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for the treatment which he received there, we inay consult Aets xix.; and for the import and the propriety of the language, in which he describes it, 2 Tim. iv. 17, and I Pet. v. 8.*
35. Here Paul enters on the inquiry, what will be the nature of the resurrection body? His answer and illustrations of it extend to the 50th verse.
36, ' “ Thou fool," "Thou unthinking" or "inconsiderate man." The original word is far milder than what our Lord employs in Matt. v. 22, &c., &c.
37, 38. There is no good reason for controverting either the doctrine or the fact maintained in these verses. The form and quality of the product of seed committed to the ground, depend on-the Creator's will and agency'; and the reproduction of the grain is accompanied by a contexture, &c., such as the stem, the blossom, &c., not a little different from the “ bare grain" cast into the earth. Paul draws no analogy between the resurrection of the body and the revival of the buried seed, so far as concerns the evidence supporting either of these events, but makes use of an implied comparison, for the purpose of shewing that there is not any natural impossibility, or even improbability, in the tenet :which he proclaims. It has been ob served, that' our Saviour employs á similar expression [John xii. 24] : “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground, and die, it abidetli alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit,'
39—45. Variety obtains in the animal as well as in the vegetable world, in the lieavens, and on the earth.' We perceive a gradation in created objects : many of them pass from a low to a far higher stage of excellence. In like manner, by means of the resurrection of the dead, the process of man's improvement is regularly carried on; and this in respect of his extemal no less than of his inward frame.
The subject of the second clause of ver. 42, like that of the 43rd and 44th verses, is “the body." See ver. 40. A natural body, is a grossly material body-a spiritual body, a body far more refined.
Schleusner, [Lex. &c.,] on the origival word, is of opinion that the apostle fought literally with wild beasts. Nerertheless, history is silent as to his doing so: Paul himself does not enumerate this sort of covflict among his sufferings, [2 Cor. xi. 23-30; 1 Cor. iv, 9-14,] nor does the term require such an interpretation.
45–50. Between glorified Christians and their risen and ascended Master, a close resemblance will subsist. While they were mortal and merely human beings, they bore perishable bodies: when they shall behold the Saviour as he is, the fashion of his spiritual-body will be theirs. 1 John jii. 2.
In ver. 45, the quotation is from Gen. ii. 7, came a living soul :" what follows, “the last Adam,” &c., is Paul's own language.
Of whom this apostle speaks as "the Lord from heaven," and why he so designates him, we learn from a parallel text, Philipp. iii. 20, 21, and from ! Thess. i. 10, iv. 16, &ç. &c. There is the strictest propriety in this represen tation : the second man" will descend from heaven; and le no longer bears a corruptible, but a spiritual and hea veply body.
Paul now sums up his reasoning and declarations in this chapter. He affirins the impossibility of flesh and blood inheriting the victorious kingdom of God: he distinctly proclaims that the dead shall be raised incorruptible; in anticipation of that glorious event, he breaks forth into an anthem of triumph and of praise--and he concludes the whole with a practical exhortation, accompanied by a seas sorrable and most encouraging assurance.
50, 51, - a mystery," or "something hitherto kept secret,” which is the Scriptural meaning of the word mystery.
be changed," i. e. " be clothed upon with an ipperishable, in the room of a decaying body:" in reading the second and third clauses of this verse, we should distinctly mark, as emphatic, the terms, all, sleep, be changed. The exception which the apostle makes, is, I think, of those righteous men who would be living at the season of Christ's final advent.
52, “ — for the trumpet," &c. In many printed copies of the New Testament this clause is with reason exhibited parenthetically: and so it should be read-not as a mate rial part of the description, but as a mere adjunct and circumstance. 1 Thess. iv. 16. Probably, the image has been borrowed from Exod. xix. 16, xx. 18: one use of the trumpet, among the Jews, was to summon the attention of the people, on occasions of more than usual solemnity. 54. In this verse a stress must be placed on the two
words, when and then, as marking the event that will be the consummation of the reign of death.
The former part of the quotation which follows, is from Is. xxv. 8 [Dodson's note in loc. ]; the remainder from Hosea xiii. 14 [Newcome's note in loc.).
56, 57. To genuine Christians, and it is of the resurrection of such exclusively that the apostle now speaks, death is disarmed of his sting, by means of the gospel, which establishes the welcome doctrines of forgiveness of sins, and an immortality of bliss to penitent believers.
58," - uumoveable." The expression in the original is particularly forcible; two prepositions being employed together with an adjective to form the compound word. It signifies not moveable from one thing, one doctrine, one master, to another. Arist. Ethic. [Wilkinson, 1716,] p. 65; Thucyd. v. 21; and Joseph. Antiq. I. c. i. $ 2.
