Imatges de pàgina

it is disarmed. It entered into the world by sin, Rom. v. 12. Sin was the wide gate by which that Trojan horse did enter in. And since that era, O wbat hav. óc has it made among mankind! Thousands and thousands it has swallowed at a meal. The first it carried off was a saint, and him it seized in a most violent manner, not waiting till the lamp of life was in the socket. Abel's blood was shed, and that by the hand of a brother. How extensive the empire of death! All that have been born have died, except two. And as if to balance that, two died, who were never born, viz, Adam and Eve. The saints in their various generations have died as well as others. Nevertheless, paradox as it seems, they are saved from death: though not from its painful stroke, yet from its poisonous sting. Death, though introduced by sin, is made subservient to believers. While it takes others by the throat, hauling them away to the infernal prison; it puts an end to the sins and sufferings, the sensible sufferings, of the saints. True, it tears soul and body asunder, but notwithstanding, the dying believer is a gainer on the whole. For though absent from the body, he is present with the Lord, 2 Cor. v. 8. Present in such a manner as he never was while in this life. And thus the soul, though it has lost, or rather left the servant for a season, the body, I mean, yet it has got the Lord and Saviour. Therefore according to the justest reckoning, for the believer to die is gain, Phil. i. 21. Death is one of the all things that are bis, i Cor. iii. 22. He may sometimes be troubled with its fear, and often feel its pain, but never, never shall he know its sting. Christ took that away, together with the hand-writing that was against us. He put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, Heb. ix. 26. And the sting of death is sin, 1 Cor. xv. 56. While death seals up unbelievers under all their guilt and filth, saying let him that is filthy, be filthy still, it has quite a dif. ferent office in the believer's case. It finisheth transgression, makes an end of sin, and brings in everlasting righteousness. And if it make an end of sin by

[ocr errors]

introducing the believer into a sinless state, is it not evident as the light, that its sting is gone? Thus in dying, believers are saved from the sting of death.

6thly. Such as believe in the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved from the grave. Though at death the souls of believers are made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into the presence of the Lord, yet their bodies lie in the grave, as so many trophies it would seem, of victorious death. Though a part, yet not the whole of the man has escaped its cold clutches. Therefore the salvation is not yet complete. Death seems to reign over the believer's dust. How universal its domain. How long has it retained its power over half the man at least! All the bodies of the saints, since Abel's blood was shed, are lying under the leaden hand of death; except Enoch, Elias, and such as arose after Christ's resurrection. Death has turned its adamantine key and locked its rusty door upon them. There they have lain thousands and thousands of years, and according to the judgment of sense, the longer their continuance in death's dominions, they are the farther from liberty; the more hopeless is their resurrection. So to raise Lazarus on the fourth day appeared more miraculous than to have done it on the first, John xi. 39. The bodies of all the former generations of saints, where are they? None but the omniscient God can say. He sees them now though dissolved into dust, and at last he will save them with an everlasting salvation. The Saviour is Lord both of the dead and living, Rom. xiv. 9. All that died in him shall at last in their whole man live with him. Death and the grave must resign their long continued captives. He uttered a creative word at first, Let there be light, and it was: Let there be a firmament, and it was.

At last he will speak a resurrection-word, Arise ye dead! and they instantly shall. The sea and the earth shall give up their dead. The rusty doors of mortality shall fly open! and the saints come forth of their subterraneous chambers, where they have slept for ages. As in dying they were saved from the sting

of death, then they shall be victorious over the grave itself. The Saviour will swallow up death in victory, Isaiah xxv. 8. According to his promise of old, he will ransom his people from the power of the grave: he will redeem them from death. Trampling these mighty monarchs under foot, he will cry as in triumph, Death, I will be thy plague! O grave, I will be thy destruction! repentance shall be hid from mine eyes, Hos. xiii. 14. Thus the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death, death reigning in the grave, i Cor. XV. 26.

