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2. Have Christ and his resurrection such a potent influence upon the resurrection of the saints? Then it is the duty, and will be the wisdom of the people of God, so to govern, dispose, and employ their bodies, as becomes those that understand what glory is prepared for them at the resurrection of the just. Particularly,
Be not fondly tender of them, but employ them for God. How many good duties are lost and spoiled by sinful indulgence to our bodies! Alas! we are generally more solicitous to live long, than to live usefully. How many christians have active, vigorous bodies, yet God hath little service from them! If your bodies were animated by some other souls that love God more than you do, and burn with holy zeal in his service, more work would be done for God in a day, than is now done in a month. To have an able, healthy body, and not use it for God, is as if one should give you a strong and stately horse, upon condition you must not work or ride him. Wherein is the mercy of having a body, except it be employed for God? Will not its reward at the resurrection recompense all the pains now endured in his service?
See that you preserve the due honor of your bodies. * Possess them in sanctification and honor." 1 Thess. 4:4. Oh let not those eyes be now defiled with sin, by which you shall see God,-those ears be inlets to vanity, which shall hear the hallelujahs of the blessed. God hath designed honor for your bodies, Oh make them not either the instruments or objects of sin. There are sins against the body. 1 Cor. 6:18. Preserve your bodies from those defilements, for they are the temple of God; "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy." 1 Cor. 3:17.
Let not the indulgence of your bodies draw your souls into snares, and bring them under the power of temptations to sin. This is a very common case. Oh how many
thousands of precious souls perish eternally for the satisfaction of a vile body for a moment! Their souls must suffer, because the body must be indulged. It is recorded to the immortal honor of those worthies, Heb. 11: 32-35, that they "accepted not deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection." They might have had a temporal resurrection from death to life, from reproach to honor, from poverty to riches, from pain to pleasure; but upon such terms they judged it all not worth acceptance. They would not expose their souls to secure their bodies. They had the same natural affections that other men have. They were made of as tender flesh as we, but such was their care of their souls, and the hope of a better resurrection, that they listened not to the complaints of their bodies. Oh that we all had the same resolution.
Withhold not, upon the pretence of your own temporal wants, that which God and conscience bid you to communicate for the refreshment of the saints, whose present necessities require your assistance. Oh be not too indulgent to your own flesh, and cruel to others. Certainly the consideration of that reward which shall be given you at the resurrection, for every act of christian charity, is a sufficient incentive. And to that end it is urged as a motive to charity: "When thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind; and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just." Luke, 14: 13, 14. It was the opinion of an eminent modern divine, that no man living fully understands and believes that scripture, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matt. 25:40. How few saints would be exposed to daily wants and necessities, if that scripture were but fully understood and believed! 3. Is Christ risen from the dead, and that as a public
person and representative of believers? How are we all concerned to secure to ourselves an interest in Christ, and consequently in this blessed resurrection! What consolation would be left in this world, if the hope of the resurrection were taken away? It is this blessed hope that must support you under all the troubles of life, and in the agonies of death. The securing of a blessed resurrection to yourselves, is therefore your deepest concern. And it may be secured to yourselves, if, upon serious heart-examination, you discover the following evidences:
If you are regenerated, born in a new nature to God, for we are "begotten again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." Christ's resurrection is the ground-work of our hope; and the new birth is our title or evidence of our interest in it. So that until our souls are partakers of the spiritual resurrection from the death of sin, we can have no assurance that our bodies shall be partakers of that blessed resurrection to life. "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection, on such the second death hath no power." Rev. 20: 6. Let not unregenerate souls expect a comfortable meeting with their bodies again. Rise they shall, by God's terrible citation, at the sound of the last trump, but not to the same end that the saints arise. They, and they only, who are sanctified by the Spirit, shall have a joyful resurrection.
If you be dead with Christ, you shall live again by the life of Christ. If we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. Rom. 6: 5, 8. Some refer the word CUMQUTO, (planted together,) to believers themselves; Jews and Gentiles, who "grow together like branches upon the same root;" but I rather understand it with reference to Christ and believers, who are, in other scriptures, said to suffer together, and be glorified together;
to die together, and live together; to be crucified together, and buried together; all showing the communion they have with Christ, both in his death and in his life. Now, if the power of Christ's death, that is, the mortifying influence of it, have been exerted upon our hearts, killing their lusts, deadening their affections, and subduing their appetites, then the power of his life, or resurrection, shall come upon our dead, withered bodies, to revive and raise them up to live with him in glory.
If your hearts and affections be now with Christ in heaven, your bodies in due time shall be there also, and conformed to his glorious body. "For our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his own glorious body." Phil. 3: 20, 21. "The body is here called vile, or the body of our vileness." Not as God made it, but as sin hath marred it. Not absolutely, and in itself, but relatively, and in comparison with what it will be at the resurrection. Then those scattered bones and dispersed dust, like pieces of old broken, battered silver, will be new-cast, and wrought in the best and newest fashion, even like to Christ's glorious body. Whereof we have this evidence, that our conversation is already heavenly. The temper, frame, and disposition of our souls is already so; therefore the frame and temper of our bodies in due time shall be so.
If you strive now to attain the resurrection of the dead, no doubt it shall be yours. This was Paul's great desire, "that by any means he might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." Phil. 3: 11. He means not simply a resurrection from the dead, for that all men shall attain, but that complete holiness and perfection which shall attend the resurrection of the just; so it is explained, verse 12. So then, if God have raised in your hearts a vehement desire and assiduous endeavor after
a perfect freedom from sin, and full conformity to God, in the beauty of holiness, that very love of holiness, and your present pantings after perfection, speak you to be the persons for whom it is reserved.
If you do good in your generation; if you are useful in the world, you shall have part in this blessed resurrection: All that are in the graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life." John, 5: 28, 29. Now it is not every act, materially good, that entitles a man to this privilege; but the same requisites defined as necessary to constitute a good prayer, are also necessary to every good work. The person, matter, manner, and end must be good. Nor is it any single good act, but a series and course of holy actions that is here meant. What an incitement should this be to us all, (as indeed the apostle makes it, closing up the doctrine of the resurrection with this solemn exhortation, 1 Cor. 15: 58, with which I also close,) "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.
THE ASCENSION OF CHRIST.
"Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." John, 20: 17.
We have been following Christ through his humiliation, from the time that he left the blessed bosom of the