"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this is the place of repose"—

"But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." 1 Corinthians 15:20

Here we have the true Palm (Phoenix) spoken of in the Preface, which, when burned down, springs fresh and beautiful from its ashes, with more vigorous stem and more glorious fronds. On the monuments of the early Roman Christians, in the city of their sufferings and triumphs, well may the fresh-plumaged bird of immortality be seen perched on Him, who, as the Divine Heavenly Palm, has purchased for His people the gift of eternal life.

The Resurrection of Jesus is the pledge and guarantee of that of His people. Hence, the pre-eminent importance assigned by the inspired writers to this great anchor of the Church's faith. The glorious light indeed illuminating the tomb of the Savior throws its radiations on almost every other doctrine of the Christian system. The believer's justification, regeneration, sanctification, resurrection, glorification—each has its halo of glory borrowed from that vacant sepulcher. "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith" (1 Cor. 15:14). "With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 4:33). Paul, to his cultured audience on Mars' Hill, preached "Jesus and the Resurrection." "It is Christ," says he, "who died—MORE THAN THAT, who was raised to life" (Rom. 8:34).

In the concluding benediction of the priceless Epistle to the Hebrews, it is the Redeemer's Resurrection which is specially singled out as the mightiest of God's mighty acts, "the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep." It was that Resurrection-hour for which Jesus Himself is represented as longing from all eternity, when pillowed on the Father's bosom. Then He rejoiced "as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder" (Isa. 9:3). He seems to bound over intervening ages; and with His eye first on His own vacant tomb, and then on the myriads His Resurrection foreshadowed, He is represented as exclaiming—"I will ransom them from the power of the grave, I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction!" (Hos. 13:14).

No wonder then that the Resurrection of Christ has been for the last 1800 years a joyful day—that our Sabbaths are its solemn commemorations. We repeat, it was the truth of all truths among the early believers. It was not the day of His death they made their Sabbath, but the first day of the week—the day when the sadness of the weeping women at the sepulcher was turned into gladness: and their watchword at meeting (the word of joy and welcome) was not "The Lord has died," but "The Lord has risen." It was with them a day of praise, more than for confession; for psalms of thanksgiving, more than for penitential tears. Conscious that a new and nobler Genesis had dawned on a darkened world, they sung in responsive melody, "This is the day which the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it."

The pledges of the outer material creation are welcome and joyful. If we welcome with grateful spirit the first budding of early spring in grove and field, because in these we see the promise and pledge that soon nature will be arrayed in her full robes of resurrection beauty—with what feelings ought we to stand by the sepulcher of our Lord, and see the buried Conqueror rising triumphant over the last enemy! Do we not behold in Him the forerunner of an immortal springtime, or rather a glorious harvest, when the mounds of the earth, and the caves of the ocean, shall surrender what they have held for ages in sacred custody: "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision;" when "this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal immortality," and the summons shall go forth, "You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy." "Christ the firstfruits; then when He comes, those who belong to Him!"

You who have priceless treasures in the tomb, think of this! "God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him." True, that "house of our earthly tabernacle" at death, is a "darksome ruin." That dust is resolved into its kindred dust. The constituent elements of the dismantled framework are incorporated with new forms of matter. Sad and terrible is dissolution in all its accompaniments. We do not wish to strew that dismal path with flowers. Death, from the earthly view of it, is not lit by one gleam of sunshine. The slow and gradual wasting and decay, the fading of the bloom from the cheek, the weakness of the eye, the wearisome days, the long night-vigils, the mind participating not infrequently with the wreck of the body, memory often a blank, the fondest look and the fondest name eliciting no response! Then the close of all—the knocking at the mysterious gates of a mysterious future—the empty chamber, where "echo slumbers;" the noiseless footfall, the mute crowd of mourners, the grave, the return to the silent dwelling, and the vacant seat—O Death, truly here is your sting; O Grave, truly here is your victory!

But the day is coming when all these memories of woe shall vanish, like the darkness before the morning sun—when the spoil of plundering ages shall in a marvelous way be all restored—when, as in the Prophet's Valley of Vision, bone shall come to bone, and sinew to sinew. The old loving smiles of earth will be seen again in the newly-glorified body, purged from all the dross and alloy of its old materialism—the drooping withered flower reviving, beautiful and fragrant with the bloom of perennial summer.

"Why are you crying?" was the question of the Risen Conqueror, as He gazed on a tearful eye at the Resurrection morn. The Christian's grave need be watered by no tears; for Jesus has converted it into the vestibule of heaven! How different from the mournful legends to be seen and read at this hour on heathen lands, as "to the final farewell" and "the eternal sleep!" How different from the inscriptions entombed in the latest Assyrian excavations in the mounds of Kalakh; of which we are told—"In this temple were performed the mournings and lamentations for the yearly dying Tammuz the 'Son of Life,' whom Ishtar went annually to recover from the House of Death, the Palace of 'the Land of no return!"'

The Christian searches, indeed, in vain, amid the ashes of Jerusalem's desolation, for any material tomb of his Divine Lord. But if the tomb is lost in the wreck of ages, the glorious, invisible inscription still remains—"Fear not: I am He who lives and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore." And "because I live, you shall live also!"

"Our loved ones in the narrow home we lay.
But while Death's sharp scythe is sweeping,
We remember 'mid our weeping
That a Father's hand is keeping
Every vernal bloom that falls underneath its chilly sway.
And though earthly flowers may perish,
There are buds His hand will cherish,
Throughout the years eternal—these can never fade away."

"My body also will rest secure, because You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will You let Your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand."

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