« PreviousContinue »
love, the eternal Word which made and supports all things.
V. In conformity with this glorious purpose and grace in Chrift Hesus, what hath been executed? Every thing worthy of a defign so grand, every thing worthy of its great « Author,” worthy of the glorious 6 Finisher of our faith.” His appearing hath made it manifeft. The clearest-lighted of the prophets, like the blind man only half restored to vision, faw men but as trees walking, but now, under the gospel, the dullet and inost despised among believers fees every thing plainly; he sees the eternal purpose of God written in characters which he can read and underItand; he compares the model with the structure, and finds the tabernacle erected in the plain, the perfect counterpart of the pattern delivered in the mount He finds the fcriptures fulfilled, the predictions verified, the types explained, realized, justified; all things finished in and by the Lord Chrift.
What hath been executed ? He hath abolished death, that hated, hideous fpectre, through fear of whom the fallen posterity of Adam are 6 subject to bondage.” He hath restrained the power, put an end to the dominion, annihilated the existence of the king of terrors. Through fin death gained admission into the world ; in fin his empire is founded; by sin he is armed with a mortal iting. By the great propitiation for fin he is banished thence, his reign is terminated, his fing is plucked out. Ask that fickly, pining creature, what it would be to have the disease which is perceptibly preying upon his vitals abolikhed?
Ak that dejected prisoner of despair, what it would . be to have his debt discharged, and the writ of his
confitement abolithed ? Ask the wretch condemned, what it would be to have the fatal hand-writing of judgment that is against him abolished? And let the azzwers you would receive convey, as well as they can, a sense of the obligation under which we lie, to Him who hath done away the deadly plague which
wastes, which threatens, which destroys the soul ; to Him, who hath paid the enormous debt “ to the ut. termost farthing," purchased a release, fet open the prison doors; to Him who hath cancelled the awful sentence of a righteous God, 56 nailing it to his cross.” He hath abolished death, with all the woe that leads to it, all the dreaded woe 'that is in it, all the more tre. mendous woe that succeeds: sickness and pain, anguish and old age; the bitter pang that rends asunder the body and the spirit; the hell that follows. And by what wonderful means hath all this been effected? 6 through death” he has destroyed “him that had the power of death.” Into his own snare the deceiver has fallen; by his own weapons the enemy has been disarmed; his own triumph hath proved his ruin. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is fin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God which giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ.”*
What hath been executed ? He hath brought life and immortality to light. It is more than flattering hope or fond defire ; it is more than the speculation of a philosophic mind, or the presumptuousness of reasoning pride; it is more than patriarchal confidence, or the dawning light of Mosaic revelation. It is desire war. ranted, and hope supported by facts ; it is reason justified and confirmed by demonstration; it is the morning light of promise, advanced to the perfect day of discovery and accomplishment. * He that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”'t "For if we believe that Jesus died, and rose again, even so. them also which sleep in" Jesus will God bring with him.” | This is not the cold peradventure of a fage, saying, “ If in this I err, I willingly err;" but the blessed assurance of an apostle, saying, “I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against
that * Cor. xv. 55, 56, 57..+ Rom. yiii. 11. $ Thesi. iv. 14.
that day."* "I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge shall give me at that day : and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”t
And can it be necessary to inquire who caused this light to arise ? Who removed the veil, and disclosed the hidden glories of eternity ? What power could tune the human tongue to such raptures, and inspire a mortal breast with such holy and triumphant joy? “ God is the Lord, which hath shewed us light." It is 6 the revelation of Jesus Christ, who sheweth to his servants things which must shortly come to pass.” “ By the gospel life and immortality are brought to light;" “ Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints : to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you the hope of glory.” 1
-Learn hence the folly and danger of all opposi. tion to the plans of eternal Providence. “He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength : who hath hardened himself against Élim and hath prospered ?”'S “ Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.”ll - If this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought : but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it;
lest * 2 Tim. i. 12. + 2 Tim. iv. 6,7,8. Col. i. 26, 27. ♡ Job ix. 4.
Pralii. 2, 3, 4, 6, 8.
left haply ye be found even to fight against God." * “ Verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”'t ".Woe be to him who striveth with his Maker." Sinner, learn wisdom in time; cease from the ruinous contention ; "it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks;” thou art wounding, destroying only thyself. “ Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him." I
-Christians, be of good courage ; “in patience. pofsefs ye your souls,” God will support and vindicate the cause that is his own. His truth and faithfulness, evinced by the interposition of ages past, are a full security for his care and attention through ages to come. Time, which impairs all things else, gives stability, force and effect to the purposes of Heaven. The diffolution of the frame of nature is the consummation of the work of redemption. As the writings of Moses are an improvement upon the traditional knowledge of the antediluvian world ; and as the gospel is an improvement upon the law and the prophets, so, “ according to his promise,” we look for a new economy, which shall be an improvement upon, and an extension, confirmation and accomplishment of the gospel dispensation.
-Learn to aspire after the honour and happiness of working together with God in forwarding this gracious design. It is the glory of the most exalted of all beings; and therefore, surely, deservedly claims the employment of the noblest powers of man. What heart would not rejoice in putting forth a helping hand towards rearing this blessed fabric, were it but to drive a pin, or faften a cord. Remember that carelessness here is highly criminal; that to sit still is not only robbing yourself of the most exquisite pleasure, and declining the highest honour of which your na
ture * Acts v. 38,39. † Matt. V. 18. Pfal. č. 12.
knowlen improve to his he an imp
ture is capable, but is at the same time the highest infult to your Creator, and the most certain means of incurring his difpleafure. Look around you, and obferve these myriads of your fellow-creatures, less favoured of Heaven than you are, consider them well, and be to them in the place of God. Extend to them that compassion which the Father of mercies hath extended toward thee.
See, my brothers, they are deformed, diseased in body; they are distressed in their circumstances; they are grieved in mind; alas, they “ are dead in trefpasses and fins!" Loft to God, loft to all the valuaable purposes of existence, better for them they had never been born. But yet they are your brethren; they are fufceptible of pleasure and pain like you; the same fun enlightens them; the gospel aims at relieving them as well as you; the fame God created and sustains and cares for you both. Have pity upon them ; strive to restore them to peace with themfelves, to peace with the world, to peace with God. " It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish."* " Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy upon them.» Let the purpose of grace comprehend them, even them also.
Son of God, who didst restore agility to the lame, fight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, the faculty of speech to the dumb, life to the dead, and who givest wisdom to the wise,--thou fhalt renovate all things, thou shalt abolish death and point out the path of life! 0, I shall blefs thee with transports of joy ineffable, in the day when the powers of heaven shall be shaken, and the heavens pass away with a great noise, and the earth with all that it contains shall be consumed! Then thy suffering creatures, delivered from all the ills which oppressed them, shall be clothed upon with a glorious and immortal body, fashioned like to thy glorious body; shall be perfectly conformed to thy bleft
world em to oth.
* Mat. xviii. 14.