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Touching the resurrection, therefore, there must be no doubt or uncertainty: your minds must not be “spoiled by philosophy or vain deceit.” It is only because “we believe that Jesus died and rose again,” that we believe that “them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him, and so we shall ever be with the Lord.”"
NECESSITY TO CHRISTIANS OF A RESURRECTION.
1 CoR. xv. 12–19.
12, Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection
of the dead? 13. But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14. And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
To deny the resurrection of the Lord, was, in fact, to deny the main principle of the religion of Christ. Some among the Corinthians denied it, as a thing impossible. But if it was impossible in the case of Christ's disciples, it was impossible in the case of Christ himself. The doctrine preached was that he became “very man,” of the substance of his
5 Col. ii. 8. 6 1 Thess. iv. 14–17. 1 Athanas. Creed.
human mother. That as man he died and was buried. Now if it was impossible that his body should rise again, it was equally impossible that his disciples should be raised: and then is our preaching rain, and Ayour faith vain. It rests on no foundation; and they will be disappointed of their hope who have renounced this present world, nay, who have “not counted their lives dear unto themselves,” that they may inherit an everlasting kingdom.
Then also the apostles had been deceivers. They had gone through all the world, declaring, “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.”
15. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17. And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. The opposers of the truth said, that the dead rise not. The same argument would prove that Christ had not risen. But on his resurrection all their faith and all their hopes depended. His resurrection proved the truth of his words, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will build it up.” For “he spake of the temple of his body.” His resurrection was “the assurance which God had given to all men, that he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness.” It was, as we * Acts i. 32; iv. 10; v. 32. * John ii. 19. * See Acts xvii. 31.
may say, the seal which God had set to the truth of all his words. Take away that seal, his words would be unattested: nay more, they would be proved a vain pretension.
Worse followed. Ye are yet in your sins. No atonement has been accepted for them. That God accepted the sacrifice of Elijah, was proved by the fire which came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt-offering with the wood on which it had been laid.” If God had not given this answer to the prophet's prayer, there would have been no proof that Elijah had more of his favour than the priests of Baal. And so, that God accepted the sacrifice made by Jesus upon the cross, that his death was a propitiation for the sins of men, God for his sake “not imputing their trespasses unto them;"—this was proved by his rising from the dead. But if Christ be not raised, there is no longer any satisfaction for sin, “but a fearful looking for of judgment:” and rain would be the faith of those who trusted, that he was “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.” Then they had perished everlastingly, who had fallen asleep in Christ : who had died in peace, believing that they were “accepted in the Beloved.” Nay, those, too, who like Stephen or James had laid down their lives for the faith, “that they might receive a better resurrection;” all had perished. And truly not they only, the apostle proceeds to say, but we all who are now living in the faith of the Son of God, are just objects of pity, if we are to be disappointed of our hope.
* 1 Kings xviii. 38.
19. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable."
What will become of you, if there be no future life? So an infidel once mocked a faithful and selfdenying Christian. He might have replied, though an unbeliever could not have comprehended the answer—“Godliness hath the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come.” The truth is certain, that the man who lives most closely by the christian precepts, will be the happiest man, even in this present world.
The case was very different with those who, like many Christians in that day, were forced to submit to “the spoiling of their goods,” the desertion of their friends, the loss of their means of living: nay, were often exposed to bonds and imprisonment, to torture and death. Surely, take away their everlasting life, they were of all men most miserable. St. Paul could look forward to all that awaited him with unshaken resolution, in order “that he might finish his course with joy.” But if the dead rise not, where was his joy? It had been said, “Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.” But if the dead rise not, there is no heaven, and no “recompense of reward.”
St. Paul, therefore, might justly argue; If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. Above all, we apostles. Every Christian must deny himself, and take up his cross, and be prepared to suffer with his Lord." But first and chiefest, we apostles. If others have their privations and their trials, we have more: we who “ have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as vile, that we may win Christ, and be found in him.” We do not exhort others to make a sacrifice of things below, and set their affections on things above, whilst our own practice contradicts our preaching. All must acknowledge, that if in this life only we have hope, we are of all men most miserable. Not because we have renounced whatever is sinful, and contrary to God's law; for this is blessedness even now ; and sin only, not righteousness, is miserable. But because we wander through the world, having no certain habitation; our life is passed in journeyings, in perils, in weariness, and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” We know not the things that may befal us, “save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, that bonds and afflictions abide us.” Nevertheless we trust the promise; “Every man that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive a hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” “For he is faithful who hath promised, who also will do it.”
* Properly, most pitiable, exeevorarot. 7 1 Tim. iv. 8. * Acts xx. 24. 9 Matt. v. 12. * Matt. xvi. 24.