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and it runs in this wise : “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if 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 them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with 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 ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” 1

Now it is avowedly the purpose of the Apostle, to afford by these words "comfort" to the Thessalonians, who were under affliction for their deceased friends; and in order to afford them “ comfort," the “ hope" which he suggests must be taken as co-extensive with their “ sorrow." But when we reflect on the affections, which are natural to the human heart, and bear in mind that a prominent motive to sorrow on the decease of friends is the survivors' sense of separation from the society of those whom they love; we shall think it reasonable to believe, that the sorrow” of these Thessalonians was caused, not merely by anxiety concerning the future resurrection of their departed friends, absolutely considered, but by an apprehension also that they may have been by death separated from them for ever; and hence we may think it reasonable to believe, that the CONSOLATORY LANGUAGE of the Apostle was directed to the removal of such an apprehension; and to the establishment of the

11 Thess. iv. 13-18.

hope” that the deceased should not only rise again themselves, but should be re-united to the survivors in a future state.

And this is agreeable to the Apostle's language; which speaks first of the deceased and the survivors, under the phrases respectively of them which are asleep,” and “us which are alive and remain,” as actually separated from each other; and then says of the latter, that “they shall be caught up together with” the former s in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so," he adds, “ shall we," that is,

” apparently, the whole body of us re-united, “ever be with the Lord.” Thus, supposing the Thessalonians, who had survived their friends at the time of the Apostle's writing, to have remained alive on earth “ unto the coming of the Lord,” St. Paul appears to teach that they should then be re-united with those who had previously fallen “asleep."

. Hence we may understand it to be probable concerning friends in general, who are separated by cath, that, should the life of the survivors be



longed to “ the Lord's coming,” they will then be re-united with the deceased.

And what we thus understand concerning separated friends, some departed and others surviving at the period of the Lord's coming, is obviously to be understood concerning those also, all of whorn may have departed hence before that period; namely, that they will all be re-united together at the coming of the Lord.

This interpretation of the Apostle's language may be illustrated and confirmed by the remark, that even under the Old Testament COMFORT was derived from the persuasion, that in a future life a re-union would be effected of those ties of affection which had been severed in this life. The reader will readily call to mind the affecting language of David, wherein he explains the motives of his conduct, first during the illness, and then after the death, of his child. 66 While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast ? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.'

The particular phrase to which I allude is that, wherein the parent comforts himself under his bereavement by the reflection, that, although the child could not return to him, he himself should go


1 2 Sam. xii. 22, 23.

to the child. “I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” Will it be said, that David by these words means no more, than the being gathered with the child into the sepulchre of his fathers? I answer, that this is a gratuitous assumption: that the words really convey a further meaning; that they are the expression not merely of submission to the will of the Almighty in the general ordinance of death, but of consolation in anticipating the remedy by which the painful effects of that ordinance would be counteracted; not of melancholy acquiescence in the prospect of the corpses of the father and the child being deposited in the same state of lifelessness and insensibility, but of cheerful exultation in looking forward to the re-union of their spirits in a state of animation and intelligence, of pleasure and delight. That David was apprized of such a state of existence, is plain beyond reasonable contradiction from his own explicit avowals, especially from that in the sixteenth Psalm. And,

, admitting that such was his belief, we cannot be satisfied with less than the supposition, that such a state was the subject of his contemplation on this occasion; and that he comforted himself with the assurance, that the child, whom God hath taken from him in this life, he would restore to him in the life to come.


Weep for the dead! God bids you not restrain,

What nature claims, affection's soothing tear,

like Christian mourners! Tho' the bier Bear him away to death's obscure domain; Yet he with you, who still on earth remain,

The summons of the Archangel's voice shall hear;

And he with you before the Lord appear, Soar to the clouds, and meet you there again. Weep then, but do not as the hopeless weep,

For them who rest in Christ! A common prize Awaits both them, and you, and all who keep

His truth, and love his coming in the skies. They, in the Saviour who or wake or sleep,

Shall all united in the Saviour rise.




I PROCEED to notice, and to lay before the reader's consideration under one point of view, three or four passages, in which St. Paul speaks of the CONNEXION between himself and several of the Christian churches to whom his epistles were addressed; and which appear to bear upon the subject of our present inquiry.

In the first chapter of his second epistle to the Corinthians, the Apostle thus expresses himself:

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