But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.
The same Apostle that out of Christ's resurrection taught the Romans matter of duty, the same here out of the same resurrection teacheth the Corinthians matter of hope. There, similiter et vos, by way of pattern to conform ourselves to Him 'in newness of life;' and here, similiter et vos, in another sense by way of promise; that so doing, He shall hereafter conform us to Himself, 'change our vile bodies.' and make them like 'His glorious body.' That former is our first resurrection from sins this latter our second resurrection from the grave; this, the reward of that. In that, the work what to do; in this our reward, what to hope for. These two, labour and hope, the Church joineth in one anthem to-day, her first anthem. They sort well, and being sung together make a good harmony. But that without this, labour without hope, is no good music.
To rise, and to reclaim ourselves from a sinful course of life we have long lived in, is labour sure, and great labour. Now labour of itself is a harsh unpleasant thing, unless it be seasoned with hope. Debet qui arat in spe arare, saith the Apostle above at the ninth chapter, in the matter of the [206/207] Clergy's maintenance, 'He that ploughs must plough in hope;' his plough will not go deep else, his furrows will be but shallow. Men may frame to themselves what speculations they please, but the Apostle's saying will prove true; sever hope from labour, and you must look for labour and labourers accordingly, slight and shallow God knows. Labour then leads us to hope.
The Apostle saw this, and therefore is careful, whom he thus presseth to newness of life and the labour therefore, to raise for them, and to set before them, matter of hope. Hope in this life he could set them none. They were, as he was himself, at quotidie morior every hour, in danger to be drawn to the block. It must therefore be from another, or at least as the text is, by a hope of being restored to life again. It was their case at Corinth, here in this chapter, plainly: If we must die to-morrow, if there be all that shall become of us, then 'let us eat and drink' while we may. If we be not sure of another life, let us make sure of this. But when in the sequel of the chapter, he has shown there was restoring, and that so sure he was of it that he falls to insult over them in these terms, they gird up their loins again, and fall to their labours afresh, as knowing their labour should not be 'in vain in the Lord.' This hope leads us to our restoring.
Our restoring is but a promise - shall be restored: that necessarily refers to a party that is to make it good. Who is that? Christ. 'Christ is our hope.' Christ is dead; buried last Friday. If He be our hope, and He be dead, our hope is dead too; and if our hope be dead, our labour will not live long, nay both are buried with Christ in his grave. It was their case this day that went to Emmaus: say they, supposing Christ to be dead, nos autem sperabamus, 'we were once in good hope' by Him, that is, while He lived; as much to say as 'Now He is in His grave, our hope is gone, we are even going to Emmaus.' But then after, as soon as they saw He was alive again, their hope revived, and with their hope their labour; and presently back again to Jerusalem to the Lord's work, and bade Emmaus farewell. So He leads us to labour; labour, to hope; hope, to our restoring; our restoring to Christ's, Who, as He hath restored Himself, will restore us [207/ 208] also to life. And this keeps us from going to Emmaus. It is used proverbially. Emmaus signifieth 'a people forlorn:' all that are at sperabamus, have lost their hopes, are said to go thither; and thither we should all go, even to Emmaus, but for the hope that breathes from this verse, without which it were a cold occupation to be a Christian.
This then is the hope of this text, spes viva, spes beata, worth all hopes else whatsover. All hopes else are but spes spirantium, 'hopes while we breath;' this is spes exspirantium, 'the hope when we can fetch our breath no longer.' The carnal man - all he can say is, dum spiro spero, 'his hope is as long as his breath.' The Christian aspireth higher, goes further by virtue of this verse and says, dum exspiro spero; 'his hope fails him not when his breath fails him.' Even then, saith Job, reposita est mihi spes in sinu meo; this hope, and only this, is laid up in our bosom, that though our life be taken from us, yet in Christ we do it, and it to us will be restored again.
