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ground for this objection against a separate state. He begins, verses 13—23. and argues thus, If there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen ; for he rose as the first-fruits, and his followers shall be the harvest, verse 13. but if there were no harvest, there were no first-fruits : And if Christ be not risen, then our preaching is vain, and your faith is rain; verse 14. " Then we are found false witnesses in matters that relate to God, verse 15. mere imposters, who preach a wicked falsehood, and lead you to hope for a happiness, which ye shall never obtain : For if Christ, who died for our sins ; verse 3. be not raised for our justification, as in Rom. iv. 25. then ye are yet in your sins, ye lie ander the guilt of sin ; and, if so, then also they, which are fallen asleep in Christ, or have died in the faith of Christ, are perished; ver 18. they must either be condemned, or be utterly lost, both sonl and body, having no ground for hope of eternal life, or any life or happiness at all hereafter. Then the hope of christians would be in this life only, and we are miserable creatures, who suffer so much for Christ's sake, verse 19. It would be better for us, who have senses and appetites as well as other men, to indulge these senses and appetites, and eat and drink, for to-morrow we die, and there is an end of us : There can be no future state of happiness, of any kind, for us to expect, either in soul or body, if we have deceived you in the doctrine of the resurrection of Christ, and all our gospel be false : We are then such sort of impostors and wicked cheats, as can have no belief of a future state of rewards or punishments, and we had better act like ourselves, and like mere Epicureans, give ourselves up to all present pleasures, than expose ourselves to perpetual sufferings for the sake of a man, who, if there be no resurrection, died, and never rose again, and therefore cannot make us any recompence. Now, this sort of arguing, does not at all preclude the separate state of happiness, but rather establish it.
I might add bere a further answer to this objection, viz. the apostle is represeating the sufferings of the body for Christ's sake, ver. 30-32. and therefore he thinks it proper to encourage christians with the recompence of the resurrection of the body, without taking any particular notice of the happiness of the separate state of the soul: And, in this view of things, his argument stands good. If there be no resurrection of the body, there is 110 recompence for sufferings in the body ; let us then give the body its pleasures of sense ; let us eat and drink while we live, for there is an utter end of us in death. But, saith he, ver. 33. such evil traditions corrupt good manners, and therefore they are not, they cannot be true: There must be a resurrection of
the body, to encourage sufferings in the body, for the sake of virtue and religion *.
Objection VI. Doth not the New Testament constantly refer the rewards and punishinents of good and bad men, to the time of the resurrection of the dead, or the second coming of Christ? Is it not with this prospect it terrifies the sinners ? Is it not with this it comforts the good man, and supports him under bis present sufferings? It would be endless to cite all the particular texts on this occasion. That one text; 1 Thess. iv. 14, 17, 18. speaks the sense of many others, and is sufficient to be cited here. The apostle persuades christians not to mourn for the dead, as those that sorrow without hope, and gives this reason; for those who sleep in Jesus, God will bring with him, when he comes to raise the dead, and then they shall be for ever with the Lord; and he bids them comfort one another with these words: Whereas their comforts bad been much nearer at hand, if he could have told them of the separate state of happiness, which the departed souls of their friends at present enjoyed; and if there had been any such state, he had the fairest opportunity here to introduce it.
Answer. This very text I have mentioned before as a proof of the separate state, and, it is plain, the apostle seems to bint it, though he doth not insist upon it, when he supposes the soul of the deceased to be with Christ already; for he saith, God will bring them with him ; that is, from heaven, when he comes to raise their bodies. But to give a more general answer to the objection, as drawn from the silence of scripture in many places about this doctrine of the separate state. There are good reasons, why the New Testament more sparingly mentions the separate state of souls, and doth most frequently, but not constantly, refer both rewards and punishments to the resurrection.
1. Because the heathens themselves, at least the wisest and the best of them, did believe some sort of future state of happiness or misery, into which the souls of men should be disposed when they departed from these bodies, according to the
* 'There are several pages of just aod pertinent answer, to this objection, by my learagd and iugenious friend Mr. Heory Grove, in his or Thoughts concerning the Proof of a future Şlate from Reason," which confirm the replies I have here made. Then they, saith be, who are fallen asleep in Chris', by whoun the martyrs geem to be more especially intended, are perished, for any thing that Christ can do for them, who will never reward them for their sufferioge; never restore that life, which they lost for his sake." And particularly his exposition on those words, “ we are most miserable of all men," is very agreeable to the place. The Greek Acevolepou signifies, that we are more to he pitied than any meo, as walling the common understanding of med, to suffer death for Christ's sake, who would never be able to recompence us for it, if he be not risen from the dead." " And it is, saith be, a little afterward, for want of observing the intermediate links of the apostle's argument, which he there represents, that some bave been at a loss for his meaning, while others bare quite mislakea it." See page 124, &c.
vices or virtues they had practised in this life ; and they derived this doctrine from their reasonings upon the foot of the light of nature. The writings of Plato, and bis followers, and the sentiments of Socrates, conveyed to us in Plato's writings, are full of this opinion, viz. of the existence of the souls of good men in a bappy state, when they depart from the body. Cicero sometimes speaks of it as his opinion, bis desire and bis hope, nor were other heathep writers ignorant of this doctrine ; but the New Testament speaks less of this point, because it is the evident design of Christ and bis apostles, to lead their disciples to the more peculiar doctrines of revelation, rather than to treat tbem with sentiments derived from the light of nature: And this doctrine of the resurrection from the dead, and the eternal rewards and eternal punishments that attend it, are more abundantly mentioned in the New Testament, because they stand so much more connected with the gospel of Christ, and with his own resurrection from the dead, which is the chief evidence of its divine authority. It is Christ, who rose from the dead, who is appointed to rise and to judge all mankind ; and therefore, it is natural for the apostles, in their writings, who desire to keep the death and resur. rection of Christ always in the view of their converts, to point to the awful events of that day, when their Saviour, risen from the dead, shall appear in the execution of his glorious commission, and judge the world. Thus St. Paul preaches to the Atheniaus; Acts xvii. 30, 31. God now commands all men every where to repent ; because he hath appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man, whoin he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assurance to all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. And, in many other places, he connects our resurrection, and future recompences, with the resurrection of Christ.
