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ON THE DAY OF JUDGMENT:
II CORINTHIANS, v. 10.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good, or bad. MANKIND
ANKIND by the fall lost the image and favour of God, and all their hope of a happy immortality. The sentence pronounced in case of disobedience was death. This included, doubtless the death of the body, and the separation of the sinful soul from the presence of God. “But God, who is rich in mercy, hath begotten us again unto lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Life and immortality were purchased by him, and are“ brought to light by the gospel.” Of this all true christians are now heirs, and will finally be the happy possessors. The certain prospect of this, animated the primitive believers under all their trials; and the Apostle Paul in particular under his uncommon share of sufferings. This blessed
hope led him to adopt the language of the context, “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” And in expectation of which he informs us, that he “ laboured to keep a conscience void of offence, both toward God and man.", Wherefore, saith he, “we labour, that whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him," and he speaks of being in the body, as a state of absence from the Lord. It is so comparatively, for saints, while in the body, seb through a glass darkly ; but when the veil of flesh shall be removed, “they will see him as he is.” “Therefore" he says in another place, “knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.” What the Apostle intended by the words immediately connected with the text is, that he laboured to be accepted of Christ, whether in the body or out'; whether in this state or the next. He then adds the text, as the reason of his concern and labour,“ For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may reccive the things done in his body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good, or bad.”
In these words, two things are observable,
II. One particular design of it, “ that every man may receive according to the deeds done in his body.”
The first idea suggested in these words is, a day of general judgment. ; I said, general judgment, in distinction from the particular judgment, which will pass on every one at death.
« For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ."
In these words, it is more than intimated, that there will be a day of general judgment, and final retribution ; and that Jesus Christ will be the Judge of all men. Both these doctrines being embraced by the primitive christians, as solemn, indisputable truths, they are only brought into view here, by a phrase of general import. In these words, the doctrine of the resurrection is taken for granted ; for how shall we all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, unless raised from the dead ? The doctrine of the resurrection is essential to that system of divinity which supposes a general judgment, and a state of future rewards and punishments.
The Apostle Paul professedly enters on the proof of the resurrection in his first epistle to the Corinthians, and shows its certainty from the resurrection of Christ; and hence in his second epistle, this doctrine is assumed as proved. But as the resurrection of the body is an important article in the christian system, it may be proper to consider, with what force of argument the Apostle proves it, in opposition to some teachers among them, who had perverted the gospel, by teaching that there would be no resurrection of the dead. By denying this and some other important doctrines, "they had overthrown the faith of some." This errour was probably derived from the Sadducees, a principal sect among the Jews, who denied the doctrine of the resurrection, and the existence of angels and spirits, and consequently the rewards and punishments of another life. Against this sect of heretics, our Saviour proves the resurrection from the books of Moses, which they professed to believe. " That the dead are raised up, have ye not read what God said to Moses at the bush, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, he is not the God of the dead, but of the living !"
It seems that this heresy had so far affected the minds of some of the Corinthians, as to lead them to doubt of the certainty of Christ's resurrection, which seems to have been the reason, why the Apostle particularly addressed them on this subject. He asserts, in the first place, the resurrection of Christ. This assertion he establishes by proofs, which no reasonable person would reject, that is, by living witnesses, who saw him alive after his crucifixion.
“ First he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve Apostles, after that, he was seen of about five hundred brethren at one time.” These men had no sinister end to answer by bearing witness to a falsehood in a case of this kind; they had the best opportunity of knowing the truth ; and the greater part were then living and ready to declare what they saw and knew. After this, he tells them, he was seen of James, and last of all by himself. Here was complete evidence; for he, who will not believe a fact upon the testimony of five hundred credible witnesses, who declare, they were eye witnesses of a plain fact, must renounce every thing which rests on human testimony, and even their own
The Apostle, therefore, having laid before them the evidence of Christ's resurrection, considers it established, and reproves them for their incredulity in so plain a case. “Now if Christ be preached, that
he rose from the dead, how say some among you, that there is no resurrection of the dead?" “ But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is not Christ risen.” But he had proved, that Christ was risen, and hence the conclusion was unavoidable, that there would be a resurrection of the dead. This was not only possible, but certain, as a revealed truth. From the certainty of Christ's resurrection, the Apostle goes on to declare the happy resurrection of all his followers. “ For Christ died, arose and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” The certainty of the resurrection of the saints, he proves
from Christ's being their head, and representative. In other passages, he asserts the resurrection both of the righteous and wicked; and the other inspired writers of the New Testament, are very express on this interesting subject.
He, who is the resurrection and the life, has declared, " that the hour is coming, when all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and shall come forth. They who have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." “ There shall be a resurrection both of the just, and of the unjust,” saith another inspired teacher.
Indeed, scarcely any doctrine is more frequently brought into view in the gospel than this. And the doctrine of a general judgment seems necessarily to imply a resurrection. It has been taught and believed in the church in all ages. “Enoch, the seventh from Adam,” ,
prophesied of this day, saying, “Behold the