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CHAPTER IV.

THE GENERAL RESURRECTION,

JESUS CHRIST, by the effusion of His blood, has gained a full and complete victory over Hell and Death. By His victory over Hell, He has overcome the Prince of Darkness, and has destroyed all principalities and powers; and by His victory over Death, He both raised Himself to life in His resurrection, and will also raise to life the whole human race, which, in consequence of the original transgression, was doomed to die. For it is of faith that the Divine Father has given to His Incarnate Son “power over all flesh;"1 and that, at the voice of the Son of God, all the dead shall rise: the good unto the resurrection of life, and the wicked unto the resurrection of judgment. The completion of this tremendous scene, when all men shall rise to appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, will take place at the consummation of time, at the end of all things, after the earth and all the works that are in it shall have been burnt by fire. This final resurrection is mentioned by St. John in the following words : "I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne. and the sea gave up the dead that were in it.” ?

“When this mortal,” says the apostle St. Paul, “ shall have put on immortality, then shall come to

pass the saying that is written : Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? The sting 1 John xyii. 2.

Apoc. xx. 12, 13.

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of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who hath given us the victory, through our Lord Jesus CHRIST."1

The just will rise to life in a glorified state, and will shine as luminous stars in the house of God for an endless eternity. The body which now so much depresses the soul, will be endowed with glory to the likeness of the body of Christ ; and the more closely we shall have resembled in life our crucified Lord, the more shall we shine and resemble Him in the brightness of His glory. The apostle St. Paul thus speaks of this ineffable

mystery of divine wisdom and love: “There are bodies celestial and bodies terrestrial; but one is the glory of the celestial, and another of the terrestrial. One is the glory of the sun, and another the glory of the moon, and another the glory of the stars ; for star differeth from star in glory : so also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it shall rise in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour, it shall rise in glory; it is sown in weakness, it shall rise in power; it is sown a natural body, it shall rise a spiritual body. If there be a natural body, there is also a spiritual body; as it is written : The first man Adam was made into a living soul; the last Adam into a quickening spirit. . . . Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast and unmoveable; always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”2

But far different will be the condition of the wicked; for the curse of God will stick to them as a garment, and their lot will be that of despair, confusion, and shame, for all eternity. Oh, what a change of scene will then take 11 Cor. xv. 54–57.

? Ib. 58.

place! Oh, how different will things then look to what they now appear !

“ Then shall the just stand with great constancy against those that have afflicted them and taken away their labours. These seeing it, shall be troubled with terrible fear, and shall be amazed at the suddenness of their unexpected salvation, saying within themselves, repenting and groaning for anguish of spirit,—These are they whom we had sometime in derision, and for a parable of reproach. We fools esteemed their life madness, and their end without honour. Behold how they are numbered among the children of God, and their lot is among the saints. Therefore, we have erred from the way of truth, and the light of justice hath not shined unto us, and the sun of understanding hath not risen upon us.

We wearied ourselves in the way of iniquity and destruction, and have walked through hard ways, but the way of the Lord we have not known. What hath pride profited us? Or, what advantage hath the boasting of riches brought us ? All those things are passed away like a shadow, and like a post that runneth

And as a ship that passeth through the waves : whereof, when it is gone by, the trace cannot be found, nor the path of its keel in the waters. Or, as when a bird flieth through the air, of the passage of which no mark can be found, but only the sound of the wings beating the light air, and parting it by the force of her flight; she moved her wings and hath flown through, and there is no mark found afterwards of her way. Or, as when an arrow is shot at a mark, the divided air presently cometh together again, so that the passage thereof is not known. also being born, forthwith ceased to be ; and “Then,” says

on.

So we

have been able to show no mark of virtue ; but are consumed in our wickedness.” 1 the Imitation of Christ, “will it appear that he was wise in this world, who learned for Christ's sake to be a fool and despised. Then all tribulations suffered with patience will be pleasing, and all iniquity shall stop her mouth. Then every devout person will rejoice, and the irreligious will be sad. Then the flesh that has been mortified shall triumph more than if it had been always pampered in delights: then shall the mean habit shine, and fine clothing appear contemptible : then shall the poor cottage be more commended than the gilded palace: then constant patience shall more avail than all the power of the world : then simple obedience shall be more prized than all worldly craftiness. Then a pure and good conscience shall be a greater subject of joy than learned philosophy: then the contempt of riches shall weigh more than all the treasures of worldlings: then wilt thou be more comforted that thou hast prayed devoutly, than that thou hast fared daintily : then wilt thou rejoice more that thou hast kept silence, than that thou hast made lony discourses or talked much : then will holy works be of greater value than many fair words: then will a strict life and hard penance be more pleasing than all the delights of the earth. Learn at present to suffer in little things, that then thou mayest be delivered from more grievous sufferings. Try first here what thou canst bear hereafter. If thou canst now endure so little, how wilt thou be able to bear everlasting torments? If a little suffering now makes thee so impatient, what will hell-fire do hereafter ? Surely, thou canst not

I Wis. v. 1-13.

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have thy pleasure in this world, and afterwards reign with Christ.” 1

When death shall be swallowed up in victory, and all the dead shall have risen to life, then an entirely new order of things will begin. the expectation of the creature," as St. Paul says, “ waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him that made it subject in hope; because the creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. For we know that every creature groaneth, and travaileth in pain 'even till now. And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body.” 2

Let us then comfort ourselves, looking to the blessed hope and the coming of the Lord Jesus, “who will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of His glory." "Be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord: Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, patiently bearing till he receives the early and the latter rain. Be you, therefore, also patient, and strengthen your heart, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Grudge not, brethren, one against another, that you may not be judged. Behold the judge standeth before the door." 4 “Be penitent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out; that when the times of refreshment shall come from the presence of the Lord, and He shall send Him who hath been · Imit. Christ, book i. ch. xxiv. Rom. viii. 19-23. Philip. iii. 21.

4 James v. 7, 8, 9.

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