Let me, in conclusion, remark, that the most sublime discourse ever penned on mortality and immortality is applied by its author, not to the purpose of enjoining ab. straction from the present world, but to the only end which our frame and state, our habits and expectations, admit—that of inciting our activity in the discharge of our duties, and our fortitude in the endurance of our sufferings.
ON THE DOCTRINES OF THE GOSPEL,
March 8, 1828. EVERY believer in Revelation admits there are important doctrines taught in the New Testament; but of the nature and extent of those doctrines, opinions vary, and hence sects arise. That some are more clearly laid down than others, none will deny. Some are plainly expressed by our Saviour, others only by his Apostles ; but as they were the representatives of their Great Master, we may suppose them intrusted with important truths, which were subsequently to be made known to mankind. This is, I think, not a mere matter of 'inference, but shewn by our Saviour's gradual mode of imparting instruction according to time and circumstances. Agreeably to Paul's language, the strong food of adults was not suited to the infant state of Christianity; and this seems to account for the indirect answers often given by Jesus to those around him. He
well knew that the weakness and prejudice of mankind would not readily admit an universal change of ancient customs and opinions all at once; and this knowledge of human nature led our Saviour by degrees only to instruct his disciples : even his important character as the Messiah was not publicly owned by him in express terms during his ministry, for, conversing with his disciples relative to himself, be charged them to tell no one that he was the Christ. Mark viii. 27-30. If we ask, wby this reserved ness, perhaps the previous remark may apply-the time was not yet come. He knew it was necessary to act, with much caution, fearing the power of the Sanhedrim ; therefore, rather than confess himself the Messiah, le patiently filled
up the time of his ininistry, until the minds of the multitude were better prepared for a full manifestation of his great office. It was not until the closing scene of his life, and particularly at the institution of the last passover, that he avowed himself the Messiah in less ambiguous terms than before. If, then, this important doctrine were thus slowly introduced to the minds of men as they were able to bear it, why not admit, that others also might be taught, which, though not apparent in the Gospels, were in due time brought forward and repeatedly enforced in the Epistles, as essential to be believed? Those to which I allude are, redemption by the death of Christ, and atonement by his sufferings; doctrines which, I know, are to Unitarians, as they were to the Jews of old, “a stumblingblock, and words of offence." But because they are objectionable as stated by the Calvinist, is that a reason for rejecting them entirely? Well would it be for us, did we neither add unto the words of Scripture, nor take from them. Let us, however, avoid extremes. There is an old saying, “the medium is best;" if this applies to common things, why not to important ones? It may be said, truth must be sought, however far it may lead us in the search, or in opposition to commonly-received opinions. It may not be like the Philosopher's stone, but is it not presuming too much to say, we have found it? Is that consistent with those feelings of humility which become us, the mere creatures of a day?. Inclined as I am to support those doctrines in a certain sense, far be it from me to overlook that antecedent love of God to which we owe the mission of our Saviour. But whilst I thus consider hiin as subor dinate to the Father, still I think scripture supports the
idea that the dignity of the agent implied a more important service than merely to reform and enlighten the world. If we turn to 1 Pet. i. 18, 19, ii, 24, ii. 18, iv. 1 ; 1 Jobo i. 7, ii. 2, ii. 16, with various others throughout the Epistles, shall we have clearer views of them, as applied to a mere human being like ourselves? Will not the reward promised, and the end obtained, be disproportioned to the means used—“ That he was to have a name given him, that is above every name, not only in this world, but in that which is to come" ? &c. Paul also speaks of the 's love of Christ wbich passeth knowledge.” Various attempts have been made to explain the doctrines of atone. ment, redemption, satisfaction, &c. But let us, rather, as Bishop Butler says, “thankfully receive the benefit, without disputing how it was procured.”—Butler's Analogy of Religion, Part II. ch. v. To return, however, to my proposition, that doctrines were tauglit when mankind could best bear them ;-besides our Saviour's reluctance to avow! himself the Messiah in the early part of his ministry, even his style of preaching to the people varied with círcumstarices: this will, I think, appear, if we compare his first sermon on the Mount with a subsequent one from a ship, whilst the multitude was on the shore. Matt. xiii. ; Mark iv.; Luke viii. In the first instance, he delivered plain, pure morality, which all might understand; in the second, bis subject was delivered in parables, and its meaning to be known only to a few : thus, as before noticed, instructing his bearers when their winds were sufficiently prepared. He tells them, Jobo xvi. 12, “ I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.' By Acts i. 3, we find he was seen of the apostles forty days after his resurrection, speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: what these things were is not stated; but is it not reasonable to infer, that those precepts and doctrines which we find in the Epistles were further instructions, probably communicated at this time, which Paul and others imparted to the churches according as they might best apply? Let us, for instance, just suppose the doctrine of atonement for sin by his death to have been taught ; could that with so much propriety have been preached in public before those facts were fulfilled upon which it was founded,-namely, his death, resurrection, and ascension? Why then shall we not conclude, that doctrines are introduced in the Epistles which may not