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Christ, asserts, without introducing anything to warrant the inference that his assertion is to be understood in a qualified or limited sense, that the resurrection of the dead is one of them :-“ Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” When Adam committed the first act of transgression, the painful consequences of his disobedience were entailed upon the whole human family. He was their representative; and having violated the law while he sustained that character, those whom he represented became liable to all the evils which he brought upon himself. The one act of disobedience which he committed exposed him to nothing less than death temporal and spiritual, and to an eternal separation from God both in body and soul ; and had it not been for the gracious intervention of “ the second man, the Lord from heaven," the fearful penalty must have been endured, in its full extent, by himself and his posterity.
The appellation, " the last Adam,” which is given to him, is obviously designed to show, that he is a representative as well as “ the first” one ; so that whatever benefits are secured by his mediation will be enjoyed by those whom he represents in the same way, and
upon the same grounds, as are the consequences of our first father's sin endured by those for whom he acted in a similar capacity. As, therefore, the death of the body is one of these consequences, its restoration from the grave, and its re-union with the
soul, is one of the benefits secured by the work of Christ; and it will be ultimately enjoyed by all his people. His vicarious sufferings and death, while they fully expiated human guilt, were the means of destroying the empire of death, and of “ delivering them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." These are the great parposes for which he assumed our nature and put him. self in the place of the guilty; and we have the most ample assurance that they are accomplished by his rising from the grave. If the debt had not been paid, he, as the surety, would not have been released : he would have been detained under the power of death, and the hopes of his people would have been blasted for ever.
In that case, the curse in its unmitigated form would still have been suspended over them, and they would have had no hope of being raised to the enjoyment of a new and a better life, after the original threatening was executed. Their faith would be vain, they would be still in their sins, and they would have no comfort respecting those who have died in Christ. But his resurrection was a public attestation that his atonement satisfied divine justice, and was accepted by the Supreme Lawgiver; whilst it asserted his power over death and the
grave. He rose, not as an individual who stood alone, but as the representative of his people, and as the Head of his body the Church ; and his rising in that capacity has infallibly secured the resurrection of all who are connected with him. Since the Head has come forth from the tomb, the members will follow in due time; and will, by the same means, in virtue of which he was released, be set free from their loathsome prison-house, fitted for glory, honour, and immortality.
But this is not the only form in which the important truth under consideration is set forth in the new testament. It is confirmed and illustrated by one of the most prominent and significant of the Mosaic institutions—I mean the law respecting the firstfruits. That law is alluded to, in the following terms, in the fifteenth chapter of Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians :-“ But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept. But every man in his own order : Christ the firstfruits ; afterwards they that are Christ's at his coming." The Jews, before they began to reap the produce of their fields, were commanded to cut a sheaf of corn-and it was generally the best of its kind that was selected for the purpose-and after it was prepared the priest presented it before the Lord as a wave-offering. When it was offered in the ap. pointed way, it was accepted for the whole nation ; but until that was done, it was unlawful to commence the harvest, or to use for ordinary purposes any of the fruits which were produced that season. That act was an acknowledgment on their part that Jehovah was the Being to whom the land with all its productions properly belonged; it was designed to sanctify the fruits of the ground, and to be a pledge that the appointed weeks of harvest should be given.
It is worthy of remark—and the circumstance seems to point out very clearly the design of the institution —that the first-fruits were appointed to be offered on the day after the Sabbath which immediately succeeded the Passover. That was the very day on which Christ rose from the dead; and his resurrection, I have no doubt, was the great event which it prefigured. In that case, the bodies of his people are solemnly acknowledged to be his property; they are, although lying in corruption, sanctified as a part of his purchased possession; and his resurrection is the pledge of theirs, in the same way that the presenting of the first-fruits was a pledge of the harvest. Being “planted together in the likeness of his death, they shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” What a delightful prospect is this ! Though their bodies remain for ages in the mansions of the dead, they shall rise and come forth in a more glorious form, freed from all the pollution and grossness of their animal constitution. When they feel themselves thus emancipated; when they see the last enemy" crushed, and his power for ever destroyed, with what transports of joy will they exclaim, “ O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ !” Their redemption will then be complete; and while they will feel all the vigour of immortal youth in their renovated nature, their external appearance will indicate at once their conformity to the Saviour, and the height to which they are raised in the scale of intelligence.
The manner in which that event shall take place, and some of the circumstances connected with it are also clearly revealed. It has, I think, been too has. tily concluded by some, that it will be effected by different displays of almighty power : that the Saviour will first bring forth his own people in one great company and place them at his right hand, and then awake the wicked and summon them before his seat. This notion does not appear to me to be in accordance with the revelations of scripture upon the subject. They seem to represent the dead as rising simulta. neously in one promiscuous company when the last trumpet shall sound. The principal, if not the only text which is generally advanced in proof of the opinion referred to, is one which, upon examination, will be found to warrant no such conclusion. It is the following :—" 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.” When the sacred writer affirms that “ the dead in Christ shall rise first,” the language can mean nothing else than that the event to which it relates will be immediately followed by some other one of which he is speaking. That other event is certainly not the rising of the wicked, but the changing of the living; for they are the class of persons mentioned in distinction from the dead in Christ.” This, I think, is evident from what is stated