Our case is not as theirs then was: no persecution, nor we at quotidie morior, and therefore not so sensible of this doctrine. But yet to them that are daily falling toward death, rising to life is a good text; peradventure not when we are well and in good health, but the hour is coming, when we shall leave catching at all other hopes, and must hold only by this in horâ mortis when all hope save the hope of this verse will forsake us. Sure it is, under the very words are we laid into our graves, and these the last words that are said over us, as the very last hold we have; and we therefore to regard them with Job, and lay them up in our bosom.
There is in this text, I. a text, and an II. exposition. I. The text, we may well call the Angels' text, for from them it came first. II. The exposition is St. Paul's. These words, 'Christ is risen,' were first uttered by an Angel this day in the sepulchre; all the Evangelists so testify.
This text is a good text, but reacheth not to us, unless it be helped with the Apostle's exposition, and then it will. The exposition is it that giveth us our hope, and the ground of our hope. 'Christ is risen,' saith the Angel. 'Christ the first fruits,' saith the Apostle. And mark well that word [208/ 209] 'first fruits,' for in that word is our hope. For if He be as the 'first fruits' in his rising, His rising must reach to all that are of the heap whereof He is the 'first fruits.' This is our hope.
But our hope must have 'a reason,' saith St. Peter, and we be ready with it. The hope that hath a ground, saith St. Paul, that is, spes quæ non confundit. Having then shewd us this hope, he sheweth us the ground of it. This: that in very equity we are to be allowed to be restored to life, the same way we lost it. But we lost it by man, or to speak in particular, by Adam we came by our attainder. Meet therefore, that by man, and to speak in particular, that by Christ, we come to our restoring. This is the ground or substance of our hope.
And thus he hath set before us this day life and death, in themselves and their causes, two things that of all other do most concern us. Our last point shall be to apply it to the means, this day offered unto us towards the restoring us to life.
The doctrine of the Resurrection is one of the foundations, so called by the Apostle. It behoveth him therefore, as a skilful workman, to see it surely laid. That is surely laid that is laid on the rock, and 'the rock of Christ.' Therefore he laid it on Christ by saying first, 'Christ is risen.'
Of all that be Christians, Christ is the hope; but not Christ every way considered, but as risen. Even in Christ un-risen there is no hope. Well doth the Apostle begin here; and when he would open to us 'a gate of hope,' carry us to Christ's sepulchre empty; to show us, and to hear the angels say, 'He is risen.' Then after to deduce; if He were able to do thus much for Himself, He hath promised us as much, and will do as much for us. We shall be restored to life.
Thus had he proceeded in the four verses before, destructive. 1. Miserable is that man, that either laboureth or suffereth in vain. 2. Christian men seem to do so, and do so, if there be no other life but this. 3. There is no other life but this, if there be no resurrection. 4. There is no resurrection 'if Christ be not risen;' for our dependeth on his. And now he turneth all about again. 'But now,' [209/210] saith he, 1. 'Christ is risen.' 2. If He be, we shall. 3. If we shall, we have, as St. Paul calleth it, a 'blessed hope,' and so a life yet behind. 4. If such hope we have, we of all men 'labour not in vain.' So there are four things: 1. Christ's rising; 2. our restoring; 3. our hope; and 4. our labour. All the doubt is of the two first, the two other will follow of themselves. If a restoring, we have good hope; if good hope, our labour is not lost. The two first are in the first; the other, in the last words. The first are, 'Christ is risen;' the last, we shall be restored to life. Our endeavour is to bring these together, but first to lay the corner-stone.
