Imatges de pÓgina



He will swallow up death in victory.

YE have been celebrating the triumph of Christ's victory over death, and professing yourselves the subjects of the conqueror, yea, the members of his body. If you approve yourselves true to your profession, here is the best news you can possibly hear in this world, news which may animate you to fighting the good fight: “He will swallow up death in victory."

I have yesterday handled two heads in the method. A third point now to be spoken to is, Christ's pursuit of the victory. Our Lord Jesus will pursue the victory he has obtained over death, till it be utterly abolished out of his kingdom.--Here,

I. I shall premise some things for the better understanding of this point.

II. Show how he pursues the victory.

I. I shall premise some things for the better understanding of this point.-And,

1. I premise that sin entering into the world, deatb obtained an universal dominion over mankind : Rom. v. 12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin ; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned ;" it reigned as a king, ver. 19, “ Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses ;"> it became universal monarch, swaying its sceptre over all nations, kingdoms, and empires, from the one end of the earth unto the other. Every man receiving life in this world, not excepting those that are born to crowns and kingdoms, are born subjects to death. It is the most terrible king, even the king of terrors; an absolute one, against whom there is no rising up. This universal dominion it got by law, upon sin's entering : Gen. iii. 19, “ Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.” 1 Cor. xv. 56, " The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.”

2. The kingdom of death consists of two very different territories or countries; one is the upper country, namely, the sinful world; the other the lower country, in the other world, that land of utter darkness, where the light is as darkness. In the former, the government of death is comparatively mild, but in the latter inexpres

Delivered Sabbath evening, October 5, 1718.

sibly horrible. Here death's subjects have some gleams of light, joy, hope, though mixed with many sorrows; but there they will never see light more, nor enjoy the least ease from their pangs, which is the second death, Matth. xxii. 13, “Cast him into utter darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

3. Death's power over sinners by the law, reaches to the transporting of them out of this world into its dominion in the other world ; it has power to carry them to the pit, and sbut the bars thereof for ever upon them. Hence we find the rich man dying, and buried, and then in hell lifting up his eyes, Luke xvi. 23; an impassable gulf is fixed between that miserable company and the saints above, ver. 26; so that by death's power, had it not been hemmed in, all mankind had landed there.

4. That all mankind might not perish, the Father gave a kingdom to his Son, which he was to conquer out of the kingdom of death in this upper world: in which kingdom life might reign for evermore through Jesus Christ: John vi. 37, “ And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” This our Lord undertook willingly, resolving to spare no expense, even of his own blood, to recover it.

5. Our Lord Jesus coming on this expedition, findeth all mankind fettered with the bands of death ; death has seized them all without exception, fastened on their souls and bodies, keeping them as prisoners, till they should be transported into the pit from whence there is no redemption; and his own that were given to him of the Father, he finds wrapt up in the common ruin; so he, putting on a zeal for his Father's glory and the salvation of the elect, encountered death in their room, and, after a bloody battle, gained the victory. But after all this the chains of death still continue on his people, and they lie under them till the conqueror, who by his death has purchased their liberty, come and loose them, in pursuit of this victory.

I am now to consider,

II. How he pursues the victory, "swallowing up death in victory.”

1. He looses the bands of that spiritual death under which he finds them, morally dead, lifeless, senseless, and motionless to any spiritual good. He puts a principle of spiritual life in them, quickenivg them by his Spirit, Eph. ii. 1, “And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.” With authority he asks the grim vanquished tyrant, as he did others in the case of Lazaras, O death! where have ye laid him ? He comes to the grave, saying,


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against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people, and ye shall know that I am the Lord."

As to this separation, we observe,

1. That in it there is something negative; and that is, the Lord denies them the influences of his grace, countenance, and fellowship; they are deprived of benefits, their sins withhold good things from them. The scripture expresseth it by the Lord's hiding his face from sinners, as it is said in the text, by shewing them the back, and not the face, Jer. xviii. 17; by forgetting them, Hos. iv. 6. Thus the sun of many is gone down, they “stumble at noon, as in the night, and are in desolate places as dead men,” Isa. lix. 10. They go up and down in the world, as walking statues, carrying dead souls in their bodies as living coffins; for God is gone, and his glory is departed from them.

2. There is something positive in it, sin kindles a fire against the soul. (1.) There is a standing controversy God has against sinners; Amos iii. 3,“ Can two walk together except they be agreed ?" God is displeased with the creature, his Spirit is grieved at him. Anger rests in the bosom of God against the sinner, as long as he keeps the sinful morsel under his tongue, which, though pleasant to the poor soul in the meantime, is most displeasing to a holy God. (2.) There is a pursuing of this controversy against the sinner; some positive outgoings of God's anger against the soul, in angry looks, which, if perceived, are enough to put the stoutest sinner out of countenance. In this way did the Lord look unto the host of the Egyptians, through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled them, Exod. xiv. 24. Angry words, even sad threats, ministered by the word and the man's conscience ; also sad strokes upon the soul, sometimes upon the body, sometimes on both at once, are measured out.

