been the happy instrument of it,—when I shall be applauded for it by Jesus Christ, my Lord and Master, and our appointed judge, and for all my anxieties and labours

for you.

This kind of language, you see, without any further proof, plainly teaches that the apostle


would have a personal knowledge of these christians, and they of him, at the resurrection.

It is also to be remarked that our Lord's discourse, like that of his apostles, was generally such as implied that niankind were to know each other in the next world, though he never explicitly declared it.

Luke xx. 27. When certain of the Sadducees, who believed not in a future state, proposed to him a difficulty which they thought would overturn it ; how to decide of a woman that had had seven husbands, whose wife she was to be at the resurrection

He is far from telling them that our knowledge of each other would then be at an end ; but, on the contrary, he intimates that the attachment arising from partial animal affections would cease; whilst affection, founded on just esteem, and desires and aims after mutual virtuous improvement in the married state, would last for ever.

It all along appears, from our Saviour's conversations with and instructions to his chosen disciples, that their personal knowledge of him, their divine Master, and of each other, was understood to be renewed and subsist after death.


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