'Christ is risen,' is the Angels text, a part of the 'great mystery of godliness,' which, as the Apostle saith, was 'seen of Angels,' by them 'delivered,' and 'believed on by the world.' Quod credibile primum fecit illis videntium certitudo, post moreintium fortitudo, jammm credible mihi facit credentium multitudo. 'It became credible at first by the certainty of them that saw it, then by the constancy of them that died for confession of it, and to us now the huge multitude of them that have and do believe it, makes it credible.' For if it be not credible, how is it credible that the world could believe it? The world, I say, being neither enjoined by authority, nor forced by fear, nor inveigled by allurements; but brought about by persons, by means less credible than the thing itself. Gamaliel said, 'If it be of God, it will prevail.' And though we cannot argue, all that hath prevailed is of God, yet thus we can: that which hath been mightily impugned, and weakly pursued, and yet prevailed, that was of God certainly. That which all the powers of the earth fought but could not prevail against, was from heaven certainly. Certainly, 'Christ is risen;' for many have risen, and lift up themselves against it, but all are fallen. But the Apostle saith, it is a 'foundation,' that he will not lay it again; no more will we, but go forward and raise upon it, and so let us do.
'Christ is risen:' suppose He be, what then? Though Christ's rising did no way concern us or we that, yet 1. first, In that a man, one of our own flesh and blood hath gotten such a victory, even for humanity's sake; 2. Then, in that One who is innocent had quit Himself so well for innocency's sake; [210/211] 3. thirdly, In that He hath foiled a common enemy, for amity's sake; 4. lastly, in that He hath wiped away the ignominy of His fall with the glory of His rising again, for virtue and valour's sake; for all these we have cause to rejoice with Him, all are matter of congratulation.
But the Apostle is about a farther matter; that text, the Angel's text, he saw would not serve our turn, farther than I have said. Well may we congratulate Him, if that be all, but otherwise it pertains to us that Christ did thus rise, not as Christ only, but as 'Christ the first fruits.' 'Christ is risen,' and in rising becomes the 'first fruits;' risen, and so risen; that is, to speak after the manner of men, that there is in Christ a double capacity. 1. One as a body natural, considered by Himself, without any relative respect unto us, or to any; or to any; in which regard well may we be glad, as one stranger is for another, but otherwise His rising concerns not all. 2.Then that He hath a second, as a body politic, or chief part of a company or corporation, that have to Him, and He to them, a mutual and reciprocal reference, in which respect His resurrection may concern us no less than Himself; it is that He giveth us the first item of in the word primitiæ, that Christ in His rising cometh not to be considered as a totum integrale or body natural alone, as Christ only; but that which maketh for us, He hath besides another capacity, that He is a part of a corporation or body, of which body we are the members. this being won, look what He hath suffered or done, it pertaineth to us, and we have our part in it.
You shall find, and ever when you find such words make much of them, Christ called a 'Head,' - a head is a part; Christ called a 'Root,' - a root is a part; and here Christ called 'first fruits,' which we all know is but a part of the fruits, but a handful of a heap or a sheaf, and referreth to the rest of the fruits, as a part to the whole. So that there is in the Apostle's conceit one mass or heap of all mankind, of which Christ is the 'first fruits,' we the remainder. So as by the law of the body all His concern us no less than they do Him, whatsoever He did, He did to our behoof. Die He, or rise, we have our part in His death and in His [211/212] resurrection, and all: why? because He is but the 'first fruits.'
And if He were but Primus, and not Primitiæ dormientium, there were hope. For primus is an ordinal number, and draweth after a second, a third, and God knoweth how many. But if in that word there be any scruple, as sometime it is, ante quem non est rather than post quem est alius, if no more come by one; all the world knows the first fruits is but a part of the fruits, there are fruits beside them, no man knoweth how many.
But that which is more, the 'first fruits' is not every part, but such a part as representeth the whole, and hath an operative force over the whole. For the better understanding whereof, we are to have recourse to the Law, to the very institution or first beginning of them. Ever the legal ceremony is a good key to the evangelical mystery. Thereby we shall see why St. Paul made the choice of the word 'first fruits' to express himself by; that he useth verbum vililans, 'a word that is awake,' as St. Augustine saith, or as Solomon, 'a word upon his own wheel.' The head or the root would have served, for if the head be above the water, there is hope for the whole body, and if the root hath life, the branches shall not long be without; yet he refuseth these and other that offered themselves, and chooseth rather the term of 'first fruits.' And why so?
