« הקודםהמשך »
Other sorts and sects of men," not as a distinct; proposition, but as a further explication' only of what had preceded. Had he not been very eagt r to sind out mistakes in what I have faid, he would not thus, in one place, have strained my words to such a sense, as he owns, in another, they will not bear; nor have ventured to say and unsay the fame thing in a few pages, rather tha'n miss this small occasion of a cavil.
As to. my second proposition, That "were *' there no life [or, had we no hope of a better "state] after this, the best men' would be often *( the most miserable [all other sorts and sects 6f *' men having the advantage of us Christians, "upon such a supposition]'—I do indeed /?x it exprejly on the apoftle ,■ and am now ready to prove, that I have not fadly (or at all) mistaken his meaning.
The apostles words are, If in this Vise only vie hope in Christ, We are tf all men m'.st mijeta/ le. Wherein have I mifapprehended him?
Is it, because 1 suppose those Co'inthiansr whose opinions he here encounters, to have disbelieved a future state, as well as the " resurection of the body?" No man, who reads St. I'aul attentively, can suppose otherwise Less cannot be signisied even by that phrase in the tex:i which speaks of them, as " having hope in Christ in this life only. Sadducizing Christians, suppose, they were who slid, "There was no resurrection, neither an^'l nor spirit;" Acts xxiii. 8. affirming perhals, v ith .lymenœtts and Phret-t,., that the " resurrection was past already (2 Ti n. ii. 17. 18 ) and that *hat our Saviour had taught on that hviad, was
not «6f to be understood litterally, but allegorically, df the new birth of the soul, and of its riling from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, by the efficacy of the Christian doctrine, and rhe operation of a divine prkiole on the hearts of believers. The Sadducee * held (and so, it is lik ■ly, did these Corinthian ) ar virtue and vice were a sufficient reward to t.i inlUves; and therefore, that future rewards and puniih;rients were not necesfary to justify the presenc distributions of •providence. However, that they denied a fu'ure ftate, either exprely or by plain comc ».iience, is evident srom several of St. Piiutx\ reasonings in this chapter, which are of no sorce but.oniy upon that supposition; as Jr/g*-, in hi* co.nwiti on St. Mitt he •, larp/.ly anJ irrefr igably nroves. p. 486, 487. It wi 1 not b vxc.stiry to produce W3 words, since the better writer seems to hive yielded this point, where*he owns, that St. P ul "is here arguing against so ne we ik persons in "the church at Cor-t/th, who processed to believe ** in Jests Christ, and yet deni :d the general re"surrectm, and consqwr 'y (I 'ys he) the rc*' wa'ds ■' 1 future H iteP L p o.
Am I then mist iken in exr.jndm:* the apostle's assertions to Christiins in gcner.J?" We are of *' all men most miserable!" thu is, Y.>a, and 1, and all who profess to live up co t!v Trict ru'es of the Christian institution, without a ire prospect! The Letter-Writer Hull voueh r ne in this respect also: For he thiu .oc word, WE, "We Christians/' (L. p :il
* Joseph. Ant. L. xiii. c. > Btli ,uJ L. u. «.. 8
"who now believe in Christ (p. 9 ) in which exposition he is so constant and uniform, (See I*, p. 16, 17, 18, 19.) that I need not, in order to any advantage I may draw from thence in the present dispute, be at the trouble of proving the truth of it.
Thus far then we are agreed. In what points dowediffer? why chiefly, if not wholely, in this; that " I make that a general proposition, and ** accommodate it to all times, which the apostle M hath made a particular one, by accommodating
it manifestly to the times of the bitterest per"sceution;" (L p. 14.) what he fays, bting "spoken merely with respect to the bitter suffer"ings the profession of Christianity then exposed. "its professors to.' (L. p. 10.) Upon this Head I join issue with him; and proceed therefore to prove that St. Pnut's Assertion is not (as he afsirms) " limited to the times of the most grievous '« persecution." (L. p. 18 ) That it includes them, I have owned, (Pref. p. 7.) but that it is consined to them I absolutely deny; and I think with good reason. For, as to the words themselves, there is nothing in them that sounds that way, or points particularly at the cafe of Persecution. It is owned, that the apostle speaks here of ' Christians in general,' that is, of Christians, as distinguished srom other sects and professions of men: why must these Christians needs be considered as in a suffering State? What ground, what colour, is there for such a Restriction? There are but two things urged, or insinuated, by the Letter-Writer in behalf of it. And one of them is, the Coherence of the text with the
preceding fteeeding verse, .where mention is made of " those "who were fallen afleep in Christ;" which expreffion he would willingly so understand, as if it were intended particularly to signify the " Mar"tyrs, who had laid down their lives for Christ's "fake, and died, not only in his faith, but for it," (L. p. 9.) and, indeed, if the apustle be there speaking of the Martyrs and their sufferings, it will be natural to understand what follows, in she next verse, of a suffering State, and of that Only. But this Restriction is altogether as groundless as the former. For by " those who were fallen "afleep in Christ," the apostle manisestly means, not the Martyrs alone, but all " departed Chri** stians as our learned Gataker proves * from various authorities, which I forbear to repeat, because the thing is otherwise sufficiently evident; for the «' »*iaMkt ,» xpiru, ver. 18. are plainly Opposed to those who were still living, of whom the apostle spake in the 17th verse. And therefore he adds (ver. 20.) that Christ, by riling, "became; the sirst fruits of them that slept," »iiititci/iirai. Now Christ was not the sirst fruits of the resurrection, in respect of the Martyrs only, but of all who died in the Christian faith; and therefore "they, who were fallen asleep in "Christ," must comprehend all that died in the faith of Christ, whether by martyrdom or otherwise. The apostle employs the fame word twicel more in this chapter, ver. 6. where he affirms) Christ, after his resurrection, to have been " seen "by sive hundred brethren at once ; of whom" (fays he) " the greater part remain unto this pre*
"ient i but some are fallen asleep," Iiupmww; Again, ver. 51. " We shall not all sleep," ( (rffo/iiSa) «« but we shall all be changed." In both, these places, Sleeping are opposed to Living, not to martyred Christians; and so likewise t Theflu iv. 15; "We which are alive, and remain unto "the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them "who are asleep," «( *ovui5i»7*r. Npr is there 3. single passage in the New Testament *, where the word (taken in its metaphorical fense) signisies otherwise For as to what is faid of St. Stephen, that "he sell asleep," •«^»e% (Acts vii. op.) it means no more that he died; though from the circumstances of his death, before re* lat ed, it appears, that he died by martyrdom.
j was willing to clear the fense of this Phrase beyond dispute, because, leading to the assertion; of the text, it is of great use to sliew the extent of ir, and to prove that it is not ' limited to the 'times of the most grievous pefecution,' as this author peremptorily affirms, L. p. l, . However, he hath still another evidence of this limitation in, reserve. For, ' that St. Piw' speaks this merely
* with respect to the bitter sufferings the profeslioii
* of Christianity expoied its proftsio' s to, is (he
* fays) evident from verses ;o, 31, 32." (L. p. '0. The words of which run thus : ' And fif the dead
* rife not at all] why stand we in jeopardy every
* hour? 1 protest by your rejoicing, which I have 'in Christ Jesus our Lord, that I die daily. If
• See Mattb xxvii. ii John in. II. Acts xiii. 3<J. I Cor. Tii if. xi. 3«. 1 Thcff. iv. Ii, 14, 1 Pet. iii. «.