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continuance.--How great is thy authority, O grave! and to what sordid, humiliating purposes dost thou improve it! Millions of our species hast thou taken captive, who are yet detained in thy gloomy mansions; and millions more must shortly people thy dominions and extend thy conquests. But though thy victories are multiplied, they shall not be perpetual ; though thy power is great, it shall come to an end.
Here let us pause a moment, and indulge reflection. What a dreadful evil is sin! It has introduced disorder into our world, and destruction upon our species. It has brought the highest dis: honour
God, and the most awful ruin upon man. God is dishonoured in his character and government, and man is ruined both in body and soul. It distresses the soul with the keenest anguish, and disgraces the body to the last degree. It exposes, that, to endless torment; this, to everlasting infamy: the one to worms and rottenness, and both to fire and brimstone.-How miserable, then, is man! Miserable indeed, miserable beyond conception, if left in the hands of his enemies. Sin and the law, death and the grave, unite their various
powers to make us completely wretched : and wretched we must have been, had not grace provided, and the gospel revealed, relief. Yes, my fellow-sinners, if sovereign mercy had not interposed on our behalf, despair had been rational, and damnation certain. But, blessed be God! grace, divine grace has appeared: it shines in the gospel and reigns through Jesus Christ.
It has made provi* Rom. v, 21.
sion for the guilty and destitute-for all, whoever they be, that are willing to owe their salvation to its power and agency. The admirable and ani- . mating words, which are now under consideration, inform us; that there is a deliverance, to be .expected by the miserable sinner ; to be enjoyed, by the real saint-a glorious deliverance, from sin and the law, from death and the grave. Victory over these enemies; deliverance from these evils; delightful truth! transporting thought!--But this brings me to consider, 5. Secondly, the way in which this deliverance is obtained. This is expressed in the following words: God giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. The great deliverance here .cele- brated, the glorious victory here sung, is ascribed
to God. It was planned in the Divine Mind, and is the produce of Divine Mercy. Infinite wisdom concerted the scheme, and boundless goodness provided the means. Destruction is of ourselves; but our help is in the Lord.*_But though it was the eternal purpose of God, to deliver his people out of the hands of their enemies, yet he would not do it by absolute power, or by a merely sove
reign act; but in a way becoming his character, as a righteous governor---in such a way, as
should manifest the just God, as well as the compassionate Saviour.† For this purpose a mediator was chosen, in the counsels of heaven, as the grand medium of divine operation in the wonderful work. This mediator is the Son of the Blessed, the Lord Messiah. By him the victory is gained: God * Hos, xiii, 9.
† Isa. xlv. 21.
giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus, Christ.
By Him we obtain victory over sin. This was the first of evils, and is the source of all our misery; but Jesus delivers us from it, and that in different views. He delivers from it, as the sting of death, or as to its guilt; for it is the guilt of sin, or that respect which it has to punishment, which pains the conscience and renders death dreadful. From this he delivers, by his own death on the cross, and by an application of atoning blood to the conscience. When the blessed Jesus offered his life and poured his blood, he fell a victim to divine justice, in the stead of his people. Then was he made sin, and then he suffered for it. As their glorious Substitute, he bore the vengeance due to their crimes, and made expiation for them. The atonement he made, being a full satisfaction to eternal justice, God was well-pleased with it: and this he declared, to all the world, by raising him up from the dead. Thus we are reconciled to our offended Sovereign, by the death of his Son:* and when, in the language of inspiration, we receive tlie reconciliation;t or, in other words, when we believe the report concerning it, and have the blood of Christ sprinkled on our hearts, by the Holy Spirit; then the conscience is purged from guilt, death is disarmed of his sting, and we are delivered from slavish fear. I This, without all dispute, is a capital part of that victory which is obtained by Jesus Christ, and granted to the people of God. As the great Immanuel redeems from the guilt
* Rom. v. 10. + Rom. v. 11. Katadaaya.
1 Pet. i. 2. Heb. ix. 14, and x. 19, 22.
of sin, so he delivers from its dominion; though the first of these be particularly intended in the text. Sin reigns in the unregenerate man. It exercises a kind of sovereign power, both in his conscience and over his affections. By its guilt, it enslaves and galls the conscience; by its power, it sways and rules the affections. The former is tormented by it, as the sting of death; the latter are delighted with it, as agreeable to their vicious tendency.But when the great Deliverer affords relief to a wounded conscience, by the application of his own blood; he purifies the affections, by the agency of his divine Spirit. By that he delivers from the burden, by this from the love, of sin. He reveals, to the convert, the glory of God, and sheds abroad his love in the heart. He gives a new bias to the stubborn will, and elevates his affections to heavenly things. He works in him an habitual desire after conformity to his own holy image, in mind and manners, in temper and conduct; and teaches him to mourn over his many imperfections. The depravity of nature still remains and still opposes, but it does not reign; it is considered as an enemy, and treated as a rebel, to the dominion of grace.
Nor is the believer without a joyful expectation, of having deliverance from the being of sin. When his immortal soul shall take her flight into the upper mansions, then shall she be numbered among the spirits of the just made perfect: which expression, whatever glorious things besides may be intended by it, must imply, a freedom from innate depravity; a perfect freedom from every corrupt habit, and unholy inclination. In the article af
# Rom. vi, 14, vii. 21, 23, 24.
death, or immediately upon it, the soul is completely sanctified.—This truth, I humbly conceive, may receive illustration from what is recorded in this chapter, * concerning the change that shall pass on the bodies of the saints, who shall be found alive, at the second coming of Christ. This wonderful change, we are informed, shall be wrought in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye; by which they shall be perfectly freed from every corrupt and sordid quality, which attended them in a mortal state, and was natural to them. Now, as such an alteration will be absolutely necessary, in order to fit them for the celestial world; so, the souls of believers, by the same almighty agency, and in the like instantaneous manner, are entirely delivered, at death, from all that is depraved and sinful. Then the saint is for ever freed, from what the scripture calls, The plague of the heart;t which also truly denominated, the plague of his life, so long as he continued in a militant state. A blessing this, which is not enjoyed by the christian, in the present life; but he has it in hope, and exults in the
prospect of it. When Jesus shall raise the dead, and re-animate the sleeping dụst of the saints; then shall their whole persons be eternally free from sin and all its effects, in every view: then their victory over it will be quite complete.
As the great Mediator delivers from sin, which is the sting of death ; so he redeems froin the law, which is the strength of sin. When the law is considered under the character which it here bears, it is very apparent, that if we be not delivered from įt, we must perish for ever. For, as violated by
Verses 51, 52 + 1 Kings viii. 38.