This very day, Easter-day, the day of Christ's rising, according to the Law, is the day or feast of the 'first fruits;' the very feast carrieth him to the word, nothing could be more fit or seasonable for the time. The day of the Passion is the day of the Passover, and 'Christ is our Passover;' the day of resurrection is the day of the first fruits, and Christ is our 'first fruits.'
And this term thus chosen, you will see there is a very apt and proper resemblance between the resurrection and it. The rite and manner of the first fruits, thus it was. Under the Law, they might not eat of the fruits of the earth so long as they were profane. Profane they were, until they were sacred, and on this wise were they sacred. All the sheaves in a field, for example, were unholy. One sheaf is taken out of all the rest, which sheaf we call the first fruits. [212/ 213] That in the name of the rest is lift up aloft and shaken to and fro before the Lord, and so consecrated. That done, not only the sheaf so lifted up was holy, though that alone was lift up, but all the sheaves in the field were holy, no less than it. The rule is, 'if the first fruits be holy, all the lump is so too.'
And thus, for all the world, fareth it in the Resurrection. 'We were all dead' saith the Apostle, dead sheaves all. One, and that is Christ, this day, the day of first fruits, was in a manner of a sheaf taken our of the number of the dead, and in the name of the rest lift up from the grave, and in His rising He shook, for there was a great earthquake, by virtue whereof the first fruits being restored to life, all the rest of the dead are in Him entitled to the same hope, in that He was not so lifted up for Himself alone, but for us and in our names; and so the substance of this feast fulfilled in Christ's resurrection.
Now upon this lifting up, there ensueth a very great alteration, if you please to mark it. It was even now, Christ is risen from the dead, 'the first fruits' - 'of them that sleep;' that you may see the consecrtion has wrought a change. A change and a great change certainly, to change uekroi into kekoimhme/uoi a burial place into a cemetery, that is a great dortor; graves into beds, death into sleep, dead men into men laid down to take their rest, a rest of hope, of hope to rise again. 'If they sleep, they shall do well.'
And that which lieth open in the word, dormientium, the very same is enfolded in the word 'first fruits:' either words affordeth comfort. For first fruits imply fruits of the earth, falling as do the grains or kernels into the ground, and there lying, to all men's seeming putrified and past hope, yet on a sudden, against the great feast of first fruits, shooting forth of the ground again. The other of dormientium the Apostle letteth go, and fastens on this of fruits, and followeth it hard through the rest of the chapter; showing that the rising again of the fruits sown would be no less incredible than the Resurrection, but that we see it so every year.
[213/214] These two words of 1. sleeping and 2. sowing would be laid up well. That which is sown riseth up in the spring, that which sleepeth in the morning. So conceive of the change wrought in our nature; that feast of first fruits, by 'Christ our first fruits.' Neither perish, neither that which is sown, though it rot, nor they who sleep, though they lie as dead for the time. Both that will spring, and these wake well again. Therefore as men sow not grudgingly, nor lie down at night unwillingly, no more must we, seeing by virtue of this feast we are now dormientes, not mortui; now not as stones, but as fruits of the earth, whereof one has an annual, the other a diurnal resurrection. This for the first fruits, and the change by them wrought.
There is a good analogy or correspondence between these, it cannot be denied. To this question, Can one man's resurrection work upon all the rest? it is a good answer, Why not as well as one sheaf upon the whole harvest? This simile serves well to shew it, to shew but not prove. Symbolical Divinity is good, but might we see it in the rational too? We may see it in the cause no less; in the substance, and let the ceremony go. This I called the ground of our hope.
