« AnteriorContinua »
brook is dried up, and every helper of joy gone to the other side of the river, "Behold I am alive for evermore, "Amen," will reanimate the faint, and make the sorrowful to shout and sing. While he is alive, waters will break out in wildernesses, and streams in deserts. "When "the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, "and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear "them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them; I will "open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of "the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, "and the dry land springs of water."
Fourthly, Principalities and powers are broken and scattered. All the days of his flesh, and particularly when suffering and dying, the Lord Jesus was, in ways which we are not able to describe, assailed by these adversaries of love and redemption to men. But by his right-hand and glorious arm, by his obedience unto death, even the death of the cross, he obtained the victory, and triumphed gloriously. Though their existence was not destroyed by his death, their power was utterly broken. They could neither hinder him to rise from the dead, nor, after his resurrection, attack him as before. The scattering of these powers by the death of Christ, of which his resurrection is a demonstration, is an high spring of consolation to us, who are not yet out of their reach. They are still formidable, and, by means of the strength and deceitfulness of our corruptions, and the unskilfulness and feebleness of our hands in putting on our armour, obtain over us some advantages. But though they affright us with the noise of their roaring, and wound us by the sharpness of their temptations, through him who loved us we are more than conquerors, and at last we shall behold them confounded and crushed, and made his footstool. In the mean time, the power of his resurrection is a standard lifted up against these disturbers of our peace, and tempters of our souls; and under our contentions with them, and vexations by them, we are assured of the sympathy of his love, and the support of his throne. "For in that he himself hath suffered "being tempted, he is able to succour them who are "tempted." "For we have not an high priest, who can "not be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace,
"that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time "of need."
Fifthly, The power of death, which the curse of the law had placed in the hand of the devil, is, with respect to believers in the death and resurrection of Christ, dissolved. Compare his cheerful and triumphant word to the women on the morning of his resurrection, with an exhibition of the effect of his death upon the adversary who had the power of death, and you will perceive this to be one of the sweetest and richest springs of consolation which his love hath opened. "Forasmuch, then, as the children are par"takers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took "part of the same, that through death he might destroy "him who had the power of death, that is the devil. And "deliver them who through fear of death were all their "life-time subject to bondage." Unto men it is appointed once to die. With respect to men in Christ, this appointment, though it is not reversed by his death and resurrection, is softened and converted into a blessing. Submission to it is safe and easy, and its pangs and sorrows are endured with hope of victory. "O death, where is thy sting? O "grave where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and "the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, "who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Sixthly, The keys of hell and death are in the hand of the Lord Jesus Christ. When, by means of death, he took out of the hand of the devil the terrible power of which the keys of hell and death are a metaphor, he did not deliver it into the hand of some other adversary. No; he took the keys into his own hand. "I have the keys," is his word to John in Patmos. Nor is there any adverse power that is able to wrest them out of his hand. The possession and use of the keys he will retain until death and hell be cast into the lake of fire, and locked up for ever and ever. Against tormenting fear of death and hell, the supremacy of the Lord Jesus, over these invisible and terrible provinces is a sovereign antidote, and under it an efficacious and effectual support. By this fear which hath torment, cries and alarms are daily raised; and apprehensions of being swallowed up by the devourer, who had the power of death, are excited, which, breaking over our head like waves on the beaches and shores of the sea, dis
quiet our minds and stagger our faith. But who commands on these dangerous shores, where there are innumerable shipwrecks? and in whose possession are the keys which open and lock the gates of the invisible state? The Living One, who was dead and is alive again, and alive for evermore, He hath the possession and use of the keys; and the Lord of the dead and living, He who ruleth the raging of the sea, and stilleth the roaring of the waves, He, even He, hath the supreme command along the shores and
coasts of the dead sea.
