Title & Purpose

Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble:

for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand, Joel 2:1.

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Thursday, 12 April 2018

C H Spurgeon - The First Resurrection

C. H. Spurgeon preached on the First Resurrection on the Lord's day morning 5th May 1861 at the famous Metropolitan Tabernacle, London.

This is what he said towards the commencement of his sermon on how the reference to the first resurrection in Revelation 20:4-6 should be understood:

Before I proceed to enter into these privileges, I must remark that two  modes of understanding this verse have been proposed, both of which I think are untenable. 

I have been reading carefully through Albert Barnes. He gives it, as his opinion, that the first resurrection here spoken of is a resurrection of principles, — a resurrection of the patience, the undaunted courage, the holy boldness and constancy of the ancient martyrs. He says  these great principles have been forgotten, and, as it were, buried and that during the spiritual reign of Christ which is to come, these great principles  will have a resurrection. 

Now, I appeal to you, would you, in reading that passage, think this to be the meaning? Would any man believe that to be its meaning, if he had not some thesis to defend? The fact is, we sometimes read Scripture, thinking of what it ought to say, rather than what it does say. I do not hesitate to affirm that any simple-minded person, who was intent upon discovering the mind of the Spirit and not upon finding a method by which the words could be compelled to express his own mind, would say that the resurrection of principles, or the resurrection of doctrines does not give the fair meaning of the words here stated.

Brethren, cannot you perceive at a glance that this is the resurrection of men? And is it not a literal resurrection, too? Does it not say, “I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus?” is it not written, “The rest of the dead lived not?” Does this mean the rest of the dead principles? the rest of the dead doctrines? You cannot so translate it. 

It is — we have no doubt whatever — a literal resurrection of the saints of God, and not of principles nor of doctrines. 

But another interpretation has been proposed. I once had the misfortune to listen to an excellent friend of mine who was preaching upon this very text, and I must confess, I did not attend with very great patience to his exposition. He said it meant, blessed and holy is he who has been born again, who has been regenerated, and so has had a resurrection from dead works by the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

All the while he was preaching, I could not help wishing that I could propose to him the difficulty, how he woeful make this metaphorical interpretation agree with the literal fact, that the rest of the dead lived not till the thousand years were finished? For, if the first resurrection here spoken of is a metaphorical, or spiritual, or typical resurrection, why the next where it speaks of the resurrection of the dead must be spiritual and mystical, and metaphorical too. Now, no one would agree to this. You know, when you read a chapter, you are not to say, “This part is a symbol, and is to be read so, and the next part is to be read literally.” 

Brethren, the Holy Ghost does not jumble metaphors and facts together. A typical book has plain indications that it is so intended, and when you come upon a literal passage in a typical chapter, it is always attached to a something else which is distinctly literal, so that you cannot, without violence to common sense, make a typical meaning out of it. 

The fact is, in reading this passage with an unbiased judgment, having no purpose whatever to serve, having no theory to defend, — and I confess I have none, for I know but very little about mysteries to come, — I could not help seeing there are two literal resurrections here spoken of, one of the spirits of the just, and the other of the bodies of the wicked; one of the saints who sleep in Jesus, whom God shall bring with him, and another of those who live and die impenitent, who perish in their sins.

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