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Luke rir. 14.
CHAP. IX. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first
resurrection ; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.' Here a resurrection is spoken of, distinct in time and character from another resurrection to follow after a given interval. And what can this resurrection be but that resurrection of the just' of which Christ speaks with marked emphasis, and which St. Paul tells the Thessalonians shall occur at the Lord's advent? It is not a general resurrection that is then to take place ; but, when the Lord shall descend from heaven, it is the dead in
Christ that are to rise. And with this the following 1 Cor. xv. 22, 23. exactly corresponds : ‘For as in Adam all die, even
so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own troop: Christ the firstfruits ; then afterwards they that are Christ's at his coming.' It must be a resurrection of a special and distinct character to which our Lord refers, when He speaks of those who shall be accounted worthy to obtain that age (the coming one) and the resurrection from the dead.' Seeing that all the dead some time or other are to be raised, it must be a distinctive resurrection that St. Paul aspired after, when he declared his willingness to suffer the loss of all
things, so that he might win Christ and be found Phil. iii 7–11. in Him, that he might know Him, and the power
of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death, 'If by any means,' he says, “I may attain (eis tņu ēšaváo. τασιν την εκ νεκρών) unto the resurrection from among the dead.'
Luke xx. 35.
And when we remember with what this resurrection of the just is associated, at what time it is to occur, and what it is preliminary to, we wonder not at the emphasis put upon it, or that this first resurrection should be so longed for and aspired unto. The resurrection of the just will be the completion of their redemption. When these Luke xxi. 28. things begin to come to pass,' the things betokening his near approach, then,' says our Lord, 'look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh. But how so? Are not they who will thus lift up their heads at the appearing of the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, are they not already redeemed, having been bought with the price of the precious blood of Christ, and made the children of God by the grace of adoption ? True, and yet so long as they are in the present body of humiliation, or so long as they have not put on the celestial body, though by death they may have put off the other, so long is their adoption not fully realized, their redemption not completed. Therefore does St. Paul represent Christian believers as sharing in the travail and earnest expectation of all nature.
For we know that the whole creation groaneth Rom. viii. 22, 23. and travaileth in pain together until now. And not it only, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body. That redemption will consist in the investiture of the saints with " a 1 Cor. xv. 44. spiritual body' in place of the natural body,' in the corruptible putting on incorruption, in the mortal putting on immortality. That, as to the
Rom. xiii. 11.
sleeping saints, is to be effected at their resurrection ; as to the living saints at their rapture,
when caught up together with the risen saints to 1 Cor. xv. 51, 52. meet the Lord in the air. “Behold,' says St. Paul,
'I show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. And because this completion of redemption is to be brought to pass at the coming of the Lord, therefore with reference to the approach of the day of Christ, does St. Paul say to the Romans, "Now is our salvation nearer than when we became believers.' Therefore, because the present indwelling of the Holy Ghost is the earnest to the saints of their ultimate reclothing with a spiritual body, does he say to the Ephesians, Grieve ye not the Holy Spirit of God, by whom ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.' Therefore, because Christ Himself at his coming will accomplish this con
summating transformation, does he say to the Phil. iii, 20, 21. Philippians, “For our conversation is in heaven,
from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our body of humiliation, that it may be fashioned like anto the body of his glory, according to the energy of his all-subduing power.'
And in these spiritual bodies, bodies fashioned after that very body with which the Son of Man Himself will come in his glory and kingdom, shall the children of the resurrection and the living saints meet the Lord, and with Him come to reign
Eph. iv. 30.
Lv ke xxi, 36.
on the earth. And bearing in mind what this
Lifted above the passions and prejudices, the wants and weaknesses of human nature, yet linked in with it as really and intimately as He is, who by his incarnation inseparably allied Himself to it, and to whose humanity they will themselves have then been assimilated, surely, as such will they become devoted and effective coadjutors indeed in the recovery of that race for the sake of which the Son of God was made the Son of Man.
If angels, though not in nature associated with man, are interested spectators and willing agents in the great process of human redemption, what shall be their interest in it, who, themselves once fallen men, have so experienced the regenerating grace and transforming power of Christ's kingdom? What potent instruments, moreover, are they likely to prove, in the winning over of subjects unto Christ and in the administration of the mediatorial kingdom, who in
their own person will present to the eyes of the dwellers on the earth such wondrous trophies of the might and mercy of the Saviour King ; and who, not only without let or hindrance of bodily passion or infirmity, but in all the unwearied vigour of their spiritual and celestial bodies, shall be able to carry on the great work appertaining to them, as a royal priesthood in the realm of the Son of Man ?
But when shall these things begin to come to pass, when will the sign of the Son of Man be seen in the heavens? To this question the sacred oracles refuse altogether to return an answer.
While certain premonitory signs are given, such as on the approach of the advent will indicate that it is at hand, nothing is said by our Lord, or by any of the inspired writers, to enable us to assign any specific date to that event. On the contrary, the disciples were distinctly told—in reply to their question, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel ?'— It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father has put in his own power.' And yet more distinctly He declared, in his prophetic discourse on the very subject of his coming, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.' That our Lord should not have known the day of his own coming need not surprise us, if we only consider rightly his human nature and mediatorial office, and his subordination in that nature and office to the Father. Remember how it is said of Jesus that He increased in wisdom,' that the Spirit was given Him as a “spirit of wisdom and understanding,' that He
Acts i. 6, 7.
Mark xiii. 32.
Luke ii. 52.
Isa, xi, 2.
John viii. 28.