7thly and Lastly. The salvation promised to believe ers implies a state of everlasting glory in the heavenly world. This I mention as something distinct from, and vastly superior to, all the preceding particulars, Suppose believers possessed of all these but not of this, that is, that raised from the grave they returned to this world fitted for them, as paradise for innocent Adam, their condition would differ from his in one thing only, they being in a state of confirmation, whereas he was in a state of probation. But such a state would be as different from the heavenly glory, as Adam's was from that which was further promised him, having run the race of obedience that was set before him. Believers being saved from the devouring grave, shall in their whole man enter into eternal glory. So the apostle speaks, 2 Tim. ii. 10. the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. As it is little we know, so little, very little, we can speak of this glory. We apprehend it consists chiefly in three things, viz. vision, assimilation, and enjoyment.

1st. Believers shall be honoured to see God and the Lamb. Now they believe on a word, they hear with the hearing of the ear, but then they shall see with the seeing of the eye. Here they believe God's word, but there they shall see himself. Now they trust in an unseen Saviour, then, then they shall see him face to face. With their bodily eyes they shall see a God in flesh. Not in the likeness of sinful flesh, as some of them saw him on earth, but in sinless shining flesh, resplendent with the lustre of indwelling Deity. That blessed body which was formed in the virgin's womb, hung on the tree, and lay in the grave, they shall see exalted on a throne far above angels, principalities and powers, and every name that is named. They shall see for ever without interruption, for there shall be no night there, Rev. xxi. 5.

2dly. Sight shall issue in assimilation. We shall be like him, says the apostle, for we shall see him as he is, 1 John iii. 2. Moses conversing with his Ma. ker on the mount, got such a radiance on his face, that mortals could not look upon him when he de. scended. But 0, what a far more exceeding and

O eternal weight shall result from the uninterrupted vision of God and the Lamb! The saints shall be changed into the same image from glory to glory. Gazing as with eagles' eyes on the Sun of Rightcousness, they themselves shall shine. If beholding the Saviour in the glass of the word, produced such a conformity to him, certainly the naked vision of his fair, fair face, shall make us perfectly like him: as like him as children can be like a father. Light and likeness shall go hand in hand.

3dly. Believers shall be perfectly blessed in the full enjoyment of God to all eternity. Enjoyment shall result from sight and assimilation. Sight will prompt

. desire, and assimilation will qualify for the enjoyment of the object desired. Every look shall be followed with ineffable love, and being assimilated to the Divine Image, they will be able to take in unutterable joys. Without a perfect conformity to God's image there can be no perfect enjoyment of him. Enjoyments must ever bear proportion to the nature and capacity of the subject. Thus the beasts that perish are incapable of rational enjoyments, and the illiterate must be strangers to the pleasures of the learned. It is only such as are partakers of the divine nature that are qualified for joys divine. Believers being at last made perfectly like God, shall thereby be capacitated to enjoy bim, what joy to be ever receiving of the

grave; and

divine fulness! To be seated as at the fountain head of bliss! To see God, to be like him, and to enjoy him, what can we conceive higher? The 'blessed 'vision shall be the perfection of the understanding, as enjoyment shall be of the will. Thus believers in Christ shall be saved from the law as a covenant of works; from sin in its guilt, filth, being, and effects; from Satan and the world; from death and the be blessed in seeing God, in likeness to him, and in the full and uninterrupted enjoyment of him.

Let us now conclude the subject with a short application.

1st. See the blessedness of believers. Survey it, my brethren, even as delineated above, and ye must confess it great. Particularly ye who believe in Christ, lift up your eyes, and see your goodly inheritance. Look far and wide, for extensive it is. It implies an immunity from every evil, and the perfect possession of all that is good. Rejoice, ye children of faith, for great and precious are your privileges. The covenant of works has nothing now to say to you, no claims upon you. You are got far from the burning mount. A spark of Sinai's flame shall never alight on you. The law is dead to you, and you to it. Its mouth is shut, and its hands tied up, so to speak. Nothing can it exact from you, nothing can it inflict upon you. Ye are not in its dominions. Ye are not under the law, but under grace. There is now no condemnation to you, forasmuch as ye are in Christ Jesus. And though

, there be many things condemnable in you, by and by these shall be done away too. Sin has lost its dominion over you. Other Lords beside Jehovah God have had dominion over you, but they are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise. Your old man is crucified with Christ. Like Jael in another case, you have smote the nail into his temples, and expire he must. Satan shall no more tyrannize over you. That serpent may raise many a fearfulbiss as at your heels, but your sala vation he cannot hinder. Nay, nor all the world in league

« AnteriorContinua »