But to this it may be objected, says one, “Happy am I then, for I see no such thing." Answ. Were there no more upon most of us than we feel, we would have a very light burden either of sin or wrath upon us. But take heed ye bo not like Epliraim, Hos. vii. 9, “Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not; yea, grey hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth it not." Or like the Ephesians, chap. iv. 19, “ Who being past feeling, gave themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” Are you going on in your sins ? then be sure God is going on against you, pursuing his quarrel; and even in small things, if it were but the miscarrying of a basket of bread, the curse of God is in it to a wicked man, which makes it in itself very heavy. There are two kinds of strokes upon the soul : (1.) Deadening

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strokes; these are secret strokes which God gives, and they are not easily perceived. By them the conscience is deadened, the soul stupified, and thus the man is fattened for the day of slaughter. People think never to get their fill of ease, and sometimes the Lord gives them enough of it: Hos. iv. 17,“ Ephraim is joined to his idols, let him alone,” (Heb. give him rest). (2.) Quickening strokes : Hos. v. 14," For I will be to Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah; I, even I, will tear and go away, and no one shall rescue him.” By such strokes the conscience is made like Mount Sinai, when there was nothing but thunder, and lightning, and the sound of the trumpet waxing louder and louder. Many men's consciences are like iron taken out of the fire, and having lain a little, no fire appears there; but when some drops of water fall on it, it makes a hissing noise.

But the objector still says, “On the contrary, I find Providence very favourable to me." Answ. Is it in spiritual good things ? findest thou that because he lives, thou livest also ? Is Providenco kind to thee in influences of grace, communion with God? surely, then, Christ has taken away the separation wall. But is it iv external things ? then know that these are no discriminating marks of nearness to God; see Job xxi. 7, God is kind to you as ye are to him; Lev. xxvi. 27, “ And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me, then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury.” He tells them they walked with him by accident, by the bye, when they chanced to light on him; and he says he will walk with them so too. What good the wicked does, is for another end than the glory of God; and what good he does to them, is oftentimes in wrath.

Now this separation is twofold; 1. Total, agreeing to the wicked only, to whom, in respect of their state, God is an enemy. This is that state of separation from God in which we are born, produced by Adam's sin, Rom. v. 12, “ Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” This, to some, even to the elect, is only temporary, the separation wall being pulled down, and they brought near by the blood of Christ, applied by faith at their conversion, Eph. ii. 13. To others it is eternal, who, living and dying in a state of distance from God, are separated from God, soul and body in hell for evermore; according to that, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.” This eternal separation is not meant in the text, but it is a certain consequent of the other, if it is continued in, for none are brought near to God in glory, who are not, by grace, first brought near to him here.

2. There is a partial separation, which agrees to the godly, who have the root of the matter in them. Sometimes the Lord is proyoked to withdraw from his own people: “I opened,” says the spouse, Song v. 6, “to my beloved, but my beloved had withdrawn himself; my soul failed when he spake; I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him but he gave me no answer.” Sometimes Christ's garden is left, so that there is no blowing of the Spirit there, Song iv. 16. Hence the saints are so often praying to God to return to them. Often may we see the King's children, having their white robes sullied with tears, and rolled in the dust, because of a departed God. What a mournful voice has the sweet finger of Israel often, under desertions and hidings of God's face! Heman looks upon himself as a burgess of the land of darkness, not only forsaken but forgotten, Psalm viii. 8. This makes them, with Job, cry out, “O! that it were with me as in months past, when the candle of the Lord shone on my head !”.

II. I shall evince the greatness of the evil of separation from God, which many go so liglit under. Alas! many reign like kings with God; they be like king Saul, when God departed from him; but how sad a thing this is, will appear, if we consider,

1. What God is. Every thing in God speaks terror to those that are separated from bim. I shall only take notice of these following: (1.) God is the chief good; and therefore to be separated from God is the chief evil. Our native country we look on as good; and therefore to be banished from it is a heavy trial. Relations are good, life and liberty are good; and, therefore, to be deprived of them is very afflicting. But God is the chief good; all these petty good things disappear, and dwindle into nothing, when compared with God. How dreadful, then, must it be to be separated from him! If the enjoyment of him is the highest pinnacle of happiness, separation from him is the lowest step of misery. It is often observed, as an aggravation of the sufferings of the primitive Christians, that they suffered not ouly from the emperors who were accounted monsters of men, but also from those who were admired by the people for their virtues. Surely, then, to be cast off by goodness itself in infinite perfection, must be very distressing. (2.) God is all-sufficient in himself, and to the creatures. The enjoyment of him makes truly happy; and therefore to be separated from him is a dreadful evil. While David thinks on God as his portion, his heart leaps for joy: “ The lines," says he, “are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage," Psalm xvi. 6—9. Wbile Cain sees himself driven from his presence, his punishment appears intolerable. The frowns of those we depend upon,

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