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in the preceding verse. “'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." The apostle classes himself here with those who shall be alive upon the earth at the second and glorious appearing of Jesus Christ; and discloses the fact, that the physical change which they must undergo before being “ caught up to meet the Lord in the air,” shall not take place till after the dead are raised. They shall not in the experiencing of that wonderful transformation anticipate or go before "them which are asleep.” The rising of the wicked, as a distinct class, is not even alluded to in the passage; and unless we suppose that the resurrection of all the dead will be a simultaneous event, many of the descriptions which are given of it in the scriptures would be destitute of propriety, and could scarcely be considered to be in accordance with truth. Let the words of the Saviour be taken as an illustration of this remark :-" When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all his holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.” But if the righteous rise in one company at one time, and the wicked in a different company at another time, there could be no process of separation resembling that which is here described. His language elsewhere greatly strengthens this representation. " The hour is coming in
which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth ; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." What mode of expression can more clearly show that all the inhabitants of the tomb shall rise together, and be summoned to appear in one vast, promiscuous assembly before the judgment-seat?
The rising of the dead, we are taught to believe, will not be preceded by any circumstances in the course of nature to lead an unthinking world to expect it. It will take place unawares, and surprise men in the midst of their pleasures and crimes. The tide of human affairs will be rolling on as formerly, and the great mass of mankind sunk in indifference and sensuality. “As in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be." Seeing no visible indications of the approaching change, and all things continuing as they were from the beginning of the creation, they will be forming plans and executing them with as much eagerness as if time had but begun its career.
“ No sign of change appeared : to every man
That day seemed as the past. From poontide path
When suddenly, alas, fair earth! the sun
The appearance of the Son of God in the clouds, clothed in all the pomp and overwhelming grandeur of the upper world, will produce feelings in the minds of men which no language can adequately express. What consternation and dismay will seize them when they hear the thunders of the last trumpet, when they see the dead rising from the graves and all nature dissolving around them ! Many whose spirits have just departed, and whose bodies are still stretched upon the couches where they expired, will start up in a moment before those who ministered to them during the last struggles of nature; some, while on the way to the grave will, like the widow of Nain's son, burst from the tomb in which they are enclosed ; and others, while being let down into the narrow house, will prevent the completion of the funeral obsequies, throw aside their grave-clothes and every vestige of mortality, and hasten away to take their place before the
great white throne.” Scarce shall the astonished spectators have witnessed these things when they themselves will undergo a change. 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.” Such will be the closing scene of the great drama of time ! such the circumstances connected with the rising of the dead! Though fraught with all that is terrible to the wicked, they afford a delightful prospect to the people of God; and will be the prelude to the full and everlasting realization of their most elevated hopes. The whole scene will be viewed by them with composure and confidence. From the midst of the ruins of creation they will lift up
their heads with joy; and when looking to the great Being who shall then be seen descending through the sky in flaming fire, attended by hosts of angels, they will exclaim, with holy exultation, " Lo! this is our God; we have waited for him, he will save us."
ON THE NATURE OF THE BODY WHICH SHALL BE RAISED.
I see no reason to admit—what, indeed, is very frequently and very confidently asserted—that the sacred writers have maintained a guarded silence respecting the resurrection body ; that there is nothing, or next to nothing in the scriptures to assist us in forming a conception of it; and that whatever may be said about it, can, therefore, be regarded as nothing better than mere conjecture. If that were, in reality, the case, it would be useless to speculate upon the subject; and any inquiry into it might be treated as the result of a sinful curiosity. It is freely admitted, that when the sacred writers speak of the circumstances connected with the future state, they do not, by any means, give a minute description of the nature, and qualities, and peculiar formation of the material frame with which the righteous shall be invested; but they do not pass over the subject in such a way, as to leave the impression upon the mind, that it is completely enveloped in mystery, or of so little importance as to render it unworthy of being inquired into. Instead of their imagined silence rebuking every inquiry as an impious intrusion into the secrets of the