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Having thus established the fact, that they might be the more impressed with it, he goes on to show the absurdities and contradictions that would be to be maintained if there was no resurrection : that it would follow that Christ was not raised to life, which he had just then demonstrated by such undeniable evidence, because our resurrection is the assured and appointed consequence of his. It would make the apostles guilty of impious forgery and falsehood, in pretending to work miracles; and appeal to the truth of God in support of their evidence, that Christ had been raised to life; which could not be if his followers were not also to be raised hereafter in their appointed time and order..
A further most deplorable consequence would be, if there was to be no resurrection, that those excellent persons who had given up their lives rather than deny their faith in Christ were lost, and disappointed of all their hopes and promises ; for, if all the prospect of the christian's happiness was to be terminated in the present life, the apostles and others like them, who were continually exposed to sufferings and persecution, would be more hardly dealt with than the rest of mankind, which is
what he would signify by those words: “Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." This latter is not spoken of christians now, or in general, but of christians in particular trying situations, such as fell to the lot of the apostles.
Fallen asleep, you know, in the scripture. phrase, is being dead ; and fallen asleep in Christ is the saine as dying for the sake of Christ, as the term is used in other places, (Eph. iv. 1. Rev. xiv. 13.) dying or being dead in the cause of the gospel, martyrs for it.
Having mentioned these incredible contradictory things that would follow if there was to be no resurrection, the fervent apostle relieves his mind by launching out into an exulting declaration of the reality and absolute certainty of the resurrection of Christ, and of the effects of it in that of his followers, and the character and office of Christ as the appointed judge at the last day; and of his then resigning up his delegated office to God, even the Father, the only true God, having finished the work assigned to him of bringing mankind
to virtue and eternal happiness. After this digression, which is a thing customary with him when his mind is full of a subject, he resumes his argument, of the consequences that would follow if there was to be no resurrection, in the words prefixed to my discourse.
Moreover,” says he, “what must they do, what will become of those who are baptized for the dead,” &c.
Who are the dead that he is here speaking of, you cannot but have in some measure perceived and gathered for yourselves from what the apostle had been stating just before: -not common dead persons, but the dead of a peculiar description; those who had fallen asleep, or died, in Christ for the sake of the gospel, whose lot would have been miserable beyond that of other nien, if there was to be no resurrection; for concerning these he had been last treating
So , far then we seem to have attained towards understanding this being baptized for · the dead; that the dead are those who died in Christ, for his sake, who had suffered for the gospel. With regard to being baptized for the dead,
there is no reason to depart from the usual meaning of a word, when it will yield a suitable convenient sense. Being baptized, then, signifies the being initiated into Christ's religion, embracing the gospel.
The chief difficulty seems to lie in the meaning of the preposition unig, which we translate for, -being baptized for the dead. And I would observe to you, that agreeably to the usage of the Greek language, it may very properly be rendered, by reason of, on account of, for the sake of the dead. See 2 Cor. v. 20. xii. 10. Philip. i. 29.
Having now thus explained the different terms, let us see what sense they will yield put together.
The famous Mr. Locke, in his note upon the passage, says :-“ What this baptizing for the dead was, I confess, I know not; but it seems, by the following verses, to be something wherein they exposed themselves to the danger of death.” And such it turns out to be, according to the construction of the apostle's language, which I have been giving you.
For the being baptized for the dead, or on account of them, of those who had suffered
for the gospel, was the being moved by their example, and virtuous steadiness to the last, to embrace and profess the gospel, at a season when it exposed them to the like sufferings and death. “ If this were not so, that there will be a resurrection," —What is it, think
you, may we suppose our apostle here to say to his Corinthian friends in other words,—“What is it that induces so many to inlist themselves among
the followers of Christ in such circumstances of danger and distress, and suffering and death? Is it not very much on account of those excellent persons who have set them such a brave pattern of giving up their lives rather than renounce the truth; and thereby have afforded the strongest assurance of their belief of, and of the reality of, the virtuous dead being to be raised to an endless life and happiness, which animated them to slight and disregard all present things ?"
Persons generally of most unblemished characters, giving up their lives in torments rather than deny their belief of Christ being a divine messenger and teacher, and of a future life, where men are to be called to a strict account for their behaviour here, could not but affect observers, and make many to think well of