Seventhly, Redemption from the dominion of death and the power of the grave is infallibly secured. This spring of consolation, which opened in Paradise with the promisc of the Seed of the woman, sent forth the water of joy, and refreshed believers with the hope of the resurrection of the dead under the several dispensations of the Old Testament. In the bitterness of sorrow, and under the anguish of disease, when his tongue failed for thirst, Job repaired to it, and drank abundantly. "Though after my "skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I shall see "God. Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall "behold, and not another, though my reins be consumed "within me." Under the New Testament, which by the gospel hath illustrated life and immortality, the stream of joy and peace in believing rises into a river, and fills multitudes of all nations and tongues with more abundant consolation. In this dispensation, the obscurer intimations, by the prophets, of the effects of the resurrection of Christ upon the resurrection of his members, are confirmed by the resurrection of his own body, and illustrated by express declarations from himself and his apostles. "I "am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, "though he were dead, yet shall he live." "This is the will of bim who sent me, that every one who seeth the "Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life; "and I will raise him up at the last day." "Christ is risen "from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that "slept." "In Christ shall all be made alive. But every "man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, afterward "they that are Christ's, at his coming." As surely as the Lord of the dead and living hath presented, and sanctified, and dedicated to God the first-fruits of the resurrection of the dead, he will come at the last day with power and great
glory, and reap and gather in the harvest from the valley of the shadow of death. "Thy dead men shall live, toge"ther with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and "sing, ye who dwell in the dust, for thy dew is as the dew "of herbs; and the earth shall cast out the dead." "I will "ransom them from the power of the grave, I will redeem, "them from death. O death, I will be thy plagues! O "grave, I will be thy destruction! repentance shall be hid "from mine eyes!"
Eighthly, The bitterness of death is past. An alien from the commonwealth of Israel, who had forfeited his life by his crimes, and whom the justice of the Most High had doomed to the sword, stumbled hastily on this conclusion, and affected to hold it with pomp. "Surely," said he "the bitterness of death is past." Alienated from the life of God, and without the hope of the resurrection of Christ, the only premises from which his conclusion could be deduced, he soon found himself mistaken. But take the conclusion out of the mouth of the Amalekite, and put it into the mouth of a believer, begotten again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and you will perceive it flowing from established and incontrovertible premises. The law, which is the strength of sin, infuses bitterness into death; and sin, which is the transgression of the law, fixes in it a sting that is poisonous and killing. The death of a sinner in his sin, is the separation of his soul and body by an operation of the curse of the law. The operation of the curse in dying is the essence of that bitterness which exists in death. Of all deaths the death of Christ was the bitterest. In the death of a sinner dying in his sin, the quantity of bitterness is in proportion to his guilt. But Christ, who knew no sin, being made sin, and bearing the sins of many, the curse of the law under which he died, wrung into his death a quantity of bitterness equal to the guilt of the whole multitude. By the bitterness of his death, bitterness is extracted out of theirs. Though their souls and bodies are separated, the curse hath no operation in their separation. After the separation of death and the curse, effected by the death of Christ, and demonstrated by his resurrection from the dead, every believer may come forward resolutely, look in the face of dissolution stedfastly, and, under its pangs and sorrows, say boldly, Surely, the bitterness of death is past.
Ninthly, The gloom overshadowing the grave is dispelled. Curtains of darkness hang all round the region of the shadow of death. Job calls this apartment "the land "of darkness, where the light is as darkness." Every object that appears in it to our eyes and imagination is dark and gloomy. Skulls, and bones, and clods, and worms, are dismal things. Flesh and blood is not able to look at them without shivering, nor to think of them without fainting. But the resurrection of Christ dispels the gloom, and, like a sunbeam darting light through the land of darkness, raises a joyful hope of the redeemed body coming out of it, fashioned like unto his glorious body. In the region of the shadow of death his holy body lay for a time, and, as surely as God loosed the pains of death, and raised it up the third day, the bodies of his saints, at the last day, shall be redeemed from the dominion of death, and ransomed from the power of the grave. "If the Spirit of "him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he "who raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken "your mortal bodies, by his Spirit who dwelleth in you."
What shall we say to these things? After discovering some of the springs of consolation which the resurrection of Christ hath opened, we exhort the believers, who, by his resurrection from the dead, are begotten again unto a lively hope, to come and drink at these springs the water of life, that his joy may remain in them, and that their joy in him may be full.
How sweet are his own words: "These things have I "spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and "that your joy might be full." The resurrection of Christ was his own joy, and is the joy of all who believe in his death and trust in his name. When he uttered the cheerful and triumphant word, "All Hail," near the grave out of which his body was newly raised, he rejoiced in spirit, and rejoiced over his ransomed with joy. His joy is their joy; and his joy remaining in them, raises and fills their joy. Communion in the joy of redemption is the essence of pleasure, and a substantial foretaste of those pleasures at the right-hand of God, which will feed and satisfy the redeemed for ever and ever. The Redeemer rejoicing over his ransomed, and the ransomed rejoicing in their Redeemer, will fill