Why, saith the Apostle, should this of the first fruits seem strange to you, that by one Man's resurrection we should rise all, seeing by one man's death we die all? 'By one man,' saith he, 'sin entered into the world, and by sin death,' to which sin we were no parties, and yet we all die, because we are of the same nature whereof he the first person; death came so certainly, and it is good reason life should do likewise. To this question, Can the resurrection of one, a thousand six hundred years ago, be the cause of our rising? it is a good answer, Why not, as well as the death of one, five thousand, six hundred years ago, be the cause of our dying? The ground and reason is, that there is like ground and reason of both. The wisest way it is, if wisdom can contrive it, that a person be cured by mithridate made of the very flesh of the viper bruised, whence the poison came, that so that which brought the mischief might minister also the remedy; the most powerful way it is, if power can effect it, to make strength appear in weakness; and that he that overcame [214/215] should by the nature which he overcame, be 'swallowed up in victory.' The best way it is, if goodness will admit of it, that as next to Sathan man to man oweth his destruction, so next to God man to man might be debtor of his recovery. So agreeable it is to the power, wisdom, and goodness of God this, the three attributes of the blessed and glorious Trinity.
And let justice weigh it in her balance, no just exception can be taken to it, no not by justice itself; that as death came, so should life too, the same way at least. More favour for life, if it may be, but in very rigour the same at the least. According then to the very exact rule of justice, both are to be alike; if by man one, by man the other.
We dwell too long in generalities; let us draw near to the persons themselves, in whom we shall see this better. In them all answer exactly, word for word. Adam is fallen, and became the first fruits of them that die. 'Christ is risen, and became the first fruits of them' that live, - for they that sleep alive. Or you may, if you please, keep the same term in both, thus: Adam is risen, as we use to call rebellions risings; he did rise against God by eritis sicut Dii; 'he had never fallen, if he had not thus risen; his rising was his fall.'
We are now come to the two great persons, who are the two great authors of the two great matters in this world, life and death. Not either to themselves and none else, but as two heads, two roots, two first fruits, either of them in reference to his company whom they stand for. And of these two hold the two great corporations: 1. Of them that die, they are Adam's; 2. Of them that sleep and shall rise, that is Christ's.
To come then to the particular: no reason in the world that Adam's transgression should draw us all down to death, only for that we were of the same lump; and that Christ's righteousness should not be available to raise us up again to life, being of the same sheaves, whereof He the first fruits, no less than before of Adam. Look to the things, death and life; weakness is the cause of death, raising to life cometh of power. Will there be in weakness more strength to hurt, than in power to do us good? Look to the persons, Adam and Christ: shall Adam, being but a 'living soul,' infect us [215/216] more strongly than Christ, 'a quickening Spirit,' can heal us again? Nay, then, Adam was but 'from the earth, earthy, Christ the Lord from heaven.' Will earth do what heaven cannot undo? Never. It cannot be; sicut, sic, 'as' and 'so,' - so run the terms.
But the Apostle, in Rom. 5 where he handleth this very point, tells us plainly, non sicut delictum, ita et donum; 'not as the fault, so the grace;' or as the fall, so the rising, but the grace and the rising much more abundant. It seemeth to be a pari; it is not indeed, it is under value. Great odds between the persons, the things, the powers, and the means of them. Thus then meet it should be; let us see how it was.
Here again the very terms give us great light. We are, saith he, restored; restoring doth always presuppose an attainder going before, and so the term significant; for the nature of attainder is, one person maketh the fault, but it taints his blood and all his posterity. The Apostle saith that a statute there is, 'all men should die;' but when we go to search for it, we can find none, but pulvis es, wherein only Adam is mentioned, and so none die but her. But even by that statute, death goeth over all men; even 'those,' saith St. Paul, 'that have not sinned after the like manner of transgression of Adam.' By what law? By the law of attainders.