And, in this respect, as well as in some others, the doctrine of rewards and punishments after the resurrection, seems to carry such superior force in it, especially upon those who believe the gospel, that it is no wonder the New Testament inore frequently refers to this great day of resurrection, and the apostle derives the chief part of his consolations or terrors from it.
2. Then will be the public and universal retributions of vice and virtue, in a more solemn manner, exhibited before all the world ; whereas the entrance of maokind, into the recompences of the separate state, is more private and personal. 3. Then will be the day of complete rewards and punishments of man, in both parts of his nature, soul and body : All the separate state belongs only to the soul, and even those recompences are but imperfect before, in comparison of what they will be, when body and soul are united. 4. Then will be the most glorious, visible, and sensible distinction made between the good and bad; and since this belongs to the body as well as the soul, it is very properly set before the eyes of men in the holy writings, as done at the resurrection, because corporeal and sensible things work more powerfully on their imagination, and inore sensibly and effectually strike the consciences of men than the notion of mere spiritual rewards and punishments in the separate state. 5. The state of rewards and punishments after tbe resurrection, will be far the longest and most durable recompence of the good and the bad; and, therefore it is called eternal so often in scripture; everlasting life, and everlasting fire; Mat. xxvi. 46. Whereas the retributions of the separate state, are comparatively but of short duration; and this is another thing that makes a sensible impression on the hearts of men, viz. the eterual continuance of the joys and sorrows that follow the last judgment.
Perhaps it will be replied here, that in the beginning of this essay, I represented the separate state as a more effectual motive to the hopes and fears of men, because the joys and sorrows of it were so much nearer at hand than those of the resurrection : And why do I now represent the recompences
of the resurrection under such characters as are fit to have the strongest influence, and become the most effectual motive?
Answer. It is granted, that the recompences after the resurrection, have several circumstances that carry with them some peculiar and most powerful motives to religion aud virtue ; but that awful day may still seem to want this one motive, viz. the nearness of it, which belongs eminently to the recompences of the separate state. Now, if the scripture does really reveal the doctrine of rewards and punishments of souls immediately after death, and of soul and body together at the resurrection, then all those circumstances of effectual motive to piety, are collected in our doctrine, viz. the immediate nearness of them in the separate state, and the public appearance, the universality, the completeness, the seusibility, and the duration of them after the great rising-day.
I might yet take occasiou from this objection to give a further reason why the apostles more frequently draw their motives of hope and fear from the resurrection and the great judgment ; that is, that even that day of recompence was generally then supposed to be near at hand, and so there was less need to insist upon the joys and sorrows of the separate state.
As the patriarchs and the Jews of old, after the Messiah was promised, were constantly expecting his first coming almost in every generation, till he did appear, and many modes of prophetical expression in scripture, which speak of things long to come, as though they were present, or just at land, gave them some occasion for this expectation ; so the christians of the first age, did generally expect the second coming of Christ to juilgment, and the resurrection of the dead, in that very age wherein it was foretold. St. Paul gives us a hint of it in 2 Thess. ii. 1,2. They sapposed the day of the Lord was just appearing. And many expressions of Christ concerning his return or coming agaiu after his departure, seemed to represent bis absence as a thing of no long continuance. It is true, these words of his may partly refer to his coming to destroy Jerusalem; and the coming in of his kingdom among the Gentiles, or his coming by his messenger of death, yet they generally in their supreme and final sease, point to his coming io raise the dead and judge the world : And from the words of Christ, also concerning John, chapter xxi. 22. If I will that he tarry till I come; it is probablc that the apostles themselves at first, as well as other christiaus, nigbt derive this apprehension of his speedy coming.
It is certain that when Christ speaks of his coming in general, and promiscuous and parabolical terms, whether with regard to the destruction of Jerusalem, or the judgment of the world, he saith, Mat. xxiv. 34. Verily I say to you, this generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled. And the apostles frequently told the world, the coming of the Lord was near; Phil. iv. 5. The Lord is at hand. Heb. X. 24. Exhorting one another-so much the more, as you see the day approaching. And that this is the day of the coming of Christ, verse 37. assures us, For yet a little while, he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Rom. xiii. 12. Now it is high time to awake out of sleep. The night is far spent; the day is at hand. 1 Pet. iv. 5. To him who is ready to judge the quick and the dead. Verse 7. The end of all things is at hand. James v. 8, 9. The coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Behold the judge standeth at the door. Rev. xxii. 10. Seal not up the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. Verse 12. And, behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give to every man as his work shall be : And the sacred volume is closed with this assurance ; verse 20.
verse 20. Surely, I come quickly ; and the echo, , and expectation of the apostle, or the church, Amen, even so come Lord Jesus.
It is granted, that in prophetical expressions, such as all these are, some obscurity is allowed: And it may be doubtful, perhaps, whether some of them may refer to Christ's coming, by the destruction of Jerusalem, or his coming to call particular persons away by his messenger of death, or his apa pearance at the last judgment. It is granted also, it belongs to prophetical language so set things far distant, as it were, before our eyes, and make them seem present, or very near at hand. But still these expressions had plainly such an influence