And as it is appointed unto men once to die
Not a moral, or what is commonly called a spiritual death, nor an eternal one, but a corporeal one; which does not arise from the constitution of nature, but from the sin of man, and God's decree on account of it; by which it is fixed that men shall die, and how long they shall live, and when they shall die; so that they cannot die sooner nor later; all things antecedent to death, which lead on to it, and issue in it, are appointed by God, and so is death itself, with all its circumstances; men's days can neither be lengthened nor shortened, either by Christ himself, or others: and this statute and appointment of God concerns men, not angels, and reaches to all men, wicked and righteous; and though there have been some exceptions, as Enoch and Elijah; and all will not sleep, or die, some will be found alive at Christ's appearing; yet such will undergo a change which is equivalent to death, as Enoch and Elijah have done: and generally speaking men die but once; it is not usual for men to die, and live again, and then die again; there have been some extraordinary instances of this kind, but they are rare; it is the statute law of heaven in common for men to die and that but once; so Cicero F15 the Heathen says, "omnibus definitam esse mortem": Christ died once, he will die no more; and it is the comfort of the saints, that though they die the first death, they shall not be hurt of the second death; and the consideration of this decree should excite to diligence and industry: death is certain to God, but uncertain to us, as to the time, nor should we curiously inquire into it, but patiently wait for it, and quietly submit unto it:
but after this the judgment;
the last and general judgment, which will reach to all men, quick and dead, righteous and wicked, and in which Christ will be Judge. There is a particular judgment which is immediately after death; by virtue of which, the souls of men are condemned to their proper state of happiness or woe; and there is an universal judgment, which will be after the resurrection of the dead, and is called eternal judgment, and to come; this is appointed by God, though the time when is unknown to men; yet nothing is more certain, and it will be a righteous one.
F15 Pro Sextio