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"and why stand we in jeopardy every hour?" But why not stand in jeopardy every hour, if at death their souls went to heaven and enjoyed endless happiness? This was reason sufficient to expose themselves to death, if they should never rise from the dead. But the apostle declares, that if there be no resurrection, it would be foolishness in them to hazard life in the cause of Christianity. But again, he says, verse 32, "if after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." These words are irreconcilable with the belief of the soul living in a disembodied state. Was it no advantage to Paul, that his soul would enjoy an endless life of happiness, even if his body slept eternally in the grave? The question, "what advantageth it me if the dead rise not," plainly shows, that he expected no advantage for soul or body, if there was no resurrection. Besides, when he said, "let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die," what did he mean? If he merely meant, that our bodies die, but that our souls go to heaven, pray what force can there be in his argument? But if he meant, as seems obvious, that we perish like the brutes, if Christ is not risen, there is the greatest force and propriety in it. It would be no advantage for him to suffer, if the dead did not rise, for unless this was the case there was no future life. The best thing any man could do, was to enjoy the present life seeing there was no existence beyond death.
1 Thess. 4: 13-18. This passage we have also considered in vol. 8, of the Universalist Magazine, to which we refer the reader for a more enlarged illustration. It is evident that those said to be asleep, verse 13, sleep in Jesus, verse 14, as asleep, verse 15, and called the dead in Christ, verse 16, all refer to
the same persons: and, are distinguished from the who are said to be alive and remain at the descent of Christ from heaven, verse 16. Paul was writing to his Christian brethren at Thessalonica, and says, verse 13, "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren." Ignorant about what? He answers"concerning them who are asleep," or dead. He then states his object in not suffering them to be ignorant, "that ye sorrow not, even as others who have no hope." Have no hope of what, let it be asked? The answer is, have no hope of the resurrection of the dead. But who, pray, had no hope of the resurrection of the dead? Not surely the believing Thessalonians, for this was the very thing they were begotten to, by faith in the resurrection of Christ from the dead, 1 Peter 1: 3. They were the unbelieving heathen, called the "others," in distinction from those who had hope. The heathen believed death to be an eternal sleep; hence, when their relations died, their grief was wild and extravagant. Parkhurst says, "Estius observes on 1 Cor. 7: 39, that sleeping is thus applied only to men that are dead, and this because of the hope of the resurrection; for we read no such thing of brutes.' This is an excellent remark, for sleeping implies waking; of which the heathen poets were so sensible, that when they describe death as a sleep, we find them adding the epithets perpetual, eternal, or the like, in order to express their own gloomy notion, and to exclude the idea of waking from this sleep of death. Thus Moschus, Idyll iii. l. 107, having observed that herbs and plants, after seeming to die, yet revive in the succeeding year, subjoins
But we, or great, or wise, or brave
"So Catullus, lib. i. 5.
The sun that sets, again will rise
"Homer, Il. xi. l. 241, says of a hero who was slain,
-He slept a brazen sleep.
"So Virgil, Æn. x. l. 745, '6.
An iron sleep o'erwhelms his swimming sight,
"But on the contrary, it was doubtless with a view to the joyful hope of a resurrection both of body (see Matt. 27: 52) and soul, that the departed saints in the Old Testament, as well as in the New, are said to fall asleep, to sleep with their fathers, &c. And the Christians-because they believe the resurrection of the dead, and will have death rather styled a lying down, or taking rest, more like sleep than deathcall burying-places dormitories, or places designed for rest and sleep. Hence from the Greek koimeterion we have the Latin cemeterium, French cimetiere, and English cemetery, for a burying-ground." Thus far
But let us ask, how did the heathen sorrow who had no hope of a resurrection? Parkhurst again shall inform us. Quoting from Lucian, whom he says, "thus describes the lamentations of the heathen for the dead, as customary in his time, i. e. towards the end of the second century. The shrieks and wailings of the women, and the tears of all, the breasts beaten, the hair torn, and the cheeks stained with blood. And in some places the garments are rent, and dust sprinkled upon the head, so that the living are more to be pitied than the dead, for they are
often rolling on the earth, and knocking their heads against the ground." Macknight says," it was the custom of the heathen, on the death of their relations, to make a show of excessive grief, by shaving their heads and cutting their flesh, Lev. 19: 27, 28. and by loud howlings and lamentations over the dead. They even hired persons, who had it for a trade to make these howlings and cries. But this show of excessive grief, as well as the grief itself, being inconsistent with that knowledge of the state of the dead and with that hope of their resurrection, which the gospel gives to mankind, the apostle forbade it." On what grounds the apostle forbade it we shall see
Verse 14, "For if, or since, we believe that Jesus died, and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." Here, as in 1 Cor. 15, the resurrection from the dead is predicated on the fact of Christ's resurrection. Ignorance of this fact led the heathen to excessive grief; for believing death to be an endless sleep they had_no hope of ever seeing their relations again. But Christians have the hope of a resurrection, therefore they ought not to sorrow as others who had no hope. True, it will be said, but this hope could only be for themselves and all who believed in Christ, for the passage says, "them also who sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." Wakefield renders the whole verse thus. "For if we are persuaded that Jesus died and came to life again, then must God through Jesus bring with him them also that are asleep." In the Magazine referred to, we have considered this limited view, very fully. To adopt it, places the Thessalonian Christians in a very curious light, whether their grief arose on account of believers or unbelievers who had died. Besides, it turns the passage,
expressly written for our comfort, into gall and wormwood.
Verse 15, "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord." This is for substance the same as the words, 1 Cor. 15: 51, "behold I show you a mystery. In both places Paul intimates that he was going to communicate some information from the Lord. Well what is it? It is this, "that we who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shalt not prevent them which are asleep." These words. are similar to 1 Cor. 15, 51, "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed." What coming of the Lord did he refer to? Answer: the coming mentioned, verse 16, "for the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout." At this coming, some shall be found alive remaining on the earth. But, what is meant by those found alive and remaining on the earth, not preventing them that are asleep or dead? The word rendered prevent, Macknight says, signifiesto anticipate or go before." But it will be asked, anticipate or go before whom? The answer from the passage plainly is, those who are alive and remaining on earth, shall not anticipate or go before them who are asleep. Still it may be asked anticipate or go before them to where? The answer is given verse 17, "to meet the Lord in the air, and to be forever with the Lord."
Verse 16. "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the arch angel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first." Before any can ascend to meet the Lord in the air, the Lord himself shall descend from heaven. This descent is said to be "with a shout." The word rendered shout, says Macknight, "denotes the shout which the whole soldiers of an army make at their first onset to encourage one another in the attack; or which rowers utter, to cheer