The restoring then likewise was to come, and did come, after the same manner as did the attainders; that by the first, this by the second Adam, so He called verse 45. There was a statute concerning God's commandments, qui fecerit ea, vivet in eis; 'he that observed the commandments should live by that his obedience,' death should not seize on him. Christ did observe them exactly, therefore should not have been seized on by death; should not but was, and that seizure of his was death's forfeiture. The laying of the former statute on Christ was the utter making it void; so judgment was entered, and an act made, Christ should be restored to life. And because He came not for Himself but for us, and in our name and stead did represent us, and so we virtually in him, by his restoring we also were restored, by the rule, si primitiæ, et tota conspersio si; 'as the first [216/217] fruits go, so goeth the whole lump,' as the root the branches. And thus we have gotten life again of mankind by passing this act of restitition, whereby we have hope to be restored to life.
But life is a term of latitude. and admitteth a broad difference, which it behoveth us much that we know. Two lives there be; in the holy tongue, the word which signifieth life is of the dual humber, to shew us there is a duality of lives, that two there be, and that we to have an eye to both. It will help us to understand our text. For all restored to life, all to one, not all to both. The Apostle doth after, at the forty-fourth verse, expressly named them both. 1. One a natural life, or life by the 'living soul;' the other, 2. a spiritual life, or life by the 'quickening Spirit.' Of these two, Adam at the time of his fall had the first, of a 'living soul,' was seized of it; and of him all mankind, Christ and we all receive that life. But the other, the spiritual, which is the life, chiefly to be accounted of, that he then had not, not actually; only a possibility he had, if he had held him in obedience, and 'walked with God,' to have been translated to that other life. For clear it is, the life which the Angels now live with God, and which we have hope and promise to live with Him after our restoring, when we 'shall be equal to the Angels,' that life Adam at the time of his fall was not possessed of.
Now Adam by his fall fell from both, forfeited both estates. Not only that he had in reversion, by not fulfilling the conditions, but even that he had in esse too. For even on that also did death seize after et mortuus est.
Christ in His restitution, to all the sons of Adam, to all our whole nature, restoreth the former; therefore all have interest, all will partake that life. What Adam actually had we shall actually have, we shall all be restored. To repair our nature He came, and repair it He did; all is given again really that in Adam really we lost touching nature. So that by his fall, no detriment at all that way.
The other, the second, that He restoreth too; but not promiscue, as the former, to all. Why? for Adam was never seized of it, performed not that whereunto the possibility was annexed, and so had in it but a defeasible estate. But then [217/218] by His special grace, by a second peculiar act, He hath enabled us to attain the second estate also which Adam had only a reversion of, and lost by breaking of the condition whereto it was limited. And so to this second restored so many as, to use the Apostle's words in the next verse 'are in Him;' that is, so many as are not only of that mass or lump whereof Adam was the first fruits, for they are interested in the former only, but that are besides of the nova conspersio where Christ is the primitiae.
'They that believe in Him,' saith St. John, them He hath enabled, 'to them He hath given power to become the sons of God,' to whom therefore He saith, this day rising, Vado ad Patrem vestrum; in which respect the Apostle calleth Him Primogenitum inter multos fratres. Or, to make the comparison even, to those that are - to speak but as Esay speaketh of them-, 'His children;' 'Behold, I and the children of God hath given Me.' The term He useth Himself to them after His resurrection, and calleth them 'children;' and they as His family take denomination of him - Christians, of Christ.
Of these two lives, the first we need take no thought for. It shall be of all, the unjust as well as the just. The life of the 'living soul,' shall be to all restored. All our thought is to be for the latter, how to have our part in that supernatural life, for that is indeed to be restored to life. For the former, though it carry the name of life, yet it may well be disputed and is, Whether it be rather a death than a life, or a life than a death? A life it is, and not a life, for it hath no living thing in it. A death it is, and not a death, for it is an immortal death. But most certain it is, call it life if you will, they that shall live that life shall wish for death rather than it, and, this is the misery - not have their wish, for death shall fly from them.
Out of this double life and double restoring, there grow two resurrections in the world to come, set down by our Saviour in express terms. Though both be to life, yet, 1. that is called 'condemnation to judgment;' and 2. this only 'of life.' Of these the Apostle calleth one 'the better resurrection,' the better beyond all comparison. To attain this then we bend all our endeavours, that seeing the other will come of [218/219] itself, without taking any thought for it at all, we may make sure of this.
To compass that then, we must be 'in Christ:' so it is in the next verse; to all, but to 'everyone in order, Christ' first, 'the first fruits, and then, they that be in him.'
Now He is in us by our flesh, and we in Him by His Spirit; and it standeth with good reason, they who be restored to life, should be restored to the Spirit. For the Spirit is the cause of all life, but especially of the spiritual life which we seek for.
His Spirit then we must possess ourselves of, and we must do that here; for it is but one and the same Spirit That raiseth our souls here from death of sin, and the same That shall raise our bodies there from the dust of death.
Of which Spirit there is 'first fruits,' to retain the words of the text, and 'a fulness;' but the fulness in this life we shall never attain; our highest degree here is but to be of the number whereof he was that said, Et nos habentes primitias Spiritus.
These first fruits we first receive in our Baptism, which is to us our 'laver of regeneration,' and our 'renewing by the Holy Spirit,' where we are made and consecrate primitiæ.
But as we need to be restored to life, so I doubt had we need to be restored to the Spirit too. We are at many losses of it, by this sin that 'cleaveth so fast' to us. I doubt, it is with us, as with the fields, that we need a feast of first fruits, a day of consecration every year. By something or other we grow unhallowed, and need to be consecrated anew, to re-seize us of the first fruits of the Spirit again. At least to awake it in us, as primitiæ dormientium at least. That which was given us, and by the fraud of our enemy, or our own negligence, or both, taken from us and lost, we need to have restored; that which we have quenched, to be lit anew; that which we have cast into a dead sleep, awaked up from it.
If such a new consecrating we need, what better time than the feast of first fruits, the sacrificing time under the Law? And in the Gospel, the day of Christ's rising, our first fruits, by Whom we are thus consecrate? The day wherein He was Himself restored to the perfection of His spiritual life, the life of glory, is the best for us to be restored into the first fruits of the [219/ 220] spiritual life, the life of grace.
And if we ask, what shall be our means of this consecrating? The Apostle telleth, we are sanctified by the 'oblation of the body of Jesus.' That is the best means to restore us to that life. He hath said it, and shewed it Himself; 'He that eateth Me will live by Me.' The words spoken concerning that, are both 'spirit and life,' whether we seek for the spirit or seek for life. Such was the means of our death, by eating the forbidden fruit, the first fruits of death; and such is the means of our life, by eating the flesh of Christ, the first fruits of life.
And herein we shall very fully fit, not the time only and the means, but also the manner. For as by partaking the flesh and blood, the substance of the first Adam, we came to our death, so to life we cannot come, unless we do participate with the flesh and blood of the 'second Adam,' that is Christ. We drew death from the first, by partaking the substance; and so must we draw life from the second, by the same. This is the way; become branches of the Vine, and partakers of His nature, and so of His life and verdure both.
So the time, the means, the manner agree. What letteth then but that we, at this time, by this means and in this manner make ourselves of that conspersion whereof Christ is our first fruits; by these means obtaining the first fruits of His Spirit, of that quickening Spirit, which being obtained and still kept, or in default thereof still recovered, will here begin to initiate in us the first fruits of our restitution in this life, whereof the fullness we shall also be restored unto in the life to come, as St. Peter calleth that time, 'the time of the restoring of all things.' Then shall the fulness be restored to us too, when God will be 'all in all;' not some in one, and some in another, but all in all. Atque hic est vitæ finis, pervenire ad vitam cujus non est finis; 'this is the end of the text and of our life, to come to a life whereof there is no end.' To which, &c.